Only WDWorld A Community About The Walt Disney World Resort <![CDATA[ Too ordinary to be either Carroll or Burton.]]>
"Alice in Wonderland" is quite possibly the most boring film Tim Burton has ever made. It is so boring - and tedious, and maddening, and flat - that it comes off as an absolute surprise that such a brilliant and visionary filmmaker would have made it. But did Burton really make it? That's what I'm wondering by the time it's over, because this is just a mess. And not a fun mess either. It's one of those good-looking, overly indulgent and just-so-goddamn-stupid messes. And it shouldn't have ended up as it did. Burton is one of the finest visual artists working in the film industry today (see "Sweeney Todd", "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", and "Big Fish" for recent examples of his more positive contributions to the film world), and Lewis Carroll's spectacularly strange and controversial "Through the Looking Glass" seemed like the perfect project for the man to tackle. Maybe the problem rests in the fact that it's yet another Disney-made adaptation of the material; and perhaps another was Burton's inability to recognize that the first one (the animated feature that captured the hearts of many all those decades ago) got it right on the note that it was trying to strike. The studio took the images and feelings of Tim Burton and made their own film out of his gifts.

Alice (played here by the lovely Mia Wasikowska) was once a little girl, although she never really stops being one. The story begins with the revelation that she has been having recurring and peculiar nightmares lately and at such a young age; and the scene that follows that one goes on to say that the bad dreams never ended. Just when Alice is about to be proposed to by a man she doesn't even love (thus making her society's definition of a lady), her visions return to her; and she follows the sharply dressed white rabbit down the deep dark hole that leads to Wonderland (which is really called Underland, according to most of the residents). Alice has been there before when she was younger, although her memory is pretty hazy. The door-mouse, white rabbit, dodo bird, and fat twin midgets Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum remember her quite fondly though, although they are forever skeptical of her true identiy; as is the blue, hookah-smoking caterpillar Absolem (voice of Alan Rickman), who has less screen-time than his fascinating character deserves.

Alice re-unites with her old friends from Underland - including the prolific Cheshire Cat (voice of Stephen Fry) and the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) among others - only to hear the same thing from every one of them; a path has been laid out for her, and at the end of the road, she must bring down the diabolical Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and her pet dragon, the Jabberwocky (voice of Christopher Lee). To do this, she must obtain some magical sword; bring it back to the palace of The White Queen (Anna Hathaway) so that they can then assemble an army of good guys to fight the army of bad guys (who are all shaped like cards, no less). The first act is getting there, the second is Alice pondering this "destiny" of hers, and the last act is the slaying of the Jabberwocky and beyond. There seems to be a moral to the story, and perhaps it deals with Alice becoming a woman through her experiences in Underland; but yet again, Burton seems to believe that his audience will buy into his "themes" if he presents them in his story for a mere 30 seconds or so. I wonder where the smart, thought-provoking Burton went. Perhaps down the rabbit hole never to return.

At the very least, his "Alice in Wonderland" has the advantage of looking very, very good. There are vibrant colors, elaborate sets and costumes, and remarkable special effects. These are all good, and kudos to those who worked so hard to bring this vision to life. However, this is Burton going more-so down the path of a CGI extravaganza than an actual compelling story; of which there is clearly one to be told here that isn't so-much told at all. Burton has a lot of opportunities to deal with personal themes and put images on the screen that are easy on the eyes but psychedelic in their appeal, but he takes the easy way out and makes yet another bland adaptation of Carroll's story for children. That's not to say that all parents will be bored - since this is a love it or hate it kind of film - but for me, there was little aside from the frequent eye-candy to keep me awake. The characterization is ridiculously shallow, the plotting is far too simplistic, the messages heavy-handed and lame, and it even feels slightly mis-cast at times. Depp should not have played the Mad Hatter, Crispin Glover's role should not have been played by Crimson Glover, and Helena Bonham Carter's constant "off with his/her head" chanting gets more annoying than charming as it goes along.

It's only once in a blue moon that a Tim Burton film bores me to death, but it had to happen eventually, and unfortunately that movie also had to be "Alice in Wonderland". In all honesty, it's a visually impressive movie, but it lacks all substance and aggravates more than it entertains. There are a few disposable chuckles as only Burton can deliver them, and the images feel at least somewhat like his own, but the movie just doesn't work whatsoever. You can craft a purely visual experience and still bring the viewer into your world, although that isn't what Burton does here. The film is far too conventional and generic to do that. Instead of a welcome treat of trippy spectacle, we get an adaptation that sticks its head down the rabbit hole but not its body and soul. Either Burton didn't really understand the source material or the studio held him at gunpoint and told him when to yell "action" and "cut". Knowing Burton, it's probably the latter; but I can't imagine why he'd ever let this kind of thing happen to himself either.]]> Wed, 23 May 2012 20:55:08 +0000
<![CDATA[ Disney World: 50's Prime Time Cafe - Take A Look Into Mom's Kitchen]]>

At Disney's Hollywood Studios you can have a real dining experience that transports you back to the 50's into the world of Mom's Kitchen and when the TV was still a relatively new invention.  The 50's Prime Time Cafe combines detailed theming to go with a menu filled with comfort food and family favorites like Fried Chicken and Meatloaf.

"TV at your table"

The 50's Prime Time Cafe is certainly not your typical restaurant.  You get that sense before you even walk in the door.  In neon lights above the door is the sign "TV at your table." 

Televisions are apparent everywhere in this restaurant. From the lobby, to the waiting area, to the dining rooms. These black and white beauties only play shows and clips from 50's era programming, so get ready for wholesome family entertainment.

Relaxing waiting area that is just off of the main entrance.  Decorated like the family room in a 50's era home.

One interesting note is that all of the TV's are Disney brand. 

You can find this kitchen mock-up just inside the main entrance near the hostess stand. 

Lucky groups of 4 or less may get one of the tables that has their own TV to watch.  The decor is designed to make you feel right at home, literally.  Of course you would have to transport 60 years back in time or live on the Carousel Of Progress.


Here is another view inside the restaurant and the seating arrangements. 

Yet another TV for diners to watch.

 Mom Makes The Rules

The theming for the 50's Prime Time Cafe extends beyond the decorations.  The talented wait staff is in character and will let you know if you go astray of the "House Rules."  Remember to eat your vegetables and keep your elbows off of the table or you will hear about it.  You also will be asked to set your own table.  Have fun and enjoy the interactive theater of sorts. 

Mom's Favorite Recipes

The cuisine is homemade American Comfort Food as the stereotypical Mom would have made them in the 50's.  The specialties of the house are: Fried Chicken, Meatloaf, and Pot Roast.  Don't expect fancy, gourmet cuisine, but you will get a good meal.  You may also want to try the famous PB&amp;J Milkshake that everyone raves about.

 The Tune-In Lounge is connected to the 50's Prime Time Cafe and has a fully stocked bar that you can enjoy while you are waiting for your table or you can order an alcoholic beverage ( beer, wine, and mixed drinks) during your meal.

 Our party of 4 tried four different dishes at a recent lunch visit to the 50's Prime Time Cafe to get a good sampling of what they have to offer:

 Dad's Traditional Meatloaf  ($14.99) is pictured above.  It is a "blend of beef and pork topped with tomato glaze served with mashed potatoes and green beans."  It was a good, comfort food meal, if not the best meatloaf ever.


Aunt Liz's Golden Fried Chicken ($15.99) was definitely the most popular dish.  It is "served with mashed potatoes, chicken gravy, and southern greens."  This was a very filling meal, so bring your appetite.


The Fish Sandwich ($11.99) is a "beer-battered fillet served on a crusty roll with lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce served with a house salad or french fries."  I personally had this for lunch and was very pleased with my choice.  It was a very tasty sandwich and it was quite filling.


Cousin Eric's Char-Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($13.49) is "marinated chicken breast topped with cheddar, grilled onions, barbecue sauce, lettuce, and tomato on a kaiser roll served with a house salad or french fries."  This is a healthier lunch option, especially when you opt for the salad instead of the fries.  Again the food was tasty and the portions were large and filling. 

To view the full menu: 50's Prime Time Cafe Lunch Menu

                                   50's Prime Time Cafe Dinner Menu 

Desserts Via Viewmaster

If you want to see the dessert menu at 50's Prime Time Cafe just check out the Viewmaster at the table.  You can then check out each of your options.

 Here is the current dessert line-up:

  • Dad's Brownie Sundae

  • No Sugar Added Cheesecake

  • 50's Boston Cream Parfait

  • Seasonal Cobbler

  • Ice Cream Sundaes

  • S'Mores

Disney World Dining Review

The 50's Prime Time Cafe is not the place for a gourmet meal or a romantic dinner, but it is a fun and entertaining dining option for the family when visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios.  It is one of the best themed meals at Disney World

 The waiter or waitress that you get can make the difference from having a good time or having a great time dining there.  They play a key role in the experience and the fun.

The food is good, comfort food.  Know that going in and you will be fine.  Most families will have no problem finding something on the menu that each person will enjoy.

 Overall this is a restaurant that everyone should experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  This truly qualifies as an attraction as well as a restaurant.  Take our advice and check it out!

]]> Mon, 19 Dec 2011 02:11:04 +0000
<![CDATA[ Disney World Bay Lake Tower - A Resort With A View Of The Magic]]>

At the Disney Vacation Club's newest resort at Walt Disney World : Bay Lake Tower At Disney's Contemporary Resort you can get incredible close-up views of the Magic Kingdom and an experience that differentiates itself from all other Disney Vacation Club Resorts.

Bay Lake Tower

Staying true to the design elements of Disney's Contemporary Resort, Bay Lake Tower takes that "contemporary" feel and applies it to the design of the rooms and amenities for the new hotel.



The studio rooms have the same amenities that you will find in the other Disney Vacation Club Resorts, but the layout is different and the feel is a little on the cozy side.


Incredible Views

What sets Bay Lake Tower apart from the other Disney Vacation Club Resorts is Location, Location, Location.  You are right next to the original Disney World Theme Park and have both walking access and monorail access to the Magic Kingdom.  Along with the close proximately comes some incredible views.

The pictures shown above and below are taken from the 12th floor of Bay Lake Tower.  The above picture is from the exit to the elevator, while the ones below are taken from a Magic Kingdom View Studio.




The views get even better as you move on to night time.  There is nothing like seeing the Magic Kingdom at night.  It takes on a whole new persona.




Top Of The World Lounge

At the top of Bay Lake Tower is the exclusive Top Of The World Lounge that is only accessible by Disney Vacation Club members that are staying at Bay Lake Tower.




The inside of the glass walled lounge follows the theming of the Contemporary Resort and offers a full bar and a limited appetizer type food menu.


The most impressive part of the lounge though is the rooftop views.  It is also a great place to catch the Wishes Fireworks.  The music from the show is pumped into the lounge and the outside viewing area.  It is really neat to catch Wishes from a whole new perspective.




Bay Lake Tower Amenities

Like all Disney Vacation Club Resorts, Bay Lake Tower also has great amenitiess like a feature pool with slide, microwave and mini refrigerator in the studios and full kitchen in the larger rooms.  There is also a Community Hall where you can go for fun activities or just pick out a DVD to take back to your room to watch for FREE.





Quick Review Of Bay Lake Tower

Bay Lake Tower is a beautiful Resort Hotel.  You check in at the main desk of the Contemporary Resort and then head to the self contained Bay Lake Tower.  It is connected to the Contemporary Resort by covered Walkway.

The rooms are beautiful and the furnishings fit well with the Contemporary theme.  The studio felt cozy compared to other Disney Vacation Club Resort Studios, but it still fit my family of 4.

This may sound funny, but one of the comments I had after leaving was that it did not feel as "homey" as the other DVC Resorts.  Then again it is "Contemporary," and "homey" was not quite the look that they were going for.

If you plan on spending a good part of your vacation visiting the Magic Kingdom there is no better place to be.  It is a wonderful convenience to be able to walk to the Magic Kingdom and even better to be able to walk back to the Resort at the end of the night instead of waiting on a bus.  This also makes it incredibly convenient if you are planning to dine at one or more of the great restaurants located at the Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Resort, or the Grand Floridian Resort.

 At the end of my stay I would definitely have to say that I enjoyed staying at this beautiful resort with the incredible views.  With that said, it did not become one of my favorite Disney resorts.  The contemporary styling did not fit as much with the relaxing style that I personally look for on vacation.  There are several other Disney World Resorts that I have enjoyed better.

]]> Mon, 19 Dec 2011 01:58:20 +0000
<![CDATA[Magic Kingdom Quick Tip by brucewdw]]>

Back to the Future:
The New "Old" Mickey Mouse Watches
at Walt Disney World Main Street Watches


We returned this weekend from our trip to Walt Disney World. I have about 1500 photographs and two dozen videos to index, sort and prepare for use in stories for the "A World View" blog. But one set of pictures are of a new Disney Parks product line recently introduced at D23 and which arrived at Walt Disney World for display and sale just on the day we arrived. They are a reproduction of the original Ingersoll Mickey Mouse Watches.


They are not cheap (this is Disney of course), with prices between $250 and $300. But if you don't have four figures to purchase an original, this may just be the next best thing. I was very tempted and may just dig deep on one of the classic reproductions on my next visit. I took these photos at the Main Street Watch store.








According to Tracie Alt, Product Developer for Timepieces in the Disney Parks Blog: “We are excited to introduce these classic Mickey Mouse timepieces to Disney Parks in the United States,” explained Tracie. “There is a lot of history that comes with these watches and they are a great tribute to the heritage of the Walt Disney Company. While the watches look like the originals, they were made with modern materials.”


They also had a preview of several other classic Disney watches by Ingersoll at the D23 Expo which featured classic Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck, paired with fashionable designs and planned for a fall release. The picture below is from the Disney Parks Blog.


]]> Fri, 25 Nov 2011 20:43:51 +0000
<![CDATA[ Preparing for a Disney Vacation]]>  

There are as many variations of vacation preparation as there are attractions at Walt Disney World. Some people just show up and wing it; others schedule nearly every hour of the day. Me, I’m something right of center since I do create a summary spreadsheet, make my ADRs well in advance, and compile a list of the “must do” things for my trip, which I carry with me and check-off.



For this year’s trip I’ll also be bringing along a new tool, which is “Lines” from Touring Plans, a smart phone app. But that will be for a post-trip article.


TODAY I’d just like to list out seven recommendations which I feel will help others, particularly newbies, in preparing for their visits. What about yours? Remember to add your comments, but please read read the articles that follow from this month’s Magical Blogorail Red collection.


1. Of course my next trip is not my first, so I’ve learned to begin planning just after my last trip. We'll prepare some notes of what we had planned to do and didn’t, such as restaurants to visit, or back-stage tours, events or activities to attend, but weren't able to. And then we begin to think about what time of the year my next visit may be since that affect the "to do" list. I’ll create a word processing document to keep running notes.


2. During the pause between visits, which could be a year or more, I purchase my recommended Guidebook, The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World. I get lots of ideas that are added to the new planning list I’m maintaining. Recently I purchased a second book but this one is digital, the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining. Restaurants and foodie events are becoming very important during our trips.



3. I enter contests. That's why I started Disney Contests and Sweepstakes. I used to just watch for the contest ads on the various websites out there. As I was maintaining my own list of Disney vacation contests to enter (and re-enter), I thought I'd share it with everyone... which was why the new website. Hey, you never know!


4. I check out a lot of websites in between visits. It’s one of those ways to keep the Magic alive. I love to read about Disney and WDW, and I like to hear what others have to say. Although I didn't mean for this article to be a link-back to my sites, but that is why I started the Disney Blogger Collection; as my list of sites grew, I thought why not share this with others as well. Now I don't read every one of the nearly 500 websites I've collected, but I do regularly check out the most recent posts since they are always on the top of the page (especially the wonderful bloggers of the Magical Blogorail).


5. I've also signed up for several newsletters, like from AllEarsMouseSaversThe Disney Dish and the Disney Food Blog, which come through e-mail and are quick to review to find out what's new, what's good to eat and about any new money-saving tips. Then of course, there are the half-dozen Disney fan Podcasts we listen to like those from WDW TodayWDW RadioBetaMouse and many more (check I-Tunes for free downloads).



6. We do make our restaurant ADR's beginning 180 days in advance. Maybe not all of them, since we do try to visit during the less than full park seasons. But as we review menus and make list of our favorite and new restaurants, we will make dinner reservations (and sometimes breakfasts) well in advance. Of course, these can always be changed as we get closer, but if the foodie stop is important to us, we don’t want to take the chance of not getting a table during the visit. The Disney web site is best for searching and making online reservations.


7. We do over pack; it’s something that we seem to accomplish every trip. But even then, we don’t always remember all that we should, so we use MouseSavers Ultimate Packing List. I have gathered up a bunch of other planning resources created by other Disney fans, and are always looking for more suggestions. Let me know if this selection of tools is missing something important.

A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World
]]> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 22:23:22 +0000
<![CDATA[ Off the Beaten Path: Main Street I]]> We love Walt Disney World for attractions, resorts, restaurants, characters and more. But for many of us who return time after time, there is always something a little less travelled at the "World" enhancing the overall Disney experience and drawing us back. This story is about some of the lesser known or frequented Disney magic that makes our vacations truly special or unique, and which takes us off the beaten path at Walt Disney World.


Today we take a walk down Main Street, U.S.A. As much as this is the main entrance into the Magic Kingdom, most people walk very quickly down the street toward Cinderella’s Castle and into the park hub. But even in the Parks, there are overlooked or infrequently visited attractions and activities.


This is the first of two stories on things to see and do on Main Street of Walt Disney World, but which are still off the beaten path.




Sit back in the good ol’ barber’s chair and get ready for a good old-fashioned haircut at Harmony Barber Shop. It is located near the Emporium gift shop with a signature candy-striped pole outside. A step into Harmony Barber Shop is a step back in time. Hair tonics and talcum powders line the dark burgundy shelves. The Dapper Dans barbershop quartet strolls by daily, singing melodious tunes in perfect harmony and entertaining guests with their humorous banter.



Haircuts for children age 12 and under are priced at just $15. Another popular treatment for kids as well as kids-at-heart is colored hair gel, which costs $7.50. Of course there are also services for grown-ups to enjoy. An adult haircut costs $19. Beard and mustache trims are $5.


“First Haircuts” is the establishment’s specialty. Young Walt Disney World guests who receive their first haircut at the Magic Kingdom barbershop are treated to many delightful surprises, from “pixie dust” and bubbles to Mickey Mouse stickers, and an extra-special “My 1st Haircut” set of Mouse Ears and certificate. The “My 1st Haircut” special is priced at $18.


Harmony Barber Shop only accepts appointments for those staying at a Disney resort or guests who have dining reservations. Guests without reservations are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. [Prices are subject to change without notice.]




Main Street Vehicles let Guests take a historic one-way ride on a fire engine, omnibus and more down Main Street. And there is no charge for this ride.


Photo by Disney

Imagine living life a little more slowly than at today's superfast pace. You can when you climb aboard any of this charming transportation inspired by the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Catch a ride in Town Square or in front of Cinderella Castle for your nostalgic one-way journey. Cruise on the new-fangled contrivance of your choice: horse-pulled trolley, omnibus, horseless carriage, or fire engine. Then turn heads as you travel in style. You'll enjoy the relaxed, quiet pace of the good old days.


They don't build them like they used to, do they?




A respectful ceremony honoring the veterans and current members of the armed forces is held every evening around 5:00 as part of the retreat ceremony for the American Flag. (But it’s best to check the schedule for the exact time, and arrive a few minutes early for the best spot to watch.) Disney encourages service members and veterans to register at Guest Services if they will be available to participate; one of whom will be specifically recognized at the event.


The Disney “plus” to this event begins with the Main Street Philharmonic and the Dapper Dans offering their renditions of several American patriotic songs. 

When the flag is lowered, a selected veteran of that day is introduced, along with their family, and who then assists in the folding of the flag in the official military manner.


Once this is complete, some military music follows and then the Guest Veteran, the Disney Color Guard, the Main Street Philharmonic and the Dapper Dans march down Main Street to conclude the ceremony.


Read more about this special ceremony:

A WORLD VIEW - ENJOYING WALT DISNEY WORLD]]> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 22:16:12 +0000
<![CDATA[ Traveling the Concrete Rail Moves You from Here to There at Walt Disney World]]>  

The Monorail at Walt Disney World can get you from here to there, just not everywhere at Walt Disney World. If you are at the Magic Kingdom and you want to go to Epcot, take the Monorail. To get to Polynesian, Grand Floridian and Contemporary Resorts, hop on at the Magic Kingdom and enjoy this wonderful, comfortable transportation; or via Epcot to the TTC adding one easy transfer.


Photo by BruceWDW of A World View

I just always love to ride the Monorail. The view is above the fray, and it’s normally a comfortable ride even if just to rest a little. Now, believe me, during the busy season it can be somewhat “close” like a subway car only not a long trip from the start to your station. Then, it is not so much fun although I must say people don’t crowd in like they do in New York City.


Here are three photos from my favorite Disney fan photographer, Joe Penniston known as Express Monorail on Flickr. Now these are great photos, but you should spend some time on his web site to truly appreciate his great talent and eye for magic in pictures.





There are actually three loops. When travelling to the Magic Kingdom, you can catch a ride directly from the TTC (Ticket and Transportation Center) to the park. This is normally used by those coming from Epcot and transferring; or if you’re driving to the Magic Kingdom since you’re really parking at the TTC and taking the Monorail over to the park.


This is the reason that even guests using a car during their visit should take the bus from their onsite hotel to the Magic Kingdom, since the bus takes you right to the entrance area and this saves a lot of time and effort.


A second loop takes you from Epcot to the TTC. The last loop connects the Magic Kingdom and TTC to what are known as the Monorail Resorts: Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Contemporary and Bay Lake Towers, although walking to the Magic Kingdom entrance from the latter two sites is preferred by most guests.


Among the most quoted one-liners at Walt Disney World is the Monorail warning: Please stand clear of the doors; Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas. There are even T-shirts now with this statement on them. Check it out on this You Tube video from the ryanmagruder channel.



Start and end times are normally measured by park opening and closing. So the Monorail taking you to the Magic Kingdom starts its runs about 90 minutes before opening. The Monorail ends its day about one hour after the regular park closing times. That is regular park closing, so if you stay later for extra magic hours, plan on taking the bus back to your Disney resort. This is a new policy that just began this month.


And remember travelling from the Magic Kingdom to Epcot is not that quick a ride; you could be taking more than a half hour to leave the park, wait and then climb aboard your Monorail, travel over and get to the next park entrance. Of course, if you have an ADR, leave even more time since you’ll be travelling during a busier period, so an hour one-way set-aside is not a bad idea. (Sometimes a car or even a taxi is preferred when timing your travel to appointments.)


Unfortunately one of the better magical moments once enjoyed on the Monorail is no longer, and that is being allowed to ride up in the front car of this overhead marvel. The view is exciting, but after some well publicized accidents, safety concerns have trumped the magical experience.

Photo by Disney

Here is some technical information about the WDW Monorail System from the WDW Magic web site (, a wonderful planning web page with a ton of information on attractions, dining, sorts, tips, new and much more.

  • Each of the six-car trains is 203 feet long, travelling on a 26-inch wide concrete beam.
  • The system can carry 7,000 guests each direction per hour, with 150,000 guests riding a typical day.
  • The system is 14.7 miles and includes 11 monorails in the following colors: Teal, Red, Coral, Orange, Gold, Yellow, Lime Green, Blue, Silver and Black.

Check out for its Monorail Story, but also Wikipedia for more information.

]]> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 22:14:01 +0000
<![CDATA[ Starring Rolls is a Sweet Stop in Disney Hollywood Studios]]>

Some of the best quick service meals anywhere in Walt Disney World are found in the street-side eateries in Disney Hollywood Studios. Starring Rolls Café on Sunset Avenue is one of favorites for breakfast, lunch and snacks… particularly pastry snacks and a good coffee.
It can get a little crowded in the building itself (and difficult to know who is "next") but you’ll eat outside anyway, which is one of the reasons I love coming here since I’m a people watcher. You get a good view of people coming and going in different directions. There are several dozen seats on the patio, but I often find a place on the edges near the sidewalk or above the sunken patio.
Photo by


So pick what you want from the sandwiches and baked goods in the glass displays, and believe me; whatever you select will be delicious. Plus, your selection will very likely be good for two persons (especially the sandwiches like Black Forest Ham, Turkey Focaccia or a Whole Wheat Veggie Pita which are about $10 each. But also available here is Smoked Salmon (Lox) or Pastrami on a bagel.
Most people will stop here for the pastries, and also mini-pastries (I think they call this diet food). There is an assortment of cupcakes (a unique selection and very large), croissants (including chocolate) or a plain bagel. Plus Nestle’s Toll House Cookies and the Hollywood Brown Derby (which is just next door) Grapefruit Cake. 


"Chocolate Peanut Butter and Red Velvet Cupcakes!"
by Christopher O


I think the prices are reasonable considering Disney. And most of the items you pick can be a “snack” on the dining plan; but the sandwich will make it the start of a “quick service” meal credit.
The coffee here is particularly good, which I'm sure is because Nestle puts their name on the product. You can get cappuccino, café mocha, espresso or some flavor additions for your coffee. There are also the typical cold drinks like water, soda, milks, juices, lemonade and teas. You can also indulge yourself with wine, which I don’t really understand unless it’s a “Hollywood” thing for a café. But maybe it goes with the sushi choices you will find on the menu as well.


Photos by weinert


The hours can vary, depending on the day and the crowd, but 9 am to 4 pm is normal. The attire is casual and the prices reasonable. It is a great stop for the whole family.
Links to more good stuff on Starring Rolls:

A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World

]]> Sun, 26 Jun 2011 13:49:43 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom; Often the First Stop of the Vacation]]> What attraction do you always run to first at Disney and why? I spent a lot of time thinking about this, since for attractions it depends on what park. It also depends on when we're visiting and who is with us, so in the end, there are many attractions I'll try to catch a fast pass or early ride on.

Then I remembered about the real first thing we do on our visits, on nearly every vacation. It's breakfast at the Main Street Bakery. And its not just the wonderful selections and the aroma of fresh basked pastries. It's the consistency of the menu, which welcomes us back every visit. But mostly the memory of a special gift that made me a hero to my wife one day. That's always a good thing.

First the hero story. On a visit to WDW several years ago, we were in the Main Street Bakery for our opening day breakfast and my wife selected the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffin. Mary Ann is a muffin aficionado to be sure, and actually bakes a wide variety of gourmet muffins for herself every week. She exclaimed that she loves these Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins and looks forward to having them during her Disney visits.


Main Street Bakery Counter
Photo by Disney On Wheels

So like any good husband, I stored this bit of wife happiness in my memory (I can never remember what she hints at for Christmas, but I did remember this muffin.). Fast forward many months and a friend of mine tells me that she and her family is going to Disney World. So I said, do you think you could do me a favor? And I then explain the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffin and how nice it would be if they could buy me a half dozen and ship them to me overnight.


I never took a picture of the Muffins, so these
scrumptious Chocolate Croissants will  have to do.

Now, I'll do a lot of things for my friends when I'm on a Disney trip, but buying, packing and shipping fresh muffins via overnight mail is not something I've ever done in the past. Well, I can't thank my friend and her husband enough, because that is exactly what they did. This box of Chocolate Chocolate Chip muffins from the Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom shows up at my doorstep. I can smell them through the packaging. Immediately, I drive over to Mary Ann's office and drop this box on her desk and smile.
I'm a happy man because my wife is a happy lady. It's baked goods as pixie dust for a Disney magical moment 1,000 miles from Orlando.  So of course, I want to relive that feeling every visit, so the Main Street Bakery is nearly always our first stop on our Disney vacation.

As a counter-service dining option in the Magic Kingdom, there are more than pastries on the menu. In fact, you will be able to find a variety of sandwiches, the difference being they are all pre-packaged. Another nice feature are items for people with special diets such as gluten-free foods, but as you know, Disney is very accommodating for persons with various nutrition requirements. [The selection is not like Downtown's Baby Cakes, but you'll get your energy fix.]

So from a snack point of view, or to have a sweet-cake breakfast what should you try. As you can tell, my wife is into muffins, especially Chocolate Chocolate Chip, and there are many other fresh baked choices to select from every day. I'm into croissants, just plain at times but the chocolate croissant is just yummy. Of course, I've stopped by in the afternoon (usually on the way out) for an ice cream sandwich (giant cookie filled with lots of ice cream) and the cinnamon roll is just overwhelming, especially if you ask for extra frosting.

Here are some web site links with a ton of really delicious photos to drool over from the Main Street Bakery.

A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World

]]> Sun, 26 Jun 2011 13:45:03 +0000
<![CDATA[ YES, Pull the Rope!]]>

Right next to the entrance of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular in Disney Hollywood Studios there is a sign you can feel free to ignore. What the area appears to be is an excavation site of a archeologist dig, with a rope extending out for you to grab and pull… and you should do just that.

If you listen closely before you pull the rope (note, the word “NOT” is crossed out, so go ahead) you can hear what sounds like people working below you. Once you pull the rope, you will hear the workers who are archeologist’s searching for their treasure, as they complain about your pulling of the rope.

Make sure you pull several times to catch all the conversation. On the video, it is a little difficult to hear, although you can catch most of what is being said. However, the parade that started up in the background didn’t help.


This is one of those hidden treasures at Walt Disney World that most people will pass right by. As it has been said by many experienced Disney Park visitors, stop and look around for the unexpected so you can capture the entire magic of the “World”.

A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World

]]> Sun, 26 Jun 2011 13:39:15 +0000
<![CDATA[ Should you use Disney Photo Pass? It depends; I have and I will likely use again.]]>

Blogger Bruce and DW Mary Ann
captured by a Disney PhotoPass Photographer

Today I’d like to talk about the Disney PhotoPass Service. Some people will rave about PhotoPass and others will say the charges are too high for the number of pictures. My opinion is that it depends.

  • It depends on whether this is your first time using PhotoPass. I think there is real value to using PhotoPass at least for one vacation; or every vacation when new groups of people accompany you. But I wouldn’t use PhotoPass every trip the “World”.
  • It depends on whether you like to be creative with your photos and do editing on the computer. If you like to add Disney borders and designs on your pictures or if you are a scrap-book person, you might like the options available to you on the PhotoPass site.
  • It depends on the type of pictures you take. If you like to get pictures with you in the photo, and if you like to have you appear with major Disney landmarks, then PhotoPass will be really helpful in this regard.
I’ve used Disney PhotoPass Service one time in the last two visits. And I do study what's available at Disney and elsewhere on the web in order to get the best deal in prints and web posts. Also, premium items affixing your photographs are not cheap, and it may be worthwhile to check out the best prices at various sources before ordering specialty items just through PhotoPass.

However, there is some real value to taking advantage of the at least the basic photo package available through PhotoPass for a number of reasons. For example, since our next trip will include some new family members including one of the grandchildren, I will likely consider PhotoPass to help record this first time visitor.

Let's begin at the beginning. Throughout the parks and in other places around Walt Disney World you will find Disney-trained professional photographers just waiting to take your picture. Simply walk up to a Disney PhotoPass photographer (the ones with the distinctive clothing and holding a camera), ask for a PhotoPass card and pose. After that, every time you see another PhotoPass cast member, give them your card and have another photo taken.

Let's now go home (oh, it's always way too soon), register for the Disney PhotoPass web account if you haven't already, and see all those pictures taken of you and your family throughout your visit. At this point, you decide what you want to purchase. But remember you need to check out your pictures within 30 days of your vacation. There is a time limit before they disappear, although you can pay to extend the time.

OK, let's go back to Disney and resume your vacation (yippee) and talk about PhotoPass.

You can easily spot the PhotoPass Cast Members.

Disney PhotoPass photographers are always found in places offering some of the best background for pictures. You see them on Main Street in front of Cinderella's Castle, for example, or on the bridge across from the International Gateway in Epcot. And they are ready day or night to capture from one member to your whole family in a picture or series of pictures. And they will take your picture with your camera too.

Getting everyone in the shot is a real benefit, since the person taking pictures during your vacation is usually the one NOT in all the photos. Many times when I'm walking around the park, I offer to take pictures when I see a situation like that; and I've asked others to help out me as well. But not everyone knows how to take a good picture (i.e. use of the telephoto or how to focus correctly). So the Disney photographers are really good for this purpose.

And with PhotoPass, you don’t just have the pictures they take as is. There is an editing feature and some extras such as borders so you can "plus" the product. The photographers themselves have some tricks they use to make your pictures a little more interesting. They may ask you to cup your hands, and the final picture will have you holding Tinkerbelle for example. Several different poses are available to the photographer so follow their directions (There is a sample link below).

PhotoPass Character Pose

And Disney also offers many photo products like mugs and mouse pads and tee shirts onto which you can add a photograph. This is where you might want to do a little comparison shopping. But first, you need to purchase the pictures so you can decide what's best for you. As such, the basic item which is the best offer is to purchase the Disney Photo CD.

By the way, you can also upload your own photos onto the PhotoPass site for editing and adding to Disney products (but not to the Disney Photo CD). And Disney provides some of their own photographs you can include as well.

So let's look at some of the basic pricing. Disney does offer specials, usually based on a minimum purchase amount, but check out your travel documents also since Disney often includes specials with your resort reservations. But, here are some examples.
  • Disney PhotoPass PhotoCD - $149.95 (additional copies $19.95). This is the best deal since if you were going to download 10 photos, you paid for the CD. (See special below.)
  • Disney Photo Book starting at $79.95. Choose a layout and design, add captions and other text, put up to 5 photos a page and up to 60 pages in this letter-size booklet. (See another special below).
  • Individual Photo Downloads at $14.95 for .jpg file
  • Prints at 4 x 6 for 19 cents each
  • Disney Photo Mug for $19.95
  • Disney Ears Magnet at $14.95
You can check out all the products and their pricing by registering on the Disney Photo Pass site at any time, and in fact, you might as well register before you go and start thinking about how you will use PhotoPass. One way is to let everyone in your party have their own PhotoPass card. This way, you can have pictures taken as a large group, smaller groups or individuals. Then, you when you get home and login to the site, you can combine everyone's PhotoPass ID number onto the one PhotoPass CD.
I did find a special price if you purchase the DisneyCD prior to your visit for pictures taken after you pay for the CD. The price is $99.95, a $50 savings. Use this website.

You can also get an $80 savings on the Disney Ultimate Memory Package that starts with the DisneyCD but also includes a Disney Photo Book. Use the same website for more information.
But remember, specials and prices can change without notice. This is Disney you know.

Here is a pretty complete list of Disney photo products: Photo Book, Photo Cards, Photo CD, Individual Photo Downloads, Gallary CD (Disney provided photos), Mug, Prints, Puzzle, Luggage Tags, Water Bottle, Note Pads, Labels, Calendars, Mouse Pad, Magnet, Christmas Ornaments, and a Canvas Print.

Another feature of the Disney PhotoPass website is the ability to share your photos with others, to email greeting cards or to post some of your virtual products. And you can send cards now even before your trip.

Another great Disney PhotoPass memory.

Here are some other answers to questions you might have about Disney PhotoPass:
  • Secure a photo pass card from any PhotoPass photographer, they are free. Get one for every person in your party. Have everyone take pictures everywhere they go.
  • The picture you have taken can also be put on multiple cards among your party, if you want, but each person will use their own ID numbers on their PhotoPass account. You can’t duplicate ID numbers among the various accounts on the website.
  • There is no limit to the number of PhotoPass pictures you can put on a PhotoCD. The photos you take, however, are separate. So gather up all the PhotoPass ID numbers from your group and put them on a single CD order, since you can add multiple ID numbers to one account.
  • Ride photos are generally excluded from the PhotoPass, except for Test Track.
  • You can upload photos from your own camera to use in our photo products or to order prints. Note that uploaded photos follow the same storage policy as Disney's PhotoPass photos. You'll have a maximum of 30 days from when you upload them to use them.
In addition to outside locations in front of attractions all over the parks, here are some other places you'll find Disney PhotoPass Photographers taking pictures you can add to your PhotoCD or apply to premium items:
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Parks
  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (before, during and after your child’s makeover)
  • At select Dining Locations: But you must first purchase the photos offered tableside, those photos can be added to your Disney’s PhotoPass account: Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus; Norway in Epcot; Restaurantosauras at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park; Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort; Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at; Disney’s Polynesian Resort; ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort; Mickey’s Backyard Barbecue and the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue Dinner show at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort; Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom® Park (photos included with meal price)
  • Professional Portrait Service at Selected Resorts, but they will add a sitting fee which is required
Websites for more information about PhotoPass:

A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World

]]> Sun, 26 Jun 2011 13:31:41 +0000
<![CDATA[ Off the Beaten Path... Catching the Big One at Walt Disney World]]> We love Walt Disney World for attractions, resorts, restaurants, characters and more. But for many of us who return time after time, there is always something a little less traveled at the "World" that also brings us back. This series is about some lesser known or frequented Disney magic that helps make the experience special or unique… and which takes you off the beaten path at Walt Disney World.

Fishing has been part of the Disney experience way before even Disneyland opened. Mickey and friends have always been fond of fishing, the cartoons of which were a wonderful outlet for fun and humor. Has anyone seen Goofy’s instruction cartoon on How to Fish or Mickey in Fishin’ Around?

Add the emphasis on water throughout Walt Disney World; it should be no surprise that Walt and the Disney Imagineers would have provided dock and boat fishing opportunities for guests of all ages and skills.

It’s been said that record catch was a 14+ pound largemouth bass pulled from a WDW lake, but 2-8 pounds are the normal catch and 10-12 pounds are out there in the lakes and canals. By the way, it is a “catch and release” policy for everyone trolling the Bay Lake, Seven Seas Lagoon and other waterways. Bassmaster rods and reels, depth finders and other professional-grade fishing equipment are available for loan to use in Disney stocked lakes. Also for hire are cast members who are expert fishing guides.

Wilderness Lodge. Photo by Disney
During construction of the Magic Kingdom theme park in the late 1960s, more than 70,000 bass fingerlings were released into Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. Organized fishing tours didn't start at Walt Disney World Resort until 1977, leaving bass to grow and breed undisturbed for years. On most outings you should catch five to 10 fish, depending upon time of day, number of people on board ... and luck. Guided fishing excursions can be booked at 407/WDW-BASS (2277).

Guided tours for catch and release fishing excursions leave many Disney Resorts including Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Contemporary Resort, Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, BoardWalk Inn and Villas, Port Orleans Resort, Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Caribbean Beach Resort, Coronado Springs Resort, Saratoga Springs Resort and Old Key West Resort.; also from Downtown Disney.


Photo by Disney
All Walt Disney World Resort Guided Fishing Excursions last about two or four hours and include supplies for up to five guests. Make your reservations 24-hours in advance; plus the outing will depend on the weather. You are not permitted to bring your own food, drink or coolers. And please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your reservation. There are no evening excursions. Included in the excursion price are:
  • An experienced guide
  • Rod and reel, tackle
  • Artificial and live bait
  • Beverages
  • One year B.A.S.S. membership

The costs for various fishing opportunities are pretty consistent around the “World” but are subject to change without notice. Mostly because of the Florida weather, it might be best to select the earliest reservation. You can bring your own equipment if you wish but it doesn’t change the price. Soft drinks are included. When you make your reservation [407/WDW-BASS (2277)] a credit card is required since there is a charge for no-shows and for cancellations with less than 24-hours’ notice.

Cost Per Trip for Up to 5 People on Pontoon Boat

  • Two Hour Tour - 7:00 am - $270
  • Two Hour Tour - 10:00 am - $270
  • Two Hour Tour - 1:30 pm - $235 (1 person is $170)
  • Four Hour Tour – 7:00 am - $455
  • Four Hour Tour – 10:00 am - $455
  • Nitro Bass Fishing Boat for Two People – Same Pricing and selections as above

Here is a 5-minute video from DIS Unplugged from a fishing excursion on Disney property:

Dockside Fishing

Port Orleans Riverside Fishing Hole at Ol’ Man Island
You don’t need reservations. The hours will vary depending on the season, but normally are 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. Stocking of the waterways include bass, catfish and blue gill and is also catch and release. Individual cane poles and bait rent for $4 for a half-hour and family fishing for up to 6 people is $12.50 per half-hour. (Remember to add tax to all these rental fees.) And children under 12 need an adult with them.

Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds
Here your fishing pole can be used from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. An all-day rental of a casting fishing rod is under $13 and for a cane pole something less. Bait is about $6.00. However with your own equipment, there is no charge for the rod or pole and the fishing is free.

Here are two links you might interesting.

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of “Off the Beaten Path” as A World View continues to search out what truly makes Disney the most magical place on earth.


Photo by Disney.]]> Sun, 26 Jun 2011 13:25:41 +0000
<![CDATA[ You don't need an ocean crossing enjoy the wonders of Japan.]]>  


I find it very difficult to answer the question of what country in the World Showcase I would like to spend the most time in. It wouldn't be hard for me to spend a great deal of time in any of the nations, and I have done that. Sometimes it's the attraction that becomes my focus, especially if I'm looking to enhance my photo collection. Other times it's the shopping, because I am a devoted window shopper and love to touch and play with everything in the store (drives the sales people nuts).

Then there is just walking around people watching or admiring the cultural entertainment. Finally, and really most important, is taking advantage of the foodie options all around World Showcase. There are nation pavilions I like the most, which are England, Italy, America, Norway, Morocco, China and today's feature story, Japan.

It is very easy to spend a lot of time in Japan at Epcot. It's a wonderful environment with so much to see and enjoy. The authenticity is simply amazing, such as the five-story Pagoda that towers above you. Then there is the brightly painted red Torii gate, welcoming you from the water side that serves as the front entrance; and also its framing of many other Epcot views looking through it from the walkway.

Japan is an original World Showcase pavilion from 1982. The major sponsor of the pavilion is Mitsukoshi, which a major department store in the home country, and also the largest store at Epcot. As you can imagine, the floor space is covered with Japanese cultural products; almost anything you can imagine among clothing, jewelry, toys, many different gifts and even foods. One of the more popular items is fresh pearls opened on the half shell for each customer in full view of everyone.



Three restaurants at Japan insure a pretty steady flow of guests to this location. Teppan Edo, which Mary Ann and I thoroughly enjoyed, includes a traditional chef cooking your meal on a large grill at your table.

Be entertained in the communal ritual of Teppan-yaki style cooking in one of the 6 picturesque Teppan Edo dining rooms as skillful chefs chop and stir-fry fresh shellfish, meats and vegetables at your table, served with Udon noodles and steamed rice.

Tokyo Dining is a traditional sushi restaurant along with some grilled selections for lunch and dinner.

Perfect for connoisseurs and those who like new and exciting tastes, Tokyo Dining provides the finest in flavorful Japanese cuisine with fresh fish and vegetables and high-quality meats offered in a modern setting. Celebrate the excitement of modern Tokyo mixed in a harmonious union with the traditional food culture of ancient Edo.

Finally there is the counter-service selection of Yakitori House, adjacent to the pagoda.

This replica of a 16th-century Japanese tea house specializes in quick meals such as beef sukiyaki, sushi rolls, teriyaki chicken and udon noodles.

Entertainment in Japan is among my favorite on the World Showcase. For example Matsuriza, which are traditional Japanese drummers and story tellers. And one of the more popular venues in the park is Miyuki the Japanese candy artist. 

There is an exhibit area of Japan cultural displays. The show most recently ending was a Tin Toy exhibit; showing now is Spirited Beasts, From Ancient Stories to Anime Stars. Here is a Disney story on Japan.

[Walt Disney World News] Along the shoreline of Epcot World Showcase Lagoon, a bright red torii gate, patterned after one in Itsukushima, welcomes visitors. A plaque inscribed in calligraphy proclaims “Japan.”
Near the open-air entrance to the grounds stands the blue-roofed, five-story Goju-no-to pagoda, inspired by a shrine built at Nara in 700 A.D. Topping it is a bronze, nine-ringed sorin, or spire, with gold wind chimes and a water flame.
An oasis of serenity extends from the pagoda: a hill garden which is a Japanese art form at least 1,000 years old. Careful arrangements of waterfalls, rocks, flowers, lanterns, pebbles, foot paths and rustic bridges form a story. Multicolored koi fish in the pond create living images of Japanese art.
Further west, to the right of the courtyard, stands the Shishinden, inspired by the ceremonial and coronation hall found in the Imperial Palace grounds at Kyoto. Inside the Shishinden, guests can browse through the world-famous Mitsukoshi Department Store, which offers everything from ornate kimonos, vibrant-colored robes designed after the traditional Japanese dress, to Japanese toys and dolls, bonsai trees and authentic Mikimoto pearl jewelry.
The massive wood and stone Nijo entry castle with its huge sculptures of mounted samurai warriors beckons guests through the courtyard. The castle is a replica of the Shirasagi-Jo, a 17th century fortress overlooking the city of Himeji, known as one of the most well-preserved castles in Japan. Passing through it, visitors cross a wide bridge spanning a moat to the Himeji or White Heron Castle with its curved stone walls, white plaster structures and blue tile roofs. Its style dates from the mid-1300s.

A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World

]]> Wed, 8 Jun 2011 23:12:56 +0000
<![CDATA[ Off the Beaten Path - Plans for your Disney World trip should also include free things you can do.]]> We love Walt Disney World for attractions, resorts, restaurants, characters and more. But for many of us who return time after time, there is always something a little less traveled at the "World" that also brings us back. This series is about some lesser known or frequented Disney magic that helps make the experience special or unique, and which takes you off the beaten path at Walt Disney World.

I wanted to point out events or activities at WDW Resorts which are open to all guests, even when you are not staying at that particular resort. And what is even better for this particular story, there is no charge to participate. Of course, I couldn't include everything at the different resorts; but I've tried to identify the more significant activities of interest to a wider audience.

Since there is so much more than what I've discovered and described here, let me know of others by e-mail ( for inclusion in future articles. By the way, these activities also support my theory that a rental car should be part of your vacation budget planning, since travelling from hotel to hotel can be time consuming.

Animal Kingdom Lodge
One place to visit is the Arusha fire pit is located just outside the Jambo House lobby back entrance. During most evenings listen and relax to African stories. There is an inside fire pit as well.


Animal Kingdom Lodge Arusha Fire Pit
One of the viewing areas along the savanna is the Sunset Overlook, which as its name suggests, is the place to be at sunset at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It is a wonderful place for pictures as the giraffes and zebras enjoy their wondering around. AKL has more than 200 mammals and birds of nearly three dozen species including not only giraffe and zebra but also Thomson's gazelle, ostrich, flamingo, African spoonbill and sacred ibis.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Savanah OverlookSome rights reserved by Express Monorail
Stay a little later when it's completely dark on the savanna and ask one of the cast members at the Uzima Overlook for a pair of night goggles to help identify the animals on the range. Animal Viewing with Night Vision normally happens between 9-11pm daily.

A guided Culinary Tour of two of WDW's most popular restaurants takes place at 4:00 pm every day, just before opening of Boma and Jiko. In addition to learning about the culture, history and décor of these two guest favorites, you also get to sample some of the menu items during your half-hour walk-around. Here is a review of one such tour from one of my favorite planning blogs, The Disney Food Blog.

Polynesian Resort
The Polynesian Resort is such a wonderfully themed environment. There is so much to admire, and it is so relaxing to walk around. A great time to be there is for the daily torch lighting ceremony occurring most evenings around 6:00 pm. Later in the evening, around 8:00 pm, there is Polynesian entertainment and cultural Storytelling in the Great Ceremonial House.

Polynesian Resort
Learn to hula dance at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, where complimentary classes take place most days in the resort’s lobby. Auntie Kaui, a hula dancer and instructor with 50 years' experience, leads most of the classes offered Monday through Saturday at 3:45 p.m., and Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. until noon. Weekday classes are geared toward the younger set, with leis and grass skirts aplenty, while the Saturday morning lessons encourage guests of all ages to do the hula shake. And whether guests stay for five minutes or the full two-hour Saturday classes, they’ll learn a variety of chants and dances from such tropical locales as Hawaii, Tahiti and more.

Campfire Sing-A-Longs and Movies
Four resorts have campfire programs which are open to all WDW resort guests. There is a marshmallow roast to which you can bring your own supplies or purchase a S'More's kit for under $10; although there is normally other fast food available as well nearby. When it's dark, a Disney movie will be projected on an outdoor screen at some locations. Don't forget to bring a blanket, although some seating is normally available. This is free to all Disney resort guests so reservations are not necessary, but I'd recommend arriving early to mark your spot.

Ft. Wilderness Chip 'N Dale Campfire
One of these campfire locations is at Fort Wilderness, where this is held every night at 7:00 or 8:00 pm depending on the season. Chip and Dale characters join in. Another is at the Beach Club Resort and also the Grand Floridian. Contact the resort directly to learn the days and times they are held. And check out the movies on the beach.

Beach Club Campfire and
Movies Under the Stars Sample Schedule

Port Orleans Riverside's version is called Campfire on de' Bayou and it's held at the Ol' Man Island Fishing Hole near the Muddy Rivers pool bar. It is not held all year, but starts in November when weather permits. Again, check with the resort for the schedule. Port Orleans does not have a movie. However, for a movie but no campfire, check out Wilderness Lodge Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Marina.

Resort Tours
At the Deluxe Resorts, there are guided tours provided by the themed staff at these locations. I'm aware of tours at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian Resort and the Yacht Club. Find out what is special about each of these locations such as:
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge was inspired by National Park Lodges, such as Old Faithful Inn (Yellowstone) and Ahwahnee Lodge (Yosemite). Massive pine logs for Disney’s Wilderness Lodge were harvested from standing dead wood at an elevation of 7,000 feet in Oregon and Montana.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge houses a diverse collection of African art sure to impress amateurs and aficionados alike. Sculptures and carvings throughout the resort tell stories that help familiarize guests with Africa and its diverse countries and regions. Among the art is the 16-foot-tall Igbo Ijele mask, a piece created and exported by the Igbo people of Nigeria specifically for use in the lodge.


Wilderness Lodge
Check with the front desk for schedules but also ask about reservations especially during the busy season.

Of course, Disney resorts are very well themed, from Value to Deluxe and each of them has plenty of walkways which provide different experiences during the day and evening. So you really don't need a tour to enjoy moving about and hotels properties. Just walking around means hundreds of photo ops.

Electric Water Pageant
This is a floating parade of sea creatures outlined in tiny lights, with an electronic score highlighted by Handel's Water Music. It is a magical aquatic parade of multi-colored fish, turtles, whales and Americana like stars and flags. If you are at a Magic Kingdom resort along Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon go down to the water for an enjoyable interlude. The pageant arrives first at the Polynesian about 9:00 pm. After that it will pass by the Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, and the Contemporary/Bay Lake.

Christmas Season
The holiday season is Mary Ann and my favorite time of the year to visit Walt Disney World. As much as the parks and especially the Magic Kingdom are decked out for the season, it's the Deluxe Resorts which are always worth a visit.

Beach Club Chocolate Carousel
Arguably the most well-known Christmas creation is the life-size gingerbread house in the Grand Floridian Resort. But a stroll around the Crescent Lake Resorts, including Boardwalk, Swan & Dolphin, Yacht and Beach Clubs offer a variety of holiday themes that may include massive decorated trees, model trains, village displays and chocolate creations.

Mary Ann in front of Gingerbread House at Grand Floridian 
Our course, the ceiling-high themed trees stretching several floors at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge is just jaw dropping. And with very comfortable seating in the lobby areas of both resorts, this is a wonderful way to spend an evening with friends and legal beverages.
I hope you have enjoyed this edition of “Off the Beaten Path” as A World View continues to search out what truly makes Disney the most magical place on earth.
]]> Wed, 8 Jun 2011 01:18:41 +0000
<![CDATA[ Off the Beaten Path: Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides at Walt Disney World]]> One of the reasons we love Walt Disney World is not just the park attractions or even the resorts and it's not only the restaurants or the wonderful Disney characters. As the readers of A World View know, most of what we write about focuses on these most popular topic areas.

But there IS something else about Walt Disney World that brings us back time after time, since the "World" is so much more than what visitors expect. So in my post today, and over time in future articles, I'll address some of the lesser known activities and things to do making the Disney experience so special and unique… in effect, the total package.

Taking you off the beaten path at Walt Disney World.

Carriage and Wagon Rides around the "World".

One place you might expect to find horse and carriage rides is at Fort Wilderness Campground and Resort, and you would be correct. A horse-drawn carriage ride takes place here nightly from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm. These 25-minute rides leave from Pioneer Hall near Crockett's Tavern, and can accommodate four adults for two adults/three children and cost $45 for the carriage ride as opposed to a per person charge.

During the Christmas season, the carriage ride at Fort Wilderness becomes a Sleigh Ride decorated in red with garland and lights and a higher price of $60.00 carriage rental. So you might want to check out the Wagon ride.

The Fort Wilderness Wagon Rides that are at 6:00 pm and 9:30 pm every night. This 45-minute minute ride has a per person charge of $8.00 for adults and $5.00 for children (age 3 to 9; children under 3 are free). There are no advance reservations for this activity, and children under 9 must ride with an adult. It leaves in front of Pioneer Hall and tours the campgrounds. This is especially a nice activity during the Christmas season because of the many campsites that are decorated for the holidays.


And from JeffLangeDVD on You Tube, (also, check out his website) here is his recording in 2010 of the start of the Wilderness Christmas Sleigh Ride and some of the elaborate campsite decorations viewed during this activity.

During the Halloween season at Disney World, it's the story of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow that is the theme of Haunted Carriage Rides at Fort Wilderness for $60.00 per ride (per carriage and not per person). The times vary depending on the dates but they leave about every half-hour. And keep a close look out for the Headless Horseman.

There is also a horse-drawn carriage ride at one of my favorite resorts, Port Orleans Riverside, near Boatwright's Dining Hall. Take a 30-minute trip up and down the scenic Sassagoula River. Each carriage can hold either 4 adults—or 2 adults and 3 small children and costs $45 per carriage. The times are similar to Fort Wilderness. There used to be a carriage ride at Saratoga Springs Resort, although I can't confirm this is still available.

Reservations for recreation activities can be made up to 90 days in advance by phoning Disney at 407-WDW-PLAY (407-939-7529). And be aware there is a penalty charge for cancelling or not showing up for your reservation unless you provide at least 24-hour notice. As always, prices are subject to change.

By the way, if you really want to ride a horse-drawn trolley, or it's something you think your kids will enjoy, watch for the free carriage ride in the Magic Kingdom. Wait for it at the top or bottom of Main Street for short ride down the street.

A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World

]]> Mon, 6 Jun 2011 21:55:37 +0000
<![CDATA[ Tricks, Treats, Fireworks, Parade, Carriage Ride, Events and Two Months of Halloween to the Extreme.]]>   

Only Disney can celebrate a one-day holiday for two months, so at Walt Disney World, Halloween starts in September and runs right up to (and after) October 31. But if you and your children want to take trick-or-treating to the extreme and you (the adult) wants to dress in costume at the Magic Kingdom, then Halloween season is the holiday visit time for you.

And with any Disney celebration, there is much to do. The mainstay of the season is Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, held selected nights in the Magic Kingdom (dates announced closer to summer). Inside this event there is a special parade and special fireworks (check out the videos at the end of this post). And of course the park is fully decorated for the season, and the greatest Disney villains adorn area as characters you will just love.


Photo ©  Disney
But although it's Halloween, there is nothing really scary going on. So, children of all ages are invited to participate. It is a hard ticket event with various prices from $54 to $68 for adults depending on the day and whether paid in advance; and $48 to $64 for children (age 3-9). The prices and dates for 2011 are located on the Disney web site.  It's crowded in the park, but not overwhelming since this is a hard ticket event and there are only so many sold. Also, not all the attractions and features are open in the Magic Kingdom during MNSSHP. Here is an article from EasyWDW to help you make a decision about this event's extra expense.

You can expect that on All Hallow's Eve itself (and also the day before), a variety of special events are being held around the resorts and in Downtown Disney. And a special Haunted Carriage Ride in Fort Wilderness is available as well.


Disney characters and guests alike dress up for MNSSHP. Photo © Disney 
As we get closer to the event, A WORLD VIEW will post more information, dates, times, places and prices to help you plan for 2011 attendance. 

As a special treat, I'd like to repeat a set of videos created by a very talented young man of whom I am so envious for his talent and his history. Michael is the host of The Disney Vault. This web site has a set of wonderful videos from his trips to the “World” as well as a host of character art to download.


The Haunted Mansion is an absolute visit during Halloween. Photo ©  Disney Would you believe that Michael began his web site as a freshman in High School and he is now a junior in college? That’s not the best part. Last summer he interned as part of the Disney College Program at Walt Disney World and his goal in life is to work for the company. Oh how I wish I were in his shoes (the yellow ones course). Check out his site for more information about this very talented young man.

There are three: Mickey’s “Boo-To-You” Halloween Parade; Villains Mix and Mingle; and the Happy HalloWishes fireworks. Please enjoy, I know I did.


Mickey's Boo To You Parade from mike on Vimeo.
BOO to You! It's Mickey's Boo to You Parade, from Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, at the Walt Disney World Resort. Join Mickey and Minnie, Pooh & Tigger, Captain Jack Sparrow. a few hitchhiking ghosts, some cowboys, and the scariest villains! It's a fun filled parade, the entire family will enjoy. This Video was filmed in 2006.

Disney Villains Halloween Mix & Mingle from mike on Vimeo.
It's Halloween everyone! Join Maleficent as she takes over Cinderella's Castle for the Villains Mix & Mingle. Featuring Cruella De Vil, Frollo, the Evil Queen, Captain Hook, the Queen of Hearts, and Jafar. Filmed during the 2006 "Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party" at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Hallowishes from mike on Vimeo.
Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize and the villains go trick-or-treating in the sky. Watch with wonder, as the sky above Cinderella's castle becomes ablaze with magic. It's a fireworks spectacular you have to see to believe. Filmed during the 2006 "Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party" at the Walt Disney World Resort.

]]> Sat, 7 May 2011 11:53:17 +0000
<![CDATA[ Balzac Balls - The Perfect Toy for Year Round Disney Memories]]> There are so many toys and games and stuff you can buy at Walt Disney World, and we have all brought home many of them. But one always intrigued me which I finally acted upon in December 2009 when I purchased my first Balzac balloon ball. I've purchased two others for my grandkids since then.


Cast Member Herb selling Balzac Balls in the World Showcase
We have all seen the Balzac Balls, when we pass through one of the East-West corridors at Future World in Epcot or in the World Showcase near Mexico. I've also seen them at Downtown Disney and in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom.. What a wonderfully simple invention this was, to surround a balloon with a durable cover that creates a toy for both indoor and outside use. It is also addictive, OK maybe just for me; but I find myself bouncing it against the furniture when my grandchildren are not around to play catch.
The Balzac Balls are very light, almost weightless. It seems to float in the air, without injuries or breakage with normal play. And since the structure is basically a balloon, even if the inside balloon breaks or loses air, the cost to replace it is pennies. And with the cloth covering, it is almost indestructible.
You get instructions with the package and a few extra balloons, but I also recommend picking up an extra package of refills. Simply fit the balloon into a pre-cut hole in the cover, blow it up and tie it. That's it. Have fun.
There are a variety of ways you can enhance the experience, such as adding rice to the balloon so when blown up it will add sound to your throws. Give it a little weight by adding water and flight will be a little more controlled; make it heavier with more water in the balloon and it can be rolled on the ground or even over water. Plus the exterior cover can be put in the washer.


Disney Mom Mary Ann next to a nearly life-size Balzac Ball.
You can also place a coin or coins between the balloon and the cover on the inside, which make for a wild throwing game as it appears to bounce in the air. More variations of play are possible; clearly the Balzac Ball is almost the perfect toy. Easy to use, inexpensive, quick to repair, versatile to modify and it has Mickey Mouse (or some other Disney character) on the cover. What more would you want?
There are stores online where you can purchase the Balzac Balls. I've seen them in school sports and recreation catalogs for example. The designs are generic in that case and available in several sizes. Your WDW Store has a pretty large collection of sizes that range from 12 inches to 4 ½ feet. E-Bay is also a good place to check, even for a used ball since the cloth cover will last a long time without any tears. For me, the 15" size is perfect since I use it inside; but I may take a step up to a larger size to play with the kids outside in nicer weather.
Of course, the best place to buy a Balzac Ball is at Walt Disney World. You get to select from various character scenes, see the product in action in order to make the best decision for you and your family, and the package is so small, it can be carried easily. So don't forget to pick up this great Disney toy and relive the memory on your next trip every time you play.

A WORLD VIEW - Enjoying Walt Disney World 
]]> Fri, 6 May 2011 00:35:08 +0000
<![CDATA[ 'Ohana is the complete Disney experience - food, atmosphere, entertainment and family enjoyment]]> Trying to choose Mary Ann's and my favorite dining experiences is an extremely difficult selection to pin down. There are so many places at which we love to dine while at Walt Disney World. In reality, during every visit we find a new favorite so the list just keeps on growing. As a result, I will use our last visit as the focus of my post, and then add a highlight five more at the end.

It is safe to say ‘Ohana was our favorite restaurant during our last trip in October. It had all the characteristics of a great Disney restaurant. We love buffets, since you pick among the many items available, especially items different than the norm. It’s why we love Boma as well. ‘Ohana takes this to a different level, in that the food is plentiful, different than an everyday restaurant at the parks and brought to you family style.
Another reason: 'Ohana is a great choice for couples, families or even larger groups as you feel that everyone is welcome and part of a giant family.  This is emphasized through the very entertaining atmosphere; it’s fun to visit the Polynesian Resort and to eat at ‘Ohana.
As a result I believe it is a real value to dine there, especially if you are on the Dining Plan. It is clearly a high quality use of a single table service credit. Out-of-pocket expense is moderate for Disney restaurants, and the prices will change (go higher) depending on the season. The most recent cost for adults I've seen is $33.00 for dinner, and for kids up to 9 years old, $16.00. Breakfast is $21.00 and $12.00 respectively.

'Ohana Open Fire Pit
The Polynesian itself has some of the most wonderful scenic views of anywhere in WDW, such as standing on the beach and enjoying a glorious sunset (or the fireworks) with the Magic Kingdom as a background. The picture windows of ‘Ohana offers this same experience.
'Ohana is located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House. There is a Lilo and Stitch character breakfast (also Mickey and Pluto), but what we attended was the family-style Polynesian feast where meats and seafood are grilled over an open fire pit. 'Ohana means "family" in Hawaiian culture, and the seating and atmosphere reflect that. And you are all "cousins" at 'Ohana.

There’s no specific menu to choose from, everyone shares in everything they offer that evening. Mary Ann and I were also lucky and were seated near the rear windows, which was a real treat during the fireworks as the music and narrative are piped into the dining room plus we had a great view of the show.

The 'Ohana Parade during dinner.
Let me review some the menu, but first, you need to pace yourself and don't fill-up before you get to the main course. There is the 'Ohana Welcome Bread infused with coconut and pineapple and then salad covered with honey-lime dressing. Next are appetizers of chicken wings, pork fried dumplings, some of the best Asian-style noodles (similar to Lo-Mein) I have ever had and steamed vegetables of broccoli, snow peas and carrots.
Eventually you get to the main course (really, more food) broiled to perfection over an oak fire. Large skewers of Turkey, Asian BBQ Pork Loin, Steak, and Shrimp (unpeeled). They also provide dipping sauces with a recommendation for each of your main course items; however I mixed them up and enjoyed them all. There are three, a peanut sauce, chimichurri sauce and a mustard sauce.
How many? I'll take them all!
You conclude with a large slice of 'Ohana bread pudding a la mode with Banana Foster sauce. I must admit, it was a struggle to eat even a couple of bites, in fact, Mary Ann and I shared a single serving, since I couldn't have been more stuffed than I was.
And although we haven’t yet, we plan on taking in the ‘Ohana Best Friends Breakfast at the Poly. The menu selections include scrambled eggs, Island-style fried potatoes, Hawaiian pork sausages, smoked bacon and a variety of fresh fruits and breads and also served family style.
I’ve written a full review of our Ohana experience after our last visit which you can visit by clicking here.  And for some other articles, here are some web links you can check out.
By the way, there are two great new foodie resources for everyone planning their next trip to Walt Disney World. First, the Disney Dining FAQ from the Disney Food Blog. It includes guides to the restaurants, information on the Dining Plan and various discounts, the “best of” categories and more.  And blogger AJ has added a wonderful new comprehensive resource, The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining. It’s now my second “must purchase” guidebook every year. The DFB Guide $19 and it’s worth it, but if you also sign up for her online newsletter, I’ve seen a discount posted there on occasion. (My first favorite is The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2011 (Unofficial Guides).)
And don't forget the Coconut Races.
And as promised, from our most recent tripsto the World, these would be more great places to eat and must be considered for your own bucket lists (in no particular order). Plus, it’s grown to 10 (I couldn’t do just five), broken down in Table Service and Counter Service categories.
Table Service
  • Boma in Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Flying Fish on the Boardwalk
  • Kouzzina on the Boardwalk
  • Sanaa in Kidani Village
  • Via Napoli in Italy (Epcot)
Counter Service
  • Columbia Harbour House (Magic Kingdom)
  • Flame Tree Barbeque (Animal Kingdom)
  • Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn (Magic Kingdom)
  • Sunshine Seasons (Epcot)
  • Wolfgang Puck Express (Downtown Disney)


]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2011 02:09:46 +0000
<![CDATA[ Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom is best (several times) on a warm summer day.]]> 

Kali River Rapids (c) Suite_Disney


Attraction Type: Outdoor Vehicle Water Ride

Fast Pass: Yes

Ages: Everyone (38 inch minimum height)

Location: Animal Kingdom, Asia

Nearby: Maharajah Jungle Trek

Theme: River Rapids Rafting

Similarities: Water Parks

Motion Factor: Moderate movement, a few drops

Scary Factor: Not scary, constant movement, fire, smoke


The Kali River Rapids is one of those attractions that you really look forward to on a hot Florida day. I love water rides, but Mary Ann and I don’t hit the water parks like we used to, although with the grandchildren coming of age, this will likely change in the future. For now, when it’s hot and we’re in the Animal Kingdom, it’s Kali River Rapids for a quick cool down.


I love Splash Mountain, as an attraction and a story line that is pure Disney. But you may or may not get wet. If you want to get wet, it’s Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom. Plus, on those hot days where the crowd is lighter, we’ll hit this one multiple times. And by the way, the queue area is also worth taking your time as you appreciate the story behind this Asia-centered location.



Kali River Rapids Queue (c) Suite Disney

Kali River Rapids Queue Area (c) Suite Disney

Kali River Rapids was known as Tiger Rapids Run in 1999 when it opened as Disney’s first attempt to have a “rapids” type ride as a main attraction. You are transported by Kali Rapids Expeditions along the Chakranadi River. There is a very clear message on the environment and conservation along the way. You will pass by hazardous debris left behind by illegal loggers along the riverbanks. A few fires dot the landscape, threatening wildlife and destroying delicate rainforests.


The raft will hold 12 passengers, although the cast members usually don’t squeeze that many in the ride vehicle. You will pass through misty areas and waterfalls along the way, but you will get wet (some in your raft will be drenched). And if you are not wet from the attraction, you may still get hit from above as spectators control water guns toward the end of the ride.


Here is a great full attraction video from Parkiology.Com located on teevtee’s You Tube Channel.



There is a very long queue line, but the actually attraction lines will be much further along. You will pass through several buildings reflecting the theme of Asia as well as signs and artifacts describing the Expedition Company hosting your experience.


You know you’re getting closer when you arrive at the colorful wooden pagoda decorated with flags illustrating a Tibetan region. You then walk onto a platform that is actually moving at about the same speed as the rafts waiting for you to board along the water. Cast members will guide you to the next available vehicle which you climb into.


Be sure to store your gear in an area at the center of the raft under a plastic cover, because you will get wet. I actually have a plastic cover on my camera case, and use it. We also have large zip-lock bags we carry in our backpack anyway; to use them for stuff we are carrying that you don’t want to be wet.



Kali River Rapids Photo (c) Disney

Finally, if wet is OK but not walking around after soaked through your cloths, wear a rain slicker. The ride will circle around and you will get off at the same moving platform. The total ride is actually less than five minutes, although it seems longer walking the queue and loading. But this attraction is clearly focused on family fun, so don’t expect white water rafting, but do expect to get wet.


]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2011 02:00:06 +0000
<![CDATA[ Tusker House includes Fab Five Members Character Breakfast and Exotic Lunch and Dinner]]>

Location: Animal Kingdom in Harambe Village
Type of Restaurant: Buffet
Disney Dining Plan: Table Service Credit
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Character Meal: Yes for Breakfast
Food Selections: African Accented Foods, American (Desserts next door in Kusafiri Bakery).
Alcohol: African Wines and Beers in Dawa Bar attached
Family Friendly: Yes (includes Children’s Meal)
Cost and Value: Moderately High ($$) but a Good Value.
Hours: Breakfast from 8:00 – 10:00 am; Lunch/Dinner from 11:30 am – 5:00 pm
Seating: Inside and Outside
Dress Code: Casual
Reservations: Yes, and highly recommended for Breakfast and Finding Nemo meals
Other: Good for Groups, Vegetarian Options

As you enter Africa coming from Discovery Island, Tusker House Restaurant is almost immediately your left in Harambe, and offers a diverse African-inspired buffet for lunch and dinner with carved meats and an array of interesting tastes such as chutneys, hummus, spiced tandoori tofu and couscous salad; plus, a primarily American meal Character breakfast.

The lunch and dinner buffets include a variety of vegetarian and meat-based options, such as:

  • Curried rice salad and Fresh fruit
  • Green bean and onion salad
  • Hummus and baba ghanoush
  • Jollaf rice and Marrakech couscous
  • Pearl couscous with sweet basil essence
  • Sliced cold cuts
  • Spiced tandoori tofu
  • Spicy South African preserves
  • Tabbouleh, Tunisian couscous salad and Traditional salads
  • Vegetable samosas

Donald's Safari Breakfast at Tusker House. Let Donald and other members of the Fab Five including Mickey, Daisy and Goofy dressed in safari outfits entertain you for breakfast (only). The buffet includes traditional American fare, plus a few unique dishes that have a flavorful African influence.


Tusker House Buffet Line
Photo © Disney
A current Menu (Jan. 2011) from DIS. Here is the menu for Donald’s Safari Character Breakfast (March 2011) from AllEars.Net.

Many people like Tusker House because of the variety of menu items, particularly since more and more Disney menus just seem to copy one another, especially breakfast and lunch. Tusker house with the African flavors and large number of buffet selections allows for more vegetarian and healthier meals as well.

Another advantage of Tusker House dining is the opportunity to secure a reserved seating pass for Finding Nemo the Musical (one of my favorite shows on property). Now the Nemo theatre is pretty large, so this is a big deal on days of larger park crowds. Make your ADR from 1:00 to 2:45pm, and get a pass to the 3:15 or 4:45 performance (depending on your dinner times). For details contact Disney at 407-WDW-DINE. With your pass, arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled performance time.

Tusker House Restaurant
Photo © Disney
Tusker House gets a pretty fair rating from several sources. Most recently on WDW Today Podcast it was even suggested by Matt Hochberg of StudiosCentral.Com that Tusker House is nearly as good as Boma, with some better features such as being located in Animal Kingdom. Trip Advisor places Tusker House at number 83 of 1,268 restaurants in the Orlando area; and its readers rate it four out of five. Yelp rates this table-service restaurant at 4.5 out of 5.0.

DisBoard members rate Tusker House 8.12 out of 10.0. AllEars.Net for it’s Character Breakfast rates Tusker House similarly at 8.3 out of 10.0. And here is a really good review of the lunch at Tusker House by WDW foodie expert AJ Wolfe of the Disney Food Blog.

I’m a breakfast person and like to attend at least one character meal during a visit; and Tusker House is one of those rare opportunities to visit with Fab Five members Mickey, Minnie and Donald. And I like to enter the park before opening with an ADR, so I can start making my rounds of the attractions as early as possible. Tusker House offers this opportunity. Here is a YouTube Video from Celli0905.

Donald’s Safari Breakfast
Tusker House Video from 2008

Plus, what I love about breakfast buffets is you can really have a great meal at the best price of the day, and just snack or share for lunch. This is a money-saving strategy. And like the Columbia Harbour House there is a second floor with large windows to better see things go by, like an afternoon parade.

A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World
]]> Sun, 3 Apr 2011 20:28:28 +0000
<![CDATA[ Tips for Visiting Walt Disney World at the Last Minute... or during Busy Season]]> Taking a trip to Walt Disney World always sounds like a great idea, but what if you decide two weeks or a month before you travel. Wow, speaking of stress. One of my facebook friends sent me a note asking for suggestions about a last minute visit during Easter. Hey, last minute is bad enough, but during a School Break period like Easter, Oy Vey. However, I had a few ideas, contacted my Magical Blogorail buddies for suggestions, and searched the web for more experience to draw upon. The result is today's post.


Personally, I start planning my next trip the day after I return from my last one. My Excel program is always close by, and researching new things at WDW is an ongoing activity. Once we select a date, at 7:00 am 180 days prior to our visit, I'm making ADRs and booking back stage tours or other special events.

Travel Considerations
First, I would contact an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. You will find many of these graduates of The College of Disney Knowledge on the web. My experience is you will get great service and the best deals using these experienced and Disney trained travel agents. I think these folks will give you more options, and will save you money, as opposed to booking directly with Disney.

Among the most expensive cost factors of a last minute and holiday season trip is airfare. Driving costs will always be the same, but to book a plane seat when everyone else is doing the same, be prepared. And last minute trips are true profit areas for the airlines, so don't expect any sympathy. However, this shouldn't deter you from checking out the biggest travel sources, like Travelocity, Expedia or others since they do have last-minute deals.


Then be flexible on your travel itinerary. To get the best price, maybe you need to have a longer layover with one or even two stops. Check more than one airport for departure times, since going a little further away from your home could cut the price if there are more choices further away. Why not fly into Tampa instead of Orlando. The prices are sometimes lower (depending on the season), and if you are renting a car, the total expense could be much lower overall.

By the way, on car rental, make sure you do some shopping. Never walk into a rental car vendor without an advance reservation. And always check out the discount codes online before you leave, even if it's a day in advance, there are specials out there. First check the car rental sites. Next, check the car rental codes on MouseSavers.Com.
A last minute trip during the busy seasons could result in staying at a deluxe resort on WDW property due to the larger crowds. This means if you normally stay at a Value or even a moderate resort, be ready for sticker shock. If you are travelling during a time when discounts are offered, there is some relief, but if it's during the busy or holiday seasons and want to stay on site, you will pay the price. One group that could save some money will be Annual Pass holders. If you don’t have that pass, off-site hotels will likely save you a bundle.


For a last minute trip during a light or moderate season, the crowd levels won't create too many long longs at the bus stops so a rental car may not be your first choice without having ADRs at resorts as well as the parks. But for the busy season, getting from one resort to another can be very frustrating and not very timely; and we like to eat at the different hotels. In a bus, it could take an hour from point A to point B; with a car, it's half that time or less. And except for the Magic Kingdom, a rental car during crowded days will let you sleep later and take a convenient mid-day break without wasting too much of your valuable park time.

Restaurants and Food
During the slowest times of the year, making ADRs at your first choice restaurants will be very possible, even on a last-minute visit. Get online and try to make reservations at the places you want to dine, and then book them BEFORE you make that decision on buying into a Disney Meal Plan.


For last-minute or busy season trips, there may be table service restaurants where it is very possible to get ADRs or even walk-in tables. In the new e-book edition of The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining , AJ Wolfe of the Disney Food Blog offers some recommendations of Theme Park, Resorts Hotels and Downtown Disney Restaurants where last minute or even busy season travellers could arrange for a sit-down dinner. Of course, the best time to go will be before traditional dinner times, and I would recommend skipping lunch and getting to dinner between 4:00 and 5:30 pm.

AJ’s recommendations include 12 in the Parks, 16 in the Resorts and 9 in Downtown Disney. Some on the list include: Biergarten, Garden Grill and La Hacienda de San Angel in Epcot and Tusker House and Yak & Yeti in Animal Kingdom; also Boatwright’s at Port Orleans and Flying Fish Café on the Boardwalk. You might also check out T-Rex Café, one my favorites Wolfgang Puck Café or even Planet Hollywood in Downtown Disney.

During the busiest seasons like during the Easter, July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas holidays, if you booked 180 days in advance, you may have already succeeded in getting your selections, so the meal plan could be the right choice for you. However, if you are travelling into the busy season or even booking within a month or less of your visit, forget the meal plan since you will most likely never get all the places you want to try. This is where a rental car works wonders, since you can make many more reservations at great restaurants off-site and pay half the amount you would on property. 

Although the dining plan in usually a good idea and a great money saver, be sure to check for ADRs before you purchase the plan. You might find that the places you want to go are booked and you may be better off with the Quick Service Dining Plan. You will also want to be prepared to pay for your trip in full if you are booking within 45 days of arrival. The Disney Visa can be a great help for this since you will receive 6 months 0% interest on the cost of your trip so you can pay it off over time. Even though you are planning a trip soon don't underestimate the need for travel insurance. I booked a trip for someone 3 weeks ahead and then 2 days before the trip their daughter was hospitalized for pneumonia. Travel insurance is always a good idea. [Magical Blogorail Buddy Allison of Magical Memory Planner]
Touring Assistance
Remember, the key to touring during the busiest seasons is making your "must do" list. You can't do it all during the lightest crowd seasons; it will be much slower getting around during the busy times. Sit with every member of your party to put the list together; and the use strategies like Fast Pass, Child Swap and Single Rider Lines whenever you can on the attractions on your list. Narrow and lower your expectations, it will make the unexpected your magical moments. And to make sure you have the best chance of hitting all your hot spots, get to the park at opening.
I have taken one last minute trip; it was 10 years ago, when my wife and I went before the birth of our daughter. It was a long weekend in January around MLK day, and the best advice I can give anyone is to just go with the flow. However, that time of the year was so different from Easter, so if I had one tip to share at Easter, it would be to spend the $10.95 and get the Touring Plans subscription. The nice thing is that he has a 45 day guarantee, so if you try it and don’t like it, you can still get a refund. [From Magical Blogorail buddy Mike E. of My Dreams of Disney]

The crowds at Walt Disney World are growing; it’s one of the reasons that the discounts are getting leaner. As a result it is always recommended to plan your trip as far in advance as possible. Your choices are better, your prices are lower and your vacation will be much more satisfying for everyone.

A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World

]]> Sun, 3 Apr 2011 19:54:26 +0000
<![CDATA[ Disney's Great Service All The Way]]> Fulton’s Crab House

Located in Downtown Disney Marketplace in Orlando, Florida.

We spent around $70 including tip for an absolute marvelous experience. The food was just not excellent but also the ambiance and service was exceptional. Disney really knows how to treat people and they seem to manage to have service people who know just how to treat people too.

We shared the Corn Fritter appetite and is was crisp on the outside but warm and tasty on the inside. We then had our main course, I had the Lobster & Crab Bisque and a Seafood Salad, Jerry had the Fried Seafood Combo.

Without a doubt, it was the best tasting Bisque we had ever tasted. It was creamy and tasted the Lobster and Crab with every spoonful.

The salad was fresh with just the right amount of crisp. It surprised me that the crab, shrimp and scallops were raw and an even bigger surprise to me was it tasted wonderful.

Jerry had a hard time talking while he ate the succulent pieces of fish, scallops, calamari, shrimp and pieces of fried onions. Each bite made his mouth want more.

It was set in an authentic riverboat replica docked right on the waterfront in Downtown Disney Marketplace. They offered so many fresh specialties, both seafood and non-seafood.

We highly recommend this place and if we are ever in the area, we would eat here again. For a look at all our photos, check out our Picasa Web Albums.

]]> Sun, 20 Mar 2011 02:07:41 +0000
<![CDATA[ African-inspired Boma is simply a "must visit dining" when you are at Walt Disney World.]]>
Photo ©Disney

I get many requests for recommendations of where to eat on a Walt Disney World vacation, and I know that most times they are talking about “where in the parks”. But of the top selections I normally provide, most are outside of the theme parks. One in particular I consider an absolute “must do”, and that is Boma-Flavors of Africa in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. There are two reasons for this, the first is that Boma is a great place to eat, with the exotic overtones of an African village experience but within taste of the American palette.

The second reason is that Boma is in Animal Kingdom Lodge. The entirety of that story is another article, but to not experience the great theme of this resort, including the visual wonder of the wildlife, is depriving you and your family of the Disney you won’t learn about without being there. Photos and videos do not do it justice.
Location: Animal Kingdom Lodge
Type of Restaurant: Buffet
Disney Dining Plan: Table Service Credit
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Food and Drink: African Accented Foods
Family Friendly: Yes
Cost and Value: Moderately High ($$$) but a Good Value.
Hours: 10:30am – 9:30 pm
Seating: Inside, lots of tables
Dress Code: Casual
Reservations: Yes, and highly recommended
Sending people off site is not the easiest sell. If you are staying at a Disney resort and using Disney transportation, there is extra travel time that people will often avoid since their goal is to maximize park visits and attractions. But Mary Ann and I consider the entirety of Walt Disney World as the experience we need to enjoy, and food draws us to many different places.
Now this is a Disney buffet, which means the cost is much higher than anyplace else off site. Simply, this is expensive for a family. And if you are driving like we do, getting away for a few meals away from WDW will still be a great time and also save some money. But in this case, the unique special dining experience at Boma, and absorbing the ambiance and activity of AKL, does seem to be worth the money at least every couple of trips. I also love the open kitchen concept, so I can watch some of the preparation which is part of the show. 

Photo ©Disney

Why do I love Boma? The food is fresh, and the wide varieties of selections do have a familiarity even though some of the flavors look and sound a little exotic. It is a buffet, so I can have anything I want and there is enough of many types of foods for even the picky eater (or kids), vegetarians or those on special diets. Disney says that over 50 nations are represented in the menu; OK I’ll accept that, especially since there has to be well over that number of items spread around the entire (and very large) buffet areas.

Here are some excerpts from the Breakfast menu listed on the AllEars.Net website.  You will find typical choices like egg varieties, pancakes, French toast and breakfast meats carved fresh such as ham and pork loin. But you will also find Pap (corn meal), Boboti (a corned beef mixture), African pastries and much more. The juice selection includes West African Frunch (a combination of lemonade, pineapple juice, guava juice, orange juice, and papaya juice) which is really good. And you can get a pressed pot of Kenyon coffee, but that is extra. 

Photo ©Disney

The dinner menu is also from All Ears and I won’t even try to list them all; just visit the All Ears site. But as an example of exotic dishes there is a selection of African stews and soups, Moroccan Seafood Salad (Couscous, mussels, scallops and shrimp), Bobotie - lamb and beef quiche with onions, raisins and bread, and FuFu - sweet and white potatoes mashed with coriander and cinnamon. But there is also chicken in various versions, carved meats, seafood, vegetables and lots of salads.

And, I always go to Boma hungry, because it is a buffet and I’ve yet to encounter anything I didn’t like. And did I mention that there are more dessert diversity here than another buffet I’ve found on site. Plus, I just love those Zebra Domes – chocolate and creamy, so take two they are small. I’m told it’s the Amarula Liquor that draws the crowds, but you will only find these at AKL since they are made at Boma.

Zebra Dome (front) and Boma Dessert Selections
© Your Highway in the Sky

Boma is also one of those restaurants that everyone seems to enjoy. Just bounce around the Disney community and forums, and it’s rare to see ratings under 90% or reviews less than “a favorite” or “top choice”.  This is why you definitely need reservations, any time of the year. And like most attractions of the Disney World experience, you will find representatives and young people of African nations working here, so feel free to ask around and discover the culture of the region. Here is an official Disney description.
[Disney] The lodge’s lobby overlooks Boma-Flavors of Africa, where wood-burning grills create sensational aromas from morning until night.   
Boma in Africa is “an open, natural space that provides safety and shelter in the bush.” The 270-seat “marketplace” restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner, featuring an exhibit kitchen and bakery that allows guests to walk up to a half-dozen side-by-side cooking stations and have their entrées freshly prepared. Curries, chutneys and other Indian and Asian influences add fabulous flavors to grilled fish, meats and vegetables. Diners find authentic soups, stews, tossed-to-order salads and other market-fresh fare on the daily menu. 
Soups, from hearty chicken corn porridge to smoked tomato, are a highlight, along with salads such as avocado, grapefruit and papaya, or roasted chicken with chili-cilantro vinaigrette. Entrees include seafood, slow-roasted ribs and whole-spiced chicken, accompanied by couscous, saffron rice or sweet potato pancakes. Add chutneys, a peppery sambal or a sweet-and-sour chile papaya sauce for a delightful international treat. Breads, too, are African-inspired, including golden-brown naan, light and flaky chapatis or a blue cornbread.

Cultural representatives from Africa serve as hosts and hostesses, greeting guests as they enter the thatched-roof eatery. “This personal interaction helps our guests understand African culture,” says Clark. “Diners will find food they’re used to, but also new and unusual versions of African cuisine.” For children, there’s a separate cooking station with its own chef.

Rotisserie Meat and Salmon©Disney
You’ll find a lot written about Boma in the Disney blogger community, but are three links I think you’ll find providing the most comprehensive overview.

I was able to find one really nice video of the breakfast buffet by The Amanda Tinney on You Tube of Disney Every Day web site.



]]> Sun, 13 Mar 2011 19:42:54 +0000
<![CDATA[ Lights, Motors, Action! A High-Speed, High-Octane Show in Disney Hollywood Studios]]>
  • Attraction Type: Show
  • Ages: Older Children, Teens and Adults
  • Location: Disney Hollywood Studios, Streets of America, Outdoors
  • Nearby: Muppet Vision 3D and Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure
  • Theme: Movie making
  • Similarities: Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Motion Factor: None, seated in stands
  • Scary Factor: Several thrilling experiences (but not continuous)
  • I've never been big into cars. For me, they are simply transportation from here to there. But I do love movies and car chases and great stunts. At Walt Disney World, the place to be for this type of excitement is Hollywood Studios Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.

    The story behind this intense collection of vehicle stunts is that you are watching a movie being produced and seeing the work producing a live action production. There is the  director explaining what's going to happen, a stunt manager and crew, plus production people including a camera follow-car to capture the action. In the end, it's spiced together for a reenactment you get to see on screen. At the end of my post, there is a You Tube video I found of part of the show.


    Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. Photo © Disney

    This whole attraction fits well into DHS. Interestingly, this attraction was first presented at Disney Studio's Paris as Moteurs & Action! Stunt Show Spectacular, where the set scenes represent the village of Villefranche-sur-Mer in the south of France. The set in Orlando copies this.

    One of the nice things about this show is that teenagers and the bigger kids not looking for a hug from Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh, have an attraction they will really enjoy. What's not to like about fast cars, motorcycles jumping through fire, or people falling off a building (safely of course).


    Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. Photo © Disney

    The show will last about a half hour, but set aside some waiting time, since you want to be a little early and seat yourself higher up rather than closer to the action. Then you have to wait for the stands to fill up. It's a wide area to view, so being a little further away will be to your advantage. In the center of the stage area is a large video screen that will help you capture the main parts of the action as it happens.

    And there is plenty of action. As Disney describes it, you will see: "engines rev, tires squeal, breaks screech, motorcycles fly through rings of fire, cars hurdle over trucks and fireballs billow 40 feet in diameter." And a stunt person falls from a building and appears to be in flames. All of this is part of the filmmaking demonstration choreographed with split-second precision.

    [Disney] Watch the high-speed spy thriller film shot "out of sequence" as the carefully orchestrated stunts play out, increasing in intensity from the first one, a precisely timed "ballet chase," to the frenetic finale: an all-vehicle chase that involves cars, trucks, motorcycles, pyrotechnics and sometimes even high-horsepower jet skis that rocket across a water canal. The shots are then edited chronologically to create the complete sequence and the extraordinary video is played back on a wall-sized screen.

    Now this location is quite large, fitting 5,000 people into the seating areas so even on busier days there is a good chance you will get in without waiting for the next show. And although it is labeled as a "fast pass" attraction, I've never seen them used here.


    Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. Photo © Disney

    Here are some key points about Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show

    • About 35 stunt drivers and support staff, 20 custom-built cars, 10 motorcycles and two jet skis
    • Cars are custom race cars with 1300 cc, 150-horsepower motors at only 1,322 pounds, and half the weight of a normal car of that type
    • Custom gear box with four forward, and four reverse speeds

    I really enjoy this show, and I try to return every few trips and not every visit. To give you an idea of all action, here is a 10 minute video of the show that I found on the ronmeri28 You Tube site.

    A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World

    ]]> Sat, 19 Feb 2011 20:08:47 +0000
    <![CDATA[ The Best Grub in the West... Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe]]>

    Location: Magic Kingdom, Frontierland, near Country Bear Jamboree
    Type of Restaurant: Counter Service
    Meals: Lunch, Dinner
    Food and Drink: American; No alcohol
    Family Friendly: Yes
    Cost and Value: Reasonable Cost ($$) and Good Value
    Disney Dining Plan: Quick Service and Snack Credits
    Hours: 10:30 am until closing
    Seating: Inside and Outside
    Dress Code: Casual
    Reservations: None

    When I’m hungry, one of the best places to get a fast meal but plenty of food is Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café. They describe themselves as the “Best Grub in the West” and the food is in fact, pretty good. On the large side there are the 1/3 pound Angus Burgers with Cheese, and the Deluxe Burgers with even more toppings  including bacon, onion rings and sauce. But on the Deluxe Burger, you better be hungry and have plenty of napkins. In fact, cutting the sandwich in half is a wise idea. And there is plenty of cheese and BBQ sauce around.

    Physically it’s a pretty large place, with plenty of seating. There are lots of decorations and great theming taking you back to the old west and to the Disney cartoons which are the restaurant’s namesake. When you are looking for a table, keep walking around since you are likely to find one with the various rooms around the building. It can get a little crazy during it’s busiest times, so as we normally recommend, don’t eat when everyone is. It’s a little dark inside, but not bad, and it has several entrances plus some outdoor seating.

    Taking up much of that room is the condiments and fixings area were you can not only add to the size and bulk of your burger, but also grill your mushrooms and onions to order. I always like making burgers my way, and this is the place to do it. A more recent addition, that is a little less “old west” and more “high teach” are computer kiosks for ordering.

    The menu overall is pretty straight-forward, with different combination meals as the entrees. And for Disney, the prices are among the most reasonable.

    • BBQ Pork with apple slices or fries ($8.89)
    • 1/3 Pound Cheeseburger with apple slices or fries ($8.29)
    • Deluxe 1/3 Pound Angus Cheeseburger, with bacon, onion rings and BBQ sauce; served with apple slices or fries ($9.29)
    • Vegetable Burger served with apple slices or fries ($6.99)
    • Caesar Salad with Chicken ($7.79)
    • Taco Salad ($7.69)
    • Chicken Wrap (served with A_ _ _ _ S _ _ _ _ _ or F _ _ _ _, fill in the blanks) ($8.79)

    The side dishes include at least one that is meal in itself, the Chili-Cheese Fries at $4.49, but you can also buy each separately, and also Yogurt ($1.99) and Carrot or Chocolate Cake ($3.59). There are Kids meals that include carrot sticks, grapes and drink (milk, water or apple juice) to go along with a Hamburger or Salad with Chicken for $4.99. Beverages are typical for a counter service site, prices between $2-3 each.

    Resort-wide Disney is getting pretty fancy with its burgers, or as the Disney Parks Blog refers to them, “designer burgers”. Some photos of the newest 1/3 pounders were recently posted…


    AllEars.Net: The World According to Jack

    Only WDWorld

    A World View - Only Walt Disney World

    ]]> Sat, 19 Feb 2011 20:00:21 +0000
    <![CDATA[ The Liberty Belle Riverboat Offers Much for the Whole Family - In a Relaxing Way]]> Sometimes when visiting a Disney theme park, it is time to just relax and enjoy your surroundings. Such is the case when Mary Ann and I stopped to ride The Liberty Belle which is part of The Liberty Square Riverboat attraction in the Magic Kingdom. As we entered the area just past the Liberty Belle replica on the left and the Hall of Presidents on the right, we noticed the “Belle” would soon be pulling into dock. [I've included toward the end of this post, a great Liberty Bell voyage You Tube video by AllEars.Net.]

    So we entered the waiting area, which is the landing for Deck Two of the ship, and sat on the bench awaiting its arrival. Interestingly, there is only one loading dock in the Disneyland version, but in Orlando they figured out that things would speed up if you could enter one way and leave another. In WDW, you disembark on the bottom deck.

    The Liberty Belle transverses the Disney constructed Rivers of America, whose central land mass is Tom Sawyer Island. But to get there, you need to walk further along to a second dock and board a raft that takes you across the river to Tom’s Landing (which is the only way to get to the island). We haven’t been over that way is many trips, but plan to for our next, as it will be with the youngins.

    The Liberty Square Riverboat is a real paddlewheel steamship, whose boiler room takes water from the Rivers of America, converts it to steam and powers the boat up and back the approximate half-mile tour around Tom Sawyer Island and other parts of Frontierland and Liberty Square.



    If the scene reminds you of a Mark Twain novel, it should, as you’ll soon discover from the broadcast narration. There is plenty of interesting scenery along the way, including the Splash Mountain plunge, riders enjoying a whirl around Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, woodland animals, a burning cabin, a hint of river pirates, Native American villagers and finally an eerie riverside manor that casts an ominous shadow alongside the shore, which is The Haunted Mansion.


    Big Thunder Mountain Railroad from Rivers of America. By Coaster Gallery
    Your surroundings do invoke the feeling of boarding a Mississippi River steamboat that Samuel Langhorne Clemens worked on and wrote about as Mark Twain, although this version never made if off Disney property where it was built. The total trip will take about 20 minutes and although there is a pilot, I’m told there is also a steel rail under the waterline (just like Jungle Cruise) guiding its way.

    From BoatSafe.Com
    Mark Twain came into the world as Samuel Clemens on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri. His parents moved to Hannibal, Missouri while he was a young'un, and he spent his youth experiencing the adventures that shaped his life and colored his writings. At 24, he realized a boyhood dream when he was finally entrusted with the powers and duties of a steamboat pilot on April 9, 1859 in St. Louis.

    Twain loved the paddlewheel steamboat and he loved the river. As a matter of fact, it was during his years on the river that he chose his pen name. "Mark Twain" was a frequent call of the leadsman. It meant that the water was 2 fathoms (12 feet) deep and indicated safe water.

    A lead line is used to determine water depth and the type of material which makes up the bottom or riverbed. A 30-foot-long line is attached to a pipe filled with lead, except for the bottom 2 inches. (Modern lead lines are simply a solid round pipe-shaped piece of lead with a concave bottom) Material from the riverbed...mud, sand or potentially hazardous rock...collects in the lower, hollow end of the pipe.

    The line itself, in the "Ol days", was probably made of manila, hemp or sisal, and had markings woven into the strands which represented various depths. Today's lead lines generally have polyester strands and bright colored plastic tags with actual numbers are woven into the strands
    The leadsman is the person who "heaves the lead" and "sings the mark". In the days of Mark Twain, the mark meanings were actually sung as the paddle boat cautiously made its way along the river in potentially shallow water.

    When full, The Liberty Belle will hold 450 people on the three decks and is accessible, but unfortunately I haven’t seen it at capacity for a very long time. You will pass scenes along the riverbank that are from the 1800’s; but you also get a great view when the runaway mine train of Big Thunder Mountain fly by along the shore.

    The riverboat leaves the dock on the hour and half hour. When you need to relax, both in the queue and on your voyage, it does give your feet and legs a rest as you slowly make your way around the river. We enjoyed this attraction, because the scenery is typical Disney and the photo opportunities abound. The best view is on the top deck. Most of the space is standing room, but since it’s unusual for a full house, getting a bench seat if you need one is normally not a problem.

    The Liberty Belle as night unfolds. Photo by Express Monorail 
    The Liberty Belle Riverboat is just that. It's a boat that you can ride down the "river" in Liberty Square and Frontierland. On the way, you see some scenes that have been set up for you and overlook some of the rides. But it’s really nice to ride in the evening, when the boat is all lit up and your imagination is in high gear if you let it. Be especially aware of your surroundings when you get closer to the sounds from The Haunted Mansion.

    You should check the Times Guide for any Disney “meet and greet” characters that might join you on your cruise, and during special events, there might even be some entertainment. Plus there are no refreshments on board to purchase, and also NO BATHROOMS, so go before you board since no matter what the kids need to do, they can’t until they get back to dry land.

    The LibertyBelle Riverboat - AllEars.Net You Tube Video

    From Wikipedia
    The Magic Kingdom theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Florida at one time featured two riverboats: the Admiral Joe Fowler, a sidewheeler named for Disneyland's construction supervisor, and the Richard F. Irvine, a sternwheeler named for a WED executive.

    The Admiral Joe Fowler served from October 2, 1971, one day after park opening, until the Fall of 1980, when it was retired less than ten years of operation. It was rumored to have been accidentally destroyed after falling from a crane onto its drydock.
    The Richard F. Irvine came into service on May 20, 1973 but was renamed The Liberty Belle in 1996 after everything except for the hull, boiler, and engines was stripped off, and an all-new superstructure was constructed from aluminum and vinyl.
    A WORLD VIEW - Enjoying Walt Disney World
    ]]> Fri, 11 Feb 2011 11:01:06 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Disney World's Pop Century - A Great Resort At A Value Price]]> Disney's Pop Century Provides Great Value Resort Option


    Disney's Pop Century Resort is a highly themed Walt Disney World Resort Hotel at a Value Resort price!  This means that budget conscious travelers can still experience the benefits of staying on property during their Disney World Vacation. 

    Disney's Pop Century Resort
    With 2,880 guest rooms Disney's Pop Century Resort qualifies as one of America's Largest Hotels.  The resort is divided into 5 sections that are each themed to correspond with a particular decade of the latter half of the 20th Century: the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, & 90's.  There are also 3 large themed pool areas and a main building referred to as the Classic Hall.

    A Standard Room will cost as low as $82 + tax Rack Rate (during Value Season) and can be discounted as low as $56 + tax.  This provides a real "value" for a stay in a nice, clean room at a fun Disney World Resort Hotel.

    The Lobby
    As soon as you enter the Main Lobby in the Classic Hall, you get a nostalgic look at the decades referred to as "The Classic Years."  The long Lobby provides ample counters to handle large crowds of people check-in during the busiest times.

    Behind the check-in counters are a series of pictures that take you through the 50's to the 90's with images that bring those eras to mind.
    Across the Lobby on the opposite wall you will find collections of items that reflect the years that they represent.  Here you find pop culture items that represented popular fads, TV shows, and Movies from those times.  You may find yourself lingering after you have checked-in in order to check out all of the items from your personal favorite decade.

    The Rooms At Pop Century Resort
    The rooms are always important, no matter where you stay.  Even at a Value Resort you expect to find a clean, comfortable room.  The rooms at Pop Century were a pleasant surprise.  The 260 square foot standard rooms will have either 2 double beds (like the ones pictured below) or 1 king sized bed.

    You will also find a small table with 2 chairs, and a dresser with an LCD Flat Screen TV.  There really wasn't anything extra or fancy in the room, but it certainly met the requirements of being clean and comfortable.  The LCD TV was a definite plus and I think it makes the room seem larger.  The bedspreads had a Disney theme and you could find Hidden Mickeys in the carpet and bathroom wallpaper.

    The Food Court
    Every Resort needs a place to each and the Everything Pop Food Court is just the place at Pop Century Resort.  Here you can eat during breakfast, lunch, and dinner from a wide variety of choices.  You can also redeem Quick Service Dining Credits on the Disney Dining Plan.

    Within the Food Court itself there are 4 different food stations offering selections during each meal and a market area with prepared foods, drinks, and deserts to choose from.

    Typically the foods you get here will be a slightly better value than what you will purchase in the parks.  They still are not cheap, but you can have a wide variety of selections at reasonable (by Disney standards) prices.
    Pop Century Resort Grounds
    The Resort grounds is where the Pop Century Resort shines.  Having stayed at both the Disney All-Star Resorts and now Pop Century, I can say that the resort theming and grounds are better at the Pop Century.
    The next 6 pictures take you on a quick tour of the resort.  The colors are bright and family friendly.  The inclusion of numerous trees within the resort grounds gave it a much richer feeling.  The trees also made the resort feel more "homey" as it broke up the view of the numerous cement buildings.
    I think Disney did a great job with the Layout of the Resort and I give it high marks for the appearance.  The Foosball courtyard is just awesome!
    Great Value Resort!
    Disney's Pop Century Resort is a family friendly hotel done right.  It provides an excellent value for the price point.  This is a great choice for people who want to stay on property, but plan to be spending most of their days in the parks.
    I would definitely choose Pop Century over the Disney All-Star Resorts when choosing a Disney Value Resort Hotel in the future.  I think the better theming and the fact that Pop Century is newer drives that decision.
    It's also great to know that even though this is a Value Resort you are still entitled to Free Parking (at the Resort and at the Theme Parks), Free Disney World Transportation, and Free Magical Express shuttle service to and from the Orlando International Airport (MCO).  These are the same amenities that all Disney World Resort Guests are entitled to no matter the resort class.  These perks can actually make it cheaper to stay on Disney Property instead of off-site with a rental car and paying to park.
    ]]> Sat, 5 Feb 2011 14:33:52 +0000
    <![CDATA[ The Animation Courtyard in Disney's Hollywood Studios]]> This is Part III of a tour of Pixar Place, Mickey Avenue and today, Animation Courtyard of Disney Hollywood Studios. There are three primary attractions in the Courtyard: Voyage of the Little Mermaid, The Magic of Disney Animation and Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!

    The entrance to this area of the park is representative of what many know as a real Hollywood Studio. As many people remember, there used to be a real movie and animation studio here, and much of the support services used in this regard, although unfortunately this is no longer the case. In its place are a technology demonstration area and a place for photo ops with Disney characters. 
    The area housing the film, Magic of Disney Animation, is always a favorite for me, admiring what in most cases what I can’t afford to purchase in the retail outlet; followed by a visit to draw my own Disney character as a souvenir. [For some reason, even after many visits they don’t seem to get much better… but it’s one of those just plain fun and free activities.]. Here is a description of the attraction itself:
    The Magic of Disney Animation is an informative 20-minute show at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme parkwhere Guests of all ages are invited to discover the process of creating animated characters.
    Go behind the scenes of animated Disney classics like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King for a look at how Disney animators create your favorite characters. Join Mushu from Mulan and a real Disney animator as together they illustrate—in a humorous and an easy-to-understand way—the basics of creating animated characters and character development.
    After the show, embark on a guided walk to a special landing and snap a picture of the former studios of Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida. After a brief discussion about animation with your guide, take some time to join in a number of different workshops that bring the magic of Disney animation to life.
    Playhouse Disney has changed over the years, and now represents the more popular currently on air productions of the Disney Channel, which I have enjoyed with my grandchildren and which I’m sure they, will readily connect with on when we do visit together.
    Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage!
    Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Photo © Disney
    Some of the world’s most popular children’s TV characters come to life as never before in Playhouse Disney—Live on Stage! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Children are invited to sing, dance and play along as their beloved friends from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, Little Einsteins and others appear in a new live adventure. Mickey’s colorful clubhouse opens up with delightful characters and marvelous special effects to make kids a part of the interactive magic—helping their pals create the best birthday party ever for Minnie Mouse. 
    Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage!
    Handy Manny,  Photo © Disney
    In addition to the bubbly, breezy effects, music also fills the air as youngsters join the gang in singing along with catchy tunes that make Playhouse Disney such a fun place every morning — only this time, they’re a part of the new fun. Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage! performs several times daily at Disney's Hollywood Studios. 
    Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage!
    Little Einstein, Photo © Disney
    There is actually a new show, Disney Junior Live, which will replace the current iteration but include most of the current stars from MM Clubhouse et al. Joining the cast will be Jake and his friends as Jake and the Never Land Pirates, instead of Tigger and Pooh, beginning March 2011. But this also means that until the reopening, it will be closed from Jan. 30 to March 5 the show.
    Disney California Adventure parkand Disney’s Hollywood Studiosin Florida will celebrate the premiere of Disney Channel’s new multiplatform brand, Disney Junior, with “Disney Junior – Live on Stage!” next year. The lively show in the Parks will debut with new characters, some new adventures and a new marquee.

    Children and parents who now enjoy the popular “Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!”at both Parks can look forward to sharing this new production, which brings back three audience favorites (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Mannyand Little Einsteins) and also introduces a brand new segment based on Disney Junior’s newest series that will debut in February 2011, “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.”

    “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” will air on Disney Junior in February 2011 and will share the magical and adventurous world of Never Land with preschoolers. Children will be drawn to the main character Jake, an enthusiastic young boy who leads a team of kid pirates (Cubby and Izzy, along with their faithful pirate parrot, Skully) in fun adventures that encourage interactive responses from young viewers. The clever premise provides kids and families with a fun way to learn teamwork.
    Disney Junior
    Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Photo © Disney
    Stories from the show will come to life in the Parks with colorful, puppet versions of some of the most popular Disney Junior characters, bright visuals, whimsical scenery that fills the stage, catchy songs and interactive moments.

    “Disney Junior – Live on Stage” is scheduled to debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney California Adventure park in March 2011.
    The final stop in Animation Courtyard is another musical show, also lasting about 20 minutes, Voyage of the Little Mermaid. As one my favorite movies, it also a regular stop during my visits to DHS. It is also a fast pass attraction, although this has never been a long wait in line during my visits.
    “Under the Sea” is absolutely one of my favorite Disney tunes, and this is part of the performance. So is “Part of your World” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, which always brings me back to the theme of this wonderfully entertaining animated film that I’ve seen a dozen or more times. It’s a live cast production, but with original music and movie recordings from the film of course, plus some puppetry like the Ursula character. It is a lot of fun to watch, and a great place for the kids of all ages.
    A fish named Flounder and a crazy crab called Sebastian join Ariel and the rest of the cast under the sea in "Voyage of the Little Mermaid," a unique show spectacular at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Featuring dazzling special effects, the show combines live performers with giant puppets and favorite clips from the film to tell the delightful story of Ariel. Guests are plunged deep into fantasy as they enter a theater that recalls an underwater grotto complete with a curtain of water on stage. Even the air smells salty, and the audience can feel the sea mist and wind.
    Voyage of The Little Mermaid, Photo © Disney
    Sebastian kicks off the voyage with his Academy Award-winning melody, "Under the Sea," with more than 100 black-light puppets performing to the toe-tapping tune. Ariel shares her dream of becoming human in a live performance of the song "Part of Your World," casting her ethereal voice throughout the theater. The segment is highlighted by several scenes from the movie, drawing the audience into the mermaid's wide-eyed fantasy of winning the heart of her true love, Eric.

    But evil enters the picture in the form of the 12-foot-tall, 10-foot-wide villain known as Ursula. With her deep voice dripping of sarcasm, she belts out "Poor Unfortunate Souls," tempting Ariel with the chance to become human. Desperate for the opportunity, the red-headed mermaid agrees to trade her prized possession . . . her voice. The transformation from mermaid to human is accompanied by a powerful musical composition that foreshadows Ursula's wicked plan.

    The story unfolds in a climactic finale, combining film, live action and sensational special effects. Sebastian, Flounder, Triton the King of the Sea, and Max the Dog join Ariel and Eric in the exciting final segment, guaranteed to leave the audience with a smile.

    A WORLD VIEW - Enjoying Walt Disney World
    ]]> Thu, 3 Feb 2011 00:28:22 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Mickey Avenue in Disney's Hollywood Studios features Narnia and One Man's Dream]]> We’re back to one of my favorite places to visit in Hollywood Studios, which is the Pixar Place/Mickey Avenue and Animation Courtyard. Today, we’ll review the Mickey Avenue section that has two attractions, Journey into Narnia: Prince Caspian and Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream.

    You’ll have a lot of traffic in this area of the park, but normally just people hurrying to the other two areas of this section of the park, either trying to get to Toy Story Mania!; or over to the Animation Studio. So the crowds are not normally a problem, just an annoyance on the busiest days. Also, I've found two videos from the re-openings of both attractions, one from Attractions Magazine and the second from Orlando Theme Park News.


    Anyone can Journey into Narnia: Prince Caspian since it is a walk-through attraction. Guests enter into the queue area to test their knowledge of the Narnia stories. From there you move into an area with behind-the-scenes footage. This features the film’s director, Andrew Adamson. The original attraction opened in December 2005 honoring the film. Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. In June 2008, the focus changed to Prince Caspian, which is the second of the Narnia series.


    Prince Caspian Attraction Grand Opening at Hollywood Studios.
    A Video by Attractions Magazine.

    Of course, if you haven’t been exposed to the story or the films, the meaning of all you see will be hard to grasp. For example, passing under a rock archway into the Aslan’s Stone Table Chamber to experience stone carvings representing the series.

    Multiple screens, dimensional sound and in-theater effects help you live the story of Narnia firsthand, as you explore this walk-through chamber in depth, guided through the tale of Prince Caspian's courageous battle against the evil King Miraz to win back his rightful place on the throne.

    Included also are various storyboards and concept art, movie propos and costumes. The “journey” into Narnia is continuous and will take up about half hour of your visit.

    A former blogger for AllEars.Net wrote a two-part story about the opening of Prince Caspian at Disney Hollywood Studios. Here is a link to Part I and Part II of this review of the opening on June 26, 2008.

    Next door is Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, which is another relatively short visit, although I normally took much longer than most to admire and absorb every part of history and the mind of Walt Disney. There are 15-minute self-guided walking tours that also run continuously. Actually, One Man’s Dream reopened in early November 2010 after a refurbishing. Below is a summary of changes from The Disney Parks Blog.

    We’ve reopened our one-of-a-kind showcase of the history of Walt Disney and The Walt Disney Company – Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. The gallery at Disney’s Hollywood Studios retains its original focus, but has a new look and feel. The corridors feature an elegant color palette that brings new focus to beloved favorites, and helps to highlight some new additions.



    A favorite of the project team Imagineers is the brand new look at a historic “WED Imagineering Workshop,” featuring sections of the original model for “it’s a small world”at Disneyland Park, and the actual Audio-Animatronics Abraham Lincoln figure (pictured above (c) Disney) that made its debut in the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair. Regular guests will spot historic costumes, props and models that are new to the show, along with a glimpse of exciting new projects and a sneak peek into future adventures.

    A new area entitled “The Legacy Continues” will focus on The Walt Disney Company highlights from the 1970s through today, and will debut next month. The heartwarming film tribute One Man’s Dream, hosted by Julie Andrews, remains as our finale.

    (From Walt Disney World News) -- Did you know that Walt Disney once played the role of Abraham Lincoln? That at the age of 16, he was an Ambulance Corps driver in France? Would you like to hear him talk about what it felt like to create Mickey Mouse -- in recorded words never before heard in public?

    Treats for the eyes, the ears and the imagination -- memorabilia from Walt Disney Archives that has never been available to the public about the career and heritage of Walt Disney and the company he founded -- is showcased in Walt Disney: One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios.


    The attraction takes 21st-century visitors to Walt Disney World Resort on an emotional journey that starts with Disney's birth in 1901 and ends with the company's vision for the future. The interactive gallery and film is located on Mickey Avenue at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

    "When we were researching the attraction, we found that many of our guests under the age of 15 did not know Walt Disney was a real person," said Senior Show Producer/Director Roger Holzberg of Walt Disney Imagineering. "They thought it was just a company name."


    ONE MAN'S STUFF: The "Walt Disney: One Man's Dream" attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios features rare, historic Disney artifacts which help to transport guests through the decades of Walt Disney's life. Featured items include: (Clockwise from left) Audio-Animatronics figure; "Moonliner" rocket model; The Dancing Man, a mechanical figure that became the basis for the creation of Audio-Animatronics; and a model for Disneyland's "Enchanted Tiki Room" attraction.

    Throughout the gallery, scenic pieces and props create an experiential trip through each era of Disney's life, beginning with a brief look at Disney's early years, from his birth in Chicago and his formative years in Marceline, Mo., a period that was crucial to his development as an artist and storyteller. Throughout, "connection cards" thread the stories of his creations, from boyhood dreams to reality.

    And in one of the attraction's most exciting features, Walt Disney himself talks about the most meaningful and emotional moments of his life through a rare collection of audio interviews, many heard publicly for the first time, which are triggered when guests approach the various sections of the gallery.

    The attraction includes a short film of Walt Disney's life that explores the extraordinary hardships he overcame to achieve what he did in his lifetime. "He is an individual, not an icon," said Holzberg. "This tells the story of Walt the man, and we hope that guests will be moved by the scope of his imagination, what he accomplished, and what he inspired."


    Walt Disney: One Man's Dream After Refurbishment. 
    An Orlando Theme Park News video.

    "It's important to note that 'One Man's Dream' is in no way a retrospective," said Marty Sklar, vice chairman and principal creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering. "Walt always said he had one foot in the past and one in the future. We want to inspire the young creative minds of today to help invent the future.

    Artifacts on Display: Rare, historic Disney artifacts on display to help transport guests through the decades of Walt Disney's life include:

    • Main Street, U.S.A. model for Disneyland
    • Walt's animation camera stand, the table on which he animated "Steamboat Willie" and "Plane Crazy
    • Oscars for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" films
    • Animated bird from the 1800s that inspired The Enchanted Tiki Room
    • Disneyland castle model
    • An interactive re-creation of Project X (Walt Disney World Resort) Florida conference room
    • A life-sized Roy Disney graphic with interactive audio as Roy dedicates Walt Disney World Resort in his brother's name
    • Abraham Lincoln sculpture bust
    • Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle model
    • Disney California Adventure model 

    A WORLD VIEW - Enjoying Walt Disney World

    ]]> Thu, 3 Feb 2011 00:20:52 +0000
    <![CDATA[ See the toys we love at Pixar Place in Disney's Hollywood Studios]]>
    One of my favorite places to visit in Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM) is in the area encompassing Pixar Place, Mickey Avenue and Animation Courtyard. There is so much to do and see that you can spend a good part of your day here and not realize it. This is one of several articles about the three sections of this part of Hollywood Studios.

    I particularly love walking around Pixar Place, with the wide variety of toys and games as decorations; and of course, Toy Story Midway Mania. Pixar Place is physically situated just behind the Chinese Theatre housing The Great Movie Ride at one end, and if you can jump the wall at the other end, you’ll be at Rosie’s All-American Café.
    Where else can you find larger-than-life characters and toys we all still love, and which are very familiar from the Pixar hits of Toy Story 1, 2 and 3. For example, the Green Army Men on the roof tops and Monkeys in a Barrel hanging across the street from one building to the next. This is also an area of meet-and-greet for the Toy Story film characters.

    The primary attraction is Toy Story Midway Mania, a great interactive, 3D experience that actually takes you from game to game hosted by the movie’s characters and using various weapons of choice to score points in not-so-traditional carnival games. Everyone I know loves Toy Story Midway Mania!

    But the wait times are really long. The way the entire area is decorated helps to take your mind off the time, but once you’ve been there a couple times, even that doesn’t make you feel better. However, the solution for most is as follows: arrive early and first get a fast pass, ride the attraction if the wait is a half-hour or so, then come back and do it again with your fast pass. If you arrive after Noon, expect a 1 to 2 hour wait.
    'SPRING' HAS SPRUNG: Walt Disney World guests take control of their very own "spring-action shooter" and shoot at 3-D targets -- in a "4-D' environment -- as they experience "Toy Story Mania!," the newest attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The cutting-edge attraction immerses guests in the "toy-and-'toon world" of favorite "Toy Story" characters where the game is to aim at playful targets along a colorful midway-themed route. Scores are tallied at the end of the attraction to determine the master of the midway. (Sue Bryan, photographer (c) Disney)
    The area around Pixar Place does get crowded attimes of the day and night. Of course, Toy Story Midway Mania being the most popular attraction in all of Walt Disney World tends to contribute to that.
    IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN: A trio of Green Army Men characters from the Disney-Pixar animated films “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2” march through “Pixar Place” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The newest addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, “Pixar Place” is modeled after Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. The street is adorned with larger-than-life versions of classic childhood toys and games, including Barrel of Monkeys, Scrabble and Battleship. “Pixar Place” is also home to “Toy Story Mania!,” a cutting-edge ride-through attraction that combines the fun of a video game with 4-D technology and interaction with favorite Disney-Pixar stars. (Gene Duncan, photographer (c) Disney)
    Did you know?... about Toy Story Mania!
    • Each ride vehicle weighs as much as 8,580 Woody dolls.
    • It would take 5,026 toy soldiers lined up end-to-end to make up the total track length.
    • Toy Story Mania! is the first time that Walt Disney Imagineering is creating an attraction for two Disney Parks simultaneously.
    • It has been estimated that, each day, guests may break over one million virtual plates using the spring-action shooters.
    • Riders in the Sky, the award-winning group that wrote the songs that Mr. Potato Head performs as part of the attraction, is the same group that wrote "Woody's Roundup" for the "Toy Story" feature films.
    • This is the first attraction that Walt Disney Imagineering designed where the Imagineers had to wear 3-D glasses to art direct all the black-light paint elements.
    • The murals located in the load area at Disney's Hollywood Studios are the largest murals painted since Epcot was built.
    • At Toy Story Mania!, every guest gets to experience life at the size of a toy. So in Andy's room, a 5-foot 6-inch person will feel about 14" tall.
    • Guests feel like they have shrunk to a toy size as they queue amid rounded TINKERTOY “connectors” two feet in diameter, TINKERTOY rods that are four inches around, View•Master reels nearly four feet across and holiday lights each 13 inches long.
    • In order to create a show that responds not only to every pull of a guest's spring-action shooter but also every move their midway tram makes, there are more than 150 computers communicating over multiple networks throughout the attraction.  
    Mr. Potato Head
    • More time was spent programming Mr. Potato Head than for any other Audio-Animatronics figure ever created by Walt Disney Imagineering.
    • Mr. Potato Head will be able to say more lines of dialogue than any Audio-Animatronics figure ever created by Walt Disney Imagineering.
    • "It's a ride that's a game. It's a game that's a ride," says Mr. Potato Head to queuing guests. "Step right up and see what's inside."
    • The Mr. Potato Head Audio-Animatronics figure is the first time that an Audio-Animatronics figure can remove a body part and re-attach it (in the case of his ear).
    • The Mr. Potato Head Audio-Animatronics figure has new, highly expressive and animated eyes that can look directly at a particular guest in the queue when speaking to him/her.
    • Mr. Potato Head marks the first Audio-Animatronics figure whose mouth appears to form words and vowel sounds.
    Nice to Know:
    • Because of the indoor nature of the attraction and to keep the guest experience fun for all, flash photography or video is not allowed on Toy Story Mania!
    • Everyone can play! There is no height or age restriction for guests to experience Toy Story Mania!, creating a multi-generational experience the entire family can enjoy together.
    • There is even an offline loading area for guests with disabilities. Guests traveling in wheelchairs or using other mobility aids have as much time as they need to board.
    Pixar Place Refreshments
    You can get a snack here at the Hey Howdy Hey Take Away such as carbonated beverages, ice cream, soda, water and chips. You can wait a while for your fast pass to Toy Story, have a snack and take a look around a limited selection of souvenir’s in this outdoor emporium. There is no place to sit. Here is the latest menu (prices subject to change) from the AllEars web site:
    • Popcorn $3.09
    • Popcorn in a Souvenir Bucket $4.19
    • Wheezy's Breezy Freezy - Coke or Raspberry Lemonade $3.69
    • Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite, Light Lemonade $2.19
    • Bottled Water $2.50
    • Itzakadoozie Ice Pop $3.09
    • Mickey's Premium Ice Cream Bar $3.29
    • Chips $2.69
    • Coffee (regular or decaf) $2.09

    A WORLD VIEW - Enjoying Walt Disney World

    ]]> Thu, 3 Feb 2011 00:15:39 +0000
    <![CDATA[ A Tale as Old as Time - Beauty and the Beast is a magical story in a magical place.]]> Live stage performances at Walt Disney World have added a wonderful entertainment experience for the adults visiting the parks, which I think the children tolerate for our sake. No matter, I love them for any number of reasons, not the least of which I’m such a fan of Disney animation, but especially those from the 1980’s and 90’s like Beauty and Beast. A short video of one number from the park production is today’s Monday Magic – It’s Almost Like Being There.

    It was no surprise as we’re walking down Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood Studios last October that we turned into this attraction to catch a show. I’ve always loved live stage performances, and had the opportunity to attend several on- and off-Broadway productions over time. But even amateur productions in high school, colleges and community theatre are wonderful to enjoy. And I particularly love the musicals, which are a staple for many Disney animated films.

    The Disney animated feature Beauty and the Beast was casted with many of my favorite performers and some of Broadway’s greatest stars, like Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts and Jerry Orbach at Lumiere, whose live stage credits went much beyond Lennie Brisco of Law and Order fame. Even Robby Benson, who before playing the Beast I had never heard sing, enhanced the production.

    The Theatre of the Stars is where Beauty is performed many times daily, but as a shortened half-hour extract based on the film. The score selections are very familiar, and recorded in some numbers since I don’t think Angela Lansbury is hiding back stage. The theatre hold 1,500 people and I’ve never seen anyone turned away for lack of a seat, even on the busiest days.

    One of the Howard Ashman and Alan Menken scores I’ve captured on film, using my Kodak Zi8 is the closing production and the song Beauty and the Beast. Unfortunately I was not in the best audience location, but for a first-timer using a handheld camera, both the visuals and the sound came out pretty good

    I’ve also found some websites you might find interesting, including one that includes the lyrics of all the songs from the Disney film production. A summary of the film is located on the Internet Movie Database. Recently a new Beauty and the Beast disc collection was issued, and can be purchased almost anyway DVDs are sold, but also on Amazon (Three-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo in DVD Packaging).

    A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World
    ]]> Fri, 7 Jan 2011 00:49:52 +0000
    <![CDATA[ See, I really wasn't afraid of Dumbo the Flying Elephant!]]> Even though I’ve been visiting Walt Disney World since 1973, we never rode Dumbo the Flying Elephant. I’m not sure why (although Mary Ann said I was afraid), but whatever the reason, our October trip was our first time. I mean, we’re walking through Fantasyland and all these really little kids were standing in line and enjoying this attraction… who am I not to do this?

    But, how does an elephant fly anyway?

    The crowds during our visit were not that bad, although I was a little worried and started going through my Touring Plan information to find the Dumbo or Die plan. (Taking too long to get on would be a good excuse not to ride.) However, it only took 30 minutes of wait time to get our pass. You get a plastic chip that you place on Dumbo’s ear so you can reserve your seat. In this way, the cast members know you have already flown and can’t repeat without standing in line again. This must mean Mickey doesn’t really trust us children!

    By the way, there really is a Dumbo-or-Die-Touring-Plan from the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. The Unofficial Guide is my favorite and available here.

    Each Dumbo flying machine is a two-seater, although if you have a really little kid you can squeeze in three to seat-belt together. There are 16 pachyderms, equipped with a lever that gives you control of how high Dumbo will fly. Of course, you have to stay up as high as possible (a whole 17 feet or so) through the whole ride, which really isn’t that long, just a few minutes (whew!).


    This is how an elephant flies!

    Dumbo the Flying Elephant is an original attraction in the Magic Kingdom and is based on the 1941 animated film classic Dumbo. I really did love that movie, although there aren’t many Disney movies I don’t enjoy to watch over and over. Notwithstanding the age of the attraction, this is one of the most popular “kiddie rides” in the place, so I wasn’t kidding that a good touring plan is your best friend.

    I did have an ulterior motive this year in that I wanted to take pictures of the Fantasyland Expansion, or at least a shot of what was going on in that section of the park (I’ve also added some information from Disney below). However, I really couldn’t see a lot going on, except lots of fencing, some cleared areas and a couple of cranes. I did get a couple of other shots (below) of the Magic Kingdom, which I hope you find interesting.

    Fantasyland Expansion (groundbreaking 2010)

    This three-year construction project will result in the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history. For the first time, guests will be able to step into their favorite Disney fairy tales to have more magical and immersive encounters with Disney princesses. Each princess will have her own themed village within Fantasyland Forest. At Dreams Come True with Cinderella, guests can meet Cinderella face to face in her country chateau, share a dance or train to be one of her Royal Knights.

    At A Birthday Surprise for Sleeping Beauty, it is party time inside the Briar Rose Cottage, nestled in a lush, forest setting. The three good fairies give Aurora the Sweet 16 party she never received, and everyone’s invited to join in the surprise celebration. And an enchanted mirror will transport guests from Belle’s father’s cottage to Beast’s castle for an enchanting storytelling performance during Enchanted Tales with Belle.

    The new district will invite park goers to the Be Our Guest Restaurant, one of three enchanted dining rooms inside Beast’s castle. And just outside the castle in Belle’s Village will be Gaston’s Tavern, another themed eatery. Meanwhile, in the new Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid attraction, Ariel and all her friends will entertain in a ride-through adventure featuring favorite songs from the popular animated feature.

    Dumbo at Disneyland from The Disney Parks Blog

    The big top comes to Dumbo’s Flying Circus with a magical flight high above brand-new circus grounds, twice the size of the classic attraction. Inside a stylized tent, guests enjoy midway games and other fun-filled experiences.

    A WORLD VIEW - Enjoying Walt Disney World

    ]]> Sun, 5 Dec 2010 12:35:14 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Turtle Talk with Crush represents cutting edge technology, but couldn't be more human.]]> It had been a few visits since we were last able to see Turtle Talk with Crush and I thought it was time to once again enjoy this product of the Disney Living Character Initiative. I love when technology is able to bring things to life, interact with the audience, and truly make you feel a personal connection to the experience… Dude!

    This is a video taken by A WORLD VIEW during our October trip, which is the entire performance by Crush. And although the full show can be viewed here, you can’t replicate this true-live adventure with my You Tube video.

    One of my favorite Disney-Pixar movies is Finding Nemo, even though it is not a musical (usually my criteria for repeat viewings). The story brings many aspects of life to the table, and it moves along pretty well which makes it most interesting in every scene since there is something worth watching going on. I knew right away, during the scenes with Crush, that more would be made of this encounter than the movie itself, which has come true. And Turtle Talk with Crush is not only located in Epcot, but in also Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, and Hong Kong Disneyland. It is located in The Seas with Nemo and Friends. (Be sure to wait outside a few moments waiting for the Gulls to speak.)

    For the uninitiated (if there are any left), Turtle Talk with Crush is a live show, although scripted for every presentation. Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) has truly brought us the best in innovative and creative attractions here. The target audience is young children, as they sit on a carpeted floor in the front, and everyone else fills the gallery-type stands. It is not a large theatre, but the sound fills the room and it fits at least a couple hundred people. There is a huge glass wall through which you see the ocean, plant life and other fish swimming back and forth. It is here that Crush will swim up to talk with the children (and sometimes a parent), answering questions and chatter with the audience for about 15 minutes.

    If you have been there more than once, the dialogue will sound familiar, but that’s OK. Each show has some measure of improvisation, although I’m sure even that is rehearsed. The science behind Crush is truly state-of-the art. It is a 3D view of computer animation, and the voice is operated by a person in a room behind the screen, who can see and hear all that is going on in front. This is cutting edge. The window is not an aquarium, although it looks like it, but actually a large rear-projection screen. The interactivity is instantaneous, just like you are conversing with Crush real-time, and you are!

    So in effect, the digital image of Crush and other characters are puppets, moving at what I’m told is 60 frames/second and allowing his mouth to move in sync with the operator’s spoken words. The movement is seamless, and it does look really good since Crush can react differently for each person he speaks with. And since there are hidden cameras facing the audience, the cast member operating Crush can react to what he sees out there, including how a child is dressed and behaving.

    At Epcot, the attraction opened in November 2004, and there is similarity with the technology used at Monsters Inc. Laugh floor with cast members controlling how the characters move, talk and sound, and using essentially video game controllers for movement. Of course, there is a synthesizer changing the operator’s voice to one that sounds just like the character Crush from the movie. This allows for the interactivity and spontaneity, since the synthesizer does the work for the speaker in live-action animation.

    There is an assistant who helps with the show, such as moving the microphone from one person to the next as well as prepping the audience for what is to come. As children are selected there is a certain level of repartee between child and Crush that is entertaining. It is something like watching “Kids Say the Darndest Thing” of Art Linkletter fame, another reminder of the author’s age. And there is even a guest appearance, which I’ll keep a secret so at least something is a surprise.

    A WORLD VIEW - Enjoying Walt Disney World

    ]]> Sat, 4 Dec 2010 19:16:12 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Dining in 'Ohana is a "10"; like being on a Pacific Island just off the coast of the Magic Kingdom]]> I've always wanted to stay at the Polynesian Resort, but since I'm not a DVC member as a result, financially the Moderate and Value Resorts are the normal choice for our trips, that will likely not happen unless the lottery strikes. So for us, the next best thing is to visit them anyway and partake in the amenities available to anyone. By the way, this is one of our top recommendation for all visitors, since there is so much to see and do outside of the theme parks at Walt Disney World.

    One of our ADR's this last trip was at 'Ohana, for several reasons. One, is that its a buffet (or actually family style). This is always an attraction for me since choosing small or large amounts from what I enjoy is better than just having one entree served on a plate.

    Next, it's an entertaining experience, not just an eat your dinner and run. And of course, it's at a Deluxe Resort we would love to stay at, so this was our chance to enjoy the ambiance and features without paying a higher room rate.


    Now there is a lot at the Polynesian to see, and this article is not the comprehensive review of the entire resort. Suffice it to say that there is clearly a south seas feeling about the place, especially at night as we strolled along the beach and also the walkways lit by fire lamps which is very romantic. (Yes kids, even for us folks who have been married for 37+ years, there are romantic moments.) Inside it's the same, with a lobby filled with lush landscaping, a waterfalls, colorful birds and scenery right out of Hollywood set.

    POLYNESIA, FLORIDA STYLE -- White sandy beaches, palm trees, water recreation and traditional South Seas longhouses are all combined in Disney's Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World Resort. The 847-room Polynesian-themed resort features 11 two- and three-story longhouses situated across the serene Seven Seas Lagoon from Magic Kingdom. Photo  © Disney
    'Ohana is located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House. There is a Lilo and Stitch character breakfast, but what we attended was the family-style Polynesian feast where meats and seafood are grilled over an open fire pit. 'Ohana means "family" in Hawaiian culture, and the seating and atmosphere reflect that. And you are all "cousins" at 'Ohana.


    When the doors open initailly for dinner, the bellow of conch shells welcomes diners to a festive “island feast” served family-style in the spacious dining room with a dramatic, 18-foot-long, open fire pit. There’s no menu to choose from, everyone shares in everything they offer that evening.
    Mary Ann and Bruce
    Many people help you during your experience. When you enter someone will take around and point out some features of the restaurant. You have a server, who has an assistant. There is also an entertainer who will work the room by passing out leis (which are now hanging in our bedroom), provide encouragment for the kids (and kids at heart) to learn the hula, promote the hula hoop and even host coconut races which are really funny. If it's your birthday, or anniversary or honeymoon, make sure you let people know so you can be serenaded by the room. It is a lot of fun when everyone including yourself gets into the act.

    Also part of the entertainment, and depending on where you are sitting, is the Wishes fireworks occurring just a few miles away. We were lucky and were seated near the rear windows, which was a real treat as the music and narrative are piped into the dining room and our view of the fireworks was excellent. Some people will tell you that arriving after 8:00 pm is a good thing if you want to experience the fireworks; but some others have said that they attended during nights that the sound was not working, although it was great during our visit.
    Let me review the menu. One of the features of a family style meal is that the food starts coming, and never seems to stop. This means, you need to pace yourself and don't fill-up before you get to the main course. It is difficult, because at 'Ohana it all feels like a main course. For example, I could have filled up on the starter items of bread and salad. The 'Ohana Welcome Bread is infused with coconut and pineapple and I can make a meal of a good bread, so it was difficult for me right from the start. The opening was further enhanced by the honey-lime dressing on an absolutely wonderful green salad. I knew right away this was going to be a filling evening, but I had to control myself (sure I did).

    Then came the appetizers of chicken wings, pork fried dumplings, some of the best Asian-style noodles (similar to Lo-Mein) I have ever had and steamed vegetables of broccoli, snow peas and carrots. Excuse me, I make a meal of chicken wings once a week, and the rest of the accompaniments just overwhelmed my senses so that I could have stopped right there; but you can't do that.


    When you walk into the restaurant, you see and smell the preparation area where meats and shrimp are being broiled to perfection over an oak fire. So here they come next, one at a time on large skewers as your server provides you the number of pieces you want, and return with more as needed. Turkey, Asian BBQ Pork Loin, Steak, and Shrimp (unpeeled). They also provide dipping sauces with a recommendation for each of your main course items, however I mixed them up and enjoyed them all. There are three, a peanut sauce, chimichurri sauce and a mustard sauce.

    You conclude with a large slice of 'Ohana bread pudding a la mode with Banana Foster sauce. I must admit, it was a struggle to eat even a couple of bites, in fact, Mary Ann and I shared a single serving, since I couldn't have been more stuffed than I was.

    I'm told there is an alternative meal for kids, although I didn't find anything on the menu not appropriate or something they wouldn't enjoy. This would be typical Disney fare such as chicken nuggets, PB&J, a burger and fries. Your server will ask you about any special dietary needs, something you should aways call in advance about anyway. I'm told that the entree selections do change on occasion as well. And of course there is coffee, tea and soda, and refills as needed.

    By the way, another review and some better photos are located on the Disney Food Blog. And some other opinion pieces on Trip Advisor which rates 'Ohana as a 4 1/2 of 5 stars and AllEars.Net.

    This is a very difficult reservation to get, so ADRs are a must. Our meal was booked for 8:45 pm, late for even us who usually eat about 7:30 pm. Dinner runs from about 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The cost per person at the time was $35 for adults and $16 for children, but be aware of higher prices during busier times of the year. On a scale of 1 to 10, this is clearly right at the top for me, and well worth the price of admission and especially for the single table service credit on the meal plan. You can make your reservations for ADRs such as 'Ohana by calling (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463 up to 180 days prior to your visit. Other than at 7:00 am on the 180 day mark, I find using the Disney website always the best place to begin, both to make and cancel dining reservations.

    A WORLD VIEW - Enjoying Walt Disney World

    ]]> Sun, 28 Nov 2010 19:13:50 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Jason Wethington Amazing Magic on the BoardWalk along Crescent Lake]]> On the BoardWalk at Walt Disney World, one of the best ways to spend a lovely evening is to walk along Crescent Lake and enjoy the street entertainment. Starting from Epcot's International Gateway, travel to the left by foot or jump aboard a Disney lake boat to the BoardWalk Inn dock. Here you will find wonderful restaurants (i.e. Kouzina's and Flying Fish), retail outlets, bicycle's built for two or three or four, and some really family-style street performers. Actually one of our favorite activities is to simply sit in a rocking chair on the porch of the BoardWalk resort and enjoy the view. But all of this is for another article, as today's post is about JWethington.

    Our video is part of a performance by Jasen Wethington a professional close-up magician and slight-of-hand aficionado. I've captured one of his routines, which still amazes me as I try to figure out how he did it. He provides a great show, and this is my video of his performance.

    The incomparable magic of JWethington. A man with a simple plan, to make your party unforgetable. In addition to providing closeup entertainment on Boardwalk, Jason provides corporate, wedding, cocktail reception and other event programs. Here is his website:, but he can also be reached on Twitter: @jasonwethington and by E-mail:

    I'm always searching the Internet for Walt Disney World videos, some from Disney (current and historical), from TV, and from fans (who really do great work). But today's video is from my trip in October. Do you have a suggestion for a featured video? Write me at so everyone may enjoy your favorites; and with little focus and imagination, it will almost feel like being there.

    A WORLD VIEW - Enjoying Walt Disney World

    ]]> Fri, 26 Nov 2010 18:58:08 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Karamelle-Küche in the Germany Pavilion at Epcot is a unique Werther's Original Caramels experience.]]> On our "to-do" list for our October visit to Walt Disney World was to experience the new Karamell-Küche shop, now part of the Germany Pavilion in the World Showcase in Epcot. I've always loved Werther's Original Caramels, which I learned during our visit is a product of Storck USA and the host of this unique location, the only free standing store of this company in the world. It opened on September 30, 2010, about a month before we arrived. (Great Disney video at story end.).


    This is one of those locations you must stop in, if only to enjoy the sights and smells which surround you. The Pavilion itself has that old-world feel, further emphaszied by the costumed candy-makers preparing these delights. Cast Members will make homemade caramel corn, caramel covered apples and caramel covered strawberries right before your eyes at Karamell-Küche. And not only will they carry items made fresh daily but a variety of specialty merchandise and gifts that are only available at Epcot.


    Karamelle-Küche -- German for “caramel kitchen,” the new shop in the Germany pavilion at Epcot is themed like an Old World German caramel shop. A show kitchen features cast members making fresh caramel popcorn, caramel apples, and chocolate-covered strawberries and marshmallows drizzled with caramel. Werther’s Original candy is on the shelves, and the shop also includes gourmet caramels, cookies, brownies, fudge and cupcakes. It’s the only free-standing retail location in the world for Storck, makers of Werther’s Original Caramels.
    Walking among the shops of World Showcase is one of my favorite things to do, but I am a window shopper at heart. But unlike most retail areas we visit in other parts of our country, being at Epcot's 11 pavilions takes us from nation to nation which is just a wonderful experience every time we visit. Karamell-Küche will definately be a snack stop every time. How can you resist chocolate or caramel covered fruit (i.e. apples and strawberries), bite size caramel candies or covered popcorn. It's a treat.
    From: Walt Disney World News

    A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World


    ]]> Fri, 26 Nov 2010 02:15:11 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Pictures of things I didn't expect to see at Walt Disney World.]]> It has been difficult to decide which aspect of our recent Walt Disney World vacation to write about, so I thought I would review the 1,700+ photographs I took during six days of our visit. What I came across were a selection of individual photos that were unexpected. They didn't necessarily go together, but by their uniqueness, they all represent something different and not what your would expect to see while walking around the "World".

    I hope that makes sense, but maybe the first photo will illustrate my point. As Mary Ann and I are walking around World Showcase, we reached the United Kingdom and something caught my eye. Actually several women who were stuffing themselves into the phone booth which is part of the decoration for that pavilion. There was a gentleman friend of the occupants (at least I hope he was) stuffing just one more lady into this small rectangular space. I think there are five, although you can only see four.


    Now that you understand what I mean about photographing what I didn't expect to see, here are two other examples. This was the time of Halloween, but what I didn't expect to see were costumed guests in places other than the Magic Kingdom on All Saints' Eve. However here they were, many individuals and groups decorated to the nines in their best cosumes. Two were most interesting to me while walking around Epcot. The first being a couple, well dressed for the holiday.

    Also in Epcot, I kept seeing different individuals all dressed alike during the day, but it wasn't until they all showed up in the same place at the same time that I was able to get a shot. They were very cooperative, and very creative as the entire family participated in the occasion.

    We stayed at Pop Century, and of course at all the resorts I expect to see various types of transportation for the staff to get around what is a pretty large footprint. Two of the vehicles were most unusual and again, were unexpected. The first was a Golf Cart fashioned from the design of a 1950's Chevrolet convertable. Really Cool! Then there were the very appropriate baggage carts fashioned out of, what else, luggage.


    I've walked around the Japan Pavilion in Epcot many times, but never took the time to view closely the Koi fish pond. They are very large, much larger than I expected to see.

    And if you look closely, you will see the not so hidden, "Hidden Mickey" on the grate to the left.


    The last photo in this series was not so unexpected, in that I took my camera on Dumbo in the Magic Kingdom in order to see if I could capture some of the construction taking place in the forthcoming Fantasyland redevelopment.  Not sure what is all means, but some progress is happening.


    A WORLD VIEW - Enjoying Walt Disney World

    ]]> Fri, 12 Nov 2010 00:07:28 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Disney vacation starts and ends with exceptional service.]]>
    There is so much I want to review from our trip to Walt Disney World, I almost didn’t know where to start, and then I thought why not at the beginning. Or, at least from the time we arrived at the Orland International Airport.

    This was actually the first trip that we used Disney Magical Express (DME), so that is a good place to start. In addition, we rented a car on site which is also a first. But at the very end, we used Resort Airline Check-In, not all new but some of it was. This entire experience, from and to the airport, worked like clockwork.

    DME Information Booklet and Luggage Tags

    As I said, the Disney Magical Express was a first for us. Normally we rent a car at the airport for the convenience of travelling from resort to park and elsewhere during our visits. This time, we decided to use DME from and to the airport, and rent a car onsite at the Disney Car Care Center. Unfortunately, our Disney Magical Express package didn't arrive on time, but no matter; our travel agency had made our reservation but I also called in advance to double check (I always do that, double check everything on a trip). A picture of the information booklet and advance luggage tags are above. As we approached the DME counter, a gatekeeper right in front asked if we had our packet or not, and since we didn't, he directed us to the counter. There, they found our reservation, gave us some paperwork and sent us on our way. What even better on Disney Magical Express, is that it’s all FREE (but do tip the driver if he stores your carry-on luggage).

    Our first impression was, OH MY, what a long line (there were a couple hundred people waiting for the buses). But as we got closer we were directed to a specific line for Pop Century and two other resorts, and the numbers in front of us got much smaller. In fact, there were separate lines for groups of resorts as opposed to everyone all grouped together, which was very efficient and made us feel much better. Now I’m sure during busier times of the year, it might not go along as quickly, but for us it was great.

    Boarding our Bus, with Luggage Area open on left

     After about 20 minutes, our bus arrived and we were ready to board. You follow the line of people, drop off any handheld luggage you want to have stored in the baggage area of the bus, and put yourself in very comfortable captain’s chairs. This is not a city bus or like you ride on site, but one that is just like one you might take a trip on. There is a very small bathroom in the back, and seats are two across. It was a full house, and very shortly after we boarded, we were on our way.

    The anticipation you have for your arrival is heightened by a Disney introductory video shown on small screens hanging from the ceiling and distributed among the full area of the bus so that you are not too far from seeing and hearing. All the Disney characters get in the act, illustrating the places and activities you will likely encounter during your trip. And when it ended, we were at Pop Century, luckily the first stop of our vehicle. You would never know that about a half-hour had passed.

    On-Property Disney Bus

     We used on-site bus transportation to get to and from the Magic Kingdom during our first day, which worked out very well since we had only planned that one stop for the day. While we were at the hotel, I asked the Concierge to make a reservation for us to be picked up by the Alamo car rental van the next morning at 8:20 am, although they could have been there much earlier and up to around lunchtime.

    Promptly at 8:20 the Alamo van was in front of Pop Century, on the very right side facing the front of the building from the street. A few other guests were on the vans, picked up from other Disney resorts. In about 15 minutes were we in line waiting for our car that we had previously reserved online. After getting all the paperwork complete, our Chevy Impala (really nice vehicle and a step up from what we expected) was pointed out to us in front, and we were on our way.

    This was the first time we used the onsite Alamo location at the Disney Car Care Center, and I think this will be the way we rent a car in the future. We like to have our own transportation since we enjoy eating at places all over the “World” and not just in the parks. Also, we occasionally go off site to shop or pick up supplies, which we did on this trip too. We get to visit other resorts, which are like visiting new “Worlds”. It’s also a lot more convenient, even on the busiest days.

    But we had always rented at the airport, although I’m now willing to give DME a second chance to “wow” us, as they did this trip. PLUS, it saves us one or two days of car rental, not a bad thing as well. And, we do plan ahead for most of the major aspects of our trip (what parks to attend, what sit-down restaurants to eat at, what events to participate in etc.). As such, we’ll just make sure we have single stops, for just one bus to and from the resort on our first and last day.

    Fast forward to our last days (as I explained, I’ll fill in the details over time), and I needed to drop off our vehicle. We planned to take the last plane out of Orlando back to Syracuse, so there was going to be at least one park visit. However, the rental period was ending, and we had a plan for the rest of the day.

     While Mary Ann was packing our bags, I drove over to the Car Care Center (which is right next to the Magic Kingdom, just past the entry toll booths). There is a Hess Station, with nearly the best price for gas in the area, in the plaza of the Car Care Center, so that’s where I filled up the car. It is still cheaper than having the car rental agency do it. Then, I drive up to Alamo a few yards ahead of me, dropped off the car and went in to settle, which only took a few minutes.

    Outside the door, I sit on bench waiting for the Alamo van, which arrived a few minutes later and took me right back to Pop Century, where I walked over to our room and helped finish the packing. Our plan was to visit two parks that day, so we had to vacate the room and take care of our luggage so there would be as little as possible to carry during the day.

    In the meantime, it appeared we needed another bag, not a big one, but something to pack the extra stuff we bought during the trip. Normally, we bring another bag with us, something that would fold flat on the way down, but had not since our plan was not to spend much money on the extras. But, plans change and I walked back over to the Gift Shop which is in the same building as the dining hall. I remembered during the trip that there was a special offer for purchasing $40 worth of stuff in a Disney store, and you could buy a “throw” or a small “luggage bag”, about the size for a small child. I took my receipts from the other Disney stores on site and asked if I could buy for $15, one of those bags and they very graciously allowed me to do this and now we were set.

    So, once we were packed we had two large suitcases that we planned to check in with Jet Blue, and since we could each have one for no additional fee, that was our plan. We had my camera bag, the new small luggage bag and a canvas bag that would be used for carry on… plus, a sweatshirt for each of us since we were going from 85 degrees to 40 degrees later in the day.

    But I skipped two steps which really differentiates Disney World from everyone else. First the day before we left, a letter was left on our door informing us of the time the DME would pick us up at Pop and return us to the airport. Usually its three hours prior to your flight, and for us the time was 4:45 pm. Our flight was at 7:40 pm. The letter listed our flight number and additional information on the Motor coach, luggage and Resort Airline Check-In.

    The day of our departure, in addition to our front desk invoice information, there was another envelope but this one had two critical items. There were two luggage tags to put on the bags we would leave at Pop with the Resort Airline Check-in Desk, located outside the front entrance to the Resort. If we were flying before 8:00 am we wouldn’t have been able to use this service. Jet Blue allows us each a free bag each, but not all airlines have this so you might have to pay via telephone usually the day before you leave.

    (l. to r.) Disney Invoice Envlope, DME Day Before Envelope, Resort Airline Check-In Envelope

    The second item in the envelope was our airline Boarding Passes. This was a new feature to us, and since I didn’t have a computer to print ours in advance, this was a real nice addition and another time saver. So we walked over to Classic Hall and a nice young man took our two checked bags at the Resort Airline Check-In. The next time we saw them was when we collected our baggage in Syracuse about 13 hours later. We left the canvas carry-all and the newly acquired small rolling luggage, along with our two jackets, at with Pop Century Luggage Assistance Window. We also tipped both persons who helped us.

    Then, we walked to the Magic Kingdom Bus stop for a trip there, and then just before lunch we took the Monorails to Epcot for our ADR at Via Napoli. Our last bus took us back to Pop Century where the Disney Magical Express was waiting for us (and others) where we reversed the process started with six days earlier except they dropped us off at the Jet Blue Terminal. We walked upstairs, rode the monorail, took about a half-hour to get through security and waited for our on-time flight.

    So what did we learn? We learned that Disney Magical Express worked very well for us. We learned that renting a car on site is convenient and will save us money. We also learned once again, that Disney service was supreme, in this case preparing our arrival and departure, especially Disney Magical Express and Airline Check-In. We can’t wait to do this again.

    A WORLD VIEW - Enjoying Walt Disney World
    ]]> Sun, 7 Nov 2010 21:07:16 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Great Guide to some of the Windows on Main Street, USA]]>
    Chuck Snyder presents the stories of only a handful of the people featured on the windows on Main Street at both Disneyland and DisneyWorld in this 24 page book ("booklet" would be a more apt description; it's only 26 pages). Even though it is rather light, the stories presented are really good examples of the people and history behind each of the selected windows. From first hand experience, many of the stories concerning the windows are told during Disney backstage tours, which only enhances the Main Street experience. For those not willing to spend either the time or money, this book(let) is a worthy addition to your Disney collection; you discover newfound appreciation for the windows, enhancing your knowledge and enjoyment of Disneyland and DisneyWorld.

    While some of the pictures of the windows are poor or too small, Windows on Main Street is still a very good reference for the selected windows. One of my favorite windows, Morgan "Bill" Evans, has the tag line "We Grow 'Em, You Show 'Em," The backstory on Bill Evans is that he was the landscaper at Walt Disney's home when Walt approached him to landscape Disneyland. After accepting that job, and doing some amazing things with the landscaping of the park, he moved to Florida to lead the landscaping of the entire Walt Disney World Resort site. One window, not pictured in the book, belongs to Ron Miller. President and CEO of Disney from 1980-1984. His window lists him as "Night Manager." A rather good joke, as he was responsible for maintaining the status quo until the right man came along.

    Windows on Main Street is a great addition to any Disney fan's library or for anyone curious about some of the people's names that appear on Main Street USA. While the price of the book on Amazon is rather steep, copies can be found in the gift shops of any Disney park for $6.99.

    Obtained from: Gift
    Payment: Free]]> Sat, 6 Nov 2010 00:20:03 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Great Guide to some of the Windows on Main Street, USA]]>
    Chuck Snyder presents the stories of only a handful of the people featured on the windows on Main Street at both Disneyland and DisneyWorld in this 24 page book ("booklet" would be a more apt description; it's only 26 pages). Even though it is rather light, the stories presented are really good examples of the people and history behind each of the selected windows. From first hand experience, many of the stories concerning the windows are told during Disney backstage tours, which only enhances the Main Street experience. For those not willing to spend either the time or money, this book(let) is a worthy addition to your Disney collection; you discover newfound appreciation for the windows, enhancing your knowledge and enjoyment of Disneyland and DisneyWorld.

    While some of the pictures of the windows are poor or too small, Windows on Main Street is still a very good reference for the selected windows. One of my favorite windows, Morgan "Bill" Evans, has the tag line "We Grow 'Em, You Show 'Em," The backstory on Bill Evans is that he was the landscaper at Walt Disney's home when Walt approached him to landscape Disneyland. After accepting that job, and doing some amazing things with the landscaping of the park, he moved to Florida to lead the landscaping of the entire Walt Disney World Resort site. One window, not pictured in the book, belongs to Ron Miller. President and CEO of Disney from 1980-1984. His window lists him as "Night Manager." A rather good joke, as he was responsible for maintaining the status quo until the right man came along.

    Windows on Main Street is a great addition to any Disney fan's library or for anyone curious about some of the people's names that appear on Main Street USA. While the price of the book on Amazon is rather steep, copies can be found in the gift shops of any Disney park for $6.99.

    Obtained from: Gift
    Payment: Free]]> Sat, 6 Nov 2010 00:09:10 +0000
    <![CDATA[San Angel Inn Restaurant Quick Tip by GEldred]]> Sat, 30 Oct 2010 02:42:24 +0000 <![CDATA[Disney Back Stage Tours and Guest Experiences Quick Tip by GEldred]]> Sat, 30 Oct 2010 02:40:49 +0000 <![CDATA[ Back Stage Tours provide a deeper, more meaningful experience... and it's fun too!]]> Maybe you think you have seen it all at WDW; the attractions, the restaurants, special events or simply for the magic. But perhaps you feel there is something missing from your Disney experience… and there is!

    During our last several trips, Mary Ann and I have been including backstage and tour activities on our schedule. Yes, this does put a strain on the vacation budget, but we always try to find ways to enhance our resources between visits to include something special that makes the Disney vacation a deeper and more meaningful experience.

    Some tours require theme park admission. Occasionally you can enter the park with your tour admission ticket, but in most cases you need to use a separate park ticket. You will need to provide a photo ID to identify your self during check-in. So Park Hoppers or good planning is required.

    HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? -- Tours available to Walt Disney World guests are a great way to look "behind the magic" of the Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Vacation Kingdom. Pictured, the "Gardens of the World" tour is a 3-hour program showcasing the gardens of Epcot with one of the experts responsible for helping maintain Disney's horticultural "show."

    Ask about discounts. I use a Disney Visa card which has resulted in savings on the several tours we’ve booked. Other cards that can often be used are a DVC membership, Annual Pass, and AAA Diamond.

    Check the restrictions. Most times its age; and although I’m not saying that tours are for adults only, but Disney (and other participants) expects certain decorum and maturity when they are paying extra for the privilege of participating. However, I’m sure there are insurance restrictions that come into play as well.

    Set aside sufficient time. Some tours are only an hour or two. Others are from four to seven hours and could include multiple parks. This means a LOT OF WALKING so prepare the persons in your party.

    Pre-purchase is required. For these hard-ticket backstage tours, you need to use a credit card with your reservation. You can normally cancel if needed and have your money returned, but it must be not more than 48 hours in advance of your reservation. And prices will change, so even the amounts I’m listing in this article could have changed by the time you read this.

    Advance reservations are important. Tours have only a limited number of slots in a day, and for most of us, we only have specific days available during our trips. So although not the same urgency as ADRs, don’t wait until you get there to try and get into a slot. Most reserve 180 days out, although some are as low as 30.

    Photography is not permitted during the backstage portions of tours. While you are in public areas, you have plenty of photo opportunities, but once you go backstage in any part of the tour, put away your camera and phone. And to book a tour, call 407/WDW-TOUR (407/939-8687). So let’s review a few some tours we’ve done, and then provide a summary of others offered at the “World”.

    Segway Tours
    If you are able to participate in backstage tours we highly recommend them. One example that we’ve talked about before in A WORLD VIEW was our experience with the Segway Tours, one at Epcot and the other at Fort Wilderness. We had a wonderful time doing something we probably would never have done without being at Walt Disney World.


    The Around the World at Epcot tour allows Guests the unique opportunity to see the wonders of World Showcase while riding aboard a technologically advanced gyroscopically stabilized 2-wheel Segway Personal Transporter. Beginners are welcome—the outdoor tour includes training and safety equipment. Guests must be at least 16 years of age or older. The cost is $99 a person and the tour lasts about 2 hours.

    The Wilderness Back Trail Adventures offer tours of the stunning surroundings of Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort on a Segway X2 Personal Transporter. Experience Florida's natural beauty on a Segway. Hop on a Segway for Disney's Wilderness Back Trail Adventures, a nature tour like no other. You'll be cruising on your own Segway X2 Personal Transporter as you glide through the pristine Florida landscape in and around Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. No experience is necessary—training is provided before the tour. The cost of this tour is $90 per person and it is about 2 hours long.

    The Simply Segway Tour is primarily an introduction to the machines. This program showcases the innovative Segway® Personal Transporter and offers you formal training and indoor riding time on the device that has truly revolutionized mobility and travel—at the Innoventions area in Epcot. The cost is $35 per person.

    Keys to the Kingdom (c) Disney

    Keys to the Kingdom Tour
    Mary Ann and I really enjoyed this tour, and we knew to be prepared for over four hours of walking around the Magic Kingdom. Your personal tour guide makes this experience a lot of fun, and for the regular “World” traveller, you do get to learn more about Walt Disney and the park than you would now know while just being “on stage”. And during this tour, you get to visit the secret “Utilidors” and go backstage. The cost is $74 per person, and lunch is included. Dress appropriately for the weather, since much of the tour is outdoors.

    This approximately 4.5-hour walking tour explores the stories behind the remarkable creation and growth of Magic Kingdom theme park. Hear the intriguing story of Walt Disney and learn how his innovative ideas, revolutionary visions, creative philosophies and amazing accomplishments brought the Theme Park to life. The journey includes stops at backstage facilities and a variety of favorite attractions.

    One unforgettable highlight is a trip below Magic Kingdom theme park into the service tunnels known as the Utilidors. This is one urban legend that is absolutely, and almost unbelievably, true—the Guest accessible areas of Magic Kingdom theme park are actually on the second floor of a massive structure. The first floor—called the Utilidors—allows Cast Members, deliveries and even trash to be unknowingly transported below Guests' feet as they wait in line for their favorite attraction.

    BEHIND THE CURTAIN -- Walt Disney World guests on the "Backstage Magic" tour enjoy an in-depth exploration of the inner workings of the Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The full 7-hour tour is perfect for true Disney fans.

    Backstage Magic
    The ultimate backstage tour is the all day (can be 8 hours) multi-park visit called Backstage Magic. It is one that we haven’t done yet, but from all accounts I’ve read, everyone loves it. It’s expensive at $224 per person but discounts are available.

    [From Disney Web Site] Discover some of the secrets behind the magic of Walt Disney World Resort! Get an in-depth look at the creative and technical operations used behind the scenes to bring innovative special effects, world-class entertainment and elaborate attractions to life. At Epcot, we'll reveal some of the exquisite details that make The American Adventure one of our most popular attractions. You'll see Main Street, U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom theme park in a whole new light after your guide leads you through a hidden world—the legendary underground "Utilidor" tunnel system. From artistic accents to eye-catching designs, nearly everything that surrounds you at Walt Disney World Resort is created and maintained by the artisans of Central Shops whose masterpieces transport you to Fantasyland and beyond. Take a break with a family-style lunch at the Whispering Canyon Café inside Disney's Wilderness Lodge. Then, see how horticulture and landscape design play a starring role in creating an endless variety of uniquely themed environments at the Walt Disney World Nursery & Tree Farm. Head to Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park and see how Walt Disney Imagineers combined cutting-edge design with breakthrough technology to create the thrilling Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Here, as in every corner of Walt Disney World Resort, wardrobe is an integral part of the magic, so you'll learn how the Creative Costuming team outfits the performers in Disney parades and shows. Finally, wrap up a most wonderful day at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park with an up-close look at Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade.

    Backstage Safari
    For my wife, Mary Ann who loves anything related to animals, The Backstage Safari was a real treat. For me, the personalized Kilimanjaro Safari ride that was part of this experience was my highlight. And for three hours plus you get to learn how Disney cares for the wide range of wildlife they house in the parks. You get to go backstage, visit with the elephants and Rhino and even a Komodo Dragon. You view preparation, animal housing areas and The Veterinary Hospital. The current cost is $72 a person.

    [From Disney Website] Do you love animals? Are you curious how Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park looks after more than 1,700 animals representing 250 different species? Find out how on this behind-the-scenes walking tour that offers a revealing look at the new and creative ways Disney's wildlife specialists meet the unique challenges of animal care and behavior—all while running a lushly landscaped Disney Theme Park and promoting wildlife conservation. Get up close to a variety of spectacular and majestic animals in their backstage habitats. Talk with animal keepers as you visit the Animal Nutrition Center, explore the state-of-the-art veterinary hospital and discover other backstage facilities. Learn the story of how every day 3 tons of food is prepared, distributed and fed to the animal residents of Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park

    Here is a summary of other tours other than the above, at Walt Disney World.


    Tour: Disney's Family Magic Tour
    This daily tour in the Magic Kingdom is 2 hours long and open to all ages. Magic Kingdom admission required (extra); this is a primer for first-time visitors with children, a skip (literally) through the magical lands. The cost is $34 per person.

    Tour: Disney's the Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour
    This 3-hour program is open to persons 10 years and older. Magic Kingdom admission required (extra); no cameras; it's an inside look at the Walt Disney World Railroad and an opportunity to learn about Walt Disney's love of steam trains; see how the trains are prepared for their daily operation. The cost is $49.

    ALL ABOARD! -- Disney's "The Magic behind Our Steam Trains" tour is a treat for all rail fans at Walt Disney Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Guests venture into the Magic Kingdom before the parks opens and accompany the railroad engineers as they ready the massive steam trains for another day. One highlight is the backstage roadhouse where the trains are stored and serviced. Guests learn how Walt Disney's lifelong love of steam trains led to their becoming an integral part of the Magic Kingdom.

    Tour: Mickey’s Magical Milestones Tours
    For guests at least 10 years of age and older, this is a 2-hour tour. Mickey's Magical Milestones Tour is a 2-hour journey through Magic Kingdom theme park that focuses on the creation and illustrious career of Mickey Mouse. Guests are treated to select attractions, and a few very special old friends may make an appearance. The cost per person is $25.


    Tour: Epcot DiveQuest
    A 3 hour program located in The Seas with Nemo & Friends in Epcot is for persons age 10 and older. Scuba certification card required; parent/legal guardian must sign waiver for minors ages 10-17 and must dive with minors ages 10-16; bring swimsuit (locker room provided); diving gear provided; no theme park admission required. The cost is $175 per person.

    Tour: Epcot Seas Aqua Tour
    Also in The Seas with Nemo & Friends, this program is 2 ½ hours and offered to persons age 8 and older. Parent/legal guardian must sign waiver for minors aged 8-17 and must participate with minors ages 8-
    12; no theme park admission required; non-scuba-certified guests have an in-the-water experience with the animals using scuba-assisted snorkeling equipment (provided); swimsuit required; no observers permitted backstage. The cost is $140 per person.

    Plunging Into The Waters Of Adventure -- Walt Disney World guests participate in Epcot Seas Aqua Tour, a new experience designed for guests ages eight and up who'd like an up close and personal encounter with the marine life in The Living Seas. Scuba-assisted snorkeling equipment is provided. Epcot Seas Aqua Tour is offered daily.

    Tour: Behind the Seeds
    Located in “The Land” in Epcot, this daily tour is 1 hour long and open to persons of all ages. The cost is $16 for adults (16+) and $12 for children age 3-9. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the agricultural world and greenhouses of The Land pavilion with visits to the fish farm and the chance to taste some of the produce grown on-site. Epcot admission required (extra).

    Tour: Disney's Dolphins in Depth
    This is a 3 hour tour in the Seas with Nemo pavilion in Epcot. The minimum age is 13. Minors must be accompanied by an adult; no theme park admission required; guests get up close and personal with the dolphins waist-deep in the water; swimsuit required. The Cost is $194 per person.

    Tour: Nature-Inspired Design
    A 3-hour tour in Epcot for persons age 16 and older. Discover the wonder of nature-inspired design as you glide through "land, sea and air" at Epcot; guests will have the opportunity to ride a Segway Personal Transporter X-2 backstage: weight maximum 250 lbs.; theme park admission required (extra). The cost is $124 per person.

    Tour: The unDISCOVERed Future World
    Located in Epcot and 4-hours in duration, this is limited to persons 16 and older. Epcot admission required (extra); hear stories about Walt Disney's ultimate dream; get rare glimpses at backstage areas. The cost is $55 per person.

    Tour: Gardens of the World
    For persons 16 years of age and older, this tour lasts up to 3 ½ hours. Gardeners and nature lovers alike will be fascinated by this up-close look at the imagination, planning and attention to detail that goes on behind the scenes to create the incredible landscaping found throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. The cost is $69 per person.

    Back Stage tours take you behind the Magic


    Tour: Through Walt’s Eyes
    For guests 16 years of age and older, this program lasts 3 hours. Disney's Keys to the Kingdom Tour highlights the fascinating history of Walt Disney World Resort and provides backstage access to secret areas of Magic Kingdom theme park. The cost per person is $99.

    Tour: Wild by Design
    This tour is in Animal Kingdom and is 3-hours in length for persons 14 years of age and older. Disney's Animal Kingdom admission required (extra); stories behind the making of the park - how art architecture, artifacts and story-telling combine to transport guests to exotic lands; insight into the care of wild animals and their habitats; light continental breakfast provided. Guests aged 14-15 must be accompanied by an adult. The cost is $60 per person.

    WILD AFRICA TREK: Depicted in this artist's rendering, adventure comes alive in Wild Africa Trek, a new experience coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom in early 2011. The new add-on offering invites intrepid explorers to up-close encounters with the park's wildlife.

    Tour: Disney's Holiday D-Lights
    A tour throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, open to persons 16 and older. It is 4 ½ hour long and offered as part of the holiday season. Discover how the twinkle of holiday magic is created for celebrations like The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights and Candlelight Processional; each guest will receive an exclusive limited-edition keepsake pin; no theme park admission required. The cost is $199 per person.

    Tour: Disney's Yuletide Fantasy
    This is a another program for the Christmas season and covers the Walt Disney World Resort. A 3 ½ hour program, it is open to persons 16 years and older. No theme park admission required; visits resorts and theme parks to see how holiday traditions are woven into decorations that turn Walt Disney World Resort into a winter wonderland. The cost is $84 per person.

    Tour: Inspiration: Through Walt's Eyes
    Located throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, this is a 3 hour program for guest age 16 and older. Explore the events and milestones in Walt Disney's life that inspired many of the fine details and experiences found throughout Walt Disney World Resort; each guest will receive an exclusive pin; no theme park admission required. Cost is $99 per person.

    BE OUR GUEST: Wearing their familiar plaid waistcoats, Walt Disney World V.I.P. Tour Guides (L-R): Danielle Warner, Laurie Sintay Fox and Les Tsui pose with Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. Disney VIP Tour Services offers personalized tours for guests looking for their perfect Walt Disney World Resort vacation. (Gene Duncan, photographer)

    Tour: Custom Guided Tours
    These are personalized and customized itineraries and provided by arrangement in advance. The minimum time is 6 hours on a customized guided tour, which welcomes guests of all ages. These tours start at $175 and are up to $315 per hour and offered through Disney’s VIP Tour Services using this phone number, 407/560-4033.

    ]]> Mon, 25 Oct 2010 00:23:41 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Planes, Trains & Automobiles... Plus boats too are all part of getting you from here to there at WDW]]> For resort guests, getting around Walt Disney World, as you travel from one place to another, is one of those conveniences Disney put much thought and effort. Today we will touch upon the various opportunities not only to get from here to there, but also to enjoy the experience of it all as a “plus” to your vacation.

    A Walt Disney World resort ID is the ticket for buses, monorails and boat launches that combine to connect you to nearly the entire resort area. And for many of us, we like to take Disney transportation just for the fun of it. So when you first arrive and check in, ask for a Walt Disney World Resort Transportation brochure. You’ll find, however, that whatever way you want to travel, there are plenty of signs marking where you stand or board. Or just ask a cast member who are plentiful and very knowledgeable.

    It is likely you can use Disney transportation for your entire stay and never need a car or other service like taxis, although it depends on your schedule of things to do. We’ve talked about this before. It’s very easy to get from your resort by bus to a park, but getting from your resort to another resort could take an hour or more. So if your plans includes multiple resort visits, or restaurants different than the park you are located, it’s possible that a rental car will be your best choice. However, today we are reviewing Disney-based transportation, assuming you won’t be incurring the extra expense of a rental car.

    Disney’s Magical Express
    Any discussion on Disney transportation has to begin with Magical Express. Whether you arrange your vacation directly with Disney or with your travel agent be sure to include those free special luggage tags allowing your checked bags at your hometown airport to find their way directly to your on-property resort room. This service is only at Orlando International Airport (MCO) and not Sanford.

    Upon landing at MCO, skip baggage claim and proceed to the Disney's Magical Express Welcome Center in the Main Terminal Building, B side, Level 1. Disney's Magical Express service will collect your luggage and deliver it directly to your Walt Disney World hotel room within 3 hours after you check in at the resort. Luggage delivery service provided by Disney's Magical Express is available for flights arriving between 5:00 am and 10:00 pm daily. For airport arrivals after 10:00 pm, Guests may collect their luggage at Baggage Claim and transport it with them on the motor coach.

    Resort Airline Check-In
    As an extra convenience, guests travelling on participating airlines can check their baggage for the return flight right at your Disney resort. The same airline rules about baggage (i.e. weight/size) are followed, but this is a time saver and luggage-toting convenience. This service is available for all resort guests, even if you didn’t use Magical Express. If your flight is prior to 8:00 am, this service won’t be available since you need to plan at least three-hours ahead. But from 5:00 am until 1:00 pm, you can drop off your checked luggage (some restrictions apply) and get your boarding pass for your flight.

    This service at the resort is operated by a third party company. So if you have any bag charges for checked luggage, this needs to be paid in advance. Call the company at BAGS, (407) 284-1231, between 7:00 am and 11:00 pm prior to checking in to this service and pay by credit card. This is a service only at WDW-owned resorts, so when you arrive your first day, check to make sure this service is available at your resort. Resort Airline Check-In Service is available with the following airline carriers: Alaska Airlines, Continental, JetBlue, United, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest, AirTran, and US AIR. And this service is only available for domestic flights at this time.

    Bus Transportation
    Likely the most frequent method of travel is buses, unless you are located in one of the Monorail resorts. Resorts bus stops are found at various locations around a resort as well as the main buildings. Buses travel from resorts to parks, but also to Downtown Disney and you can expect about a 20-minute wait (shorter and earlier if you are going to a Character Breakfast at the Magic Kingdom). The buses themselves follow the schedules of the parks they are going to, so a later opening means the buses arrive later. But in general, most begin their runs one hour prior to a park opening.
    Since parks and Downtown Disney also close at different times, you should listen for (or ask) the bus driver when the latest buses will return to your original location, although I’ve never heard of anyone being stranded without transportation back to their resorts. Remember also, that buses go only goes from resort to park, so leave plenty of time if you need to travel from a resort to another resort – even an hour or more due to the transfers needed.

    Traveling by Monorail
    "Por favor, mantenganse allejado de las puertas" is likely one of the most recognizable phrases in all of Walt Disney World. It’s even found of tee shirts in Disney stores. Of course the translation is “Please Stand Clear of the Doors”. People ride the monorail to reach the Magic Kingdom, the “Monorail Resorts” and Epcot. But we also travel the rails just to enjoy the view.


    Originally conceived as a public transport for the future, the Walt Disney World Monorail System has three separate beams that travel throughout Walt Disney World Resort. I believe there are 12 Mark VI monorail trains currently making their way around the property, running over 13 miles of track. And although it used to be permitted to ride in front, this was discontinued after 2009. The newest design is based on the Tron Legacy upcoming Disney film.

    One of the Monorail trips takes you from the Transportation and Ticket Center to the Magic Kingdom. A second rail provides round-trip express service to Epcot. A third rail circles the Seven Seas Lagoon and stops at the Contemporary, Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts.

    Travelling by Boat
    The Magic Kingdom is accessible by water taxi from several of the resorts, including: Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge. From Epcot and Hollywood Studios, you can access the following resorts by boat including: Boardwalk Inn and Villas, Beach Club, Yacht Club, and the Swan and Dolphin Hotels.


    Here is a summary of the WDW fleet of water transportation for guests:

    • three 600-passenger ferry boats travel the Seven Seas Lagoon between the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center;
    • six 39-passenger motor launches and three 120-passenger motor cruisers on Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake (transporting guests among five resorts and Magic Kingdom);
    • eight 100-passenger Friendship boats on World Showcase Lagoon at Epcot and on waterways connecting the Epcot resort area with Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot;
    • nine 32-passenger and six 37-passenger motor launches make up the Sassagoula River Cruise fleet that transport guests between Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, Disney's Old Key West Resort, Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and Downtown Disney (every 20 minutes beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing until 11 p.m.)
    • one 24-passenger Downtown Disney Water Taxi travels on Village Lake between the Marketplace dock, Pleasure Island dock and West Side dock (operating daily after 4:30 p.m.)

    Getting to Downtown Disney
    Downtown Disney is your shopping, food and entertainment mecca after the parks close, although it starts to pick up visitors in the morning. You can take a bus from all WDW Resorts. There are two main bus tops, the Marketplace area and Pleasure Island. The parking lot is massive, but always seems to fill up since this is an attraction for residents, those staying off site as well as resort guests. Always note the latest bus return times.

    Walking is a common method of reaching Downtown Disney, from the Hotel Plaza area of non-Disney resorts and Saratoga Springs. Downtown Disney Area is accessible by ferryboat from: Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter, Old Key West and Saratoga Springs Resort. Again, if you want to return in the same fashion by the Sassagoula River, make sure you check on the last return time.

    The other feature of Downtown Disney is being able to get to more places than you can from your resort or the parks. For example, it is a convenient source to transfer from one but to another to go to a hotel different from yours, or to play Mini-Golf at Fantasia Gardens or go to ESPN.

    More to consider regarding transportation around the parks
    Golfing guests at Disney owned-and-operated hotels have complimentary door-to-door transportation between their resort and Walt Disney World golf facilities. You may request a ride at the Valet Desk or from Bell Services at Resort hotels, and in the Pro Shop or from any golf operations staff members at the golf courses. Please note complimentary transportation is only available to guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

    If you do rent a car, you might want to bring (or rent) a GPS unit to help you find your way around (especially if you travel off-site). MouseSavers has a great feature on using a GSA on Disney property, and even offers a free downloadable POI file you can use for selected units for nearly every place you need to drive at the “World”. I have used it and it is really helpful.

    On the official Disney web site, located on each of the resort pages, you will find a summary of the transportation options from that site to everywhere else on property. Click on this site:, and the resort you will be staying at and select the transportation link to see the list of options.

    Complimentary transportation is available one hour prior to Disney Theme Park opening time up to 3 hours after Disney Theme Park closing time. Additionally, buses operate until 3:00 a.m. from the Downtown Disney Area. Certain areas of Walt Disney World Resort are also connected by well-lit, paved, low-grade walking paths.

    Many of the transportation systems at Walt Disney World Resort are accessible to guests with disabilities. All bus routes are serviced by buses equipped to accommodate various types of wheelchairs. Watercraft access varies depending on the type of watercraft and the existing water levels and conditions. Also, guests may access the monorail system by proceeding up the entrance ramps, or using the elevators provided at Epcot, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Polynesian Resort and Disney's Contemporary Resort.


    Parking at your WDW Resort is free and hotel guests get a pass for their windshield that offers free parking at the theme parks. Otherwise, automobile parking is $14 and higher depending on your vehicle, although once you pay for the day, you can park at any theme park for free. Obviously, the cost of parking needs to be taken into account when considering on- or off-site hotels. And, Annual Pass holders also get free parking. Downtown Disney parking is free.


    ]]> Mon, 25 Oct 2010 00:16:30 +0000
    <![CDATA[ The Food & Wine Festival - Not just anything on your plate, but a worldwide experience.]]> Mary Ann and I are really looking forward to our upcoming trip to the "World" so we can visit for the first time, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Although now celebrating it's 15th year, our trips have never coincided with this event. There has been much written on this event, since it is a major gathering place for the entire Disney fan and blogger community. My purpose today is to provide a summary of what to expect, for who haven't yet made their way there for this event that started October 1 and will end November 14.


    There is so much scheduled during this special event that is it impossible to do it all, and from what I have read, it is best not to try. The locals make this a regular visit the entire month, but for us annuals or less frequent visitors, it's best to plan over the long term. The main event are 27 sampling stations to enjoy appetisers, entries, desserts, wines, beers and liquors. There are special programs, demonstrations and presentations as well as the reserved programming and the musical acts featured in Eat to the Beat.

    You can download the entire Festival Guide by clicking here. And here is the Festival Guidemap. One of the best ideas to manage your spending is to purchase one of the Festival theme cards (gift cards) with $30 to $50 deposited. You can always refill it (and then save as souvenir), but it makes paying for your purchase convenient and on a budget. In addition to the marketplace stops, you'll find a variety of entertainment on your stroll around the world such as musicians and performers, great to stop, watch and digest your food so you can make room for more.
    Let's start with the International Marketplaces, the centerpiece of the Festival. These are the 27 booth areas. New this year are Belgium and South Korea, plus Charcuterie & Cheese. Also new are 15 Beers for 15 Years. And even though I am very loyal for the local beer in my community, Saranac, I'm looking forward to choosing my three pack of 6 oz selections from the list that include: Fischer Amber, Full Sail Amber, Key West Sunset Ale, La Fin Du Monde, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Smithwick’s, Windmer Drifter Pale Ale, Widmer Hefeweizen, Abita Amber, Abita Purple Haze, B.B. Burgerbrau, Banks Beer, Florida Lager, Sessions Lager and Viru Pilsner.
    The new market offering by Belgium will include: Steamed Mussels with Roasted Garlic Cream, Freshly Baked Waffles with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream, Stella Artois, Godiva Chocolate Iced Coffee, Leffe and Hoegaarden (beers). South Korea will offer these items: Lettuce Wraps with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw, Barbecue Short Rib with Steamed Rice and Cucumber Kimchi, Honey Ginger Tea, Jinro Chamisul Soju and Bohae Bokbunjajoo (Black Raspberry Rice Wine).
    Also new this year is the Charcuterie & Cheese booth. Included will be: Cheese Fondue with Croutons and Roasted Potatoes, Applewood Smoked Beef, Duck; and Ham, MARTINI® Prosecco, Ace Joker Hard Cider and MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
    The pricing for these sample items can be anywhere from $3 to $6 each, more or less. However, I'm told the portion are fair, and it doesn't take long to fill up. [I want to that The Disney Food Blog for listing all of these and the marketplace items from all nations.] You should visit the Disney Food Blog, particularly if you want to see pictures of what's offered at each marketplace, with pricing on all the items.

    One of the complementary features of this year's event is the opening of three new foodie locations around the World Showcase. There is the Via Napoli restaurant, featuring what is touted as being the best Pizza in Florida (and this will be tested during our visit as we have an ADR already set). Another new restaurant is La Hacienda de San Angel, opposite the Mexico pavilion and along the Lagoon. A third new shop just opening in the Germany pavilion called Karmalle-Kuche, which will feature caramel covered treats made just for you such as caramel corn, apples, strawberries, marshmallows, cookies, cakes and more.

    For those who are looking to keep track of their experience traversing the World Showcase there is the Marketplace Discovery Passport, covering your journey with stamped art from each marketplace of your food and drink journey. This will also be a wonderful souvenir from our trip. 

    A featured special event, for which ADRs are also definitely needed is the Party for the Senses. This event, on Saturdays from 6:30 to 9:00 pm will cost $135 per person, or $225 per person if you add Wine View Lounge Privileges for a reserved table, early admission, an artisanal cheese station and more. The event begins with a reserved seat at Eat to the Beat in the American Gardens Theatre and your own personal tasting stations. The entertainment are an up close Cirque du Soleil performance right at the party.

    There will be a host of Culinary Demonstrations, featuring professional chefs, many who are well known to Disney fans and in their fields, that feature food and wine pairings. These are not too expensive so reserving admission for one or two sounds like a good idea. They are $9 or $13 each and run three times a day at 1, 3 and 5 pm. In addition there will be Wine & Beverage Seminars, like the Culinary programs are 45-minutes each, but whose cost is only $8 or $12 each. They will feature products of selected wineries for learning a few tips of the trade and sampling their wares. These run at 2, 4 and 6 pm. By the way, the Festival Welcome Center will be open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm each day.

    There are also several different free activities that feature culinary-related topics. Authors Without Borders runs from Friday to Sunday at 12:15 pm and 4:00 pm. Here you can listen to authors from the food and beverage industry for 30-minute topic conversations. During Authentic Taste Seminars, also Friday to Sunday but at 2:00 and 6:00 pm, the origins, properties and history of pure ingredients will be the subject presented by experts.

    A schedule of Meet and Greets with Book Signings by a celebrated author of the day will be held, as well as Bottle Signings. By the way, with everything happening for the Festival, Epcot Admission is required in addition to any other fees charged. Another free event is the Seasons of the Vine, a 7-minute movie that introduces wine growing. This will be run continuously during the day.


    And it wouldn't be Disney World without shops to browse and buy. There is the Intermissions Cafe for snacks, wine and cheese, The Stockpot Shop features Festival-related commemorative items, The Cellar for choosing your own bottle from among the 300 wines showcased during the Festival, and the Tasteful Chapters book store. Shopping, by the way, offers great opportunities for building a collection of Festival-related memorabilia. There will be the cookbook, but also a really entertaining poster, bags and cooking items and clothing. This year's poster artist is Tim Rogerson. He will appear from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm at the Festival Gift Shop located near the Canada boat dock. This will happen on October 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, 31 and November 6, 7, 13, and 14.
    One of the activities that we are looking forward to is one of the special culinary/beverage programs which in addition to park tickets also involved an admission cost. We booked the 3D Disney's Dessert Discovery for $45 per person. This will be held on selected Thursdays and Fridays from 7:00 to 8:30 pm and includes V.I.P. viewing of IllumiNations. The event offers sampling of desserts and cordials.
    Sweet Sundays feature a noted pastry chef or baker to demonstrate three signature desserts, a breakfast buffet and sparking wines. The remaining dates of October 17, 24, 31 and Nov. 7 and 14. Personalities from NYS, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Ontario Canada and Valencia California each have a featured day. This is $85 per period and held on Sundays from 10:00 am to Noon. Celebrating Family & Friends in the Kitchen are three-course lunches demonstrating how to prepare an appetizer, main course and dessert alone with wine pairing. This will be on Fridays, from 10:00 am to Noon and are $110 a person except for the featured event with Iron Chef and Kouzzina host Cat Cora for $140 each. Some other hosts include Robin Miller from the Food Network, Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel and Scott Hunnel of Victoria & Albert's.
    The Epcot Wine Schools will teach you how to taste several regional wines and concludes with a reception and certificate. The cost is $125 per person, and will be held on selected Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Remaining dates are Oct. 16, 23 and Nov. 13. Featured wineries include Conundrum Wines California and Fairview Wines of South Africa among others. Cheese Seminars feature expert "fromagers" pairing wine and beverages with the cheese selections. Upcoming dates are Oct. 16, 23, 30 and Nov. 6 and 13. Cheese selections are made by representatives of the Artisanal Premium Cheese Center in New York City.
    On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at La Cava Del Tequila in Mexico there will be Mexico Tequila Tastings for $45 a person along with samples of tostadas. This will be from Noon to 1:00 pm. And also for connoisseurs of French liqueur its Taste, Shake and Indulge Like the French with Cognac tasting plus Crepes Suzette and Souffles Glaces au Grand Marnier made by the chefs at this location, the Bistro de Paris in the France pavilion. This will be held Oct. 16, 23 and 30, Saturdays from 2:30 to 4:00 pm.
    Another alcoholic tasting focus are the Food and Wine Pairings at Tutto Italia Ristorante, Italy (Saturdays, 2:00 - 4:00 pm), Tokyo Dining, Japan (Mondays, 3:30 to 5:00 pm) and Restaurant Marrakesh, Morocco (Tuesday, 3:30 to 5:00 pm). These are $65 per person pairing three regional wines with three tasting size portions of regional cuisines at the listed Epcot restaurants.

    The highest individual cost events range from $125 per person to $225 per person, plus one at $450 each. The latter is the Culinary Adventure in Signature Dining offered at Victoria & Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. For $125 you can select Portobello Italian Trattoria and Bongo's Cuban Cafe, both in Downtown Disney and for $140 select from Kouzzina on the BoardWalk and Fulton's Crab House at Downtown. There are a total of 12 restaurants with days remaining at special signature dining at 6:30 pm, paired with wines and featuring what is described as a "glorious culinary experience".

    The final major event of Food & Wine are the Eat to the Beat Concert Series with shows in the America Gardens Theatre at 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 pm. Every two or three days a new performer appears, and for the period remaining until November 14, here are some: Howard Jones, Expose, 38 Special, Night Ranger, Billy Ocean, Starship starring Mickey Thomas, Boyz II Men, Roger Hodgson, Jon Secada, Hanson, Rick Springfield and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
    So, that is the summary, and not previously attending, I'm sure we'll discover even more will be going not announced in time for the printing of the Festival Guide. As much as Disney is a family activity, I've always believed that Walt Disney World is for adults as much if not more than for children. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is an example of this theme. So, are you going this year?
    ]]> Mon, 25 Oct 2010 00:08:15 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Disney World Resorts: Disney's Wilderness Lodge]]> Disney World Resorts: Disney's Wilderness Lodge
    With over 20 different Resort Hotels on property, the Walt Disney World Resort offers a wide range of themes and experiences for their guests.  Disney's Wilderness Lodge transports you from central Florida to America's Northwest and some of the incredible National Park Lodges.
    Disney's Wilderness Lodge
    As you drive down the road leading to Disney's Wilderness Lodge, the transformation begins.  The landscaping starts to change and the building materials for the structures take on a rustic log cabin-esque look.
    After you pass through the entrance gate you are magically transported to the Pacific Northwest.  It no longer looks like Florida anymore.  Soon you come within view of the Wilderness Lodge itself.  Patterned after some of the great National Park Lodges that were built at the beginning of the 20th century, this Resort may be the most impressive of all of the Disney World Resorts.
    As impressive as the outside of the Wilderness Lodge is, it is the view from the inside that will take your breath away.  The main lobby is a seven story tall masterpiece that uses authentic decor and artifacts to pay homage to the Native American cultures and the early Americans who settled the great Northwest.
    There are two 55 foot tall totem poles that decorate the main lobby.  They are hand carved with animal figures that depict various Native American Myths and legends.  One Totem Pole is dedicated to the raven, while the other is topped by an eagle.
    It took 85 loads of Lodgepole Pines to build the magnificent lobby of the Wilderness Lodge.  As mentioned earlier, it literally takes your breath away when you first see it.  This is an area worth exploring and spending some time checking out all of the details and artifacts that abound.
    The massive stone fireplace towers 82 feet high, but looks right at home in this lobby.  With the rocking chairs that are provided, you can settle down to enjoy a fire and just relax.  Although there are 727 rooms in this resort it does not feel crowded or overwhelmed with people even when it is full to capacity.  This is definitely a resort where you can relax and slow down, even though you are only a stone's throw from the Magic Kingdom.
    The above picture is a close up view of one of the massive tee pee shaped chandeliers in the lobby.  This is one of the many details that were too numerous to capture.
    Authentic Native American artifacts adorn the walls behind the check-in counter in the lobby.
    The above picture shows the water features that start in the lobby, exit the building, and turn into a stream that eventually feeds into the main pool.  The design was well thought out and meant to keep everything connected and in harmony.
    This is another view of the lobby looking back at the main entrance.
    The lobby isn't the only area with great views.  From behind the resort you will find the main pool area.  Here you can really appreciate the architecture of the resort.
    The Wilderness Lodge even has its own geyser!  It is called Fire Rock Geyser and every hour on the hour shoot a plume of water 120 feet into the air.  It is Disney World's version of Old Faithful.
    The stream that starts in the main lobby flows out of the building and turns into a waterfall before it eventually feeds into the main pool.  The resulting scene makes an excellent backdrop for pictures.
    Disney World Resort Masterpiece
    One of the reasons to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel is to escape the ordinary and capture some extra Disney Magic.  If you choose to stay at Disney's Wilderness Lodge you will capture an extra dose of Disney Magic.  
    Disney's Wilderness Lodge continues to be one of Disney's most affordable Deluxe Resorts with discounts available to provide significant savings off of the rack rate.
    Even if you are not able to stay at Disney's Wilderness Lodge there are still many ways that you can visit.  As a Disney World Resort guest you can visit the other Disney World Resort Hotels.  There are two very good Table Service Restaurants that are located here: Whispering Canyon Cafe and Artist Point (one of Disney's Signature Restaurants.)
    Disney's Wilderness Lodge is a MUST SEE.  Staying at the resort is preferred, but visiting is an absolute must for anyone who is visiting Disney World more than once.  This is certainly one of the crown jewels of Disney World and not to be missed!


    ]]> Fri, 1 Oct 2010 17:46:24 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Kilimanjaro Safaris At Disney's Animal Kingdom]]>  

    Kilimanjaro Safaris At Disney's Animal Kingdom


    The signature attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom is not the one with the Yeti, but rather the one that covers about the same amount of land as the entire Magic Kingdom.  Of course I'm referring to Kilimanjaro Safaris.

    Kilimanjaro Safaris
    The back story for the Kilimanjaro Safaris takes place in the Harambe Wildlife Reserve near the village of Harambe.  At one time this area was known as a place to come to hunt wild game.  Some time in the 1970's the people of Harambe started becoming more concerned with the environment and decided to change how the land was being used.  The Reserve was changed to a place where the animals were protected and the only safaris that were permitted were of the photo taking variety.  Now the Reserve Wardens struggle against poachers to keep the animals safe from harm.
    For the Disney World guest they are welcomed to a 2 week safari as they board their Specially Designed Safari Vehicles.  Here they will encounter a wide variety of African birds and mammals across this expansive terrain.  Each of the animals will be seen in a natural habitat setting with room to roam.  This is far different than your typical zoo display.  The free roaming nature of the animals appears more realistic and the animals are more comfortable in their surroundings.

    The landscaping for the Kilimanjaro Safaris may have been the greatest achievement, but hardly noticed by park guests.  Starting with a nearly bare stretch of land, hundreds of thousands of plants were grown using varieties from all over the world.  The plants serve many purposes from story telling, to barriers, to food for the animals.  From early on, there was much trial and error to determine which plant varieties would hold up in the Florida Sun and withstand the animals.  Some varieties that did not adapt well to these conditions were substituted with ones that did.  The end result is a truly believable African landscape.  Since this part of the park is truly alive and growing, it is a challenge for the Disney Imagineers to let the trees and plants grow and look natural, but still maintain control of the overall look of the Animal Kingdom Park.

    The Animals
    The African animals are the star of Kilimanjaro Safaris.  This is what people come to see.  Disney Imagineers took many research trips to Africa to go on photo safaris to be able to capture the look and feel of the experience.

    As you make your way through the safari you are exposed to different habitats and different animal residents.  The Tour Guides weave the descriptions together to make a smooth transition from one area to another and to point out the animals along the way.  Having a top notch guide can definitely improve your Safari experience.

    One of the first animals you may spy is the Okapi.  This interesting animal has markings on its legs that make you think it is related to a zebra, but it is actually most closely related to the giraffe.

    Pictured above is a Black Rhino.  Fully grown adults can reach 3,000 lbs.  They are considered to be critically endangered with only around 3,600 remaining in all of Africa.

    The Hippo Pool is always home to numerous hippopotamuses.  The Hippopotamus is the 3rd largest land mammal and believe or not is one of the most aggressive animals in Africa.

    You will also find a number of native African birds like the ones pictured above while you take the Kilimanjaro Safari.

    The Wildebeest is one of the more common animals on the African Savannahs.  You will find this one in the Kilimanjaro Safari Savannah, along with Ankole Cattle, and a number of varieties of antelope.

    There are many giraffes present at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  They presented interesting challenges to the landscaping staff as they eat large quantities of leaves and can do a lot of damage to trees.

    This baby elephant pictured above is one of the many elephants that you can see.  There are animal births happening constantly around the Park and the young animals are always interesting to see.  This little elephant was adorable.

    Pictured above is a baby white rhino.  The White Rhino is more plentiful than the Black Rhino and it is larger with some adults approaching 8,000 lbs.  That makes it the 2nd largest land animal behind the elephant.
    The lions are always difficult to see and this picture of a male and a female sitting up is even rarer.  Typically lions sleep during the day.  The Disney Staff has created air conditioned rocks that the lions like to lay on during the hot summer days.  That is how Disney encourages the lions to be somewhere that guests can spot them.

    You will typically see ostriches walking around in the latter part of the Safari.  The Ostrich eggs that your guide points out are fake, but they are actual size.
    Must See Attraction For Entire Family
    The Kilimanjaro Safaris is a must see attraction that appeals to the entire family. Each time you ride this attraction the ride is different, because unlike the Jungle Cruise these animals are all alive and move around as they desire.
    This ride appeals to all age groups and it there are a lot of wonderful photo opportunities to get pictures of the animals.  This is a must see attraction, and your visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom is not complete without doing the Safari.  Note: FastPasses are available, so take advantage and avoid long waits in line! 
    ]]> Fri, 1 Oct 2010 17:42:30 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular At Disney's Hollywood Studios]]> Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular At Disney's Hollywood Studios


    Disney World takes guests on a behind the scenes look at how stunts are done for a classic adventure movie like "Raiders Of The Lost Ark."  In the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, you will see stunts re-enacted from your favorite scenes of this great George Lucas movie.

    Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular
    The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular has been thrilling audiences at Disney's Hollywood Studios since August of 1989.  Even after over 20 years, this attraction still draws large crowds to the action packed show.  It often fills the 2,000 person theater to capacity.  Disney FastPass is available to ensure that you are able to attend the show that best fits your schedule.

    One of the favorite aspects of this show is that it asks for volunteers from the audience to perform as "Extras" during the movie scene re-enactments.  The chosen audience members are briefly interviewed, get a chance to perform in front of the audience and then head off to wardrobe to get a costume to be part of the action later in the show.  Note: Arrive early for the show in order to get a seat closer to the floor if you are interested in being a volunteer.  Then when the time comes be enthusiastic and wave your arms to get "noticed."  They only take adults over 18 for these volunteer positions.

    Indiana Jones fans will love the classic scenes that are re-enacted starting with the famous scene where Indiana gets past all of the temple defenses to get the Golden Idol only to end up being chased by a 12 foot boulder.

    After the opening, the stage is pulled out of the way to open up to a Cairo city scene where a well choreographed fight scene takes place.  There is a lot of action going on and all of the stunt performers do an excellent job.  Since a stunt show is about action, here are several pictures to capture the action as you will see acrobatics, fighting, daring rooftop maneuvers, zip lines, and finally an explosion.

    The scene concludes with a giant explosion as a truck crashes and flips over.  At the end of each scene they return to talk to the audience and make you feel that you are really behind the scenes of a real movie set.

    The last big scene involves the German base and airfield where Indiana and Marion fight to escape the German Army.  Here we see the classic showdown between Indiana Jones and the muscular German Mechanic as Marion is trying to control the German aircraft.  Again pictures best convey the action as stunt fighting, shooting, and explosions make this a thrilling climax to the 32 minute show.
    Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Is A MUST SEE!
    The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is a MUST SEE Disney World Attraction that should be on your list for every trip.  No matter how many times you have seen this show it is still entertaining and exciting to watch.  It reminds you better than any other attraction (besides Great Movie Ride) that Disney's Hollywood Studios is about Hollywood and the Movies.  Here you see how they create some of the magic that you love.


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    <![CDATA[ Meet Ariel On Her Own, Surf!]]>
    Based on The Unofficial Guide:  The Color Companion to Walt Disney World, the best time to visit Ariel's Grotto is before 11 am and after 9 pm.  Based on personal experience, I have to concur with the Guide.]]> Sun, 12 Sep 2010 23:30:10 +0000
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