Who’s ready for more news? I’m back with more for you today! Here we go:
There has been a change to the Disney Gift Card Program. New Disney gift cards can now only be activated with a minimum amount of $15. (The previous minimum amount you could load on a new card was $5.) Guests who are re-loading a gift card may still do so with a minimum of $5.
The rules for visiting Walt Disney World have been updated. The biggest change seems to focus on those who are e-cigarette smokers, who are now asked to smoke in designated smoking areas.
For those of you who read my previous article about Tower of Terror getting on-ride videos, you’ll have noticed that I mentioned that it was likely just the beginning. It turns out that I was completely right, as it another attraction has already received the on-ride video treatment. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the next attraction that will capture your ride experience while you are on the attraction. Much like the Tower of Terror ride video, when you ride the attraction with a MagicBand and a linked Memory Maker, you will have your photo and video automatically associated to your My Disney Experience account. Here is the sample video giving you a peek at what to expect.
Ed. – We realize it’s still over a month until Halloween, and you haven’t even ordered your Thanksgiving Turducken yet, but tickets are already on sale for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Enjoy the Food&Wine-aweenThanksmas season and have a Happy New Marathon Weekend.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a popular, hard ticket event at Disney World where guests can enjoy holiday festivities and the Christmas spirit at the most magical park of them all, the Magic Kingdom! The party is scheduled for select dates throughout November and December. In addition to the festive atmosphere, but also a series of holiday performances and activities to enjoy. Like what? New this year is the lighting, or rather freezing, of Cinderella Castle by Frozen’s Elsa! The party also offers character dance parties, Holiday Wishes, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, character meets, and so much more. To help you maximize the Disney magic, I’ve got a little early Christmas present:
Disney Savvy Tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Plan for the Cold - Contrary to popular opinion, Florida is not warm and sunny all year long. In fact, it can get very chilly at Disney World during the holiday season, especially at night. The past two times I attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, I’ve needed several layers or even a coat to keep warm. When your party date draws close, check the extended forecast or monthly average temperatures for an idea of how to dress.
Watch the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade from Main Street – Many guests have their own opinions for where to watch the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Electrical Parade; but for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, I encourage everyone to find a spot on Main Street, U.S.A. for the popular Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. Why? Main Street, U.S.A. is the only location in the park where fake snow drifts down from above as the parade passes by, creating a picture-perfect winter wonderland! Spots along the parade route go quickly, so claim a space early!
Prepare for Rain - During my first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party experience, it rained the whole night! Myself, along with most of the party guests, just donned a poncho and braved the damp, but there were few changes to the party due to the inclement weather. First of all, some elements of the parade were removed for safety purposes. The main floats were still included, but some of the characters and dancers were not. Whenever the weather isn’t cooperative, Disney does their best to carry on the night as planned, but some performances and live entertainment can be cancelled, delayed, or altered. It’s just something to prepare yourself and another reason to check the forecast.
Our good friend, the crane over Cinderella’s Castle, is back to install the Castle Dream Lights. I don’t think anyone can deny how beautiful these lights are once they’re installed, but the crane is such an eyesore! It seems like it’s there a third of the year anymore between installing the lights and removing them after the holidays. If they can ruin thousands of once in a lifetime photos in front of the castle I think they can close the Haunted Mansion a few weeks out of the year to install Haunted Mansion Holiday. Okay, I know I’m the only one that thinks that way, and we’re never getting the overlay, but you’d think they could not have the crane up for so long every year. But I’m getting ahead of myself, my day didn’t start in the Magic Kingdom. I started with one of the epic breakfasts of Disney World! But you’ll have to click below to find out more!
One of the first changes to the FastPass+ program was the ability to make more FastPass+ selections after using your first set of advance reservations. Besides being able to get more FastPasses, this lets you get FastPass+ options that may not have been available to you previously. (For example, the advance FastPass “tiering” rules at Epcot and the Studios aren’t in effect for your 4th FastPass+ selection and beyond, nor is the once-per-attraction restriction.)
This means you have to choose a strategy. The two most common options are:
Book your advance FastPass+ reservations early in the day and have more time for “extra” FastPass+ selections,
Schedule your advance FastPass+ reservations during the busiest time of the day and use the standby lines early in the day, when the wait times are lower
To make this choice, it helps to know each attraction’s day-of FastPass+ availability.
For those of us looking to learn more about the Disney magic, or for a whole new way to experience the parks, Disney offers a variety of tours to enjoy. For example, there’s Epcot’s Behind the Seeds Tour, Animal Kingdom’s Wild Africa Trek, and the big favorite, Backstage Magic, where you enjoy a backstage look of all four parks! However, my personal favorite tour has to be the Magic Kingdom‘s Keys to the Kingdom Tour, a five hour behind-the-scenes peek of the most magical park of them all; and for anyone looking to splurge on a tour, it’s my top pick. Why? Read on to see why you should choose the Magic Kingdom’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour.
Earpiece guests use during the tour in order to hear even in crowded places
So this is one of the Keys to the Kingdom’s biggest draws, so I’m starting with it! Yes, the Keys to the Kingdom Tour allows you the opportunity to check out the legendary Utilidors, the Magic Kingdom’s tunnels that run underneath the park. Now before your imagination runs off, let me be clear. These tunnels are not something you would see in an Indiana Jones film. These tunnels are technically the first floor of the park, as the Magic Kingdom is actually built on the second level; and these tunnels are where offices and utilities are located, as well as wardrobe for Cast Members. Also, the purpose of the Utilidors is to allow Cast Members to get from one side of the park to the other without breaking theme. You see, Disney is all about the details and putting on a show, and having a Cast Member dressed in Liberty Square garb wouldn’t look right in Tomorrowland, would it? Also, you should know that you only get to see a small portion of the Utilidors during the tour; but even so, it’s still awesome! Also during the tour, you will get a chance to venture backstage to see some park attractions and buildings from behind the scenes. During my tour, my guide took our group to see the warehouse where they store the parade floats. It was just as memorable as the Utilidors!
We’re back for another Disney Dazzling story! If you want to read about my magical time meeting Mickey Mouse, click here.
I experienced breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table* in early 2014. Reservations had been made the previous fall, and the anticipation had been building ever since. Not only would I be visiting Magic Kingdom, but I was going to meet five of my childhood idols. My inner five-year-old was rejoicing at the opportunity!
We walked down Main Street, U.S.A., and the closer we got to the castle, the faster I walked. I’m pretty sure I was sprinting those last few yards, trying to quickly close the distance between the castle and myself.
The entrance to the restaurant is next to Fantasyland. As I walked through the castle tunnel, I noticed five beautiful mosaic murals depicting Cinderella’s fairy tale. Fun Fact: These murals were made with over 300,000 pieces of Italian glass, and some contain sterling silver and even 14-karat gold. They were sure a ‘gem’ to look at! (bu dum, chee!)
Upon notifying the hostess of our arrival, we waited outside only a few minutes before being ushered into the castle. We walked through a gothic archway and entered the beautiful entry hall. The medieval-inspired hall had antique-looking tapestries covering the marble walls, while aged light fixtures made the space glow. I saw several coat of arms high above, and wooden benches lined the walls. As I walked further in, I saw none other than Cinderella herself greeting guests. My mind began to wonder as I waited in line: Would I be able to give her a hug? Would she let me live in the castle with her? If she asked, I would surely say, “Yes,” even if it meant having Gus and Jaq as roommates. When it was our turn, she smiled and signed my autograph book while asking us about our morning. She graciously accepted my hug (Hugging a princess, check that off my bucket list!), and a Disney photographer took our picture. There were other photo opportunities following our time with Cinderella. I recall a throne chair, suit of armor, and an old fireplace. We took a picture of our baby daughter in the fireplace (don’t worry, it wasn’t lit), and, luckily, she didn’t get any soot on her dress.
Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re visiting Typhoon Lagoon, taking a look at the fall decorations at Magic Kingdom, and stopping by to check on Frozen at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You may notice a little difference in the photo quality this week. I picked up a new camera, the Canon S110. I wanted to get something a little more portable than my big DSLR. I’m still getting the hang of it so forgive me if anything looks “off”. With that out of the way, let’s get started! I thought what better way than how I start every trip to Disney? WIth a quick pass under this magical sign!
Our first stop is Typhoon Lagoon, somewhere I’ve never taken you before! When I visited I had every intention of busting out the GoPro and taking you on some slides, but mother nature had a different plan. Black, ominous storm clouds started to fill the horizon and I knew it was going to be a short trip. I decided to run around and take a few photos and ask you if you’d like to see more. Pictured below is the Crush ‘n’ Gusher. I’ve only done the slides a few times and didn’t love it, but the wading pool out front is very nice.
Edit 9/10/14: Well, it’s the day after this was supposed to have launched and nary a peep from Disney. In fact, the special website that I was previously able to access that included a video of how the game worked has been re-linked to the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party page. Not sure what caused Disney to pull this game, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a part of this year’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween parties now.
Edit 9/3/14 4:30 p.m.: Odd…while I have the game app from the Apple Store, which I downloaded onto my iPad a few days ago, I cannot find it anymore in the Apple App Store. Also, more curious is that it seems that the Disney Parks Blog post about this is missing now too. Not sure if a re-launch is going to take place on September 9, the first party the app was slated to be active or if it has been pulled all-together. The experience was noted on the map for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
The app is called Mayhem at the Mansion. The story behind the app is that The Haunted Mansion’s Hitchhiking Ghosts have escaped and are causing mayhem at the Magic Kingdom during the party. Your goal is to use the “Specter Collector,” found inside the app, to take photos of the ghosts, and return them to The Haunted Mansion. Guests can find the location of the ghosts by aiming the “Specter Collector” at a park map.
Once all three ghosts have been collected and returned, you will be able to unlock exclusive Mayhem rewards.
I recently downloaded it and started playing with it. The app is very simple. There is an introduction video, an link to purchase Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party via Disney’s website, a video explaining how the process of collecting works, and the “Specter Collector” camera. I am not sure if more will be updated once the app officially is unveiled for park use on September 9, but the basics are already there.
Ed. – Today the blog is taking you to Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter. These resorts are connected by a very pleasant walk along the Sassagoula River and are favorites on the Unofficial Guide reader survey.
On my most recent trip to Walt Disney World, I stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter, which is my personal favorite moderate resort hotel. An important factor in choosing any Walt Disney World Resort is the food. Especially when traveling with a larger group, variety is essential when it comes to dining options. Luckily, Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, the main dining option at French Quarter, offers a variety of choices with a strong influence on Cajun and New Orleans cuisine.
Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory is a breakfast, lunch and dinner quick service food court decked out in a bright and colorful Mardi Gras theme. If you’re into subtlety, you might just die of excessiveness while eating here. Some may say that many of the decorations of Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory are “creepy” or “terrifying” but I personally think they straddle the, “almost scary but hilarious because of it” line quite nicely. Also, in case you were wondering, both the Disney Dining Plan and Tables in Wonderland are accepted at Sassagoula. That’s all well and fine but the real question remains. Is the food any good? I’m happy to report that after staying at French Quarter for a week and having multiple meals there, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Fun ambiance or terrifying nightmare fuel? You decide!
Trying to get a lunch table at Be Our Guest can be downright Beastly…unless you know the restaurant’s latest policies. (photos by Seth Kubersky)
Last week’s blog post about my unsuccessful attempt to eat lunch at Be Our Guest provoked a number of comments and questions, so I spent a humid Labor Day morning trying to make sense of the latest policies and procedures at the Magic Kingdom’s newest premiere restaurant. Be warned that everything in the below Be Our Guest lunch update should be taken with a shaker of salt, since operations are being adjusted on a daily basis — much to the chagrin of front line cast members, who often don’t know exactly how things will operate on any given day until they attend their morning meeting. With that said, here is my latest first-hand experience with Be Our Guest lunch standby and return time tickets, as well as same-day dinner reservations.
Be Our Guest Lunch Standby and Return Time Tickets
One of my first stops after rope drop was Be Our Guest restaurant, where much to my amazement I found a couple of people already in the standby queue for lunch. When I initially inquired about standby and return time tickets, I was told there was no guarantee yet whether they would be used that day, and was invited to wait in line or return closer to the 10:30 a.m. opening time.