Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Making Changes

Other than Peter Pan there comes a time in everyone's life where they must grow older. Not necessarily grow up though. This year I am turning 20 years old. Hard to believe that I started this blog over 3 years ago. Since I will no longer be a teen I feel that it is time for a small change though.
All new posts will be made on WDWDetails. You can click through that link or on the New Blog Location tab just above this post.
You will still be able to see all the posts that are currently here on WDWorld4Teens. Do not fear I have no plans to stop posting about the wondrous things I discover! So to keep updated with all my new adventures s be sure to head on over to the new URL so you don't miss out!

Have a Magical Day!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Star Wars Weekends 2013

When it was announced that Disney had bought Lucas Films and intended to create new movies many of my friends asked if I was going to suddenly start liking Star Wars now that it was Disney. I just giggled because there were a few things they didn't realize.
1. I grew up on Star Wars and have always loved the original movies
2. Disney pretty much already owned Star Wars
3. I've been attending the Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios for a few years now

With my avid obsession of Character Autographs and Greetings its easy to understand why I really enjoy these special weekends each summer. The entire park is crawling with rebel and empire forces. From Tusken Raiders to Ewoks, Darth Vader to a Jedi Mickey Mouse there are so many opportunities to see these rare characters. Throughout my visits I've been able to see Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Queen Amidala, Clones, Storm Troopers, Jawas, Chewbacca, Classic Disney Characters dressed in Star Wars theme, among dozens of others. My main advice for catching some of the roaming characters is to not give up. Quite often they will walk past you if you try to get a picture or autograph but hey the rebels have their hands full and the clones are too busy following orders some times.

One thing I never fully understand about Star Wars Weekends is how the line for Star Tours is 1 to 2 hours long yet there are Fast Pass available for 45 minutes from the time you get them. Some people don't know about the wonder that is Fast Pass but it is a great way to make the most out of your time in the parks.

For the true fans there are celebrity meet and greets but you have to be there before park opening in order to get your tickets! Unfortunately I have not yet had the opportunity to rub elbows with the real life stars. Often they have special seminars being held each day though as well so be sure to check out the times guide for who will be there!

Looking for Star Wars Merch? Look no further than Darth's Mall (yes that's the real name). Limited edition merchandise and event only items are available here along with a meet and greet area.

Don't miss out on the ending show. If you've ever wanted to see Clones break dance or Senator Palpatine rap or everyone's favorite Cantina Band perform this is the place where anything can happen. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect but I am so glad I was able to find a spot to watch it!

*Jedi Hand Wave* These are the photos you were looking for
May the force be with you, and have a Magical Day!

Travel-Thing's Star Wars Weekends album on Photobucket

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Animal Kingdom - In the details. Guest Blogger

So my mom was fortunate enough to go to Animal Kingdom and celebrate the 15th Anniversary this past Earth Day while I was working. Here is her take on what she saw and her general love of all things Disney.

Guest Blogger: Suzi ( My Mom!)

Some people just don’t get it.  They never have, they never will.  Why do I have such a fascination with Disney?  And why don’t I have the same appreciation for other theme parks?  One day we had some family friends over for dinner, they had just returned from EPCOT after a 20 year hiatus, and said nothing had changed.  They rode the same five rides as last time.  Then there’s the friend that loves Disney, and will go to 4 parks in a day, only for one signature ride at each and be done.  I guess it’s them that I don’t understand.
Yes the theme parks have awesome rides for the motion part of it, but rather it’s the details that keep you riding again and again.  Every time I go to the park, I discover a new detail.  Sometimes it’s something I went specifically to see because someone else mentioned it.  Sometimes it’s something that I think only I have seen, and it’s just happened.

Everyone who is a true Disney fan knows to look for hidden Mickey’s.  Most everyone knows about the plates on the table in Haunted Mansion – you do now if you didn’t.  So I thought it was interesting that the last time I rode it, the plates had been moved to traditional table settings, and were not in the hidden Mickey.
Monday April 22nd 2013 was Earth Day, and this signifies the anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  This year was a milestone 15th Anniversary, and they threw a party.  Quite by chance, I found out about a group of Disney fans that were meeting for the weekend WDWCelebrations .  I had never heard of them, but they looked like they had an amazing agenda planned, for a very low price.  So I registered and off I went to Disney, by myself.

We arrived at the park at 7am, 2 hours before opening.  New thing #1 they were using the new Mickey turnstiles for passholders and resort guests.  #2, right before opening the person in charge of the cast members letting us in went down the line and told the cast members to check their zippers!  Even the cast members said that was a first.  #3, the group that I was with knew a cast member, and we all started chanting Mikey, Mikey, Mikey.  The cast member in front of me (I was first in line) said that Mikey couldn’t do anything to get us in early, but Ron could.  So we all started chanting Ron, Ron, Ron.  He came out with a microphone and said that chanting his name wouldn’t get us in early, but money would.

Many people have already blogged about the ceremony and merchandise so I shall skip forward a few hours.  As we were enjoying our Earth Day cupcakes, the leaders of our group mentioned that some of the answers to the upcoming scavenger hunt were within view.  I tucked this info away for later, same as when they leaned over a bridge to look at something.

I discovered several new things this day.  The main thing being that there is nothing in Animal Kingdom that is there without reason and that so much has gone into the design of the park to make it authentic to the areas that they represent, albeit some of this tongue and cheek.

Looking for something different to drink?  Try the Jamba Juice.  I found out that the walk up refreshment stands have some pretty unusual food and drinks.

Scavenger Hunts are an excellent means to learn about the park.  Again, look it up, you can probably find several.  But for a teaser, here are a few of the things that I searched for. 

Dina Sore’s phone number, the number of painted fish in a pavilion, the country that bricks were made from, survey markers, information that could only be found on a menu, or on a tiny scrap of paper plastered to a pole.  I discovered that bulletin boards had a lot of fun information posted.  I also discovered that if there is a small path that looks like you shouldn’t go on it, it’s ok as long as there isn’t a barricade.  Often times these paths lead to little known gems.  The queue lines have a lot of stuff, check out Kali River Rapids, you can exit the line just before the ride if you want.  Having never been on the ride, I couldn’t believe how much detail that I missed.

So what keeps me returning to Disney?  It’s the attention and care to the little details.  Enjoy the rides.  But the next time you are standing in line take a look around.   

PS -Did you know that you can get free baked samples at Big Top Souvenirs in Magic Kingdom?

We hope you enjoyed this update and as always, Have a Magical Day!

Travel-Thing's Animal Kingdom 15th album on Photobucket

Monday, April 22, 2013

EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival 2013

So the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival for those of you who don't know is an amazing combination of beautiful flower topiary special events with HGTV stars and other famous landscapers, play areas for kids,  limited time art vendors, and now even featuring food stands too! Over the past 5 years I've gone to all but one of those seasons. This year is the 20th Birthday for the Flower & Garden Festival and I was so excited to see all the beauty added to the already gorgeous EPCOT.

I took lots of photos, as you may be able to tell that I do on a regular basis. Unfortunately I'm blaming my new home of Miami and the Bermuda Triangle for the disappearance of all said photos. What is fortunate however is that my mom visited at another time and I can borrow her photos to share the spring flair with you all!

If you have ever participated in the Flower & Garden Festival for more than one season you may recognize many of the topiary as they are frequently reused in different areas each year. Some new ones for this season however included Phineas and Ferb, Monsters University, Woody & Lots'o, and a Radiator Springs play area. To honor Oz the Great and Powerful there was also a large space between Imagination and World Showcase featuring a play area for kids, fun carnival style games for all ages, and lots of pieces representing the movie. Feel like a photo op in a crash landed hot air balloon? Look no further than here!

The Flower & Garden Festival Passport is a smart way to double check that you've seen all the special happenings and the stamps are very cute but don't feel like you need to get all of them as there really isn't an special prize for completing the whole passport.

Strolling around World Showcase one is sure to find numerous blooming flowers hailing from all around the world. One of my favorite things about Florida is the ability for all these beauties to flourish and the opportunity for such wonderful colors and exotic plants. It seems this year that the Festival was much more geared to families with smaller children as there seemed to be more activities as well as play areas for parents to sit for a bit while their tots spend their extra energy.

If you just can't wait for the Food & Wine Festival this fall visiting the Flower & Garden might just help to tide you over. Several new garden marketplaces have sprung up around World Showcase to offer everyone refreshing treats inspired by their region and the freshness of the Festival. Personally my stop at The Cottage: Savories, Triffles, & Teas was fantastic! The cheddar biscuit with salmon and rose blush lemonade gave me the boost I needed on a hot Florida day.

I hope you enjoyed my overview of my trip to this year's Flower & Garden Festival and wish you a magical day!

Photo time!
Travel-Thing's Flower-Garden 2013 album on Photobucket

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Fantasyland

A lot of hype has been put up about the New Fantasyland expansion in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, and it deserves all that attention. It is the largest expansion ever at this park and while some sections are still under construction the Beauty and Beast and the Little Mermaid experiences are up and running. I had the privilege to eat at the new Be Our Guest restaurant for both lunch and dinner and I must say its the most beautifully designed restaurant at Disney I have been to. The ballroom is just how you see it in the movie and Beast's west wing as well! The study is a bit out of place because its not actually part of the movie but the center piece makes up for it.

 Food wise the restaurant is also outstanding. For lunch the offer a modified quick service so you can order your food in the queue then sit down and they bring your meal by the magic rose you are given as a position finder. The french onion soup is wonderful as are the desserts. For dinner the dinning style changes to a more sophisticated palate. Servers of the castle bring you to your table with rose napkins and delectable dinner options. When I was there for this meal we had enough people to each choose a different item and try every entree on the menu and they were all spectacular! What sets this restaurant apart from the rest of Magic Kingdom is their offering of wine and beer at dinner. If you happen to be celebrating anything make sure to let them know in your reservations or wear a birthday pin and try the "grey stuff" it really is delicious. 

Speaking of food Gaston's Tavern is right next door if you don't want to wait in line for Be Our Guest. There is not much on the menu but the cinnamon rolls are huge and the decor is truly Gaston's style. You might even spot the big guy strolling around in front by his fountain.

 Belle's Cottage was a nice experience but because I visited during soft opening (late November) and opening week (December 6th) the lines were long and the cast members didn't leave much time inside the rooms to really explore and see what was there. The new story time with Belle was refreshing and when the summer months come along will be a nice change from the once outdoor area where it was held. Over all its a cute thing for the little kids but if you want to look at things inside the cottage and Maurice's workshop you might be disappointed from being rushed on to the next room.

The Journey of the Little Mermaid ride is almost identical to its California counterpart but I'm so glad that Disney brought it to Florida. The wait line is filled with thingy-ma-bob's and whatcha-ma-call-its. It is interactive but when I got in line we just about walked onto the ride. Ariel's meet-and-greet has also been restored in her Grotto just next to the ride entrance.

The last area to be opened will be the 7 Dwarfs' Mine Train. Walking around the construction fences there are areas to peek in and see the progress. This ride is not supposed to open though until 2014! Also new over by Small World and Peter Pan. It will house a meet-and-greet as well as some new bathrooms.

Have a Magical Day!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Some New Magic

It's been since January that I made my last visit to Magic Kingdom. Far too long compared to my normal amount of visits. With our annual passes currently expired we used some of our 1 day/1 park from volunteering at the Disney Marathon in January. With all the construction going on in Fantasyland and one section of it open it was as good as time as any to spend a day.

First things first I had heard about the Sorcerers Card Game, a new interactive game which leads you around the park to help save the Magic Kingdom from the Villains of Disney. There are 70 cards total each with a different attack performed by a Disney character. 60 of the cards can be found in the packs given to you each day you go to the Sorcerer training centers. The last 10 cards are part of mystery packs that you can buy, 6 regular cards and 1 of the final ten. Once you get started with your first 5 cards you begin battling some villains at portal located around the park (marked on a special map). Using the Key Card you open the portal and follow the prompts to show either the back of your card for the Crest or the front of a card for an attack. I've only just started but its easy to see that this is a hit among those who know of it. Trading duplicates helps to build up your amount of cards and expands the visuals shown when attacking a villain.

The newly opened area of Fantasyland was next on my list of things to experience. Dumbo was moved and doubled in size. Not only does this make the wait time less Imagineers have also reconstructed the waiting experience. Instead of traditional queues they now offer a large indoor (and air-conditioned!) play area for kids and seating for adults. Before entering they give you a pager similar to one you would get waiting for a restaurant. The kids are free to explore and play and the pager will buzz when its time to join the line again. From this point it only takes a few minutes to actually board the flying elephants!

Along with the updated Dumbo a new water play area has taken over what was once Donald's boat in Toontown. The area features circus train cars filled with exotic animals spraying water at the kids running underneath. Look closely at the ground and you'll spot some of the foot/hoof prints along with some peanut shells that the elephants must have over looked!

As this is August the heat was mighty bad. The newly reopened Sunshine Tree Terrace was the perfect option to cool down. Part of the original Adventureland area Disney brought back some Orange Bird memorabilia recently to help celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Disney World (Oct. 2011). Now you can once again enjoy the citrus swirl (much like a creamsicle). The lines also seem less than the Dole Whip station. Personally I think Disney needs to bring back the Orange Bird so I can recreate a picture of my dad from back during the opening month.

Among the new things to be seen since my last visit was the Merida from Brave meet and greet area. Step through the gates and enter the Highlands with tapestries on the walls and even an archery lesson awaiting you its like being in the movie. Keep an eye on the little bears, they don't like sitting very still and make some funny noises.

I must say I can't wait to visit when the new princess castles will be open!
Until then, Have a Magical Day!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Disneyland Paris April 2012: 20th Anniversary

While studying in Europe I made a side trip to Paris with a classmate.We made our way over to Disneyland after a quick lunch at the Studios where we had spent our first couple of hours. 
My friend, his first visit to any Disney park, soon realized a few things. The first being my obsession over Disney, the second the amount of detail put into everything at the Disney parks, and third how magical these places truly are.
This being my 3rd Disney Resort visited this year I am no stranger to the classic Main Street entrance leading to the castle but here in Paris they were celebrating the 20th Anniversary and were wonderfully decorated and had all sorts of special parades and shows just for the occasion. I've read that Disneyland Paris was built to have the expanse of Magic Kingdom in Florida with the intimate atmosphere of Disneyland California and having read this after visiting I completely agree. We strolled through the shops discovering passages behind the stores with great detailing of artifacts displayed along the walls, even some of the bakeries had a back window to order at (would be great if there was bad lines in front)!
The castle is the most unique I've seen, still smaller than Magic Kingdom but larger than California. Past the shops of Main Street the park divides into the classic Hub and Spoke to the different lands: Discovery, Fantasy, Adventure, and Frontier.
Our first stop was Phantom Manor, the Paris version of Haunted Mansion. The area is amazingly detailed and the interior refreshingly different from the American counterparts. In the same area is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad one of the many rides here that I found even better than back at the parks in Florida or California.
On our way to Discoveryland we crossed paths with a small character parade for the 20th Anniversary celebration. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, Chip, Dale, and the rare Clarice stopped in front of the castle to meet with their fans. The only downfall I experienced was the lack of crowd control, no formal lines were made and the cast members had no initiative to make any. Anyone who managed to elbow their way to the front is who got their picture next.
We continued to Space Mountain: Mission 2, being used to the sharp turns of the original I was very surprised at its true roller coaster feel. It launches you from the outside into its futuristic housing where you will go upside down and much faster than the original. Continuing with our space exploration feel we went on Star Tours, this ride is the same as the non-updated ones back in the states. C-3P0 doesn't sound too bad in French.
On our way to Fantasyland we wandered through the castle interior with lovely stained glass portraits of the Sleeping Beauty story and a dragon guarding the dungeon. The Fantasyland attractions are the closest to the American originals but more than just the language can be spotted as a difference. It's a Small World was surprisingly in English but an area dedicated to the United States is featured at the end of this cruise complete with football and baseball players, and icon landmarks. One of the largest attractions in Fantasyland is Alice's Curious Labyrinth. A large maze which leads you through the movie scenes into the Red Queen's castle. 
Traversing our way to Adventureland my most important stop was Pirates of the Caribbean! A beautiful rendition where the entry way seems to be a fully functioning fort very similar to ones I have actually been to in the islands. They clearly expect large crowds as the queue is very long and has many pirate-y details to soak in even if there is no line. Also in this area is Adventure Isle which has many attractions for the younger children such as Captain Hook's ship and the Indiana Jones Temple of Doom rollercoaster. Indiana Jones is another attraction that is different at every park, in Florida it is a stunt show and in California a 4x4 experience through movie set style with special effects.
The afternoon parade was spectacular. Disney Magic on Parade! A special soundtrack was created for the Anniversary and some floats were specially decorated as well. As I turned to see my friend's reaction I could see the goosebumps and told him that the best was even later with the fireworks.
The fireworks were mostly done in the castle projection system that is used for Magic, Memories, and You show back in the states with only a small amount of explosions but it was still fantastic! With a combination of French and English Peter Pan leads you through the class movies as the other characters appear on the castle or water screens (similar to Fantasmic). Disney Dreams was as beautiful as any other fireworks show I've experienced at a Disney Resort.
We had time before closing for one more ride so we were off the Buzz Lightyear ( a tradition among my trips as the line is usually so long during the day). After we sadly made our way to the entrance wandering through the stores for last minute souvenirs before we made our way back to the city.
Yet another spectacular day at the Most Magical Place on Earth.