Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Disney Vacation Tip #2 : When you Realize that you could have just skipped the park and stayed at the pool

The Disney Vacation Tip deals with the Pools:

That moment in the middle of the day when you are at the Theme Parks and you realize you could have saved a whole bunch of money and just stayed at the pool.   It was the first time my wife and her kids age 9 and 13 had ever been to Disneyworld.   We were there for my step daughter's cheerleading competition which was at the back end of our trip.   Since the last days of our trip including a cheer practice on Friday and competition  days on Saturday and Sunday we had to do the parks at the beginning of our trip.  4 parks in 4 days!!!   Oh Yeah!.....Okay so it wasn't the ideal way to do our trip- but I wanted them to see all 4 parks and that is just the way the trip worked out.  (I have several upcoming blogs that will talk about this topic).    

Well in the middle of day 2 the kids (who were having a great time at the parks) asked what time we were leaving ---because they wanted to go swimming in the pool.    The Pool I thought????   Are these kids crazy.  They want to leave the theme park early to go to the pool??  We had talked about Friday (which was cheer practice day) being a rest day where we would just hang out at the pool ---but they wanted to go to the pool now.   You mean I could have just saved $400 and hung out at the pool all day?  Maybe the next time we go on vacation we should just forget about the theme parks and just find a place with a cool pool?  (Yeah not really)

Okay so Saratoga Springs does have several cool pools so I can kind of understand why the kids wanted to go to the pool . If we could have planned our trip differently - we definitely wouldn't have tried to do 4 parks in 4 days.  Ideally 2 park days and a Resort day at the pool followed by 2 more parks and maybe another Resort day at the end would probably be ideal.

So the Disney Vacation trip Tip is to take a break from the parks and plan a pool day.  Especially if your resort has a cool pool like this one.  The kids went on this slide at least 30 times.  
Take a break from the parks and the "go - go -go" mentality and relax.

We even got lucky and had some pool time at Animal Kingdom Lodge at the end of our trip after Cheer (which is a whole different blog---which I will post soon)

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Animal Kingdom Picture of the week: Maharajah Jungle Trek Tiger painting

Here is my Animal Kingdom Picture of the Week from the Maharajah Jungle Trek.    
  This cool piece of artwork from the Tiger Section.

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Disney World Vacation Tip #1 : Refillable Mugs

If you are a big soda  or diet soda drinker and are staying at the resorts....Buy a refillable mug first thing upon arrival.  The mugs can be refilled at your resort and at the pool area and when you consider the price of drinks while on your Disney Vacation this will end up being a totally value.  Like park tickets it becomes a better deal the longer you stay at the resort.

When we went on our trip in March 2015 we picked up a couple at our resort.  The Prices at the time of our trip were as follows.
$8.99 for 1 Day   (Not a super value)
$11.99 for 2 Days  (Breaking even)
$14.99 for 3 Days  (Now we are talking)
$17.99 for the length of your Stay  (what a bargain)

The longer you stay the better value you get.  
Plus you already have an instant souvenir as well.

We used our cups every morning at breakfast time .... I would make the morning journey to the Artist's Palate while the rest of the family slept in to fill up our morning drinks.   We are soda in the morning people --so if you are a coffee person or not a big soda drinker it may not be as great of a deal for you.   For us it was a a great deal.  We would get our sodas in the morning and sometimes one at night and then the kids used them the day we hung out by the pool.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Magic Kingdom Picture of the Week: Big Thunder Railroad

I'm still slowly working my way through all of our Disneyworld Pictures.

Here is my Magic Kingdom picture of the Week from I-Phone while waiting for Big Thunder

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The Little Details: Lucky Cats of Japan at Epcot


The beckoning cats of the Japan Pavilion.  The one thing Disney does the best is details.   Whether it is a ride or an attraction they put a lot of work into the little details.  In Epcot's world showcase each of the countries is a little journey to someplace else.   
 The best way to describe the World Showcase section of Epcot to someone that has only been to Disneyland is to describe New Orleans square.   I will often say "You know how New Orleans Square has back streets and alleys and shops and restaurants......Well in Epcot each country is a like a New Orleans Square".   Each country is like an escape and a cultural journey to that place and Disney goes overboard in the details which immerse you into that country.   You could spend hours in each country walking through the shops and dining at the restaurants.  Just losing yourselves in the little details that bring those countries to life.

One of those little details that caught my eye was the Lucky Cats in Japan.

The Lucky Cat figurines are meant to bring good luck and are often found at the entrances of shops and restaurants.  The Japan Pavilion had many different colors and styles of these cats,  my favorite however was the large display above.

Here is another example of one of these Lucky or Fortune cats that can be found in the Japan Pavilion.

He Beckons


Here is Wiki info and these Cats

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Monsters Inc Laugh Floor: Magic Kingdom Family Attraction Review 8 out of 10

One of our first stops at the Magic Kingdom was Monsters Inc Laugh Floor.  It is one of the attractions unique to Magic Kingdom that we don't have on the West Coast.    Monster's Inc Laugh Floor is an attraction meant for the entire family that is based on the technology used previously in Turtle Talk where the animated characters interact with you in real time.   Like Turtle Talk this allows for a slightly different experience on multiple visits as the interactions with the audience can take the show in different directions.

If you recall the events at the end of the original Monsters Inc the company is no longer powering the city with screams -but now laughs.  Well this lends itself to a perfect setting for the attraction as the Monster comedians are trying to gather power from the tourists by making them laugh via a stand up comedy act.   The humor is aimed at kids and is family friendly --but the comedians pointing out and making fun of the audience adds to the fun.  My whole family enjoyed the attraction and if it was out on our home coast park Disneyland we would definitely head back for another show.   It is a much better  family experience than Stitch's Great Escape across the way.  This attraction will have the kids laughing --where as Stitch may still scare some of the smaller kids (Although it isn't scary at all).

Here is a quick clip of the Attraction from You Tube to give you a taste of what to expect if you haven't visited the attraction before. The part with the telepathy is great.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sometimes a Ride Breaking Down can be a Good Thing: 3 Times on Everest in 25 Minutes

When we went to Animal Kingdom on our recent trip we had of course gone online ahead of time to secure a Fast pass time for Expedition Everest.   This was my most anticipated ride of the trip, since they were still building it over 10 years ago,  the last time I was in Orlando.   So when our Fast pass time was approaching --my stepson and I headed over to make sure we got on this beast of a ride.  The ride time was already showing at about an hour online so we were happy we had a Fast pass.  Well as luck would have it we arrived just in time for the ride to be shutdown and we were told that our fast pass would be good for the rest of the day if the attraction started up again.

Thwarted in our attempts to scale the peaks of this thrill ride we headed of to do something else.   We headed over to Kali Rapids which was already building up into a long line as well.  We tried our Magic Bands and it worked for this ride so we headed up to the front of the line.   Then minutes before we were on the ride ---It broke as well.  It was about a 7 minute shut down and then we were back in business,  but I began to worry that since our Fast pass worked for a ride that we didn't have a pass on that it wouldn't later work on Everest.

Hours went by as we meet back up with the rest of the family for Festival of the Lion King and dinner at the Rainforest.  We figured we would have to try Everest at the end of the day.   Hopefully the line would be shorter.  After diner we hit Dinosaur which we did twice in a row since the line was really short --then off we went to finally get our ride on the mountain that hung in the distance.
We arrived right before park closing using our fast passes.  (They didn't work).  We were told you only get to use them once  (I guess Kali Rapids used up our Everest Fast pass).   We told them we hadn't ridden it--because it had broken down and away we went into the Fast Pass line.  By the time we did this great ride (Review to come in a different blog) the line had pretty disappeared --so we were able to do it two more times before closing.  (We could have done it  times --but the girls were waiting for us).  So sometimes a ride breaking down can be a good thing.   If the ride hadn't broken down we may have only rode it once in the middle of the day,  but since we had to change plans and try it later --we ended up getting 3 rides instead of one.

This also begs the question....was it worth getting a Fast Pass for Everest in the first place?  Was it just a fluke or is the end of the day at Animal Kingdom always the best time for the big rides?
After all we were able to get 2 rides on Dinosaur and could have done 4 times on Everest.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Interactive Queues: Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom

The new trend at the Disney parks is to find new ways to keep the attention of short attention span society  that we live in. 
Interactive Queues engage an audience that barely even looks up from their I-Phones. 

 A great example of this is the interactive Queue at the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom.   It keeps the kids engaged as they wait in line and makes the wait seem a lot shorter than it really is.   The kids may actually look up from their I-Phone for a minute to play musical notes on the organ or play with the shelf where you push in blocks along a tomb and new ones pop out.
The kids had a blast with this feature while in the Haunted Mansion line.  I wish they would add some of these features to the California version.

Disney has always done a good job at making the lines more interesting with the Indiana Jones ride in California being a great example.  Now they have been adding new things to older rides like the Haunted Mansion  such as these cool busts.

The Captain's tomb has bubbles coming out of the top and leaks water that making it a fun little kids play area.  Plug a hole with water coming out and even more water comes out of another hole.

 Dear Sweet Leota's tombstone has a face that moves and here eyes open.

Before you know it the 30 minute wait is over and you are already on the ride.   The best thing an interactive queue will do is make people say "That wait wasn't as long as it said".

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Walt Disney World Picture of the Day: Tiki Time at Magic Kingdom

My Walt Disneyworld Picture of the Day.  
This Tiki from a cool off zone in Adventureland. 
 As a big Tiki fan I was excited to see this Tiki and his Tiki pals.

For all the Tikis from the Magic Kingdom Cool off area ---check out my Tiki Blog and for much more Tiki fun.


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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Stich's Not So Great Escape! : Magic Kingdom Attraction Review 4 out of 10

We just returned from a Trip to Walt Disneyworld and it was my first experience with Stitch's Great Escape.
I was a fan of ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter which Stitch replaced as an attempt to make the attraction more family friendly.   Unfortunately they just made the ride boring.  Stitch's "Great" Escape was nothing of the sort.  They basically stripped the old attraction of everything that made it great and instead gave us an uninspired replacement.  Stitch isn't threatening at all and the ride effects seemed to be severely lacking from the somewhat scary attraction that once stood in its place.

The sad thing is that I'm a big Stitch fan.  I love Lilo and Stitch and watched the direct to DVD films and the TV show as well and yet this ride was a real let down.   ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter which opened back in 1994 had a wicked sense of humor and was able to build up a sense of tension that the ride that was never as extreme as advertised needed.  The old ride was at least interesting.  Stitch's Great Escape which replaced it in 2003 is an extremely watered down boring shell of what the old attraction was.    Gone was the tension of the old attraction which was replaced with a ride that was basically boredom in the dark.  It is a shame....I understand what they were going for--but they failed to deliver.   

The teleportation gone wrong theme from the original attraction remains- but the chills and thrills are replaced with a bunch of underwhelming sound effects.

It is time for Stitch to Escape for good and a new Attraction to replace it

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