Have you noticed any of these details in New Fantasyland?
We never get tired of walking through the Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland and being transported into the worlds of Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, and more. Part of the reason why this corner of the park is so immersive is due to Disney's attention to detail; but some details guests don't even notice! That's why we have rounded up a handful of secret details from New Fantasyland for today's post. Take a look!
Across from Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid is a carved statue of King Triton. Venture closer to discover these amazing sketches of King Triton and a hidden area you may not have known was there!
How cool is this water fountain? You can find it in the queue for Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid.
Across Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid and up above is a weather vane with a squid that may look familiar. It's the squid from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, whose attraction once called that space home.
This lock near the entrance of the Be Our Guest Restaurant looks a lot older than it actually is and doesn't the shape of it kind of resemble a Mickey?
Look up when inside the ladies restrooms at the Tangled Bathrooms to see items Rapunzel used in the opening number of the film, ranging from handmade candles to her guitar to, of course, her famous paints and paintbox!
Also in the bathroom are the stars and lights Rapunzel painted inside her tower!
Details are everywhere inside of the Be Our Guest Restaurant.
Storybook Circus' Big Top Treats is full of fun things to see and truly captures the circus theme!
If you've been inside of Princess Fairytale Hall, you know that even the light fixtures are fit for Disney royalty!
There are even details to be found on the ground in New Fantasyland! For example, elephant footprints, like these, or those of monkeys and bears are right under your own feet when walking through Storybook Circus.
Have you noticed any of these details in New Fantasyland?
One of the most common complaints you hear at Disney World is that it's crowded, particularly at the Magic Kingdom. While magical and timeless, the park can fill up and create problems and frustrations, especially during the peak summer seasons; and with summer now upon us, we thought it was time to share our secrets for How to Have a Crowd-Free Day at the Magic Kingdom. Read on!
A Crowd-Free First Hour
If you want to experience some of the park's best attractions without crowds, the trick is to arrive before rope-drop/park opening. It may seem like they are heavy crowds at the gate, but they quickly disperse throughout the massive park and that first hour offers wide, empty streets and short to non-existent lines! It also offers short lines for character meet and greets, plus Main Street Transportation, like the Main Street Trolley!
We were the only guests aboard the trolley and experienced a chauffeured, crowd-free drive up to Cinderella Castle! It was a great, relaxing way to start the morning.
Here's a look at Liberty Square within the first hour of park opening. This area will be one steady stream of people around lunch!
Secret #1: Start at the back of the park when you first arrive as other guests tend to ride whatever they see first at the front of the park.
Secret #2: In addition to the Main Street Trolley, there are other Main Street Vehicles too, including an old fashioned fire truck.
Secret #3: We suggest riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, Peter Pan's Flight, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh first; however, be sure to head to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train first!
It's everyone's dream... to have the Magic Kingdom all to themselves! Well, Walt Disney World is where dreams come true and you really can experience what it's like to have the most magical park of them all to yourself! Sort of.
So here's how it works... The Magic Kingdom usually opens at 9 a.m., with the exception of Early Magic Hours; but two Magic Kingdom restaurants, the Crystal Palace and Cinderella's Royal Table, accept breakfast reservations before 9 a.m.!
This means that if you have a reservation for one of these restaurants before the park opens, you can enter early and experience an empty Main Street and Hub on your way to check-in for your meal!
Now an early breakfast at the Crystal Palace is one of our family traditions. Once we arrive at the park, we check in at one of the far turnstiles where a Cast Member is waiting and will usher us inside!
So here it is! An empty Hub! There are usually a few other families who have reservations too; but for the most part, it's just you and yours.
Take a look at the early morning sun hitting off the side of the castle!
Wow! There are no heads or strollers in sight! These early mornings are the best time to get those classic pics in front of the castle, or a picture-perfect shot for your Christmas Card!
Fantasyland Cast Members came out to welcome guests into the park! How sweet!
We ventured up the walkways to get a close-up look of the castle! There's never a chance to just stop and study all the little details and angles during the day with crowds constantly coming and going; but when you have the park pretty much to yourself, you can take as much time, and as many pics, as you want!
We also took some time to appreciate the intricate tile murals inside the castle which tell the story of Cinderella.
People are always hurrying through this space, or someone is always standing in the way, but on this morning we took time to see each scene.
We always thought it was a little strange that the mural doesn't depict Disney's version of Cinderella, but the detail and artistry of these scenes is pretty incredible.
Look! It's completely empty! What a beautiful sight...
After fully exploring the castle, we headed back to the hub before checking in at the Crystal Palace.
However, if you're thinking about booking an early breakfast yourself, be warned that Cast Members keep any entrance to any of the themed lands roped off until 9 o'clock. This means you won't get on a ride earlier than the rest of the guests who didn't have an early reservation, but you can be first at the ropes so you can be first in line!
Also, you most likely won't finish your meal before the park opens, especially if you want to meet with the characters circulating at Crystal Palace and Cinderella Royal Table.
But for us, since we have been to the Crystal Palace several times before, we try to eat quick and even tell our server that we would like to finish before 9 o'clock, even that means we miss meeting with all the characters.
There were a few more people at the hub who also had reservations, and they were doing exactly what we were... getting some close-ups with Walt and Mickey!
The Partners Statues is always a popular place for photos and rarely can you ever get this close for a photo during the day!
We got some great pics with several of the smaller statues surrounding the hub, like those of Minnie, Donald, Pinocchio and Jiminy, and a few others. This is a chance you don't normally get once the gates are open!
As the clock ticked closer to opening, more people with reservations began to trickle into the park; but it was still relatively empty. But our time was up as our stomachs and our watches told us that it was time to check in at the Crystal Palace!
So this is how we experienced having the Magic Kingdom to ourselves and it's an experience that we strongly recommend you try if you can. Walking around the corner and seeing Cinderella Castle is always a magical moment, but it's even better when Main Street USA is empty and you are free to explore like it's all your own!
But don't wait! Those early reservations fill up quick and the earlier the time you can get the better!
Secret #1: Watch the Parade from the Left Side of the Stage
So why watch the parade from this side? I mean, it's not the ideal view, especially once the characters take to the stage, right? Wrong!
Now while a curb side view from Hollywood Boulevard offers those picture-perfect opportunities of the floats and characters and celebrities coming down the street, this viewpoint has some benefits and photo-ops you won't find anywhere else! Take a look!
If you're patient, the floats from the parade pass right in front of you!
Characters who are not riding in cars or floats walk right in front of you before taking to the stage!
Unfortunately, this is where the view of most of the characters ends; but not to worry, we have another secret....
Secret #2: Head Behind the Stage/Sorcerer's Hat
While the characters take the stage, Star Wars Weekends Celebrities are taken behind the stage/Sorcerer's Hat; and if you're in this area, you can get some great pics! I mean, this is Billy Dee Williams, otherwise known as Lando from the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi! Awesome, right?
And here he is again!
Here's Peter Mayhew, otherwise known as Chewbacca! Take a look at his cane... It's a lightsaber!
You can get another great view of Mickey back here too!
Secret #3: The Steps of the American Idol Experience
Some guests park on the steps of this show to watch the parade and festivities; and while some of the members of the parade march right in front of the steps, the Disney Star Wars Characters and Star Wars Weekends celebrities don't as they are directed to the stage.
Secret #4: The Gate
So one day during Star Wars Weekends, we are just walking by when Kit Fisto appears next to us!
Apparently, he was being escorted from a character spot to take a break. The best part? Cast Members weren't escorting him, as the usually do with most Disney Characters, but rather Clone Troopers!
Naturally, we followed them!
Kit Fisto and the Clone Troopers disappeared through this gate! These kids who were sitting here with their parents, just trying to cool off in the shade, had a pleasant surprise! The troopers really played it up too!
We thinking hanging out around this area would be a great way to get a pic of some of the characters, and maybe a cool character experience?
Secret #5: Roaming Characters
Designated Character Spots can be found all throughout the park during Star Wars Weekends, but the lines can be really really long! Want a pic without the wait? Head over to the Streets of America! While there are characters at the ends of long lines here, there are also Stormtroopers and Clone Troopers roaming about, pretending to patrol. You can grab a photo with these guys with next to no wait!
Waiting. That's probably the thing you will do most at WDW, and a good portion of the rest of your time will be spent trying to strategize how not to wait! That's why today we are sharing our Secrets to Shorter Wait Times at WDW; but remember to keep this between us, okay? It's a secret!
10.) Do not waste your FastPasses on shows! It's a rookie mistake, but a costly one. Disney theaters are massive and typically the only waiting you have to do is waiting for the previous show to end. Disney does offer FastPasses for shows, but you will probably end up next to the person who waited in standby. If a good seat is what you're after, arrive early and aim for seats in the middle and center of the theater.
9.) Fifteen to 20 Minute Wait = No Wait! While this isn't true for all Disney attractions, most wait time signs post 15 to 20 minutes to take into account of how long it takes to walk through the queue plus the video you have to sit through at some attractions. But technically, these wait times really mean no wait at all.
8.) Disney rides stay open right up to the minute the park closes. The lines are usually much shorter at night anyway, and are going to be even more so at closing since most guests are rushing towards the exit.
7.) Always arrive at Rope Drop. To experience the luxury of walking right onto an attraction with little to no wait, arrive a few minutes before the park opens. Guests tend to sleep in on vacation and so the first hour or two of park opening means very light crowds.
6.) Go left! While this secret isn't always true, attractions that have both a left and right line usually have less people flowing into the right and more to the left. It's a natural tendency for people to favor the right; and since people tend to follow the herd, the left lines are often shorter. Another example of this can be found inside of Tower of Terror. The loading area has two lines. One of the lines cuts to the right quickly, and appears to be a short cut to the elevators; however, the line that leads forward usually has less people and leads right to an elevator.
5.) Don't wait until later! Ride Space Mountain and Peter Pan in the morning. While other attractions have shorter lines in the evening, these two rarely do.
4.) If the line for an attraction is lining up outside when it has an indoor queue, don't ride! Get a FastPass for one of these attractions.
3.) Lines to meet Disney Characters can be worse than lines for rides! If you're after autographs and poses with your Disney favorites, here are a few alternatives: book a character meal for personal, individual time in air conditioning, arrive first thing in the morning at the Magic Kingdom to encounter many characters out and about, get a FP for Princess Fairy Tale Hall instead of waiting outside in a line to meet princesses, and check out the indoor courtyard at the Magic of Disney Animation for a variety of characters waiting to interact!
2.) When it comes to Hollywood Studios' Tower of Terror and Rock n' Rollercoaster, don't waste a FastPass on either of these unless the line is outdoors. Why? A FastPass for these attractions only expedites you into the line for the video just inside. Therefore, if there's no one outside and you have a FastPass, this means you're only a minute or two ahead of the standby line.
1.) When visiting the Magic Kingdom, start in the back and work your way forward. Many guests target their favorites or jump in the line of the first attraction they see. If you start at the back of the park, fewer guests will be around!
Apparently, everyone does love a good secret! After your response to our Walt Disney Secrets Part 1 and then Part 2, we decided to give you a Part 3! But as always, remember to keep these little hidden tidbits between us! Are you ready? Here we go!
10.) Character Palooza - We almost don't wait to post this secret because it's so awesome and still unknown to most guests, but we just can't resist! On nights when Fantasmic is being shown at Hollywood Studios, a mixture of characters appear on the Streets of America to meet and greet with guests! This event is not announced or advertised and can vary due by season and due to inclement weather. Also, you never know what characters will show up, but just to name a few that have made appearances include: Captain Hook, Belle, Jafar, Meeko, Pocahontas, and even Stitch!
9.) Resort Pin Trading Boards - Most Disney Resorts have a pin board kept behind the counter that they will let you see if you just ask! It's one of the best ways to do a little pin trading and few guests know about it!
8.) Grand Floridian Live Music - In the Grand Floridian's lobby, you can often find a big band performing period tunes such as "As Times Goes By" or some classic Disney tunes, such as "Beauty and the Beast," "A Whole New World," or "This is Love." If the band isn't playing, a pianist may be playing the grand piano on the lobby floor, and sometimes guests start dancing!
7.) Be Our Guest Statues - The creatures flanking the door to Be Our Guest are a combination of a goat and a lion! Therefore, Imagineers call them Golions!
6.) Epcot Pavement - At night, in Epcot's Future World, be sure to look down to see the seemingly magical twinkling sidewalks! It's a big hit with kids and is sure to charm you too!
5.) Watch a Parade While You Dine - Some of the windows at Tony's Restaurant on Main Street USA offer prime parade viewing if you get the right table at the right time! Also, the second floor of Yak and Yeti at Animal Kingdom offers a lofty view of the park's Jammin' Jungle Parade in the afternoon.
4.) Souvenir Licenses - While we can't guarantee it, many transportation operators around WDW have honorary licenses or trading cards to hand out. Just ask for one when riding the Monorail, a Disney Bus, a Ferry, or even the Liberty Belle Riverboat. They make great (rare) souvenirs!
3.) Free Refills - To save some cash, especially during the summer months, you can get free refills at self-serving drink refill stations at Sunshine Seasons, Be Our Guest, Electric Umbrella, Tortuga Tavern, the Backlot Express, and Restaurantosaurus!
2.) No Gum or Pepsi - When visiting WDW, there are two things that you will not find for sale: chewing gum and Pepsi. Why no chewing gum? Have you ever seen other theme parks, or even your local supermarket parking lot? There's gum everywhere and it really takes away from the clean, always opening day look that Disney offers. So if you want gum, you best bring your own. Secondly, Disney has a partnership with Coca-Cola, meaning that there is no Pepsi sold at the parks or resorts; and since we prefer Coke anyway, that's just fine with us!
1.) Pirates of the Caribbean & Splash Mountain are Neighbors - Yes, this is true! I know that when you're in the park, these two attractions are a pretty good distance apart; but behind the scenes, these two rides are right next door to on another as they both require and hold a lot of water! It's a whole new world behind the fences and doors! For example, the above picture (apart from the Cast Members and Bears) shows a path that leads to a backstage area where it's clear that Splash and Pirates are really close together!)
Did you know that Hollywood Studios and Epcot are next door neighbors? It's true! These two parks actually sandwich the Swan and Dolphin, Boardwalk, and Yacht and Beach Club Resort; and if you're staying at any of these resorts, the close access to two popular parks is a big perk!
Now our family always springs for the Park Hopper Ticket Option, meaning we tend to hop from park to park throughout our days at Disney; and while we can take a bus from Epcot to Hollywood Studios or vice versa, we tend to take this path which few guests know about!
Yes, there is a picturesque, lighted path that leads guests from one park to the next; and if you're weary of the long lines for the bus, would like to see some of the resorts on your way to the next park, or simply want to be in control of your time, this is a great option!
The path from Hollywood Studios to Epcot can be found running parallel to the parking lot, not near the friendship boat dock. Here's where the path begins with a friendly sign letting you know you're heading the right way!
One of the biggest treats in taking the path is getting a unique view of Hollywood Studios' Twilight Zone Tower of Terror! It's a lot bigger than you might think, isn't it?
The lighted path will take you past the Swan and Dolphin and then you have a choice! Do you take the path in front of the Boardwalk, or Yacht and Beach Club? We've taken both so here's a view of each, beginning with the Yacht and Beach Club!
This is just a glimpse of the resort's famous Stormalong Bay Pool! It's like a mini-water park with a shipwreck water slide, a lazy river, and a sand bottom pool. Plus, the scenery itself is just gorgeous and the perfect setting for a summer afternoon!
Here's a look at the other route, a walk around the Boardwalk! The shops and restaurants here are tempting, and the scenery itself looks like an old fashioned seaside post card! It's even prettier at night when the lights reflect off the water.
Once you've passed through the resorts, you will find a small entry into Epcot's World Showcase consisting of a few turnstiles and members of security. There's rarely ever a line or crowds, which is a great alternative when you've braved the masses at the park's front entrance! This entry is known as the International Gateway and offers a "backdoor" for Epcot Resort guests, but you can use it too! It's one of our favorite secrets and shortcuts around WDW!
Have you ever taken the path from Hollywood Studios to Epcot? Would you take advantage of this alternative transportation option in the future?
Crowds and Lines... Those are the two biggest complaints you hear at Walt Disney World; and while it's to be expected during most times of year, sometimes you just need a little retreat or hideaway from the masses and stimulation when visiting the parks, especially when you have kids in tow!
We personally have a few little corners scattered throughout WDW that we run to when we get a little crowd-weary; and today, we're going to share them with you! Check them out!
Are any of our secret retreats yours too?
Pixar Place Decor
Everyone loves a good secret! Right?Morocco Pavilion
Over the years, we have uncovered quite a few park secrets; and now, we're going to let you in on a few. (But just remember to keep this between us, okay?) Here we go!
11.) Muppet Fun-Besides the gags and humorous decor in the show queue, check out the store next door, right across from It's a Wonderful Shop Christmas store. Inside, the Muppet theme continues! Keep your eyes open for a sign from Rizzo and a "bull" horn. Literally!
2.) Seven Seas Lagoon Plan-Did you know that each of the resorts surrounding the Seven Seas Lagoon was supposed to reflect the lands of the Magic Kingdom? For example, the Grand Floridian reflected Main Street USA, the Contemporary reflected Tomorrowland, Wilderness Lodge reflected Frontierland, and the Polynesian reflected Adventureland! What about Fantasyland and Liberty Square? They never happened; but maybe the Cinderella Suite in the castle is for Fantasyland?
3. Pixar Place Décor-Anyone who has ever walked through Pixar Place at Hollywood Studios knows that the references to Toy Story are everywhere you look; but due to the crowds and the popular Toy Story Midway Mania, most guests miss some of the details, as well as a great little Pixar gift shop! One of our faves is the décor at Hey Howdy Hey Take-Away, where you can see some of the collectibles from Toy Story 2!
4.) Hidden Museum-Epcot's Morocco pavilion is somewhat of a maze and fun to explore; but there's a spot that most people miss! Morocco has a small, indoor museum. How to find it? If you see a door that's not marked for a Cast Member, open it! We retreated here during a rainy day at Epcot and there was no else inside.Art of Animation Resort
5.) Meet Lilo & Stitch-While you can meet Lilo and Stitch at the Polynesian's popular 'Ohana's, you can also catch this duo at Typhoon Lagoon! They don't always appear together, but oftentimes the lines are much shorter than what you find at the park and you don't have the hefty 'Ohana restaurant bill to deal with either! On our last trip, which was during a busy time of year, there was no wait AT ALL to meet with Lilo!
6.) The Toy Soldier-When visiting Epcot's United Kingdom pavilion, be sure to drop in the Toy Soldier store and head towards the back. It's decorated like Christopher Robin's bedroom and is a meet-and-greet for Winnie the Pooh and the gang!
7.) Rainy Day Character Meets-Is meeting characters on your to-do list? Here's a secret! When it rains, characters are usually taken inside a suitable, nearby building to continue meeting guests! One spot we can usually count on is the Magic of Disney Animation at Hollywood Studios. One day, we were waiting for the art class to begin at this attraction when we heard that it had begun to pour outside. A few moments later, characters came strolling inside! For one, it's cool seeing a character just walking around; and secondly, this spacious indoor spot, which was already featuring character meets, become a massive one-stop spot for meeting with our fuzzy friends!
8.) To-Go Items at Art of Animation-Even if you're not staying at the Art of Animation Resort, you should check it out during your vacation, especially if you have kids! While you're there, we suggest dropping by the food court to scan their to-go section which contains items that you usually don't see anywhere else, such as a cheese tray with chocolate covered strawberries, a four pack of cupcakes, and other such unique items you can take back to your resort with you!
9.) Carousel of Progress Robin-Supposedly, the robin you see in the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland is the same used in Mary Poppins!
10.) Pinocchio Village Haus View-Inside of this Fantasyland restaurant, you can watch the boats from "it's a small world" beginning their journey. It's a great spot to take kids for a meal as they will be entertained while you relax!
Everyone loves a good secret, right?
Over the years, we have uncovered quite a few park secrets; and now, we're going to let you in on a few. (But just remember to keep this between us, okay?) Here we go!
10.) Rope Drop Characters-If you can manage to get you and your family out of bed in order to enter the Magic Kingdom at rope drop, you may be rewarded with more characters to meet and greet with inside the park than at any other time! We know that the Mayor of Main Street and other Main Street Citizens can usually be found first thing in the morning, and we have encountered a few Disney characters in Fantasyland and Frontierland within the first hour that you may not find the rest of the day. So if you're looking to find characters, arrive early!
9.) Liberty Tree Tavern Décor-Liberty Tree Tavern is known for its home-style, traditional meals and colonial décor; but if you pay close attention, you may find that each room in the restaurant is themed after an important historical figure during the Revolutionary War Era! We recently dined in the John Paul Jones Room, the famous Patriot captain who said, "I have not yet begun to fight!"
8.) Extra Animal Kingdom Entrance-When approaching the Animal Kingdom entrance, look to the left and you will see a path leading to the Rainforest Café. If you cut through the gift shop, you will find a secret entrance into the park! The line is never long and it bypasses some of the bottlenecks you find just inside the main park entrance. It may come in handy when trying to beat the crowds to Expedition Everest!
7.) Tomorrowland Bridge-Looking for a spot to watch Wishes at the Magic Kingdom? In our opinion, you really can't beat the view on Main Street USA; but for a different experience, we recommend picking a spot on the Tomorrowland Bridge. Why? Look up! That wire directly overhead is the same wire that Tinkerbell flies down during the show. If you have any Tinkerbell fans in tow, this may be the perfect location to end your day at the park!
6.) Fantasyland Details-While it's easier to head to the Fantasyland attractions, we suggest taking some time to linger behind the castle to take in some magical details! Like what? We enjoy seeing Cinderella's Fountain, the dresses and décor inside Castle Couture, the window displays in Sir Mickeys and the literal giant peeking into the interior of the store, as well as some of the detailing on the back of Cinderella Castle!
5.) Epcot's Japan Pavilion Experiences-Japan offers great free
entertainment, especially at the massive Mitsukoshi store! Near the entrance, you may find Miyuki, an extremely talented candy artist whose work just has to be seen! Also, if you head on inside the store, you may get to take part in the Pick A Pearl experience! Once you purchase a pearl ticket, you get to pick which oyster you want out of a tank! A Cast Member, who performs a bit of Japanese etiquette during the experience, takes the oyster you selected, cuts it open, and reveals your pearl. The fun part is that you never know how big your pearl might be; and we have even heard that some guests have found two pearls in one oyster before! You can take your pearl home as is, or you can have it set at the store.
6.) The Chapeau-One of the first stores to the right on Main Street USA is known as The Chapeau. It's a great spot to browse the park's Mouse Ear selection; but one of our favorite things about it is the sign hanging outside. The sign is a beautiful pink hatbox that will probably look familiar to you. Why? It looks just like the hatbox featured in Disney's Lady and the Tramp! This little cinematic nod is a perfect fit for Main Street USA's Victorian theme. It's also a little homage to Walt, as the Lady and the Tramp scene was inspired off of an actual gesture from Walt to his wife, Lillian Disney.
4.) Typhoon Lagoon Board Room-Under the tipsy clock tower in front of the Typhoon Lagoon's Surf Pool is a beach shack known as the Board Room; but not that type of board, a surf board! This is where the Lagoona Gator lives; and inside, you can see some of his personal belongings, including his Mickey hat!
3.) Free Tours-Disney's Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge offer free tours! At Wilderness Lodge, you can explore the gorgeous lobby and learn about its historical items; and at Animal Kingdom, you can take a tour of some of their famous restaurants which feature African cuisine!
2.) Magical Experiences-Did you know that you could be the special guest to decorate the Christmas tree in Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe? If this interests you, arrive early and just ask! Or did you know that you can play the classic magnetic fishing game to fish for Disney trading pins at the Frontierland Trading Post? Also, if you ask well in advance, you may get the chance to be the flag family of the day at the Wilderness Lodge Resort and raise the flag on the resort roof! Finally, if you arrive early enough at the Magic Kingdom, you and your family may be selected as the family of the day to help open the park during the Rope Drop Ceremony!
1.) Rare Pins-Are you an avid pin collector? Drop by the Frontierland Trading post or the giant pin pavilion at Downtown Disney. Both stores offer some of the widest selection of pins at WDW; and at the latter, you can find pins from the Disney Cruise Line, professional sports teams, and all of the resorts!