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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tip Tuesday: Touring the parks without FastPass

With all the recent changes (and glitches) coming to Walt Disney World concerning FastPass+, Magic Bands and all, there are plenty of guests (myself included) who are less then enamored with the implementation of FastPass+.

So it begs the question:  is FastPass+ worth it?  Does it cause more problems that it solves?

While I have yet to experience FastPass+ first hand, I have heard plenty of horror stories about this new service, so I thought I'd share some thoughts about the best ways to enjoy the parks without having to get one FastPass.

Yes, Virginia, it can be done, but it does require some planning.

First, of course, you have to arrive at a park well before park opening -- at least 30 minutes, though 45 might be better for the Magic Kingdom.  While you're waiting for the park to open, you need to set a few priorities when it comes to attractions and/or characters -- which ones are most important to you?  Head to those first.  If you don't have any priorities, consider hitting the headline attractions such as Space Mountain, Soarin', Toy Story Mania or the Kilimanjaro Safaris.  You will have a good hour or two where the crowds will be considerably lower than later in the morning/afternoon.  You need to make good use of this time.

Once the park opens, walk briskly (do not run) to your highest priority attraction and get in the standby line.  The standby sign may indicate a 20 or 30 minute wait.  Go in anyway -- there's a good chance that standby time is not current.  Depending on the standby line, you may be able to get in two runs in short order before moving to the rest of your priority list.

Once the crowds start to build in late morning to early afternoon, it's time to move to the less popular attractions and shows as well as high-volume attractions such as the Haunted Mansion, its a small world, Living with the Land, Seas with Nemo, Star Tours, Muppets 3D, or the Animal Kingdom walking trails.  These attractions can handle a fairly large number of people at one time, so odds are the standby lines will be shorter.

The afternoon into the evening also is a good time to take in some scenery and do a bit of shopping.  Take some time to appreciate all those little Disney details and maybe take in a show or movie or two. 

As the evening fades into night, you'll start to see the crowds begin to thin in some areas, especially as families with young children head home with weary tykes in tow.  At the Magic Kingdom, crowds will start to gather along the parade route for the Main St. Electrical Parade.  Main Street and the Hub area will be especially crowded as people get spots for Wishes.  Avoid these areas if you're not all that interested in the evening entertainment and go hit more attractions.  You'll encounter some waits, but they'll have decreased since the peak of a few hours earlier.  In Epcot, the World Showcase promenade will start to fill with folks waiting for Reflections of Earth.  Same deal -- head to Future World and try to get in a few attractions there.

At Hollywood Studios, it's all about Fantasmic - there will likely be considerable lines at the end of Sunset Boulevard, so just avoid that part of the park.  Yes, the Rockin' Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror might be a bit busy, but the rest of the attractions will start to clear out to some degree -- even Toy Story Mania. 

With a bit of planning, some luck and flexibility, you can have a great day in the parks and not worry one second about getting a FastPass, dealing with return times or having to mess with the My Disney Experience app. 

Just go out and have fun!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Photo Friday: A "sweet" hidden Mickey


Welcome to another Photo Friday!

Can you spot the sweet hidden Mickey in this display at the Confectionary at the Magic Kingdom?  These hidden Mickey's can be found all throughout the Confectionary, though they're not really sweet - just decorations.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

No April Fool's joke! Audio versions of Kingdom Keepers 6 and 7 to be released April 1

Kingdom Keepers Insider
Image courtesy Kingdom Keepers Insider
Kingdom Keepers fans - the day you've been waiting for will be here soon.  Today, Ridley Pearson released the cover for the anticipated final volume of the Kingdom Keepers series.

What is no surprise is that our favorite five heroes (and a few more) will have the final battle with the Overtakers at the place where all the Disney magic started -- Disneyland. 

Here's a description of the book from KingdomKeepersInsider.com:
The Kingdom Keepers’ senior year in high school is almost over. For more than three years, they’ve done little more than surveillance missions into the Disney parks after dark. Their battles are long behind them, they agree, the threat to the Disney realm silenced—albeit at great cost.

But inside the catacombs of the Aztec temple where Finn Whitman faced down his nemesis, the monstrous Chernabog, a new threat brews. One that will rise like a phoenix … or, more accurately, like a stealth bomber.

Deception and betrayal rock the Kingdom Keepers as the merciless group of Disney villains known as the Overtakers stage an unexpected comeback. Supercharged with black magic, the Overtakers seek an iconic element that will power them to victory and render the Keepers—not to mention all of Los Angeles—defenseless.

But a discovery by the Keepers provides them with one hope of victory––a lost icon that hasn't been seen in decades. Believed to be gone forever, it may yet be saved. If so, the Keepers have one last chance to preserve the heart of the Kingdom––Disneyland––from a terrifying destruction decades in the making.

But wait, there's more.

If you're like me, you've been enjoying the Kingdom Keepers series on audiobooks.  I spend a fair amount of time in the car, so I often listen to audiobooks.

Kingdom Keepers 1-5 are on audio, but, for various reasons, book 6 was never released on audio.  Well, that oversight will be corrected on April 1 as well.  According to the Brilliance Audio website, the audio versions of KK6 and KK7 will both be released on April 1.

Both titles are, again, read by MacLeod Andrews, who read all but the first Kingdom Keepers novels (book 1 was read by Christopher Lane).  As with the previous titles, these performances are unabridged.  Both books have run times of approximately 9 hours each.

As much as I'm looking forward to reading/hearing the final story in the Kingdom Keepers saga, I'm equally looking forward to finally enjoying book 6 and I prefer to - in it's audio format.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Photo Friday: It's A Curious World After All

Alice and the White Rabbit 

It's back -- Photo Friday returns!

My apologies for the looonnngg absence - the journey to earn a Masters degree from USC became all-encompassing for the last few months.

But enough of the past -- moving on to the future!

And speaking of the future, since I'm planning a return to Disneyland soon, I thought I'd share a photo that the DisneyMommy especially enjoys -- Alice and the White Rabbit found in the Disneyland version of it's a small world. 

I'm still blown away at how different the Disneyland and Walt Disney World version of these attractions are.  I'll have more about that in a future post.

Anyway, it's good to be back!

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