December 23, 2015

Not to Miss at Walt Disney World: For Little Ones

Planning a Walt Disney World vacation can be overwhelming. Just getting started? Check out this post. Trying to think back to when I didn’t know as much about Disney as I do now, I think about what information I wished I had. With so many things to do, it can be hard to figure out what you should do, and what you could skip. While everyone has a slightly different view on things they need to see and could pass up, I thought I would put together a couple of lists for different people, to make your life a little easier.  With that said, I would like to introduce the Not to Miss series. Over the next few weeks I will be adding posts to this series, so keep an eye out! I’ll go through the shows and attractions, the location, and any tips or tricks I’ve found when experiencing the show or attraction. First, I thought we would take a look at fun for little ones. Keeping in mind that Walt Disney World is targeted to families, this list is going to be fairly long. The majority of rides for smaller children are located at Magic Kingdom, so I started with that. Now let’s get onto the list!

Seven Dwarf Mine Train

Magic Kingdom 

Astro Orbiter– this “Dumbo” style attraction takes place much higher, offering amazing views of Tomorrowland and all of Magic Kingdom. It’s fun day or night, but I personally wouldn’t wait more than 30 minutes in line for it, and I’m sure your little ones wouldn’t want to either! Use the Disney Parks app to check the wait times and ride accordingly.

The Barnstormer– this kiddie coaster is located in Storybook Circus, and is a short but fun coaster for the kiddos. Depending on wait time, you may want to use Faspass+ for this one.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin– Enter Tomorrowland and help Buzz Lightyear defeat Emperor Zurg in this lazer shooting attraction. Spin your car and hit the targets! Kids will love to control the spinning car, and the blacklight scenes are so much fun! Fastpass+ is not needed for this attraction, but is available.

Casey Jr Soak Station– Also is Storybook Circus is this splash pad. Great for a quick cool off or some play time on a hot day! Wait time is N/A.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant –  Dumbo is now located in Storybook Circus, and has doubled in size! For the little ones they even have a playground in line! You get a buzzer and are paged when it’s your time to ride! Fastpass+ is helpful, but not needed for this attraction. If you are travelling with kids who aren’t tall enough for bigger rides, I would suggest using Fastpass+. Other versions of this ride are all around Walt Disney World. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin is in Adventureland, There is also Tricera Top Spin at Animal Kingdom. If your little ones like Dumbo, they’ll probably want to ride all of the variations.

The second newest land in Magic Kingdom is home to Dumbo!

The second newest land in Magic Kingdom is home to Dumbo!

Enchanted Tales With Belle- Step into the story of when Belle and the Beast fell in love! Your kids can help tell the story, and they will love it! Enchanted Tales With Belle is available with Fastpass+, but from what I’ve seen the wait times aren’t too bad.

Haunted Mansion- this classic takes a bit of a different spin on a haunted house. Ghosts dance and sway and come out to socialize. I was scared of this ride at 5, so keep that in mind for younger children.

It’s A Small World- The song will most likely get stuck in your head, but the dolls are adorable and the scenes are beautiful. Little ones will love the “happiest cruise that ever sailed”.

Jungle Cruise- Another classic that takes you on a cruise. Enjoy the jokes from the skipper, and say hello to Trader Sam. Fastpass+ is available, but you may want to use it on other attractions.

Mad Tea Party- This is the classic spinning teacups ride! Located in New Fantasyland, your kids will want to spin until they get dizzy! The line can get pretty long for this one, and because it doesn’t load consistently (like Winnie the Pooh), I would suggest Fastpass+ if your kids are keen on riding. It’s not needed, but you can experience it in the morning or later at night with minimal wait.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh- Enter the Hundred Acre Wood, bounce with Tigger and all of Pooh’s friends. My favourite scene is with the Heffalumps and Woozles! The line is generally pretty short.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic- Join Donald Duck and the rest of the gang in a 3D film featuring your favourite characters. This one is really fun! Don’t forget to smell the pies in the Be Our Guest scene!

 Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor- Enter Monstropolis and help Mike and his friends power the city! A funny show that sometimes picks on audience members, but all in good fun!

Peter Pan’s Flight- Probably the most popular ride in Magic Kingdom (or at least the one with the longest line), so Fastpass+ is a must if you want to ride. If you don’t want to use a Fastpass+, ride in the first hour of the day or later at night.  Fly above London and Neverland in a ship!

Pirates of the Caribbean- A classic that has small drops and lots of pirates! Can your little ones spot Captain Jack Sparrow?

Prince Charming Regal Carrousel- Actually the oldest attraction is Magoc Kingdom, this carrousel features scenes from Cinderella above.

Seven Dwarf Mine Train- This is the newest ride to Magic Kingdom, and is a small coaster that feature your favourite seven dwarfs.

Tomorrowland Speedway- This was my favourite attraction when I was 5, because I loved being in the drivers seat! Fastpass+ is available, but not needed.

Tom Sawyer Island- Take a raft over to Tom Sawyer Island where your kids can play and explore. It’s a nice change of pace in the parks.

Under the Sea: Journey of The Little Mermaid- Journey under the sea with Ariel and friends! This is one of my favourites in Magic Kingdom, and makes use of some of the great technologies now available.

Eric's Castle

Epcot

Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros- This boat ride inside the Mexico pavilion is really fun. You learn about Mexican culture with Donald, José, and Panchito! A nice ride to start or end your journey around World Showcase.

Journey Into Imagination With Figment- The Imagination pavilion has tons of fun for kids, and your little ones will love this ride. After, play the interactive games!

Kidcot Fun Stops- These stops are located all around World Showcase, and make it a little more fun for the kids. You can find the specific locations on a park map.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends- In the big blue world… dive in with Nemo and friends and help find Nemo! The coolest part is, there are actual fish swimming too! Stop by Turtle Talk with Crush after and be all like “dude”.

Soarin’- This is a fun one! Little ones will feel like they are flying! Fastpass+ this attraction, or ride in the first hour of park opening.

Voyage of The Little Mermaid

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Honey I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure- Less of an attraction and more of a playground, this one is fun! Just be warned, it can get very hot in there during the summer months!

Muppet*Vision 3D- If you have Muppet fans in your party you won’t want to miss Muppet*Vision! I still see this every trip, and I loved it when I was a kid!

Toy Story Midway Mania- Fastpass+ this one for sure. Your little ones will love shooting the cannons and hitting the targets with Woody and the gang.

Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage- This stage show is Broadway scale, and has all your favourite characters! Times are available in the Times guide when you enter the park.

Disney Junior Live on Stage- If your kids watch Disney Junior they will love this stage show! Check showtimes when you enter the park and get there a little early.

For The First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-along Celebration- Frozen fans will love this! Sing with Anna and Elsa, and people of Arendelle to your favourite Frozen songs. Fastpass+ is available, but seats are generally available for all showtimes.

Voyage of The Little Mermaid- This stage show features some of your favourite songs from my favourite Disney movie. I still go to see this once a trip, so I think your little ones would love it 😉

Toy Story Midway Mania

Animal Kingdom

The Boneyard- This playground is fenced in so no kids can get out! With lots of seating for parents, it’s a nice break! Can your little ones find any bones? Get digging!

It’s Tough to be a Bug!- Located under the Tree of Life this show features all of your favourite bugs! It’s also great to do to get a closer look at the Tree of Life. Hopper appears, and may be frightening for some children.

Kali River Rapids- You will get wet on this one! Use Fastpass+ to experience it during the hottest time of the day! The raft ride is so much fun, and you never know who will get soaked!

Kilimanjaro Safari- Definitely go on this after you’ve been on Jungle Cruise at Magic Kingdom, and see the real thing! Head out on safari and spot lots of different animals! Use Fastpass+ for this one, or ride in the first hour of park opening.

Wilderness Explorers- This is a fun activity for kids of all ages. With places all over the park, complete challenges to earn badges and become a Wilderness Explorer! Park maps will show all locations.

This guy came up right beside the truck, you never know what you will see!

This guy came up right beside the truck, you never know what you will see!

 

I know this post is quite long, but thank you for sticking through it! Have you travelled with little ones? What are their favourites? Let me know in the comments!

I also just wanted to take the time to say Happy Holidays, and thank you for sticking around on this adventure I started almost 6 months ago! It means so much to me to be able to share all of this with you!

Thanks for reading!

Kelsey
December 9, 2015

My Top 10 Rides at Walt Disney World: Part 2

Did you miss Part 1? Check that out here.  Everyone has their favourites, so I thought I would let you in on my favourite attractions. If you were to find me in the parks, I would mostly be riding these, or seeing my favourite shows. Keep an eye out for that list soon! Let’s get on with the list!

Toy Story Midway Mania

5. Toy Story Midway Mania

I seriously love this ride! The queue is so detailed, and where you board the ride you feel like you are in Andy’s room! I always try to beat Ethan (which I have yet to do), and will ride it over and over just to try. You’ll need a Fastpass+ for this one, otherwise you could be waiting over an hour. My favourite time to ride is either first thing in the morning or at night during Extra Magic Hours. I will walk off the ride and get right back in line. This ride is also amazing because of how accommodating it is. In 2012 I went with my family, and as you may already know that includes my sister Alex who is in a wheelchair. They have vehicles that accommodated her custom chair! They even have an adapted system for the “cannons” that include a button to push instead of pulling the string. During this trip Alex wasn’t feeling very well, but this ride made her smile. Check out the picture below (the quality isn’t the greatest but it will give you an idea of the adapted car. You can also sort of see the buttons on the triggers, the button is yellow on the green cannon).

Toy Storia Mania Car

 

4. Soarin’

I love Soarin’ so much that it is the only attraction that made in into the “What I Love..” series, which you can read here. Again this is an attraction that is really special to me because of Alex. This is something that she would never get to experience in real life, but to see her face when it feels like you are hang-gliding, is pretty amazing. I love the views and the smells, but the music is the best. Soarin’ is going under refurbishment in the new year, and will re-open in the summer with a new “movie”. It will be called Soarin’ Around the World. While I’m sad to see the original show go, I have to admit that it will better fit the theme of Epcot. I do hope the score stays the same!

3. Tower of Terror

It’s just the best! I love how detailed everything is, and if you are a fan of The Twilight Zone you might recognize some nods to the series in line! I’m usually a complete wimp, so I feel mighty brave when I go on this one. I love that’s it’s not just a drop zone, but it has a storyline to it. And the view at the top? You can’t beat it! Just remember to keep your eyes open!

You're about to enter... The Twilight Zone.

You’re about to enter… The Twilight Zone.

2. The Haunted Mansion

Haunted Mansion is such a great attraction, it’s definitely a classic. I remember the first time I rode it when I was 5, and after seeing the Disneyland version on the Sing-a-long songs VHS I mentioned in part 1, I really wanted to go on it. So my Mom and I went, and I closed my eyes the entire time. Alex was always scared of that scene growing up, so I think it got to me a little. At least, that’s the excuse I’m going with. Now, it’s one of my favourite rides. The details are amazing, and I love the technology used throughout the ride. During my trip in February, we went on this ride and got to hear some details about how they pull off the effects. Don’t worry, I won’t ruin it for you! But you might recognize the voice of Madame Leota from two Disney Movies, I’ll give you a chance to find a video and put the answer at the bottom of the post!

1. Splash Mountain

Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah indeed! Splash Mountain is my #1. In my opinion, you get the most bang for your buck with this ride. At almost 10 minutes in length, you really escape the lines and the park, and are immersed in the attraction. I love the characters and the story, and it doesn’t help that the water is refreshing during a hot Florida day! The queue is extremely detailed, and the ride is too! I love the music, and find something new every time I ride. It’s always funny after the big drop to see who get’s splashed the worst! In February Ethan and I rode at night (which was a first for me, and there was no line!) and has our rain jackets. During the big drop I had my hood up and crouch over, while Ethan got hit right in the face with a wave. It was hilarious! It’s always different with who gets wet, which makes it more fun. I love that even after you take the plunge, there is still more of the ride left, and the best song kicks in! I can never pass up a ride on Splash Mountain. It just brings me a lot of joy. At the top of that hill, seeing the castle straight ahead is just perfect. That’s about the best word I can find to describe it.

Br'er Rabbit

What is your favourite attraction in Walt Disney World? Let me know in the comments!

And  the answer to the question of The Haunted Mansion: Madame Leota is voiced by Eleanor Audrey, who also voices Lady Tremaine from Cinderella and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty! Another fun fact about Madame Leota: the voice is done by Eleanor Audrey, but her face is that of Leota Toombs. You can find her voice (which was too high for Madame Leota) near the end of the attraction. She is a ghost sitting on a door frame saying “hurry baccck, don’t forget your death certificate”.

Thanks for reading,

Kelsey
December 2, 2015

Disney’s Magical Express: Everything You Need to Know

Airport transport is always stressful. Taxi? Rental car? After a flight it’s the last thing you want to worry about. That’s where Disney’s Magical Express comes in. So what’s the deal? Let’s go through everything you need to know.

What is it?

Disney’s Magical Express is transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and the Disney Resort hotels.

Who can use it?

Disney’s Magical Express is available to guests staying at any of the Disney Resort Hotels.

How does it work?

When booking your vacation either online or over the phone you will be prompted to add the service or not. You will be mailed luggage tags with the resort area you are staying in a few weeks before your trip, and a booklet with all of the information you need. When you attach the luggage tags to your suitcase before your trip, you will not have to worry about your bags once you land. Simply bypass baggage claim and head straight to the Disney’s Magical Express area of the airport and head to Walt Disney World. At some point during the day your bags will be delivered to your hotel room. Like magic! If you would like to hang on to your luggage, just don’t attach the tags to your luggage. They will be waiting for your at baggage claim.

If you live in the United States, you will be shipped your MagicBands before your trip. You will use your MagicBand when you get to the Disney’s Magical Express counter as it has the reservation information on it. So make sure to keep your MagicBands in your carry ons! If you live outside of the United States (like me) your MagicBands will be waiting for you when you check in to your hotel. The booklet that comes with the luggage tags has all of your reservation information in it, so you will need that to board the Disney’s Magical Express.

 

magical-express-00-sq

How much is it?

Absolutely FREE! It’s one of the reasons I strongly suggest taking advantage of it. Because most families dedicate their vacation to Walt Disney World, it makes sense to not have to worry about transportation.

How does it work on the way home?

The day before your departure from Walt Disney World you will receive information from Disney’s Magical Express about your bus time. If you are flying on a select airline, you can check your luggage at your resort, and you won’t have to worry about it until you arrive at your home airport. The airlines are listed on the Walt Disney World Website, and are all domestic airlines. Again, keep either your MagicBand or reservation booklet with you in your carry on, otherwise you will not be able to get on the bus! (but I wouldn’t blame you, you’d get to stay in WDW!) Simply show up a bit before (20 minutes before) your scheduled bus time where you were dropped off at arrival. Once you arrive at the airport, you will not have to worry about your luggage if you have already checked it, or you will have it with you if you did not. Head to your airline check in and have a safe trip home!

Welcome!

Tips and Tricks!

Over the years I have learned some tricks to taking the Magical Express. Hopefully you will remember these for your next trip!

Think about how many days you want to go to the parks when booking. On arrival day, I usually want to visit the parks, so once we are check in to the hotel, we will be at the parks!

Bring extra clothes in your carry-on. This tip ties in with the one above! I live just outside of Toronto, so for my trip in February, I experienced quite a difference in temperature once arriving at Orlando. I always bring a change of clothes in my carry on, and change at the Orlando Airport. This way I am all ready to go to the parks as soon as I can! Keep in mind the items you will want with you in the parks if you are visiting on arrival day! You can see what I usually have in my backpack here.

Don’t forget about departure day! I want to squeeze every moment out of a Disney Vacation. This means I am usually very strategic when selecting flights. My flight arriving in Orlando is usually in the morning, and my flight leaving is usually later in the day. So, on departure day, I check out the hotel, check my bags at the hotel (if I can’t check them in for the flight, depending on where I am flying from), and head to the parks.

DisneyBalloons

I love taking the Disney’s Magical Express, and it has become part of the routine of heading to Walt Disney World. Before the end of the post, I wanted to share some quick stories of the Magic Express I have had over the years.

In 2012, my sister was feeling a little under the weather, so my family got a bus to ourselves. (It’s not a good story because she wasn’t feeling well, but it was funny to have an entire motorcoach for 5 people).

And in February, when Ethan and I checked in to the Magical Express, the Caribbean Beach line was moving, and we walked straight onto the bus. Take into account how much I love Disney, and how upon arrival at the Orlando Airport I’m practically running to get to WDW. Let’s just say I was really happy.

I hope this has given you all the information you need to know about Disney’s Magical Express, and I hope you will take advantage of this service on your next trip!

Have you ever taken Disney’s Magical Express? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading!

Kelsey