In the Parks

Best Sweet Treats at Disney World

by on July 21, 2014

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There’s more where these came from

Sugar. Sweet treats are made of this. There are times when it seems to me the whole of Walt Disney World itself was made of it. A word of caution; however inviting the great wall of honey at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh may appear, please don’t lick it. Sure, it may seem like a good idea, but there are plenty of better options available, and besides, it’s not really all that sweet. If anything, the flavor hints faintly of grime and germs. If that’s your idea of a treat, who am I to disagree?

Finding something sweet to eat at Walt Disney World is not a difficult task, but it can be daunting if you’re intent on finding that perfect treat. I’ve traveled Disney World and the Seven Seas Lagoon and the sheer volume of goodies on offer is overwhelming, to be sure. In my explorations, I’ve found that pretty much everybody is searching for something sweet.They’ve certainly come to the right place. One need not take more than a few steps in any park without spying some tantalizing confection in the quivering hand of a giddy park guest, or from a myriad of cleverly-disguised gingerbread houses beckoning you to come inside. Fortunately, whether you discover that special goody, or wicked witch, your sweet tooth can take comfort in knowing that even the least-inspiring treat still packs enough sweet to satisfy it. Treats are something Disney does well, even those times when they don’t especially.

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Magic Kingdom AtMousePhere: Tomorrowland Music

by on July 21, 2014

Tomorrowland3

Tomorrowland is so different from the other lands – it holds a special place in my heart.

One of the most incredible aspects of Walt Disney World music is the way it captures the essence of the land. For one minute, you’re imagining yourself with a top hat or parasol walking right down the middle of Main Street,  U.S.A. The next, you want to be on a mighty steed galloping through Fantasyland. And after that, you’re picturing yourself in a coonskin cap strolling through Frontierland.

My favorite bit of Magic Kindgom music, however, has to be the Tomorrowland loop. Before I started listening to Walt Disney World music online, I could still remember bits of that music in my head from time to time. Even though the music of the future isn’t as easy to pinpoint as music from the turn of the century, it still pulls you into that atmosphere.

Strap in folks; we’re ready for blast-off!

To truly immerse yourself in Tomorrowland, click on the video below, courtesy of Disney Dreaming on YouTube, before continuing: 

Tomorrowland Music Loop

The Unique Nostalgia Music

In almost every other area of Magic Kingdom park,  many pieces of music are taken from movies. As we saw in the Main Street, U.S.A. loop, several of the pieces were from movie musicals set in the early 20th century. Other lands arrange or compose music that closely matches the area’s setting, like the rollicking drums of Adventureland.

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Taking Disney World by Storm

by on July 20, 2014

First of all, I am not a meteorologist. I don’t even play one on TV.

That being said, I have thirty years of experience in Orlando weather, including doing extensive research on hurricanes.

The 2014 hurricane season has begun, and the year marks the tenth anniversary of Orlando’s “Year of Three Hurricanes”. In this article, I’ll cover the issue of hurricanes and Orlando’s famous thunderstorms as well as how to avoid them and vacation around them.

Orlando street view the morning after Hurricane Charley in 2004.  Photo by Thomas Cook

Orlando street view the morning after Hurricane Charley in 2004. Photo by Thomas Cook

Officially known as “tropical cyclones” but colloquially as hurricanes, the massive summer storms are one of the most powerful and dangerous natural events on earth. The amount of energy released in one day by an average cyclone in producing rain (which is 400 times greater than the wind energy) is equal to the yearly energy production of the U.S.

So you’re thinking hurricanes and Florida go hand-in-hand like Vermont and snow, right? Well, sort of. Florida is a big state. Not only in terms of square miles, but it’s long. For instance, it takes 12 hours to drive from Key West to Pensacola.

Of course, every mile is a potential hurricane target, but Walt Disney World is only some 40 miles square. Additionally it’s in the center of the state, relatively far from the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. This means every time your local news tells about a hurricane in Florida, it’s unlikely to be passing close to Disney world.

The U.S. government started regular tracking of tropical cyclones in 1851. Looking at those statistics gives excellent news: The frequency of a hurricane passing through the Walt Disney World area in any year is 1 in 10. A 10% chance each year is all local have to worry about. Want even better news? If you’re visiting for a week or two, you have an even smaller chance of having to deal with one of nature’s super storms.

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: July 17, 2014

by on July 17, 2014

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! I have tons of Frozen fun to share, but to start let’s pop over to Epcot. While the weather has been incredibly hot, the skies have been beautiful! Check out those blue skies and fluffy white clouds! 

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I wasn’t just there to admire the skies, though. I’d heard online that personalized bottles of Coke were available for free. It wasn’t something I was excited about but I wanted to check it out for you guys. I got there about 15 minutes before the posted start time thinking I’d beat the rush. As you can see from the photo below, I could not have been more wrong! There must have been 100 people in line! I quickly decided that Coke bottles were not newsworthy and moved on. ;)

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Favorite Parks Series: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on July 16, 2014

We’re at the half way point in our Favorite Parks journey! (Read about Disney’s Hollywood Studios here.) Before doing research for this article, I’ll admit that Disney’s Animal Kingdom was my least favorite park. However, the more I delved into the MAGIC* behind the park, the more I realized how spectacular and incredibly unique Animal Kingdom is.

Memorable Moments

Since Animal Kingdom is known for its hot environment, Kali River Rapids is just the attraction to cool you off. As the unpredictable rapids decide which way the raft spins, no one is safe from the surprising splashes and torrents. Once you’ve become thoroughly soaked, dry yourself off by enjoying two delightful shows; Finding Nemo – The Musical and the Festival of the Lion King. Adrenaline junkies will love running into the Yeti on Expedition Everest, while those looking for further adventure can experience DINOSAUR. An underrated attraction at Animal Kingdom worth attending is Flights of Wonder, an educational and entertaining exotic bird show. You’ll be ‘squawking’ about it for days!

How many animals can you spot?

How many animals can you spot?

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Best Evening Extra Magic Hours Attractions at Disney World

by on July 15, 2014

The Kiss Goodnight is a light show projected on the castle when the park closes.

Staying on property during your next Walt Disney World vacation? Then you should absolutely be taking advantage of Disney’s Extra Magic Hours, which offer resort guests the opportunity to get to a park early or stay late. Simply show that you’re staying in a Walt Disney World resort and you can have fun in the parks beyond the normal operating hours. And if you’re using our Personalized Touring Plans, you can also extend your plan hours for both morning and evening Extra Magic Hours. As stated, Extra Magic Hours are offered both in the morning and the evening but for now we’re going to concentrate on some of my favorite Evening Extra Magic Hours attractions. While not every attraction is operating for Extra Magic Hours, some of the best and most popular attractions across Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are open to resort guests. Unfortunately, as of this writing, Disney’s Animal Kingdom does not offer evening extra magic hours. Perhaps that could change with the eventual opening of the park’s new Avatar Land but for now, park guests will have to get their Extra Magic Hours fill at the first three Walt Disney World theme parks. So without further ado, here are my top Evening Extra Magic Hours attractions for each park.

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Disney World Situational Celebration Guide

by on July 14, 2014

Many guests plan Disney World trips, either in whole or in part, to celebrate an event. This phenomenon is such a truism that Disney even planned their 2009/2010 marketing campaign around the theme “What Will You Celebrate?”

While Walt Disney World is indeed a great place to celebrate, not all Disney celebrations should look the same. You’re not going to celebrate your daughter’s first birthday the same way you’re going to celebrate Grandma and Grandpa’s 50th wedding anniversary. Here’s a guide to constructing the perfect celebration for common situations.

Different situations call for different celebrations.

Different situations call for different celebrations.

1st BIRTHDAY

Who should be there?: The birthday boy/girl, mom and dad, siblings, possibly grandparents.

Where should we stay?: The monorail hotels (Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian) are great because you won’t have to fold your stroller to get to the Magic Kingdom. But if that’s not in the budget, try a family suite at Art of Animation or All-Star Music, or a cabin at Fort Wilderness because you’ll have a separate room where the baby can nap undisturbed. At the moderate level, the standard rooms at the Coronado Springs resort have a sliding wooden door between the bed area and the bath area, creating a de facto mini-room which can serve as a nap area. The value resorts, with their small square footage, may be a challenge during this trip because your Pack n’ Play will take up a substantial percentage of your living area.

Where should we eat?: Chef Mickey’s (breakfast or dinner). The boisterous atmosphere will muffle any cranky noises the birthday child might make. Since it’s a buffet, it won’t seem odd if you’re walking around a bit, also you’ll have lots of food options for fussy eaters.

What should we do?: Character photos! This is the perfect time for pictures juxtaposing little toddler next to a giant mouse. Cuuuute!

What should we buy?: Mouse ears embroidered with junior’s name (another perfect photo opportunity!).

Helpful hints: The celebrant is likely pre-verbal, so there will not be any direct memories being made for the child. Focus on making mom and dad comfortable (traveling with an infant can be exhausting) and taking lots of great photos to help convey your family’s Disney/birthday story when the little one is old enough to understand.

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Favorite Park Series: Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on July 13, 2014

Everyone has a favorite Disney park; the one you HAVE to visit every time you attend Walt Disney World. My goal in this series is to give you a glimpse into the thrills and MAGIC* each park holds.

Now, let’s make our way on over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

My personal favorite!

My personal favorite!

Memorable Moments

The attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios appeal to people from all walks of life. Children can venture to Pixar Place to make small talk with Mr. Potato Head before hopping on Toy Story Midway Mania. Both teens and adults can enjoy the stomach-dropping thrill rides of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror. Looking to get your educational fix? Try the Art of Disney Animation and Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. If you desire attractions fit for the whole family or if you need to get out of the heat, the Great Movie Ride and Muppet*Vision 3D are perfect crowd pleasers.

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Wild Africa Trek – An In-Depth Review of the VIP Backstage Tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on July 9, 2014

Disney describes the Wild Africa Trek as “[a] privately guided VIP expedition offering close encounters with exotic African wildlife in their native habitat.” In other words, the Wild Africa Trek is a tour that builds upon the experience of Kilimanjaro Safaris by taking you to areas of the Harambe Wildlife Reserve that you may have seen on Kilimanjaro Safaris, but only from afar. This article takes an in-depth look at the Wild Africa Trek experience, details the cost associated with the tour, responds to possible FAQs from those considering the tour, and, ultimately, attempts to the answer the question: Is the Wild Africa Trek worth its cost?

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Magic Kingdom AtMousePhere: Main Street, U.S.A. Music

by on July 8, 2014

t_logo_fbHave you ever tried to watch a movie without a soundtrack? I have watched behind-the-scenes documentaries of movies and TV shows where they show a dramatic scene or huge action sequence, and it sounds…well…dull. But once that soundtrack is inserted, with the ebbs and flows matching the feelings and actions on screen, suddenly the scene pops!

With this in mind, can you imagine walking down the streets of Magic Kingdom park in Walt Disney World without any of that music coming out of the speakers? Maybe you’ve never really paid attention to the atmospheric soundtrack, but that music subliminally creeps into your psyche and gears you up for wherever your feet take you!

If there was no music, the only thing you’d hear is the noisy people around you. And let’s be honest: anything that helps keep your mind off of the loud discussions, crying, or crabbiness surrounding you and keeps you in your “magic zone” is a welcome one!

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