In Magic Kingdom? Avoid the PeopleMover!

There’s been much too much love shared among Disney fans on social media, in blog posts, and on podcasts  for Tomorrowland’s PeopleMover attraction.  Way too much effusive praise.  I feel the need to warn you away.  Don’t listen to the hype, I say!  Why?  Well, if you’ve never ridden the PeopleMover, now’s not the time to try it.

In Magic Kingdom? Avoid the PeopleMover!

Let me give you the five best reasons to mark this attraction off your to-do list…

  1.  You’re afraid of heights.  You’re pretty high up on this ride – at times, on the very edge of the track even.  It’s straight down if something goes wrong.  Better not chance it.
  2. You like clean air.  You’d think that a birds-eye view of Magic Kingdom would be refreshing, right?  Nope!  The exhaust fumes from the Tomorrowland Speedway are toxic!  You’ll have a difficult time breathing, trust me.
  3. You’re a thrill ride junkie!  No thrills here.  PeopleMover is a total snooze-fest.  A boring, narrated, slow-moving tour of Tomorrowland’s sights and attractions.  You want thrills in this section of the park?  You’ll want Space Mountain or Stitch’s Great Escape, for sure.
  4. You (or any member of your party) are afraid of the dark.  Your ride vehicle will enter tunnels of complete and total darkness.  Like can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face pitch blackness.  And not in a thrilling way.  It’s boring and uneventful…unless it’s your biggest fear, then it will be horrible.
  5. You want to be cool.  This ride is for dorks and geeks.  Cool kids do not ride the PeopleMover.  It’s the last place you’d ever want to be caught if you want people to think you’re worldly and hip.

So, if you’ve been here before you know that I’m always completely honest, right?  I give you my opinions in a straight forward, no-nonsense way and I can’t lie to you now.  I love the PeopleMover!  It’s the only must-do Tomorrowland attraction for me on every visit.  I’ve taught my entire family to appreciate and adore this wonderful ride as much as I do, but too many people have started to notice its awesomeness!

It’s getting too popular.  Where we used to walk on no matter the season or time of year, we’ve recently started to have to wait in line.  Sometimes for as long as 20 minutes!  I don’t like this development and want you to pass up PeopleMover so those of us who love it the most can have it to ourselves.  Am I asking too much?  I don’t think so.  Re-read the list of reasons to avoid the PeopleMover, take them to heart, and keep on walking, okay?  Please?

Holler if you love PeopleMover!!!!

Disney’s Pandora – Thoughts on Na’vi River Journey

When I’m at Walt Disney World, I talk to strangers.  Lots of times, strangers talk to me.  It’s kind of a joke in our family and after all these years, is rather expected.  I think conversations strike up easily in queues and shops and on Disney transportation because I look happy all the time when I’m at Disney World.  (In real life I’m pretty sure my usual RBF is a bit off-putting.)  No matter the reason for all the chitchat, on our last visit I asked a bunch of people what their thoughts were about Pandora and the two attractions there.  Let’s talk about Disney’s newest boat ride!

Disney’s Pandora – Thoughts on Na’vi River Journey

Pandora’s boat ride encompasses most of what you’d expect – dark, cool, bunch of clever details, animatronic figure, interesting sounds/background noises.  What it lacks is a story.  The ride is a tour of Pandora at night.  And that’s pretty much it.

When Megan and I took our one and only Na’vi River Journey, I kept pointing to all the things I recognized from Avatar (the movie).  Used to my tendencies, Meg did not complain, but politely indulged in my need to redirect her attention by back-handing her in the arm and whispering “look!” every few seconds about something I found super interesting.  She’d smile and nod.  She loves her mom a lot, I can tell.

Anyway, after the ride was over, I had the opportunity later to ask a few people here and there if they’d ridden Na’vi River Journey and what they thought about it.  I asked people in line for Festival of the Lion King, in the loooooong queue for Flight of Passage, and anyplace else I could start a friendly conversation without seeming creepy. The results of my casual poll were this:  Those who’d seen Avatar tended to like the new boat ride well enough.  Those who’d never seen Avatar mostly thought the River Journey was meh.  Here’s where the lack of a story hurts this attraction, I think.

All that being said…if you want to maximize your enjoyment of Pandora, and Na’vi River Journey in particular, try to catch Avatar before you go.  Even if you don’t care for the movie, you’ll at least be able to recognize and hopefully appreciate all the work the Imagineers put in to recreating Pandora.

Have you been to Pandora?  Did you see Avatar before you went?  Did you think being familiar with Pandora helped you enjoy it more?

Disney Changes…Even Mickey Mouse

Of all of the 2017 D23 Expo announcements, there were a couple that stood out as causing the most mixed feelings among my fellow Disney fans.  One is the upcoming addition of an E-ticket Guardians of the Galaxy attraction to Epcot (replacing Ellen’s Energy Adventure) and the other is the Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction replacing The Great Movie Ride.  Today let’s talk about Mickey and Minnie and the demise of the last original attraction from Disney’s MGM Studios.The Great Movie Ride

Disney Changes…Even Mickey Mouse

The uproar, it seems, is less about losing The Great Movie Ride and more about its replacement.  In the majority of social media posts and comments I’ve seen, everyone seems very excited that Mickey and Minnie will finally be getting their very own, much-deserved attraction.  The problem with many folks lies with which version of the iconic Disney couple will be featured in the ride.  Have you seen the newest Mickey (and the gang) cartoons on the Disney Channel?  In 2013, these shorts first appeared (excellent article here) and we think they’re hilarious!  (My favorite episode is the Potatoland one.)  Why the use of this version of Mickey is troublesome, I can’t explain.  Mickey Mouse (and his friends) have a long history that definitely involves changing with the times.Mickey Mouse Club artifacts in One Man's Dream

Consider for a minute Mickey’s age…he’ll be 100 in 2028.  It’s an amazing achievement for a cartoon character to remain so beloved for so long.  Sure, Felix the Cat is older than Mickey, but his popularity has waned.  Mickey has maintained his appeal, generation after generation, by changing and staying relevant.  His personality has been rock steady:  Happy, easy-going, loyal mischief-maker with a heart of gold.  He’s been devoted to Minnie since day one and his friends can count on him through thick and thin.  His appearance has changed many times – doesn’t everyone’s?

If the new Mickey/Minnie attraction won’t be taking us through the characters’ history, but rather allow us to be a part of a cartoon adventure as featured in the Disney Channel shorts, I can’t see a downside.  Yes, it’s a modern take on our favorite original Disney characters, but they’re still 100% lovable.

Kimberly Nordike in The Hollywood Reporter described these latest Mickey cartoons this way:

“The shorts, which are geared toward kids age 6 to 14 and families, feature an aesthetic that goes back to Mickey’s roots and borrows from the style of his 1930s design while adding a few modern touches. Designs for other characters have a similar approach, favoring a “rubber-hose” cartoon style for more exaggerated animation. Background designs closely reflect the graphic design sense of 1950s and ’60s Disney cartoons. The production team has also included homages to other icons from Disney’s history.”

If you haven’t seen any of these cartoons, I encourage you to check them out.  We enjoyed them while on our last family Disney Cruise and thought they were highly entertaining – packed with fun for the entire family.  And that’s exactly the way we feel about Walt Disney World.  I’m especially excited about Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and can’t wait to see what it’ll be like.

Disney’s Quick Service Dining Plan Review

When Megan and I were planning our recent trip to Walt Disney World, I mentioned our interest in trying the Quick Service Dining Plan.  With two snack and two counter service meal credits per day, we believed we’d have much more flexibility in our park touring versus our typical vacation habit of booking one or more sit down meals per day.  What we were hoping for:  Delicious food, tasty snacks, and a good value.

Disney’s Quick Service Dining Plan Review

What we spent – Regular price for this plan is $48.19 per person per night of stay.  We got a small Disney Vacation Club discount, which brought our price down to $46.34 per person per day for a total of $278.04.Disney Quick Service Dining at Pecos Bill's

Where we ate – First, let me say that we enjoyed the meal choices we made very much!  We arrived on Sunday and had lunch at Pecos Bill’s (Magic Kingdom) then dinner at Wilderness Lodge’s new Geyser Point Bar and Grill. The next day (Monday), we enjoyed lunch at Harambe Market and dinner at Flame Tree Barbecue.  On Tuesday we had lunch in the Mexico Pavilion (Epcot) at La Cantina de San Angel.Tuesday night we didn’t use a credit and enjoyed our one-and-only table service meal at Paddlefish in Disney Springs.  That left one credit for the following day when we had lunch in the Morocco Pavilion at Tangierine Café.  This picture does not do it justice.  Our first time there and boy, was it delish!

What snacks we chose – We had to have Mickey ice cream bars in Magic Kingdom, but after that we got as creative as possible.  Mickey Premium Ice Cream BarWe enjoyed chocolate filled beignets from the Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion (oh, wow!).  Stopped in Karamell-Kuche in the Germany Pavilion for a salted caramel cupcake, caramel corn, and a hunk of caramel (my absolute fave).  With one last snack credit, we grabbed some bagged pretzels at Saratoga Springs to eat on the way home.

The verdict –  We did not go hungry, that’s for sure, and were happy we purchased the plan.  Out of pocket, our meals would have cost about $210.68 with tax.  That left about $67.36 of the meal plan price for snacks.  Between us we got 12 snacks and I know most of them were over $5.  So we broke even.  We didn’t try to order the most expensive options on every menu and ate where we wanted to with no consideration for which restaurants would be the best value on the plan.  We also ordered bottled water (relatively cheap compared to soft drinks) with every meal in order to stay hydrated.  The ease of pre-paying for most of our meals was super convenient and budget-friendly.  Using our Magic Bands to access our meal and snack credits was great too.

What we’d recommend:  Don’t skimp on snacks because you think you’ll want to use them for something better later.  Use the two each day as you go or you’ll be like us and have to snack like crazy (or stock up for later) on the last day.

Have you tried the Quick Service Dining Plan?  What did you think about it?