In the Parks

Where to Find Walt at Disney World

by on May 17, 2015

Walt and Mickey

Walt and Mickey

When comparing the Disneyland Resort to Walt Disney World, one of the biggest differences that always comes up is that Disneyland was Walt’s park while Walt never lived to see Disney World completed. While this is true, that doesn’t mean you still can’t find Walt’s attractions and touches on the East Coast. So keep reading to discover just a few of many places where to find Walt at Disney World!

The Hub: One of the most popular places to take a photo at the Magic Kingdom is in front of the statue of Walt and Mickey with Cinderella Castle in the background. Known as the Partners Statue, it’s appropriately positioned at the center of the park known as the Hub, where paths branch off towards the different lands of the Magic Kingdom. Just seeing the statue at the end of Main Street, U.S.A. and at the park center brings it all back to Walt and his most famous creation, Mickey Mouse.  The Hub has undergone some changes lately, but you can still find statuettes of other characters that contributed to Walt’s success, such as Goofy, Donald, Minnie, and more.

101_3519Main Street, USA: Did you know that you can find Walt even before you enter the Magic Kingdom? When approaching the park entrance, you will probably hear a train whistle and the clang of a bell from up above as a train pulls into Main Street Station. This is because Walt loved trains! The Main Street Train Station, along with Main Street, U.S.A, provides guests not just a look at what Walt’s creations, but what was in his heart. Trains were one of Walt’s hobbies and he spend his free time planning and constructing a miniature train that he and his guests could ride on in his backyard. He called it the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Once you enter the park, you have to pass under the Main Street Train Station; but I encourage anyone who’s interested in learning about Walt to check it out. It’s filled with nods to railroad history and Walt’s passion for this vintage form of transportation. Main Street, USA was inspired after Walt’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri. Walt loved growing up in Marceline and wanted to recreate his memories of the town in his park. He even included a few odes to his family and Imagineers in the names found on the windows above the street. Fun Fact: Walt has two windows of his own. One of them is on the Main Street Train Station and faces out at the entrance while the other is above the Plaza Restaurant and faces Cinderella Castle!

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Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Game: Practical Tips to Maximize Your Fun

by on May 13, 2015

SOTMK posterSorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, a free interactive game at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, is another example of the technology that has lately become pervasive in the parks. This time, though, the focus is squarely on having fun rather than the more pragmatic tasks of entering the park or making FastPass+ reservations. Still, my family has experienced a few bumps in the road related to both ticket media and game card collection, and this article offers some tips gleaned from our most recent experience.

Rather than tips on gameplay strategies, the focus here is on non-gameplay tips to ensure you maximize your time at play—but first some background on the game and how to get started playing.

Back Story

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, or SOTMK, challenges players to help Merlin the wizard defeat Disney villains by casting spells at “portals” found on Main Street, U.S.A. and in Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, and Fantasyland. Players use a special card (their “key”) to open these portals, 5 of which are located in each of the aforementioned lands within innocuous looking windows or walls.© Sarah Graffam

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Stroller Rental Showdown: Walt Disney World Edition

by on May 13, 2015

Photo - Angela Dahlgren

BOB Revolution Flex Stroller

On my latest trip, I reviewed Walt Disney World stroller rental companies:

Orlando Stroller Rentals – full review here

Magic Strollers – full review here

Kingdom Strollers – full review here

Walt Disney World Stroller Rental – full review here

We last reviewed most of these companies in 2012. If you’re curious to see how they compare then vs. now, read Scarlett’s review here!

Each stroller was reviewed for at least half a day, and none of the companies knew it was for a review.

These companies are all Disney Featured Stroller Providers, which allows them to use the Disney resorts to store their strollers (except the Disney in-park rentals). The two big benefits to you are:

  • Your stroller will be picked up and delivered to the Bell Services desk at your Disney hotel
  • You don’t need to be present for the initial drop-off or pick-up

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Mythos: The Best-Themed Restaurant at Universal Orlando

by on May 11, 2015

Yes, The Three Broomsticks may be the best quick-service restaurant at Universal Orlando Resort, and, yes, a lot of Broomsticks’s impressiveness is due to its immaculate theming, which is arguably in a league of its own.

But Mythos differentiates itself in a number of key ways, from the small (it’s a table-service eatery rather than a counter-service one) to the large (instead of being based on a pre-existent intellectual property, it has the double duty of creating another world for guests to inhabit from scratch while simultaneously transporting them there). When added together, it becomes quickly apparent that Islands of Adventure’s premiere venue is also its most immersive one, and that, indeed, Mythos takes top thematic billing at the entire resort.

What, exactly, is in a theme, and how does it impact your culinary experience? Let’s find out.

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Fun Facts for Your Next Disney World Vacation

by on April 26, 2015

Castle Concept Art

Castle Concept Art

Do you crave Disney knowledge? Do you spend way too much time online scanning sites for Disney facts and secrets? Is your bookshelf crammed with Disney Imagineering books and guidebooks? If so, then we’re probably kindred spirits because I’m guilty of all the above! I absolutely love discovering new facts about my favorite place on earth that I can use or see for myself when planning my next Disney World trip. So indulge me, if you will, as I share with you some of my favorite fun facts for your next Disney World Vacation.

Did you know that…

12. Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean are Neighbors? Even though the Magic Kingdom’s Pirates of the Caribbean is in Adventureland and Splash Mountain is in Frontierland, things looks a little different backstage than they do when you’re in the park. When backstage, which means behind the scenes, these two water attractions are located next to each other! The layout of the park from inside is a little deceptive; but since both attractions require high volumes of water, it only makes sense to have them located next door. Pretty cool, right?

Look at the Golions!

Look at the Golions!

11. There’s More Than One Beast at the Beast’s Castle? The Disney Animators used different animals to create the Beast we know from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast film. In fact, the Beast is a mixture of buffalo, lion, wolf, bear, and more! But outside of the Be Our Guest Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland, there is another beast that’s also a combo of different animals. It’s a Golion! Guarding either side of the castle doors are two stone beasts that Disney invented just for this area; and as they are a combination of both goats and lions, Imagineers decided to name them Golions! Source: Fun Facts: New Fantasyland

10. The Eiffel Tower at Epcot’s France Pavilion is Historically Accurate? Have you ever paid much attention to the Eiffel Tower at Epcot’s France Pavilion? If so, you may have noticed that the tower looks a little different than those photos you see of the one in France and for a really cool reason. You see, the real Eiffel Tower has changed color since it was first constructed in 1887 due to aging and weathering; but since Epcot’s France Pavilion is meant to represent France as it was in the past, the Eiffel Tower we see is beige, just like how it would’ve been in its early years. Talk about attention to detail! Still not impressed? To be even more historically accurate, Imagineers used the blueprints of the original Eiffel Tower when constructing their own.  Source: AllEars.net

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SATURDAY SIX: Six MORE “Easter Eggs” at the Universal Orlando Resort

by on April 25, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six  MORE “Easter Eggs” at the Universal Orlando Resort. One of our favorite parts of both Universal and Walt Disney World are all the wonderful details that make these fully immersive theme parks stand out from everyone else. In our first look at Universal Easter eggs, we saw a pair of actual Mickey ears on Twister….Ride It Out!, the Jaws references in Diagon Alley, Dennis Nedry’s Barbasol can in Jurassic Park and more. Today we are going to look at six more details that even guests who has been to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure several times may not have noticed. Remember that clicking on any picture will bring it up in full size, keep your head on a swivel, and let’s start counting down…

# 6 – Back to the Future’s Doc Brown in The Simpsons Ride queue (USF)

There is absolutely nothing we like better in new attractions then when they pay tribute to the ones that they replaced. We love the hidden Nautilus in the rock work of Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid at the Magic Kingdom, referencing the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride that was formerly in the area. Revenge of the Mummy in Universal Studios Florida has several images of King Kong during the ride, a tribute to Kongfrontation. In 2008, The Simpsons Ride replaced Back to the Future: The Ride, but it actually created a backstory for the change and put it inside the queue.

Doc_Brown_Simpsons1_

Doc Brown and the “Institute of Future Technology” (facade for Back to the Future: The Ride)

If you stand in line for The Simpsons Ride, you will notice televisions throughout playing classic clips from The Simpsons from episodes in which the family went to theme parks. But mixed in with the old videos are several pieces of new material, including one clip explaining how the Institute of Future Technology (the facade for Back to the Future: The Ride) became Krustyland (the facade for The Simpsons Ride.)

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What’s In My Diaper Bag: Disney Parks Edition + Video

by on April 24, 2015

Photo - Angela DahlgrenAs you saw in my Packing Tips for a Day at Walt Disney World article, I am a pack rat. In fact, a few readers wondered if I actually bring all this stuff with me to the parks. The answer…is yes.

Yes, I have a big back pack.

Yes, it is very heavy.

So with that, it only seemed natural to share what I bring in my diaper bag for a day at the parks!

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Disney Savvy Tips for Blizzard Beach

by on April 22, 2015

101_1854

In addition to four theme parks, the Walt Disney World Resort also offers two water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Both of these water parks boast unique themes and, in true Disney fashion, a great story! Blizzard Beach, however, just may have the craziest story in water park history. The legend states that a freak blizzard hit Central Florida and so a ski resort was quickly built; but when the Florida sunshine reappeared, the snow began to melt turning ski runs into water slides and snow drifts into refreshing pools. So instead of a ski resort, we now have Blizzard Beach, a whimsical, wintry water park where you swim among snow drifts and shop for beach towels in ski chalets! So if you’re considering a visit to this popular water park, check out these Disney Savvy Tips for Blizzard Beach to make your day as magical as possible.

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Disney Detour – Knott’s Boysenberry Festival

by on April 17, 2015

IMG_4487Six miles away from Disneyland Resort is the Southern California institution known as Knott’s Berry Farm. It’s hard to explain to outsiders or first time visitors the place that Knott’s has in the hearts of Southern Californians. It’s a place that our grandparent’s grandparents took them to. A place that not many people would call their favorite theme park, or even necessarily a place they like to visit. But it’s our nice little local park. The typical response I hear from out-of-towners that visit Knott’s is, “It’s nowhere near as good as Disneyland.” That’s like telling a wrestling fan that wrestling is fake. Duh, they know. Sure, it’s not as glamorous, exciting, or well-themed as Disneyland, but it definitely has a lot of charm and is well worth a visit.

Anyway, this post isn’t about Knott’s history or quality; it’s about boysenberries. This week I visited Knott’s with Tom Bricker. This was his first trip, and our main reason for visiting was to experience the annual Knott’s Boysenberry Festival. You see, boysenberries are one of the major reasons Knott’s Berry Farm exists (Knott’s says all boysenberries in the world can be traced back to Knott’s Berry Farm), so it makes sense that the park would honor them.

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Ultimate Water Park Showdown: Blizzard Beach vs. Typhoon Lagoon

by on April 14, 2015

The iconic Summit Plummet on Mount Gushmore with the sun rising on the horizon

© Disney

With summer just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start planning for a trip to one of the Walt Disney World water parks. Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are both awesome, but Disney fans still love to endlessly debate which is better. No matter where you fall in the debate, I think both parks have their strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve never been to either and want to know which water park is for you, you’re in the right place. I’ll break down the parks into categories and pick which park is better in each category to help you better determine where you should go. Maybe you like fast slides or maybe you just want to float in the lazy river all day. Either way, you’ll hopefully have a better idea of which park is for you after reading.

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