Disney World Updates

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Here are the latest and greatest of Disney World news and updates, and maybe a few scoops! We will be sending a separate update on Disneyland news since there is so much going on in California.

Disney Parks

Disneyland and Disney World now ban all selfie sticks in the parks. They have stated this is for the safety of guests and cast members. Do not bring them into the parks – this is as of June 30th.

Magic Kingdom

Splash Mountain has been added to evening Extra Magic Hours as of June 13.

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The Orange Bird is now returning to Sunshine Tree Terrace and Aloha Isle in Adventureland. The menus at Sunshine Tree Terrace and Aloha Isle switched earlier this year, so our beloved Dole Whip is now available at Sunshine Tree Terrace. We love this change as there is far more space at Sunshine. Aloha Isle now serves our other favorite cold treat, Citrus Swirl. You can find the Orange Bird added to the marquee. There was limited edition merchandise that may find its way back to the stores.

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Be Our Guest Restaurant began serving breakfast starting in the spring. Reservations are recommended and it has been quite a hit with guests. Breakfast includes scrambled eggs and eggs florentine.

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Taste Track – new quick-serve food at Future World near Test Track. They serve new delicious recipes for the favorite grilled cheese sandwich including Gruyere and Applewood smoked bacon, Fontina with tomato basil grilled cheese, and Canadian cheddar and apples grilled cheese on cinnamon raisin bread. Each sandwich comes with your choice of soup or salad. Other menu items include chicken salad and kid’s grilled cheese.

Sounds Like Summer Concert Series lineup continues:

Don’t Look Back–A Tribute to Boston –June 27-July4
Fire & Ice–A Tribute to Pat Benatar–July 5-11
Stayin’ Aline–A Tribute to the Bee Gees–July 12-18
Hotel California–A Salute to the Eagles–July 19-25

All tribute bands can be seen at the America Gardens Theatre Stage at various concert times.

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New World Showcase Entertainment: The American Music Machine will be performing at the American Adventure pavilion. B’net Al Houwariyate, a Berber music and dance troupe from Marrakesh, with perform at the Morocco pavilion.

New Norway attractions for Frozen are set to open in 2016. Work is already underway for “Frozen Ever After” and “Royal Sommerhus”. The Maelstrom ride will be transformed into a ride into the world of Arendelle. There will also be a meet and greet for Anna & Elsa.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will celebrate its 20th year this fall. A new 12-inch Figment plush will be introduced to commemorate this event. There will also be a new concert series called “Eat to the Beat” that includes a wide array of bands performing.

Hollywood Studios

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Frozen Summer Fun began on June 17th at Hollywood Studios! This includes:

  • Frozen Royal Welcome– Processional twice a day and this year it will include Olaf as well as Anna, Elsa and Kristoff with a new ice palace.
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  • Olaf’s Summer Cool Down–New show with Olaf and friends
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  • “Frozen Fever” will be playing in the ABC Sound Studio including a peek behind the scenes at the making of the film
  • A “Frozen” Sing Along Celebration will be moving into the Hyperion Theater at the center of Hollywood Studios
  • “Frozen” Fireworks will follow the “Coolest Summer Ever” Dance Party that includes Olaf with Anna, Elsa and Kristoff.

New Frozen Summer Fun cupcakes will be available starting June 17th at ABC Commissary, FairFax Fare, Backlot Express, Studio Catering Co., Pizza Planet, Starring Rolls, Rosie’s All American Café, and The Trolley Car Café. The cupcakes are included in Disney Dining Plan, and all “Frozen” specialty cupcakes will be available through September 7th.

Once Upon a Time fans will love the new themed window fronts on the Streets of America! This very popular show will have new displays along the street.

Animal Kingdom

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Zuri’s Sweet Treats opens in Harambe Market and will be serving traditional candy treats with an African twist. They will also have Flame Tree Barbecue’s signature sauce to purchase!

Creature Comforts reopened June 18 with re-imagined food and beverages. Menu includes Starbucks coffee as well as breakfast options like sandwiches and pastries.

Pizzafari will no longer serve breakfast at Animal Kingdom – lunch and dinner only. Breakfast is available at Tusker House, Rainforest Cafe and kiosks and stands throughout the park including Creature Comforts.

Pocahontas has a new meet and greet location at the Discovery Island Character Landing. This is the only location in Walt Disney World to meet Pocahontas. Animal Kingdom is home to other exclusive character meet and greets: Tarzan, Rafiki, Dug & Russell from “Up”, and Baloo & King Louie. As always, check the Times Guide for character times.

Typhoon Lagoon

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As part of the Coolest Summer Ever celebration at Disney World, Typhoon Lagoon water park will host the Teen Beach 2: Beach Party (#teenbeach2)! This celebration will include summery games, dancing to retro-beach tunes and hula hoop contests daily. Teen Beach 2 runs through July 5th.

Downtown Disney

With the renovation of Downtown Disney still underway and transforming into Disney Springs, rumors are flying about the closing of Disney Quest, the interactive game center in Downtown Disney. It is possible that next year, it will be gone from the newly redesigned area.

Disney World Resorts

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Polynesian Bungalows are now open at the Polynesian Resort. These new Bungalows as well as studio villas are part of the Disney Vacation Club family. The bungalows sit over the Seven Seas Lagoon and can sleep up to 8 guests. We will be sharing a detailed post on the new additions to the Polynesian resort shortly.

Please keep following Preschoolears for more Disney updates for Disney World, Disneyland and all things Disney!

Photos credit: Walt Disney World News

Disney Parks Update 2014

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This is our last update of 2014 for the Disney Parks and news! Hard to believe that 2015 is almost here! If you will be at the parks this holiday or soon after, here are all the news!

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New “Frozen Christmas Celebration” – On Christmas Day, millions of viewers will be watching the Christmas Day Parade at Disney Parks on ABC. This year, the characters from “Frozen” have been added to the parade which moves several characters around on floats. Filming has already begun at Disney World and musical guests this year include Train, Trey Songz, Lucy Hale, and Trisha Yearwood. Disney hasn’t announced all the hosts of the parade but one of the co-hosts was recently announced: Tim Tebow. Tune in on Christmas Day for all the parade fun!

New! Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Sold Out Dec 19: The very last Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party of the Season is now officially sold out.  Tickets are still available for December: 11, 12, 14, 16, and 18 2014.

New! Meet Santa at Magic Kingdom Park During Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: Santa is available to meet guests at Town Square Courtyard on Main Street, U.S.A., during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

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New! United Kingdom Pavilion Receives New Entertainment Offering: The Paul McKenna Band debuted last week in the United Kingdom as one of the new World Showcase entertainment acts. The Paul McKenna Band is a traditional four-piece group from Glasgow, Scotland who will perform in the courtyard of the United Kingdom. The band’s contemporary approach to songs never strays too far from their Scottish, folk music roots. Show times for the Paul McKenna Band are 11, 11:50 a.m., 12:45, 1:40, 2:35, 3:35 and 4:50 p.m.

Candlelight Processional at America Gardens Theatre, with show times at 5, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m. While some of these dates have passed, we wanted to share with you the entire list of narrators that are part of this program. Narrators include:

  • Jodi Benson – November 28 – 29, 2014
  • Neil Patrick Harris – November 30 – December 2, 2014
  • Jonathan Groff (NEW!) – December 3 – 4, 2014
  • Whoopi Goldberg – December 5 – 6, 2014
  • LeVar Burton – December 7 – 9, 2014
  • Edward James Olmos – December 10 – 12, 2014
  • Joe Morton (NEW!) – December 13 – 14, 2014
  • Chita Rivera – December 15 – 17, 2014
  • Ana Gasteyer (NEW!) – December 18 – 20, 2014
  • Marlee Matlin – December 21 – 23, 2014
  • Isabella Rossellini – December 24 – 25, 2014
  • Blair Underwood – December 26 – 27, 2014
  • Steven Curtis Chapman – December 28 – 30, 2014

Candlelight Dining Packages are available for Guests. With these special dinner packages, Guests receive dinner at a restaurant of their choice, guaranteed seating at America Gardens Theatre for a booked Candlelight Processional show time and viewing of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. Note: Dinner packages do not include park admission. Limited availability.

New! Meet Santa at Epcot:  Santa is available to meet guests at The American Adventure, during Holidays Around the World.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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Disney Forms Relationship with Turner Classic Movies for The Great Movie Ride: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has announced a new strategic relationship with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and The Walt Disney Studios to broaden its reach in family entertainment with joint efforts centered on classic film. The relationship features include new TCM integration into The Great Movie ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and on-air showcase of Disney Treasures. TCM branding will be integrated into the attraction’s marquee as well as banners, posters and display windows outside the attraction. In the queue line, families will enjoy new digital movie posters and will watch a new pre-ride video with TCM host Robert Osborne providing illuminating insights from the movies some of which Guests will experience during the ride. The finale will feature an all-new montage of classic movie moments. After Guests exit the attraction, they will have a photo opportunity with a classic movie theme. Changes are expected to be seen in The Great Movie Ride by Spring 2015.

Disney’s Star Wars Weekends Dates Announced and Dining Available for Booking: Attention fans of The Force – get ready to plan your trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in spring 2015! Star Wars Weekends will be held every weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) from May 15-June 14, 2015. Once again, the Star Wars Character Dining Experiences will be available and they are open for booking now. Choose from Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast at $49.99 per adult and $31.99 per child ages 3-9 or Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine, Including Fantasmic! Dining Package at $57.99 per adult and $34.99 per child ages 3-9. Prices include tax, but not gratuity. Star Wars Weekends dates are as follows:

  • Weekend I: May 15-17, 2015
  • Weekend II: May 22-24, 2015
  • Weekend III: May 29-31, 2015
  • Weekend IV: June 5-7, 2015
  • Weekend V: June 12-14, 2015

Animal Kingdom

Flame Tree Barbecue to Close Temporarily Starting Jan. 5: Beginning Jan. 5, construction will start at Flame Tree Barbecue, which will result in an approximate three month closure. During the refurbishment, which is anticipated to last until early April, we will enhance the location by adding additional covered seating areas, covering choice Guest walkways to some pavilion seating areas and extending the roof over the main building to offer additional cover for Guests waiting to place their order. Since the food offerings at Flame Tree Barbecue are favorites amongst Guests, a selection of them will be offered at existing kiosks throughout the park during the downtime.

Disney World Resort Hotels

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Front Desk Reopened: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has reopened the front desk of the Great Ceremonial House, and it’s beautiful!

Resort Holiday Decorations have Returned:

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Disney’s Contemporary Resort:  The all-new “Frozen” gingerbread ice castle at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is adorned with sugar snowflakes, gingerbread shingles and chocolate-coated trees – Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven are decorated with sugar, chocolate and candy.

Disney’s BoardWalk Resort: Also all new is a life-size replica of a Jersey Shore Boardwalk concession stand serving holiday treats – ice cream cones, gingerbread houses and cookies and stollen bread. Sweet wreaths and Mickey- and Minnie-shaped gingerbreads decorate the stand.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa: The life-size gingerbread house celebrates 16 years at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – the pastry chefs use the same building plans to re-create a fresh masterpiece each year, using a classic gingerbread recipe from Austria (they estimate 400 hours of baking).

Disney’s Beach Club Resort: Check out the 14th annual Holiday Carousel, a life-size, spinning carousel with ponies made of chocolate and fondant, handcrafted poinsettia and gingerbread snowflakes – look for 14 hidden Mickeys, one for each year!

Disney’s Yacht Club: Find an adorable holiday village with miniature train adorns the lobby, surrounded with sugar rock mountains.

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“Frozen Fun” at Disneyland

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Frozen is invading Disneyland in 2015! All the new Frozen attractions will officially open on January 7th but they will begin select sneak peaks starting December 20th.

  • For the First Time in Forever – A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration – The Muppet*Vision 3D theater in Hollywood Land has been transformed for this event into the beautiful Crown Jewel Theatre from Arendelle. You’re invited to step inside and join the Arendelle Historians – along with special appearances by Anna, Elsa & Kristoff – for a fun and comedic retelling of the unique history of their kingdom, filled with delightful, sing-along moments from “Frozen.”
  • Olaf’s Snow Fest – Stage 17 in Hollywood Land plays host to an immersive winter wonderland straight out of the Kingdom of Arendelle, complete with a giant snow play area and musical performances by The Frolicking Fjords and The Tubadors. You can glide down a snow slide, build a snowman of your own and visit everyone’s favorite snowy pal, Olaf and give him a warm hug.
  • Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post – Head back outside, and nearby you’ll find Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post, where you can pick up the latest “Frozen”-inspired apparel, plush, toys, mugs and more.FrozenOlaf
  • Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome – Anna and Elsa meet & greet will move from Fantasyland to an elegant new location inside the Disney Animation attraction at Disney California Adventure park, where you can meet them as part of a special royal greeting. You may also get a chance to meet Olaf! The colorful and varied display in the Animation Courtyard will also now include scenes and music from Disney’s Academy Award-winning blockbuster hit, “Frozen,” and at Animation Academy, a Disney artist asks, “Do You Want to Draw a Snowman?”
  • Freeze the Night! A Family Dance Party – Each evening, you’re invited to “chill out” in Hollywood Land with music, dancing, interactive fun and more in this new, family-friendly experience. You’ll arrive at the party through an icy archway to find wintry décor, dazzling lighting effects, cool photo spots, yummy treats and frosty beverages for all ages. Throughout the night, a giant thermometer registers the drop in temperature, as things get so cool they ultimately reach the freezing point when everyone lets it go in a spectacular “Frozen Fun” crescendo!
  • Mickey’s Soundsational Parade resumes January 7th and Anna & Elsa will once again be on their pre-parade float.
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats returns later this month with a new addition to this charming and beloved Fantasyland attraction, with excursions through the world of “Frozen” offering views of the fjord-side village of Arendelle, including the stately castle where Anna and Elsa grew up, Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post, and Elsa’s mountaintop ice palace. The miniature locales of “Frozen” will find a new home among the familiar scenes of some of Disney’s most enduring and timeless fairy tales.
  • Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink will be continuing through February 22, 2015 at Downtown Disney District
  • Anne & Elsa Boutique is open now at Downtown Disney District.

We will soon be posting a look into what is happening in 2015 for Disney parks and Disney news so stay tuned for our next post!

Happy Disney travels!

Top Disney Parks Interactive Experiences

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Disneyland and Disney World offer many fun attractions, shows and amazing dining for families during their vacations. But there are some interactive experiences at both parks that occastionally get overlooked and missed that we want to point out to our readers. We are calling them “interactive experiences” because your participation with them actually is the attraction. If you are visiting the parks for a short time, like 1-3 days, you will probably miss these and try to fit in as many attractions and characters and dining as you can. But for a longer stay at either coast, we think it is well worth finding some time to have a little fun with these great programs. It adds something unique and special for your kids, and they can make amazing memories. Here is our list of the Top Interactive Experiences that we think you shouldn’t miss! And they are all FREE with your park admission!

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1. Animation AcademyHollywood Studios, Walt Disney World AND Hollywood Land, California Adventure (Disneyland). This experience is one of our favorites and it is easily missed at the parks. At Disney World, it is located in the Magic of Animation and at Disneyland, it is in the Animation Building at California Adventure. Both experiences offer a drawing session with a Disney animator that teaches kids and adults how to draw a favorite Disney character. It is so much fun and you leave with your own drawing as a souvenir! Limited space in each session and sessions are at specific times.

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2. Jedi Training AcademyHollywood Studios, Walt Disney World AND Tomorrowland, Disneyland. Your future Jedi can signup to learn how to be a Jedi and then fight Darth Vader! This experience will provide (for the show) a Jedi robe and light saber for each child (these items are returned at the end of the show). At Disneyland, children are chosen from the audience to participate, and at Disney World, children must sign up before the show to participate. Space is very limited and shows are at specific times.

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3. Sorcerers of the Magic KingdomMagic Kingdom, Walt Disney World. This is a scavenger hunt style game with cards and keys that take you all around the Magic Kingdom to defeat the villains. There are multiple hidden screens all over the Magic Kingdom and it is so much fun to play! You can stop at anytime and start again the next day. The cards are great collectors and kids love trying to solve the mystery and fight the villains! See our post on Sorcerers for all the details.

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4. Wilderness Explorers AdventureAnimal Kingdom, Walt Disney World AND California Adventure, Disneyland. Both experiences were born from the movie “Up” where Russell is earning his Wilderness Explorer badges. Kids can follow maps and earn badges as well throughout Animal Kingdom and the Redwood Creek Trail (Disneyland).

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5. Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate TutorialMagic Kingdom, Walt Disney World. Do you have a big pirate fan at home? In this show, kids are brought on stage and taught how to be a pirate by a group of Jack’s crew as well as Jack himself. Some kids dress as pirates for the occasion. Sign ups are done ahead of time at the park and shows are at specific times only.

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6. A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven SeasMagic Kingdom, Walt Disney World. Similar to Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom, this treasure hunt involves helping Jack complete set missions and clues and treasures are collected throughout the park. This experience runs all day and night. Signups are in Adventureland.

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7. Agent P’s World Showcase AdventureEpcot, Walt Disney World. A scavenger hunt style experience through the countries of the World Showcase. Kids can sign up throughout the World Showcase and then they receive an electronic device to help them work through the clues and complete their mission. Kids who love Phineas and Ferb will love the hidden characters throughout the pavilions.

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8. Kidcot Fun StopsEpcot, Walt Disney World. While these are the least flashy of all the interactive experiences, they are very interesting and fun. Kids can visit a stop in each country and get a stamp in their passport, autograph book or anything else they are using for souvenirs. They can color something at each stop – it used to be Duffy but recently has been Agent P. At each Kidcot Stop, there is a Cast Member from that country that usually writes or stamps something in that countries language for the child. It can be a fun learning experience for kids and they will enjoy collecting all the pavilions. You can purchase an Epcot Passport to put stamps in and keep as a souvenir.

There are other fun experiences at all the parks, but these are some of our favorites. If your family has time to take part in any of these, you won’t regret it as they can be so much fun. The scavenger hunt games are lots of fun for the kids and they can work on it alongside their parents.

Happy Travels!

A First-Timer’s Take on Disney World

Recently, the K family decided to take their very first trip to Disney World! They did a lot of planning and prep work including talking to us at Preschoolears. Since we believe that it is great to learn from other’s insight and experience when traveling to Disney, we interviewed them after their trip to see if they could offer some advice and tips for those families who will be taking their own first-time adventure to Disney World!

Interview:

PS Ears: What are the ages of your kids when you visited Disney World?

8 (almost 9), 6 and 2 (almost 3)

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PSEars: When did you visit Disney World?

October 13-19, 2013

PS Ears: Where did your family stay? 

We used our friend’s time share discount and since we booked so late, we ended up splitting our time between two hotels – fun to explore different environs on our first trip, but in general not advisable. 😉 The staff made the transition as easy as possible, but we still wasted a morning. We stayed the first two nights at Animal Kingdom and the rest at Saratoga Springs – it was a noticeable difference.

PS Ears: Did you like the resorts as a first-time Disney experience?

We all preferred Animal Kingdom, not surprising given the price. It was pretty incredible and the rooms and facilities were brand new. The pool was amazing and they had great activities (animal viewings, movie nights) planned for the kids. The buffet was really tasty, plenty for kids and adults and got us all to try different foods from around the world – yum! And they had a quick-serve restaurant right next to the pool where you could stock up on breakfast items for the morning. We had a nice unit at Saratoga Springs but the grounds are HUGE! Required a golf cart to get to the front desk, such a contrast from Animal Kingdom where everything is at your finger tips inside the main hotel. The rooms were nicely updated but still had an older feel. Our unit in Saratoga Springs turned out to be right around the corner from Downtown Disney which was pretty fun – we didn’t realize it was a 5 minute walk until we’d already waited 20 minutes for the shuttle to drive us around the corner – ha! Know the lay of the land before you go. 😉

PS Ears: When you were planning your trip, what were some of the most important things your family wanted to see or do?

Magic Kingdom was a priority, having never been with the kids before. But we knew they would also enjoy the wildlife at Animal Kingdom and Sea World so we planned in a day at each. Rides were an important consideration, and minimizing wait times. Tasty food too – knowing we only had a week there I knew we couldn’t begin to do it all and didn’t want to waste time on anything that wasn’t truly magical! 🙂 Our kids had never been to a big amusement park, so we had no idea what they’d be comfortable riding, which made it more difficult to plan. But going in informed on what was available at each park and the intensity level of the rides was a huge help and allowed us to make quick decisions based on initial experiences. As a side note – my 8 year old girl loved it all, even the Haunted Mansion which I thought would freak her out! The 6 year old girl loved Thunder Mountain but nothing much more intense, and the two-year old did great on the Barnstormer, Dumbo and Tea Cup type rides.

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PS Ears: Were you able to do those things or not, and were they what you would expect?

Believe it or not, I think we accomplished most if not all of our bucket list! Not to say there aren’t things I would change next time we go, but we did pretty much everything we’d planned to do. Knowing we wouldn’t come close to doing it all, we tried to sample a little of everything and I’d say we were able to do that, plus some! I didn’t expect to do the bigger rides more than once, but with the MagicBand fast passes and Rider Switch passes, plus closing down the Magic Kingdom at midnight at the “Not So Scary Halloween Party,” we were able to do Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, and a few other favorite rides 5 or 6 times! I was actually surprised my 8 year-old was up for the bigger rides, definitely made the experience more fun, especially for my husband. Everything else was pretty much as predicted.

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PS Ears: What was the hardest part of planning a first-time trip to Disney World?

I think the hardest part of planning for us was the quantity of information – there are endless opportunities in Orlando! And learning the Disney systems and lingo, e.g. fast passes, Rider Swap passes, MagicPlus bands, etc. Also, I’m a very visual person and not having been there in almost 30 years, a lot has changed! Even having all of the information on paper beforehand it was hard for me to visualize our visit and get things completely nailed down. I made a lot of night-before changes to our plans. The Disney Experience app was perfect for that and allowed us to avoid most of the waiting.

PS Ears: What were some good things that you didn’t expect or plan for?

One unexpected highlight was Enchanted Tales with Belle – by nature of the experience, it’s always a LONG wait and we never could seem to hit it right, even first thing in the morning. We were able to sneak in at the very end of the night (11:30 p.m., when everyone else had given up and gone to bed I’m sure!) at the Halloween Party and had little to no wait. It was our very last ride of the trip and it truly was enchanting. The girls loved participating in the story and getting to meet Belle up close and personal!

The kids ages were perfect – no one was too old to really experience the magic (not even the adults) and the 3 year old was just old enough to experience a fair amount of the rides. And he took a daily snooze in the stroller with Nana – invaluable to have grandparents tag along!!

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I sent my hubby on a few missions to book straight to the back of the parks to be first in line – backfired at the Safari ride because he got so far ahead we couldn’t weave through to find him! But we still waited a fraction of the time in the end. 🙂

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PSEars: What were some bad things that you didn’t expect or plan for?

We didn’t enjoy Hollywood Studios quite as much as we thought we would – well, save our 9 year-old. She still talks about the Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n Roller Coaster! Our 6 year old talks about the coaster in a very different light – she begged to go on and the poor thing was terrified. I had become a little too lax by that point I guess – knew in the first “zero-to-60” second that she was going to hate it. She’ll never forget! 🙂 The Little Mermaid experience and Nemo were both fun but I couldn’t get the kids excited about the Disney Junior stuff – they didn’t love the character element anywhere we went. That was actually helpful at times in that we didn’t waste fast passes waiting to get autographs. 🙂

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I am bummed we missed the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique because my girls were at the perfect age to enjoy it. Also wish we’d have booked early for the Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table character dinners. We were able to still dine in Belle’s castle by getting in line at 10 a.m. for the 10:30 opening – we were about the fifth family in line – and eating an early lunch / snack. I was glad we used one Fast Pass to meet Snow White and Rapunzel – the girls (and my Mom and Dad!) ended up loving that part and we barely had to wait. They also didn’t care much about the parades – we saw a few shows and parades in passing, usually on our way to the rides!

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I didn’t like that you could only schedule 3 fast passes per day on the Disney app, but the most frustrating part was that if you cancelled a FP the day of – even if it was well before the scheduled time – you couldn’t schedule another ride in its place. As wonderful as the MagicBands were, they’re obviously still working out the kinks – there were a few rides we weren’t able to FP using the app and should have been able to.

PS Ears: What would you do different for your next trip?

If we went during Fall Break again, I would buy tickets to “Mickey’s Not So Scary” party, spend the day at the pool, then get there right at 4:00 as everyone was leaving to get the most out of the experience. As it was, we spent most of the day at the park, went back home around 2, didn’t get back out again until 6:30 and stayed until midnight.

Also wouldn’t book early flights (i.e. 7 a.m.!!), especially the day after staying until midnight at the park! Rookie mistake, and quite honestly we changed our mind so many times about the Halloween party that in the end Friday night was the only option left, but it was still worth it!! The girls did back-to-back rides on Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain – truly a highlight.

I might skip Hollywood Studios or plan a half day there, preferably morning – it was noticeably hotter there since they modeled it to look like LA with tall palms instead of the thick Florida vegetation. Animal Kingdom was actually the best for a hot day – lots of big shade trees and tucked away paths where you could cool down.

I would plan in more time at Epcot for the adults at least – the kids probably saw enough, maybe could have spent a few more hours there, but we were in such a rush and spent all of our time walking to and from the restaurant on the far side of the park – again, know the lay of the land. 🙂 My parents stayed an extra two days at Epcot and loved it. Can’t believe how big it is – a city! It was brand new when I was there 30 years ago and a fraction of the size.

I would make more of an effort to get out the door early and enjoy the opening show and short lines at the beginning of the day.

Would have taken more pictures with Disney Photopass photographers.

Might stay closer to the Magic Kingdom if possible, across the lake looked ideal!

PS Ears: What would you do the same for your next trip?

I’m glad we waited until October – it was still blazing hot! Supposedly it’s less crowded during that time – if so, I can’t imagine going during peak season. I loved the FP system – we were able to avoid almost all long waits! Also loved the grocery service – would definitely do that again. We also loved spending a day at Sea World – the kids loved it and surprisingly they had some of the best rides! I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

PS Ears: What tips would you give other families who are planning their first Disney World trip?

Check out Preschoolears! They have a wealth of information and honestly made the trip as wonderful as it was for us. I would have been lost without the volumes of information and tips they gave us going into the trip. With any type of travel, it helps to have someone “on the inside” – a local of sorts – to tell you what to skip and what not to miss. I certainly made some of my own rookie mistakes and gained knowledge from the experience that will allow me to plan better next time around, but I would have been totally blind-sided were it not for their help!

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News in Disney Parks & Travel

It’s been awhile since I did a big collection of changes and happenings at the Disney parks and beyond, so I have brought together the most recent happenings around the Disney travel world. I am looking forward to my annual “Looking Ahead in 2014” to what we might see in the new year. It is hard to believe that 2013 is coming to a close soon!

Disney World

JackSally

First, both Disneyland and Disney World have their Halloween parties in full swing now, and then they will be winding down in the next two weeks. While there are always new and exciting things at this event, this year was the debut of Jack Skellington and Sally (from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas) at the Magic Kingdom for meet and greets. They have been at Disneyland during Halloween time for a few years, but this is the first year they are greeting guests during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Disney World. They can be found on Main Street at the Town Square Theater at the Magic Kingdom. Our family saw them last year at Disneyland during Halloween time, and it was one of my favorite meet and greets!

MagicBandStand

Magic Bands and FastPass+ are continuing testing and roll out at different parks. But they are getting more and more used by guests at the parks now, and the buzz on the street is that the new system is pretty slick! In case you don’t know what these Magic Bands are, they are bracelets that take the place of the former “Keys To The World” cards PLUS they combine your dining reservations PLUS your Magical Express reservation PLUS schedule FastPass+ for your family (limited amount per day) so you don’t even have to get the paper FastPass tickets anymore. There have been some glitches, but overall most guests are enjoying the ease with the bands and getting to schedule fastpasses. Right now, the Magic Bands are only available at select resorts but expect that list to keep growing as the system gets going bigger and bigger. And the Magic Bands are linked with the My Disney Experience that you log into online and sync with the app (of the same name) on your iPhone or SmartPhone. Doesn’t this all sound like something from Tomorrowland? (Note: This system is only at Disney World and not Disneyland)

As we reported awhile back, the Disney Vacation Club will be building villas at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Right now, the resort is under renovations and construction, although guests are still staying at the resort. Another DVC project is wrapping up at The Grand Floridian with villas for families. Transportation by monorail to the Magic Kingdom has been interrupted during the day to some of the resorts while construction is finishing. For more information on the new DVC at the Polynesian and the construction, click here for our post. Also, very soon the new villas at the Grand Floridian will be complete and ready for families to enjoy!

At the Contemporary Resort, the amazing California Grill restaurant on the top level, was redesigned and renovated. It recently reopened on September 9th for guests to experience the wonderful cuisine as well as their awesome views of the Magic Kingdom. Reservations are highly recommended for this restaurant. On the Disney Dining Plan, this is a Signature Restaurant and uses two table-serve credits.

GlowEars

Just this week, at Hollywood Studios, the Fantasmic show debuted the Glow with the Show Mickey Ears. These originated in Disneyland’s California Adventure park for the World of Color show, and then they were added to the Fantasmic show. Now they are available at Disney World for the Fantasmic show at Hollywood Studios. They are truly fun to watch during the show as they change colors to match what is going on with the show. They cost around $25 each, which for this family of 6, is a little steep. But we think the concept is wonderful and very interactive for guests. I predict we will see these being added to other nighttime shows like Illuminations and the Electrical Parade.

AvatarBoat

AvatarRide

New renderings and sketches were released of concepts for the Avatar-land coming to Animal Kingdom. While these are still in the concept stage, they do show some sort of ride that mimics riding a Banshee, as well as lush surroundings with the floating mountains and possibly a boat-ride attraction. This will be an interesting project to watch as it unfolds, but it is years in the making!

CaramelTreats

One of my favorite sweet spots at Disney World is at Epcot in Germany – Karamell-Kuche, the caramel bakery. They recently unveiled a few new treats at their store, and I can’t wait to try them! They include an apple tart, sea-salt fudge brownie, caramel toffee bark, and a caramel cheesecake with chocolate. Stop in and give them a try! They look delish!

Both Parks

SofiaDress

A new addition to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience is a Sofia the First makeover! Visit the boutique and have your little princess turned into Sofia the First! This special treat is being offered at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Fantasyland at Disneyland (just past the castle), and at the World of Disney at Downtown Disney in Disney World. Right now, it is not available at the Magic Kingdom location (just past the castle)but I would expect that to change soon. As always, make sure you make advanced reservations for this special experience.

AnnaElsa

With the new movie “Frozen” coming to theaters in November, there will be a new meet and greet at both Disneyland and Disney World for the movie. The main characters, Anna and Elsa, will have a meet and greet for their new fans. There will be a frozen, icy greeting area in Fantasyland at Disneyland, and there will be a frozen greeting area at Epcot in Norway. Keep your eyes open for these two sisters at the parks!

Disneyland

CozyConeB

The Cozy Cone in Cars Land at California Adventure, just added two new delicious breakfast cones to their menu. The two new morning choices are a Chorizo and Eggs cone, and a Southwestern Scramble cone. While you can also get a quick-serve breakfast at Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land, these breakfast cones might be a great option for a grab-n-go hot breakfast.

On Main Street in Disneyland, the famous Market House has reopened after renovations, and now serves Starbucks coffee. This is the second location at the Disneyland resort to serve Starbucks coffee to guests. The Market House has always served delicious coffee to guests but has been renovated and enlarged to serve more people. The other location for Starbucks brand coffee is at Fiddler, Fife and Practical on Buena Vista Street in California Adventure.

“The View” will be filming on location at Disneyland from November 18-22. If you are a big fan of the show, make your way to the happiest place on earth and watch filming. One of the first guests is set to be Jimmy Kimmel.

Disney CruiseLines

DisneyCruise

On October 20th, Disney will relaunch the redesigned Magic cruise ship in Miami. Some of the new additions and changes to the ship, besides complete redesign of decor, interiors and rooms, are:

  • Three new family shows
  • Renovated Oceaneers Club including Andy’s Room, Pixie Hollow and the new Avengers Room
  • New restaurants including Carioca’s offering South American flavors
  • New adult venues including After Hours bar and a piano bar

Adventures by Disney

AdventuresDisney

With the new movie “Frozen” coming to theaters, Adventures by Disney has created a new experience for families wanting to visit Norway. The “Frozen” inspired family vacation will take your through Bergen, Flam, Geiranger and Oslo. Your family will experience storybook villages and boat rides through beautiful landscapes. All Adventure by Disney vacations are led and planned by Disney staff and guides.

Show Your Disney Side

DisneySideLogo

The newest campaign by Disney is Show Your Disney Side. They want people to share with them how they celebrate and experience Disney. The new website is Disneyside.com. Disney wants you to upload your photos, videos and vines, and show off your great Disney experiences. We all have something we could share! This is a great way to be interactive with Disney and maybe your picture will make it on their site!


 

That is the round up of all the happenings at the parks. The Halloween parties will be winding down in a couple weeks and then the Christmas decorations and parties will begin. If you will be visiting the parks in the next couple months, we hope this update will help you know what is going on all around the Disney world!

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