My Monsterous Summer Preview

Monsterous Summer

I had the pleasure of attending the Walt Disney World Monsterous Summer Media Preview last week, and it was great to learn so much about all the fun there is to be had this summer at the Walt Disney World Resort!

Disney’s Monstrous Summer is going to have a little something for everyone! It’s the first summer of fun in New Fantasyland, this summer the surprises of Limited Time Magic continue, and some all-new adventures begin around the Resort including the opportunity play pirate in the Magic Kingdom or becoming a wilderness explorer with badges galore in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The Monstrous Summer lineup is inspired by the June 21 release of the Disney-Pixar animated feature, “Monsters University.” Mike and Sulley are dropping in from MU to scare up monstrous surprises! An all-new collegiate setting for meeting their favorite aspiring scarers will be on the Backlot at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will have a great view of the MU Campus. Also at the Magic Kingdom MU students have been studying new jokes to bring to the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor!

But the event wasn’t just about Mike, Sulley, and their friends! It was an event full of some great announcements, so let’s take a look at what I learned all about…

Monsterous Summer – Special Events

May the 4th Be With You  – In honor of Star Wars day, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be hosting “May the 4th Be with You!”—a one-of-a-kind Star Wars-themed celebration for the whole family. During this Limited Time Magic Event, you will be able to meet iconic characters, parents will be able to join their fellow Padawans in a special family Jedi Training Academy, purchase special merchandise with messages like “May the Fourth Be with You” and “Revenge of the Fifth”, you can join DJ Lobot for a Star Wars-themed Dance Party, and at the end of the day you can take a seat on Hollywood Boulevard and settle in for “Symphony in the Stars,” a spectacular fireworks display set to close the celebration. Catch all the amazing sights and sounds, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the fall of the Empire!

Monsterous Summer

Pull an All-Nighter to Celebrate the beginning of Summer – A larger than life Mike Mike Wazowski joined us to tell us all about another 24 hour celebration coming to both coasts on May 24th. You can find all of the details about the All-Nighter here.

httpv://youtu.be/OBRYUUO29LM

Downtown Disney Revs Up for Car Masters Weekend June 14-16 -Car Masters Weekend, now in its third year, is the perfect way to celebrate Father’s Day as Downtown Disney West Side hosts a classic car show with a modern twist June 14-16, 2013. Featuring all things “Cars,” the event showcases more than 150 classic, muscle and exotic cars; a chance for guests to meet “Cars 2″ stars Lightning McQueen, Mater and Finn McMissile; and special appearances by automotive designer Chip Foose and Disney-Pixar “Cars” filmmaker Jay Ward. Completing the car-nucopia of events, fans may purchase tickets for a ”Cars” & “Cars 2″ movie marathon at AMC Downtown Disney 24, “test drive” Ridemakerz “Cars” models, and enjoy caricatures, themed food and beverage, live entertainment and more. Entertainment subject to change.

Monsterous Summer – New Offerings

Senses, A Disney Spa At Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort – Joining later this summer its sister spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, the new Senses Spa at Saratoga Springs will be inspired by the healing properties of natural springs that have drawn people for centuries to Saratoga Springs in upstate New York. A completely redesigned space, Senses, A Disney Spa At Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, will feature 10 treatment rooms offering an array of services including water therapy, massage and facials. Senses will incorporate the springs, nature and the storyline of health in its design and theming. For reservations and information, you can call 407-WDW-SPAS.

Wilderness Explorers Comes to Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Coming this spring Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests will be invited to become Wilderness Explorers and experience the park in engaging and challenging ways aimed at deepening their understanding of animals and the natural world we live in. When you sign up and take the official pledge, you set off with your field guide and in hopes to earn all 30 sticker badges of the Wilderness Exlplorers!  You will have to complete challenges as you explore the park and all of its rich details. While this activity is aimed at guests 7-10, it really looks like fun for the entire family! Who doesn’t love stickers? Wilderness Explorers will be self-guided and encourage more “up close and personal” time with the animal inhabitants of the park, and Wilderness Explorers will be included in Disney’s Animal Kingdom admission.

Monsterous Summer

New Meet-Up with Mickey, Minnie at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are scheduled to welcome Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests to their new exploration headquarters, Adventurers Outpost, on Discovery Island, beginning this spring. The all-new indoor retreat is the perfect spot for guests to meet the globetrotting duo as they get ready to set off on their next adventure.

A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas – In testing now and scheduled to debut this Spring, “A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas” will be a new interactive adventure where Magic Kingdom guests participate in pirate raids throughout Adventureland. Pirate maps lead to fabulous treasures as guests join Captain Jack Sparrow and fight off the Royal Navy, Captain Barbossa, headhunters, curses — and the greatest threat of all, Calypso, the sea goddess. If they help Jack succeed in all the missions, they will be welcomed as part of his new crew. If not, they face the wrath of the cruel sea…alone. The adventure is divided into 5 different raids, each comprising a series of interactive tasks.

httpv://youtu.be/kUZOEV_k46I

Disney Dining – Coming by summer’s end: a re-imagined California Grill crowning Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Guests will experience a beautiful new dining room, onstage kitchen and new dining choices – chef Brian Piasecki will keep the focus on creative, fresh, seasonal dishes, and top-of-the-line sushi.  At Epcot, what says summer better than ice cream? The France Pavilion will be expanding with L’Artisan des Glaces, an artisan ice cream and sorbet shop, debuts in mid-June with 16 yummy flavors, all made in-house with fresh ingredients (with the option of adding a shot of liquor on top, for grown-up tastes).

Summer Latte, Anyone? More Starbucks Locations Coming to Disney Parks -Starbucks will be opening locations at Disney theme parks at the Walt Disney World Resortt. When it reopens in early summer, Main Street Bakery in Magic Kingdom will keep its name and theming and continue to serve Disney favorites such as cookies, brownies and seasonal cupcakes, in addition to Starbucks signature beverages and other menu items. At Epcot, Starbucks products will be featured when the Fountain View location reopens for midsummer. Each Starbucks location inside a Disney Park will reflect the theme of its surroundings.

New Summer Line of Disney Parks Cosmetics – In time for summer, fairy tale legends and secrets come to life with the captivating new Unlock the Spell collection from Beautifully Disney, Disney Parks’ line of cosmetics and beauty products. The new-for-summer collection — inspired by the spellbound Tiana, Belle and Rapunzel — is rich in lush colors: soft, pretty yellow, rosy golds, and punchy purples. Unlock the Spell will make its debut at Trend-D at Downtown Disney.

New Disney Dooney Pattern – This spring, a new pattern of Disney Dooney and Bourke purses will be released at TrenD. This coated canvas, features a bold and fun type spelling out Minnie and Mickey with Mickey and Minnie Heads.The colors are more of a neon/bright color and are really on point! It’s a really great and versatile pattern that is great for casual fun or taking to the office. I can’t wait to bring one home for myself!

Monsterous Summer

Monsterous Summer

Disney Ray-Ban Sunglasses – Disney Ray-Ban sunglasses will be coming this spring, and they are adorable! Available in both original Wayfarer styles, they feature a black and white Mickey pattern. What will be really interesting, is to see if the black version with the Mickey pattern on the inside will be considered ‘Disney Look’…I have my fingers crossed for all my Cast Member friends!!!

Monsterous Summer

Monsterous Summer – Announcements

Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade – The Magic Kingdom will be replacing the ‘Celebrate a Dream Come True’ Parade with the Festival of Fantasy Parade that will be stepping off in the Spring of 2014. This all-new parade will bring a celebration of New Fantasyland to life through innovative parade floats, costumes, and an original soundtrack of familiar favorites and a specially crafted parade theme song. The Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade will specifically highlight the stories of “The Little Mermaid,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Dumbo,” “Pinocchio,” “Peter Pan,” “Tangled” and the Disney●Pixar film “Brave” among others.

Monsterous Summer

Monsterous Summer

Disney Magic Overhaul – There’s an extra dose of magic coming aboard the  Disney Cruise Line Disney Magic! The Disney Magic is the first ship of the fleet, and will be getting a “re-imagineering” transformation during dry dock from Sept. 7 through Oct. 10, 2013. The fleet’s flagship  will be receiving a new atrium, restaurant, improved dining experience in Palo, an update to the senses spa, additions in the kid’s club areas (I am most excited about the Avenger’s Academy addition),  new pool and water play areas, as well as two all new slides! It is going to be amazing! I can’t wait to take the plunge on the AquaDunk!

Monsterous Summer

httpv://youtu.be/qCmyUmJFp1s

As you can see from my crazy long pos (sorry) there is a lot of great new experiences coming to Walt Disney World this Summer!!!

In the next few days I will be sharing more information and pictures from the Monsterous Summer Media Preview!

What are you most excited about?

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Happy 15th Anniversary Animal Kingdom!

15th Anniversary Animal Kingdom

Happy 15th Anniversary Animal Kingdom!!!

 

Today is Earth Day, but it’s also the 15th Anniversary of Animal Kingdom!

There will be a lot of fun activities planned if you’ll be in the park to celebrate the Anniversary!

Some of the activities you’ll find are:

  • Special opening ceremony – Meet at the Tree of Life at 8:40 a.m., to hear from Josh D’Amaro, Vice President of Disney’s Animal Kingdom; Dr. Jackie Ogden, Vice President of Animals, Science and Environment. Make sure you arrive early for this!
  • Earth Day “Party for the Planet” festivities – Special interactive activities that focus on animals and nature will take place throughout the park from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Artists and other vendors will present their work on in Africa and on Discovery Island, with their work available for purchase.
  • Opportunity to purchase special 15th anniversary merchandise, available in limited quantities.
  • Special food & beverage.

But, we thought we would celebrate the 15th Anniversary Animal Kingdom by sharing some of our favorite things to do in the park!

httpv://youtu.be/C5dW5GkTMlw

If you can’t make it to Animal Kingdom to join in the fun, this week’s Limited Time Magic keeps the party going with a Party for the Planet!

We are also celebrating our Blogiversary this week with daily giveaways, and to bring some of the 15th Anniversary celebration to we’ll be giving away a box of the 15th Anniversary Animal Kingdom Mystery Pins!

Super huge Congrats to KJ for winning the

15th Anniversary Animal Kingdom Mystery Pins!!!!

15th Anniversary Animal Kingdom

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We hope that you enjoyed our video and good luck entering the contest!!!

We’d love to hear what you love to do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and keep checking back for this week for more Blogiversary giveaways!!!

 

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Limited Time Magic – Party For The Planet

Limited Time Magic

Limited Time Magic ~ April 22 to April 28, 2013 ~ Party for the Planet


This April, there’s a party going on at Walt Disney World Resort… and you’re officially invited!

Come celebrate the 15th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom park at “Party for the Planet”—an Earth Week event where you can meet some of your favorite Disney Characters, purchase collectable merchandise, and try out some tasty sweet treats!

Disney Character Dance Party
The party kicks off with a week-long character reunion, where some rarely seen Disney Characters will be making cameo appearances in Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.

Stop by for a chance to see Lilo & Stitch, Flik & Princess Atta, Koda & Kenai, and Thumper & Miss Bunny as they march along, and then join them for a dance party hosted by DJ Dino-Mite in Dinoland, USA!

Commemorative Merchandise
Once the celebration’s started, make your way to Creature Comforts where you can buy celebratory clothing, commemorative pins, limited edition Vinylmation figures and other once-in-a-lifetime merchandise you won’t find anywhere else.

Can’t make it to Florida for the occasion? Take advantage of a special opportunity to order an exclusive 15th Anniversary T-shirt online… but get yours fast—the T-shirt will only be available from April 22 to April 24, 2013!

“Dig Up” Something Delicious
The Earth Week celebration continues all across Walt Disney World Resort, where for a limited time, you can “dig in” to a duo of playful desserts.

Head into Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Kona Café at Disney’s Polynesian Resort and try out the “Worm and Dirt Cupcake.” Or, travel to Magic Kingdom park or Epcot for a delightfully delicious “Worm and Dirt Tart.”

Remember, the Earth Week experience is only taking place for a limited time—don’t miss your chance to celebrate the planet in the most magical of ways!*

*Events and characters are subject to change.

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Night Rides at Walt Disney World

Night Rides

Night at Walt Disney World is my absolute favorite time to be in the parks. The majestic appearance of Cinderella Castle, the way light reflects off of each of the triangular panels of Spaceship Earth, the Tree of Life illuminated from below, and the warm glow of neon on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards are just a few of the reasons Disney parks after dark are simply amazing. I truly believe that the parks have two entirely different feelings during daylight and at nighttime. Come follow me while I explore the four theme parks of Walt Disney World to see some of the best rides to experience at night as they are completely transformed with different vibes from their daytime selves.

Castle and Partners
Castle and Partners
Spaceship Earth
Spaceship Earth
Tree of Life
Tree of Life
Hollywood Boulevard at night
Hollywood Boulevard at night

 

Animal Kingdom

Admittedly, this is the park I have spent the least time in after dark, mostly due to the fact that there are few times a year that you are able to see Disney’s Animal Kingdom after dark. Since the park is not open into the late night hours, usually not past 8pm or maybe even 9pm on the rare occasion, there are limited opportunities to experience attractions here at night. One such opporunity is during the Expedition Everest Challenge in May. This is a 5K through the Animal Kingdom followed by a scavenger hunt that takes you almost over the whole 5K course again. It is great fun and a unique change to get to see this gorgeous park late at night since the after party goes typically until 2am or so. For those that aren’t able to participate in this fun RunDisney event, the best attraction to ride at night is definitely Expedition Everest. The ride’s twists and turns and drops and backwards section seem even more thrilling when you can’t see what lies ahead. I strongly encourage any thrill seekers to make sure they try to do this at least once. It is not to be missed!

Expedition Everest at night
Expedition Everest at night
View from Everest at night
View from Everest at night
End of Everest tracks at night
End of Everest tracks at night

Hollywood Studios

Stepping into Disney’s Hollywood Studios at night, one can see how the extensive use of neon makes this park come to life. The heyday of Hollywood never looked better than under the fabulous glow of the bright neon colors lining Hollywood and Sunset. The crown jewel of the park at night is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It sits ominously looming over Sunset Boulevard, with its imposing exterior emblazoned with evidence of that fateful lightning strike. Much like Everest, part of the excitement of this ride at night is in the surprise and not knowing what is coming next. For those who have ridden Tower of Terror during the daylight, you can often tell when you are to the point of dropping by the telltale sliver of light peeking through the elevator doors ahead. Not so at night. This added element of surprise and not being able to anticipate when the drop is coming as well as during the day increases the adrenaline rush for me.

Tower of Terror at night
Tower of Terror at night

Epcot

My favorite park at night hands down is Epcot, and World Showcase in particular. The lighting softens from the often harsh Florida sun. Music wafts gently across the World Showcase Lagoon. Libations flow and guests are satiated by the phenomenal dining offerings presented by this park. Illuminations is a magical experience for me. But this isn’t about ambiance, food, beverages, fireworks, or even music. This is about Test Track baby! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) The newly revamped Future World attraction is incredible at night. I love the way the ride gives you a great dark ride inside and then whoosh! You are speeding around the track on a 45 degree angle pushing towards that top speed of 65 miles per hour. When you coming flying through those doors and into that night air, it is invigorating to say the least. Plus, the view of Epcot at night as you whip around the track is amazing!

Illuminations
Illuminations
Test Track at night
Test Track at night

Magic Kingdom

Spread out across the Magic Kingdom you will find fantastic examples of rides that I find are superior after dark. In Adventureland, the Jungle Cruise takes on a new mystique while exploring the Nile, Congo and Mekong Rivers. If you have never done this at night, what are you waiting for? The skippers corny jokes even take on a life of their own by lantern light. Just adjacent to the Jungle Cruise, the Magic Carpets of Aladdin provide a fun experience on your flying carpet that seems a bit more … adventurous (see what I did there) than during the day. Plus, it is a bit harder to spot the spitting camel at night, adding another element of adventure in trying to avoid it. Frontierland also plays host to two excellent choices for night rides. Both Splash and Big Thunder Mountains are far more exciting (in my humble opinion) at night. I love the moment on Splash right before you go down the five story drop when you catch that glimpse of the castle all lit up in all her glory. If you can try to time it right, Wishes as seen from Big Thunder is a transformative experince. It is one of my favorite views of the fireworks show.

Splash Mountain at night
Splash Mountain at night
Big Thunder at night
Big Thunder at night

Although it is entirely indoors, except for the queue, which is infinitely better at night (especially during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party), the Haunted Mansion is another great night ride. This Liberty Square attraction takes on an otherworldly and creepy ethereal feel to it when the sun goes down. I love when it is foggy and you can hardly see the tombstones in the graveyard and just barely catch the sound of the howling dog. Fantastic! Not to be left out is Fantasyland. Dumbo is so stunningly beautiful, especially now with the dueling Dumbos and the gorgeously lit fountains with alternating colors. I can stand in that queue transfixed by the serenity of changing lights and the soft sound of the water pouring out underneath the playful pachyderms.

Haunted Mansion during MNSSHP
Haunted Mansion during MNSSHP
Haunted Mansion pet cemetery
Haunted Mansion pet cemetery
Dumbo at night
Dumbo at night

Last, but certainly not least is my favorite land at night, Tomorrowland. The neon popping off the corner of seemingly every edifice is an inviting beacon to this part of the park. An attraction that I do not often do, but if I do will always choose to do at night is the Astro Orbiter. Sitting atop Rockettower Plaza, this spinning ride, similar to the Magic Carpets of Aladdin and Dumbo, seems to fly even faster through the cosmos at night, especially on that descent. Saving the best (again, in my opinion) for last, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover is a 12 minute break from the hustle and bustle that usually is the Magic Kingdom. At night, you can admire the gorgeous neon of tomorrowland, view lights on the edge of Main Street USA and of course see the luminous Cinderella Castle transform from blue to pink to green to orange before your eyes. You can read more about my love of this attraction here in a previous post dedicated to this classic Magic Kingdom ride.

Tomorrowland at night
Tomorrowland at night

 

Have you done any or all of these at night? If so, what are your favorites? Did I miss any of your favorite attractions to experience after dark at Walt Disney World? If I have, please feel free to share your thoughts. Hope you enjoyed!

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Yak And Yeti Bhaktapur Market

The Yak And Yeti Bhaktapur Market, located right next door to the Yak and Yeti Restaurant in Animal Kingdom, is a really fun place to find unique gifts with an Asian flair.

You can find anything from funny t-shirts to handmade scarves at the Yak and Yeti Bhaktapur Marketplace. And the thing that I really love is that all of the prices are really affordable, the merchandise is made with quality materials, and that you will be able to find a little something for anyone that is hard to shop for.

I hope that you enjoy this look at the Yak and Yeti Bhaktapur Marketplace merchandise!

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The Week in Review: August 19th – August 24, 2012: Halloween, Adventures, Movies, and More!

The Week in Review: August 19th – August 24, 2012: Halloween, Adventures, Movies, and More!

This past week here at On the Go has been full of great stuff, and now it’s time to look back at our Week In Reviews so we can see all that happened August 19th to August 24th!!!

Let’s Go!

On Sunday, we brought you news about Cohen’s Deli Opening a Kosher Hotel Near Walt Disney World!

There is a Kosher Hotel coming to the Walt Disney World Area!

Monday brought us news about the 2012 Halloween Merchandise at Walt Disney World! Halloween is my favorite time of year, and this year the merchandise is well designed and even better than last year’s offerings.

Duffy’s Halloween Costume

We are all really pumped for the Orlando Solar Bears to Come Out of Hibernation, and they have signed a new player!

Simon Danis-Pepin Orlando Solar Bears

Tuesday brought the first in our Girls Night Out in Orlando series, where a few of the gals had a fun night at Universal’s CityWalk!

Wordless Wednesday took us to Animal Kingdom at night for a look at the Tree of Life. Animal Kingdom is a beautiful park at night.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Tree of Life at Night

I also went shopping at DStreet, and found that the Mavericks of Mayhem line by Noah had arrived at Downtown Disney’s Westside!

Mavericks of Mayhem Teams

Thursday started with another installment of Betsy’s California Adventure!

Matterhorn

Then I reviewed Doc McStuffins: Friendship is the Best Medicine, available now on DVD.

Doc McStuffins: Friendship Is The Best Medicine Available August 21, 2012 on DVD

Nights of Joy are coming to Walt Disney World, and we look at the artists that will be performing this year!

We ended the week with Cheryl taking us along for her DVC stay at Bay Lake Tower for One More Disney Day.

Disney Vacation Club Bay Lake Towers Couch Area
Disney Vacation Club Bay Lake Towers Couch Area (courtesy of Betsy Bates)

We also gave away two tickets for the Big Time Summer Tour with Big Time Rush with Special Guest Cody Simpson, coming to the Amway Center on August 28, 2012.

Catch Big Time Rush at the Amway Center with Special Guest Cody Simpson August 28th at 7pm!!!

And finally we took a look at two new logos that the Orlando Solar Bear will be using!

Orlando Solar Bears Opening Night Logo

Thanks for joining us this week in review at On the Go, and we can’t wait to bring you even more posts next week!!!

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Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Have you ever noticed people walking around the safari or near the hippos on Kilimanjaro Safaris?  Have you ever wondered what they were doing and how you could be out there getting up close to the animals?  One of Animal Kingdom’s hidden gems is the Wild Africa Trek, a special tour that debuted last year.

This tour departs several times throughout the day with the earliest tours starting before Animal Kingdom opens to the public.  The tour last approximately 3 hours.  If you are arriving before the park opens you will need to meet your guide at the front of the park and be escorted back to the tour’s starting location.  If your tour starts after the park opens, you can head behind the Dawa Bar to meet your guide.

Once you meet your guide, you will be fitted with your tour vest, which is also your harness for the first half of your adventure.  You go through some basic safety training and get to test out the practice bridge to see if you can handle the challenges up ahead.  As soon as everyone in your group is ready to go you head off with your guide into the Pangani Forest and begin your adventure.  You have short walk through the forest along the paths that the regular guests follow before you head towards the Ituri Forest.

Entering the Pangani Forest

The path that you follow isn’t paved.  You are walking on dirt and over roots.  For guest that are physically unable to take this route, there is an alternate trail that you will take with your own guide before meeting up with the main group later.  My tour had a few people who took this option.

Once you find your way through the forest, your first stop is with the hippos in the Safi River.  Your “monkey tail” that is part of your tour vest is attached to a safety bar and you are able to walk out to the edge of the enclosure and lean over to view the hippos.  I was the only one in my group brave enough to head out to the edge and lean as far as the monkey tail would let me.  It gave me the opportunity to get some great pictures.

Kilimanjaro Safari vehicle passing by
Our close up of the hippo!

After your guides share some interesting hippo facts, you head off to the daredevil portion of the tour.  Everyone is able to walk across a suspended bridge.  I thoroughly enjoyed this portion of the tour.  I can’t say as much for some of the other people in my group.  Some were scared of heights and just focused on crossing the bridge.  I took my time and enjoyed the view.  I watched as the safari trucks passed underneath and stood over the crocodiles just daring them to try to make me into their dinner.

Crossing the first of the bridges
Whoa! I hope I don’t slip and fall down there!
Stopping to take a picture
I hope they had their breakfast!

Once you’ve make it across the bridges and spent some time at the crocodile overlook, you take your last hike out to meet your personal safari vehicle.  I think our safari vehicle was my favorite part of the adventure.  Unlike the vehicles that you ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris, the Wild Africa Trek vehicles are able to stop and you are able to walk around your vehicle to get pictures of the animals.

We pulled over to get pictures of the giraffes
The baby elephants were playing

One last treat during your adventure is a small meal that is served to you overlooking the savannah.  The early morning Treks include fruit salad, cheese and yogurt, followed by fig cake, a special slaw, and prosciutto.  It was all delicious and just enough to refuel me for the rest of our adventure.

Our home away from home on the safari
Meals were served in these containers
Yogurt, fruit salad, and cheese and dried fruit
Bread, salad, prosciutto, and fig cake

We had a special, but unplanned treat near the end of our adventure.  The lions were out!  There is a spot where the truck is able to pull over and we got some great pictures of the lion. After the lions, you follow the same path as the regular safari vehicles.

Sleeping Lioness

Once you return to the warden’s post, you walk back to Wild Africa Trek meeting place.  You are able to select one of the conservation efforts represented by the animals that you saw on the Trek.  By making the selection, Disney donates a portion of your fee to the selected efforts.

I would definitely do the Wild Africa Trek again if I were given a chance.  Since I was on one of the first Treks of the day, I would like to try one of the later Treks, maybe even try to head out on the last one of the day.

One final group picture. I think we came back with everyone!

Have you ever been on the Wild Africa Trek? What was your favorite part?

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Animal Kingdom Roundtable

If you know me, you know how much I love Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  I asked all the ladies here at On the Go in MCO for their opinions on the park.  Let us know what you think!

1. What is your favorite attraction at the Animal Kingdom and why?

Aurora- Safari hands down!!!! It is always a new and different view. I always learn something new. I love that some times you see the lion and some times you only hear him roaring. In all my years I haven’t heard him twice!!!!

Betsy- This is a toss up for me. For a ride, I’d definitely say Kilimanjaro Safaris since I love to see the animals in somewhat of their natural settings as opposed to a zoo. It is different every time, but always a great ride. As far as my favorite show, this is easily The Festival of the Lion King as this may actually be my favorite show at Walt Disney World. There are so many different aspects of this show I love, from the singing, dancing, fire twirling, aerial acrobatics, but my favorite is absolutely the Tumble Monkeys.

Cheryl- I love the Safari, being close to the Animals is amazing

Megan- This is tough.  I love the safaris, but I tend to get withdrawl symptoms if I spend too many weeks without seeing the Tumble Monkeys or the fire twirler.

Shalon- Expedition Everest. A great Rollercoaster that has a great back story and great queue. Even if the Yeti is forever in disco mode it’s still great to get a glimpse of him.

Shelley- My favorite attraction at Animal Kingdom would have to be Expedition Everest! I really wish that the Disco Yeti would be restored to its former glory, but with an amazingly detailed queue, cohesive story, and overall ride experience Expedition Everest can’t be beat! You can’t go to Animal Kingdom and skip Expedition Everest!

2. What is your favorite animal on Kilimanjaro Safaris?

Betsy- Wow, there are so many great animals. I love the giraffes, but I think I get most excited when I see the baby elephants. They are just so darn cute.

Cheryl- Okapi

Megan- Baby anything.  I was on the safari recently and I was able to see a baby warthog.  They’re are so cute!  For a venture off of the safaris, I love the White Cheeked Gibbons.

Shalon- Giraffe!!!

Shelley- Well first off, let me say that it would NOT be the ostriches!!! They are out to get me!!! LOL!!! But I can say that the white rhinos are my absolute favorite, because they are very graceful and powerful animals that seem to just peacefully exist on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Aurora- Giraffes!!!!!

3. What is your favorite place to eat at Animal Kingdom?

Cheryl- Tusker House and Restaurantosaurus

Megan- Flame Tree Barbeque.  I love the ribs and the pulled pork sandwichs.  A treat that I recently found at Restaurantosaurus is sweet potato fries.

Shalon- Yak & Yeti,  if you don’t have a reservation you can usually get a seat at the bar with the exact same menu!

Shelley- I would eat at Tusker House everyday if I could!!! Their selection of food on the buffet is just exotic enough for adventurous eaters, but with the sandwich, carving station, and kid’s areas picky eaters don’t have to panic. The characters are only out during lunch, and they play games and come around just enough to make sure the little ones are happy but also have time to eat.

Aurora- Yak and Yeti quick service (Anandapur Local Cafe) I adore the honey chicken! The portions are always huge and I feel full and I love the little Orange boxes!!!

Betsy- Flame Tree Barbeque is my go to restaurant. I love the food there, especially the ribs. This is one of the best values if you are ever on the dining plan for a counter service meal. I also really enjoy exploring the different seating areas themed after different animals and how they reflect the theme of the Circle of Life. Some of the animals are featured as predators in one pavilion, but then are depicted as prey in another.

4. If you could change any area in the park, what would you change and what would go there?

Megan- Dinoland.  I can truly appreciate the theming behind the area, but it is so hot and uncomfortable there.  I would like to take Chester and Hester’s and somehow expand the Dino Institute.

Shalon- Would be nice to have a larger town of Harambe with possibly another restaurant or quick service area offering more authentic food.

Shelley- I would change the Rafiki’s Planet Watch area, because while I think it has a great message I would love to see it updated to include more exotic animals in the petting zoo, more things along the train route, and new animal exhibits.

Aurora- I am not a fan of Dinoland at all. Primeval Whirl is such a horrid ride….. I would love to see all this changed to not be so carnie ish…. The carnival games are just lame. I don’t know what I would put there… Maybe some sort of sea animal place to pet sting rays and such to tie in with Nemo.

Betsy- I am honestly not a fan of Dinoland at all. I would do away with it completely and replace it with something maybe focusing more on animals found in North America. They could do a whole section on bears and tie it in with several Disney and Pixar films if they felt the need to, like Brother Bear or Brave. Or even do bears around the world showcasing polar bears, koalas, black bears, pandas. Anything with more animals would be fun.

Cheryl- Chester and Hester area.  I’m not sure what could go there.

5. If another continent were to be added as a “land”, which one would you choose and what would be the main attraction?

Shalon- Would love to see the long rumored Beastly Kingdom with a more intense coaster.

Shelley- Oooh! This is a difficult one…I think I would love to see a South America “land” where the main attraction would be gliding coaster through a dense rain forest where the queue would showcase the diverse animals, insects, and conservation issues around saving these vanishing ares.

Aurora- I would go with a Sea something . Dolphins!!! Something to bring Nemo all tied in. I think Disney needs some kind of interaction with animals like Sea World!

Betsy- I’d love to see Australia.  I know this has been rumored for a while, but I’d love to see kangaroos, koalas, a platypus or two (hello, Perry tie in) and think it would be awesome. I know there are a couple of kangaroos in the Oasis, but think a whole Australia themed area with like and Ayers Rock climbing area and playground for kids would be fun. For an attraction, maybe something water themed, which could tie in with Nemo too. Conservation of beaches or maybe a surfing simulator 3/4D film would cool showing some of more aquatic animals.

Cheryl- Antartica , Maybe a virtual snow ride of some sort.

Megan- Definitely Australia. I think that having kangaroos would be really exciting.  And they could expand and something for the Great Barrier Reef.

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These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Image Copyright ABC Family

So the other night on twitter I asked what people’s favorite song was from the Sound of Music when mine came up randomly in iTunes (Something Good, btw). One of my friends answered My Favorite Things. While struggling to come up with a topic for a blog post, I was reminded of this when I saw Do-Re-Mi-Fa trending on twitter and saw it as a sign. Inspiration has to come from somewhere, so why not twitter? I’ll take this opportunity to highlight some of my favorite things at Walt Disney World. Some are obvious choices as E Ticket attractions and others may not be as well known.

At the Magic Kingdom, and probably in all of Walt Disney World, my favorite ride is Pirates of the Caribbean. I guess I’ve been enamored with the idea of pirates in general since we did Peter Pan as our second grade play. Despite the fact that I always tend to get soaked from either the cannon fire or even the drop, this remains my fave. I love the smell of the queue, have a whole soundtrack of the theme song with various remixes (yes, this exists), and the addition of Captain Jack Sparrow certainly didn’t hurt or compromise the integrity or feel of the ride, in my opinion. Two other classic attractions round out my top three in MK: Haunted Mansion and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. I have been fortunate enough to take a walking tour of the Haunted Mansion and it was beyond incredible. The storytelling on this is probably the most complete of any attraction in the Magic Kingdom. TTAP is just a great ride that gives you an overview of Tomorrowland with narration. You can read more about my love of the Peoplemover here.

Pirates!
Haunted Mansion
TTAP

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is not my favorite of the four parks by a long stretch, however there are some things that I completely love about this park. The theming of Harambe and Anandapur are spectacular. I especially love the artwork and details in the Asia section of the park along the Maharajah Jungle Trek. It may also be because the tigers are my favorite animals to visit. As far as rides are concerned, I love the Kilimanjaro Safaris, especially towards the end of the day. I used to think that I’d see more animals first thing in the morning, but the last few times I have ridden in late afternoon I saw way more. My favorite show, possibly in all of WDW, is the Festival of the Lion King. It has great interactivity for the kids, lots of entertainment with singing, dancing, aerial acrobatics, and my absolute favorite part: TUMBLE MONKEYS!!! The quality of this production is always great and is fun for everyone.

Maharajah Jungle Trek
Lion
Tumble Monkeys

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is magnificent at night, possibly stealing the show from the other parks with the luster of old Hollywood and the luminescence of neon. While I’m not a huge fan of all of the rides, I do love to experience some of the lesser appreciated attractions. Probably my favorite activity at the Studios is the Animation Academy. I have done this dozens of times, and typically go twice each day I visit that park. You can see some of my attempts at drawing here. Another attraction that I enjoy and try to catch each time is Mulch, Sweat & Shears. If you haven’t seen these guys (and sometimes girls) perform, you are missing out on one of the best live acts in WDW. They cover great rock songs from the 60s through today. Usually found on New York Street, but sometimes by the Sorcerer’s Hat, Mulch is a great way to spend some time rocking out and dancing to some music you don’t often hear in the parks. Last, but certainly not least, is my favorite ride in DHS: the Great Movie Ride. It harkens back to the classic days of Hollywood with nods to some of the greatest films in cinematic history. For more in depth details on some more of my favorite things at the Studios, take a look at my blog post from a few weeks ago here.

Chip
Mulch, Sweat & Shears
Great Movie Ride

Finally, this brings me to my favorite park (actually I go back and forth between MK and Epcot, but most of the time Epcot wins). I am completely fascinated with World Showcase at Epcot, partially because I love to travel, but haven’t outside of the US. This is like a magical journey that transports me to lands both near and far when I set foot in WS. My favorite film in Epcot is definitely Impressions de France. As several of my friends know, I love (j’adore) this attraction to the point where I have practically memorized the script and can recite it almost verbatim, including the parts in French. The scenery all around France is magnificent, the score is beautiful, using classical works from composers like Maurice Ravel, Camille Saint-Saens and Claude Debussy just to name a few. I have even made a cd of the tracks used in the film. You can ask for a copy of track listing from the Cast Members as you exit through the gift shop. Since Test Track is out of commission, my favorite ride is Spaceship Earth. I know some fanboys take issue with Dame Judi Dench’s narration, but being a James Bond fan, I don’t mind. Plus, I don’t have recollection of the Cronkite or Irons versions. Taking the time to “thank the Phoenicians” has become a ritual part of every trip. My third favorite attraction in Epcot goes to the entire American Adventure pavilion. This includes the Fife & Drum Corps, shows like Candlelight Processional, Flower Power Concert Series, Eat to the Beat Concert Series, the Voices of Liberty and the American Adventure attraction itself. Americana is something that is near and dear to me and all of these elements combine to celebrate some of the best things about this great nation of ours.

Impressions de France
The Phoenicians
Davy Jones

What are some of your favorite attractions? Hope you enjoyed learning about some of mine.

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Animal Kingdom Merchandise

We have been showing a ton of love to Animal Kingdom this week, so I thought I would keep the ball rolling by taking a look at their large variety of merchandise.

With so many different lands inside of Animal Kingdom, the merchandise does a great job staying true to not only the message but location sold in the Park. Also, a you will be able to find merchandise that gives back to different foundations, such as the Disney’s Worldwide Conservation Fund, when you purchase them.

I hope that you enjoy this look at the merchandise that Animal Kingdom has to offer!!!

 

 

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Exploring Camp Minnie-Mickey

An often overlooked are of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Camp Minnie-Mickey.  I personally visit it almost every time I visit the park, if for no other reason than to see The Festival of the Lion King.  I highly recommend taking some time during your next trip to visit this area.

Camp Minnie-Mickey is designed to look like a summer camp in the Adirondack Mountains.  When it is filled with park guests, it feels like it is the first day of the summer camp when all of the parents drop the campers off.  It is full of activity from the Character Greeting Trails and the other character meet and greets and Gi-Tar Dan to the always popular Festival of the Lion King.

When you leave Discovery Island and head into Camp Minnie-Mickey you begin encounter bridges and building that have a very rustic feel.  The railings for all of the bridges and the signs are all made of carved wood.  You see a special waterfall that looks like the water is coming out of a dragon’s mouth.  This may be a remnant of the rumored Beastly Kingdom.  As you proceed along the trail, you encounter Daisy with Huey, Duey, and Louie who are out on a nature hike.  You also find Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Pluto relaxing by the river and fishing.

Festival of the Lion King is inside a large (air conditioned!) theater in the round.  The theater is supposed to resemble a camp hall.  I think that if a bon fire was set in the middle of the theater, everyone would be ready to roast some s’mores.  I could probably write a whole post about the show.  The show is a live show with singers, dancers, gymnasts and even a flame twirler.  It includes live music from The Lion King and even some audience participation.

The Character Greeting areas remind me of picnic pavillions with each area being covered. The only thing they’re missing is the picnic table. During the holidays, the trails are each decorated by the respective characters and they’re decorated with a personalized Christmas tree.

You also have common areas of the camp.  You will usually see Thumper and Ms. Bunny hanging out near the exit from the Festival of the Lion.  Wandering around, like a senior camper is Gi-Tar Dan.  If you get a chance to, take a few minutes and talk to him.  He may make up a song just about you!

If you have visited Camp Minnie-Mickey let me know what you think about it.  I’ll be happy to share pictures of your favorite features in a future post!

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Celebrate Earth Day

Disney Animal Kingdom is the ideal place to celebrate Earth Day. Earth Day is the birthday of the park after all! This year the park is full of activities to celebrate the Earth. The special activities are available at Animal Kingdom from April 13 – April 22. Here are some of the activities that you can look forward to:

At the entrance to the park, you can find a large sand sculpture celebrating DisneyNature’s latest film “Chimpanzee” which comes out in theaters today.

In Asia, on the Maharaja Jungle Trek, families can play a supermarket game and learn how their purchases can effect wildlife.

In Africa, on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, children can identify chimpanzee tracks and clues left behind along trails in the forest.

At Rafiki’s Planet Watch you can learn fun ways to spend time in nature with your families. You can visit the Chimpanzee Research Station and take part in activities based on real conservation work.

And on Discovery Island, be sure to visit the artisans with their special crafts. You can find beautiful nature photography and lovely plants that you can take home as a memory of your vacation.

If you are not able to make it to Animal Kingdom in the next few days, you can always try out the new Disney Facebook game featuring Animal Kingdom. I’ve been playing it and I love it! Expect a review of it in the near future!

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