Friday, February 23, 2018

Disney After Dark

Disney World is a magical place.  That's no secret! You’d be hard-pressed to find something more magical than that feeling of anticipation and excitement that comes over you as you walk through any of the four park’s entrances.  

That being said, my favorite time in the parks is after dark when the parks come alive with special sights and sounds.  And nighttime has never been more thrilling at Disney! 

Animal Kingdom
The new Pandora area in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is impressive during the day, but it’s even more magical after dark.  The plants glow, some are interactive, and even the ground lights up.  It’s something you absolutely can’t miss!  I highly recommend you take younger kiddos by the hand or let them ride in the stroller after it’s dark because of how dark it is.

Rivers of Light is the nighttime show at Animal Kingdom.  This 15-minute show is located between Expedition Everest and Discovery Island, and the Tree of Life makes a beautiful backdrop.  Although the show is not as dramatic as Fantasmic, it is beautiful and fits the park very well.  The glowing floats, gorgeous lanterns, and details in the boats are breathtaking!

Tree of Life Awakenings are the perfect kiss goodnight from the park.  As you near the park entrance, you can see beautiful moments captured from various Disney films projected on the tree.  They happen almost continually in the evening hours just before the park closes.

Illuminations is an incredible blend of music, fireworks, and pyrotechnics.  This amazing 12-minute show celebrates the tale of our Earth in three parts: the Earth Is Born, the Triumph of Life, and Hope for the Future.  You can see it from anywhere around the World Showcase Lagoon that offers a view of the lake and the music is extraordinary!
Photo Credit: Walt Disney World Company

Hollywood Studios
Fantasmic is the main nighttime show in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at Hollywood Studios.  It’s an absolute can’t-miss battle between good and evil with scenes from Lion King, Pocahontas, Aladdin, Fantasia, and many other classic Disney films!  The show is 30 minutes long, and I highly recommend you book a dining package, grab a FastPass for it, or arrive early to secure a seat – it truly is incredible and very popular!

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is an incredible fireworks display.  At almost 14 minutes, it’s almost as long as Happily Ever After.  The music and theming is very impressive and the show features projections, clips from the movies, pyrotechnics, and an incredible use of lasers.  If you like Star Wars and/or fireworks, you’ll want to plan your evening at Hollywood Studios for a night when this fireworks show can be seen.

Magic Kingdom

Once Upon a Time is a new projection show on the castle hosted by Beauty and the Beast’s Mrs. Potts who is telling bedtime stories about Cinderella, Peter Pan, Frozen, Alice in Wonderland, and even Beauty and the Beast to her son Chip.  The show lasts about 15 minutes and can be viewed from Main Street and in front of the castle.

Happily Ever After is the main nighttime event at Disney World and the perfect way to end a magical day  at the Magic Kingdom.  The show is 18 minutes long and features over a dozen Disney films--even Tinkerbell makes a cameo when she flies (zip lines) from the top of the castle! 

This is an amazing show combining magnificent projected graphics on the castle with choreographed fireworks set to a new song recorded just for this show. Happily Ever After is a "don't miss" for everyone! 

Every day spent at a Disney theme park is a magical experience and I hope you’ll enjoy these nighttime shows as the fairy-tale ending to those wonderful days.

Special thanks to guest blogger Emily Lamb for this week's blog!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Special Holiday Events at Walt Disney World: Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom

Over the last few weeks, I've gone over holiday events at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Springs, and Disney resorts. This week I'm covering the last two parks--Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

At Hollywood Studios, the decorations are everywhere including Gertie the dinosaur wearing a Santa hat! Around Echo Lake, you'll find jumbo sized ornaments, garland, and a giant Christmas tree set in the middle of the water! Stick around through the evening, and you may have the opportunity to watch Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! and see Sunset Seasons Greetings.

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!

This show full of holiday magic is projected on the Chinese theater. Based on the Christmas show Prep and Landing, the story line is that Santa is missing! Full of holiday hijinks, tag along with Wayne and Lanny as they rescue Santa and save Christmas. Lots of great projections and fireworks make this fun for everyone.
Nighttime Spectacular   
Feel the warmth of holiday magic as the buildings and rooftops transform and immerse you in scenes from Mickey’s Christmas CarolBeauty and the BeastPluto’s Christmas TreeTim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and more. It all builds to a festive finale that must be seen—and heard—to be believed. It features traditional holiday tunes, projections, special effects, fireworks and even a little snow!
Sunset Seasons Greetings

When night falls on Disney’s Hollywood Studios, an unforgettable scene starts to unfold. Billboards start to change and the Hollywood Tower Hotel (The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror) magically transforms. 

The Toy Story characters guess which new toys are coming this Christmas as the scene becomes covered in holiday wrapping paper. The Swedish Chef turns the scene into giant gingerbread houses. And finally, Olaf pining over his holiday wish as music plays and the scene freezes over into a Frozen winter wonderland complete with dancing Aurora Borealis lights and projected falling snow.

At Animal Kingdom, Christmas is a little more understated. You'll find lots of wreaths and garland, and some characters are dressed in their holiday finery! Animal Kingdom does have a huge Christmas decorated with traditional snowflakes and lights but also animal masks, large animal depictions, and drums! Some of the other trees may have animals like zebras, hippos, lions, giraffes, and more!

All the Disney parks are magical at Christmas! If you're visiting, make sure to see them all and find the magic of the holiday!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Special Holiday Events at Walt Disney World: Epcot

Walt Disney World is a magical place at Christmas, and there are so many things to see and do! Thus far we have covered Magic Kingdom and things to see outside the parks. Today we tackle Epcot!

Pere Noel in France Pavilion in Epcot
International Festival of the Holidays
Throughout World Showcase, each country shares its holiday heritage. Moving around World Showcase during the Holidays Around the World celebration may put you face-to-face with the (good) witch La Befana, known in Italy for filling children's shoes with treats, or the Chinese Lion Dancers who bring good fortune and happiness. In many countries, the storyteller is a representation of Santa, such as Pere Noel in France and Father Christmas in England. 

There are meet and greets with Santa and Mrs. Claus in The American Adventure plus other holiday characters. The celebrations of Kwanzaa and Hanukkah can be found at the American Adventure.

Holiday Finale for IllumiNations
The evening is capped by the visual splendor of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the mesmerizing Epcot spectacular featuring fireworks, laser and water all spruced up for the season with a spirited holiday finale.

Illuminations finale. (Photo Credit: Disney Travel Company)

The Candlelight Processional: The beautiful Biblical story of Christmas read by featured celebrity narrators, a mass choir and 50-piece live orchestra at America Gardens Theatre. Beautiful music and a great story makes for a holiday tradition. To make sure you have a seat, Candlelight Packages are available with breakfast, lunch, and dinner at select Epcot and Epcot area resort restaurants. You get a great meal and guaranteed seating for the heartfelt Candlelight Processional. Otherwise, make sure you line up early for the show; the later shows are sometimes easier to get into.

Candlelight Processional with a full orchestra and choirs!

Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree
Another fun scavenger hunt has come to Epcot! Chip and Dale are collecting ornaments for their Christmas tree—and they need your help! To get started, purchase a map and sticker from select merchandise locations, including Pin Central, Disney Traders and World Traveler at International Gateway. As you travel around World Showcase, be on the lookout for Chip and Dale as they gather ornaments from holiday decorations in each World Showcase pavilion. Once you spot them, add the corresponding ornament sticker to your map. Then, take your completed map to Disney Traders and exchange it for a festive surprise, courtesy of Chip and Dale!
Maps are $6.99 plus tax, and are available throughout Holidays Around the World at Epcot while supplies last.
JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season
Rejoice in seasonal sounds that blend inspiring gospel with jazz, R&B and more. Catch daily performances of this uplifting holiday show at the Future World Fountain Stage.

Epcot is one park not to miss during the Christmas holiday. Music, entertainment, and lots of great food means this should be on your list of places to see at Christmas.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Special Holiday Events at Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom

Last week we went over holiday attractions to see at Disney Springs. This week, let's take a look at the special holidays things to do while at the Magic Kingdom!

A Frozen Holiday Wish features Anna and Elsa in an all-new show on the Castle Forecourt Stage. With special appearances by rugged mountain man Kristoff and lovable snowman Olaf, the show culminates in Queen Elsa using her incredible powers to present a gift to everyone in the kingdom, transforming Cinderella Castle into a glimmering ice palace for the holidays. "A Frozen Holiday Wish" shows every night at 6:15pm. It'll show again later during party hours on party nights, too.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Special Holiday Events at Walt Disney World: Outside the Disney Parks

Any avid Disney World lover will tell you that a "bad" day at Disney is better than good day at home, but really, we all know that some times are just better than others at Disney World. Visiting around the christmas holidays is one of those good times!

Friday, November 10, 2017

How to Do Disney Cruise Line Online Check In

Yes! You're going on a Disney cruise, and your travel agent has given you the date for your online check in. But what is that, and what does it mean? For first time cruisers, sometimes the online check in process can feel overwhelming!

First, why do online check in? It simplifies the process once you are at the port, and it helps you be prepared for the cruise! There are two parts to the process. The first one is simply the online check where you'll enter your emergency contact information, the identification you'll be using (passports versus government ID), set up your onboard account, and sign up your children (ages 3-12) for the kids' clubs. The second part is where you'll choose your Port Adventures, book spa and adult dining reservation times, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reservations, and more!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Using Mobile Order at Disney World's Quick Service Restuarants

Back in the summer, Disney rolled out a new mobile order option at a few of their quick service locations at Disney World. Initially only available at a few locations, it's now offered at more than 15 locations throughout the parks and Disney Springs!

So, how does this order option work? When you've chosen a location where you want to eat, scroll down to My Plans and press the Order Food button. Then you can choose the quick service location you desire. Or from the Dining menu, tap the quick service restaurant you want in the My Disney Experience app. Tap on the Order Food icon, and the menu for the restaurant pulls up.