Have you ever had an amazing animal encounter at Disney's Animal Kingdom?
Welcome to the Blog!
While I would like to think I will offer the best and most up to date information that is out there about Disney, it simply cannot be true. There are too many amazing blogs out there that already do that. And to be honest, I just don't have the time! However, I will offer my honest opinions and experiences as frequently as possible. This blog is simply a way to document my experiences and collect my thoughts while talking about the love of my life, Walt Disney World and Disney in general. Thanks for reading!
I will never forget this particular day at Animal Kingdom when I saw one of the most magnificent animals I've ever encountered in a theme park and/or zoo. We had made our way through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and saw a large crowd hovering around one of the glass windows. Upon closer inspection we found that they were all staring at a small gorilla laying with his back to the glass. Since we couldn't push our way to the front we decided to bypass the crowd and go on our merry way. As we rounded the corner towards the bridge we came into contact with the most glorious sight. Right across from us, perched on a rock was the largest, most amazing gorilla I had ever seen in my life. I mean he was massive! No crowds, no window blocking us, nothing but Mr. Gorilla and us. It appeared as if he could jump right over the embankment and onto the bridge if he really wanted to. I almost thought he might. But he remained sitting there, having a snack, and staring at us. I couldn't believe that the crowd was still behind us trying to get a glimpse of the other gorilla who was obviously trying to rest. We watched him for what seemed like an hour and he let us. I will never forget that moment when I set eyes on him. It remains to this day one of the most magical experiences I have had at the Animal Kingdom, and is one of the MANY reasons why I love this park so much.
Have you ever had an amazing animal encounter at Disney's Animal Kingdom?
It seems as if I have been reading about the My Magic Plus changes for years now on Twitter although it's only been a few months. I kept reading and wondering, when will I get my chance? I was waiting to get word from my travel agent until I read a comment on Facebook the other day from someone who said their TA did not have word yet, but they checked the My Disney Experience App and they were able to customize their options. I logged on immediately!
And what do you know? There were my My Magic Bands just waiting to be customized. I decided to call the other guests in my party and give them dibs on color choices. I thought it would be fun and less confusing if we all chose a different color. So a couple of phone calls later, we settled on blue, green, and pink. My mom stole green which would have been my top choice, but I will live with pink!
The bands part was pretty simple and straight forward. It was never the bands that I was upset about anyways when it comes to the new changes. I get the ease (hopefully) of using these bands for park entry, dining plans, room keys, charging etc. It sounds easier and I am hoping we don't encounter any issues with the system while there. If we have a flawless vacation with the bands, then I will be a fan for life! Plus, it is quite a nice souvenir.
Now on to fast passes. I didn't do them right away. I really needed to get my plans out in front of me and try to maneuver the best time parks/times for each day. Plus the fact that the people I am traveling with do not live in my household and therefore need to be contacted to discuss would make it a little more difficult. I've basically planned our whole trip, neither of them care what we do and completely trust that I will plan the best vacation for us. But that doesn't stop me from feeling a little bit like I need to consult them and make sure they are happy with my choices.
So this would be the part of the new changes that I am not particularly thrilled about. A couple of years ago, this would have been right up my alley. I was the type of WDW visitor that planned every moment of our vacation, stuck to a strict schedule, and basically irritated everyone I was traveling with due to my OCD. Now however, things have changed a bit. In fact since this trip came to fruition, all we have been talking about is how we don't want any set plans as far as park touring goes (we do have ADRS booked), and we want to leave plenty of time for resting and pretty much just fly by the seat of our pants. Maybe it's because I had a kid and now realize that relaxation is precious or maybe it is because I've seen and done most things in WDW and realize I don't have to pack it all in each time. So basically having to know what park we want to be at and what time frame we want to ride certain attractions is REALLY messing with those plans. So you might be saying to yourself, just don't make fast pass reservations and go ahead and fly by the seat of your pants. I've considered that, but then again I hesitate to not make them and then possibly miss a couple of must do attractions due to the very long waits.
I agonized....and agonized.... Laid out our trip in front of me and chose what parks I thought we would want to be at each day. I made fast pass reservations with enough time to spare to get to our dinner reservations, and I am done. I left our last day blank and figured I would just try to make the fast pass reservations for that day on the day before when we have a better grasp on our plans. I did all of this through the app and very much hope that it can be changed with ease while we are in WDW if our plans suddenly do not mesh with what I had originally thought. I also need to HOPE that there are attractions that we want still available last minute for changes. I guess we shall see...
As far as the experience with actually booking the reservations, I found it to be pretty simple and easy to use through the app. The only complaint I will mention is that the app forced me to make three reservations when I only wanted one. For example, our first day we will not be getting in until 3:00 and we have a later dinner planned at the Magic Kingdom that evening. I wanted to throw one fast pass in there before dinner. Since we only have time for one, I only wanted to make one. The system forced me to make three, two of which I will not be able to make therefore will go unused and most likely take from someone else. When I went back into the system to see if I could cancel those other two, if I cancelled one, it cancelled the entire day. I did not like that at all and now have two fast passes wasted.
So in a very long drawn out nutshell....I am not sold on fast pass plus. I feel like the fact that I am a Disney nerd makes it not as difficult. With that being said, I just cannot see first time families or people who think WDW and Universal are the same park understanding this process or even realizing it is there for their use. Not to mention these first timers would never know where they want to be at what time months ahead of their vacation. Regardless, I am just happy I finally got my chance to experience the changes. Hope to report on our experience when we return!
So just last night via the Twitter, I discovered a brand new Disney podcast. Currently, I listen to three podcasts only. That might not seem like a lot but I am the type of person who likes to stay dedicated to something, and having only three ensures that I can listen to each one and stay caught up! I absolutely hate getting behind. Not to mention one of those podcasts now has three amazing shows a week. I am a busy girl!
Something came over me last night however and I felt it in my heart that I needed to give this new show a shot. So I added a fourth podcast to my roster and I am SO glad that I did.
It's called The Enchanted Tiki Talk Podcast and it's hosted by three awesome guys: Sean, Alan, and Keith. The first episode was a great intro and let us get to know the hosts a little better. However the second episode is the one that stood out to me and made me decide that I will indeed subscribe and keep downloading.
Reason being, is that they played a little game called "40 Disney Dollars a Day." It was such a fun game that I decided I wanted to give it a try here on the blog and so I stole their idea for my own gain.....Just kidding....I asked Alan and he said he didn't mind if I gave it a shot.
The game is simple. You have $40 to spend in one day at Walt Disney World on your food items and you must dine at one counter service location, one table service location with 18% gratuity, and have on snack item. All items should be something you'd really like to eat while at the parks. Sales tax is not counted.
The location chosen is Disney's Hollywood Studios.
So first for lunch I head over to the Backlot Express. This has got to be my favorite counter service location at DHS and the one I frequent the most so it is only fitting to begin here. I am going to order the Grilled Turkey and Cheese served with french fries or carrot sticks for $8.99. It's hot out so I will also need a large bottle of Dasani Water to stay hydrated which comes in at $2.50
Lunch Total: $11.49
For dinner I will be stopping at the 50's Prime Time Cafe. It's one of the only table service restaurants in DHS that I have been to recently so I feel most confident about my judgement of the food. I'm going with Cousin Ann's Traditional Meatloaf for $15.99 which comes with green beans and mashed potatoes. Not only is it one of the cheaper options, I happen to think it is delicious. With my savings I can go ahead and splurge on the All Natural Lemonade with Wildberry Foam for $4.19.
Dinner Total: $20.18 with a gratuity of $3.63 makes $23.81
Lastly, the snack item choice. I'm craving ice cream on this warm evening, so I am heading over to Hollywood Scoops to get an Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich on a Fresh Baked Cookie for $4.19.
Snack Total: $4.19
For a grand total of $39.49!
So how much fun was that?????? I agree with you, it was a TON of fun!!!!!
Don't forget to download and subscribe to The Enchanted Tiki Talk Podcast. You can find all of the information about the show and how to listen here. Also make sure to follow Sean, Alan, and Keith on Twitter to join in on more great Disney fun. They can be found @1MinDisneyDream @NORMNB8S @dolewhipdaily
Thanks again to these three for the inspiration today! Can't wait to hear all that they have in store on The Enchanted Tiki Talk Podcast!
This week's Wordless Wednesday theme is the Disney Inspired Letter "P" and really this could not be a more perfect theme for my little blog. What else could I be thinking of but the sole inspiration for my blog and one of my favorite places in all of Walt Disney World?
It's PORT ORLEANS!
Thank you to Deb at Focused on the Magic for hosting this week's blog hop. Please make sure to visit her page and to join in on the fun.
As I have navigated through the Disney blogosphere the last couple of months, I've been utilizing my "notes" app on my phone and making sure to jot down any new and interesting ideas, foods, drinks, experiences, etc that I've come into contact with. The list is getting quite long and is going to serve as my mini bucket list if you will for our upcoming WDW adventures. I call it mini because all of these things are completely doable given enough time and energy (not to mention enough alcohol tolerance).
I've limited the list to food and drink and here is what I've come up with. It's things like this that help me keep the dream alive while I sit here patiently waiting for the month of December to be upon us. *sigh*
-Tusker Lager at Sanaa: This idea came courtesy of Safari Mike at Jambo Everyone. Now I'm not a big beer drinker, but my mother is so I am going to try it and most likely let her finish it.
-Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich at Sleepy Hollow: I don't even need to limit myself to the ice cream cookie sandwich. I just need to visit Sleepy Hollow in general. I am actually ashamed to call myself a WDW fan when I'll admit I've never even stopped here!
-Tutto Gusto: Not much more to say about this one. I love wine and I love Italy. I'm totally there.
-Truffle Mac n Cheese Hot Dog at Fairfax Fare: Truffle was all I really needed to hear in order to be convinced. It seems I'm always searching to find something good to eat while at the Studios. I plan to give this bad boy a try!
-Lapu Lapu at the Tambu Lounge: I will thank Rhiannon from My Disney Addiction for adding this little gem to her trip report thus making me add it to my list.
-Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich at Dino Bites: Is this the same ice cream sandwich that can be found at Sleepy Hollow? If so, don't judge, because I will eat another one. Courtesy of Dave at Jambo Everyone.
-Sugar Cane Mojito at Dawa Bar: Once again I've never been to the Dawa Bar and if they close this bitch before I get there, I am going to be upset.
-Contempo Cafe at the Contemporary: I haven't looked as far into this to decide just what I'd like to try, but I've
been wanting to try some new counter service experiences and I have heard great reviews about this one.
-Avocado Margarita at La Cava: Margaritas are my drink of choice. Looking forward to trying some new flavors and see if I end up preferring the traditional.
-Citrus Swirl at Sunshine Tree Terrace: I've been in the loop with the whole Dole Whip craze. I admit I enjoy them but they don't send me running to Aloha Isle. I heard a rumor that the Citrus Swirl is just as delicious and will probably present less crowded lines. I think I'm going to test that theory.
-Cream Cheese Pretzel at Fife and Drum: A pretzel...with cream cheese...sounds like my kind of snack.
-Roaring Fork at Wilderness Lodge: Once again, looking for new counter service experiences.
Do you have food and drink ideas that I just have to try? Please comment and let me know so I can add them to my food and drink mini bucket list.
Man I have been slacking on this blog lately.
I'll be honest...I began this blog with the intention of putting up meaningful and thoughtful posts daily or at least every other day. I've failed miserably.
It's not for lack of trying. Life gets busy sometimes and I just don't always feel like I have much to contribute in the large world of Disney blogs. I never wanted to be someone who regurgitates information that everyone already knew about yesterday. That would be too hard to keep up with. Yet, my love for Disney is so strong I just wanted to share it with the world. However when I began I guess I wasn't really sure what direction I'd like to head with it. It's clear now that I am using this blog more as a diary of sorts for my own personal use regarding mainly Walt Disney World vacations but of course anything else interesting that comes along. I tried my hand at scrapbooking our trips year ago. I wasn't nearly talented enough or had enough spare time (or spare cash, that scrapbooking shit is expensive!). I've tried filling out Passporter guide book pages. I'd find that I would either forget to fill it out in time to actually have legitimate documentation, or I just didn't want 50 guide books laying around the house to forget about. I'm no expert and I don't live in Florida, therefore my contribution is largely based on when I can get to WDW again and actually have some experiences to talk about.
So here I am world. My Disney bucket list is formed and I am more than ready to knock some things off the list this December.
Regardless, I've made some amazing friends. Well more like I've followed some amazing people who may or may not take the time to talk to little ole me. They may not know me or really care, but this Disney community is such an amazing one. It's nice sometimes to converse with people who just get me. I don't find many of those out in the real world.
In the meantime, I'll just keep swimming and try to make my place within the big blue world of Disney blogs!
There's nothing quite like Halloween at Walt Disney World. The decorations and special events are among the best of any seasonal celebration WDW has to offer. It also happens to be one of my favorite times to travel there. That's why when it came to this year's planning I really had a hard decision choosing between Halloween and Christmas. I'm so used to the fall season with the low crowds, amazing events, and sometimes unbearable heat that I almost can't imagine going at any other time. My family has traveled with me several times during the months of September and October, yet they have never been to WDW at Christmas (although I have once). I had to give them that experience, so this year December won out. But it doesn't change the fact that fall holds a very special place in my heart when it comes to touring the Disney parks.
Here are my favorite reasons to visit WDW in the fall:
1. Character meet and greets at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party - we've met such characters as Tarzan and Jane, Jafar, Jessie, The Mad Hatter, The Queen of Hearts, and more!
2. Low crowds - depending on when you go you can experience some pretty low crowds. Although I think people are catching on because each year it seems busier and busier.
3. Being a kid again and dressing up for Halloween.
4. HalloWishes at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party - that 360 degree firework blast among one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. If you don't buy a ticket for the party, try to book a dinner at the California Grill during this party's fireworks for that reason alone.
What is your favorite time of year to visit Walt Disney World?
I was absolutely thrilled to find out that Mouse on the Mind and This Happy Place Blog were doing another Kill Marry Refurb post. If you are not already familiar with this game, a Disney topic/category is chosen and you have to decide within that topic what you would like to KILL, REFURB, and MARRY. I had so much fun last time coming up with my thoughts on the World Showcase Pavilions. In case you missed it, you can find that little gem here.
So now we are talking Walt Disney World Resorts. Wow, this is tough. There are so many of them, and still quite a few that I haven't stayed in. Kill and Marry came to my mind immediately. It was Refurb that presented the toughest choice for me and although I was tempted to go with a resort that I haven't stayed in, I decided I just couldn't do it not having the full scope of experience.
KILL: CARIBBEAN BEACH
I'm sorry guys, but I sort of despise Caribbean Beach. I don't understand why so many people love it. Especially with the other choices in the moderate category. If you can afford to stay here, I'm not sure why you wouldn't choose Port Orleans or Coronado Springs. I'll admit that the grounds are lush and the beaches are a nice touch, but I find the colored buildings to be tacky and cheap looking rather than inviting and relaxing. Furthermore this place is constantly packed and that can't help but be reflected in the bus service. Apparently I am in the minority since this seems to be the place to be. However, I think many first time visitors are drawn in by the thought of this theme which creates a large draw to the resort. I would imagine several of them are a little disappointed after having stayed here. I know I was. The food court and table service restaurant are among the worst on property and depending on what building you are in, it could take you days to reach Old Port Royale or any bus by foot. The best part of my stay here was the quiet pool. That's it...I just did not care for it. Man do I ever sound bitter! We shouldn't start these posts out with the KILL category. :)
REFURB: BOARDWALK INN
I really hate to do this. The Boardwalk has always been my dream resort. I had wanted to stay here for quite some time and never could justify the price. I really should be choosing one of the All Stars right now but it's just been so long since I've stayed there I don't think I could make an accurate argument. So I have to go with the Boardwalk as it's fresh in my mind from my last visit to WDW. I finally decided to take the plunge, spend the money, and book a stay here. It was a very short stay of just one night as my husband and I were visiting family in Florida and decided to take one night away to hop over the Boardwalk and finally check it out. So why would I choose this resort for a refurb? It wasn't that anything was really wrong, it was absolutely beautiful and still a dream come true for me. But I guess for the price, the room didn't seem quite as nice as I had hoped. It seemed a little worn and in need of some TLC. Also when we were there the bakery was closed for refurbishment and I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a better counter service offering even though there are several wonderful table service locations. However, this place is absolutely gorgeous and the Bellevue Lounge has quickly become one of my favorite places to be at WDW. I really can't complain about this resort, but for the money, I think they could spruce it up just a tad.
MARRY: PORT ORLEANS RIVERSIDE
If you've read the name of my blog, I would hope you are not surprised by my choice to marry Port Orleans Riverside. I love the hell out of this place! What is not to love? The grounds are amazing, beautiful, peaceful, serene, wonderful...need I go on? The best part of this resort is, it could be quite busy yet it never seems to feel that way. True, it is quite a large resort but it never feels like you are miles from the main building or from the bus stop. The theming of this resort is amazing. Just when I think I wouldn't want to be anywhere else then the elegant Magnolia Bend, I step foot into the Alligator Bayou and find I would rather have a little rustic feel to my stay. In my opinion, Port Orleans Riverside has a deluxe resort feel for quite a savings in the price. There is so much to talk about, I think that the rest would best be described with the following short and sweet list:
1. River Roost Lounge and Ye-haw Bob
2. Boat service to Downtown Disney
3. Muddy Rivers pool bar
4. Evening carriage rides
5. Riverside Mill - amazing counter service
6. Royal Rooms
7. Surrey bikes
Thus concludes this episode of KILL REFURB MARRY.
Thanks again to Mouse on the Mind and This Happy Place Blog for coming up with this brilliant idea and for inviting other Disney blogs to join in on the fun!
With the recent opening of Princess Fairytale Hall at WDW's Magic Kingdom, I can't help but be a little sad and reminisce about the past. I'm talking about Snow White's Scary Adventures. Man do I ever miss it! Let me just tell you that I am not one of those fans who constantly skipped the attraction when visiting Walt Disney World and only miss it now that it's gone. I rode the hell out of this thing and loved every minute of it! We made a point on every trip to frequent this dark ride. Best part was, it never had a wait.
I always felt that it did a great job of retelling the story of Snow White. My favorite part was always the opening scene when you come around the bend to see Snow White sitting outside of the castle and the evil queen watching her from above in the window. We then see the evil queen looking into the mirror and all of a sudden she turns around to reveal that she has transformed into a hideous witch. The queen sends the Huntsman out into the woods to kill Snow White but he lets her go free and she runs into the dark forest. Enter the strobe lighting for dramatic effect. The mood then lightens as we see the dwarfs cottage and hear the fanciful music from inside. But just as you think Snow White is safe, we see the evil witch give her the poisoned apple. The dwarfs race back from the mine and chase the witch to the top of a cliff. Just when you think a huge rock is going to come crashing down on top of you, we hear the witch scream as she falls to her death. The darkness clears and "Someday My Prince Will Come" begins to play. We see the Prince kissing Snow White to awaken her and they ride off into the sunset as the dwarfs look on. Seriously...it doesn't get much better then this classic dark ride!
Now I know that there is a mine train ride on the horizon that focuses around the seven dwarfs so its not like Snow White is completely gone, but I have to say that I just don't agree with the decision.
This week's Wordless Wednesday theme is October Calendar Shots.
I chose a picture that was taken in 2008 and features one of the windows of the Emporium on Main Street USA.
I LOVE HALLOWEEN AT WALT DISNEY WORLD!!!
Thanks to Deb @ Focused on the Magic for hosting the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!
Check out all the other Wordless Wednesday links by clicking below,