Posts Tagged ‘disney world’

Pros and Cons of Going to Disney World during the Holidays

by on October 31, 2014

Holiday Lights

Happy Halloween, everyone! Did you know that the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a week from today. And that it’s sold out? Enjoy your 6 days of downtime between the 2 month holiday of the Food & Hallowine Festival and the next 2 month holiday of Christmas and New Year’s.

Christmas will be here before you know it, and you might be asking yourself, “Hey, self, should I make my holiday season even more magical by going to Disney World?” I’m glad you asked. Disney World during the holidays is one of my favorite times of year to visit. It’s a time when there are several unique elements from decorations to food present that transform the parks into something special. That’s not to say that it’s the perfect time of year to go. Like any season, there are positives and negatives. While I believe that every Disney enthusiast should aim to visit at least once during the holidays, here are some of my personal pros and cons that should help you decide if it’s worth it.


ak tree

PRO: The Decorations

Walking down a fully decorated Main Street, U.S.A., is almost worth the trip alone for me. I already enjoy spending time just wandering around the Magic Kingdom staple but when the decorations are up, the ambiance gets even better. The decorations don’t stop there. Obviously the rest of the areas in the parks have decorations, but the hotels do, as well. I enjoy hotel hopping just to see how each one is decorated. The level of detail will vary, but some of the hotels go all out: for example, there’s a huge gingerbread house at the BoardWalk!

CON: The Crowds

Like any popular time of year at Disney, you’re going to feel cramped at some points. If all you want out of a Disney trip is short wait times and you don’t care about Christmas, maybe plan a trip for some other time. I could be perfectly happy just walking around the parks and taking everything in, but I understand how some people might not enjoy this and need plenty of attractions. If this is you, whatever you do, do not go during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s the busiest time of year by far. Check out our crowd calendar for more information, but generally it’s less crowded the earlier you go in the season (besides the week of Thanksgiving, of course).

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My New Favorite Disney World Souvenir Finds

by on October 29, 2014

Little Mermaid Mouse Ears

Little Mermaid Mouse Ears

I don’t know about you, but souvenir shopping is a huge part of my Disney World Vacations. I always enjoy browsing through the stores at the parks and resorts for new merchandise; and during my past few trips to Disney World this year, I have discovered some magical, new items. So take a look at just a few of my new favorite Disney World souvenir finds!

Little Mermaid Mouse Ears – $19.00

As a huge Little Mermaid fan, I was thrilled when I came across these Little Mermaid Mouse Ears! I had seen the Belle and Cinderella themed Mouse Ears before, but this design is by far my favorite. I especially like the pearl accents! Surprisingly, I only found this twist on Disney’s classic headgear at Epcot’s Mouse Gear and Downtown Disney’s World of Disney Store during my most recent trip to Disney World, but hopefully that has changed. After all, who wouldn’t want to sport these ears around the parks, right?

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20 Things To Do When Your Hotel Room Isn’t Ready

by on October 28, 2014

Photo - Angela Dahlgren

A few more hours my beloved Boardwalk…a few more hours.

We were up at 4:30 a.m. for an early flight to Orlando. Taking no pride in my appearance, I hardly minded when my daughter spilled pureed peas all over my shirt during the flight. After all, I would have time to shower, change and decompress once we entered our hotel room right?

Wrong.

When we approached the front desk, we were informed the room wasn’t ready due to our extra early arrival. This wasn’t in the Touring Plan! We were now left with several unscheduled hours of time. What now?

While time did pass quickly and we managed to stay busy, it got me thinking. What else could we do should this happen again? Here are some ideas!

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Traveling with Seniors: In the Parks

by on October 22, 2014

TouringPlans logoIn the first part of this two-part series installment, we discussed how to plan and be proactive when traveling with senior citizens. In this second installment, we’ll tackle navigating the parks!

There are some obvious concerns that tend to come to the forefront of park touring with anyone with limited mobility, or anyone who fatigues easily (basically, everyone who’s not a marathon-runner). Standing in long lines, walking miles and miles each day, heat and humidity, are all things to keep in mind when you start planning your park days. Navigating the parks with a senior makes having a good Touring Plan that much more important. You can select preferences in your Touring Plan to minimize walking, minimize waiting in line, or a compromise between the two. The best thing about having a Touring Plan is being able to see more and do more while saving time and energy.

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Wearable Halloween Costumes + MNSSHP Experience

by on October 17, 2014

Photo - Keith Dahlgren

It’s raining, it’s pouring….

With Halloween creeping closer and closer, it’s finally time to start getting those costumes ready. Today, I’ll be sharing my experience attending Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, as well as what costumes we wore. Now, let’s grab our candy buckets and be on our way!

We attended Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on September 19, so we were ahead of the game when it came to costume planning. Our family is pretty low maintenance when it comes to Halloween costumes, and as we’d be running about all night, we dressed for comfort. We decided on a group costume, so off to Neverland we went. First up was our little pixie, Tinker Bell.

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Cast Member Chronicles: Chef Kevin Marshall

by on October 12, 2014

Photo Credit - Derek Burgan

Crystal Palace

I met Chef Kevin Marshall at a dinner party while visiting Orlando this past September. He is a friend of my Uncle Keith, and was gracious enough to share his culinary talents as our personal chef for the evening. As he prepared a scrumptious feast for us, I interviewed him about his diverse and fascinating career at Walt Disney World.

In June of 1989, he was a man fresh out of tech school. He applied at Walt Disney World, but soon learned there was a hiring freeze for positions he originally desired. Because he had previously managed a Wendy’s restaurant, he was offered a job in food and beverage at The Crystal Palace. As part of the culinary staff, he moved around to different positions, soon cooking alongside professional Disney chefs.

While working at the Crystal Palace, he and two other coworkers were asked to carve a 700 lb pumpkin for Halloween. They were told to carve and hand paint the ‘Blustery Day’ scene from Winnie the Pooh. It took two weeks of overtime and 90 man hours to complete this masterpiece. It was displayed outside the restaurant, surrounded by bales of hay to prevent guests from touching it. One day, a Cast Member saw a little boy ignoring the bales and and putting his hands on the carved image of Pooh. Originally thinking the boy was causing mischief, the Cast Member told the boy to refrain from touching the pumpkin. As it turns out, the little boy was blind. He never knew what Pooh and his friends looked like. From the carving, the boy was able to feel and learn the character shapes. It was his own personal braille pattern. Kevin said it made all his hard work truly worth it and is a memory that touches him to this day.

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The Disney Dazzle: Wishes Fireworks Cruise

by on October 7, 2014

Photo - Keith Dahlgren

Mom and Dad sharing a special moment

Today, I’m going to share my experience attending the Wishes Fireworks Cruise. I first went on this cruise in 2011 and again in September 2014. This most recent time, it was a birthday surprise for my dad. If you know me personally, you will understand just how hard it is for me to keep a secret. The cruise can be booked as early as 180 days in advance, but mine was booked about 90 days beforehand. That’s 90 whole days I had to keep my lips zipped…I barely made it! After a fun day at the parks and a delicious dinner at The Brown Derby (Yes, he was spoiled rotten!), we arrived at the Contemporary. We led my confused dad through the lobby and outside to the marina. He had no clue what this birthday surprise could be!

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Character Spotting at the Magic Kingdom

by on October 4, 2014

IMG_5751Recently the brilliant Adam Britten took us on a walking tour of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure to determine what characters you can see in those parks. About three seconds after the first article was published, I asked if I could steal the idea for our parks! So here we go character spotting at the Magic Kingdom, but before we get started there are a few important things to remember. The characters available in the parks and their greeting locations are subject to change. While things have been pretty steady recently, it’s always a good idea to check your times guide or My Magic Experience App for the most accurate information. However, this will give you an idea of who you can expect to see. Also, if you see a (FP) beside a character, that means that FastPass+ is available for that greeting. With that out of the way, let’s get started!

Adventureland:

Peter Pan - While lately I’ve seen Peter greeting just outside of Adventureland I’m still counting him as part of this land. You can’t miss him if you enter Adventureland from the Hub. Edit: Stopped by 10/5 and hub construction has moved this meet and greet. You can now find Peter just as you cross the bridge into Adventureland on the right. The past few times I’ve also seen him greeting with Wendy Darling, so you might just get lucky and get to see them both! :) You can normally find Peter out in the afternoon. Since he just meets near a planter, his line isn’t normally more than 20 minutes.

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The Most Underrated Walt Disney World Attractions

by on October 3, 2014

t_logo_fbWell, you did it. I hope you’re happy with yourselves. We weren’t the first to pass that way, but soon we’ll be the last, because Maelstrom, the troll-tastic boat attraction located in Norway at Epcot, is officially closing its doors on October 5th 2014 to make way for a new themed area celebrating “Let it Go.” But as sulky as I and others may be about it, it makes you realise something. The Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Test Track at Epcot. The bag check line at the front gate. There are a lot of Disney World attractions that people tend to think of immediately before any others, and for good reason. They’re big, flashy, exciting, and Patrick Warburton’s voice is like buttah. But it’s easy to get stuck on the big ticket thrill rides, or just the attractions with the most flash and that new magic smell and think of the rest as “filler.” Kids can basically be dazzled by just about anything, but teens and adults are harder to win over if something doesn’t involve at least three inversions and an animatronic yeti. Most of the time, when people talk about Disney World attractions, there’s a handful that always get brought up, and some that, well, just don’t as much as they should. Here’s a list of just some of the best, most underrated Disney World attractions the parks have to offer, and why you should make every effort to catch them on your trip, too. As for the most overrated attractions, well… that’s a whole ‘nother flame war, and my flame-retardant suit is in another castle.

And hey, when you’re done reading and you’re back from your trip, make sure you fill out the Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World Survey to help refine our ratings and our information for the future. Teens, nobody but us needs to know you really thought Wishes was the most spectacular thing ever… your cool, detached demeanor is safe with me.

Disney's Maelstrom at Epcot's Norway Pavillion

Disney’s Maelstrom at Epcot’s Norway Pavillion

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress – Is it cheesy? Yes. A little goofy? Sure. But this 21 minute long animatronic show located in Magic Kingdom is still one of the most impressive things Disney World has done. Guests sit down in theater style chairs on a revolving floor that takes them through a series of scenes following a family through the seasons, and through the years. The characters don’t age, but the emphasis here is on, well, progress. Little things, like how the icebox works, the cost of food, travel times, all of it is presented in such a way as to provide a great example of how much things have changed. All of this is narrated and acted out by a series of remarkably well articulated animatronic folks. (Still not as creepy as CGI Jeff Bridges.) Most amusing of all, the most “recent” era the show will take you through is going to feel pretty recent indeed thanks to new technology like the Oculus Rift and even “smart” ovens, despite being something the show clearly intended to be futuristic. Light-hearted, silly, and yet still relevant and interesting, it’s a great way to relax. Just don’t expect to get that song out of your head anytime soon.

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: October 2, 2014

by on October 2, 2014

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re stopping by the Disney’s Hollywood Studios to say goodbye to the Backlot Tour. Next, we’ll stop by Epcot for the last day of Off Kilter and some more Food and Wine fun. Lastly, we’ll stop in the Magic Kingdom to ride the Astro Orbiter on the first day it reopens. Who is ready for an awesome week? Let’s go!

Bright and early on September 27, I set out to ride the Backlot Tour. Upon first arriving it looked like any normal day, the crowds didn’t seem to know they were experiencing an attraction on the last day. The queue was short and the area was eerily quiet compared to that madness at Toy Story Mania next door.

1

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