Fun Fact Friday- The Disney Point

Did you know that all cast members are instructed to use two fingers when pointing something out to a guest?

There are two generally accepted answers as to why that is.

#1- In the style of Walt himself.   It is said that Walt would often point with two fingers because he generally had a cigarette in his hand.  Whether or not this is the true reason, we can’t be certain.  But in true Disney fashion of attention to detail, you can even see Tom Hanks using a two finger point when he played Walt in “Saving Mr. Banks”

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks"

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks”

#2- Politeness across cultures.  The more likely reason is that in some cultures it is rude to point with one finger.  With millions of park visitors each year, perhaps they opted to go with a non offensive point that translates well to people from many countries.

Disney Cast Member pointing

Disney Cast Member pointing

 

Disney Water Parks

Alright, so in my Four Parks – One World post, we discussed the four main theme parks that Disney has to offer, but there are also golf courses, spas, a massive sports complex, a shopping district, and 2 water parks.  Today and Monday we will take a look at Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.

Blizzard Beach

Blizzard-Beach-6 map_blizzardbeach

 

There is no doubt that Disney goes all out whenever it develops a new attraction.  The theming is always incredible, and there is always a story.  The story that accompanies Blizzard Beach goes something like this.  There was a freak snow storm in Florida, so they decided to open Florida’s first ski resort. (Perhaps they had a huge polar vortex like we had in Ohio this year, who knows!) Of course though, with it being Florida and all, the snow didn’t last long.  The developers were ready to walk away and abandon the project when they heard the excited cries of “Ice Gator” racing down the hill on an inner tube (Ice Gator is the parks mascot).  The developers of the ski resort then saw the potential and converted the park into a water park rather than a ski resort.

The park includes many water slides for the whole family, and its biggest attraction is Summit Plummet, which is 120 feet high, and can reach speeds of 60 mph as you race down.  My favorite part is relaxing in the massive lazy river that completely circles the park.

In my mind there is no better way to relax and take a day off from the hustle and bustle of the Disney parks than chilling at the water park!  Just like any of the Disney parks, you can pack a lunch and spend the day.  There are lockers for rent ($10 for the entire day PLUS you get $5 of that back when you return the key!), so I recommend getting a locker.  There are also several quick service locations where you can purchase lunch.  Disney Dining Plan is accepted at the quick service locations.

On hot summer days the parks will fill up quickly, so I recommend going in the morning before the park gets really busy.  Enjoy a few hours in the morning, head back to the resort to clean up, and spend your afternoon and evening at Downtown Disney!

 

 

Tuesday’s Tip- Ponchos

It’s no secret that Central Florida is generally warm and muggy (especially in the summer)!  With the combination of heat and humidity it is likely that at some point in the day there will be rain.  The problem is, you’ve saved and saved, and saved for your disney vacation and you don’t want a little rain to slow you down!

On our most recent trip there were two times that it rained.  The first we lucked out because we were sitting at a table service restaurant for lunch, and the rain was done before we finished our dessert.  The second time it rained we heading towards star tours at Hollywood Studios and the sky absolutely opened up upon us.

One of the biggest tips that I can offer you in this situation is simply be prepared!  Go to the dollar store prior to your trip and purchase one poncho per person for each for at least half the days you’re going.  Craig and I were going to the park for 6 days, so I purchased 6 ponchos for the two of us, and spent a grand total of $6 plus tax.

Dollar Store Ponchos

Dollar Store Ponchos

By the time you’re at Disney and in the parks you’ve already given the disney corporation enough of your money.  Chances are you can spend as much on ponchos for your entire group as you would for 1 poncho at the parks.  You wouldn’t believe how many people I saw wearing disney ponchos in the parks.  All I could see when I saw those ponchos was an insane amount of money spent on plastic!  Children’s ponchos at Disney are $7.00 and adult size are $10 or $11.  For a family of four (two adults and two kids) you’re looking at $34-$36 (plus tax) for plastic!!!

Disney Parks Ponchos

Disney Parks Ponchos

I will add that Disney’s ponchos are much heavier duty, have the disney logo on them, and are reusable, where the dollar store ponchos are not reusable.  HOWEVER, the disposable ponchos are still far more economical, and will fit in your day bag much easier than the bulkier reusable ponchos!

Hope you enjoyed todays tip!

Liberty Tree Tavern Review

liberty tree tavern liberty-tree-tavern-00

On our most recent trip one of our goals was to try all new restaurants.  While at the magic kingdom the new (to us) table service location that we decided to try was the “Liberty Tree Tavern.”  We made lunch reservations there and man did we luck out, because just as we were sitting down to lunch it started POURING, and by the time we were done eating the rain had stopped!

The atmosphere of the restaurant was perfectly themed, like any other disney restaurant I’ve been in.  It’s located in the Liberty Square area of the Magic Kingdom and has a colonial feel.  When you walk in you feel like you’re in an old timey tavern (minus the beer flowing because other than Be Our Guest Restaurant at dinner time, the MK is completely dry).

The prices at lunch range from $12.99 for the veggie burger to $19.99 for the freedom pasta.  Most items hover in the $15.99 range.  Because of the lower entree prices, Liberty Tree Tavern is not necessarily the best use of a table service dining credit if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan.  If all the members of your party get the pasta, or the pot roast, you’ll do a little bit better as far as value with the plan, Craig and I did not though.

Click here to view the lunch menu

At dinner, which we didn’t experience, the menu changes from an ala carte style to a family style meal.  The table will be served the following as part of their family style meal-

Patriot’s Platter
Roasted Turkey Breast, Carved Beef and Sliced Pork with Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, Herb Bread Stuffing, and Macaroni & Cheese
I also believe this meal is all you can eat.
While the price for this experience is not listed on the website, I would guess it’s in the $30.00 per person range.  Most buffets at Disney are $37.99 per person.  I am not sure about the family style meals.
Even though I don’t think that lunch was the best use of a table service meal here, I do think that the restaurant is worth checking out!
I had the Colony Salad

featuring Ocean Spray® Craisins® BRAND with Washington Apples, Sweet Pecans, Applewood-smoked Cheddar, Craisins® Dried Cranberries and Grilled Chicken tossed with Field Greens in a Honey-Shallot Vinaigrette
Colony Salad

Colony Salad

and it was simply outstanding.

Craig had the Angus Chuck Cheeseburger                                                                                                                      

topped with your choice of Bacon and Cheddar or Mushrooms and Provolone served with fresh Fruit or Tavern Fries

Angus Burger with bacon

Angus Burger with bacon

He said it was one of the best burgers on Disney property.

Now my absolute favorite part of my meal at Liberty Tree Tavern was the dessert.  I ordered the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake, and I can honestly say, I have never enjoyed a dessert at Disney as much as I enjoyed this one.  It was absolutely fabulous.  With that being said, I have been on the hunt for a copy cat recipe, and I found one, so I’m sharing it with you today!

Thank you disney food blog for sharing this recipe, because this is one you’ll want to pin.

Click here for recipe –> Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake recipe

Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake

Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake

My overall review- The theming is wonderful, the food is wonderful and will not break the bank if you’re not on the disney dining plan.  If you’re on the disney dining plan and not worried about if the meal is the best use of a dining credit check it out at lunch time, if you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck, go at dinner time.  Overall it’s totally worth the time.  Your tastebuds will thank you

Fun Fact Friday- Disney Transportation

Staying at Walt Disney World is made very simple with Walt Disney World Transportation.  Disney’s Magic Express picks you up at the airport, and if you’re not leaving Disney property you can get around without a rental car because Disney transportation is wonderful!  There are water taxis, buses, and monorails.   Here are some fun figures about the Disney transportation system!

On average 250,000 people a day use Disney transportation.

There are 270 buses used on Disney property (this is not including the Disney Magic Express)

There are 12 monorails that run on two separate tracks (One going to the Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Resort, and the Grand Floridian, and the second going to Ticket and Transportation and Epcot.)

There are also 4 trains at the Magic Kingdom- each train has 5 cars and can hold approximately 360 Guests and 2 wheelchairs. The train names are: Walter E. Disney (red), Lilly Belle (green),Roger E. Broggie (yellow),Roy O. Disney (blue)

Monorail at Epcot

Monorail at Epcot

4 Parks, 1 World- Part 2 of 2

Yesterday I began a two parter on what we know as Walt Disney World!  There are many people who have never been to Disney World, and don’t realize how much is offered there.  To recap from part 1, within WDW there are 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, countless resorts, and a major shopping and dining district.  Yesterday we took a look at the two parks that have been at Disney World the longest- Magic Kingdom, and Epcot, and today we will be taking a look at the newer parks, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

The third park that opened up at Walt Disney World was “MGM Studios.”  It opened on May 1, 1989.  The theming at this park was designed after the golden age of Hollywood.  The MGM Studios name was changed in January of 2008 to “Disney’s Hollywood Studios.”

Much like it’s predecessors at the resort, Magic Kingdom and Epcot, Hollywood Studios is divided into several areas, each with unique theming.  At Hollywood Studios you will find-

Hollywood Boulevard

Echo Lake

Streets of America

Animation Courtyard

Pixar Place

Sunset Boulevard

Hollywood studios is a well rounded park for families and thrill seekers alike.  You will find more thrilling attractions like Tower of Terror and Aerosmith’s Rockin Roller Coaster, as well as more family oriented attractions like Disney Junior Live On Stage, The Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Toy Story Midway Mania.

Hollywood Studios is also home to the Star Tours ride, so many Star Wars fans greatly enjoy this highly themed area of the park!  Because of the huge worldwide following and love of the Star Wars movies, Hollywood Studios is host to Star Wars Weekends.  For four weekends (usually at the end of May and beginning of June) Star Wars essentially takes over the Hollywood Studios parks.  There are meet and greets with Star Wars characters from the movies and cartoons, special parades and overall the force is very strong in the park during that time. (Also side note, it has been confirmed that Star Wars will have a stronger presence in the Disney parks after the acquisition of the franchise.  There is concrete details as to what will be coming to the Disney Parks, but to me it would make the most logical sense to merely increase the Star Wars area that is already present at Hollywood Studios).

Map of Hollywood Studios

Map of Hollywood Studios

The newest park that was added at Disney is Animal Kingdom.  It opened on Earth Day (April 22) 1998.  Although Walt Disney himself never lived to see the Florida parks opened, if he were alive today I feel that he would have a special love for the Animal Kingdom.  Walt loved animals and had a passion for conservation.  He actually wanted the Jungle Cruise at Magic Kingdom to include real animals, and when that proved to be completely unrealistic they decided to go with Audio Animatronics.  Walt’s vision of using real animals is the basis for the Animal Kingdom park.  The wonderful thing about the Animal Kingdom park is that it is way more than a zoo.  It is a way to have up close experiences with the animals as well as giving the animals TONS of space to roam.  The animals obviously have some forms of containment to keep say the tigers away from the elephants, but the space that is given to the animals to roam is massive.  Because of the space for the animals the Animal Kingdom is the largest of the four parks.  Here at the Animal Kingdom you can learn about the conservation of animals, take a safari ride, and visit the top of Mount Everest.

Animal Kingdom is divided into the following areas-

Oasis

Discovery Island

Africa

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Asia

Dinoland USA

And currently under construction- Pandora (aka Avatarland)

Animal Kingdom Map

Animal Kingdom Map

What I just described are very very brief overviews of the two parks, keep following my blog and I will be getting into more details from each individual park along the way!

Walt Disney World- 4 parks, 1 world (Part 1 of 2)

Hello Mouskaholics!

Today I am going to start a 2 day series breaking down and explaining a little about the four parks individually.  I had a friend recently ask me what the difference was between the parks at Disney world, so I thought that I would make sure I explained a bit about each individual park.  Even though it’s Walt Disney “World” there are 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and many many resorts that make up WDW. When Walt opened Disneyland in 1955, he immediately realized one flaw, there wasn’t enough space.  Almost overnight the Anaheim area exploded with restaurants and motels that weren’t Disney owned.  When he had the idea for a second park on the eastern side of the country he knew that it would have to be a HUGE land purchase so that everything could be on Disney property.  In fact, the land in Orlando that is owned by Disney is bigger than the island of Manhattan.  (I will go more into the history of the land purchases at another time)

 

The Magic Kingdom-

This is the most recognizable park at WDW.  When most people think of Disney World, the image of Cinderella Castle comes to mind.  This was the first park that was built at WDW, and opened in October of 1971.  While it has its similarities to Disneyland in California, there are some differences.  It has a castle as a main hub and from the hub it branches off into 6 unique lands.  Each land is carefully themed and contains rides and attractions that fit the theme.  At the MK you’ll find these areas-

Main Street USA

Tomorrowland

Fantasyland,

Liberty Square

Frontierland

Adventureland

This park is the most whimsical of the four, and if you’re only going to visit 1 theme park, I would say this is the one to go with.  It is great for small children and adults alike.  The adults will enjoy the more thrilling attractions like Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Railroad, while the little ones will enjoy It’s a Small World, Flight of Peter Pan, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

This theme park also just finished the largest renovation in the history of the park.  They took out a section known as toon town and expanded Fantasyland.  With this expansion there are even more ride and attraction options.  It is absolutely spectacular.

There is so much more that I could write about the magic kingdom, but I will stop here for today.  Sometime soon, I will dive more into specific Magic Kingdom topics.

Here is a scanned copy of the map from our trip (Sorry for the quality, the maps are HUGE and was difficult to scan!)

Magic Kingdom Map

Magic Kingdom Map

Epcot

This was the second park was opened in 1982.  When Walt was envisioning his “Florida Project” (what it was known as in its early stages), he envisioned a futuristic community that would be housed on the property.  He wanted people to live and work in this Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow (or EPCOT).  While Epcot was never intended to be a theme park in Walt’s vision, it still focuses on a lot of Walt dreamed of.  EPCOT is a place where both learning and fun co-exist.

Epcot is divided into two main areas, Future World and The World Showcase.

Future World is home to 7 main pavilions, each with unique theming and attractions.

The Universe of Energy Pavilion

Test Track Pavilion

Innoventions

Mission Space Pavilion

The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion

The Land Pavilion

The Imagination Pavilion

Again, there is so much that I could tell you about all of these different pavilions, and over the course of the next few weeks I will dedicate time to each area of Future World!

The World Showcase is home to 11 different countries (I have written a little bit in the past about how there is room for more countries, but there are no plans to expand).  The awesome thing about each individual country is the authenticity that you’ll see in each pavilion.  The materials that were used to build each section were sent from that particular country, and built by craftsmen from that country.  When you visit a country the cast members working there are from that country!  When you purchase something in a gift shop, guess what, it’s from that country!  Oh, and don’t even get me started on the food… I could spend DAYS in the world showcase just eating!

Some countries are home to a ride along with their gift shops and restaurants, others have a movie, while some just have the shops, restaurants an other forms of entertainment.  There is lots to see and do in the World Showcase, and the night show “Illuminations- Reflections of Earth” is set around the “World Showcase Lagoon” and is a celebration of all of the cultures represented.

Here are the countries you will find in the World Showcase

Mexico

Norway

China

Germany

Italy

America

Japan

Morocco

France

United Kingdom

Canada

Again, I could do an individual blog focusing on each country alone and what they have to offer!  Watch for future blogs about the world showcase!

Map of Epcot

Map of Epcot

Tomorrow I will continue to write about the last two Disney Parks, and next week will touch on the water parks at Disney!

 

 

 

Reflections of Vacation + Tuesday’s Tips

Good Morning Mouskaholics,

First of all, I wanted to thank you my readers for following me on my journey to Disney this past week.  Craig and I had a wonderful time.  Today will be a short post, mostly because I’m exhausted and will need time to collect my thoughts and topics from this past week!

So first, here is Tuesday’s Tip-

When saving for your Disney vacation, find a way to get Disney gift cards for your trip.  Around here, Giant Eagle offers fuel perks, and if you watch carefully you can get double fuel perks or even grocery bonus coupons for purchasing your gift card.  We saved close to $400.00 in gas and an additional $120.00 in groceries by purchasing gift cards from Giant Eagle.  If you don’t have a Giant Eagle around, check out Sam’s Club.  They don’t offer the bonus fuel, but you can save a few bucks on each gift card.  They sell a $50.00 gift card for $48.88.  Not a huge savings, but if you’re paying for your entire trip with gift cards (which you can on the disney website) or taking spending $$$  that can save you quite a bit.  Let’s say you purchase $1200.00 in gift cards to pay for your vacation.  With the gift cards you’re only paying $1173.12.  That’s 27 bucks back in your pocket.  If you take an additional $500.00 for spending money, that’s another $11 in savings.  I believe that fuel perks are definitely the way to go, but if they don’t offer a deal like that near you, then check out Sam’s club for the savings!

Additional gift card info you should know-  If you’re staying on Disney Property they set up your magic bands with charging privileges.  You link a credit card to your account and you essentially can charge anything that you purchase back to your room.  Even if you charge items back to your room, you can still use your gift cards!  Even though it’s linked to a credit card, they don’t have the charges go through automatically.  The concierge at the hotel told me that if you get past a $500.00 limit they will then charge the card.  If you stay under $500, it will not charge it until midnight the night before you check out.  So every two days or so, I would stop down at the front desk with my gift cards and they would apply those to the balance vs. charging my credit card!  It was much easier than carrying a bunch of gift cards around the park and trying to pay with them!

Reflections from my trip-

I will be brief here.

1) I pre-blogged last week, and posted my itineraries as they stood before we left.  I took two afternoons and posted all of my blogs before we even left and then scheduled them to post while I as gone. (Just in case anyone was wondering how in the world I had time to blog while I was at Disney).

2) There were days that didn’t go exactly as planned and that’s okay.  Being flexible is something you have to do while on a Disney trip.  Your fastpass may have to be used later because of weather, you may not be able to go swimming when you’re at the resort because of lightning, you may need to pick an attraction that you wouldn’t normally do because it’s hot out and you just need to sit in the A/C for a moment!

3) I have learned that going at this very hot time of year, it is absolutely necessary for me to go back to the resort and get a break from the parks.  There was a time in my youth where I could hit early extra magic hours in the morning a park and stay through closing time.  At 30 years old, that is not the case.  I need a break.  If you have kids I bet they need a break too!

4) The next vacation I plan will absolutely NOT have 6 park days back to back.  I need a break in between parks.  At most, I will plan 2 days of parks in a row, and then a break.  Break days are great for either swimming at the resort or a water park, and shopping at Downtown Disney.  I had a GREAT time on my vacation, but I am exhausted.  This could have been a much more relaxing trip had we even done 1 less day in the parks and taken a day off to recoup.

Last Day of Vacation- Magic Kingdom and Coming Home

Today is our last day at Walt Disney World.  It is always the saddest day on a Disney vacation.  We aren’t flying home until this evening though (yes I definitely planned it that way lol), so we are going to make the most of our day!

6:30- Wake Up Call

7:00- Snacks for breakfast at resort food court

7:30- Check out and check in for our flights (they will take our luggage for us), and store our carry on items with hotel

8:15- Head to Magic Kingdom

8:45- Pre-show at Magic Kingdom (there is a special preshow every day before the park opens.  It is magical and all around wonderful, and I recommend that everyone sees it!)

9:15- Fast Pass for Splash Mountain

10:35- Fast Pass for Space Mountain

12:15- Lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant

12:50- Fast Pass for The Flight of Peter Pan

1:30- Return to Resort to catch Disney Magic Express back to the Airport

3:00- Board DME to go to the airport (For your return to the airport you will catch the DME bus back 3 hours before your flight for domestic flights, 4 hours for international)

6:05- Fly back to Atlanta

7:33- Sit in Atlanta Airport, and gather thoughts for upcoming blog posts!

9:15- Depart Atlanta for Hometown airport

11:05- Land at hometown airport

11:30 Begin crying because I miss Disney already lol!

Today’s new experience- The Be Our Guest restaurant is our new experience and I am very excited for it!  There is a lot of hype over this restaurant, and I don’t know of one person who has been there who didn’t like it!  Also visiting a park on departure day is a new experience.  We’ve usually taken an early afternoon or morning flight back home, so visiting a park on departure day wasn’t an option.  I am looking forward getting in some last minute magic 🙂

Park Day 5- Back to Epcot

Okay, normally I like to have a day off in between parks, but it didn’t fall like that on this vacation.  So today we are going to sleep in a little bit, head to Downtown Disney for a more relaxed morning, and then head back to Epcot this afternoon.

downtown disney

7:45- Wake up and Run 6 miles

9:15- Split Quick service breakfast and Snack at resort food court

10:00- Downtown Disney, last minute shopping and ride character’s in flight

12:00- Lunch at downtown disney or resort

2:00- Arrive at Epcot

2:10- Fast pass for Test Track

3:15- Fast Pass for “The Seas with Nemo and Friends”

5:00- Fast Pass for Character Spot photos

5:45- Dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel

8:15- Find a good spot to watch Illuminations

9:00- Illuminations

9:20- Wind Down at “Tutto Gusto”

11:00- Return to Resort

Extra Magic Hours- Today’s Extra Magic Hours are at the Animal Kingdom.  We decided that Animal Kingdom is not a park we wanted to visit a second time on this trip.  Loving Epcot as much as we do, it was an easy choice to visit here again, plus without having extra magic hours, it was a good excuse to sleep in a little and get some shopping done!

What new experiences will we encounter today-  Both of the new experiences we will have today are dining related.  We are eating at La Hacienda de San Angel and participating in Wind Down.

What is Wind Down?- Wind Down is an extra paid experience available on select nights at Epcot.  After Illuminations guests with reservations can head to one of three of the “lounges” where they can experience beverage flights and small plate entrees. We decided to do this #1 because it’s something we’ve never done before, and #2 we are looking forward to experiencing the park with very few guests in it.  There will be even fewer guests than during extra magic hours because its based on reservations.  Craig is really looking forward to doing nighttime photography with no one in the parks 🙂

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/epcot/after-hours/