Monthly Archives: June 2012

Discover the Magic of Disney – eBook update

I’ve updated the cover on my new eBook, Discover the Magic: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Walt Disney World. Hope you’ll check it out! I wasn’t quite happy with the original cover. To me, it looked more like a PowerPoint slide than a ‘real’ book cover. It didn’t translate well to the small images you find in the Amazon store in the product previews. I think making the cover photo span the entire cover, rather than just a part of the cover like in the original, does the book justice.

Disney Travel Guide

Newly redesigned cover for my ebook.

This was a picture I took a few years ago. It’s really hard to get good fireworks pictures at Cinderella Castle. It’s usually too crowded on Main Street USA to use a tripod, and it’s too much hassle to carry one for the entire trip. You gotta time it just right to get the fireworks as they explode, and have a real steady hand! The “Wishes” closing show at Magic Kingdom is my favorite of all the closing shows at WDW, and this is one of my favorite pics (out of literally 100s) that I’ve taken.

The book is an Amazon exclusive eBook download(for now), but if you don’t have a Kindle you can still use the FREE Kindle iTunes app or FREE Kindle PC app to read the book on other devices. I’m working on a print version that should be available by the end of the summer.

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Blizzard Beach water park

Chilling out at Blizzard Beach

Blizzard Beach Water Park at Walt Disney World

The entrance to Blizzard Beach Water Park at Walt Disney World

Our second full day at Walt Disney World began at one of Disney’s awesome water parks: Blizzard Beach! Since we purchased the “Water park fun & more” option on our Disney tickets, we get one day at the water parks (or DisneyQuest, golfing, or Wide World of Sports) for each day in the parks. With 5-day park passes, we’ll have plenty to do during our week’s stay.

We arrived at Blizzard Beach about 1/2 hour before the scheduled opening time which helped us get an awesome parking place! When we got inside there weren’t many people in the park yet, so we parked our towels and beach bag at a chair in the shade and headed straight for Summit Plummet! Since that’s the ride that continuously has the longest line, it’s best to hit that early (or late) in the day. Nobody wants to stand 45-60 minutes in the hot sun waiting for a ride that lasts less than 10 seconds.

Summit Plummet

If you’ve never experienced Summit Plummet, it’s definitely a ‘must ride’ attraction at Blizzard Beach! You can take the chairlift to the top of Mount Gushmore, or you can take the stairs that go up the mountain to the right of the chairlift. Once there, you have several more flights of stairs to get to the front of the line.

Blizzard Beach Summit Plummet

Blizzard Beach Summit Plummet

The slide is one big, long, straight drop to the bottom. Sixty degree angle, sixty miles per hour. All fun! Be sure to have your bathing suit on tight, and ladies with string bikinis may want to pass. You may lose one or both pieces on the way down!

Blizzard Beach Tip:

If you’re riding the chairlift to the top of Mount Gushmore, consider going into the single rider line instead of the regular line. Since many people go up in sets of two, the single rider line is a great way to get to the top faster!

Other Blizzard Beach attractions

After Summit Plummet, our favorite Blizzard Beach attraction is Teamboat Springs. It’s right next to Summit Plummet, and it’s a really cool experience for the whole family. You float down Teamboat Springs in a giant round raft (up to 6 in a raft). The ride gives you the feel of whitewater rafting as you twist and turn, and splash your way down the mountain. Great fun for the whole family!

We also spent a lot of time on the other slides at Blizzard Beach like Downhill Double Dipper, Slush Gusher, and Toboggan Racers. We always make sure to spend some time at the Melt-Away Bay wave pool too.

Blizzard Beach Teamboat SpringsFor more about Blizzard Beach and the rest of the parks at Walt Disney World, be sure to checkout our new eBook: Discover the Magic: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Walt Disney World. Available on Amazon now!

 

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Wishes Come True at Magic Kingdom!

A Magical afternoon at Magic Kingdom

We had a little bit of time to kill before lunch, so we decided to hang out around the main train station near the park entrance. If you go up the stairs at the station and head out to the patio facing Main Street, you can get some of the best views (and pictures!) of Main Street. Being up above the crowds gives you a nice panoramic vista of the Main Street U.S.A. section of Magic Kingdom.

Main Street USA & Cinderella Castle

A Great view of Main Street from the train station

After our delicious lunch at Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh & friends, we were off to enjoy the rest of our day at The Magic Kingdom. We like to spend our first day, and our last day at Magic Kingdom because it just feels right!

We headed over to Adventureland to ride another of our favorites, Pirates of the Caribbean. Even at the peak of the day (mid-afternoon) the wait was short, and we always enjoy it. Although we were tempted to ride The Magic Carpets of Aladdin we decided to skip it and head over to Liberty Square and Haunted Mansion instead.

Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Magic Carpets of Aladdin

We never get tired of Haunted Mansion– it’s always a treat and never gets old. I think we ride it every day we go to Magic Kingdom. We hit a few more of our favorites on the way back to Main Street. At around 4:30, we decided to head back to the condo for a few hours before coming back for the evening fireworks. We did a little shopping at the Emporium on the way out.

Wishes Fireworks at Cinderella Castle

Wishes Fireworks show at Cinderella Castle

We probably stayed at the condo a little longer than we should have. We got caught in some traffic on the way back and didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do. We took the train around from the entrance back to Frontierland and had time to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain one more time. We rushed back to stake out our spot near the bakery on Main Street for the Wishes fireworks show.

The show was great (as usual), but they changed it a bit. Usually Tinkerbell flies down near the beginning of the show, but this time she (apparently) flew in during the projection show that directly precedes the fireworks. We missed her because we were still on our way back from Frontierland.

Still, the show was great (as always) and we headed to the bakery for our traditional ‘dinner’ of cinnamon rolls at the end of our day. What a great first full day of our trip!

Main Street Bakery at Magic Kingdom

You can’t miss the cinnamon rolls (and other yummy desserts) at Main Street Bakery at Magic Kingdom

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Disney Dining at Crystal Palace

Character Dining with Winnie the Pooh!

Crystal Palace restaurant at Magic Kingdom

Dine at Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh & Friends!

A trip to Disney or a day at Magic Kingdom is not complete without a trip to our favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World – a character dining experience with Winnie the Pooh and friends at the Crystal Palace!

We go to Crystal Palace on pretty much every Disney trip. Usually we save some money by eating a late lunch which is quite a bit cheaper than dinner. Even at that, our late-lunch (2:15 reservation) for five ended up being over $160 including tip.

While definitely not cheap, the food is delicious, the service great, and nothing beats lunch with Winnie the Pooh (and Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore too!)

Winnie the Pooh character diningThe Crystal Palace, located just off Main Street U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom is a beautiful restaurant inside and out. The architecture is gorgeous and the large atrium at the center of the restaurant is stunning… and don’t forget the all-you-can-eat buffet!

The lunch menu features chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese for the kids, but sadly Crystal Palace dropped pizza from the menu. The menu includes ham and flank steak sliced to order, ratattouilli, and assorted pastas and salads. The dessert bar is huge and includes various cobblers, pies, cakes, and other assorted baked goods, as well as a self-serve ice cream sundae bar! Yum!

Winnie the Pooh and friends circulate through the restaurant regularly, and you’re sure to get at least one visit from each during your stay. Be sure you’re at your table when the characters get close because you won’t want to miss meeting them! They’ll be happy to pose with you for pictures, and are you to offer a high-five, fist-bump, or a hug to the kids. Kids young and old will really enjoy this experience, and their trip to the Crystal Palace!

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Visiting Magic Kingdom

A Magic morning at Magic Kingdom

The first full day of our vacation was (of course) a visit to the Magic Kingdom! It’s our favorite park and we usually visit it the first day and the last day of our Disney vacations, plus a day in the middle for the longer trips!

Entrance to Magic Kingdom - Let the Memories Begin!

Let the Memories Begin!

This time we visited on Saturday. Having a light day when we flew in, we were refreshed and made it to the park earlier than we ever have. The park opened at 9:00 a.m. and we were parked and waiting for the monorail by 8:15! We were so early that we didn’t even need to take the tram from the parking lot. We were right there- Aladdin 38!

We tried a new strategy this year. We went straight to the main train station and took the train around to Frontierland to ride Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad! We got there in about the same amount of time as if we walked, but since we knew we’d be doing plenty of walking throughout the day, we figured we’d save our energy!

Barnstormer - Storybook Circus

Barnstormer featuring “The Great Goofini”

We rode both Splash Mountain (first) and Big Thunder Mountain with no wait. Then we took the Walt Disney World Railroad around the park to Storybook Circus in the NEW Fantasyland to ride “Barnstormer”! This the same ride that was formerly known as “Goofy’s Barnstormer” in the old Toontown at Magic Kingdom. It has been reworked to fit into the circus theme at Storybook Circus. The ride is lots of fun for both kids and adults, and not too crazy.

After a quick spin on the Barnstormer, we took a ‘hidden’ back sidewalk shortcut over to Tomorrowland for our favorites there- Buzz Lightyear and Space Mountain. This is much quicker than going out through Tomorrowland and heading over that way. Just follow the sidewalk between the tracks at the Fantasyland station and the Barnstormer.

Shortcut to Tomorrowland

Take the shortcut from Storybook Circus to Tomorrowland

Maximum score on Buzz Lightyear!

Since Space Mountain already had a 30 minute wait at this point, we decided to grab a FASTPASS and ride Buzz Lightyear (which only had a 10 minute wait) first. For the first time ever, three of us maxed out our scores! 999,999! It was pretty fun, and we were excited to score so well.

Buzz Lightyear - maximum scoreAfter we were done on Buzz Lightyear, we rode Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) and checked out Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. This is the ride created for the World’s Fair… “…it’s a great big beautiful tomorrow…” Lots of fun.

By this time, we were ready to use our FASTPASSes for Space Mountain. We’ve packed a lot of fun into the day, and it’s not even noon!

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Day 1: Arriving at Floridays

Floridays Orlando 2-bedroom condo

The living room of our 2-bedroom unit at Floridays

Today was a great day. The flight (Delta) Left and arrived on time. With no checked bags, we were out of Orlando pretty quick. Met a nice grandma on the plane. She was pretty excited to be treating her granddaughters to a Disney vacation.

She bought the Park Hopper option, and said the girls were pretty excited about going to the Disney water parks- especially Blizzard Beach. I had to break the bad news that the Park Hopper option does not get you into the water parks. You need the Water Park Fun and more option for that. Too bad she didn’t buy my book, Discover the Magic: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Walt Disney World. That would have saved her some heartache- and some money.

Floridays resort

View from our Balcony

When we arrived at Floridays, we decided to see about upgrading to a three bedroom unit. Since we booked through Expedia, we had to call them. Bad idea! Expedia is great for price, but horrible for customer service. After sitting on hold for 20 minutes we decided it wasn’t worth it. Their phone customer service has always been horrible. If you book with them, just pray you never have to call them!

You lose Expedia! Could have made some extra money!

Once we settled in, we ordered room service. Pretty good,and the food even arrived hot! Next, we went to Publix. What a great grocery store! Great service too. Spent the evening swimming and relaxing to get ready for our big day at Magic Kingdom tomorrow! 🙂

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Discover the Magic eBook: Up to #9 in travel!

Disney eBook travel guide

Discover the Magic of our new Disney eBook!

My new Disney eBook, Discover the Magic: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Walt Disney World made it all the way up to #9 in Amazon Kindle’s family travel section! So far, it has all 5-star ratings! The book is filled with lots of practical trips to make the most of a Disney vacation.

You’ll find tips to help you decide how to decide where to stay, how long to stay, and what kind of tickets to buy. You’ll also find guides to each of the four major theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Plus, you’ll find some good stuff on Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach too! To find out more, check out the eBook product page at our website, or go straight to Amazon and order it! It’s only $2.99! Check it out!

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Visiting Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney LEGO store

Our Extended LEGO Family

Can’t wait to go back to Downtown Disney. Didn’t spend enough time there when we visited Disney at Christmas. The LEGO store is always our first stop!

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Typhoon Lagoon Wave Pool

Be sure to check out the wave pool a Typhoon Lagoon! Start off in the shallow end before you head into ‘the deeps’ for the really big waves. You’ll be amazed at the amount of force the waves produce and many people (both adults and kids) will get dragged under- not ready for the force of the waves.

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Wave Pool

Get Swept Away at Typhoon Lagoon!

Keep your kids, especially the little ones close by as the waves roll in. You don’t want anyone dragged away. Only strong swimmers should head for the deep end where the water is 6 feet deep and the waves roll in another 6 feet higher than that!

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Blizzard Beach Summit Plummet

Summit Plummet water slide at Blizzard Beach

Prepare for a major plunge on Summit Plummet!

Summit Plummet at Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park has to be about the coolest water slide EVER! The slide towers way above the rest of the park yielding great views of the entire park from the platform at the top. When you sit down on the slide, the scariest thing is that you cannot even SEE the slide you are about to go down! The slope of the slide (about 60 degrees) is so steep that all you see is the sky in the distance!

You’ll plunge down the slide at nearly 60 mph and be at the bottom before you know it. Keep your legs crossed tight or you’ll be left with the worst ‘atomic wedgie’ you’ve ever seen! Ladies- I wouldn’t go down this one in a bikini if I were you. If you want to find out why….try it and see. 😉

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