A few weeks ago, we spent an early morning at the Magic Kingdom enjoying Adventureland! It's a family tradition for us to start our day with Adventureland, and it's also one of our favorite parts of the park with all of its classic attractions, history, and exotic details. Take a look!
A trip to Adventureland is never complete without a visit to Aloha Isle, home of the famous Dole Whip! On this morning, there was absolutely no one in line! Can you believe it? We should've probably bought ourselves one then as a few days later, when we dropped by for the afternoon, we waited nearly half an hour in line to satisfy our craving. I think they're just getting more and more popular all the time!
One of the trees growing near the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. Isn't it gorgeous? It may not feel like spring in many places around the country, but the season is in full bloom at Walt Disney World!
As we headed towards the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, we found the place almost deserted as the crowds hadn't reached this section of the park just yet. So we took advantage of the moment to hunt for the little jewels and pieces of broken tile embedded in the concrete, as there is supposed to be a Hidden Mickey in there somewhere. A few Cast Members noticed us and offered to help us find it! As you can see in the picture above, the Mickey is on a piece of jewelry!
Why hasn't Disney made another Aladdin attraction? There's so many other possibilities than just the flying carpets/Dumbo re-make!
Next, we headed over to Pirates of the Caribbean, which is always the first attraction we ride when we visit WDW. Fortunately, Captain Jack was out and about and entertaining a group of new recruits! Take a look at his expression! There are always a lot of shows and characters first thing in the morning at the Magic Kingdom, which is one of the many reasons we always try to arrive at rope drop.
We also had to swing by the Sunshine Tree Terrace to say hi to the Orange Bird! The new Tiki Tankards look pretty cool too. We may have to get one next time.
After watching Captain Jack, we headed into Tortuga Tavern. This counter service spot wasn't open yet, but we could still go inside and check out the little nods to the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Our favorite? The book containing the names of the crew for the Black Pearl and the Queen Anne's Revenge! It's pretty accurate to the films. If you look closely, you will see Will Turner, Cotton, and Cotton's Parrot's name written inside!
Another detail we noticed in Tortuga Tavern... Wasn't the blacksmith who Will works for in The Curse of the Black Pearl named Smith?
So even though this wasn't taken in Adventureland, Neverland is kind of like Adventureland and this Peter Pan crept up behind us, tapped us on the shoulder, and then ran away! Peter's definitely one of the best characters to interact with at the parks!
In celebration of the First Day of Spring, we have compiled a list of our favorite things from Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival! Take a look!
In addition to all of the displays, colorful flower beds, detailed topiaries, and more, there's plenty of little sights and details to enjoy too. After all, Disney is all about the details! We found this chair situated at a plant display which has been constructed out of a garden hose! Also, at the Germany pavilion, take a careful look at the little train village to find miniature Disney character topiaries, just as if the village was having their own festival.
6.) Topiaries to Take Home
Of all the vendors at the festival, our favorite has to be the shaped topiaries from Noah's Ark Topiaries, especially those shaped like Mickey!
5.) United Kingdom's Tea Cups
This is genius! These giant tea cup planters can be found at the United Kingdom pavilion and they contain teas and herbs which are actually used in different flavors of Twining's Tea.
Besides, how cute is the giant tea bag tag?
4.) Tinkerbell's Fairy Houses
One of the exhibits featured at Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival is Tinkerbell's Butterfly House, a tent containing all sorts of flowers and butterflies! It's a lot of fun to walk through, but one of our favorite things about this exhibit, apart from the butterflies, were the little fairy houses scattered throughout the flower beds. Aren't they cute?
3.) The Muppets Topiary
Every year the Flower and Garden Festival features a special topiary showcasing Disney's newest movie; and this year, with another Muppet movie coming to theaters, Disney has created an incredibly detailed display of Kermit and Miss Piggy! Now we are big fans of the Muppets, and we were glad to see them among the other Disney characters this year, but the detail and likeness that this display offers is pretty amazing!
2.) High Quality
Apparently Disney used new technology this year to create the most realistic topiary characters ever, and we think they definitely achieved their goal!
1.) Peter Pan Topiary
Our favorite topiary? It's got to be the Peter Pan topiary perched on a roof at the United Kingdom pavilion! After all, where else would you find Peter Pan? On the ground below, you can find Tick-Tock the Crocodile and Captain Hook, both of which look really great.
Afternoon showers are anything but unusual in Central Florida; but on occasion, it can really pour! So how do you enjoy the Disney magic when it's wet and dreary? We've got you covered!
What You Need: Those who have been to WDW before know that comfort is key; and when it's wet and dreary, there are a few extra things that should be thought of in order to keep you and any kids in tow comfortable.
First of all, you probably need a poncho. An umbrella is great for light showers; but we highly doubt you want to carry around a cumbersome umbrella all day, especially if you have little ones and a shopping bag or two. Plus, if it's a heavy rain, an umbrella isn't going to keep your clothes dry anyway. That's why we recommend getting a poncho for you and the kids which are available at most Disney gift shops. Although, it may be more cost efficient to purchase ponchos at your local grocerty store before you leave, as Disney's can be a little pricey. Your own ponchos will help you and the kids stand out, which is something very handy when you're in a crowd!
Secondly, we suggest wearing clothes that are made of a waterproof material, such as athletic shorts or light t-shirts or even water-resistant jackets. This way you will still stay dry and warm.
Now we have to talk about shoes. After all, shoes and aching feet are probably the most common complaints you will hear at WDW. While some guests are most comfortable in flip-flops, they are sure to be slipping and sliding in the rain; and some shoes can rub blisters when they get wet. Therefore, plan accordingly! You'll be glad you did!
What to Do: One of the pros to rainy days is that lines for some attractions are usually shorter! Also, many of the Magic Kingdom rides and shows are indoors or at least covered, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, The Enchanted Tiki Room, Country Bear Jamboree, Walt Disney World Railroad, Hall of Presidents, Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan's Flight, "it's a small world", Mickey's Philharmagic, Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales with Belle, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mad Tea Party, Space Mountain, Stitch's Great Escape, Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, WedWay PeopleMover, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress.
Other Rainy Day Activities:
Rainy Day Character Cavalcade- During some really wet and rainy days, when it's unsafe to put on the three o'clock parade, the Magic Kingdom puts on a "Rainy Day Character Cavalcade." This alternative parade features Cast Members dressed in rain boots and slickers as characters ride by on some of the Main Street Vehicles! Is it as great as the standard parade? Not really. However, it does add some magic to the dreary weather and shows that Disney will do what they can so that nothing stands in the way of a great, Disney day. Check out a video below!
Shopping - Most of the shops on Main Street USA are conveniently connected, meaning you can just move from shop to shop without ever venturing out into the weather! (We also use the connecting shops as an alternative to the crowded streets!) Anyway, a little bit of rain is a great excuse to do some souvenir shopping, and Main Street USA is one of the best places to do it.
Resorts - WDW resorts try to help out with the rain by providing towels for guests coming in out of the weather or with supplying games and activities in the lobby for kids!
So as you can see, you can still enjoy a magical day at the Magic Kingdom regardless of the weather! What's your favorite thing to do in a Disney downpour? Share with us!
Our Top 5 Favorite Things to Do at WDW This Summer
Around this time of year, we always start thinking about summer and sunshine; but with sub-zero temperatures and snow flurries all across the country this week, we are more than ready for summer than ever!
Since we've been daydreaming about summer, we decided to compile a list of our Top 5 Favorite Things to Do at WDW This Summer! Take a look!
5.) Star Wars Weekends
One of our favorite annual events has to be Star Wars Weekends! Every year, Hollywood Studios transforms into a galaxy far, far away with dozens of Star Wars characters, special parades, celebrity autograph sessions, a Jedi Training Academy, and the popular and incredible Hyperspace Hoopla show at sunset! It's the perfect kick-off to summer and something we can't wait to experience again!
4.) Dole Whip Float
There's nothing like enjoying a cold, sweet, creamy Dole Whip Float in the Florida sunshine as we stroll through the parks. It's the ultimate refreshment on a steamy, summer day!
3.) Swim in a Resort Pool
After a long, hot day in the parks, one of our favorite things is to head back to our resort and jump in the pool! We also enjoy heading to the pool for a refreshing swim at night, it's a great way to get relaxed before we turn in for the night. Walt Disney World has dozens of great pools, but one of our favorite pools has to be the sand bottom Stormalong Bay pool at the Beach Club, along with its shipwreck mast slide, or the Art of Animation's Big Blue Pool with its underwater speakers!
2.) Ride Splash Mountain
This attraction is the ultimate summertime ride with its laidback charm and big time thrills! It's always on our to-do list, but even more so in the summer when you want to get soaked!
1.) Visit a Disney Water Park
Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach? How do you decide? It's a tough call, but you really can't lose with either and a visit to one of these parks is a sure sign that summer has arrived. We love Blizzard Beach's slides and the melting ski lodge theme, but you just can't beat Typhoon Lagoon's wave pool! We are so ready for the smell of sunscreen, getting a tan, and bobbing on the waves in the sun. Is it summer yet?
Let's take a look back at Christmastime at Walt Disney World...
Our favorite Walt Disney World Christmas event has to be Hollywood Studios' Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Every year, the park's Streets of America are covered in layers of colorful lights which are all synchronized to some classic holiday tunes; and once the sun goes down, the lights come on for a dazzling, breathtaking display which never fails to sweep us up into the Christmas spirit!
So why is this festive event so high up on our holiday to-do list? Here are our Top 5 Reasons!
5. The Flip of the Switch-For us, it's a must to be on the Streets of America before it begins. Why? Seeing the display turn on for the first time and watching the streets transform is the coolest!
4. The Details-This event is more than just buildings covered with twinkling lights as lights are literally everywhere, even on the stoops and signs and phone booths! We have even seen a basketball goal tucked back in an alley covered in lights, the basketball included! Another one of our favorite details at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is the balconies off the buildings, as it looks as if the residents have carried their Christmas décor outdoors and you can see their different decorating styles.
3. Falling Snow-One of our favorite things at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom is the snow that floats down Main Street USA. The only other place where you can experience snow at the perfect holiday moment, all while in the middle of Florida, is during the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights! It's really the icing on the cake for this event, especially for the kids!
2. It's Free-Yes, this event is included with the cost of admission into the Hollywood Studios park. This is definitely a perk!
1. Family Friendly-Now, of course, pretty much everything at WDW is family friendly; but what we need by this is that it's perfect for everyone in the family! For example, everyone from toddlers to grandparents is sure to be enchanted by this illuminated wonderland. We also like the fact that we are not stuck behind a rope, but are free to roam through this event to see all the different buildings and displays lit up at our own pace.
So what is your favorite thing about Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights? Are you going to see it for yourself this season?
Walt Disney was known to be a proud American; and Walt Disney World celebrates his patriotism and our great country through many of it's attractions, décor, and live entertainment! So while you enjoy your vacation, you can also learn about and celebrate America in many ways!
Liberty Square-This Magic Kingdom land is dedicated to early, colonial America and makes you feel as if you have traveled back in time! Be sure to check out the Liberty Tree with 13 lanterns for the 13 colonies hanging from the branches, as well as the Liberty Bell, and the detailed, period-style architecture. Also be sure to notice the period music and the colors used in the landscaping!
Liberty Tree Tavern-This colonial themed restaurant found in Liberty Square offers American dishes with patriotic names, such as the Pilgrim's Feast, Declaration Salad, Martha Washington's cake, and the Liberty Lamb Stew!
Also, every room is themed after a Founding Father or famous patriot, such as Ben Franklin and Paul Revere! Which room will you get?
Hall of Presidents-This classic attraction is an amazing show featuring realistic audio-animatronics of all our presidents on one stage at one time. The tradition is for the current president's audio-animatronic to give a speech. This show shouldn't be missed by any American! Also, be sure to drop by a few minutes before the show starts to explore the exhibits and portraits of the presidents located just inside.
The American Adventure-One of my favorites, the American Adventure building represents early American architecture and houses an incredible, inspiring show showcasing moments of American history with beautifully, detailed sets and realistic audio-animatronics! No matter how many times you see this show, you will leave the theater with a sense of pride and patriotism! The whole pavilion outside offers plenty of American history to see and enjoy too, including the shop next door which sells plenty of Americana!
The Carousel of Progress-In Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom, the Carousel of Progress, which came directly from the mind of Walt Disney himself, is a rotating show which gives you glimpses of how technology and progress has improved the lives of a twentieth century American family! It's charming, nostalgic, and a wonderful lesson in U.S. History!
Casey's Corner-At the end of Main Street USA, across the street from the Plaza Restaurant, you will find Casey's Corner, a quick service restaurant with a vintage baseball theme that is about as American as you get! This little restaurant celebrates America's favorite pastime with favorites that you would find at any American ballpark, such as hot dogs, fries, Cracker Jacks, Coca-Colas, and more! (Their corndog nuggets are especially popular & delicious!) Take your ballpark fare to the next room and take a seat on the bleachers where you can watch old cartoons of Goofy attempting some classic American sports!
Main Street USA-The Magic Kingdom's entryway, known as Main Street USA, is an idyllic representation of a turn of the century, small American small town. Here, you can experience what life in simpler times was like. Explore the shops, watch a glass blower at work, hop aboard an old fashioned vehicle, or venture into the train station for some history on American trains!
Fife and Drum Corps-At Epcot's American Adventure pavilion, you may stumble upon a performance by the Fife and Drum Corps, a group dressed in colonial garb marching and playing instruments from the Revolutionary War period. We have seen them several times, and it truly takes you back to the crucial time in our history. If you are dining at the Liberty Inn, they may even come in and play for you!
Voices of Liberty-Just inside the American Adventure building, while you're waiting for the next show, you may witness a performance by the excellent a capella group, the Voices of Liberty! Dressed in period attire, they sing such American songs as "America the Beautiful," and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Don't miss them!
Frontierland-This Magic Kingdom land takes you back in time to the days where most of America was wilderness just waiting to be explored! Hop aboard a raft and explore Tom Sawyer's Island, experience the mining adventures of the Old West on Big Thunder Mountain, and browse the Trading Post and other shops lining the streets of this rustic corner of the park. The architecture, scenery, attractions, and even music set the stage for this period of our history, so be sure to notice the details!
Magic Kingdom's Flag Retreat Ceremony-Every day at 5 p.m. at the Main Street USA square in front of the entrance, the park holds a special flag retreat ceremony. The best part is that a veteran is chosen to participate and is given a certificate to commemorate the experience. Be sure to take a few minutes out of the hustle and bustle and magic to honor our country. You won't regret it!
Liberty Inn-This is a quick service restaurant at the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot, which can be found right next to the American Adventure show and displays early flags flown by the original colonies on the wall inside! The fare here is also very American with such items as cheeseburgers, New York Strip Steak, and apple pie!
Listen up, my fellow Star Wars fans! Today, we are going to give you a look at a Disney World activity that is both kid and geek friendly, the Droid Factory!
At WDW, you can actually build your own Star Wars droid action figure! Just like the popular Build Your Own Lightsaber stations, you can add your own personal touches to your toy, which is not only a great souvenir but also a fun experience, especially for kids and that wannabe Jedi in your family.
Since we are big Star Wars fans, we were eager to give this activity a try. We learned that there are actually two locations at Disney World where you can build your own droid. The first is inside Tatooine Traders at Hollywood Studios; but, as you might imagine, it's often crowded! The other location is inside Once Upon a Toy store at Downtown Disney.
The droid building stations consist of organized bins full of the pieces you can choose from to build your droid. The 71 different pieces come in different colors and designs, so feel free to mix and match; although, it can be a little difficult to attach the pieces. I would definitely recommend being present if your child is bent on building a droid.
The fun part is that you can also fit your customized droid with a fun accessory, ranging from ball caps to hats you find around WDW, Mouse Ears, and even an Indiana Jones hat!
Here are a few of our creations!
We actually made these droids at the station in Once Upon a Toy. Unlike Tatooine Traders, there was little to no wait and we didn't feel rushed. There was also a Build Your Own Lightsaber Station at this location too, like you would find at Hollywood Studios.
If you are interested in either of these activities, but don't want to fight the pressing crowds, definitely head over to Downtown Disney to partake. While the Star Wars theme and atmosphere is lacking, the lack of crowds and pressure is worth it, especially when you have young kids!
Once you've built your droid, you can have it packaged like a real authentic Star Wars action figure!
The price for your own customized droid is around $12, with a double pack ranging just under $20. Not sure if you want to purchase? No problem. There's no charge for playing around and building your own creation, and it's a lot of fun too!
View of Wishes from the Ferry
A must-do for any Disney World Vacation is a viewing of Wishes, the Magic Kingdom's magical fireworks display!
Wishes combines specially timed fireworks, a beautiful score, castle projections, and character's voices to tell a story about wishes coming true; and once you've seen it in the sky over the Magic Kingdom, you will be ruined on fireworks for life!
So deciding to see Wishes is really no decision at all; but what is, is where should you watch it?
The most common, and one of the best, is definitely on Main Street USA or at the Hub. The view is classic and perfect; but crowds and timing are often issues so many guests end up in the market for alternatives. Fortunately, we have a few for you!
New Fantasyland-Like we said, the view from Main Street or the Hub is classic and popular. Why? Because the fireworks are exploding over Cinderella Castle; but at the New Fantasyland, they explode over the Beast's and Prince Eric's castles! Plus, New Fantasyland is absolutely beautiful at night; and seeing fireworks overhead makes you feel like you're in a picture-perfect postcard!
Ferry to Magic Kingdom-We experienced this on our last trip by accident; but it's now one of our new favorite ways to watch fireworks! We were heading to the Magic Kingdom from Wilderness Lodge to catch the fireworks, but boat traffic on the Seven Seas Lagoon slowed us down and we ended up stuck in front of entrance. But surprisingly, this was not a bad thing! Watching the show from the water, with the lights of the park and Main Street Train Station as a backdrop was truly magical; and we got to enjoy it comfortably seated on our boat with a breeze to keep us perfectly cool! We definitely recommend it!
Monorail-It may be difficult to time this experience, and your view may vary along the route, but the Monorail is as iconic as the fireworks themselves; and getting a lofty view of this display as you make your way around the loop is pretty special! Plus, there's air conditioning and usually a place to sit!
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad-We discovered this experience by accident, but it's now one of our traditions! You see, many of the rides at the Magic Kingdom have shorter lines during Wishes, including this popular attraction, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We like to board this attraction during Wishes, as it is a long show, and then enjoy this wild, outdoor ride underneath the fireworks! You feel closer to the display as you ride; and the view, while it varies during the ride, is amazing. It's a sure way to create a magical Disney moment you won't forget!
Splash Mountain-It's true that a large part of this ride takes place indoors; but the outdoor scenes offer unique views of Wishes! Since this ride is also quite long, timing is required. If possible, it would be best to board when Wishes begins or shortly after. As you float through the outdoor scenes, you will be treated to views of the fireworks; but the best view is right before the trademark drop, where you get a bird's eye view of this part of the park. Just be sure to keep your eyes open!
Cinderella's Royal Table-While we have not experienced this for ourselves, it's on our to-do list! The windows of Cinderella's Royal Table look out over Fantasyland; and now, New Fantasyland and its castles! If you are seated near the windows, you're sure to be treated to a fairytale view of Wishes; and what a better way to watch than inside Cinderella Castle at your own table?
Magic Kingdom Deluxe Resorts-Many Disney guests recommend catching Wishes from the Magic Kingdom Deluxe Resorts, as they all offer their own views. The Grand Floridian boat dock is a popular viewing spot, as is the beach at the Polynesian which is located directly across the lake from the castle. Another favorite is at the Contemporary, which sits right next to the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland. There you can catch wishes from the observation decks or from their signature restaurant, the California Grill, which is situated at the top of the resort with a lofty view into the park!
Tomorrowland Bridge-Here you can get an angle view of the castle and fireworks while an illuminated Tinker Bell flies down right over your head! It's definitely a unique Wishes experience with a cool view of Tink's descent over the park!
Crystal Palace-We have actually had dinner at the Crystal Palace during Wishes; and this restaurant offers several views of the show. If you are fortunate enough to get a table near a window facing the castle, you can dine with Winnie the Pooh and the gang as you watch from the comfort of your table! If you happen to be seated elsewhere in the restaurant, you can get a small view of the fireworks through the glass panes in the ceiling, or head onto the porch for another view. Want to hear our secret spot? There's a small area near the Crystal Palace, along the rail, that offers a postcard view of the castle and rarely has crowds!
So those are our unique spots to view Wishes! Did you know about any of these? Do you have any unique spots of your own? Share with us!
Star Wars Weekends 2013 has now come and gone; but we were fortunate enough to catch the last week of this special event for this year this past weekend!
We are big Star Wars fans, as well as Disney fans, so Star Wars Weekends is pretty much a dream come true; and as the crowd levels and abundance of Star Wars inspired costumes and tees proved, we were not alone.
During our vacation, we dropped by Hollywood Studios shortly after park opening to catch some of the action. So here's a look back at our Star Wars Weekends Experience!
As soon as we passed through the turnstiles, we headed down Sunset Boulevard to Darth's Mall! This is pretty much the Star Wars Weekends headquarters containing event merchandise, special event pins, character spots, themed refreshments, and, most importantly, air conditioning!
You can find Darth's Mall between Rock n' Roller Coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It was pretty crowded, but the very well organized. We also picked up a special event pin, as is our tradition. We also checked out the life-size Rancor and saw that you could wait in line for a pic with Luke Skywalker.
Even though Darth's Mall is pretty much a giant tent, the Disney details can still be found here! Here's what we found above the registers when waiting in line to pay! The Mouse Ears bearing the Empire logo were a nice touch, as was the C-3PO head!
On the main event stage, located in front of the giant Sorcerer's Hat, Boba Fett was busy guarding Han Solo frozen in carbonite. As he paced the stage, he interacted with guests snapping pictures of him from below. He even commended a passing guest wearing a t-shirt of a Storm Trooper for being loyal to the Empire!
Designated photo spots could be found all throughout the park. The lines were long, but we managed to snap a quick pic of a Clone Trooper who was patrolling the Streets of America and humorously attempting to keeping guests in line!
The Legends of the Force Parade took place at 11 o'clock; and we grabbed a spot to the side of the stage. We discovered that this was a great spot as some characters came very close to where we stood, including the Star Wars Weekends Celebrities!
Here's the 501st Florida Garrison, a group of serious Star Wars fans who don impressive Star Wars costumes and do a lot of charity work while sharing their passion for the franchise. They are a big part of the parade, but unlike the Disney Star Wars Characters, and the Star Wars celebrities, they don't end up on the stage but pass on by in front of the American Idol Experience.
It's Billy Dee Williams, the actor who portrayed Lando Calrissian in the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi!
Here comes Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano in the Clone Wars Series and behind Her Universe Clothing Line.
This is R2-MK, a Disney Droid with Mouse Ears! We wanted to take him home!
As we were on our way back from getting FastPasses for Star Tours, we saw Kit Fisto and Mace Windu walking through the streets, guarded by several Clone Troopers! We followed them, of course, until they disappeared into a Backstage Area; but hey, it was pretty awesome looking up to see a Jedi walking next to you!
Now for a look at some Star Wars Weekends Merchandise! Here's one of our faves, a Thermal Detonator Hot Potato Game! How cool is this?
Best Star Wars Shirt. Ever.
And so true!
Now the only way to end your Star Wars Weekends Day is to catch the popular Hyperspace Hoopla on the main event stage in the evening; but as we had already seen it, we decided to skip a viewing this visit. But if you would like to see it for yourself, and we strongly encourage you to, check it out here!