Posts Tagged ‘disney world’

The Disney Dazzle: Meeting Mickey Mouse

by on August 22, 2014

©Disney

Ta-Dah!

My very favorite thing about visiting Disney World is the memories you take home with you. Amongst the celebrations and excitement at the parks, something even more amazing can happen. A magical moment occurs that makes the whole trip so much more meaningful – a personal story you will never forget. I call this the ‘Disney Dazzle.’

My husband and I make trips to Orlando 2-3 times a year as my husband’s aunt and uncle live there. Rewind back to February 2014, and we were on our very first trip with our newborn, Annie. Whenever we visit Disney World, my husband’s uncle, Keith, always has a surprise in store for us. This trip was no exception. Earlier in the day, Uncle Keith had mysteriously left our group for several minutes. He returned, said nothing about his disappearance and we continued about our day. That night, he told us he had a surprise but that we would have to wait a little longer. I walked up and down Main Street, U.S.A. with ants in my pants wondering what his secret could be. After what seemed like FOREVER (although in reality, it was no more than 20 minutes), he led us into the Town Square Theater. I really had NO idea what we were doing there, only remembering the little television playing cartoons and the Camera Center full of camera supplies and pins. While looking around, I saw the sign ‘Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater’ and it hit me. Uncle Keith had gotten us a FastPass+ reservation to meet Mickey Mouse! Now, guests have had the opportunity to meet Mickey in the Town Square Theater since 2011, but it wasn’t until October of 2013 that a special magician Mickey would grace us with his presence. (I won’t give away all the surprises because every encounter with ‘the boss’ is unique!) As a Disney buff, I’m embarrassed to admit that I had no idea one could meet Mickey in such an exciting and intimate setting. I was in for a real treat!

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Five Simple Ways to Save over $500 on Your Next Disney World Vacation

by on August 21, 2014

Save Money On A Disney World Vacation

Follow these simple tips to save some of these!

There are several ways to save money on a Disney World vacation. The most obvious are getting a great deal on your airfare, traveling during the off season, choosing to stay at a less expensive hotel, using the Disney Ticket Calculator to purchase your admissions and eating at economical restaurants. But what do you do if you’ve done all of this and you still need to cut your budget? Well, I’ve got you covered, my friends! Here are five simple and painless ways to save over $500 on your next Disney World vacation.

Before We Begin

For each of these five tips, let’s assume we are a family of four traveling to Disney World for a one week (seven night, six day) vacation. Our sample family includes Mr. Smith, Mrs. Smith, little Susie (age 6) and little Tommy (age 3). We’ll first do the math for full price at Disney World and then compare it to the math with our tip in place. Prepare to be amazed!

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Reviewing Hollywood Studios One-Day Late Arrival Touring Plan for Adults

by on August 19, 2014

Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Angela Dahlgren, photographer.

I had an extra day off at the end of my summer vacation, so my sister-in-law and I hopped over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to test out  the “One-Day Late Arrival Touring Plan for Adults.”

The plan is designed to start at 11:00 AM but we were through the turnstiles and had the plan pulled up on the phone by 10:00 AM. The extra hour probably helped in the long run since the new Frozen Summer Fun – Live bumped up the crowd level to a solid 9.  It looked like it was already a 7 when we arrived.

Looking at the list, I forgot to send it though the optimizer, but the first step was to ride Toy Story Midway Mania!, which would probably have been the suggestion anyway.  We headed straight to Pixar Place and into the standby queue. The posted wait time was 75 minutes, but we made it through in 45. When the line splits before the stairs at the end of the main queue room, the Cast Member directed us through the FastPass+ lane, likely accounting for the saved 10-15 minutes.*

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Menu Monday: The Best Recurring Items at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

by on August 18, 2014

The Hawai'i kiosk at Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

Copyright – Disney

Walt Disney World’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival is a wonderful thing. Do you remember that episode of The Simpsons where Homer frolicked through a land made entirely of chocolate? That’s essentially the Food and Wine Festival in a nutshell, only with less cruelty-to-confectionaries and more damage to your wallet. All around the World Showcase you’ll find new kiosks set up celebrating food and drink from across the globe, with dozens of shareable sized dishes of everything you could ever hope to try available for purchase. While each year they offer a wide variety of new menu items, there are always some that are so popular they keep coming back. Here are some of the best items that will be back this year you should be reserving valuable tummy space for… and make sure to check out the official Food and Wine Festival 2014 menus for all the rest! (Food item prices range from $3.00 to $8.00 USD per.)

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Favorite Park Series: Disney’s Magic Kingdom

by on August 17, 2014

Magic Kingdom

We made it!

We did it. We made it to the end of my Favorite Park Series. To read my highlights on Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, here ya go!

Now, let’s see what puts the ‘Magic’ in Magic Kingdom.

Memorable Moments 

“Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy” – Walt Disney.

Indeed, these memorable words are embodied in the ambiance and attractions of Magic Kingdom. Main Street, U.S.A., is reminiscent of small town America, with Ma and Pa general stores full of delicious goodies and fun souvenirs. Adventureland creates exotic experiences such as boarding the Jungle Cruise and joining the crew on the fan favorite, Pirates of the Caribbean. Make your way over to Frontierland and enter the Wild West. Hold on to your cowboy hats

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SATURDAY SIX: Six of Disney’s (Not So) Secret Plans for the Next 5 Years

by on August 16, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six of Disney’s (Not So) Secret Plans for the Next 5 Years. This past week The Unofficial Guide’s Disney Dish with Jim Hill podcast went over a lot of exciting possibilities for Walt Disney World’s near future.  The show was the talk of the theme park world, and while it was loaded with a metric ton of information, scintillating rumors, and insider scoops, we’re going to count down the six biggest takeaways of this audio starting with…

# 6 – The Sorcerer’s Hat ain’t going anywhere…

SATURDAY_SIX_DHSHAT

Haters gonna hate. (photo by Matt Cleary and Brandon Glover)

 

The era of nightmares doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Jim Hill says that despite the fact that many guests see the giant Sorcerer’s hat sitting in the middle of the park as the biggest eyesore since Cinderella Castle was turned into a giant pink birthday cake, it serves an important purpose to the park. More to the point, the stage below the ugly hat plays a vital roll in allowing DHS to hold various live shows and draw the crowds away from popular attractions such as Tower of Terror and Toy Story Midway Mania.

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Avoiding Phobias in Disney World

by on August 14, 2014

Walt Disney World may be the most magical place on earth, but for those of us with intense phobias, a magical day can quickly turn terrifying when confronted with your greatest fear. With this in mind, I’ve selected some of the most commons fears and where guests may encounter them at Walt Disney World, starting with one close to my heart:

Spiders

Spiders are something I am very passionate about avoiding, so I am happy to provide you an in-depth analysis of where to steer clear.

avoiding phobias in Disney World

“Look, Timmy, it’s your worst nightmare!”
Photo copyright Disney

Magic Kingdom

An animatronic tarantula is housed in a cage in the queue for Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom. The cage containing the animatronic occasionally lurches forward. The cage is pretty clearly labeled “tarantula”, so it’s easy to avoid; just don’t stand next to it while in line. There is also a red giant spider on the Jungle Cruise in the cave area. However, it’s so unrealistic-looking that even I’m not disturbed by it.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

If you want to avoid spiders on your trip, Animal Kingdom is where you’ll need to stay alert, starting at the entrance. Past the entrance touch points, you may spot a cast member holding an aquarium container surrounded. Do not approach, or do so with extreme caution. The container will likely be holding a huntsman spider or tarantula. Spiders feature heavily in It’s Tough to Be a Bug!, the most terrifying attraction in all of Walt Disney World and possibly the universe. A “friendly” tarantula in on screen for several minutes and black widows drop and dangle overhead. This attraction has been known to upset people of all ages with a fear of bugs. You may be better off skipping the show if you know you have issues with insects.

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Walt Disney World Tips for Big Groups: Stay Sane, Stay Happy

by on August 13, 2014

You love your friends and family. I know it. You know it. But when you’re on vacation and suddenly everyone has different ideas of what they want to go and where to eat and when they need bathroom breaks don’t you… sort of… want to push them in the lake? Just a little? Whether this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip or a yearly affair, vacationing with a big group of people can get stressful in a hurry. Here are a few Disney World tips to save your sanity and keep things running as smoothly as possible.

As told entirely by screenshots of The Emperor’s New Groove.

Copyright - Disney

Copyright – Disney

Because nobody knows how to party like Kronk and Yzma, that’s why.

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Menu Monday: Best Sandwiches in Disney World

by on August 11, 2014

Welcome to Menu Monday. If your diet started today, we apologize. The TouringPlans Blog is trying out themed days for our content – starting with a consolidation of food and restaurant reviews on Mondays. Let us know what you think by emailing blog at touring plans dot com.

Sandwiches are pretty darn close to being the world’s most perfect food. No wonder they’re Anna and Hans’ favorite food (I mean, they’re always finishing each other’s sandwiches…). They aren’t expensive, cover most of the main food groups, can be simple or gourmet. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like sandwiches. Even the pickiest eater can usually find a sandwich they enjoy. So, whether your have a family of picky eaters, frugal penny-pinchers, or just sandwich connoisseurs, here’s a list of the top ten places to find the best sandwiches in Disney World.

*If you’re looking to save some dough, be sure to ask the cast members at each dining location if they give discounts to DVC members, Annual Passholders, or if they accept the Tables in Wonderland discount. This information changes regularly, so it’s always good to ask to make sure you get the best bang for your buck!*

 

Earl of Sandwich - Full Montagu.

Earl of Sandwich – Full Montagu.

Earl of Sandwich (Downtown Disney): For me, no Disney vacation is complete without a visit to Earl of Sandwich, in the Marketplace of Downtown Disney. They have a huge selection of sandwiches which are priced around $6. With a choice of numerous side dish options and a beverage, you’re looking at spending a little less than $10 for a very tasty and filling meal. I can think of no better way to spend an afternoon than with my favorite Earl of Sandwich (The Full Montagu), a patio table and people-watching as families hustle and bustle into the World of Disney in search of vacation treasures.

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Observations from Downtown Disney Part 1 (Parking Garage, West Side shopping, Food Truck Park)

by on August 11, 2014

It has been a while since I have done a photo tour of Downtown Disney, and it was time to head back into what might be the construction capital of the world. There are major projects going on in every single section of Downtown Disney, making a day trip there a potentially stressful challenge. However, it seems as though the area has finally turned a corner, and we are starting to see developments that make Downtown Disney a place worth checking out rather than avoiding because of the construction hassle. Looking at my previous Downtown Disney article from April shows some rather significant changes, so here is what is going on now….

DIS1

Status of parking garage on West Side of Downtown Disney near Cirque du Soleil

 

The parking garage is looking massive, and the map of the area says it should be completed “Early 2015.” Busch Gardens should have done that for its long delayed Falcon’s Fury ride that is “Opening Sometime in 2014.” As ugly as Downtown Disney is right now because of the overall construction, far and away the biggest problem is parking. It was bad enough before huge sections of parking spaces were completely shut down to make way for a much-needed parking garage, and now it can be maddening. For the Guardians of the Galaxy showings this past weekend, the AMC movie theater at Downtown Disney was advising guests to arrive an hour early to give themselves time to find a parking space, with many guests being directed to the overflow areas across the street at Team Disney and Casting.

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