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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If you are planning a Disney vacation in the near future, be sure to check out these tips that will help you plan your Epcot visit! Please comment on the post if you have any questions or any topic requests for future blog posts.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Disney

Epcot is my favorite park because there are so many things to explore! The list below compiles only a few of my favorite special experiences in Epcot.

1. Turtle Talk with Crush, located in The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion, is a wonderful interactive experience for young children. As an adult, I marvel over the technology needed to make this attraction possible! Young children are invited to sit on a special patch of carpet in the front of the room while benches are available for older visitors to watch. There is a large screen in the front of the room, depicting an underwater scene. Crush, the sea turtle from Finding Nemo, appears onscreen and begins to interact with the kids. Crush is able to answer specific questions from the children and even makes jokes about things that are happening in the room! This attraction is both a novelty experience for…

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Check out the new changes to the fast pass system!

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Disney

For the milestone first blog post, I thought that it would be beneficial to provide a quick overview of how to navigate Walt Disney World efficiently. These tips will make your experience more enjoyable and can save you hours of wait time!

1. If possible, you should always stay in a Disney World Resort hotel. Not only are the themes of each resort fun and kid-friendly, but the prices are reasonable and resorts are conveniently located to the four main sections of the park. If you stay at a Disney Resort, you are able to attend the parks during “Extra Magic Hours.” In these special times, always before the park opens or after the parks closes for regular visitors, only the residents of the Disney Hotels are allowed in the park. This eliminates the overwhelming crowds and allows you to enjoy the park sans unbearable wait times.

2. Always…

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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!

Make Your Memories: Photo Opportunities in the Parks

One of the best things about a Disney vacation is that you get to make memories with your friends or family that will last a lifetime! To preserve these memories, make sure you take pictures to capture the fun times you had in the parks. In this post, I will name a few of my favorite spots in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot to create a memorable family picture and to make a memory of the Disney magic!

Magic Kingdom

  • As you approach Cinderella’s castle from behind, take a path to the right. You will find Cinderella’s fountain, a beautiful spot for a photo opportunity! The fountain includes a bronze-like sculpture of Cinderella holding a bird. If you move directly in front of the statue, crouch down a little bit and look up, you will see a crown on Cinderella’s head! At any other angle, the crown is simply part of decorative painting behind the sculpture, but at the right angle, Cinderella becomes a princess!
  • Are you the next great ruler? Find out by trying the Sword in the Stone in Fantasyland outside the carousel. This photo opportunity appeals to boys as well as girls, something that can be difficult to find in the land of Cinderella’s Castle! For more boy-friendly photo spots, check out Tomorrowland or Frontierland!
  • When you approach the castle from the front of the park, you will see a small bridge on your left side that leads to the entrance of Adventureland. Midway through this bridge, you will have a beautiful, unimpeded view of the castle that is perfect for pictures! You will not have to worry about the stage or other visitors disrupting the view! This is particularly beautiful at night when the castle is changing colors.

Epcot

  • Near the Italy Pavilion, there is a small, curved bridge on the path between the pavilions and the lake. If you stand on this bridge, you can get a great picture of your family with the World Showcase in the background!
  • If you enter the Mexico Pavilion, you will find a stall in the ‘street’ that sells large, colorful sombreros. If you put these on, this makes for a fun, goofy, family photo!
  • Keeping with the hat theme, if you stand in front of the arch in the China Pavilion, you will see a stall that sells the conical Asian hats. You can put these on and stand in front of the large arch for a great family photo that demonstrates the change in traditions throughout the countries when compared to the photo from Mexico.

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  • In both the England and Canada Pavilions, you can find the red phone booths that are traditional props in the pictures of world travelers! These phone booths are actually functional and one of them even holds a secret clue in the Kim Possible Adventure!

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  • In Morocco, there is a beautiful fountain in front of the pavilion. I like to sit on the fountain to take a great group photo! Also, the orange flowers in this pavilion smell great!

Of course, these are only a few of the very many wonderful photo opportunities in Disney World! It is such a magical place, every moment captured is a beautiful memory! To check out the places where you can get pictures with your favorite characters, read our previous post. Keep reading to find out more of my favorite photo spots in the rest of the parks. What are some of your favorite photo spots? Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica

Mickey Waffles: Magical Cuisine

Mickey waffles are one of my favorite foods offered in Disney World. They can be purchased at all of the Disney Resorts and at most restaurants in the parks that serve breakfast. They come with either bacon or strawberry preserves, but I usually forgo both for extra syrup and butter! Mickey waffles are both a great start to a day in the parks and a way to bring the magic of Disney into your home!

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Whenever I miss Disney World, nothing cheers me up like making a batch of Mickey waffles! Michaela and I own a Disney character waffle iron which makes six mini waffles in the shapes of Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy. We make them several times a week! They’re delicious!

What do you do to bring Disney magic into your home? Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica

11 Countries, 1 Park

One of the reasons I love Epcot is because of the World Showcase. The World Showcase is a showcase of 11 of the various cultures, cuisine, and histories of some of the globe’s many nations. Walking through the different pavilions is a great way for families young and old to experience and learn about the many nations and cultures of the world. Each pavilion has different options for dining and shopping as well as attractions that are both entertaining and informative.

Mexico – The Mexico Pavilion offers two different dining experiences. The San Angel Inn is located inside the pavilion’s Aztec temple and offers traditional Mexican cuisine for both lunch and dinner. La Hacienda de San Angel is located across from the Aztec temple and offers zesty Mexican meals. The restaurant is open for dinner and offers great views of the World Showcase Lagoon. If Mexican food is not your favorite the Mexico Pavilion itself is not to be missed. Step inside the Aztec temple a discover authentic Mexican goods such as pottery, baskets, jewelry, and more. Don’t forget to visit Donald and his friends on the Gran Fiesta Tour. This relaxing boat ride attraction takes you on a trip with Donald as he explores the different parts of Mexico. Art enthusiasts should check out the Mexican Folk Art Gallery to view beautiful Mexican woodcarvings and bright artwork.

Norway – The Norway Pavilion is one of my favorites. Make sure to take a ride  Maelstrom, a boat ride into the history and legends of Norway. Norway is also home to Akershus, a royal banquet hall that  features character dining with some of the Disney princesses. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and offers a taste of Norway with dishes that are sure to satisfy the whole family. This is a very popular restaurant so I recommend getting and advanced dining reservation if you want to eat here. If all you need is a quick snack stop by the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe which serves coffee and a variety of pastries. Visit the Stave Church to view collection of authentic Norse weapons and artifacts. The Norway pavilion also features an array of shops that highlight Norway’s unique culture.

China – The China Pavilion offers a glimpse into one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Reflections of  China is a short film presented in circle-vision 360 that takes you on a journey to some of China’s most notable landmarks such as the Great Wall. Visit the pavilions art gallery where some of China’s great artistic achievements are available for viewing. The Nine Dragons Restaurant offers a variety of Chinese dishes including noodles and specialty seafood meals for both lunch and dinner. The Lotus Blossom Cafe is a quick service meal option that focuses on Asian dishes. Like all of the nations represented in the World Showcase, China has numerous shops selling authentic Chinese goods.

Germany – The Germany Pavilion is home to one of my favorite restaurants: the Biergarten. At the Biergarten you will dine on traditional German dishes such as different sausages and spaetzle while musicians provide traditional Oktoberfest entertainment throughout lunch and dinner. Sommerfest is a quick service option in the pavilion that offers well-known German dishes like bratwurst. Don’t forget to look through some of the shops in the pavilion. For a quick treat I recommend getting some caramel from Werther’s Karamell Küche!

Italy – The Italy Pavilion is a beautiful pavilion with architecture reminiscent of the city of Venice. The Italy Pavilion offers two sit-down restaurants. Via Napoli celebrates the fine dining of Southern Italy, serving authentic  Neapolitan pizzas and delicious pastas. Tutto Italia Ristorante offers traditional Italian meals featuring handmade mozzarella and pasta. Take a walk around the pavilion and  indulge yourself in some Italian candies! Throughout the day musicians, clowns, and acting troupes perform in the Piazza.

America – The American pavilion allows you to take a glimpse into our nation’s rich history as it immerses you into a colonial-like environment. The American Adventure takes you on a trip through the history of America using patriotic music and audio-animatronics. Be sure to see to the Voices of Liberty or the Fife and Drum Corps to listen to classic American tunes. The Liberty Inn Restaurant is a quick service dining restaurant that serves American favorites such as hamburgers and hot dogs. The America Garden Theater features different live shows and musical performances throughout the year so be sure to check your times guide to see if anything is playing while you are there.

Japan – In the Japan Pavilion you can take a stroll through a traditional Japanese garden featuring a beautiful array of ponds, trees, and shrubbery. The Japan Pavilion is also home to Teppan Edo, a restaurant in which Japanese chefs cook your meal right in front of you!  Tokyo Dining is another dining option that serves traditional Japanese dishes. Both of these restaurants are open for lunch and dinner. Throughout the day Miyuki, a Japanese candy maker, entertains those young and old as she makes traditional Japanese candy in front of you. Art lovers should check out the Bijutsu-kan Gallery for a glimpse into Japanese art.

Morocco – In Morocco Pavilion you can eat at Restaurant Marrakesh, which offers some delicious traditional meals from North Africa for lunch and dinner. Throughout the day Mo’Rockin, a six person musical group, blends music from across the globe for a fun-filled show that will delight the whole family. Be sure to check out the shops of this pavilion for authentic goods such as woven belts and brass pots.

France – My favorite pavilion in World Showcase places you on the streets of Paris, with a view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. There are two sit down restaurants in the pavilion. The first Les Chefs de France, open for lunch and dinner is a casual brasserie featuring French favorites. The second restaurant Bistro de Paris is slightly more upscale and is open for dinner only. It features traditional French meals and wines. This restaurant tends to be very popular so it is recommended that you try to get an advanced dining reservation. One of my favorite things to do in the France pavilion is stop by the bakery and pick up some bread and cheese for a quick lunch. Don’t forget to check out the French market for goods such as wine, soaps, and cosmetics.

United Kingdom – In the United Kingdom you can dine on English favorites at The Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room. There is also a quick service dining place across the street that serves typical English food such as fish and chips. Also be sure to check out the World Showcase Players, a hilarious improv  group who perform throughout the day. Check your times guide to find out when they will be performing. There are also quite a few shops that sell merchandise ranging from British teas to athletic gear.

Canada – In the Canada Pavilion take a  journey into this country in O Canada!, a film presented in circle-vision 360. Le Cellier Steakhouse is a popular dining option for many. Open for lunch and dinner the restaurant focuses on the cuisine of the different provinces of Canada. This restaurant is extremely popular so I highly recommend getting and advanced dining reservation if you wish to eat here.

Tips for Navigating the World Showcase:

1) Be aware that the World Showcase tends to open later than the rest of the park. So check out the other great parts of EPCOT before heading over to the Showcase.

2) If you have young children and are thinking of skipping the showcase for fear that they will not appreciate it, fear not. In each nation there is a Kidcot Fun Stop. These areas target young children allowing them to interact with cast members from other countries and do crafts that represent the culture of each country.

3)Another great option for kids is the Kim Possible Spy Game, which is soon going to be converted to feature Agent P (Perry), from Phineas and Ferb, instead of Kim Possible. This interactive game gives kids which allows them to travel to each pavilion and help  solve a mystery.

4) If this is your first time visiting Disney and you have young children, Epcot and the World Showcase is a great park to start at because the park is pretty laid back. Furthermore some young children might feel that Epcot is a step down after experiencing the Magic Kingdom. However this is just a suggestion.

5) The World Showcase is a great way to meet Disney characters. Check your times guide to see which characters will be making appearances in each country.

6) Don’t rush through the nations! Stop and take a look around you. Each nation has beautiful buildings that represent the architecture found in each country. Try and appreciate the little things that Disney does to make you feel like you are really walking through the streets of Paris or strolling through a Japanese Garden.

Hope this has helped you become more aware of the different and exciting things to do in Epcot’s World Showcase

Have a magical day!

xoxo – Michaela

Secrets of the Magic Kingdom: Kiss Goodnight

To see the “Kiss Goodnight,” wait approximately 30 minutes to an hour after the Magic Kingdom is closed. If there are Extra Magic hours for the Magic Kingdom park, the “Kiss Goodnight” will appear after them. This is a great way to end your trip to Disney World. The castle sparkles, magical music is played, and Mickey even will say a special goodbye to you! However, make sure to get to the bus stop immediately after the show so that you don’t miss the last bus!

Disney Hotels on a Budget

At the Walt Disney World Resort, there are many hotels with various themes and price points. In this post, I will cover the “Value Hotels” that can be found at Disney World. While other hotels may have bigger rooms and nicer restaurants, I personally believe that staying in the value hotels is a great option! When you are at Disney World, you will be spending the vast majority of your time exploring the parks. You will probably only be in your hotel to sleep! I’d rather spend my money buying food or souvenirs in the parks than on an extravagant hotel. Every value resort features a large dining hall/food court, at least one themed pool, an arcade, gift shop, and fun decorations and themes! When booking your vacation, you can choose between preferred and standard rooms. Preferred rooms, while being slightly more expensive, are slightly closer to the main building and bus stops and generally have nicer views.

  • The All-Star Movies Resort features great Disney movies including Toy Story, Fantasia, 101 Dalmations, Love Bug, and Mighty Ducks. When purchasing Disney vacation packages, the cheapest option usually is the All-Star Movies Resort. This is because it is generally the last stop on your bus ride back from the parks, which can be very frustrating when you are tired at the end of the day. There are several different buildings on the premises, each featuring a theme from one of the aforementioned movies. There are two pools, one themed after Fantasia and the other like the Mighty Ducks. Depending on the time of year, it costs roughly $85 – $150 a night and each room can fit four guests.

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  • All-Star Music Resort, similar to the Movies Resort, costs around $80 – $150 a night for a room that fits four. When taking the bus back from the parks, All-Star Music is the second to last stop, right before All-Star Movies. This resort features several buildings themed after various types of music, including jazz, calypso, Broadway musical, country, and rock. There are two pools, one which is Calypso-themed and another which is shaped like a piano. Until the recently opened Art of Animation resort, the All-Star Music Resort was the only value resort to have 6-person family suites, costing $198 – $355 a night depending on time of year.
  • All-Star Sports Resort, last of the All-Star resorts, features various buildings with sports themes, including basketball, football, baseball, tennis, and surfing. There are two pools with surfing and baseball themes. Rooms for this resort cost $80 – $150 a night.
  • Pop Century Resort, more conveniently located than the All-Star resorts, costs $90 – $160 a night, depending on the season. There are several buildings featuring the different decades: 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. There are three pools located in this resort.
  • Art of Animation Resort recently opened in 2012. The entire resort is made up of family suites that fit up to 6 guests. The rooms cost $250 – $350 a night, depending on the season. Each suite is themed after a Disney animated movie, including Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. There are three pools located in this resort. Each room contains two bathrooms, a master bedroom, and three sleeping areas, including a convertible dining table.

What have your experiences been with Disney’s Value Resorts? Keep checking for posts about Disney’s Moderate and Deluxe Resorts! Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica

Living the Magic: Reasons to Stay in Walt Disney World Resort Hotels

Staying in a magical resort helps maintain the sense that you are living in the happy ‘Disney bubble’ and are isolated from the stressful, outside world. Here are a few reasons why it makes sense to stay in a Disney World Resort hotel:

  • When you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort, you can attend the park during exclusive Extra Magic Hours, which are hours before or after the park opens/closes for regular visitors. The lines will be much shorter and you will not have to push through bustling crowds. This is a great advantage that allows you to make the most of your Walt Disney World vacation!
  • Transportation to and from parks is available when staying at a Disney hotel. There will be several bus stops outside the lobby of the hotel and buses will arrive approximately every 20 minutes to take you to your desired location.
  • Transportation to and from airport is also provided. When booking your vacation, you only need to provide your flight information and the Disney staff will send a bus to pick you up and take you directly to your hotel. Also, they will handle your luggage and place it in your hotel room. It is completely hassle free!
  • If you are shopping while in the parks and you do not want to carry your purchases with you for the rest of the day, you can have your purchases sent to your room. This is very convenient! All you have to do is fill out a short form that the cashier will give you, and they will take care of the rest! However, make sure that you allow at least a full day for the items to arrive. Do not have this done on your last day in the park, otherwise you may not receive your purchases in time.
  • When you stay in a Disney hotel, especially when you have children, the maids will arrange your belongings in fun arrangements, which will delight children and adults alike! When I was a child, I bought a husky stuffed animal in Canada, and the maid arranged it so it was posing with toothbrushes like light sabers! Your towels will also be shaped in the profile of Mickey Mouse, and, during the holidays, festive towel decorations will be placed in your window!

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  • In general, the scenery, food options, and recreation options are wonderful Some of the best restaurants in the park are located in the resorts. The Grand Floridian is home to Victoria and Albert’s, an AAA 5 Diamond Rated restaurant, and the Beach Club Resort offers an ice cream dish so big that it fills a real kitchen sink! All of the resorts have themes, including movies, the beach, and rustic wilderness. All value resorts have a pool, arcade, and gift shop. Other resorts offer bike and boat rentals, hiking trails, movie night events, dinner shows, spas, fitness centers, fishing trips, and many more fun options, depending on the resort.
  • All of the hotels have been certified to be environmentally friendly, so you are supporting an organization that helps save the environment!
  • While the deluxe hotels can be extremely pricey, you can stay in a Value Resort for a very price competitive cost! Depending on the season and type of room, value resorts cost between $85 and $140 a night for a room that sleeps four.

I hope that these tips helped! Feel free to share your personal experiences staying in Disney hotels! Keep checking the blog for posts outlining the specific resorts. Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica