Posts Tagged ‘Be Our Guest’

What I Wish I Knew Before My Trip to the Magic Kingdom

by on March 18, 2016

Adventure is out there

A fine day for a drive to the Magic Kingdom.

As Spring and Summer are just around the corner, that means Spring Break and Summer Vacation and many guests making pilgrimages to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Actually, many will be visiting for the first time ever! If you are planning your very first visit to the park, and you’re like me, you’ve probably been doing your Disney World homework to avoid those rookie mistakes and hopefully maximize that precious vacation time. Still, oftentimes, they are a few things that aren’t mention in guidebooks which could’ve made your park time run more smoothly. So please glean from my first-hand experience Disney World Rookies and discover what I wish I knew before my trip to the Magic Kingdom.

Character Line

Meeting Rapunzel at Princess Fairytale Hall

Characters Can Be Found at the End of a Line

While I love Disney commercials, they aren’t exactly a realistic representation of what it’s like in the parks. First of all, there are almost always people pretty much everywhere. Those shots in the commercial where the happy people seem to have the parks all to themselves? Not real. This is also true of how you meet Disney Characters. Very rarely does a character suddenly appear and surprise you with a hug. You see, at Walt Disney World, characters are escorted by a Cast Member to a designed spot and then guests wait in line for a little conversation, an autograph, and a picture or two. Now that doesn’t mean that meeting characters isn’t fun or memorable. It absolutely is! But it’s just not as spontaneous as it appears on those promos.

Always Ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight First

The Magic Kingdom has the most attractions of any other Disney World Park and many of them are extremely popular and absolute must-dos for first timers. However, something you definitely will wish you knew is that two Magic Kingdom attractions in particular are notorious for ridiculously long lines and they are the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight. Of course, the solution for anyone who has done their Disney World homework is to book a FastPass+ reservation for these attractions. But if none are available, or you just want to experience them again, you should definitely ride them first. Now I don’t mean you should ride them first whenever you happen to arrive at the park. No, I’m saying you need to ride them as soon as the park opens.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the park’s newest attraction and a hybrid between a tame coaster and a dark ride. The ride vehicles also sway slightly when going around corners, just like an actual mine car. All of the detail, technology, and just the fact that it’s a large, new attraction mean that the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train queue is filled from the first half hour of the day until fireworks at night; and so, I strongly encourage first timers to head here first thing when the park opens.

After Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, guests should most definitely make tracks to the other side of Fantasyland to experience Peter Pan’s Flight. This attraction was an opening day attraction back in 1971, and was inspired by Disneyland’s version which was also an opening day attraction there in 1955. Basically, Peter Pan’s Flight is timeless and will fill up the lines until the end of time. Personally, I don’t even think of getting in line for Peter Pan’s Flight once the park has been open for more than an hour, so definitely plan to ride it when the park opens.

Ft. Wilderness Boat Launch

Taking a boat to the Magic Kingdom

You Can’t Drive There

It’s true. You can’t exactly drive to the Magic Kingdom. There’s no way you can drop off your family near the gate and go find a parking spot and there’s no tram. Actually, if you’re planning on driving around Walt Disney World and want to go to the Magic Kingdom, you will have to park your vehicle at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). It’s located next door to the Polynesian Village Resort and is all the way across the lake from the Magic Kingdom. It’s basically the transportation hub of the Walt Disney World Resort. Here, guests have the choice to take a boat or Monorail to the Magic Kingdom entrance. Tip: If you are planning on taking a Monorail, choose the Express Monorail to the Magic Kingdom to bypass stops at the resorts.

The only exception to the no-traffic access in front of the Magic Kingdom is Disney Buses. Disney Buses are the only form of Disney Transportation that can drive Disney World Resort guests to the Magic Kingdom and drop them off near the entrance at designated bus stops. This is why many Disney World Resort guests who have a car or rental car choose to use the Disney Buses or Resort Monorails when heading to the Magic Kingdom for the day. So yeah, this is something you will want to know before your first trip to the Magic Kingdom.

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Movies to See Before Your Disney World Vacation

by on February 28, 2016

image

Ready for a Disney Movie Marathon?

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.

Okay, are you ready for the list? Here we go…

Photo - Disney

Photo – Disney

Cinderella

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.

African Queen by IMDB

Photo – imdb.com

The African Queen

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.

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Disney Park Strengths and Weaknesses: The Magic Kingdom

by on January 10, 2016

Photo - Disney

Photo – Disney

Are you a Disney Park critic? I know, it’s hard to be critical of anything Disney (at least I think so), but even I have to admit that I’ve experienced a few things that some parks don’t do as well as others. Of course, there’s also a number of things that each park does very well! Today, I’m breaking down Disney Park Strengths and Weaknesses with a focus on the most magical park of them all: the Magic Kingdom.

The Magic Kingdom Park first opened on October 1st of 1971. While inspired by the original Disneyland Park, the Magic Kingdom was bigger, featured a whole new land known as Liberty Square, had a much larger castle as its centerpiece, and was only the start of the ultimate vacation kingdom which is Walt Disney World.

The Magic Kingdom is home to six themed lands: Adventureland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Main Street, U.S.A. In 2012, New Fantasyland opened at the Magic Kingdom and, in addition to the classic Fantasyland offerings, now has areas themed after the Beauty and the Beast film, a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster, Storybook Circus with two Dumbo the Flying Elephants, and the Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid attraction housed in Prince Eric’s Castle!

So let’s start with the Magic Kingdom’s best points, shall we…

Strengths:

USA_MainStreetUsa_KendraIconic Attractions – When you think of Walt Disney World, attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean, the Mad Tea Party, Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and “it’s a small world” is usually what comes to mind. They are synonymous with the Walt Disney World experience and an expression of that Disney magic. Therefore, there’s rarely ever a question about whether or not visit the Magic Kingdom because its iconic attractions make it a must-do, a luxury that other Disney Parks have never been quite able to equal.

Timeless Appeal – While Walt Disney never saw the completion of the Magic Kingdom, his fingerprints are all over the park. It was inspired off of the original Disneyland Park in regards to the general layout, the number of similar attractions, a castle at its center, and the Main Street, U.S.A. entry. In short, so much of what makes up the Magic Kingdom came from the mind of Walt and his ideas and projects had that timeless appeal, meaning that they transcend time and generation and fads. It truly is a rare thing in today’s rapidly modernizing world for attractions thirty years old or more to still fill queues, such as Peter Pan’s Flight and the Jungle Cruise and Space Mountain. It’s also rare for characters who are decades old to still have merchandise on the shelves and lengthy lines for autographs, but that is certainly reality at the Magic Kingdom. Basically, this park never gets old! That fact is one of the Magic Kingdom’s greatest strengths and it’s why people will keep passing through the turnstiles, year after year, and bringing their kids and then their grandkids to relive it for themselves and to introduce it to the next generation.

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Disney World Trip Planning Strategies – Segmenting

by on September 3, 2015

Make Your Own "Hidden" Mickey

Elyssa making her own “Hidden” Mickey – © John Kivus, 2015

Fellow TouringPlans writer Sarah Graffam recently wrote a post about Managing Your Disney Evening, a sister piece to her earlier post, Managing Your Disney Morning, that got me thinking about how I manage my Walt Disney World trips. Many Disney guests focus on “days” while they plan, but I normally think of my trip in terms of “segments.” These segments vary in duration, but each usually consists of a meal coupled with certain attractions. It isn’t until after I have decided on the particular segments for an upcoming trip that I start to fit the segments into particular days. This post shares a few examples of trip segments that my wife, Elyssa, and I really enjoy:

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Fun Facts for Your Next Disney World Vacation

by on April 26, 2015

Castle Concept Art

Castle Concept Art

Do you crave Disney knowledge? Do you spend way too much time online scanning sites for Disney facts and secrets? Is your bookshelf crammed with Disney Imagineering books and guidebooks? If so, then we’re probably kindred spirits because I’m guilty of all the above! I absolutely love discovering new facts about my favorite place on earth that I can use or see for myself when planning my next Disney World trip. So indulge me, if you will, as I share with you some of my favorite fun facts for your next Disney World Vacation.

Did you know that…

12. Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean are Neighbors? Even though the Magic Kingdom’s Pirates of the Caribbean is in Adventureland and Splash Mountain is in Frontierland, things looks a little different backstage than they do when you’re in the park. When backstage, which means behind the scenes, these two water attractions are located next to each other! The layout of the park from inside is a little deceptive; but since both attractions require high volumes of water, it only makes sense to have them located next door. Pretty cool, right?

Look at the Golions!

Look at the Golions!

11. There’s More Than One Beast at the Beast’s Castle? The Disney Animators used different animals to create the Beast we know from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast film. In fact, the Beast is a mixture of buffalo, lion, wolf, bear, and more! But outside of the Be Our Guest Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland, there is another beast that’s also a combo of different animals. It’s a Golion! Guarding either side of the castle doors are two stone beasts that Disney invented just for this area; and as they are a combination of both goats and lions, Imagineers decided to name them Golions! Source: Fun Facts: New Fantasyland

10. The Eiffel Tower at Epcot’s France Pavilion is Historically Accurate? Have you ever paid much attention to the Eiffel Tower at Epcot’s France Pavilion? If so, you may have noticed that the tower looks a little different than those photos you see of the one in France and for a really cool reason. You see, the real Eiffel Tower has changed color since it was first constructed in 1887 due to aging and weathering; but since Epcot’s France Pavilion is meant to represent France as it was in the past, the Eiffel Tower we see is beige, just like how it would’ve been in its early years. Talk about attention to detail! Still not impressed? To be even more historically accurate, Imagineers used the blueprints of the original Eiffel Tower when constructing their own.  Source: AllEars.net

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SATURDAY SIX: The Six Most Unique Dining Experiences at Walt Disney World

by on April 18, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Most Unique Dining Experiences at Walt Disney World. Nobody enjoys eating at “The World” more than us. From outrageous snacks like the King Cupcake at Pop Century, to Disney food trucks, to table service restaurants like Bongo’s Cuban Cafe or ‘Ohana, food may have actually replaced attractions in what we look forward to the most on our Disney vacations. Can you blame us though? WDW has some of the greatest restaurants you will ever go to, with several one-of-a-kind experiences that you will never get back at home. So today we’re going to take a look the six most unique dining experiences on property, starting with…

# 6 – Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge)

The Animal Kingdom Lodge just may be our favorite resort at Disney, and one of the biggest reasons is how much we love Sanaa. Located in Kidani Village, this is the only restaurant at AKL that has a view looking out into the beautiful savanna and all the animals. The decor is fantastic, with the chairs having backs echoing tribal shields and lighting fixtures based on nests that Weaver birds would make in Africa. The dining room floor has beautiful representations of acacia trees while the entire room is filled with art, which is appropriate since Sanaa is the Swahili word for artwork. Sanaa is hands-down one of the most gorgeous restaurants in Orlando.

sanaa_glover

The famous Sanaa bread service while seated next to the Savanah. (photo by Brandon Glover)

There are plenty of places at Walt Disney World to get chicken fingers and hamburgers, but Sanaa (along with other AKL venues such as Jiko and Boma) is where you can expand your culinary palate and try dishes you normally wouldn’t. It is worth making an ADR for Sanaa based on their bread service alone. There are five different types of Naan and you can choose up to 9 accompaniments to go with the bread. From a gamut running sweet to spicy, there is a dip for everyone in your party.

sanaa_bricker

Sanaa’s acacia tree decor. (photo by Tom Bricker)

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Be Our Guest Lunch Preorder and MDE: A First-Hand Report

by on March 19, 2015

Be our guest lunch preorder

Enjoy enchanted eats with less anxiety using Be Our Guest lunch preordering though My Disney Experience (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Believe it or not, it’s now been over two years since we first began reporting on FastPass+ lunch reservations at the Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest restaurant. In that time, we’ve covered the seemingly never ending saga of Disney’s experiments with managing demand for the popular venue, and now they finally seem to have settled on a (hopefully?) long-term solution. On March 12, the My Disney Experience (MDE) app for iOS devices was updated to accommodate Be Our Guest lunch preordering for guests making dining reservations, and I was among the first wave of guests to take advantage of this newly streamlined process.

To begin, make sure that the MDE app on your mobile device is updated to the latest version.

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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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Observations from Magic Kingdom: Be Our Guest Lunch Changes and New Tomorrowland Colors

by on October 29, 2014

WDW’s Magic Kingdom gets ready for another Halloween party as I make observations from the park’s eastern attractions (photos by Seth Kubersky).

After a week of sailing on the Disney Magic, it was a little surreal to step back into the Magic Kingdom again for my first post-Disney Cruise visit to Walt Disney World. Even at Orlando’s oldest theme park, things are always on the move, as I discovered in my mid-morning trip around the park’s eastern half. Here are some fresh observations from Magic Kingdom on 10/23/2014, including policy updates at Be Our Guest lunch, a bold new Tomorrowland color scheme, and the finale of Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It.

Be Our Guest Lunch

Fantasyland‘s popular Be Our Guest restaurant has bedeviled guests in recent months with its evolving lunch policies, which have shifted from favoring walk-up counter service toward FastPass+ reservations.

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Menu Monday: Cinderella’s Royal Table vs. Be Our Guest Restaurant

by on October 27, 2014

Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is home to two of the most magical dining locations you can imagine: Cinderella’s Royal Table and the Be Our Guest Restaurant. Both are very popular with guests, including myself, because who wouldn’t want the chance to dine in a castle like Disney royalty, right? But which one should you choose on your vacation and which of the two offers the most pixie dust for your buck? That’s exactly what I intend to find out in this Magic Kingdom Dinner Showdown: Cinderella’s Royal Table vs. Be Our Guest Restaurant.

Copyright - Disney

Copyright – Disney

First of all, Cinderella’s Royal Table, located inside Cinderella Castle, is a character meal featuring Disney Princesses at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is standard, American fare, while lunch and dinner offer more sophisticated dishes. Touring Plans currently rates this dining destination three stars.

Be Our Guest, however, is only open for lunch and dinner; but the two different mealtimes offer different experiences. At lunch, Be Our Guest is a quick service restaurant where you order your food ahead of time with a Cast Member or at a kiosk and then choose your own table. The menu is centered around soups and sandwiches. At dinner, the dessert menu remains the same, but Be Our Guest becomes a table service restaurant offering a traditional, sit-down restaurant experience. Touring Plans currently rates this dining destination four stars.

Challenge #1: Price

Cinderella’s Royal Table is unique in that the menu is prix fixe. This means there is a set price for your meal, but you choose which selection of dishes you prefer. An average price for an adult meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table is currently around $70 per person and $45 per child.

Dinner at Be Our Guest offer a more typical dining set-up with individual prices for each menu item. To offer a price comparison to Cinderella’s Royal Table, if I were to order a soft drink, an appetizer of Potato Leek Soup, the Grilled Strip Steak, and then the Grey Stuff for dessert, my bill would average to about $50.00 per person. A kid’s dinner consisting of a drink, a garden salad for an appetizer, the Beast’s Casserole (macaroni and cheese), and the Grey Stuff for dessert would cost around $10 to $12.

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