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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Theme Park Rangers get new details on Hall of Presidents

Dwayne Bevil with the Orlando Sentinel's Theme Park Rangers blog managed to get a sneak peek of the new Hall of Presidents set to officially open July 4. According to Bevil, the preshow area has been re-done and will feature dresses from three First Ladies. Also, the opening film, now narrated by Morgan Freeman, has been shortened and the animatronic segment has been extended. "That's what they [park guests] come to see," Eric Jacobson, Sr. VP for Walt Disney Imagineering told Bevil.

Jacobson also noted that the new animatronic of President Obama is the most advanced figured Imagineering ever has done.

This Sunday (June 28), annual passholders and DVC members will get a sneak peek of the full show. I'm planning to be at this sneak preview. Hopefully, I'll be able to get some photos, but I'm not sure if any photography will be allowed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Making online ADR's and more

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday! Last week, Disney launched the new online Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) system. Now guests can make dining reservations from their own computer and find alternative options if the booking they are looking for isn't available.

The system is fairly flexible, though it could stand a few improvements, which I'll get to.

I managed to catch a late ADR for Chef Mickey's at 7:20 a.m. with less than a week until my own WDW trip. It took a bit of work to find open options, but it is possible.

Here's how the system works: First go to http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/restaurants/ and search for the restaurant you would like to make an ADR. It's a bit cumbersome to search, but once you get the hang of the system, it's not too difficult to find restaurants. Once you find the restaurant you would like to make an ADR, simply click on the "Book A Reservation" link (see image above). You will go to a page to enter the day and time (in 15 minute increments) you wish to search.

One of the best benefits of the system is that you can search for a single time (say, 8 a.m.) over a range of dates. To do so, just check the "date range" box and select the starting and ending dates to search. The downside is that you can't do the same thing with times. Instead of searching a particular time over a series of dates, it would be helpful to search a range of times over a single day -- better yet, a range of dates and times. I found I had to keep running searches for different 15-minute increments (7:30 a.m., then 8 a.m., then 8:15 a.m., and so on). This became a bit annoying, but it's better than waiting on the phone at 407-WDW-DINE.

Another benefit is that the system will make alternate suggestions if the booking you're looking for isn't available. This is how I managed to find an opening for breakfast at Chef Mickey's less than a week in advance. It took a little time and patience to find the opening, but it can be done.

Some Do's and Don'ts:
Do keep working with the system to see if there are some options that work for you. It does require some patience.
Do try to be flexible when making reservations. It may be that you can get an ADR for a different time and/or day.
Do make sure you print or otherwise keep your reservation confirmation number.
Do call 407-WDW-DINE if you have to cancel or modify a reservation. The system isn't set up for modifications (at least, not yet).
Do have your credit card ready when making online ADRs as some require a credit card.
Do be ready to book once you find and select an open slot. You only have that temporary holding for two minutes until you complete the ADR.
Don't make reservations for two restaurants at the same time (protective booking). This just takes up room for other bookings. Be polite and pick one.
Don't cancel reservations at the last minute, if at all possible. As soon as you know you have to cancel a reservation, do so, in order for someone else to get that time slot. You never know when you might just benefit from someone else's cancellation.

While you're searching for restaurants, you might want to take a minute and check out menus from the restaurants. That's right! Disney has FINALLY put restaurant menus online (sadly, not for all restaurants, but it's a start). So far, menus are available only for sit-down non-buffet restaurants. I didn't find any quick-service or buffet-related menus. For menus from these restaurants, be sure to check out AllEars.net or wdwinfo.com.

Good luck and I hope you have success in getting some of those hard-to-get ADRs!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Luxo Jr. debuts at DHS

Our friends at WDW News Today have some great pictures of Luxo, Jr. performing at Pixar Place in Disney's Hollywood Studios. According to the post, Luxo, Jr. actually comes out of an enclosed room and puts on a three-minute show up on what could be loosely considered a balcony or elevated patio. After some interaction with area music, he returns to his room.

I look forward to catching Luxo, Jr. during my upcoming WDW trip later this week. Maybe I can bring some photos and a review in my trip report. Stay tuned!

Report: GM's future at Test Track still unclear

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that GM may be in talks with Disney to extend their sponsorship of the popular Test Track attraction at Epcot through the end of the year. According to the report, GM's sponsorship of Test Track is believed to have officially ended a few months ago.


Complicating matters just a bit is the fact that GM is in economic shambles and is part of a federal bailout program. There is concern that GM's continued sponsorship of a theme park attraction (and using tax dollars to do so) could be heavily criticized.

So far, Disney has yet to say anything about the future of Test Track. Yet, GM's name is still on the attraction, at least for now.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Buzz Lightyear meet and greet area to be updated and maybe moved

According to a Notice of Commencement filed with the Orange County government, the meet-and-greet area for Buzz Lightyear soon will be updated. The notice described the updates as "area development modifications including hardscape, landscape and electrical." No additional description was included in the notice.

Based on a sketch included, it appears the meet-and-greet location might be moving from the queue area to the right of the Carousel of Progress entrance (see above photo) to the old entrance to the now demolished Galaxy Palace Theater, though the notice did not specifically indicate the meet-and-greet area was moving.
If the Buzz Lightyear meet-and-greet area is moving, it would be a welcome improvement to that part of Tomorrowland. The current meet-and-greet area has just a simple battery-shaped stand where Buzz stamps autograph books. There is no themed background or other sort of theming around. Of course, this same area also is the meet-and-greet location for Stitch, so I can understand why Disney didn't want to add much theming to the area.
So far, no schedule or timetable has been announced for this project.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kobe Bryant and Lakers celebrate NBA win on Main Street... in Disneyland

Celebrating the best in basketball, the Disneyland Resort saluted the 2009 World Champion Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday with a victory parade down Main Street U.S.A, in Disneyland park.

Kobe Bryant, MVP of the recent NBA Finals, smiled and waved to fans as he rode on a float to represent the Lakers in the special, celebration parade.

Some favorite Disney characters joined the magical parade as Disneyland guests cheered for the Lakers and their 15th NBA championship. The Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic to win the title in a “Fairytale Series” that matched up teams located near Disneyland Resort, in Anaheim , and Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando .

“It’s like a dream come true to be here and celebrate at Disneyland, coming down Main Street U.S.A. with all the fans cheering,” Bryant said after the parade. “It’s a tremendous honor to represent my team.”

The presidents of the two Resorts, Ed Grier at Disneyland and Meg Crofton at Walt Disney World, made a friendly wager on the NBA Finals. On Thursday, Meg Crofton fulfilled her pledge by donning a pair of Lakers’ purple and gold Mickey Mouse ears and walking down Main Street, U.S.A. , in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Each of the Resorts also turned the lights of their respective castles to the team colors of the Lakers and the Magic, in celebration of the historic pairing. Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland park was glowing with Lakers purple and gold during the NBA Finals and will stay that way through Thursday night.

“I heard there was a little competition with Disneyland and Disney World and we won,” Kobe Bryant said, “so our colors are staying up a little bit longer.”

Two of the many Lakers fans at Disneyland on Thursday were selected to ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds with Bryant after the parade. David Guerrero and his son Jonathan, 4, of Pomona , are Annual Passport holders and they came to Disneyland in their team jerseys to celebrate the Lakers’ World Championship.

“They just picked us out of the crowd and said, ‘Do you want to ride the Matterhorn with Kobe ?’ I’m shaking, this is so exciting,” David Guerrero said as Jonathan jumped up and down. “In Southern California , being a Disney fan and a Lakers fan, it just goes together and that’s why we wanted to be here today.”

The Disneyland Resort victory parade provided yet another reason for dancing in the streets as Disney Parks asks guests, "What Will You Celebrate?" in 2009. Guests are celebrating birthdays, graduations, engagements and more at Disney Parks and they are utilizing an unprecedented offer good throughout 2009 – the opportunity to visit a theme park at Disneyland or Walt Disney World Resort free on their birthdays.*

Disney offers child-friendly notebook computer


Disney Consumer Products (DCP) and ASUS, maker of the pioneering Eee PC™ netbook, have collaborated to develop the Disney Netpal, a netbook computer for children that’s fun, web-safe and easy to use. Developed with parents and kids in mind, the Disney Netpal by ASUS is durable, with a reinforced mechanical design, and offers a truly magical and engaging computing experience with a unique Disney user interface. Features include more than 40 robust parental control options, an 8.9-inch LCD display, Wi-Fi capabilities, Windows XP Home, and kid-friendly software featuring Disney characters and icons in stunning visual environments. Browsers and email have extra filters to assure that parents are able to control online safety and content for their children, and can easily select with whom their children can correspond via email. The Disney Magic Desktop “gadget tray” offers a creatively designed 2D menu displaying Disney-themed email, Disney-themed browser and a robust suite of Disney-themed parental control options.

With a user interface that is incredibly easy to use for both kids and parents, from package to set-up in four simple steps, the Disney Netpal will be available in late July in two models with prices based on features (see graphic below for Netpal feature comparisons). The Disney Netpal by ASUS is designed for kids ages 6-12. Retailers include Toys”R”Us and Amazon.com, and the suggested retail price is $349.99. Carrying cases will also be available separately.
“Today’s kids are a digital generation,” said Chris Heatherly, head of Disney’s Toymorrow team and VP of Toys and Consumer Electronics for Disney Consumer Products. “Parents are comfortable with their kids using the Internet, but they want to be assured that their kids are having a safe online experience. The Disney Netpal, designed together by ASUS and our Disney Toymorrow team, is a no-compromise device. There are plenty of terrific features and fun applications designed just for kids, but parents have ultimate control over the experience, with the power to set limits on how their kids are using the PC.”

Disney’s Toymorrow team is an internal group of Disney inventors, designers, engineers, researchers and product development experts. The Toymorrow team meets several times a year to brainstorm and develop new products and product concepts that focus on the convergence of toys and digital media in exciting, fun and creative ways.

ASUS is an established leader in the netbook category and is widely credited with launching the netbook craze, with nearly 7 million Eee PC™ netbooks sold to date.

“We’re proud to be involved in the creation of this very unique netbook for kids,” said Eric Chen, Vice President of ASUS' Systems Business Group. “The Disney Netpal is creatively designed in a way that truly keeps the Disney magic alive, and its state-of-the-art features make it an excellent choice for kids and families.”

Disney Netpal By ASUS Is Easy: Kid-friendly Disney Magic Desktop, Applications and Widgets The Disney Magic Desktop installed on the Disney Netpal by ASUS is an easy-to-use interface specifically tailored to kids, with an intuitive visual interface and instructions that make it easy for kids to operate the computer. Right out of the box, the Disney browser launches numerous kid-friendly Disney websites for kids to explore. The Disney Magic Desktop features a 2D “gadget tray” that displays bold visual icons for easy access to applications. Rounding off the Disney Netpal by ASUS’ fun, kid-friendly features are a collection of 15 easily-accessible widgets, including a stopwatch, digital memo pad, which inserts “reminder notes” on the Disney Magic Desktop, and a calculator.

Disney Netpal By ASUS Is Fun, Customizable And Colorful: The Disney Netpal by ASUS features two choices of stylishly designed lids; Disney Princess Pink boasts beautiful pink florals and Disney Magic Blue cleverly displays rows of miniature Mickey Mouse icons. Kids can dress their desktops with more than 10 customizable themes inspired by popular characters from Disney’s and Disney∙Pixar’s most popular franchises, including Cars, Club Penguin, Disney Classic Characters, Disney Fairies, Disney Princess, Vintage Mickey Mouse, Toy Story and WALL-E. Themes that appeal to slightly older kids, such as Hannah Montana and JONAS The Series styles, are also available. Favorite character icons can be attached to email addresses.
Additional Disney-developed applications include Disney Mix for music and media management, and Disney Pix for photo customization and organization. The Disney Pix application features fun Disney Bobblehead software, which lets kids insert images of their faces on top of bodies, download them into videos and postcards and play wacky moving dance scenes, for hours of fun. The Radio Disney widget streams real-time music and lets kids simultaneously submit song requests, if they wish. The Disney Netpal by ASUS also includes a driving game, number game, memory game and photo scrapbook.

Disney Netpal By ASUS is Optimized for Web-Safety and Sports a Sleek Durable Design: The Disney Netpal by ASUS is designed to be kid-friendly, both in terms of durability and content permissions. It’s rugged and durable, with a spill-proof keyboard that protects against inadvertent liquid spills. The Disney Netpal by ASUS’ ShockShield data protection guards against data loss when the computer is subject to impact.

The Disney Netpal also allows parents to create a web-safe computing environment with 40 parental control options. Parents can pre-select email correspondence options, browsers, the websites their kids visit and the programs they use. These permissions can also be scheduled on a calendar, providing parents with a convenient, automated means of granting access on the days and times that they choose. Parents can also pull up data to determine where children spent time, and for how long. Additional websites can be added for access, but only if the parent approves and submits the request within the password-protected system.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hey Stitch! The Party's Over

In another case of Disney "here today, gone tomorrow," Disney has apparently announced that Stitch's Supersonic Adventure, which opened in early May will close June 27. This is according to a report from the Orlando Business Journal. While Disney won't officially say why the show is closing after only six weeks, the general speculation among the Disney online community is that guests had problems dealing with the Florida heat while waiting for the show to start. The stage is located near the old Skyway building and offers practically no shade whatsoever.

Another possible part that has led to the show's downfall were the overwhelmingly bad reviews the show received from the online community. The vast majority of fan sites, podcasts, blogs, etc. were quite critical of the show.

I personally had never seen the show and was waiting until I saw it for myself on my next WDW trip in a few days to give my thoughts. I will try to catch the final shows, but in case I miss it, I have to base my thoughts on online photos and videos of the shows.

In short, this show looks about as cheesy as it gets. I can only hope this was some sort of placeholder act until the real show is ready to go. I have a bad feeling that I'm wrong.

I hope Disney can come up with something better for the space. I liked the idea of the interaction between Stitch and the guests - maybe Disney should stick with that concept.

I guess we'll have to wait and see what else is on the Tomorrowland horizon.

Tip Tuesday: Tipping at Walt Disney World

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday.

This week, I decided to deal with tips. No, not the bits of advice I've been giving for about six months now, rather an extra bit of money guests give to castmembers to express their appreciation for the castmember's good service. I have my own thoughts about tipping, and how much to tip, but I wanted to get a second opinion, so I sought the advice of Beci Mahnken, president of MEI and Mousefan Travel, a leading Disney travel agency.

There are all kinds of tips that are customary when visiting Walt Disney World, though tipping is NOT required in any way.

Mousekeeping
Mousekeeping (known as housekeeping in normal hotels), comes into your resort room each day to freshen the bedding, replace towels and other items as needed. An especially good Mousekeeping member might just leave a little bit of artwork behind in the form of a towel decoration or scene. I've seen Mickey icon-shaped pieces, another where stuffed animals my children have purchased were "watching" TV, or riding in a towel canoe.

But how much to tip each night? Well that can vary. I've generally given a $4-$5 tip per night with a larger tip on the final night of our stay (though I didn't do this the last trip because I realized that the same mousekeeping person might not be working the entire length of my stay).

Beci suggests a $2-$5 per night tip, more if mousekeeping does some of the extra things I mentioned above. I also suggest a little bit of a higher tip for deluxe resorts as opposed to moderates and values.

Mousekeeping tips are best placed in an envelope marked "Mousekeeping" and placed in a highly visible area, such as on the bed or nightstand. For the last couple of WDW trips, I've started using the kids' stuffed animals to "present" the mousekeeping envelope. I think of this as our way to bring a little magic to mousekeeping.

Another useful tip (suggestion, actually) is to prepare your mousekeeping tip envelopes ahead of time. I go so far as printing each envelope with "Mousekeeping" and the date that envelope is to be placed. I don't seal them, though, I case I feel the tip needs to be changed. This, sadly, has happened when I felt mousekeeping at the Grand Floridian (of all places!) didn't live up to the standard I expected (but that's another story).

Bell Services
At many Disney resorts (especially deluxe resorts), bell services castmembers take your bags to your room. Depending on the number of bags, a tip of $1-$2 per bag is considered appropriate. If you have a very heavy bag, you might consider a $3 tip for that bag.

Dining
Ahh, there's nothing like a great meal while at Walt Disney World, especially if it's at Le Cellier, California Grill, or any one of dozens of other table-service restaurants on property. But how much should you tip your server? And what do you do if you're using the Disney Dining Plan?

Not to worry.

First, how much to tip: these days, I generally leave a 15% tip (based on the final cost of the bill). If, however, the server has gone above and beyond, as often happens at Walt Disney World, I'm not opposed to leaving as much as a 20% tip, which is on the generous side. Beci says the standard tipping range is 15-20%. One thing to check, before leaving a tip, though is to make sure a tip hasn't been included on your bill. This is especially true for larger parties and guests using Tables in Wonderland.

What about the Disney Dining Plan? A few years ago, the Disney Dining Plan included tips, so all guests had to do was enjoy their meal, present their Key to the World card and everything was taken care of. Sadly, this changed in 2008. Now tips are no longer included in any of the dining plans. Does this mean you need to have a bunch of cash on-hand for tips? Not at all. Disney has developed an option for guests to put tips only on their Key to the World card or standard credit card. The standard suggested tip usually is 18%. If you want to increase or decrease this amount, you'll have to write that amount in yourself.

Magical Express
Given that this is included in the cost of an on-property resort stay, I generally give a fairly small tip for Magical Express drivers ($1-$2 at most). If you have a very large group, you might consider a little bit of a larger tip.

There are several other services offered at Walt Disney World where tipping might be something to consider. The most important thing to remember about tipping is that a tip is an expression of YOUR satisfaction of the service. If you felt the service was not up to standard, then you should consider a lower tip or no tip at all. If you do feel the service was so bad you were not inclined to leave a tip, I would suggest you speak to a manager about the problem so other guests don't experience the same poor service.

For some other thoughts about tipping at Walt Disney World, see the tipping page on Passporter.com.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Restaurant Review: Cinderella's Royal Table

It's been far too long since I've done a restaurant review here on the DisneyDaddy blog, so I thought I'd go back a few WDW trips ago for a review of one of the hardest ADR's to get in all of Walt Disney World - Cinderella's Royal Table.

Let's start with some basic information: Cinderella's Royal Table is located in (obviously) Cinderella's Castle in the Magic Kingdom. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are offered. The restaurant participates in the Disney Dining Plan (DDP), requiring two table service credits per person. Each meal is a single price with different offerings, similar to a buffet, though it is not all-you-can-eat.

I have been to Cinderella's Royal Table for both breakfast and dinner (the lunch menu is different from the dinner menu), so I will review both breakfast and lunch.

Before guests sit down for their meal, they first meet our host, Cinderella herself. The princess takes time to meet with each person, allowing time for photographs and signing autographs. The photographs are taken by a PhotoPass photographer. Near the end of your meal, an 8x10 and a couple of 5x7's will be delivered to your table (the photo is included in the price of the meal).

While you're waiting in line to meet Cinderella, be sure to look high up on the wall to the left to see a pair of hidden mice. No, these aren't hidden Mickeys, it's Jac and Gus who are keeping an eye on our princess.

Speaking of hidden Mickeys, take a look at the large family crest over the fireplace. At the top left, you'll see what looks like a three-circle Mickey.

After visiting with Cinderella, guests ascend a spiraling staircase to the second level where the dining room is. The room is situated somewhat like an arena with a lower circular area of tables and a upper ring around the circle with additional tables. For both of my visits, I was seated in the upper ring. Little knights are given a plastic sword while little princesses are given a plastic magic wand. To be honest, these are not durable at all. In both instances, they swords barely made it the day. This is one area where Disney could do better. I know it's a "freebie," but these are very cheap and easily break. Parents, be wary and just know that your children have to go easy with the swords. The wands are a little more durable, though they aren't all that magical - just molded plastic.

Once guests are seated, it's time to eat and enjoy meeting different characters. The characters change from breakfast to lunch and dinner. So, let's start with breakfast.

Breakfast runs about $32 for adults, $22 for kids and is served family style. Anyone who has been to O'hana for breakfast will find this breakfast similar. Servers bring a large platter with bacon, eggs, large link sausage, fruits, potato hash and different breads. Guests have their choice of different juices, milk or soft drinks. As breakfasts go, this isn't anything to shout about. The food is good, but standard. You could find better breakfast food with greater variety at other restaurants at WDW. To be honest, I think O'hana does a better job with family-style than Cinderella's Royal Table.

While the food was fair, I found the service to be something I didn't expect - somewhat poor. We didn't have a rude server or anything like that, the server was very pleasant, but didn't really give that much attention. We had to get her attention when we needed drinks refilled or additional food. What really got me was the sense that we were being rushed out. It seemed like every time the server did happen come by, she was offering to take plates when it was clear we were still eating. I could understand if this was a buffet (health codes require a new plate every visit to the buffet), but this is family-style, so why all the hustle to clear away plates?

Of course, Cinderella's Royal Table is a character dining experience so I would be remiss if I didn't mention who guests could meet. At breakfast, different princesses walk around the seating area. We met Belle, Snow White, Jasmine and Aurora. The princesses were wonderful, as always. Meeting the different characters was the most charming part of our breakfast experience. Unlike our server, the characters took their time with our children and made each feel at home. It probably meant about 30 additional seconds per person, but it made all the difference.

Dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table is a different affair. If you are coming for dinner, be ready for some fine dining. There are no burgers and hot dogs here (unless you're ordering from the children's menu). Dinner runs about $41 for adults and $26 for kids, making this the most expensive character dining experience on property. At dinner, guests meet Cinderella and get photos just as mentioned earlier, however there are different characters wandering the dining room.

At lunch and dinner, the Fairy Godmother is our host as she goes from table to table doing meet and greets. In addition to the Fairy Godmother, two of the female mice from the Cinderella movie do meet and greets as well.

As for what's served, this is not your average theme park food. Dinner consists of a salad/appetizer, entree and desert. This is for all guests, no matter if you're on the DDP or not.

The appetizers offered include a couple of salads, a vegetable spring roll or a corn and crab soup. I had one of the house salads, which was pretty good and well-portioned.

The entrees are incredible: roasted prime rib, lemon lavender chicken, pork chops with bacon, roast lamb chops, pan-seared salmon or cheese tortellini with vegetables. I had the lamb chops while my wife had the prime rib. The prime rib, in my opinion, was the better choice of the two. My lamb could have been cooked a bit longer. Her prime rib was excellent and, again, well-portioned. There was a ton of food!

As for the kids menu: this is where I had a big concern. The kids menu consists of pretty much the same things you would find at a counter-service restaurant - hot dogs, chicken nuggets, etc. While I don't have a problem with the menu options, I do have an issue with the price. I feel Disney could knock off a few dollars on the kids menu - it's way overpriced.

The desserts were pretty good as well. We tried the chocolate cream cheese buckle and the raspberry sorbet. The sorbet was very flavorful, though the kids said the chocolate was too rich - and they were right, it's very decadent.

The service at dinner was similar to breakfast, though not quite as bad. I still felt like I was being rushed so the next seating could come in.

In all, Cinderella's Royal Table is a dining experience I would recommended guests at least try once. It's not a restaurant I would recommend for every WDW visit - it's far too expensive for that. Guests looking for a good princess character dining experience should consider Akershus in Epcot, especially if Cinderella Royal Table's price is unattractive.

If you are considering dining at Cinderella's Royal Table, you had better be ready to book your ADR the morning your 90-day window opens, because these ADR's go fast!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

PhotoPass CD price to increase this month

According to a blog post on the OrlandoSentinel Web site, the price for the PhotoPass CD will go up to $150 later this month (an increase of $20). As many of you know, I'm a big fan of the PhotoPass CD. At $150, it's still a great deal. Better yet, if you preorder the CD, you can save about 20%.

The change takes place June 16, so get in your preorders soon!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Hit the most important attractions first

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

Being a father of three kids, I tend to view our visits to Walt Disney World through their eyes. I am, after all, a kid at heart and, like Peter Pan, I refuse to completely grow up.

For today's Tip Tuesday, I asked my daughter (my youngest child) what tips she thought might be good to share.

Her response? "Ride the best rides first."

Isn't it amazing how kids can get to the heart of the matter in only moments?

She's right. For those of you who are regulars to this blog, you've heard me constantly say that planning is key. Today's tip falls right in line, especially if you're touring with younger children.

As you plan you day(s) at the parks, try to determine what attractions are most important - think of them as the "Top 3." What are the three most important attractions for each person? Depending on the number of people in a family, this can turn into a long list.

The reason this list is so helpful is that it helps you determine which attractions are most important. When you start planning your day at a particular park, start with those attractions you have identified as most important. This can most especially be the case when visiting WDW with young children. It might be that Dumbo is at the top of the list instead of Space Mountain.

Of course, as I've mentioned before, it's best to get to the parks as early as possible. Once the park opens, head straight to the top attraction on your list and then go on with your list.

As you go through your own personal plan, be prepared, especially later in the day, to be flexible and modify the plan to deal with long wait times.

This is yet another example of how a little bit of planning can make your time in the parks all that much more enjoyable.

Have fun!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hall of Presidents passholder previews announced

Disney today announced on the WDW annual passholder Web site that there will be a special passholder preview day for the newly refurbished Hall of Presidents on Sunday, June 28 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Only annual passholders will be allowed to take advantage of this special sneek preview before the official re-opening July 4th weekend. This preview includes the Animatronics figure of our 44th President, Barack Obama. And his predecessors will look more amazing than ever in a re-imagining of this inspiring, unforgettable attraction.

AP holders, if you're going to be at the Magic Kingdom on the 28th, be sure to stop by to see all the changes to the Hall of Presidents!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tickets now on sale for D23 Expo


D23 fans, it's time to get ready for September's first-ever D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA, Sept. 10-13.


Disney also is offering travel packages that include lodging at a Disneyland hotel.

In addition, Disney announced some of the pavilions that will be at the D23 Expo. They include:

Walt Disney Studios
Experience Disney movie magic with exclusive previews, presentations and sneak peeks at what's to come from The Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
See Disney Theme Parks and vacation experiences as you never have before with an insider's look at the imagination and innovation that have been making Disney memories for more than 50 years.

Disney Consumer Products
From collectibles and fine art to books and toys, Disney Consumer Products invites you to make the romance, fantasy and adventure of your favorite Disney stories part of your world!

Fan Forums
From toys and figurines to pins and any other Disney memorabilia, the Fan Forums at the D23 Expo is destination No. 1 for any Disney enthusiast!

Disney Dream Store
Experience a once-in-a-lifetime shopping adventure at the Disney Dream Store, overflowing with unique products from all over the world of Disney.

Radio Disney
Get ready to rock all Expo long with the upbeat tunes of Radio Disney!

Disney Corporate Social Responsibility
Find out more about how The Walt Disney Company works to support the well-being of children and families, the communities we're a part of and the planet, and how we're inspiring others to do the same.

Disney Corporate New Technology
Be the first to see the future of Disney entertainment. The "Technology Behind the Magic" pavilion will take you where the pixie dust is digital!

These pavilions look incredible. I'll bet the new technology pavilion will be amazing!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Water, Water, Water

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

It's June and that means the HEAT IS ON! For the next few months, Florida is going to be HOT, HOT, HOT!!!

Now the fact that it's hot shouldn't stop you from heading to the park. What it does mean is you need to take a few extra precautions. Aside from sunscreen (as was discussed in a previous Tip Tuesday), you should make sure you have lots and lots and lots of water. Notice I said water, not fluids. Soft drinks are OK to go with a meal, but when it's hot and you're sweating a lot, you need water (in my opinion, alcohol and heat are a very bad combination, but I will stay off the soap box).

So, if you need a lot of water, that means you have to carry it or get it while in the parks.

First off, where can you get water in the parks? There are several kiosks, carts, etc. all over the place where you can purchase water bottles. The good news is that these water bottles are pretty cold. The bad news is that they are pretty expensive - about $2.50 a piece.

There is a second option for getting water in the parks - and it's free - that's right free! If you go to a stand that offers fountain drinks, you can ask for a cup of ice water. The cast member will give you a small cup of ice water. The one down side is that the cups are small, so you would have to go get water over and over.

A better (and cheaper) option is to bring water with you. This could be large refillable water bottles, it could be standard bottled water you've purchased at the store or wherever. The hitch is carrying all this water.

One tip I've found to be very helpful when carrying a lot of water around is to wear cargo shorts. I know, this might not be so helpful for women who have fashion considerations, but you guys out there can be pack mules. Every pair of shorts I wear to the parks in the summer have large cargo pockets. I can fit two standard water bottles in each pocket. That's a lot of water to haul around, but you'll be surprised how quickly you (and your family) will go through water.

If you have access to a refrigerator or freezer, try to get your water as cold as possible before you head out and be sure to refill those bottles when you find a water fountain (or get a cup of ice water as mentioned above and pour it in your bottle).

No matter how you manage to do so, it's important to stay hydrated while running around Walt Disney World in 90+ degree temperatures. So stay safe out there and drink plenty of water!