Your subscriptions support new blog articles and research. Please consider

subscribing.

today.


When the Magic is Too Much – Preparing Kids for Disney

by on July 22, 2014 17 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

Planning a family Disney vacation is full of anticipation and excitement. You save money and plan meticulously for months to have that perfect, magical experience. However, it’s often underestimated how quickly things can go from exciting to scary for the youngest Disney guests. Navigating four theme parks with a little one can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t anticipate what may trigger a reaction. Here we look at ways of preparing kids for Disney vacations.

I’ve seen kiddos get freaked out by 3 main things:

  1. Mickey and characters (they’re bigger than you think!),
  2. Fireworks (sure they’re pretty, but man are they loud!), and
  3. Attractions

There are a few things that you can do in advance to prepare your youngster for the magical world of excitement that awaits!

Buzz and Woody are big, even for adults!

Buzz and Woody are big, even for adults!

Meeting Disney Friends:

Kids see Mickey, Minnie, and all of their favorite characters in movies and on TV, but it really doesn’t prepare them for how large they are in real life. One way to help prepare young kids to these large friends is to expose them to some local “life size” characters like at Chuck E. Cheese or mascots at any local sporting event. This is a great test run to see how a youngster can handle these larger than life characters. It’s also a way to help them sort through any anxiety they might have, so when they meet Mickey it won’t be so overwhelming. If they already love Chuck E. Cheese, then you can cross this concern off your list! Read the rest of this entry »

Disney Offers U.S. Military Special Tickets and Resort Rates

by on July 22, 2014 3 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
©Disney

©Disney

In honor of our troops, both the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort will not only be offering U.S. Military special discounted room reservation rates, but they are also offering them promotional military ticket options.

The brave men and women who serve our country can purchase specially priced tickets from August 25, 2014, through September 30, 2015 for both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort. (Disneyland tickets can actually be purchased through October 1, 2015.) These special tickets may be purchased by active and retired U.S. military personnel (which includes active and retired members of the U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard and Reservists). Active and retired U.S. military personnel can purchase the Disney Military Promotional Tickets for not only themselves, but also up to five additional family members or friends. Keep in mind that there is an expiration date for these tickets; they must be used by October 3, 2015, and they are non-transferable. Valid military identification will be required for purchase and use.

At Walt Disney World, there are three different Military Promotional Ticket options, which include: Read the rest of this entry »

Pros and Cons of Disney World Without Kids

by on July 22, 2014 18 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

Disney vacations are marketed as the quintessential family trip. The commercials, the planning DVDs, the website, the mailings, and oodles of other Disney vacation propaganda all showcase the glowing, smiling faces of cherub-cheeked tots in addition to the satisfied radiance of their perfectly coifed parents. No doubt about it – if you have a family, Disney is on your radar.

This sight is exciting for adults and kids alike!

This sight is exciting for adults and kids alike!

But what about a Disney World trip, without the kids? Disney World is a popular destination for honeymooners, to get engaged, and even for a couple to get married, right in the parks. Millions of couples choose to vacation in the House of Mouse without their progeny for many, many reasons. It could be celebrating a special anniversary, only in town briefly for a conference or work trip, or perhaps, they just it’s time to rekindle that romantic spark sans diaper bags and sippy cups. Whatever the reason for your adult-inspired journey into America’s Neverland, let’s explore the pros and cons of traveling to Walt Disney World without kids.

Read the rest of this entry »

Renting a Sea Raycer: Is It Worth It?

by on July 22, 2014 12 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

Renting a Sea Raycer at one of the Disney World Resorts has been on my to-do list for years, but the hardest thing about having so many things to do at the Disney World Resort is that there are just so many things to do! But a few weeks ago, I finally carved out some time courtesy of a Personalized Touring Plan to do a little cruising to see if it’s worth it. Here’s what I found out.

101_5361

The Fort Wilderness Marina

First of all, a Sea Raycer is a small, two person watercraft guests can rent at the Disney World Resort marinas. I personally chose the marina at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground because I wanted to cruise around the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake to get a view of the Deluxe Resorts and the Magic Kingdom from the water. You can rent a Sea Raycer from the marina at the Yacht and Beach Club, but there isn’t as much to see, in my opinion.

The rental rates for a Sea Raycer are pretty reasonable at $32 per 30 minutes, $40 per 45 minutes, and $45 for 60 minutes. There’s also a 30% discount for passholders, which I gladly took advantage of! I also had to sign a waiver, show my driver’s license, and was warned that Sea Raycers are not known for speed. In fact, you’re looking at top speeds of around 20 mph. I was also informed that have two adults riding in a Sea Raycer, as opposed to driving solo or with a small child, will slow you down even more.

After getting my free life jacket, as it is a requirement for all drivers and passengers to wear a life jacket at all times, I was given a brief tutorial on how to operate a Sea Raycer by a friendly Cast Member, shown a map of Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon, was informed a few basic rules, and then was free to head out into open waters!

Read the rest of this entry »

Review of DCA’s New Disney California Story Tour

by on July 21, 2014 5 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

Bs1sRmcCcAAr1n5Three things are for sure in life, death, taxes and Disney theme parks having guided tours. Disney California Adventure now has a tour to call its own, but is it worth the $109 asking price? Read on and I will help you decide.

I’m not surprised DCA hasn’t had a tour up until now. Before the park’s billion dollar refurbishment was completed in 2012, there wasn’t much fodder for a Disney tour. Maybe they could have went through and pointed out all the puns (Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream, get it?). But there weren’t many Disney references to go through and talk about. But now that Buena Vista Street exists as the park’s entrance area, there are Disney references every couple of feet. The tour takes advantage of this and starts off at DCA’s flag pole. Immediately the tour guide starts going through all the references, tributes and gags that are tied to Walt and the company’s history. There are so many references on Buena Vista Street that it wouldn’t be practical to point out all of them. But they still manage to cram a lot of information in to this portion of the tour. For fans of Walt Disney, and the history of the company in general, this will be the most interesting part of the tour.

After making several stops at points on Buena Vista Street, the group pauses for a moment in front of Carthay Circle Restaurant and gets a brief introduction to the building and its significance to Disney history (for those who don’t know, the original building is where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937). After that, our tour group was taken inside the 1901 Lounge. This lounge is usually exclusive to Club 33 members, but the tour enters in the morning before it is open to its usual clients. The walls inside 1901 are filled with vintage photos of Walt and his animators. One of the highlights is the wall of caricatures of the likenesses of Walt’s “Nine Old Men” group of animators. If you’ve already been inside 1901, then this part of the tour is no big deal. Especially considering you don’t stay long (the tour takes you through in about 15 minutes) and there are no pictures allowed. This is especially strange because pictures are usually allowed when you visit with a member, and pictures are also admitted when taking the Adventures by Disney tour that takes you through the club. If you’ve never been inside 1901 before this will be a good, but short, highlight of the tour.

Read the rest of this entry »

Best Sweet Treats at Disney World

by on July 21, 2014 11 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
DSC_4581

There’s more where these came from

Sugar. Sweet treats are made of this. There are times when it seems to me the whole of Walt Disney World itself was made of it. A word of caution; however inviting the great wall of honey at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh may appear, please don’t lick it. Sure, it may seem like a good idea, but there are plenty of better options available, and besides, it’s not really all that sweet. If anything, the flavor hints faintly of grime and germs. If that’s your idea of a treat, who am I to disagree?

Finding something sweet to eat at Walt Disney World is not a difficult task, but it can be daunting if you’re intent on finding that perfect treat. I’ve traveled Disney World and the Seven Seas Lagoon and the sheer volume of goodies on offer is overwhelming, to be sure. In my explorations, I’ve found that pretty much everybody is searching for something sweet.They’ve certainly come to the right place. One need not take more than a few steps in any park without spying some tantalizing confection in the quivering hand of a giddy park guest, or from a myriad of cleverly-disguised gingerbread houses beckoning you to come inside. Fortunately, whether you discover that special goody, or wicked witch, your sweet tooth can take comfort in knowing that even the least-inspiring treat still packs enough sweet to satisfy it. Treats are something Disney does well, even those times when they don’t especially. Read the rest of this entry »

Magic Kingdom AtMousePhere: Tomorrowland Music

by on July 21, 2014 10 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
Tomorrowland3

Tomorrowland is so different from the other lands – it holds a special place in my heart.

One of the most incredible aspects of Walt Disney World music is the way it captures the essence of the land. For one minute, you’re imagining yourself with a top hat or parasol walking right down the middle of Main Street,  U.S.A. The next, you want to be on a mighty steed galloping through Fantasyland. And after that, you’re picturing yourself in a coonskin cap strolling through Frontierland.

My favorite bit of Magic Kindgom music, however, has to be the Tomorrowland loop. Before I started listening to Walt Disney World music online, I could still remember bits of that music in my head from time to time. Even though the music of the future isn’t as easy to pinpoint as music from the turn of the century, it still pulls you into that atmosphere.

Strap in folks; we’re ready for blast-off!

To truly immerse yourself in Tomorrowland, click on the video below, courtesy of Disney Dreaming on YouTube, before continuing: 

Tomorrowland Music Loop

The Unique Nostalgia Music

In almost every other area of Magic Kingdom park,  many pieces of music are taken from movies. As we saw in the Main Street, U.S.A. loop, several of the pieces were from movie musicals set in the early 20th century. Other lands arrange or compose music that closely matches the area’s setting, like the rollicking drums of Adventureland. Read the rest of this entry »

10 Things You’ll Want To Know About a Vacation at Disney’s Aulani Resort

by on July 21, 2014 6 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

Aloha! This week I’ve got Disney’s Aulani Resort on the brain! Why, you ask? Because I spent a glorious week there recently. I’ve been to Hawaii before, and there’s a reason people call it paradise. And let me assure you, Aulani does its part to live up to that. It’s an absolutely stunning resort, and that trip was one of the most relaxing vacations we’ve ever had. I highly recommend a visit. And if you do get a chance to stay there, here are ten things that may help you experience the magic even more.

1. It’s Disney With a Light Touch – Aulani is absolutely a Disney resort. And that’s a good thing. It’s also a Disney resort with one of the lightest touches you’ll find. Sure, you’ll have the opportunity to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and friends decked out in Hawaiian garb, but they’re in an environment that truly feels authentic to the island. Because at Aulani, the central themes are the islands of Hawaii, its people, and their culture. Need examples? The interactive game at the resort isn’t a Phineas and Ferb adventure, it’s based on Menehune, a mythological Hawaiian people. Although there are hidden Mickeys to be found, there are actual hidden Menehune statues all over the resort. The collage of photographs behind the front desk is made up of individual photos taken by Hawaiian students across the islands. Additionally, the lobby is breathtaking and open air like you find in resorts all over Hawaii, and it has a grand 360-degree mural which tells the history of Hawaii. Even the pools aren’t Mickey shaped; they’re free form, most with gorgeous views of the ocean and lagoon the resort is situated on. Finally, in a fun touch that my family really enjoyed, the elevators play classic Disney songs using Hawaiian-style music and lyrics in the Hawaiian language. Have fun guessing which song is being played! Read the rest of this entry »

Taking Disney World by Storm

by on July 20, 2014 21 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

First of all, I am not a meteorologist. I don’t even play one on TV.

That being said, I have thirty years of experience in Orlando weather, including doing extensive research on hurricanes.

The 2014 hurricane season has begun, and the year marks the tenth anniversary of Orlando’s “Year of Three Hurricanes”. In this article, I’ll cover the issue of hurricanes and Orlando’s famous thunderstorms as well as how to avoid them and vacation around them.

Orlando street view the morning after Hurricane Charley in 2004.  Photo by Thomas Cook

Orlando street view the morning after Hurricane Charley in 2004. Photo by Thomas Cook

Officially known as “tropical cyclones” but colloquially as hurricanes, the massive summer storms are one of the most powerful and dangerous natural events on earth. The amount of energy released in one day by an average cyclone in producing rain (which is 400 times greater than the wind energy) is equal to the yearly energy production of the U.S.

So you’re thinking hurricanes and Florida go hand-in-hand like Vermont and snow, right? Well, sort of. Florida is a big state. Not only in terms of square miles, but it’s long. For instance, it takes 12 hours to drive from Key West to Pensacola.

Of course, every mile is a potential hurricane target, but Walt Disney World is only some 40 miles square. Additionally it’s in the center of the state, relatively far from the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. This means every time your local news tells about a hurricane in Florida, it’s unlikely to be passing close to Disney world.

The U.S. government started regular tracking of tropical cyclones in 1851. Looking at those statistics gives excellent news: The frequency of a hurricane passing through the Walt Disney World area in any year is 1 in 10. A 10% chance each year is all local have to worry about. Want even better news? If you’re visiting for a week or two, you have an even smaller chance of having to deal with one of nature’s super storms. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m a Big Kid Now: A Guide to Your First Disney Trip Without Parents

by on July 19, 2014 5 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

Dedicated blog readers may recall Erin Foster’s article “Spring Break at Disney World – Teens’ First No-Parent Trip,” outlining her teen daughter and friends’ first Disney trip without parents. Though now I’m (supposedly) a real adult—I just graduated in May–it wasn’t long ago that I was a teen taking my first Disney trip without parents. My first winter break in college, I went to Walt Disney World with my boyfriend and two other friends. Two years later, I went for my 21st birthday with my three younger siblings. So for any teens or young adults out there planning your first parent-free trip, here’s a quick guide into your first clumsy steps into Disney adulthood.

Peter Pan may never grow up, but my siblings and I had to for our first Disney trip without parents.

Peter Pan may never grow up, but my siblings and I had to for our first Disney trip without parents.

Why a Disney Trip Without Parents?

Walt Disney World is the safest place to go for your first no-parent trip. The crime rate is essentially zero and every single cast member is trained to help you stay safe. It’s also one of the best options for fun. All through college, I never found the MTV Spring Break-style college trip terribly appealing. I enjoy the occasional beverage, but I can only “WOOOO!” for a few hours before I’m bored. Walt Disney World has an infinite number of activities and it’s impossible to get bored. I had been planning my family’s trips for years, so I felt comfortable planning my own trip.
Read the rest of this entry »