Avatar Flight Of Passage Seats

Avatar Flight Of Passage Seat Side ViewAvatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom is arguably one of the BEST attractions at any of the parks.  It’s thrilling, exciting, intense and immersive, it’s an attraction not to be missed.  Unless of course you’re a certain body shape.

I remember visiting Universal Studios when the Harry Potter attractions first opened and being disappointed. They had made a fantastic new experience, but they couldn’t make it for everyone?  It was brand new, they had so many options for design, yet they were limiting many people from experiencing it.

Universal had a test seat outside of the attraction and I remember thinking how cruel that was.  If you weren’t sure that you would fit you could subject yourself to the stares and humiliation of trying to squeeze your body in just far enough for the vehicle to lock.  I was annoyed and self-righteous, Disney would NEVER do that I thought to myself.  And then they did.

In order to experience Avatar Flight of Passage you need to ‘fit’ on the vehicle.  I say “on” because it’s like a motorcycle where you straddle the seat.  You lean forward on the chest bar and pull your feet forward.

Avatar Flight Of Passage Seat Explained

Restraints are activated after you are in position – one comes across your back and two more behind your legs.  The key is the ‘click’ on the restraints to ensure that it has you secure.

It may not necessarily be a size issue that prevents people from getting the ‘click’, sometimes it’s a body shape issue that prevents the restraints from locking.  The size of your calves can prevent the leg restraints from locking, it’s not just your size around the middle.

Avatar Flight Of Passage Sample Seat View

When the restraints are activated and locked

While I understand that the test seat out front is to prevent guests from waiting in line only to find out they can’t ride, I can’t help but think that there has to be a better option.  Testing your ‘size’ in front of everyone is not a very magical experience for anyone.  I am hopeful that Disney is listening to the guest feedback and working on some flexible restraints that can accommodate more people.

With the enormous wait times for this attraction, I would suggest anyone who is worried to try the test seat.  While it isn’t ideal, I wouldn’t want you to skip the attraction all together – it really is as good as everyone says.

If you want to read the full review of the attraction – you can read it here.

Did you try the test seat for Flight of Passage before you rode?

 

The BEST Purchase I’ve Made At Disney

Cooling Towel InstructionsIt is very easy to overheat at Walt Disney World, no matter how much water you drink!  I drink a LOT of water so I never have an issue of dehydrating, but intense heat is something I can’t handle.  I tend to avoid the summer months when possible for this very reason, but sometimes you arrive at Walt Disney World and it’s just TOO HOT.

Being Canadian, we love our summer months, but I’m not out walking for 12 hours in that heat.  At Walt Disney World I’m walking from building to building just looking for the air conditioned relief!

The other night at Animal Kingdom I stumbled across these ‘cooling towels’.  I had read about them online, but didn’t pay too much attention to it.  Since the weather said it ‘felt like’ 40 – I would have tried ANYTHING to cool down a little.  I decided to buy the towels for myself and friends and give it a shot.  If we didn’t do something, we were going to have to leave the park or sit in some air conditioning for an hour – I couldn’t take much more heat.

Disney Cooling Towel

The directions said:

  1. Wet it
  2. Wring it
  3. Snap it

Off to the restrooms we went to wet our towels.  I was concerned because the water that comes from those sinks isn’t cold – I figured I’d end up with a lukewarm towel wrapped around me!

I shouldn’t have worried, this towel was the BEST purchase I have made in the last week here.  They stay cool for between 90 and 120 minutes!  They aren’t heavy like some of the other cooling towels I’ve bought before.  They still have a bit of water in them after you wring them out so your shirt may get a little damp around the collar – but it really wasn’t a concern for us.  Every time we stopped at a restroom we wet them again – and presto, instant cooling.

The towels were $16.90 USD and available throughout the parks.  They are machine washable and and worth every penny!  I honestly don’t know how I survived without it.

Have you bought one of the cooling towels?  What did you think?

Disney After Hours Event Returns For 2018

Disney After HoursThe popular After Hours event at Walt Disney World will return to the Magic Kingdom in 2018.  The special ticket event is an amazing night time experience that you don’t want to miss!

The Magic Kingdom event allows for entry as early as 7pm with the ticket purchase.  You will experience little to no wait times at some great attractions, you feel like you have the park to yourself!

I have experienced the After Hours Event and it was wonderful.  Having a limited number of guests in the park let us ride Space Mountain and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train without waiting at all.  We rode the mine train 3 times in a row, just walking right back on.  It was so much fun.

The events are currently scheduled in 2018 for:

  • January 19, 26, and 30
  • February 8 and 15
  • March 1 and 8

Tickets are $119.00 USD each and can be purchased here

Check out the great fun you can have below

Have you experienced the After Hours Event?  Did you love it as much as I did?

Disney Parks To Open After Irma

Hurricane Irma WDW Before the StormTheme parks in Walt Disney World are getting ready to open on September 12th, 2017 after Hurricane Irma hit Florida.

After being closed September 10th and 11th, guests are anxious to get in to the parks to see how they held up.  There are many trees down around the resorts, and clean up efforts began as soon as it was safe for Cast Members to be outside.

Hours for the parks for September 12th are:

Magic Kingdom

Extra Magic Hours 8AM – 9AM

Park Hours 9AM – 7PM

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 7PM – 12AM

Epcot

Park Hours 9AM – 9PM

Extra Magic Hours 9PM – 11PM

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Park Hours 9AM – 9PM

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Park Hours 9AM – 9PM

Disney Springs

Hours 10AM – 12AM

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach Water Parks show as closed on the Disney site, but open on the 13th.  Keep checking for more updates.

Mobile Food Ordering New Locations Added Walt Disney World

Mobile Food Ordering DisneyOrdering a quick service meal at Walt Disney World is getting easier every day!  I had the opportunity to try the Mobile Ordering feature at Pandora – The World Of Avatar for the first time and I was impressed.  It save time as well as the aggravation of standing in a long line for food.

Due to the popularity of the service, Disney has expanded it to even more locations!

Now you can pre-order your quick service meal at any of the locations below:

Magic Kingdom Park:

  • Columbia Harbour House
  • Cosmic Ray’s Starlight CaféMobile Food Ordering WDW
  • Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe
  • Pinocchio Village Haus
  • Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant (seasonally)

Epcot:

  • Electric Umbrella
  • Liberty Inn

Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

  • ABC Commissary

    Order is ready confirmation in the app

  • Backlot Express
  • PizzeRizzo

Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

  • Flame Tree Barbecue
  • Pizzafari
  • Restaurantosaurus
  • Satu’li Canteen

Disney Springs:

  • D-Luxe Burger

Currently the only form of payment accepted through the app is credit card, but I assume that will be updated in the future for more options.  Anyone on the dining plan or with dietary restrictions must place their order with a cashier.

Disney has said that they are working on expanding it to even more locations.  I am excited about this and can’t wait to use it again when I visit!

Have you tried it yet?

 

Satu’li Canteen Review At Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Pandora – The World Of Avatar

blueberry cream cheese mousseOn our visit to Pandora we had to have lunch at Satu’li Canteen.  We were there early enough to do breakfast, but I really wanted the lunch menu so we waited until they started serving lunch.

When we arrived at the Satu’li Canteen I was immediately impressed with the amount of seating offered, there were plenty of tables available both inside and out.  The theming was detailed, showcasing Na’vi artwork and different items, but since I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie – some of these details were lost on me.

The line and ordering stations are similar to other quick service restaurants around the parks with the cashier in the middle with a line on either side.  After you pay, you step up to the window to collect your order.  There is also Mobile Ordering available at this location.  You can read more about that here.

Satuli Canteen Quick Serve Ordering

For lunch we both knew that we had to try some kind of bao bun.  I opted for the cheeseburger (of course) while Becky had the vegetable curry.

My cheeseburger pod was filled with ground beef, ketchup, mustard, pickle, and cheddar cheese

Becky’s vegetable curry had eggplant, cauliflower, sweet potato, carrots, and shallot cilantro cream

Satuli Pods

Both of our dishes were served with vegetable slaw and vegatable chips.

Normally I can’t eat a burger without french fries (aren’t they mandatory??) – but these chips were good!  The pod was a little chewy so the crunchy chips were a great balance.   The slaw was light and a bit tangy, somehow it all just worked together!

Inside Satuli Pod

Becky enjoyed her curry as well, but when I tasted it – it was a bit too much curry for me.

The portions were really big, but we had to have dessert (how could we not?).

Satuli Chocolate Cake

I had the chocolate cake while Becky had the blueberry cream cheese mousse.

blueberry cream cheese mousse

Both were good, but the chocolate ‘cake’ seemed less like a cake and more like a mousse.  The blueberry one was light and delicious and of course so pretty that you wanted to take multiple pictures of it!

Would I recommend Satu’li Canteen?  Yes.  It’s a great atmosphere, different food from elsewhere in the park and it’s good.

Have you been?  What did you have?

 

Caring For Giants Review at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Caring for Giants Disney's Animal KingdomCaring for Giants is a tour offered at Disney’s Animal Kingdom giving you a closer look at the elephants.  The cost of the tour is in addition to your park admission, but read below why I think it’s a great value!

My sister Becky is a huge fan of the elephants. Over the years she has tried multiple times on Kilimanjaro Safaris to capture the perfect picture of a baby elephant to no avail. We haven’t figured out if we are moving through the area too quickly or her photography skills are the issue (I think it’s the latter), but it’s been a challenge! When she heard about this tour, we had to try it. It might be the only way for her to capture the elusive photo of a baby elephant.

We arrived at Animal Kingdom and checked in next to Kilimanjaro Safaris. We were warned that there was no bathroom breaks on this tour, so best to visit the facilities before we left.Stella Baby Elephant Animal KingdomThere were 8 of us on the tour and we boarded a bus back stage to take us to the viewing area. The driver gave us a lot of information about how the animals are protected and the fencing around the enclosures backstage. We were amazed to see fencing that wasn’t related to the savannah and the explanation made sense – the fencing is to keep the native Florida Wildlife out of the savanna.

When we arrived at the viewing area we realized that we were on the other side of Kilimanjaro Safaris and could see the attraction vehicles passing in the distance. The first cast member told us about how they care for the elephants and some of the rituals they have with them.Elephants Caring for Giants

The second cast member that spoke to us was a cultural representative from Zimbabwe. While she had only been working there for 3 weeks, she did a fantastic job of telling us about the research being done by the Disney Conservation Fund.   She shared details about one of the projects where they found a solution that allows farmers to protect their farms without harming the elephants. It was fascinating; I could have listened to her for hours.Caring for Giants Elephant

Aside from the great information from the cast members, we got some fantastic views of the elephants! We were told that the views really depend on the elephants; they are free to roam around and may not stand in the ideal spot for your photos.   This is important to recognize that Disney allows them the freedom to do as they please. We were lucky to have so many come around, it was the first tour of the morning and they tend to be more active.

Caring for Giants Stella

My sister with baby Stella in the background.

Caring for Giants was worth every penny of the $30 we paid for it. We spent an hour with some fascinating cast members and of course – the elephants. We loved the tour so much that we’ll be adding this as a regular ‘must do’ on our trips. Not only did my sister get a picture of a baby elephant, she got one WITH a baby elephant!

 

 

 

FastPass Crackdown – Cheaters Will Be Cheaters

7DMT Magic KingdomFastPass+ at Walt Disney World is a free service that allows you to effectively schedule up to 3 attractions in advance to avoid the long standby lines. If you stay at a Disney resort, you can make your selections 60 days in advance of your trip, if you’re staying offsite it’s 30 days.

FastPass+ was always a fair system, free to everyone with a valid park admission. Unlike those “other guys” who offer a paid service to skip the lines, Disney has a limit to how many FastPasses are available per hour for each attraction. At the other parks, if you have paid for this service you can skip the line on the same attraction all day if you would like. Imagine that – 100 people all skipping the line multiple times on the Hulk. How long do you think that standby line will be? For those who don’t pay, it can be a substantially longer wait than it had to be. Your ability to experience the attractions is directly tied to how much you were willing to pay.

At Walt Disney World, everyone had a fair shot at a FastPass for the big attractions – that was until a loophole was found.

MDE FPIt has been reported that people were using the in park kiosks to book FastPasses with expired tickets or tickets that were not used to enter the park. They were ‘borrowing’ annual passes to book extra FastPasses and taking away the availability from other guests. This ‘fair system’ was being abused by those who thought they were entitled to a better experience than everyone else – until Disney found out.

Disney has begun to crack down on these scams and are enforcing a validation process. Cast Members who are working in the FastPass line will be able to see if the guest used a valid ticket to enter the park that day. If they didn’t, they will be sent to the standby line.

Disney is reportedly locking the My Disney Experience accounts of those who book a FastPass without a ticket being used to enter the park.

Magic BandI think it’s great that Disney is addressing the issue and cracking down on this. How long before they start cracking down on all the fake resort and dining reservations?  Time will tell!

 

 

Avatar Flight of Passage Review at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Pandora Flight of PassageAvatar Flight of Passage was an attraction that I was determined I had to try. The reviews said that it was not good for those with motion sickness and it could be intense, but I had to experience it at least once. Since I had the opportunity to visit during a preview before the official opening, I went straight over to Flight of Passage and there was no wait. I stood for a second, took a deep breath and thought, “I guess I’m doing this!”

Here are my thoughts on the new Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  It’s an overview of my experience with some information you should know before you go, but without too many spoilers!

The queue was impressive – but long

The outdoor portion of the queue for Flight of Passage is gorgeous. You’re walking slightly up hill and have a perfect view of the floating mountains. There will be some great pictures and selfies taken from this line!

Once you leave the outdoor area, you enter in to something that looks like a cave. You will be happier in here since there is air conditioning and shade from the Florida sun. As the cave transitions in to the building, you’re able to see paintings, a bioluminescent mining area and of course – a real Avatar. I had seen the Avatar on many different online videos, but I didn’t appreciate the size or details of it until I had seen it in person.

 

 

While I didn’t have a wait for Flight of Passage, it struck me as I was walking through this queue how long it took me to get to the end. It seemed like quite a long walk with the capacity to hold VERY long lines.

The claustrophobia

Nearing the end of the line, you enter the first of 2 pre-shows. The first room is where you are matched to your Avatar. It is primarily a video with some special effects, but the room felt a bit small to me. I was glad I was the last one in and had some space behind me. We were in there a few minutes when we moved on to the next briefing – the vehicle seating system is explained and you get your 3D glasses.

The vehicle

I don’t like feeling ‘trapped’ anywhere and this was my biggest fear for this vehicle. I am the person who sits at the end of the row in a movie theatre to avoid feeling like I can’t get out. Knowing that things would come and encapsulate on this attraction had me very nervous. I straddled the vehicle like a bicycle and leaned forward towards the support in front of me. I chose to leave a little bit of space between the support and myself and prepared myself for the various restraints that were coming. As the restraints were activated, I heard the man beside me gasp a little. The man had leaned so far forward that the restraint at his back was way too restrictive and a cast member had to come and adjust it.   I was happy with the amount of space I had and didn’t feel closed in with the back restraint at all. Maybe it’s because I had my legs out in front of me as opposed to at the side, but I didn’t even feel the ones on my legs at all. I did notice that this might be quite restrictive and uncomfortable though for my Pooh-sized friends. There is a test vehicle outside of the attraction for you to try before waiting in line.

 

The flight

Once the ride started I was in awe. Disney has created an attraction where I really FELT like I was flying on the back of a Banshee. It wasn’t just the sights, sounds and smells, but when my Banshee took a break on a branch of a tree, I could FEEL it breathing underneath me. The scenery is breathtaking and colorful, it seemed so real! There is no comparison in my mind to Soarin or Star Tours – this attraction made me forget that I was sitting on an attraction vehicle with 3D goggles on. I was transported, and I flew on a Banshee.

 

The motion sickness

Pandora 2I feel sick on Star Tours and have never made it back on Mission Space since it opened; I was worried about Flight of Passage. I went first thing in the morning, took some motion sickness pills and didn’t eat anything before the ride. There were a few moments where the Banshee took some sharp turns and some drastic drops where I had to close my eyes. Closing my eyes for a second or two really helped, especially when were flying through some tight spaces. I do think the cool breeze on my face helped me avoid overheating that happens when I’m nauseous. I really didn’t feel sick at all, I suspect that might have had something to do with the pills I took.

 

The 4 things you need to know:

  1. The queue has been designed to hold lines of up to 4 hours inside. The wait will be long.
  2. There is a lot of walking for the queue as well as upon exiting. Be prepared for inclines and stairs, especially if you have trouble walking.
  3. There are moments that those who are prone to motion sickness or claustrophobia will struggle, but they are short lived.
  4. Love or hate Avatar the movie (I didn’t love it), this attraction is among the best on Disney property and you should experience it once. I know I will be back to try it again.

 

My only criticism, and it’s a big one

Winnie the PoohSurprisingly, this attraction is not friendly to certain body types or guests with mobility issues. Given that this is new, I would have thought that Disney would have invested in making sure that more people could experience it – not less. One of the things that I don’t like about that ‘other park’ is that they have attractions that are not suitable for my Pooh-sized friends. I have always maintained that having the test vehicles out in front of their attractions is both humiliating and degrading to those who want to try them before lining up. Couldn’t they put them around the corner out of plain view of the masses of people? Who wants to try a vehicle in front of a bunch of people to see if you’re too fluffy to fit? I have always thought that was a big difference between Disney and the other guys, until Disney did the same thing with Flight of Passage. I think it’s terrible that a good portion of the population wasn’t accounted for when designing this attraction. I only hope that Disney makes the necessary adjustments to the attraction to accommodate more people, and once again set itself apart from the other parks.

If you want to see a good video of the queue – check out this video from our friends at Pure Magic Vacations!

 

 

Have you experienced Flight of Passage? What did you think?

 

Yak & Yeti Dinner Review at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Yak & Yeti Animal KingdomIf you have read my blogs before, you know that I’m a bit of a picky eater who loves desserts. As I get older, I find that I’m a little more adventurous with the restaurants I will try, which is of great delight to my travel companions.   After eating at the Coral Reef in Epcot and having to order the seafood pasta without the seafood, I realized that there is always something on the menu for me anywhere at Walt Disney World.

This time the adventure led us to the Yak & Yeti at Animal Kingdom.   We would normally grab lunch at the Flametree BBQ and be gone before dinner, this time we were staying late to see the Rivers of Light. We made dinner reservations at the Yak & Yeti and I was looking forward to trying a new place.

Yak & Yeti InteriorWhen we arrived I realized that I had walked past this restaurant every visit and never paid much attention to it, little did I know how gorgeous it was inside.

The restaurant holds the story of Arjun, a rich merchant who has fallen on hard times and has turned his home in to the Yak & Yeti hotel. The artifacts that are displayed throughout are ones that Arjun collected during his travels of Southeast Asia.   There is more to the story that you can read when you arrive, but the last line “It is a place to immerse yourself in a culture that is mysterious, exotic and exciting” describes it perfectly.

Yak and Yeti Dining RoomDining at Walt Disney World can sometimes be as much about the surroundings as it is the food itself. We enjoyed looking at the artifacts and taking in the surroundings, we were hopeful the food was just as good. We reviewed the menu and made our choices.

 

Becky and Lorraine both ordered the Malaysian Seafood Curry. They both raved about this dish and couldn’t believe how much seafood there was. I can tell you there was about 5 minutes when they both kept “finding” seafood in it even when they thought they couldn’t eat
another bite.Yak and Yeti Seafood Curry
Ron had the Kalbi Steak & Coconut Shrimp. He said that it was delicious and even loved the wasabi mashed potatoes and the vegetables.Yak and Yeti Steak and Shrimp

My choice for dinner was the Korean BBQ Ribs. While I’m normally not a big fan of ribs (I don’t like to bite meat off of a bone), I thought I’d give it a try and I wasn’t disappointed. The meat was so tender that I could use my knife and fork; the meat literally fell off of the bone. The serving was so big that I could share some of it with the others and they all agreed it was amazing.

Yak and Yeti Ribs

When the dessert menu came, we didn’t think any of us could eat another bite. Then I saw it – the Chocolate Pudding Cake with raspberry sauce. I had to try it, it sounded like a chocolate lovers dream – and it was! Yes, it was really rich, but if you like chocolate like I do, you don’t want to pass this up.

 

The Yak & Yeti was a great choice for dinner that night, and will be a dining reservation we will make again!

Have you eaten at the Yak & Yeti? What did you think?

 

 

Disney’s Express Transportation Option

Disney Express Transportation

UPDATE – Disney’s Express Transportation is not available as of August 23 2017.

I am a big believer in the Park Hopper option on your Walt Disney World tickets. Having the flexibility to visit more than one park in a day can really enhance your Disney vacation. I like to park hop to catch a show or have a dining reservation without being ‘tied’ to one park for the whole day. We can enjoy the morning Extra Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom and still be able to catch Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios at night.

 

For those of us who like to park hop, there is a new service designed just for us.

 

Here are 5 reasons I loved Disney’s Express Transportation option:

1.  Backstage Access

The bus stops in each of the 4 parks are inside of the park, backstage. Once on board the bus, you are treated to a view behind the scenes while you exit/enter the parks. No photos allowed though, but you can enjoy the view. For those of us who love all things ‘behind the scenes’ – this was a real treat.

 

2.  No security

With the bus dropping you off backstage at your desitnation – there is no need to go through security again! No need to get in line to have your bags searched again. Avoiding those security line-ups are a big plus for us.

 

3.  Time savings

Without going through security and having a bus that goes directly from one park to the other, we saved a ton of time.   We left Epcot one evening and was in the Magic Kingdom in under 30 minutes. It was a great way to maximize our time that day!

 

4.  No crowds

It may have been just our luck, but it really wasn’t crowded at all. I think we used the bus 6 times during our visit and the most people (in addition to our party) was 4 people. There were a few trips where we had a bus to ourselves!

 

5.  Good value for the price

We opted for the 7 day pass and found that it was a good value for the time savings and convenience. We did a lot of park hopping and used the service to our advantage. I’m not sure that the single day ticket at $19 USD is worth it, but the 7 day at $29 USD definitely was.

 

Other things to know before you buy:

You can purchase your express transportation tickets while on property – you can’t purchase in advance.

Buses depart approximately every 30 minutes.

Express Transportation is available each day from 10:00 AM until park closing. Make sure you find out when the last bus is scheduled to your destination.

Check in locations:

Animal Kingdom ExpressMagic Kingdom park – next to the exit of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Disney’s Animal Kingdom park – next to the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – the courtyard in front of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

Epcot – the east side of Spaceship Earth

For more information, see Disney’s official website here.

The only problem that we had with the Express Transportation was timing. With the last bus at ‘closing’ for the park, it made it difficult to enjoy the night time show at Hollywood Studios and catch the bus to Epcot for Illuminations. There were two nights where the last bus didn’t arrive when they said it would. Of course they were still testing the service and I expect they will work out some of these issues in time.

When we used this service outside of the last bus of the night, it worked like a charm. I will definitely be using this service again and I can’t wait to see what improvements they have made for next time.

Will you try the Express Transportation? Do you think it is worth the price?

 

5 Things That Irritate Me About Disney

WDW CarouselWith so many people posting things about Disney every day, it is hard to know what’s legitimate.  I have found articles, blogs and web pages who claim they are ‘Disney Experts’ with inside information that is completely unreliable.

Here are my top 5 irritants about Disney spam:

1.  Random blogs who post they have the best ‘tips’ for first timers, with incorrect information

It’s amazing to me how many people post blogs offering advice on a Walt Disney World vacation and then give information that is just plain wrong.  I recently had a friend forward a blog to me asking if she should purchase the ‘front of the line fastpass option’.   She said she was more than willing to pay the extra money toalways skip the lines instead of the fastpass option I had told her about. The answer was quite simple – I hadn’t told her about the option to purchase the ‘deluxe fastpass’ to skip the lines because Disney doesn’t have one!

2.  ‘Win a Free Trip to Disney’

This one is really annoying and very easy to fall for.  There are a ton of ‘fake’ Disney Facebook groups and pages offering free tickets, free trips and free merchandise.  I have stumbled on these when I see my friends ‘sharing the post for a chance to win’.  How do you know which pages are real? The real page will always have a blue check mark on it – meaning it’s verified.  Once you know what you’re looking for – these scammers are easier to spot than you think.

3.  Disney Facebook Groups

I know, this one is a touchy subject…(that I address in another blog). I belong to many of these groups too – but you have to know how important it is to take the information in there with a grain of salt. Some of these groups have thousands of people jumping at the chance to comment and advise you on your Disney vacation. Some posters really are knowledgeable and give good advice – but others have taken 1 trip to Disney and have crowned themselves “Disney Experts”.  Here are some of the comments I’ve seen that left me shaking my head:

  • Do you need reservations at Be Our Guest? Answer from a “Disney Expert” – “No, it’s a quick service at lunch – just walk in”
  • I know what I’m talking about… I’ve been going to WDW since 1968!  (Ummm.. Walt Disney World opened in 1971)
  • “Trust me, I’ve sailed on all 5 of the Disney ships and gratuities are included in the fare you see online” (They currently have 4 ships… and no – gratuities are not included!)
  • “Don’t worry – just put your selfie stick in your bag, they won’t know you have it” (I guess this expert has never gone through the back check?)
  • “If you yell ‘Andy’s home’ all of the Toy Story characters will lie still on the ground” (just an FYI – they do NOT do this)

4.  The crazy Disney rumor mill!

I admit – sometimes I get caught up in the excitement of the rumors.  I love to think about the ‘what ifs’ and hope that they are true. Sometimes it is fun to speculate what might be happening!  While most of them are harmless, sometimes I think they go a bit too far. There are social media/websites (who shall remain ‘anonymous’) that will create hype about things that can impact a guest trying to book a vacation.  They start they hype about ‘free dining months before anything comes out and it causes people to second guess their dates and decisions, waiting for that ‘amazing deal’ (that can be added to an existing booking in most cases). Last year social media created such a frenzy for free dining that people missed out on the room promotion (which was a really good one!) waiting for free dining.  When free dining was announced, it wasn’t the resorts they had hoped for and they had missed the room promotion which in some cases was cheaper!

5.  Canada vs. US

So much of the Disney community live in the US and most of the posts from them are specific to US travellers. Canadian travellers don’t always recognize that what is being posted does not apply to them. For example, some of the Disney promotions are available to Canadians long after they have expired them for US bookings.  Passport requirements always create confusion for Canadians after they have read info in a US posting about what they need on a cruise.  This is why it’s so important to find a Canadian Ear Marked travel agency that can advise you.

The moral of this story? Make sure you’re getting your Disney information from a reliable source.  If you read something online – take it with a grain of salt and verify it with a trusted professional.  Don’t be scammed, and don’t be fooled.

 

 

Be Our Guest Breakfast Review – Worth The Price?

Be Our Guest Magic KingdomI love Be Our Guest restaurant at the Magic Kingdom, I think it’s one of the best themed places on property.  It really does make you feel like you’re right inside the movie and that at any moment, Belle and the Beast could take a twirl right there in the ballroom.

But what about the food?  It is a restaurant after all…

I have done dinner and lunch many times and always enjoyed the food, today was my second time doing breakfast and I have to say, I was very underwhelmed.

We were handed our menu outside and we debated what we would order.  My sister and I both decided that we were fairly hungry and got the same thing – the Feast a la Gaston.  It was scrambled eggs, bacon, chicken sausage, roasted potatoes and fresh fruit.  A similar offering to what I had at the Contempo Café the day before.   It came with a drink, but to my surprise the cast member said they did not offer bottled water – so we settled on a milk and a hot tea.  (The menu online says they have water – but this cast member said they didn’t).

The total cost was $51.12 USD for the two of us.  We were okay with that, we knew it was going to be a good breakfast so it was worth the splurge.

We took our seats in the dining room and waited for our breakfast to arrive.   Thanks to our Magic Bands – the cast member would find
us wherever we sat and bring our meals.  There are 3 distinct dining rooms to choose from, the Grand Ballroom, the West Wing and the Castle Gallery.  We have eaten in the first two multiple times so we choose the Castle Gallery for breakfast.
When our meal arrived, we were a little ‘underwhelmed’ by the presentation.  It was a rather large plate for the food that was on it.  The eggs were well cooked (which is good since I don’t like runny eggs), but the bacon was a little
lightly done for my liking.  I have never had chicken sausage before – and I can safely say I won’t again, I really didn’t care for that.  The potatoes were potatoes – nothing spectacular, but okay.

I like pastries generally, but this pastry dish didn’t blow me away.  There was a croissant, apple danish, a couple of mini muffins and a chocolate croissant.  We tasted each one for research purposes of course, but definitely weren’t fighting over them.

At the end of our breakfast we both agreed – we wouldn’t be doing breakfast again.  Maybe the food at lunch and dinner is so good that our expectations were too high?  Don’t get me wrong, we love the atmosphere of dining at Be Our Guest and ANY meal is a good opportunity to see inside this incredible theming in the Magic Kingdom.    If you were going for the food, I would recommend lunch or dinner and skip breakfast reservation.

 

Disney Parks Live Streaming – 4 Reasons I Love It

Main Street Electrical Parade

Disney’s Electrical Parade

The #DisneyParksLIVE streams have been such a welcome addition to Disney’s social media presence.  Here’s my top 4 things I’m loving about it!

  1. I get to sit on my couch on a Sunday night and watch the Main Street Electrical Parade!  How cool is it that instead of thinking about my dreaded work week ahead, I get to sit here and watch my favorite parade!
  2. I get to tweet and chat with other Disney fans on Twitter.  It was so much fun during the Star Wars Fireworks live stream that I could connect with Disney fans all over the world, and a few from Toronto too!
  3. I have the chance to see some things live, as they happen!  I was at work the day of Princess Elena’s Royal Welcome at the Magic Kingdom but I got to watch via my phone on a break!
  4. I feel like I’m still experiencing some magic – even though I’m at home.  If I can’t be there, at least I can escape for a few minutes and feel like I have a front row seat!

Visit their YouTube Channel for some past events and keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog for future ones!

How much fun are you having with the live streams?  Have you watched them all?  Comment below and let us know what you think!

 

It’s about time! Disney’s FastPass+ is enhanced

Beginning on April 10th, Disney’s FastPass+ system is being enhanced (finally!) to make it much more flexible for us when we’re in the parks.

The two big changes:

1. We can now book fewer than 3 selections at a time.  This is great because sometimes I just want to book the 7 dwarfs mine train and don’t want to select my other two.  Once before I randomly selected the additional two and when we went to change those, we accidentally deleted the mine train!

2. We can now book a new fastpass when we’ve used our first 3 all via the app!  The app will allow you to book additional fastpasses one at a time.  For example, once you’ve used your first 3, you can book a 4th.  Once you’ve used the 4th you can book a 5th.  Depending on the timing of your fastpasses – you could be maximizing your time in the parks really efficiently!   This makes it so much easier than finding a kiosk to grab your next one.

I’m excited about these changes and updates.  I wonder if Disney will hold some of the fastpasses and release them later in the day to accommodate the number of people who will be booking them after they’ve used their first 3.  This would be a great way for them to control the crowd flow in the parks.

Is this something that will make your Walt Disney World vacation experience better?  Comment below and tell us what you think!

 

 

5 Things To Do When It Rains At Disney

You’ve saved your money, booked your trip and headed to the most magical place on earth.  You get up in the morning and get ready for a full day of adventure when you see the weather report – RAIN!  Oh no!  What to do?

1.  Grab a poncho and keep going.

If you haven’t thought to bring one from home, it’s okay – Disney sells them everywhere!   A little rain never hurt anyone, and most times it’s so hot that I’m happy for a little shower to cool off!

2.  Visit the indoor attractions

There are many indoor attractions at Walt Disney World that still operate during rain.   From the Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom to Star Tours at Hollywood studios – there’s always lots still operating!

3.  Check your My Disney Experience

When attractions are closed – often times they will notify you and give you the option for a different attraction.  You can also check the wait times for some of the nearby indoor attractions.

4.  Visit a resort or shop

If you’re at the Magic Kingdom, it’s a great time to head over to the Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian or Polynesian resort to check things out.  During a light rain shower it’s the perfect time to check out some of the resorts nearby.  If you feel like shopping, you know there’s a gift shop nearby!

5.  Sit tight

Grab a drink, and wait it out.  Florida rain showers are often quite short, even when they appear to be intense – they can pass over in minutes.  While watching all of the people scramble to leave the park, you can think about all you’re going to enjoy without the crowds when the showers are over!

 

 

Why I’ll Miss Dream Along With Mickey

Dream Along With MickeyI’ll admit – I wasn’t always a fan of the castle shows, until I saw Dream Along With Mickey.

The first time I saw this show I was in love with it.  It was such a great story and had some terrific characters, it also gave Donald Duck a bit of spotlight that he’s deserved for a while in my opinion!

The story revolved around Donald not believing in dreams and his friends were trying to convince him how powerful they could be. There were princesses and villains, happiness and adventure – all the things that make a great Disney story!

While it may sound a little sappy, this show always gave me goosebumps and hope.  When the entire crowd started chanting “Dreams come true”, you really felt like you were empowered to make your dreams come true.

Things are always changing at Walt Disney World, and I’m looking forward to seeing the new show Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire.  I’m sure it will dazzle and delight, but I must admit that I really will miss Dream Along With Mickey.

Mickey had a little speech to Donald at the end of the show that always moved me, I’ll leave you to ponder how powerful the message really is.

“By remembering about the power of dreams, you reminded us all that when we believe in ourselves, and our friends, and our family – why there’s nothing we can’t do!  When you find the dream inside your heart, anything is possible!”   –  Mickey Mouse

Share your memories from Dream Along With Mickey in the comments below!

 

Cheshire Café Walt Disney World – What’s On The Menu?

Cheshire Cafe Cupcake Walt Disney WorldI’m not always in agreement with everything the Disney Company does.  Sometimes they do things that leave me puzzled – this is one of them.

A couple of years ago I discovered something that was exactly what my sweet tooth had been looking for.  I have a love of sugar (which is evident by my growing waist line!) and I love cupcakes.  The cupcakes at Walt Disney World usually have a good heaping dollop of icing on top.  While these cupcakes are delicious, there was one in particular that really got the ratio of icing vs. cake right!  It was the ‘cake cup’ that was once served at the Cheshire Café in the Magic Kingdom.

I had the opportunity to try both the Cheshire Cupcake (vanilla) and the Mad Hatter Mocha one.   I am a huge fan of all things chocolate – the vanilla was surprisingly my favorite!  The first time I tried it, I was in heaven.  It was a lot of sugar – so my sister and I shared one on our subsequent visits.   It was now on my list of ‘must have’ snacks in the Magic Kingdom.

I’m not sure why – but the Cheshire café stopped selling these lovely treats.  I don’t know why they did – I can just tell you that I miss them!  I have to chalk this one up to a ‘Why Disney?  WHY?’ decision that I will never understand.  If someone in food services at Disney is reading this, can you bring them back?  Pretty please?  While I like Sprinkles – I don’t want to have to go to Disney Springs for a good cupcake smiley

 

 

 

 

Disney’s Haunted Mansion – I Didn’t Know About The Pearls!

Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion has been a family favorite for so many years.  It wasn’t always one of my favorites though, in fact – it terrified me! My very first visit that I can remember to the Haunted Mansion I think I was about 4 or 5 years old. I remember walking in to the stretching room and hearing an ominous voice tell me that there was “no turning back now”.  I was in my Dad’s arms clinging to him as tightly as I could.  I remember being so scared I was crying and my Dad whispered to me “It’s okay honey, it’s Disney, nothing bad is going to happen”.  The pictures started to grow and stretch and I cowered in to my Dad’s chest, terrified to open my eyes!  The next thing I knew we were in our Doom Buggy and I had stopped crying. We were slowly moving through the mansion and I started to believe what my Dad was telling me, there was no reason to be scared.  This began my love of the Haunted Mansion.

I have visited the Haunted Mansion hundreds of times since that first visit.  You might wonder what keeps me coming back and not getting bored – it’s the details! Disney are the masters at creating experiences that keep you coming back so that you can learn and experience details that you didn’t know were there.  I know that I haven’t discovered all of the secrets that the Mansion has to offer – but here are just a few examples of things that you might not notice – unless you’re looking for them!

  • The tombstones you pass on the way in pay tribute to the Imagineers that worked on the attraction
  • When they designed the effects for the ballroom the used mirrors – but the dancers now appear backwards because of it. If you look closely – the women are leading the men
  • If you’re walking past the Haunted Mansion at night – look up at the windows, you might see ‘someone’ walking by!
  • As you leave the ballroom and begin to move backward – it is intended to signify you falling out of the attic. The caretaker and his dog are lighting the way to the graveyard as the only living people in the mansion
  • As you stroll down memory lane with the bride and her husbands – notice that the bride appears to be gaining wealth with each marriage!  With each wedding scene she acquires an extra strand of pearls
  • As you leave the mansion – be sure to pay your respects to Mr Toad.  He sits in the very back of the pet cemetery to pay homage to the attraction that was closed at Walt Disney World.  The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh now sits in its place.

In July 2015 I happened to be at Walt Disney World by myself for a few days.  I was wandering the Magic Kingdom late one evening and had a great conversation with a Cast Member that told me the story of the additional strand of pearls on the bride as well as the fact that she seems to get more china each time she gets married.  I thanked her for all of the information and got in line – I had to validate what she said!  I was so excited to go through and see it all again with a new perspective and new details to find. As I walked in to that stretching room just after midnight, by myself, I couldn’t help but remember my very first time.  As I was reminded that there was “no turning back now”, I smiled and thought to myself “It’s okay Dad, it’s Disney, I can do this by myself now”.

 

8 Reasons Why You Should Visit Disneyland

DisneylandDisneyland in California is where it all began, it’s the only park that Walt Disney opened and dedicated himself.  It was a challenging opening with many issues on that day, but it has remained a constant site of magic in Anaheim since 1955. Given the 60th anniversary this year, I decided it was time to return to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.

It was difficult not to compare Disneyland to Walt Disney World during my visit, and I worried that I would be doing that all week. The size difference was drastic, but I quickly realized that Disneyland had some amazing things that Walt Disney World does not.

Below are the top 8 reasons that I loved Disneyland!

1.  Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour

Walt Disney World (WDW) has the Keys to the Kingdom tour that I have done many times but this tour had something that WDW didn’t – Walt himself.  Throughout the tour there were many stops along the way where we stood in the park and listened through our earpieces to Walt’s own voice talking about the very place that we were standing in. As we listened to his dedication speech, there were quite a few misty eyes in the group and I found myself covered in goose bumps as we walked in his footsteps.  The tour was an additional cost to the park admission, but worth every penny.

2.  Oswald

Before there was Mickey – there was Oswald.   Oswald made his debut in 1927 as one of Walt’s first animated stars and he signed a contract with a distributor who brokered a deal with Universal.  During contract negotiations the following year, Walt discovered that he no longer owned the rights to Oswald.  It was on that train ride home that a devastated Walt Disney first drew Mickey Mouse.  In 2006 Disney regained the rights to Oswald and he now appears at Disneyland! The fact that this lucky rabbit came before Mickey felt like such a big piece of Disney history – I was thrilled to meet him and have my picture taken.

3.  Cars Land

What can I say? Cars Land was incredible! I love Be Our Guest restaurant at WDW because it makes you feel like you are right inside the movie – Cars Land has the same feeling on a grander scale!  Walking up Route 66 and approaching the Cadillac Range mountains while passing Flo’s Café – it doesn’t get any better!  Radiator Springs Racers was such an immersive experience; I don’t think it could have been any better!

4.  The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland gets transformed for Halloween for Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – it was ghoulishly fun to see the additions of these characters in to the already wonderful mansion.  The Hatbox Ghost who originally made a short appearance in the mansion in 1969 has materialized again and is one of the 999 happy haunts that live there. Remember though…there is room for 1,000 and they’re always looking for volunteers!

5.  Fantasmic

Fantasmic was a similar show to WDW, but it had some very different elements.  The first noticeable difference was that due to the size of Disneyland, I felt much closer to the show than I do at WDW since we usually sit near the back of the theatre for an easy exit.  At Disneyland they had Peter Pan instead of Pocahontas – that was awesome! It was a giant pirate ship with Peter, Wendy, Captain Hook, Smee and all the others fighting on top of the masts. I have to say – I was impressed!

6.  The Food!

The dining experiences at Disneyland were delicious!  We made reservations to eat at the Blue Bayou (inside the Pirates of the
Caribbean) as well as the Carthay Circle Restaurant in California Adventure – both were terrific experiences and the food was tasty. The rest of the week we dined on more quick service options with our favorites being the Corn Dog at the Corn Dog Castle and the Mac & Cheese at the Cozy Cone Motel. There was quite a variety of different quick service options throughout both parks that we were pleasantly surprised by how good they were!

7.  The Grand Californian

We stayed at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa in a standard view room. The hotel was gorgeous and had it’s own enterance to the California Adventure park for hotel guests only. The proximity to Downtown Disney as well as Disneyland being a short walk away were terrific for an afternoon break from the parks.  We did walk over to check out the Disneyland hotel that hosts Trader Sam’s Tiki Enchanted Tiki Bar as well – highly recommend stopping by for a drink here!

8.  World of Color

By far my favorite experience at Disney’s California Adventure was the World of Color show. Neil Patrick Harris and Mickey Mouse hosted a 22-minute show of lasers, lights and fountains that told the story of Walt Disney. The show paid tribute to Walt and his imagination while highlighting all of the magic that has since been created because him.  The World of Color allows younger generations to learn about Walt Disney and be inspired by his determination, dreams and imagination.

“I only hope we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse”

Walt Disney

Check out Cars Land!

If You Had Wings

Disney had a campaign a while ago called “When did it start for you?”.  The campaign had asked people when they first fell in love with the magic and became a Disney fan for life. I started thinking, going back through my fondest memories to pinpoint the time that I fell in love with it. I discovered that there were too many memories that I couldn’t narrow it down!  This is just one of them.

When I was young, there was at attraction at Walt Disney World called “If You Had Wings” that was sponsored by Eastern Airlines. The attraction was a slow moving vehicle that took you through a variety of ‘scenes’ showing you all of the things you could ‘see’ with them.  There was a man holding a fish that would grow as his wife took the picture, sunny beaches at the ocean, people diving from cliffs, and my favorite – the policeman directing the traffic of pelicans!  Looking back I guess you could say it was a little cheesy – the rolls of film being shown on screens as you passed by.  So why on earth was this a great memory for me?  It was an attraction I experienced so many times with my Dad.

Each time we would go to the Magic Kingdom, my Dad and I would ride this together.  We’d giggle at the silly scenes and point them out to each other like it was our first time riding it.  The specifics of our conversations?  I can’t remember… what I can remember is that feeling of joy to get those few minutes alone with my Dad on our favorite attraction.  The last scene of the attraction you would enter a huge tunnel of sorts and it would simulate an airplane taking off complete with the view of the runway and the seat moving along in time with the airplane.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin now sits where If You Had Wings once did.  They have repurposed the track and it is a new favorite for my family – being competitive to see who can get the highest score.

My Dad is gone now, and I miss him every day. When I’m in the Magic Kingdom as an adult, I think about our times there and wonder what he would think of the park if he could see it now.  Sometimes I feel like he’s there with me.  When we get to that final scene in Buzz when you enter that very same big ‘tunnel’ – I can remember the plane taking off with my Dad’s arm around me, and I experience that feeling of happiness all over again.

 

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