Friday, February 20, 2009

Walt Disney World To See or Not To See... That is the question...

Walt Disney World.
Here's my scoop and some photos.
What I am going to tell you, might not be someone Else's version of the park, so if you don't agree, that's OK. Then start your own website or blog.
Booking through and NOT through Walt Disney Vacations will save you about 1/2 or more since they don't compete with vendors and going direct will kill your wallet!

For this blog and purposes of quick reference and access, I will talk about each Park and Map going Counter Clockwise from each Park's front gate.

If you even think you are going to have a great time during Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Christmas or New Years holidays and want a "Special Family Vacation you will remember for a lifetime.
Not unless you are looking for a divorce or have a death wish.

Record attendances are set at WDW every year. The parks usually are at capacity, around 85,000 people and ALL STROLLERS are taken (about 25,000) by 10am and WDW will close their entry gates and restrict access on a one in one out basis.




YOUR WDW TAGS on your luggage alerts the Orlando airport that your luggage goes directly to WDW resorts and is placed on the WDW luggage transportation system.
It is NOT necessary to pick up your luggage from a carousel at the airport since it wont be there.
Unless you do NOT have WDW Luggage tags.
Remember that this is a process and you will be queued through a line to register, as well as queued through a line for transport to WDW.
The wait is about 30 minutes on most days.
The ride is about 30 minutes at most times.
Bring a small snack to get you through the wait.

When you need to return to the airport, call the front desk for a bellhop and get a golf cart ride to the front waiting area and put your luggage in lockup until you need to leave.
You may have a few hours so be sure to check out any areas you might have missed or put off but remember to allow at least 3 hours to leave the Park you are in, get to your hotel, get your luggage and get on the WDW airport bus and get checked in since it may take you 30-45 minutes to leave your current position in the park which may be far from your hotel.

Buy or Bring water and a light snack for the trip to and from WDW and the airport, and please remember to hydrate and have a bottle with you all day every day of your trip.

With that said...
The best way to see WDW is to purchase a Park Hopper Pass and Meal Pass. You can get this before you arrive when booking your trip, just tell your agent. Get the Meal Pass that allows you a breakfast snack, light line or buffet lunch and full dinner.

This makes it quicker and easier to get through the need to get something to eat fast and not have to sit down and wait to eat or waste a fully purchased meal on a fast food restaurant area.
Once you arrive at the hotel, you will need to queue in line to register at the hotel, remember, NOW is the time to ask your questions about dining, schedules, and any other special things you want while you are here...

BE AS NICE AND COMPLIMENTARY TO YOUR FRONT DESK CLERK AS POSSIBLE it will go a long way. As you always should. Get their name, repeat it twice or more in your conversation. If you can do it more than 4 or 5 times, they psychologically become a friend. It works. Trust me. You get more flies with sugar and honey than you do by sharing your frustrations. Be happy, be upbeat, be a friend.

Once you have your room keys, you can go to the room.

BUT DON'T go there YET!

Get acquainted with your hotel first!
Lobby area, bathrooms, restaurant, snack bar, buffet area, pools, water sports, rentals, designated smoking areas, bathrooms, hot tub, gym, spa, gift shop, medical assistance, concierge, bathrooms (see a pattern?)...

Then go to your room. Relax for a few minutes. Or if you already know where you want to go after you are registered with the hotel the hop on a bus to the area of the Park you want to go to and have a great time.

There are buses and tram stations throughout the WDW kingdom. If you get lost look for a tram or bus station or an individual employee will always help you.

Buses are usually full during peak times, keep this in mind.
Buses are also usually available from 4 different sides of each hotel, and throughout the kingdom. There are Kingdom bus areas for EACH Hotel area.

Boats go between Downtown Disney, Port of Orleans, Riverside, Key West, Saratoga Springs, The Boardwalk, Beach Club and near Lake Buena Vista Golf Course at all times of the day until around 10pm at night.

The Boats continue through 1-2am on some days to the hotel areas.
Each bus has a destination on the front. Some buses and tram departures are express.


A Great Place to start your first day. Especially if you have kids.

If you want to make sure you take in a specific ride at ANY of the Parks, and its a really busy day, please go to the ride immediately upon entering the Park and find the Express ticket machines to get your pre-timed return tickets for that particular ride.
You can get these Fast Pass tickets throughout the day at each ride so there's no need to run around and get a bunch of them.


Keep in mind that there might NOT be a line when you get there to get your ticket, so get on it now if there isn't a line currently.

If you get to a ride and there is a line, grab an express/quick pass or fast pass ticket from the machine near the entrance of the ride and get your pre-set time to return and enter a quick or fast pass lane.

The front gate or near the castle on any bridge is the best spot to see any of the parades.
The Fireworks are best viewed from the Plaza Restaurant (#30) on the Disney Magic Kingdom map and this too is a great place to view the Electrical Light Parade. GET HERE AT LEAST 1 hour or more early to get a seat.

Parades and fireworks are at set times each day so if you miss this one night, come back and catch it another night.

This is the best night entertainment amongst the parks and they know it as well.
Mickeys Fantasmic at Disney Hollywood Studios, Mickeys Philharmagic! at Magic Kingdom (At the back of Tomorrow land near Peter Pan ride and Haunted Mansion, and Illuminations at Epcot are also great nighttime entertainment events that last about 30 minutes and each require 1 hour advance time to get a good seat. Illuminations can been seen from just about anywhere throughout the Nations area in Epcot. We will get to these a bit later in the blog.

Skip the Magic Kingdom train until the evening when you are tired and when you are at the back of the Park and need to relax and don't want to walk.

As you enter the MK, (Magic Kingdom), you will enter a cul-de-sac area with many buildings around you. Most are gift shops, there are restrooms here and a medical/ information area on your left. This is the LIBERTY SQUARE AREA.

Continuing forward down the street are many shops and little boutiques you will want to peek your head into and check out.

One is a small Mickey Mouse theater that runs "Steam Boat Willie" and the old classics.
This is a cute and fun thing to do, and its air conditioned.

As you walk down Main Street USA to the Center Circle with a Large Statue of Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney, (PHOTO OP!), you will pass the Crystal Palace on left and the Plaza Restaurant.
These are good places to meet up and grab food when needed. Crystal Palace is a sit down and Plaza is quick foods.

Take a photo at the Statue with the Castle behind it and go to the right into Tomorrow Land.

Your first stop is Monsters Inc, laugh factory, check it out.

You second stop is Buzz Light years Ranger Spin. One of my favorite things to do at WDW.

I have always remembered the next attraction and it remains a favorite of mine to this day.
Your third stop, Walt Disney Carousel of Progress. This is a great relaxing sit down attraction.

On your fourth stop you will need to secure your belongings for SPACE MOUNTAIN.

After Space Mountain, take a minute to see the tomorrow land area by going to your fifth stop.

On your fifth stop get on Tomorrow Lands Transit Authority Tram and have your camera ready.

Sit across from each other for photo ops and great views, let each other know whats coming or going!

On your sixth stop, which might be a good wait by now, you'll want to go for the Tomorrow Land Speedway and carts. Takes a bit of time so if this doesn't interest you, skip it.

After you pass the Speedway ahead and along the right side are just about enough a kid can handle and for adults with no children its a danger zone.
Mickey's Toontown® Fair area!!

You will spend hours here if you have children.

If you don't and for the purposes of this blog I will assume you don't. If you do, stay here with your kids for the rest of the day or week and pick up HERE when you leave the area.

Go towards the top of the Map past the speedway and children's area.

You will see just on the other side of Cinderellas Carousel your next attraction and Fantasy land® area.
On your 7th Stop, you must sit back and take in "Its a Small World". Do it the first day. Get the song out of your head by the next day. Do it the last day, and it comes home with you!
THIS RIDE HAS BEEN REDONE as of 2009. Please send me photos!

On your 8th Stop, you MUST get to Peter Pans Flight.

On your 9th Stop, Relax and take in Mickeys Philharmagic!

On your 10 th Stop, you will be entering the Haunted Mansion.
Coming out of the Haunted Mansion and Mickeys Philharmagic.

You are going to be near the connecting entrance of Frontier land® area.

Just down and around the Corner is your 11th Stop and Attraction of the day.
The Hall of Presidents, now with Barack Obama.
Please get a photo!

You will see across from the entrance into the Hall of Presidents, the waiting area for the Steamboat. This is a great relaxing tour around the river inside the park. Quite Romantic.

Just to the left side of the map you have recommended attractions 13-15, Country Bear Jamboree, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain.
Take em all in, and get on the ride you baby!

Adventure land® area is next just south of Splash Mountain, take Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Country Bear Jam in first then Splash Mountain.

Walk south to Adventure land and Pirates of the Caribbean!
Come out of Pirates of the Caribbean and head East to the Jungle Cruise!
When done with the Jungle Cruise step across the path to the TI KI ROOM for a bit of wit, sarcasm and hilariousness, with the nutty birds of the jungle at the Enchanted Tiki Room.

Walk west from there and this will take you to the Center of the Park, where you can regroup and get ready for the Fireworks or stop and rest and take some photos of the area.


If you want a Safari Tour. Book it in advance with your hotel once you have made your reservations, unless your agent was able to do so. Most will not be allowed or able due to WDW restrictions regarding time and availability and the need for the guest to be on site in order to book.

Be prepared to get up at the butt crack of dawn to go to the Safari Entrance.
Do not take the later SAFARI. By 9am, most of the animals have hidden. Feeding is around 730AM from what I am told by cast members behind the scenes on our last trip.

If you have done or are doing the PRIVATE SAFARI that's awesome. I highly recommend it.

You need not do the Jungle Adventure ride if you have done the PRIVATE SAFARI since its primarily and Ride through similar areas and adds a slight terrorist twist to the ride.
If you've done the PRIVATE SAFARI The Jungle Adventure Ride might be a waste of time for you.

When you enter the ANIMAL KINGDOM you will see RAINFOREST CAFE, SKIP IT!
They are Overpriced, understaffed and not worth the time.

Stroll along as you walk towards the center of the park and view the Oasis Exhibits.

On the other side of the Oasis in the Center of the Park and your FIRST stop.
Discovery Island and The Tree of Life. Take as many photos as you can.

The Tree of Life is your life line to the Park and the areas branch out from the Center and the Tree of Life.

But first, go into the Tree of Life, cool off and take in the "It's tough to be a Bug" attraction.

Just to the right of The Tree of Life when you come from the front gate is...
Dinosaur Land.

DINOSAUR, Triceratops Spin, Primeval Whirl, Finding Nemo- The Musical", and are a must.
Do the Musical Last if you do it at all since you will need to exit the land into AFRICA.
Do not confuse "Finding Nemo- The Musical" with "Ellen's Energy Adventure" in Epcot, which I go to later.
Expedition Everest is first on your right, and once you exit the ride you will be near the Flights of Wonder, Kali River Rapids and Maharajah Jungle Trek. Ride em all but do Flights of Wonder last in this area since as you exit it will be near the next area.

Skip the "Wildlife Express Train" unless you are a wildlife and animal freak or vet tech, then you can go, and meet up with your group later but don't make any one go with you since its just a few zoo background pets, techs, and doctors talking and showing a few things from birds to lizards and spiders to fish.


The Expedition Trail is similar to a trek at a very nice Zoo. So if you are up for more walking and love seeing, or maybe not seeing, animals. Then be my guest. I happen to think that there's other things to do in WDW than wait and see if a gorilla comes out to see me.

Kilimanjaro Safari is here, feel free to take it. But don't say I didn't tell you earlier about it.

That's all in Asia so far, and right now, it kinda falls a bit flat.

The only other area is Camp Minni Mickey in The Animal Kingdom and if you love being around a ton of uncontrolled children. Then be my guest and head on in to the area.


There truly is a lot to see here so bear with me.
DO NOT EXPECT to see everything in one day here.

Enter Epcot from the Front, where the Bus drops you off when you pick it up from your hotel.

I have some favorite restaurants which I will add into the map photo here but I don't plan on discussing all of them, just the ones that are in and around the attractions I think you should see.
There's A LOT to see and do here in the areas in and around the center BALL and then inside the Circle of Nations, so don't get bent if you cant get it all in in one day. Try to schedule a second day for it and you will be happy you did, and hopefully thank me later.

There are about 35 different attractions and restaurants I recommend in Epcot so be patient.

From the main gate and directly in front of you is a massive silver ball called the SPACESHIP EARTH PAVILION and in it is SPACESHIP EARTH. GO IN BOTH and STOP RIGHT THERE WHEN YOU HAVE done both!
Come out of SpaceSHIP Earth and walk to the left of the Map. You will want to take a ride through "Ellen's Energy Adventure." I loved this and Don't miss the Universe of Energy Exhibit before leaving.

Procede up the left side of the map you will come to Mission: SPACE, GET IN THE RED OR ORANGE LANES. Skip the Green Lane and Go for IT!

When you leave Mission: SPACE and pass the JAMMITORS you will come up to the TEST TRACK, get in line or grab a fast pass and come back in a few hours.

Cross over the center of the Park and go directly across to the other side of this main area and check out "Honey I shrunk the Audience", Imageworks, and Imageworks Kodak "What IF Labs".

Walk down the map on the right side to Living with the Land, Circle of Life and Soarin. If you need to Grab a pass for Soarin and Living with the Land if you can.

Exit here and walk down towards the main entrance to the Coral Reef Restaurant, The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion, and Check out the Seas with Nemo and Friends attraction as well as Turtle Talk with Crush.

When you have finished here, head up towards the top of the map through the center and into the Epcot Nations.

Each global area has the SAME GREAT SHOPS and merchandise you would find in that country and a local shop. So browse around if you like!
Go to your right.

You will come up to The British, Irish and Scottish, UK areas. Stop in for a beer at the Rose and Crown. If you are hungry for Shepherds pie this is the place to get it. Besides at the Raglan Road Pub in Downtown Disney. Its almost like being in London.

As you walk going right, cross over the footbridge into the France Pavillion and the Bistro De Paris. Take a peek inside and take lots of photos. Its a great area to sit and breathe, not to mention people watch.

Moroccos next, not one of my favorites, not much here.
Japan is right next door with the Japanese Pavillion and if you go in here there is an awesome little area inside with the option to choose your own clams and go for a pearl or two!!
I beleive this option might also be in the Chinese pavillion as well. But not sure.

Going around at the top of the map is the USA pavillion with most items made in CHINA.
To me that was the biggest issue I have with WDW. Not much is made in the USA here.
But there is burgers, salads and fries and a coke if you so desire.
Followed by Italy and the Tutto Italia Ristorante. Fabulous Food you will never regret.
Be sure to nose around and check out the GORGEOUS STAFF in EVERY AREA. They are from the areas of the WORLD and are mostly EXCHANGE STUDENTS working there during college!
Lovely to look at.

Next is Germany and the BierGarten Restaraunt. A fun hour or two of Community Dining, Polkas, Antics and BEER!

China Pavillion is Next, with not alot to add except shops here and a few acrobatics outside.

Then Norway, good looking staff, with the MAELSTROM ATTRACTION. Check it out.

Last but not least is Mexico, with the FABULOUS MEXICAN RESTARAUNT and ATTRACTION "River of Time Boat Cruise." Cute but can be missed if you have seen similar ones at other parks. Its Mexico Disneys version of the Tunnel of Love.

Walk you tired butt back to your Fast Pass lines if you need to and remember that you still need to be around for the Illuminations: reflections of earth that happens in the center of the lake at night.


When you first enter the park, there are 2 great restaraunts with nice bathrooms.
50's prime time cafe and Hollywood and Vine's on your left hand side.

WALK forward and TO THE RIGHT.

You will see the Hollywood Brown Derby Restaraunt, go right.

Great, lovely and amazing Restaraunt but isnt included from what I understand in the meal package. Its a 5-6 diamond restaraunt and takes reservations and a long time to get in if you dont.

Walk down the street and you will see the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, grab a fast pass if you need to and take note that right about here is the area you need to come back to for the Phantasmic laser and fireworks show later on in the evening.

Coming out of the Tower of Terror walk to the Right and go to the AeroSmith Rockin Rollercoaster. Quite an experience!! Again grab a Fast Pass if you need one...and come back.

From here you will need to go back around to pass the Tower of Terror so if you have a fast pass go for it.

Walk up the street to The Brown Derby and Go Past Mickeys Fantasia Hat in the Middle of the Walk and you will see:

The American Idol Experience, grab a fast pass if you can. Then go for The Great Movie Experience.

When finished go over to Mickeys hat and walk towards the Disney Hollywood Studios Water Tower.
Dont miss the following great attractions in this area. But skip Narnia.

The Magic of Disney Animation, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Walt Disney-One Mans Dream, & Toy Story Mania.

Walk under the columns and arches to the right of Toy Story Mania if open. If not, go around through the entrance area by American Idol and The Great Movie Ride.

You will find the following absolute must do attractions:

The Studio Backlot Tour, American Film Institue Showcase, Lights Motors Actrions, Stunt Showcase, Honey I shrunk the Kids Movie Adventure, MUPPET VISION 3-D, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and STAR WARS ULTIMATE THRILL RIDE. Which is truly cheesy but fun nonetheless.
Beware of overacting.
Go back to your Fast Pass Rides and another park. You should be able to do everything here between 8am and 4pm. The whole park.


Stay away from the overpriced theme restaraunts like Planet Hollywood.

A really beautiful restaraunt with fantastic staff and great service is Raglan Road, right in the middle of the area by the Pleasure Island sign and just up from the SteamBoat.

Try to get off the boat at Captain Jacks or the bus at the last stop near LegoLand.

If by bus, try to get to the right side as quickly as possible and start there.

This is so that you can start here and end up in the night life areas when you should.

If you do Downtown starting around 4pm and start on the right side, you should be towards the nightlife areas around 5-6 pm. ITS ALL SHOPPING from here up to the Steamboat.

Inside the area by the steamboat, just on the other side of Raglan Road and The PLeasure Island Sign is Harley Davidson Orlando and Several Clubs including the Laugh Factory.

When you walk up towards Cirque you will see more stores, Planet HollyWood, Bongos Cuban Cafe (They make the best Mojitos in the world. I should know. I love them.)

There is a movie theater, and Wolfgang Pucks pizzaria. Wolfgang Pucks Sucks. Terrible food, bad service and really awful ambiance.

Stop in the House of Blues for the best chicken and ribs, and the only attraction here but costs extra is Disney Quest.

Always packed, but fun. Dont go if its raining. Its where everyone else will be.

Theres old school games and alot of 3D interactive games as well as the option to build and ride your own ROLLERCOASTER! Cool. But Im not sure if its worth the extra money.

NOTE: You could do this area around 9am -12pm one day and then go through Disney Hollywood studios and then come back for a taste of nightlife around 9pm. At least thats what I would recommend.

Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are Chaos.

Find a real beach and stay away from mass hysteria or try Miniature golf at Walt Disney World Resort includes Disney's Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course and Disney's Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course.

Talk to you soon!

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