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Relocating to Florida: Part Three: The Florida Difference and Disney as a local

by on January 23, 2015

TouringPlans logoWe’ve made it to the final installment in my relocation series! Below are links to Part One and Part Two.

Part One: Weather and Finances

Part Two: New Surroundings and the Disney Distance

We’re back with fellow Touringplans bloggers Julia Mascardo and Natalie Reinert as we discuss the Florida difference and traveling to Walt Disney World as a local.

How often did you think you’d be visiting the parks?

Julia: I thought that we’d probably be at the parks once or twice a week.

Natalie: As long as we are living nearby, we’ll be at the parks a few times a week.

How often do you actually visit the parks?

Julia: Like we thought, once or twice is what we do in a typical week. We often do end up at a resort once a week as well, just to grab breakfast or dinner.

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A Magic Kingdom Scavenger Hunt

by on January 18, 2015

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Cinderella Castle

One of the most magical things about Disney World is that there is something to see everywhere you look! But just how much do you actually stop and look? If you’re up for a challenge, I have one for you. Whether you consider yourself a Magic Kingdom Master, or you would just like something extra fun to do at the park, I invite you to try this Magic Kingdom Scavenger Hunt!

I have photos of 15 things that you may or may not have noticed at the Magic Kingdom park and it’s up to you to find them. Don’t worry if you get stuck, there is a hint for each one. Also, to make things a little more interesting, especially if you’re the competitive type, finding each item is worth a certain number of points. The higher the points, the harder it may be to locate. For those of you aiming high, a perfect score is exactly 30 points.

So there are two ways you can use this Magic Kingdom Scavenger Hunt. First of all, you take this scavenger hunt to the Magic Kingdom yourself and see how many of the following you can find. It’s an interesting way to pass the time when you’re waiting in line or when the park is crowded, and is sure to make you appreciate the little Disney touches. It’s also a fun activity for the kids. Another way to use this scavenger hunt is to take a guess from home on where to find the following and see how many points you can win! If you get stumped, there is an answer key at the end of the post, so don’t scroll too far if you want to avoid spoilers.

Are you ready? Let’s start!

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Menu Monday – Give Me Liberty Tree or Give Me Death…

by on January 12, 2015

©homeiswherethemouseis

©homeiswherethemouseis

Hold on right here! I am not so sure about this whole death bit. I mean, eating at the Liberty Tree Tavern is a highlight of this foodie’s day. However, I’m not going to put ANY meal up against the likes of serious things like liberty. I am pretty certain that Patrick Henry would not find the humor in this play on words of his famous quote from 1775 regarding the Revolutionary War. But then again, he had never eaten at the Liberty Tree Tavern for lunch, had he?

Note: Liberty Tree Tavern is slated to go down for an extended refurb from July to November.

Location: Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World
Meals: Lunch (11:30-3:00) and Dinner (4:00 – varies with park closing)
Reservations: Highly encouraged
Accepts: Disney Dining Plan (1 credit), Tables in Wonderland

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Run-down of runDisney Events at Walt Disney World in 2015

by on January 4, 2015

January 7-11 runners from all over will gather for the largest and longest of the runDisney events at Walt Disney World for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. 2015 marks the 21st anniversary of the first running of the race, which was held on January 16, 1994. Marathon Weekend is a jam packed five days of running, eating, shopping, and celebrating fitness and Disney. Runners walk (or run) away with some serious bragging rights and some awesome medals to go along with it – not to mention, some really cool swag from the Health and Fitness Expo.

2015 Marathon Swag ©Disney

2015 Marathon Swag ©Disney

In 2015 there are three more runDisney events at Walt Disney World to look forward to. Below is a briefing of all 2015 events and their costs, along with whether or not registration is still open (as of the time this article was written. It is best to check the event’s webpage and with runDisney directly for up to date availability).

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

January 7-11, 2015 (see race results here after the races)

All races sold out.

  • Marathon – 26.2 miles through all four parks and the Wide World of Sports complex; $170-200
  • Half Marathon – 13.1 miles through Magic Kingdom and Epcot; $170-200
  • Goofy Challenge – 39.3 miles by completing both the Marathon and Half Marathon; $360-400
  • 10k – 6.2 miles around Epcot and the Epcot Resort area; $105-135
  • Family Fun Run 5k – 3.1 miles through Epcot; $60-70
  • Dopey Challenge – 48.6 miles by completing ALL four events above (5k, 10k, ½ marathon, marathon); $530-590
  • Castaway Cay Challenge – 3.1 miles around Castaway Cay plus completion of one of the above races; $65 (plus a booking on the Disney Cruise 4-night Bahamian cruise)
  • Runner’s World Challenge – completion of the Dopey Challenge; $999 (along with the normal runDisney bling you received quite a few bonuses that included preferred coral placement, help with training, access to a private website, entry into the Pasta in the Park and Race Retreat events)
  • Kids Races – 1 mile Mickey run, 400m dash, 200m dash, 100m dash, Diaper Dash (all dependent upon age); $15-30
  • Non-racing events – Health and Fitness Expo, Pasta in the Park Party, Breakfast, Race Retreat, Cool Down Party, and the ChEAR Squad; prices vary per event

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An Evening out with Yehaa Bob at Disney World’s Riverside Resort

by on January 4, 2015

Copyright - Bob Jackson

Copyright –  Yehaa Bob Jackson

Have you ever had interaction with one of the blue nametag elite at one of the Disney parks? Do you know that the blue nametag has special meaning? Those who wear it have received the highest honor of being bestowed with the Legacy Award, which is the highest honor cast members, crew members, and Imagineers can achieve at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Recipients are nominated and selected by their leaders and peers for consistently inspiring others, going out of their way to create happiness for guests and other team members, and finding new ways to deliver Disney magic.

One of the recipients of the Legacy Award in 2013 was the lively entertainer Yehaa Bob Jackson, who has been with the company for more than 17 years. To be honest, Bob was not even on my Disney radar until rather recently, but has quickly risen to one of my favorite reasons to love Disney. His shows are family friendly, loud, and just a righteous good time.

Flashback: Three years ago during our first stay at Walt Disney World’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. One evening, on our way back to our room we walked by the bar area and witnessed a raucous crowd who we assumed were just loud inebriated guests.

Fast Forward: One year later a fellow Disney friend was excitedly telling me about an upcoming show he was going to Ohio featuring Yehaa Bob. I concealed my ignorance and rejoiced for him. But immediately took to the internet to see who this Disney personality was. What I found were scenes of our “inebriated guests” from the year before. Only, they weren’t inebriated. And some of them were kids! I knew I had to see him in person.

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Hour-by-Hour Look at Disney Park Crowd Levels – Revisited

by on December 31, 2014

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post showing heat maps with hour-by-hour park crowd levels. My intention was to illustrate how the crowd levels fluctuate during the day, and we received requests to add these charts to the TouringPlans website.

Personally, I think the charts are most useful if they are customized to specific travel dates. Here is an example for my next trip in February.

February 16-20, 2015

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Hollywood Studios AtMousePhere: The Music of Sunset Boulevard

by on December 28, 2014

35705_1503195386401_4289760_nIf you enjoy big bands, jazz, and swing, then taking a walk down Sunset Boulevard is a must for your Walt Disney World trip. In my last AtMousePhere post on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood Studios, I discussed how unique that area of the park is compared to anything in Magic Kindgom, since that park keeps the music true to its theme.

On Sunset Boulevard, the music once again follows the Magic Kingdom concept and stays true to its theme. I love wandering around Sunset Boulevard to see all the details that highlight the 1930s and 1940s. And best of all, the music doesn’t disappoint. My grandfather probably did cartwheels strolling down this street back in 1995 because it would have made him feel so young!

Although The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is looming in the distance, the music actually stays pretty upbeat until you draw closer to the menacing hotel. Then the atmosphere takes on a more ominous tone.

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The Ultimate Walt Disney World Holidays Tour

by on December 26, 2014

A few weeks ago, I was asked what the must-not-miss holiday decorations were at Walt Disney World for the holidays. Off the cuff, I rattled off the ones that I had seen in years past and that make the headlines: the gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian or the Osborne Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. But truthfully, I had never seen all of the decorations. Would it be possible to see them all in one day? A few planning sessions later, my husband, daughter, and I set out to find out.

Our goal was simple: see the holiday decorations offerings at all Walt Disney World resorts*, all four theme parks, and Downtown Disney – and do it in one day. And, thus, the Ultimate WDW Holiday Tour challenge was born. We live-tweeted our day with #wdwholidaytour and posted updates for TouringPlans subscribers through the Lines app. Here’s our results, and our impressions.

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Cast Member Chronicles: Melissa’s Disney College Program Experience

by on December 21, 2014

Photo - DisneyMelissa is a friend of mine who completed the Disney College Program in January 2013. She had nothing but wonderful things to say about it, so I decided to pick her brain and ask her to share the experience with all of you. For more information about this program, check out my girl Trista’s post here.

Okay ready? Let’s get started!

Walt Disney World has always held a special place in Melissa’s heart. Growing up, her family made several visits and each time was as spectacular as the last. She first heard about the Disney College Program (or DCP as I will refer to it) from her older sister, who had spent a semester there years previously. With her love of Disney blazing like a hunka hunk of burning love, she made the easy decision to apply.

In the Fall of 2012, she began the application process. Step one involved filling out a general application, mostly requesting education and work experience. There was also a section where she was asked to rate different job roles on a 1 to 5 interest scale. Melissa had experience in the restaurant business, so she felt Food and Beverage would be the best fit. From there, things moved very quickly. Step two was a mere two days later, when a representative from Disney requested an online interview. A few days after that, Melissa had a phone interview. One week later, she was a future employee and student of the Disney College Program!

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The Disney Dream (Literally!)

by on December 14, 2014

streetshowIt is something that we have all probably done sometime in our Disney lives: have a Disney dream while you’re sleeping.

Sometimes, the dream is you in a strange hybrid Disney movie with real life mixed in. Sometimes it’s a dream derived from something at the Disney Parks. And in other ways it’s just a crazy mixed-up dream with a little Disney thrown in.

I had an incredibly vivid dream a couple of weeks ago that took place in Walt Disney World and featured some interesting new ideas that came out of the subconscious of my mind. But when I woke up and thought them through, I was thinking of ways those features in my dream could actually work in the parks.

I am going to tell you my Disney dream, and explain how some of those thoughts could be implemented in a Disney Park.

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