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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