Wild By Design: Day 4 Trip Report

Here is the third installment of the trip report from my buddy, Diane Trowbridge! In this segment, she and her husband, David, visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Here is how there day went! Enjoy!

Day 4:Had an early reservation at Animal Kingdom (AK) for the Wild by Design Tour, so had to take a cab. The Bell Hop waved one over from the taxi stand and the short ride cost $20. The Wild by Design Tour is a 3 hour walking tour of AK, revealing the architectural and artistic design elements of this park. We had two guides, plus two animal “experts” that covered the monkey island by Kali River Rapids and the bird area of the Pangani Forest Trail. There was one rest stop for a snack.

Rhinos on Safari

After the tour we made our FPPs for Finding Nemo: the Musical, Expedition Everest, and Kilimanjaro Safari. There was no Lion King show, as they are building a new theater for it and demolished the old one for the new Avatar Land. Saw It’s Tough to be a Bug, and still surprised at the special effects despite having seen this show every trip! Caught the Flights of Wonder show and rode Dinosaur, which had a shorter “stand by” line than FPP line by the late afternoon.


We skipped lunch because we had an early ADR for Boma, so took the bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) and had another wonderful meal at this buffet-style African and American restaurant. Knowing we could not take a bus straight back to our hotel from AKL, we opted again for a cab and rode in speed and luxury to POFQ.

Special Thanks to Diane for sharing this experience! I hope it give other readers an opportunity to plan something unique on their next Walt Disney World Vacation! Have a Blessed and Magical evening!!

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!!

Get Ready For Some Walking

When headed to Walt Disney World, there is one thing can’t be avoided by most guests! You will be doing a lot of WALKING!

Walking WDW

Each day at one of the theme parks, resorts, or Downtown Disney can bring many hours and several miles of walking to your everyday routine. It is vitally important to plan accordingly! The first thing I would recommend is to get out and start walking while you are still at home. This may seem like a little thing, but it can be a bigger issue than we prepare for properly. Failure can lead to blisters and other foot issues that can make your vacation a bit more challenging.

Make sure you have a good pair of shoes to wear in park, too! I would not suggest a brand new pair, however, because this isn’t the best method of breaking them in. I think that if you buy a new pair, you should do it at least a month ahead of your trip!

Also, as a backup, have some moleskin on hand should blisters become a part of your journey. You can buy it in sheets to save money, and cut them into the sizes you need. They do provide a considerable amount of cushioning and can save your time-sensitive touring of the parks.

Don’t let the amount of walking scare you off! Plan accordingly and get moving!

I wish you a Blessed and Magical Saturday!!


Sure, you got to Walt Disney World to visit the theme parks! But, what can you do to make this time even more? Today, in the ABCs of Walt Disney World, we take a look at the XTRAS!

One of the big Xtras around the resort is the Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boutique, or BBB to keep it short. These can be found in both The Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney. Your little girl can become a princess with a makeover designed to create some special magic. Hair, make-up, even clothing are options! However, if you want to save a little money and know what your girl will wear, you can bring your own dress! Either way, it will create a special memory that will last forever! There is a cost to this and reservations are recommended!

The Pirate League is found at The Magic Kingdom and is able to be enjoyed by everyone in the family! You can get a makeover that turns you into your favorite pirate, or create one of your own! Don’t forget to get your picture taken! There is a cost to this, and reservation are strongly suggested as this is a very popular experience.

Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure takes you on a secret mission around the World Showcase at EPCOT. Using a specially designed communicator, you will receive messages to direct you to your next clue as you search for Dr. Doofenschmirtz and foil is evil plot. You can play for a little or as much as you wish! And, this is a free activity!

Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers the Wilderness Explorers. Up’s Russell and Dug lead you on an adventure through the Animal Kingdom on a fact-finding mission that can bring you the reward of up to 30 badges to collect. Just pick up your field guide and start making your way around the park. You’ll discover details you never knew existed and appreciate the work of the imagineers. This is also a free activity!

One last freebie to share is at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! As part of the Magic of Disney Animation attraction, guest can participate at the Animation Station. Learn how to draw some of your favorite Disney characters with the help of an actual Disney Animator! And, the best thing about this activity is that you end up with a free souvenir!

There are many more Xtras around WDW, so take some time to seek them out to make your vacation even more special!

Have a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!


You probably think this is about getting around the parks, and it almost was! But, I decided it’s time to look at some of the workings of the attractions. So, today, in this installment of the ABCs of Walt Disney World, we will be looking at some of the ride VEHICLES that bring some of the great memories of being a guest at any of the four theme parks.

Today, I’m starting at Disney’s Animal Kingdom! There are two obvious ride vehicles that jump to mind, and maybe a third, when you think of this park. Kilimanjaro Safaris offers a ride through the African savanna in an open-air vehicle that allows you some unique views of the animals as they make their way around their habitats. It’s a bit of a rough ride, but it seems quite realistic!

What goes up, comes down...FAST!!
What goes up, comes down…FAST!!

Expedition Everest is a ‘train’ ride through the Himalayan Mountain Range. The cars are a big part of the show offered on what may be the Big Kahuna of thrill rides at WDW! It’s my wife’s favorite! One other worth mentioning is, DINOSAUR! The cars themselves aren’t much to think about, but the way they respond, is all part of the attraction! Each car has pre-programmed reactions to each scene within this dark ride. And, it is very realistic as you make your way through this pre-historic jungle. Overall, it’s an exciting adventure!


At EPCOT, the most memorable ride vehicle is probably SOARIN’! The unique experience offered on this ride it something to behold! The actual vehicle is set up on a cantilever type structure that swings you up in front of an IMAX screen and you have the feeling of floating, flying, and soaring through the sky over various scenes in California. You even get the smells to go with the ride!

Hollywood Studios has Tower of Terror. You may not think of this as a vehicle driven ride, but I believe it qualifies! You are taken for a little tour before the doors open and you suddenly begin to drop several times and at different paces. But, it’s not an actual elevator, it is a carefully designed and skillfully programmed ride to give you the thrills that keep you coming back time after time.

And now, the Magic Kingdom! Probably some of the most loved and memorable ride vehicles are here! For me, the obvious first one to look at is the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, or Peoplemover! Who doesn’t enjoy a round (or two) on here? It’s a way to kick back, relax, and enjoy a different view of Tomorrowland attractions. One question, can someone tell me if they tend to turn up the juice on this thing when it’s busy? My last ride kind of messed up my hair!

Pirates of the Caribbean has the look of a pirate longboat for this classic Disney ride. It is one of the most popular rides in The Magic Kingdom, and a crowd favorite! And, since the movies have come out, some of the scenes have been enhanced with the presence of your favorite pirates.

Pooh has a Honey Pot, Peter Pan has a flying pirate ship, Big Thunder uses another train type car.

But, the one everyone is waiting for is coming soon! The Seven Dwarf’s Mine Coaster offers the most unique ride vehicle created to date! Each car is different! Not only are there the normal bumps along the way, but the cars will sway side to side as well. There will be some of the familiar scenes from the movie (or so we have been led to believe) throughout the ride. I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t wait for this one! Hopefully, it will open to guests this spring.

Well, there are many more, but I don’t want to go on forever! So, I wish you a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!


Many of us have probably heard that old Nat King Cole song! And, the remade duet with his daughter Natalie made it even more special! That seems to be an appropriate opening for this entry in the ABCs of Walt Disney World, as most visits to a Disney Theme Park is definitely UNFORGETTABLE!

How many of you remember the first time you stepped onto the ground at Walt Disney World? I know I remember! Every visit has a special memory of it’s own, doesn’t it? From the first impression of a Disney Resort to the first time you enter one of the four theme parks, you know that you are about to experience something unique to you and your family.

There is just something about that first time, each trip, when I walk up to The Magic Kingdom! I find the ability to forget the ‘real’ world and become immersed in the story unfolding before me. Life seems to roll right off my shoulders and out of my mind as I make my way under the train station to enter Main Street U.S.A.! And, from that moment on, it’s all about a different time and place!

Similar experiences await us all at the other three theme parks of Walt Disney World. And, for each person the first unforgettable memory may be different than someone else’s. And, that is what it’s all about!

My first memory of EPCOT Center, as it was known on my first visit in 1982, was the massive size of Spaceship Earth and the mix of futuristic music coming out of the speakers to put a lasting impression in my mind. To this day, I still get chills anytime I hear the EPCOT Entrance Loop on http://www.magicalmouseradio.com. I am transported back in time to my first experience here.

Spaceship Earth
Spaceship Earth

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a little different for me. As you approach the park by either car or bus, you get a glimpse of the Tower of Terror as it reaches above the skyline of the park to greet you! You may also have a memorable first impression as you walk through the entrance! As you enter you find yourself on Hollywood Blvd. The buildings have an early 20th century feel to them! You almost feel like a star as you walk in and are swept away by the beauty of this park!

Expedition Everest Disney's Animal Kingdom
Expedition Everest
Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom almost offers two entrances! There is the initial entrance, but then there is the walk through Discovery Island on your way to Africa, Asia, or Dinoland U.S.A. The first thing you notice as you clear Discovery Island is the iconic Tree of Life! This towering piece of technology definitely makes a statement! And, of course, there’s the other ‘elephant’ in the land, Expedition Everest! The thrill ride of all thrill rides!

One thing I would suggest to help make any of your vacations UNFORGETTABLE, is to take time to stop and allow yourself to become a part of the show, even for a moment or two. As said before, Disney is IN the Details! And, if you just run from place to place without taking in some of the backstory, artwork, and design, you may miss half of the memories you could enjoy.

So, from my house to yours…make your next trip to Walt Disney World UNFORGETTABLE!!

Have a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!!


When you go to Walt Disney World, do you wonder about how it all comes together? Have you heard the terms Backstage and On Stage? Have you ever tried to figure out where Backstage is when you look around the parks? One of the best ways to find the answers to these questions is by taking one of the many TOURS offered at Walt Disney World. Today, on our tour of the ABCs of Walt Disney World, we will look at a few of those tours.

2013-12-07 08.45.19

Keys To The Kingdom at The Magic Kingdom gives you a look the history of Walt Disney World and how it all began! You will get a bit of a look at Walt Disney, the man, also! You may even get to experience an Urban Legend known as the Utilidors. This tour is for adults only!

If you are looking for a more family experience, you might want to consider Disney’s Family Magic Tour, also at The Magic Kingdom. People of all ages are able to take this tour on a quest that offers various clues leading to wondrous discoveries along the way.

Headed to EPCOT? You may want to consider the Behind The Seeds tour at The Land Pavilion. This tour is suitable for all ages and gives you a look at some of the innovative growing techniques. You will also get a look at the fish farm, and even how bugs can be useful.

Also at EPCOT is DiveQuest at The Seas with Nemo and Friends! You can plunge into the water around a beautiful Caribbean Coral Reef and swim with the sea creatures contained in the 5.7 million gallon saltwater aquarium. You family and friends can come an watch you, once they have entered the park. This package is for Tweens and up!

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Tweens and up can take a the Wild Africa Trek that allows a closer look at some of the animals that make up the population of this zoological experience. This tour lasts for three hours and includes complimentary pictures of your safari adventure.

Finally, if you want the granddaddy of them all, Backstage Magic may be what you are looking for! This is a 7 hour tour takes you behind the scenes at all four parks and includes a stop at the greenhouses and lunch at Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. You will begin and end your day at EPCOT, where you will meet your guides. This is an awesome tour, but is for adults only!

Most of these tours have restrictions with taking pictures and videos. You will be told at each stop whether you can bring your camera. And, they may also require park admission in addition to the charge for the tour. Check https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/#/park-tours/ for more information and the complete list of tour offerings!

Have a Blessed and Magical Day!!

Quick Service

All around Walt Disney World there are places to grab a bite to eat that you can just walk up to and order your meal. These little spots of refreshment are known around the Parks as Quick Service restaurants. Unlike their sit-down counterparts, there are no reservations required and generally a shorter wait time between ordering and eating.

But, don’t let the label scare you away! Many of these establishments offer some very tasty treats! And, they all have a touch of Disney to them to keep you entertained. Many of the Quick Service spots have outdoor seating, but there are some that offer shelter from the elements.

EPCOT may have some of the greatest variety of food choices. At Sunshine Seasons you can grab a quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And, meals are under $15 each with many being less then $10! There is quite a variety and something for everyone’s taste. You can find Sunshine Seasons is found in The Land Pavilion. Want something a bit more adventurous, walk around World Showcase where you’ll find more choices than you can probably consume. Mexico, UK, China, Morocco, and many others have Quick Service options from meals to snacks and much more available!

Magic Kingdom has a lot to choose from, also. One of the most talked about is Pecos Bill’s. The fixins bar is astounding and has just about anything you can dream of for your sandwiches. You can find Pecos Bills in Frontierland. Another much talked about stop is Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland. There are many choices for entrees, but pay attention to which bay has what you want to eat. It can be a bit confusing! My newest favorite is Columbia Harbour House in Liberty Square. The menu is fantastic and the food quite nicely done! The atmosphere of the sitting area also lends to the experience.

Hollywood Studios has quite a few spots to check out. Backlot Express got good reviews from my wife! But, my favorite is Starring Rolls. The deli style sandwiches are priced at a level that increases the enjoyment of these already delicious choices. AND, don’t forget the sweets! The Butterfinger Cupcake is very rich, but really yummy!

Animal Kingdom has a couple of places that get talked about quite a bit. First is Restaurantosaurus. It is familiar comfort foods, but I hear the macaroni hot dog is quite the adventure. Pizzafari also gets alot of attention within the Disney community. The themed dining area adds to the impressive experience. I believe the crowned jewel of Disney’s Animal Kingdom quick service has to be Flame Tree Barbecue! The food is exquisite and the outdoor atmosphere adds to the experience. And, if you pick the right place to sit, you have a view of Expedition Everest.

There are many more places we could talk about. Downtown Disney has it’s fair share of delicious quick service restaurants to take a crack at when you are hungry. Many resorts also offer some tantalizing offerings.

So, wherever you may find yourself while at Walt Disney World there is someplace close by to get a ‘QUICK’ bite. Bon Apetite

Have a Blessed and Magical Day!!


When traveling to Walt Disney World, one thing becomes quite obvious! Planning means making Choices! Part three of the ABCs of Walt Disney World!

There are many choices needing to be made when planning a visit to the Vacation Kingdom. Let’s start with where to stay!

There are currently thirty possible accommodations available, according to the Walt Disney World website. Everything from a campsite to a deluxe villa can be yours for the right price! The good news is that, if you are flexible with your time frame, you can save some money with a variety of Special Offers. The choice of a value resort gets you, what I like to call, active theming. The values have large character figures, special pool areas, and rooms that reflect the themes. Your value choices are; All-Star Resorts (Sports, Movies, and Music), Pop Century, and Art of Animation. The All-Stars share buses while Pop and Animation each have dedicated bus services.

Hello, AOA!

Moderate resorts have a more subtle design, and are generally more relaxing at the end of a busy park day. These two levels are also some of the largest resorts on property! And, they are incredibly popular! The smallest of these is Port Orleans – French Quarter. Then you have Port Orleans – Riverside, Caribbean Beach, and Coronado Springs. Near EPCOT are the Swan and Dolphin resorts. These are on Disney property, but NOT owned or operated by Disney Resorts. And, I’m not sure what category these belong in, but the pricing is closest to this level most of the time.

Many of the deluxe resorts are smaller properties, and closer to the theme parks. On the Resort Loop, you have three resorts; Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian. These are closest to Magic Kingdom Park! Beach Club and Ocean Club are closest to EPCOT. Wilderness Lodge is at Fort Wilderness and is a short boat ride from Magic Kingdom. And, Animal Kingdom Lodge is closest to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Many of the deluxe resorts also have deluxe villas that are more spacious for larger parties, and also have a larger cost. But, in the right circumstance, these may make the best sense for your vacation.

Ft. Wilderness

Finally, one option that many don’t think about, is the Fort Wilderness Campground. There are tent sites and RV sites that have all of the comforts of home available. It is possibly the least expensive way to vacation at WDW, but there are typically no special offers like free dining offered. However, you can still take advantage of any of the add-ons when you make your campground reservation.

Paper Fastpass, you will be missed!

Beginning next week, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT will join the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom by eliminating the Legacy FastPass in favor of FastPass Plus! This means that all FastPasses will be made online, through the My Disney Experience app on your smart phone, or at one of several kiosks set up throughout the parks. And, with the addition of offsite guest access, these choices become even more critical in how touring any of the parks fits into anyone’s plan.

Paper FastPass

It remains to be seen how this will affect the overall crowd and wait times, but it is assumed by some that we may see a more level field of stand-by queues. Wait times may shorten a bit, except during peak times. I’m not so sure what to think, myself. But, I believe there is a season of confusion ahead for all of us as we get more familiar how this all will fit together. And, I am sure that it will all work out in time! After all, Disney has invested a number that includes 9 zeros into this system!

Personally, the Legacy system worked better for our style of touring the parks. My family didn’t mind the sprint to certain attractions. In many cases, we could get our FastPass AND ride! We could fit things into our schedule with greater ease, and on a good day, get 6 to 8 FastPasses! Those days appear to be gone, for now.

So, will the new system eventually allow more than three choices for one park on one day? Will Park-Hopping be possible? What other features might be a part of FastPass+? Only time will tell, but I’m betting that the folks at Disney will get it all figured out, and we will all find new ways to enjoy our favorite place!

One final thought…can this be heading to Disneyland and other parks around the world? Again, we shall see!

Have a Blessed and Magical Weekend, my friends!