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 beginning with one of my personal favorite parks: Epcot.
Epcot has a very interesting history. What few guests know is that Epcot was one of Walt’s main focuses when it came to his Florida Project and that the park we know today wasn’t exactly what he had in mind. Epcot, formerly known as EPCOT Center, stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and was intended to be a real, working community with an innovative design to serve as a model for future cities. When Walt passed away, the vision for Epcot gradually turned into a park that celebrated both the future and the world. That is why Epcot is composed of two different sections: Future World and World Showcase.
Photo books are a great way to extend the magic of your trip!
I’m sure you’ve all been there – your Disney vacation is over and the dreaded Disney blues set in and all you want to do is extend the magic from your trip. The end of a Disney trip can be depressing, but I’ve developed methods for extending the magic past the vacation so I can bask in the Disney happiness just a little bit longer. One of my main methods of doing this is through the creation of photo books.
Now I know what you might be thinking, “Photo books? Anyone can create photos books to document a vacation! What makes your method so special?” Well I’m glad you asked. I approach photo book creation for Disney trips from a unique angle. Rather than just documenting step-by-step the different events that take place on a trip, I attempt to find a new and different storytelling theme for every photo book I create. My desire is that the photo books not only transport us back to the wonderful memories from the trip, but also make us laugh at the way I chose to tell the story. Essentially, I’ve embraced the idea of being goofy. Let me break down my process step by step.
The holiday season is upon us here in Orlando! Walt Disney World is always the first of the major theme parks to kick off their festivities. The green light to start getting into the holiday spirit is shining bright, so let’s talk about the holiday festivities at Walt Disney World that need to be on your must-do list this year.
5. Monorail Resorts Tour
Photo by Brian McNichols
Three of Disney’s deluxe resorts await along the monorail loop, as part of the Magic Kingdom’s dominion. These resorts are highly sought after, commanding some of the highest room rates in the area. There are many desirable features here and during the holidays each resort offers their own unique way to celebrate the season.
Each year Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers a large gingerbread display in the Grand Canyon Concourse. This resort has the most kinetic energy and I find it to lack a bit of peace and instead at certain points feel as hectic as the shopping malls are this time of year. Still, the hustle and bustle is a traditional feeling of the season for many.
Hopping on the monorail (assuming it is actually operational) you’ll make a quick pit stop at the TTC before proceeding to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Get ready to say Male Kalikimaka, which is Hawaii’s holiday greeting. The holiday festivities and décor are not as extravagant as you will find in our next stop, the Grand Floridian, but the tropical charm and exotic feel is something you’ll rarely find anywhere else.
The grand finale is the Grand Floridian. This resort sparkles and shines during the holidays. The elegance and grace of the season are reflected in the Victorian Christmas decorations, evoking holiday traditions of a more refined era. Accents of gold, scarlet, and pale peach shine against the deep emerald green garlands. Nearly every Deluxe resort has a multi-story Christmas tree for all to admire. Here the tree is 40 feet high with golden lights and ornaments of doves, harps, bird cages, and other graceful elements.
The main attraction here is the life-size gingerbread house. The detail on this childhood dream come true never fails to impress each year. I’m getting giddy just typing about it. You can view the house from all angles, peer in the windows, and even shell out some dough (pun intended) at the sweet shop inside the house. The treats are pretty pricey, I would recommend picking out one treat to share.
Bonus round: secure a spot at any of the three resorts to catch a performance of Holiday Wishes, my absolute favorite fireworks ever to grace the Magic Kingdom.
4. Epcot Area Resorts Tour
Typically the monorail resorts get all kinds of love and recognition during this time of year, but I think there is a collection of resorts that offer a better experience during the holidays. The Epcot Area / Crescent Lake Area Resorts are much easier to access and tour through. You can walk to each resort or for a seafaring twist hop aboard the Friendships (though not the most effective use of your time).
When I arrived at noon, Epcot appeared quite a bit busier than you might hope a weekday in early November would be. Welcome to Jersey Week! Thanks to teachers’ conferences in New Jersey, wait times were jacked up throughout the park, with Spaceship Earth posting a 35 minute standby queue as I entered.
In the Bijutsu-kan Gallery at the Japan Pavilion at Epcot is a brand new gallery exhibit called Kawaii: Japan’s Cute Culture. The new exhibit explores how all things cute have become a way of life with the Japanese culture through use of artifacts and art.
Throughout the room, you’ll see how kawaii culture has become a fundamental part of Japanese life at home, at work, and at play. Kawaii is rooted in Japan’s Shinto past, and is a means of self-expression.
Cute really is everywhere in Japan and that is what this exhibit attempts to showcase. I was able to make a stop at the Japan Pavilion to take a peek at what the showcase has to offer and wanted to share it with you all.
Ribab Fusion is jamming now through January at Epcot’s Morocco pavilion. (Video by Seth Kubersky)
During last year’s reshuffling of Epcot’sWorld Showcase shows, long-time fan favorite musical group Mo’Rockin’ was moved out of the Morocco pavilion and replaced by a Berber band called B’net Al Houwariyate. Now, the revolving door of Epcot entertainment has rotated yet turned again: B’net has said goodbye (at least for the time being) and Ribab Fusion has made their debut at Epcot’s Morocco.
Soarin’ at Epcot will be closed for a very lengthy refurbishment for the first half of 2016. The refurbishment of the popular attraction found in The Land Pavilion will be closed starting on January 4, 2016, and will reopen sometime during the summer of 2016. No official reopening date has been announced, nor do we know the exact extent of the work that is to be completed.
Currently, a third theater is under construction. This refurbishment is connected to that work. It is also unclear whether Soarin’ Around The World will be ready to debut when the refurbishment work is completed. However, one would expect that it would debut at or around that reopening time. I will keep you posted as more information gets released about this refurbishment.
For those who have never seen it, it is a must do! (I’m channeling my inner Stacy!) What is better than a celebrity narrator, a mass choir, and an orchestra performing a re-telling of the Christmas Story?
This year’s Candlelight Processional takes place from November 27 through December 30. Showtimes are at 5:00 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. nightly. (With the exception of December 6, which will only have showtimes at 6:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.) This year will see quite a few new performers, including Meredith Vieira and America Ferrera. This year’s full celebrity list includes:
Are you ready to ring in the New Year? Ok, maybe not quite yet, but it is time to start planning for those who are considering a trip to Walt Disney World during the New Year’s holiday. I mean what better place to ring in the new year than in the ultimate party atmosphere with fireworks, entertainment, and great dining. Here’s what you can expect to experience if you decide to head down to Florida to ring in 2016.
Magic Kingdom – Guests can welcome 2016 on not one night, but two. The Magic Kingdom will present the incredible Fantasy in the Sky fireworks on both December 30, and December 31 at 11:50 p.m.
Epcot – Guests can celebrate all night long as DJs and live music will take place around World Showcase. Of course, there will be a fireworks spectacular courtesy of two showings of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth–one at 6:00 p.m. featuring the holiday tag and one at 11:40 p.m., which will be followed by a countdown and pyrotechnic salute to the New Year.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Rock ’n’ roll into the New Year with a brilliant fireworks spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The show will be presented on December 31 near the Hyperion Theater at midnight.