Attractions

History of Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle

by on August 24, 2015

Photo - Rikki NiblettWhile washing after dinner dishes, I allow my brain time to wander.

Re-reading that first sentence, it makes me sound exactly like Cinderella. Do I have a future of being a Disney Princess after all?! Ahem, anyway….

Often, my mind will start planning future vacations. Where does it go approximately 99% of the time?

Walt Disney World.

My imagination starts at the entrance of Magic Kingdom. I hear the whistle of the steam train and the smell of popcorn. As I walk past Main Street, U.S.A. (stopping to grab Starbucks because parenting), my eyes dart straight ahead to a beautiful structure. A magnificent place I can only ever dream to live inside of: Cinderella Castle.

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Don’t Meet Me on Main Street: Alternate Parade Viewing Spots

by on August 23, 2015

One of my oldest memories of Walt Disney World was being traumatized and terrified at age five by giant critters in the Main Street Electrical Parade. We were up close and they were coming right at me. I am certain my family barely escaped with our lives. While my five-year-old self might throw a hissy fit at the idea of having an up-close view of the Main Street Electrical Parade, my adult self loves the idea of getting up close for interaction with the parade and being engulfed in the magic of its lights and sounds.

This image from the second parade in Frontierland shows that you can have almost a private parade. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

This image from the second parade in Frontierland shows that you can have almost a private parade. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

And because the name is the MAIN STREET Electrical Parade, the assumption by many people is that the only or best place to watch the parade is on Main Street, or possibly at the Hub. For years, however, I’ve told anyone who would listen about the secret to watching the Main Street Electrical Parade—get off Main Street.

Unlike Celebrate the Magic, which you can only see from Main Street or the Hub area, or Wishes, which is designed with some effects being best visible from Main Street or the Hub, the Main Street Electrical Parade is the same parade on Main Street as it is in Frontierland. The same, but with a major exception—fewer people blocking your view.

Here are my main reasons (pun intended) for viewing the Main Street Electrical Parade from Frontierland.

 

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Magic Kingdom Attractions That Are Worth Your Time, Without Using FastPass+

by on August 19, 2015

The most attended theme park in the world can be a little intimidating, especially for a Disney “beginner.” With the advent of FastPass+ guests are clambering to ensure they select the right FastPass for the right attractions and the right time. Let’s take a look at the attractions at Magic Kingdom that don’t require FP+ so you can use those precious time slots for other attractions. We’ll also review the attractions that are definitely worth your time even if FastPass+ is not offered.

DSC01552

Tomorrowland

Some Disney fans might say that Tomorrowland is the land that time forgot. The problem with lands and attractions based on the future, is the future comes a lot faster than you realize and suddenly the concept becomes outdated. Space Mountain or Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin are decent FastPass+ options, but there are three attractions that are worthy of your time without needing to use valuable FP+ time slots.

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Disneyland vs. Disney World Attractions: Pirates of the Caribbean

by on August 14, 2015

Pirates3

Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean

Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort share a number of the same attractions, such as Space Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, “it’s a small world,” and many others. But if you think that these attractions are the same on both coasts, you would be mistaken. One of the many things I love about Disney is that they never do the same thing twice; and while the attractions that can be found on both coasts may share the same names and themes, they do have differences too. Hey, who doesn’t like variety, right? But you have to wonder, which resort has the best version of a popular attraction? Which Disney Park has the bragging rights? Well, that’s what I’m going to find out beginning with one of the most popular attractions ever in Disneyland vs. Disney World Attractions: Pirates of the Caribbean!

What is Pirates of the Caribbean?

Pirates of the Caribbean is one of Disney’s most brilliant attractions of all time! It even inspired the popular Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise starring Johnny Depp. The attraction is a boat ride which takes guests back in time to the days where pirates looted and pillaged the Caribbean through incredibly detailed scenes, audio-animatronic pirates, and a terrific balance of both humor and danger. Pirates of the Caribbean’s signature song, “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life For Me” by “X” Atencio and George Bruns is also just as famous as the attraction itself and has had adults and children humming along for decades.

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2015 Disney D23 Expo Predictions

by on August 12, 2015

D23expologo

This week marks the fourth ever D23 Expo, which is the exposition event for Disney D23 (the official fan club for The Walt Disney Company). Since 2009, and every second year after that, the event has offered fans the chance to come together and celebrate all things Disney while also getting a sneak peek at upcoming projects across the company’s numerous divisions including parks, film and even video games. With rumors swirling about possible announcements for quite some time now, speculation and anticipation are at a fever pitch. One of my favorite parts of any event like this is making predictions because a) it offers me the chance to brag about how right I was or b) laugh at how wrong I was. I can’t lose! With that in mind, here are my ten predictions for the D23 Expo.

©Disney

©Disney

10. Hollywood Studios Gets a New Name

Let’s get one of the big ones out of the way. Every Disney fan at this point knows that Hollywood Studios is getting a huge revamp. With the new changes will also come a new name for the park, which was previously revealed by Disney CEO Bob Iger after he got tricked by a young fan at the annual shareholders’ meeting. From everything I’ve read, the most popular new name appears to be Hollywood Adventure but at this point, it’s anybody’s guess.

Chance it happens: 90%

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Tips for Conference Goers at Disney World Who Are Too Cool for Characters

by on August 12, 2015

Q: Why do lots of people without kids visit Walt Disney World if they think it’s for the preschool set?

A: They’re getting paid to be there.

My first visit to Walt Disney World as an adult was for a convention. According to Disney Meetings, Walt Disney World is home to over over 700,000 square feet of meeting space. Six of Disney’s own hotels include convention space, and that doesn’t include the on-property Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resorts, which add 329,000 square feet to that total. Hundreds of thousands of additional conventioneers visit Orlando each year to attend events at the Orange County Convention Center and many other hotels in the area. In other words, if you are a professional who hasn’t attended a conference in Orlando yet, you probably will soon.

However, not everyone visiting central Florida wants to be immersed in Mickey and pals. If you are visiting Walt Disney World as part of a business trip, you may be worried that your visit will be a nightmarish cacophony of cartoony characters.

Chef Mickey

I promise, you can avoid this guy entirely.

You can certainly get your fill of characters in Walt Disney World if that’s your thing, but you can also avoid them entirely. This post will explain where to stay during your trip to maintain an oasis of calm in Mickey Central as well as how to fill your leisure time in Walt Disney World without getting too much pixie dust on your clothes, and where you can have a dignified, character-free meal.

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The Disney (Soap) Bubble

by on August 10, 2015

If you’re visiting Walt Disney World, chances are you’re living in the Disney bubble, or rather, the Disney bubbles.

Many guests refer to the immersive environment of the theme parks and resorts as the “Disney Bubble,” but what I’m talking about here is actual bubbles: air-filled soap spheres.

Bubbles from heaven.

Bubbles from heaven at the Nemo show.

While I was at Walt Disney World last week, I read a rumor that the Voyage of the Little Mermaid attraction was next on the Disney’s Hollywood Studios overhaul chopping block. (I have no inside scoop on this, but at the rate DHS attractions are kicking the bucket it seemed like a credible threat.) Voyage of the Little Mermaid is a sentimental favorite of mine, so I made an unplanned detour to DHS to get into one last viewing before its possible retirement. After watching Ariel earn her sea land legs, I hightailed it back to my planned tour of the Animal Kingdom and ended up at Finding Nemo- The Musical less than an hour later.

Besides overprotective fathers and songs about sea life, these two shows have one other notable thing in common: bubbles. During both Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo: The Musical key moments are punctuated by showers of tens of thousands of bubbles raining from the sky.

She's swimming in bubbles.

This effect makes some sense in both these shows. Mermaid and Nemo each take place in an aquatic setting. Bubbles are a relatively easy way to convey a sense of the texture of the foamy seas. But while the bubbles did make sense in both locations, seeing the same sensory tool employed in a similar manner in more than one attraction in such a short time span made me wonder whether maybe Disney is perhaps overusing bubbles such that they’re no longer a very “special” effect.

So I started thinking … In addition to Mermaid and Nemo, bubbles are used at Walt Disney World in the following attractions:

  • Disney Junior Live On Stage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There are bubbles in the Doc McStuffins segment. The bubbles are supposed to be part of a sink overflow storyline, but they’re mostly used to get the preschool-aged audience up on their feet. Oh, and there’s also a flurry of faux snow during the Sofia the First segment and a shower of “gold doubloons” by Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
  • MuppetVision 3D at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Miss Piggy’s song is accompanied by a bubble shower.
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic at the Magic Kingdom. Bubbles rain down during the Little Mermaid segment. (Or at least they did. Recently this element has been nonfunctional.)

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Hollywood Studios Retrospective: Memories of Disney World’s Third Park

by on August 9, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

It’s no surprise that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is set for a major revamp. With the heavily rumored changes coming to Walt Disney World’s third theme park, it could potentially lead to a park that’s almost unrecognizable to what many of us grew up visiting. While I think the changes are long overdue, this article isn’t focused on what may come to Hollywood Studios or whatever its new name will be. Instead, I wanted to take a moment to remember some of the aspects of Hollywood Studios (or MGM Studios as some park goers including myself continue to call it on habit) that probably won’t make it through the renovation.

I’m basing this on the rumors that only Tower of Terror, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours, Toy Story Mania! and the Great Movie Ride will remain. While I won’t argue that this article covers the definitive best parts of Hollywood Studio’s twenty plus year history, these are some of the more memorable attractions, landmarks and shows at the park for me personally. Some of these things still exist today. Some only closed recently and some haven’t appeared at the park in years. Regardless, each had an impact on Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons This Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Can’t Wait To Get Back To Disneyland

by on August 8, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons This Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Can’t Wait To Get Back To Disneyland. Over the course of the SATURDAY SIX’s award winning run we have done many articles on how much we love the Walt Disney World attractions, restaurants, and resorts. However, over the years we have been told constantly how great the Disneyland Resort is, even despite TripAdvisor recently ranking Disney’s Hollywood Studios higher than Disneyland (which surprisingly was not an April Fool’s Day prank.) With all the apotheosizing about these parks we figured that we’d have to get to the bottom of this, so we bought crack staff photographer Brandon Glover a first class plane ticket to California. Because Brandon is from Titusville, Florida, this was literally like an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies. What would this Walt Disney World Annual Passholder for well over a decade…a man who would lay down in front of a tank for EPCOT…think of the park That Walt Built? The answer may surprise you. So sit back, sip on a mint julep, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 – Dining Inside the Parks Is Better

When contemplating where to find the best food during a WDW vacation, the most likely conclusion will be to choose a restaurant in World Showcase or one of the many resort locations across the property. For the seasoned WDW veteran, quick service options are usually bypassed for something of better quality. Most quick service locations serve similar fare to their counterparts located around the parks, which many find to be less than stellar across the board. One thing I was looking forward to in Disneyland was trying the variety of quick service foods, of which I’ve heard nothing but stellar reviews. Right from the get go, this proved to be a wonderful truth. Not only was the food appetizing and delicious, but I was amazed at the variety of options available: Flo’s V8 Cafe features a Chicken Tamale breakfast and the biscuits and gravy from the River Belle Terrace provided a salivating reminder of home. Love New Orleans Style food? The French Market had a bit of Cajun flavor to spice up our night. 

MonteCristo_glover

Monte Cristo sandwich at the Blue Bayou. (photo by Brandon Glover)

MattherhornMacaroon_Glover

There are themed snacks and then there are themed snacks. This is the latter. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Disneyland vs. Disney World Attractions: Space Mountain

by on August 6, 2015

Space Mountain

Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort share a number of the same attractions, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan’s Flight, “it’s a small world,” and many others. But if you think that these attractions are the same on both coasts, you would be mistaken. One of the many things I love about Disney is that they never do the same thing twice; and while the attractions that can be found on both coasts may share the same names and themes, they do have differences too. Hey, who doesn’t like variety, right? But you have to wonder, which resort has the best version of a popular attraction? Which Disney Park has the bragging rights? Well, that’s what I’m going to find out beginning with a classic attraction from the future in Disneyland vs. Disney World Attractions: Space Mountain!

What is Space Mountain?

Space Mountain is a big favorite among Disney Park fans and has been for decades. The attraction is set in the future where rocket rides through outer space are a norm, however, Space Mountain is anything but. Unlike most coasters, Space Mountain is completely indoors and set almost entirely in the dark! It’s thrilling, but has no inversions and feels a lot faster than it is. I consider it a great “test” coaster for kids who aren’t quite sure if they’re ready to take on California Adventure’s California Screamin’ or Hollywood Studios’ Rock n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. What’s also cool about Space Mountain is that it’s sparkling white structure and spires are just as iconic to Disney Parks as the ride itself.

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