A Whole New World of Ticket Prices

Rumors have been swirling for a while now about the annual ticket price increases that were coming to Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  Well, today was the day.  Disney Parks price increases went in effect today and feature something new to Disney - tiered pricing.  Let's break down the prices and how they may impact your next family vacation.

Tiered / Seasonal Pricing - This is nothing new in the world of entertainment and sports.  As Orioles fans, we have to pay more to see a Yankees game then we do to go to an Astros game.  The same thing is now true for Disney Parks.  Disneyland and Walt Disney World now have three distinct seasons - value, regular, and peak.  If you want to visit a Disney Park during the week between Christmas and New Year, it'll cost you more.  The swing in ticket prices for Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World goes from $105 during value season, $110 during regular season, and $124 during peak season.  The hope from Disney's point of view is that this will encourage visitors to come to the park during less busy times of the year.  An important note - seasonal / tiered pricing only impacts single day tickets, not multi-day ticket sales or annual passes.  This means that if you're planning a week long vacation to Walt Disney World, you won't need to worry about the seasonal pricing.

Ticket Price Increases - In addition to the introduction of tiered pricing, the annual ticket increases took effect.  It appears to be roughly an 8% hike in ticket prices.  As an example, the 6-day Magic Your Way ticket previously cost $325 for adults and now has increased to $355.  While this seems hefty, it is typical for Disney to increase their prices annually.  If the ticket increase has you down, don't forget one of my favorite tips.  You can use discount ticket sites like Undercover Tourist to purchase tickets at a slight discount or, if you have a  Target Red Card, you can purchase Disney gift cards at a 5% savings and then use those gift cards to pay for your tickets.  And if you're not in a hurry to get your Disney gift cards today, you can buy them online from Target at the 5% discount and earn 2% cash back on your purchase if you're an Ebates member.  Little ways to save add up!

Celebrating a Special Occasion in Walt Disney World

Notice our anniversary button??
Whether it's a birthday, anniversary, family reunion, graduation, or any number of other special events, millions of people flock to Walt Disney World as a place to celebrate with family and friends. And, why not?  There is simply so much magic and pixie dust waiting here, it's easy to walk around with a big smile on your face and feeling like a kid again.  To make your special occasion even more special, there are a few things to take note of when planning your Walt Disney World vacation.

Everywhere you go in Walt Disney World, you'll be able to find free buttons from cast members that make your special occasion visible to the world.  Don't be surprised to have Disney cast members congratulating you throughout your visit.  There may even be some special experiences they make available to you to help you celebrate - from a free dessert, to an extra FastPass, and maybe even something as unique as being selected as the family of the day!

When you want to add your own special touches to a celebration at the parks, you can reach out to Disney Floral and Gifts.  From their website, you can order balloons, gift packs, cakes, and so much more to be delivered to your room.  Regardless of whether your a kid or an adult, these treats are certainly unique (albeit expensive) ways to celebrate while in Walt Disney World.
Baby on board - Disney style!!

Outside of the Walt Disney World family, you can also check for unique shirts to highlight your achievements from several Etsy sellers.  When I visited Walt Disney World during my second pregnancy, I found maternity shirts on Etsy that celebrated my little mouseketeer in the making!  Like the buttons, this becomes a great visual reminder of what you are celebrating throughout your stay.

Disney adds a touch of magic to any celebration and there are lots of ways to celebrate in the parks!

The Many Lands of Magic Kingdom - Frontierland

Frontierland's famous attraction - Big Thunder
Mountain Railroad!
Today, we end our tour of the lands of Magic Kingdom with Frontierland.  Frontierland is where the wild, wild west meets Walt Disney World fun! While Frontierland is home to one of my favorite rides in the park, it is probably the place I have spent the least amount of time on my recent trips.  This is a relatively small area of the park tucked back behind Liberty Square, but boasts two of the three mountains to conquer in Magic Kingdom - Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Those two mountains are probably what draw most people to Frontierland.  But there are a few attractions that you might miss out on that are especially friendly for preschool kids - my travel specialty!

The first attraction that is a preschool favorite is the classic Country Bear Jamboree.  This audio-animatronic country music show features singing bears and lots of laughs.  It's also one of the last attractions that Walt Disney actually helped design.  The roughly 15 minute show is inside an air conditioned theatre which provides a nice break in the middle of a long day at the parks.  Another favorite among small children is Tom Sawyer's Island.  Accessible from a raft in Frontierland, this island has adventures on several trails throughout the island.  With plenty to climb on and space to run around while boasting a great deal of shade, this is the perfect place for little ones to burn off some energy when the crowds and lines become a bit much in other parts of the park.

Be on the lookout for characters located
throughout Frontierland!
Frontierland is also home to one of the stops along the Walt Disney World Railroad which takes guests around Magic Kingdom.  If you know anything about Walt Disney, you probably are aware of his love of trains.  The old steam engines that circle the park are both a practical way to travel and a fun experience for the whole family.  As one of the many tours that are offered in Walt Disney World, your family can even get a behind the scenes look at the steam engines and the work that goes into preparing them for a day of passengers.  If you're looking to ride the rails while in Magic Kingdom, you can find stops in not only Frontierland, but also in Fantasyland and at the entrance of the park on Main Street, U.S.A.

Even though Frontierland is not one of the places where we spend a lot of time when we're in Magic Kingdom, it's not a place to be missed along our journey.  And I'm sure that as our children continue to grow, the thrills of Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will make it even more exciting!

The Many Lands of Magic Kingdom - Main Street, U.S.A.

Enter the gates of Magic Kingdom and you will instantly find yourself stepping back into the world of Walt.  The hub in Main Street, U.S.A. is the center of the action for Magic Kingdom and where your magical journey begins.  But Main Street, U.S.A. is not simply a sidewalk to pass through on your way to the rest of the park.  Here you will find shopping, restaurants, and character interactions that will get your day started in the right direction!

One of the things to know about Main Street, U.S.A. is that both the afternoon and nighttime parades pass through this part of the park.  If you hoping to catch the Festival of Fantasy Parade or the Main Street Electrical Parade, be prepared to grab your spot early as serious parade watchers start claiming a viewing location up to an hour ahead of time.  The same is true for nightly viewing of Wishes.  All of three of these attractions do offer FastPass+ as well which we have found really useful traveling with young children and strollers.  Rather than fighting for a spot to view the parades or fireworks, we simply roll into our reserved areas about 15 minutes before the start time.

Main Street, U.S.A. is also home to a number of restaurants.  You can find everything from hometown favorites such as hot dogs at Casey's Corner or grabbing a dip of your favorite ice cream flavor at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor.  However, if you're looking for a "don't miss" dining experience, join Winnie the Pooh and his friends at The Crystal Palace for buffet character dining.  If you hope to dine in the Hundred Acre Wood, be sure to make a dining reservation as this popular restaurant often fills up quickly!  

And before you leave Main Street, U.S.A. you must pay a visit to Town Square Theatre where both Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell can be found.  Each of these characters appear in separate theatre spaces which means that you must wait in two separate lines for them.  The best part?  Not only do you get a great big Mickey hug and an autograph, but this Mickey talks!  This was the most memorable of all experiences for my son.  Wait times can really vary at this attraction - I've seen them as short as 15 minutes and as long as an hour.  We almost always use a FastPass+ reservation on  this since it's a must-do for our family.  On your way out of Town Square Theatre, don't forget to look out for characters greeting guests including Snow White and Mary Poppins.

Whether you're grabbing a character photo, a Starbucks coffee, or picking up a last minute souvenir, Main Street, U.S.A. has something for everyone while paying tribute to the life and memories of Walt Disney - the man behind it all!

The Many Lands of Magic Kingdom - Fantasyland

Fantasyland is everything you think about when you think about Walt Disney World.  Rides, restaurants, characters, and unforgettable experiences combine to make this one of the favorite spots in not only Magic Kingdom, but throughout the entire Walt Disney World Resort.

Dining - In Fantasyland, you'll find many places to grab a meal or a snack as you pass through the park.  Two of the newer places to check out are Be Our Guest Restaurant and Gaston's Tavern.  Be Our Guest is a unique dining experience.  For breakfast and lunch, reservations are definitely required, but the meal is quick service.  You can pre-order your meal before arriving in the park for an even faster dining experience.  Dinner features table service fare and even a visit from the Beast himself.  For more information on this restaurant, check out my breakfast, lunch, and dinner reviews. If you can't grab a reservation for Be Our Guest, swing into Gaston's Tavern where you can grab a quick bite on the go.  You don't want to miss out on tasting some of LeFou's Brew either while there! The other extremely popular dining reservation here is Cinderella's Royal Table.  Regardless of whether or not you have kids, a meal inside Cinderella Castle with some of the most popular Disney princesses is a must do on everyone's Disney bucket list.

Rides - Some of the most popular rides throughout all of Walt Disney World can be found here in Fantasyland.  Classic attractions like Peter Pan's Flight, It's a Small World, and Dumbo combine with new favorites such as Seven Dwarf's Mine Train and Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid to provide literally hours of ride entertainment in this one small section of the park.  Most of the rides here are accessible to even the tiniest of travelers meaning that everyone can join in on the fun.  If you want to ride Peter Pan's Flight and Seven Dwarf's Mine Train, I would strongly recommend a FastPass as these often have waits exceeding 60 minutes.

Characters and Entertainment - If you want to meet characters, Fantasyland is the place to be.  There are several character greetings here that even make use of the FastPass+ system.  Inside of Princess Fairytale Hall there are two separate greetings - one for Cinderella and Rapunzel and the other for Anna and Elsa.  I've seen the Anna and Elsa wait time be as long as 200 minutes so this is definitely a great use of a FastPass reservation if you want to meet these two Frozen royals.  Ariel is also available for a meet and greet at her Grotto next to the Under the Sea ride.  You can also catch up with Goofy, Donald, Daisy, and Minnie at Pete's Silly Sideshow for autographs and pictures.  Throughout the day, you may also find the Fairy Godmother, Cinderella's Stepsisters, Alice, Gaston, Winnie the Pooh, and others available around this part of the park.  And if you're looking to escape the heat and enjoy some entertainment, step into Mickey's PhilharMagic or visit Enchanted Tales with Belle.  Both provide a great experience for kids and adults alike and, if you choose to visit Enchanted Tales, you even get to meet Belle at the end and get a photo with her!    

With so much to see and do in Fantasyland, we easily spend HOURS here on each Disney trip.  This is truly where magic comes to life for kids and adults!

Feeling "Super" about the New Superfood Side at Chick-Fil-A!

Over the past few weeks, Chick-fil-A has announced a few big changes.  One of those big changes was the debut of the new Superfood side.  I have to admit that I was skeptical at first - kale has never been a food I've sought out before.  However, in an effort to try and eat healthy while eating out, I decided to get the grilled nuggets and superfood side one night for dinner and I was pleasantly surprised!

The superfood side includes kale, broccolini, and dried cherries tossed with a maple vinaigrette dressing.  There is also a serving of mixed nuts that come on the side if you'd like to add them to your salad.  The dressing and cherries add a touch of sweetness and tanginess to this dish.  When you add the grilled chicken nuggets, it makes a great protein and vegetable combo for a healthy lunch or dinner.

As a busy mom and runner, I'm always looking balance quick and convenient food with healthy dishes for me and my family.  Chick-fil-A has found a great mix with these two products!

As a member of the Chick-fil-A Moms Panel, I occasionally receive coupons for free items and promotional products.  Opinions expressed are always my own!

The Many Lands of Magic Kingdom - Adventureland

Adventures await around every corner in Magic Kingdom's Adventureland.  We found this a great place to start the day as most of the crowds rush back to Fantasyland.  From Main Street U.S.A., turn left and cross the bridge into a world of excitement!
A 17 month old Brody enjoying his Magic Carpet ride!

Adventures in Agrabah - Adventureland is home to some pretty famous royals - Aladdin and Princess Jasmine! You can meet up with these two and explore their "whole new world" by flying high above Adventureland on your own magic carpet ride.  Just be careful - the camels that surround the Magic Carpets of Aladdin have been known to spit!  This ride is great for families with young children as it's a familiar design which is popular at a lot of carnivals and the wait isn't usually too long, even without a FastPass!

Adventures on the High Seas - Pirates are waiting around every corner in Adventureland. Take a cruise through treacherous waters on the classic Pirates of the Caribbean ride, but keep a look out for Captain Jack Sparrow!  This ride was just recently updated during a lengthy refurbishment in 2015.  And if you have little buccaneers in your travel party, they can get a makeover at the Pirates League to resemble the most fearsome pirates this side of the Caribbean.  If you plan to join the pirate crew at the Pirates League, be sure to make a reservation and note that there is an extra charge for this experience.
Showing off his Skipper's License from the Jungle Cruise!

Wildlife Jungle Adventures - There are two iconic experiences in Adventureland that you won't want to miss.  The first is the ever popular Jungle Cruise.  Join some of the most comedic skippers that you can imagine as they take you on one wild cruise spanning the globe!  And if you're lucky, your young adventurers may be selected to be a guest skipper on your cruise.  In addition, you can take a chance to cool off inside the Enchanted Tiki Room and take in a festive show with a few feathered friends.  The Tiki Room birds will spread laughter and delight to all!

Culinary Adventures - Don't miss one of the newest restaurants to hit Walt Disney World.  Jungle Skipper Canteen is a table service restaurant that serves tropical dishes with the humor and good times that you're used to experiencing on the Jungle Cruise.  And a trip to Adventureland wouldn't be complete without one of perhaps the most iconic Disney treats - a Dole whip!

Whether you're traveling to Walt Disney World for the first time or the hundredth time, you're sure to find adventure around every corner in Adventureland!

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