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?


Disney FOMO is Real – I’ve Been Stricken

Google FOMO and the simple definition displayed says it all.

“noun: FOMO

  1. anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”

Therein lies my problem.  FOMO clearly afflicts people of all ages…including middle-aged Disney fans who have been obsessively watching all things World of Avatar on the internet.  My April Disney vacation is too soon.  My November Disney vacation is sooooo far away!  Pandora is finally opening in May and I want to see it!!!

Disney FOMO is Real – I’ve Been Stricken

It’s not like Animal Kingdom’s newest land is suddenly showing up after a few months of preparation.  The first announcement of Pandora’s imminent arrival was made in early 2011.  That’s SIX years ago.  Six years of speculation, starts, stops, controversy, rumor, and (for some) excitement.  Construction began in 2014 and, by bits and pieces, we’ve learned the details of exactly how Pandora will make its place in Animal Kingdom.  At long last, the time has arrived – May 27, 2017 – and I won’t be there.  New rides, restaurants, shops, exquisitely themed and amazingly detailed, and I’d already booked April and November before the opening date announcement was made.  The internet is full of ride details and food pictures – constant reminders of what I won’t be seeing anytime soon.

What’s a girl to do?

I have a plan, of course, and a willing cohort.  Megan and I have been talking about a mother/daughter getaway forever, so I filled her in during our usual Sunday visit.  In short order we had vacation schedules verified, 42 vacation club points booked (Saratoga Springs), and a route planned.  Since we have always flown to Disney World, this driving thing will add a different aspect to our trip, but Meg and I are pretty stoked.  We have virtually unlimited packing space for the first time ever and can bring important things like breakfast foods and wine.  As many pairs of shoes as we want!  Once we arrive at Disney World, we’ll have three whole days to explore Pandora before heading home.  Our first summer road trip, just the two of us, and we couldn’t be more excited.  See you in June, World of Avatar!

Have you suffered from Disney FOMO?  What new Disney World attractions are you looking forward to most?



Disney World’s Future – My Two Cents

RM-Disney's-Hollywood-Studios-EntranceI want to ride on a Slinky Dog roller coaster.  I absolutely do!  That’s one of my most favorite of the many recent announcements about what we can expect next at Walt Disney World.  I’ve spoken about change before, and the importance of being open to new technology, themes, characters, and experiences.  As much as we think we’d like our favorite vacation destination to remain the same every time we visit, like ourselves and our children, it has to grow up too, so to speak.

Disney World’s Future – My Two Cents

Closures make us sad.  Think about this:  If we had happy childhoods, with glowing, happy memories, we instinctively want to recreate those experiences again and again.  That’s human nature.  When a component of our fondly remembered past no longer exists, we tend to believe the future (of that particular circumstance) will not be as good.  The value is diminished.  This is not necessarily true!  We can create new, happy memories with a new set of circumstances.  We just have to be open to the opportunity. (Insert “Let it go” sequence here while viewing Maelstrom photos.)Malestrom / Norway Pavilion / World Showcase

We’re naturally apprehensive of the unknown.  I will not argue with the naysayers who cannot understand how the heck Avatar belongs in Animal Kingdom.  It hasn’t opened yet – nobody’s experienced any of the attractions or the environment Pandora will have to offer.  It might not matter how you feel about the movie, the immersive experience might just be incredible on its own.  Similarly, Star Wars, I’m sad to say, is not universally appealing to everyone.  I grew up with Star Wars – it’s part of my own happy childhood memories and I’m over-the-moon-excited for the new Star Wars Land.  Not so for everyone, I get that.  Celebrate a Dream Come Trup ParadeI’ll also add that, if I ruled the Disney World, the Toy Story Land slated for the Studios would have been a broader Pixar-based area.  Not because I don’t love Toy Story, but because a more inclusive focus would have offered more potential.  What’s important is that we’ll have new, expanded Disney-imagineered environments and experiences to enjoy.  Or not.  Let’s keep an open mind and give it all a try before we categorically dismiss something as no good.

I can’t think of a single deal-breaker.  I realize I’m more accepting of change than the average person, but there are no rides or attractions that could change or close that would keep me from choosing to vacation at Walt Disney World.  Disney fan message boards are full of folks who constantly bemoan any and all changes as something that will make them vacation elsewhere.  They will not allow Disney to have one more cent of their vacation dollars.  To those folks I say, fine!  By all means, move along and find somewhere else to spend your money.  Disney World is (and will be) crowded enough without you.RM-Animal-Kingdom-Construction-Walls-Tree-of-Life

I listen to analysis, but not too closely.  I love hearing Disney fans discuss their opinions on Disney World’s future.  There are some mighty deep, in-depth theories on Disney’s expenditures versus returns, crowd figures (and traffic patterns), the perceived value of certain attraction/land additions, and the effect on future park ticket prices.  I find most of it interesting and some of it completely ridiculous.  I take it all with a grain of salt!  If the Disney Company feels pressure from Universal Orlando (Comcast) to create clever, entertaining, more immersive guest experiences – we can only benefit from competition!

I welcome all the changes – until I’ve seen, heard, and experienced all the new rides, attractions, restaurants and themed areas coming to Walt Disney World over the next several years.  I welcome more, better, and different opportunities to expand my love for Disney in all its forms.  Bring it on.  I’ll be anxiously waiting.

How about you?  What upcoming changes are you most excited about?

Interested in hearing various opinions on upcoming Disney World changes?  Try these podcast episodes:





Being Optimistic on Disney World Changes

RM-Fantasyland-WallI’ve been pretty honest with you here at Living a Disney Life headquarters.  When I don’t like something, I say so.  Well, mostly.  I did refrain from saying how I really felt about Inside Out, didn’t I.  Don’t ask, I don’t want to talk about it (I can hear you gasping, btw).  Anyway, back to my point here.  In spite of how looooooong it’s taking (and going to take), I’m pretty stoked about the changes going on at Walt Disney World.  Between the actual officially-announced ones and the rumors and speculations on others, there’s a lot to look forward to!  I know you probably have your own favorite list of future attractions you’re looking forward to and I’d be delighted if you shared your thoughts in the comments here or over on Facebook.  I know I’ve mentioned why changes are necessary, but today…

Here’s a quick look at why I’m Being Optimistic on Disney World Changes:

1.  Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland expansion was pretty awesome and bodes well for other Treasures in the Queue for Under the Seachanges.  Those Disney Imagineers are geniuses and in spite of what I’m sure is a very tight and restrictive budget, I believe they can be counted on to bring their A-Game for the near future in Animal Kingdom and the distant future in The Studios ( or whatever the park’s name may become).

2. It’s recently come to light in this article (and in the Wall Street Journal) exactly what we can expect from the new Frozen Ever After attraction in Epcot’s World Showcase/Norway Pavilion.  In light of how much I enjoy the details (especially the queue) for Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid in Magic Kingdom, I’m remaining cautiously optimistic – I also completely understand that, at this point, resistance is futile.  Maelstrom is gone forever.  In spite of my feelings about the Frozen Sisters’ invasion of Princess Fairytale Hall, I’m willing to give this new ride a chance.  Maybe, if it’s clever, funny, and well-detailed, we will all find something to like about it.

RM-Construction-Walls-Tree-of-Life23. While Avatar was not my most favorite movie ever, I did like it.  Lots of folks complain about the movie’s theme being a common one (Pocahontas, Dances With Wolves, etc.), but I’m pretty sure I’ll love Pandora in Animal Kingdom when it opens.  The potential is there for unbelievably amazing effects…and that’s exactly what I’m expecting!  This has “win/win” all over it – I adore Animal Kingdom – the addition of Pandora and the new nighttime attractions will make the park that much more special.

4. I don’t care if I may never be able to afford a night in a Bora Bora Bungalow or a dinner at The Boathouse – Updates to the Polynesian Village Resort and Downtown Disney are much more extensive than a room category or single restaurant.  Big picture!  I love the Poly’s new look and expect I’ll be thrilled with Disney Springs as well.  Future resort, shopping, and restaurant changes can only enhance our food and accommodation choices and out-of-park activity options.

Most Importantly:  When Walt Disney World offers the perfect combination of traditional favorites and new experiences, I can more easily justify multiple visits per year!

Your turn!  What are your thoughts on the recent and future changes at Walt Disney World?