Magic Kingdom – Wait Here Not There

IMG_3279The opinions expressed here are my own (as if you didn’t already know that).  I’m crazy about Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and it’s probably my favorite park, followed closely by Animal Kingdom.  Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty of fun to be had in Epcot and what’s currently left of the Studios, but Magic Kingdom holds the most happy memories and has so much entertainment to offer me when I’m there.  When I daydream about being at Walt Disney World, I’m almost always in Magic Kingdom.

It won’t be long before we’ll be selecting FastPasses for our next visit to the World and that got me thinking about how I’ll be weighing the pros and cons of different attractions – including the entertainment value of specific ride queues.  This is just me now, but I’m much more willing to wait in some queues than I am in others solely based on the quality of the wait.  If we start in Adventureland and work our way around the park, land by land, here are my recommendations for:

Magic Kingdom – Wait Here Not There

RM-Adventureland-Magic-KingdomAdventureland – Wait for Pirates of the Caribbean not Jungle Cruise.  Yes, if we are strictly speaking Adventureland attractions, I’d much rather FastPass Jungle Cruise and wait for Pirates.  The queue for Pirates is cool and dark with excellent mood-setting elements – it’s actually an excellent place to cool off on a hot day and let your face rest from the pressure of your sunglasses on your nose.  WDW Jungle CruiseThe wait for Jungle Cruise is hot and has less to enjoy.  Personally, I find it somewhat frustrating although I do enjoy the announcements.

Frontierland – Wait for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad not Splash Mountain.  Big Thunder’s queue is interesting with loads of interactive elements to enjoy – in fact, I enjoy it so much, I sometimes wish the line were moving a tiny bit slower.Interactive Queue for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Interactive elements for Big Thunder Mountain QueueSplash Mountain’s queue, while possessing some cute features (like the adorable bird houses) is not nearly as interesting.

Liberty Square – Save your FastPasses!  Haunted Mansion is the only attraction that will ever have a significant wait and the queue (unless the day is super hot and humid) is great! Check out all the interactive components, search for the Bride’s Ring on the ground (embedded in the pavement) as you move along.  RM-Liberty-Belle-Haunted-Mansion-ViewPay attention to the excellent (and plentiful) Disney details.  If heat and humidity are factors – cool off in the Hall of Presidents during the day and save Haunted Mansion for after the sun goes down.

Fantasyland – Hmmmm…This is the toughest one!  Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is going to have the longest wait – maybe for the entire park.  Seven Dwarfs Mine Train SignThat being said, it also has an excellent, highly entertaining and interactive queue.  Peter Pan’s queue has just been “plussed” and is worth waiting for.IMG_2542If you have little ones, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has a very kid-pleasing wait.  IMG_0899Personally, I’d burn a FastPass on Dumbo if it’s a must-ride attraction.  I hate the wait for Dumbo so much, I’ve never made it to the ride.  (You can read the story here.)  Based solely on time-savings, excluding Dumbo, the FastPass would have to go to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Tomorrowland – Remember that FastPass I told you NOT to use in Liberty Square?  I’d use it here for Space Mountain.  While the queue is dark and cool, it’s also a snooze-fest.  Even though it was one of the first attractions I can remember that got a few interactive parts added to the queue, they’re not all that interesting.  RM-Space-Mountain-SignOnce you reach the top of the upward climb to the boarding area, the queue reverts to old school back and forth, metal-partitioned, waiting.  And waiting….and….you get the idea.

Your turn to weigh in!  Where would you select FastPasses in Magic Kingdom – and where would you stand in line?

Frontierland’s Prairie Outpost & Supply

Welcome to Saturdays with Nick!  Today Nick explores Frontierland and discovers a hidden gem!  Have you shopped at the Prairie Outpost yet?

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Frontierland’s Prairie Outpost and Supply at Walt Disney World

By Nick

On our last trip to Walt Disney World, while walking through Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom, it occurred to me that I was in need of provisions for the evening. I stopped into Prairie Outpost and Supply expecting to find hardtack and perhaps some dry salted beef, and instead was confronted with an entirely different type of staple. Sugar!

Sugar in the form of jellybeans, lollypops, cookies, cotton candy, and various chocolate covered concoctions!

There are also “healthy options” as well, such as candy apples and chocolate covered strawberries. Fruit is healthy, right?

So, next time you’re in the wilderness and need a pick me up, stop on over to the Prairie Outpost and Supply, and a friendly Cast Member will great you with open arms!

Disney World – Cruisin’ on the Liberty Belle

RM-Liberty-Belle-View-on-Deck You can see her and hear her and, let’s be completely honest, avoid her for the undeniable yawn potential, but the Liberty Belle is an iconic and important part of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.  Let’s give her a little love today, hmm?

As you walk between Liberty Square and Frontierland, the gorgeous and majestic Liberty Belle paddle-wheeler calmly glides through the Rivers of America.  I think she gets too little attention – she’s not nearly as fun as the Haunted Mansion nor is she as thrilling as Big Thunder Mountain – for sure she doesn’t offer the big drops or adorable singing characters like Splash Mountain.  So what’s the draw?  What does the Liberty Belle have to offer? A wonderful glimpse into the past!  A completely different view of the Magic Kingdom and some of our most favorite attractions!  Need a different perspective on what’s magical about the Magic Kingdom?  Hop aboard and set sail on an incredible adventure.RM-Liberty-Belle-Fort

I know what you’re thinking and it’s true – If you rode around Tom Sawyer Island on any of the Liberty Belle’s predecessors, you’ll remember a few things that were a bit more exciting in the past, but there are still some pretty awesome sights to see!  We rode the Liberty Belle recently on a hot and sunny October afternoon – I will freely admit that I was roasting on deck in the sun and, oh, I could say something like “glistening” or “glowing” in that Florida heat, but truth is, I was sweating like a pig.  I stayed glued to the railing all the same.  Why?  The sights, I tell you, there are cool things to see!!!  Step onto the boat and get upstairs pronto.  Have your camera ready!RM-Liberty-Belle-Haunted-Mansion-View

Once the Liberty Belle pulls away from the dock, passengers are treated to a leisurely cruise along the Rivers of America.  From the top deck, I had an excellent view of the Haunted Mansion.  RM-Liberty-Belle-View-BTMRRRM-Liberty-Belle-GeysersThen I was fascinated by an amazing view of Big Thunder Mountain – with Splash Mountain in the distance.

RM-Liberty-Belle-Frontierland-VeiwRM-Liberty-Belle-Parade-View2 RM-Liberty-Belle-Parade-View1It was just after 3:00 pm and the Festival of Fantasy parade was beginning to snake its way through Frontierland – I could see some of the beautiful parade floats.  I darted from one side of the boat to the other, to the back…uhm, stern, I mean, then to the bow and started the process all over again.  Raymond, used to my adventure-taking style, found a place to relax and attempt to stay cool.RM-Liberty-Belle-Fort2

After we left Liberty Square and Frontierland behind, we entered a part of Magic Kingdom many people dismiss or ignore.  RM-Liberty-Belle-Faux-Fauna RM-Liberty-Belle-Fort2 RM-Liberty-Belle-Forest-ViewFaux Fauna, Fort Langhorn, an early American settlement, a Native American village – complete with realistic animatronics, Wilson’s Cave Inn, and so much more!

RM-Liberty-Belle-Village3 RM-Liberty-Belle-Village2 RM-Liberty-Belle-VillageRM-Liberty-Belle-HideoutRemember, if you last took a cruise aboard the Liberty Belle as a young ‘un, it’s time to give it another try!  Keep your eyes peeled.  There are plenty of surprises in store for your 17-minute adventure into America’s past.RM-Liberty-Belle-Rivers-of-America RM-Liberty-Belle-View2 RM-Liberty-Belle-View-Castle RM-Liberty-Belle-Rapunzel's-Tower-View RM-Liberty-Belle-HM-Queue

Your turn – when’s the last time YOU took a trip on the Liberty Belle?

My Recent Visit to the Country Bear Jamboree

RM-Country-Bears-Sun-Bonnet-TrioThe jokes are lame, the songs are cheesy and I love every single moment of the Country Bear Jamboree!  From the waiting area in the lobby to the ornate theater to the talking huntin’ trophies, this attraction’s a riot! Even if you’re not a huge fan of the Jamboree’s style, you have to admit its a pretty clever show, especially considering how long the gang’s been around.  If you’re looking for one of the Disney-est Disney World attractions you can find, you can’t beat the Bears.  It does happen to be one of the last attractions Walt Disney himself helped develop.

On one recent picture-perfect October day in the Magic Kingdom, I announced to Raymond in my most cheerful voice, “I really want to see the Country Bears!” What I got in return was a look. This look RM-Country-Bear-Stagespoke volumes. Raymond’s a man of few words to begin with and after 25 years of marriage he communicates with me silently much of the time. At that particular moment Raymond’s look said, “I’d rather not, but if you’re that excited about it, we can go…but only because you’re so cute and lovable.” And just like that, off we went to Frontierland’s Grizzly Hall.

In my mind I think of the Country Bears as old (the show premiered on October 1, 1971) so while I was waiting to enter the theater, I was picturing worn, mangy-looking fur coats and rusty, out of date animatronics. Boy, was I surprised! Those critters are in excellent shape and their movements are fluid and, well, I’d say “realistic” except they’re bears playing musical instruments and singing songs.  I wouldn’t change a single thing about the entire experience.

RM-Country-Bears-Baby-OscarFrom my most favorite bears, like Baby Oscar and Henry, the Master of Ceremonies, to the fancy hat-bearing Sun Bonnet Trio (sorry, can’t help myself), I thought the show was grand. If Animal Planet and Hee Haw got married and had a baby, it would be the Country Bear Jamboree.  What a show!  I completely agree that a hoedown might not be an enjoyable hootenanny for everyone, but the charm of the Country Bear Jamboree lies in its perfect theming for Frontierland, its quaint and sometimes irreverent dancehall humor, and the well-paced and surprising variety of acts.  How can anyone not find Liver Lips McGrowl at least a little bit interesting?

I adored every hair on the Country Bears’….well, everything, I suppose.  I know there are a RM-Country-Bears-Henrylot of haters, but honestly, the Country Bear Jamboree is so iconic, so classically Disney, I hope they’ll be around for many, many years to come.

It’s your turn – Love ’em?  Hate ’em?  Tell me what it is about the Country Bear Jamboree that makes you feel the way you do about it.

RM-Country-Bears-MelvinRM-Country-Bear-PianoRM-Country-Bear-Buff   RM-Country-Bear-Guitar