Transportation

Where Can You Walk at Disney World?

by on February 4, 2015

I grew up in Maine, where the punchline to a popular joke was “You Can’t Get There From Here.” At Disney World, you can always get there, but you usually can’t get there from here if you’re walking.

Yes, I know, when you’re at Walt Disney World, you’ll be doing nothing but walking. Many folks have worn pedometers during their Disney vacations and they inevitably learn that walking 5, 7, 10 or more miles per day at Disney World is the norm rather than the exception. Repeat Disney guests understand that nearly all their walking will be done within their resort or within the theme parks; it’s nearly a mile to walk around the World Showcase at Epcot. However, new Disney visitors may be confused that walking between theme parks or between resorts is often not possible. “But the Grand Floridian is right next to the Magic Kingdom, of course I can walk there.” Um, no.

The most walking options occur in the Epcot resorts area.

The most walking options occur in the Epcot resorts area.

Most of the time, you won’t be walking from park to park or from resort to resort, because you can’t. Even if you had the inclination and energy to hoof it, there are few sidewalks or safe paths to travel. For example, the Wilderness Lodge and the Polynesian Resort are about 3/4 of a mile apart as the crow flies. Most healthy adults could walk this in 15 minutes or less. But while the distance is not odious, there are no safe walking paths, making the trip all but impossible on foot, particularly in the dark. Instead, if you want to go from the Wilderness Lodge to the Poly, you’ll have to drive or take a cab or, if you want to use Disney’s free transportation system, you’ll end up taking a boat to the Magic Kingdom or the Contemporary Resort and then transferring to the monorail for a ride to the Poly. What could be a quick trip to a nearby hotel for a celebratory lapu lapu, ends up being an annoying slog.

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Using an Electric Scooter (ECV) at Walt Disney World

by on January 22, 2015

Renting a scooter can help your senior keep up.

Your chariot awaits!

My mom, Terri, has two autoimmune diseases: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Rhematoid Arthritis (RA). Because of this, walking for long periods of time (especially in the hot sun) causes her pain, dizziness and exhaustion. We have visited Walt Disney World many times and each time, she did her best to explore the parks on foot. However, as her diseases progressed, walking became more and more difficult for her. She tried to walk slower and take more breaks, but we could still see the pain in her eyes. My mom is a selfless and caring person, so she felt guilty. She felt she was holding us back and letting us down. She saw us changing plans to accommodate her and so she started making excuses to stay behind in the room to prevent any inconveniences.

Time for a Change

I noticed her attitude change, and explained that she was neither an inconvenience nor letting us down. I don’t see her as a woman with two diseases. I see her as my loving mother. My family and I love spending time with her and were so sad to see her missing out on the fun. I spoke with my Dad and we approached the subject of an electric scooter, or electric conveyance vehicle (ECV). At first, she declined. She was embarrassed because she thought she would be the only one using one. She thought getting around would be difficult and using Disney transportation would be a hassle.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter

by on January 17, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. Regular readers of the Saturday Six know how much we enjoy staying onsite at the Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World, and while Disney is challenged to compete with some the amenities that Universal can offer its guests, where it does shine is the overall amount and unique hotels on property. Universal has a total of four onsite hotels (soon to be five with the opening of Sapphire Falls in 2016) while Disney has five value resorts alone, not to mention all the moderate, deluxe, and DVC resorts on property. Today we are going to look at our absolute favorite moderate: Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

POFQ_logo

Port Orleans French Quarter.

 

Disney’s Port Orleans is broken up into two sections: French Quarter, and Riverside, the latter of which is the much larger of the two resorts. While Riverside certainly has its fans (in fact we’d probably consider it our extremely close second favorite moderate,) we prefer Port Orleans (POFQ) and here are six reason why, starting with…

# 6 – Sassagoula Float Works and Food Factory

French Quarter doesn’t have a table service restaurant (although Riverside’s Boatwright’s Dining Hall is a short walk away,) but it does have a fantastic counter service with the Sassagoula Float Works. Set up like a mall food court, there are several different stations offering Louisiana-inspired dishes such as Po’Boys, Jambalaya, Gumbo, and Beignets. For lunch you can not go wrong with one of the various Po’Boys (our favorites were the pork and beef versions) along with a side of bean salad or house-made chips. As we wrote about in our review of the Fantasy Fare food truck, Disney makes surprisingly good chips. For dinner you gotta go with the Jambalaya or Pot Roast, and any time of the day is good for an order of beignets. Made fresh-to-order and covered in powdered sugar, these beignets are one of the best treats at WDW.

POFQ_BBQpoboy

Pork Po’Boy with bean salad from Sassagoula Float Works and Food Factory.

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How to Experience an Empty Magic Kingdom

by on January 16, 2015

What do you think of when you think of Disney World? Castles? Princesses? Pirates? I sure do! But just like everyone else, I can also think of less magical things such as crowds, long lines, and wait times. Fortunately, Touring Plans can help cut down those long lines and wait times; but one thing that can’t be done is to remove the throngs of people entirely. That is, until now. Yes, in this post, I will explain how to experience an empty Magic Kingdom before the park opens up to the droves of guests. Read on!

I had the castle to myself!

I had the castle to myself!

The Secret

The Magic Kingdom opens most mornings at 9:00 AM, but the secret is that two park restaurants open even earlier, such as The Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Royal Table. (Note: Cinderella’s Royal Table is currently closed for refurbishment but is expected to reopen in spring of 2015.) If you are able to book an advance dining reservation before park opening, you will be able to walk through the empty park in order to check-in for your breakfast!

Now, before you get too excited, let me clarify a few things. For one, the shows and attractions at the Magic Kingdom do not open for anyone until the park opens, and many of the surrounding lands are roped off to guests who do have early morning reservations. Still, getting in early was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had at Disney World.

Getting In

When I first heard about this Disney World secret, I immediately booked an advance dining reservation at The Crystal Palace for my upcoming vacation dates. It took some checking and re-checking for several days, but I finally was able to grab a reservation at 8:20 AM on a day when the park opened at 9:00 AM. Score!

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The Walt Disney World Road Trip: Tips, Tricks and What Not to Do

by on January 14, 2015

Photo - Michael Dahlgren

Recently, my family decided to make a last minute trip to Disney World the week of New Year’s. Before everyone faints at the heresy of going during the busiest week of the year, my brother’s school was playing in a bowl game in Tampa, so my family decided to kill two birds with one stone. Quickly putting aside the loud warnings in the back of my head about the massive crowds, I couldn’t turn down a pseudo surprise Disney trip. The resort reservation was all set (we would be staying at a Finding Nemo Suite in Disney’s Art of Animation Resort), and I already had my annual pass, but the flight fares were absolutely insane from Baltimore, which is the closest airport to me. Being a more intelligent person than I, my girlfriend suggested a simple alternative. Why don’t we just drive down? So we did. I hope everyone who is considering the possibility of driving instead of flying finds this useful.

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One-Day/Two-Parks; A Universal Orlando Trip Report

by on December 17, 2014

The gate to the Studios.

The gate to the Studios.

…in which our intrepid couple travels outside the Disney bubble and lives to tell about it.

Step 1 – Transportation from Walt Disney World to Universal and Park Tickets

While planning for a particularly long vacation to Walt Disney World, my husband and I decided to squeeze in a day over at Universal Orlando Resort to try out a one-day / two-park touring plan of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Instantly we were faced with the question, “How do we get there?” We were planning on taking Disney’s Magical Express from the airport and would not have a car while on vacation. Would we dare to use the public transportation and hop a bus? We had seen a harrowing,(although hilarious) YouTube video of a British couple who took this route. It didn’t work out so well for them, and they splurged for a cab ride on the way back. Yes, busing was out of the question. We were on a time limit and didn’t have the three hours it took these poor folks just to get to the park. Well, with rental car and busing out of the question, that left us with a taxi.

We did our homework and priced up the fares using the Mears Transportation website. It didn’t seem too terrible, and this is really what we were leaning towards, until I read in the fine print that even if stuck in traffic, the meter is running. We wanted to be on the roadways during rush hour traffic. This probably was not a good plan either. Well, what to do? Do we just forget about Universal? No! Where there is a will, there is a way. And after more research we discovered that some of the travel agencies that sell tickets also sell transportation packages. Now we’re talking!

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Video: Cabana Bay Garden Bridge Now Open at Universal Orlando

by on November 8, 2014

Cabana Bay garden bridge open

Cabana Bay’s garden bridge is now open to pedestrians, and we’ve got the POV to prove it. (Photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

It seems like only yesterday that we were wondering when the new pedestrian walkway and garden bridge connecting the Cabana Bay Beach Resort with the rest of the Universal Orlando Resort would open. Well, wait now more, because it looks like The Cowfish wasn’t the only thing Universal quietly debuted this month.

The Cabana Bay garden bridge opened recently, and even though the walkway between the hotel and CityWalk isn’t yet fully landscaped, I wanted to capture the following POV video to give you a feel for this new path’s potential:

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Offsite Options: Rope Drop Rules

by on September 16, 2014

As avid Disney fans know, the Unofficial Guide recommends arriving at the gate of Walt Disney World’s theme parks 30–40 minutes before park opening during mid-summer months, and 45–60 minutes before park opening during the holiday season. The introduction of FastPass+ into touring strategies, however, may lead some to question whether arriving this early, i.e., for rope drop, is as important as it used to be. After all, if you can make your attraction selections in advance, why go through the “hassle” of arriving at the crack of dawn?

Though I would argue getting to the parks early is important for all guests, this article will examine why it is especially important for offsite guests. I’ll identify some of the benefits to “rope-dropping” as an offsite guest, and encourage you to at least give rope drop a try during your next Walt Disney World experience.

First!

First! – © John Kivus, 2013

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Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Come to Epcot

by on September 7, 2014

EV Signage at Epcot

The location of the EV charging stations is clearly marked with a sign. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Since its opening, one focus of Epcot has been to showcase new technologies. Keeping in line with that mission, Epcot has added some technology that may be unfamiliar to many people, but certainly is being touted as technology of the future. But you won’t find this technology inside Epcot – it is located in the parking lot.

Along the first row of the Journey parking lot, Epcot now has two Electric Vehicle charging stations (each with plugs for two vehicles). This service is provided (for a fee) by ChargePoint.

Prior to the opening of this station, options to charge electric cars have been limited at Walt Disney World. According to the PlugShare site, the only other reported options for charging an EV were wall outlets at Fort Wilderness Cabins (likely installed to charge golf carts), a reported wall outlet available at the Contemporary (available only if you ask around, but not marked as such), another wall outlet available from valet at the Dolphin hotel upon request, a dedicated but unmarked charging outlet at the BoardWalk (which means that if someone has already parked in that parking space, you are out of luck), and an unapproved outlet at Caribbean Beach that only is powered at night (and not likely sanctioned by Disney). Many of these workarounds were unreliable and users reported that they often provided an incomplete charge.

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Walt Disney World Monorail Schedule Changing September 1

by on August 29, 2014

Earlier this summer, the Walt Disney World Resort changed the monorail operating hours. Well, with Labor Day Weekend upon us and summer quickly fading away into fall at WDW, it appears that the monorail will be running different hours again. Beginning on September 1 and lasting (right now) until September 26, the Walt Disney World Resort monorail service will be seeing another set of updated hours, which are:

  • Magic Kingdom Resort Beam: 8:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. (12:00 midnight on hard ticket event evenings)
  • Magic Kingdom Express Beam: 9:30 a.m. through 1 hour after the Magic Kingdom fireworks
  • Epcot Beam: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

During times when the monorail will not be running, additional watercraft and buses will be available to transport guests.

There is no word yet regarding whether after September 26 monorail hours will still be reduced or if they will return to their standard schedule. As a reminder, the Walt Disney World Resort monorails are currently undergoing an update where they are adding an automated operating system.

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