In the Parks

Menu Monday: Rainforest Cafe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on January 26, 2015

Rainforest Cafe at Disney's Animal KingdomMy family and I love the Rainforest Café. As we travel around the country, we always take every opportunity that we get to stop and enjoy a meal at this restaurant. Over the years, we’ve dined at the Rainforest Café in Disneyland, Dallas, Galveston, Denver (now sadly closed), Las Vegas, Downtown Disney and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The location in Animal Kingdom is by far one of our favorites with its spaciousness, enthusiastic wait staff and high quality cuisine. Please read on to learn more about this delicious destination and our exciting morning in Animal Kingdom. Your adventure is about to begin!

Art of Animation

The Day Begins

On this day of our Disney vacation, my boys and I woke up early and had a quick breakfast at Landscape of Flavors at our home base for this trip – Art of Animation. If you haven’t had the chance to check out this Disney resort yet, I would recommend just stopping by to take a look around. It has a huge gift shop, a fun arcade for the kids and lots of great photo opportunities without all of the crowds. After our tasty breakfast of pastries and fruit smoothies, we headed out to the bus stop for our ride to Animal Kingdom.

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Relocating to Florida: Part Three: The Florida Difference and Disney as a local

by on January 23, 2015

TouringPlans logoWe’ve made it to the final installment in my relocation series! Below are links to Part One and Part Two.

Part One: Weather and Finances

Part Two: New Surroundings and the Disney Distance

We’re back with fellow Touringplans bloggers Julia Mascardo and Natalie Reinert as we discuss the Florida difference and traveling to Walt Disney World as a local.

How often did you think you’d be visiting the parks?

Julia: I thought that we’d probably be at the parks once or twice a week.

Natalie: As long as we are living nearby, we’ll be at the parks a few times a week.

How often do you actually visit the parks?

Julia: Like we thought, once or twice is what we do in a typical week. We often do end up at a resort once a week as well, just to grab breakfast or dinner.

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Using an Electric Scooter (ECV) at Walt Disney World

by on January 22, 2015

Renting a scooter can help your senior keep up.

Your chariot awaits!

My mom, Terri, has two autoimmune diseases: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Rhematoid Arthritis (RA). Because of this, walking for long periods of time (especially in the hot sun) causes her pain, dizziness and exhaustion. We have visited Walt Disney World many times and each time, she did her best to explore the parks on foot. However, as her diseases progressed, walking became more and more difficult for her. She tried to walk slower and take more breaks, but we could still see the pain in her eyes. My mom is a selfless and caring person, so she felt guilty. She felt she was holding us back and letting us down. She saw us changing plans to accommodate her and so she started making excuses to stay behind in the room to prevent any inconveniences.

Time for a Change

I noticed her attitude change, and explained that she was neither an inconvenience nor letting us down. I don’t see her as a woman with two diseases. I see her as my loving mother. My family and I love spending time with her and were so sad to see her missing out on the fun. I spoke with my Dad and we approached the subject of an electric scooter, or electric conveyance vehicle (ECV). At first, she declined. She was embarrassed because she thought she would be the only one using one. She thought getting around would be difficult and using Disney transportation would be a hassle.

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Menu Monday: A Tribute to the Dole Whip

by on January 19, 2015

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My Dole Whip Float

It’s fresh and creamy, it’s cold and sweet, it’s literally paradise in a cup. It’s a Dole Whip! If you haven’t heard, this treat is as popular as some characters and attractions at Disney World and has the long lines to prove it. For those of you who haven’t sampled this famous Disney treat; and for those of you, like myself, who are craving one right now, check out this Tribute to the Dole Whip!

So what is a Dole Whip? A Dole Whip is pineapple-flavored soft-serve and the perfect blend of sweet and tang; but I must warn you, it’s addictive! In fact, during one of my trips to the Magic Kingdom last year, I waited in a thirty minute line for a Dole Whip and even got a sunburn in the process. But hey, I have no regrets. It was totally worth it!

Unlike other popular sweet treats at Disney World, like Mickey Premium Bars or cupcakes, Dole Whips can’t be found just everywhere. For many years, Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Aloha Isle in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom were the only locations where this snack was offered.

Fortunately, it seems that Disney has taken pity on us Dole Whip-crazed guests, and I’m glad to report that there are now more places than ever to enjoy a Dole Whip while at the Walt Disney World Resort. Let’s take a look at a few of the old, as well as the new, shall we?

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A Magic Kingdom Scavenger Hunt

by on January 18, 2015

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Cinderella Castle

One of the most magical things about Disney World is that there is something to see everywhere you look! But just how much do you actually stop and look? If you’re up for a challenge, I have one for you. Whether you consider yourself a Magic Kingdom Master, or you would just like something extra fun to do at the park, I invite you to try this Magic Kingdom Scavenger Hunt!

I have photos of 15 things that you may or may not have noticed at the Magic Kingdom park and it’s up to you to find them. Don’t worry if you get stuck, there is a hint for each one. Also, to make things a little more interesting, especially if you’re the competitive type, finding each item is worth a certain number of points. The higher the points, the harder it may be to locate. For those of you aiming high, a perfect score is exactly 30 points.

So there are two ways you can use this Magic Kingdom Scavenger Hunt. First of all, you take this scavenger hunt to the Magic Kingdom yourself and see how many of the following you can find. It’s an interesting way to pass the time when you’re waiting in line or when the park is crowded, and is sure to make you appreciate the little Disney touches. It’s also a fun activity for the kids. Another way to use this scavenger hunt is to take a guess from home on where to find the following and see how many points you can win! If you get stumped, there is an answer key at the end of the post, so don’t scroll too far if you want to avoid spoilers.

Are you ready? Let’s start!

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How to Experience an Empty Magic Kingdom

by on January 16, 2015

What do you think of when you think of Disney World? Castles? Princesses? Pirates? I sure do! But just like everyone else, I can also think of less magical things such as crowds, long lines, and wait times. Fortunately, Touring Plans can help cut down those long lines and wait times; but one thing that can’t be done is to remove the throngs of people entirely. That is, until now. Yes, in this post, I will explain how to experience an empty Magic Kingdom before the park opens up to the droves of guests. Read on!

I had the castle to myself!

I had the castle to myself!

The Secret

The Magic Kingdom opens most mornings at 9:00 AM, but the secret is that two park restaurants open even earlier, such as The Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Royal Table. (Note: Cinderella’s Royal Table is currently closed for refurbishment but is expected to reopen in spring of 2015.) If you are able to book an advance dining reservation before park opening, you will be able to walk through the empty park in order to check-in for your breakfast!

Now, before you get too excited, let me clarify a few things. For one, the shows and attractions at the Magic Kingdom do not open for anyone until the park opens, and many of the surrounding lands are roped off to guests who do have early morning reservations. Still, getting in early was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had at Disney World.

Getting In

When I first heard about this Disney World secret, I immediately booked an advance dining reservation at The Crystal Palace for my upcoming vacation dates. It took some checking and re-checking for several days, but I finally was able to grab a reservation at 8:20 AM on a day when the park opened at 9:00 AM. Score!

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Menu Monday – Give Me Liberty Tree or Give Me Death…

by on January 12, 2015

©homeiswherethemouseis

©homeiswherethemouseis

Hold on right here! I am not so sure about this whole death bit. I mean, eating at the Liberty Tree Tavern is a highlight of this foodie’s day. However, I’m not going to put ANY meal up against the likes of serious things like liberty. I am pretty certain that Patrick Henry would not find the humor in this play on words of his famous quote from 1775 regarding the Revolutionary War. But then again, he had never eaten at the Liberty Tree Tavern for lunch, had he?

Note: Liberty Tree Tavern is slated to go down for an extended refurb from July to November.

Location: Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World
Meals: Lunch (11:30-3:00) and Dinner (4:00 – varies with park closing)
Reservations: Highly encouraged
Accepts: Disney Dining Plan (1 credit), Tables in Wonderland

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How Next Week’s Disney World Marathon Will Affect the Parks

by on January 5, 2015

I’ve got a couple of emails from folks asking about how next Sunday’s Walt Disney World Marathon will affect crowds and touring the parks, so I thought it’d be a good subject for a quick blog post.

Here are a couple of facts and assumptions I’m making, based on last year’s event and my experience running the race:

  1. The race starts at 5:30 AM outside Epcot
  2. Because of the size of the field, the last group of runners will get started by 6:15 AM
  3. The slowest runners need to average around 3.75 MPH not to be disqualified and removed from the course

With that, it’s straightforward to map out where the runners should be at various points of the day. Here’s the course map showing when the last group of runners should be past the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

2015WDWMarathonMap

The Magic Kingdom is the first park visited on the WDW Marathon route. If the race pace goes according to plan, the last group of runners will be around mile 7, past the Magic Kingdom, by 8 AM. Crowd diversions should begin to be cleared around 8 AM, although traffic diversions will remain on World Drive until late afternoon.

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1989: A Disney World Album

by on January 2, 2015

Did you know that Disney World has a hit album of its own? The year 1989 was a big year for Disney World as guests enjoyed a number of new attractions, restaurants, and even new parks! In fact, a number of new sights and experiences that made their first appearance in 1989 are just as popular today as they were then. So let’s take a look at 1989: A Disney World Album to see what hits debuted at Disney World twenty-five years ago.

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon

This Disney World water park opened on June 1, 1989 and has charmed guests for years with its scattered, windblown theme. The story behind the park is that a typhoon swept through and turned a tropical paradise upside down as evidenced by the leaning buildings, shipwrecks, and other odds and ends strewn about in a rather amusing fashion. The icon of the park is a shrimp boat, the “Miss Tilly,” which the storm left perched atop Mount Mayday. The centerpiece of the park, and probably its biggest claim to fame, is the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool. It is one of the largest wave pools in the world releasing 6 foot waves every 90 seconds! In my opinion, this pool is worth a visit to Typhoon Lagoon alone. Believe me, once you’ve spent some time here, you will be ruined on any other wave pool anywhere else for life. Although, there is more to be enjoyed at Typhoon Lagoon, such as the thrilling Humunga Cowabunga slides, the relaxing Castaway Creek, the Crush n’ Gusher water coasters, and so much more. Typhoon Lagoon also is famous for Shark Reef, where guests have the opportunity to snorkel around a shipwreck with bonnethead and leopard sharks, stingrays, and schools of fish. What makes this experience even better? Your snorkeling equipment is free with the price of admission! While some guests prefer the incredible wintry theme and thrills of Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon’s laid back, tropical atmosphere and incredible surf pool makes it my favorite of Disney’s water parks.

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Menu Monday: Lunch at Coral Reef Restaurant

by on December 29, 2014

Photo - Disney

Reception area

While planning my visit for this past September, I was browsing through different dining options and saw Coral Reef Restaurant. After reading a few reviews and chatting with people who had dined there, I was on the hunt for an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR). Because of my husbands work schedule at the time, I had to mentally plan our trip long before I could make reservations. Once work approved his vacation time, I set to work on the details….did I mention this was a month before the trip? (Let me know if you’d like an article on how to plan a WDW trip last minute. I’m an expert!) The stars must have been aligned that day because I not only got an ADR on the day I wanted, but I made a reservation for TEN guests!

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