Earlier this summer, we visited Walt Disney World to check out one of our favorite special events, Star Wars Weekends!
Now we know that Star Wars Weekends can fill up the park. It's probably not the best time to try to ride some of the parks best attractions, like Rock n' Roller Coaster or Toy Story Midway Mania or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
However, during our visit, we managed to ride all of the parks most popular attractions before lunch! How? A little bit generosity from our fellow Disney guests! So here's how we went big at Hollywood Studios during one of the busiest times of the year!
It all began on a Thursday, when we visited Hollywood Studios for a few hours to ride some favorites knowing that the crowds would be high on Friday. However, when we were in the loading area for Rock n' Roller Coaster, a big family favorite, the ride was suddenly shut down. But all was not lost!
As we were being led through a backstage exit, which was a pretty cool experience in itself, Cast Members handed out special Re-Entry FastPasses!
While this FastPass did have an expiration date, it wasn't until Saturday and allowed us to ride ANY time in between! Suddenly, the wait and missed ride on Rock n' Roller Coaster was totally worth it!
That brings us to our day at Star Wars Weekends...
That morning, as we were leaving our resort room at Port Orleans Riverside, we found three more Re-Entry FastPasses stuck in our door! The best was that these FastPasses were for Toy Story Midway Mania! I know, right?
Now we had Re-Entry FastPasses for Rock n' Roller Coaster and for one of the most popular attractions on property, Toy Story MIdway Mania, during one of the park's busiest times of year!
We arrived about twenty minutes after rope drop and as we were walking into the park, a family stopped us and gave us two more FastPasses for Rock n' Roller Coaster! They said they weren't going to use them and hoped that we could. Our new tally? Two sets of Re-Entry FastPasses, and yet another batch for Rock n' Roller Coaster. We are now in the double digits in our number of FastPasses! Needless to say, we were thrilled.
We immediately headed to Tower of Terror, with plans to go next door to use our FastPasses for Rock n' Roller Coaster afterwards. We knew that if we didn't ride ToT early, we probably wouldn't at all, and made it through the line surprisingly quickly. Really, a few drops on Tower of Terror is a great way to start the day!
Next, we headed back to Rock n' Roller Coaster, sped straight through the line, and enjoyed an adrenaline pumped ride with the family before hopping back on to use our other two that we were given that morning. Then, we began making our way over to Toy Story Midway Mania.
Of course, the line for this ride was already ridiculous; but our Re-Entry FastPass took us past the winding queue and right up to the Lincoln Log house where you pick up your 3-D glasses. From there, we joined the line; but the wait wasn't bad at all!
Seriously, Toy Story Midway Mania is so much fun and getting to compete against your family is blast, especially for the adults in tow. Take a look at our score in the picture to the left!
After riding these three, majorly popular attractions, we enjoyed some Star Wars Weekends characters and entertainment, as well as did a little shopping, all before lunch!
So that's how we had one of the best days Hollywood Studios during Star Wars Weekends, as well as a memory our family will never forget! But we really owe the generous families were willing to sprinkle a little extra pixie dust on our day. Even though they were not employed Cast Members, they were spreading some Disney magic.
So we encourage you to remember that you too can make a family's day while at Walt Disney World. If have FatPasses you're not going to use, given them to someone who will. Be kind to guests in line, smile and thank a Cast Member. Give and it shall be given unto you!
It is Day 4 of our Walt Disney World Vacation and sadly, our last day! We started off the day with a visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom.
We immediately headed to Asia to grab FastPasses for Expedition Everest and then went to Africa to check-in for our Tusker House breakfast! This was our first visit to Tusker House and we were excited to try it due to its popularity. Fortunately, we were pleased with the food, setting, and characters at this character meal; and we left full and satisifed!
Afterwards, we got FastPasses for Kilimanjaro Safaris before going to ride Expedition Everest! As always, Everest doesn't disappoint and we pretty much walked on with our FastPasses.
We then went back to Africa and rode the train to Rafiki's Planet Watch. We hadn't visited this part of Animal Kingdom in a number of years; and while we weren't blown away, it was fun seeing the veterinary portion of this exhibit and the Affection Section! We also got to see a Cast Member/Trainer demonstrating how she trained goats, and even offered some training tips!
When we went to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris, we were surprised to find that the return line was really long! We had never seen a FastPass line stretching outside the ride so we decided to give our FastPasses to another family later on once when leaving the park.
Adorable sheep at the Affection Section!
Animal Kingdom's giant Christmas Tree!
After we left Animal Kingdom, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom to finish up our shopping and to get a Dole Whip Float! It was so good! We also saw the band performing Christmas music on Main Street U.S.A.
Day 3 of our Disney World Vacation began early as my Disney Bro and I headed back to the Magic Kingdom at park opening. Since Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party was crowded the night before, and there was so much to see and do, we didn't get to enjoy some of our favorite attractions so we got up early to beat the masses!
After grabbing a quick breakfast at Wilderness Lodge's Roaring Fork, we hopped aboard the ferry to the Magic Kingdom! We arrived just a few minutes after rope drop and were able to walk on Peter Pan's Flight, "it's a small world," Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and Mickey's Philharmagic! We also saw the Dapper Dans aboard one of the Main Street U.S.A. vehicles singing to the guests!
After a busy morning at the Magic Kingdom, we met with the rest of our family for lunch at Columbia Harbor House; but needless to say we were kinda worn out!
After lunch, we headed to Downtown Disney for some Christmas shopping! I stopped by one of my favorite shops, Trend-D, and spotted this painting on the wall! I just had to snap a picture!
After shopping, we dropped by Baby Cakes Bakery at Downtown Disney to try one of their cupcakes. We heard that they are completely healthy without gluten, dairy, or sugar! Pictured above is one of their vanilla cupcakes. It didn't taste like a normal vanilla cupcake; but it wasn't bad either.
After a break at Wilderness Lodge, we went to Hollywood Studios to see the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights! We got there just in time to see the lights turn on and it was amazing! It also snowed!
Afterwards, we took the walking path from Hollywood Studios to Epcot for a dinner reservation at Les Chefs de France! The bread and soup are both delicious! Afterwards, full and exhausted, we decided to retreat back to Wilderness Lodge to catch a few winks before we make our way to Animal Kingdom tomorrow morning!
Check back tomorrow to hear about our day at Animal Kingdom and our breakfast at Tusker House!
It's day 2 of our Disney World Vacation! We kicked off the day with an early start at Disney's Hollywood Studios where we immediately grabbed FastPasses for our personal favorite, Rock n' Roller Coaster, and then rode Tower of Terror! We picked the left line because it appeared shorter and the drop sequences were excellent!
We also rode the new Star Tours and were treated to an encounter with Darth Vader, an adventure on Hoth, and then a run-in with Boba Fett in an asteroid field before zipping around the Death Star. Needless to say, it was an excellent ride!
After spending some more time at Hollywood Studios, we headed over to the Grand Floridian to take in the decorations and the huge gingerbread house. The decor, and the house, were spectacular; and I treated myself to a gingerbread Mickey dipped in chocolate; and my mom purchased a gingerbread ornament for a souvenir. It was a lot of fun and the air in the lobby smelled of gingerbread!
We then headed back to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party! It was a sold-out event; but we still grabbed a great spot for the parade and the special holiday Wishes! We also picked up a few tips for those of you planning to enjoy this event next year.
Take a look at the photos we took today below!
My Mickey gingerbread cookie from the Grand Floridian's gingerbread house!
A regal Cinderella during the parade!
Isn't she cute!
Check back tomorrow for another entry in our Royal Travel Log and more Disney pics!
We're here! We arrived at Walt Disney World at around 12:30 today and headed straight to our resort, Disney's Wilderness Lodge! Fortunately, our room was all ready and we were able to settle in and freshen up before we headed to the parks.
The weather was gorgeous! It was about 80 degrees and then it dropped to about 55 to 60 this evening.
As always, the lobby of Wilderness Lodge was breathtaking, and even more beautiful as it was decorated for the Christmas season! Just look at that Christmas tree!
After grabbing a snack at the Roaring Fork, we hopped aboard a ferry to the Contemporary with plans to ride the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom afterwards.
Most of Disney's Deluxe Resorts feature gingerbread holiday displays during this time of year, and the Contemporary has a giant gingerbread tree with classic Mary Blair flair. At this tree, you can also find mini-Contemporary gingerbread houses with chocolate monorails and gingerbread ornaments for sale!
Contemporary's Gingerbread Christmas Tree
After spending some time at the crowded Magic Kingdom, we hopped aboard the monorail for Epcot! We visited The Seas with Nemo and Friends because of the short wait; and while we were at this pavilion, we got to see two scuba divers in the tank with the fish and even the sharks!
The divers came up to the glass of the viewing area and even posed for pictures with some kids from inside the tank! It was really cool!
We then finished off the evening with dinner reservations at our favorite WDW restaurant, Le Cellier! As always, the food was AMAZING; and yes, I had the famous Filet Mignon with Mushroom Risotto and the Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup!
Check back tomorrow for another entry of our Royal Travel Log and our experiences at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!
Our final day of our vacation to Walt Disney World began with a visit to Hollywood Studios. Today was my parents anniversary, so my Disney Bro and I were exploring the parks together while they spent a leisurely day at the Magic Kingdom and Grand Floridian before having dinner at Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge.
After grabbing FastPasses for Rock n' Roller Coaster, my Disney Bro and I hopped on Star Tours for another ride through that galaxy far far away. This time we found ourselves in the middle of a battle involving Star Destroyers, on the Wookie planet Kashyyk, and then on a wild ride through Coruscant. Princess Leia sent us a message; and a wookie even slid down our windshield! Epic.
Next, my Disney Bro and I had reservations at one of his favorites, Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano. We usually have had good experiences here; but this time, we weren't too thrilled with the food.
Anyway, afterwards we went to ride Rock n' Roller Coaster and then Tower of Terror! On Tower of Terror, we had great Cast Members who really added to the experience. For example, the Cast Member who ushered us into the elevator really acted up the role as a creepy bellhop, which always makes the ride more fun.
We then headed to the giant Sorcerer's Hat to do a little pin shopping before hopping aboard a bus bound for the Grand Floridian to do a little more shopping. Our parents had already left the resort, so we picked up a small gift for each of them at the Grand Floridian which included spending some time at The Basin, a new favorite shopping destination!
With our purchases in hand, we headed to the Magic Kingdom for awhile. We were greeted by the Main Street U.S.A Band playing rousing numbers from Mary Poppins as we made our way towards Space Mountain for FastPasses. Afterwards, we enjoyed one of my favorites, the Carousel of Progress! I never get tired of this show and I enjoy the Disney history behind it.
Despite the fact that it was a crowded day at the Magic Kingdom, we got a few rare pictures at the hub with the "Partners" statue and the nearby smaller statues.
I got this pic with the statue of Minnie Mouse, as I have been a Minnie fan since birth and was wearing my Minnie shirt on this day.
We then made our way back to the monorail to head towards the Polynesian for our dinner reservations at Kona Cafe. I had never ate here before, but my fellow bloggers say it is truly a hidden gem! My Disney Bro and I really enjoyed the fresh bread and nut flavored butter we were served; and while both of us weren't crazy over our main courses, the dessert selection was fantastic! Our hostess even took us on a mini-tour of a long counter displaying desserts before seating us, a good sign in my book!
After much deliberation, I sprung for the Pineapple Upside Down Cake and wasn't disappointed!
My incredibly awesome Dole Whip Float!
We then headed back to the Magic Kingdom where we did a little more souvenir shopping and even visited the Country Bear Jamboree. I hadn't seen the show in several years and it was about to start, so we just went for it. To be honest, the show isn't great and my Disney Bro says the numbers the bears sing are so short that the show is really choppy and kind of confusing. While I agree, there is some sentimental charm to this show, as well as history, that I enjoy; and who doesn't like hearing Big Al sing "Blood on the Saddle?"
After the show, we met up with our parents who raved about their dinner at Artist Point. Their description had my mouth watering and I know that I have to visit that restaurant on our next trip! They especially recommended the Mac n' Cheese, Salmon, Steak, and Berry Cobbler and Blackberry Ice Cream! Sounds delicious, doesn't it?
We all headed towards Liberty Square where we did something we had never done. We had our portraits drawn by artists just outside the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe. We had an exeptional artist named Annie who did a wonderful job. Our portrait was definitely a great souvenir and family keepsake; and suprisingly, the experience was enjoyable!
Before cashing in our FastPasses for Space Mountain, I personally treated myself to a Dole Whip Float from Aloha Isle, the only way to have a Dole Whip. Believe me, I savored this treat!
Finally, we did end the day with a wild ride on Space Mountain. This was my second time riding it since it was refurbished; and to be honest, I miss the orginal. However, I got the first seat in the first rocket so this helped ease the pain a little; and it still is a wild ride! My Disney Bro and I both couldn't tell which way we were going and where we turn and dip next!
When we were leaving Tomorrowland, Wishes was lighting up the sky but we decided to leave to avoid a congested bus stop and due to our own exhaustion. Much to our surprise, Cast Members directed us through an Cast Member exit to exit the park! Weird, right? Us, along with other guests with the same idea, were treated to a behind the scenes look at the backside of Main Street U.S.A. and a Cast Member tunnel. We saw snack carts heading into a building for the night and an employee parking lot. While none of it was picturesque, it was still cool to see! Anyway, this path led us back to Main Street U.S.A, near the exit by the Train Station.
So this is our final entry in our Royal Travel Log until our next vacation. We had a great trip and made some great memories, as well as gathered some new pics and ideas for future blogs! Thanks for checking our daily reports!
We began day 5 of our Disney Vacation by heading to Epcot to grab some Fastpasses for Soarin'. It's one of our family's favorite rides! We also rode Living with the Land, one of my favorites, since it had a short line.
Afterwards, our family split up as the men in our family headed to Hollywood Studios via Epcot's International Gateway for lunch at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater and some Star Wars Weekends action while my Mom and I had some fun at the World Showcase on a surprisingly slow day for Epcot. There were very few people exploring the pavilions, not that we're complaining! We then made our way to Norway for lunch at Akershus, our mother-daughter tradition.
We like visiting Akershus because we enjoy the food, the atmosphere, and the characters. It's a great "girl" place to visit and make memories and we consider it one of the best character meals at WDW.
I had my usual favorite, mushroom stuffed pasta, but my Mom tried something new and really enjoyed it. She ordered the Salmon Burger with Cauliflower Soup, a side that our waitress highly recommended. Turns out she was right because the soup was creamy and absolutely delicious, as was the salmon burger!
The princesses were entertaining as always. Ariel wanted to know how long we had our human legs or if we were born human like her Prince Eric; and Cinderella asked us if we had left the princes at home today?
After our meal, we walked from Epcot over to Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort to explore a bit; and then we headed over to the Boardwalk for a cold drink and to relax in the Boardwalk Inn's lobby.
Disney Dad and Disney Bro met up with us here and Disney Dad suprised my Mom with a Disney Dooney and Bourke tote bag, as it was a day away from their anniversary!
Needless to day, it was a great afternoon!
We then made our way back into Epcot to ride Soarin'. This is one ride that I still find thrilling every time I ride it.
On our way towards Epcot's exit, I stopped in the Art of Disney store located next to Spaceship Earth. Our family are big fans of David E. Doss' Disney art work. We already ahve several prints at home; and his Disney inspired work is difficult to get outside of the parks.
One of my favorite pieces of his is the one featured on the right. I spotted it several trips ago; but only large paintings have been for sale and they're a little out of my price range. Fortunately, I found a few $25 prints behind several others in the shop! I was so exicited! I am looking forward to having it in my room.
We finished off a terrific day with an evening at the Magic Kingdom. We really enjoy walking through the Magic Kingdom at night and enjoying some park favorites in the dark for a whole new experience!
We had dinner at one of our favorite spots, Columbia Harbour House, before riding a few attractions and catching Wishes from Fantasyland. We also rode The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and checked out the new interactive queue, it really is cute and I like the direction Disney is going with their lines.
It was a great ending to a great day! Tomorrow we will be visiting Hollywood Studios and having dinner Kona Cafe while my parents spend their anniversary at Artist Point. Be sure to check out tomorrow's Royal Travel Log!
On Day 4 of our Walt Disney World vacation, we headed over to the Polynesian Resort for breakfast at 'Ohana! We were treated to a view of the castle across Seven Seas Lagoon while Mickey and Pluto, dressed Hawaiian style, along with Lilo and Stitch came to visit with us. Stitch was especially mischevious which made for a very entertaining morning!
The food was pretty good, especially the Pineapple Bread, Mickey waffles, and the Polynesian's special fruit juice! We also like that the food was served family style as opposed to a buffet. The food was fresh and we didn't have to get up!
After 'Ohana, we explored the Polynesian for awhile before resort hopping to a resort favorite, the Grand Floridian! We like to browse this resort's shops, as well as the resort grounds. Meanwhile, Disney Dad took a quick nap in one of his favorite Disney nap spots, the Grand Floridian's lobby.
We then headed to the Grand Floridian's bus stop to catch a bus to Animal Kingdom! Until today, the weather in Florida had been warm with a nice, continuous, cool breeze. However, today, this all came to an end. We made a Disney rookie mistake, visiting Animal Kingdom in the heat of the day, but we decided to persevere anyway.
We headed for Expedition Everest right away to get FastPasses before visiting the Flights of Wonder show at the Caravan Stage. This is one show that we haven't seen before and we really enjoyed it! It was great!
After exploring some of the trails around the Tree of Life, we visited It's Tough to be a Bug 3-D show. I'm not really sure what I think about this show. It used to scare me as a kid; and even now, it's pretty creepy. However, I know some adults who think it's great. I guess it just depends on the person; but I can't help wondering if this attraction should be on Disney's re-do list.
Anyway, after the show we made our way back towards Asia to ride a personal favorite, Expedition Everest. My Disney Bro and I were thrilled when we were given the front seats in the first train! Whoo! It was definitely cool experiencing this ride without any heads in our way.
We wanted to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris but the line was about 30 minutes. For those of you who don't know, this attraction's line is outdoors, although covered, and since we were really overheated already we decided to skip it. We also knew that the animals would probably be less active since it was in the middle of the day as opposed to first thing in the morning or in the evening.
Exhausted, we headed back to our room at Pop Century and slept about an hour and a half (we were really tired) before heading to our food court for dinner. Although we're not huge Pop Century fans, their food court is pretty decent and we never go hungry!
One way to revive one's self after a hard, hot day in the parks is a little Disney sugar, like a Mickey Mouse Rice Crispie Treat with chocolate ears. They're seriously therapeutic.
Tomorrow we're heading back to Epcot for lunch at Akershus, a ride on Soarin', and then to the Magic Kingdom in the evening. Check back tomorrow for another entry in our Royal Travel Log!
On our third day here at Walt Disney World, we headed to Blizzard Beach! After having some lunch at Lottawatta Lodge, we spent some time in the wave pool and floated for awhile on the lazy river before riding the ski lift to the top of the mountain. There we rode Teamboat Springs twice and raced against each other on toboggans before having a Mickey Premium Bar to revive us!
We also spotted Goofy here dressed in swim shorts, a life vest, and water shoes!
This park isn't for the faint at heart. The climb up and down the mountain and the lengthy walk around this massive park is exhausting! However, we had a blast and you can beat the theme and design here. Where else can you see snow drifts in central Florida and hear Christmas music in June?
After spending time at Blizzard Beach, we headed back to our room at Pop Century to rest! Later that day, we headed to Hollywood Studios to catch Star Tours Weekends' Hyperspace Hoopla!
Despite having arrived about 45 minutes before the show, there was hardly any space as they tape off a viewing area in front of the stage in front of the giant Sorcerer's Hat. We squeezed in behind some folks with our heels on the tape! Fortunately, once the show began, the mass of people crowded closer to the front of the stage and we actually ended up in the middle of the crowd as people pushed in behind us! We also discovered that the giant screen in front of the American Idol Experience was displaying the show giving a great view; however, we decided to stay where we were because we had worked so hard to get there.
Needless to stay, the show was awesome! We finished up the day visiting Jabba's Hut store, picking up a few souvenirs, and walking around the park and enjoying the cool temperatures and views at night!
Sorry we haven't been as prompt with our blogs. The internet here at Pop Century and my computer haven't been getting along; however, I did manage to get up yesterday's Royal Travel Log so check it out!
Homage to the original Star Tours found in the queue
Our second day of our 2011 Disney vacation started early with rope drop at Hollywood Studios. We had never witnessed rope drop at this park before so this was a new experience. Cast Members allowed us through the turnstiles about a quarter till nine where we then waited on Hollywood Boulevard, just shy of the corner of Sunset Boulevard.
Once the park opened, we rushed to Rock n' Roller Coaster where we pretty much walked on; and then to Tower of Terror, a must-do for our family. We then made our way towards the new Star Tours; however, there was already a 45 minute wait posted and crowds were lined up way outside the attraction! Fortunately, the FastPass resturn time was only an hour so we returned then. We are pleased to announce that the new version is great! My Disney Bro and I both agreed that the Imagineer's did a great job in pleasing both old fans and a new generation. Our ride experience included a run-in with Darth Vader, a pod race on Tatooine, a visit from Yoda, and finally a wild ride through Coruscant! Our Cast Member who ushered us aboard was also the fantastic TJ from Tower of Terror. We almost didn't recognize him since he's usually dressed as a bellhop and is trying to be creepy!
My Disney Bro's Chocolate Mousse (Moose) Dessert!
We then left Hollywood Studios and took a friendship boat to Epcot. We had a great captain who told us Disney trivia and a few jokes. We then hung out at World Showcase again, especially since Soarin' had an 85 minute wait and was out of FastPasses, before checking in a Le Cellier for our 2 o'clock reservation! This was our second visit to Le Cellier; and let me say, it was fantastic! This restaurant is one of the reasons why I will never be able to become a vegetarian. Everything was totally delicious from the pretzel bread to the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup to my Filet Mignon with Mushroom Risotto to the creamy, Maple Creme Brulee!
Disney Dad, me, and my Disney Bro at World Showcase
We did a little more browing and souvenir shopping, including a visit to Japan's massive Mitsukoshi store where we watched guests picking an oyster and a terrific Cast Member retrieving it and its pearl from inside a tank. We had read about this but hadn't seen it; and it was like a small show. I recommend future guests to definitely check it out.
Afterwards, we returned to our room at Pop Century for a rest before heading to the Magic Kingdom later that night. We were excited that we got last minute reservations for dinner at the Crystal Palace via internet before we left our room for 9:50 pm! We explored Magic Kingdom for awhile, riding both the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean before checking in and enjoying a dinner buffet with Winnie the Pooh and friends.
After dinner, we walked outside the restaurant and watched Disney's new show, The Magic, the Memories, and You, projected on the castle! It was awesome and our whole family was impressed. They had already shown this show earlier that night, along with the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes; but since the park didn't close until midnight, we got to see it with less crowds. The weather has also been very nice for June, especially at night, so this was definitely the best time to enjoy the park and its entertainment.
Crystal Palace at night!
We then went to Fantasyland where we rode "it's a small world" with only a 5 minute wait, and then Frontierland to ride Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. While we were riding Splash Mountain, the park was performing the Main Street Electrical Parade again and the view of the floats passing through Frontierland and a glowing castle in the distance was beautiful! Next, we boarded Big Thunder Mountain, a ride that we don't care for much during the day but is a favorite a night because you can't see where you're going! We ended up staying in the park until midnight when it closed and we are proud to say that we both opened and closed parks today!