Almost Time – Disney Summer Road Trip Plans

We’re calling it the “Epic Mother/Daughter Disney Summer Road Trip” and in just a few weeks, we’ll be on our way!  Packing lists are made.  FastPasses are booked.  Like all great Disney vacations, new things are in store and include quite a few Disney firsts for us.  Megan and I are more excited than I can describe and are constantly texting each other about our plans.  Speaking of plans…

Almost Time – Disney Summer Road Trip Plans

Let’s start with the firsts:  First time at Saratoga Springs, first time on the Quick Service Dining Plan, first time driving to Orlando, and (the most exciting!) first time to see Pandora!  We’ve also booked the “Caring for Giants” tour at Animal Kingdom and are looking forward to seeing the new Happily Ever After nighttime spectacular in Magic Kingdom.

Here are the plans we’ve made day-by-day…

Arrival Day:

Magic Kingdom:  We’ll get there for lunch and grab what sounds good at the time.  We have FastPasses starting right after lunch for Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Splash Mountain.  Between FastPasses, we’ll fill in with the usual favorites depending on wait times.  Those attractions are usually PeopleMover, Haunted Mansion, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Carousel of Progress, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Country Bear Jamboree.  For dinner we’ll catch the boat to Wilderness Lodge to try Geyser Point before returning to Magic Kingdom and staying for Happily Ever After.

Day Two:

Animal Kingdom as early as possible.  It would stress me out to shoot for an exact arrival time, but it will need to be early.  FastPasses start at 9:00 am with Na’vi River Journey in Pandora.  We’ll grab breakfast there at Satu’li Canteen either before or after the ride.  Then we’ll have plenty of time to explore all of Pandora at our leisure.  Our next FastPass (Expedition Everest) isn’t until early afternoon.  We’ll do the Caring For Giants tour mid-afternoon then be able to roam around Animal Kingdom at a lazy pace, eat dinner, and use our final FastPass for Rivers of Light at 9:15.

Day Three:Animal Kingdom's Kali River Rapids

Animal Kingdom again first thing.  Our FastPasses are all in the morning:  Flight of Passage, Primeval Whirl, and Kali River Rapids.  We’ll be hopping to Epcot for the afternoon – so many great quick service options for lunch in World Showcase!  Dinner that night will be at Paddlefish in Disney Springs after which we’ll call it a day.

Day Four:Entrance for Toy Story Midway ManiaWe’ll start by rope-dropping the Studios to ride Rock’n’ Roller Coaster before using our three FastPasses for Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Star Tours.  The unplanned afternoon will be spent at either Magic Kingdom or Epcot before we start the first part of the long drive home that evening.

Yes, we have solid plans for much of the time, but I think we’ve allowed for plenty of free-styling along the way.  Primarily we’ll be focused on exploring Pandora since it’s new, but we’ll also be able to enjoy many of our must-dos in every park while trying a few new restaurants too.  Mother/Daughter time should include a nice mix of new experiences and old favorites while making lots of happy memories.

While we’re away, Joseph has decided he should stay at the house and keep Raymond (and Junior) company.  So while they won’t be going to Disney World, they’ll be guys home alone doing guys stuff.  I think they’re pretty excited about it.

Are you headed to Walt Disney World this summer?  What are you the most excited to see and do?

 

Magic Kingdom – Festival Of Fantasy Parade’s New Time?

What time is the 3 o’clock parade?  The answer might surprise you on and after August 20, 2017.Festival of Fantasy Parade's New Time

Magic Kingdom – Festival Of Fantasy Parade’s New Time?

I love Disney rumors and gossip – it’s fun to speculate and discuss among my fellow Disney geeks.  When I came across this brief article from WDW News Today, I had to visit Disney’s official website and check out the times info for myself.  Sure enough, the “3 o’clock parade” is moving to 2:00 pm.  Annnnnd I think that’s okay.  Pretty good, in fact.  Here’s why…Festival of Fantasy Parade's New Time

If you’ve never seen Festival of Fantasy, it’s a must-do at least once.  I’ve caught the entire 12 minute spectacle a few times because it’s nothing short of incredible.  Seriously, the floats, costumes, and music are wonderful and as good as Disney gets.  I was not a huge fan of the prior parade (Celebrate a Dream Come True) for a variety of reasons and only watched it in its entirety once because we had VIP seating.  Festival of Fantasy is everything I wanted the previous parade to be and oh, so much more.  3 o’clock can be a tough time of the day to fit in a parade…no matter how fantastic.

Mid-afternoon is the classic post-lunch naptime for legions of littles.  It’s hot, humid, sometimes riddled with pop-up thunderstorms and for lots of families their resort pool is calling.  Sometimes people want to spend a couple of hours before dinner cleaning up and enjoying happy hour (me!).  Sometimes people want to park-hop after knocking off their favorite Magic Kingdom attractions (also me!).  Moving the parade up an hour could really be a huge help for lots of folks.  The Festival of Fantasy Dining Package will also work out better for people who eat at the earliest times available – closing the gap a bit between meal and parade time.Festival Of Fantasy Parade's New Time

I think, if this time change is permanent, The Fam and I will get to enjoy Festival of Fantasy more frequently than we do now.  Our favorite viewing spots are on the Tomorrowland side of the hub and also at the end of Main Street USA across from the flagpole – easy to exit the park from there after Mickey and Minnie go by.Minne Mouse in the Festival of Fantasy Parade

Are you a Festival of Fantasy Fan?  How do you feel about the parade’s new time?Festival Of Fantasy Parade's New Time

 

If The Great Movie Ride Has to Go

Nearly three years ago I wrote this article about the rumored demise of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, which so far has remained unscathed.  The newest Studios scuttlebutt predicts the replacement of The Great Movie Ride with something completely different.  I’ve got mixed feelings about this one.  Let’s discuss!

If The Great Movie Ride Has to GoThe Great Movie Ride

Like much of Disney’s Hollywood Studios in recent years, The Great Movie Ride hasn’t received a whole lot of love.  New intro, change in narration, and nothing else.  The scenes are stale, some of the animatronics don’t work, and the scripts on the two versions are exactly the same…every. single. time. The Great Movie Ride

The premise of this attraction makes it perpetually ready for awesome updates and theme/action changes at regular intervals.  So much Hollywood greatness to be showcased, incredible potential for an infinite number of scene changes and movie genres to explore.  None of that has happened and I still ride it on nearly every visit.  Why?  Nostalgia mostly.  I have a love/hate relationship with many of the scenes.  I love the Casablanca scene, hate Tarzan, love John Wayne and Mary Poppins, hate The Public EnemyThe Wizard of Oz is my absolute favorite and so well done!  If other fans are like me, nostalgia alone probably isn’t enough to keep this ride alive.

If the Rumors are True…

According to speculation from August, 2016, The Great Movie Ride may be replaced by The Great Mickey Ride.  Think about the possibilities!  Trackless vehicles moving guests through the history of Mickey in all his lovable forms.  He’s recognized world-wide and has yet to have his very own attraction!  The original spirit of the Studios would live on and new generations of Mickey fans would learn the story of the world’s most famous Mouse.  Makes sense as Mickey will celebrate his 100th birthday in 2028.  With so much to showcase, this could easily be one of those attractions guests would ride again and again to see what they might have missed on previous visits.The Great Movie Ride

With money and resources currently allocated for Star Wars and Toy Story lands, it seems doubtful that anything will happen in the near future.  Goodness knows, the Studios can’t handle anymore closures without new attractions to fill in the gaping holes.  I can see how the long-term survival of The Great Movie Ride in its current form is unlikely though, and I’m prepared for it to go away.  In the meantime, I intend to ride it a few more times and enjoy one of the last vestiges of what Disney’s MGM Studios originally used to be.

How about you?  Are you a fan of The Great Movie Ride?  Are you ready to see it replaced?

 

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Stop for Gorilla Falls Aviary!

My enthusiasm for all things Animal Kingdom knows no bounds, but I have a confession to make:  I tend to rush through the aviaries at the end of Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.  I get excited about seeing all the animals and then when I get to the aviary, I start thinking right away about what I want to do next or when our next FastPass will be.  Birds-shmirds, right?  They’re basically all the same and can be…well…boring, no?  They can also drop “bombs” on unsuspecting passersby and who wants that vacation memory?  Recently though, I decided to try something new.  At the end of the Gorilla Falls trail, when we reached the birds, I took a different attitude.  Here’s what happened…

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Stop for Gorilla Falls Aviary!

We were actually almost to the exit when I started watching this little yellow bird search for something that turned out to be a small red leaf.  It took the leaf, flew to it’s nest and, except for its tail sticking out, disappeared inside the nest.  For a while.  I could see it was busy trying to place the leaf, I suppose, so I waited to see what it would do next.  The little bird popped back out and still had the leaf in its beak!  Which it promptly spit out…leaf rejected!  What the heck kind of bird was this picky thing with the cool looking basket-like nest?

Heaving a pretty big sigh at myself, I quietly called to Raymond and Joseph to wait a minute, I’d be right back.  I knew from doing the Wilderness Explorers adventure there would be a bird spotting guide back by the entrance, so I wove back through the crowd, against traffic, and snagged one.  As I walked back to the guys, I started paying much more attention to the birds.  There are a lot of birds.  Different shapes, sizes and colors  – up above and down below.  If you’ve got a fear of birds (Ornithophobia), you’ll maybe want to skip this area.

The spotting guide’s a must.  The picky little yellow bird?  Taveta Golden Weaver!

Raymond and Joseph, familiar with my ways, waited patiently as I took my first extended tour of the aviary.  I learned some stuff.  The birds seem really happy.  If you’ve been skipping out on this, you should give it a try next time you’re there.

Have you spent time in Animal Kingdom’s aviaries?  Which do you prefer, the one on Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail or on Maharajah Jungle Trek?