June 2015: Day 3 Magic Kingdon & Epcot

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For me and hubs, Magic Kingdom and Epcot are like peanut butter and jelly. Both awesome on their own, but put ’em together and BOOM! – a perfect pairing.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, Epcot is my husbands favorite park. I love Magic Kingdom and Epcot pretty equally, but for separate reasons. Magic Kingdom is nostalgic, full of wonderful aromas and attractions. Epcot offers adventure and excellent and abundant dining. Conveniently linked by the monorail, getting from one park to the other is easy and enjoyable. Going to both parks in one day also saves us the “argument” of which park to visit first on our trip.

So on our third day, the alarm buzzed at 6:30, we each grabbed a quick shower, enjoyed apple with almond butter and granola on the balcony, and were on our way to Contemporary Grounds for depth chargers by 7:00ish. We walked over to MK and passed through security and the turnstiles just as the opening show was wrapping up.

We walked straight back to Fantasyland and walked on to the virtually empty “Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid.” Our luck continued when we were able to walk onto “its a small world.” Next we went across to Peter Pan’s Flight. The standby queue was 35 minutes, which for Peter Pan, isn’t bad. Disney recently redid the standby queue to feel like you walk through the Darlings’ house. I CAN NOT rave about this enough! It is so awesome! If you spot Peter Pan’s Flight with a 30ish minute standby – go! You’ll enjoy your time in the queue as much – if not more – than the attraction itself. Post Peter Pan our streak continued with no wait into Mickey’s PhilarMagic and finding a 15 minute wait at The Haunted Mansion. (This kind of morning is why I think waking up early and taking advantage of early hours is the way to go.)

Leaving Haunted Mansion we stopped off at Sleepy Hollow and split a waffle filled with Nutella and fruit. So good. With our bellies full we headed back to Adventureland and walked right into the Enchanted Tiki Room.

At this point, though we were clearly on a roll, we decided to walk back to Bay Lake Tower for a break. We didn’t have any Fastpass+ reservations until later and our dinner reservations were fairly late at Epcot, so we thought breaking earlier in the day made sense. After returning to Bay Lake Tower, we both worked out (the Contemporary has a small, but awesome gym), we showered and went to the Contemporary’s Contempo Cafe for lunch. We got on the Monorail and were on our way back to MK to use our FastPass+ reservations for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. Next we spun ourselves silly in a teacup at Mad Tea Party and then cooled off with this delicious raspberry lemonade slush from the neighboring Cheshire Cafe. We did a little people watching at the Casey Jr. Splash n’ Soak Station outside of Dumbo while we waited for our final FastPass+ reservation at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. We’ve only experienced this attraction a couple of times, but it really is fun and adorable. I will say this about it: I spotted a lot of hats and a couple cell phones lost from the ride. Stash ’em away people. Think of how silly (furious) you’re going to feel to be out your iphone because you wanted a selfie.

At this point we felt like we’d had a really great first day at MK and so we hopped the Monorail over to Epcot to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening.

After passing through the gates, we had planned to head directly to the World Showcase to spend the evening, but Spaceship Earth had very small standby time that we couldn’t resist. After a glimpse at our future we ambled to the World Showcase to roam and kicked off with a beer in Germany. Prost!

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We had dinner reservations at Via Napoli in Italy. This was our first visit to Via Napoli and we loved it! Everything was delicious and the ambience is light and airy. It was simultaneously a cozy spot for a romantic dinner and a relaxed family environment. We would definitely dine there again, and I don’t hesitate in recommending it.

Post dinner we felt full and content, and decided to head home to Bay Lake Tower for a little swim and balcony relaxing. We caught a beautiful sunset on the way back that was the beautiful cap on a beautiful day.

 

 

The Magic Kingdom “Can’t Miss” List

Sometimes, when we are in the car, Hubs and I play a game where we propose hypothetical scenarios and we ask the other to respond. Usually it goes something like this:

Husband: “We’ve just arrived at Disney World! Where are we going first?”
Me: “Hmmmm… I’m feeling Epcot today.”
Husband: “Excellent selection. What is the first thing we are going to do?”
Me: “Straight up classic – Spaceship Earth.”

The answers vary depending on our mood. Often the answers involve Epcot or Magic Kingdom. Probably 95% of the time often.

Epcot DayIn my last post I discussed finding a perfect WDW vacation balance. For me, that involves my favorites mixed with unfamiliar delights and some relaxation. It’s hard to fit in all of the attractions, in every park during one vacation. So how do you choose? What you decided to do will depend on your time, interests, if you’re traveling with kids, weather, FastPasses, etc.

I started my “can’t miss” Walt Disney World attraction list. It’s kinda long… What can I say? I have a lot of favorites. So I’ve broken it down by park starting with Magic Kingdom. The list includes attractions, snacks and quick service food. (Table Service dining is excluded because they can act as whole blog posts.) I’ve given a brief note about why each has made the list. Attractions with an asterisks are super favorites. Since I totally made that up, I’ll qualify it with a definition:

Super favorite, noun, a Walt Disney World attraction/food that can not be missed on a park visit and will mostly likely be visited multiple times during a trip.

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The Walt Disney World Blog 2015 “Can’t Miss” Attraction List:

Magic Kingdom

(By land) Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, New Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Main Street USA

  • Pirates of the Caribbean * – Set sail with the pirates? Yes, please. This is usually our first Magic Kingdom stop. And that brings us too….
  • Aloha Isle – Dole whip? Yes, yes, and yes again. I like my pineapple, in a cup, no juice please. Whip is perfect on its own.
  • Jungle Cruise – It’s corny and classic. There is nothing fast or feverish about this attraction, but it makes us chuckle. 
  • Enchanted Tiki Room – The audio-animatroics for the Disneyland version of this attraction were among the first that Disney designed. There is a simulated thunderstorm in the middle of this attraction and when I was a little girl I was never quite sure if it was real or not. Once we exited the theater and I saw the hot, dry pavement I knew it wasn’t real.
  • Tortuga Tavern Code of ConductTortuga Tavern – Tasty Mexican food such as taco salads and burritos with a pirate theme. There is even a code of conduct written in pirate speak. Arr!
  • Splash Mountain * – Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Bear, and Br’er Fox make this log ride full of charm. This ride is over 10 minutes long, making it one of the longest in Magic Kingdom.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad * – The wildest ride in the wilderness is a family favorite. We like to ride it during the day and then again at night where it takes on a new feel.
  • Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe – Awesome taco salads and burgers,
  • Haunted Mansion * Delightfully creepy any time of the year. Hubs and I always find this a fun one to day late on Extra Magic Hour nights at MK.
  • it’s a small world – I won’t lie, this one does not make my husband’s “can’t miss” list. In fact, it’s more on his “I really don’t like it, but I’ll go once to make my wife happy.” But I like it. I love the costumes and I do not find the song irritating in the least.
  • Peter Pan’s Flight – A brand new interactive queue was just introduced to this attraction. The standby time is often long for this ride so it’s a good one to FastPass. Peter Pan is one of my favorite Disney movies and this is like flying through the film.
  • Mickey’s Philarmagic * – I love everything about Mickey’s Philarmagic. It blends Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy seamlessly with scenes from Disney films like The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Alladin, and Beauty and the Beast.
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – I think this ride is adorable. Everything from the queue of Whinnie the Pooh book pages to the little hunny pot you ride in to the part where your hunny pot bounces like Tigger. This is a must for little ones.
  • Mad Tea Party * – I love to spin, so this is a winner for me. Bring on the twirling! My mom does NOT feel that way. She won’t go anywhere near this ride. Ever. I’m sure she’s not alone. If spinning of whirling motion is not your thing, watch and wave while other go ’round.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – I have only been on this new attraction once. On our last trip this ride had just opened and they were clearly still working out issues. On two different days during our trip the ride was closed for hours. We were pretty annoyed. Our first impressions of the ride itself were positive, though the ride seemed as though it was over in a flash. I hope we get a chance to experience it a couple of times this summer so we can really get a sense of it.
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid – The queue for this ride is gorgeous. Actually, the castle and everything from the exterior is stunning as well. We only had the chance to ride this once on our last trip, and that was our first time. Overall, I found this ride disappointing. I think it was the style of the audio-animatronics. I do remember being distinctly impressed by the Ursala portion of the ride. I told my husband that it would’ve spooked the pants off of me as a little girl. But I love the queue, and I love the little mermaid. So this gets a second chance this June.
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant – The re-imagining of this attraction was brilliant. I love the entire set up and all of the themeing and detailing that Disney does so well. And the splash zone they set up? Love at first sight.
  • Space Mountain * – This was one of my first roller coaster experiences. I loved it then and I love it now. This coaster rattles and it’s a little rough compared to so many coasters now, but I think that’s fun. Add space sound effects and subtract the light to imitate space and you’ve got a great ride.
  • Carousel of Progress This was one of Walt Disney’s original attractions. It’s vintage but a classic for me. 
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover * – Just kick back and relax for a few on this one. There is nothing crazy about this ride. But, it’s just a opportunity to unwind and take in some great Magic Kingdom views from an elevated perspective.
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – Buzz Lightyear has enlisted your help! Climb aboard and aid him in defeating the evil Emperor Zurg with your marksman skills.
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor  – If you like a good chuckle don’t miss this one with the Monsters, Inc. gang. This attraction is audience interactive, which gives it a new twist every time you visit. If you have a favorite joke you can even text it in and it may appear in the show.
  • Walt Disney World Railroad  This is great for traveling from Frontierland to Main Street or to get to Fantasyland from either of those two. We like to just get on and ride the full loop. It’s fun and a good way to relax.
  • Casey’s Corner – So this is a little funny. In my day to day life I don’t eat much meat. Irregardless, I LOVE hot dogs. Piping hot with ketchup only please. (And maybe a small sprinkling of raw onions.) Casey’s Corner brings you some awesome hot dogs with a baseball theme. Yum. Oh, and often there is a ragtime piano player on the porch. Need I say more?

Cinderella Castle Close up

WTDW – Splash Mountain

Splash MountainDear friends, today I would like to tell you a about a girl, rapidly approaching 30, who loves Walt Disney World. She also simply adores Florida, with its plentiful year-round sunshine, palm trees, citrus fruits, and soft, sandy beaches that reach out to turquoise waters. Most of all, she loves Florida’s warm climate. This particular girl HATES the cold. It makes her nose run, and it traps her inside for long periods of time, interfering with her running schedule. And generally, the short freezing days that lack sunshine make her grumpy.

This particular winter is being very tough on said girl. The temperatures have been exceptionally low, with plenty of snow to go around. This morning the girl awoke to a fresh 5 inches of powder – that while beautiful, left her toes numb and mood as gray as the sky.

IMG_2739Retreating to her cozy office, the girl turned her thoughts to Disney World in an effort to cheer her winter gloom. Before long she was imagining herself strolling down Main Street, U.S.A. deciding which attraction to visit first. Determined to be in a better mood, the girl decides to take her imaginary self to Splash Mountain in Frontierland. A great choice! Before long she is singing a snippet of the ride music to herself:

“Everybody’s got a laughing place, A laughing place to go-oh-oh! Take a frown, turn it upside down, And you’ll find yours we know -oh-oh!”

DSCF0370Sage advice, no? This log-flume style attraction follows the tale of Br’er Rabbit who ventures from home and meets Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear, who have grand ideas of roasting Br’er Rabbit. With a bit of cunning, Br’er Rabbit tricks Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear into letting him loose and throwing him into the briar patch. As the story goes, Br’er Rabbit is able to maneuver through the briar patch, while the larger Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear are entangled in the painful thorns, barely escaping the briar patch’s Br’er Gator. As the ride wraps up, Br’er Rabbit is happily back at home and  it’s a “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Day.”

DSC05287The Splash Mountain storyline and music is derived from Disney’s 1946 film Song of the South, where Disney first interpreted the famous Uncle Reemus stories of Br’er Rabbit.

One of the great things about Splash Mountain is that the ride is nearly 11 minutes long. Through those 11 minutes is wonderful balance of story, scenery, music, and ride that includes 3 dips and one large 5 story drop where you appear as though you are plunging into the briar patch.DSCF0371The view from atop before you slide down into the briar patch is lovely. It’s always fun to get a bit of a high vantage point at WDW.

DSCF0363Being a log flume style attraction you may certainly get a little wet – which on many days at Magic Kingdom is a welcome thing. Riders in the front of the log are at higher risk of taking on more water than riders in the back. I have never been completely, totally soaked to a point of unpleasantness on this ride.

Riders must be 40″ tall to board, and generally I find Splash Mountain to be quite kid friendly. But as always, use your own judgement if you have a kiddo who is height/drop nervous.

TIP*  This attraction is popular and the queue can get very lengthy in the afternoon. My advice is to use a FASTPASS+ for this attraction or visit in the morning to avoid a long line. If you do find yourself in a situation where the standby entrance is lengthy and you’re out of FASTPASS+ don’t worry too much about it. The queue line is pretty well shaded and pleasantly scenic – a great way to spend time with family or friends.

Splash Mountain is the perfect spot to cool off a bit on a warm, sunny Florida day and lift your mood if you’re in the need of a pick-me-up like this girl today. But if you’re in Disney World, chances are your mood is more than fine, and you’ll simply just join in the merriment.

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-Ay. My, oh my, what a wonderful day…

DIY Jingle Cruise Christmas

Jingle Cruise SceneJingle all the way….

Jingle CruiseAwhile back Disney announced that for the first time they were turning the Jungle Cruise into the Jingle Cruise for the holiday season! This is the first time that Disney converted an attraction (temporarily) at Walt Disney World for a holiday season. I absolutely fell in love with the poster they created to announce and promote the Jingle Cruise transformation. How cute are the hippo and the elephant with their little Santa hats?? As it so happened, later that day I was in my local craft store to pick up some oil paints. I love to just mill around, exploring all of the zillions of possibilities for creation. I got to the value section/aisle of the store where stacked bins are piled high with items that range from $1 – $3. And what do my wandering eyes find? Plastic farm and jungle animals! In the $1 bin! Get out! And they’re fairly cool looking – not scary and creepy. So the wheels quickly start turning… I should make my own Jingle Cruise scene!!

IMG_2592IMG_2593There were more farm animals than jungle animals in the bin, but I ended up with a trio of a zebra, a hippo, and an elephant. There was also a lion available – but he was pretty odd looking so I left him behind. I grabbed a 33¢ piece of red felt, and knowing I had some cotton balls and cotton swabs at home, headed to the register to make my purchase.

Once home I started to plan. I wanted to make little Santa hats like the hippo and elephant are wearing in the poster, but I also wanted some variety. I decided to give Zebra a scarf around his long neck for the sake of variation. That also worked out nicely since his head is a lot smaller, and his ears are cute. So with supplies at hand, I was ready to work.

IMG_2594I decided to make the Santa hats first.

Step 1: I cut a corner off of the red felt piece and rolled it into a cone, trying its size on my elephant first. Once I had decided the size right, I started to glue. As you can see in the picture above, I got out my tacky glue hoping that would be perfect for the job. It wasn’t. All it gave me was a glue-felt mess that wouldn’t stay together. Ugh. But that’s OK. I have plenty of tools in my arsenal. Out comes the hot glue gun. I cut another corner and refitted while my trusty hot glue gun heated up. Attempt two – SUCCESS! Hot glue was the way to go. Should’ve know.

Step 2: I pulled the tip of a cotton swab off and glued it to the top.

IMG_2595IMG_2596Step 3: I pulled a small piece off of a cotton ball. To my surprise, the segment came off as shown to the left. I simply widened the hole a bit, gently, with my fingers and then fitted it onto the bottom of my little felt hat and hot-glued it into place.

This hat was tall, which was fine. I wanted it to flop over, they way Santa’s hat does when he wears it, so I folded it and put some hot glue in the crease to help it stay how I liked it.

Step 4: Repeat. I made a second hat for my hippo, but this time I made the hat shorter, so it would stand upright without being too tall. This gave me a bit more variety and gave the hippo some quirkiness. Hippo strikes me as a quirky kinda guy.

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Step 5: Make the zebra scarf. This was ridiculously easy. I cut a long, thin strip of felt and tied it around the zebra’s neck to check the length. Perfect. Taking it off again I cut fringe on both ends of the felt piece. I retied it around Zebra’s neck and gave the knot a quick dot of glue so everything would stay in place.

And that’s it! I glued the hats onto Hippo and Elephant, so the jungle breeze won’t blow them away. I spent $3.33 on the animals and the felt all together. And it probably took me about an hour to make everything. Not bad at all for a little fun, quirky Disney World inspired Christmas decorating.

Step 6: Stage and enjoy!

Jingle Animals on White

Christmas time is here!

MK Tables Christmas DecorChristmas day is only TWO WEEKS AWAY! Our tree is up and decorated, the stockings are hung, our front door boasts a wreath, and lights trim the house, inside and out, giving a delightful, warming glow to the night. Now, if only the last of our gifts were purchased and wrapped… There’s still time though!

chocolate carousel 2white horsechocolate carouselLast week we talked about how elaborately Disney decorates for Christmas, from 65 foot tall trees to constructing carousels of gingerbread and chocolate. Yum. While you can spend many hours just enjoying the decorations in the resort hotels as well as the parks, Disney offers special events that give that extra touch of holiday magic. We delved into a couple of those already last week, including The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Jingle Jungle Parade at Animal Kingdom. But perhaps the two largest special Christmas events are Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom and the Candlelight Processional at Epcot.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party happens at the Magic Kingdom on select nights, beginning at 7:00 PM, running until midnight. This is a special ticketed event, so there is an additional cost to attend this event. The tickets averages about $65 a piece, which is certainly not by any means cheap. But a lot happens during the party, and I think it’s a great special occasion treat. For those of you who followed along with Mickey’s Not So Scarey Halloween Party back in the fall, you’ll find the set-up of Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party familiar. So what goes on during the pricey, festive 5 hours? Lots of special entertainment and tasty treats. Here’s a Mickey’s Very Merry rundown:

  • Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas Parade: The parade features all of your favorite Disney characters, joined by elves, gingerbread men, and the like with plenty of festive music and lights. Santa even joins in! The parade runs twice during the party, usually at 8:15 and 10:30. Tip** The second showing of the parade is often less crowded.
  • Holiday Wishes: Wishes is Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks spectacular over Cinderella Castle. During Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party the fireworks take on a holiday flare with holiday music and colors with amazing fireworks.
  • Celebrate the Magic: Cinderella Castle is lit, bringing well loved Disney stories to life with a holiday touch.
  • Totally Tomorrowland Christmas: This fun show takes place in Tomorrowland featuring Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wizowski, and Stitch with plenty of music and dancing.
  • Celebrate the Season Show: Mickey and his pals gather to give gifts, and present their own special version of The Nutcracker.
  • Character Dance Party
  • Holiday Treats: There is plenty of complimentary hot chocolate and cookies to be had around Magic Kingdom Your taste buds will dance with these sweet delights. Also, Sleepy Hollow offers seasonally flavored waffles, Main Street Bakery has Mocha cocoa cupcakes, and Westward Ho tempts you with a peppermint brownies.

Christmas Cinderella CastleIn addition to the list above, there is a magical snowfall on Main Street U.S.A. and opportunities for character meet and greets all throughout Magic Kingdom. You can also visit your favorite attractions. Be sure not to miss the seasonal Jingle Cruise that has taken over the Jungle Cruise for the first time this holiday season.

Epcot celebrates the season with the Candlelight Processional. This music filled event happens nightly at the American Gardens Theater in the World Showcase. Each night the story of Christmas is read by a celebrity narrator, interspersed with music from a full orchestra and choir. In addition to the candle-bearing sizable choir, is a 50 piece orchestra, trumpeters, and a small caroling group. The celebrity narrators are exceptional. The list this year includes Neil Patrick Harris, Ashley Judd, Whoppi Goldberg, and Amy Grant to name a few. The full show runs just under an hour. The Candlelight Processional is not a special ticketed event, so there is no additional cost to attend beyond your park admission. Seating is limited though, and is available at a first come, first served basis. However, Disney does offer a Candlelight Dinner Package. In the package you get a 3-course meal or full buffet (depending on location) at a participating Epcot restaurant, guaranteed seating at the Candlelight Processional, as well as access to a special viewing location for IllumiNations, Epcot’s nightly fireworks and laser show spectacular. In my opinion, this is the way to go – you get a full tummy and a stress free experience for attending the Candlelight Processional. The list of participating restaurants is extensive, with plenty of flavor choices. And with your seating guaranteed, you are free to enjoy the park instead of get in line early for a seat. The event is extremely popular (deservedly so), and the American Gardens Theater is not huge. The Illuminations viewing area is an added bonus too!

Well telling you all about these festive happenings this morning has certainly put me in the holiday spirit! I hope it has brought you a bit as well. See ya real soon!

Jingle Cruise at Magic Kingdom

Christmas Cinderella Castle 2Yes, that’s correct… Jingle Cruise. It is not a typo. This holiday season Disney Imagineers are transforming the classic attraction Jungle Cruise at Magic Kingdom into the Jingle Cruise to bring some extra holiday magic to guests. Bits of holiday decor have been added to the attraction, including the boats, a little holiday music can be heard, and the cheesy jokes will take on holiday punch lines.

Now as you know I’m all for one holiday at a time. Being November, I’d like to give the turkey a chance to gobble before I go plunging into the holidays. And while I won’t be posting any big holiday posts until after Thanksgiving, I saw this video the Disney Parks Blog released about the Jingle Cruise and I couldn’t help but share!

Disney Parks Blog Jingle Cruise Video

This is the first time Imagineers have ever tweaked an attraction at WDW for the Holiday Season. At Disneyland, The Haunted Mansion takes on a Nightmare Before Christmas Theme for late September through early January, becoming Haunted Mansion Holiday. I think it’s such a great way to bring a new face to a classic. Special experiences are what make the holidays exciting, and this is a great way for Disney to up their game and provide a special experience to guests. I certainly wish I was traveling to the parks this holiday season to experience the Jingle Cruise!

W.T.D.W. – Prince Charming Regal Carrousel at Magic Kingdom

Night CarouselWhen is the last time you rode a carousel? They’re so enchanting. Full of beautifully carved horses trimmed with detail, winding around to tinkling music. I don’t know many people who wouldn’t be awed by their charm.DSC_0200

Carousel horse detailDSC_0205In the heart of New Fantasyland, directly behind Cinderella Castle,  is Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. Originally known as Cinderella’s Golden Carousel, the name changed in June of 2010 to Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. The name may be new, but this ride is anything but. Originally crafted in 1917 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co., this carousel took residence in Detroit, Michigan until 1928 when it moved to Maplewood, New Jersey. In 1967 Disney purchased it and completely refurbished it – painting each horse by hand. In true Disney fashion, no attention to detail was spared. There are 90 unique horses and one chariot, all trimmed in gold, banners, and flowers. Only one has a gold bow tied on the tail, which some say belongs to Cinderella. Of the 90 horses, 72 are still from the original carousel.

Prince Charming Regal Carousel brings the Cinderella story to life as it turns, with 18 ornate hand-painted vignettes. During the day, bright and vibrant colors give the ride life, but at night, 2,300 lights give the carousel a glimmering magic. The music is a medley of beloved organ tunes that give mix of fun and nostalgia as the horses spin, bringing a cool breeze to your face (and I suspect a smile to your heart).

DSC_0222DSC_0220Prince Charming Regal Carousel is a no-brainer for kids. Young ones love the entire experience, and if they are like me as a child (OK… and probably still as an adult), take special care to select just the right horse. As an adult I will often overlook this experience, making more room in my schedule for more dare-devilish attractions. But I think that is silly of me, and next trip I will be sure to fit in a turn around on the carousel with my prince charming. After all, I love going to WDW so I can let go and be a kid again. I do think that I’ll take a nighttime spin though. How can you resist the lights?

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W.T.D.W. – The Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom

DSC01025Welcome, foolish mortals, to WHAT TO DO WEDNESDAY. Oh how I have been waiting so patiently!! Ever since summer, when I began WHAT TO DO WEDNESDAY, I have been dying (get it?!) to write about The Haunted Mansion. One of my (and hubby’s) absolute all-time WDW favorites – this attraction has it all. It’s spooky, it’s humorous, it’s classic, it’s SO much fun!! I decided to save it for Halloween, and I am very, very glad it’s finally here!

Located in Liberty Square this delightful family fun attraction has been around since the Magic Kingdom opened in October of 1971. It has been refurbished with some minor updates inside, and a new interactive queue has been recently added outside, but for the most part it is still the same as the day it opened.

While in the queue you can take two paths: interactive or regular standby. The last time hubs and I were there, the interactive queue was a bit longer, so we skipped it. However, if you have kiddos, or you just want some extra fun – don’t pass it by! It’s worth a few more minutes. Last week, when I talked to you all about Muppet Vision 3D, I mentioned my friend Patrick. Allow me to properly introduce him to you: Patrick, or Pa-track as I sometimes call him, is one of my most fabulous friends. We met when working together on the Disney College Program in 2005. Patrick is the only one of my CP (College Program) friends who lives in proximity to me. The rest of my dear friends are scattered across the country. Patrick is in love with The Muppets, soccer, photography, movies, museums, and he is a complete goofball who always makes me smile. Meet Patrick:

Haunted Mansion1Like I said, Pat is a goofball, he has personality. He obviously enjoyed the interactive queue at The Haunted Mansion. When looking through photos from my brother’s last visit to The Haunted Mansion, I noticed something interesting – Pat and my brother’s girlfriend Cindy have strikingly similar ideas. Pat and Cindy, while they have met, do not really know each other, and did not visit the interactive queue together. Behold:

Haunted MansionMy favorite part of this is the look on the little boys face as he watches Pat act like a goober at the organ. But isn’t it funny how similar the pictures are?? I think the above collages provide plenty of evidence as to why you should check out the interactive queue.

At the end of the queue (interactive and regular standby) you will notice a graveyard on your left. Be sure to read the tombstones – they have enjoyable inscriptions. And you just might notice an odd thing or two happen…

Haunted Mansion TombstoneOnce you enter the mansion, you and a small group of others will be guided into an octagonal portrait gallery. Here you first meet your host, “your ghost host.” He talks about the portraits in the room, which begin to stretch, and reveals how each person met their demise. Before long you proceed to the ride portion of the attraction, where you get to tour the mansion.

HM PaintingYou tour the haunted mansion in black vehicle that seats two people called a “Doom Buggy.” Guided by your “ghost host,” your tour of the mansion takes you through several rooms where a variety of spiritual occurrences can be seen. In the ballroom there are ghosts waltzing to an organ tune around a decadent dinner table. The hallway displays paintings with shifty eyes and knocking doors. Madam Leona is in her crystal ball while invisible spirits from the beyond sound musical instruments. The bride’s beating heart thumps ominously as portraits suggest the fate of her beloved. No haunted tour would be complete before a spin through the graveyard. The Haunted Mansions’ graveyard has plenty of ghosts popping out from out of nowhere and singing busts serenade you in barbershop style. And of course, as you head to exit you should watch for hitchhiking ghosts. This attraction is spilling over with details – sights and sounds, and now matter how many times you visit you always notice new things.

Haunted Mansion with CarriageThe Haunted Mansion has 999 happy haunts, but there’s room for 1,000…

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!

Halloween MKBoo to you! I am really excited to share a little of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party with you today. I love Halloween and this special event is packed full of entertainment that makes it a spectacular time for all.

DSC_0007Starting in September, Magic Kingdom undergoes a transformation where pumpkins, scarecrows, and festive banners deck the entrance and Main Street, U.S.A. for all guests to enjoy. On select nights, Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party from 7:00 PM to midnight. The party is a special ticketed event, requiring a separate ticket for admission. Even though Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party begins in mid-September, I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it until October when Halloween is closer. (It’s like seeing Christmas decorations before November has even started… Ugh.)

DSC00335So what happens between 7:00 PM at 12:00 AM that makes Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party so awesome? The sun sets, Magic Kingdom comes a’glow, and guests will find lots of extra, elaborate Halloween themed entertainment. Organized events and random touches come together to bring Halloween magic to guests.

Here are the big events that happen during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party:

Trick or Treating throughout Magic Kingdom – When you’re a kid you look forward to trick-or-treating for all of October. When you’re an adult, you delight in handing out candy to kids, but secretly I think we all just wish we could get out a pumpkin bucket or pillowcase and go around our neighborhoods to get free candy for ourselves. And of course, at Mickey’s Not Scary Halloween Party – you can! Kids and adults alike, costume or not, can go to several different locations throughout Magic Kingdom to trick-or-treat. Cast members are generous in the candy-giving, and you’ll be thrilled to leave Magic Kingdom with plenty of sweet treats in your bag.

DSC00430Disney Villains Dance Mix and Mingle – As you may expect, you can find villains a plenty during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. During the Villains Mix and Mingle, the villains kick off the festivities in front of the castle, then venture out to greet the guests. It’s a fantastic opportunity to visit with some of your favorite not-so-nice characters that aren’t always available for autographs and photos.

DSC00404 Halloween EeyoreDSC00411Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade – Personally, this is my favorite part of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The parade kicks off with the Headless Horseman riding down Main Street, U.S.A. on his beautiful, black stallion holding a lit jack-o-lantern. Swiftly following is a parade of Halloween floats and beloved Disney characters, many who are sporting costumes themselves. Goofy, assisted by Pluto brings the candy fun to the parade in a big way. The beloved spooky attraction The Haunted Mansion has its own segment in the parade as well. The Graveyard Caretaker leads the way with his faithful hound, followed by grave diggers dragging shovels that send sparks flying, dancing ghouls, and a float sporting the three Hitchhiking Ghosts.

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DSC00426DSC_0089Happy HalloWishes – Centered over Cinderella Castle, which glows in Halloween colors, you will find this end of the evening firework spectacular. The Disney Villains are the star of the show, sending up a colorful variety fireworks to a medley of the villain’s musical themes.

Main Street, U.S.A. Entertainment – Roaming Main Street, U.S.A. guests can find a barbershop quartet of dead cowboys. They hold no shortage of barbershop tunes, puns, and jokes.

All of that alone makes for a marvelous night. But for me, it’s the small extra touches that fall into 5 categories really make Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party great:

DSC_00121. Costumes – Adults and kids alike come to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in costume. In fact, I was really surprised at the number of costumes we saw the night we went. People dressed to the nines. Many of the guests who weren’t wearing costumes were still wearing Halloween themed colors or t-shirts. I didn’t come prepared with a costume, but I scored a fun Mickey’s Not So Scary shirt from The Emporium that made me festive. I will note that Disney asks guests to make sure their costumes are tasteful. Most people seemed to comply without any problem.

HalloweenNot So Scary2. Decor – The extra decor goes a long way into making the night special. It creates a remarkable air of festivity. Everywhere you look there are pumpkins, cast members in special Halloween themed dress, ghosts, and Halloween colors.

3. Extras – Naturally spooky areas or attractions such as The Haunted Mansion are dressed up. Cast members at The Haunted Mansion are spooky enough on any normal day, but during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party you’ll find them looking extra gruesome, covered in spider webs. We also found Madam Leona sitting on the lawn, entertaining guests as they entered. We went back to The Haunted Mansion an extra time just to see her again.

DSC_0072DSC_00754. Characters – Keep your eyes open, you tend to find extra characters available for meet and greet during Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party. This little boy to the left had a rare photo-op with all seven dwarfs.

5. Attractions at Night – During the party you get to visit some of your favorite attractions in the dark. Some have an entirely different feel when you visit them after the sun goes down. I highly recommend heading to Frontierland to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain in the dark. Pirates of the Caribbean, though not outside is also great attraction to see during your Halloween-time Magic Kingdom visit.

Whew. That’s a lot to share! Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is a jam-packed special event and we had a marvelous time when we went. Though it is costly (averaging around $60 per person), I feel you really get a lot for your money. Anyone else who has visited Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party have an opinion on price/value of the ticket?

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party:

  • Be well rested! As you can see, there is a lot to do and the party runs until midnight. Even adults can be completely wiped out at the end. Take time to rest, maybe even take a nap before attending the party.
  • Eat dinner early! With so much happening during this special event, you want to make sure you have plenty of time to experience all of it. Not only does eating dinner during the party limit your time to trick or treat or visit attractions, a late-running dinner reservation may mean you miss part (or all!) or the parade or fireworks show.
  • Be festive! As I mentioned, many people dress up in a costume or Halloween decor. It really makes the event more merry.
  • Be informed! It may seem like a silly reminder, but it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the night. Keep your eye on the time and make sure you know what events are happening when and where, so you don’t miss anything you want to see.
Specially themed Halloween treats

Specially themed Halloween treats!

Not So Scary

W. T. D. W – Mad Tea Party at Magic Kingdom

DSC00988A very merry un-birthday to you! I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. No time to say hello. Goodbye! I’m late, I’m late, I’m late! Painting the roses red, we’re painting the roses red…

Infectious only begins to describe the playful, dancing music of this week’s WHAT TO DO WEDNESDAY attraction: Mad Tea Party at Magic Kingdom. I barely have to think about this attraction before I’m whistling some of the tune from this delightfully dizzying ride all day. It’s just so happy and perky, you can’t help but bounce around humming. There is a lot of catchy music at Magic Kingdom, so you usually find yourself with a tune in your head at some point when you’re there – or at home wishing you were there!

DSCF0361DSCF1609Inspired by the 1951 Disney classic film Alice in Wonderland, this attraction is designed to be reminiscent of the tea party hosted by the Mad Hatter and March Hare. While the formal name of this ride is “Mad Tea Party,” amongst my family and friends it’s simply called “the teacups.” (We’re a straightforward bunch I guess.) A giant canopy in Fantasyland is host to this attraction. Hanging from the ceiling of the canopy are whimsical paper lanterns. In the center of the floor is a giant teapot, from which the mouse will periodically peek out. Surrounding the teapot are very large teacups sitting in saucers of various pastel colors. Guests climb aboard a teacup, and when the ride begins the teacups begin to spin and whirl around the teapot in the center. That in itself is delightful, but in my opinion, the real fun lies in the wheel that is in the center of the teacup. The wheel lets you control the speed and direction of your teacup’s spin. My mum, being a sensitive soul, won’t touch this attraction for fear of becoming ill. So that usually left this ride to my Papa Bear and me. Papa Bear would spin the wheel as hard and fast as he could, and I loved every turn. The wilder, the better in my book. And on the few special occasions my extended family was with us at WDW, my cousins and I too would have a good spin around.

Guests of any height may take a spin at the Mad Tea Party, so it’s a great ride for families. This attraction first appeared at Disneyland, and it was one of the original attractions of the Magic Kingdom when it opened in 1971. Each and every Disney theme park across the world has a version of the Mad Tea Party, which I think is kind of neat. It’s a Disney classic.

I was talking last week about the many simple pleasures that make Walt Disney World so delightful, and I think this is one of them. There is nothing overly complicated or mind boggling about this attraction, but the catching music, movement, and charm of the Alice in Wonderland theme makes Mad Tea Party simply delightful.

* Special Tip* – Keep your eye out for favorite Alice in Wonderland characters such as Alice, Mad Hatter, Red Queen, and Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum around Mad Tea Party. You can often find them available for a meet and greet.