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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tip Tuesday: Dealing with the rain (part 3)

Welcome back to another Tip Tuesday!

In my continuing series about rain at Walt Disney World, let's head over to Disney's Hollywood Studios. 

So here's the scene:  it's raining buckets, but you still want to be in the park (a good idea).  What do you do to stay dry?  Aside from ponchos and umbrellas, how can you get around the park without getting soaked?

Previously, I examined this scenario at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  Now let's look at Hollywood Studios.

Much like the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios has it's own "Main Street" called Hollywood Boulevard.  Also much like the Magic Kingdom, the Studios has a series of shops that are connected to allow guests to walk from the Crossroads of the World (just past the entrance) all the way to Echo Lake or Sunset Boulevard, depending on which side of the street you're on.  While not as long as the Emporium at the Magic Kingdom, these shops nevertheless do provide shelter and are a good option to keep out of the rain.

From here, let's head down Sunset Boulevard toward the Tower of Terror.  Here the new isn't as good.  There are a handful of shops, some of which are connected that run about halfway down the street.  After that, the amount of shelter drops dramatically.  Fortunately, Disney provides cover for many of the outdoor queue areas for the Tower of Terror and Rock-n-Roller Coaster.  You will probably need to make a few dashes to get to a covered spot.

Back at the intersection of Hollywood and Sunset, there are even greater challenges if guests are looking to stay dry yet reach the back areas of the park like Toy Story Mania, Star Tours, Muppets or the Backlot Tour.  There are a few areas of shelter along the way, especially as you approach Star Tours, but that's about it.  Pixar Place and the Streets of New York offer little in the way of cover from rain.

So if you do see a shower coming, where can you go to get out of the rain for a while?

The best location is to head to the Animation Courtyard.  The Magic of Disney Animation and the associated postshow area offers lots of things to do and it's all indoors.  After the animation show, there are several character meet and greet opportunities inside the Animation building including meeting Sorcerer Mickey, characters from some of the latest Disney film releases, the Incredibles and more.  You never know who might show up.

Also you can try your hand at drawing a Disney character at the Animation Academy (see this previous post for more about this often overlooked attraction).

Another good location to stay out of the rain and learn a bit about Walt Disney himself is One Man's Dream located near the entrance to Pixar Place (see this previous post).  Just recently Imagineers updated the exhibits including adding models for the soon-to-be completed Fantasyland expansion at the Magic Kingdom.

If you're on the far side the park, you can take your time at Muppets 3D.  Be sure to watch the entire preshow video -- it's hilarious!  The same goes for Star Tours - take your time in the queue and don't worry if guests pass you by.  The queue is just as good at the attraction itself and much funnier.  Try to see how many gags and references to Star Wars and other Disney history you can find.

If you time it right, you might be able to catch a show of the American Idol Experience.  It's a long running show that might help you wait out a shower while enjoying some good amateur performers.

With a bit of planning, you can make a rainy day at Disney's Hollywood Studios an enjoyable one.  Hopefully your next trip will be sunny and pleasant, but if Mother Nature has other ideas, you'll at least be prepared.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Photo Friday: These aren't the guests you're looking for

these arent the guests youre looking for

Time again for another Photo Friday!

In honor of Star Wars Weekends continuing, I wanted to post this photo from 2007 when my two boys and I were accosted by a Clone Trooper while waiting in line to meet Mace Windu and Anakin Skywalker (wow, have my boys grown!).  This is one of the things that makes Star Wars Weekends so much fun -- all the interaction with characters who just happen to walk by.

And, yes, this photo begs for a caption -- so have at it!

May the Force be with you!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tip Tuesday: Dealing with the rain (part 2)

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

This week, I wanted to continue the discussion about dealing with rain at the parks.  Up next:  Epcot.

Much like the Magic Kingdom, Epcot has several ways to stay out of the rain, especially in Future World.  However, unlike the Magic Kingdom, these areas of shelter are not well connected, which means you might be making some mad dashes from cover to cover. 

So here are a few good places to help avoid getting totally soaked while you make your way through Epcot:

Future WorldIn Future World, you can use Innoventions West and East to travel from near Spaceship Earth to the covered passages between the Fountain of Nations and the East and West pavilions.  The bad news is there's little cover from here to the East and West pavilions.  Also keep in mind that you can use the Project Tomorrow post show area (at the end of Spaceship Earth) to get to both walkways beside Spaceship Earth without having to travel around either end.

MouseGear also offers allows you to get from the Fountain of Nations to somewhat near the entrance to Test Track, also don't forget about the wide hallway along the backside of the Epcot Character Spot.  Most guests don't use this hallway, so it's a good place to sit (on the floor unfortunately) and wait out the rain.

Keep in mind that many of the pavilions in Future World are pretty large and have a lot to do, so you can easily wait out a shower at any one of the pavilions.  Some have long-running attractions like Ellen's Universe of Energy (45 minutes!!), others have great exhibits, like the Seas pavilion, that will keep kids and adults engaged.

World ShowcaseWhen it comes to World Showcase, the only real rain strategy is to dash and cover from pavilion to pavilion.  Even then, most pavilions only have small shops and/or attractions that offer cover.  Because of this limitation, many guests often avoid World Showcase during rainy periods.  If you've got good rain gear (or don't mind getting pretty wet), a rainy day might be a good time to visit World Showcase during the lesser crowds.

Keep in mind that many of the pavilions have some sort of attraction.  Most, with the exceptions of Mexico and Norway, are films that run around 10-15 minutes, so these can be good options to wait out a brief shower.  Also don't forget about the Outpost between China and Germany.  There are a few covered tents that many guests walk right past.

Hopefully your next visit to Epcot will be sunny and dry, but should you run into rain, you'll have a plan.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Photo Friday: An apple a day...

Mickey apple

It's time for another Photo Friday!

This week, I'm going to torture you (and me) with a shot of this scrumptious Mickey Mouse apple found a the Confectionary at the Magic Kingdom.  I've had one of these apples and they are every bit as good as they look!

Yum!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tip Tuesday: Get there early... not just for lines

Stormtroopers at DHS

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

With Star Wars Weekends starting up soon, I wanted to share a quick tip about a often-missed part of the entire event -- the pre-park opening spiel between a pair of stormtroopers. 

Here's the scene -- it's about an hour or so before park opening.  Two stormtroopers are patrolling the roof of the entrance turnstiles at Disney Hollywood Studios.  As they patrol, they strike up a conversation about all the different lifeforms gathering below them. 

I don't want to do into too many details so as to spoil it.  This is, however, a great opportunity to have a little fun with the stormtroopers.  They will watch the crowd and will react to different things happening.  In this shot above, the trooper on the left is referring to some troublemakers and is pointing a me and my son who was holding up a lightsaber. 

It's a pretty funny little skit and it's something you'll only see before park opening - so get there early!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tip Tuesday: Dealing with rain (part 1)

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!
(my apologies for late posting -- apparently my post on Tuesday didn't actually go live).

If you've been watching Orlando weather lately, you'll notice something pretty constant -- rain.  There has been quite a bit of rain lately, sometime heavy.

So what do you do when it rains?

First of all, head to the parks!  Yes, you read that right.  Grab your poncho or raincoat and head to the parks.

Why?  Because many guests will decide to stay at their resort when it's raining -- especially if the forecast calls for rain all day.  This means the lines may be shorter.

Knowing how to deal with the rain is the trick.

This week, I'll focus on a rain strategy for the Magic Kingdom.

Keep in mind that most attractions are indoors, with a few exceptions:  Dumbo, Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Aladdin's Magic Carpets and the Tomorrowland Speedway.

Just because it's raining, don't assume these attractions will be closed.  You can assume one thing -- they will be wet, even if they are running.  Back in 2010, I posted a tip about how to handle wet seats, so check that our for more on dealing with wet outdoor attractions.

Pretty much everything else is indoors.  Better yet, there's a lot of cover in the Magic Kingdom, so you can get from attraction to attraction without getting too soaked -- except for the hub area.  If you have a raincoat or poncho, you can make the dash across the hub pretty easily -- just watch out for the trolley tracks.  They can get slippery and will have little puddles around them.

Keep in mind that the different stores that make up the Emporium are connected inside, so you can easily get from Town Square all the way to the hub without getting a drop on you by going through the Emporium.  Much of the sidewalk outside the Emporium also is covered, so that's another option.

Photo Friday: Animal Kingdom ad gag

Posting of advertisements is prohibited

Welcome to another Photo Friday!

This week, I ran across this photo I took back in June 2011 at Animal Kingdom.  This is yet another example of those little gags the Imagineers slip in here and there.  If you look closely, on the wall is painted "Posting of advertisements is prohibited."  Yet stuck right underneath, and partially covering these instructions are, you guessed it, several ads for different products and experiences.

So here's a bit of light humor for you... and Happy Mother's Day to all you Moms out there!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Photo Friday: Four score and seven years ago...

Abraham Lincoln

Welcome to another Photo Friday!

In honor of the soon-to-be official kickoff to the Presidential campaign season, I thought I'd share one of my photos from the Hall of Presidents in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom.  It is possible that this attraction might soon need a new update if Mitt Romney were to win this November.  Of course, if President Obama prevails, there of course would be no need for a refurb for four more years (I'll leave my political views out of this).

As the campaigns heat up, I hope both candidates (and you) keep in mind the point of the whole exercise:  to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.  And if you need a reminder of why that oath is so important, just stop by the Hall of Presidents and listen as Mr. Washington explains it to you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tip Tuesday: Check (out) please...

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

A few weeks ago, I discussed a few tips for making your check-in process a little smoother.

This week, let's go to the other side of your vacation and discuss some ways to make your check-out process go a little easier.

Like check-in, there is one major factor to consider:  how are you leaving?  Car or bus?

If you're driving (either your car or a rental car to the airport), check-out can be a very simple process.  Simply call for bell services, or bring down your bags, pull up the car, load up and you're on your way.  Really there should not be any major headaches.  This is one of the major benefits of having your own wheels on property - you have complete freedom.

If you are driving, keep in mind that your parking pass is still good on the day of our check-out, meaning you can park at any of the theme parks for free.  So even after you leave your resort, you can still enjoy time in the parks without having to worry about parking fees.

If, however, you're using Disney's Magical Express, you have quite a few more things to keep in mind.  First, you will be given a time slot to meet the Magical Express bus.  This time is about three hours in advance of your flight departure time.  The morning of your departure, take your bags you want to check-in to the Magical Express desk.  Remember that you will need to pay your baggage fees ahead of time.  You will not be able to pay for baggage fees at the resort Magical Express check in desk.

The cast members will take your checked bags and send them to the airport.  Carry-on luggage that you don't want to take into the parks on your departure day can be stored at the front desk until you arrive back at your resort for your assigned Magical Express departure time.  Be sure to allow plenty of time to get from the parks back to your resort so you don't miss your bus.

Hopefully this will help you make that dreaded return to the regular world go a little easier.