How to Save Your Feet at Walt Disney World

Photo by sburke2478 (Flickr)

You’re tired. You’re achy. Your head hurts. But most of all, your feet feel like they’re on fire.

Welcome to Walt Disney World. Check your feet at the door. Anyone who has ever spent an entire day at any of Disney World’s theme parks knows exactly what I’m talking about. Sore feet seem like a trademark of the Disney theme park experience.

It doesn’t have to be that bad, though. Here are a few tips to help save your feet at the parks.

  • Crocs. They’re ugly, but they work. No tennis shoe has ever matched these babies for comfort. I scoffed at them until I tried them. I mean, look how ugly! But then I tried them and like so many others, my sore feet won the battle against fashion.
  • Rest. Oh it seems like a given. Rest a little during the day and your feet won’t hurt so much. But then you find yourself at the parks going non-stop. If you’re staying on property, take the monorail or the bus or a boat to the hotel and rest for an hour, then go back. Your feet and the rest of you will thank you.
  • Fastpass. Fastpass as many of the rides as you can. This saves you from standing in the stand-by lines – some of which can leave you standing for over an hour.
  • Table service restaurants. It might be tempting to go counter-service the entire trip. After all, we’re in harsh economic times. But if you let yourself rest occassionally at a table service restaurant, you’re find you’ll be a lot less likely spending cash on treatment at the podiatrist’s office. Not only does someone bring the food to the table, but you have a tendency to really rest while your food is served to you instead of gulping down some fast food in the parks. Furthermore, no standing in line waiting for food.

Above all, listen to what your feet are telling you. If you can go no further, stop for awhile. Or for the day.

What are your tricks for saving your feet at Walt Disney World?

*Photo Credit: sburke2478

Posted in Fastpass, How-To, Monorail, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The History of Walt Disney World’s Fireworks Spectaculars

If you’ve ever been to Disney World, chances are you’ve been a witness to one of their amazing fireworks shows. They are explosive (obviously), amazing and quite the spectacle.

Walt originally wanted a fireworks spectacular to bookend the night for his original park, Disneyland in California. A way to give the finale the visitor’s day needed, insure that they guests stayed longer than a few hours and accentuated the center of Disneyland, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

Inevitably, the fireworks show was copied to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and it became a staple of the theme park experience. Soon, fireworks were exploding all over Walt Disney World across three parks.

Through the years, Walt Disney World has offered a number of different fireworks shows, discontinuing some and adding others. This post chronicles each of them. If I miss out on any, be sure to let me know in the comments.

Fantasy in the Sky – Magic Kingdom

 

Fantasy in the sky was the original fireworks showcase of the Magic Kingdom. Like Wishes, it took its cue from classic Disney films. The show was a staple of the Magic Kingdom nightly from 1976-2003 until it was replaced by Wishes, the current fireworks display at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

Fantasy in the Sky – 4th of July Edition

 

This particular edition of the trademark Cinderella Castle show is no more. But thanks to video, we can always remember it fondly.

Continue reading

Posted in Cinderella Castle, Disney Hollywood Studios, Disney-MGM, Epcot, Fireworks, Haunted Mansion, Magic Kingdom, Pirates of the Caribbean, Videos, World Showcase | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

10 Best Photo Spots in Epcot

Of all the parks at Walt Disney World, Epcot may be the one that most lends itself to fantastic photo opportunities. With its World Showcase and amazing Spaceship Earth, it’s hard to narrow the photo spots down to ten, but we’re going to try anyway.

Spaceship Earth


Photo by daryl_mitchell [Flickr]

Easily one of the most recognizable structures at Disney World, you can’t put together a photo list without including Spaceship Earth. From all angles, it’s a work of art and, as you enter the park, you can’t expect those entering not to stop and take photos of this masterpiece.

Bridge between the U.K. and France


Photo by ConspiracyofHappiness [Flickr]

Standing on this bridge provides the Eiffel Tower of World Showcase’s France pavilion as a stunning backdrop.

The Torii in Japan, facing Spaceship Earth


Photo by Revo_2059 [Flickr]

One of the most stunning views of Spaceship Earth comes from Japan. Well, the Japan Pavilion in World Showcase that is.

Looking down the Lane at the U.K.


Photo by maidink [Flickr]

Stand here and you get the feeling you might have left Walt Disney World altogether. Well, if it weren’t for the heat and the tourists. Seriously, this little taste of charming Britain makes for a fantastic photo spot.

Walking through Morocco


Photo by VSELLIS [Flickr]

I’ve always just liked the feel of World Showcase’s Morocco pavilion. It also provides some great scenery for snapshots – be they artistic or to be used for backdrops.

Italy – From Norway


Photo by Moi

There are tons of fantastic photo spots around World Showcase Lagoon, but this is my favorite. Taken while waiting for Illuminations to begin. This is also, in my opinion, one of the best spots for watching the show. And I’ve tried just about all of them.

Germany at Night


Photo by Donna62 [Flickr]

With the orange light from the windows and twinkling light posts, Germany has a certain charm. Especially at Christmas.

The monorail as it passes Spaceship Earth


Photo by wjarrettc [Flickr]

Walt Disney World’s monorail only passes through The Magic Kingdom and Epcot and Epcot is the only park that it truly enters. Catch it as it’s making it’s way past Spaceship Earth to combine two iconic images of Walt Disney World.

The spires of Journey Into Imagination with Figment


Photo by JoshMcConnell [Flickr]

These glass pyramids stand just before Canada as you leave Future World and enter World Showcase. Unique and gorgeous, they make for an interesting subject for photography.

Hidden Canada


Photo by thecrystalskull [Flickr]

It might be tempting to waltz through Epcot’s Canada with nary a lingering glance past its impressive architecture. However, when you do, you’re missing some of the best photography spots in Epcot. With its rolling guardians and hidden pathways, there’s plenty of opportunity for photo ops.

Posted in Epcot, Frontierland, How-To, Photography, World Showcase | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where Are The Best Photo Spots in The Magic Kingdom?

 

Cinderella Castle - Spires - Magic Kingdom - Walt Disney World

Once upon a time, there was an attraction known as the Skyway to Fantasyland/Tomorrowland. Aboard this attraction, which hovered via cable above the Magic Kingdom, one could get some amazing aerial photos of The Magic Kingdom.

That attraction is no more, but many fantastic photos can still be had. You just have to know where to snap. Here are 11 of my favorites.

  • In front of the Magic Kingdom entrance – Time tested, guest approved. Often, you will see Mickey and Minnie here throughout the day with a line of guests waiting to have their photo snapped. This setting allows you to have the backdrop of the entrance and that signatory floral Mickey head. 
  • The center of Main Street facing the Castle – Just about anywhere along this path provides a great backdrop of Cinderella Castle. Which is why you’ll see Photopass photographers stationed all along it. 
  • Partners Statue – This iconic statue featuring Mickey and Walt stands in the center of the castle hub. Stand before it and you’ll have a great backdrop featuring Walt, Mickey and Cinderella Castle. 
  • On board the Tomorrowland Transit Authority – This ride provides some nice shots of Tomorrowland and Cinderella Castle if you have your camera ready as the attraction is, of course, not stationary (when it’s not experiencing technical difficulties that is).Walt Disney World - Castle 
  • Before the hearse at The Haunted Mansion – True enough, you can have your picture snapped before the ghostly carriage, but this angle also provides a really nice view of The Haunted Mansion. With a proper zoom, you can even get some great photos of that spooky weathervane. Haunted Mansion - Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom 
  • On board the Liberty Belle – Take a spot on the upper deck of The Liberty Belle and you’ll find some great angles on The Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Sometimes, you might even get the train as it comes around the bend which is a perfect shot. (Note: I took these when it was raining – you’ll have much better pictures when it’s not wet!)Haunted Mansion - Magic Kingdom - Walt Disney World 
  • Splash Mountain’s observatory deck (caution: wet!) – Here, you can snap a photo of the logs as they fly down the shoot. Just make sure you don’t get your equipment too wet. 
  • The Liberty Tree in Liberty Square – This gorgeous tree provides an elegant subject and, at night, is lit up beautifully with the 13 symbolic lanterns and the firefly lighting. 
  • Through the gates of Cinderella Castle looking on the Carousel – This is a really nice shot if you can get it. Lately, I’ve seen WDW get wall happy with this spot, closing it off to guests. However, if you can catch the gate open at night, this makes for a beautiful spot as the carousel is lit up and framed by the castle walls. 
  • The Tomorrowland bridge -  Framed by the futuristic sculptures that lead into Tomorrowland, standing on this bridge and facing Tomorrowland allows you a "framed" shot of Tomorrowland. Face the Castle and you have a gorgeous side view. 
  • The Cinderella Castle Wishing Well – This pathway allows you some great alternative views of the castle.Wishing Well - Magic Kingdom - Walt Disney World

These are simply some of my favorites. In the future, I’ll be adding more photo spots for Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom so make sure to subscribe.

Posted in Cinderella Castle, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Haunted Mansion, Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom, Tomorrowland | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Best Places to Watch Wishes in the Magic Kingdom

 

 

Wishes is one of those must-do events when you visit Walt Disney World. Who hasn’t seen the iconic images of fire exploding above the castle?

Wishes also regularly plays a part in big life events. I’ve personally seen marriage proposals take place during Wishes. And many other guests make Wishes a special event for honeymoons, anniversaries, birthdays and the like.

So, obviously, people want the best experience for their Wishes excursion. The fact of the matter is, there are a number of excellent options when it comes to watching Wishes. I’ll give you all of the options that I possibly can and try to highlight the pros and cons of each.

It’s important to note that there is a location within the Magic Kingdom that dims the lights during Wishes. I’ve outlined this area on the map below. While there are some not-so-great spots in this area, I’d easily say that the best spots to view Wishes are right within this area:

(Note: Changing over to new servers, so map is missing at the moment, but will be back soon.)

 

Now that’s out of the way, the locations…

Prime Locations for Wishes:

  • Main Street U.S.A. – Obviously, this is just a given. Unlike Wishes predecessor, Fantasy in the Sky, Wishes uses the Castle as a showpiece and as a stage, if you will, for the performance. There are, of course, “prime” locations to watch Wishes on Main Street. And then, there are some, well, not so prime locations. I’ll detail each:
    • Main Street Midway (Prime) – This path that runs between the shops on either side of Main Street obviously provides a central location for viewing the show with little to no blockage of view by light posts and the like. However, despite warnings given before the show to remain stationary while the lights are dimmed, some people just can’t listen. They will be the ones trying to walk toward the park exit – occasionally bumping into you as they do. When the park is especially crowded, this is obviously a much bigger problem than during off-season times. Still, it’s a good spot to view the show.
    • Sidewalks of Main Street – Not such a good idea. During Wishes, the shops on Main Street will still be open and, as such, people will be attempting to get into the shops. Not to mention, your view will be blocked by awnings, trees and light posts.
    • The Tables at Casey’s Corner – Some people swear by this, but I can’t see why. While it’s nice to have a place to sit, you also put yourself at a disadvantage by viewing Wishes here. Mainly because you will be getting a great view of the behinds of people who stop in front of you to watch the show. On the other hand, if you get there early enough and can get a table near the railing just beside the pond, you have a better chance of having a good viewing spot. Take note, however, that these tables disappear quickly and that there are people who will actually be eating at Casey’s and looking for a spot. For all of these reasons, I don’t really recommend it unless you are at the World during a very off-season time.
    • The Tables at the Plaza Restaurant - I actually find this a little bit better than the tables at Casey’s, but only by a smidge. If you get by the railing, like Casey’s, you have a better chance of enjoying the show.
    • The Smoking Area in front of The Plaza Restaurant – This actually isn’t such a bad area if you’re a smoker. If you’re not, forget it. It gets quite smoky here.
    • The North End of Main Street, Closer to the Castle (Prime) - There are some things to keep in mind. When you stake out your spot (necessary during higher traffic times), see if you have anything blocking your view. There are a couple of light posts on the sidewalk that can wind up blocking your view. I found that my view was blocked one night by one of these too late while watching Hallowishes as you can see in the video below.
  • Castle Hub – This is one of the most popular spots for viewing Wishes and with good reason. It provides a fantastic view of the castle and the fireworks and there’s no obstructive lighting. Here’s a breakdown of the various areas of the Hub.
    • Around the “Partners” statue (Prime) – In the event you’re unfamiliar with the Partners statue, it’s the statue of Walt and Mickey that stands in the hub – central to the castle. This is probably the most popular spot for viewing Wishes and in peak seasons, this spot will fill quickly, so stake your spot right after the parade. If you’re taping the show with a tripod, you’ll probably want to stand on the edge of the hub, nearest to Main Street. The reason for this is that there’s a good number of people congregating around the statue and they will constantly knock your tripod around (always, always, always hold onto your tripod – otherwise, chances are good that your camera will meet the concrete). However, make sure you get on the sidewalk and don’t remain in the street. You can view the footage I took about ten feet from the Partners statue (no tripod) below. This was actually Holiday Wishes, but the set up is virtually the same.
    • The Pathway from Fantasyland to Castle Hub (Very Good) – This is a good location for viewing Tinkerbell’s flight. In the above video, you can see that I spliced some footage from this area into the video. That will be your view of Tinkerbell from the bench area closest to the walkway that leads to the Wishing Well.
    • The Pathway from Tomorrowland to Castle Hub (Very Good) - Another good spot. The large walkway allows people to get through without too many problems. There’s also not too much greenery to get in the way of your viewing like on the other side near Liberty Square and Adventureland. This provides another good spot for viewing Tinkerbell’s Flight.
    • Rose Garden near Tomorrowland (Very Good) – If there’s not a ticketed event going on later that night, this makes a nice viewing spot as well. However, when ticketed events will be taking place later that night, this will serve as a queue for wristbands and will be off limits to viewing.
  • Elsewhere in the Magic Kingdom – If you view Wishes any other place within the Magic Kingdom, you’re doing yourself a disservice, in my humble opinion. First of all, the lights will be blazing all around as people will be entering the surrounding attractions. Second, while you will hear the audio (assuming you’re not inside a restaurant or attraction), you won’t be able to view the projections on the castle or the explosions on or near the castle. However, for the most part, you will be able to see the bigger explosions. One thing you should be aware of is that sometimes a small drift of smoke might drift your way if you’re in Fantasyland, Adventureland or parts of Tomorrowland. This really just depends on the weather and the wind and it’s usually not a very big problem at all. Just something to be aware of. Take a look at the second video on this page and notice the rolling smoke from the near castle explosions. That’s what I’m talking about.

Outside the Magic Kingdom

Wishes can be viewed from numerous areas outside the Magic Kingdom, around the Seven Seas Lagoon & Bay Lake. Here’s a rundown of those locations.

  • California Grill @ The Contemporary Resort – One of the pricier restaurants in Disney is the California Grill. Located at the top of the Contemporary Resort, many people swear by its view of Wishes. While the view of the Magic Kingdom and the fireworks are fairly cool, I still feel as if you don’t get the full effect of the show here. Music is piped in – volume low – so it’s nice for a romantic evening. Tastes seem to vary on this one. Note: California Grill does have a dress code, though I’ve heard they have become somewhat lax recently. When you make reservations, ask what the dress code is. Better safe than sorry.
  • Ohana @ The Polynesian Resort - Like California Grill, you can watch Wishes here with the music piped in. If you’re not one for the immersive experience of Wishes, then you might like this.
  • Narcoossee’s @ The Grand Floridian – Another restaurant in which the music will be piped in during the fireworks. This one is nice because of the atmosphere and how it sits on the water. You’re not going to get the full-on experience of Wishes here, but if you’ve seen the show before, this is a nice spot for a repeat viewing.
  • Other Spots Along Bay Lake & the Seven Seas Lagoon (Via the resort beaches and docks) – You can view Wishes most anywhere along Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon via the Contemporary Resort, The Grand Floridian Resort, The Polynesian Resort, Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness. Having done this, I can tell you that it’s nowhere near the magical experience it would be in the park. If you’ve seen the show before, it’s not so bad to catch the fireworks from afar, however you won’t get the music and, depending on where you are, your view of the castle might be obstructed. Also, if it’s during the warmer seasons, be prepared to contend with some insects.
  • The Wishes Cruise – This is a speciality cruise that you can book for around $225 (prices vary – call (407)-WDW-PLAY to book and for more information). With this cruise, you can order a full dinner from one of the surrounding resorts. You’ll be given a tour of Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon. When it’s time for Wishes to begin, the boat, along with the other boats taking the cruise that night, will park in front of the Magic Kingdom. Music is piped into the boat as you watch the fireworks from the water. For viewing the show outside of the Magic Kingdom, this is probably one of the best views. Of course, it does come with a price.

My ultimate opinion: if you’ve never seen Wishes, see it inside the park, near the castle hub at one of the prime locations stated above. Dimmed lighting, music and being near the castle make it magical. Of course, be ready to contend with the crowds after the show, but it’s a small price to pay for the best seat in the house.

Posted in Cinderella Castle, Dining, Fireworks, Grand Floridian, How-To, Magic Kingdom, Resorts, Shows, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Numerous Ways to Get to Fort Wilderness

 

One of the most often asked questions on Disney World message boards across the net is how to get to Fort Wilderness from (insert park name here) or (insert resort name here).

There’s a good reason for this.

It’s confusing.

Most people have a few reasons for wanting to get to Fort Wilderness. They range from:

  • The Hoop-Dee-Do Musical Revue
  • Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
  • Seasonal Hayride
  • Lunch or Dinner at Trail’s End

Three out of four of those items takes place near the marina. However, the bus system only drops one off at the Outpost Depot – which is at the other end of the resort and quite a distance away from the marina. So what’s the best way to get to your destination? I’ll give you a number of options and tell you the ones that have worked best for me. Because of things like weather, traffic and scheduling of buses, times will vary for all modes of transportation.

From Saratoga Springs

  • Take Magic Kingdom Bus to Magic Kingdom –> Take Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Fort Wilderness Bus –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Wilderness Lodge Bus –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)

From Old Key West

  • Take Magic Kingdom Bus to Magic Kingdom –> Take Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Fort Wilderness Bus –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Wilderness Lodge Bus –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)

From Animal Kingdom Lodge

  • Take Magic Kingdom Bus to Magic Kingdom –> Take Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina
  • Take Animal Kingdom Bus to Animal Kingdom or, depending on time and park closures, take Epcot bus to Epcot  –> Transfer to Fort Wilderness Bus –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Animal Kingdom Bus to Animal Kingdom or, depending on time and park closures, take Epcot bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Wilderness Lodge Bus –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)

From Yacht & Beach Club

  • Take Magic Kingdom Bus to Magic Kingdom –> Take Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina
  • Take Animal Kingdom Bus to Animal Kingdom depending on time and park closures–> Transfer to Fort Wilderness Bus –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Animal Kingdom Bus to Animal Kingdom depending on time and park closures–> Transfer to Wilderness Lodge Bus –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)

From Boardwalk

  • Take Magic Kingdom Bus to Magic Kingdom –> Take Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina
  • Take Animal Kingdom Bus to Animal Kingdom depending on time and park closures–> Transfer to Fort Wilderness Bus –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Animal Kingdom Bus to Animal Kingdom depending on time and park closures–> Transfer to Wilderness Lodge Bus –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)

From Wilderness Lodge

  • Take water launch from Wilderness Lodge marina to Fort Wilderness.

From Contemporary

  • Take water launch from Contemporary marina to Fort Wilderness Marina

From Grand Floridian

  • Take Monorail to Magic Kingdom gate –> Take Fort Wilderness Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina
  • Take Grand Floridian Water Launch to Magic Kingdom gate –> Take Fort Wilderness Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina

From Polynesian

  • Take Monorail to Magic Kingdom gate –> Take Fort Wilderness Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina
  • Take Polynesian Water Launch to Magic Kingdom gate –> Take Fort Wilderness Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina

From Caribbean Beach

  • Take Magic Kingdom Bus to Magic Kingdom –> Take Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Fort Wilderness Bus –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Wilderness Lodge Bus –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)

From Coronado Springs

  • Take Magic Kingdom Bus to Magic Kingdom –> Take Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Fort Wilderness Bus –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Wilderness Lodge Bus –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)

From Port Orleans French Quarter & Riverside

  • Take Magic Kingdom Bus to Magic Kingdom –> Take Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Fort Wilderness Bus –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Wilderness Lodge Bus –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)

From All Star Resorts

  • Take Magic Kingdom Bus to Magic Kingdom –> Take Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Fort Wilderness Bus –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Wilderness Lodge Bus –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)

From Pop Century

  • Take Magic Kingdom Bus to Magic Kingdom –> Take Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Fort Wilderness Bus –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Epcot Bus to Epcot –> Transfer to Wilderness Lodge Bus –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)

From The Magic Kingdom

  • Take Fort Wilderness Water Launch to Fort Wilderness Marina

From Epcot

  • Take Fort Wilderness Bus to Fort Wilderness –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Wilderness Lodge Bus to Wilderness Lodge –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)
  • Take Monorail to Transporation and Ticket Center –> Take Ferry or Monorail to Magic Kingdom Gate –> Take Fort Wilderness Water Launch to Fort Wilderness

From Hollywood Studios

  • Take Fort Wilderness Bus to Fort Wilderness –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Wilderness Lodge Bus to Wilderness Lodge –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)

From Animal Kingdom

  • Take Fort Wilderness Bus to Fort Wilderness –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Wilderness Lodge Bus to Wilderness Lodge –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)

From Downtown Disney

  • Take Fort Wilderness Bus to Fort Wilderness –> Take Purple, Orange or Yellow bus to Settlement (if going to Hoop-Dee-Do, Hayride or Trail’s End)
  • Take Wilderness Lodge Bus to Wilderness Lodge –> Take water launch to Fort Wilderness (this takes you directly to Marina and walking distance from Hoop-Dee-Do, etc.)

My personal experience:

In the past, going through the Ticket and Transportation Center usually proves to be time consuming. You’re already adding one extra destination to your route and from there, you’re either waiting for the ferry, then waiting for it to cross to the other side or you’re waiting for the monorail. While monorail wait times aren’t that long, the rails sometimes get congested and you may wind up on the monorail from anywhere to twenty to thirty minutes. This doesn’t always happen, but it has and can and is something to be aware of.

Depending on where you’re catching the bus from, wait times can get lengthy if there are others ahead of you. However, if you’re leaving one of the theme parks well ahead of park closing, wait times for resort buses might not be so bad.

In the past, I’ve found it less time consuming to completely avoid the Fort Wilderness Water Launch from the Magic Kingdom. This isn’t everyone’s experience, but simply my own. It takes some time to get across Bay Lake.

Getting to Fort Wilderness and, as a result, Hoop-Dee-Doo and the hayrides – as well as other attractions – can be some of the most tedious exercises in WDW transportation. Allow yourself PLENTY of time.

And, if you have a car – take the car.

Posted in Fort Wilderness, Monorail, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where To Find the Villains – Maleficent, The Evil Queen, Cruella and More

 

Maleficent Greets the Guests at the Villains Mix and Mingle

Some of my favorite Disney characters are the Villains and it was years before I could finally hunt down my favorite villains in order to get a snapshot. Yes. I wanted a picture with The Evil Queen and Maleficent. Sue me.

It’s understandable why so many people want to find the Villains once they get to Walt Disney World. They’re the epitome of cool. Here are a few ways to find your favorite villain so you too can take a photo with your favorite.

  • Obviously, the best time to find the villains is during the Halloween season and particularly during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom. They even have their own show, The Villains Mix and Mingle, which takes place on the stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle. After the show, the villains come down to mingle with the crowd and take photos.
  • Disney Hollywood Studios is a hotspot for the villains. During the day, you’re very likely to see them hanging out in the courtyard in front of the Chinese Theatre. Um, that’s where the big Mickey’s Sorcerer’s hat resides.
  • Cruella can sometimes be found hanging out near Tony’s Restaurant just near the entrance at the Magic Kingdom. There are *always* characters around this area and, if you can catch a Character Assistant (they’ll be the cast member in the yellow, red and black shirt assisting the character), ask them if they know when Cruella, or any of the other villains, will be making her next appearance.
  • The really “hot” villains seem to make random appearances near the Castle. I’ve heard of impromptu appearances taking place in Fantasyland, near the castle, during nightly Extra Magic Hours.
  • Captain Hook is the easiest villain to find. He and Mr. Smee make scheduled appearances near Pirates of the Caribbean throughout the day.
  • If you simply want to see the villains, you can find them in a number of shows. Currently, Maleficent and her ilk can be see in the Dream Along With Mickey show at Cinderella Castle’s forecourt. You can also see them:
    • During the Magic Kingdom’s Disney Dreams Come True parade.
    • The Evil Queen, Captain Hook and even Ursula make appearances during the nightly Spectromagic parade. This parade doesn’t take place all nights, so check the daily schedule. Also, this parade *will* be canceled if weather is inclement.
    • Fantasmic at Disney Hollywood Studios is a show centered around the villains and the havoc they can cause within Mickey’s dreams.
    • The Boo To You parade during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom is a villains fan’s dream come true. You’ll even see a couple of villains you don’t normally see such as Captain Barbossa from The Pirates of the Caribbean.

Unfortunately, one of the best parades in which to see the villains was Disney Hollywood Studios now retired Disney Stars and Motorcar Parade. It was replaced by Pixar’s Block Party Bash (grumble). Rumor has it that the parade will resume its “route” at Disneyland Paris (weep!).

Good luck with your villains hunt! Feel free to send me links to your photos.

And if you’ve had any great villains experiences, post them in the comments below.

Posted in Characters, Cinderella Castle, Disney Hollywood Studios, Fantasyland, How-To, Magic Kingdom, Parades, Shows | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

How To Get Your Kid Into Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial

Awhile back, I uploaded video of Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial at the Magic Kingdom. The video became instantly popular and has amassed over 20,000 views since uploading it.

One of the most common questions people ask in the comments and via messages on YouTube in response to that video is, “How can I get my kid into the pirate tutorial? Any tips?”

The first thing to remember is that Jack and Mack, Jack’s pirate assistant, just can’t say no to most kids. However, if you want to really get your kid a one on one “training session” with Jack, here are a few tips that might help you achieve your child’s dreams of being a Disney pirate.

  • Never hurts to dress the part. If your child already has a pirate hat or one of those nifty sets of Mickey ears with the pirate sash, your chances of taking front and center are much greater. I once saw Jack pay particular attention to a little boy wearing an Aztec Gold pirate necklace.
  • Make sure your child is lively, but not too lively. Tales circulate of little boys and girls who were a little too lively with their plastic swords. These children are almost always returned to their parents post-haste.
  • Get to the show area early. Times are posted at the schedule just in front of the castle hub. Don’t get there late and then push your way to the front (or worse yet, push your child to the front). This is just rude and I have seen parents called out for it. Which makes it not only rude, but embarrassing.
  • When Mack and Jack call for pirate volunteers, do NOT shove your child into the open circle. I think I’ve had to hear Mack tell parents not to shove their children into the open circle a number of times. Don’t do it. If your kid is too shy and doesn’t want to do it: DON’T MAKE THEM.
  • Peak times mean more people and more spectators for the Pirate Tutorial. Try to visit during a time when visitors aren’t in peak attendance. This is not only good for this particular situation, but also just makes your visit more enjoyable in general.

Above all, enjoy it and don’t take it too seriously. If you really want to see your kid in the midst of the pirate tutorial and they don’t get picked the first time around, try for a second. You’ll usually have your wish granted. :)

Posted in How-To, Magic Kingdom, Pirates of the Caribbean, Shows | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walt Disney World’s American Idol Attraction

It appears that Walt Disney World has Idol fever. Taking up residence in the old Superstar Television theatre in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests will be allowed to live out their Idol dreams at Disney’s movie-based theme park.

According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, Walt Disney World visitors will be allowed to try out for the show during the day. Then, they will be allowed to compete before a real studio audience in the new American Idol theater. Winners of the competition will then be allowed to try out for the American Idol tv show.

Alright, so I admit to being a little disappointed by this announcement. But that’s because I’m not an American Idol fan. However, no doubt Idol fans will be eating this up and I daresay it will bring even more business into the park. So, on that front, it’s a VERY smart move on Disney’s part.

Obviously, unless they move Echo Lake, there’s not going to be nearly that much room in front of the theater.

Of course, WDWHacks is going to do everything it can to find out the best ways for you to enjoy and to compete in the upcoming attraction, so if you haven’t subscribed yet, DO!

No word yet on who the judges will be, but there WILL be judges.

Continue reading

Posted in American Idol Attraction, Disney Hollywood Studios, Disney-MGM, Upcoming Attractions | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Disney’s Year of a Million Dreams Ads Featuring Jessica Biel, Tina Fey and J-Lo

Looks like Disney has just released their newest ads featuring the photography of Annie Leibovitz as various celebrities portray famed Disney characters. Here’s just a sneak peek as Tina Fey, Gisele Bündchen and Mikhail Baryshnikov take on the roles of Tinkerbell, Wendy and Peter Pan.

 

You can see all the photos at Disney Fan Central.

Posted in Celebrities, Year of a Million Dreams | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment