Jan 072015

Disney and the New Girl - Traveling with a Disney Newbie

By Roye Ann Morris

One of my favorite things to do is to make a visit to Walt Disney World with someone who has never been, or who hasn’t been in many years. As 2015 begins, our family is again planning a trip with a friend who has not been to the parks since she was a young girl. After taking a friend last year who also had not visited in quite a long while, I came up with a list of some do’s and don’ts when planning a trip with a relative “Disney Newbie”! Here are a few things I wish I had thought of before we were in the middle of our vacation!

  • DO discuss your vacation style with one another before leaving! Maybe multiple times. My best friend and I knew a lot about each other, but having never taken a trip before, we didn’t really know anything about how we approached vacations. My style, especially at Disney, is to pack as much into every day as possible. I assumed that she would want to see as much as possible since she had not been to the parks in so long, and there were so many new attractions to see. I discovered while we were in Magic Kingdom on our third day that she was much more laid-back than me (it only took me three days!), and had to readjust my expectations. If we had talked about that before the trip, my plans would have been much different, and the disappointment I had to deal with over not riding every ride and seeing every show would have been alleviated.
  • DO make your plans for rides and restaurants together, even if your friend says she is confident that you will make perfect plans without her input! I know a lot about Disney, but I knew very little about what type of rides she would be interested in, or what foods she would like to eat. I planned our day at Hollywood Studios around riding Toy Story Midway Mania, only to find out as we were getting in line that my friend has vertigo issues! Because we had already ridden Star Tours, she was unwilling to risk ruining the rest of her day by riding Toy Story. As this is my absolute favorite attraction at Hollywood Studios, I was terribly disappointed. You definitely don’t want mistakes like that to spoil your day!
  • DO discuss in depth your likes/dislikes when it comes to how to spend your day at the parks. My friend had requested having afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian, so I had made reservations on the day we were spending at Magic Kingdom. My plan was to spend the morning hitting all the rides, then count tea as our late lunch. After a few rides, my friend made it clear that Magic Kingdom was not her favorite(how did we not talk about that before our trip??), and that she would rather spend several hours at the Grand Floridian shopping and people watching while waiting for our reservation time. Again, I had to readjust my expectations of the day, and spent a few minutes feeling resentful about all the rides I was not getting to ride. In the end, afternoon tea was lovely, but communication about expectations would have made the day much different.
  • DON’T forget to share the things you know about crowd levels, eating times, and food choices. My friend was happy to let me make restaurant reservations, but I didn’t think to tell her that eating meals early to avoid crowds was wise, so our counter service meals were a little hectic. Next time we will talk about ALL meals before we hit the parks, not just the table service ones!
  • DON’T let your friend wear flip flops to the park in February if you are coming from a city where it’s cold and you haven’t worn them for three months! My friend lives in flip flops all spring and summer, but walking around Magic Kingdom in them after not wearing them for a while caused a major blister on her toes, and we spent an hour walking back to the First Aid Station and waiting in line for BandAids. Which leads me to my next point….
  • DON’T walk all the way back to the First Aid Station if you just need BandAids! When we stopped to ask a cast member where the First Aid Station was, he told us that every shop has them behind the counter; you just have to ask for them. This was news to me! There is a charge if you get them at a shop, while at the First Aid Station they are free, so you have to consider whether it is more important to save the few dollars or to save time. On the plus side, the nurse at the First Aid Station was very kind, and there was a nice area to sit down in the quiet and let my friend rest her feet.
  • DON’T forget to plan some things that you love to do, even if they might not be tops on your friend’s list. I got caught up in wanting to do everything that I thought she would like, and didn’t plan on doing any of the things that are usually “must do’s” for me. After all, you are both there to have fun!
  • DO plan some down time when you are not in the parks. Although we were sharing a room, it was large enough that we didn’t feel crowded, and it gave us valuable time each evening to be in our own space, even if it was just our separate sides of the room! You don’t have to be doing something every single minute, and the quiet time each night made the next morning easier.
  •  DO share your ‘getting out the door’ routine. It may seem silly, but knowing how your travel companions approach getting ready in the morning is important. My friend and I are polar opposites in this respect. I like to get up a little early, have coffee and breakfast in the room, and have a few extra minutes to do make-up and hair. My friend is the jump-out-of-bed, grab-a-protein-bar-and-go type of person. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have stressed over whether to wake her up so we would be out the door on time!

And last, and to me, the most important:

  • DO share all your love for and knowledge of the parks with your “Newbie”, but DON’T get your feelings hurt if they don’t seem interested in everything you are sharing. The parks can be overwhelming on your first trip, but all the things they see and hear will come back to them as they think back over their trip and have time to process all the information. We still talk about our trip and laugh over the missteps and mistakes, but we would go again if we had the chance!

Introducing “Disney Newbies” to the wonderful world at the Disney parks is one of my favorite things to do! Hopefully some of these tips will make any trip with a Newbie a vacation to treasure!

Dec 312014

A Walt Disney World Year In Review - 2014 Month By Month

By Rikki Niblett

Wow…2014 has come and gone…how did it happen so fast? One day we’re waiting on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to open, the next day, it’s got hour plus waits all day, every day. It truly has been a fantastic year in the Walt Disney World community, so let’s take a look, month by month at some of the highlights.

Spice Road Table


  • Avatarland broke ground: Was Avatarland going to happen? We got our answer when ground officially broke, with many Disney dignitaries and a Na’vi posing with the shovels. Looks like we really are moving forward with this new land. Now, we wait until 2017 until the area opens.
  • Spice Road Table opens: This new restaurant, located in the Morocco Pavilion at Epcot opened with tepid reviews. Recently, Disney revamped the menu and began allowing for Advanced Dining Reservations, so we’ll see if that helps to increase the number of patrons at this restaurant.


  • Bye PUSH: It was a strange removal. One second, we heard the rumors that PUSH the talking trash can would be leaving, the next Disney said he was staying, then a few days later, the interactive character was pulled. We’ll miss you PUSH. Thanks for the fun memories and conversations.

Festival of Fantasy Parade Maleficent


  • The debut of the Festival of Fantasy Parade: Wow! That’s really all you can say about this parade. (And this comes from someone who’s not a parade person.) This parade brought so much to the table. It brought multiple princesses, swinging ruffians, colorful floats, lots of dancing, and of course, a fire-breathing dragon. How does it get much better? This was a cool parade.


  • Anna and Elsa move to the Magic Kingdom: And thousands and thousands of guests lined up to meet them. This meet and greet quickly saw wait times of a few hours. The opening of the park quickly became an orderly walk back to Fantasyland, as all guests wanted to do was meet Anna and Elsa and ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (more on that.) Moving these two to Princess Fairytale Hall was a slam dunk idea. And little girls everywhere are super happy when they get the chance to meet their favorite Disney sisters.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train


  • New announcements: We had quite a few new things announced this month, including Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Trader Sam’s Grotto Grog at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Now we wait for the future when those both appear.
  • Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade ends: This was a sad day; the end of the parade for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The reason behind the removal was due to construction taking place at the park (understandable), but we still miss getting to see an afternoon parade here.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train debuts: Yay! This was the one we were all waiting for…for months and months…and months. Finally, the day came at the end of May. The attraction is super cute and features some incredibly impressive AudioAnamatronics. I expected the swaying motion to make the attraction more intense, but it really just helps the whole thing to glide better. It’s rollicking fun for the whole family.

Festival of the Lion King


  • Festival of the Lion King debuts in new theater: The show had been down for refurb for the majority of the year to this point, but I have to say that this new area is simply gorgeous! Disney got the theming perfect. It really feels like the building has been there forever. And what’s great is that the show didn’t change too terribly much, so that’s good too. A better experience and the same show we know and love? Again, how do you get much better.

Frozen Summer Fun Live


  • Introduction of the Frozen Summer Fun Live events: The smash hit of Frozen brought this smash summer success. (Rumor is this event was throw together in just a few weeks.) The event brought us a fun parade, a stage show called “For the First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration”, a dance party, and a merchandise location themed after Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post from the movie. This event was so popular it was extended and then some pieces continue on to this day. (The sing along and Wandering Oaken’s.) It really was good Frozen fun.


  • American Idol Experience Closes: That was a quick closure. It had been said originally that the attraction would be closing in January, but then it was announced that it would be closing a full six months earlier. Many rejoiced as the attraction closed, given that most wondered why the attraction was introduced in the first place.

Backlot Tour


  • Backlot Tour Closes: Another surprise closure! One that really came out of the blue. The Backlot Tour closed with minimal lead time. While the attraction had been cut down multiple times throughout the years, it was still sort of sad to see an opening day attraction close down, no matter how sad of shape it was in.

Canadian Lumberjack Show


  • Maelstrom Closes to make way for a Frozen attraction: The rumors had been swirling for about a year, but it seemed as though the rumors were true. Maelstrom in Norway closed at the beginning of the month as fans went to say their final goodbyes.
  • World Showcase Acts removed and new acts introduced: This year we said goodbye to Mo’Rockin, the World Showcase Players, the Fife and Drum Corps, and Off Kilter. We also got to welcome the new Moroccan female group, B’net al Houwariyate; a flag waving troupe,  Sbandieratori di Sansepolcro; celtic group, The Paul McKenna Band, and Canadian Lumberjack Show.


  • Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow closes: Another closure for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s clear something is afoot. This time is was the lackluster Pirates themed show. I don’t think many will miss it.
  • Turner Classic Movies make deal with Disney: This was a match made in heaven. Turner Classic Movies will sponsor The Great Movie Ride and will include a new pre-show and updated movie clips. In addition, Disney weekends will occur periodically on Turner Classic Movies.


  • Trattoria al Forno opens: Opening in the place of Cat Cora’s Kouzzina, this new BoardWalk Inn restaurant features Italian dishes.

It’s hard to believe that so much happened this year! And 2015 is sure to be an exciting year with the debut of Disney Springs and the updated Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort opening with a new pool, new DVC villas, and most important, Trader Sam’s! What is your favorite Walt Disney World news piece from 2014 and what are you looking forward to for 2015?

Mar 202013

By: Rikki Niblett



Have you heard the news?  Downtown Disney is going to be seeing some MAJOR changes over the next few years.

Being renamed as Disney Springs, the new version of Downtown Disney will take it’s cue from Florida waterfront towns and will include meandering springs, open air promenades, incredible shopping, great new entertainment options, and wonderful restaurants.  The new area is set to increase the number of venues in the district to double, from 75 to 150.

Disney Springs will now focus on four different neighborhoods to help bring this new adventure to life.

Continue reading »

Dec 282011

By: Rikki Niblett

It was a crazy year again for the Disney Parks. Lots of great things happened and a ton of new attractions opened. Some attractions reopened after lengthy refurbishments. We also lost a few things and a brand new Disney destination premiered. So, we here at Magically Speaking thought we’d taking a look at some of the biggest news stories that happened with Disney this year.

First, 2011 started off a little sadly with Mickey’s Toontown Fair closing at the Magic Kingdom. Many were heartbroken to see this area go, but with the new Fantasyland approaching for 2012 it was a necessary evil. This was the last land added to the Magic Kingdom and the first to ever close at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Debuting on both coasts in January was The Magic, The Memories, and You. This show is projected on Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom and it’s a small world at Disneyland. For many, I think this show was a surprise hit (I know it was for me!). It’s so amazing to see what technology can do! It truly is a remarkable show and if it doesn’t leave you with a tear in your eye, I don’t know what will. Continue reading »

Nov 172010

By Erica Colmenares

As a nuclear family, we came relatively late to the Disney vacation game. Our son, Max, was seven before he first set foot on Disney property. But since then, he’s made up for lost time, and has grown up with Disney. He’s experienced the birth of attractions, and experienced offerings that are no longer. And now he’s ready to usher a new family member into the Disney fold. Let’s look at his journey in photos.

2004 In 2004, we were far from home. My husband was a medical officer with theU.S. Navy, and he was stationed in Sigonella, Sicily (just off theboot tip of Italy). As our time overseas came to an end, the children of Disney-mad Navy family talked Max’s ear off about how much fun they had on their Disney vacations. They shared stories of their favorite rides, and gave him advice about what he should do, if his silly family ever got their act in gear and took him to Disney World. We were convinced; Max needed “in” on this magical experience.

We set it the visit up as a surprise for Max. While we talked about going to Disney CallWorld, it was always in a “later, with your cousins” way. In actuality, however, I was to take Max to Disney right after he and I returned stateside. In this photo, Max is getting the early morning call at our hotel from his Papa (still overseas), letting him know that he’s aGarden Grillbout to board a plane to Disney!

Later the same day, here’s Max at the Garden Grill, at the no-longer-offered Ice Cream Social. Max still looks a little shell-shocked to find himself all of a sudden at Disney World!

2005 The previously-Disney-deprived Max got to go to Orlando twice in 2005. At the beginning of the year, we took Max’s Uncle Ben, a true Disney fan. We stayed at the newly opened Pop Century resort, and enjoyed the Donald’s Breakfastosaurus character meal (which has since moved to Tusker House and is called Donald’s Safari Breakfast.)


At the end of the year, we journeyed to Florida for MouseFest 2005, and attended the MouseForLessFest Tony’s Town Square Grand Gathering Breakfast. In this photo, Max is center stage, wearing his red hat with a white strip. (Photo 4 Grand Gathering MouseFest breakfast). We miss MouseFest.

Continue reading »

Oct 062010

By Erica Colmenares

Blogging is where it’s at these days. Even my son has a blog (topic: video games; surprised?). My preference runs more towards Disney blogs (again, surprised?). I especially enjoy the guest blogs from members at TheMouseForLess.com. These blog entries are not the direct scoop from the Mouse himself. Rather, they are what I enjoy most about Disney. They are the stories of true Disney fans and their magical experiences and memories with families and friends.

A quick look at the MFL Guest Blog can quickly turn into hours of reading. Here are some of the blog posts I enjoyed during a recent leisurely read:

Dinner for 12, please…

When you hear “Grand Gathering” what comes to mind? I know that Disney wants you to have a fairy tale image of happiness and laughing and everyone getting along. Young and old and in between, everyone is thrilled to be together, sharing in the magic of the “happiest place on Earth!” (Right. Have you ever seen my family?) I have those thoughts, all the time as a matter of fact. That is why I continue to plan grand gathering types of trips, because we do have those moments where it seems that everything is right with the world and I never, ever want to go home again.

Leading up to those wonderful days takes a lot of planning, mostly on my part, but every now and then I venture out and ask the opinions of my family members. It is their vacation too and since they are pumping thousands of dollars into the trip, I feel obligated to seek their thoughts for some things. Mostly this happens when I am trying to choose our evening meals. We have been fans of the basic Dining Plan since it’s early days when it included tips and appetizers. Through all the changes we have remained supporters of the plan, the number one reason being that it makes the trip have that all-inclusive feel and I don’t have to feel like I am constantly plucking out the charge card. So how do I go about choosing those table service locations?

To find out how, click here.
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