Observations

Observations from Magic Kingdom: Frozen Meet & Greet and Be Our Guest Lunch Queue Updates

by on August 29, 2014

Queue update

Guests line up for busses to the Magic Kingdom due to morning monorail maintenance (photos by Seth Kubersky)

In the final weeks of the 2014 summer season, Walt Disney World experimented with some new queuing procedures at popular attractions and eateries, with somewhat controversial results. As the peak crowds have departed, so have most of those tests, so I recently headed into the Magic Kingdom for an early morning queue update on operations at Princess Fairytale Hall’s Frozen Meet & Greet and Be Our Guest restaurant.

My first goal was to arrive well before rope drop, in order to see how swiftly the infamously long line to meet Anna and Elsa was moving first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, I forgot that the monorail is currently opening late due to maintenance upgrades, which made the trip from the TTC to the park a bit more cumbersome than usual.

I opted for the bus transportation option over the overburdened ferry, which turned out to not be a bad choice. The busses loaded about as quickly as could be expected, with a continuous line of vehicles pulling up to service the sizable crowd, and before too long we had arrived at the recently expanded Magic Kingdom bus loop.

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: August 28, 2014

by on August 28, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re taking a peek at Villains Unleashed at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios, taking a long overdue trip to Epcot, and ending with a look at the cutest shopping trend to hit Downtown Disney. Now let’s get started with these amazing photos courtesy of my fellow blogger, Scott Wurzel. Why aren’t they my photos you ask? Well, I skipped out on this one. Even up until the day of the event I was still itching to buy a ticket. It just isn’t the kind of thing I miss! But after not even being able to get into the park for the Villains night last year, I had serious doubts if the Studios could handle the event. Reviews have been mixed online, but I’m glad I trusted my gut. I don’t think this would have been much fun with the outrageous lines and short supply of event items. Did anyone head to the park for this event? What did you think?

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Planning for Disney World – without fail

by on August 22, 2014

I may have a problem.

On our first trip as a family to Disney World in 2009, I bought a stack of books. I won’t even mention the amount I spent, but it was exorbitant. And crazy. And when I flipped through all of them, I just hungered for more information. So I flipped through websites, joined Disney posting boards, and generally dug through nearly every possible nugget I could find. I joined the touringplans.com site, and planned multitudes of options based on our plan. I may have also planned a back-up plan. Or five. And still, I felt ill-prepared.

A small assortment from my Disney World library

A small assortment from my Disney World library. Don’t worry. I have the 2013 version as an e-book.

I probably have a problem.

When I got to the end of it, I realized a few things. Frankly, planning can’t plan for every single unforeseen circumstance. But it did really help to negotiate my trip, and get real information from every place I could. Planning for Disney World can be overwhelming, but calming down, and making quick choices can make for a better vacation for everyone. While sorting through all of it caused me headaches – certainly you can learn from my advice.

First – visit the library. Yes, the library. It’s free! Grab as many of the outdated books you can, and flip through them. Certainly don’t dig through all of them with any vigor – but at least to get an idea of the parks, and a generalized set of information. Background helps.

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: August 21, 2014

by on August 21, 2014

1Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re stopping by Disney’s Hollywood Studios to say goodbye to The American Idol Experience and The American Film Institute Showcase. Next, we’ll stop in to see how things are going with the Polynesian Resort refurbishment, and then we’ll wrap up this week at the Magic Kingdom. Let’s get started by taking a look at American Idol. While I’m not surprised that this show is going the way of the dodo, I’m sad to see people lose their jobs. Hopefully there are better plans to utilize this space for all the talented actors who worked here. In the short term it seems pretty obvious that with the Frozen Sing-A-Long suddenly offering FastPass+ on September 2 that the show will be moving into this space. Does anyone want to see video of American Idol before it closes on August 30? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to include it next week.

Already closed as of August 17 is The American Film Institute Showcase. I stopped in this weekend to get a final look and video walk-through for you, but first, the gift shop:

Click to read more and more see video of the Showcase.

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Disney World: Getting the Most of Cast Members

by on August 17, 2014

What do the following three questions have in common?

Tinkerbell in a thoughtful moment. Photo by Thomas Cook

Tinkerbell in a thoughtful moment. Photo by Thomas Cook

  • Is the rain real?
  • Is Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?
  • What time is the Three O’clock Parade?

Answer: They are all questions I was asked as a Walt Disney World cast member.

I hope it’s clear that these questions are not exactly the best questions to ask a cast member. I don’t mean to imply anything about the guests who asked these questions, especially since the parade question is one I got asked once a week or so over a number of years.

This article is not about questionable questions. It’s about how you should ask cast members about park information. It seems like a simple issue, but any longtime cast member will tell you their many stories of frustrating guests and their questions.

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Magic Kingdom AtMousePhere: The Music of Liberty Square

by on August 16, 2014

Music has the ability to take us back through time. So much music has been preserved
from the past 500+ years that whole concerts can be LScentered around one time period. I just got back from a music conference which had an entire Vespers service that could
have taken place in 1724!

Music can also remind us of a feeling. For example, when I hear “The Victors,” I am automatically transported to my Dad’s seats in Michigan Stadium, cheering the team on the field.

Liberty Square has two kinds of music surrounding it. On one side, the music reflects the time. Various pieces played in the area are taken straight from the late-1700s and played on period instruments. (One of many hidden details in the Liberty Square!)

Other pieces in Liberty Square reflect the spirit. The colonial and Revolutionary time periods were full of patriotic and independent thought. There was an energy needed to create a United States out of thirteen small colonies, all of whom had very unique beginnings. Thusly, there is music that was composed later in America’s history, but still reflect that spirit of America.

Let’s break both of them down:

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Observations from Disney’s Animal Kingdom: August 15, 2014

by on August 15, 2014

Observations from Disney's Animal Kingdom

Take a day — or at least 2/3s of one — to walk around Animal Kingdom with Touring Plans (photos by Seth Kubersky).

This week it was time for me to make some observations from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and is there any place in Walt Disney World more welcoming on a muggy, humid day? Wait, don’t answer that… As an infrequent visitor to Animal Kingdom, it was my objective to visit as many of park’s major and mid-tier attractions as possible, in order to test Derek Burgan’s controversial theory that DAK is indeed more than a “half-day park.”

 

While the typical Touring Plans approach is to arrive before rope drop, I decided to give Animal Kingdom a fighting chance by pulling onto Disney property a half hour after the park’s 9 a.m. opening time. The first sight that greeted me past the toll booths was a large section of the overflow parking lot where grass was being replaced with asphalt.

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Funny Disney World Attractions That’ll Have You Laughing

by on August 10, 2014

Muppet Fountain (photo by Tom Bricker)

Muppet Fountain (photo by Tom Bricker)

What does Mickey call his home? A mouse pad. Who handles Br’er Rabbit’s money? Br’er Broker. How do you turn Epcot into the best park in Disney World? Turn 21. Now that I’ve clearly established my comedy expertise with these masterful jokes, I hope you’ll trust me to guide you through some of Walt Disney World’s Funniest Attractions. One of the words most often associated with Walt Disney World is “magical” but don’t be fooled. Disney World is host to a bevy of attractions that’ll have you laughing out loud. Of course, everyone has his own sense of humor, but if you’re a first time visitor or just happen to have never been on one of the following attractions, I hope this article will give you an idea of just what makes these attractions so funny. I may have only recently started doing stand-up but I’ve been laughing at Walt Disney World my entire life.

Jungle Cruise

If you love “dad” jokes, you’re going to love Jungle Cruise. The attraction features a guided tour through the “jungle” and while you’ll see a bunch of animatronic animals along the way, I think the real appeal of the attraction is your skipper who provides some hilariously corny jokes. Like any attraction with different guides, your enjoyment will definitely hinge on how into it your cast member is. Some of the better ones will have both kids and adults of all ages in stitches by the end of your “six month cruise.” Also be sure to ride it at night and you might be lucky enough to get some jokes that are a little too “edgy” for the day crowds. For a more official new experience, go during the holidays when the whole attraction is re-themed to the Jingle Cruise.

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Kindness Creates Cast Member Magic

by on August 10, 2014

t_logo_fbWhen traveling through Walt Disney World, we all face frustrations. On vacation, it’s quite easy to give into the frustration. I’m no expert on Disney, but I do watch people quite a bit. Instead of facing the frustration with anger – try flipping over – and greeting with a friendly face. On a Disney World vacation in 2013, we decided to embrace the joy. It paid off tremendous dividends. Why? Multitudes of reasons. Usually Disney Cast Member Magic. Why should you? Easy.

You’re not that guy. Let’s face it, kids. We’ve all been somewhere. A place that someone has exploded all over a Cast Member. And trust me, I know how getting riled up and letting loose on some defenseless person can really make you feel good. Frankly, it sometimes does let off some of that steam. And often, you might win that battle – and get what you want. But you’ve sacrificed your level of dignity – and perhaps the dignity of people in your party without even knowing it. I was on a bus on the way back to our resort, and for whatever reason, a left turn light wasn’t working. The driver waited through five lights before moving slowly out into traffic, and going around the block to get to another entrance to the resort. A person on the bus started loudly complaining about the speed of the trip – and her kids became more noticeably embarrassed. When the bus arrived, we waited for the guests to get off the bus, and thanked the driver profusely. We compared the driving of the Disney drivers – SUPER SAFE to the Mears drivers – MUCH different. While we lost a few moments, we all exited happy.

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Observations from Epcot: July 30, 2014

by on August 2, 2014

observations from Epcot

Take a stroll around Epcot with us without having to leave your air-conditioning! (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Following my Frozen-filled visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios last week, I found myself back at Walt Disney World a few days later for some observations from Epcot. As a child, EPCOT (as it will always be capitalized in my heart) was my favorite WDW park, and the massive Beard/Abrams coffee table book on the park’s creation remains among my most prized possessions. As everyone knows, Epcot’s attractions (especially in Future World) have been radically overhauled over the past 2 decades, and now I rarely visit the park except during the fantastic Food & Wine or Flower & Garden festivals.

My first mid-summer Epcot experience in several seasons started on a sweet note, as I snagged a parking spot along the center aisle; there is nothing worse than having to walk a football field’s length just to get to the tram.

Spending a lot of time at Universal Orlando lately, I’ve been frustrated by how slow their entry procedures are, even after new ticket scanners were recently installed. In contrast, the turnstile-free entry at Disney’s parks has become my favorite element of MyMagic+. Scanning a MagicBand usually seems swifter than swiping a barcode, and the finger scanners at Disney are still far faster and more reliable than Universal’s new biometric readers.

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