Disney Dates Announced

Well…surprise, surprise!  We have some date that people have been waiting for, in some cases, years to hear!

rivers-of-lightRivers Of Light

First, the Rivers Of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will begin floating past the crowd on February 17, 2017!  This nighttime experience has had a few setbacks along the way, but I have faith that WDI has solved the mysteries that have eluded them and will bring a spectacular show!  Related to this event, Disney has also announced that there will be dinner packages available to get preferred seating for Rivers Of Light. Eligible restaurants include Tusker House, where you can choose to eat Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner for $37 for adults and $23 ages 3 – 9, tax and gratuity not included.  And Tiffin’s, where you get appetizer, entree, dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage at a cost of $67 per adult and 32 for ages 3 – 9, with tax and gratuity not included.

happily-ever-afterHappily Ever After

Next, say goodbye to Wishes!  Beginning on May 12 a new fireworks spectacular will be taking place in the Magic Kingdom! This new show will include music and clips from some of Disney’s newer films.  Look for Zootopia, Moana, Brave, Big Hero 6, and many others! The Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party will continue to be offered and will offer some of the better views of the new fireworks!  Take a look at the video that Disney released!  This is going to excite you!!

Thanks for reading, my friends!

Keeping the Magic Alive!!

magical_matthew

Battle of the WDW Podcasts

Repost: Round 2 starts Saturday, March 28,2015

I am certain that I am not alone when it comes to using any method possible to fill the gap between visits to Walt Disney World.  One of the most common, I suspect, and one I use daily is Walt Disney World Podcasts.  I currently have 22 in my list!  So, I thought it would be fun to run an unofficial poll and see how we all rank our favorites.  This will NOT be an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination, but in the style of my friend Bob All-In-WDW we will have 5 sets of 4 to begin our time.  I will leave it up for two days to give everyone a chance to vote.  The top two from each set will move into the next round.

Magical Express to WDW

Magical Express Bus
Magical Express Bus

So, you’ve booked your trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.  You’ve decided that since Disney provides all of the transportation you might need once you get there, that a rental car is an unnecessary expense. But, how do you get to your resort from Orlando International Airport (MCO)?  Simple, make use of Disney’s Magical Express service provided by Mears Transportation.  Here’s how it works!

Once you have decided to fly into MCO, and have made your package booking at Walt Disney World, make sure that your travel agent has your flight information, both in and out of MCO, and they can call to make the reservation for use of Disney’s Magical Express.  Doing this will simplify your transition from Aircraft to Motor Coach!  One of the coolest benefits is that Disney will send you special bag tags to put on your luggage.  You will check it in at your departing airport, and the next time you see it will be in your room at WDW.  You may want to pack a few things in your carry-on in case your need to change once you arrive at your resort.  Should you decide that you are more comfortable claiming our luggage at MCO, that’s fine, just leave the bag tags off of your luggage.

Magical Express  Bag Tags
Magical Express
Bag Tags

After you get off of your airplane, just follow the overhead signs to Disney’s Magical Express.  It is on the ground level of the B side of the main terminal.  It will likely take you about 20 minutes to get to this point by the time everyone makes a pit stop, gets acclimated, and find your way.  Yea, it’s a bit of a walk, but trust me, it’s worth it!!  Make sure you don’t pack your MagicBands in your checked bags, you will need them for smoother entry into the DME queue.  Disney’s Magical Express operates between 5:00am and 10:00pm.  So, if you arrive before 5am or after 10pm, you WILL NEED to claim your luggage to carry along on the motor coach.

MCO Map to DME

When you check-in for your Motor Coach, you will be told which line to queue up in that will take you to your resort.  Some coaches will service more than one resort, depending on the number of passengers.  But, generally speaking, you will be at your resort within an hour after departing the airport.  And, it’s an enjoyable ride!  There is a welcome video to get you into the magical mood.  And, you may have a driver that enjoys Disney as much as you do who will ask some trivia, point out some highlights, and interact with you along the way.

When the sad time comes to have to return to your ‘real’ home, Disney Magical Express will once again provide you with your ride back to MCO.  There is a Resort Check-In desk in each resort.  Just take your bags to that desk, and they will be checked through to your destination, and you will get your Boarding Passes.  If you have a carry on, you can leave that with Bag Services so you can visit a park, grab a favorite snack, or visit Downtown Disney before you leave.  Yes, we Disney fanatics call this the Tragical Express, but none the less, we all have to go sometime.

If you have any questions about Disney’s Magical Express, just ask!

Have a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!!

Polynesian Lobby Revealed

Polynesian Resort Village Lobby
Polynesian Resort Village Lobby

The first pictures were revealed of the refurbished Great Ceremonial House lobby at Walt Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.  And, while I’m sure I’m in the minority, I don’t find it unappealing!  But then, I have never spent more than a few minutes in the lobby area.  I am usually running through to go to ‘Ohana, or grab a monorail.

I know that there are many avid Disney fans who aren’t completely open to change.  In this case, I wonder what a first time guest might think of this lobby? The open design actually makes the lobby look large and inviting.  And, make sure you keep an eye on the floor, there may be a hidden mickey or two lying around.

I know that change is difficult, but it is the one constant of life. AND, it is inevitable!

I can’t wait to see this in person, I may have a different opinion at that time, but for now, I’m open to what is presented!

Have a great Saturday!

News Tidbits From Around WDW

First up…PLAY BALL!  For you sports fans who want to have an intimate experience with professional baseball, the Atlanta Braves will be returning to the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex for Spring Training, March 4 – April 4, 2015.   Tickets for Braves ‘Home Games’ range from $14 for lawn seats to $54 for lower level reserved seats.  Parking is FREE!

The Memory Maker Pre-purchase Package price increased as of December 3, 2014 from $129 to $169.  The price paid during, or after, your visit will still be $199.  It may be worth it with the enhancements that have been made to add ride pictures and videos.

Star Wars Weekends will be returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Fridays – Sundays, May 4 – June 14, 2015.  There will be a

Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast featuring some of the ‘villains’ from the Empire.  Darth Vader, Bobo Fett, Greedo, Jawas, and Stormtroopers will be a part of the experience.  Cost will be $49.99 for adults and $31.99 for kids ages 3 – 9.  Breakfast will be offered during Star Wars Weekends at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, and the hours will be 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine will be held at Hollywood and Vine, and will include the Fantasmic! Dining Package.  Along with Jedi Mickey will be Princess Leia Minnie, Darth Vader Goofy, Storm Trooper Donald, and Ewoks Chip ‘n’ Dale. Cost is $57.99 for adults and $34.99 for kids ages 3 – 9, and gratuities are not included.

Advanced  reservations are strongly suggested for both dining experiences, and character appearances are subject to change. Call 407-WDW-DINE for more information and reservations!

Thanks for reading, and have a blessed and magical day, my friends!!

Measuring Up At WDW

Many of the rides at Walt Disney World have minimal height requirements for safety reasons.  It is one of the most asked questions we get.  I will attempt to give you an accurate idea of how to measure up in the parks.

Magic Kingdom…

Space Mountain®…44″  Splash Mountain®…40″  Big Thunder Mountain Railroad®…40″  Stitch’s Great Escape…38″  Tomorrowland Indy Speedway…52″ to ride alone

EPCOT Center

2013-12-07 09.34.01Test Track®…40″  Soarin’®…40″  Mission: Space®…44″

Disney’s Hollywood StudiosDSCF5665

Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster®…48″  Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™…40″  Star Tours® – The Adventure Continues…40″

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Expedition EverestExpedition Everest – Legend of The Forbidden Mountain®…44″  Kali River Rapids®…38″  Dinosaur…40″  Primeval Whirl®…48″

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon

Humunga Kowabunga…48″

Disney’s Blizzard Beach

Slush Gusher…48″  Downhill Double Dipper…48″  Summit Plummet…48″

Keep in mind that Disney Cast Members are not very forgiving for an inch or two!  So, I would recommend following these guidelines very closely to avoid any issues.

Thanks for reading and have a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!!

TCM’s GMR

DSCF5614

The addition of Turner Classic Movies sponsorship of The Great Movie Ride could be a fabulous partnership at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!  The possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to putting new scenes together to both update the ride and keep the classic feel of the ride!  And, IF memory serves correctly, TCM still has a partnership with MGM…hmmmm!

I am curious if there are going to be any changes to the facade of the theater, with the demolition of the Sorcerer Mickey Hat, to  enhance the view as we walk up Hollywood Blvd.

Now to see what OTHER news will come out of DHS!

In the end, I think we all win!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers…and a Magical Weekend to you all!!

When, Oh When WDW, Will You Tell Us?

With the announcements that Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be closing The Legend of Jack Sparrow, and possibly moving the Sorcerer’s Hat, one question is still left unanswered…

Sorcerer HatWHAT’S COMING TO THE STUDIOS!?

The short answer is: We Don’t Know!  The Walt Disney company has not shared any plans for new attractions, major refurbishments, or anything else.  We know that some studio elite toured the park over the past few months.  We assume that there will be an expansion to Pixar Place and possibly the addition of something Star Wars related.  And, how could we forget, the rumor of a name change to Disney’s Hollywood Adventure?  Keep in mind that nothing has been confirmed, or denied, by Disney!

This tactic, while potentially wise, drives Disney fans, like myself, a bit crazy!  And, if I had to guess, nothing major will be announced until Spring at the earliest.  But, I suspect any BIG news will have to wait until D23 next August.  Wow!  That’s a long time!

For now, we will just have to sit back and take a wait and see stance.  So, until next time, may you have a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!!

Who Needs To Plan For a Trip to WDW?

One of the most asked questions I get from people is “do I really need to plan for a trip to Walt Disney World?” In a quick answer, yes! Let’s explore this a little deeper, because while the answer is ‘yes’, there are different levels of planning.

The first type of planner to look at is the Uber-Planner! This is the person who has to have EVERYTHING planned to the second! They may begin their initial planning anywhere between one and two years in advance of their trip. They begin looking at dates, figuring out potential resorts, looking at crowd calendars just to get an ‘idea’ of what the next trip could look like. They will probably even make the initial resort reservation to make it real! At the one year mark, they will refine their crowd numbers, and begin planning meals, parks, and attractions for each day. There will be little room for changes, as long as Disney World doesn’t mess things up with their scheduling.

The second type is what I like to call the thumbnail sketch planner! This person just wants to know a few of the basics! They will look at when to travel, where to stay, and basic days in parks. They may book the three allowed Fastpass+s they are allowed per day, but not really go much beyond that stage in their planning. Meals will likely be just quick service, or a potential walk up, on the fly. And, the remainder of each day will be relaxed, and allow time to take in some of the detail. They may even take some time to search out a Hidden Mickey or two!

Finally, we have the ”I don’t need a plan” planner! They may book a room three months out, put together one or two special meals, if they want them. But, otherwise, there is no specific plan to their trip. This planner may choose to not use Fastpass in any form! They may choose to just walk-on as many rides and attractions as they can in a completely open daytime schedule. They will catch a meal if they are hungry, with no plans as to where or when! And, there may even be days when they choose NOT to go to a park and just make use of the resort amenities.

So, what kind of planner do YOU need to be? It really depends on the needs of you and your family! Special events at WDW require advanced planning. And, the farther out, the better chances you have of making that event special! Remember, Advanced Dining Reservations (including tours, dessert parties, etc.) open up at or about the 180 day point. If you are wanting to do any Character Dining in the parks, this is very important to remember! And, as a reminder, if you are staying at a Disney-Owned Resort, you can make your dining reservations at 180 plus 10 days into your vacation.

Just a Teaser

The No Way Jose', Beaches and Cream Disney's Beach Club Resort
The No Way Jose’, Beaches and Cream
Disney’s Beach Club Resort

What Is It About Walt Disney World?

With all of the places we could choose to take a vacation, why do we continue to visit Walt Disney World?  The reasons can be varied, and many time very simple!  My love for the Disney product began when I was a kid watching “The Wonderful World of Color” on Sunday evenings before getting ready for school the next day, and going to bed.  I loved the stories, the visuals, and the commentary by Walt Disney himself!  If they ever decide to run the shows again, you would see in color what was in Black and White when originally aired.  Walt was a forward thinking man, and always working to stay ahead of the curve.

When I first heard of Walt Disney World, I would have been about 11 years old at the time, I wanted to go, but my parents said there was no way we could afford the trip.  It wasn’t until I was 21, that I made my first entry into The Magic Kingdom!  And, as an added bonus, the next day we went to the newly opened, 2 day old, EPCOT Center!  And, all I could say was WOW!

Walt Disney World, as a whole, is an attraction!  It attracts people from all walks of life!  It pulls people from all around the world to spend their vacation time, and money!  And, once we are exposed to the magic, many of us return time and time again.  Personally, there are only a few other places in the world I want to see, and they happen to also be Disney Destinations!

The anticipation begins the first day you decide to make your trip, and continues beyond your last day of your vacation.  When you decide to go, will affect how much time you have to nurture your excitement.  I typically plan 9 months to 1.5 years in advance.  And, that is determined by the time of year I plan to visit!  Spring breaks, 4th of July, and Christmas are times that may require more advanced planning because of the heavy crowds.

What is hardest is to have to wait so long between visits to WDW!  But, thanks to the digital age there are ways to soften the heartache!  One way, is to listen to WDW Podcasts, such as the Disney Parks Podcast, to keep up on changes, planning tips, and even some Disney World “celebrities” who may drop by for a visit! You can also make use of YouTube to watch some of your favorite attractions, jog good memories, or just forget about real life for a moment or two.  There are WDW specific Facebook groups, many dialog boards, and other social media outlets to talk and share your experiences and questions about Walt Disney World!

But, the best way I know to soften the blow between trips, is to begin planning the next one.  Even if you don’t have a specific date to travel, start talking about what resort you may want to try?  When do you want to go?  Are there any special events you may want to try to include?  Do you want to celebrate a special occasion?  Then, start asking questions in Facebook, or other source.  Send questions to Disney Parks Podcast, or other resource.  Or, contact a Disney Specialized travel agent!

Planning is a big part of the fun for the Disney enthusiast!  Almost as much fun as the trip, itself…okay, maybe not!  And, there are many who are content with just visiting anything Disney for their vacation!  Are you one of us?  You will be…You WILL be!

Matthew Wallace is a Travel Planner for Magical Starr Travel, living in Ohio, and specializing in Disney Destinations!  You can contact Matthew by email at matthew@magicalstartravel.com or by calling 888-534-3569 ext  1.  Visit our website at www.magicalstartravel.com.