Sep 212016
 

By Roye Ann Morris

 

As I was getting ready to plan our next trip to Disney World, my mind wandered to previous trips and some of my favorite things that are no more.  I began to dig through scrapbooks and photo albums, searching for pictures of long-gone attractions and shows that my family and I had enjoyed through the years. Here are a few of my favorites!

Disney Dollars

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We loved collecting these as we waited for our next Disney trip. Although they are no longer available, Disney will still honor any you might have. I think I’ll keep these, though; the memory is worth more than anything the dollars might buy!

River Country and Discovery Island

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This is a pamphlet dated 1983. A one-day pass to Magic Kingdom or Epcot was $15 for adults, $14 for juniors, and $12 for children. We never made it to River Country, but Discovery Island was amazing! I still remember my mom posing for this picture, and shortly after it was taken being bitten by an emu she was trying to feed. Being an animal lover, the day we spent here was pure joy for me. I was very sad to see Discovery Island close, but I take every chance I can to visit Animal Kingdom!

Dreamfinder and Figment

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This is from the newspaper Disney used to print for guests, dated March 4-17, 1983. As I’ve said before, these two characters and the original Journey into Imagination were my absolute favorite things about Epcot. We always set aside time to play in the pavilion after the ride, and I was thrilled when my kids were able to get a picture with Figment on one of our trips. I really believe that if the original ride came back, people would fall in love with it again!

Epcot Restaurants

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This little folded pamphlet included tips on planning your visit and a list of Epcot Center counter service restaurants. Some of the tips inside it were: “Visit Magic Kingdom in the morning and Epcot Center in the afternoon. Take in the wonders of Future World later in the day. Make your dinner reservations at Earth Station before 10 A.M. World Showcase dinner reservations may also be made at City Hall in the Magic Kingdom.” My, how things have changed! Can you imagine Le Cellier as a counter service spot?

 

The Waterfalls in the Polynesian Lobby

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My family took a picture in this spot every time we were in the Polynesian. It was truly one of my favorite places in the World; beautiful, serene, a kind of oasis in the middle of busyness. Although the new lobby is also beautiful with its wide-open spaces and bright colors, this may be the thing I miss the most.

Random Character Photo Ops

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While I realize that having a schedule for character appearances makes it easier to plan your day, happening upon a character as he (she? it?) walked through the park was always a fun surprise. We always felt like we had won a prize if we were the first or second in line when a character appeared.  Even if you didn’t necessarily know exactly who it was…. Does anybody know who this is??

Maelstrom in Norway

Of our favorite rides, although more recent than the other memories. I do love “Frozen”, but I am sad that people will not get to ride through the beauty that was Maelstrom, and was very sorry to see it “Disappear, Disappear”! Although I am definitely looking forward to the new “Frozen” attraction on our upcoming trip!

Well, enough reminiscing for one article. I’m still looking for pictures of other favorites: Orange Bird, Horizons, World of Motion, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride….what are your favorite bygone attractions at Disney?

Aug 242016
 

Ann Dunnington

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Fall is in the air.  Can you feel it?  Ok, maybe it’s still technically summer, but school is back in session and pretty soon, pumpkin-spiced EVERYTHING will be everywhere you turn.   If you’re planning on visiting the Walt Disney World resort in September or October, you will undoubtedly be there during a special ticketed event at the Magic Kingdom known as “Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party”, or MNSSHP for short.  This event is full of special parades, shows, fireworks, trick-or-treating, character meet and greets, party-specific merchandise and treats, and little to no wait time for select attractions. This event is always a hit, and is a fabulous way to get into the Halloween spirit!  We are attending one of the parties this year, so here are my top 5 tips for getting the most out of your MNSSHP experience!

 

  • Save time, money, and potential sell-outs by purchasing your ticket in advance

Depending on the date you choose, adult ticket prices can range from $72 to $105 if purchased in advance ($67 to $100 for children), or $79 to $105 if purchased on the event day ($74 to $100 for children).  So save yourself a few dollars and purchase your tickets in advance on the Walt Disney World website.  This will also save you time by being able to skip the ticket counter at the Magic Kingdom, and prevent the potential disappointment of the party being sold out when you arrive.  There are only a select number of tickets available for each party, which helps keep the crowd levels low.  BONUS TIP:  Even though the party begins at 7:00 p.m., Cast Members have historically allowed entrance to the party as early as 4:00 p.m.!   If you purchase your ticket in advance, add it to your My Disney Experience account, and you can add up to three FastPass+ selections to use before the party starts!  Your FastPass+ selections can be between 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., 4:45 p.m. – 5:45 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., with no additional admission ticket required!  Of course, this is historical information, so it’s all subject to change at any time.  But, this allows you to have a nice restful day swimming and relaxing at the hotel, and then a full 7 hours at the Magic Kingdom starting at 4:00 p.m.!

  • Dress Up… carefully

Children are allowed to wear full costumes of their choice, as long as the costume isn’t long enough for them to trip on, doesn’t have a mask that they can’t see through, and doesn’t have any weapons.  Adults have a few more restrictions now due to safety concerns.  The new adult policy states: “Guests ages 14 and older are strongly discouraged from wearing layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body as they may be subject to additional security screening. Additionally, costumes may not contain any weapons that resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.”

Because of how hot and humid Florida can be in the fall, and of course there’s always the potential for rain, choose a costume that is comfortable and can be covered with a poncho if necessary.  Disney bounding, aka dressing in normal clothes that are inspired by a Disney character, is a popular choice, as are family-themed costumes (like the whole cast of Finding Dory).  But don’t feel like you HAVE to dress in costume- you don’t!  My husband and I will be Disney bounding this year, dressing up as the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels… because we’re completely normal…  Ha.

  • Trick-or-Treating with a special diet? No problem!

Disney is known as being the ultimate destination for guests with special needs of all kinds.  If you’re attending MNSSHP and have food allergies, but still want to participate in the Trick-or-Treating fun, bring the bag of candy back up to City Hall and exchange it for some special diets treats!  Or if you don’t want to Trick-or-Treat at all, head straight to City Hall upon arrival and pick up your goodies!  These treats are generally “Big 8 Allergen” friendly, and sometimes aren’t even edible at all (think pencils, stickers, small toys, etc.).  To make sure that special diet treats are available during the party you will be attending, you can email Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com.  They always have these available at every party, but they can sometimes run out if there’s a lot of demand.  Stop by early in the party, just in case!

  • Catch the 2nd shows/parades of the night for smaller crowds

The most popular parades and shows are the first ones of the night.  If you want to meet characters that are only out during the party, like Jack and Sally or all Seven of the Dwarves, get in line for THEM early (I suggest 6:00 p.m.), rather than getting a spot for the first parade or castle show.  You’ll be able to meet the character you want to meet, and have fewer crowds around you when the later show or parade rolls around.

In regards to the best places to stand for the parade, I prefer Frontierland or Liberty Square over Main Street.  These areas seem to be less crowded.

  • Not all attractions are open during the party, so plan accordingly

Of course, riding rides at MNSSHP is not high on everyone’s to-do list, but for those that prefer taking advantage of the more popular attractions with little to no wait time (like us), this is something to keep in mind.  A few of the popular attractions, like the Jungle Cruise are not open during the party, so these would be great attractions to use those FastPass+ selections on before the party starts.  This year’s MNSSHP map is not yet available, but you can see last year’s map here.

So there we have it!  What are your tips for making the most out of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party?  Are you planning on attending this year?  Let us know!

Aug 102016
 

This is a Magical Tip/ Magical Memory in one! If you are staying at one of the WDW properties and have the opportunity to go the evening Extra Magic Hour at the Magic Kingdom that runs until the early morning hours, make sure you go!  On a visit over Thanksgiving week, we made a point to go back to the hotel and nap midday so we could stay up and go to the park’s Evening Extra Magic Hours.  We arrived just as the fireworks started.  When the fireworks ended, there was a mad rush by most Guests to the gates, yet we were able to fight the crowd and made our way toward the back of the park.  This was the beginning of our favorite memory of the week.  We rode everything we wanted to and had no lines at most rides.  I remember walking straight though to a waiting boat on Pirates of the Caribbean!  We wanted to walk through and see Fantasyland and ended up riding the Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid!  It ended up being a great ride!  And of course I left humming the music.  At times, we felt like the only ones in the park.  The only other people we saw were cast members!  Make sure to take advantage of these late night Extra Magic Hours if they are available when you are vacationing at WDW!  It’s worth it and your kids will love it.  They get to stay out late and ride and ride and ride some more. One more tip: have snacks and drinks in your hotel room when you get back.  Everything is closed at 3:00 a.m. (Submitted by Keith R.)

Best of Be Our Guest Podcast

BOGP Logo 300x300x72Each 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 1050 – Start with Apps

Today we spend some time talking technology and Disney!  From Pokemon Go to Star Wars Rebels all over Walt Disney World to more traditional apps to make your Disney vacation experience awesome, we talk about it all today!
The Be Our Guest Podcast is hosted by Disney lover Mike and co-hosted by fellow Disney aficionados Pam and Rikki. 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 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!

Jul 272016
 

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Who is the real Peter Pan? (Taken during the Pirates & Pal Cruise). (Submitte by Melissa L.)

In each issue we feature a magical memory submitted by one of our readers. We look forward to sharing your memories in upcoming issues! To submit your memory, email a photo with a short description to info@magically-speaking.com.

Jul 132016
 

MM

 

We just told my Grandchildren Nicholas and Michael that we are going to Disney World  in December. We try to get them to Disney World for each season to make the experience a little different. (Submitted by Linda M.)

In each issue we feature a magical memory submitted by one of our readers. We look forward to sharing your memories in upcoming issues! To submit your memory, email a photo with a short description to info@magically-speaking.com.

Jul 132016
 

By Teresa Pittman

 

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Years ago, when my oldest grandchildren were about five and two, we decided to surprise them with a trip to Disney World.

At the time, Disney was running a great series of TV commercials. In each scene, someone would notice a balloon with Mickey Mouse ears floating past. A little card was attached to the balloon’s string. When he or she caught the balloon, the card turned out to be an invitation to travel to WDW.

Was there a more perfect idea? I got in touch with some Disney friends, who provided us with some of the balloons and cards. The night before our trip, my son and his wife put the kids to bed and packed all the suitcases. Early in the morning, they inflated and released the balloons in their rooms.

When the kids woke up, it was just like in the commercial: balloons floating near their beds with cards attached. They were so excited! The family had a quick breakfast, picked me up, and we drove to the airport. Breakfast in Ontario, lunch in Florida.

At the end of the trip, the oldest grandchild said “ALWAYS surprise me. I love it.”

Well, we haven’t quite managed to always surprise them – sometimes the planning process means we need to let them know. But we do try.

Right now, we have a trip planned for mid-August for the families of two of my children, plus me. That’s a total of five adults and six children. Baby Isla will only be 10 months old, so she’ll be surprised no matter what we do, but the other kids are 14, 11, 9, 6 and 4, so we figured there was plenty of scope for making this a big surprise.

Here’s what we’re doing:

Starting nine weeks before our day of departure (we’re driving down), a mysterious package has been delivered to the home of the older five kids each week. Inside is a letter inviting them to join in the activity (signed by Aseret, which is simply my name backwards) and a set of envelopes with linked puzzles that they have to solve. I’ve had a lot of fun creating the puzzles and tried to have enough variety that even the youngest can take part (some are designated just for them).

The puzzles all have a running theme of creativity and imagination, and many refer to some of the creators mentioned or quoted in that circle on the ground in Epcot. For example, I did one puzzle where they had to work out a code to read a quote by educator John Dewey: “Education is not preparation for life, it is life itself.” (Especially fitting for these kids because they are homeschooled.) The next puzzle was about another Dewey who created something important – Melvil Dewey who invented the Dewey Decimal System. A jigsaw puzzle for the youngest two had to be put together to find the name of the System. And where might they see the Dewey Decimal System in action today? That’s right, the library – so they headed off to the branch near their home and found, on the “HOLD” shelf, two books (purchased for them) being held under the name Aseret, with an envelope with yet another clue tucked in between them.

Once they have all the puzzles worked out each week, they get a final envelope with a letter of the alphabet in it. On the back of each of those letters is another puzzle – the answer to each of those puzzles will be a number, and the numbers help the kids put the letters in order.

They’re not supposed to open the letters until the very last day, which will be our day of departure. The kids have been told that we are going to Great Wolf Lodge (giving mom and dad an excuse to pack!), but when they put the letters together, they will spell MARCELINE.

Okay, readers, do you know what that is?

Give up? The kids will get a chance to research this online, and what we hope they’ll quickly find is that Marceline, Missouri, is Walt Disney’s home town (and the basis for Magic Kingdom’s Main Street). Then the adults will say “let’s go visit the world he created!”

And off we’ll go.

Recently in one of the online Disney discussion groups I belong to, people were talking about whether or not it’s a good idea to surprise kids with Disney trips. Some said definitely not. It’s true, sometimes the surprises go wrong. We’ve all seen the videos where the child just dissolves in tears when the surprise is announced – and not happy tears either! And some parents said they didn’t want to lose the fun of planning with their children and everyone sharing in the anticipation.

We feel confident that the surprise will go over well because my grandchildren have been to WDW before and know that we will go again at some point. They just don’t know when. We’ve been able to plan in a sneaky way by asking things like “next time we go to WDW, where would you like to eat? What rides do you most want to go on?” Or we show them videos of other people’s trips and watch what seems to capture their interest.

But every family knows their own situations best, and these kind of surprises may not work for you.

You don’t need something as elaborate as my puzzle packages, of course, if you DO decide to surprise someone with a Disney vacation. A little online research will reveal hundreds of ways that people have made the announcement, and you can personalize them to fit your family. And for people who like the unexpected, any surprise adds to the fun!