Relaxing Inside the WDW Parks

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

TTApeoplemover

It can be overwhelming visiting the Walt Disney World parks. Busy crowds, long queues, hot weather (or big wet showers).  You can avoid it by staying at the hotel pools, but if you are at Walt Disney World you just want to hit the parks. Even if they are busy.
So what to do if you really, REALLY want to relax and still be inside the parks. It is possible!

River1How about we start in the Magic Kingdom. What is more relaxing than the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. A nice 10 minute ride around Tomorrowland and it includes some great views of the beautiful Cinderella Castle. You can ride it early in the morning, or try to board it at night during the fireworks. That gives it an extra dimension. Who knows, if you’re lucky, like I was on my last visit, it might break down on the right spot and you can see the whole firework show from the best spot. Another relaxing ride, but a little more crowded, is the Walt Disney World Railroad. Ride around the park and relax. Or if the water is more relaxing your alternative for a relaxing ride will be the Liberty Square Riverboat. (more…)

A Little More MyMagic+

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

A little more information is leaking regarding the MyMagic+ wristbands. Walt Disney World Hotel bookers and Annual passes will get the bands at no extra costs but the future plan is to have all guests wear a wristbands with the RFID integrated.

The wristbands will be available in different colors or themes. Some of these Disney themes can be from a Pirates of the Caribbean, some of the Pixar characters, Disney princesses and many more. It is also rumored that there could be some special wristbands done by other companies like Dooney & Burke and Swarovski and for those that don’t like wearing anything around their wrist there might be alternatives coming in the form of keychains and other jewelry.

MyMagic+

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Disney has made it official, the Next-gen technology will be introduced soon under “MyMagic+” for the Walt Disney World resort. With this new tool Disney guests will be able to create their Disney vacation from the comfort of their own home. Guest will be able to use a new website “My Disney Experience” where they will be able to book dinner reservations and other Disney experiences. There will also be an option to book a selection of FastPass+ to avoid not only the lines at the attractions but also a visit to the FasPass booths.

The FastPass+ option will not only include attractions but will have Character meet and greet, preferred firework and parade viewing place and other options. The firework and Parade option could be your key to make sure to see your favorites from a dedicated space every time you want. (I know I’ll be booking Illuminations on many nights once available).

To be able to take advantage of all the early bookings guest will be provided a special RFID wristband named “MagicBand”. This wristband will serve as your hotel room key, park admission, the FastPass+ pre-booked options, your personal photopass and will even have an integrated payment option. The later one might come with a code once spending will reach a certain amount. This to protect the owners in case they would loose their wristband and to avoid those dishonest guests from plundering your account.

With the personal information saved on your wristband character will now also be able to know your name and use it when you visit them. Imagine the faces of the children when talking Mickey comes up to them and knows their names. This might not be for integrated in the early phase of the project, but one that is sure one of the many future options that will find it’s way into the system.

There is no specific date yet when the MyMagic+ will completely take over, but it is slowly finding it ways into the park as some guests already have been part of the testing phase.

Also read the WDWnewstoday article. They where the first to bring out this exciting news. Also visit the Disneyparks blog for some more pictures.

Picture copyrights Disney

Universal vs. Disney: The Tolkien Round!

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Universal did it again! At least if these rumors are indeed correct as no official announcements are made yet. Universal gets the rights to build the Lord of the Ring attractions in their park. This is yet another fantastic move that will bring over even more people to the parks. Harry Potter already proofed success and with Lord of the Rings they will do it again. This franchise is so big, popular and timeless that guest numbers for the park will grow for sure.

Queues for the Harry Potter attractions are stupendously long and will get even bigger once the second phase is in place. Once Lords of the Rings and the Hobbit will make it to the park another big fan followers will find their way to the Universal Studios getting those visitor numbers way up. Orlando visitors will need to find a way to see all the stuff and while their holiday might not get extended, a visit to Universal might. As guest might have to find that extra day for Universal, this could cost Disney some visitors.

OK, Disney just got the big Star Wars deal, the new Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, the rumored Carsland for Hollywood Studios and… Avatar for Animal Kingdom. Fantasyland is already proofing to be a success for Disney and depending on their Star Wars plans will have another crowd pleaser. As long as it will be spectacular and the Imagineers get to do something with it. Avatar is still another story in my honest opinion. Avatar might still see two more movies and although this will keep the franchise alive, it is in no way as timeless as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

Never the less, it is exciting to see how the theme parks are creating new wonderful stuff. The Lord of the Rings deal will make Disney work their hardest to bring out their best of the best and the real winners are we, the fans and the guests.

Make sure to visit us regularly as we will report on all the new Orlando area park stuff once we know more.

Fun After the Indiana Jones Show

Monday, December 10th, 2012

What do you do after you visited the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! show in the Disney Hollywood Studios. Run straight to the next attraction? Get yourself a bite to eat or something to drink? Try to find a gift, collectable or even a Indiana Jones hat in the store? All fun choices of course, but there is another option one might overlook.

Once you leave to show area you should go to the right hand side and walk up into the street full of Indiana Jones related goodies. There is a real fun display with tanks, trucks and other army stuff related to the Indiana Jones movies. It is a perfect place for a photo opportunity.

You can take pictures of all the goodies as they are (The way I prefer it and how you’ll see it in these pictures here on the blog), or you can make it a perfect background for the Indiana fans. Maybe have your group or your children act out some fun scenes from the movie or the stunt show. Without the dangerous stunts of course.

Remember the “don’t do this at home” lines, they count here too.

Whatever the option is, don’t just walk by it. There is just to much to see and appreciate in those great displays around the park. This is just one of the many great decorations you’ll find all over Walt Disney World ideal for photo opportunities. There are many other once out there.

Don’t forget though! Share your fun pictures on the web for all Disney fans to enjoy. Happy picture hunting…

Different Angles at Walt Disney World

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Visiting a Walt Disney World park is all about fun. Fun at the attractions, at the eateries, at the hotel, and a lot more. For some guests one fun element about visiting the parks taking pictures. Me, I am one of these people.

Unfortunately not everybody in my family appreciates the constant stopping to take pictures, but I love it and can’t help myself taking pictures all the time. I did keep my promise to my son to leave the camera at the hotel on some days, but on other days I just clicked away.

A fun thing about taking pictures at Walt Disney World is trying to find some angles that are a little more uncommon. I am no fan of pictures with a lot of strangers on it and therefor I am always trying to find spots where I can leave the tourists out of my frame. By doing this I look at some spots that others might not use to take a picture from. It adds to the fun and gives a whole new look to the park.

It’s not always easy to get that shot without the other guests, but if I take my time I’ll find the right place for yet another unusual picture.

In this collection you can see how I try to get the castle from another view using some of the greenery that surrounds the castle. You can even get the castle into a green frame if you look around a little. Or you can use some of the rock works in the area to create some extra dept. It will not be your average holiday picture but could compliment them nicely when creating that photo book you want to show off. And don’t forget that you can never have enough pictures of the castle anyway, so why not try to find that different angle.

You can do the same thing with other iconic buildings in the park. Get that amazing Tower of Terror Hollywood Hotel popping up from behind some trees. Get a far shot of Expedition Everest without all the action around it or even get a close up from part of the iconic Spaceship Earth building. These are only a couple of ideas as there are unlimited options on taking that different pictures.

The picture I make are not that hard to take. You don’t need a big fancy camera (although those little point and shoots might be not the best option). These pictures are in no way professional and can be taken by anybody with some imagination. Of course you will be able to get even better shots with that big special camera, but for those that don’t want to spend to much on the equipment should just use the camera they own. At the end of the day it’s all about having some fun.

If you do like those amazing spectacular pictures have a look at this collection of Disneyland Paris gems in our side glance category!

Underneath some more pictures from another angle

WDW Planning Part 2: What to do…

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

… If you’ve seen it all before. OK! That is not really fair to say as Walt Disney World is so big, there is always new stuff to do. First of all there will be a whole new Fantasyland to explore. That is something to really look forwards too. The new area promises to look awesome once completely finished and that alone is reason enough to visit Walt Disney World again. It will take a couple of days to take it all in and to discover all the new Disney magic that will have been added in the updated land.

Planning a next trip includes looking at the special things you want to do and don’t want to miss. While planning your hotel, flights and other transport is important, it is more fun to add the things you want to see and do on your early planning list. Fantasyland is one of them. But of course there is more that will make it on the early planning list. Your regular 4 gates visit might speak for itself of course, but let’s have a look at all the other Disney Magic stuff that should make our next visits’ list.

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon; I didn’t go the last two times and once I return home I always am sad about it. I love this park so much it has to go on our list. First of all am I a big fan of the Castaway Creek Lazy River, but I also love the wave pool and would love to go on the Crush ‘n’ Gusher again.  That is one great attraction. Let’s also not forget about Shark Reef. That swim with the sharks is just way to much fun.

Dining; Sometimes you do things that you regret. On our last visit I canceled our reservations at Le Cellier Steakhouse. I am still kicking myself for that mistake. This one is already on our trip plan. Not easy to get in on a decent hour, but I’ll be calling very early for that reservation. Everybody is always raving on about their Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup and I now want to know what it is all about. It was the reason I put it on the list on my previous trip. Why did I cancel it?…

Traditionally a dinner at the Rose & Crown Pub Dining room is also on the early planning list. This one always makes it on the list. Last evening of the trip with a nice meal and a great view of Illuminations. Jiko is also on the early planning list. It is a favorite of ours. Great food and great location in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We might eat there a couple of times. But these are only the once we already know for sure. Others restaurants will make it to the list but as we still have over a year to go, it is nice to not know everything yet. (see part 1)

That’s already a nice list for a trip that is still over a year away. Still a lot of time to add and tweak. It’s all part of the planning fun. And you? Do you plan this early in advance?

WDW Planning Part 1: How Far Do You Plan in Advance?

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

When it comes to a Disney trip, planning is part of the fun. It not only give you that knowledge you’ll be going, but you will have some Disney magic going for you before the trip itself. Most trips might get planned a couple of months in advanced, but when it comes to a Walt Disney World trip, planning can start a lot earlier. Sometimes over a year in advance! At least that’s how I work when it comes to planning a WDW trip.

First question of course is when to go. In my family’s case options are limited because of school time. So our trip needs to be molded around that for most of the time. That gives us two options for our next trip.

Option one; A trip during Christmas and New year 2013/2014.

Option two; A trip starting from the middle of June 2014.

No, no! Those dates are correct. Our next family trip will be somewhere in 2013 and/or 2014. Is that planning it to far ahead? It looks far away and one might feel a little sad if you still have to wait that long but when you look at it from the bright side, with this early planning, I’ll be having a lot of fun.

So there are 2 possible dates as I mentioned before. This could be the last two weeks of December and a week in January or it could be the last two weeks on June and the first week in July. Both dates have their advantages and disadvantages. Heavy Christmas crowds can be a little daunting but you’ll be away from the summer heat while early summer period will still be low on crowds (US schools still in session, but the heat might already be a struggle. Of course there are other things to look at but these are just a couple of examples. Although we love the Christmas time (our last trip was during the holidays), the second option looks like the one we will go for this time.

So what do I plan so far in advance (once we set the date)? Although you can’t book a hotel yet looking at the locations where to stay is one of the first things I do for my family and me. As we are Disney Vacation Club Members it is also a bit of a given that this takes place so far in advance. We need to make sure to book at the 11 month window, otherwise we might not be able to get the room we want. So this is a good reason to start booking so early. Or maybe it is just another excuse to start planning over a year in advance. The hotels are a part of the Disney Magic, so it can happen that we do some Hotel hopping and stay at different resort. I would love to stay a couple of days at the new Disney’s Art of Animation resort. Just to see and experience it as it looks great. Another place I would love to stay at is either the Disney’s Beach Club Villas or the Disney’s Board Walk Villas. I love that erea and it would give me easy access to my favorite park with my favorite show; Epcot and Illuminations. But our main home resort is Old Key West, so it is no surprise that this one will be the one we will stay at the longest. Will I do have some Disney’s Animal Kingdom Vacation Club point too, we might use these for another location this time around.

More in Part two!

Don’t be late!

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

FastPass has been part of a Walt Disney World visit since years. You get your FastPass for the attraction you want to visit and then you enjoy the rest of the park until it’s time to return on the designated time printed on the ticket without the long queue. There are, however, some changes coming our way. The rumour has been out for a while but now it looks like the Disney company is preparing their cast Members to enforce a new rule. While it was normal to stop people to enter an attraction before their time frame started it was also custom to let anybody on with a FastPass that already expired. (As long as it was for that day). 

With the new rules in place however, this will no longer be possible. According to the rumours FastPasses will no longer be accepted after their time frame. There might be a 15 minute window after the printed time, but once that has past the ticket will no longer be valid.

The other change might be that they will also open a small early window for those arriving 5 minutes before their FastPass printed time. This might help to get rid of the blockage in front of a FastPass entry by those turning up a little early and where asked to wait. Will it works? Only time will tell.

(via screamscape)

Disney Parks InsidEARS

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Are you a Disney fan and can’t stop talking about the parks? Always sharing everything you know to those that want to listen? Are you, day in and day out, sharing your love for the park to everyone? But it’s still not enough and you want to share even more. Well, then you should have a look at the new Disney program where Disney fans can share their knowledge with the rest of the world as a member of the Disney parks InsidEARS project.

Disney fans like you and me can become part of the program to help Disney park visitors from all over to create their perfect trip. What better place to get your tips from then from those enthusiasts that visit the parks again and again.

The program has just been launched and is still in testing phase, but with a new site up it will not be long before the first Disney Parks InsidEARS will start helping spreading the magic.  To be able to become part of this program you will have to visit their website regularly for updates to find out on how to become part of this. Sounds like fun, something most of us Disney fans would love (and already do a lot). We never get tired of talking about the parks, don’t you agree?

More info on the Disney Parks InsidEARS website.

Picture copyrights Disney

Trip Diaries Day Nine: Just the Two of Us

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Another day of fun, although unfortunately one family member was really sick today and stayed at the room to sleep it off. It’s always a shame to be sick, but it’s always worst when you are sick on a holiday. So it was up to me and my son to enjoy the park with the two of us.

Epcot was the choice for today and again we made sure we would be there at the moment the rope dropped. Once inside we took the route everybody takes, straight to Soarin! First of all get some FastPasses and then queue for it. This time the queue was no longer then 10 minutes, something that would change very early during the day. The Soarin flight was great. We got seated in the middle “glider” in the middle row. Perfect. It does make a difference where you sit and the middle of the middle is the best place as you will (almost) see no black sides and you can focus on the screen only. There are some cracks and black spots on the film visible. That’s a real shame of course and one can only hope Disney will not wait too long to get that fixed. It does take away from the overall experience.

Once we got out of the attraction there was already a big queue. At least 45 minutes, if you would want to wait for it in the stand by queue. Just enough time for a small breakfast before we go on it again. Shared some strange sandwich with eggs, potato and meat in it. Not the best as we didn’t even finish it between the both of us. Or maybe we where to excited to fly again.

Here is the fun part on our second trip on Soarin; we got the exact same seats on our second run! All we did was switch places with each other. We also did the Living with the lands attraction before our second Soarin ride, but let’s be honest, this one isn’t that much of fun. There weren’t even any Mickey shaped pumpkins.

Today we also went on the Kuka robotic arm at Epcot’s Sum of All Thrills attraction. These are great fun. We created a jet plane attraction and it was intense. However it was also very smooth. Great experience and one that already gave us some sort of indication what to expect when going to Islands of Adventure later in the holiday. We got some more time to kill and after trenching our thirst at the cool station (no, no Beverly) we walked over to Test Track. (We did get a fastPass before).

After lunch we took the boat to Hollywood Studios where we wanted to see the Comedy Warehouse again. But we came in a little late as the performance was already completely full. We got there 20 minutes before it started and they already had to turn down guest because of a full house. Hello Disney… bring it back (in some form). As most attractions had long queues already we opted to see some shows. (We don’t queue!) Indiana was first and we got an alternate show because of the bad weather (Heavy rain). The second part was split into two parts and we got some more funny elements. The plane part was completely cut. A shame, but the little extra funny stuff was nice to see too. (however if you haven’t seen the original it is a loss). After the show we got to see the Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special. We got there early enough this time, about 40 minutes early! But it was worth it. So funny, with laughs from beginning to end.

After that we went to see the stunt show. This being a Disneyland Paris original I expected to see the same but I was surprised how much differences there are in both shows. The US version seems a little faster (probably because they don’t have the language barrier as we have in France), but also because some of the rearrangement of the stunts. They did some good improvements and it was also nice to see the water jet in action again. Great fun. After the show we had a little time left and we went to see a cartoon in a movie theatre (sorry, lost the name of the location). First time I see this place open. We got to see the Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice short. Fun movie to see once, but that’s it. Would see it again.

Now it was time to go to one of my favourite eating places. Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Luckily we where back to three, although still not feeling 100%, my lovely wife didn’t want to miss it (or maybe she missed her boys way to much and wanted to see us). Jiko is an amazing place. The food is fantastic. If you go there make sure to order the Mack & Cheese as a side order. It’s the best one in the resort.

Trip Diaries Day Eight: How I Miss the Comedy Warehouse

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

This is the third day I force myself to get out of the room early so I could be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios by the time it opens. Opening time was 7am and we got there by 6:50am. Our goal was to get to see all the different star Tour movies on this trip and after 4 rides today we seen all the different movies. No, not all 54 variations, but all short films. Our favourites are the Pod Race and the Bounty Bunter Boba Fett (with the Death Star) scenes. Before we tried to see all of them we did get another fastPass for Toy Story Mania. With Holiday crowds this is the only way to do it as lines go well over an hour, even early in the morning.

Now here is something I could not miss. The Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special at the Sounds Dangerous stage. I always loved the Comedy Warehouse at Pleasure Island and was not happy about its closure. Luckily Disney put this special (kid friendly version) inside the park and it was awesome. I just love the way they get some ideas out of the public and create a comedy sketch around it. Such a great talent! I hope Disney will bring this back in some form, not just during the holidays. It was a success as the room was packed to capacity.

Another show, not filled to capacity, we visited on this day was the Next American Idol Experience. I think we got to see the third show of 8 shows that day, but the room was only half full. The finals of the day might have been full, but with the attraction not being that old and the fully packed Hollywood Studios this attraction might already become a little bit of a failure. It was to be expected that this one couldn’t last that long. I might be wrong, but that’s the expression I got when I visited it. Still, it was fun to see the show,… once on the trip.

We also got ourselves some FastPasses for Tower of Terror today and we got to see Belle and the Beast. Nice sweet show, but Tower wins this round. It’s one of the best attractions out there and I could ride it again and again (and so could my son).

With the park being full and queue-ing not an option (I don’t queue… well, most of the time), it was time to do something different. So we took the bus over to the Wilderness Lodge to check out the hotel. I love this location, especially around the pool. We had a good look around before taking the boat over to the busses at the Magic Kingdom so we could make it back to our own hotel. It’s always nice to visit another resort and many people forget about this. Those places are also part of the Disney magic and they give you the chance to relax a little, away from the busy parks, while still being at a magical place.

Trip Diaries Day Three: No Camera!

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Our plan! Get up early and hit a park to do some rides and avoid the early Christmas crowds. We were at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 8:20am, ready for the 9am opening. A big queue got formed early and they did open a little early. Straight over to Star Tours to check out what all the fuss was about. It was a walk on (as most people dashed for Toy Story Many). We could even pick our seats. With about 10 people in the attraction we started our first journey. My son was lucky enough to be the spy on this first trip. That was a great little bonus. With no queue we had to go for a second run. We got in our Star Tour cruiser but the droids messed it up and we had to leave it and board another one. Our second trip was a complete new experience. Love the new Star Tours! A great new version.

We finished our two trips on Star Tours way before 10am, and that’s with park opening at 9am. Not too bad. We even had some extra time to do the Movie Ride before we had to go over the Toy Story Mania with our fastpass. Toy Story Mania was busy and people in the queue for a fastpass already had a time slot well in the afternoon. Busy times. Once we got that out our way we went for some iced coffee and a chocolate chip cookie and wait for the first Indiana Jones Show. The show was fun, as it always is. Even if you’ve seen it multiple times before, it’s a must do.

Our game plan worked well and now the park is pretty crowded. It was time to get out for a little lunch and a midday swim. In the late afternoon we went over to visit Downtown Disney. Not a lot of time to explore it all as we had dinner reservations with Susan and Simon Veness at the Big River Grill & Brewing Works on the Boardwalk. We did get to see the new Lego Store and enjoyed the great collection of new pins before catching the bus.

We had a great meal at the Big River Grill and a great chat with Susan, Simon and their family. Great evening talking Disney and more (thanX guys). To end a perfect day we headed into Epcot, just in time for Illuminations, my all-time favourite Disney experience. Unfortunately I was forced to find a new location to view the show as they use my previous space for a dinner packet private spot.

Today I left my camera in the hotel room (for most of the day). I deliberately left it there as my son isn’t too happy when I stop every minute to take 10 pictures. I guess there will be enough other moments where I’ll have the chance to take some great shots… (Like the next day)

Walt Disney World

Friday, December 16th, 2011

It has been a while… Well it has been way to long, but we are still here. Let’s just say it has been a hectic time where posting on the blog came to a stop. But what better time to revise the blog with some live updates from Walt Disney World itself. We are not there yet, but a trip is very close. It’s actually so close I can taste it. Well, maybe not taste it, but surely feel some butterflies in my tummy. In a couple of days we will be in Orlando and a couple of days later we will be at Walt Disney World. So what’s the plan! Live picture updates from the parks!!! Well, not 100% live of course. Updates will come at the evening, after we had fun in and around the Disney parks. So add us to your favorites and make sure to come and visit us a lot in the coming weeks and celebrate Christmas and New Year in Disney style.

Make sure to ad our twitter account and our facebook account to your favorites too

Star Tours II everywhere

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

There is a lot of Star Tours II write ups, photo reports and even onride videos on the web. Here is a short collection of some of the best on the web. On the Theme Park Review forum you’ll find a big collection of pictures from the opening celebration and the attraction. Some of the pictures are real fun, especially those about the baggage scanning. Some aliens and droids don’t know what can and can’t be in a travel bag.

Inside the Magic also has a great report about the grand opening event in Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios, including an awesome video from the ceremony including George Lucas appearance. Well worth watching.

There is a also great video online from the Disneyland attraction. You will get to see some of the queue area and fun things that happen there, but it also has 1 of the 54 different onride shows. Beware, big spoiler alert: you will get to see a full version taken with a camera pointed to the 3D screen but without being able to enjoy the 3D effects. If you don’t want to see the ride before your next visit don’t follow the links. If you can’t wait enjoy the video.

These are only three example of what you can find about the new Star Tours the Adventure Continues attraction.