Oct 052016
 

When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! – Jiminy Cricket

Q. My family and I are headed to WDW this October. We are arriving on Saturday Oct. 29th and staying for 8 nights with a split stay at the Beach Club and the Boardwalk. Our group includes me, my husband, my mom, and our two year old daughter.

We’ve decided not to do Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party this year because of the extra cost, my daughter’s age, and the crowd levels on Halloween weekend.

Since we will be there on Halloween night itself, do you have any suggestions other than the party? Are there any other parks. attractions, or hotels that might fit the Halloween theme? I know nothing will compare to the party at MK, but any ideas would help! (Submitted by Alyssa G.)

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Mar 232016
 

By Tim Rogers

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So you’re taking a trip to Walt Disney World – great! One of the first things to think about is when you actually want to go. While for some people that is determined narrowly by work and school schedules, if you have more flexibility, the yearly calendar at Walt Disney World provides a wide range of special events and activities to make your trip special. While I won’t be discussing all of these (sorry marathon!), I will take you through some of the big times of year and why you should go then.

 

Spring

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There’s no time like the present – Spring has definitely sprung around the Walt Disney World resort. The biggest and most noticeable special occurrence during this time of year is the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

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As seems to be the case with several of these festivals, the Flower and Garden Festival seems to get a little longer every year. This year, the festival began on March 2nd and will run through May 30th. This will cover most spring breaks and even last past when some early schools get out for the summer, and includes some relatively “low crowd” times, and some of the busiest times of the entire year (the week before and after Easter).

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At the festival itself, there are plenty of things to explore and enjoy. The most noticeable might be the wonderful topiaries that populate all of Epcot.

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Beyond that, the festival center has special speakers and exhibits related to horticulture. Additionally, on weekends you can see the “Garden Rocks” Concert series. The bonus is that, for this festival, pretty much all of these speakers, concerts, and exhibits are included with normal park admission.

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Some of the most recent, and popular, additions to the festival are the Outdoor Kitchens. These booths have great treats from around the world, and have given the beauty and educational value of Flower and Garden some of the energy that the Food and Wine Festival has enjoyed for years.

 

Early Fall

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Fall at the Walt Disney World resort is when the special events really pick up. The first of these is usually Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. This party takes place in the Magic Kingdom, generally on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings, from early to mid-September through the day after Halloween.

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The party itself features special character meets, trick or treating, a great parade and fireworks, and more. You do need a special ticket to attend, and some of the nights do sell out in advance.

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Also in mid-September is the start of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Running this year from September 14th to November 14th, this festival is a huge draw and you will routinely see the Epcot Area Resorts completely full throughout the duration.

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You can expect a few things from this festival. First, the Eat to the Beat concert series, which happens pretty much every night throughout the festival and is included with your admission.

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At the festival center, you can explore and learn about all kinds of food related topics, but several of those will cost extra.

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The big draw for the festival, however, has to be the kiosks. Located generally around the World Showcase, and spreading a little bit into Future World last year, these kiosks provide an incredible range of international food and beverage offerings.

 

Late Fall/Winter

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The Food and Wine Festival ends up overlapping slightly the next big activity, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. In fact, some visitors try to plan a trip every year that will let them attend the last Halloween Party, the first Christmas Party, and the Food and Wine Festival, while only staying for about a week.

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party starts in early November and runs through just before Christmas. Its schedule is about the same as the Halloween Party schedule and also takes place in the Magic Kingdom. At the party you can expect special characters, shows, a parade and fireworks, all themed to the holidays.

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However, the holiday spirit at Disney World is not contained to the Christmas Party. Starting just after Thanksgiving, Epcot hosts the Candlelight Processional, a celebrity narrated telling of the story of Christmas, complete with choirs and an orchestra. Also in Epcot are special performers and storytellers to show and discuss holiday traditions from around the world.

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You can also get into the holiday spirit simply by visiting the hotels on Disney property, especially the deluxe ones. Here you will see beautiful trees and decorations, and some astounding gingerbread creations.

So what is the best time of year to go? As with anything, that is a personal question, and honestly there are no bad choices. I am a Christmas fanatic so it would be hard for me to not choose that first. The fall activities are more numerous than in Spring (if for no other reason than Halloween) and the parade and fireworks during the Halloween Party are thought by many to be the best that Disney does all year. However, it is hard to describe how beautiful and exciting the Flower and Garden Festival is. Really, what I am trying to say is no matter when you go, it will be great – just make sure you take advantage of all that is being offered!

Feb 102016
 

By Jennifer Retzlaff

Many of us have Disney vacations coming up either for spring break or during the summer months. Walt Disney World can be overwhelming to those visiting for the first or even the one hundred and first time, but there are some steps you can take to help make the most of your trip.

Before You Leave:

Make Dining Reservations

Magically Speaking Feb Book Reservations

If you are planning on eating at any of the Disney table service restaurants while on vacation, it is greatly encouraged to book your reservations ahead of time. 180 days ahead of time for those staying on Disney property to be exact. Highly sought after reservations to places like Be Our Guest Restaurant, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Chef Mickey’s and many others book up quickly leaving little room for walk up reservations during these busy months. In order to prevent your Disney princess from being disappointed she doesn’t get to eat in the castle, try to make those reservations as close to the 180 mark as possible.

Book Your Fastpass+

A few years ago now Disney started the new FastPass+ system where Disney guests are able to book their FastPasses up to 60 days ahead of arrive time. Although there are mixed reviews on this new system, many find the opportunity to book their favorite rides, shows, meet and greets or parades ahead of time a positive to their trip. Just like with the dining reservations, FastPasses book up quickly so it is greatly encouraged that you try to make these as soon as the window opens to you 60 days if you are an on-site guest and 30 days if you are staying off property. There are normally some passes available on the day of, but the times will be greatly limited and mostly for those rides that aren’t as popular. Doing a some research ahead of time regarding fastpasses is also a good idea. There are a variety of sites and books that will help you determine which attractions would give you the most bang for your buck when booking fastpasses. These leads us right into step number three which is research.

Do Your Research

As I stated before, Disney is a huge resort that can become extremely overwhelming. Just the four main parks offer a variety of shows, rides, parades, and meet and greets for guests to choose from. With that said, I would highly recommend doing some research over the different parks you would like to visit. If you aren’t like me who loves to research, just take some time to familiarize yourself with the different parks and rides that each park offers. This will help when you head out in the morning to prepare your group for what they should be expecting that day. You don’t want the little guy to think he is going to take on stormtroopers when you are really heading to Animal Kingdom to visit the dinosaurs. Having a basic understanding of each park, what it offers, and what food is there will help make your visit run that much smoother.

Make a Plan

As big as Walt Disney World is and as dining reservations and FastPasses are becoming more of a necessity, having a plan for each day prior to arriving will help you feel less overwhelmed. I am not suggesting you plan every moment or even every day, but having a general idea of which park you might prefer to head to will help everyone feel more in control when your magical vacation starts.

While There:

Now that you have taken a few steps before leaving to make sure that your trip will run smoother, here are some to help keep the magic going while you are on your Disney vacation.

Take Breaks

Magically SPeaking Feb Enjoy Resort

It doesn’t matter if you are two, twenty-two or fifty-two; everyone needs breaks while on a Disney vacation. It is often hot and humid which drains your energy quickly. Also, if it is crowded, taking a break from people is also a good thing for one’s patience. These breaks can be at the resort, at the park or riding the monorail around. Just take sometime to relax and not feel like you have to be doing something. These breaks will make your trip that much better as you will be refreshed and able to enjoy the magic that much more.

Explore your resorts

Magically Speaking Feb Take Breaks

Disney resorts are within themselves an amazing experience. Make sure that you schedule some downtime at your resort and look into all the events going on at the resort itself. This could mean swimming and taking part in the many activities provided at the pool to watching a Disney movie outside. Each resort has so many unique experiences to offer don’t forget to slow down and take them in as well. You are paying for it!

Use the FastPass+ System

If you took advantage of my earlier tip and made your FastPasses prior to heading to Disney, you are one step ahead on this one. While you are at Disney, you can still utilize FastPasses. Using the My Disney Experience app you can adjust your FastPasses that you have already made. Many travelers find this useful as they feel like they can have some more flexibility when in Disney. Just remember that not all FastPasses will be available on that day so you take that chance when changing or modifying them. It is a good to know this however so if you get swimming and don’t think you will be back to the park, or it is raining and you don’t want to go to Animal Kingdom that day, it gives you the chance to change things around while on vacation.
The other part of the FastPass system you can use while in Disney is taking advantage of booking more following using your originally three. After you have used your original three FastPasses, you are able to book one additional one at that park from a FastPass+ kiosk. If you plan this right, you could easily keep booking FastPasses throughout the day at that theme park you are attending. Again, not all rides will be open, but it still gives you a chance to guarantee yourself another ride throughout the day. We weren’t picky with our fourth, fifth, and sixth FastPasses while there as we used them as bonuses to what we had already booked and also had some fun letting the system tell us what to ride.

Eat at off times

This one can be a huge time saver and stress reliever. Disney’s quick service restaurants get extremely busy from 11 a.m. -2 p.m. on most days. If you and your family are able to eat late or early, it would save your group some time as you will be able to move faster through eating and also be less stressed as finding a seat should be a lot easier. Use these busy times to hit up some rides and shows at they should be a little slower during this prime eating time.

Hit up the shows for breaks

Magically Speaking Feb Enjoy SHows

My number one tip for your trip while at Disney is to take breaks. If you don’t want to head to your resort as you feel it will waste time, then check out some of the shows and less popular attractions to provide you with some much needed downtime. Even though it will still be entertaining, sitting in the air conditioning for a show can greatly revive one during the day. In Epcot there are a variety of amazing shows in World Showcase that you can see, Magic Kingdom has the Hall of Presidents, Country Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, and The Enchanted Tiki Room as great places to rests. Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are a little bit harder to find easy, quick places to relax, but if you can’t get into Festival of the Lion King or Finding Nemo: The Musical at Animal Kingdom, Dinoland offers some more relaxing places and is usually less crowded than the other parts of the park. Hollywood Studios has One Man’s Dream, where you can learn about Walt Disney and the new Star Wars Launch Bay, which is filled with artifacts from the movies. No matter how you do it, just make sure to schedule in some breaks.

Use the Disney PhotoPass photographers

Magically Speaking Feb Use Photographers

Disney provides a variety of PhotoPass photographers throughout each of the four main parks. These cast members are there to help you capture your memories. Take advantage of them. We have always purchased the Memory Maker from Disney, which allows us to prepay for all of our pictures ahead of time. The last few times we have gone, we have taken around 400 pictures making it well worth the money spent. Even if you don’t purchase this offer, the photographers will still help take pictures on your phone/camera. Don’t miss those special moments in front of the castle because you don’t have someone to take the picture, use these well-trained, amazing cast members to capture that memory.

Walt Disney World is an amazing vacation and hopefully these few tips will help you in your planning a magical trip and experiencing the magic of Disney while on your vacation. Happy planning!

Oct 212015
 

In each issue we share tips from our readers. If you have a tip to share send it to us at info@magically-speaking.com.

We’re looking for your best tips to share with us all about touring during the summer and tips for experiencing the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. In addition we are looking for your best tips for experiencing Halloween events at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Immerse yourself in the sights, smells and flavors of chocolate with Ghiradelli’s – The Chocolate Experience : From the Bean to the Bar at the Festival Center . Here you can sample chocolates, marvel at chocolate sculptures created by WDW Resort pastry chefs, explore the journey chocolate must take to get from the bean to the bar, purchase gourmet drinking chocolate, and much more.

 

Best of Be Our Guest Podcast

BOGPLogoEach issue we will feature a snippet of what you could learn by listening to the Be Our Guest Podcast. Be sure to check back each issue for more fun.
Episode 922 – Last Minute Trip to See Osborne Lights

Emily and Judy joined us from Virginia to talk about their last-minute trip to Walt Disney World last year with the purpose of seeing the Osborne Lights with their family!  Hear about how they went about planning this trip very last -minute, adjusting expectations, experiencing New Years Eve in Epcot, touring the parks while expecting, staying off-site and more!

The Be Our Guest Podcast is hosted by Disney lover Mike and co-hosted by fellow Disney aficionados Pam, Rikki and Debbie. The show covers everything from listener experiences to questions about how to make the most of your dream trip to the world! We hope you will join us each week as we share our love of all things Disney and we hope you will share yours as well. The BOGP family has members from all over the world and we hope you will join us!

Listen to us every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Be Our Guest Podcast!

Oct 072015
 

In each issue we share tips from our readers. If you have a tip to share send it to us at info@magically-speaking.com.

We’re looking for your best tips to share with us all about touring during the summer and tips for experiencing the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. In addition we are looking for your best tips for experiencing Halloween events at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

At Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Halloween-themed specialty treats have been available at the following locations:

  • Gaston’s Tavern
    Ghost Cupcakes
  • Storybook Treats
    Candy Corn Soft Serve Ice Cream
  • Main Street Bakery
    Spider Cupcakes and Monster Cupcakes
  • Main Street Bakery
    Halloween Cookie
  • Plaza Ice Cream Parlor
    Halloween Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Outdoor Vending Carts
    Candy Corn Cotton Candy

Make sure to pick up your themed sweet treat at the party!

 

Best of Be Our Guest Podcast

BOGPLogoEach issue we will feature a snippet of what you could learn by listening to the Be Our Guest Podcast. Be sure to check back each issue for more fun.

Episode 919 – Mother/Daughter Trip to Disneyland

Angie talks about her Mother/Daughter trip she took to to Disneyland over Spring Break 2015.  Hear what she thinks about her first visit to Disneyland after many trips to Walt Disney World.  She also shares details about staying at two Good Neighbor Hotels, including the legendary Candy Cane Inn, and more!

The Be Our Guest Podcast is hosted by Disney lover Mike and co-hosted by fellow Disney aficionados Pam, Rikki and Debbie. The show covers everything from listener experiences to questions about how to make the most of your dream trip to the world! We hope you will join us each week as we share our love of all things Disney and we hope you will share yours as well. The BOGP family has members from all over the world and we hope you will join us!

Listen to us every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Be Our Guest Podcast!

Sep 232015
 

In each issue we share tips from our readers. If you have a tip to share send it to us at info@magically-speaking.com.

We’re looking for your best tips to share with us all about touring during the summer and tips for experiencing the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. In addition we are looking for your best tips for experiencing Halloween events at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

New for this year is Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak . This scavenger hunt has guests searching for Remy statuettes hidden around World Showcase. The goal is to help Remy as he ventures around World Showcase collecting ingredients for his signature dish, ratatouille. Use the World Showcase map to locate the statues, mark your location with a sticker, and even receive a prize.  You can purchase your map and stickers from The Festival Center, Pin Central, Port of Entry or World Traveler at International Gateway. You will then use the map to record your discoveries while helping Remy, by placing the corresponding ingredient sticker on the map. Guests return their map (does not have to be completed) to the redemption location at Port of Entry (Plaza Towers) by Nov. 16 to pick up their surprise – a limited release pin!

Best of Be Our Guest Podcast

BOGPLogoEach issue we will feature a snippet of what you could learn by listening to the Be Our Guest Podcast. Be sure to check back each issue for more fun.

Episode 910 – Panama Canal Cruise on the Disney Wonder

We are heading up north today to speak with Barb from Canada to discuss her amazing Panama Canal Cruise aboard the Disney Wonder.  We discuss how a 15-night cruise is different than the typical DCL offerings and also get into how dining, recreation, and more change when you are on the ship this long!
Listen to the podcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Be Our Guest Podcast!