When visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland, it is important to dress comfortably. After all, odds are that you will be on your feet for several hours during the day, often carrying purchases or other items. Also, during the summer, the heat can be overwhelming. It is important to dress comfortably and practically. Although it can be tempting to wear a cute outfit that looks good in pictures, I can guarantee that you will regret that choice after a few hours in the parks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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!
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.
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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!
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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
Downtown Disney, although not officially a Disney Theme Park, is a great area to shop, eat, and be entertained! Home to the largest Disney store on Earth, Downtown Disney is a great place to take the kids during the day and to have a blast with the adults at night!
- Paradiso 37, Taste of the Americas, true to its name, offers a large variety of foods from North, Central, and South America. The bright seasoning and creative presentation make this restaurant pop! From corn dogs to enchiladas, everyone can find something they like! Try to make a reservation as this restaurant can be busy.
- Planet Hollywood is shaped like a large model of the Earth and is filled with Hollywood memorabilia. The menu offers traditional American food, like burgers and New York Strip Steak. The planetarium-like ceiling creates a great ambiance to this classic American restaurant. Be sure to either make a reservation or be prepared for a wait because, depending on the time of day, this restaurant can be packed!
- Rainforest Café creates a rainforest inside of a restaurant, complete with animals, plants, and realistic sounds. Sometimes a storm hits, and the lights will flash, simulating lightning, and you will hear thunder! This is a great place to bring kids, both because of the fun environment and the child-friendly food. The menu includes burgers, sandwiches, seafood, pasta, pizza, and salad. An additional Rainforest Café restaurant is located in Animal Kingdom.
- Disney’s Candy Cauldron is one of my favorite places in Downtown Disney, second only to the World of Disney. In this fun shop, you can fill out a form to create your own candy treat! You choose from a candy apple, Mickey-shaped crispy rice treat, or marshmallow stick. Then, you get to pick the dip (milk, white, or dark chocolate), toppings (coconut, almonds, Reese’s, sprinkles, etc.), and drizzle (milk, white, or dark chocolate). The employees are very friendly and will make your order ASAP! There are also pre-made treats to buy in the store. I always get a caramel apple to take home with me…it’s delicious!
- World of Disney is the largest Disney store in the world! My favorite part of this store is the princess area where there are different sections for each princess, featuring costumes, wigs, tiaras, toys, and other products specific to that princess. There is also a jewelry section with a large selection of jewelry for every price point! I bought a silver Tinkerbell necklace there in the summer of 2011 and haven’t taken it off since! Other sections include men’s and women’s clothing, trading pins, collectibles, and souvenirs. This store is also a great place to take pictures! Outside of the entrance are two life-sized statues of Cinderella and Aurora. Your little princess will love to pose with them!
- Lego Imagination Center is an amazing store including a large selection of Lego merchandise along with a large Lego play area. The Lego sculptures surround the building are breathtaking! Make sure to get a pictures along side the Lego versions of Snow White, the Lochness Monster, and the dragon-form of Malificent!
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, located in the World of Disney store, is a salon where girls (ages 3 -12) can be transformed into their favorite princess. They can get their hair, nails, and makeup done and be dressed head to toe in the outfit that their favorite character wears! I wish this had been around when I was a child…I would have loved it! For boys, there is a Knight Package, which includes hairstyling and a sword ($14.95). The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is also located inside Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom. (For more dress-up experiences, see The Pirates League in the Magic Kingdom.)
Coach Package (hair and makeup): $49.95
Crown Package (hair, makeup, and nails): $54.95
Castle Package (hair, makeup, nails, full costume, and pictures): $189.95
- Disney’s Design-a-Tee is a wonderful store that allows you to create your own t-shirt to remember your trip! You choose the color, design, and text on the shirt and it will be made to your exact specifications! If you plan on doing this, make sure you visit Downtown Disney before your last day. When it is busy, it often takes hours for your shirts to be made. I like to get them sent to my hotel room so I don’t have to worry about waiting.
- Bongos Cuban Café, created by Gloria Estefan, recreates a 1950’s Havana Nightclub! This is a great place for the adults to unwind after a busy day at the parks. This restaurant offers delicious traditional Cuban Cuisine, including delicacies such as paella and flan, and fun cocktails! Make sure to make a reservation as this place fills up fast!
- House of Blues has both delicious food and amazing entertainment! This live music club offers up traditional Cajun and Southern food, including jambalaya, burgers, pizza, and steaks. On Sundays, there is a brunch buffet while amazing gospel groups serenade you. Any day of the week you can find great up-and-coming performers on the stage playing music in a variety of styles. Don’t miss out!
- Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba is a show from the famous theater troupe, exclusive to Walt Disney World! This avant-garde circus spectacular includes amazing acrobats from across the globe. As ‘La Nouba’ means ‘to party’ the performances are fun, bright, and energetic! This is a great way to introduce your children to the arts!
- DisneyQuest is a Disney interactive gaming center for video-game lovers. Many of the interactive, 3-D games are replicas of actual rides in the Disney Parks! All five floors are filled with fun, amazing technology for you and your children to enjoy. Admissions price is $43.
- Characters in Flight is a large hot air balloon, adorned with images of your favorite characters, in which you can oversee all of Disney World from 400 feet in the air. While it is pricy (Adults: $18, Children: $12) the view is worth it!
What are some of your favorite attractions in Downtown Disney? Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica
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
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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
When visiting Disney World, you have be prepared for hot days, tired feet, hungry kids, and other minor issues. While you want to bring everything you might need into the park with you, you don’t want to have to carry a heavy bag around with you all day. The small drawstring bags that you can find in any store (Walmart has them for under $5) are perfect to bring to the parks as they fit a surprisingly large about of things and the straps go over both shoulders, distributing the weight and making sure you don’t get as tired. Here are a few things you should always have with you in Disney World:
1. Comfortable shoes. This seems like an obvious rule, but I have seen so many teenagers tripping in heels and men limping in oxford-style shoes. On an average day in Disney, you could easily walk several miles. Don’t dress for fashion: wear tennis shoes or comfortable flip-flops. I usually buy some sort of shoe cushioning before my trip otherwise I can’t walk by the end of the day! If you choose to wear flip flops, make sure the thong of the shoe is wide and made of a soft material. I made the mistake of wearing a pair of Old Navy flip flops during a day in Epcot and had flip-flop shaped cuts in the top of my foot to prove it! Also, always keep a few bandaids and a tube of Neosporin in your bag in case of a blister.
2. Always keep a small tube of sun screen in your bag at all times. Of course, you should lotion up before you even leave for the parks, but it is nice to have a mini-sized tube as a back up. Sun burn can be very uncomfortable and your skin may not be used to the hot Florida sun, making it more susceptible to damage. On the same note, keep a pair of sunglasses in your bag as the bright sun can restrict your sight and damage your eyes. On my last trip to Disney World, I forgot my pair of sunglasses and was forced to buy an overpriced pair from the resort.
3. In Disney, you will be creating moments with family and friends that you will remember forever! Always have a camera with you to capture them. Don’t bother bringing a fancy professional camera with you…that will only weigh you down. I always bring a small digital camera, or even a disposable camera to take pictures of my vacation!
4. In Disney World, there are so many things to do, including riding your favorite attractions, seeing great shows and parades, and meeting your favorite characters! Being so busy, you can sometimes lose track of time and eat infrequently or unhealthily. As I mentioned earlier, you do a lot of walking in Disney World! When you exert so much energy, you have to eat fairly regularly to keep your blood sugar from dropping. The food sold at the stands around the parks is extremely overpriced and there are often long lines. I always try to keep a protein bar and a water bottle with me at all times. On one of my past trips, I was having so much fun that I forget to eat and ended up passing out in the park! Luckily, my friend found a Cast Member and the Disney paramedics got a wheel chair and help me get back to my hotel. This experience ruined a whole day in the parks for both me and my party and could have been easily avoided by bringing a few choice snacks along!
5. Always have cash with you. While I don’t recommend having large quantities of it with you at a time for safety reasons, it is always good to have $20 in case of an emergency. When I visit Disney, my bank always shuts down my card. All Disney World transactions run through Disney headquarters in California, which is a very common state for credit card fraud. My bank automatically shuts down the card if there is any transaction shown in California. Needless to say, the first time this happened, it put me in an awkward position. Thankfully, my friend paid for me until I was able to get in touch with my bank, but without her help, I would not have been able to pay for food all day! If your credit card gets shut down, stolen, or lost, it is absolutely necessary to have a back up form of payment, especially in a place like Disney where you have to pay for a lot of different items.
I hope you find these tips helpful! Have you had any Disney disaster stories like the ones I shared in the post? What are your essentials on your Disney vacation? Have a magical day! ❤ Jessica