September 16, 2015

What I Love About Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is currently undergoing a huge transformation, a transformation into Disney Springs. If you don’t know what Downtown Disney is, it’s a shopping area in Walt Disney World. There are a lot of specialty stores, restaurants, and even Cirque du Soleil. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon and evening. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to call the area Downtown Disney, because I haven’t been to Disney Springs as it is now (and it isn’t completed yet). Now on to what I love:

World of Disney

I usually do a souvenir haul at the World of Disney, because it’s the largest  Disney Store! If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel, you can even have your stuff delivered to your room, or hotel gift shop! Trust me, you’ll want to take advantage of that. It’s organized into “rooms”, (seriously, that’s how big it is), so you can easily find what you are looking for. I love the one stop shopping of this store, and like to go in once a trip just to see everything.

Be warned though… if you see something in this store and say “Oh I like that, but I’m sure it will be somewhere else so I can grab it later”, that might not be the case. On my trip in February I found this Minnie dress that my sister would have loved, and didn’t grab it the day I was at Downtown Disney. So I looked in what felt like every store at every park, and couldn’t find it. So on our last day a couple hours before we had to be back at Caribbean Beach for the Magical Express, we headed back to Downtown Disney. Yes, I had to say goodbye to Magic Kingdom early *sniff* to get that dress for my sister. (You’re welcome Alex!). It was a little rushed and hectic, but it was worth it to see the smile on her face when I brought it home. Moral of the story… if you want it, buy it! Just don’t go too overboard.

This store also has a special place in my heart, because on my trip with my music department in high school, my choir performed on the stage right outside this store. (Yes we performed the first day and got to explore the rest of the parks and Typhoon Lagoon for 5 days… it was AWESOME.)

It's Stitch! Watch out, he spits! (picture from WDW website)

It’s Stitch! Watch out, he spits! (picture from WDW website)

Raglan Road

This restaurant is so much fun! Ethan and I went here on our last trip, and would definitely go back. The food was some of the best we had on our trip, and the environment is electric. Irish dancers go up on the tables, and you can’t help but cheer! I got to enjoy my Irish roots for a night, and loved every minute of it. Our server was great. I seriously can’t recommend this place enough. If you are planning to go, make a reservation on the Walt Disney World website in advance. There was a line up to get in, and I’m sure there was a wait to get a table as a walk up.

This is the inside of Raglan Road... seriously eat here! (picture from WDW website)

This is the inside of Raglan Road… seriously eat here! (picture from WDW website)

 

La Nouba

It’s a splurge, but if you ever get a chance to see it, it is worth it! La Nouba was Ethan’s birthday present on our 2013 trip. La Nouba can only be seen in Walt Disney World, and is a great way to spend a night. I’m not kidding… the couple who sat beside us had already seen the show 3 times! It’s nice to change it up when you are at the parks late every night, and whether it’s a dinner show or Cirque, it’s definitely something to consider! If you don’t know where it is, just look for the giant white Cirque du Soleil tent.

 

The Environment

I can’t put my finger on it, but I love the feeling at Downtown Disney. It’s such a different pace than the parks, and you can just wander around for an afternoon. The water is calming, and there are always different street performers. One of my favourite things to do is sit with Ethan on the benches by the water and watch the Hot Air balloon go up and down,  and the boats travel by. It’s so nice to just slow down when you’ve been going non-stop in the parks, even if just for a little bit.

This was back in 2013, sitting and relaxing

This was back in 2013, sitting and relaxing

 

The Number of Options

I feel like every time I go to Downtown Disney I try something different. There are so many dining options, (and so many new ones coming) that it will be a while before I try everything. There are a lot of new specialty stores opening as well, so it’s always nice to look at those shops as well. Some of my favourite things to buy are things from Disney World that don’t scream Disney. You’d be able to find a lot of these items at Downtown Disney I’m sure. It’s always fun to take something home and use it, knowing where it came from even though others might not. Kind of like a secret. But on the other hand, I like things that scream Disney too. Have you seen the backpack I got on my last trip? I love it.

I will someday go in that hot air balloon!

 

 

What else do I love? I Love Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Walt Disney World!

What do you love about Downtown Disney? Do you always visit? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Kelsey
September 9, 2015

They Have Water Parks Too?!

Yes, yes they do. Believe me, Walt Disney World has thought of everything. Walt Disney World is home to two wonderful water parks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. How do you get tickets? Is it worth it to visit them? I will answer those questions and more! Both have a lazy river, and it can be quite relaxing (you know, what you should be doing on a vacation!) First, let’s breakdown the two parks.

From the Walt Disney World websiet

From the Walt Disney World website

Blizzard Beach

Blizzard Beach opened in 1995, and is located near Animal Kingdom. It’s themed as a Florida Ski resort… that melted. All “attractions” are sorted by coloured slopes. Blizzard Beach is open from March to January, and while it is not open it is refurbished.  There are also separate areas for small children and teenagers. The main attraction of Blizzard Beach is Summit Plummet (pictured above). That slide goes straight down, and it burns a little. You are travelling as fast as Rock n’ Rollercoaster, and much faster than the water! It was something fun to do once, but I don’t know if I’d do it again. Other fun attractions include Teamboat Springs (the longest family raft slide in the United States). There are lots of other fun water slides, and I loved the Toboggan Racers when I was 5!

From the Walt Disney World website

From the Walt Disney World website

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon opened in 1989, and is located near Downtown Disney (they also share a bus route). Typhoon Lagoon was supposedly hit by a Typhoon, leaving the water park with a little less “picture perfect paradise”. Typhoon Lagoon operates from January to October, and undergoes refurbishments while closed. The attractions aren’t divided like at Blizzard Beach, so get a guide map when you enter the park to see which members of your party can go on what attractions. The main attraction of Typhoon Lagoon is the wave pool, pictured below. It’s fun for everyone because you can go in as far as you are comfortable. Again, Typhoon Lagoon also has areas for younger tots and teens, and also has a shark reef. One slide to check out is Crush n’ Gusher, a slide that doesn’t just go down, it goes up too!

This wonderful moment was captured by a Photopass Photographer

This wonderful moment was captured by a Photopass Photographer

How do you get tickets?

When purchasing your Walt Disney World tickets, you should consider whether or not you would like to visit the water parks. It is the easiest time to make this decision. If you decide yes, you are going to want to add the Water Parks & More option to your basic Magic Your Way Tickets. Prices can be found on the Walt Disney World website. If you decide when you are in the parks that you want to visit a water park, you can visit the ticket booths at any park and add this option.

 

Is it worth it?

In my opinion, the answer can be yes and no.

In the middle of the summer, it can definitely seem like a good option, especially if your resort pool isn’t doing it for you. If you have visited Walt Disney World before, the answer could also be yes. You’ve seen the parks before, and you want to try something new. So visit the water parks! Also, if you are visiting WDW for the first time but are going on a longer trip (longer than 5 days), the water parks could be a good option. It can be a nice break from the other parks, and can be fun just for a few hours. My boyfriend and I have never been to the water parks together, so on a future trip we are definitely going to spend some time there.

If you haven’t visited the parks before, I would say no, don’t waste your time visiting the water parks.  Walt Disney World is a once in a lifetime trip for many people, and with that pressure on your vacation and the small amount of time you have with the number of things there are to see, I wouldn’t suggest visiting water parks­. If you want to have some water fun but don’t want to go to the water parks, take a break during the day and use the pool at your resort! It can always be nice to cool off, change, and head back to the parks refreshed!

It’s a completely personal decision, but I hope my insight can help you make the right decision for your party.

And a picture of Br'er Rabbit because you always get wet when you visit the Laughing Place!

And a picture of Br’er Rabbit because you always get wet when you visit the Laughing Place!

I hope this post has given you an idea of what the water parks have to offer, and when to take advantage of it. Both water parks are very detailed and have great themes, so I hope some day you will have a chance to experience them!

Disclaimer: during the creation of this post I realized two things. 1) I have not been to the water parks since 2009 (Blizzard Beach since 2007). 2) When you do go the water parks, you generally don’t bring a camera. Therefore, most of these pictures are not mine, and are from the Walt Disney World Website.

Do you like the water parks? Which is your favourite? Do you usually visit the water parks on your vacation? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Kelsey
September 2, 2015

What I Love About Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is the park that I have visited the least. Not that I don’t like it, just that some of the trips that I have been on were shorter and time wouldn’t allow it. The first time I ever visited Walt Disney World, Animal Kingdom was still being built. It opened one year after my first visit, on Earth Day 1998. Even though it is the newest park (it’s still 18 years old), there are so many things that I love about it, and some things that make it different than any of the other Disney Parks. It’s a park that grows on you, and once you stop and look around, I think you will love it too.

Now onto the things I love:

Welcome to Animal Kingdom

The Details

The details in Animal Kingdom rival those of Magic Kingdom. I have watched documentaries on YouTube that take an in depth look at how Animal Kingdom was built, and they are all amazing. If you are interested in the details, I urge you to find the Expedition Everest documentary on YouTube. I had a whole new appreciation for that ride after watching it. I even looked for a certain something when you reach a dead end (watch it and you’ll know what I’m talking about!). The distressed look of the park is quite impressive considering it’s age! In terms of theme, I think Animal Kingdom is the party that cohesively fits the theme. (We will just ignore Dino-rama on this okay? Okay.) There was so much research done for this part, and I really think Imagineers pulled it off.

The Tree of Life

This park centrepiece deserves it’s own category, because of the detail alone. Every time I visit Animal Kingdom I see something new on that tree. When you learn how the tree was made, it’s even more impressive. I recommend going to see “It’s tough to be a bug!” so you can get an even closer look at The Tree of Life. It’s crazy to think that there are over 100 animals carved into that masterpiece. Want your picture with the Tree in the background? Don’t wait to get one when you first walk into the park, wait until you are in other areas where it isn’t as busy! Keep an eye out for Disney Photopass photographers, as most likely they are standing close to a picture perfect spot!

The Tree of Life

The Food

I always enjoy eating at Animal Kingdom! There are some more exotic food choices, and it’s always fun to try something new. During my trip in February, Ethan and I tried a falafel wrap and an asian noodle salad. Both were really good! It’s always nice to find good vegetarian options while on vacation so you don’t feel like you are having the same thing over and over. I’ve heard really good things about meat options at Animal Kingdom (like Flame Tree Barbecue) but unfortunately I can’t talk from experience! On your next trip to Walt Disney World, I encourage you to try the food at Animal Kingdom! Also Pizzafari has something other restaurants in WDW don’t- watch the episode of “Unwrapped” to find out.

On a side note, I feel like I have watched more YouTube videos focusing on Animal Kingdom than any other park. It really makes you want to spend more time there!

A Little Friend

The Atmosphere

Animal Kingdom is unlike any other Disney theme park. You have to explore a little. When you first walk in, you are surrounded by lush greenery. You know you are supposed to see a big tree or something when you enter, but you have to wait a while! There are so many nooks and crannies, it’s a park to really explore. It just has a different feel to it.  A lot of people find Animal Kingdom to be a half-day park (and I have definitely felt that way before) but recently my impression has changed. It’s a park that you can definitely spend the whole day at. There is so much to see, and it’s not just “a zoo”. The animal exhibits are beautifully detailed and really transport you to Africa and Asia. Kiliminjaros Safari is always fun, and there are a lot of shows to enjoy! If you are a fan of The Lion King, make sure to check out “Festival of The Lion King”! I haven’t seen it since it moved to its new home, but I hope to see it on my next trip!

The Trails

There are many different trails to explore at Animal Kingdom. It’s fun to head in one direction not necessarily knowing what you are going to see! The details in the trails are amazing, and really transport you. You feel as if you are in the animals’ natural habitats, not at a theme park in Florida! I think everyone should take it slow when visiting Animal Kingdom, because you never know where you can wander! Hint: there are even some trails that aren’t listed on the maps! And you can sometimes find some characters along the trails! You know, just around the riverbed? Can you tell I saw Pocahontas last time?

The Future

There are so many exciting things coming to Animal Kingdom that I can’t wait to see! Avatar-land is coming soon, and so is a nighttime show! There was a lot of construction happening in February so when I (hopefully) visit next year I hope a lot has changed! It will be interesting to see a nighttime show at a park many people deem a half day park, and especially one centred around wildlife. I really can’t wait to see “Rivers of Light”.

Elephant

 

What do you love about Animal Kingdom? Make sure to let me know in the comments!

Have you seen what else I love? Check out what I love about Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Walt Disney World!

Thanks again for reading!

Kelsey