There is a really exciting new channel on YouTube called the "Disney Parks" YouTube channel. It is really a lot of fun. Plus, there is a great contest going on now if you enter a "Disney Memory" video you can win a free Disney vacation!
CLICK HERE to see the channel.
Here is an intro to the channel & contest:
Here is a fun example of someone's favorite memory:
Enter soon, and don't forget to subscribe to the new channel.
Welcome to Disney Main Street!
Saturday, July 12, 2008
There is a really exciting new channel on YouTube called the "Disney Parks" YouTube channel. It is really a lot of fun. Plus, there is a great contest going on now if you enter a "Disney Memory" video you can win a free Disney vacation!
Friday, July 4, 2008
My family and I went to see Wall E last week, and absolutely loved it! Here are some fun Wall-E themed activities:
Coloring Pages:CLICK HERE for a good number of great ones at Hub Pages
CLICK HERE for the official site, which has some fun online games, videos, & more.
The official trailer
Another trailer (high res final trailer)- I'm not sure why it's so long, but the first few minutes are the trailer:
Go see the movie! It's wonderful.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Here are a couple fun views of Disneyland and Disney World
- Disneyland - check out the Howard Johnson hotel webcam (CLICK HERE), which you can even control yourself if you click on the link to do so at the webcam page. You can see the Matterhorn, the Tower of Terror, and more.
- Disney World - CLICK HERE for the view of Disney World from the Swan and Dolphin hotel.
- Disney World, Main Street USA - CLICK HERE for this view. It is kind of interesting - it isn't live, but adjusts itself from previous trips to approximate the current weather conditions, crowd level, etc.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
There are many complaints circulating around the web about how bus transportation at Disney World seems to be going down the drain. There has been some speculation that high fuel costs are affecting the frequency of buses, but as far as I can tell they are running just as they always have. So I did some checking around and thought I would write a post with a few tips on how to get the most out of the buses.
- Buses run on average every 20 minutes at every Disney Resort, and service starts an hour before each park opens. Many guests are complaining about wait times taking up to 30 minutes, so if you are prepared to wait that long, you will more than likely be pleasantly surprised or right on.
- Character breakfast buses start at 7:00am and run every 15 minutes. Again, plan for a little more time than that just in case.
- Downtown Disney buses start running at 8:30am, and the bus driver will announce when the latest return time is.
The key to using the buses is good planning. Don't let unexpected wait-times spoil your fun. Just plan for a little extra time and you should be fine.
Disney World Buses - Travel Tips
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
Amazon.com is a great place to get new Disney movies at great prices - just check out the "best price" links for amazing deals (see the following links):
National Treasure 2
If the best price listed on each movie is more than you wish to pay, then keep checking back as each link automatically updates when the best price goes down. Happy shopping!
Disney Movies for Sale: National Treasure 2 and Enchanted DVD & Blu-Ray
Friday, June 13, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008
This may still be my favorite ride at Disney.
First, the new "updated" ride (with Jack Sparrow):
Then, the old ride:
And finally, I thought you might enjoy seeing the updated ride with Johnny Depp actually riding the ride:
Virtual Disney Rides - Pirates of the Caribbean
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Here are two different videos, first the show before, then the actual ride (at Disneyland Paris, which as far as I know is exactly the same as the Disney World ride).
Virtual Disney Rides - Rock'n'Roller Coaster (YouTube)
Monday, June 2, 2008
Since most of the videos of space mountain are just a bunch of screaming and dark lights, I thought it would be fun to post a video with a bit of a twist. This one was created by someone in Roller Coaster Tycoon, and is a replica of the Disney ride. I have also posted a link for the best YouTube video as well. Enjoy!
For a great video of the actual ride, CLICK HERE.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Here is another Virtual Disney Ride - the complete Soarin' ride, including the line, pre "flight" check, and everything. Enjoy!
Walt Disney World Virtual Rides - Soarin' (YouTube)
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I have been scoping out you tube for good videos on different Walt Disney Rides. So, here is the first: Expedition Everest. If you can't be there, at least you can imagine, right?
Walt Disney World Virtual Rides - Expedition Everest (YouTube)
Friday, May 23, 2008
I just found a site called snopes.com which collects rumors and urban legends, and they have an entire section on Disney. There is a link for the Disney theme parks, and for the company itself. In each of these categories they have a list of rumors/legends which are rated as true or false. Some of them are very interesting.
CLICK HERE to see for yourself.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Here are a couple of Disney freebies I've found around the web:
There is some talk around the internet that if you register at www.partycity.com you get a free one-year subscription to Disney's magazine Family Fun. When I registered I didn't see any information on that, but it may still be true. Or, it may have just been a temporary advertisement. CLICK HERE to register.
One of the best ways to get free Disney stuff is to sign up for the Disney Movie Rewards program. When you watch Disney movies in the theater or when you buy Disney DVDs, you enter in codes and get points. Accumulate points and eventually you can trade those in for free Disney things. CLICK HERE for more info.
Stay tuned for more soon.
Monday, May 19, 2008
For those of you looking to see the Disney shows live, the best site to go to for scheduling and info is HERE.
If you are looking for information on where Disney musicals are around the world CLICK HERE.
For sneak peaks of each show, CLICK HERE.
For Little Mermaid tickets and schedule (in New York) CLICK HERE.
For Mary Poppins tickets and schedule (NY) CLICK HERE.
For Lion King tickets and schedule (NY) CLICK HERE.
Remember, a great way to get discounted Disney musical tickets, and sometimes even free is to use American Express reward points. Click on image below for more information:
Friday, May 16, 2008
There are several special activities that, for a little extra money, can be a lot of fun for kids. I will sort them by location:
The Magic Kingdom:
- Magic Kingdom Family Magic Tour - two hour guided tour for the whole family. You go around the park learning interesting information about the park, and at the end meet several characters. Sometimes there is a plot, and it usually involves a lot of silly behavior around the park like skipping, running, hopping, etc. Tours start at 10 am, and cost $27/person.
- Disney's The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains - three hour tour for kids age 10 and older, participating in the the steam locomotive train preparations. Takes place Mon., Thurs., and Sat., at 7:30am, and is $40/person. (call 407-WDW-TOUR to reserve a spot)
- Disney's Pirate and Princess Party - this is a special-ticket party which is very popular. There are fireworks and parades, searches for candy and beads, dress-up, and much more. It runs from mid-January to mid-March, and mid-August to early September. Cost is $42/adult and $35 for ages 3 to 9. CLICK HERE for more information.
- Grand Adventure in Cooking - kids cook with treats and decorate a chef's outfit. Takes place Tues. - Fri., 10-11:45am. Ages 4 to 10 admitted, and cost is $30/child. (Call 407-WDW-DINE to reserve up to 120 days in advance)
- Wonderland Tea Party - kids arrange flowers, have lunch and tea, make and eat cupcakes, visit with Alice, and more. Mon. - Fri. afternoons, ages 4 to 10, $29/child (407-WDW-DINE)
- My Disney Girl's Perfectly Princess Tea Party - dress up and tea party with Disney princesses, and lots of princess goodies and trinkets including a scrap book, tiara, and much more. Sun., Mon., Wed. - Fri., 10:30-noon, $225 for one adult & child (3 to 11), additional aduls $75 & additional children $150/ea. Lunch is provided.
- Let the Kids Play Pirate - children dress up as pirates and cruise around on the bay and Seven Seas Lagoon. They follow a treasure map and gather clues, and at the end find their treasure of goodies. Takes two houws, and runs Mon., Wed., Thurs., and Sat., 9:30-11:30am, $30/child. (407-WDW-DINE)
- Junior Fishing Excursions - children (6 to 12) fish for one hour. Snacks and fishing equipment provided, with no parents allowed. Daily from 9am to 5pm, $30/child. (407-WDW-PLAY for reservations)
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Walt Disney World has a fun new feature that allows you to explore the park after it closes (usually 3 hours!) and before it opens (usually 1 hour). In order to enjoy this however, you must keep a few things in mind:
- Check the calendar to know which parks are doing Extra Magic Hours on which day (CLICK HERE), and make sure that if you have a one-park ticket it is for that one
- If you have a park-hopper pass, then you can go to whichever park is doing the Extra Magic Hours
- Check which attractions are open (CLICK HERE or above) to be sure that the rides you want to ride on will be open
- If you want to do the water parks' Extra Magic Hours, be sure that you have that option on your park-hopper
Happy Extra Magic Hours!
Monday, May 12, 2008
For those of you planning a birthday at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, there are several "perks" you can arrange for free (find more at www.WDWinfo.com):
- Tell your resort that you have someone with a birthday with you and they will often decorate your room with balloons, autographed character pictures, etc. (don't expect this to happen every time, but sometimes it will)
- Got to City Hall in Magic Kingdom or Disneyland, or any of the Guest Services stations in the other parks and tell them who has the birthday. They will give you a birthday button, and the birthday boy/girl will get special character attention all day, particularly when getting autographs signed
- Be sure to tell the server when you eat and you will get a birthday cupcake and song
- At any Disney Resort you can tell the front desk you have a birthday child, and they can receive a birthday phone call from a Disney character
Walt Disney World & Disneyland Birthdays
Friday, May 9, 2008
I thought I would make just a few suggestions if you are dining without kids. Here are some great full-service restaurants to eat at, and remember you can still dine after the parks close on early-closing nights.
There are so many wonderful places to eat here, as dining is an important part of Epcot. One favorite past-time is to simply circle World Showcase and try different authentic foods. With any of these, be sure to have a reservation (CLICK HERE for another entry with reservation tips, and CLICK HERE for other dining tips). Here are some favorites:
Here you can get a lot of authentic German food for less than many of the other restaurants in WDW. It is build to look like a German town square with a very Oktoberfest feel. If you want authentic, try the bratwurst. This may not be dining for two, as if you are not in a group you will be seated with other guests, but the food and atmosphere are so good I had to include it.
Le Cellier Steakhouse (Canada)
Built to look like a wine cellar, the atmosphere is fun, and you have to try the Canadian Cheddar cheese soup and, of course, the steak.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Norway)
Built like a 14th century fortress, there is a lot of character entertainment. The atmosphere is great, and it is a buffet.
Teppan Edo (Japan)
Beautiful Japanese decor and a lot of great Japanese food. The chefs are a whole lot of fun to watch. Like the Biergarten you will be seated with other guests, but that can be part of the fun.
Bistro de Paris (France)
This is much better than Les Chefs de France. The food is more expensive, but the food, view, and atmosphere are all worth it.
The Magic Kingdom: Liberty Tree Cavern in Liberty Square
This may not be as good as some of the great restaurants in Epcot, but it is certainly the best The Magic Kindgom has to offer. The service is excellent and the food is good. The setting is colonial, with American-style food, the best of which is New England-syle.
Disney Hollywood Studios: Hollywood Brown Derby
This was built to look like the original Brown Derby in California, so it feels just like the Golden Age of Hollywood. The dress is formal, and the food is expensive, but this is definitely one of the best places to eat in all of Walt Disney World.
There are also some great counter-service places to eat, but for full-service those are the favorites.
Walt Disney World - Dining for Two By Park
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I have collected a few links of coloring pages with Disney Channel themes. Here they are:
Playhouse Disney - This may be the most useful link. There are a ton of coloring pages here organized by show.
Hannah Montana Coloring (CraftKitsforKids.com) - Maybe not the highest quality, but workable.
High School Musical Coloring (CraftKitsforKids.com) - Again, not the highest quality.
And those are the main ones, I'll keep my eyes open for more.
Monday, May 5, 2008
In my search for the best Disney sites, I came across another one this week for all of you Disney movie enthusiasts. This site, UltimateDisney.com, is dedicated to ALL of Disney's movie releases, both in theaters and especially on DVD. Here you will find calendars, press releases, reviews, forums, links to buy, and much more.
Perhaps the most useful link on the site is their upcoming release calendar (CLICK HERE). Here you will find when your current Disney favorites will be released, and also you will see info on upcoming Disney Vault releases.
And remember, if you're really interested in building you Disney movie collection quickly for the least amount of money, check out the Disney Movie Club (link below).
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I was just looking for some other information on the internet, and came across a list on Mousesavers.com that I think is really great (CLICK HERE for their page). It's a list of ways to save for a Disney vacation. So I thought I would share some of my favorite ideas from them, and add a few of my own.
Savings for Disney Vacation Ideas:
- Open a savings account just for your vacation. There are all kinds of ways to do this, but the best way is through ING direct as they have the best interested rates. I have been using them for years and LOVE them!
- Keep a change jar. My family used to do this all of the time for vacations, and it was surprising to me how well this worked. Every time you make a cash purchase keep the change and don't spend it. Just stick it into a big jar and watch it add up.
- Maintain a financial management plan. If cash is tight, keep reminders of your goal of a Disney vacation around the house, and then when you're about to buy something that is "extra", hold off on that purchase and put that amount into your savings account. This can be tough, but the skills you learn from this exercise can be beneficial for all aspects of your financial health.
- Redirect money from useless expenses. This is a supplement to the last suggestion. Take a look at your financial management plan and decide if there are things you spend money on every month that don't deserve it, and switch that money over into your savings account.
- Do a yard/ebay sale. Go through your house and find all of that old or newer junk you don't use and hold a yard sale. Maybe you can even put up a sign that says something like, "Saving for Disney". Then whatever you have left over after the yard sale put up on Ebay. If you have a really cluttered garage/storage area you will be surprised how much money you can get this way, and how much cleaning you can get done.
- Have your kids start a small business. This can be mowing lawns, delivering newspapers, whatever! Get creative! If you want all kinds of wonderful ideas to helping your kids make money, you need to check out the book Young Bucks: How to Raise a Future Millionaire by Troy Dunn (click on the book title link for more info).
With a little patience and hard work the whole family can work together to save for your vacation. Even more importantly the time focusing on a goal together can be so valuable in building a stronger family unit.
Saving for a Disney Vacation: Tips & Tricks
Monday, April 28, 2008
There has been a lot of discussion as the whether or not the Disney Dining Plan is worth it, and I though I would put in my two-cents here.
The Disney Dining Plan is a package you can get which they say saves you up to %30 on dining and it is included in the "Magic Your Way" deal. You get 1 table service meal, 1 quick service meal, and 1 snack per person per day on the plan. (For more details on the plan itself and to find out what all that means, CLICK HERE)
As with any packaged "savings" deal or other coupon, you only save money if that's what you were planning to do in the first place. And as I have said in a previous post, the Magic Your Way package (like any other Disney package) is designed for convenience, not savings.
In other words, there are plenty of other ways to save on your Disney dining and still have a great experience.
For my previous post on saving on Disney Dining and other Disney Dining tips, CLICK HERE.
Disney Dining Plan - Is It Worth It?
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I just had to blog about this because I was so excited when I stumbled upon it. Having grown up with the old Disney channel I have always greatly missed their old shorts and classic cartoons. Well, there is a YouTube channel dedicated to collecting and showing all of those old classics.
The channel is extremely easy to use, and I am amazed at the number of videos they have collected. Check it out today!
CLICK HERE to see the channel.
And just for a sample, here is Disney's Classic "The Three Little Pigs". (Did you know that this short was so popular that at one theater when they failed to show it when it was billed there was a full-scale riot. The theater then stopped the movie that had already started just to make show they showed the cartoon, then continued the movie where they had left off.)
YouTube Disney Channel - all of your old Disney favorites online!!
Monday, April 21, 2008
I mentioned before that I was reading a biography about Walt Disney called The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life by Steven Watts, and I must say I truly enjoyed getting to know Disney more as a person. I came to appreciate him as a creator, particularly with how he faced the question of whether or not his work was "art".
Near the end of his life Walt Disney was more and more the target of critics and cynics. Most of the time Walt would simply saw something along the lines of, "yes I know I make corn, and I will continue to do so". But on one occasion a critic managed to get under his skin, and this is how he responded:
He said that his films "go straight out for the honest adult, not the sophisticate, not these characters who think they know everything and you can't thrill them anymore. I go to people who retain that, no matter how old they are, that little spirit of adventure, that appreciation of the world of fantasy. I go for them, I play to them...These sort of lost souls, sophisticates, who are so bored and turn their nose up at everything, they say it's childish. Well, what the he$#'s wrong with something being childish, you know? You can't have everything profound...It's the equivalent of getting so stuffy you can't laugh."
I wonder if that's not what is wrong with Hollywood today - they're not aiming for the "honest adult" with "that little spirit of adventure" anymore. They target all that is base and vulgar in us to draw us to the box office.
Disneyland itself also came under attack for being "fake" or even "distasteful". Disney's top "imagineer" John Hench explained life as being a series of experiences, and that a place like Disneyland is a place to have a few more. His quote is as follows:
"The only thing we really keep in this world are experiences. We have to give up everything else. We can't keep our favorite shirt or car. Everything we have finally wears out or we have to throw away, or it loses its usefulness or its zest. But our experiences we keep. They're not only what we are, but they're added to that great big bundle we carry around with us - the experience of our ancestors...Walt was trying to...really give people a kind of package experience that they wouldn't be capable of having on their own."
One of the greatest compliments ever paid to Disney was shortly after his death by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He said:
"To many tens of millions, Walt Disney brought good cheer and happy hours with entertainment that lightened their hearts and refreshed their minds. To Americans of all ages and all walks of life, he was unique. Children loved his characters and his portrayal of them. Parents honored him and were obligated to him for his far-reaching aid in the sensible upbringing of families. Grandparents saluted him as a genius with films that were messages of fun and education and character building...His work will endure so long as men and women and children retain a sense of wonder, a need for bright laughter, a love of the clean and decent. Consequently, Walt Disney's name and his creations will endure through generations. In honoring him, we salute an American who belongs to all the world."
Being one who believes that the success of any nation rises and falls based on the strength of its families, I salute Walt Disney for his efforts in helping families be happy and effective, and seek a little adventure and fun together. I hope we can restore some of what may have been lost when we lost Disney.
Walt Disney - What He Stood For
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
No matter how well you plan, inevitably while at Disneyland or Walt Disney World you will have to do some waiting in line with your kids. Here are a few simple strategies and games that may help make it fun, or at least a little more bearable:
- This is the most important one - use FASTPASS whenever possible so you don't have to wait in line!
- Count how many Disney characters you see, or play other "I-Spy" games.
- Play "Name that tune" humming Disney songs to each other.
- If you're waiting for a show bring along some paper and play games like tic-tac-toe, hangman, etc. You could also play travel games, or color on paper or coloring books. (Of course, while waiting in lines that move, this is completely impractical)
- Take advantage of last-minute entry possibilities - in other words, if it is an attraction that holds many people at once, sit in the shade, eat snacks, play around, then when the line is almost in, go on in. This works on the Riverboat for example, where it holds around 450 people and that many are rarely in line to get on. For shows, ask the greeter how long until the show starts, then relax until just about show-time. Remember, now is a great time to use the bathroom, eat snacks, and get a drink as you can't do that once inside.
- If the line will allow it, have one adult stand in line while the other occupies the small children, then once you are close enough have the adult with the children pass the child to the one in line over/under the railing. Of course, make sure your child isn't too old (this doesn't work if you're trying to pass teenagers), but also is tall enough to meet any height restrictions.
- Switch off - most rides will allow you to all wait in line together when a ride has a height restriction. When you get to the ride just tell the greeter you want to swap and he/she will hand you a little piece of paper. Then one adult can ride the ride, and when finished the other can get on immediately with their pass. (FASTPASS rides are a little different - they essentially give you another FASTPASS for the non-riding adult & two other people, then the non-riding adult & child leave the line until ready)
- Here is one of my favorite strategies from The Unofficial Guide, and it's called the "Chucka Bubby Relay". This one allows a child to ride twice with no waiting. All you do is have one parent and the child go ahead while the other parent counts off a certain number of people in front of him, then gets in line. When the ride stops, the parent who just rode with the child hands him/her off to the other parent. If you would like to know how many people you should count off for specific rides, get the guide (see links to the right)!
Disney Waiting-in-Line Games (and other line strategies with small children)
Monday, April 14, 2008
For all of you Disney Channel fans out there I found a couple of really neat resources. These links all include history information, current showings, and much more.
First of all, for a list of every program ever broadcast on the Disney Channel, CLICK HERE.
Next, for all of the original series on the Disney Channel, CLICK HERE.
Finally, for a list of the all of the original movies on the Disney Channel, CLICK HERE.
I grew up watching a lot of these shows, so this was a real walk down memory lane.
Much more to come soon on the Disney Channel, it's history, and current programing.
Disney Channel - Info On Every Disney Channel Show Ever!
Friday, April 11, 2008
The following table lists average temperatures and climate conditions for each month in Orlando.
Of course it is always a good idea to check ahead for current and upcoming weather conditions just to know what to bring in preparation (sunscreen, umbrellas, what kind of shoes, etc.).
Check the weather below:
Walt Disney World Daily Climate/Temperatures
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
I am currently reading one of the best biographies I have ever read called "The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life". It is comprehensive, presenting both sides of Walt. The man certainly had his faults, but his ambitions were sound. I came across a quote by him that to me summed up his creative goals:
"Everyone in the world was once a child. We grow up. Our personalities change, but in every one of us something remains of our childhood...[that] knows nothing of sophistication and distinction. It's where all of us are simple and naive without prejudice and bias. We're friendly and trustworthy and it just seems that if your picture hits that spot in one person, it's going to hit that same spot in almost everybody. So, in planning a new picture, we don't think of grownups and we don't think of children, but just of that fine, clean, unspoiled spot down deep in every one of us that maybe the world has made us forget and that maybe our picture can help recall."
Maybe that's why we all love his movies and his theme parks so much - because they reach us at that innocent, child-like level. I'm grateful for people who do more than just comment on the world around them and point out to all of us how bleak it us. People like Walt Disney know that there is something important and special in all of us, and seek to bring that out to make us and the world better.
Have a fabulous day!
Monday, April 7, 2008
So, I figured it is time to compile some of my massive amounts of information and try to put together at least a first draft of a guide to figuring out which hotels to stay in while enjoying your Disney World vacation. There are several factors which go into this decision, money being only one of them, albeit a very important one.
If you really want all of the information you could ever hope for and more, then my first recommendation is to simply buy an Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. In the guide you will find detailed ratings and reviews on all hotels close and not-so-close, driving distances, links to sites with the best deals, and more. If you want to search a bit more on your own first, keep reading.
Before deciding on your hotel, you should ask yourself several questions:
- How much do I want to spend? Of course, this is the big question, and the one which affects all others. For the most part, more money leads to being closer to the park, though you may be surprised how close you can get for cheaper. So, determine how much of a hotel budget you have, and divide that into how many nights you will be staying. That number needs to include hotel prices and tax.
- With that budget in mind, check out prices for Disney Resorts and off-site resorts. Here are a couple of links that will help you out: a) for a complete list of Disney Resort rates, CLICK HERE for a great list sorted by season (thank you MouseSavers.com), and b) check out rates for outside the parks using a couple of options: 2000orlando-florida.com (CLICK HERE) for a comprehensive list of hotels outside WDW, and Octopus Travel (CLICK HERE) for the best rates on hotels outside WDW.
- Now that you have your list of hotels you can afford, you have a few more decisions to make. They are in no particular order:
- How close do you want to be to the park? This is where an Unofficial Guide really comes in handy, as they have a complete list of hotels in the area and their driving distance from the park. Otherwise you'll have to use the internet sites above and an online map service to figure it out. If you are close most hotels offer shuttles to the park just as if you were staying in a Disney resort, so transportation really isn't an issue.
- What kind of an experience do you want? Do you want the character breakfasts and the Disney themed rooms? Do you want to be close to other Orlando sites? Do you just need a place to sleep at night, or do you need to return several times a day for breaks and naps for little ones? You are going to want higher quality if you are going to spend more time there. Check out MouseSavers.com and TouringPlans.com for ratings on different hotels from people who have stayed at them.
- And of course, are there rooms available? Book quickly as rooms fill up fast.
As a bonus treat, here are what visitors to WDW say are the top 10 hotels:
- Celebrity Resorts Orlando - great quality, a little far, very affordable
- Shades of Green - great quality, on the park, very affordable
- Extended Stay Deluxe Convention Center - good quality, close, very affordable
- HomeSuiteHomeEastgate - a little far, okay quality, quite affordable
- Palms Hotel & Villas Kissimee - a little far, good quality, very affordable
- Quality Suites Maingate East - a little far, good quality, very affordable
- Extended Stay Universal - close, good quality, affordable
- Vacation Village at Parkway - a little far, great quality, a little pricey
- Sheraton Studio City - close, great quality, affordable
- Quality Inn & Suites Eastgate - a little far, good quality, affordable
Walt Disney World Resorts - Choosing the Right Hotel
Friday, April 4, 2008
Amazon.com offers a wide variety of Disney Coloring books. If you combine a few of these you can even get free shipping. For any of you who have been shopping around for these you'll notice the savings by ordering here - you can usually save up to 35%!
You can sort through some of my recommendations below:
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Have you every wanted to be a cartoon character? Well, Disney is giving you the chance to do just that by creating your very-own toon for FREE at Toontown Online. It's family friendly and a lot of fun. You play by doing tasks, earning points for "laffs" and "gags", and giving gifts to other toons. CLICK HERE to sign up.
If you would like to chat with other Toontown Online players, CLICK HERE for the Towntown Online Forum.
Toontown Online - Free Online Disney Game
Monday, March 31, 2008
For all of you Hannah Montana fans, I found a site with a huge lists of trivia facts about Miley Cyrus (CLICK HERE). Here are some of my favorites:
- The red Valentino dress that Miley wore to the 2008 Academy Awards was said to have cost $10,550.
- Miley first auditioned for "Hannah Montana" when she was 11, trying for the part of Lilly. She later tried out for the part of Hannah and was turned down for both parts because she was too young.
- Miley's godmother is singer/actress Dolly Parton.
- Miley's grandmother is the only person who still calls her by her birth name, Destiny.
- She has already written over 100 songs, some featured in the new show "Hannah Montana".
- The 3-D version of Miley's "Best of Both Worlds" concert debuted in only 683 theaters worldwide on Super Bowl Weekend 2008, but it beat out all other films (which were playing in a larger number of theaters) with a record-breaking $31 million in just its first weekend.
Disney Channel - Facts about Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana)
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The Disney.com site is the best place to find a wide assortment of Disney Channel games.
CLICK HERE for the direct link to the Disney Channel game chooser. There are over a hundred games, of which the Disney Channel game chooser picks five. These are all clever and a lot of fun.
Happy Disney Channel gaming!
Disney Channel - Disney Channel Games
Monday, March 24, 2008
Here is a wonderful resource I recently found on the web. If you are wondering when to go to Disney World, at www.touringplans.com they have a calendar (CLICK HERE) which displays a crowd rating for each day (10 being most crowded, 1 least). These numbers are very accurate based on historic and current crowd levels.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Here are some ideas (many from the Unofficial Guide) to help you prepare for walking 7 to 12 miles a day at Disney World or Disneyland.
- Start going on short walks now or at least several weeks before you go.
- Wear good shoes and socks. I had a friend who recently went in just sandals (because he forgot to pack socks) and he came back with some terrible blisters, not to mention the discomfort of walking with sweaty feet. Good walking shoes are a must, or running shoes even work well. If you need to, get some really comfortable/supporting inserts.
- Keep your feet, socks, and shoes dry. If they get wet, change your socks and shoes if possible.
- Bring a first aid kit with you, and make sure it includes blister treatment items like moleskin or ointment.
- Once you've prepared yourself, make sure the kids and spouses all have appropriate feet gear as well. There is nothing worse than one person with feet problems spoiling the trip for everyone else.
- Get your really supportive spouse some foot lotion so he/she can give you foot massages at night.
- If you have a serious foot condition, get some custom made orthotics (inserts) from your pediatrist.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Many expecting mothers avoid Disney World and Disneyland because they are afraid they will not be able to go on many rides. Fortunately for you, there are actually more things you can do than not. So, here is a list of all of the rides expecting mothers cannot ride:
- Splash Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Mad Tea Party (if you spin the cups)
- Space Mountain
- Tomorrowland Speedway (not recommended)
- Body Wars
- Mission Space
- Test Track
- Tower of Terror
- Star Tours
- Rock'n'Roller Coaster
- Primeval Whirl
- Expedition Everest
Wear extra support, take plenty of breaks, and you can still have a great time at the Disney parks even if you're expecting.
Disney for Expectant Mothers: Rides You Cannot Ride
Friday, March 14, 2008
As the last in our short series of Disney Dining tips I thought I would include some tips on how to save money on food during your Disney vacation. You can mix and match these as much as you feel comfortable. If you can afford to do so, I think the food at Disneyland and Disney World is great, but don't let that expense be what stops you from going.
So, here are some tips:
- Fill fanny packs with snacks: technically both Disneyland and Disney World do not allow outside food in their parks, but they rarely enforce this rule, even when they search your bags. So, give your kids (and yourselves if you must) fanny packs with snacks such as crackers, raisins, candy, whatever, and snack a little as you go.
- Eat breakfast before you go: either in your hotel (where most offer free breakfast), fast food, or at home, if you eat before you enter the park you already start saving.
- Eat lunch during an out of the park break: bring a cooler, put your lunch in it, and go to your car during lunch to give kids naps and eat your packed lunch.
- Eat dinner out of the park: the food may not be as good, but if you take another break at dinner you can find all kinds of food for cheap around the park.
- If you must eat at the park, buy snacks and other foods at the vendors not at restaurants. You may not get as much food, but it will be cheaper.
Disney Dining: Money Saving Tips
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
If you want really in depth information on Disney Dining you HAVE to get the Unofficial Guide (click just below):
The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2008 (Unofficial Guides)
They have a full directory of all the restaurants, which ones are great for kids, which ones are quieter for adults, ratings, consumer advice, and much much more.
As a flavor for what it includes, I thought I would include their information on which foods are the best. This is based on discussions on their message boards:
Best Burger: Concourse Steakhouse, Disney's Contemporary Resort
Best Sandwich: Earl of Sandwich, Downtown Disney
Best Pizza: Wolfgang Puck Express, Downtown Disney
Best Drink for Adults: Grand Marnier Slush, France, Epcot
Best Drink for Kids: Muddy River Sour Apple Freeze, Port Orleans Riverside
Best Frozen Treat: Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich, Main Street Bakery, Magic Kingdom AND Garbage Pail, Happy Landings, Typhoon Lagoon
Best Pastry: Napoleon, France Pavilion, Epcot
Best Salty Snack: Stuffed Pretzel, Lunching Pad, Tomorrowland, Magic Kingdom
For more information and to participate in the discussion, see WDWMagic.com.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Here is how far in advance you can make your Advance Reservations (for more details CLICK HERE) to Disney Dining facilities. In most cases 80 to 45 days out is fine, but you can tell by how far out some of these dates are, certain dining "hot spots" require even earlier reservations (thanks Ultimate Guide):
365 days in advance:
Mickey's Backyard BBQ at Fort Wilderness
180 days in advance:
Afternoon tea, children's programs at the Grand Floridian
All Disney full-service restaurants except Bistro de Paris at Epcot
Fulton's Crab House, House of Blues, and Portobello Yacht Club at Downtown Disney
Fanstasmic! dinner package at Disney Hollywood
Hoop-Dee-Doo-Revue at Fort Wilderness
Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at the Polynesian Resort
Victoria & Albert's at the Grand Floridian (Chef's Table only)
Wolfgang Puck Cafe at Downtown Disney
90 days in advance:
La Nouba by Cirque de Soleil at Downtown Disney
30 days in advance
Bistro de Paris (dinner only) at Epcot
Happy dining, & stay tuned for more...
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Today I thought I would begin a short series of posts on Disney dining. You've all heard that dining at Disney World or Disneyland is expensive, and it is. But there are some great tips on how to save, where to go if you don't mind the extra cost, what the costs are, what categories there are, when to make reservations, and more.
Here I will simply try to cover some of the basics, which are (in no particular order):
- Advance Reservations = Priority Seating: in other words, when you make a reservation you don't actually have a reservation, you are simply seated before the walk-ins
- For the more popular dining (i.e. dinner shows, character dining, full-service dining, etc.) you should definitely make Advance Reservations or you will probably not get in. Most allow reservations 180 days in advance (80 to 45 days in advance is usually fine), but for specifics stay tuned as a complete list will be posted soon
- Dress throughout the parks at all restaurants is informal, though some of the resort restaurants have a "business casual" dress code
- Avoid fancy food, stick to the basics (at least at Magic Kingdom and Disney Hollywood)
- Don't order specialty sea-food unless the restaurant specializes in it
- Making lunch your big meal can save you money on the nicer Disney foods
- if you want to relax and don't want to be rushed through, take time ordering, and order each part separately (i.e. order drinks, take time, order appetizers, take time, etc.)
- On the flip side, avoid full service restaurants if you're in a rush to see as much as possible
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
While searching around online I found a great place to get coupons you can use on Disney products. Here is the link (CLICK HERE). While there, look around for other favorite products. They have coupons for just about everything. Happy Shopping!
Friday, February 29, 2008
(Thanks to the Unofficial Guide and Mousesavers.com for a lot of this info)
When trying to save on Disney lodging (in one of the Disney resorts), the best way to save is to book room-only reservations on your own and not use the package deals Disney sells you. As has been mentioned before, the Disney packages are intended to be convenient, not cheap.
These room-only reservations are much more flexible, give you the option of canceling up until five-days before (unlike the Disney packages), and do not require the $200 deposit that the Disney packages require.
So, here are some tips on getting the most savings out of your room-only reservations:
- Discount codes: these are fabulous, and can be found at Mousesavers.com (CLICK HERE). Whenever a discount promotion is being run on room-only reservations you will find the discount codes there. So keep on eye on that link. Also, be flexible with these as you may have to go at a specific time or you may have to compromise on the room. It may be worth it!
- Keep checking: keep checking the discount code link above until codes are available. Once the alloted discounted room have been used up, keep checking for cancellations. They do happen. If you are persistent you will be rewarded.
Disney Hotel Savings - Get the Best Deal on Disney Lodging
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Due to the ridiculous amount of ticket options it can be very hard to sort through them and choose which option is best for you. However, knowing which ticket package does is what ultimately saves you the most money. So what do you do?
The "Unofficial Guide" people have put together a great and simple to use calculator that will help you decide which is the best option for you.
CLICK HERE to try it out (scroll down the page to find the calculator)!
After you enter in your information it searches over 200 different ticket options to get you the best one. This is a wonderful tool to save money. Give it a try!
Disney World Tickets - How to Choose Which Tickets to Buy
Monday, February 25, 2008
The Disney Movie Club just announced a great new offer - 4 Disney movies for $1.99 when you sign up, and free shipping! This is one of the best deals I've seen for a long time. Click the link below for more info.
Disney Movie Club - Great New Offer
For those planning trips to the Disney Resorts, this is a general idea of when events are planned.
For specific calendars, click on the following links:
Wald Disney World
Now, for our general overview. Most event titles are links to information on the event:
- Walt Disney World marathon: first weekend after New Years, brings in lots of visitors.
- Disney's Pirate and Princess Party: select evenings mid-January to mid-March, and mid-August to early September.
- Mardi Gras: Friday before Mardi Gras through Fat Tuesday at Pleasure Island (admission required).
- Black History Month: all February there are storytellers, entertainers, and more throughout the park celebrating Black History Month.
- Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: April through May.
- Gay Days: a weekend in early.
- Tom Joyner Family Reunion: popular party, Labor Day weekend.
- Night of Joy: Christian-music festival, usually second weekend of September (admission required).
- Epcot International Food & Wine Festival: late-September to early-November, best tastings are reservation only (though many others are not).
- Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party: VERY crowded, admission required and hard to get, several weeks leading up to Halloween and Halloween night.
- Mousefest: first week of December, unofficial gathering of Disney fans, guide-book creators, and more. Special tours, events, etc.
- Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party: 7pm to midnight several nights in December, crowded, admission required.
General Disney Calendar
Friday, February 22, 2008
Now seems to be a popular time to plan this year's Disney World or Disneyland trip, but when should you go? You can start with my Walt Disney World basics guide (CLICK HERE), or just look below for a few tips as to when the best time is to go:
In a previous blog I mentioned the off peak times (CLICK HERE, point #2), but to give you further information, here they are ranked in order of least crowded to most crowded:
- Week after Thanksgiving up until a week before Christmas
- November up until Thanksgiving (the weekend before)
- September (after labor day), October
- Second week of January until the second week of February (except MLK day)
- Week after Easter until early June
The downside is on off-peak days the parks often close early (no parades and later shows) and sometimes a few of the rides are closed. That being said, I still think it is definitely worth it to go then, even if it is a little colder, as you will have a wonderful experience with the park mostly to yourself. Okay, so it may not be mostly to yourself, but if you've ever been during peak season, you will greatly appreciate the difference.
When to Go to Walt Disney World
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I was just thumbing through my copy of the The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2008 (Unofficial Guides), and I must say I love this book more and more every year. If you have any desire to go to Disney World and want to have the best trip possible, you must get this book. Let me just give you a few ideas of the highlights in the table of contents:
- Introduction -general yet great overview of the history and attractions at Walt Disney World
- "Planning before you Leave Home" - tips on where to gather information, what information to gather, and how best to plan
- "Making the Most of Your Time and Money" - when to go, where to go, and MUCH more
- Disney area spas
- Disney Cruise Line
- "Walt Disney World with Kids" - I LOVE this section. Here you will find tons of great tips on how to make a plan that will make the trip enjoyable for you and your children. I would get this book just for this section
- "Special Tips for Special People" - another fabulous section with tips for singles, couples, expectant mothers, seniors, and more
- "Arriving and Getting Around"
- "Bare Necessities" - tips about safety, and unexpected problems
- "Dining in and around Walt Disney World"
- Sections about each of the kingdoms
- "Behind the Scenes at Walt Disney World"
- "The Water Parks"
- "Beyond the Parks"
- and more!
The best thing I can say for this guide is that if you use it, you will have an amazing time on your Disney Vacation. You will enjoy things that you never even knew existed there.
Click below for details, and have a happy vacation!
Monday, February 18, 2008
Looking for Disney themed or Disney restaurant recipes? Here are some free links (thanks to MouseSavers.com for some of these):
DisneyRecipes.com - TONS of recipes here, best place! (CLICK HERE)
Intercot.com - recipes from all over Walt Disney World Resort (CLICK HERE)
Allearsnet.com - another recipe collection from Walt Disney World (CLICK HERE)
FamilyFun.com - Disney themed and Theme Park recipes (CLICK HERE)
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
First of all, I have to give credit to MouseSavers.com for many of the ideas in this article as they put out a great list of things to do as you are planning your vacation. For their full article CLICK HERE.
When planning a vacation, TIME IS MONEY! And as mentioned before, the farther in advance you plan, the more success you will have.
So, here is what you have to do, in roughly the order you must decide (again, thanks to MouseSavers.com for the order)
1. When are you going?
If you can, it is best to go during the VALUE times, when the park is least crowded and when the prices are the cheapest. CLICK HERE and check out point #2 for those specific times.
2. What will you do there?
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to go without a plan. There are many things to take in to consideration, like the ages of your kids, how long you will stay, etc. For example, my family is planning a trip this spring but we have three pre-school age children and will only be staying for two days. The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom have the most attractions for preschool age kids. Epcot and Hollywood Magic have five or less attractions a piece for preschool age kids--probably a waste of a day to go to either of those.
Here is where I HIGHLY recommend you get one of the Unofficial guides, depending on which park you attend to go to. Look at the Disney Vacation Links to the right and you will see lists of each of the guides. Use these guides to help you plan your trip.
Look at Disney's websites and find out what's going on during or around the time you will go. This may effect how long you intend to stay or when you wish to go. Here are the links:
Walt Disney World
3. How will you travel there? If you are flying, look at airfare NOW! You'll save, trust me. If you have little time left the best place to go seems to be Expedia.com for air travel. (See a previous post HERE).
Also, check out MouseSavers.com transportation link (CLICK HERE).
4. Get tickets as early as possible. Click above for discounted Disney tickets, or CLICK HERE.
5. Get hotel reservations ASAP. Again, you will save money. I love MouseSavers.com hotels page, at least for Walt Disney World. They went out and did a lot of research to find which hotels offer the most bang for your buck. CLICK HERE to find out more.
If you plan on staying at one of the Disney resorts, use a travel agent. CLICK HERE for a good one.
Food: How will you eat? Much of this depends on your budget. With my small children, we eat breakfast before we go, give them fanny packs with snacks in them, have them nap in the car at lunch time where we have lunch waiting in sacks, and then eat dinner at the park.
Transportation to and around: How will you get from the airport to the park? Will you rent a car? Will you use the airport shuttle? CLICK HERE for the MouseSavers.com transportation page.
And that's about it. As a further recommendation, pay for as much of it as you can before you go. I hate to hear how much people still have to pay for their vacation when they come back with credit card bills, etc.
Just have fun, and the rest is easy!
Planning Your Disney Vacation
Monday, February 4, 2008
Your first year is fee-free. Apply for the American Express® Preferred Rewards Gold Card. A world of service.
FREE tickets to live Disney shows (American Express Rewards Program)
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
At Disney.com they have a fun new way to plan you Disney Vacation called "Create Your Dreams". It asks you a few questions of how you would like your Disney Vacation to be, and after selecting a few options gives you access to videos and suggestions that will help you plan. CLICK HERE for more info, and enjoy making your dreams come true!
Disney Vacation - Create your Dreams
Monday, January 28, 2008
This is a fun idea--if you're looking for a gift that keeps on giving, give a framed Walt Disney Company stock certificate. CLICK HERE to find out more, and click on "for kids". You can have it framed and everything!
Disney Stock Certificate - Perfect Gift for a Disney Fan
Monday, January 21, 2008
For all of you Disney Princess lovers, here is a fun group of Disney Princess Gift Sets. Each set comes with a beautiful Princess figure and a Royal Horse. These are great additions to your Disney Princess collection.
Disney Gem Princess & Royal Horse Gift Set: Cinderella
Disney Gem Princess & Royal Horse Gift Set: Sleeping Beauty
Disney Gem Princess & Royal Horse Gift Set: Snow White
Disney Gem Princess & Royal Horse Gift Set
Friday, January 18, 2008
Planning a Disney vacation? I recently discovered a fun way to find out what is going on at the Disney Theme Parks at the time you plan to go. You can also get great ideas depending on the ages of you children, amount of time you will be there, and more.
As you go through your test drive you get to choose your favorite Disney character, watch video clips that apply to your interests, and more. It's a lot of fun, CLICK HERE for more info.
Disney Vacation Test Drive
Disney offers some great FREE DVDs to help you plan your vacation. They can take quite awhile to get to you, so give yourself some time. Use the following links to order:
For either of the Disney (Florida or California) parks CLICK HERE
For the Disney Cruise Line DVD CLICK HERE
For the Disney Vacation Club FREE VACATION SECRETS DVD CLICK HERE
For the Adventures by Disney DVD CLICK HERE
These are great resources, so check them out!
Monday, January 14, 2008
Here are some of the basics to saving money on a Walt Disney World vacation:
1) Vacation packages DO NOT always save you the most money--they are designed for convenience not savings. It is usually cheaper to book everything separately.
2) There are five seasons at Disney Resorts: Regular, Summer, Peak, Holiday, & VALUE seasons. As you can guess, Value Season is the cheapest time to go. There are no specific dates, but generally it is January, February, last three weeks of October, first three weeks of November, and the first three weeks of December. These are the least expensive and least crowded dates!
3) Continuing the previous points, according to MouseSavers.com here are the dates to avoid, ranked from most expensive down (to see these times ranked in order from least to most crowded CLICK HERE):
- Holiday Season (especially weekends) - December 19-31
- Presidents Day - February 15-17
- Easter Week - March 16-27
- Peak Season (especially weekends) - February 14 - March 29
- Independence Day Weekend - July 4-5
- Summer Season at the Value and Moderate resorts (especially weekends) - May 22 - August 2
- Thanksgiving Weekend - November 26-29
5) Stay in hotels nearby, not in the really expensive hotels on the resort. Again, thanks to our friends at MouseSavers.com for a list of preferred hotels nearby. CLICK HERE for details.
6) Buy discounted tickets. This is the trickiest part as discounts on passes are rare. Check out my previous post on discount Disney World tickets (CLICK HERE) for more information. Also, check out the MouseSavers.com discount list.
7) Don't eat at the park! You will find most of your budget sucked away just in food. In my family we pack lunches and eat them in the car so little ones can nap, and give the kids fanny packs with snacks. Another tip is just to eat off-site at close-by restaurants or fast-food, you'll save a bunch.
8) Maximize your fun by planning ahead. The best way to do this is use the Unofficial Guide to Disney World. You will be amazed how much more enjoyable and cost-effective your trip will be! CLICK HERE to get it from Amazon. You can also check out the special links to the right for other Unofficial Guides to help make your trip enjoyable. I HIGHLY recommend these books.
9) Get discounts on traveling to, from, and around the park. The best resources is MouseSavers.com list of transportation discounts - CLICK HERE.
And that's it. Just as a final note, in my experience Disney vacations are so much more enjoyable if you're not going into debt to have one. Save the money in advance! Make it a family activity--fill a savings jar, open a special savings account and write the balance on a dry-erase board as everyone contributes--just be creative! Then you can enjoy it before, during, AND after!
Walt Disney World Resort Savings: The Basics
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Here's a Disney Cruise Line money saving tip: if you're trying to save money and are booking your cruise last minute, give Expedia.com a try. They reserve blocks of cabins for use throughout the year, and when a cruise date is close they will sell remaining cabins at a discounted rate.
So, if your schedule is variable and you have a hard time planning far in advance, CLICK HERE and check out Expedia.com deals.
Disney Cruise Line - Last Minute Savings (Expedia)
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Want to go on a Disneyland ride from your own home? Sign in HERE and play Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters Online, and defeat Zurg and his minions along with those riding the ride in real time! It's a lot of fun! CLICK HERE to start.
Buzz Lightyear Online Game - Astro Blasters Online
Monday, January 7, 2008
This is a lot of fun--check out this free online game (CLICK HERE). You can create your own pirate and battle on the open seas! Lots of fun.
Disney Pirates of the Caribbean Online (FREE online game)
Saturday, January 5, 2008
For those of you interested in online gaming, or just socializing online you should try out Disney's Virtual Magic Kingdom (VMK). You create an avatar and explore the different theme parks online creating music mixes, playing games, earning credits for cool free stuff, win prizes, and more. Best of all, it's FREE!!!
CLICK HERE and check it out.
Disney's Virtual Magic Kingdom (FREE online game)