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
August 26, 2015

A Complete Guide to My Disney Experience

My Disney Experience is the new platform that was released in 2012 to act as the “hub” of your Disney Vacation. You can access My Disney Experience by logging on to the Disney World website, or by downloading the app to your smartphone. All you need to do to make the most out of your vacation is create an account.

Creating an account is as simple as visiting the Disney World website and in the top right hand corner, hover over “My Disney Experience” and click Create Account. It will take you through all of the steps to link any existing reservations, but you do not need to have anything booked to create an account. You can link reservations once they are booked at any time, and it is really easy. On my last trip I accidentally used two different e-mail addresses, but linked all of our reservations to the same My Disney Experience account.

Seven Dwarf Mine Train

My Disney Experience is awesome because it will show all future plans and reservations, as well as what is going on today. It’s very helpful to glance at your phone before you head out the door to see what time Fastpass+ experiences are, dining reservations, and of course where you are staying that night (if you are staying at a Disney Resort).

Now on to all of the things My Disney Experience keeps track of for you:

Fastpass+

When staying at a Disney resort you can make Fastpass+ reservations up to 60 days before your trip. If staying elsewhere, but you bought tickets through Walt Disney World directly, you can book Fastpass+ 30 days in advance. You will be e-mailed when you can create your Fastpasses, and you will use My Disney Experience to make the selections. I promise, there will be a post all about Fastpass+ soon! Once you have your Fastpass+ booked, these “reservations” will be shown in My Disney Experience, so you can easily see what Fastpasses you have on what day of your trip.

Magicband selection

Again, Disney will e-mail you when you can make your Magicband selection. A Magicband is a bracelet that holds all of your reservation information, and is used as your room key. You press the Mickey Head to another Mickey Head (whether it’s at your hotel room door, when entering the park or when heading onto a ride using Fastpass+). If you live in the United States, your MagicBands will be mailed to you ahead of your trip. If you live Internationally, you will pick up your MagicBands when you check in to your resort. You can choose from a variety of colours when picking out your MagicBand (red, blue, yellow, green, pink, orange, and grey). If you do not pick a colour, the default is Grey. There are accessories available in the parks to add to your MagicBand and make it your own. They are waterproof and are one size fits all (part of the strap can be removed to fit smaller wrists like mine or children’s). Keep in mind that you need your MagicBand to do pretty much everything, so keep it somewhere safe! That includes your children’s bands! If you think they will take theirs off, you should probably hold onto it for them!

Hint: You are going to want to Fastpass+ this ride!

Sharing plans with other family members

With one My Disney Experience account, you can easily add other members of your family, and create reservations for everyone in your party. For parties of 10 or more, Disney suggests calling (407) 939-7771 from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM EST to help create a My Disney Experience account for your party. If you want to create multiple accounts within your party, you can easily send reservation information to those not on your account. Disney really does think of everything!

Dining Reservations

You can very easily use the Disney World website to make dining reservations, and once they have been made, they can be linked to your account! It makes it really easy to see where you are eating, what time, and how many people are on the reservation. Want to learn more about the Disney Dining Plan? check out my post all about it!

Festival of Fantasy Parade

Reservation Information

Lastly, My Disney Experience will keep all of your hotel information in one place. It will tell you which resort you are staying at, and which days the reservations are for, It seems like it might not be needed, but if you are staying at multiple resorts during your trip, you may need to know!

The My Disney Experience App

The App has all of the information you see when looking at your profile through the Disney website and more. I used this app all the time during my last trip. When I was hungry I could see the nearest dining options, and take a look at the menu without having to walk around the park! While in line for one ride we could see what we might want to hit next by looking at the wait time. Need a washroom? You can find out where the closest one was! Forget what time the park is open until? You can check that in 30 seconds! What time was the parade again? Oh right!

Seriously. I loved this app. I still check it once in a while, just if I want to know how long the line is for Space Mountain. You never know when someone will ask you when you’re at home… right? The only complaint I have about the app is that it was sometimes slow. I was using the Wifi in the parks, but I’m sure if you were using a data the connection would be faster. Other than that, it was amazing.

I think that My Disney Experience is one of the many things that keeps Disney above and beyond other theme parks, and they are always on top of the newest technology. My Disney Experience really helps to make your vacation easier, with all of the information you could want at your fingertips.

Expedition Everest

Have you ever used My Disney Experience on the computer or the app? What were your thoughts? Need me to elaborate on anything? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading!

Kelsey
August 19, 2015

What I Love About Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios was the first Disney Park I ever visited (it was MGM Studios back then), so it holds a special place in my heart. It was the first time I met Mickey, I was terrified, and decided at the last minute I wanted to be in the picture.

I love my outfit too...

I love my outfit too…

Fantasmic!

While I love Wishes, I think Fantasmic is my favourite night show at Walt Disney World. I love it so much it is my ringtone! The storyline and effects are amazing, and the music is wonderful. Definitely get there early, as the amphitheatre fills up quickly, and get a Fastpass+ if you can! I realized during my trip in February that most of the seats are limited to Dining Packages (if you eat at Hollywood & Vine or the Hollywood Brown Derby with the package you have reserved seating), Fastpass+ and very little is open to fist come first serve guests. For Fantasmic you wouldn’t necessarily need to reserve the Fastpass+ days in advance, you can use your 3 for the day as normal and get a 4th once your 3 are used up. If you have no idea what I’m talking about with Fastpass+, keep an eye out for a future post all about it!

Tower of Terror

I had to ride this by myself last time because Ethan doesn’t like the spontaneous dropping feeling too much. The detail in the queue is amazing. If you are a fan of the Twilight Zone, you need to experience this attraction! Being in Hollywood Studios and seeing Tower of Terror in the distance makes me happy, I love experiencing this attraction!

Tower of Terror

Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre

Sci-Fi Dine In is a table service restaurant in Hollywood Studios, where you head into a set and enter an old school drive-in. Your booth is an old car and you are served by someone on roller-skates. You can enjoy your food and milkshakes while watching some black and white horror movie clips. The detail in this restaurant is amazing, and I would recommend the Oreo milkshake.

50’s Prime Time Diner

50’s Prime Time is one of my favourite restaurants in Walt Disney World. You step into a 50’s household and are server by “Mom”  or “cousin”. You are told to keep your elbows off the table, and have to eat all of your vegetables before getting dessert! The theme is really fun, as long as you are open to it. I would recommend the PB&J milkshake (also available in chocolate if you ask) and the Caesar Salad with blackened salmon. The Caesar Salad is so good that I have tried to re-create it at home! If you don’t want to sit down for a meal there is a bar that serves the entire menu. You can always get a milkshake to go! (And why wouldn’t you?!) Ethan and I always try to go to 50’s Prime Time when we are at WDW. Here is a picture of us right after we enjoyed our Blackened Salmon Caesar Salads!

Enjoying Echo Lake

Animation Academy

While it recently closed, Animation Academy was something I loved at Hollywood Studios. At Animation Academy you could take a 20 minute drawing class with an Animator. You would sit at desks with illuminated tables and pencils with NO ERASER! This taught you that you need to draw really, really lightly! It closed just over a month ago, but if you head to Art of Animation resort they have smaller classes, and they also have larger classes at Disneyland in California.

Toy Story Pizza Planet

Can you tell I love the dining options at Hollywood Studios? Toy Story Pizza Planet I love because I feel like I stepped into Toy Story. There are video games, green aliens, and PIZZA! While the pizza may not be the greatest in Walt Disney World, sometimes it is nice to have something a little different. They do have some other options available, but being a vegetarian my choices are limited to pizza. If you are a fan of Toy Story, definitely check this quick service restaurant out!

Voyage of the Little Mermaid

This was the first attraction I ever experienced at Walt Disney World. The Little Mermaid was and still is my favourite Disney movie. I still do Voyage every time I visit Hollywood Studios. This 20 minute show mixes puppetry, live actors and  cool effects, and features some of the hit songs from The Little Mermaid.

Voyage of The Little Mermaid

Hollywood Studios is a bit of a sensitive subject for me lately, because it is going through a lot of changes. There are rumours that the theme of the park may change, and more attractions will leave before the park is completed. While some attractions may come that I will enjoy, I’m sad to see some of my favourites go.

With that being said, this past weekend was a big one for Hollywood Studios. D23 Expo was held and there were a lot of announcements about upcoming movies, attractions and expansions of the parks. Hollywood Studios is getting two new lands; Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land!! For more information about the announcements, check out the Disney Parks Blog. I’m really excited to see what will be done in the parks, and hope it’s something great!

Star Wars

Want to see what else I love? Check out my other posts about EpcotMagic Kingdom, and Walt Disney World.

What do you love about Hollywood Studios? Are you excited for the expansion coming soon? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Kelsey