Magic Kingdom

History of Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle

by on July 30, 2015

Photo - James Rosemergy

Sleeping Beauty Castle for Disneyland’s 60th anniversary (photo by James Rosemergy)

For characters like Cinderella and Rapunzel, living in a royal castle was just an unattainable dream. Gazing out the window, they would sit for hours imagining what life would be like within the walls of such a majestic place.

If you’ve ever been to a Disney park, those dreams and wishes may pop into your head when you first set eyes on the magnificent castle; the symbol and iconic center of the park. Today, I will be sharing a brief history of the very first Disney palace: Sleeping Beauty Castle in California’s Disneyland.

This is the time to turn on “Once Upon a Dream” or “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

I’ll wait for you to pull up the song….

*Twiddles thumbs, looks out the window, checks phone*

Okay ready? Let’s continue!

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Magic Kingdom’s Storybook Circus: Don’t Miss Its Old-Time Charm

by on July 29, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

The extremely well-themed Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom can be easy to miss. Hidden behind the newest mountain and one of the hottest FastPass+ attractions in the park (hint: a certain number of dwarfs call this mountain home), Storybook Circus isn’t generally a top priority for guests. However, those looking to indulge in more of the old-time charm that is one of the best features of Main Street, U.S.A. and other lands like Frontierland and Liberty Square shouldn’t overlook Storybook Circus.

So let’s head to the back of the park and take a look at some of the highlights of Storybook Circus, where abundant details bring to life old-fashioned fun at the circus fairgrounds.

Dumbo

No attraction shows off the energy of Storybook Circus better than Dumbo the Flying Elephant. From its fast-flying elephants, to its brightly painted accents and Big Top queue, to its spinning lights, down to its sparkling fountains, Dumbo says “look at me.”

Dumbo night_Tom Bricker

©Tom Bricker DisneyTouristBlog.com

Before the new Fantasyland expansion, when Dumbo was relocated to Storybook Circus and reconstructed in duplicate with much-enhanced details, it was the target of a headlong rush by many guests as their first attraction of the day. Confession time: because of that opening time rush and sustained lines throughout the day, I never actually rode Dumbo in its previous spot. But now that Dumbo has moved to Storybook Circus, my attitude is entirely different.

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A Review of the Pirate’s League at Magic Kingdom

by on July 26, 2015

2015-06-24 at 08-53-17My family and I recently returned from a trip to Walt Disney World during which we had the pleasure of celebrating our son’s fourth birthday. During the intense, Disney-encouraged planning stages of the trip we were faced with the dilemma of how to make it special…okay, more special than having a birthday at Disney World, which is already kind of a big deal. Since we are character meal fiends, it wouldn’t be special enough just to add another one (although we did a whopping 7 on a 10-day trip, including two on the big day). What we settled on was the Pirate’s League at the Magic Kingdom, something we’ve seen the results of, but never tried ourselves.

Of course, part of the reason we never went total pirate was because we didn’t know how our son would handle the makeup involved in turning into a full-on scurvy dog. The other reason was because our daughter, who is 6, has been asking about the immensely popular Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for some time now. Luckily, that desire was waylaid by the discovery of the mermaid packages at the Pirate’s League, but I’m getting ahead of myself — let’s walk through the experience.

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Wishes Fireworks Viewing without FastPass+

by on July 15, 2015

Who doesn’t love a good fireworks show? To me, it is the quintessential ending to a day at Disney, and there are few things more awe-inspiring than watching the bright bursts of color over Cinderella’s Castle. During the busy time of the year, dealing with crowds all vying for the perfect view has certainly dimmed this jewel of an experience. So when it was announced that FastPass+ would be available for reserved fireworks viewing locations, I was cautiously optimistic. Soon reviews of the FastPass+ reserved area for Wishes were coming in, and not all was shining bright.

It's a salute to all fireworks displays, but mostly Wishes at Liberty Square. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

It’s a salute to all fireworks viewing locations, but mostly places not on Main Street USA. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

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Six Sunny Day Observations from the Magic Kingdom

by on July 5, 2015

sunny day observations from magic kindgom

Blue skies and white clouds over Cinderella Castle on a recent afternoon in the Magic Kingdom (photos/video by Seth Kubersky)

If you follow my Best Week Ever column, you know that I’ve had the dubious fortune of getting exceedingly damp during my last few visits to Walt Disney World. You may have even begun to believe that I carry my own storm clouds around with me, like a cursed Douglas Adams character. So, I thought it was time to sweep away the clouds with six sunny day observations from the Magic Kingdom, where I (miracle of miracles) recently spent an entire afternoon with barely a drop of rain.

Same-Day FastPasses Aren’t Extinct

On my most recent Magic Kingdom visit, I was breaking in my brand-new blue MagicBand, which I received free via mail as a renewing Annual Passholder. (After a few more years I should have the whole color collection). And what better use for a new MagicBand than FastPass+ attraction reservations?

Of course, you may assume that by showing up on a busy summer afternoon and not checking for FastPass availability until I was riding the tram to the TTC, I’d be out of luck. But much to my delight, I was able to secure some decent ride times, after a bit of fiddling with the MyDisneyExperience system.

Pro Tip: The MDE mobile website is much more user-friendly than Disney’s smartphone app when searching for alternate time slots.

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SATURDAY CLASSIX: A Theme Park Salute to All Nations (But Mostly America)

by on July 4, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is a Salute to All Nations (But Mostly America). July 4th weekend brings out the patriotism in all of us, and nothing is more American than our favorite theme parks. Created with the opening of Disneyland in 1955, theme parks — along with comic books and jazz music — are one of the rare forms of art that we in the USA have given to the citizens of Earth. Thankfully, they are all so good that the world forgives us for everything else we’ve given them such as Zima, reality television, and the KFC Double Down. So raise Old Glory up to full staff, put Real American on the CD mp3 player, and let’s dive into some theme park American goodness starting with…

# 6 – Voices of Liberty (Epcot)

USA_Voices_of_Liberty_Sperduto

The Voices of Liberty (photo by Mike Sperduto)

Located at the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase, the Voices of Liberty are an 8 person a cappella group that will have your heart swelling with pride as they belt out some of the most well known songs paying tribute to our country’s rich history. The playlist includes: “America the Beautiful,” “This Land is Your Land,” “This is My Country,” “You Raise Me Up,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” And you just may hear a song from a little movie called Frozen

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The Best Queues in Walt Disney World

by on July 1, 2015

Photo by Disney

Photo by Disney

I do not like waiting in lines. I’m an impatient person and I always have been. But I do love Disney World so you can see how this could be a problem for me. Thankfully, Disney is all about making every experience at their parks magical. Yup, even the waiting in long lines part. Over the past several years, I’ve noticed a trend at Disney Parks where many attraction queues have been getting special care and attention to become more immersive and interactive. Of course, not all lines, waiting areas and queues are created equal. Some attraction queues are done so well that they feel like a natural extension of the attraction itself while others are indistinguishable from waiting in line at the bank only if the bank were outside in 90 degree weather and the customers all wore fanny packs and mouse ears. What was my point again? Oh right, the lines. Some Disney World lines are just a cut above the rest. These selected attractions below feature the Cadillacs of queues. They’ll have you saying, “Wow, look at those suckers with Fast Passes. They wish they could experience this line!” In all seriousness, though, I always appreciate excellent Disney Imagineering and I really believe that these queues are representative of that.

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Conquering the Magic Kingdom Mountains in an Hour

by on June 22, 2015

Photo courtesy of WDWnews.com

Photo courtesy of WDWnews.com

While it’s true that the Magic Kingdom is home to a number of classic family attractions, such as “it’s a small world” and the Jungle Cruise, the park is also home to a number of thrill rides promising speed, drops, and screams!

It seems, however, that at the Magic Kingdom there is a rule that the park’s thrill rides must be delivered in the form of mountains. Attractions such as Splash Mountain and Space Mountain are some of the park’s most popular and both are known to flood their queues with guests and evaporate those FastPass+ reservations. This causes guests like myself to plan and strategize on how to get that adrenaline fix without wasting valuable park time in line.

Usually I trust FastPass+ or a Magic Kingdom Touring Plan to get me on these mountain-shaped attractions without suffering long waits, but during my last trip I had a crazy thought — Can you conquer the Magic Kingdom Mountains in an hour? Feeling confident, as well as caffeinated, I decided to find out.

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Disney World Attractions in Need of a Revamp

by on June 3, 2015

Escape the heat by enjoying the Carousel of Progress.

One of the aspects that I feel truly separates Disney Parks from other theme parks is the presence of “classic” attractions. By classic attractions, I mean those that might not have state of the art technology by today’s standards, or cost the size of a small island, but remain relevant, charming, and downright fun years or even decades later. Attractions like Splash Mountain, The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are just a few examples of these that come to mind. As brilliant as Disney Imagineers are, there is an occasional attraction misstep from time to time, which is inevitable.

It’s incredibly difficult to determine what’s going to resonate with audiences at any one moment, let alone ten, twenty, or fifty years from now. For a variety of reasons, some attractions just don’t age well and feel outdated rather than classic. Most of the time those attractions are replaced (see most of Disney’s California Adventure) but other times, they remain. Below, I’ve listed some attractions that I believe fit this description. These aren’t outright bad attractions per se, but they are ones that have the potential to be really fantastic with a revamp or retheming.

Without further ado, here are some attractions in need of a “tune up” along with what could be done to make them better and my suggestions for what attractions to go on instead.

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Best Magic Kingdom Attractions for Teen Boys

by on June 2, 2015

The Disney Parks were designed with families in mind, to serve as escapes from the real world; where parents and kids can have fun together. But have you ever noticed that a certain element of the family tends to be overlooked? Do you know what it is? It’s the demographic Disney forgot: Teen Boys.

Now, I’m not a teenage boy, but I do have a teenage brother who loves Disney World, despite the lack of commercials and ads directed toward his age group: So I sat down with him for the scoop on what Disney World has to offer teen boys like himself. In the past I’ve covered the Best Disney World Restaurants for Teen Boys and Best Disney World Resorts for Teen Boys, but for today I’m focusing on the Magic Kingdom in this installment of The Demographic Disney Forgot: Best Magic Kingdom Attractions for Teen Boys.

10. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

One of the Magic Kingdom’s newest additions, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is very popular (and known for its lengthy wait times). This gentle coaster focuses on the Seven Dwarfs from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as guests ride in swinging mine carts in and out of the mine where a million diamonds shine! I consider it to be the perfect family ride in that it’s gentle enough for little ones, but still manages to entertain older kids. My teen Disney Bro admits that the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is rather tame, but the ride experience is smooth and a lot of more fun than just passing by scenes on a slow moving track. Also, the audio-animatronic dwarfs inside the mine are really impressive and worth seeing!

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