Disney World Arrival Day

Oh, the possibilities! The World is your oyster! What to do first? What will that Disney World arrival day bring? Let’s talk about the options, shall we?

Arriving the day before you want to use your park tickets – We’ve been fans of this in the past and I want to emphasize that time spent outside the four Disney World parks is not time wasted! Here are my top three recommendations…Raglan-Road-Irish-Dancers

  1. Disney Springs is full of wonderful places to shop and eat! And NO ticket required! Personally, We LOVE Raglan Road for that first night’s dinner…great food, music and entertainment. Just walking around the expanded Disney Springs is interesting and fun. Usually there’s live music and entertainment plus plenty of shopping and those magical Disney details to get you feeling all relaxed and vacation-ish right away.RM-Fort-Wilderness-Pool1
  2. Explore and relax at your resort. Swimming and other outdoor activities are great options. Staying on Disney property? Shopping, dining, pin trading even – all excellent choices. Some resorts offer outdoor movies and S’mores-making too! Think about it, you grab dinner and find a lounge chair in front of an outdoor movie screen to enjoy one of your favorite Disney movies before turning in…looking forward to kicking off the rest of your vacation the next day!Good Morning at the Grand Floridian
  3. Wander the World! Get the lay of the land at your own resort and then go exploring! Take a bus from non-monorail resorts to Magic Kingdom, then hop the monorail and check out the sights, shops, and grounds of the three resorts along the route. Make advance dining reservations (ADRs) for a character meal at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary or 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian. At the Polynesian Village Resort, you can’t go wrong with dinner at the super-popular ‘Ohana.1900 Park Fare / Drizella and Anastasia

If you’re headed for the parks, make some FastPass+ choices in advance and consider booking an in-park dinner to make that first day even more special. We used to make Magic Kingdom our first stop on every visit and back in the day, Cinderella’s Royal Table was our dinner choice. What could be more magical than eating in Cinderella Castle? The view is spectacular! Each park offers plenty of rides and restaurants to choose from – take your pick and kick off your vacation with tons of fun! If your family can make it into the later evening hours, end that first night with a show like Fantasmic in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Illuminations in Epcot, or Wishes in Magic Kingdom.RM-HalloWishes

Whether you arrive early or late, with first day park plans or not, there’s always a way to begin your Walt Disney World vacation in a special way!

What are your favorite first day activities? Do you have any traditions?



Disney World Things That Make Kids Cry

TomorrowlandIn all the visits I’ve made to the four parks at Walt Disney World, there are a few attractions (rides and shows) that stand out to me as holding a special sort of power – the power to make kids cry!  Sure – we know that meeting characters can cause a fright, but I’m talking about seemingly kid-friendly stuff.  Check out my list and then comment with your own experiences and observations – this topic will certainly need to be revisited from time to time.  Especially since we’ve got a bunch of new attractions to look forward to with Pandora coming to Animal Kingdom and Start Wars Land in the future for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Disney World Things That Make Kids Cry

Fantasmic – If the wait alone doesn’t do it, some of the elements of the show have a considerable fear factor.  Any time there are villains involved, there’s the potential for unhappiness.  In the case of Fantasmic, I think it’s the mixture of big images projected on water, pyrotechnics, and live characters – lights, sound, and a lot of action!  After waiting for the show to start, I imagine some little ones are terribly disappointed – doesn’t help that it’s also probably past their bedtime.DungBrothers

It’s Tough to be a Bug – This one seems like it will be so much fun!  Beneath Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life where it’s cool and dark and the walls are plastered with fun insect movie posters, the wait for the show is deceiving.  This 3D experience is no Mickey’s PhilharMagic!  Even little ones who are not usually afraid of bugs find this show horrifying.  I’ve seen it enough time that when certain parts are about to happen, I think, “cue the crying!” and sure enough, parents are bee-lining for the door (see what I did there?).  Seriously, if you’re considering this attraction for children under the age of seven, consider letting them sit on your lap.  Trust me.IMG_6712

Dinosaur – Our daughter is 24 and still plugs her hears during this ride’s trip back in time in Animal Kingdom.  The idea that dinosaurs are all around you is scary enough – add jerky, unpredictable motion and loud noises and you’ve got the perfect combination for a major cry-fest.  This is one of those just-because-they’re-tall-enough-doesn’t-mean-they’re-ready attractions.wd015wdw201414779448368

Stitch’s Great Escape – This one made me cry.  Horrible doesn’t begin to describe what I thought of this Tomorrowland attraction in Magic Kingdom.  To say I hated it would be an understatement.  I’m a big fan of Lilo and Stitch, but this ride, formerly the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (1995-2003), uses major seat restraints to keep hapless guests in place while they’re tortured by Stitch’s antics.  This includes some periods of complete and total darkness.  I don’t know if Stitch still burps chili-dog breath in your face (I’ve heard that was gone), but I wanted out of that place so bad – I can only imagine what a 40″ tall (the minimum height requirement) child would go through in there!  This one may look fun, but I say keep walking!

What about YOU?  What attractions do you think should be added to the list?

5 Things to Do While Waiting for Disney’s Fantasmic to Start

DSCN2620Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is an incredible evening show.  We think it’s a “must do” attraction and so do thousands of other people.  This show is very popular.  For good reason!  Characters galore, very special effects – lights, water, music, villains – it’s just super.  Might be a tad scary for little ones, but it’s unlike anything else at Walt Disney World and is worth the wait.  And wait you will!  The only real options now to avoid the 60 – 90 minutes usually required to arrive early enough to secure a seat are:

  • Book a Fantasmic Dinner Package – eat at select table service restaurant (Mama Melrose, Hollywood Brown Derby or the buffet at Hollywood and Vine) for lunch or dinner and receive a VIP pass for reserved seating at Fantasmic.  We’ve done this at Mama Melrose and were offered food choices from a special (abbreviated) menu.  You still need to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to show time.
  • Book a FastPass for Fantasmic.  A FastPass will get you into reserved seating like the dinner package will, but you’ll be using not just one of your three FastPasses of the day, but you’ll be using one of the “Tier 1” FastPasses.  Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot have tiered FastPass systems which allow you to choose only ONE headline attraction with your FastPass choices at that park for the day.  At the Studios, if you burn your Tier 1 FastPass on Fantasmic Wait 1Fantasmic, you will be giving up a FastPass for one of these:  Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock’n’ Roller Coaster, or Beauty and the Beast – Live On Stage.  No WAY would we forfeit either Toy Story or Rock’n’ Roller Coaster for Fantasmic when we don’t much mind waiting in the theater for the show to start.

Can’t decide what to do?  Here are FIVE things to do while waiting for Fantasmic to start:

1.  Snack – Pick up some treats on your way to the theater (best choice) or hit the concession stand near the back of the theater (long lines).  I’ve read posts on message boards about people who make a festive picnic out of their wait-time in the Fantasmic Theater.  Our favorite counter service places in the Studios are not far from the theater down Sunset Blvd.

2.  Play games, look at pictures – Bring some small puzzle books or coloring books and a few crayons.  Play some games on your smartphone.  Review the pictures you took on your digital camera that day and share with the group.

3.  Bring along some glow accessories to share.  You know, like those glow sticks, necklaces, Fantasmic Wait 2and bracelets you can buy at the dollar store?  Buy up a few packages specifically for this purpose.  While waiting for the show to start, break those babies out, tell the people around you that you brought the glow-jewelry just for this purpose and start passing them out all around.  Makes your little corner of the World a little brighter AND you’re sharing and making new friends.  What could possibly be a better use for some spare time than that? (We’ve also done this with bubbles on our Disney Cruises for the Sail Away party – small party bubbles are really easy to pack and SO much fun to share!).  For $25 you can purchase a “Glow With the Show” earhat to wear, but that won’t give you anything to share with your new friends.

4.  People watch – check out the cool Disney shirts and pin-filled lanyards on your fellow Fantasmic Theater-mates.  You can also watch the people who DID spend $25 on a Glow With the Show earhat and see what all the hubbub’s about.  DSCN2615

5.  Our favorite…..Take the SAME picture of your family every time you’re waiting for Fantasmic to start!  Yep – we are the weird family with the strange Disney traditions (like the hat tradition in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion) and this one is just another in a long list.  So, why not.  You too can pick a pose and get busy with the photography – just repeat for every visit.

What’s your favorite way to kill time waiting for Fantasmic to start?