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.

Outside the Parks at WDW

Sammy Duvall Walt Disney World Bay Lake
Sammy Duvall
Walt Disney World
Bay Lake

Sure, most of us go the Walt Disney World intent on hitting all of the parks as many times as possible during our stay! But, did you know that there are plenty of things to do outside of the parks? Let’s take a look at just a few of those things today, shall we?

One of the benefits of staying at a Disney Resort, even if you aren’t visiting any of the four theme parks, is that there is a lot to do in other parts of the property. After all, there are about 47 square miles to play with in this area of Florida! One thing I like to do, is just check out other resorts! It can be a bit time consuming with transportation, but if you aren’t on a schedule, the Disney World buses are a great way to enjoy the scenery! You might have to take a bus from your resort to one of the parks and transfer to another bus to visit the resort you are wanting to see. But, there’s no cost to riding the buses, or visiting the resorts. And, if you ask at the front desk, you may be able to get a glimpse of a room. Then walk around the outside areas of that resort. Check out the pool areas, landscaping, theming, or whatever might be of interest to you. And, all it costs is a little time!

There are golf courses and miniature golf options around the Walt Disney World Resort. Tee times can be arranged in advance for the PGA level golf courses. And, the mini-golf spots are open most of the day, so you can practice your putting all day long, if you wish! No reservations are needed for the miniature golf!

And then, there is Downtown Disney (DTD)! Getting to DTD is tricky with the transformation into Disney Springs, but again, the buses are a great way to get there! There are plenty of places to eat that will fit nearly any palate. There is entertainment all around, especially in the evenings. Disney Quest is at DTD and is a large arcade complex! It does have a cost, but can be fun, in a retro kind of way!

So, if you want the Disney feel without all of the rushing around, think about a more relaxing vacation outside of the parks! You still get the Disney touches, and a little bit of magic, too, but you can avoid the crowds and hustle of the parks. Even if you don’t want to leave the parks out completely, think about a day or two of your trip relaxing! After all, it is vacation!

What are some of the things you might do, if you aren’t going to the parks?  I want to hear about it!  Thanks for reading, and have a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!!

Traveling with a Non-Park Loving Guest at WDW

Anyone who loves, Loves, LOVES Walt Disney World may be able to relate to this post!  Many of us have met them, some of them are in our own families, or circle of friends! You plan and plan for that perfect trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth, and suddenly one of your traveling companions says, “I don’t really want to do the parks!  What can I do that is NOT in the parks?”  We’ll take a look at that in this installment of the ThreeStrandsWDW blog!

Many Disney addicts have a spouse, companion, or even child who isn’t as pumped up about visiting the parks.  And, if not planned well, this can be the vacation from hell!  What I think about is, “How can I make this vacation special for this person?”  Thankfully, they are still going to Walt Disney World!” Which means there’s plenty to choose from to occupy your time.

Like to golf?  WDW offers some of the best golfing around.  There are four world class courses managed by the Arnold Palmer Golf Management.

Disney's Magnolia Golf Course Not so hidden Mickey!
Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course
Not so hidden Mickey!

Disney’s Magnolia, the longest championship level course on property!  With lots of water hazards and 97 bunkers, this course is set up to challenge even the most avid player.

Disney’s Palm was completely redesigned by Arnold Palmer Course Design, and has nine water hazards and ninety-four bunkers.  I’d say you could spend some time at the beach and not have near the driving distance to get there, if you’re not careful!

Disney’s Lake Buena Vista and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Courses round out this foursome of fantastically laid out fairways, bunkers, and greens to give anyone who loves golf plenty to do while everyone else is in the one of the parks.

Sammy Duvall Walt Disney World Bay Lake
Sammy Duvall
Walt Disney World
Bay Lake

For someone with a different kind of adventurous spirit, there are a few options available, as well.  There’s fishing at Port Orleans Resort – Riverside.  Horseback riding or Archery at Fort Wilderness, or Parasailing on Bay Lake.

There are also some special tours that COULD get them into the parks, even for a short while.  There is a Scuba diving adventure at The Seas with Nemo and Friends.  Or, there are park tours available to get a look at the magic behind the magic.

IMG_1423

Whatever their interest, there is something for EVERYONE to do at Walt Disney World! And, of course, there are a ton of dining experiences to be had, as well.  And, who doesn’t find the food at WDW to be an attraction in and of itself?

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

Is The Freeze On For Norway at WDW?

Frozen Poster

As you may have heard by now, the Norway Pavilions in the World Showcase at EPCOT may be going under an extended refurbishment during the off-season.  What does this mean?  That is the question that many in the Disney community is wanting an answer to, and quickly!

There has been some speculation that Maelstrom may receive a FROZEN overlay, others think it may be completely turned into a FROZEN attraction.  Still others are hoping that it will be a simple update, with some fresh paint and a few screws tightened up.  

What I have heard, is that the country of Norway has ceased any support for the pavilion from a financial standpoint.  I hope that the officials of this beautiful country decide to help supplement any refurbishment that may take place, if they hope to have a say in what type of changes might be made.  Otherwise, there may be a bit of Sven and Olaf in the place of some of the Vikings!  

It is only my opinion, at this time, but I think that FROZEN should NOT be a part of the Norway pavilion, as I believe it cancels out the original ideas of the Disney Imagineers in presenting something about the cultures of the countries of the World Showcase!  I like Maelstrom as it is!  It is a bit of a unique experience, and I get chills when I see the scenes, as portrayed, in this attraction that allows me to see just how beautiful this land is, and the hard work it has taken to make Norway the country that it is today!

So, where should FROZEN go?  I truly think the best place would be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!  With the closing of the American Idol Experience, one has to wonder if the success of the Frozen Summer Fun may be getting a more permanent venue?  Makes sense to me, but at this point, we will just have to see how it all comes together!

For now, we’ll just sit back, and see what develops!  If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments section below!

Thanks for reading and may you have a Blessed and Magical day, my friends!

Dinner Package for Candlelight Processional

2013-12-07 17.30.23

 

The Candlelight Processional at EPCOT is one of the highlights of the year at Walt Disney World.  And, this year’s will be no exception!  We don’t know all of the guest narrators who will attend this year, but we some have been confirmed!  So far, we have:

  • Jodi Benson November 28 and 29, 2014
  • Whoopi Goldberg December 5 and 6, 2014
  • Sharon Stone (NEW!) December 15 to December 17, 2014
  • Ana Gasteyer (NEW!) December 18 to December 20, 2014
  • Marlee Matlin December 21 to December 23, 2014
  • Steven Curtis Chapman December 28 to December 30, 2014

The question that many ask?  “Is it worth paying for the Dinner Package to get a seat for this event?”  My short answer is: “Yes”!

By purchasing the Dinner Package for the Candlelight Processional, you are being assured of a seat for one of the three performances.  There are two lines for the show.  One for Dinner Package guests, and one for stand-by guests.  The stand-by line may only get a handful of people into the seated area.  There is some standing room at the rear of the America Gardens Theater.  

You can choose to have lunch or dinner at The Biergarten, Chefs De France, Coral Reef, Garden Grill, La Hacienda de San Angel, Nine Dragons, Restaurant Marrakesh, Rose and Crown, San Angel Inn, Teppan Edo, Tokyo Dining, Tutto Italia, or Via Napoli restaurants.  The time you choose to eat, will determine what your show time will be for the Processional.

The line will start at the America Gardens Theater and move toward Morocco and France for Dinner Package guests.  The stand-by line runs the opposite direction toward Norway and Mexico.  In my opinion, the Dinner Package is well worth the investment for this fabulous event!  So, eat up, get in line, and enjoy the Christmas Story from the Scriptures!

Have a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!!

Comparing Resorts at WDW

My two recent stays included two very different resorts.  Both were great!  Disney is Disney with any of their resorts.  But, for this post, I wanted to share my thoughts between Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside.  So here we go!

Art of Animation

Disney’s Art of Animation (AOA) is a value level resort that offers three building areas (Nemo, Lion King, and Cars) with rooms set up with Family Suites that can sleep up to 6 people. And, one building (Little Mermaid) that has standard rooms for four people.  Let me start by saying that we were in a Lion King Suite with 3 adults and three kids ages 11,13, and 15.  One adult shared the sleeper and the kids took turns on the convertible dining table Murphy bed.  All-in-all, it worked out great!  No one complained and in fact I was told that the sleeper was a fine option!  The master is a larger room, with a door that closes.  There are two bathrooms complete with showers that make getting ready in the morning a bit easier to pull off if you are headed for rope drop.  There is also a fridge, coffee maker, and microwave in the room.

The grounds at AOA are well kept and each themed area has large figures of some of your favorite Disney and Pixar characters! There are three pools at AOA.  The main pool is in the Nemo area and offers underwater sound.  There are smaller pools at Cars and Little Mermaid areas, also.  And, if you are hungry, The Landscape of Flavors is a great counter service area offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

Transportation to anywhere on Disney property is provided by Disney Transport from a single point of departure in front of the main building.  Just get in the line for the destination you are wanting, and there will be a bus shortly.  Our experience was about 10 minutes or less during peak travel.

Main Entrance - Port Orleans - Riverside
Main Entrance – Port Orleans – Riverside

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside (POR) is a moderate level resort with two main areas, Magnolia Bend and Alligator Bayou.  Magnolia Bend is fashioned after the plantation mansions of the south, while Alligator Bayou has more of a rustic, backwoods feel to it!  Magnolia Bend room are standard rooms, but Alligator Bayou rooms offer the ability to house five guests during your stay with the use of a Murphy Style bed in the room.  There are two sinks outside of the bathroom, making it easy to prepare for a days adventures in the parks.

The theming of POR is not what you might not expect from a Disney resort, but it is a really nice break from the hustle and bustle of running to parks.  And, transportation is convenient!  There are boats that will take you from the dock at POR to Downtown Disney and back!  I love this ride, it’s quiet and you get to see parts of the Disney property that can’t be seen any other way! Buses can be a little more tricky at POR with four stops around the perimeter.  But, most people who are used to riding buses don’t seem to mind.  And, most of the rides are quite short once all of the stops have been covered.

If you are hungry, you can grab a bite at the Riverside Mill food court, sit down for a relaxing time at Boatrwight’s Dining Hall, or grab some appetizers at the River Roost while you are watching and listening to Yeehaa Bob!

Both resorts provide a unique experience and offer the ability to create some fabulous memories!  So, keep them both in mind and consider what you’re goal is when choosing a Disney Resort for your vacation!

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

What I Like Most About WDW

Disney-Where-Dreams-Come-True

What I like most about my trips to WDW, is the absolute loss of reality, even for the short time I am living within the bubble! For at least a week at a time, I can forget about the cares of the world and relax! Sure, the word relax and Walt Disney World aren’t normally found in the same sentence together, but it can be done!

When I first walk up to the Magic Kingdom, each trip, I can literally feel the weight of the world melt away! I have even been told that the look on my face changes! I can feel the stresses of life melt away, if only temporarily, and enjoy what is right in front of me, the Main Street Railway Station! For me, that is the sign that I am almost home!

Sure, I love all of the other parks, too! But, The Magic Kingdom has a direct link to my biggest idol, Walt Disney! I know he didn’t get to see his dream completed, but you can still feel him in the place, if you allow your self. After all, WDW was kind of based on Disneyland, and Walt did build that one in his lifetime. And so, when I walk into the younger sibling I can still feel as though I am walking in Walt’s footsteps.

EPCOT was always Walt’s desire for the Florida Project, and I remember walking into EPCOT when the paint was still drying and the Imagination Pavilion was at least six months from completion! But, The Magic Kingdom will always be the place that started it all! At least for me!

What is your favorite park? Memory? Share it in the comments below or email me at threestrandswdw@outlook.com.

Have a Magical and Blessed Day, my friends!