Transportation

Horseback Riding at Disney? Yes please!

by on July 8, 2015

Sometimes I need a vacation after my vacation to Disney. Up at the crack of dawn for rope drop, running from one end of the park to another for fastpasses and character meets, staying up late for the fireworks or even the Kiss Goodnight; It can really tire me out sometimes. Luckily for me, all I have to do is take a breath and realize that this IS a vacation. I can go at a slower pace and not spend all day, every day in a park. The resorts and Disney Springs nee Downtown Disney area have just as much to offer if you merely look.

Tri-Circle-D Ranch

After a few days of hitting the parks hard on our last trip, we decided to slow it down and spend a day enjoying our favorite resort area: the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. The night before our “break” we checked with the front desk at our resort for reservations for horseback riding at the campgrounds. They had two openings so we signed up.

My husband and I had wanted to go horseback riding for quite a while; It was part of my bucket list in fact. We had researched places in our home state to go, but why settle for an ordinary horse, when you could go horseback riding on a Disney horse? It just seems even more magical.

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FAQ: Disney World to Disney Cruise Line Transfers

by on June 4, 2015

You’re going a Disney Cruise AND you’re going to Walt Disney World – lucky you!

Land/sea combination Disney vacations are quite common; They’re a nice way to balance the frenetic excitement of a theme park visit and the mellow relaxation of a cruise. Here are some things to think about as you plan how to get from Part A to Part B of your vacation.

Should I take my cruise first or visit Walt Disney World first?

In the Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line, we recommend that guests experience the land (WDW) portion of their land/sea trip first. A visit to the parks is typically more tiring than a cruise (thus, the common refrain “I need a vacation after that vacation”). Most guest enjoy having the rest and recovery time that a cruise provides.

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OK, I’ll go to Walt Disney World first. How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

If you’re going from Orlando International to a Walt Disney World resort hotel, use Disney’s free Magical Express service.

From Disney’s perspective, there’s no difference in transportation procedure between a Disney World vacation and a land/sea vacation starting at Disney World. At this point, use Magical Express and pretend that the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) portion of your trip does not exist. This is particularly important to heed when you’re getting your luggage ready for transportation. If you’d like to have your bags transported by Disney from the airport to the hotel, then use the yellow Magical Express luggage tags. DO NOT put the DCL tags on your bag now.

Is there a charge to get from the airport to my Disney World hotel?

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The Epcot That Never Was

by on May 28, 2015

(c) Walt Disney Company

Model of EPCOT, (c) Walt Disney Company

Epcot is one of my favorite parks at Walt Disney World. I never get tired of seeing Spaceship Earth, or watching the dancing Fountain of Nations in Future World, or doing a little shopping in World Showcase; but what I’ve recently discovered is that the Epcot that I know isn’t exactly what Walt Disney had in mind when planning Disney World. You see, back in the 1960s when Disney World was being planned, the Magic Kingdom wasn’t what Walt was most excited about. In fact, when Walt introduced television viewers to his plans for Florida, he said that EPCOT would be the “heart of everything we will be doing at Disney World.” Walt also said that it wouldn’t be a park at all, but rather a community of the future where you could live! So what was the Epcot supposed to be like? What happened along the way? Well, keep reading because for today, I’m here to tell you all about The Epcot That Never Was.

Walt’s Original Vision for EPCOT

One of Walt’s many interests was city planning and finding solutions to the everyday problems of the cities of the day, such as traffic, slums, pollution, and crowded conditions. He had learned a lot about planning, building, and construction when creating Disneyland, and he now felt that he could provide some solutions to the problems he saw in the real world in the form of a working community called EPCOT.

EPCOT stood for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, and it would be an example to the country and the world for how to build and run better cities. It would also serve as a sort of testing ground for new technology, products, materials, and ideas from America’s industries and corporations that would serve to improve our lives.

EPCOT wasn’t just some idea or possible plan for the distant future of Disney World. Walt fully intended to build it, had many plans and diagrams, and intended it to be the focus of his Disney World on the East Coast where 20,000 residents would live and work. Pretty cool, huh?

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Ideas for Entertaining Kids On The Plane

by on May 20, 2015

Photo - DisneyFor some, the thought of flying on a plane with kids is simple and carefree.

For me, not so much.

Don’t get me wrong – I have an amazingly easy child who travels very well. Still, I would be lying if I didn’t admit prior to flying with her, I become a Nervous Nelly.

For those of you who can relate to my anxieties, here is a list of ideas and items for entertaining your child on a flight to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or anywhere else. Although who are we kidding, why go anywhere else when you could go to some of the happiest places on earth? 😉

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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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Disney Savvy Tips for Blizzard Beach

by on April 22, 2015

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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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Camping 101: Getting around Fort Wilderness

by on April 12, 2015

The third installment in an ongoing series about the ins and outs of camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness, this entry will focus on the different methods of getting around the campground which can be overwhelming due to its size. Please be sure to catch up with Part 1 about RV rentals and Part 2 which was about getting groceries to your campsite.

Now that you have the basics of food and shelter planned out, how about a convenience factor such as how you will get around the campgrounds. Of course you can always opt to just schlep it on foot, but this may be an unwise move. The trading posts, restaurants, and recreational activities are spread throughout the complex. And, although it is camping, hiking everywhere you need to go may just not be feasible.

The most important thing you must know about transportation at Fort Wilderness is that the is no car parking except at your own campsite or cabin, at the front of the resort (the Outpost) for check-in and day guests, and 15 minute parking at the Meadows Trading Post for picking up supplies from the retail outlet there. There is no parking at the Settlement (where you find Hoop Dee Doo and Trail’s End) except for bikes and golf carts.

Options

1) Disney Transportation

Disney's map of Fort Wilderness including bus routes.

Disney’s map of Fort Wilderness including bus routes.

Disney busing is a wonderful amenity to all of the Disney resorts, and the Fort Wilderness campgrounds is no exception. Not only do they have busing that takes you to the parks and Downtown Disney, but they also have internal loops that will take you to the different areas of the campground. Lines are labeled as Orange, Yellow, or Purple. All three begin and end at the Settlement Depot and the Outpost Depot, but take different paths through the campground. It is always best to check the color coded map in the bus depot to see which bus line you need, as things do change, but I will give you a brief primer. Click the map to the right to view full size.

The purple line runs through the 2000-2800 campsite areas and passes a those sites’ sports areas with volleyball, basketball, and quiet pools. The orange line runs through the 600-700 and the 1000-1300 campsite areas. The yellow line runs through the 100-500 and 1400-1900 campsite areas. Both the orange and yellow lines will take you to the Meadows which includes: Chip and Dale’s Campfire Sing A Long, the Bike Barn where you can rent golf carts, bikes, canoes and kayaks, the Meadow recreation area which contains the Meadow swimming pool, snack bar, Daniel Boone’s Wilderness arcade, shuffleboards, and horseshoes,  and the Meadow Trading Post.

There is also bus transportation to the Wilderness Lodge at the Settlement, and boat transportation to Wilderness Lodge, the Contemporary, and Magic Kingdom from the Settlement dock.

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An Introvert’s Guide to Disney World

by on March 15, 2015

I’m a Disney theme park devotee; I love the parks’ art and architecture, the attention to detail, the zippy rides, and the gently popcorn-scented air. I’m also a hard core introvert. I enjoy time with my family and close friends, but speaking with strangers or spending extended periods in large groups leaves me emotionally drained. To recover, I require personal space and quiet time, and lots of it.

Disney Parks fan and introvert can be challenging traits to reconcile. And honestly, I sometimes get the feeling that Walt Disney World is the epicenter of everything I am not. Disney is loud and relentless. With its confluence of uber-friendly cast members, crowds, boisterous dance parties, and world-as-a-show ethos, the entire place practically screams EXTROVERTS ONLY.

Even Christmas can be manageable for an introvert, IF you arrive at the parks early.

Even Christmas can be manageable for an introvert, IF you arrive at the parks early.

But as a veteran of many dozens of trips to the Disney Parks, I’m here to promise you that an introvert can survive, and even thrive, in the midst of the madness. Here are some steps you can take to help make Walt Disney World a manageable experience for an introvert.

Choose a low crowd time of the year to visit.

I have extrovert friends who love WDW on New Year’s Eve. They get excited seeing tens of thousands of people all in one place. You never know who you’ll meet! But for me, one of the quickest paths to system overload is crushing crowds. Being in the Magic Kingdom on New Year’s Eve might possibly make my head explode.

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Disney World Planning Challenges: Is Packing Carry-On Only Right for You?

by on March 4, 2015

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Don’t let packing get you down: a good plan to pack carry-on only can lessen the stress

Establishing a countdown, deciding which parks to visit on which days, planning advanced dining and FastPass+ reservations—for me, all of these are part of the joy of anticipating a Walt Disney World vacation. Even so, there is one aspect of planning that can feel like a major obstacle between me and vacation, one thing that is no fun whatsoever when I’m preparing for a Disney World vacation, and that thing is packing for our flight to the World.

Although I know that packing will probably always be my least favorite part of getting ready for vacation, over multiple trips to Disney World, I have found some ways to make it a little less painful. One of these strategies is to pack carry-on only whenever possible. Packing carry-on only not only cuts down on the amount of “brain drain” I seem to experience while packing but also on the amount of time I spend doing it.

Some Factors to Consider

Your Traveling Party. A major factor to consider affecting your ability to pack carry-on is your traveling party. Packing carry-on only became much more possible when my kids were past the baby and toddler stage. Let’s face it, just getting to Disney World with the paraphernalia needed for young kids is a major accomplishment. But now that our traveling party consists of either adults and older children or adults only, we put everyone to work while traveling carry-on, with each person responsible for a roll aboard bag and a personal item (generally a backpack).

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A Tale of Two Runners and runDisney

by on February 15, 2015

To the shock and utter amazement of those that know me well (and even myself), I am contemplating signing up for a runDisney event in 2016. I have scoured every inch of the runDisney website and read many other people’s blogs about their experiences. However, I had concerns about what hotel was the right one to stay at for these events, so I asked two previous runDisney racers: Dave Russ, a casual runner who mainly does 5ks to support local causes, and Jordan Viebranz, a more seasoned runner who loves sharing his experiences and motivating others to participate.

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What runDisney event(s) have you participated in?

Dave: I did the Tower of Terror 10 miler in 2014.

Jordan: I participated in the Goofy Challenge this year. Last year (2014) I participated in the 10k and the full marathon.

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