Posts Tagged ‘walt disney world’

Why You Should Choose the Magic Kingdom’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour

by on September 12, 2014

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.

Keys to the Kingdom Tour - A Glass Slipper Vacation

Earpiece guests use during the tour in order to hear even in crowded places

1. Utilidors

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!

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Don’t Sweat It: Tips for Flattering Photos in WDW

by on September 12, 2014

We all love going to Walt Disney World for special time with our loved ones, premium customer service, and classic Disney attractions. All of these experiences culminate in lifelong memories, and there is no better way to keep those memories alive than with a simple photo or video. And Disney makes it look so easy! We’ve all seen the commercials of the perfect family, Mom, Dad, and 2.5 kids joyfully skipping along Main Street with photo-shop perfected smiles and iconic Mickey balloon in tow. Disney even tries to help facilitate making this a reality for your family with PhotoPass photographers around every corner and plenty of little “Kodak” photo signs to let you know when you might stumble across the perfect photo opportunity.

©Disney

©Disney

But I imagine many of fellow Disney travelers end up with same anticlimactic photo-viewing experience that I have.  Somehow, meticulously coifed hair ends up in a sweaty ponytail, cherub-cheeked, smiling tots are actually red-faced and bleared-eyed, outfits you spent weeks planning, designing and coordinating are disheveled, sweat/water-spotted, and perhaps even stained from that early character breakfast. Even the PhotoPass pictures are lackluster. No matter how fancy camera technology gets, they capture the Castle and atmosphere almost magically, but somehow, it also captures your humidity-frizzed hair and that annoyed look from your teen who can’t believe you made him stop for another picture.

In effort to help us all have vacation pictures we want to display in our homes, offices and on social media, here are some tips that can help you and your family have that nearly perfect “Kodak moment”.

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Apple Pay to be Utilized at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

by on September 9, 2014

Did you happen to catch Apple’s announcements today? Whether you caught them live or relived the event through social media like I did, it seems like Apple is introducing a great line of new products. Now I know you’re asking….Rikki…what does this have to do with Disney? Well, I’m getting there.

You see, today Apple released information about a brand new payment system called “Apple Pay.” Apple Pay will allow people to use their phones to pay for things; payments take place with just a single touch, with no need to open an app. You’ll simply swipe your phone (which of course, has been linked with a credit card) and place your finger on the Touch ID sensor. Once you hear the beep, you’re good!

Again…where am I going with this?

Well, Apple let us know that Disney will be one of the companies that will accept this new form of payment. The system will begin its roll out in October, and guests who own an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus will be able to utilize this new technology at Walt Disney World, as well as at Disney Stores. This new app will be useful when paying for food and merchandise and should be fully available by Christmas.

For those who missed the announcement made this afternoon, you can find out more about Apple Pay and see what the excitement is all about.

 

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The Disney Dazzle: Cinderella’s Royal Table

by on September 7, 2014

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!)

Photo - Keith Dahlgren

How majestic!

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.

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Walt Disney World Noteworthy News – 9/3/14

by on September 3, 2014

I’m back again with quite a few great little tidbits that you may want to keep in mind for your next Walt Disney World vacation.

  • The Harmony Barbershop, located on Main Street, U.S.A., will be closed for almost two months this winter. The popular stop for guests to get their little one’s first haircut (and my hubby likes getting his cut here, too) will be closed from February 5 through March 30, reopening for guests on March 31.
  • The “Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It” Street Party at the Magic Kingdom will have an amended schedule for September 10, 11, 15, and 17. The parade will only perform at 5:40 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
  • We all know that Epcot will be getting new acts over the next few months in World Showcase. Well, now I’m here to share a few small details about the acts. Sbandieratori Flags is the flag choreography act in Italy; the Canadian Lumberjack Show, which is considered a thrill show, will take place in Canada; B’net Houariyat is a musical/dance act for Morocco; and Scottish Musical Trio will perform Celtic music in the United Kingdom Pavilion.

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Staying in Tampa for Your Walt Disney World Vacation

by on September 3, 2014

©Scott Wurzel

©Scott Wurzel

A common topic of discussion for Walt Disney World vacation planning is whether to stay on or off-site. Assuming you choose the latter, most look to Orlando area hotels and resorts. This of course gives you good access to Disney World parks and other area attractions, but if you are interested in a more complete Florida vacation, staying in Tampa for your Walt Disney World vacation is a compelling alternative. Because Interstates 75, 275, and 4 form a triangle around the city, most attractions in Central Florida are an hour or less away, and the best beaches in the continental United States are even closer.

Orlando Parks

Walt Disney World (All Parks)
Via: I-4
Travel Time: 75 minutes.

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Best Things to Do Outside the Parks

by on September 3, 2014

Walt Disney World Resort has endless ways for you to fill your vacation days. When most people plan, save, and book a Disney vacation, the main idea is exploit all of the attractions the parks have to offer. And with four theme parks stuffed to the gills with attractions, restaurants, and characters, anyone can have a fabulous vacation just focusing on these options. However, the Walt Disney Resort isn’t just about the parks, as many locals and veterans of Disney vacations can attest, what keeps us all coming back are the endless options to have a magical time.

The Unofficial Guide recommends building in a “down day” into your vacation schedule. One day, set aside where you don’t go to a park, but enjoy the extra amenities that Disney offers beyond the parks. This is not only a great way to recover from 2-3 straight days of Touring Plan mania, but it can also save you a bit of cash from needing another day of park tickets. Here are some of best ways to spend your vacation days out of the parks.

No Disney vacation is complete without your favorite souvenir

No Disney vacation is complete without your favorite souvenir

Shopping. Ok, this option may end up costing you more than another day of park tickets, but what vacation is complete without a few souvenirs to take home with you? And with Downtown Disney undergoing the transformation into Disney Springs, this option is going to get even better!

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Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory Review

by on September 2, 2014

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!

Fun ambiance or terrifying nightmare fuel? You decide!

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Observations from Magic Kingdom: Frozen Meet & Greet and Be Our Guest Lunch Queue Updates

by on August 29, 2014

Queue update

Guests line up for busses to the Magic Kingdom due to morning monorail maintenance (photos by Seth Kubersky)

In the final weeks of the 2014 summer season, Walt Disney World experimented with some new queuing procedures at popular attractions and eateries, with somewhat controversial results. As the peak crowds have departed, so have most of those tests, so I recently headed into the Magic Kingdom for an early morning queue update on operations at Princess Fairytale Hall’s Frozen Meet & Greet and Be Our Guest restaurant.

My first goal was to arrive well before rope drop, in order to see how swiftly the infamously long line to meet Anna and Elsa was moving first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, I forgot that the monorail is currently opening late due to maintenance upgrades, which made the trip from the TTC to the park a bit more cumbersome than usual.

I opted for the bus transportation option over the overburdened ferry, which turned out to not be a bad choice. The busses loaded about as quickly as could be expected, with a continuous line of vehicles pulling up to service the sizable crowd, and before too long we had arrived at the recently expanded Magic Kingdom bus loop.

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Walt Disney World Monorail Schedule Changing September 1

by on August 29, 2014

Earlier this summer, the Walt Disney World Resort changed the monorail operating hours. Well, with Labor Day Weekend upon us and summer quickly fading away into fall at WDW, it appears that the monorail will be running different hours again. Beginning on September 1 and lasting (right now) until September 26, the Walt Disney World Resort monorail service will be seeing another set of updated hours, which are:

  • Magic Kingdom Resort Beam: 8:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. (12:00 midnight on hard ticket event evenings)
  • Magic Kingdom Express Beam: 9:30 a.m. through 1 hour after the Magic Kingdom fireworks
  • Epcot Beam: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

During times when the monorail will not be running, additional watercraft and buses will be available to transport guests.

There is no word yet regarding whether after September 26 monorail hours will still be reduced or if they will return to their standard schedule. As a reminder, the Walt Disney World Resort monorails are currently undergoing an update where they are adding an automated operating system.

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