January 28, 2016

Not to Miss at Walt Disney World: For First Timers

Never been to Walt Disney World? Then this post is for you! It can be overwhelming your first time to Walt Disney World, with so many things to do! Continuing on with the Not to Miss Series, I’m laying out the attractions and shows I think certain groups will want to experience. I’ve gone through what I think is Not to Miss for Little Ones, Thrill Seekers, the Classic Disney Fan, and Character Lovers. I lay out where everything is by park, when is best to experience them and if you should use Fastpass+ (if available). You can read about Fastpass+ here, and My Disney Experience (which goes with Fastpass+ here. Walt Disney World is populated mostly by “once in a lifetime guests” so they target these guests. Because so many people only visit once, it’s important to get it right the first time! So, let’s get on with the list!

Magic Kingdom

It’s a Small World- I think this one is a right of passage. Yes the song can be annoying, but if you ride at night you can get away with a minimal wait so your don’t have to hear it for too long! Fastpass+ is available, but only needed if you are wanting to ride during the day, as the wait time can be longer.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad- conquer this and the next two and you’ve conquered the mountains of Magic Kingdom! Big Thunder is a mine train that got loose, keep an eye out for a goat and a dude in a bathtub! Ride during the first hour of the day or use Fastpass+.

Big Thunder

Splash Mountain- this log ride blows any other log ride you’ve been out of the water. At 10 minutes in length, it tells a great story and fakes you out with a few small drops before the big one. It’s my favourite, as I said here. 🙂 Use Fastpass+ to ride during the hottest time of the day, or ride just after park opening for a short wait time.

Space Mountain- A rollercoaster in the dark makes me scream more than any other rollercoaster in WDW. With all the drops and turns, you never know what to expect (especially if you ride in the very front). Ride in the first hour of the day or use Fastpass+

Dumbo- Even though it’s a kid’s ride, I think everyone needs to ride Dumbo at least once. It’s very pretty at night, and there is minimal wait. If you are travelling with little ones, use Fastpass+, or wait in line and experience the playground in the line!

When I See An Elephant Fly

Haunted Mansion- I love this ride! head into the Haunted Mansion to see 999 happy haunts, but there is always room for one more! The line for this usually isn’t long, but Fastpass+ is available. Check the Disney Parks App to see when the wait time is short and head over!

Pirates of the Caribbean- Dead men tell no tales! Keep an eye out for Captain Jack Sparrow, and see the trouble pirates get into! Fastpass+ is available but generally not needed. This one is definitely a Disney classic.

Seven Dwarf Mine Train- the newest attraction in Magic Kingdom showcases the newest technology! Fastpass+ is strongly recommended, unless you are riding first thing after park opening.

Wishes!- a day at Magic Kingdom should end with Wishes! The fireworks by Cinderella Castle are just perfect, and still bring a tear to my eye after seeing it many times. Fastpass+ is available, but does not make the best use of a Fastpass+ as they generally book up in advance, so it would need to be one of the original 3 you select. Have no idea what I mean? Read this post.) You can stake out a spot 30 minutes in advance if you want to make sure you have a good view, but you can see the fireworks from pretty much anywhere. Also watch Celebrate the Magic before the fireworks 🙂

All your wishes...

Festival of Fantasy- depending on the length of your stay, you may or may not want to watch the parade. Parades are a great time to experience attractions with minimal wait time, but Festival of Fantasy is the newest Walt Disney World parade, and it’s pretty awesome. Fastpass+ is available, but not needed as you can stand anywhere along the route and have a great view.

Merida

Main Street Electrical Parade- this night parade is full of lights and some of your favourite classic Disney characters. Fastpass+ is available but not needed. Personally, I’m over this parade. I’ve seen it too many times, and after seeing what Disneyland got for the 60th anniversary (Paint the Night) I’m hoping it comes to WDW soon.

Epcot

Spaceship Earth- Head inside the geodesic sphere and the icon of Epcot! This attraction is slow moving and very nice on a hot Florida day. Because it is the first attraction you see in the park, the line can be hit or miss. Use Fastpass+ if needed, or use the Disney Parks app and head over when the wait is short. The ride is constantly loading, so the line generally moves pretty fast.

Our Spaceship Earth

Soarin’- Soarin’ is a great ride. Currently down for refurbishment (coming back summer 2016 as Soarin’ Around the World), this is definitely an attraction not to miss. Fastpass+ strongly recommended.

Test Track- Design your car and put it to the test! Ride first thing in the morning for minimal wait, or use Fastpass+. I love doing this one a few times, so everyone in your party can have a chance designing their own car. It is fun to see how different they turn out!

World Showcase- while not technically an attraction, World Showcase really shoes what Epcot is about. With performances happening at the different countries throughout the day, it is a great place to wander and take in all the details. If you are looking to experience attractions (which I didn’t include because it depends on the time you have, there is a ride in Mexico, and shows in Canada, China, and France.)

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth- the fireworks show at Epcot is great, and has a great message that’s not in-your-face Disney. Fastpass+ not needed, as it can be seen all around World Showcase. I would suggest grabbing a spot at least 30 minutes before it starts, to ensure a good view!

Illuminations

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Rock n’ Rollecoaster- the only upside- down rollercoaster in WDW, this coaster is definitely a not to miss for thrill seekers. Ride first thing in the morning, or use the single rider line (your party WILL get split up) to avoid a long wait time. If wanting to ride during the day, use Fastpass+.

Rock n Roll!

Tower of Terror- this one keeps you guessing, as the ride sequences are randomized! I love the detail in the queue, and the surprise of the ride! Just when you think it’s over, you go back up! Ride during the first hour of the day or use Fastpass+.

Tower of Terror!

Toy Story Midway Mania- You will probably want to do this one more than once, just a warning! Play some of your favourite carnival games, with 3D technology, all while sitting down! Ride this one first thing, or at night during Extra Magic Hours (more about that here) for minimal wait, or use Fastpass+.

Fantasmic!- I love Fantasmic so much it is my ringtone. This show takes place in a huge amphitheatre and has some of your favourite Disney characters in the show. I recommend using Fastpass+ for this as the regular seating section is quite small, and fills up quickly. Check out the Fastpass+ post to see how I made Fantasmic! my 4th Fastpass+ of the day.

Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safaris- This safari really makes you feel like you are in Africa! Use Fastpass+ to experience it at certain times of day if you wish, but it is not needed.

Expedition Everest- the big rollercoaster in Animal Kingdom has a crazy amount of detail. Ride first thing in the morning for minimal wait, and ride it a few times! Fastpass+ is available if you cannot make it to the park for opening, Watch out for the Yeti!

Yeti Territory

It’s Tough to be a Bug!- I suggest this show because it gives you a closer look at the Tree of Life, so you can appreciate all the detail in there. For fans of A Bugs Life this is a cute show with some 3D gags. Fastpass+ not available, but the wait usually isn’t long.

Tree of Life

Animal Kingdom is getting a night-show this year, and I’m quite excited! It’s called Rivers of Light, and you can find some information about it here. I’ll update this post once I’ve seen it!

Check out this post if you are planning a Walt Disney World vacation, it lays everything out for you!

If you’ve been to Walt Disney World, what would you do your first time if you could go back? What did you do on your first trip? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading!

Kelsey
January 20, 2016

Not to Miss at Walt Disney World: For the Character Lover

I hope everyone is enjoying the Not to Miss series! If you’ve missed the first three posts, you can check out what attractions I suggest for Little Ones, Thrill Seekers, and the Classic Disney Fan. Today let’s take a look at Character Experiences. I know my sister loves meeting characters and getting autographs, so we have gone around to most of these during previous trips. If you have someone in your party who loves to meet characters, you may want to purchase an Autograph Book as soon as possible. I still have my autograph book from my first trip to Walt Disney World!  Again, I’ll sort them by park, give suggestions about best times to go and if Fastpass+ is a good idea (or even available). You can read all about Fastpass+ here. I’m throwing in some old character greeting pictures from previous trips, don’t laugh at my fashion choices! Okay, on with the list!

Magic Kingdom

In my opinion, some of the best character greeting spots are in Magic Kingdom (the ones with the best theming) so you may want to think about where the characters are that you want to meet, and the quality of the picture you will get out of it. Photopass photographers take the pictures for you on their cameras that will link to either your physical photopass card, or your MagicBand. You can give them your camera to take a picture as well if desired.

Alice in Wonderland- Meet Alice near Mad Tea Party! Fastpass+ not available.

Anna & Elsa- Meet the Frozen sisters at Princess Fairytale Hall. Fastpass+ is strongly recommended, as you can easily be waiting 90+ minutes.

Buzz Lightyear- To infinity and beyond! Meet your favourite Space Ranger in Tomorrowland. Fastpass+ not available.

Ariel- Meet Ariel in her Grotto in New Fantasyland. This line can get quite long, so Fastpass+ is recommended.

Ariel

Aladdin & Jasmine/Genie- Meet your favourite Agrabah characters in Adventureland. This line can get quite long, but Fastpass+ is not available. If Cast Members see the line getting quite long, they will stop allowing people to line up to avoid disappointment.

Chip n’ Dale- Meet your favourite chipmunks in western apparel in Liberty Square. Fastpass+ not available.

Cinderella and Rapunzel- the other half of Princess Fairytale Hall is home to other princesses, you can use Fastpass+ but the line is usually half the wait of Anna & Elsa.

Cinderella

Donald, Daisy, Goofy & Minnie- in Storybook Circus you can meet 2 characters at a time, Donald & Goofy or Minnie & Daisy. Lines generally aren’t long, and Fastpass+ is not available.

Disney Friends in Town Square- right as you enter Magic Kingdom you never know who you might see! Pluto, Mary Poppins, Minnie, and others will have lines so you can get a picture before any rides! Fastpass+ not available.

Gaston- You can meet Gaston outside his tavern! He has become very popular on social media (just type it in on Youtube and watch some pretty funny encounters) so his line will fill up before he even arrives. Fastpass+ is not available. Check the Times Guide to see when he is meeting guests and arrive early!

Merida- Meet Merida at Fairytale Garden, very close to Cinderella Castle. Fastpass+ not available.

Mickey!- Meet the mouse himself at Town Square Theatre, just to your right as you enter Magic Kingdom. The coolest thing? He talks to you! Fastpass+ available, but generally not needed.

Mickey moved his nose to tickle Alex! It was adorable!

Mickey moved his nose to tickle Alex! It was adorable!

Peter Pan- In Fantasyland you can meet Peter and Wendy. Fastpass+ not available, but check the times guide to see when meetings will take place.

Tiana- Meet Tiana just outside of Liberty Square in a beautiful pavilion. Fastpass+ not available. Funny story- it was so strangely cold on our last day last February, Tiana was wearing a cloak!

Tigger & Friends- Meet Winnie and the gang outside of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Fastpass not available, use the Disney Parks app to get times.

Tinker Bell- Meet Tink at Town Square Theatre, where you can also meet Mickey. Fastpass+ is available. The line can get long, so depending on how big a fan they are of Tinkerbell, you may want to use it.

Tink

Woody and Jessie- Woody and Jessie greet just outside of Splash Mountain in Frontierland. Fastpass+ is not available. Check the times guide or Disney Parks app for meeting times.

Epcot

At Epcot, the only place Fastpass+ can be used is the Epcot Character Spot. For all other character greetings, check the times guide when you enter the park or use the Disney Parks App.

Aladdin & Jasmine in Morocco- This line can get long, so if you have fans in your party, you will want to get them to Morocco early!

Wonderland Friends in the United Kingdom- Meet Alice and the White Rabbit and don’t be late!

Epcot Character Spot- In Future World you can meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Baymax, and Chip n’ Dale! Fastpass + available but not always needed.

Goofy

Daisy- just to the left as you enter World Showcase you can meet Donald’s sweetheart. The line is generally short, unless a huge crowd has just entered or is leaving World Showcase.

Mexican Donald- One part of the Three Caballeros can be greeted here, right outside the Mexico Pavilion.

Mexican Donald

Mary Poppins- Meet Mary in the UK pavilion and ask her to say Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards!

Mulan – Meet the princess in China whose film was primarily produced at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! You can ask her how Mushu is for me 🙂

Aurora- Say bonjour to Aurora in her pink dress in France.

Snow White- Meet Snow White by her wishing well in Germany. As I walked by last time, I thought the setting was adorable!

Winnie the pooh- Say hello to your favourite characters from the Hundred Acre Wood at the UK pavilion, and bounce with Tigger!

Tip: Check out the character topiaries in World Showcase if you have someone in your party who doesn’t want to meet characters up close, but loves them just the same. Visit during the Flower & Garden festival in Spring for even more topiaries!

Hollywood Studios

Fastpass + is not available for any character greetings at Hollywood Studios.

Darth Vader- As part of The Season of The Force, you can meet Darth Vader at Star Wars Launch Bay.

Mickey Avenue- You can meet the muse himself and others at Mickey Avenue. I have met Winnie the Pooh here before!

My first time meeting Mickey!

My first time meeting Mickey!

Woody & Buzz- Just across from Toy Story Mania! in Pixar Place you can meet your favourite Space Ranger and Cowboy. The line can get pretty long for this one, but they have lots of small photo ops in the que like this one!

Rocket

Chewbacca- You can also meet Chewie at Star Wars Launch Bay!

Disney Junior Pals- You can meet Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins and others just outside of Disney Junior Live on Stage. The line will generally be short, especially when a show is taking place inside the building.

Mike & Sulley- Near the Streets of America you can meet your favourite monsters and say boo!

Disney Pals- you never know who you might see near center stage (just in front of the Chinese Theatre)! Lines are generally short.

 

 

Animal Kingdom

As with Epcot, the only greetings with Fastpass+ available are at Adventurers Outpost. Check out the times guide or Disney Parks app to see when other characters will be available.

Baloo and King Louie- At Upcountry Landing I Asia you can meet your favourite Jungle Book characters.

Mickey & Friends- Fastpass+ is available here, and you can see your favourites in safari gear here!

Flik- Meet Flik on Discovery Island, then see him some more at It’s Tough to be a Bug!

Goofy & Pluto- in Dinoland USA say hello to Goofy and Pluto! It’s most likely one of the only things you will want to do there (it’s a bit of a fan sore spot).

Pocahontas-In February Ethan and I walked past this character greeting at the Character Landing. The line was a little on the long side, so plan ahead if you would like to see Pocahontas!

Rafiki- You can find Rafiki at his planet watch, for a little more information see below at Chip n’ Dale.

Russel & Dug- Say hello to a Wilderness Explorer on Discovery Island. Squirrel!

Tarzan- I have never met Tarzan, but now I want to! You can find him on Discovery Island.

Donald Duck- You can also find Donald in Dinoland USA.

Donald

Chin n’ Dale- Meet your favourite chipmunks at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. it is important to note that you can only get here by taking the Wildlife Express train, so don’t head here unless you want to check out the other things there are to do her, like the petting zoo.

Chipmunks

 

If you have someone in your party who likes the characters, but doesn’t want to get quite close enough to touch, you may want to consider seeing these shows/ parades.

Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial- located in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom you can catch this show at various times throughout the day. Check the Times Guide or Disney Parks App for exact times.

#IncrediblesSuperDanceParty- in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom you can dance with The Incredibles! Check the Times Guide or Disney Parks App for times.

Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Parade- in Magic Kingdom dance with some of your favourite characters in the parade-style parts. Floats stop and dance for a bit before continuing on the route. Check out the Times Guide or Disney Parks App for performance times. You may hear some of your current favourites!

Jedi Training- Kids can participate in this show and battle Darth Vader at Hollywood Studios, but you can also watch. Check the times guide or Disney Parks app for showtimes. If you would like your child to participate, you need to head to Indiana Jones Adventure  Outpost first thing in the morning, with your child. Availability is first come first serve, and fills up quickly.

For the First Time in Forever- Have a Frozen fan in your party? Head to this sing-a-long at Hollywood Studios. Check the times guide or Disney Parks App for showtimes. Fastpass+ is available, if you know this is something you will want to see.

Anna and Elsa

A small piece of advice: if your kids love to meet characters, you may want to split the meet and gets between parks. Yes, the characters are on different costumes at each park, but do you really want to meet Mickey 4 times? I don’t blame you at all for saying no! Also, Disney has many character dining experience, which you experience while eating, saving you time! Check out the Walt Disney World website, and select character dining to see all of the options!

I know this post has been very long, so thank you for sticking through it! I hope this helps to lay out who you can meet where!

Who is your favourite character to meet at Walt Disney World? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Kelsey
January 13, 2016

Not to Miss at Walt Disney World: For the Classic Disney Fan

Now that the craziness of the holiday season is behind us, let’s jump back into the Not to Miss Series! If you missed the first two posts, you can find out what Little Ones and Thrill Seekers won’t want to miss by clicking on those links. Today, let’s talk about what the Classic Disney Fan will want to experience! I’ve done a lot of the attractions here because they are classics, and definitely appreciate them. Let’s get started!

 

Magic Kingdom

Dumbo the Flying Elephant-  This classic is something everyone needs to do at least once! Dumbo has recently doubled in size, and is great to ride at night with little wait time.

Haunted Mansion- This classic is always a must-do for me. The line can sometimes get long, but usually can be done without Fastpass+. Ride first thing in the morning or later at night with minimal wait time. Use the Disney Parks App to check wait times throughout the day.

Haunted Mansion

It’s a Small World- If this isn’t a classic, then I don’t know what is! Ride this one at night for a shorter line. If you really want to ride during the day, Fastpass+ might be your only option, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Try using it as your 4th Fastpass+ if you get one! (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out this post.)

Carousel of Progress- Created by Walt himself, this rotating theatre attraction is nice for air conditioning, or for some people- a nap. I love it though! You travel through time with each scene, and learn that there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day!

Country Bear Jamboree- This classic has sadly been removed from Disneyland in California, so see it here! This show features audio-animatronic bears, and surprisingly popular with Disney fans. It can be seen at any time of day, the only wait time is in-between shows.

Jungle Cruise- This ride has been in Magic Kingdom since it’s opening, and it looks that way. It’s known for the jokes, and is quite fun! Ride at night for minimal wait!

Mad Tea Party- The classic teacups can get a pretty long line, celebrate a very merry unbirthday later at night for minimal wait.

Peter Pan’s Flight- One of the most popular rides at Magic Kingdom gets a line like no other, seriously, it amazes me every time. Ride later at night or first thing in the morning. I would only suggest using Fastpass+ if you are travelling with children in your party.

Peter and Wendy

Pirates of the Caribbean- Yo ho yo ho! A pirates life for me. Captain Jack Sparrow has been added to this classic attraction which in my opinion makes it even better. Use Fastpass+ as the line can be hit or miss, or ride in the early morning or late at night.

Space Mountain- a rollercoaster in the dark! This ride has gone through various refurbishments, and you used to be able to see the other cars zooming around because the bottoms glowed in the dark! This one is definitely a classic. Ride first thing in the morning or later at night for lower wait times, or use Fastpass+.

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room- You may have seen footage of Walt Disney talking with Audio-Animatronic birds during an episode of The Wonderful World of Disney at one time or another. Those bird are in the tiki room! While this may not be everyone’s favourite show, I love it, and I think you should see it at least once. Fastpass+ is not available, and it rarely has a wait longer than that between show times.

Hollywood Studios

The Great Movie Ride- step into the movies with this attraction, and enter scenes from some of your favourites! If you have little ones in your party, the Alien scene may be frightening (it still creeps me out). Wait time is usually short, but Fastpass+ is available.

The Great Movie Ride

Tower of Terror- Do you dare? This classic  you can see from almost anywhere in the park. Beautifully detailed, it’s one of my favourites. Ride first thing in the morning or use Fastpass+.

Muppet*vision 3D- One of the last things Jim Henson worked on before he died, this 3D show featuring the Muppets is definitely a classic. I suggest getting there early to watch the pre-show, it’s surprisingly funny! If you are travelling with little ones, they will love the 3D gags!

Muppetvision

Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage- Show times are available in the times guide. This is a Broadway scale production! For Beauty and the Beast (a Disney classic) fans, they will definitely love it! It has been at Hollywood Studios for a long time, and even though rumors have been flying for years of it being replaced with a Tangled production, it still holds strong. A great show for the whole family!

Epcot

Spaceship Earth- Inside the giant golf ball is a classic. A ride that takes you through the history of communication is one of my favourites. Wait times can be hit or miss, but Fastpass+ is available. I use the Disney Parks App to look at wait times and head over when the wait isn’t long. It’s a constantly loading ride so the line generally moves quickly.

Spaceship Earth

World Showcase- While this isn’t an attraction, this section of Epcot is a classic. It captures the theme of Epcot, and is a great place to spend the day. There is always more to explore and see within World Showcase, and I don’t even mean food! It is always fun to try something new. During the spring the Flower and Garden Festival is always beautiful, and in the fall the Food and Wine Festival is great for tasting! Next time you visit Epcot, definitely spend some time here.

Mexico!

Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaros Safaris- I wouldn’t really call this a “classic”, mostly because Animal Kingdom is only 18 years old, but I think this attraction encompasses the theme of Animal Kingdom more than any attraction there. Ride this first thing in the morning (when the animals are most active and lines are the shortest) or use Fastpass+.

It’s Tough to be a Bug!- Again, while not necessarily a classic, this show is underneath the park centrepiece, the Tree of Life. It’s a fun show with some sensory surprises! Show runs continuously, so the longest you would wait is for the next show. Fastpass+ is not needed.

You'll get up close with the Tree of Life!

You’ll get up close with the Tree of Life!

As you can see Walt Disney World is home to many classics, all of which you should see at least once. If you are a “once in a lifetime guess” you may want to by-pass some of these, but hopefully this list helps you determine which to see! I also hint at my strategy in the parks, which you can read here.

What is your favourite Disney classic? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading!

Kelsey