When counting down a trip to Walt Disney World, there are a number of things that need to be done from deciding how many suitcases to take, to setting a souvenir budget, to breaking in that new pair of walking shoes. But for me, there’s one more thing that I always have to do when counting down those last few anticipation-filled days, and that’s refreshing my memory and getting in the Disney spirit with a few movies! Kicking back with some popcorn to revisit a classic Disney flick, or even checking out a film for the first time, will only add to your overall Disney World experience. So go pop some popcorn and get ready for a movie marathon with my list of movies to see before your Disney World Vacation!
But first, let me explain how I came up with this list. Naturally, I included a number of Disney animated classics, even though it was really really hard to narrow down my favorites; but just so you know, I based my selections on what films I felt were represented the most at Walt Disney World or a huge part of Disney World history. Secondly, my list is not just Disney animated films, but also live-action Disney films and non-Disney films which are either represented in the parks or, again, played a big role in Disney history or as Imagineering inspiration! But as always, if you feel that I missed an important movie, or would simply like to add to the list, please do so in the comments.
Disney’s first princess film since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella is one of the most beloved and important films Walt Disney ever made. The film’s release in 1950 was so successful that it revitalized the Disney Company after World War II and kick-started the decade in which we would get the first Disney Park: Disneyland. Why you should revisit Cinderella before your Disney World retreat is because the Magic Kingdom’s castle is called Cinderella Castle! Inside the castle, a sparkly mosaic tells Cinderella’s story and there’s even a themed restaurant, Cinderella’s Royal Table, where guests meet Cinderella herself and dine in a medieval, fairy tale setting. Characters from Cinderella are also known to meet guests around Cinderella Castle and throughout Fantasyland; and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa offers a special character meal at 1900 Park Fare where Cinderella, Prince Charming, and her dysfunctional family meet with guests as they dine. All in all, Cinderella is an important film at Walt Disney World and is definitely worth a watch before you pass through the park turnstiles.
Why is this film my first pick? Well, believe it or not this 1951 classic, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn, inspired the Disney Park staple, The Jungle Cruise. Walt Disney saw this film himself and wanted to recreate the experience in his upcoming Disneyland Park. Although, he planned for guests aboard his boats to see live wildlife on the shores, just as the characters in The African Queen did! Of course, live animals wasn’t exactly doable at the time, nor would they be willing to appear and entertain when a boat passed by every few minutes; and so, the plan for live animals was scrapped in favor of one of Walt’s newest innovations: audio-animatronics. Walt’s vision for an attraction where guests could be entertained by live African wildlife was finally realized in 1998 when Kilimanjaro Safaris opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. In this way, The African Queen technically inspired two attractions at Walt Disney World! This is why I encourage anyone going to Walt Disney World to check out The African Queen. While I’ve always loved the Jungle Cruise, seeing the film which inspired it gave me a whole new appreciation for this classic attraction. Tip: Look for The African Queen poster on Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
There are many reasons why the Disney Parks stand apart from other theme parks around the world, but one of the biggest has to be Disney’s incredible attention to detail. You can see the extra mile in the form of details just about everywhere on Disney property, from attractions to parade costumes to resorts to transportation to even the bathrooms! Personally, I love the details. They are not only appealing to the eye and fun to find, but almost always meaningful to the history of an attraction or to the story the Imagineers are trying to tell. For today’s post, let’s take a look at the hidden details of the Disney World Resorts!
Grand Floridian Wedding Chapel
The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa: Disney’s flagship resort is also home to Disney’s Wedding Pavilion, a fairy tale location with a view of Cinderella Castle! Even if you’re not getting married, you can still walk over to the pavilion area where the chapel and Franck’s Bridal Studio are located. Be sure to look up to notice a special detail: a heart-shaped weather vane of Mickey posing as Cupid!
Animal Kingdom Lodge: Throughout Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Kidani Village you will find African quotes and proverbs on the walls and rock work; however, one of them is different from the rest in that it’s a quote from Walt Disney. You can find it around the Samawati Springs pool area!
The Contemporary: For years, guests have been reporting a small, metal Mickey perched on the edge of a rooftop at the Contemporary Resort. When riding the Express Monorail, keep your eyes open when you approach the entrance to the resort.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of Disney pools in general, let’s get into the specific pool situation at each resort. First up are the Disney value level resorts: All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Art of Animation, and Pop Century. Here’s the scoop on the pools at these hotels.
What is the pool themeing? The main Fantasia pool features elements from the film “Fantasia,” notably a Sorcerer Mickey statue which shoots streams of water into the center of the pool. The smaller Mighty Ducks pool features hockey themeing such as larger than life sticks and a faux goal net.
What’s the kiddie pool situation? There is one shallow kiddie pool with an adjacent water spray feature. This is located to the immediate right of the Fantasia pool, as you face the main Cinema Hall building.
Are there water slides? No.
Is there a nearby playground? There is a playground, located a bit away from the pool, near the Toy Story section of the resort.
What’s the nearest food option? The Silver Screen Spirits bar is next to the Fantasia pool. For a full menu, go inside Cinema Hall to the World Premier Food Court. There are no food options near the Mighty Ducks pool.
Are there showers at pool? Yes. There are locker rooms with showers next to both pools.
Are there hot tubs? No.
Are there towels available at the pool? No. You are welcome to use the towels from your room while you’re at the pool.
How deep is the pool? Both pools are five feet at their deepest point.
Is there are zero entry pools? No.
Are poolside cabanas available? No.
Are there poolside activities? Yes. All activities take place at the Fantasia pool area. There is one poolside ping-pong table. Schedules may vary seasonally, but recently there were planned events from 1:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. every afternoon, plus a movie under the stars in the evening. Events may include: Mickey Bean Bag toss, Twister, Musical Dots, Dance Party, Bingo, Treasure Hunt, and others.
Anything else? Laundry facilities are available next to both pools.
Walt Disney World hotels have started accepting online check-ins within ten days of your arrival date in WDW. The idea behind this is to reduce the amount of time you spend waiting in line to check in to your hotel. This is accomplished by having you enter your name, address and credit card information online before you leave home.
If everything goes according to plan, a packet will be waiting for you when you arrive at the hotel, containing your welcome kit and room keys. You’ll still need to show photo ID to pick up this packet. We’re told a separate counter will be available for those guests doing online check-in, but that hasn’t been confirmed.
Every year, thousands of readers mail or e-mail us their responses to the Unofficial Guide survey. The Reader Report Card documents their opinions of the Disney resorts as well as the Swan, Dolphin and Shades of Green.
In 2008 we began asking new questions designed to further gauge readers’ overall satisfaction with their hotels. The most important of these questions are “Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?” and “Would you stay at this hotel again?” Used widely in the service industry, these questions serve as a simple way to measure a customer’s overall opinion of a product. When used in conjunction with our detailed survey questions, these two new questions allow us to identify the specific criteria that determine satisfaction at a particular resort. Read the entire report card here.
Our research team personally experienced the construction currently happening at Disney’s All Star Movies Resort and has some tidbits to share.
The bus loop at the front of the resort is completely torn up. The theme park bus stops have been relocated to various sidewalks near streets and some sections of the guest parking lots. It is a real mess at the moment, with buses going to various spread out stops while guests are trying to manuvuer through poorly defined crosswalks. Several Disney Cast Members are posted to keep the chaos to a minimum. Some bus stops have temporary tents erected, but others are left completely uncovered in the sun and rain.
Work is scheduled to conclude sometime in early August.