Posts Tagged ‘Animal Kingdom’

Wilderness Explorers Overview

by on July 14, 2015

Head under this majestic sign to enter the wild Magic Kingdom.

Head under this majestic sign to join up as a Wilderness Explorer.

Animal Kingdom is undergoing a season of change, and one of the first things that was introduced was the Wilderness Explorers game. Animal Kingdom has a rather unfair reputation as a half day park, but if you’re interested in seeing everything, it will take you a full day, especially with the relatively early closing time for most of the year.

While that early closing time will change soon with the new nighttime entertainment options, the very nature of the park makes it ideal for a more leisurely day, using your touring plans to get where you need to go quickly to allow you truly enjoy the animals. In addition, the Wilderness Explorer game is completely interactive, with a go at your own pace that makes it great for weaving it throughout your day and allows you to play across multiple visits. Not only is the game entertaining, it is free to all park guests; and since you receive actual things to keep, it makes for a fun and free souvenir.

Let’s look at the game more closely!

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever June 25, 2015: Rainy Day at Animal Kingdom

by on June 25, 2015

best Week Ever Animal Kingdom

Rain or shine, it’s another Best Week Ever at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (photos by Seth Kubersky)

The humidity percentage and heat index have both been hovering around one hundred in Orlando, so where better to spend an “Africa hot” Best Week Ever than in Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Kidding aside, Animal Kingdom holds a special place in my heart, since it’s the first Disney park I ever got to attend before its official opening date, and it remains to this day the most beautifully landscaped of Mickey’s American parks.

Unfortunately, Animal Kingdom is probably also my least-often-visited WDW park, partly because there are only three rides there that I consider must-dos. While I love the Broadway-style shows at DAK, and the animal walkthroughs are truly world-class, it’s inevitable that thrill attractions are what I first focus on when picking a park to attend, and that’s one area in which Animal Kingdom lacks — at least until Avatar-land comes online in 2017.

Happily, there are a number of improvements coming to Animal Kingdom before then, so I headed out on an overcast Friday afternoon to explore the newest one.

My day started out on an awkward foot, as only one tram was servicing the parking lot when I arrived. By the time it finally arrived and transported me to the entry plaza, I practically had to sprint past the front ticket booths…

 

…Through the touchpoints…

 

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Disney World Attractions in Need of a Revamp

by on June 3, 2015

Escape the heat by enjoying the Carousel of Progress.

One of the aspects that I feel truly separates Disney Parks from other theme parks is the presence of “classic” attractions. By classic attractions, I mean those that might not have state of the art technology by today’s standards, or cost the size of a small island, but remain relevant, charming, and downright fun years or even decades later. Attractions like Splash Mountain, The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are just a few examples of these that come to mind. As brilliant as Disney Imagineers are, there is an occasional attraction misstep from time to time, which is inevitable.

It’s incredibly difficult to determine what’s going to resonate with audiences at any one moment, let alone ten, twenty, or fifty years from now. For a variety of reasons, some attractions just don’t age well and feel outdated rather than classic. Most of the time those attractions are replaced (see most of Disney’s California Adventure) but other times, they remain. Below, I’ve listed some attractions that I believe fit this description. These aren’t outright bad attractions per se, but they are ones that have the potential to be really fantastic with a revamp or retheming.

Without further ado, here are some attractions in need of a “tune up” along with what could be done to make them better and my suggestions for what attractions to go on instead.

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Where to Find Walt at Disney World

by on May 17, 2015

Walt and Mickey

Walt and Mickey

When comparing the Disneyland Resort to Walt Disney World, one of the biggest differences that always comes up is that Disneyland was Walt’s park while Walt never lived to see Disney World completed. While this is true, that doesn’t mean you still can’t find Walt’s attractions and touches on the East Coast. So keep reading to discover just a few of many places where to find Walt at Disney World!

The Hub: One of the most popular places to take a photo at the Magic Kingdom is in front of the statue of Walt and Mickey with Cinderella Castle in the background. Known as the Partners Statue, it’s appropriately positioned at the center of the park known as the Hub, where paths branch off towards the different lands of the Magic Kingdom. Just seeing the statue at the end of Main Street, U.S.A. and at the park center brings it all back to Walt and his most famous creation, Mickey Mouse.  The Hub has undergone some changes lately, but you can still find statuettes of other characters that contributed to Walt’s success, such as Goofy, Donald, Minnie, and more.

101_3519Main Street, USA: Did you know that you can find Walt even before you enter the Magic Kingdom? When approaching the park entrance, you will probably hear a train whistle and the clang of a bell from up above as a train pulls into Main Street Station. This is because Walt loved trains! The Main Street Train Station, along with Main Street, U.S.A, provides guests not just a look at what Walt’s creations, but what was in his heart. Trains were one of Walt’s hobbies and he spend his free time planning and constructing a miniature train that he and his guests could ride on in his backyard. He called it the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Once you enter the park, you have to pass under the Main Street Train Station; but I encourage anyone who’s interested in learning about Walt to check it out. It’s filled with nods to railroad history and Walt’s passion for this vintage form of transportation. Main Street, USA was inspired after Walt’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri. Walt loved growing up in Marceline and wanted to recreate his memories of the town in his park. He even included a few odes to his family and Imagineers in the names found on the windows above the street. Fun Fact: Walt has two windows of his own. One of them is on the Main Street Train Station and faces out at the entrance while the other is above the Plaza Restaurant and faces Cinderella Castle!

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! April 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on April 30, 2015

MMM positiveThe end of April is upon us, and thus comes the second – yes, second – Outlet Report of the month. That’s right, on April 1st, when you were wondering whether or not the Motorola selfie stick was real or if Olaf was truly replacing Stitch’s Greatest Escape, we gassed up the Merch Mobile and headed down State Road 535 to cover a non-Disney owned Outlet Store (don’t worry, we grabbed an extra bottle of Xanax for the road rage.)

Since that day a lot has happened. The BOATHOUSE opened at Downtown Disney, offering a S’mores Baked Alaska that is surely going to be near the top of our next article spotlighting outrageous eats at Walt Disney World. TouringPlans’s own Daisy Lauren did her must-read Best Week Ever from Tokyo Disneyland Resort (you’ve got to see the picture of the Chandu Tail from Tokyo Disney Sea.) And one crazy person even wrote about all the special events that WON’T be coming to Orlando anytime soon (although who wouldn’t want to go to A Celebration of Twister?!)

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

Our first item is one I had speculated we could be seeing after the Mickey Mouse kitchen clock magnet made its way to the Outlet last month. This Stand-By Entrance timer magnet was marked down to $3.99. I’m pretty shocked to see this already because I don’t think it came out that long ago and it is a very clever idea. I guess people just want to use the FP+ of the kitchen (AKA the microwave.)

IMG_6627_2

The timer can only hold times up to 99 minutes and 59 seconds, so it is definitely not the Anna and Elsa Timer Magnet which goes up to six hours.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Kilimanjaro Club – an incomparable experience

by on March 8, 2015

No other Walt Disney World resorts offers the level of cultural immersion and exotic experiences that can be discovered at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. It is my favorite Walt Disney World Resort; my heart practically sings the minute I set foot in the awe-inspiring lobby. As a Disney Vacation Club Member, Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of my two home resorts. One of my favorite ways to use our membership is to indulge in the Kilimanjaro Club level. Whether you are a DVC Member or not, from the level of service, the multiple food & beverage offerings, and the overall luxury, the Kilimanjaro Club Level is an unforgettable experience.

So what makes the Kilimanjaro Club so exceptional? And what special value does it represent for DVC Members? Let’s embark on a safari of sorts as we explore all that makes this one of the most incredible experiences offered at Walt Disney World.

DSC00664

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: February 26, 2015

by on February 26, 2015

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World. This week we’re spending evenings in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, having dinner at The Hollywood Brown Derby, and visiting Animal Kingdom for some bright blue skies. Three parks in one week! This is going to be a blast, let’s get going! :)

First, check out this view from the entrance of the Disney’s Hollywood Studios! You can almost see what this will look like once the hat is completely removed. While it was sad to watch it come apart, in the end I’m glad it’s gone. I can’t wait to see the last pieces removed and this view restored. What do you think now that it’s coming together? Do you still miss the hat?

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Want to see more fun from all around Disney World this week? Click to read more. 

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Best Themed Restaurants at Disney World

by on February 23, 2015

CrystalPalace

The level of detail that Disney Imagineers put into the theming of the parks is astonishing. If I can be perfectly content just sitting in an area and soaking in all the details, then that to me is a wonderfully themed area of a Disney park. The same goes for Disney dining. Obviously, food quality comes first but with the premium that you’re going to pay at Disney, I always try to eat at restaurants that are immersive and give me that feeling that I’ve actually entered the setting that the Imagineers were trying to convey. If you have that same desire to be transported away during your next Disney dining experience then you’re in the right place. Below, you’ll find a list of my personal five best themed restaurants at Disney World. Each of these restaurants has excellent theming that will surely enhance your meal. Luckily, the food happens to be great at each of them as well.

 

5. Flame Tree Barbecue

Might have to talk to your kids about the birds and the...snakes?

Might have to talk to your kids about the birds and the…snakes?

Starting off our list is the only quick service entry and the only outdoor entry on our list. Located in Animal Kingdom, Flame Tree Barbecue is my favorite place to eat a meal outdoors in the parks. Animal Kingdom is already a beautiful park so it’s no surprise that Flame Tree lives up to its park’s reputation. There are both covered seating areas and more sunny areas that are overlooking the water with Everest in the distance. There’s also a beautiful pond/pool towards the back of the seating area as well. Along with the great views, the covered areas I mentioned before are cool looking and come complete with a surprisingly “real” Circle of Life theme. Each patio features a predator eating its prey, which shows that Disney can take the kid gloves off every once in a while without going over the top. When it comes down to it, Flame Tree has arguably the best counter service food and best outdoor seating areas in the parks, which make it my fifth most atmospheric restaurant at Disney World. Note: Flame Tree is currently closed during Rivers of Light construction at Animal Kingdom, though some of its seating is open and you can find your smoked meats other places in the park.

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Walt Disney World Fun Facts

by on February 22, 2015

This fellow from the Festival of Fantasy parade is terrifying, and awesome. Read on to hear more about the parade!

This fellow from the Festival of Fantasy parade is terrifying, and awesome. Read on to hear more about the parade!

Okay, trivia fans!  Today we’re going to look at some fun facts about the Orlando home of the main mouse! The sheer size of the entire Walt Disney World resort means that a lot went into the creation, and also that it provides tons of opportunities for number crunching and trivial knowledge. For example, did you know that the resort covers approximately 40 square miles? If you’re not able to wrap your head around what that means, the normal comparison is that it’s about the same size as San Francisco. No wonder you’re tired after walking all day!

As you likely know, the Walt Disney World resort is divided up into four theme parks, a shopping area currently being reinvented and renamed Disney Springs, and a variety of resort hotels. To make it easier to keep all the fun facts straight, the numbers will be divided up into five categories: General, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

Let’s get to it!

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Experiences to Enjoy in a Group of All Ages at Walt Disney World

by on February 11, 2015

Photo - Michael DahlgrenJenna, an awesome reader of the TouringPlans blog, told me how she traveled to Walt Disney World with her family, ranging in ages 2-82 years old. She expressed how the group wanted to stay together the entire time, but it was hard to think of different attractions the whole group could do together and enjoy.

After hearing Jenna’s story, she inspired me to put together this list of activities and attractions that would appeal to a group of all ages.

You’ll notice that I did NOT include any attractions where a guest would have to get in and out of an attraction vehicle. I did this for two reasons:

A. You won’t have to worry about height restrictions!

B. If someone is confined to a wheel chair or electric scooter, that person will not have to stand or do any walking to get on the attraction.

Also, if you see an asterisk (*) next to an attraction, that means a FastPass+ reservation can be made.

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