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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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MyMagic+ and Last-Minute Trips: Planned Spontaneity Advanced Course

by on July 24, 2015

Spaceship Earth MyMagic+

Sometimes you just need a last-minute trip to Disney World.

If you caught my previous article on planned spontaneity and MyMagic+, there is one flaw you might have noticed – it requires that you know far in advance that you are taking a trip to Walt Disney World. So the question is, “How do you plan for spontaneity when you decide to take a trip in the next 30 days?”

Before I launch into my method for planned spontaneity for last-minute trips, I first want to make one tiny thing clear: you don’t have to plan for spontaneity to be spontaneous on a trip to Disney World. (Don’t be alarmed, you read that right.) If you want to go sans FastPass+ and wing it with restaurants, you will still be able to have an awesome time. I prefer to use MyMagic+ to its fullest, and for me that means planning in such a way that I can go off-book about 50% of the time and have a plan the other 50%.  If you’re a planner like I am, then this should be right up your alley.

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Epcot AtMousePhere: The Music of Future World West

by on July 23, 2015

Copyright 2010 Claire NatWe’re taking things in a different direction in this edition of AtMousePhere. Epcot can be divided all sorts of ways: one way is to divide it into Future World and World Showcase, or you could divide each single pavilion into its own specific section.

For our purpose here, I am going to take a few pavilions at a time and highlight the atmospheric music inside and outside the pavilion. This article is going to focus on the music of Future World West, which includes The Seas with Nemo and Friends, The Land, and Imagination!

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Menu Monday: Whispering Canyon Café Breakfast Review

by on July 20, 2015

Today we are visiting one of my favorite on property breakfast experiences:  Whispering Canyon Café.  I say experience because it is so much more than just a place to eat.  Whispering Canyon is a place to laugh and have a good time.  It is a character breakfast of sorts, but not with your traditional Disney characters and at no additional cost; No Princesses, Mickey, or other Fab Five member here.  The characters I am referring to are the wonderful Cast Member waiters and waitresses.  They bring the restaurant alive, and keep our family coming back for more.

What:  Whispering Canyon Café
Where:  located directly off the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge
When:  Breakfast is served every day 7:30-11:30am
“The goings-on can get a little loud, and that’s just the way we like it.”

To play or not to play.

To play or not to play.

Our last waitress, M.T., was a real hoot.  We had a blast with her sarcastic humor.  She knew how to work her “audiences” as well.  She could read the patrons at her table perfectly and acted accordingly.  The table to our left was a family with 3 children.  She joked with the children and even put one of them “in jail”.  The large table to our right was not in the mood for fun.  They had clearly just come to eat breakfast and not partake in any of the shenanigans.  M.T. reacted accordingly and they got your normal no-fun-all-business waitress.  They were perfectly content.  We have a darker sense of humor and she seemed to tune right in to it.  We were in stiches before our order was even taken.

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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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Taking Your Parents to Walt Disney World: Dealing with Change

by on July 15, 2015

mickey

My family back in 2000

I have to admit that my love of all things Disney was started by my parents. They took me to the movies, bought the toys, and, most importantly, took me and my siblings to the theme parks. I was fortunate enough to go three times in my childhood years, and every time we went there was something new that I grew to love.

Eventually, though, my family moved into the college years, where my parents couldn’t afford to go to the theme parks because they were putting the four of us through school. Regardless, I still made a point to request a trip every year, to which I was met with a patient “no.” Even when I was doing my solo or friend trips, I always yearned to have the whole family back in Walt Disney World again.

To my shock and amazement, my father told me the last time I was home that they were indeed planning a Walt Disney World vacation for next summer, and that I should come along. My youngest brother is now done with college, and they felt it was time to enjoy the parks again. (Plus my mother is a huge Harry Potter fan, and she has been dying to go to Universal Orlando, too.)

My parents are in their late 50s, so this is not a post about getting around the parks with elderly parents. (For tips on that, you can check out the comments section in this article.) But if you have done the parks as a child and now are going back as an adult with your parents, you know full well that things are going to be very, very different!

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What To Do With Teens at Downtown Disney Once DisneyQuest is Gone

by on July 13, 2015

DisneyQuest

Downtown Disney’s DisneyQuest

So you want to check out Downtown Disney during your next trip to Walt Disney World. The problem is…you have teenagers. Will they want to be pulled away from the thrill rides and water parks for several hours of shopping? Will there be anything for them? Is it even worth a try?

For years, DisneyQuest was a haven at Downtown Disney for older kids and teens, an interactive playground of sorts with experiences such as the Virtual Jungle Cruise and CyberSpace Mountain. It first opened in 1998, and unfortunately it hasn’t changed much since then. In fact, during my last visit, DisneyQuest reminded me more of my local arcade with its faded carpets and outdated technology than something I would expect to find at Disney World. What I did notice was that older kids and teens, despite having smartphones in their pockets and the latest game consoles at home, were still having fun playing around DisneyQuest. But now, Disney has announced that DisneyQuest will be closing its doors for good in 2016.

So the question is: what does Downtown Disney have to offer this age group now? Is it all just stores and restaurants for Mom and Dad? No way! During my last visit to Downtown Disney, I discovered many restaurants and stores that I think teens are sure to enjoy. Like what? I’m here to tell you all about it with What To Do With Teens Once DisneyQuest is Gone.

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Tips and Tricks for Maximizing Suitcase Space

by on July 13, 2015

Photo - Angela DahlgrenI’ve read many a post on what to bring to Walt Disney World. In fact, I’ve even written about the topic here and here! However, I don’t often see posts on how to maximize the space in ones suitcase. So, today I bring you just that. Whether its a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, here are my space-saving tips!

Note: This article is targeting toward a more casual vacation. I’m hopeless when it comes to packing for business & formal events. Huge overpacker. 

Make a packing list

For me, this is crucial. It is the ONLY way I won’t forget anything. As you place the item in the suitcase, cross it off your list. This may also prevent you from overpacking.

Extra tip: The night before, I like to make a list of all the last minute items I’ll need to add (i.e. phone charger, toothbrush) the morning I leave.

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Religious Resources at Walt Disney World

by on July 12, 2015

For some people, maintaining religious practices is important even on vacation. Although Walt Disney World is not immediately thought as a destination for people of faiths, it’s popularity and universal themes for all people does mean that people of all faiths come to the vacation capital of the world. Here are some of the resources for finding a house of worship, descriptions of special events or attractions of interest for faith communities, and some additional religion-specific information for three of the major religions in the United States.

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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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