Disney’s Animal Kingdom hosts a wild Party for the Planet

Party for the Planet 2019 Disneys Animal Kingdom

Today Jennifer Fickley-Baker shared the following details about the Party for the Planet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on the Disney Parks Blog

Who’s ready to celebrate? In just a few weeks, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be hosting its annual Earth Day celebration, Party for the Planet, April 20-22. During this special three-day event, guests are invited to explore, engage and connect with the magic of nature through family-friendly experiences and specialty offerings.

Party for the Planet kicks off the moment you enter the park, as no Guest will be able to miss a larger-than-life marine debris sculpture celebrating Disneynature Penguins on display in the Oasis.

Party for the Planet 2019 Disneys Animal Kingdom Debris Sculpture
Walt Disney World

The fun continues throughout the park with unique character appearances, special entertainment, and commemorative photo opportunities available with Disney PhotoPass photographers.

Throughout this special weekend event you can meet some of our amazing animal care experts, animal educators and conservation experts to see first-hand how Disney cares for animals and works to save endangered species worldwide.

Party for the Planet 2019 Disneys Animal Kingdom Birds flying
Walt Disney World

Watch animal feedings and training experiences, specially planned for Party for the Planet, to learn how our keepers care for some of your favorite animals.

Looking for a unique experience during Party for the Planet? Take a journey through tales of adventure and cuisine during Tiffins Talks, a special dining experience April 20-22 from 1-3 p.m., featuring the beloved creative force behind the concept, design and buildout of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney Imagineer and Portfolio Executive Joe Rohde. Join Joe for a unique conversation as he regales you with stories from his travels through a delectable 4-course lunch featuring global dishes, desserts and specialty beverages. Space is limited. Pricing for this dining package is $199 plus tax and gratuity and requires separate park admission. Reservations can be made beginning today by calling 407 WDW-DINE (407 939-3463).

Party for the Planet 2019 Disneys Animal Kingdom Tiffins Talks
Walt Disney World

Guests are also invited to meet Joe Rohde at Mombasa Marketplace, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. April 20 and 22, where he will be on hand to sign his own unique artwork, a commemorative lion print that will be on sale throughout the event while supplies last. A wristband is required to meet Joe Rohde. For further details visit the Party for the Planet webpage.

Party for the Planet 2019 Disneys Animal Kingdom Joe Rhode
Walt Disney World

As if all the fun activities happening for Party for the Planet weren’t enough, on Earth Day, April 22, there will be a full assortment of “The Lion King” merchandise available at Mombasa Marketplace!  You can feel the love and take home so many fun souvenirs like this adorable Simba mug, Hakuna Matata Spirit Jersey, this “roaringly” cute Simba youth baseball hat or one of the many new items recently added to this collection. #LionKingCelebration

Party for the Planet 2019 Disneys Animal Kingdom Lion King Spirit Jersey
Walt Disney World

There are so many incredible ways to celebrate nature and the place we all call home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We hope to see you there!

Visit Disneyworld.com/partyfortheplanet for the latest information about the celebration. #PartyforthePlanet

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Running Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K at Animal Kingdom

Up at 5am to get ready
Up at 5am to get ready

This weekend I was able to participate in my second runDisney race this year in the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K. I’ve done little actual running this year, but I’m going to be doing the inaugural Minnie 10K during marathon weekend in January so I figured I would try to do this as a warm up race. This wasn’t my first 5K, but I decided ahead of time I was going to take it easy since I am on antibiotics and medication for sinusitis.

I mostly wanted to do this race for the absolutely adorable Christmas medal (read: rubbery plastic medallion) that all finishers get. Training as a warmup for the 10K was a bonus too since I’ve just started running 2 – 3 days a week again in the last three weeks since my last 10K in August that didn’t go as planned. You can read about that adventure here. More training can only be a good thing.

The course was through Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which I’ve run through in three other 5Ks, but this was a slightly different course than what they had setup before. For those who have done the Expedition Everest Challenge or any other 5K races through Animal Kingdom, you may recall the first mile through the parking lot almost exclusively, then heading through the Oasis towards Africa before going towards Conservation Station for a switchback. After that you would run through Asia by Everest and Finding Nemo, then out by Dinoland and backstage to exit back into the parking lot. Instead of Conservation Station, we skipped that and had a switchback backstage almost just before exiting the park. This is where there were a few parade floats and character meet and greets setup. Previously on the Conservation Station section there would be floats with characters, but also some live animals with handlers, which I kind of missed to be honest. I’m not sure what the reason for the change was other than possibly avoiding running over the train tracks where Cast Members were always setup to warn those running of the potential hazard.

I knew this was going to be the first race for my friend Doug, so I got there early to support him and so we could hang out before getting in the corrals to start. The race start was at 7am and there were only four waves for this race. I was in the last corral for this one, but surprisingly was crossing the start line at 7:08, just about 10 minutes after the wheelchair participants started. I also found out that morning that my friend Scarlett was running too, which was a nice surprise. Several of our friends came out nice and early to come cheer for us and even made some signs. I especially appreciate those who came to cheer who were running in the Wine and Dine Half Marathon later that night.

With Scarlett and Doug before the race
With Scarlett and Doug before the race

Sign I missed in the dark on the way out the door
Sign I missed in the dark on the way out the door

Sign Shalon made me
Sign Shalon made me

Sign Shelley made me
Sign Shelley made me

For some reason, this race felt much more relaxed than some others did previously. I don’t know if this is because I put no pressure on myself knowing I was going to walk most of it, or what. Others also commented it felt like there were fewer people in this race and the corrals weren’t as crowded. It was a nice chill vibe where I didn’t even enter my corral until 5 minutes before the race started.

In the corral
In the corral

Start
Start

Mickey and Minnie waved to me at the start
Mickey and Minnie waved to me at the start

Christmas tree
Christmas tree

As I mentioned, the start was in the parking lot at the Animal Kingdom and the first mile marker was just before the turnstiles to enter the park. A little before the mile 1 point was a spot where I saw friends cheering, and then the Christmas tree lit up at the entrance. I was hoping for some nice Christmas theming with this race and I wasn’t disappointed. Spread out along the course were characters, almost all of whom were in Christmas costumes, mostly their outfits from Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade. Also, towards the end of the course, just before mile 3 was my favorite photo op, and my new avatar thanks to Scarlett’s insistence I get in the picture with her.

Running into Mike working was a bonus
Running into Mike working was a bonus

King Louie
King Louie

Selfie with a dino skeleton wearing a Santa hat
Selfie with a dino skeleton wearing a Santa hat

Donald with some guests running in Christmas sweaters
Donald with some guests running in Christmas sweaters

The race itself wasn’t bad. The temperature was just below 70 at start time, which wasn’t too warm. I tried out a 30 second jog and a 15 second walk interval for the first 10 minutes and was on a better pace than what I’d been doing on the treadmill recently, so that was nice. I was having a little trouble breathing since I forgot to use my inhaler ahead of time, so I walked for longer periods for most of the rest of the race. I was passed by Doug and ran into Scarlett waiting in lines for characters. Scarlett and I finished the race walking together which was nice, since I normally run alone.

Don't do it kid!
Don’t do it kid!

Favorite race picture yet thanks to Scarlett
Favorite race picture yet thanks to Scarlett

Finish
Finish

I got my Christmas medal
I got my Christmas medal

We had a fun time, which is ultimately what we set out to do. None of us, other than Doug, were out to set a personal record, and he did great in his first race! I got my medal and enjoyed the course, even running into one of my mom’s friends who was running in her first race. For those who are looking to just get started in running or walking even, a 5K at Disney is a great place. They say there is a 16 minute pace requirement, but that is very loosely enforced. I know people who were finishing at closer to an hour and 30 minutes from the race start time by the time they waited in lines for characters.

Have you found yourself running in a runDisney race before? What is your favorite course? Or your favorite medal? This was my ninth 5K and I enjoy them so I’ll keep at it. Next schedule race is the 10K in January and another 5K in February for Princess Half Marathon weekend. Still looking for another 5K next month as a warmup.Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Best Bathrooms in Disney

I thought I would take this time to share some of my favorite bathrooms around Walt Disney World and Disneyland. I know this may not be the most glamorous subject, but I thought it would be fun. Hey, maybe you’ll find a new favorite spot. This is certainly subjective, but I am basing my list on a few things. Theming is one parameter, location is another, and size/stall to guest ratio. They don’t all have to meet all criteria and they are not listed in any particular order.

Magic Kingdom Bathrooms

I have to say the Tangled bathrooms in the Magic Kingdom are probably the most themed I’ve ever seen. Rapunzel’s tower is illuminated at night and the surrounding area is beautifully decorated around the village near Rapunzel’s parents’ castle and the Snuggly Duckling. Lanterns are lit up at night and hang above the area to provide a gentle light at night. Outside there are seating clusters even with charging stations. Inside the theming is carried on even further (at least in the ladies room) to reflect many of Rapunzel’s hobbies featured in the opening song of Tangled. Plus, there are tons of stalls and I’ve never had to wait.

Tangled bathroomTangled 2Tangled 3Tangled 4Tangled 5Tangled 6

As a runner up, I’d choose the bathrooms in the Fantasyland train station. They aren’t quite as spacious as the Tangled toilets, but they are very pretty. Honorable mention in the Magic Kingdom goes to the New Fantasyland bathrooms behind Gaston’s Tavern.

Disneyland Bathrooms

Hands down my favorite bathrooms in Disneyland are the Alice in Wonderland bathrooms adjacent to the Alice attraction and the Matterhorn. Friends of mine steered me to these bathrooms to check them out on my first trip and I wasn’t disappointed. While Alice in Wonderland isn’t one of my favorite Disney films, the attraction is my favorite dark ride in Fantasyland. I loved these bathrooms with the cards for the stall doors and the hearts on the light fixtures.

Alice bathroomAlice 2Alice 3Alice 4Alice 5Alice 6

I haven’t seen them in person, but a shoutout to the Club 33 bathrooms must be made. Also, have to give props to the Tiki Room bathrooms as the only bathrooms to my knowledge inside of an attraction.

Epcot Bathrooms

Just recently the new bathrooms opened in the American Adventure pavilion, which might now usurp the position of my favorite bathrooms from the old Millennium Village/now World Showplace bathrooms as my favorite in World Showcase. I have to give the edge to America because the World Showplace bathrooms are often only open for special events or during super crowded times of the year like New Year’s Eve. The new bathrooms are also much prettier with a colonial theme (or as colonial as you can get with Dyson airblade hand dryers).

American Adventure bathroomAmerican Adventure 2American Adventure 3American Adventure 4 American Adventure 5

In Future World, I adore the bathrooms tucked away to the right of the entrance to the Imagination Pavilion. So few people seem to know these exist I have rarely seen more than one or two other people here. Bonus points are definitely awarded for the bright rainbow colors carrying over the theming from the pavilion and the fact I’ve never had to wait in line for these bathrooms.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Bathrooms

My pick here for best bathrooms comes down to a matter of convenience and accessibility. The restrooms outside of the American Idol Experience to the right of the attraction entrance aren’t themed at all. They are purely functional, however they are, from what I’ve found, consistently the least crowded bathrooms anywhere in the park. These bathrooms are also pretty centrally located just off of Hollywood Boulevard to the left of the Sorcerer’s Hat.

Disney California Adventure Bathrooms

On first thinking of this post, my immediate answer was the beautifully themed new bathrooms on Buena Vista Street on the right a little after the park entrance. I loved the colors and how they fit right in with the style of Hollywood in the late 20s and early 30s. When I mentioned this post to Shelley, she added the bathrooms in Carthay Circle as a suggestion. I forgot how great these were as well with pictures of Walt and other celebs from the time of the premiere of Snow White at the Carthay Circle Theatre in the 1930s.

Buena Vista Street bathroomBuena Vista Street 2Buena Vista Street 3Buena Vista Street 4Buena Vista Street 5Carthay 1Carthay 2Carthay 3Carthay 4Carthay 5Carthay 6

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Bathrooms

The best themed bathrooms are tucked away in a corner of Camp Minnie-Mickey just outside the exit to the Festival of the Lion King. These are rarely busy, except right after a show of FotLK lets out. They are representative of the decor with a camp style reminiscent of the woods that currently surround them. I say currently because these bathrooms are probably not long for this world with the relocation of Lion King to Africa. The proposed Avartarland expansion of this section of the park will surely be the end of these bathrooms, at least in their current state. I can’t imagine they’d fit in with the landscape of Pandora.

 

What are some of your favorite bathrooms at Walt Disney World or Disneyland? Did I miss any?Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Walt Disney World Entertainment Round Table

Summer is almost officially here and that means vacation time at Walt Disney World for many families with kids now out of school. This also means it is a more popular time in the parks where wait times can increase. We thought we’d share some of our favorite Walt Disney World entertainment options that can give you a break inside or in the shade or pass the time while waiting for your Fast Pass time to roll around.  

Magic Kingdom
Betsy – I absolutely love the Dapper Dans! They remind me of one of my favorite movie musicals, the Music Man. I have even been lucky enough to be serenaded by these guys while getting my haircut at Harmony Barber Shop, which was perfect. I love their often A Capella performances, which are sometimes accompanied by the awesome Deagan organ chimes. It is especially cool to see them entertain as the Cadaver Dans during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
Cheryl – Push the trash can is very entertaining to watch with kids.
Dana – Wowzer is an acrobatic clown that usually juggles while balancing on boards that he has set up himself. He has a spinning plate act as well. Wowzer is fun and super talented.
Beth – I love watching the Dapper Dans tap dance!  You never know when they’ll grab you from the audience and make you part of the show!
Kelly – Main Street Philharmonic – No matter how many time I’ve seen them perform there is a simple, yet amazing way to how they play and what they play with such ease, especially in the Florida weather! It’s awesome to hear Disney songs that most of us know in a slightly different style. Also, to hear them during Flag Retreat is fantastic! 
Mike – One of my favorite things to experience while in the Magic Kingdom is the famous Main Street U.S.A. barbershop quartet, the Dapper Dans. Serenading guests, the Dapper Dans are a true piece of Americana. Not only are they delightful to listen to singing classic songs such as “Mr. Sandman” and “Hello My Baby”, but also the Dapper Dans love to get their guests involved in the show by allowing them to play the infamous Deagan Organ Chimes.
Shelley – To me nothing says the Magic Kingdom quite like the Main Street Trolley Show! I will stop EVERY time I see the Main Street Trolley Show, to sing and dance along with the performers. It also holds a special place in my heart, because Zoe has loved them from her very first visit! The Citizens of Main Street really are the heartbeat and soul of Main Street USA! They’re always willing to talk to you about your day, your celebrations, and especially about their lives on Main Street USA. Don’t forget to shake the Mayor’s hand, ask Scoop Sanderson about his latest pin, or let the Fire Chief know he’s doing a great job!

Dapper Dans in Harmony Barber Shop
Dapper Dans in Harmony Barber Shop

Citizens of Main Street
Citizens of Main Street

Main Street Trolley Show & Zoe
Main Street Trolley Show & Zoe

Wowzer
Wowzer

PUSH
PUSH

Epcot
Betsy – This is a toss up for me. Off Kilter and Voices of Liberty are my two favorite entertainment options in Epcot. I love how Off Kilter covers some eclectic choices of songs with their Celtic Rock flare. They range from classics like Amazing Grace and Danny Boy to Bob Marley and Byan Adams hits. Voices of Liberty perform American classics from hymns to revolutionary war songs. I absolutely love their set last year for the Fourth of July! It was one of the most moving performances and brought me to tears. 
Cheryl – Voices of Liberty – It is great to get out of the sun and just sit in air conditioning 
Dana – Miyuki – I always stop to watch her when I hear she is making candy. Yes, I said hear because she usually has a mic on. Her personality is as fun as the candy she creates for guests who stop to watch her. I’ve never been lucky enough to be picked by her, but still very entertaining. 
Beth – Hands down Mariachi Cobre at the Mexico Pavilion.  They are so talented and genuinely enjoy meeting and talking with their audience.
Kelly – JAMMitors – It never fails that when I’m walking by Innoventions that they are out there playing. The crowd they draw is amazed by how they are playing and what they are playing. British Revolution – I’m a sucker for British music and the atmosphere is a great way to relax and take in some awesome songs.
Mike – One of my favorite entertainment offerings in the World Showcase is the Celtic rock band known as Off Kilter. They rock out five times a day to some of the best in traditional Celtic music and sometimes will even throw in a few modern day hits in their set as well. If you love the sound of bagpipes combined with guitar, drum and bass this is definitely the band for you. Some of my favorite songs that Off Kilter plays include “Danny Boy” and “Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond”.
ShelleyOff Kilter – Dancing to Off Kilter is quite possibly one of my favorite things to do at Epcot! They’re a really fun group of guys who play music that is great to dance (and maybe drink) to even if you’re just walking by around World Showcase. Their version of Whiskey In The Jar is awesome! Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps – There is something quite special about catching the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps in the American Adventure Pavilion. They have several sets they play, but my favorite is when they have the kids march around, and as a fun bonus they receive a copy of the Declaration of Independence as a gift for participating.

Mariachi Cobre
Mariachi Cobre

Voices of Liberty
Voices of Liberty

Miyuki
Miyuki

JAMMITORS
JAMMITORS

Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Betsy – You may or may not have seen me at the Studios enjoying a performance of Mulch, Sweat and Shears. I have an affinity for the lead guitarist Axe and may even have picks he has tossed during shows. They cover classic and more current rock and some pop songs. 
Cheryl – Citizens of Hollywood – They have some totally funny acts, and it is great to stop and watch.
Dana – Citizens of Hollywood – I love them strictly for the comedy.  They can go unnoticed sometimes, but when you spot them, hilarity ensues. Jedi Training – Super cute. I watched it the first time last week.  Everyone loved Darth Maul and I loved the sound effects that were perfectly timed to his lightsaber.
Beth – I enjoy the Citizens of Hollywood. You never know when you’re gonna stumble upon a performance.
Kelly – Citizens of Hollywood – Improv acting mixed in with random Hollywood Studios guests always makes for a great show.
Mike – Often found over in the Streets of America, Mulch, Sweat & Shears plays some of the greatest classic rock hits from bands such as Van Halen, Aerosmith, Queen, Kiss and so much more. Not only is this band extremely entertaining but also they do an amazing job with getting the crowd involved and allowing the audience to become an honorary member of the band by playing the cowbell, rocking out on the guitar with band leader Morris Mulch and even singing along with the band.
Shelley – Catching Mulch, Sweat, & Shears at the Studios is something I try to do as often as I can, because it is definitely a family favorite. Zoe will dance her heart out, and has high hopes of playing the cow bell with the band one day!!! Whatever you do, PLEASE take a moment from your day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to watch the Citizens of Hollywood!!! This talented group of performers are great at improvisation and making you laugh no matter how long you had to wait for Toy Story Midway Mania.

Citizens of Hollywood
Citizens of Hollywood

Jedi Training Academy
Jedi Training Academy

Mulch, Sweat & Shears & Zoe
Mulch, Sweat & Shears & Zoe

Disney’s Animal Kingdom
BetsyDJ Anaan is one of the newer additions to the live entertainment at Animal Kingdom. I remember going shortly after the Bhangra dance party started last year. It is so much fun watching the dancers move along with the Punjabi style music. Every time I have seen kids of all ages joining in with the party learning moves straight out of some of your favorite Bollywood movies.
Cheryl – I enjoy watching DJ Anaan and the dancing in front of Yak and Yeti.
Dana – DiVine – The first thing you notice is a group of people looking into the plant life on the walking between Africa and Asia. Then you spot her when she finally moves.  It’s fun to watch her move into plant-like poses and watch her disappear back into the foliage. 
Beth – My 4 yr old nephew Alex visited DAK for the first time this year.  He loves playing the guitar and singing songs.  As we were walking through Camp Minnie Mickey, Gi-tar Dan spotted Alex and started singing about his grey dinosaur shirt and grey shoes.  The look on Alex’s face was priceless as he discovered the song was about him.
Kelly – Tam Tam Drummers – When these guys start playing their instruments you feel like you’re in their homeland. Such a cool dance party! 
Mike – If you’re looking for an immersive cultural experience that can be enjoyed by people of all ages then look no further than the Burudika band at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Located over in the Harambe Village of Africa, Burudika plays some of Africa’s modern hits and encourages all guests to dance freely in front of the stage joining the band in an African street party. Sometimes if you’re lucky enough, the Tam Tam Drummers will join Burudika’s street party and aid them in teaching guests some traditional African dance moves that they can take home with them to show their friends and family.
Shelley – Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe – NOTHING makes me happier than being able to dance in a park, and the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe are my favorite to dance with at Animal Kingdom…maybe even all of Walt Disney World! These guys play a mean song and dance with everything they have. They put on a great show, and taking in a show is a great way to spend time waiting for your Kilimanjaro Safari Fast Pass time!
 

DiVine
DiVine

DJ Anaan
DJ Anaan

Tam Tam Drummers
Tam Tam Drummers

Resorts
Betsy – One of my absolute favorite ways to unwind after a fun day in the parks is to grab a drink at Mizner’s and to listen to the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra. They play big band music mixed in with some Disney tunes and even take requests. I adore sitting for hours to catch their sets alternating with the piano player in the Grand Floridian lobby.
Cheryl – Yehaa Bob – It is no longer a “secret” at Disney.  Its great to go and watch him perform.
Dana – Grand Floridian Society Orchestra – This could be a time to relax, beat the heat, and just listen to the Orchestra’s music.
Beth – Watching the Electric Water Pageant from the beach of the Polynesian Resort is fantastic.  The pageant sails the Seven Seas Lagoon and around Bay Lake nightly and can be seen from any of the monorail resorts as well as the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness.
Kelly – Grand Floridian Lobby Society Orchestra – I love, love, love listening to the orchestra play classic Disney songs. You can hear it all throughout the lobby and it makes Grand Floridian that much cooler when you walk in and hear them playing. Scat Cat’s Club musician – This bar is nice and relaxing and to hear some jazz music in the background is a great way to end a day.
Mike – One of my all-time favorite entertainment options located on Disney property is Yehaa Bob Jackson located over at the River Roost Lounge at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside. Join Yehaa Bob for his whimsical piano sing-along featuring numerous classic songs like “Sweet Caroline”, “Piano Man” and of course my all time favorite audience participation song “Sarah, Sarah” (Don’t mess it up!!!) The reason why I love going to see Yehaa Bob so much is because he is not your ordinary piano player. In fact, he is the complete opposite. Instead, Yehaa Bob Jackson is a phenomenally talented piano player who is almost rarely sitting down and plays a piano that rarely sits still.
Shelley – Boardwalk Magician, Juggler, Musicians – The Boardwalk performers are quite different than what you will find at the Walt Disney World Resort, and they variety of shows they put on are sure to please every member of you traveling party. There is nothing like grabbing a snack on the Boardwalk and watching a performance! Yehaa Bob Jackson – Some of my most favorite memories of living so close to Walt Disney World involve going to a Yehaa Bob Jackson show! We’ve had girls nights, birthday parties, and gatherings there and we always have a blast! It can get a little loud, but don’t let that intimidate you from joining in on the fun…just donnnnnnnnn’t mess it up!!!!!!

Grand Floridian Society Orchestra
Grand Floridian Society Orchestra

Boardwalk Magician
Boardwalk Magician

Yehaa Bob Jackson Group Pic
Yehaa Bob Jackson Group Pic

These are just a few of the many options that Walt Disney World entertainment offers in and around the theme parks. We hope that you take some time to take a break and enjoy some of these fantastic choices for ways to spend time outside attractions. So much of what makes Walt Disney World amazing is the people and interacting with these performers and even other guests can provide some priceless memories. I know I will never forget the time I got pulled up to “sing” with Mulch, Sweat & Shears and my friends just happened to be there with a video camera. Seeing someone spot DiVine for the first time is often quite entertaining. If you haven’t enjoyed the ragtime piano playing while grabbing a snack at Casey’s Corner, you’re missing out on one of the best secrets in the Magic Kingdom. Hearing the Voices of Liberty perform Golden Dream live is a transformative moment to say the least. Take a moment and slow down while you’re on your vacation to experience the live Walt Disney World entertainment. You won’t regret it!Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

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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Thanksgiving Dining at Walt Disney World

Mickey and the gang celebrating Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving image copyright Disney

If you are like me, and you are finding yourself at Walt Disney World over Thanksgiving and don’t have set plans yet, don’t fret. There are great dining options across property in both the parks and resorts. Some are even still available for dinner reservations at this point in time (11pm Wednesday, 11/14) (subject to change of course). Even if you don’t want to make a reservation for some of the restaurants for a Thanksgiving lunch or dinner, there are counter service locations that can still fill your craving for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

 

Character Thanksgiving Meals

Some of the character meals across the parks and resorts are getting special treatment just for Thanksgiving. They offer holiday menus with many having traditional meals, with others focusing more on their own twist on the holiday fare. At the Contemporary Resort, Chef Mickey’s buffet is offering a Thanksgiving dinner. Across Bay Lake at Fort Wilderness, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ becomes Mickey’s Backyard Thanksgiving feast featuring turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and many of your favorites. In the parks, Tusker House, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is having Donald’s Dining Safari Thanksgiving Lunch and then a non-character Thanksgiving meal for dinner. Walt Disney World Swan’s Garden Grove is having a character buffet dinner as well.

 

Table Service Thanksgiving Meals

Many of the restaurants in the parks are also providing meal options for the holiday. In the Magic Kingdom, Liberty Tree Tavern has both family style lunch and dinners. Also, the Diamond Horseshoe is hosting a table service dinner. At Epcot, the Biergarten in Germany has both Thanksgiving lunch and dinner options. Hollywood Studios has their buffet open for lunch and dinner as well as the Fantasmic dinner package. And, as already mentioned, in the Animal Kingdom, Tusker House is offering their dinner buffet.

At the resorts is where you will find most of the special holiday menus being offered. Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has a special prix fixe menu. Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club has a dinner buffet and the Captain’s Grille at the Yacht Club is serving both lunch and dinner buffets. At the Grand Floridian, Citrico’s has a prix fixe dinner menu. Also with a prix fixe menu is Flying Fish Cafe at the Boardwalk. For some a la carte menu options you could try lunch or dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Still at that resort for dinner you can have a Thanksgiving dinner at Narcoossee’s. Trail’s End at Fort Wilderness is having a lunch and dinner buffet. At the Polynesian you have lunch or dinner at Kona Cafe, Olivia’s at Old Key West is also serving both meals, as are Sanaa at Kidani Village, the Wave at the Contemporary and the Turf Club at Saratoga Springs. For more family style meals, check out either Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge for lunch or dinner, or dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club.

Are you staying at the Walt Disney World Swan or Dolphin? If so, don’t worry, they have great options too! Fresh Mediterranean Market at the Dolphin is having a lunch buffet. The Swan’s Il Mulino is serving Thanksgiving dinner a la carte as is the Dolphin’s Todd English’s bluezoo. Downtown Disney even has some options for you at the House of Blues for dinner and Planet Hollywood for both lunch and dinner.

 

Counter Service Thanksgiving Meals

So, what if you, like me, have waited til the last minute and maybe there aren’t reservations available for your party of five? Don’t worry, Disney has that covered too. In Epcot, Sunshine Seasons, one of my favorite counter service options already, is supposed to be offering a special holiday menu too. Don’t want to go to a park, there’s a resort that has your name written all over it. At Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, the End Zone Food Court is even getting into the holiday meal spirit with a Thanksgiving dinner from noon until 10pm with turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, vegetables, cranberry sauce, rolls and your choice of either apple or pumpkin pie for only $10.99 for guests 10 and up and $5.99 for children 3 to 9 (prices, times and menu items subject to change without notice).

 

All in all, it looks like Walt Disney World has some pretty great options of many varieties of cuisine and location for just about any appetite. Many of these options are on the Disney Dining Plan and as I mentioned, a few are even still available at this time. If you find yourself at WDW over the holiday, have a Happy Thanksgiving and happy eating!Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

The Week in Review: August 13- – August 17, 2012: Sports, Icebergs, and Wild Adventures!

The Week in Review: August 13- – August 17, 2012: Sports, Icebergs, and Wild Adventures!

It has been another amazing week here at On the Go, and now it’s time to look back at all that happened August 13th to August 17th!!!

Let’s Go!

On Monday we took a look some local sports teams. First, the Orlando Solar Bears signed three new team members. And at the Orlando City Soccer Club, Kevin Molino was named to the Trinidad team for Canada Friendly.

Cheering for the Orlando City Soccer Club!!!

Aurora and I ventured out to Titanic: The Experience, and she shares her thoughts on a Visit to the Titanic.

Thelma and Louise on the Grand Staircase in Titanic the Experience

For Wordless Wednesday, we took a look through the trees at Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

We took a look at LEGOLAND Florida’s STEM Focused, Interactive Programs for kids.

LEGOLAND Florida provides interactive entertainment for families with children ages 2-12 .

Betsy makes her way out west to Disneyland, and shares part one of her Trip Report in her California Adventure!

Betsy in front of the Disneyland train station

Friday, Megan took us along on her Wild Africa Trek! She has some great photos and information about this really up-close Safari Experience!

Megan on the Wild Africa Trek

Thanks for joining us this week 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?Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

How We Like To Beat The Heat – The Latest On The Go Roundtable

  1.  What is your favorite way to take a break on a hot day while you are at the parks?

Aurora– It depends on which park you are at.  Epcot seems to have the most places that you can chill! Weather it is Club Cool or The Land or Ellen’s Energy Adventure! MGM it is always a safe bet to watch an American Idol Show. Animal Kingdom we always head to Festival of The Lion King and at Magic Kingdom, my personal Favorite: Carousel of Progress!!

Betsy– You may also occasionally find me in La Cava del Tequila, Rose and Crown or Tutto Gusto in Epcot for a cool adult beverage.

Cheryl– I like to go visit a resort or get a snack at an indoor counter service.

Megan– Going back to my room, especially when I’m staying at a DVC resort. I can relax in the room or at the pool. If heading back to the room isn’t an option, I try to visit any of the indoor movies or attractions, like the movies in Epcot’s World Showcase.

Shalon– I really enjoy scheduling a long table service lunch on hot days. It’s a great way to get out of the heat and off your feet.

Shelley– I like to hang out in Innoventions and play the games, and then pop over every so often to Club Cool for some Kinley!

2.     If you could go to any resort pool for the afternoon, which one would you choose and why?

Betsy– The best pool is Stormalong Bay, which is shared between Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club resorts. It is amazing with different sections with sandy bottom an an awesome water slide out of a shipwreck! My second favorite pool is the Nanea Volcano pool at the Polynesian. It has the best view of the Magic Kingdom hands down.

Cheryl– I’d choose Saratoga Springs new pool at the Paddock.  It’s the newest DVC pool.

Megan– I would choose Kidani Village. In the afternoon you are more likely to see the animals in the savannah. Take a dip in the pool then head over to see who is outside.

Shalon– I would like to go to the pool at Port Orleans Riverside. It’s so well themed and quite most of the time. There are also a lot of large trees around which provide plenty of shade for relaxing.

Shelley– I really love the pool at Port Orleans French Quarter, because it’s a good size, you can watch the boats on the Sassagoula River, and most importantly you are close to beignets.

Aurora– Art of Animation! That pool is so lovely. There is a ton of space around both the Big Blue Pool and the Carsland Pool. And Mr. Ray even talks to you in the Big Blue Pool! And you have so much to look at while in the pool! Plus, they have a PRIMO pool bar! The Drop Off is awesome!!

3.     When it is hot outside, what is your favorite treat to eat to cool you down?

Cheryl– Fruit or tofutti

Megan– A Dole Whip without a doubt. When it’s hot I don’t want ice cream but I definitely want something cold.

Shalon– I love the classic Mickey bar although it can be quiet the challenge to eat it on a hot day without wearing some of it!

Shelley– My answer is always the same…when all else fails, pink cotton candy and a frozen coke!!!

Aurora– I would go for a Strawberry Bar! They don’t melt right away and there isn’t a lot of sugar so you don’t feel dehydrated! Perfect snack on a hot day!!!

Betsy– This is a tossup for me between a frozen coke, Mickey bar and a dole whip. I’d say my go to is probably the frozen coke since it can get kind of warm and ice cream isn’t always the best thing in the heat and humidity.

4.     What is your favorite attraction to cool off in?

Megan– I love the Carousel of Progress. I can go in there almost any time, but when it’s hot, it is especially nice since it usually has a short line.

Shalon– I love ducking into The American Adventure on hot days. It’s such an incredible show and is lengthy enough to relax and cool down.

Shelley– Ellen’s Energy Adventure at Epcot is my favorite, because it is the world’s longest attraction!!! LOL!!!

Aurora– Philharmagic!!!! They squirt water at you 😉

Betsy– At the Magic Kingdom my go to spots to cool off are a ride on the Peoplemover or shows like Mickey’s Philharmagic, Hall of Presidents or Country Bears Jamboree. At Epcot my favorite is Impressions de France, followed closely by American Adventure.  Disney’s Hollywood Studios provides great places to enjoy air conditioning like at the Animation Academy, One Man’s Dream, Voyage of the Little Mermaid and the Great Movie Ride. At Animal Kingdom I prefer Festival of the Lion King, but Finding Nemo is a slightly longer show

Cheryl– Innoventions is my favorite!!!

5.     Give us your best tip for staying cool during a day in the Parks.

Shalon– My go to for hot days in parks is a small handheld fan. You can get them at many drug stores for a dollar and they run on 2 AA batteries. Many of them come with clips so they are very easy to tote along in the parks.

Shelley– Don’t overdo it! Take your time! You can duck into a store along the way to cool off, linger in a post-show area, and take another moment to talk about your day after you finish your meal!

Aurora– LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of water! You can always get those free cups of ice water at any quick service place, so make sure you keep yourself hydrated. Also you can keep the sun off your face by wearing a hat, carry a wash cloth to dampen to blot your skin, and especially take advantage of indoor attractions and save things that have little to no covering in the queue or ride for early evening late afternoon

Betsy– Definitely stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and try to alternate indoor and outdoor attractions so you don’t get overheated. Hat or visors and sunglasses can also help to keep you cool.

Cheryl– Take breaks inside the Air conditioning

Megan– You should try to drink lots of water and stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Cups of ice water are free at any location that has fountain beverages.

6.      What is your favorite beverage to help quench your thirst on a hot afternoon?

Shelley– After lots of water, I like to have a frozen coke! They are magical!!!

Aurora– A Peach Tea Snap from China is my MOST favorite thirst quenching cool down treat/drink!!!!!

Betsy– Water is best, but if I am in Epcot it is hard to beat a refreshing avocado margarita or a snakebite and black.

Cheryl– I enjoy the new guava fruit drinks at Animal Kingdom!

Megan– Beverly! (Just kidding) Water always works for me. Sometimes grabbing a Powerade is necessary though. Or maybe even a Grand Marnier slushie.

Shalon– Love getting a frozen Coke or other flavor!!

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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!Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Touring Walt Disney World with newbies

Dad, Debbie and me at MK

In the last few months I have had somewhat new experiences to me: touring the parks with guests who had never been to Walt Disney World before. It was also a bit unique in that last month was with my mom and my 86 year old grandma and the following week was with a friend from school, her husband and their eight and a half month old son. Previously I had met up with friends with young kids and others with parents and grandparents, but had never really spent the entire day with people this far on either end of the age spectrum. With these ages there are certainly considerations that must be taken into account when planning.

Back in December I had what I consider to be a major coup: I was finally able to get my dad to go to WDW after 30+ years of resistance. I think the fact that I told him he wouldn’t need to pay to get in the parks and that I could get a discount on the rooms helped. This was the man who had never set foot on Disney property until January of 2011 when he came to visit while I was around for marathon weekend running the 5K. On that brief visit, he did not want to purchase a ticket, so he asked the front desk clerk at the Wilderness Lodge, where we were staying, if he could go in for a few hours and try it out for free. I left the front desk dragging him away and shaking my head in disbelief. He did take a trip around both monorail loops and claimed he technically went to Epcot since he was in their air space (okay, sure dad), but we mostly visited resorts.

So we planned a trip for my dad and his wife, Debbie, to come down and make a side trip to Disney World since they were coming to Florida for my brother’s college graduation anyways. Debbie had been to WDW, but it had been well over twenty years since her last visit, so it was all pretty much new to her. Trying to plan a trip for someone has never been before presents the challenge of how much do you want to and can you get done in one and a half days of park time. You don’t want to overwhelm them with every single bit of minutia, but you do want to give them a good taste of the parks and the magic they hold.

With my dad, he wanted to have nothing to do with planning other than he expressed a mild interest in visiting Epcot. Since we were traveling in December, we were able to experience the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on our first evening. Both my dad and Debbie were visibly impressed with the presentation as we were fortunate enough to be there as the switch was flipped to turn the lights on for the evening. The only attractions we rode were Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, Toy Story Midway Mania and the Great Movie Ride. I think this gave them a nice overview of the park since we didn’t get there until around 5pm and the park was closing at eight that night. My dad appreciated the theming and neon luster of the Studios at night.

Dad's first ride on Dumbo!

The next day was our most challenging as they hoped to fit in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot both. We first stopped for breakfast at Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian and then made our way to MK shortly after park opening at nine. We hit mostly classics between Dumbo, It’s a Small World, the Haunted Mansion, the Carousel of Progress, Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise. A lot was accomplished in a short period of time before we made the jaunt to Epcot. The afternoon was spent mostly exploring World Showcase and a bit of Future World with Soarin’, Test Track, Living with the Land and Spaceship Earth. The fact that they are both morning people and were up a bit earlier than I was, factored in to us not experiencing any fireworks or nighttime parades while they were here.

Overall, a good time was had by each individual. My dad was continually amazed by the sheer size of the WDW property and the inner workings and mechanics of how things were operated and went so smoothly. There is a ton that we didn’t do, but for the short period of time I had to work with, I think we accomplished what we set out to do, which was to introduce my dad to Disney World and to have a good time. My mission was a success insomuch as he admitted he really enjoyed himself and wants to come back. Score!

Dad trying to hide his grin, but it isn't working

Fast forward a few months to March of this year and my trip with my mom and grandma. This was a bit different from the previous trip in that my grandma wanted to know what there was to do in each park, wanted to see maps and plan out for the most part what she wanted to see and do in each one. She had been to the Magic Kingdom many times over the past forty years, but it had been quite a while for her and she had only been to Epcot once or twice in the past twenty years or so. My mom is an annual passholder and typically makes it to the parks every three to four months. The impetus for this particular trip was the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot.

My mom, grandma and me at Epcot

The first day of our trip the first order of business was Epcot. If we had any additional time we determined we would try to made it to the Studios as well, but there wasn’t much there of interest to my grandma, so Epcot was definitely the priority. Unlike the relatively slow time I had visited with my dad and Debbie in the beginning of December, the middle of March was smack dab in the middle of peak season and spring break. This was very evident when we arrived at Epcot and it literally took 30 minutes from the time we arrived at the line for security to the time we entered the park. The time was pretty much evenly split in waiting between the security and entrance lines.

While my grandma is generally in good health, she does have some mobility issues having had hip replacement surgery a little over a year ago. So, we thought it in everyone’s best interest for her to have a wheelchair for her park touring at least. When we arrived at Pop Century to pre-register for their room (I arrived the night before), we inquired at the front desk about a wheelchair to use while on property. They directed us to bell services who kindly provided us with one to use free of charge for the duration of our stay. We were even advised we were able to take it to the parks. This was great as it saved us $10.+ per day for wheelchair rentals. The only caveat to this is it can be kind of a pain hauling the chair around and having to lift it in and out of your car everywhere you go if you are driving yourself. I became quite a pro at it after two full days.

Now being the klutz that I am, I have experienced several of the parks in wheelchairs, with ECVs and on crutches, but have never accompanied anyone for days in the theme parks who was using any of them. Let me tell you, it is a totally different experience. You have to take into consideration not only energy to push someone up hills (okay inclines) and ramps, but also to be able to hold them back to keep them from careening down them and running over unsuspecting guests. Very quickly you learn the turning radius of wheelchairs and that you do need extra clearance from the guests in front of you as they do tend to stop abruptly to study that park map you may have memorized. I honestly think the wheelchair is more work for those traveling with the guest in the chair than for the mobility challenged guest themselves, but I didn’t really realize this until we were well into the day.

Later that night at DHS

I have to say that Norma, my grandma, was a trooper. We were in Epcot around 9:30am, didn’t leave to go to the Studios just see give her the old Hollywood feel and ambiance until around 7pm. After an hour of wheeling her around DHS, we went to get dinner at Downtown Disney at Wolfgang Puck Express. We didn’t get back to the room to eat dinner until after 11pm and they had been up since before 6am to drive up from Bradenton.

The next day we were back up and at it and heading to the Magic Kingdom before 8am, arriving there by way of sightseeing at the Polynesian shortly after 9. Again, there are things that I really didn’t think of ahead of time. Very simple things like the path I usually take from the parking lot to the lobby of the Polynesian has a large pole in the middle of it, making it inaccessible for wheelchairs (lesson learned). I also tend to favor taking the boat over the monorail, but it is much easier to travel the highway in the sky with a wheelchair and ramp as opposed to stepping several feet down (and subsequently back up) to get in and out of the boat, also having to fold and carry the wheelchair.

We had a great time once we got to the MK and stayed until late afternoon before making a last minute decision to make a side trip to the Animal Kingdom before returning to MK for Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes. The only two things we were trying to do were Kilimanjaro Safaris and then the Festival of the Lion King. Based on the lateness of the day, we knew there was a chance that we wouldn’t be able to do both as there was only one more Lion King show by the time we arrived and you never know with the animals. We went straight back to the safari and were in for a treat. We had the best safari experience ever! The animals were all out, even both the male and female lions. As soon as we disembarked the vehicle, my mom started off for the Lion King, leaving me to push my grandma, making a mad dash for Camp Minnie – Mickey from the outskirts of Harambe. I thought I was going to die, but you can actually push someone in a wheelchair from the safari exit to the entrance of the Lion King in seven minutes!

I got to do some things that I hadn’t before over the two days with my mom and grandma. I learned there are boats for

Norma getting loaded on to a Jungle Cruise boat

Gran Fiesta Tour and It’s a Small World where you can just drive the wheelchair on and you basically have a private boat for your party as long as you are willing to wait. There is some great seating for guests with wheelchairs in many of the shows like American Adventure, the Hall of Presidents, Impressions de France, Mickey’s Philharmagic, the Carousel of Progress, etc. Some attractions are more challenging with constant loading via conveyor belts and speedramps that can’t be stopped like the Peoplemover. All throughout though, I have to say the Cast Members were great. They were very understanding and patient and helped us in loading Norma in and out of ride vehicles as necessary.

After that trip, I needed a break and wasn’t planning on visiting the parks for a couple weeks at least. That was until I got a message from a friend from elementary school, Laura, whom I hadn’t seen in 20+ years. She was going to be in Celebration visiting her mom and was down for a few days with her husband and son. We decided we would get together last minute on a Thursday since I had the day off and I offered to get them into the parks. Laura had not been planning to visit any of the parks since her son Riley was so young, she said she couldn’t justify the expenditure of tickets for the day for her and her husband Matt of almost $200. I totally understood, but told her I would take care of that if they wanted to go.

We met at the Polynesian mid morning since Laura and Matt decided they wanted to go to the Magic Kingdom. Matt had never been to WDW before, other than to run the half marathon earlier this year. So he had never experienced any attractions in any of the parks, nor had their eight and a half month old son Riley. The length and schedule of the day was going to be dictated by the boys since we had no idea how long Riley was going to last and what Matt was going to want to do. Laura had been a CM years ago and I’m in the parks practically weekly, so we had no problem ceding control to them.

Matt’s first ride ever was Space Mountain, and it is probably good we got that out of the way first since everything else was tame in comparison. Laura waited with Riley while I took Matt on what is admittedly my least favorite of the mountains. I tried to help assuage Matt’s fear of the unknown by pointing out the numerous kids in line and even striking up a conversation with the eight year old girl in line in front of us. I think she convinced him to ride more so than I did as his anxiety level was increasing as we neared the ride vehicles and could hear screams.

Matt's first ride in a Disney park ever!!!

After Space, Matt decided the tamer Dumbo was something he could definitely handle. It was very cool seeing the park through his eyes for the first time. He appreciated the theming and attention to detail on rides like Winnie the Pooh. The only rides Laura and Riley got to experience with us, partly due to timing and choice, were Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise. He did really well on Pirates until the drop when he got a little wet. We had discussed the drop and they were comfortable with his security on it, but we failed to consider how he would react to getting wet. After just a momentary break in composure, he returned to his wonderful smiling self and was fine. He did great on the Jungle Cruise as well. Boat rides tend to be soothing for young children, so I think JC was a good choice to end the day with.

Riley was a champ throughout the day. Aside from the getting wet on Pirates thing, he did not let out a single cry in the almost eight hours we were in the park. He did well waiting with his mom and people watching and even got to ride a couple rides. Later in the day, thanks to Riley, I was introduced to the Baby Care Center at the Magic Kingdom. It is tucked away in the corner by First Aid between Casey’s and Crystal Palace. There are small private rooms for parents to take their children to for changing or just for a quiet place to get away from the noise and sometimes crowds of the parks. My friends found this to be a great refuge even though it was only needed as a place to change Riley’s diaper.

At the end of the day Riley was still smiling

 

These three different groups of newbies of different sorts taught me many things. One thing is I don’t tour the parks like I do when I’ve got others with me who haven’t been before. By this I mean, I tend to go through the parks at a relatively leisurely pace when by myself or with my friends who are annual passholders. Since we go often, we are rarely compelled to have to do anything. If we don’t get to do something, it will be there next week or the week after. With guests from out of town who have never been, you want them to be able to soak in as much of the magic as possible. I certainly don’t force people to go at breakneck speed, but if they want to keep going, I’m not going to be the one to quit either (see the stupidity of me staying up for the entire 24+ hours of Leap Day in the Magic Kingdom). You live and learn. Next time with each group, things will be different. Everyone will be a little older, a little wiser, and have some more experience under their belts. We can go back and hit favorites or focus on the things they missed last time. I don’t know anyone who has done it all. Things are constantly changing in the parks, and I wholeheartedly believe that the experiences are made just as much, if not more so, by those you are with as opposed to just the parks themselves.Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Busch Gardens photo tour 4/7/12

Every once in a while it is nice to sit back and just let the pictures speak for themselves. I can attest there are times when I am a bit longwinded and tend to get distracted (ooh squirrel). I’m going to try to introduce photo tours into my blog posts much like I did for my previous post on Disney’s Pop Century Resort. For those who don’t know, I work in Tampa and live south of there by a good 45 minutes. As often as I can, I try to take the opportunity to visit Busch Gardens since it is less than fifteen minutes from my office. This past weekend was gorgeous, so I decided to head over to the park on Saturday after I got out of work.

Since it was a kind of warm afternoon I noticed quite a few of the animals napping, which was not something I had seen on my previous few visits. I also couldn’t help myself in noticing several of the animals were mooning me while I tried to take their pictures. 😉

On this day I experienced two new attractions: Tut’s Tomb and Iceploration. The former is a recreation of King Tut’s Tomb that was discovered in Egypt in the early 1900s. This was a really neat area to explore that I had never even noticed before. I was very grateful that it wasn’t a very confined space, which I was a little worried about since I am claustrophobic. Iceploration is a relatively new show that takes place in the Moroccan Palace Theatre. The premise is that a young boy who doesn’t like to play outside and is very much into electronics is forced to travel around the globe with his grandfather exploring areas such as an African savanna, the Great Barrier Reef, the Arctic and a Rainforest. It is a unique presentation with performers dressed as different animals ice skating throughout the different scenes. There are also live animals (warning: birds fly into the audience!!!) that come on stage in the different scenes from birds to cats and dogs. You can even meet one of the huskies after the show and have a picture taken with it. It was an enjoyable show with a variety of entertainment styles from dance to ice skating, animal entertainment, all while telling the story of exploration across the globe. For you Disney folks think of it as Festival of the Lion Kings combined with Finding Nemo the Musical and the old Tarzan Rocks show at the Animal Kingdom (minus the recognizable songs and characters). They even have their own version of the tumble monkeys!

So I present to you some pictures I took at Busch Gardens this past weekend and invite you to join along for this photo tour. Enjoy!

 

 

All in all I spent a few hours in the park and was able to enjoy a few new things along with some of my favorites. I can always go to the park and just enjoy myself by walking around and watching the animals. It was especially nice to see the baby joeys and to see the cheetahs as close as I did. There seemed to be even more beautiful flowers than on my last few visits. Spring is in bloom. Have you been to Busch Gardens recently? What are some of your favorites? Is there anything you’d like to see on another photo tour? If so, please leave us a note in the comments or feel free to email me at Betsy@onthegoinmco.com.

If you enjoyed these pictures, check out my previous blog post here on the animals of the Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram