MOUSE AND DUCK TALES
Here at Mouse and Duck we are constantly researching the latest Disney, Universal and Cruising trends, treats and tours.
Here at Mouse and Duck we are constantly researching the latest Disney, Universal and Cruising trends, treats and tours.
character dining in the parks
Visit this link for all character experiences: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_CA/entertainment/#/character-experiences/
There are three resorts to choose from if you wish to stay on Disney property in California. We stayed at the Disneyland hotel in August 2018. We choose this hotel because it is the original on-site hotel and therefore, has extra-large hotel rooms with their magical singing headboards. We were also attracted to the two waterslides that look like monorails. But when we went to visit the Grand Californian hotel, its ambiance and luxury made us wish we had stayed there. It had the same kind of luxury feel as Animal Kingdom Lodge or Wilderness Lodge. The restaurants at the Grand Floridian are nicer and the pool area looked just as fun, plus you can walk from here right into the middle of the Boardwalk, putting you closer to the parks. (When you leave the Disneyland hotel, you are at the far end of Downtown Disney and have to walk about 10 minutes to get to the entrance of the parks). The Paradise Pier hotel lobby did not impress us; we think spending more to stay at either of the other two hotels would be worth it.
Of course, everything is better when you see it through your kids’ eyes, but we can’t deny there were hiccups and in-fighting. A long line seemed to bring out the worst in our crew. That is what made the short walk back to the hotel so exceptional. Perhaps the best thing about the entire experience was the ease with which we could walk everywhere. We explored all three resorts, shopped along the Downtown Disney area and park hopped many times over the four days. We loved that we didn’t need to worry about a shuttle bus, parking or rental car at all!
Dining plan: One thing that might surprise those travelers familiar with the "World" in Orlando, is that Disneyland California does not offer a dining plan option. We would love to see Disney add this in future. We find the dining plan can help you budget and let pay for most of your meals before travelling. Because the dining plan wasn’t an option on this trip, we came away having spent significantly more on food than we expected. California’s “fast food” restaurants have delicious, fresh ingredients but the prices reflect that and it was hard to eat lunch anywhere for less than $40US.
One of the best things about staying on property is the many character interactions that happen in the resorts. We could almost always wander around the hotels and find a character or two to take a photo with. Our kids really enjoyed collecting signatures in their autograph book and almost filled it because there were so many characters to meet. Plus the character meals seemed to have more characters as well. This is so much better than standing in line to meet them, as you often have to do in the “World.”
Overall, we are very glad we stayed on property: the quick walk back to our room, the monorail ride from near our hotel to Tomorrowland and the excellent pool areas made this an extra special immersive experience. Check out our review of Disneyland's Parks and Rides.
Our recent trip to Disneyland and Southern California was truly a trip of a lifetime. Not just because we checked off so many destinations on our bucket list but also because our children will never be 5 and 9 again.
Swimming in the Pacific Ocean, watching surfers seek the best waves, soaking up the sun and experiencing the incredible nature California has to offer meant we already want to go back. Disneyland was the reason we first decided to make the four-hour flight and the original Disney park was better than we remember from our trip 11 years ago.
Disneyland is actually divided into two parks with three onsite hotel resorts and it is certainly much smaller than the Disney World property in Florida where there are four parks, two water parks and many on-site resorts. The two California theme parks, Disneyland and California Adventure Park are each smaller than Magic Kingdom. However, they are right beside each other, which makes park hopping much easier. There is a lot of nostalgia built in here; the people that made Disneyland knew Walt himself and they had a different understanding of his vision.
Many of the same rides are located in Florida and California (Slash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Tea Cups & Small World, and more). The fun thing about Disneyland is that many of these duplicates have subtle differences. For example, there are celebrity dolls in Small World, different animatronics in Splash Mountain, explosions on Thunder Mountain and a longer ride for Pirates of the Caribbean.
Then there are the rides that are exclusive to the Land and we think some of these are the best rides and attractions on either coast – World or Land.
The Guardians of the Galaxy (formerly Tower of Terror) was expertly refurbished. We loved walking through the Collector’s Fortress to see his oddities and that an animatronic Rocket came down to say Hi. The views of the park were incredible from the top and even our five year old survived the drops. There are six different random experiences that you can get each time you ride, complete with music from the movie, plus hidden homages like Rocket stealing the famous Walkman.
Another favorite ride was the Incredicoaster. We thought this was a fantastic coaster when we rode it in 2007 and the recent refurbishment to fit with the Incredibles movie was really well done. From the cookie smell pumped in, to the featured moments for each character, this would have been great to ride multiple times to see all the nuances
Cars Land might be our family’s top choice. Starting when our oldest was 2 years old, he made us watch Cars the movie hundreds and hundreds of times. He would even fall asleep with a Mater in one hand and a Lightning McQueen in the other. Since then, it has been on our bucket list to check out Cars Land, and as we have already gushed about on our Facebook page, it did not disappoint. Cars Land is so well done, from the Stanley statue, to the Cozy Cone Motel, everything was spot on. We loved the Radiator Springs Racers ride (perhaps one of Disney's top 5 rides). It combined a tour through Radiator Springs to see all your favourite characters with a fast race at the end. Luigi’s Rollickin Roadsters is so clever (your car participates in a line dancing routine). The shops, food and character interactions were all perfectly themed. This area is so amazing that after many years watching the movie, we felt like we were characters in it.
A few more honorable mentions include, the Indiana Jones ride, which lived up to our son’s high expectations with its daring and scary animatronics. We also loved the sweet little Storybook Land Canal Boats that glide by miniature replicas of familiar fairytale lands.
Both Snow White’s Scary Adventures and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey were pretty scary and dark - I’m not sure what preschooler you should take on these two rides. We’d love to see Disney come out with modern remakes of these classics and update the rides to be a little happier even if that makes the Disneyland purists upset.
MaxPass is Disneyland’s version of the "Fastpass” system. We think this ride booking system is simply superior. If you want to take advantage of it, you pay $10 per person per day. It allows you to pre-book a ride pass one at a time, but as soon as your first pass opens, you can book a second pass for the next ride. We were able to ride everything we wanted multiple times. One downside is you will be on your phone a lot, trying to score the next ride and that will use up your battery power, but it felt like we made it on many more rides because of this system. The MaxPass also includes the PhotoPass (which costs $169 per week in Orlando). If you are only visiting for a few days but still want the photo pass, the "Land" allows you a much better option.
Most out of town guests only visit the “Land” once or twice in their lifetime so the California park relies on its neighbors to visit frequently. This means they do more unique things to bring people in, such as new food items, ride updates and loads of character interactions. These extras are often rated better than those that the “World” has to offer. Overall, we think Disneyland California is worth a trip at least once, especially when paired with a Southern California tour.
As travel agents specializing in Disney, we booked our Disneyland vacation and then looked for other attractions to extend our California vacation to days ten Disneyland was a fantastic experience that we enjoyed even more this second trip with our kids (right is a photo of us in San Diego as newlyweds 11 years ago). Read more about our Disneyland experience here. However, there is so much else to see and do for families in Southern California that we wanted to explore.
Ryan and I have a bad habit of trying to do too much (in travel and in life). Our kids, aged 5 and 9, forced us to slow down. This meant we didn't come close to doing everything on our itinerary, but we did manage to include a few things to satisfy everyone.
We flew from Detroit to San Diego with Spirit airlines. While Spirit has a bare-bones approach to air travel, with no in flight entertainment or snacks, we did leave and arrive on time.
We started the trip staying for three nights at the Courtyard Marriott, 30 minutes north of downtown San Diego in Solana Beach. We enjoyed this spot so much! It had a little low-key beach town vibe even though housing costs here are astronomical. The large fairgrounds and race track in town boasts an awesome music festival in September with top acts like Katy Perry and other concerts throughout the year. While Solana is right on the famous Pacific Coast Highway it didn't feel busy. Our hotel had a nice courtyard pool area with pool view balconies, but the best feature of this hotel was the short walk to the incredible beach. We accessed the beach via a huge staircase which provided iconic Pacific coast views. The waves were 2ft while we were there, plenty big enough for us, and the water temperature was 77 degrees. We all really enjoyed splashing in the waves and watching the surfers. We generally hate shopping with our kids so the local outdoor mall deserves a special mention - it was designed with kids in mind, has multiple kids' play areas, unique stores and a yoga and art studio just for kids.
La Jolla Beach, famous for its seals that have taken over the original children's beach, is so fun. La Jolla itself spreads up to the freeway with many large hotels and a huge, very posh, mall. We enjoyed the walkable area closer to the beach with its great little shops and restaurants. We arrived early because we were still on East coast time, this made parking no problem; later in the day parking became a nightmare. There are actually a few beaches where families can swim away from the seals. We wanted to snorkel, but we thought the water in the calm bay might have too much bacteria from the birds and seals, so we headed over to the larger children's pool and splashed in the waves. We visited the Cave Store, which had a very steep and rickety staircase down into a cave that delighted us with a seal that at first appeared to be a statue. Kayaking tours and scuba diving are available here. I think I enjoyed taking photos of the beautiful scenery and wildlife the most; I even caught dolphins on video. Overall this was a great way to start our trip.
Torrey Pines state park
An early arrival worked in our favor again when we snagged a free parking spot next to the beach right off the highway. This state park was recommended by a friend; the guidebook didn’t do it justice and had me worried the kids wouldn't be able to climb it. Indeed, after a lot of crying and whining, our five year old was pretty proud of herself for making it up the hill. Turns out, we should have driven to the top so she'd have energy to hike around the trails and visit a few of the lookout points. This site struck me as so special. It is clearly extremely environmentally sensitive with incredible plants and animal species. The views are outstanding and the landscape, where the dessert and coast meet, is so unique. We arrived before the lodge/nature centre opened (at 9am) but we still enjoyed some of their outdoor kids' activities. I was only sad we didn’t have more endurance to keep hiking.
Belmont Park in Mission Beach
This outdoor amusement park is not exactly a must-see, but it certainly provides a time-honoured California experience. The “park” has a 100-year old roller coaster, lots of carnival games and rides and some new additions like rock climbing (free) and laser tag (additional cost). We took advantage of the Thursday evening summer discount, which helped make this somewhat affordable. Perhaps more worthy of a visit is the beautiful flat beach right beside the carnival, the real parks by the water and the town of Mission Beach itself. SeaWorld is also right across the highway
San Diego Botanical Gardens in Encinitas
Really these botanical gardens were as good as any we have visited and impressive with the variety of truly unique plants – lots that we’ve never seen before. Where else could you see huge bamboo, down the path from a Balboa tree and across the way from giant cacti? The gardens are organized by hot climates around the world – Australia, Africa, etc. Unfortunately, a visit in August was not the best timing – it was hot! We loved the simple water-stream play area, the awesome tree house with real plants growing on it, the butterfly and edible gardens and the art throughout the gardens. But these Canadians weren’t able to see everything or really appreciate what we did see because of the heat. At an admission price of $50US for a family of four, this would be a better trip at another time of year.
This high end and busy beach town gave us a run for our money. We stayed at the Costa Mesa Marriot east of Newport. The Costa Mesa area reminded us of Brampton outside Toronto, with its many office towers and huge roadways. We really liked our suite at the hotel and its lovely pool area, but wished we could have walked or easily bussed down to the beach. Parking was at such a premium we had to reschedule our whale watching tour because we couldn’t find a parking spot after driving around for two hours. The next day we tried again and found a spot that were happy to pay the $21 daily rate for. The whale watching tour hosted by Davey’s Locker exceeded expectations and became one of the highlights of the whole trip! We saw at least 100 dolphins, including babies that swam alongside the boat. The water was 10 degrees hotter than normal so the whales had moved north, but we thought the dolphins and sea lions made this worth the $144US price tag for the four of us. The beach itself had a big pier, playground and lots of sand. We were also impressed by the variety of restaurants and enjoyed excellent crepes steps from the beach
Waves the size of mountains (or so it seemed), surfers by the thousands, beach stretching as far as you can see in both directions, warm sun, beach bums and volleyball pros – Huntington beach lived up to its reputation! After a kind fisherman let the kids reel in a mackerel off the pier, we spent the rest of our time at the beach playing in the waves, so it is hard to say what downtown Huntington looks like. Ryan is still disappointed that we didn’t make it to the chicken and waffle restaurant, but sometimes plans need to change, like when the waves knock of your (my) glasses.
There were certainly some places we are sad we didn't make it to: Bolsa Chica Eco reserve, Annie's Canyon Trail and the Sunset Cliffs. We were also surprised that we didn’t make it back in to San Diego as we really enjoyed the Old Town, Balboa Park and the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego on our 2007 trip. Then there are a few places we are happy we saved for a future trip - we certainly didn't have the energy to brave the traffic of LA even though we really wanted to visit Griffith Park where the Hollywood sign is. Traffic congestion meant we had to plan when we drove anywhere. Overall, this trip was incredible and we would highly recommend it – not least because Disneyland was also great – check our Disneyland blog post about that part of our trip
In the end, we can't claim that we actually made it to all these places. Our intentions were good but sometimes fatigue or traffic forced us to readjust the agenda. There is a real advantage to having a list of activities pre-planned that includes meals when you are traveling with little ones and it certainly doesn't hurt to have wi-fi and a GPS that allows you to adjust on the fly.
Check out our other posts about Disneyland and California
We’ve heard from a number of people that they want to know more about Legoland so we thought we’d dust off this blog post that was never published to share our thoughts on our trip to Legoland Florida in March 2016.
It is only fair to start by saying that our expectations were high as we have a true Lego addict in our house. And a further disclaimer is that we only saw the new beach resort area before completion. However, we were surprised that overall we thought the park was overpriced.
It took us longer than normal to start the day because of day-light savings (insert rant here) but after a big Denny’s breakfast we were off. The 50-minute drive from Orlando certainly felt longer than expected, and is one reason staying right at the Legoland resort for the night is a great option. On the day we visited there were thunder storms which had a major impact on rides and shows. Unlike Disney World, many of Legoland’s rides and of course their water show had to shut down during lightning. Had we paid full price for our tickets, and then not been able to do many rides because of weather, we'd have been very angry, so only go in good weather if you can.
At the time we visited, our children were 7 and 3 years old. Our oldest was big enough to go on all the thrill rides and roller coasters. The park is really geared to a young crowd, so we were surprised that a number of things frightened them both. Some ride line ups were dark and gave off a spooky vibe. However, teenagers probably would not find enough to do. So we think this park is best for Lego lovers under 10 but perhaps older than 3 years old.
When we visited, it wasn’t busy but some of the ride lines were still long because coasters only had one car. Luckily, most lines had activities or Lego building while you waited to board. The Ninjago area had the best activities, including a great building station.
Some of the other attractions we enjoyed were the mini worlds made of Lego, including Star Wars scenes, famous cities and pirate ships, even though many blocks were faded by the sun. We also liked the many amazing life size Lego statues throughout the park.
If our blog post about why you should cruise with your kids has you convinced, here are some tips to make your trip a little smoother:
Disney’s two water parks and four mini golf courses are great for all ages. They are an under utilized part of most Disney vacation packages but can offer great value and fun.
Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon have excellent play areas for little ones, fun slides for older children and great thrill rides for the daredevils in your group. Both parks have huge lazy rivers that circle each park and provide much needed relaxation on a hot day.
The mini golf courses that you can choose from are all unique and are a fun alternative for a more low-key day. When you stay on property (with a Magic Your Way package) you get passes to one mini golf course for each member of your party.
Park Hopper Plus
In August 2017, we added two water park days and an extra mini golf pass per person to our Disney vacation package. This meant we were getting the “Park Hopper Plus” package. It only cost us $15 per person to add this vacation package to our two-day park hopper tickets. Considering a day at a waterpark can be $60+ and mini golf is $15 per person, the park hopper plus deal provided excellent value. This special might not always be available but it is certainly something to tell your Disney travel agent you are interested in.
Imagine you’ve been shipwrecked on an island, things are falling apart and you will just have to try to enjoy yourself. The theming at this water park is great. I couldn’t help but wonder if the dam at the wave pool was actually going to burst.
The newest ride at the park is Miss Adventure Falls. Our family enjoyed riding it together. It was pretty high but our littlest, who is afraid of heights, still loved it. This ride gives a great view of the park.
The Crush ‘n’ Gusher has three different slides. Our favourite was the Coconut Crusher that features a motorized track making it feel like a water roller coaster.
We weren’t brave enough to try Humunga Kowabunga with its 214 feet downhill drop at a 60-degree angle. But we thought the Gangplank Falls slide was pretty fast and exciting for a family ride.
The little kids’ area at Typhoon Lagoon is much better than the one at Blizzard Beach. Typhoon Lagoon boasts a tube water slide for the really little ones and a fun interactive space for them to play – in fact we couldn’t get our 4 and 8 year olds to leave.
Of course the very best thing about Typhoon Lagoon (or the worst thing, depending on your perspective) is their extreme wave pool. The height and strength of these waves was intense. Our 8-year-old absolutely loved it and wanted to stay in all day. In order to be near the front of the wave pool you had to actually ride the wave or dive into it. Further back you couldn’t help but be knocked over.
Disney’s second water park also has a fun theme letting you imagine you are visiting during winter. Even the songs are winter and Christmas related and there is fake snow everywhere. The slides here are similar to those at Typhoon Lagoon but different enough to be worth a trip.
This water park has a really great chair lift ride to get you to the top of the large water slides. Our family enjoyed the family raft ride, Teamboat Springs, when we had a two-year-old and again now that he is eight. It got us very wet!
We all enjoyed racing each other on the Snow Stormers where you lay on a mat on your stomach and coast down the slides. The Tobaggan racers are a similar ride and represent one of our best family memories – putting our then two-year-old on his own mat and realizing the ride was much faster than expected. I assumed he wasn’t going to make it to the end and then turned around to see a huge smile on his face.
The area that is meant for 6 to 12 year olds (or so) is a ski patrol training camp where kids hang onto ropes, run across moving ice bergs, slide down a zip line that slams them into the water and ride smaller water slides that drop them into a pool. There were some fun options that even our 4-year-old could try and the pool was good for meeting new friends.
The little kids’ area at Blizzard Beach is great for really little kids but our 4-year-old was a bit old for the small slides and wading pool.
Over all, we enjoyed both parks and think the water parks provide good variety to your Disney World vacation. Our most recent visit happened during the extreme heat of August. Surprisingly we weren’t as cooled off as we expected. It was actually hard to find really cold water. Luckily we visited on an overcast day but we still had to keep reapplying sunscreen. We’d recommend guests that are visiting during the hot season consider staying for only a half day or renting a cabana so you don’t overheat. See our packing list below for more tips.
Winter/Summerland Mini Golf
These courses are side by side next to Blizzard Beach and their theming is over the top! Santa built these courses as a vacation destination for off duty elves. And each course has really fun statues throughout, including Santa, sandcastles, ice sculptures and more. The holes are well shaded with large trees, but it can still be really hot, so bring water. There is a small concession stand that sells drinks, candy, hats and sunscreen. When you arrive you give your name and which course you want to golf and they call you when its your turn. This certainly helps space out the golfers but it meant for a 20-minute wait for us. Snacks help pass the time.
Summerland is the trailer park where the elves go for their holidays. We loved the holes with camper vans and the one with the melting snowman. At one hole Santa is sleeping in the sand and another has a swimming pool.
The Winter course is for the elves that prefer to stay cold. You can pretend you are at the North Pole and that might help to keep you cool. The hockey rink hole was really fun and the melting snow castle delivered a hole in one!
Fantasia Gardens/Fairways Mini Golf
We think Fantasia Gardens is the best of the four golf courses because of the many interactive holes. There are musical features in the spirit of the movie Fantasia that are activated by your ball as you putt through. It was hilarious to watch the broomsticks shoot water at each golfer. This is a beginner course and great for little ones.
Fairways is much more like a real golf course and doesn’t have the special effects and décor that the others have. This course is geared to the true golfer in your party. With sand traps, bunkers and water hazards you can really show off your golf skills.
water park packing list:
Below are some things we wish we had brought with us to the water parks:
Water shoes: the cement can get hot despite sprinklers spraying the sidewalks to cool them off. Plus, walking in your bare feet all day is tiring and the wave pools have rough cement floors. Be prepared with water shoes. We’ve purchased kids sizes for $4 in the off season at Giant Tiger.
Compact towel: you can certainly take a towel from the pool at your resort or even your hotel room to the water park but this is formally discouraged. However, we thought a few compact travel towels might be nice too, especially if you want to go to dinner directly from the water park.
Zinc: it is so hard to keep sunscreen on the face when you are swimming all day. Zinc will prevent burns on those sensitive spots (including the scalp).
Water camera: there are so many great opportunities to have fun with a water camera, we were missing ours.
Water shirts: the sun can be so hot in Florida and putting sunscreen all over yourself a few times a day wastes time. A swim shirt saves times and prevents burns on those hard to reach backs.
Magic Band: You can certainly leave your valuables at the resort if you have a magic band. Charging your meals to your room or being on the dining plan makes the day much simpler. Just remember to find out what your partner set the pin code at before you leave all your cash behind.
One of our favorite things about travelling to Disney is knowing there will be something new to see each time. In this post we rate the new things we experienced on our most recent trip to Disney World in the summer of 2017.
1. PandorA avatar world
Animal Kingdom is home to Pandora Avatar World with the famous Flight of Passage virtual reality ride and the Na’vi River Journey ride. Because you can’t get a fast pass for both we can only really comment on Flight of Passage, but we’ve heard that the River Journey moves slowly, has bright colours and doesn’t last long, so it great for little ones. The hype for these rides is a bit overblown considering the incredible wait times, but the Valley of Mo’ara (or area surrounding the rides) is certainly something to see and pushes this to the top of our list for best new attractions. As you walk in you see large plants that look like they might reach out to eat you. You can’t help but stare at the giant rocks that are covered in vegetation. Imagine the Grand Canyon in the rain forest. There are lots of beautiful photo ops and even live music performances in the vein of Avatar.
We arrived 30 minutes before the rides opened and headed to Flight of Passage immediately and it still took us an hour to make it on to the ride. I don’t think anyone should wait longer than an hour for anything so the idea that some people wait 4 hours to ride on Flight of Passage is downright depressing. Having said that, I heard many people around me saying it was worth it. Flight of Passage is indeed an incredible and immersive experience. I did think the interior walk-way before you get on your banshee was rather depressing, and not being a fan of the movie some of the nuances were lost on me, but the ride/simulation itself was jaw dropping. You really do feel like you are riding a banshee through Pandora world. There were smells, water spray and beautiful scenery. The banshee flies to the top of cliffs and then drops you down to skim the water. You fly inside a glowing cave and get attacked by other creatures. The ride did trigger my motion sickness but that was solved by a breakfast of French toast Na’vi style in the Satu’li Canteen (unfortunately the Canteen is now only serving lunch and dinner but the unique options are worth a try). If you aren’t able to get a fast pass for these rides, at least walk over to the valley to see the scenery and check out the shop “Windtrades” that is a great extension of the theme.
2. Happily Ever After Fireworks
We’d heard so many great things about this new firework show that began on May 12, 2017 in Magic Kingdom, and it lived up to our expectations. This new show replaced the Wishes fireworks, one that we have seen a number of times. We are sentimental about Wishes because both our kids saw it as their first Disney fireworks show. But they really loved Happily Ever After.
The show is an amazing collage of characters and movie images projected onto the castle. It was neat that obscure and less popular movies were featured along with popular ones (Hercules, Brave, etc.) The fireworks themselves are almost an after-thought because the images on the castle are so engaging and seem to go on forever. The incredible imagery and length of the show mean we think is the second best new attraction at Disney World.
The downside to this show is that you need to be right in front of the castle to have the best view. It was difficult to move around, not block people behind you, and to push a stroller into place. You also need to be there early to get a good spot, it takes longer to leave after the show and you can’t really enjoy this show from the boat as you leave the park. But overall we highly recommend planning to see this show! Everyone was happy to see that our favorite fairy still made an appearance.
3. Frozen Ride
We were very excited to ride the new Frozen ride. We missed it by a few months on our trip last year - it opened in June of 2016. We are happy to report that the ride lived up to expectations so we ranked this third. This is the old Maelstorm ride transformed. The queue is decorated to resemble a Nordic town. We loved going through Oaken’s Trading Post and seeing him appear in the sauna window. The ride itself had all our favorite characters, including the Snowgies. It even showed Anna and Elsa in their winter and summer dresses. The only disappointment was the darkness of the line up that frightened our 4-year-old, who then decided not to ride at the last minute. The staff were great and gave us a baby swap pass, but we certainly wished we’d been able to get a fast pass for this one so that we didn't stand in the dark line up for as long. This ride is one that we strongly recommend getting a fast pass for, however, because of the way the fast pass system is organized you have to choose between this and Soarin' or Test Track. While we do think Frozen is great, if you are not a huge fan of the movie, you might prefer to use your fast pass elsewhere.
4. Soarin' update
Who doesn’t love Soarin' – the ride in Epcot where you soar above the world looking at film of famous destinations? Nostalgia and shortened wait times put this fourth on our list. We were relieved that the changes made to the show, adding a second screen and new destinations, were seamless. With these updates you don’t have to wait as long in line and the new show has some surprises for Disney World fans. We love this ride because it is something both our kids could ride it without being afraid and because you feel like you are flying over places you might never visit.
5. Trader Sam’s
6. Miss Adventure Falls
This water ride in Typhoon Lagoon water park wasn’t as exciting as we’d expected. At least that turned out to be good for our 4-year-old. The steep ride up certainly pushed her comfort zone any more thrills might have been too much for her. We did have a great view of the park at the top of the incline. The family raft that we rode on tossed us around a good deal. But overall we didn't feel that this slide was very different from Disney’s other family water rides.
New To Us:
We were certainly excited to eat at a table service restaurant inside Magic Kingdom. However, this meal didn’t quite live up to expectations. Our server was great, the décor of the restaurant was really well done and the atmosphere was fun, but the taste of the meal itself was lack luster.
Every year Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party on select nights starting in late August. You must purchase special tickets and you can’t enter the park until 4pm. If you don’t have a Halloween ticket on party nights, you will be escorted out by 7pm. We went on the first Halloween party of the season this past August. While it was almost too hot to really enjoy the event, we did walk right on to a ton of rides. We also secured a hard to get reservation at the Skipper Canteen restaurant inside the park. There were stations throughout the park where you could line up for candy and if we had wanted to, we would have come away with enough candy to fill a suitcase. What we enjoyed more was the special Hocus Pocus show in front of the castle with Disney’s Villains (if you haven’t seen the movie Hocus Pocus it is worth watching). The Halloween fireworks feature spooky music and 180 degrees of fireworks (covering your sight-line). The parade was the main attraction and features an opening by the Headless Horseman galloping down main street. Our kids came away singing the theme song. Many of the guests wore great DIY costumes. It was super fun to see characters that don’t normally visit the park but we were surprised that the line ups to meet some of these characters were so long. We ate many of the special Halloween treats throughout the park that we purchased with our snack credits, like pumpkin cheesecake treats, cupcakes, etc.
Overall we are glad we were able to experience the park at this special time of year but attending a little closer to Halloween would make it even more special. The cost of the tickets does vary depending on the popularity of the night.
We are looking forward to visiting the new Toy Story Land, which opened in the Summer of 2018 at Hollywood Studios (watch for that blog post in January 2019). Even more exciting is Star Wars Land that will be opening at Hollywood Studios and Disneyland California in 2019. Plan to book early if you want to visit these new attractions. We expect rooms to sell out fast once the opening date for Star Wars Land is announced. You can follow our Facebook page for the latest updates.