Happy (Disney) World Elephant Day!

Who doesn’t love elephants?!? I’m a huge pachyderm fan myself and my favorites, the most lovable elephants around, can be found at Walt Disney World. 

Happy (Disney) World Elephant Day!

Dumbo Magic Kingdom

photo credit: Nicholas Maglio

Dumbo!  Has a cuter elephant ever been imagined?  I think not!  While I can’t say I’m a fan of the ride in Fantasyland (I did try to ride it once), I can wholeheartedly claim a love for Dumbo that stretches all the way back to the 1960’s.  That’s a long time!  Dumbo even holds a place of honor on our Disney Christmas tree.Dumbo Christmas Ornament

The Jungle Cruise Gang – What bunch of good looking elephants.  Old and young, fierce and adorable – these guys (and the Skipper’s commentary) make this a must-do ride for me. I love the babies the best and if Disney ever makes a statue of this one… I will buy it at once for my home!Jungle Cruise Elephant Baby Jungle Cruise Elephant Family Jungle Cruise Elephant  WDW Jungle Cruise Elephant

And look at all the elephants out here today! This comes as a complete surprise to me cause I had no idea these guys were going to be here. If you want to take pictures go ahead- all the elephants have their trunks on.” – Jungle Cruise Skipper IMG_5328Animal Kingdom’s African Elephants – Nobody I know loves Kilimanjaro Safaris more than I do! I’m crazy about seeing all the animals, but the elephants are the icing on the zebra dome  to me.  It’s simply awesome to see Animal Kingdom’s African elephants in person and I’m fascinated by the care they receive from their food to foot-care to enrichment activities provided by the staff.  You can find more information about these gorgeous animals here.RM-Towel-Elephant-DCL

Honorable Mention (not at WDW) – DCL Towel Elephant – One of the best stateroom perks on Disney Cruise Line is the way your Stateroom Host leaves you chocolates, Personal Navigators (itineraries for the next day), and towel animals!

Which Disney elephants are your favorites?  Happy World Elephant Day, Disney Friends!!!

At WDW? Short on Time? Ride This OR That!

Unless you’re staying for an extended period of time, it’s nearly impossible to do it ALL at Walt Disney World in a single visit.  That’s part of what keeps our family coming back for more, again and again.  The choices among rides and attractions can be pretty overwhelming!  It’s easy to find the thrill rides, if that’s your thing, and knock those off the to-do list.  But what about the less thrilling rides?  The movies and live shows?  If you can’t do it all, which should you choose and which should you leave off for a later visit?  For today’s Friday Five, I’d like to offer a few suggestions…

At WDW? Short on Time? Ride This OR That!RM-Dumbo-Queue

  1. Spinners-  In Magic Kingdom, ride Dumbo or Magic Carpets of Aladdin or Astro Orbiter.  Love Dinosaurs? Skip those two and ride Triceratops Spin in Animal Kingdom’s Dinoland U.S.A.  My Opinion: Dumbo’s a classic but the wait can be long (and loud!).  Magic Carpets of Aladdin is cute and our kids have always loved it.RM-The-Seas-Mr-Ray
  2. Under Sea Adventure-  Both of these attractions have Clamobiles as ride vehicles, both take you back through popular Disney movies – Ride Under The Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid in Magic Kingdom (Fantasyland) OR The Seas With Nemo and Friends in Epcot (Future World).  My favorite is the Nemo and Friends version, but my friend Heather and her family love the Little Mermaid best.  Both are cute!RM-Mickey's-PhilharMagic
  3. 3D Movies-  You have three choices: Mickey’s PhilharMagic (Magic Kingdom), It’s Tough to Be a Bug (Disney’s Animal Kingdom) or MuppetVision 3D (Disney’s Hollywood Studios).  My opinion:  I don’t dislike any of them, but Mickey’s PhilharMagic is my favorite.  Keep in mind: It’s Tough to Be a Bug can be very scary for little ones and people of all ages who are afraid of bugs.RM-7DMT-Train2
  4. Kiddie Coaster-  Barnstormer and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, both in Magic Kingdom, have low height requirements at 35″ and 38″ respectively.  Barnstormer is great for very young, apprehensive riders (entire ride lasts about a minute).  For brave first-timers (or Barnstormer graduates), Seven Dwarfs Mine Train lasts twice as long and has more to see.RM-Voyage-of-the-Little-Mermaid
  5. Live Stage Shows- Great choices abound:  Festival of the Lion King (Animal Kingdom), Finding Nemo-The Musical (Disney’s Animal Kingdom), Beauty and The Beast Live on Stage (Disney’s Hollywood Studios), Disney Junior Live on Stage (Studios), and Voyage of the Little Mermaid (Studios).  You’ll know best which of these will appeal most to your own Disney fans, but if you can’t decide, Festival of the Lion King is a crowd pleaser across all ages.

Which rides or attractions would you pick from the list?

Great Waits at Walt Disney World!

RM-Dumbo-Ticket-to-WaitA while back I touted the joys of some of Disney World’s standby lines in this post Today I’m going to continue that discussion.  If you don’t have a FastPass, there are plenty of rides and attractions worth waiting for – simply because the wait itself is part of the fun!  If I have to spend time in a standby line, I want that wait to be an entertaining one!

Once again, I’m using the same criteria for today’s queue selections:

  • Existing ride successfully refurbished to provide a vastly better standby experience
  • Brand new ride with a wildly entertaining standby line
  • Not-so-new ride with an original, well-themed queue

Dumbo – Just because I couldn’t make it through the new, interactive standby line (I almost rodeRM-Dumbo-Rockets Dumbo once, story here) doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate how brilliant the new queue area is for families with small (or small-ish) children.  The technology is cool, the colors are bright, and there’s a variety of activities available for time-killing. I might not have cared for the experience, but for kids?  Genius!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – The ride appeals to multiple senses – full of colors, it’s visually stunning, the sway of the mine train cars and the smooth ride are physically enjoyable, the sounds – both in and outside the mine – are a wonderful part of the overall experience.  The queue sets just the right mood for what’s to come.  Sort gems, spin barrels for some cool projection effects – there’s a lot to enjoy in the mine long before the train takes you off on a new adventure.

Muppets in Disney's Hollywood StudiosMuppetVision 3D – The queue for this area is one of my most favorite places – not just in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but in all of Walt Disney World!  I love the net full of Jello (a funny tribute to Annette Funicello) and dozens of other clever sight gags.  The pre-show “show” is full of classic Muppet jokes and bits.  If you grew up with the Muppets like I did, the queue for MuppetVision 3D takes you back to the good old days of Muppet glory!

Which queues are your favorite?  Which would you recommend for a future standby line post?

That Time I Almost Rode Dumbo

RM-Dumbo-CenterOn our last visit to Walt Disney World, we were in the Magic Kingdom and on a roll!  We’d started the day on Splash Mountain, dried off by cruising around Tomorrowland on the PeopleMover, we’d seen the Country Bears, Haunted Mansion, Hall of Presidents – We were unstoppable!  Then, I thought, HEY!  We could try out the updated Dumbo over in Fantasyland.  Raymond was okay with that and we jumped in the standby line which had a posted wait of 30 minutes.  I’m having a great day, getting so much accomplished, living the dream, baby – what’s one 30 minute wait going to hurt, right?

We were outside, enjoying the beautiful fall weather, taking in the sights and sounds of the Storybook Circus area.  The first part of the standby line is covered and moved right along.  Next, we went inside to wait.  At this point I noticed the familyRM-Dumbo-Cast-Member behind me (Mom & Dad, little boy and girl) because the little boy, who was probably 8 or so, kept getting really close to the back of me and occasionally bumped into me.  Into my posterior specifically.  I’d move to the other side of the aisle, but he kept ending up directly behind me, continuing to bump into me.  It’s no secret that I don’t think all children are precious and adorable; I’m also somewhat of a germaphobe and kind of weird about being touched by strangers.   Raymond, once aware of my situation, put himself between the personal-space-invader and me, so I could go back to taking in my surroundings.

This was the point where we reached a sort of check-in desk for the Dumbo waiting play area.  The fact that not a single Cast Member looked happy or even pleasant should have been a clue to what we RM-Dumbo-Check-in-Counterwere about to experience, but it was my first visit there and I’d read practically nothing but the most general information about the new Dumbo.  The dad behind me exclaimed that Disney Imagineers are pure genius to have thought of something so wonderful!  We were handed an electronic “ticket” that would vibrate/flash or something when it was time to get on the ride.  We stepped through the opening to that waiting area…and into hell.

Children were running, screaming, jumping, chasing, climbing, and creating serious mayhem.  I was still okay, though, because I notice to the far left in a dark corner of the room was a bench where a handful of other grownups had gathered to wait.  I grabbed Raymond’s hand and bee-lined for the relative peace of the seating area.  We sat.  I looked around at all RM-Dumbo-Play-Areathose kids.  There was a pretend barrel of rockets in front of us and a couple of girls found that they could push some buttons to make lights flash and pretend fireworks sounds happen.  I casually mentioned to Raymond (I did have to talk pretty loud so he could hear me) that maybe if you had children burning off steam in the play area, it was much more tolerable and less hell-like.  The instant the words left my mouth, the lady sitting next to me, with all seriousness said, “No!  No, it’s not.”

We sat for what seemed like an hour, but was in reality probably 2 more minutes during which those two little girls at the rocket-barrel pushed the same buttons to make lights and sounds about 5,627 times.  I turned to Raymond and said, “I’m really sorry about this.” – He’s sweet, so he told me not to worry about it.  He knew what I was going to say next….”I’m pretty RM-Dumbo-Ticket-to-Waitsure I can’t make it and I have to leave now.”  Of course, he said, “Let’s go.”

I took my ticket back to the Cast Member at the check in counter and held it out as I told her, “I tried, I really tried, but I can’t take it.  How can I get out of here?”  She, with just the slightest, barely discernable look of sympathy, silently pointed to an exit back through the play area on the far wall and, again, grabbing Raymond’s hand we walked as quickly as we could, pushed through the door, and found ourselves in an amazingly empty, and blessedly quiet alleyway.  I apologized all the way to the Little Mermaid ride where the line was short and I could recover my composure in the relative isolation of a clam-mobile.

Have you made it onto the new Dumbo ride?  If so, I admire your fortitude!!!