Posts Tagged ‘disney world’

Tours of Epcot: Behind The Seeds

by on April 16, 2014

Do you love Living With The Land at Epcot? I don’t know what it is about this quiet, little boat ride that holds my attention. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s one of the few attractions that still feels like the Epcot from my childhood. The Behind The Seeds Tour at Epcot offers guests the chance to walk through the greenhouses seen on the boat ride and take a closer look. While just taking a stroll through this location is worth the price of admission, the tour offers some great “edutainment” about the future of gardening. 

To sign up you simply need to purchase tickets at the desk in the Soarin’ boarding area. We’ve done the first tour of the day in the past for fear they would sell out. However, this time we showed up just 30 minutes before the last tour of the day and were able to join with no issue. Then we just had to meet back by the desk five minutes before our tour time. The below information contains lots of spoilers about the tour. If you’d like to be surprised, you might want to scroll down to the bottom past the numbered sections.

The tour begins when your guide whisks you to a backstage location to explain the tour rules. First, guests are encouraged to ask as many questions as they can. Your tour guide is normally an intern here on the college program with a shocking amount of botany knowledge. I was very impressed with our guide and the frequent questions she was able to answer! Rule number two is that photography is not only allowed, it’s encouraged! I was excited about that one because I often get lectures on tours because they see my big camera coming. It was nice to be welcomed despite the fact that we were in backstage areas. The final rule is the most important: do not touch any plants. This one seemed obvious to me, but what I hadn’t thought of the reason they make this request. In the greenhouse they have exotic plants from all over the world that many people have never been exposed to, and likely will never be exposed to again. The Behind The Seeds Tour at Epcot is not a great time to find out you’re wildly allergic to some rare plant! So that no touching request is just as much to protect you as it is the plants.

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Frozen Out: Searching for an Elsa doll at Disney World

by on April 10, 2014

Elsa doll Disney World

Searching for an Elsa doll or toy at Disney World? Join the club! (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

My family up north doesn’t necessarily share or understand my theme park obsessions, but every so often they call upon my Orlando expertise. Recently, my young niece lost her mind over Frozen (much like half of America, it seems) and wants an Elsa doll more than life itself.

Unfortunately, it seems Barbie-sized “Sparkle Princess” figures of this frigid sister are scarcer than snowmen in summer, as toy stores throughout the New York and Philadelphia regions are chronically out of stock. So I gallantly volunteered to play the heroic uncle by finding one and bringing it to her during my upcoming visit. Surely it would be simple to find an Elsa doll inside one of Walt Disney World’s infinite gift shops…or so I foolishly thought.

I was so wrong.

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New My Disney Experience App Hints at FastPass+ Changes

by on April 1, 2014

Disney released My Disney Experience version 2.1, its mobile application for iPhone, on Sunday. Disney says the new app has 2 features: easier linking of park admission and the ability to manage FastPass+ selection for your friends.

Coincidentally, a copy of the app’s source code fell off a truck in Queens last month, just as I was walking by. It was my lucky day. Turns out there’s some hidden functionality in this version of MDE, which Disney can switch on and off remotely, to change how FastPass+ will function later this year.

Before I go over those changes, here’s a disclaimer: Absolutely no one from Disney’s Decision Science group has ever, in the history of ever, met me at a bar in Winter Park a couple weeks ago with a USB drive full of emails and Powerpoint documents to confirm these changes. I’ve never even been to the Ravenous Pig. You’re watching too much Homeland, okay? Lay off the Showtime.

Now that we’re straight, on with the show.

FastPass+ for Disney Transportation

The new version of MDE lets guests make bus reservations for transportation to and from the theme parks each day. As proof that programmers have humor, it’s called Bus+ in the code.

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Innoventions Uncovered

by on March 30, 2014

In the comments of a recent post, one of our awesome readers asked for an article about Innoventions. This spot is nice for hiding from nasty weather, and most of the exhibits are pretty interesting. Not to mention it doesn’t draw big crowds, making it a perfect spot for the heat of the day. So what’s worth seeing, and what gets a skip? Check out below for my opinions. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Innoventions West

IMG_1294The Great Piggy Bank Adventure: This one is a must see for me. We even stop by and play pretty often. At the start of this game you are assigned an actual piggy bank that you carry with you through your journey. He is the cutest, fattest little pig! I wish they were for sale! Once you have your piggy bank, you take him through a series of virtual games in your quest to become a financial smarty pants.  If you’d like a sneak peek of The Great Piggy Bank Adventure you can visit online. Game Rating: 9 out of 10.

 

IMG_1292THINK: I’ve been through this exhibit several times, but I still just don’t… get it. There’s a large video wall, a movie that plays on a loop, and touch columns that walk you through an interactive tour. The focus of the exhibit is efficiency and sustainability through technology. Unfortunately, I find this one to be pretty boring and highly skippable. Game Rating: 3 out of 10. 

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Time Traveling: The American Idol Experience

by on March 23, 2014

Wow – it’s been a while since we’ve been time traveling, hasn’t it? Finally, the other day, while I was walking through Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I felt the past calling out from The American Idol Experience. I remembered the other two great shows that lived there before and wanted to share them with you. Before we get started, it’s a good idea to point out that these are mostly my memories. I do tend to prefer the sugary sweet things in life, and I fondly remember my past at Disney. If you remember it differently, please leave your comments below! I’d love to hear what everyone else thought about these old shows.

Doug Live!

If you stepped into a time machine and traveled back to March of 1999, you’d find Doug Live! performed several times a day in this theater. I’ve heard the show described as “nightmarish,” but it was one of my all time favorites. Doug was a Nickelodeon cartoon until Disney purchased the show’s production company in 1996. The cartoon hit the air waves in 1991 and focused on a young, awkward teenage boy and his dog. That was right around the time I was a young, awkward, not quite teenage girl with a cat. You can see how I became a fan! The stage show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was energetic, bright, and full of memorable situations from the cartoon. At the beginning of each show, a host would come out and select adults to perform later in the show as Doug’s favorite band, The Beets. Two seats were reserved in the front row for the actors to sit in during the “concert”. The show was staged in a very creative way, and huge projection walls were used to transport you through the story. If you never saw this show, it’s easy to find on YouTube. It’s worth taking a look at this very short-lived piece of Disney history. Doug Live! closed abruptly in May of 2001, leaving this theater vacant for nearly eight years. I heard several rumors as to why it closed with short notice, but I’m not sure any of them are credible. In any case, this is a show I still miss and hope many of you had a chance to enjoy!

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More Adventures with Disney World Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+: DHS & DAK Edition

by on March 22, 2014

Welcome back to the continuing saga of Walt Disney World’s recent roll-out of Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+ privileges to the general public. As explained in our last episode, all WDW annual passholders should now be able to make up to 7 days of FastPass+ reservations within the next 30 days through the My Disney Experience website and apps. Last time, we looked at how I set up my first week of FastPass+ selections, and saw how my first intinerary turned out at Epcot (TLDR: not perfect, but pretty good).

For this followup, follow me to Walt Disney World two least-popular parks for examples of how advance FastPass+ may (or may not) work to your advantage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios FastPass+

Much like my day at Epcot, I arrived at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios parking lot a little after 1:00 p.m.

Advance FastPass+

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Adventures at Epcot with Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+

by on March 21, 2014

Walt Disney World regulars rejoiced last week, as the rollout of advance reservation FastPass+ features finally reached all WDW annual passholders. That means that all Disney World annual passholders should be able to access the My Disney Experience website or mobile app and make FastPass+ bookings up to 30 days ahead of time. Previously, I shared my experiences using FastPass+ as an annual passholder making same-day reservations using in-park kiosks, as off-site guests still must do (at least for now). Now, I’m going to detail my personal adventures with week #1 of Annual Passholder advance FastPass+ reservations.

Getting Started with Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+

First of all, if you haven’t already, log into MyDisneyExperience.com and set up an account. Be sure to link your account to your valid annual pass using the ID number on the back of your pass, or voucher number if you have not yet redeemed an online purchase.

Next, visit the Magic Band page to customize your RFID wristband. You can select a color and name, verify your shipping address, and receive confirmation that your order has been received.

According to the webpage, Magic Bands should start shipping to annual passholders shortly.

Until your Magic Band arrives, you can continue to use your RFID-enabled credit-card-sized annual pass to enter the parks and activate FastPass+ sensors.

If you carry a smartphone in the parks, be sure to download the Apple or Android app. The iPad app is probably the most efficient platform for scheduling and adjusting FastPass+ reservations, but the website and phone apps work fairly well.

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Lost & Found at Walt Disney World

by on March 19, 2014

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You’ll know you’re there when you see this sign.

As we were walking out to our car this weekend my hubby said one of those things he always regrets, he casually asked if I thought a building was Lost & Found for all of Walt Disney World. I stopped in my tracks and observed a shabby building that in my mind was still the kennel at the Transportation and Ticket Center. Of course, I knew better. Best Friends Pet Care opened years ago, making kennels a thing of the past. However, even after walking past this building a hundred times I never realized this is where I should head if I ever misplaced something while in the parks. I figured if I didn’t know, lots of you out there likely could use some information on the subject. So with that in mind here’s everything you need to know about Lost & Found at Walt Disney World.

The first thing to remember about Lost & Found is that timing matters. If you realize quickly that you’re missing something, it’s smart to retrace your steps and hope that a cast member hasn’t sent your item away yet. But if you don’t notice for a while, it’s smart to head to Guest Relations instead. Any items lost in the parks are brought to Guest Services to hold for same-day pickups only. However, if you don’t realize until later, or if your item isn’t recovered until after park closing, that’s where things get interesting! At the end of each day, all items recovered from the four theme parks, two water parks, Downtown Disney, and all Disney transportation vehicles are sent to the one and only Theme Parks Lost & Found. 

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See? I wasn’t kidding. It’s shabby, right?

To find Lost & Found at Walt Disney World, simply head to the Transportation and Ticket Center and then follow signs for walking to the parking lot. Just past the gift shop, you’ll see the building pictured on your left. It is open everyday but closes at 7pm, so you’ll have to leave the parks a bit early to visit. If you’d like to call about your item, the Lost & Found phone number is 407-824-4245. If your item hasn’t made it to lost & found yet, you’re able to file a report from this location so the cast members know to keep an eye out for it. Don’t lose heart if you have to file a report and leave empty handed. I’ve heard amazing stories about items being returned long after their owners returned home. (Have you had an experience with pixie dust bringing something home you’d thought you’d lost forever? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!)

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Safety First: First Aid Locations at Walt Disney World

by on March 16, 2014

First Aid at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Nobody wants to think that about ending up ill or injured while at the happiest place on Earth. I know I didn’t anticipate it when it happened to me several years ago. Even though I wasn’t the one on a stretcher, it didn’t make the situation any less frightening. While at first aid I realized that I’d never set foot in the building until I urgently needed help. I imagine most people don’t even think about first aid in the parks until they are in a similar circumstance. Since that first visit I’ve made sure that I’m familiar with Disney World’s first aid locations and the services they offer. Today I thought I’d share a little information with everyone in the hope that you never need to use it!

So what is offered at first aid? The honest answer is that very little is offered medically at first aid stations in the parks. What you can expect are over the counter drugs and remedies. This might be a common request like a band-aid, or something less common like contact lens solution or a contact lens case. If you find yourself needing something, it’s a fair bet they might have it at first aid. Even better, anything offered there is given free of charge. I’m certainly not suggesting that you should use first aid as your personal convenience shop! But if you’ve forgotten something you really need to enjoy your time at the parks, you should stop by and see if they can help.

But I’m hurt – what good is first aid? First aid also has a nurse on staff who can begin the triage process if needed and call for emergency assistance. Since Disney has its own Reedy Creek Fire Department respond, an ambulance normally arrives in less than seven minutes. If your situation isn’t quite this urgent, first aid can assist with setting up an appointment with local urgent care clinics. Disney provides complimentary transportation to and from these appointments. These clinics offer common services you’d normally find at an emergency room. Think broken bones and cuts requiring stitches. But they can also help with a case of the sniffles, bug bites, and just about anything else. Even better, they are able to fill prescriptions on-site so you can get back to your vacation.

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Top Tips for Beating the Heat at Disney

by on March 3, 2014

Despite what Punxsutawney Phil may have said, winter is long gone here in Central Florida. Highs are reaching the low 80′s nearly every day and that’s just the beginning. We can expect temperatures to get nearly twenty degrees hotter in the sweltering summer months. I get asked all the time how I endure such brutal weather. With that in mind I thought I’d share some of my top tips for beating the heat.

Sun protection might be the most important thing you put on all day. It’s important to apply sunscreen anywhere your skin might be exposed as your clothing moves, especially around the neck. Remember, for sunscreen to work properly it should be applied approximately 30 minutes before you leave your room. You should also plan to reapply several times throughout the day. I know that can be difficult with squirmy kids (or husbands!) but it’s absolutely essential in the Florida sun.

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