Under the Sea

Many struggle to know exactly what type of vacation to take with their family each year.  Some go to the beach, some go hiking, some hit the theme parks, some go camping, and some take road trips across the country.  Some like a way to mesh their love of multiple travel ideas together into one fantastic voyage:  a remarkable cruise.  A cruise allows you to have that time to relax while on board, dine at amazing restaurants, relax by the pool (and when hitting the ports, relaxing by the beach or venturing into town), and also having that time to connect with your family and friends on a memorable journey.

So, what does someone need to know prior to going on a cruise for the first time?  Here are a few tips about finding a Disney Cruise that is right for you:

When to Go

One of the first questions I am asked by guests is “when is the best time to take a cruise?”.  If you are looking at finding the best price, there are two things to keep in mind.  First, booking typically opens up 18 months prior to a cruise sailing, so you are able to look well into the future to see what would work best for your schedule.  The quicker you can book after the dates open up, is initially when you can get the best price, before rooms begin to fill up.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t score a sweet deal within 6-8 weeks prior to a cruise date, but you will most likely have less wiggle room in finding a room category that you may feel works best for your family.

Secondly, pricing typically is the best in January and September, with February and August sail dates also having some great pricing available.  Again, the quicker you can book your trip, the better chances you will have of finding the price range that works for your family.

Food/Drinks

One great thing about Disney Cruises is that the food and non-alcoholic drinks are included in the price.  On top of that, you can drink as much as you want, all day long (again, non-alcoholic beverages), and there are many places throughout the cruise ship to grab a quick bite without an additional charge.  Also, as dinner is set up on a rotational dining plan, you can order as much as you would like during your dinner time.  If there is something you would like, just ask your server.  You can even set up your “tips” for your server and housekeeping prior to your departure, so that you don’t have to pay as you go for these extra expenses.  Keep in mind, the Disney workers do work very hard to keep you happy on your cruise, so giving them a well deserved tip should be a no brainer.

Fireworks and Shows

While the fireworks experience won’t be the same as in the park, who can resist an amazing Disney fireworks show?  To be on the cruise, surrounded by water, and seeing the night sky light up in all these glorious colors is only something that Disney is able to do.  You simply can’t miss this end-of-the-night experience.

Just like the fireworks, the shows at Disney are top notch.  Amazing actors, Broadway style productions, and familiar stories from the days of our past bring tons of Disney Magic and Pixie Dust to life.  You won’t be disappointed by engaging your mind into these fantastic nightly shows.  Whatever you do, don’t miss these!

Room Choices

Room choices are another way that first timers may feel overwhelmed.  There are some basic choices involved:  inside, oceanview, and verandah.   This is where you need to determine what you are willing to spend and how much time you will be in your rooms.  There are great deck plans that your travel agent (me!) can go over with you to help you decide what would be best, and how to stretch your dollar even further.  It also depends on what you are going to see and how long your cruise will last….as a dear friend returned from their Disney cruise to Alaska last summer, one of the first things they noted were the views.  Seeing whales, eagles, and all the Alaskan landscape from their room was magnificent.  Being able to see it from your own verandah may be something that you decide is important.

Adult Time and Kid Time

Disney Cruise Line offers adult only restaurants AND beach areas as well as Kids and Teen Clubs where your children can be creative in their own world while adults can splurge on a private dinner or a couples massage.  There are also shore excursions for teens and amazing glass bottom boats that adults or even whole families can take tours in.  The list of excursions is endless and Disney makes sure you feel that you have the opportunity to “see and do” it all.

You Can Relax!

Park days are sometimes long days and can include getting up early for rope drops.  Cruising is different.  Many people love to relax, love to catch up on their sleep, and just take a nice relaxed vacation, Disney style.

Proper Identification

Make sure you have the proper identification before heading to the ship.  Check with your travel agent to know what you need for your trip.

If this sounds like an amazing opportunity for you, contact me to get your dreams started and earn your Minnie Box.  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com   See ya soon, pal!

A Pirate’s Life

Ahhhh, the fireworks.  Probably one of the most magical of elements that Disney has to offer.  It seems to be the culmination of everything Disney that you feel inside your heart.  From the sights of the glorious colors and the giant arrays of light, to the flashes of nostalgia as you watch memories of Disney productions flash before your eyes, to even the smells of the freshly lit fireworks blazing high in the sky, Disney really knows how to put on a show, and how to dazzle its audience in the process.

So what are your fireworks options?  Here is one of my favorite fireworks excursions that we have been able to experience.

Pirates & Pals Fireworks Dessert Voyage

This was an amazing experience that not only my children enjoyed, but my mother and I did as well.  We began our evening at the Contemporary Resort, heading downstairs to check-in.  The kiddos set off on a scavenger hunt for “treasure” while we waited for the party to begin.  While they were looking around, there were tons of themed decorations everywhere, really getting my son in the mood to be a pirate for the evening.  Think treasure chests, almost a “One Eyed Willie” scene from “The Goonies”.   I personally loved it.  After we checked in, we were all given bandanas to wear as well, and a little pouch full of “gold”.  Disney doesn’t disappoint with its packages.  They make sure that even though you pay a little extra, you definitely come out on top with what you are given in terms of experience and having something to walk away with.

When it was time for the party to begin, we arrived back and entered a room full of decadent sweets and enough drinks to quench the thirst of every adult and child attending.  There was music playing, lights flashing, and none other than Captain Hook and Mr. Smee dancing and carrying on with all the littles.  Everyone had the opportunity to have their photo taken with those two crazy characters.  When the photos were over, Hook and Smee began mingling with the families again.  Smee found his way over to my mom, who had on a “Smee” shirt, Hook found me and loved my “Hook” shirt and he gave my son a VERY hard time about his Peter Pan shirt, but all in good Disney fun, of course.

When the dance party had ended, we followed Captain Hook out to our “ship” where we sailed out on the “high seas” (aka Seven Seas Lagoon) and had the most roaring time with our captain.   Captain Hook and Mr. Smee stayed on land while we set sail, singing songs,  listening to pirate tales, engaging in some Disney trivia, and our captain made sure that every child attending got a prize from the treasure chest before disembarking.  As we were out on our boat, we were able to see a glorious version of the Magic Kingdom nightly fireworks show, and also hear it as well, as it was being projected through the speakers on the boat.  As we returned to the Contemporary, we were greeted by a very special guest:  Peter Pan.  I was able to keep this a surprise from my son, who at the time, was a huge Peter Pan fan.   Definitely worth the money spent on this trip and I would definitely do this one again.  While you don’t get as close of a view as some other shows will give you, the character experience was amazing.

When I think of this trip to Disney, this is one of the first memories to pop in my head.  First, it was my mother’s FIRST trip to Disney.  EVER.  And to have this kind of experience was beyond anything she could compare it to.  This really set the bar high for other experiences.  Great job by all cast members on this excursion.

Let’s make some magic together for your next adventure.  Contact me today:  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com or go to my website to receive a custom quote.  Make sure to select Debbie in the agent drop down box: www.magical-vacations.com/debbie.lands

See ya soon, pals!

 

 

Almost There

We are often asked “when is the best time to go to Disney World?”.  Guests are mainly asking in regards to a combination of getting the most bang for their buck and also being inside the parks during the least busiest time of the year.

Crowds

Here is a list of the anticipated crowd levels for the upcoming year, based on past park crowd levels.  Keep in mind, the parks stay open later during the busier times of the year, and are not open as late during the least busier times of the year.

Least Busiest

  • Mid-January through early March (except for holiday weekends)
  • June through early July
  • Labor Day through early October

Relatively Busy

  • Late April
  • Late-May
  • Mid-July through Labor Day
  • Late October through Thanksgiving week
  • The week leading up to Christmas week
  • runDisney event weekends
  • Early to mid-December

Busiest Time

  • MLK Day weekend
  • Super Bowl weekend
  • Presidents’ Day weekend
  • The two weeks bordering Easter
  • Mid-March through early to mid-April/Spring/Easter Break
  • Early to mid-October
  • Thanksgiving week
  • Christmas week through Marathon weekend in January

Weather

Not only do people want to know due to crowds, but also because of weather.  Typically speaking, the best times of year to travel for the best overall weather experience are:

  • Late September
  • October
  • Early November
  • Late February
  • March
  • April

Specialty Events

There are so many things to encounter while traveling to Disney World.  One of the most magical experiences is getting to see the park in all of its glory as it is decorated during some of the Specialty Events that happen each year at Disney.  These events include some or all of the parks becoming transformed with new and lavish themed decor.  Some of these events are:

  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom
  • Festival of the Arts at Epcot
  • Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot
  • Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom
  • Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival

I’ve been to Disney when there were literally less than twenty people in the lines, and I’ve been when there where stand-by lines for rides that seemed endless.  For me, there is never a “bad time” to be at Disney.   Contact me today to get turn your dreams into realities and get you a Minnie Box:  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com or visit my site: www.magical-vacations.com/debbie.lands

 

 

Spoonful of Sugar

Oh Boy!  This sure is a fun blog post today! One of my favorite topics is food!  And one of my favorite things at Disney is the variety of food that they offer, especially what the countries have to offer at Epcot.

But today, my focus is on the sweets at Disney, in particular, my favorite sweets at Disney.  Here is a list of my top five savory sugar treats at Disney, which will hopefully clue you in as to what you should sample when you make your journey there!

  • Dole Whip:  Yes, I know, I have mentioned this treat several times already.  That’s  because it is sooooo good!  You must try it if and when you go to Disney World.  A luscious mix of creamy, non-dairy, soft serve, deliciousness (even better as a float).  Some even claim it is EVEN better with rum.  I’ve yet to try that mix.  It can not be bought just anywhere at Disney World, only at the Polynesian Resort and at Aloha Isle in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom.
  • The Kitchen Sink: Admitting that I love this borders of me being a glutton.  However, if you notice from the photo above, it is SHARED with four people and we did NOT finish it!  It is absolutely, everything you could possibly want in a dessert, all thrown into one, well, sink!  Here is a list of all the ingredients inside this delectable dessert:
  • fudge topping
  • butterscotch topping
  • peanut butter topping
  • banana slices
  • cinnamon spice cupcake
  • angel food cupcake
  • vanilla ice cream
  • chocolate ice cream
  • strawberry ice cream
  • mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • coffee ice cream
  • chocolate syrup
  • marshmallow crème
  • strawberry topping
  • pineapple topping
  • dairy whipped topping
  • 1 brownie
  • 1 regular-sized (2 ounce) candy bar
  • 4 chocolate cookies with cream filling
  • sliced toasted almonds
  • dark and white chocolate shavings
  • chocolate cookies with cream filling, crushed
  • chopped jellied orange slices (approximately 2 large slices)
  • milk chocolate chip morsels
  • peanut butter chip morsels
  • chocolate sprinkles
  • rainbow sprinkles
  • ½ cup drained maraschino cherries

So now you can see why it is called “The Kitchen Sink”!  This can be found at the Beach Club Resort, at Beaches and Cream.  Wonderful atmosphere, wonderful cast members and a great environment for attempting this dessert!

  • Ice Cream Sundae at 50’s Prime Time Cafe:  Can you tell by now that we love chocolate?  Oh my goodness these were fantastic!!!!  Not nearly the ingredients that were in the kitchen sink, but every bit as delectable.  We didn’t all finish our desserts, as they were pretty rich, but since they came with our meal plan, we went ahead and splurged and ate on them as much as we could, which didn’t leave much room for supper!  Somehow, on this trip, we didn’t gain a single pound, but I’m guessing it was due to all the walking!
  • The Grey Stuff (It’s Delicious):  I have also wrote about this before, the dessert that comes with a meal at Be Our Guest Restaurant at Disney World.  It is a chocolate cupcake with cookie creme and topped with Lumiere’s famous “Grey Stuff”.  Divine.  Also a favorite of mine there, the Lemon Meringue Cupcake.  It is a vanilla spongecake with a lemon custard filling, topped with a flamed meringue icing.
  • Chocolate Croissant: If you love chocolate and you loved baked goods…..this is about as perfect of a blend of breakfast meets dessert as someone could make.  You feel like a child who asks for chocolate for breakfast, except this is totally acceptable!  This counts as a snack with your Quick Service meal credits, so a huge win-win!

And there you have it, my top five sweet treats at Disney.  Notice all but one involved chocolate…makes me really think I need to count my carbs during my next terip!  But as I mentioned above, I have yet to gain weight on a Disney trip!  And let me tell you, I indulge on the food!  Because what good is a vacation going to be if we have to watch what we eat all day?  Just be cautious, don’t make yourself sick, and enjoy your life, one sweet bite at a time….at Disney.  Let me help you make this happen.  Feel free to email me to get your trip of a lifetime started.  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com

 

 

 

 

True Love’s Kiss

Since today is my wedding anniversary, I thought I would take this time to talk about how wonderful it can be to do Disney with people in love.  You see, this photo was taken last year, as my husband and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary.  He was gracious enough to indulge me in a weekend getaway, just the two of us.  We had never done Disney without our kids before, so I knew that not only this was going to be a romantic journey for us, but it would also give me a chance to show my sweetie the adult side of Disney.

We used our DVC points and stayed at the Beach Club Villas for this short stay.  It was beyond perfect for us, although we were literally minutes away from missing our flight TO Disney! That’s a memory that is funny now…..but back then…..stressful!

We took an early-bird flight so we could arrive in Orlando at 10am.  We skipped the Magical Express and decided to splurge and use Tiffany Towncar for a personal ride to the villas.  It was an added expense, but our trip was so short that we didn’t want to lose a single minute.  So, after our very short drive, we were checked-in immediately, received our “Happy Anniversary” buttons and headed for Epcot.

We spent the entire day there, hitting the rides I thought he would love (Soarin, Test Track, Spaceship Earth, Mission Space), and honestly, doing the things I thought he would enjoy most, “Drinks Around the World”.  There was no rush, no hustle.  Just the two of us, hand in hand, gliding our way around the countries, remembering why we loved each other so much, and realizing how vital “adult time” really is in a relationship.

The weather was wonderful, beautiful during the day, and so chilly at night that we had to buy jackets!  We went back to the room to get ready for dinner, ate supper at Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort, and then headed to the DVC lounge at Bay Lake Tower for drinks and to watch the fireworks from the amazing balcony.  Nothing felt better than watching those with my love, even though I was shivering!  We were cold and thought it was time to call it a night, but before we left, we rode the monorail over to the Polynesian so I could get my favorite Disney dessert, a Dole Whip!  After that, we headed back to the Beach Club, and we “thought” we were done for the night,  when we decided differently.  We again, realized, it’s just the two of us, so let’s enjoy this night for as long as we can.

We went for a walk around the property, and strolled around, hand in hand, over to the Boardwalk resort.  We spent three hours walking outside together, and literally, saw no one until we got to the Boardwalk.  Once there, we got a bite to eat, and headed back “home”.

The next morning, we slept in, had breakfast together, snuck in one more adult drink before heading back to Epcot for short stroll.  We bought the kids some souvenirs, and by the time we ate lunch,  it was time to catch the Magical Express so we could fly back home.  It was only two days together, one full day and a half at the parks, but it felt like it was a week together.  We needed that for us, and we vowed to always make time like this for each other.

It made my husband appreciate Disney in a different way. It can be exhausting at times when you are traveling with your whole family.  But this time, this trip, with just the two of us….it was magical….and definitely something we will do again this year.

If this sounds like something you and your sweetheart would love to do, please feel free to visit my website to get a custom quote www.magical-vacations/debbie.lands  or email me at debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com.  See ya soon pal!

I Wan’na Be Like You-uuu

One of my favorite things to talk about with Disney are the great opportunities to interact with characters.  We have been very fortunate to have the chance to have ALOT of character meet & greet’s over the years, and it has not only been on the “to do” list for my children, but also for me as well.  I love seeing the excitement in their eyes as their on screen characters come to life.

I can not call this a “top” character meet & greet, because we have yet to run into a character that we didn’t love.  For now, let’s just say these have been our top so far……  Let’s start with my featured image:

Joy and Sadness (Epcot):  They.  Were.  Amazing.  The time they spent with my children, the way they moved around them.  Joy was literally hopping and dancing everywhere, and Sadness told my son she adored him simply because he wore glasses, just like her.  When we left our meet and greet, they both fell to their knees in a “we’re not worthy” kind of manner” and left us all giggling for hours afterwards.  I get the best feeling when I tell the stories about our time with them.  They devoted great time to us, so much, that they earned a compliment card from us.

Sorcerer Mickey (Hollywood Studios):  The area that we met him in was truly something “Fantasmic”.  Mickey seemed truly larger than life during this character meet and greet.  Maybe it was because we came in out of a torrential downpour to see him.  Or maybe it was just the Pixie Dust that we felt had been spread over us.  Either way, Mickey was great about spending time with us and we loved meeting him.

Cinderella and Tiana (Magic Kingdom): Both of these princesses were true to their character!  They carried on conversations with us as if we were their best friends.  Cinderella talked to my son until he was practically floating away on a cloud, and even called him her “Prince Charming”.  Tiana talked to us about her mother and how we know she’s the best cook in all of N’Orleans!  She was magical, graceful, and beautiful.  When we mentioned how we would see her at her Riverboat Dessert party the following day, she told us all about how Naveen would be there too.  We loved these ladies.

Rafiki (Animal Kingdom):  Oh how we loved Rafiki!  He took mutiple pictures with our kiddos and we just loved how he signed their autograph books.  Very engaging and definitely worth our time!

O’hana Breakfast Characters (Polynesian Resort): Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, Pluto:  Maybe it was the food, or maybe it was the music.  Maybe it was the dance line.  But when these characters came around to see us at our tables, they laughed with us, did sign language, signed autograph books, and interacted with our kiddos in the perfect way.  The perfect way to start our day.

Tusker House (Animal Kingdom) Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Daisy:  Again, tremendous food, followed by characters who weaved their way into our hearts.  Daisy flirted and hugged on our boys, and Mickey was just as sweet as he could be.  Donald and Goofy played around and signed autographs, and we all were full of smiles.

Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom) and Akershus (Epcot): Divine meals while being surrounded by the princesses.  They spent so much time with us and we had opportunities for real conversations with them.  It didn’t feel rushed at all and was definitely worth the time and money, especially being inside the castle .

This is my list of our top character meet and greets.  For your opportunity to do this and more, please visit my website:  www.magical-vacations.com/debbie.lands or feel free to email me at: debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com to get your vacation planning started.  Remember that my custom quotes are free, along with all of my services.  All of our resort packages come with a complimentary Minnie Box.  Let’s create some magic today!

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

You can’t help but want to sing the lyrics when you are at Disney and you hear this famous song.  You even believe it, “my, oh, my what a wonderful day!”.  So, what exactly makes a great day at Disney?  Loved ones being there to share in the day with you, of course.  Spreading some “pixie dust” for others (good deeds such as letting someone have your spot in line, giving someone something that is special to you, or simply helping someone who is lost).  I like to find as many of these opportunities to spread some pixie dust as possible, not only because it’s good for my children to see so they know how to act as adults, but also, maybe your good deed will change the course of someone’s day for the better.

Another way of making a great day at Disney is getting to indulge in some of your favorites.  Keep in mind, these are MY personal favorites, and while I know there are some amazing things I will be leaving off of this list, I have to keep it fairly short.  So…with that being said, I’m going to list my top five things to do at each park, according to my taste.  Kind of a “if I only had one day at Disney, what would you suggest?” post.

Magic Kingdom Favorites

This is REALLY hard.  I have SO many things I could put on this list.  But, when I think of Magic Kingdom, these things come to mind:

  1.  Peter Pan’s Flight:  This ride just comes to mind when I think of Magic Kingdom.  The wait is ALWAYS long, and you will do yourself a huge favor if you are able to get a fastpass for this ride.  Hop aboard a magical ship that takes you through the famous movie scenes and truly feel as if “you can fly”.
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean:  Another ride that SMELLS and FEELS like you are truly in the movie.  The water, the darkness, the smell of the sea….admist a backdrop of magnificent ships and Captain Jack Sparrow.  This is a ride that we go on again and again.  Some days we have needed a fastpass, and others, we have been able to go right in.  Trust me, you won’t regret it!
  3. Dine like a Princess at Be Our Guest AND Cinderella’s Royal Table:  BOG is more budget friendly and you can sample “the grey stuff (it’s delicious!)”.  Snag a breakfast or lunch dining option for Quick Service, or choose a Dinner serving time for Table Service and a chance to see “The Beast”.  Or, if you are more into all of the Princesses and dining at “THE” castle at Magic Kingdom, then make your advanced dining reservations (ADR’s) at the 180 day mark out from your trip to ensure you are able to snag this coveted character table experience.  Even my youngest son loved this dining opportunity.  We had our meal at 7:20, and it ended just as the fireworks began at night.  As we left, we had nowhere to go except the front row for prime fireworks seating!  What a bonus!
  4. Main Street, USA:  What I love about this is that it is supposed to mimic Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri (my home state!).  The architecture, the shops, the quaint cafe’s and ice cream parlors all scream of days gone by and truly make you yearn for simpler times.  It is a beautiful glimpse into where he grew up and of a time that can only be re-imagined with the dreams of someone like Mr. Disney.
  5. Splash Mountain:  Without a doubt, this ride is worth your time.  One thing my family and I commented on was how long this ride was prior to the actual uphill climb towards the thrilling descent.  Lots of crazy characters that really take you back in time, to the movie “Song of the South” with the famous Br’er Rabbit.

BONUS;   Dumbo, while it typically doesn’t require a fastpass, is also one of my favorites, especially at night, for you to see all the beautiful lights at Magic Kingdom.  Finally, while you are at Magic Kingdom, you need to stop by and try their famous Dole Whips!  A refreshing pineapple creamy treat that I look forward to each trip! Finally, you MUST stay for the “Happily Ever After” fireworks special, as mentioned above!

Epcot Favorites

For me, Epcot is equally as hard.  I have always struggled between which park is my favorite, not that I have to choose, but Epcot is also a park in which I could spend two to three days of my trip just wandering around and enjoying all of the experiences that it has to offer.  With that being said…..here are my personal favorites.

  1.  Soarin:  I could ride this over and over and over again.  The sights of some of the world’s most iconic locations, the hang gliding feel of the ride, the gigantic screen, the music, and we can’t forget the smells that go along with each “stop” you make on the voyage.  You feel you are truly there.  Fastpasses are suggested for this ride, although if you get there early in the day, you could hop on.
  2. Test Track:  In the words of my son, “I’m so going to drive like this someday!”.  Test Track allows you to “build” a car, design the best features possible for not only a safe ride, but also a very fast ride.  Your car will go on multiple “tests” prior to being out in the open for the ride of your life.  This ride was simply amazing.  Fastpasses are suggested for this ride as well.
  3. Spaceship Earth:  Getting to go inside the iconic feature of Epcot, the enormous geosphere (referred to by many as a “giant golf ball”), is amazing.  I have never needed a fastpass for this ride.  Spaceship Earth takes a little jaunt through our civilization and how communication has transformed over time.
  4. The Seas with Nemo and Friends:  If you love the movie, you will love the ride.  A fastpass is typically not needed for this ride.  Journey through the seas as you go on a search for Nemo.  You truly feel that you are taking a dive!
  5. Frozen Ever After:  I must begin this with telling you that a fastpass will definitely be required for this encounter.  Even if you aren’t a fan of the movie, you will enjoy this ride.  Take a ride through Norway with some cool Audio Animatronic figures and songs and let the ride show you how “cool” being frozen can be.

BONUS  You must stay for the IllumiNations fireworks spectacular.  Also…..The. Food.  That is all.  It’s amazing.  Sample some from as many countries as your stomach can tolerate!  Finally, the countries themselves are their own attractions.  There isn’t just one that I can say we loved the most.  But one example is that while in Morocco, my daughter got some amazing henna drawn on her hand that lasted well beyond our trip.  Epcot is simply amazing.

Hollywood Studios Favorites

There is so much that I love about Hollywood Studios.  I loved walking in and seeing the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.  There are currently alot of changes going on at Hollywood Studios, and this post could very well be edited with some new favorites after our next trip this spring.  Let me hop into what my favorites were up to our last trip in 2017.

  1.  Fantasmic:  It helps to snag a fastpass for this epic firework extravaganza.  Sit down and enjoy this show that includes Mickey Mouse, fireworks, boats, ships, FIRE, and glorious scenes from dozens of Disney classic films.  There are live characters blended in with the digital projections, all taking you in and reminding you of why you love Disney so much.
  2.  Toy Story Mania:  Grab a fastpass for this ride, or arrive early to hop to this one.  Toy Story Mania is a 3D Based “game” in which you compete with the person sitting next to you to get the most points by going through several Toy Story themed rooms.  Very cute, VERY fun, and definitely worth your time.
  3. Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage: Lots of singing and dancing, in this condensed version of the movie.  Fastpasses are optional, but not usually needed.  Sit back and enjoy the songs of Beauty and the Beast, watch the characters in motion, and feel as if you have watched the entire movie all over again.
  4. MuppetVision 3D:  This may have been my son AND my husband’s favorite attraction at Hollywood Studios.  They are both HUGE Muppets fans (cmon, who doesn’t love “Kermie”).  There are bits of Muppet-type humor woven in throughout the pre-show and main feature, and it leaves you feeling a little nostalgic for the days when the Muppets were at the height of their popularity.  A fantastic attraction for the kid in you.
  5. Star Tours:  The Adventure Continues:  Calling all Star Wars fans….this ride is a MUST!  Super exciting fun and adventure awaits on this motion simulator ride.  The ride is one big adrenaline rush as you are on a fast paced track with lots of dips and swerves and turns through the Star Wars locations.  Definitely grab a fastpass for this adventure!

BONUS:  Twilight Zone Tower of Terror….My daughter and sweet friend Katie LOVED it and I know it deserves to be on this list. Jump onboard as you manuever through the Twilight Zone in this free fall thrill ride.    Also, if you have time, watch the stage show Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  It’s a nice little adventure with Ariel and friends.

Animal Kingdom Favorites

Animal Kingdom is in a world of its own.  To me, it’s a park where you really start to feel you are in another world, miles away from civilization.  Give Animal Kingdom a chance to show you all that it has to offer.  You won’t regret it!

  1.  Kilimanjaro Safari’s:  You will need a fastpass to catch this trek.  It is simply amazing, how you feel you have been transformed into the jungle.  Something only Disney can design.  The live animals, the glorious waterfalls, the “bumpy” ride that feels like you are really riding on a real safari adventure.  Remember, most animals are usually alert and active early in the morning or right before sunset.  Try to get your fastpass for those times!
  2. Avatar Flight of Passage:  The new “it” ride at AK.  Climb on the back of a banshee (which you can even feel “breathing”), and soar and glide your way through Pandora.  You will experience smells and sights like no other and the wind and water from the ocean.  Needing a fastpass isn’t even a question…it’s a must!
  3. Expedition Everest:  Amazing to see at night, where you can see all the lights that Animal Kingdom has to offer.  Expedition Everest is an amazing thrill ride that goes forwards, backwards, and you encounter a Yeti that can frighten even the toughest of people!  Hold on tight during this ride!  Fastpasses recommended, unless you can grab a spot early in the morning at park opening.
  4. Kali River Rapids:  Remember how I advised on bringing ponchos for the Florida showers that pop up out of nowhere?  You also need those ponchos for this ride unless you want to leave drenched (like my husband was!).  You never know when you will get soaked on this ride, but it’s inevitable, it will happen.  Journey through the rainforest and ruins on this whitewater rapids ride.  Try to book it for later in your day, so you don’t take the chance of being soaked for the rest of your afternoon.  Lockers are available for storage and highly recommended.  You could even sneak in a dry set of clothes.
  5. Festival of the Lion King:  This. Show.  I don’t know that there is a better show at Disney.  Acrobats, fire, animals, singers, themed costumes and larger than life characters make this a stand out performance.  I was simply in awe throughout this show.  Do it.

BONUSIt’s Tough to Be a Bug:  The cast of A Bug’s Life takes you through an interactive and educational story on insect.   Finding Nemo:  The Musical is a condensed version of the movie but so worth it.  A great mix of live actors simulating the glorious characters from the movie make you feel that you are right there in the ocean with them.  Extra songs and lots of moments that make you laugh make this show unforgettable.

That’s it!  These are a list of my personal favorites, maybe even some of yours.  If you would like to seek out another adventure at Disney or this stimulates your need to go for the first time, let me help you make that happen!  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com

Thoughts and Ideas from a Dedicated Disney Dreamer and a Specialist with Magical Vacations, LLC