Showing posts with label MK. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MK. Show all posts

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!

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!

The Many Lands of Magic Kingdom - Tomorrowland

When you enter Magic Kingdom, breeze down Main Street U.S.A., and turn right at the hub, you'll enter a land that is out of this world.  Tomorrowland seeks to take you "to infinity and beyond" with rides and attractions themed around outer space and the future that is yet to be discovered.  Here are my top 5 experiences you don't want to miss when passing through Tomorrowland.

Welcome to Tomorrowland!
5. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor Comedy Club - I think this attraction is an example of what makes a Walt Disney World vacation great.  You take a great Disney movie and add a bit of imagineering magic to create a magical experience the whole family will enjoy.  We all learned in Monsters, Inc. that laughter is more powerful than screams, so here at the Comedy Club you get to see some of your favorite monsters filling their laughter quotas.  The best part - you can be part of the show!  Guests can text jokes prior to the show beginning and monsters will frequently interact with visitors while throughout the show.  You can typically walk up to the theatre and not have to wait more than one show (15 minutes) to get in.

4. Carousel of Progress - Call me sentimental, but I had to put this on here.  This is a classic Walt Disney World attraction that is often overlooked.  In fact, it is so unpopular that back before they did away with paper FastPasses, this would commonly be an attraction that would pop out as a "bonus" ticket.  As you are seated in the theatre, you travel through time to see how life was lived and what we predict the future will bring.  I love these attractions where you get to see how people envisioned life in the 2000s back in the 1980s!  Bonus - you get to sit down and take a break from the Florida heat in this ride that is never crowded!

3. Incredibles Super Dance Party - The Incredibles are the only superheroes Disney can showcase this side of the Mississippi River so it's no surprise these guys (and gals!) and so popular among guests in Florida.  The dance party in Tomorrrowland gives you an informal way to meet up with Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible, and Frozone as you whip and nae nae your way to a good time.  The party takes place each night and doesn't require any kind of line or ticket to join!

Even Baby Caleb is trying to get in on the fun!
2. Space Mountain - Here is another classic Magic Kingdom ride.  This indoor roller coaster, which takes place entirely in the dark, has been delighting guests since 1975 and a version of the ride is in every Disney park around the world.  The coaster itself is fairly simple, but it's the darkness and flashing lights that make it so thrilling.  This is definitely a ride to consider a FastPass+ reservation for as waits often build to an hour or better at peak times.

1. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin - I was torn between Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear for my top Tomorrowland pick, but ultimately I went with Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin because it's fun the whole family can enjoy - free of those pesky height requirements!  With little ones, we like to see what all four of us can do together.  The arcade game-like atmosphere of this game entertains everyone in the family from 1 to 100.  Once you depart Star Command, you'll join Buzz Lightyear as he tries to defeat Zurg in the ultimate battle.  Shoot your laser gun to collect points and see who can rack up the highest score in your family!

Tomorrowland is certainly a place where your imagination can soar to new heights!

Earn Your Skipper's License

I always love when I find a new little treat at Walt Disney World and on our last vacation with the kids, I learned about the Skipper's License on the Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom.  On this particular July day, we entered Magic Kingdom first thing in the morning and, instead of heading to New Fantasyland like many of the crowds, we turned left towards Adventureland.  We were pleasantly surprised to find a practically abandoned section of the park with no wait for the Jungle Cruise or The Magic Carpets of Aladdin.  Our first stop of the day was the Jungle Cruise where we walked right on and had the boat to ourselves!

Once we pulled away from the dock, our skipper asked Brody if he'd like to join him at the steering wheel and take a turn driving the boat.  Brody was a little nervous at first, but with some comforting words and the offer of help, he stepped up to the wheel and became our tour guide.  It was a really great experience and the smile on his face showed what a good time he was having!
After we returned to the dock and disembarked, Brody was presented with his very own Skipper's License.  He was told to hang onto the license and anytime he returns to the Jungle Cruise and shows it, he can drive again!  When you think of all of the souvenirs lining the many gift shops of Walt Disney World, this is a truly unique takeaway from the trip and one that he will be sure to keep for a long time.

So how can a little one in your family become the skipper?  Great question.  I know we were lucky enough to have the boat to ourselves which made it easy to be picked.  I've been on the Jungle Cruise countless times over the years and don't remember this, but I may have just been oblivious.  If you're interested, I would try to get to the Jungle Cruise early in the day when the crowds are less or try to snag a seat close to the skipper if you're traveling on a busier boat ride.  

Happy sailing friends!  And don't forget to watch out for those wild animals along the journey!


Fantasy Comes to Life in the Festival of Fantasy Parade

One of the long standing jokes at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom is, "what time is the 3 o'clock parade?"  Well, you'll want to be sure to be lining the sidewalks before 3 o'clock each day to catch the daily showing of the Festival of Fantasy Parade.  I can't believe it has taken me until November 2015 to catch this gem which debuted March 9, 2014, but with midday nap times necessary when traveling with my little guys, it wasn't until our adult getaway for Wine & Dine Half-Marathon Weekend that we had the chance to see what all of the excitement was about.

I had read previously that this may be the best parade that Walt Disney World has ever imagineered and I would have to agree!  Here are 5 things to love about the Festival of Fantasy parade!

1.  Modern Characters Meet Classic Friends - This parade has a little something for everyone!  Young children who haven't had a chance to appreciate all of the classics will delight in seeing Anna and Elsa, Merida, and Rapunzel while also getting acquainted with classic characters.

2.  Imagineering at it's Finest - Walt Disney World is known for being on the cutting edge of creativity, but this parade takes it to the next level.  I mean, c'mon.  . .a fire breathing dragon that is this cool?  Where else would you see something like this besides Disney?

3.  Crowd Interaction - The Disney cast members that walk along the parade route and the characters that join them enjoy getting up close and personal with the crowd.  You feel like you are part of the show and the magic truly comes to life for little ones!  The parade has a street performance feel and flair about it which is both fun and engaging.

4.  The Costumes - You won't find a parade with more colorful and intricate costumes.  Details on some of our favorite characters are spot on while the supporting cast members don beautiful designs as well!

5.  Premier Viewing with FastPass Plus - Guests can use one of their three FastPass Plus allotments to experience the parade from the Flag Pole Viewing Area on Main Street U.S.A.  This means that you don't have to worry about grabbing a great sidewalk spot up to an hour ahead of time.  Instead, enjoy all that Magic Kingdom has to offer and then walk into your reserved viewing spot just minutes before the parade begins - a guaranteed great view!  We didn't use this for the Festival of Fantasy parade, but have experienced this same viewing location with FP+ for the Main Street Electrical Parade.

Check the times guide or your My Disney Experience app for more information regarding this entertaining parade!


Happy 44th Birthday, Magic Kingdom!

Walt Disney World Resort's Magic Kingdom opened 44 years ago today!  It's hard to even begin to fathom how many people have passed down Main Street U.S.A. or how many memories were made with magical first glimpses of Cinderella Castle!  To honor this birthday, here's 44 things you don't want to miss in Magic Kingdom:

1. Walk through Cinderella Castle

2. Meet Mickey at Town Square Theatre

3. Grab a Dole Whip in Adventureland

4. Take time to read the windows on Main Street U.S.A.

5. Get a hair cut at Harmony Barber Shop

6. Make your little princess a real princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. . .

7. And give kids the chance to become a pirate at The Pirate's League.

8. Dine with the Beast inside his castle at Be Our Guest restaurant.

9. Ride the horses on Prince Charming Royal Carousel

10. Take flight with Dumbo the Flying Elephant

11. Watch Wishes explode high above Cinderella Castle

12. Will you have what it takes to remove the Sword in the Stone?

13. Find Cinderella Wishing Well on the path between the castle and Tomorrowland.

14. Try breakfast with your favorite princesses inside Cinderella Castle.

15.  Don't miss your chance to meet Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall.

16. Take a spin on the Jungle Cruise - you may even get to be the Skipper!

17. Conquer the mountains - Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain.

18. Ride around the park on the Walt Disney World Railroad.

19. Get your family picture taken in front of Cinderella Castle.

20. Become a part of the story at Enchanted Tales with Belle.

21. Have an ice cream at The Plaza Restaurant.

22. Battle Zurg in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.

23. Buy a pair of Mickey Mouse ears.

24. Take in the nighttime spectacle of the Main Street Electrical Parade.

25. Ride the monorail!

26. Visit Tom Sawyer Island.

27.  Check out the 999 haunts of the Haunted Mansion - I've heard there's always room for one more. . .

28. Listen to a performance by The Dapper Dans on Main Street U.S.A.

29. Join Alice and friends for a spin on the Mad Tea Party ride.

30. Watch the moving tribute to America and our military veteran's during the Flag Retreat.

31. Hum along to Zip-a-dee-doo-dah on Splash Mountain with the Brer Rabbit and his friends.

32. Join the fun of the Move It! Shake It! Dance and Play It! Street Party

33. See Walt's vision of the future on the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland.

34. Watch good battle evil at the Dream Along with Mickey stage show.

35. Participate in pin trading with Disney cast members.

36. Take a tour to learn backstage secrets of the Walt Disney World Resort.

37. Get "spit" on by one of the camels outside of The Magic Carpets of Aladdin.

38. Cross swords with Jack Sparrow at Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial.

39. Get to the park at rope drop and see the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show.

40. Attend a special event like Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.

41. See the tiki birds at The Enchanted Tiki Room.

42. Visit the mines with 7 of your closest friends on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

43. Fly to Neverland on Peter Pan's Flight.

44.  Get the theme song from It's a Small World stuck in your head for the rest of the day!

And that's just the beginning!  There's so much to see and do at Magic Kingdom!  Here's to many more birthdays, or as Buzz would say birthdays "to infinity and beyond!"

Your Guide to Baby Care Centers at Walt Disney World Resort

As anyone with little mouseketeers knows, traveling to Walt Disney World Resort with an infant can seem like a daunting and overwhelming task.  However, there are many things in place to make your vacation a little more relaxing and easier to manage.  The Baby Care Centers in each of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World do just that!  Thanks to these convenient locations, my family was able to enjoy a week in the parks with a 5 month old.  Below is a guide to each Baby Care Center so you know what to expect.

Animal Kingdom - This is my favorite Baby Care Center!  The rooms were spacious and colorful here.  When you enter, there is a small seating area with a hostess and supplies you may need - medicine, diapers, wipes, and even changes of clothing.  To the left, you'll find a waiting area for older children and husbands complete with tables and chairs as well as cushioned benches to enjoy the Disney movies that happen to be playing.  In the back are several changing tables, highchairs, and a microwave.  Off of this room are a few private nursing rooms which each feature their own changing table and a rocking chair.  The size and atmosphere of this Baby Care Center made it very relaxing for several nursing breaks during the day.

Each of the Baby Care Centers is located next to First Aid.
Magic Kingdom - This was #2 on my list of Baby Care Centers.  Located behind The Crystal Palace, this center features many of the same separate rooms as Animal Kingdom, only a little less spacious.  At certain times, the Baby Care Center felt crowded.  Another difference is that the nursing room here is not divided into private rooms, but rather it features one large area that is closed off and private from the rest of the Baby Care Center which has about 6 rocking chairs all together.  This room is exclusive to nursing moms so you don't have to worry about being uncomfortable.  I found the moms to be super friendly each time I entered and enjoyed conversations about our vacations, kids, and motherhood in general.

A quiet space to nurse baby inside the Baby Care Center at Magic Kingdom
Epcot - Epcot's Baby Care Center is very similar to that in Magic Kingdom.  Due to the way our schedule worked that day, I only visited this Baby Care Center once and it happened to be about 30 minutes prior to the start of Illuminations.  Perhaps it's because it was so late in the day, but the entire Baby Care Center was empty which worked great to nurse my little guy to sleep.  You'll find this Baby Care Center tucked away next to Mexico between Future World and World Showcase.

Hollywood Studios - This was my least favorite of the Baby Care Centers mainly because of the size.  This Baby Care Center is located inside of Guest Relations and is smaller than a hotel room.  It attempts to have the separate spaces of the other Baby Care Centers, but in doing so makes everything super cramped.  The nursing area here is separated into two private "booths" which was often not enough for the demand required at the park.  Also, each of the other Baby Care Centers had a dedicated cast member to assist moms and dads, but Hollywood Studios did not.  Overall, it served it's purpose, but some more space would go a long way in accommodating the many families traveling with infants.

The fact that Walt Disney World offers such great spaces for families with young children speaks to their commitment to making sure everyone enjoys their day in the parks.  We spent A LOT of time in the Baby Care Centers on our last trip and would not have been able to survive as well as we did without them.  Don't forget that Baby Care Centers are also a great place for older toddlers and young preschoolers too if they need a break from the heat or stimulation.  They also feature kiddie sized potties so that those who are potty training will feel more comfortable then in the busy, big public restrooms.  If you're traveling to Walt Disney World with young ones, be sure to check out these great facilities!

Ice Cream and Atmosphere at The Plaza Restaurant

When you're looking to take a break for a quick bite to eat and a yummy dessert at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, make a reservation to visit The Plaza Restaurant.  We stopped by on our final day of vacation for a lunch reservation before heading to the airport.  It was a great spot for kids and provided some final glimpses of the Cinderella Castle for our family.

The menu at The Plaza Restaurant features mostly sandwiches that are crowd pleasers for guests both young and old.  I chose the reuben which was nicely sized and was served with fries that were crispy and hot.  Dan opted for one of the few sandwich exceptions - the meatloaf meal.  He let me try and bite and it was very flavorful, but seemed a little dry.  While the food was good, it was certainly not a menu that would leave you yearning to come back again and again.  

The highlight of a meal at The Plaza Restaurant is no doubt the ice cream!  Dan couldn't resist the chance to try their banana split and I opted for a chocolate milkshake.  The milkshake was so large that it wouldn't all fit in the cute serving glass so they gave me the extra in a to go cup to enjoy in the park.

Beyond the food, the atmosphere is pleasant and fits in perfectly with the Main Street U.S.A. locale of this restaurant.  The restaurant is small, but offers some great views of Cinderella castle.  We were lucky enough to have a window seat with a perfect view.  We also had the chance to witness a the naming of the Junior Mayor of Main Street U.S.A. while we were there.  Right around noon, the fire chief and mayor entered the restaurant and selected one lucky child to be Junior Mayor!  It was quite the announcement and the young lady received a special blue ribbon and FastPass+ perks.  

While the entrees at The Plaza Restaurant may not leave you wanting to come back the delicious desserts and prime atmosphere make this a great place to visit when looking for a Table Service option in Magic Kingdom!

Magic and Lights at Walt Disney World's Main Street Electrical Parade

One of the many things Walt Disney World is known for is superb nighttime entertainment.  When visiting Magic Kingdom, guests can enjoy both Wishes and the Main Street Electrical Parade.  The parade first debuted in Walt Disney World during the late 70s and over the decades has made several different appearances.  The current run of the parade has been rolling down Main Street U.S.A. since 2010.

As a classic parade, you will find some of your favorite classic characters during this nighttime extravaganza.  Little ones will delight in seeing Alice, Snow White, and Cinderella during the parade while also enjoying the pirate antics of Captain Hook and Peter Pan as well.  The lights dazzle guests throughout the Magic Kingdom.  This is the perfect multigenerational parade as grandparents will remember some of their favorites right alongside mom, dad, and the kids too!

Walt Disney World offers a FastPass+ option for this parade which I really enjoyed using.  The viewing for FastPass+ is located in the Town Square area of Main Street, U.S.A.  I was impressed by cast members who managed the area to make sure only those with FastPass reservations were permitted to enter, even after the ropes were taken down and the parade began.  The viewing spot was a great option with our little travelers.  We were able to get a front row seat for our 3 year old without having to get to a viewing spot well before the parade even began.

Between the music, the lights, and the characters, the Main Street Electrical Parade is a nighttime marvel that will create many magical memories!

The Dining Room Proudly Presents. . .Your Dinner!

We were fortunate on our last Walt Disney World vacation to find a dinner reservation at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom.  This is one of the toughest reservations to get on Disney property, and for good reason.  Between the ambiance of the castle, the quality of the food, and a meet and greet with the Beast himself, this dinner is one that you will want to experience!

We had previously dined at Be Our Guest for breakfast and lunch so we were familiar with the inside of the castle.  One difference that you will immediately notice is that dinner is table service as opposed to the quick service meals at breakfast and lunch.  As such, you are greeted by a cast member when you enter the castle who seats you at a reserved table inside the castle.  The Grand Ballroom and West Wing are set up just like they are for breakfast and lunch, but a third room, the Castle Gallery, is also opened for dinner.  This room features paintings of Belle and the Beast as well as a dancing replica of the couple in the center of the room.  The lights are dim in the evening and candlelight illuminates the rooms.  In true Disney fashion, there are little details everywhere including rose shaped napkins on the tables!

The meal features a variety of French cuisine.  At the recommendation of our server, I had the French Onion Soup and the Sautéed Shrimp and Scallops.  The puff pastry that the shrimp and scallops were served in was delicious!  My husband opted for Grilled Strip Steak.  Choosing our entrees was a difficult task because the entire menu was full of amazing options.  And, of course, it wouldn't be a visit to Be Our Guest without trying "The Grey Stuff."  I had heard from the dishes that it was delicious - and they didn't lie!

At the end of the meal, you exit through the library where you are greeted by your host, the Beast!  This is the only meal of the day in the castle where the Beast is present and a wonderful opportunity to meet a rare character.

The food and atmosphere combine to make this a perfect place to enjoy dinner while visiting Magic Kingdom.  If you're lucky enough to find a reservation available during your next trip, join the Beast in his castle for a delightful evening!


See your Disney Favorites at Mickey's PhilharMagic

Tucked inside Fantasyland at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom is an attraction that can be easily overlooked, but is certainly not be missed!  Mickey's PhilharMagic is a perfect family friendly attraction that delights both young and old with an array of music and favorite characters from some of Disney's most popular movies.

Guests enter the attraction and wait for the doors to open to the performance.  While you are waiting to enter, don't forget to grab you "opera glasses" - this is a 3D show after all!  However, don't worry if you have little travelers that won't wear the 3D glasses, they can still enjoy the music and movie.  Our son has yet to wear the glasses and this is still one of his favorite things to do.

Trying on our "opera glasses" before the start of Mickey's PhilharMagic.
The movie begins with Donald Duck finding Mickey's sorcerer's hat on the orchestra stage.  When Donald places the hat on his head, he is transported into a number of Disney movies where he stars alongside some familiar favorites.  Along the way, Lumiere invites him to "Be Our Guest," he finds out why Simba "Just Can't Wait to Be King," and experiences "A Whole New World" with Aladdin and Jasmine - just to name a few!  At the end, Donald finds his way back to the orchestra and Mickey resumes his place as the rightful conductor.  Of course, in true Disney spirit, there is one final surprise at the end!

As a child who was raised on the golden age of early 1990s Disney movie musicals, this is a journey back to my childhood and a chance to share some oldies but goodies with my own kids.  Besides the fact that this is a wonderful musical experience, it's also a great place to get inside and cool off on hot Florida days.  FastPass+ is available for this show, but don't waste one it.  A great perk of this show is that it runs continuously and you rarely ever wait more than one show for your chance to enter. 

Now, on with the show!

Be Our Guest. . .for Breakfast!

Any visit inside the Beast's castle at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World is sure to be a magical experience.  This time, we were able to grab a breakfast reservation and tried out their selections offered at this upscale quick service restaurant.  Once again, Be Our Guest restaurant did not disappoint!

Our morning began with an early entry to Magic Kingdom for a pre-park opening breakfast at 8:30 AM.  This is one of my favorite tips for breakfast reservations at Walt Disney World - try to grab a breakfast before the park opens.  You'll be sure to have some great photo opportunities and, if you time it appropriately, you'll be leaving the restaurant at rope drop and getting a jump start on the crowds for the day.  Be Our Guest offers a quick service fixed price menu for breakfast.  You have the option to either pre-order your food through the My Disney Experience website or order from the kiosks when you arrive.  Currently, breakfast for adults costs $19.99 and includes a beverage, selection of pastries, and then your entree.  There is also a kids menu available and plenty of selections for any food allergy concerns.

I ordered the scrambled egg whites which was served with roasted tomatoes, chicken apple sausage, and fresh fruit.  The meal was very tasty and a healthier alternative to what you might typically find on breakfast buffets or other quick service meals.  Of course, I completely ruined the "healthy" part of the meal with the yummy pastries that were served to the table!

My husband opted for the Croque Madame.  He has an aversion to all things dairy so he placed a special order with the kitchen to get it without the cheese or béchamel sauce.  He said the sandwich was good, but he felt it was overpriced.  However, keep in mind that you're paying for more than just the meal - the atmosphere of the castle is stunning!


Don't forget to visit each of the dining rooms whether you're eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner inside Be Our Guest.  The ballroom is every bit as grand as in the movie and the West Wing perfectly captures the mystery and pain of the Beast.  Overall, I was really pleased with our breakfast and would go back again.  In my experience, the breakfast reservation was much easier to get then lunch or dinner so this is the perfect opportunity to check out all that Be Our Guest has to offer!

How to Organize Your Disney Vacation Plans

Planning a Walt Disney World vacation requires keeping track of a number of details including flights, hotel reservations, FastPass+ experiences, and dining reservations.  Thanks to the advent of the My Disney Experience app and website in recent years, this task has gotten a bit easier.  However, I’m someone who likes to be able to lay out my days and visually capture my whole vacation in just one easy to read page.

 The biggest advantage, in my opinion, of using a table like this is that you can quickly check for any time overlaps or concerns.  On our last vacation, I booked our breakfast at Hollywood and Vine and our first FastPass+ of the day for the Frozen Sing-a-Long too close together.  We ended up having to cut breakfast short in order to make it our FastPass+ experience.  While this certainly didn’t ruin the vacation, it was something I could have avoided if I would have been better prepared in planning the day.  When planning for character meals, I usually allow an hour to ninety minutes while other dining reservations can typically be completed in under an hour.  The exception to this would be any signature dining restaurants that are serving higher end meals and longer experiences.

On the above chart, you’ll notice I break the day down into morning, afternoon, and night.  So far, I have only entered times for dining reservations and FastPass+ selections, but as we get closer I will typically add ideas for quick service meals and breaks at the resort.  Planning you Walt Disney World vacation is a dynamic process that may involve many shifts along the way.  Finding a planning strategy that works for you will help make the whole experience more enjoyable and successful for you and your family. 

Wishes - A Nighttime Spectacular

Star light, star bright.  First star I see tonight. . .

One of the highlights of any visit to Walt Disney World for me is watching the Wishes fireworks show at Magic Kingdom.  I'm not someone who generally enjoys fireworks shows, but there is something special about this one.  Between the music, the atmosphere, and the magic in the air, Wishes is something you'll never forget.

Simply breathtaking!
I wish I may, I wish I might have this wish I wish tonight.

The story of Wishes is narrated by Jiminy Cricket as he guides us into a world where good conquers evil and wishes come true.  And the whole evening begins with Tinkerbell flying across the night sky.  The music that accompanies the show incorporates some classic Disney characters too!  I enjoy the music and story of this show so much that I bought the album on iTunes and have been playing it for my kids to bring a little Disney magic into our home each night.

Make a wish and do as dreamers do. 

A key to making the most out of your Wishes experience is having a terrific viewing spot.  While you can see the fireworks from just about anywhere inside Magic Kingdom, the best place is from Main Street U.S.A.  To get a prime viewing spot, you'll need to grab your seats at least 30-45 minutes early.  You could also reserve a viewing location as one of your FastPass+ experiences.  Don't forget too that there are lots of places "outside" of Magic Kingdom to watch the fireworks.  Many of the restaurants on the monorail line such as California Grill and 'Ohana have views of the show while also piping in the music.  There is also a Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage on the Seven Seas Lagoon that gives you a unique view of the fireworks.  Regardless of where you watch the show, get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime.

And all our wishes will come true.