Posts Tagged ‘Disney’

Visiting Disney with an Infant

by on August 7, 2014

Princess Aurora and her Twin

Princess Aurora and her Twin

After getting pregnant, I’ll admit I was worried that visiting Disney World with a baby would prove too difficult. However, after bringing my daughter Annie at 11 weeks old, I realized that with a little more planning, we could still have an amazing time. With that said, allow me to share my tips and tricks for bringing an infant to Disney.

Top Tips for Visiting Disney with an Infant

- You can check your car seat and stroller for free with most airlines. It’s your choice if you want to check them at the desk or the gate. The employees don’t usually mind either way. It’s a good idea to put a name tag on your stroller (unless someone has a better stroller than you…then you might want to “accidentally” walk off with theirs – I did say I would give you tips and tricks, didn’t I?).

- Most airlines will let people with children board first, giving you extra time to get situated without the crowd. Take note that the airlines will not let you sit in an exit row if traveling with an infant, so keep that in mind when booking your seat.

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Planning for Spontaneity: Disney World Counter Service Meals

by on July 30, 2014

By nature, our family tends to over-plan. On one vacation, we even set aside specific time to ‘be spontaneous – within our own limitations.’ But for some reason, our quick dining – while generally guided – wasn’t set in stone. On our first day in Epcot, we chose Sunshine Seasons, one of the jewels of counter service dining in the parks, according to all the checks we’d made. We began enjoying our Asian-infused lunch until our only adventurous eater started to look a little queasy. The sights and aromas had overcome our (somewhat) melodramatic child. Thankfully, she was only four. And we didn’t stick around for the clean-up.

A nice variety of food offered at Casey's Corner, but tough to locate an indoor seat.

A nice variety of food offered at Casey’s Corner, but tough to locate an indoor seat.

Since then, we have planned all of our meals. For many Walt Disney World vacationers, counter service fills up half – or more- of our theme park dining. Plenty of information exists for table service restaurants: menus, meal reviews, countdown to reservation times, and strategies for landing the elusive meal spot. Comparatively little exists for the compulsive planner when it comes to quick service. While outlining burgers and nachos may seem overly obsessive, building a plan – with a back-up, too – may save time, effort, and enable you to put more enjoyment into your vacation. If nothing else, you might slide a column into your managed spreadsheet for your ‘other’ meal.

Counter service restaurants participate uniquely with the Disney Dining plan. Almost all table service restaurants in Disney World parks are on the meal plan, but only some counter service restaurants are. Some will serve snacks only. The leg conundrum for me seems the strangest. Some places – like the pork shank legs at Min and Bill’s in Hollywood Studios-Covered. Gaston’s Tavern in Magic Kingdom-Not covered. You can use a snack credit there, just not on the shank.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! July 2014 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on July 28, 2014

MMM positiveWe all have our favorite stores in Walt Disney World such as Mouse Gear in Epcot, the Emporium on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom, or Villains in Vogue at Hollywood Studios. Disney has made gift shops as ubiquitous in theme parks as churros and turkey legs. Most of us have Disney magnets on our refrigerators, coffee mugs in our cabinets, and shirts in our drawers that immediately bring back memories of previous vacations.  Not all merchandise gets sold though. Some of it sits on the shelves long enough to be shipped over to the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando, and that’s where we come in. The Magic, The Memores, and Merch! is your monthly guide to these products which never found a home.

Our first find at the outlet is AULANI DUFFY. Original priced at $35, these are now $9.99.

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Turns out that ancient taboo idol that Bobby Brady found wasn’t the worst thing to come out of Hawaii after all.

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Taking Disney World by Storm

by on July 20, 2014

First of all, I am not a meteorologist. I don’t even play one on TV.

That being said, I have thirty years of experience in Orlando weather, including doing extensive research on hurricanes.

The 2014 hurricane season has begun, and the year marks the tenth anniversary of Orlando’s “Year of Three Hurricanes”. In this article, I’ll cover the issue of hurricanes and Orlando’s famous thunderstorms as well as how to avoid them and vacation around them.

Orlando street view the morning after Hurricane Charley in 2004.  Photo by Thomas Cook

Orlando street view the morning after Hurricane Charley in 2004. Photo by Thomas Cook

Officially known as “tropical cyclones” but colloquially as hurricanes, the massive summer storms are one of the most powerful and dangerous natural events on earth. The amount of energy released in one day by an average cyclone in producing rain (which is 400 times greater than the wind energy) is equal to the yearly energy production of the U.S.

So you’re thinking hurricanes and Florida go hand-in-hand like Vermont and snow, right? Well, sort of. Florida is a big state. Not only in terms of square miles, but it’s long. For instance, it takes 12 hours to drive from Key West to Pensacola.

Of course, every mile is a potential hurricane target, but Walt Disney World is only some 40 miles square. Additionally it’s in the center of the state, relatively far from the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. This means every time your local news tells about a hurricane in Florida, it’s unlikely to be passing close to Disney world.

The U.S. government started regular tracking of tropical cyclones in 1851. Looking at those statistics gives excellent news: The frequency of a hurricane passing through the Walt Disney World area in any year is 1 in 10. A 10% chance each year is all local have to worry about. Want even better news? If you’re visiting for a week or two, you have an even smaller chance of having to deal with one of nature’s super storms.

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Favorite Parks Series: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on July 16, 2014

We’re at the half way point in our Favorite Parks journey! (Read about Disney’s Hollywood Studios here.) Before doing research for this article, I’ll admit that Disney’s Animal Kingdom was my least favorite park. However, the more I delved into the MAGIC* behind the park, the more I realized how spectacular and incredibly unique Animal Kingdom is.

Memorable Moments

Since Animal Kingdom is known for its hot environment, Kali River Rapids is just the attraction to cool you off. As the unpredictable rapids decide which way the raft spins, no one is safe from the surprising splashes and torrents. Once you’ve become thoroughly soaked, dry yourself off by enjoying two delightful shows; Finding Nemo – The Musical and the Festival of the Lion King. Adrenaline junkies will love running into the Yeti on Expedition Everest, while those looking for further adventure can experience DINOSAUR. An underrated attraction at Animal Kingdom worth attending is Flights of Wonder, an educational and entertaining exotic bird show. You’ll be ‘squawking’ about it for days!

How many animals can you spot?

How many animals can you spot?

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Best Evening Extra Magic Hours Attractions at Disney World

by on July 15, 2014

The Kiss Goodnight is a light show projected on the castle when the park closes.

Staying on property during your next Walt Disney World vacation? Then you should absolutely be taking advantage of Disney’s Extra Magic Hours, which offer resort guests the opportunity to get to a park early or stay late. Simply show that you’re staying in a Walt Disney World resort and you can have fun in the parks beyond the normal operating hours. And if you’re using our Personalized Touring Plans, you can also extend your plan hours for both morning and evening Extra Magic Hours. As stated, Extra Magic Hours are offered both in the morning and the evening but for now we’re going to concentrate on some of my favorite Evening Extra Magic Hours attractions. While not every attraction is operating for Extra Magic Hours, some of the best and most popular attractions across Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are open to resort guests. Unfortunately, as of this writing, Disney’s Animal Kingdom does not offer evening extra magic hours. Perhaps that could change with the eventual opening of the park’s new Avatar Land but for now, park guests will have to get their Extra Magic Hours fill at the first three Walt Disney World theme parks. So without further ado, here are my top Evening Extra Magic Hours attractions for each park.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! May 2014 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on May 28, 2014

MMM positiveIs it already the end of May? This month flew by. It seems we just celebrated Cinco de Mayo at La Cava del Tequila. We saw the annual running of the Kentucky Derby and the beginning of Star Wars Weekends. We rocked our Disney Side at the Magic Kingdom’s 24 Hour Event and we got to ride the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in soft opens. Meanwhile over at Universal a Dragon showed up at Diagon Alley, and work on the rumored King Kong attraction at Islands of Adventure is in full swing. It has been insanely busy, but we couldn’t forget about our monthly pilgrimage to the Disney Outlet Store!

March’s trip to the Outlet Store brought us unsold Valentine’s Day Duffy Bears from February, while April’s visit saw several St. Patrick’s Day items show up. Surprisingly enough, only two Easter items arrived at the Outlets so far. One is in the form of this Easter Egg Duffy Bear plush. Originally $20, it is now $9.99.

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Turns out this Humpty Dumpty got pushed off the wall.

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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Roller Coasters in Orlando

by on May 24, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers the Top Six Roller Coasters in Orlando. We here at the Saturday Six offices have been looking forward to the grand opening of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for a while and one of the side effects of that anticipation has been having roller coasters on our brain. Luckily we are blessed with a lot of fantastic coasters in Orlando. But which ones are the very best? Today we are going to find out…

# 6 – Dragon Challenge (Islands of Adventure)

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Dragon Challenge (photo by Mike Sperduto)

Dragon Challenge in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter squeaked by over Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster to take the # 6 spot. In its former incarnation as Dueling Dragons, this coaster had the unique experience of two trains leaving at the exact same time and at several points of the ride come oh-so-close to touching each other. Unfortunately the trains are now staggered, so while they don’t offer that exhilarating rush of coming near each other, they offer two exciting – and different – experiences. The Chinese Fireball (red side) has got faster speed and a bigger drop while the Hungarian Horntail (blue side) has a zero-gravity roll, cobra roll, and plenty more inversions to put a smile on your face. Waiting for front row on both is highly recommended.

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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Theme Park Water Rides in Orlando

by on May 10, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers the Top Six Theme Park Water Rides in Orlando. Water rides at the parks, you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. We here at the Saturday Six happen to love them and are glad we have so many great ones to choose from in Orlando. These rides can be just the thing to cool you off on one of those Florida days where it feels like you are walking on the surface of the sun, and as a side benefit they can be incredibly fun! Today we are going to look at the top six and we’ll start with…

# 6 – Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls (Islands of Adventure)

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Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls (photo by Brandon Glover)

Located in Toon Lagoon in Islands of Adventure, Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls is based on the old Jay Ward cartoons which – like many of the characters in Toon Lagoon – have been mostly lost to time. This is unfortunate, as many of Ward’s creations (Aesop’s Fables, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Peabody and Sherman) were years ahead of their time, containing sophisticated humor and satire that children and adults could enjoy. While Ripsaw Falls is filled with the trademark humor (and puns) of the cartoon it is based on, thanks to budget and time constraints under which it was built, it doesn’t have the “wow” factor of animatronics or the immersive scenery that some other rides on this list brings to the table. What it does have is an amazing facade, several decent drops, and one great one at the end. The final drop of Ripsaw Falls can hang with any flume ride, but Ripsaw Falls doesn’t end there….

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SATURDAY SIX: In Memoriam – Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in the Last Year

by on January 11, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in the Last Year. While we have a lot of things to look forward to in 2014, including some real work being done up the upcoming James Cameron’s World of Avatar, it’s time to look back at some of what we won’t be seeing again.

Universal Meal Deal

An Affordable All-You-Can-Eat Deal within a Theme Park?!

# 6 – Universal Meal Deal (Universal Orlando Resort)

In time, people probably won’t even believe a deal like this existed inside a Disney or Universal theme park. While the price increased over the years, the Meal Deal price peaked at just $20.99 for an adult. The Meal Deal allowed each guest one entree and one dessert for an unlimited number of times in the participating restaurants. And though a drink was not included in the Meal Deal, Universal has a great refillable drink deal and an even better Coke Freestyle program. In combination, the Meal Deal and the drink programs allowed the average guest who liked to eat to make out like a bandit.

Now Universal has shifted over to a Dining Plan that is much more in line with what guests have experienced at Disney, making finding value much tougher. In fact, you’ll probably see a 10 minute wait at Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem before you can figure out how to save any money on food at Universal, but we will look back and remember a time when guests could eat as many burgers at Captain America Diner as they wanted….could get their fill of pizza at Louie’s, and could chow down on chicken fingers at Circus McGurkus until they waddled out of the park. And, by gosh, we’ll miss those days.

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