What I Like Most About WDW


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!

DDP – Plus Dining


In our last post, we looked at the DDP – Quick-Service option to add to your Walt Disney World vacation, see http://wp.me/p23hiG-id if you want to get caught up!

Today we will look at the Standard Plan, or as Disney puts it the Magic Your Way Plus Dining option. With this option you get: One Sit-Down meal, One Quick-Service Meal, and one Snack per person per night, as well as the Resort Renewable Drink Mug. With this plan, the need for Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) comes into play and may be crucial to making your meals fit into your overall attack plans for your stay! You can make ADRs 180 (+ 10 days into your vacation) days prior to your arrival either by internet at http://www.mydisneyexperience.com, or by calling 407-WDW-DINE(407-939-3463).

And, with hundreds of choices to look at, there is a lot of thought that needs to be put into your vacation. As with the Quick-Service Meal we discussed in the last post, your Sit-Down Meal consists of one entree, one dessert, and one single serving, non-alcoholic beverage, or a full buffet. You can ask your server to swap the dessert for an appetizer, and most will accommodate your request. You can EVEN have a pizza delivered to your room, if you want!

For a list of participating restaurants, practically all of them, go to https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/media/wdw_nextgen/CoreCatalog/WaltDisneyWorld/en_us/PDF/2014Dining.pdf and start checking out where you want to eat! If you are looking for menus, you can check out Deb Wills site http://www.allears.net/menus which will show you the meals and costs.

Finally, don’t forget that gratuities are NOT included in the dining plan. Your check will come with suggested amounts of 18% and 20%, groups of six or more will have 18% automatically added to their bill!

This is the most used plan when Free Dining is offered as it is available for Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa accommodations. And, don’t forget to keep track of your entitlements so you don’t walk away with any left over at the end of your trip! Depending on the size of your group, it may be worth it!

Next time, we will look at the Deluxe Dining Plan…hope you’re hungry! Until then, have a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!

Wish I Was Home…In WDW!!

Main Street U.S.A. at Night from the Train Platform
Main Street U.S.A.
at Night
from the Train Platform

There is truly no place on earth that I find the true happiness I feel when I am at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida! The moment I head to a park, the smile on my face is miles long and the weight of my step is barely registering! To say I’m unhappy with my life otherwise is not a totally true statement, but I really feel my home is at Mickey’s place!

So, I am taking an imaginary visit to the Magic Kingdom today!! The wife is gone, and I can do whatever I want without barriers! My first stop? Haunted Mansion!! It’s my favorite attraction and it is typically where I begin my homecoming!! From there, Small World, Philharmagic, Peter Pan, and Pooh! For lunch, I’m headed to Crystal Palace to see my buddy, Tigger!! I am a Pooh and Friends fan to the bone!! I love the movies and meeting opportunities offered throughout the parks!

Now, it’s time to exercise my first Fastpass+ for Enchanted Tales with Belle, I’ve never been! Then to explore the rest of New Fantasyland, and guess what? Soft Open announced for Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train!! I’m headed for the front seat! After all, it is my visit, right?

Now, it’s time for dinner, and I have decided on a new adventure for me! California Grill will be my destination for a 7pm reservation. And, I’m taking my time because I want to see Wishes! from the balcony! And, for dinner I’m having the Yuzu Marinated Shashimi with the Lemon Meringue Cheesecake for dessert! A glass of wine selected for me by my server, and the night is complete!

That’s my day!! What would yours be like? Comment below and share your wish with all of us!!

To the mom’s out there…Happy Mother’s Day! May it be a Blessed and Magical day for you all!!

Updated Prices, Refurbs, etc. for WDW

Walt Disney World has been quietly slipping the cost of things up a bit, with no fanfare of any kind! Most notably is the price of a One-Day, Single Park Ticket. The price slid up $5. Magic Kingdom is not $99 for one day. EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom are $94 for a single day’s visit. It is believed this is a strategy to trim the one day visitors in favor of multiple day guests. The cost for parking at a Disney Park has also made a quiet move up the ladder going from $15 to $17 per day.

Here is the list of current Refurbishments at Walt Disney World:

Magic Kingdom
Big Thunder Mountain April 7-9, 2014
Pirates of the Caribbean April 28 – May 1, 2014
Tomorrowland Transit Authority – Peoplemover – May 3 – Jun 30, 2014
Astro Orbiter May 3 – August 20, 2014

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Festival of the Lion King is still under refurbishment with no official date announced for re-opening in a new theater in the Harambe area of the park. Expect sometime late May or June!

Of course, there is major construction around the Polynesian Resort in preparation of adding Disney Vacation Club. There are changes taking place to the Great Ceremonial House, as well! Keep this in mind when planning your vacation!

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to share if you find the information helpful! Have a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!!

An Off-Sight WDW Vacation

It’s no secret that I, personally, prefer to be a much inside the magic as possible. However, I can understand, and even empathize, with some who say it’s just too expensive! Well, let’s look at what you need to remember when staying at an off-sight location for your Walt Disney World Adventure.

Not all off-sight resorts are actually “off-sight”. There are two that are actually built on Disney ground, but owned and operated by an independent company. Those are the Swan and Dolphin Resorts! They are a part of the Starwood Group, and if you have points to use, these can be very good choices for location purposes. However, you will need to keep in mind that they are considered off-property resorts in the way they are presented. For instance, you may think they are on-sight because Disney Transport DOES provide service to the parks from these locations. However, EMH privileges are not supported! You can get MagicBands, but you can not make FPP reservations until 30 days out!

You may choose to stay at a Downtown Disney Resort. The Hilton at Lake Buena Vista allows EMH access, but there is limited transportation available from this, or any LBV resort location. Call ahead to get a better idea of whether this service if for you, or not. You are, however, right at the DTD area and can easily walk to Downtown Disney (soon to be Disney Springs) for shopping or to access Disney Transportation.

And then there are ‘resorts’ in the Kissimmee and even beyond. There are several that may offer free breakfast options. But, be aware that many claim to have transportation available, but much of it is scarce and may be unreliable, not to mentioned poorly scheduled. If you are wanting to see late night fireworks, or even stay later in a park, you may NOT be able to accomplish this from an off-sight location. Again, do your homework before finalizing your plans to make sure this will work for your planning.

One other note to consider: if you are driving, or using a rental car to get to the parks, the parking fee is currently $15/day. The good thing is that you can drive between parks for the same fee, just make sure you have your permit visible! The convenience may be worth it in the long run!

I do not have any sponsorship on this site, so my suggestions are just that! But, if you are staying off-sight, consider a vacation home as an option. There are a number of companies available. I am most familiar with All-Star Vacation Homes and have spent a bit of time on their website. It’s very informative and can help immensely in your planning.

You can save a lot of money staying off-sight, but make sure you add things up to make sure you have a complete picture of the cost. Depending on your specific needs, this may be a strategy to consider!

Thanks for reading! Have a Blessed and Magical Weekend!!

Trip Report Tuesday: French Quarter to Parks

It is a great pleasure to share this trip report with you from my good friend, Diane Trowbridge. She was gracious enough to offer an accounting of the recent trip she took with her husband, David. Today is part one of her report, enjoy!!

February 2014

My husband and I (ages 72, 57) just returned from a wonderful week at Walt Disney World (WDW). We booked through Disney with a Magic Your Way package that included Airfare from Cleveland, Ohio; moderate onsite resort (Port Orleans French Quarter, POFQ) for 8 nights, 7 day Park tickets with Park Hopper, free Disney Dining Plan (DDP) and Magic Express transportation to/from the Orlando airport.

Here are the highlights:

Day 1: Flew into Orlando International Airport (MCO) and used our Magic Bands (MB) to get on the Magic Express bus. Do NOT PACK YOUR MBs in your checked luggage! If you have your MB you don’t need the paper tickets that come in your welcome packet with the luggage tags. DO USE THE DISNEY yellow luggage tags if you want Disney to deliver your luggage to your onsite resort room. Checked into POFQ, which was easy since I did online check-in 60 days prior. Used our MB to enter the room. Each member of the party needs to unlock the resort door with their MB to fully activate them. Our Royal room was lovely and such a short walk to the Food Court. Since it was 8 pm by then, we ate in the Food Court, which had a nice selection of sandwiches, ribs, chicken, pizza, and pasta meals.

Port Orleans French Quarter
Port Orleans French Quarter

This was our first experience with Disney’s “free” Dining Plan (1 Snack, 1 Quick service, 1 Table service per person per day), which also came with free refillable mugs (1 per person). We used our mugs for soda at dinner (place them on the beverage rack then press the button to get the soda of your choice. If you hold the mug above the rack it won’t flow.) Since we normally buy our refillable mugs, this already saved us $34. The meals come with a nonalcoholic beverage so we also selected OJ in bottles for our meals’ “beverage” and had the juice for breakfast the next day. (The room has a dorm-sized refrigerator.) Our meals were fine and we headed off to our room in Bldg 5. Our luggage arrived about 3 hours after we checked in. We were tired and ready for our PJ’s. Next time I’ll pack those in our carry-on.

A wet Italy at EPCOT is better than a dry day anyplace else!
A wet Italy at EPCOT is better than a dry day anyplace else!

Day 2: Made breakfast in the room with Carnation Instant Breakfast (brought from home) and milk (snack credits) as well as our OJ from the food court. Made Rope Drop (RD) to EPCOT, using MB and a fingerprint to enter, and an 8 minute wait for Test Track. David designed our racy red sports car then we hopped on our Test Track vehicle. His “design” earned speed records. Really enjoyed the pre and post areas on that ride. Had Fast Pass Plus (FPP) for Mission Space but missed the time; rode it anyway with no wait. Made our FPP at Spaceship Earth, then rode the boat across the EPCOT lake to Germany and walked to our ADR at Via Napoli. Arrived early and were about the only ones in Italy due to the hour and drizzly rain. Our pictures look amazing with empty walkways! Had a GREAT lunch with individual pizzas, wine, and dessert (Tiramisu, ice cream sundae). Walked to France for the movie, saw Aurora (no wait), shopped in the UK, and enjoyed the movie at Canada before our FPP at Soarin’. Walk on to Living with the Land, The Seas with Nemo, and a brief wait for Turtle Talk with Crush. Walked to the International Entrance to the EPCOT resorts and grabbed a boat ride to our dinner at Big River Grille and Brewery at Boardwalk. Had a wonderful steak dinner and the beer sampler. I would strongly recommend this restaurant! Had a window table and enjoyed the view of the lake and EPCOT resorts. Since it was still drizzling, we decided to skip the rest of EPCOT and boarded the boat to Hollywood Studios to catch the Disney bus back to POFQ. That saved a long walk from the Boardwalk to the front of EPCOT.

Taking a Break at WDW!

For many visitors to the Walt Disney World Resort, it is important to get in as much as possible during their stay. But, there are also many who like to take a bit of a break in the middle of the day, and many of the planning websites recommend this strategy. Today, let’s look at some ways to accomplish this, without missing too much park time.

Taking a break can be done in a couple of different ways. The first, is to head to your desired park of the day for Rope Drop (RD) to hit some popular attractions before the rest of the world wakes up and joins you. After you have spent two to four hours in the park, you can head back to your resort for a little pool time and/or nap. This is actually highly recommended if you have small children who may be in the routine of resting or napping in the afternoon. You can then head back to a park, depending on what type of park ticket you may have, and continue your journey. This strategy is also suggested for our older folks and during the extreme warm and humid days that are prevalent in the mid summertime.

Another idea, is to take a nice lunch break at a sit-down restaurant. Many of the meals will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours to complete and can provide just enough refreshing to continue on in your endeavor to get more park time in during the day. For example, if you are at The Magic Kingdom, you could plan a sit-down at Liberty Town Tavern. The decor is very relaxing and the meal is a buffet/family style service. You can easily take a much needed time-out here without leaving the park!

One last idea, for now, is to take an entire day as a break in the middle of your stay. If you are doing a 6 – 10 day visit to WDW, you can plan to use a day right in the middle to just relax! You can enjoy your resort, after-all it wasn’t cheap! And, you might as well take time to look around. Make use of your resort facilities: pool, arcade, food court, etc. Visit Downtown Disney (DTD)! I would recommend doing this morning to early afternoon so that the crowd levels are more manageable. Or, take on one of the other activities I shared about in my previous blog, http://wp.me/p23hiG-eL, Non-Park Adventures at WDW.

If you really feel you need to plan a break, or two, then by all means take a break! It is YOUR vacation, and you need to enjoy it as you see fit.

What are some of you ideas for taking a break? Leave a comment below and share with us all, so we can try some of these ideas on our next Walt Disney World Adventure!

Until next time, have a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!

Non-Park Adventures at WDW

Can you believe it? I actually want to make a trip to Walt Disney World and NOT enter a park. So, what can I do that will still be magical? Let’s take a look, shall we?

In order to be able to keep some cost control, I choose to stay at Pop Century! The theming is quite amazing! I did a walk through on my last visit and I could stay there without concern! It’s well kept and clean, and the pools look amazing!

I would begin with a trip to Downtown Disney, soon to be Disney Springs. A visit to Earl of Sandwich for a yummy meal followed by a trip through the World of Disney Store sounds like fun, to me! From there, I jump on a Sassagoula River Transport to Port Orleans – Riverside for the Yeehaa Bob Show. I have seen him in the past and love his entertaining style.

What about a round of golf? Well, miniature golf that is. I would take on both Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens and Fairways both sound enjoyable and relaxing. I just hope there is a worthy opponent! I’m hoping my putting skills make a better than usual impression.

I’m not sure which water park I would want to try. Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach looks intense, and gets strong reviews from whose who have shared their experiences. But, I’m not sure about the wedgie at the end of the slide! Or, should I take a shot at the Crush N Gusher Water Coaster at Typhoon Lagoon? Ah, heck, maybe I’ll do both?

As you can see, there is a lot to do without going into one of the theme parks! There is a lot more than I can cover in this entry. I would suggest that you make use of the internet and see if there are other options you would want to consider. Whether you choose to take a trip similar to this example, or add a few of these items to your vacation planning, you will find something you can enjoy!

Happy Planning!!

Have a Blessed and Magical Weekend, my friends!

What’s The Attraction: Journey Into Imagination

I can remember the first time I saw the Journey Into Imagination! It was in April 1983! While I had visited EPCOT Center on opening week in October 1982, The Imagination Pavilion was not completed yet, and so wasn’t open. I fell so in love with EPCOT, that I had to return as soon as possible! Upon my return, I was able to take my first look at Journey Into Imagination, and it was worth the wait.

Fountain at the Imagination Pavilion
Fountain at the Imagination Pavilion

The pyramid type architecture was exciting to see on the outside, which is mirrored by one of the fountains in front of it! Inside was a ride-through presentation that was set on an Omnimover system to help keep the flow of guests moving. The first part of the ride introduced you to Dreamfinder, riding on his specially designed blimp, and Figment with a song written by Disney legends Robert and Richard Sherman, “One Little Spark”. This catchy tune describes what Figment looks like, as well as the vast array of things you can make with an active imagination.

From there you entered the Dreamport where all of the collected elements of imagination are transferred into a machine that begins to mix it all together, and storing them for use at a later time. As you move along the ride, you visit four rooms where imagination may have an outlet. Those rooms were: Art, Literature, the Performing Arts, and Science. Each room explores ways to apply our imaginations to create something new and exciting.

We are then reminded, by Dreamfinder, that the imagination is the key to unlock the hidden wonders of our world.

Over the years, this attraction has changed, A LOT! It is now called Journey Into Imagination with Figment. And, it’s okay, but not as enjoyable. I don’t feel that the current presentation truly encourages the guest to really dive into the world if the imagination. Personally, I would find it a lot more fun and interesting if imagineering would restore the original, or close to it.

The end of the ride then sent you to the ImageWorks gallery where there were walls filled with different types of electronic and tactile stations to explore how the imagination can create, even at a moments notice. A person could spend an hour (in air conditioning) and not even notice the time!

I still visit the current attraction, but really hope for a return to the original (maybe with a few technical updates). This attraction has been added to the Fastpass+ System, but is normally not needed as the line is generally pretty quick moving and has a low stand-by waiting time.

For now, have a blessed and magical day, my friends!!

What’s The Attraction: The Haunted Mansion

One of the most popular, and often sentimental, attractions at Walt Disney World sits to the rear and left of Cinderella’s Castle (as you walk down Main Street U.S.A.) in the area of the park known as Liberty Square, or as the Ghost Host might proclaim, Liberty Scare! Welcome to The Haunted Mansion!

Opening on October 1, 1971, this stately mansion greeted guests who would enter the stretching room to begin their journey. The Haunted Mansion makes use of the Omnimover loading system to keep the queue line moving, and to get you seated into your Doom Buggy for your frightfully comedic journey.

Along the way you see portraits that change images, singing marble head statues, a floating crystal ball, and a ballroom hosting dancing specters. You may even hear a haunting version of the Grim Grinning Ghosts theme song being played on the organ from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea!

The voice of your Ghost Host is done by long time voice over actor, Paul Frees! He definitely has a haunting sound to the instructions given when you first get seated in your Doom Buggy. Frees has a long history with Disney and has voiced characters in many attractions and movies! Check out more about Paul Frees at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Frees. It’s worth a read!

I have to add that the addition of the interactive queue, makes the approach to The Haunted Mansion fun! Take time to read the tombstones, they will crack you up! Made up of puns and catch lines, these monuments will leave you wanting to join the cast on the other side!

This attraction makes use of Fastpass+ (not needed unless very crowded), and offers Assistive Listening and Closed Caption.

This is a must do attraction!! And, that brings us to a close on this article!

Have a Blessed and Magical Day!