Category Archives: WDW Parks

Top 10 Places at Magic Kingdom

This is a completely subjective list of course. That is the whole point. These 10 places were chosen for the feeling I get when I am in the places; whether they are a recognized attraction or just a resting spot. I will elaborate why I chose each of the ten. I hope you will respond with some of your favorite places.

1)The Enchanted Forest by Gaston’s Tavern-

I chose this because of the many good memories I have had sitting outside of Gaston’s Tavern with a Lafou’s Brew. I think this spot is unparalleled in all of Walt Disney World for the peace it brings. It is… (for full post click the link: http://www.familytravelescapades.com/top-10-places-at-magic-kingdom/)

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Staying Cool in Epcot

Summertime in Florida is HOT! And HUMID! Keeping comfortable at WDW in summer is a challenge. I have covered Magic Kingdom in an earlier article (Places to Rest In Magic Kingdom). Today, we will focus on Epcot.

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First, I recommend a midday siesta or pool break during the heat of the day if you are staying on site. You escape not only the hottest, but the busiest time of day. The mugginess often begins early and drags on till late in the evening. So, even with a siesta, finding cool places to rest are still important.

ellen
The universe of energy is a great place to cool down!
epcot land
The Land is also a cool, air-conditioned place.

Finding a cool spot is actually not the hard in Future World, as pretty much everything is indoors and wonderfully air-conditioned. There are not a lot of places to sit down and actually rest, though. Ellen’s Universe of Energy is maybe the best spot to cool down. This attraction offers over a half hour of seated AC. Many people find the ride outdated, but I enjoy it. That said, it is a one the best places in all of WDW to catch a nap. The Land Pavilion is as a whole a great cool down spot. Seasons restaurant is one of the best quick service restaurants with a large, diverse menu. Grab a bite, find a table, cool down, and rest your legs. While you are there, Living with the Land and Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable are great places to rest. Living with the Land is a wonderful, educational boat ride about agriculture; Circle of Life is a movie starring Pumbaa and Timon from “The Lion King.” It is mildly entertaining, but has seats and AC with no wait. Club Cool offers free, cold international soda samples, like the wildly popular Beverly,  inside climate control for a quick refreshment. Some of the flavors are good; others, not so much.

club cool
Try the famous Beverly drink. You won’t be disappointed.

Cooling-Off-at-Epcot-in-Futureworld

Kids enjoy the spray stations. If you are  okay with getting wet, adults can partake, too.  There is one near Test Track and another between Future World and the World Showcase.

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The interior of the Mexico pavilion is cool, and often not very crowded.

America-Pavilion

The World Showcase offers less options. Most of us wander form pavilion to pavilion and spend a lot of time outside. Pretty much all of the quick service and snack options have outdoor seating only. The food and beverages are a large reason why Epcot is so popular. One obvious option is to actually go into the stores and shop. Some of us are not natural shoppers, but you do what you have to do to get comfortable. If you do not like shopping, there are still some options. Inside the Mayan pyramid of the Mexico pavilion you will find shops, crafts, a tequila bar, and table service restaurant. It also houses The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Cabelleros.   This boat ride will keep you comfortably climate controlled and off of your feet. It is an entertaining break, too. With the demise of Maelstrom and upcoming Frozen ride, likely with long lines, Norway no longer offers a good option. The China pavilion has an indoor show, ‘Reflections of China’ which rarely has a wait. As you are passing the African Outpost, pull open the lid of the cooler for a refreshing treat. Go ahead. It’s okay. In the American Adventure, there is a great show aptly named “The American Adventure” which will give you nearly 30 minutes of AC and comfortable seating. The show is educational, entertaining, and patriotic. ‘Impressions of France’ is an outdated movie in the France pavilion; but there is rarely a line, it is in AC, and the seats are comfy.’ O’ Canada’ in the Canada pavilion, hosted by Martin Short, is the best video log of any country, but you have to stand.

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Try and spot the hidden Mickey in this photo

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Enjoy your day at Epcot! Even in the heat, and humidity of summer in central Florida, you can stay comfortable. Remember these spots as you traverse the park, and it will be a little easier.

Pongo (dad)

WDW Healthy Snacks

Long days at WDW, while fun, can leave you tired and hungry.  There are a plethora of options for snacks available seemingly around every turn.  Healthy options are harder to find, though.  If you don’t pay attention, a trip to WDW can make your comfy jeans fit like skinny jeans.  I offer a guide  for those of us who have a medical condition (hypertension, diabetes, arteriosclerosis), do not want to loosen our belts, and/or just want to eat healthy.

First, let me explain what I mean by “healthy.”  Nutritional guidelines seem to stay in a state of flux.  Current general consensus recommends limiting salt, refined sugars, and processed foods, while consuming more “whole foods:”  fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy, eggs, and non-processed meats.  While each of my suggestions may not fit all of these criteria, I will try to follow remain fairly close.  In addition, to me, the calorie content should not be extreme.

The “Disciple’s Prayer” from the Bible states, “Lead us not into temptation.”  While not referring to food, it is still good advice.  Just as someone trying to quit smoking should avoid contact with cigarette smoke; those of us trying to watch our diet should try to avoid surrounding ourselves with the sights and smells that will tempt us.  Healthy snacks can be found scattered all over the parks,.. right next to sweets, pastries, and other temptations.  Fortunately, without too much effort, temptation can be avoided.

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The best park options, where you are surrounded by healthy choices with minimal temptations, are at the marketplaces.  There are options that are natural, non processed, and relatively low calorie; mostly fruit.  Each location has similar offerings:  fruit (apples, grapes, oranges, pineapple, watermelon and bananas), pickles (high in salt, though), trail mix, and yogurt.  In addition to these staples, each marketplace offers 1 or 2 things unique to it:  cheese, clementines, tomato bisque.  In Magic Kingdom, if you are on the Tomorrowland/Fantasyland side of the park, then Prince Eric’s Village Market is the nearest option, located across from Ariel’s Grotto in New Fantasyland.  On the Adventureland/Frontierland side of the Magic Kingdom, Liberty Square Market is the closest.  In Hollywood Studios, Anaheim Produce on Sunset Boulevard is your choice.  In Animal Kingdom, it is the Harambe Fruit Market in Africa.  Surprisingly, Epcot does not have a market.  You can find similar options scattered on treat carts, though.

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Even though you may love fruit, being on vacation, there are times that you may desire something more decadent, more savory than fruit.  I have those times covered, too.  Starbucks are now located in each WDW park:  Main St. Bakery in Magic Kingdom, Fountain View in Epcot, Trolley Car Cafe’ in Hollywood Studios, and Creature Comforts in Animal Kingdom.  Please allow me to state that most of the options at Starbucks are sugar/calorie laden diet busters.  I do not personally like coffee, but there is one viable option that I consider as more of desert or sweet treat:  the “skinny” latte’.  Any latte’ (vanilla, mocha, pumpkin spice,..) can be made “skinny.”  They are made with coffee (caff, half-caff, or decaf), whipped skim milk, and sugar free flavoring.  A Grande’ (medium) has only 150 calories!  Not bad for a sweet treat.There are still more options!  The famous pineapple DoleWhip has only 80 calories per half cup!  It will not blow your diet!  It is high in sugar, but still not bad.  The DoleWhip is available in Magic Kingdom at Aloha Island in Adventureland.  Epcot has several choices.  La Boulangerie Patisserie des Halles in the France pavilion has Bisque de Homard (lobster bisque), fromages (cheese plate), and Pissaladiere (olives, tomatoes, and cheese).  Tangerine Cafe’ in the Morocco pavilion offers hummus, couscous salad, lentil salad, tabouleh, and marinated olives.  In the Norway pavilion, Krigla Bakeria og Cafe’ has sugar free chocolate mousse.  les halles epcot

So, while WDW vacation can make eating healthy more challenging, it is not impossible.  Please note below specific illness considerations.

** For diabetes:  pineapple, bananas, watermelon, and DoleWhips are loaded with sugar.

**For hypertension and/or edema:  pickles, trail mix, olives, cheese, soups, and salads can be high in sodium.

Pongo:  working husband, father, and Disney-phile.  

I hope that you find these recommendations helpful.  Any comments and/or further suggestions are welcome.  If you would like to read more articles from us, then click on the “Follow” tab and each new article will be emailed to you.

6 MORE TIME-SAVING TIPS FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD

Part 2 of Time Saving Tips for Walt Disney World
1.  Enjoy some of the overlooked attractions (I have written about some of these, and will write about more later.) We have found that we enjoy the non-headliner attractions as much or more as the headliner rides/attractions. The crowds tend to be less and you can actually do more this way.
2.  If you are a night person, stay until the park closes. Crowds thin out near closing, and the WDW parks allow you to stay for one hour after official park closing, a fact we didn’t know until we had visited several times. This can be a time to relax, browse the stores, and walk through Main Street in Magic Kingdom, or during Christmas, the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in Hollywood Studios.IMG_2868
3.  If an important part of your vacation is the Disney dining experience, then know it will take up a decent portion of your day. Unless you are really into the dining experience, I recommend that you not spend a lot of time at a table-service restaurant. You will save time (and money!) for other things like rides and shows.
4. If leaving your room near meal-time, eat at a quick-service dining location at your resort instead of at the parks. Usually the wait is shorter. You can eat and then be ready to hit the parks.pizzafari_seat3big
5.  If you are flying to Orlando/Walt Disney World, and it is possible, book a flight with an early arrival and a late departure. This allows for some extra time at the parks. If you are using Magic Express from Orlando International Airport to get to your resort, know that it does take up to an 1 and 1/2 hours, depending on how long you have to wait on the bus and how many drop offs are prior to your resort. On the day you leave, if returning to the airport with Magic Express, you must catch the bus 3 hours before your flight is scheduled to leave.400-MagicalExpress
6.  This may be obvious, but it bears stating – Don’t stand in line for over 15-20 minutes for an attraction/ride. Use FastPass+ and Extra Magic Hours to enjoy the major attractions with minimal wait and enjoy rides with shorter wait times for the rest of the day (Please refer to prior post Rides with Short Wait Times) .

I hope that you find these useful.  Remember, the magic of Disney is in the details.  Saving time by avoiding lines and waits will allow you more time to notice the details, relax, and enjoy your vacation.

Elaine (Perdita):  Mom, wife, Disney fanatic.IMG_3588

5 Time-Saving Tips for Walt Disney World

5 Time-Saving Tips for Walt Disney World (1st of a 2-part article)-

1)  Stay at a resort where minimal time is spent going to and from parks-Unknown-1

This usually means less bus transportation.  Choose the quickest transportation options if you have a choice of more than one. An example is  The Beach Club (see my earlier article about The Beach Club) where you can walk to Epcot, take The Friendship Boats to Hollywood Studios and buses to the other 2 parks.  The walk to Epcot is about 5 minutes and the boat ride to Hollywood Studios is about 15.  You can walk home from Hollywood Studios, but this is only viable if the lines are incredibly long for the Friendship Boat.

Another good example is staying at The Bay Lake Tower (I wrote about this resort earlier, too) which is my favorite resort. If you stay here, you can walk to Magic Kingdom.  You can take the monorail to either Magic Kingdom or Epcot. Many times the line for the monorail is so long that it is much quicker to walk to Magic Kingdom. It is less than a 10 minute walk.

Staying at The Grand Floridian (which I will review soon) presents other choices. You can take the monorail to Magic Kingdom or a boat. Take the monorail. You take the monorail to Epcot.

I realize the majority of resorts at Walt Disney World only offer bus transportation to get to and from the parks. Some people tell me it is quicker to drive to the parks (if you have your car obviously) than to take the buses. This is why some people want to stay at the Old Key West resort. You can park next to your room there.

Try to choose a resort with easy access, either on foot, by monorail, friendship, or bus to the park where you plan to spend most of your time.  This will cut down on travel time, which can be rather long.  In general, the Epcot resorts will have the easiest access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios; Magic Kingdom Resorts to Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom Lodge to Animal Kingdom.Unknown

2)  Use Extra Magic Hours

Guests staying on Disney property are treated to Extra Magic Hours during which one of the parks either opens an hour early or stays open up to 3 hours late for these guests only.  This varies by the season and the day of the week. A schedule is available at every resort.  This is one of the biggest perks to staying on-sight, but there are others such as using all of the transportation options.  The wait times for e-ticket rides (rides with the longest waits) are minimal with morning Extra Magic Hours.  You can almost walk directly onto rides like Rock n’ Rollercoaster, Expedition Everest, Toy Story Midway Mania, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Soarin’.  Getting these rides done early allows for extra time and a relaxed pace later in the day.  For night time Extra Magic Hours, the lines shorten as it gets later and by the end of the night, you can often almost walk onto the e-ticket rides.

3)  Use the FastPass+ for your must-do’s but then go to the attractions with short wait times (reference earlier article) to fill in the rest of your time-

The attractions with short wait times are actually more enjoyable to me at times than the attractions requiring a FastPass. There are so many options. I wrote about some earlier.  Two that I mentioned are The Carousel of Progress and Philharmagic. These are both quality entertainment, don’t require a FastPass, and usually have a minimal wait.images

4)  If you can’t make it to the park with that day’s morning Extra Magic Hours until after they are over, then skip it and go to another park. The park with the morning Extra Magic Hours is usually the busiest throughout the morning and afternoon; sometimes until park closing.  You will have longer wait times.

5)  If you want to see one of the Magic Kingdom parades, don’t sit for an hour on the curb trying to get just the right seat on Main Street.   You can see very well from other locations along the parade route, and you can avoid getting caught in the traffic when the parade is over.Unknown-2

More tips are coming in Part 2 of the article.  Your input is appreciated.  Please leave comments.  If you would like more Disney information, then click “follow” and receive emails of each of our articles.

Elaine (Perdita) – Mom, wife, Disney addict.

Disney Parks Tip: The Single Rider Line

Some rides at Disneyland and Walt Disney World offer single rider lines. For the single rider line, you have to be okay with being seated where-ever there is a space. You will not be seated with anyone else from your party When there is an empty seat on a ride such as when there is a party of 3 on a ride with 2 seats per row, you are seated in the seat next to third member of that party. It is a great way to decrease wait time, if you don’t mind riding “alone.” The reason to do this is to cut your wait time. In general, I have found that you can usually cut your wait time compared to the stand-by line by 1/2 to 1/3.

The California parks employ this on more rides; so, we will start there. Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventures, and Matterhorn Bobsleds in Disneyland, and Soarin’ over California, Radiator Springs Racers, Grizzly River Rapids Goofy’s Fly School, and California Screamin’ all have this option. Radiator Springs Racers has an obvious labeled line to enter. For the other rides, you will need to ask the cast member at the beginning of the queue. We used it on Radiator Springs Racers, Indiana Jones and California Screamin’. The first two were simple. California Screamin’ involved stairs and elevators and was confusing, but still cut our wait time drastically. imageimage

In Walt Disney World, the single rider line is available on Test Track in Epcot, Rock n’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios, and Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom. The lines to Test Track and Rock n’ Roller Coaster are pretty obvious and easy to find. The Expedition Everest line is a little removed from the stand-by and fastpass queues. If you don’t see it, ask a cast member. We have used it on all of these several times. Since these are rides with some of the longest wait times, it really can save you quite a bit of time.image

The International Disney Parks have this option, too. Someday I hope to use these.
Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris: Crush’s Coaster, Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, RC Racers, and Ratatouille.
Tokyo Disneyland: Splash Mountain.
Tokyo DisneySea: Indiana Jones Adventures, and Raging Spirits.
Hong Kong Disneyland: Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Car, Splash Mountain, and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop.

Here are some ideas of when this could be useful: If no one else in your group likes thrill rides, but you are busting for some excitement; if everyone else is tired; if younger members (or older ones I guess) are waiting in a long character meet and greet line; if you have already seen the parade or fireworks. The list could go on. I wish that this option was available on more rides with long waits, but I will take what I can get. So, if you don’t have a fastpass and you want to ride one of the above named attractions, but not spend the entire day waiting in line, then think “single rider line.”

Blizzard Beach Overview

Roly (son)

Hello, with summer and Memorial Day in a couple of weeks, and WDW being a notoriously hot and crowded place, I thought I would tell you about something different. Walt Disney World, as many of you know, has two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon). I have only been to Blizzard Beach, but hope to go to Typhoon Lagoon soon. I will give a short review of Blizzard Beach.

Blizzard Beach is themed to be somewhere in Florida, where a freak blizzard occurred. Disney (of course) capitalized on this, and built a ski getaway. This ski resort just happens to have watersides through it. The waterslides are made to mimic ski slopes.

The symbol of the park is a ski slope, which you must get to via ski lift. Once you get to the unloading platform, there are three slides you can go down from there. You must climb stairs to get to the top, which is known as Summit Plummet. Summit Plummet is a 12 story high slide, with a near 90 degree angle. It is over before you know it, and you feel like the Hulk gave you a slap on the bum. Make sure to keep your legs together or the experience will be like the Niagra Falls of bidets. You feel like you are floating at some points in the three whole seconds it takes, and you actualy are. It levels out into a long, straight stretch at the end, and you end up swerving around as the water hits you from different angles.

Make sure to close your eyes about when you go into the short covered part, or your eyes will end up stinging.
Make sure to close your eyes about when you go into the short covered part, or your eyes will end up stinging.

This park also has a unique racing slide, Snow Stormers. Each person boards a sled and goes into separate tunnel. In most of the slide you can’t see the other racers, which is different than most racing slides. It is also much longer than any other racing slide that I have been on. There are some other very nice race slides at this park, but the one that I have told you about stands out to me particularly.

The lazy river, Cross Country Creek, is fairly long with water spouts and water falls to make it interesting. My dad and I floated up on a small snake once, but the life guard said it was harmless. The wave pool, Melt Away Bay, is unique in the winter theming being surrounded by “snow.”. It has a sand bottom and a central location. I enjoy both of these.

There is one last slide that I want to talk about; the Slush Gusher. The Slush Gusher is also accessed from the ski lift. It is to the left of Summit Plummet. This slide is at a steep angle, though not nearly as steep as Summit Plummet. You go over several hills, before finally leveling off at the end. You catch air on several of the hills. It’s a very fun slide, though not as intense as Summit Plummet.

These hills send you airborne for about 0.5 seconds before you come back. It is still noticeable, and different from other attractions, except Summit Plummet, and Tower of Terror.
These hills send you airborne for about 0.5 seconds before you come back. It is still noticeable, and different from other attractions, except Summit Plummet, and Tower of Terror.

There are many other slides, but these are my favorites. Here are the names of all of the attractions at Blizzard Beach. The tube rides are Teamboat Springs, and Runoff Rapids. The racing slides are Toboggan Racers, Downhill Double Dipper, and Snow Stormers. The normal ( on your back slide) are Summit Plummet and Slush Gusher. Other attractions are chair lift, Cross County Creek, and Melt Away Bay.There is a kiddie zone which has Tike’s Peak and Ski Patrol Training Camp. I hope this was informative. Have a great visit to Blizzard Beach.

“Laughing Places” in Walt Disney World

“Everybody’s got a laughing place
a laughing place to go
Take a frown, turn it upside down
And you’ll find yours we know.” (from “Song of the South”/Splash Mountain)

It always seems strange to me when I see people walking around WDW with frowns, looking (and sometimes behaving) like a grouch. WDW is the most magical place on Earth (Disneyland is the happiest. officially). There are plenty of places to “take a frown, turn it upside down.” For me personally, it’s the thrill rides. I laugh uncontrollably being hurled from 0 to 60 into a loop on the Rock n Roller Coaster; or, darting around in the dark on Space Mountain. Obviously, thrill rides are not for everyone, though. Here are some places that I believe will bring a smile and illicit a laugh from almost anyone.

Magic Kingdom

monsters inc.Monsters Inc. Laughing Floor – This one is certain to make you laugh. Especially if you are with “that guy” or any of the other audience members brought into the act. It is a stand-up comedy routine hosted by Mike Wazowski and starring other monsters trying to collect laughs to power Monstropolis. The show is reliably funny and will make you laugh out loud.

country bearThe Country Bear Jamboree is often overlooked and even occasionally maligned. I don’t know why. It is funny and you will laugh. There are almost never lines, either.

Epcot

As I have blogged about before, the demise of the World Showcase Players was a big hit to the laughs available at Epcot.

turtle_talk_with_crush3Fortunately, Turtle Talk with Crush is still available. It is an “educational,” interactive chat with Crush from “Finding Nemo.” Even though it is directed at children, it will bring laughs from kids of all ages.

Hollywood Studios

streetStreetmosphere – Roly loves this and blogged about it a few weeks ago. These are street performers that wander Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards from park opening till about 5 p.m. If you see someone dressed like they are from the 1930s, slow down and see what happens. You will be glad you did.

MuppetVision 3D – The Muppets and 3D: that pretty much explains it. Hilarity ensues. This has the funniest queue in all of WDW. Don’t miss it.

Mushu_character“Where Disney Characters Come From,” in “The Magic of Disney Animation” is an attraction starring a Disney animator and Mushu from Mulan. This is another overlooked attraction that is not to be missed. Eddie Murphy is hilarious in this. His answer to “Do you know where dragons come from?” is classic.

Animal Kingdom

Flights of wonder – This is the only laugh inducing option that I can think of at Animal Kingdom. While not a comedy act, humor is worked into it and should bring a couple of laughs. It is a great show anyway.

So, if you have a cranky person with you and are looking for rib ticklers, knee slappers, and side splitters to help “take a frown, turn it upside down,” then give these attractions a try. They will brighten your day.

Walt Disney World “Quotes”

Pongo here.

Some things that we hear just seem to bring a smiles our faces. The magic of Walt Disney World is in the attention to details. One part of this is the use of the spoken word to reach out to us, guide us, and entertain us. There are obviously many examples of these. Here are few that strike a chord with me.

patrick-warburton-soarin-over-california- “Hello. Welcome to Soarin’. My name is Patrick and I will be your chief flight attendant today.” Soarin’ in Epcot is one of my favorite rides and Patrick Warburton’s intro makes me smile every time.

Mickey_Mouse“It’s out of this world!” Hearing Mickey Mouse say this while riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority in Magic Kingdom or hearing it on loop while on the ground is again a smile inducer.

illuminations-reflections-of-earth-00“We’ve gathered here tonight around the fire, as people of all lands have gathered for thousands of years before us, to share the light and share the story-“ The intro to Illuminations is an emotional and powerful lead in to my favorite fireworks show. I love how it ties us all together.

“Welcome home!” Hearing this from cast members when checking in at Disney resorts helps make things more personal, and however corny it may be, does help it to feel like home.

“Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas.” Who doesn’t love hearing this on the monorail.

“And now I believe your future is just about ready. Let’s take a look. Shall we?” Spaceship Earth is a great ride with a wonderful ending.  We usually do silly faces for the snapshots.

peter pan“And off we go!” Who doesn’t love Peter Pan and flying above London and Neverland.

“See you real soon!” Mickey Mouse saying this at Magic Kingdom park closing (and now in the meet and greet in Town Square) is somewhat sad, because the day, and possibly the vacation, is over. I love the optimism, though,

Do you have any sayings from WDW of which you are particularly fond?