Disney Parks Photo Project

Disney Parks Photo Project

Hi everyone! I wanted to share with you Disney’s newest photography blog, “The Looking Glass”. I enjoy photography and I was really excited when I discovered that Disney had recently launched this blog. The idea of the blog is to “capture the idea of the theme parks” from a new and unique perspective. Disney has hired seven different photographers to perform this task and so far they have been doing a great job. The pictures are really unique and beautiful and I highly recommend that you check it out.

Have a magical day!

xoxo – Michaela

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

For most of the year the weather in Disney World can get extremely hot. After walking for hours a great way to take a break from the heat and give your feet a rest is stopping for one of my favorite treats, ice cream! Thankfully there are numerous places throughout the parks that serve a variety of different ice cream.

Ice Cream Carts – Ice cream carts can be found in all of the parks. They typically serve the famous Mickey Mouse shaped ice cream bars and ice cream sandwiches. The carts also serve other ice cream options such as fruit popsicles.

You can never go wrong with a Mickey Ice Cream Bar!

Magic Kingdom

1) Plaza Ice Cream Parlor – This old fashioned ice cream parlor located on Mainstreet USA is a great choice for the whole family. The parlor is famous for its delicious hand-dipped cones and waffle cone sundaes. Be aware that the parlor can get crowded as the day goes on as many people like to stop here on their way out of the Magic Kingdom.

2) Storybook Treats – Storybook Treats in Fantasyland is famous for its ice cream sundaes. Sundaes served here include hot fudge cookie sundaes and the popular strawberry shortcake sundae. If you’re not craving a sundae the shop also serves milkshakes, ice cream floats, and soft serve ice cream.

3) Cheshire Café – The Cheshire Café is a great stop if you’re looking for a cool slushie. Be sure to try the raspberry lemonade slushie if you pass by the Cheshire while you’re in Fantasyland.

4) Aloha Island – Located in Adventureland, Aloha Isle is famous for the Dole Whip, a pineapple soft serve-like ice cream. The stand also serves vanilla, chocolate, and orange soft serve ice cream as well as pineapple and root beer floats. The line for this stand tends to be long as it is the only place in the park where you can purchase a Dole Whip.

5) Sunshine Tree Terrace – This quick service restaurant is famous for its citrous specialties such as the Citrus Swirl and Orange Slush. Found in Adventureland the Tree Terrace also serves classic vanilla and chocolate soft serve.

6) Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies – Located in Tomorrowland this shop offers soft serve ice cream and smoothies as well ice cream floats and sundaes.

Epcot

1) Fountain View Ice Cream – This indoor ice cream shop located in Future World is a great place to sit and cool off. The shop serves Edy’s  Ice Cream as well as other tasty snacks.

2) Africa Coolpost – Found in between the Germany and China Pavilions the Africa Coolpost offers soft serve ice cream as well as other refreshing beverages like lemonade slushies.

Hollywood Studios

1) Hollywood Scoops – Hollywood Scoops can be found on Sunset Boulevard near the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. The restaurant serves ice cream sandwiches and sundaes. Different flavors of ice cream are also served in your choice of a hand-dipped cone or cup.

2) Dinosaur Gertie’s Ice Cream – This kiosk shaped like a Dinosaur serves soft serve ice cream as well as Mickey shaped ice cream bars. You can find Gertie’s on Echo Lake.

Animal Kingdom

1) Tamu Tamu Refreshments – Treat yourself to a milkshake and burger at this stand, located in Africa. Ice cream, floats, sundaes, and fruit smoothies are also served here.

Stopping for ice cream is a great way to give yourself a break while you’re at the parks. Ice cream can get messy especially if you have young children so make sure you have napkins (you might also want to get your camera ready for a memorable ice cream photo op)! What’s you favorite ice cream to cool off with on a hot day at the parks?

Have a magical day!

xoxo – Michaela

See Your Favorite Characters on the Big Stage

The are many opportunities to see your favorite characters in the parks. There are meet and greets and character dining experiences for all guests. Another great way to see your favorite characters is in the many shows and musicals that the parks offer.

Magic Kingdom

1) Mickey’s PhilharMagic – This movie is a great choice for the whole family especially if you want to cool off for while. This 3-D film features Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse and takes you on a fun-filled trip through some of your favorite Disney films such as Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. This film, located in Fantasyland, is about 12 minutes long and runs throughout the day.

2) Dream-Along with Mickey – This show runs throughout the day in front of Cinderella’s Castle. The show celebrates the magic of dreams and is great for younger children. This show also features many characters like Mickey, Minnie, Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan, and Captain Hook. Make sure to check your Times Guide to see what times this show will be playing.

3) Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial – Learn how to be a pirate from the one and only Captain Jack Sparrow. This show invites children to take the stage with Captain Jack as he teaches them how to be a pirate. The show runs throughout the day and can be a very memorable experience for young kids. This show is located in Adventureland and runs at numerous times throughout the day.

Captain Jack Sparrow teaches young children how to be a pirate.

Captain Jack Sparrow

4) Monsters, Inc Laugh Floor – This interactive show located in Tomorrowland invites you to help Mike Wazowski power the city of Monstropolis with your laughter. This is a great show for both kids and adults and is sure to make you laugh. The show is about 15 minutes and runs continuously throughout the day.

5) Country Bear Jamboree – This 20 minute show located in Frontierland is a great show if you need to relax for a few minutes. This show features the Country Bears singing some your favorite classic country songs.

Join these singing bears and their friends in the Country Bear Jamboree!

EPCOT

1) Turtle Talk with Crush – This is show is located in the Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion and invites children to have a fun-filled discussion with Crush from Finding Nemo. Because the show revolves around your questions every show is different. Even if you’re traveling without kids this is a great show to sit in on as it is very cute and entertaining. The show is about 15 minutes long and runs throughout the day.

2) Circle of Life – This show features Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa, from The Lion King and teaches children and adults alike about human impacts on the environment. This attraction is located in the The Land Pavilion and is about 20 minutes long, running continuously throughout the day.

Hollywood Studios

1) Fantasmic – Fantasmic is a great way to see many of your favorite characters. This 25-minute fireworks and water show takes you into the imagination of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This show is only performed on select nights so check your Times Guide to see when it will be playing. Furthermore this show is extremely popular so I recommend getting to the theater, located on Sunset Boulevard, early if you want to find a good seat.

2) Lights, Motor, Action! Extreme Stunt Show – This show is about 30 minutes long and shows you how Hollywood creates its amazing car stunts. This is a fun action packed show that is great for the whole family. Be sure to be on the lookout for Lightening McQueen who likes to make an appearance during this show. This show runs a few times each day at the Backlot so be sure to check your Times Guide to see when it will be playing while you are there.

Cars perform many stunts during this action packed show!

Lights, Motor, Action shows the audience how they safely use fire when making movies.

3) Beauty and the Beast – This Broadway-style show tells the story of the beloved Disney Classic, Beauty and the Beast.  This live show is about 20 minutes long and features your favorite songs from this beloved Disney movie. It usually runs a few times each day so check your Times Guide to see which performance time works best for you. The theater is located on Sunset Boulevard near the Tower of Terror.

4) Disney Junior – Located in the Animation Courtyard, this show is great for young children. The show invites children to jump, dance, and sing along with some of their favorite characters from Disney Junior television shows like Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Little Einsteins, and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Showtimes for this attraction can vary so be sure to check your Times Guide if this is something you want to see.

5) Voyage of the Little Mermaid – One of my favorite shows, the Voyage of the Little Mermaid allows you to relive the Disney Classic through colorful puppets, live performers, special effects and movie clips. The show is about 15 minutes long and runs continuously throughout the day.

6) Star Wars: Jedi Training Academy – Kids ages 4-12 are invited to learn how to use the Force from a Jedi Master. As they train to become Jedi Knights, children will pledge the sacred Jedi-Oath and learn how to use a lightsaber. At the end of this 30 minute show the participating children get to battle Darth Vader. This show runs at various times throughout the day so check your Times Guide to see when it will be running when you are in the park. The show only allows about 15 children to participate during each show, so if you have a child who wants to participate you must get their early and your child will have to wait in line. Cast members entertain children with games while they wait.

Junior Jedi’s learn the art of the lightsaber.

Younger brother John battles Darth Vader!

7) Muppet Vision 3-D – Muppet-Vision 3-D is fun-filled comedy featuring your favorite Muppets including Kermit the Frog and Ms. piggy. This movie is located in the Backlot and has continuous 20 minute showings throughout the day.

Animal Kingdom

1) Festival of the Lion King – The Festival of the Lion King is one my favorite shows in the parks. The show is a high-energy live show featuring your favorite characters from The Lion King. This is a show for the whole family and great show to watch if you need to sit down and cool off. The show is located in an indoor theater in Camp Minnie Mickey and is approximately 30 minutes long. Check your Times Guide to see what times this show will playing at.

Simba greets guests in The Festival of the Lion King

2) Finding Nemo the Musical – Take a trip under the sea and visit Nemo and all of his friends. This performance is approximately 30 minutes long and uses large puppets and catchy songs to help tell the story Finding Nemo. The play is performed in an indoor theater located in Dinoland USA. Check your Times Guide to see what times this musical is showing.

3) It’s Tough to be a Bug – This 3-D movie is located in the Tree of Life and runs continuously throughout the day. The show is approximately 10 minutes long and invites guests to become honorary bugs as Flick and his friends from A Bugs Life show you what its like to be a bug.

Have a Magical Day!

xoxo – Michaela

Walt Disney + George Lucas = Disney’s Magical Star Wars Weekend

Walt Disney + George Lucas = Disney’s Magical Star Wars Weekend

Walt Disney + George Lucas = Disney's Magical Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend is taking place right now in Disney World! During this spectacular event, you can get an autograph from one of your favorite Star Wars characters, learn how to be a Jedi, and party at a fun, Star Wars themed event! To get specific details about the event, check out the Disney website: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/hollywood-studios/special-events/star-wars-weekend/

To experience Star Wars fun any time of the year, be sure to ride Star Tours! In this 3-D simulation ride, you fly through the galaxy as you try to keep the rebel spy housed in your ship safe so that you can defeat Darth Vader! Also, the Jedi Training Academy is a regular experience in Hollywood Studios. Taking place on the left side of Star Tours, kids ages 4-12 can take part in a 30-minute training session with Jedi Masters. Also, Princess Leia can sometimes be seen outside Tatooine Traders. Make sure you get a picture with her! For more information about Hollywood Studios, check out our previous posts: “You’re a Star: Experiencing Hollywood Studios” and “Lights, Camera, Action: Special Experiences in Hollywood Studios”. May the force be with you! ❤ Jessica

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Fantasmic! Part 1

Fantasmic!, located in Hollywood Studios, is an exciting nighttime show that is fun for visitors of all ages! Experience pyrotechnics, fountains, acrobatics, scenes from your favorite Disney movies, and all of your favorite Disney characters as you help Mickey overcome the forces of evil and restore magic to the kingdom!

Vote for Your Favorite Rollercoaster!

 

See our previous post The Fast and Furious of Disney Parks for more information on these fun rides!

The Fast and the Furious of Disney Parks

For the most part people do not think of the Disney parks as “thrill-seeker” parks. That right tends to be reserved for parks boasting quite a few colorful steel coasters that rise high into the sky (Six Flags comes to mind). Despite this the Disney parks do offer numerous rides for thrill-seekers young and old. What sets these coasters apart from your average Six Flags coaster is the detail that goes into not only the construction of the ride and the queues but also the back story presented before each coaster. I have been to numerous theme parks that boast the tallest and the fastest, but when I think about my favorite coasters I always come back to the Disney parks. Here’s a list of the roller coasters you can find at the Disney parks.

1) The Barnstormer – Newly refurbished as part of the Fantasyland expansion in the Magic Kingdom, the barnstormer takes you to the circus with the Great Goofini, a circus stunt pilot. This coaster is aimed towards younger children so if you have a child who is hesitant to go on coasters this might be a good place to start, as this coaster does not go that fast and has no terrifying drops. Height Requirement: 35 in.

2) Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Get ready for the ‘wildest ride in the wilderness’ as you board a train to an abandoned mining town. This is a great coaster to ride with your family. It’s not too fast and its outside, so if you have young children who are fear the dark Thunder Mountain is a great choice. This coaster is located in both Disneyland Park and the Magic Kingdom. Fastpass is available but depending on crowd levels you may or may not need one. Height Requirement: 40 in.

3) Goofy’s Sky School – Learn how to fly a plane with Goofy in this fun-filled coaster located in Disney’s California Adventure Park. This coaster features sharp turns and quick drops as Goofy teaches you how to fly. Fastpass is available and you may want to get one of crowds levels are extremely high. Height Requirement: 42 in.

4) Primeval Whirl – Located in Animal Kingdom this coaster allows you board a time-machine and go back to when Dino’s ruled the planet. This spinning coaster is not very fast but is boasts extremely sharp turns. The ‘time-machine’ is continually spinning and whirling in different directions meaning that each time you ride your experience will be slightly different than your previous rides. Fastpass is available for this attraction but the line are usually not too long so I doubt that you will need one unless crowd levels are extremely high. Height Requirement: 48 in.

5) Matterhorn Bobsleds – Come face to face with the abominable snowman as you climb to the summit of the Matterhorn Mountain. Built for Walt’s love of the Switzerland Matterhorn, this coaster located in Disneyland Park, features two exciting tracks (known as the Fantasyland side and the Tomorrowland side). While both tracks are equally fun the Fantasyland side features some sharper turns and is slightly longer than the Tomorrowland side.  While this coaster is pretty mild it is definitely fun for the whole family. Height Requirement: 35 in.

6) Space Mountain – Space Mountain is one of the oldest coasters in the Disney parks. On this coaster, which can be found in the Magic Kingdom and in Disneyland Park you board of rocket like vehicle  into space. This coaster is relatively mild but does feature sudden drops and turns. Furthermore this coaster is in the dark, so it may be scary to some young children. The ride differs slightly on each coast but whether you ride in California or Florida you are sure to have a great time. This ride is very popular so I would recommend getting a fastpass. Height Requirement: 44 in.

7) Expedition Everest – Board a train bound for the summit of the Forbidden Mountain in the Himalayas but beware you’ll find more than just snow and ice on your journey. This coaster located in Animal Kingdom is my favorite coaster in Disney. The ride features an 80 ft drop and goes backwards for a period of time. Depending on crowd levels this coaster can get busy fast so I recommend trying to get a fastpass. However if the wait-time is not too long I recommend using the stand-by entrance, as there is a wonderfully detailed ‘museum’ which helps depict the history and culture of the Himalayas and the people who live there. Height Requirement: 44 in.

8) Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster – This high-speed roller coaster is found in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and is not for the weak of heart. Board a super-stretch limousine and go from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds as this limo zips you through the streets of LA so that you and fellow passengers can get to the Aerosmith concert on time. This is one of my favorite coasters in Disney World. Its the fastest coaster at the resort (the second fastest attraction after Test Track) and boasts numerous flips and turns.  I recommend getting a fastpass for this attraction as it is one of the more popular rides at Hollywood Studios. Height Requirement: 48 in.

9) California Screamin‘ – Located in Disney’s California Adventure Park, this coaster is the longest and fastest coaster at Disneyland Resort. Designed to look like 1930’s wooden coaster, this steel coaster boasts twists and turns as well as an 108 ft drop. This tends to be a popular attraction so I would recommend getting a fastpass. Height Requirement: 48 in.

I hope this guide to the Disney coasters helps all of you thrill-seekers out there next time you the visit the parks.

xoxo – Michaela

The Complete Guide to Disney World Parades

As with everything involving Disney World, the parades are magical experiences not to be missed! Even if you’re not a parade person, if it definitely worth your time to see the Disney World parades, even if it is just in passing. This guide will include a complete list of the parades in all the Disney Parks and how to navigate them.

Navigating the Parades

  1. Be willing to wait. If you want to be able to sit while viewing the parade, I recommend staking out a spot 30 minutes to an hour ahead of time depending on the crowd level. However, if you are comfortable standing in the back, you will only have to wait around 15 minutes. I highly recommend finding a spot to sit if you have small children or want to take pictures without other people blocking your view. Even though an hour sounds like a long time, I usually use this time effectively by buying food from a street vendor and sitting on a curb, resting my feet. You have to take breaks sometime! Note: Please do not push to the front 10 minutes before the parade begins. That is very frustrating for guests who have been waiting an hour for that same spot!
  2. Know your start times. Near the entrance of most parks, you can find a complete schedule of events for the day. Make sure to check this so you don’t miss your favorite parade!
  3. Pick your location. Know where you want to be when you are viewing the parade. In Animal Kingdom, all parades go around the Tree of Life, beginning at Camp Minnie-Mickey. In the Magic Kingdom, parades either run from Frontierland to the Town Square, or vice versa, depending on the time of day and parade. In Hollywood Studios, parades begin at the front of the park and move towards the giant hat. If you choose a spot near the end of the parade route, you will have to wait longer. However, if you choose a spot at the beginning of the parade route, it will be difficult to move in the same direction of the parade due to the slow moving parade floats and crowds of spectators. Think of the surroundings you want when viewing the parade, especially in the Magic Kingdom. I personally find parades more magical with the Town Square or Liberty Square as the background in comparison to rustic, country feel of Frontierland. There are also special sections set aside during the parades for guests with disabilities. Ample space for wheelchairs is available and translators are provided to interpret the music lyrics into sign language.

Magic Kingdom Parades

  • Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade is my favorite parade in Disney World. Featuring all of your favorite characters, including the princesses on a giant crystal castle, this is the most magical Disney parade! The catchy music for this parade adds to the magical atmosphere.

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  • The Main Street Electrical Parade takes place at night immediately before The Magic, The Memories, and You! and Wishes Fireworks Spectacular. If you plan to stay for either of the two following experiences, I recommend you stake out a spot where you have a good view of the castle before this parade starts. This parade will be easily visible as it involves floats and characters completely covered with lights! This is a classic parade from my childhood that was brought back a few years ago.

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  • Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party takes place in front of the castle. Some of your favorite characters including Sebastian from The Little Mermaid and Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast travel on large ‘party boxes’ encouraging guests to dance! The music for this parade makes you want to move!

Hollywood Studios Parades

  • Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun is a great parade that includes all your favorite Pixar characters from movies including A Bug’s Life, Toy Story, and The Incredibles! The music is very catchy, repeating the saying “5, 4, 3, 2, Fun!” Young children will love this!

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Animal Kingdom Parades

  • Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade is a great parade that keeps with the rustic and tribal themes of the park. This parade includes favorite characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy) riding in safari style vehicles! In addition, this parade includes amazing animal puppets, tribal drummers, and stiltwalkers! This interactive parade will delight all lovers of the Animal Kingdom!

I hope that you find this post helpful! Note that Disney World parades change periodically and I will edit this article to accommodate for that. Also, there are several seasonal parades which will be covered during the upcoming posts about spending the holidays in Disney World! Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica

Go Green! Finding Healthy, Vegetarian Food in Disney World

As I have been a vegetarian for 8 years, whenever I visit an area which I am unfamiliar with I have trouble finding great places that offer vegetarian friendly cuisine! While many places in Disney do offer a wide variety of options, there are several places which do not offer anything except meat. When I am tired and hungry, I do not want to wander around trying to find a place that sells something other than turkey legs! I hope this post helps the few vegetarian Disney fans who need help finding food!

These restaurants either have no or limited options for vegetarians: Casey’s Corner (MK), Golden Oak Outpost (MK), The Lunching Pad (MK), Electric Umbrella Restaurant (Epcot), Sommerfest (Epcot), Liberty Inn (Epcot), Backlot Express (HS), Starring Rolls Café (HS), Fairfax Fare (HS), Flame Tree Barbeque (AK), Restaurantosaurus (AK), Tamu Tamu Refreshments – Harambe (AK), Yak & Yeti Local Foods Café (AK), Pollo Capero (DD), Fresh A-Peel (DD)

MK = Magic Kingdom, HS = Hollywood Studios, AK = Animal Kingdom, DD = Downtown Disney

Recommendations:

1. La Cantina de San Angel in the Mexico Pavilion (Epcot) offers delicious cheese empanadas with guacamole, corn tortilla chips, and salsa verde. This delectable option is filled with carbs and protein to give you extra energy to explore the park!

2. Tony’s Town Square in the Magic Kingdom offers a great variety of salads and meatless pasta dishes.

3.Restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco (Epcot) offers delicious vegetarian dishes including cous cous with seven vegetables and Moroccan jasmina salad!

4. The 50’s Prime Time Café has a delicious caesar salad option that is on the larger side to keep you full until your next meal! You also have the option to top this with salmon for extra protein. Also, they offer multigrain spaghetti with vegetarian meatballs.

Many of the menus for Disney restaurants can be found on the official Walt Disney World website: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/

Of course, these are just a few of the great variety of options that are available to vegetarians in the Disney Parks. Let me know if you have any favorite vegetarian spots or have any questions! Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica

Lights, Camera, Action: Special Experiences in Hollywood Studios

1. The American Idol Experience allows you to be the star! Disney guests (ages 14 and older) can audition in front of a ‘casting director’ who determines whether they continue in the competition. If you are able to continue, you will perform in front of a producer, choosing from a list of songs and singing with a prerecorded track. If the producer allows you to continue, you will sing in one of the preliminary shows during the day. You are able to perform on a replica of the American Idol stage and sing in front of a live audience! The audience determines which three performers continue into the final round. The winner of the final round receives a ‘Dream Ticket’ which allows them to go to the front of the line at the real American Idol auditions. Even if you don’t want to audition, it is fun to watch and root for the performers! See the photo below for a complete list of possible audition songs.

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This image was taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:American_Idol_Experience_sign.png

2. Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage is a great show for princesses at heart! This mini-musical is the abbreviated version of the great Disney film and includes beautiful costumes, amazing musical talent, and a great cast of actors! At only 30 minutes in length, this is the perfect length for a quick break. I always like to bring food into the outdoor auditorium so that I can save time by eating lunch while I enjoy the show.

3. Voyage of the Little Mermaid, like Beauty on the Beast – Live on Stage, is a mini-Broadway musical type experience. The line for this show can get fairly long, so plan ahead. This magical spectacle lasts approximately 20 minutes and is in a air-conditioned theater which is great for hot summer days! If your child loves Ariel, this is a must see attraction!

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Let me know what your experiences have been in Hollywood Studios! Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica