Category Archives: Walt Disney World

Disney World Videos

Like many a Disney nerd, I occasionally surf around on youtube for videos of characters at the Disney parks. They can be amusing and funny, especially if it is of a character you really like. I was surfing around one day and found this video, which quickly became one of my favorites.

I like this video because it really is an effective way of capturing all the fun of a trip to Disney. You can really tell how much the people in it enjoyed making it, and recording a few seconds of you dancing with the characters you want to meet seems like a much more fun way to do that than standing still for someone to snap a picture, then moving along. It’s just a silly little video, but I’m sure it holds tons of memories for the people involved in creating it. What better way to remember your trip? It makes me want to create a similar video on my next Disney vacation.

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Choosing the Park(s) to Visit

Not every trip to Walt Disney World can include a visit to each of the four parks. Whether it is time constraints or finances, it’s just inevitable that an average family will not be able to do all four every time they visit the world. How do you go about deciding which park to visit? Each has pros and cons, and a first time visitor might not be aware of these and left to choose blindly. Here is a quick little guide that might help in making this most important decision.

 

The Magic Kingdom

This park is, without a doubt, the quintessential ‘Disney World’ park. It’s what most people think of when they think about WDW, and for good reason. It was the first park to open, it is the one with the castle, it has the People Mover, and it’s attractions are some of the most well-known throughout the world. Everyone has heard about It’s A Small World, not everyone has heard about, say, Epcot’s Universe of Energy. For me a trip to Walt Disney World isn’t complete without visiting the Magic Kingdom, but everyone else may not agree. Certainly if you have small kids this is the perfect park. Most of the rides are geared towards kids. There’s only three roller coasters, one of which is a ‘kiddie’ roller coaster, and the other two, Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, are fun but not exactly the most terrifying of thrill rides. Still, it’s called the Magic Kingdom for a reason; if you’re looking for that Disney magic that makes WDW so popular this is definitely where you’ll find it. Plus? There’s just something special about watching fireworks in the sky around Cinderella’s castle.

 

Epcot

Epcot is my favorite park to visit, but most of my family have rather differing opinions on it. Epcot is divided into two sections. The front half, or Future World, and the back half, the World Showcase. Future World is largely dedicated to technological innovations, the focal point of which is Spaceship Earth, or ‘the Epcot ball’ as many refer to it. This is my absolute favorite attraction in any theme park, a ride that takes you through the progress of human technological evolution. My siblings do not find Future World nearly as enthralling as I do, criticizing it by claiming it leans too heavily on the educational side and not enough on the entertaining side. I say they just don’t appreciate a place where you can find Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and dinosaurs all under the same roof. The World Showcase has a completely different feel to it from the other half of the park. This side is home to pavilions celebrating eleven different countries from around the world. While some pavilions may be more interesting and entertaining than others, it is still a wonderful way to travel the world without actually traveling the world. You can find souvenirs and delicious food from each country, and there are even a few hidden gems of attractions here. The American Adventure is brilliant, the Maelstrom is fantastic, and the Gran Fiesta Tour Staring the Three Caballeros… well, it stars the Three Caballeros, need I say more?

 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Originally named MGM Studios (and boy, does my head still have trouble referring to it by the new name at times) this park is meant to explore the making and enjoyment of all things film. This park has something for everyone. You can see how car chase scenes in movies are made via live demonstrations at Lights! Motors! Action!, you can go on the Backlot Tour to see what it is like on a movie set, or you can play what is perhaps the most fun and interactive attraction of them all, Toy Story Midway Mania. If you are an animation fan this is the park for you. Though it isn’t in use for animation any more, the Magic of Disney Animation building is where Lilo and Stitch, Mulan, and Brother Bear were animated. Nowadays you can view a presentation about how Disney animated films come to be, and also get a sneak peak at upcoming Disney films. Remember when I said the Magic Kingdom was not the park to visit if you’re looking for thrill rides? Well, this is the park for that. Here you’ll find both the Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Roller Coaster. If you enjoy live shows you can also view Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, and the epic nighttime show Fantasmic. However, this is a somewhat small park, and I’ve often found myself running out of things to see and do long before the park closed.

 

The Animal Kingdom

The newest Walt Disney World Park is very interesting. Imagine a theme park and an African safari meeting, and you get the Animal Kingdom. If you like zoos this will be your favorite park. While it’s not a zoo, not exactly, you can still see many exotic animals in addition to the regular attractions. One attraction in particular, the Kilimanjaro Safaris, takes you on a Safari through ‘Africa’, where you can see giraffes, lions, hippos, elephants, and many other animals.  Expedition Everest is a fun roller coaster through the Himalayas, and if you like Finding Nemo, this park is home to the wonderful Finding Nemo the Musical. While a fun park with many gems, it does seem to close early, sometimes closing at 6 PM, so you may come away feeling you haven’t gotten your full day’s worth of admission. An easy way around this, however, is to get a Park Hopper ticket, so you could spend the morning here and your evening at a different park.

 

I hope you will find this a helpful guide. Obviously the best way to plan a Disney trip is to allow time for all parks, whether it’s by going to a park four full days, or by getting a Park Hopper and dividing up your time. Sometimes this isn’t possible though and so regretfully some sacrifices must be made.

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Cooling and Calming Down at the Magic Kingdom

Let’s face it, a day at Disney isn’t the most relaxing time in the world. Most months it is boiling hot, there’s lots of walking, and of course standing in lines surrounded by lots of other people who are just as hot and sweaty as you. Park hopper tickets are good for getting away during the day to relax in your hotel, but sometimes the rest of your group isn’t ready to leave yet, or maybe you don’t have a park hopper. So what is an exhausted park goer to do? You could find a restaurant to sit in, but that gets boring, and if it is around a meal time you don’t want to take up a table when not eating. Here is a list of attractions my family and I head to when our feet need a break around the Magic Kingdom.

1. The People Mover (Tomorrowland)

When you need a cool down break this ride is, in my opinion, the best option. If there is a line it is never a long one, and the attraction alternates between air conditioned areas and breezy areas. The seats are comfy and cushioned, and if there isn’t anyone sitting opposite you, you can kick your feet up. And, oh yeah, it never gets old to hear, “Paging Mr Morrow, Mr Tom Morrow…”

2. The Carousel of Progress (Tomorrowland)

If the People Mover isn’t your style, just walk a few steps away and you get to the Carousel of Progress. You’ll get to sit in an air conditioned theater for a good twenty minutes and see a fun, Disney classic attraction while you’re at it.

3. Pirates of the Caribbean (Adventureland)

I almost didn’t put this attraction on the list. Ever since the first Pirates of the Caribbean film came out the line is normally very long for this. When I was a child we could walk right on it whenever… ah, the good old days. However, if you’re just looking for a nice way to cool down and don’t mind standing for a while, the queue is nicely air conditioned. If you do manage to catch it at a point in the day when the line isn’t too long that’s an added bonus.

4. The Enchanted Tiki Room (Adventureland)

Okay okay, so right now this is closed and won’t open up until later in the year, but it’s a nice show to sit through (and will be even nicer when it opens back up and is the original show…) to rest. The only wait I have ever had for this was when I caught it when one show was still in progress. It’s fun, it’s cool, and you get to listen to all the birds sing words and the flowers croon in the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room.

5. It’s A Small World (Fantasyland)

If you can manage to hit this during a part of the day when the line is shorter (generally late at night when you’re tired from walking all day) it is wonderful for a bit of rest. One year my nephew was scared of the fireworks, so we rode this attraction over and over again while they were happening, and on the third or so go around he fell asleep in my lap. If it can help a crying baby get to sleep it can certainly help your feet to stop aching!

 

Have I missed any attractions you know about that are good for when the day has been just a little too long? Which ones do you like to do while tired?

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Lightning McQueen, Motors, Action!

Bringing some news I know my nephews will be very excited about! The Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Hollywood Studios will start featuring Lightning McQueen from Cars later this summer. The plot of his new cameo has quite a lot to do with Cars 2, as he will be chasing an enemy spy car.

From Disney Parks Blog:

Look for his cameo when the stunt show director sets up a highlight reel dedicated to “one of the greatest race cars of all time.” But just as the crew leaves to set up for the next stunt demonstration, the highlight video feed is interrupted with a distress call from Mater, Lightning’s rusty sidekick. He warns the audience that secret agent Finn McMissile has issued a report of enemy spy activity at “these here coordinates.” Lightning McQueen speeds in to calm the audience down and explains that Mater is probably just telling tall tales again.

Just then, a mysterious black automobile appears on the stage. I don’t want to give away all the details here, but let’s just say what follows is quite an animated game of cat and mouse.

I am surprised they have not done this sooner. Cars may not be my favorite Pixar film, but the connection just seems like an obvious one they should have made long ago.

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The Haunted Mansion, and My First Disney Memory

The Haunted Mansion is one of my two favorite attractions at Walt Disney World. I could ride it over and over, I’ve listened to the soundtrack on repeat, and know all of the little trivia bits hidden throughout. However, this attraction and I were not always on the best of terms.

Rewind the clock to around twenty years ago. I say ‘around’ because I’m not sure if this was my first Disney trip I am remembering, or one when I was slightly older, but whichever it is, I was a tiny little thing. My mother was going to take me on this nice, air conditioned ride in a very pretty, big house. Everything was going well. I had been warned that it might be a bit scary, but that it was not real and that I shouldn’t be afraid. All right. I was perfectly fine with this. I even made it past the graveyard in the waiting line without complaint.

And then we walked inside.

And I looked up above the fireplace and saw the most terrifying thing I had ever set eyes upon in my short life. A painting of a skeleton. I burst into tears and my mother had to carry me outside.

Some people think back to their first Disney memory and remember meeting a character they loved, or something that was a lot of fun for them at the time. My first memory is of being scared to death by an attraction I now love. That’s close enough, right?

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Fantasyland Update: Dumboland.

Last week I was able to see a bit of what they are building behind that wall in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom. I could see part of the “royal” side of the new additions being built. Until now I had no idea what the other half of the expansion would be like. Disney Parks Blog has posted some information about the update.

Storybook Circus will be based on our animated film, “Dumbo.” Here, Casey Jr., the famous locomotive from the movie, has rolled into town and brought the grand Storybook Circus with him. The area will be filled with colorful circus tents and nods to the famous film. For example, guests – especially little ones – are welcome to cool down with Casey Jr., who can be found near the train station, getting splashed by playful circus animals.

Just past Casey Jr., guests will encounter big-top circus tents that lead to a “double” version of Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Also, in the tradition of classic air shows, Barnstormer will take on a new look and theme, becoming a spiraling stunt plane built by The Great Goofini.

I must say, as someone who doesn’t like the movie Dumbo much, I am not too excited about this. It seems like a very large section of the bark to be based mostly around one single film. One of the things I loved so much about Mickey’s Toontown Fair was that it was such a large nod to all of the Disney shorts, a huge piece of Disney history that sadly gets overlooked by a lot of people these days. On the flipside of this, I do think that doubling the Dumbo attraction is the best idea Disney has had in a very long time. That attraction has some of the longest lines in the entire park for some reason, so hopefully this will help alleviate some of that problem.

Maybe I’m a stereotypical female when I say this, but I’m way more excited about the Princess half of the update overall.

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Wishes ending?

Photo by Disney

Rumor has it, according to Chip and Company, that Wishes will be ending soon. As in, perhaps within a month soon. Now, this is just a rumor, so if it doesn’t happen don’t be too shocked, but still, if it turns out to be true I will be a very sad Disney fan!

For those who don’t know, Wishes is the name of the current fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom. It. Is. AMAZING. I honestly do not have words for how cool this show was. The first time I saw it I had not heard anything about it yet, and was expecting a normal Disney fireworks show. Don’t get me wrong, Disney fireworks shows are always something special, but this? This blew everything else way out of the water. I mean, you have pirates firing canons at the castle!

So, if it turns out that yes, they are indeed planning on changing the nightly fireworks display to something else I will be upset. Not only because it means I won’t get to see it again, but because I was just at Disney, and ended up missing the show! I will never forgive myself.

Still, there’s a chance that whatever they replace it with will be even greater, in ways only the Imagineers can, well, imagine right now.

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