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Friday in Fantasyland: Epcot All the Way!

March 2019 | by Suzanne Burmeister

“We can go back to the Magic Kingdom again sometime?” is a question my four-year-old daughter often asks, and now I’ve caught the bug. I am imagining my next trip in a fantastical-nebulous sense. No clear date in mind. However, Magic Kingdom isn’t where my mind is zooming at the moment. Instead, it’s Epcot.

Eating: My husband and I were recently interested in the Epcot Food and Wine festival, mostly because it might mean that he and I could disregard our diets. We could visit the marketplaces without having to make any dining reservations, each of us sharing plates of daring food that interest us. My husband is partial to German food, so I know we would go there for certain. Our kids might partake of some new foods, too. But it would be a leisurely stroll around the World Showcase.

Rides: No trip to Epcot is complete, however, without visiting the rides. My kids love the Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros. And while my daughter hasn’t reached obsessive levels of Frozen fandom of most other little girls, she does enjoy the ride! (Maybe the upcoming Frozen 2 will change that!)

My dad is as big of a Disney fan as I am, so my parents would likely join us too—and Mom’s favorite ride is Soarin’. We might take advantage of Disney’s Ride Swap program, so we wouldn’t have to get a Fastpass there. We would simply take my daughter on it twice, as we did last time.

Once my husband digests his food, he’d want to go on Test Track. And who knows, maybe by then, my daughter would be ready to try it for herself. On the other hand, my husband dislikes the Journey into Imagination with Figment (while my infant son seemed to adore it), so we would, of course, torture him with that.

Me? I like Spaceship Earth. I only hope my kids don’t choose Chinese as a language, as my daughter did once by accident!

Characters: One of my favorite stops is the Meet Mickey & Friends character spot inside Epcot, which is great to hit when the wait times are low.  We would shuffle through and meet Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy. I remember when my infant daughter met Minnie, and afterwards, I changed her in the nearby restroom. She could not stop babbling, and I attribute that moment to when she first started talking!

Shopping: Finally, we would peruse Mouse Gear, which is often where we splurge. The selection there is huge, and my kids love to pick out their own stuffed animals. My husband and I are giant fans of both Disney coffee mugs and adult pajama pants. We would either visit the store last, or we would send our purchases to the campground to pick up later.

Even though Epcot sometimes seems the lowest park on people’s preference list, you can find a lot to do there. We often make more memorable memories there than any other place, simply because they are so unexpected.

If this sounds like your kind of Disney daydream, we can help make it a reality! Send us an email or fill out this quote form and tell us a little bit about the Magical Disney adventure you are looking to have. Our Authorized Disney Vacation Planners with Destinations to Travel are out of this world!

By | March 15th, 2019|Disness Reports|

Special Ticketed Event: A First Timer’s Review

March 2019 | by Suzanne Burmeister

The scenario? Two grandparents, two parents, and two kids (aged 3 and 1) contemplating spending even MORE money for a special ticketed event. I’ll cut to the chase: It’s worth it.

My family and I went to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on Sunday, November 25, 2019. We waited until around 4pm to make our way over to Magic Kingdom with my two kids, meaning we did not use one of our park day tickets on the same day. We solely went to the special ticketed event.

Beware—Warning—Heads Up: We did not have our tickets. We only had our confirmation number, so we had to waste an enormous amount of time at Will Call trying to get our tickets. It was annoying, so if you can get your tickets beforehand, do it.

We decided to have dinner, so we ate at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café. We filled up on burgers, just as Cast Members started to pass out the free treats. The cookies and hot cocoa were a big hit with my daughter.

But then, we began to do the rides. Because we were there for the Merry Christmas Party, we did not have fast passes for any rides. But no one else did either, which meant that everyone was on the same playing field.

Good idea: After some research, we decided to avoid the first parade and go for the second one. That meant while most people were scoping out seats to watch the holiday parade, the ride wait times sank lower and lower. We often walked right onto rides.

Because this was our first time at the parks for the entire trip, I was aware of which FastPasses we had. In other words, we were going to Magic Kingdom two more times, which mean I had six FastPasses already set. So we went for things we did not have FastPasses for, like Dumbo, Tea Cups, the “Jingle Cruise,” and so on.

A personal highlight: My daughter, 3, tried Goofy’s Barnstormer with no wait. This was my experiment to see if she could handle roller coasters, and she absolutely loved it. I felt as though we were good to go for Slinky Dog later in the trip (her most coveted ride).

The weather was cool and fabulous, and the decorations were magical. While I’m certain the crowds were still present, we managed to navigate the park with no problem whatsoever. Because of the short wait times, we managed to go on more rides during this ticketed event than we did during the other two days at Magic Kingdom.

On my bucket list was watching the 360 degree fireworks with my dad. I first saw them years ago when I went to Magic Kingdom for New Year’s Eve—and um, never again. However, my fireworks-loving father had never experienced any fireworks like that, but this ticketed event satisfied the desire for Dad to see this.

Okay, here’s the mildly bad: So here’s the thing. I was at the park with an almost four-years-old and a one-year-old. We decided to wait for the second parade, which means we slid into a viewing spot around 11pm at night. And after all the fun we had? The kids were sound asleep and missed the parade entirely.

So if your kids can make it to those late hours, then you’re getting the most bang for your buck. However, our little ones fell asleep—meaning we paid for extra time in the park where we were pushing our double stroller around with sleeping kids. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I would have liked for them to have seen Santa!

Now that we’re several months away from when we attended this event, we all agree that we would definitely go for another ticketed event. It doesn’t have to be a holiday party. We would even enjoy extra hours if it meant we could enjoy a bunch of rides with little to no wait in a short amount of time. Ideally, our kids will be old enough to make it to midnight at least.

So do it. Pay the extra money. You won’t be sorry!

If you think you want to try a special ticketed event, we can help make it a reality! Send us an email or fill out this quote form and tell us a little bit about the Magical Disney adventure you are looking to have. Our Authorized Disney Vacation Planners with Destinations to Travel are out of this world!

By | March 12th, 2019|Disness Reports|

Top 50 Best Walt Disney World Attractions

Every Walt Disney World vacation would not be complete without experiencing at least some of the many world-class, innovative, unforgettable attractions throughout its 4 theme parks.  Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom are home to (collectively) over 50 attractions – each of which can create magical memories that last a lifetime from just one ride.

I’ve been visiting Walt Disney World multiple times each year since long before I can even remember. Amounting to over 60 visits to “the most magical place on earth,” I’ve spent so many special moments here – many of which have taken place on my long list of favorite attractions. From the Imagineering that brings them to life to the connections we develop with their stories, I have a deep appreciation for these unparalleled experiences as a die-hard Disney nut. When I sat down to create a list of the top 50 best attractions at Walt Disney World, I kept my love of touching stories, nostalgia, thrills, art and technology in mind. Though I’m a fan of all of them, here are my rankings (in order) of the top 50 attractions at Walt Disney World.

50. Astro Orbiter

49. Mad Tea Party

48. Mickey’s PhilharMagic

47. Country Bear Jamboree

46. Muppet*Vision 3D

45. Primeval Whirl

44. The Barnstormer

43. Magic Carpets of Aladdin

42. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

41. Mission: SPACE

40. Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

39. Dumbo The Flying Elephant

38. Under The Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid

37. The American Adventure

36. Kali River Rapids

35. Alien Swirling Saucers

34. Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

33. The Seas with Nemo & Friends

32. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

31. Living With The Land

30. Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros

29. Journey Into Imagination with Figment

28. The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh

27. Star Tours – The Adventure Continues

26. “it’s a small world”

25. Test Track

24. Jungle Cruise

23. WDW Railroad

22. DINOSAUR

21. Hall of Presidents

20. Carousel of Progress

19. Toy Story Mania!

18. Na’vi River Journey

17. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

16. Kilimanjaro Safaris

15. Spaceship Earth

14. Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

13. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

12. Soarin’ Around The World

11. Peter Pan’s Flight

10. Frozen Ever After

9. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

8. Slinky Dog Dash

7. The Twilight Zone – Tower of Terror

6. Space Mountain

5. Splash Mountain

4. Expedition Everest

3. Pirates of The Caribbean

2. The Haunted Mansion

1. Avatar Flight of Passage

Which attraction would be #1 on your list of top Walt Disney World attractions?  Tell me if/how your list would be different in the comments below!

By | March 4th, 2019|Disness Reports|

Friday in Fantasyland: Resort Hopping for the Holidays

If I were at the Walt Disney World Resort today, not only would I be incredibly happy, I would plan to spend the day resort-hopping! I know many don’t see the allure of visiting other resorts-thinking it’s a waste of time, but I think those people are missing out on some amazing experiences! Since it is the holidays, there truly is no better time to resort hop. I am a bonafide Christmas junkie, so you bet I am chomping at the bit to feast my eyes on the decor at each resort. It’s no secret that the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa wins Christmas in terms of their decor, how could you compete with a life-sized Gingerbread House? But let me tell you folks, there are some incredible runner ups that you may enjoy just as much and with fewer crowds.

The Contemporary Resort has their own yearly holiday display which changes from time to time. It’s on the concourse level (where Chef Mickeys is) and is quite impressive! Last year at the holidays they had this frozen themed display.

Since we are still on the monorail, of course I’m making a stop at my DVC home, the Polynesian Village Resort. While there is no real WOW exhibit like some of the others, it’s beauty lies in the subtlety.

Over at the Boardwalk Resort a few years ago, they had a pop-up Ice Cream stand! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Last year, was a display of custom Gingerbread Houses constructed by Cast Members. Curious about this year, the Boardwalk is definitely on my list to visit today!

Not to be outdone, the all-class Beach Club Resort astounds with a gingerbread and candy carousel. It is quite a site to be seen! I never miss a visit here during December trips and today would be no exception.

While not all resorts go as “all out” as these, the decor still inspires that one of a kind holiday spirit! My beloved Polynesian Village Resort, the Wilderness Lodge Resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge and even the Old Key West Resort are absolutely worth my time today, not only for the sights, but for the sounds, smells and tastes to be had at each one. Oh, did I fail to mention I would pick up a snack at each resort I hopped to? How’s that for plussing a resort hopping day?

How about you? Do you resort hop to see what you are missing and scout out a new location for your next visit? We would love to hear from you in the comments. If you’d like to learn more about visiting during the holidays for your next Disney vacation, contact us at info@getdowntodisness.com.

 

 

By | December 28th, 2018|Disness Reports|

Fridays in Fantasyland: The Daily Disney Afterglow

Welcome to This Friday in Fantasyland

So much of visiting Disney World these days revolves around meticulous planning. I recently spent three frustrating hours navigating the troubled FastPass system picking the rides my family wants to ride months from now, and yet, my favorite memories of Disney World never really focus on those coveted FastPass picks or dining/resort reservations. Instead, the unplanned or unexpected moments reign supreme.

Sometimes you have to stop and really enjoy being there.

With that being said, what I’m daydreaming about isn’t necessarily about being in the parks themselves; it’s focused on that wonderful haze of a full day’s fun and the excitement of more to come.

I’m imagining my feet are aching from a long day walking back and forth through Hollywood Studios, but they would be propped up. I’d be lounging outside at my campsite in Ft. Wilderness, warm in my latest purchased Disney sweatshirt, and I would be laughing with my family about all that happened that day. My daughter would finally have gotten the nerve to go on the Slinky Dog roller coaster. My son would be playing with his new Sheriff Woody.

It’d be slightly cold, because I prefer visiting Disney during the winter months. The crisp air would carry with it the smell of the crackling campfire that my husband stokes, and I would have my s’more supplies resting on the picnic table. We’re going to roast marshmallows to close out the day.

 

My family’s travel trailer would have its awning stretched out, with its lights casting a golden glow over our foldout chairs, picnic tables, grill, and rented golf cart. Our dog would be scurrying around on his leash, happy to be free after being cooped up in the camper for hours while we had fun. We can hear the distant music of the Electrical Water Parade, which we hear every night.

While I’m talking about how much my son loves his new toy, my kids would be playing and laughing together—almost wild with their fatigue. They’re going to sleep well tonight, which is wonderful because we have a character breakfast planned for the next day.

I check the time to see when it is. I’ve used my phone during the day to take photos, but I didn’t check email. There wasn’t time. My husband is so removed from the daily grind that he hasn’t mentioned his work in days. We’re blissfully removed from our day-to-day lives. Instead, we are having intensive family time on our vacation, and we have more to show for it than souvenirs and photographs: we have memories like this moment. My kids will remember this trip forever.

I’d be taking a moment to just enjoy it. The magic of Disney does that. To me, a trip to Walt Disney World is more than amusement parks: it’s uninterrupted time where I’m closest to the people I love most. I am so focused on my family that our regular life seems worlds away, and I want it to last. So I breathe deep and file this feeling away in my mind, so I can remember it too.

If this sounds like your kind of Disney daydream, we can help make it a reality! Send us an email or fill out this quote form and tell us a little bit about the Magical Disney adventure you are looking to have. Our Authorized Disney Vacation Planners with Destinations to Travel are out of this world!

 

By | October 4th, 2018|Disness Reports|