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 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 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