Archive for the ‘Things to See’ Category

The Top 7 Must See Disney Attractions

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

 

Disney is like a magical wonderland to all who visit.  Bursting at the seams with lively colors, larger than life characters, and sounds and smells galore, it can be hard to get your bearings when you first arrive and figure out what the best attractions are to help you jump start your day.

That being said, I am going to go over the top 7 must see attractions available at the Disney theme parks to help start you off on the right foot!

First up is Disney’s Magic Kingdom.  The Magic Kingdom was the original Disney theme park and is now a staple feature in all Disney locations.  The top attractions here are for the thrill seekers, namely the mountain roller coasters, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain.  There is a third one, but those are the two most popular at Magic Kingdom.

At Disney’s Epcot Center, it is really a bit like a constant fair.  Featuring an around the world international pavilion it is a great place to try international cuisine and see many live shows.  Probably one of it’s best attractions however is the IllumiNations fireworks show presented after dark over the lagoon.  It’s beautiful and not an attraction you will want to miss!

Disney’s MGM Studios has several great attractions, but one of the most popular there is the Tower of Terror.  Once again designed for the thrill seeker, just making the trip to the tower is an experience in and of itself.  And once you find yourself inside the elevator, plummeting in mere seconds a long free fall, you will understand the appeal and most likely want to do it again!

Another very popular attraction at MGM is Jim Henson’s Muppet Vision 3-D, which is an excellent choice for the whole family.  The spectacular technology coupled with the lovable Muppets make this attraction a must see for everyone.

Finally, we have Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which is an amazing experience all on it’s own.  It’s focus, while still having rides like a typical theme park also features an awe inspiring African animal safari.  The two top featured attractions for Animal Kingdom are Expedition Everest, which is the first ‘true’ roller coaster available there and Kilimanjaro Safari.  Be aware though, that Expedition Everest is for the real adrenaline junkie.  The roller coaster tops out in speeds almost twice that of Space mountain, roughly 50 miles per hour, with some hair raising bends and turns.

Kilimanjaro Safari is suitable for all ages, and basically you get to ride an open sided, safari truck across Harambe Wildlife Reserve.  The ride can be a bit uncomfortable for some if you’re not into bumpy, but the rewards are well worth it.  You will see spectacular wild animals like zebras, giraffes, elephants, flamingos, cheetahs, and baboons, just to name a few.  And since animals are fickle creatures no safari ride is ever the same.  You will see what you will see and next time around you could just see something amazingly different.  Definitely a do not miss attraction of Animal Kingdom!

OK, so that wraps up the top 7 must see attractions inside the 4 Disney theme parks.  There are tons of other things to do inside each park, and tons of things to see, so don’t limit yourself to just one or two.  It could in fact take you several days to wade through all the great things to see and do inside Walt Disney World theme parks, so you might want to just plan on taking your time and getting a 4 day pass or something similar.  Trust me, you will have a blast!

Your One-Day Schedule For Magic Kingdom

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

 

While it can be tough to really get your money’s worth in a single day at any Disney theme park, you can still map out a great day and see a good chunk of it.  You can map out the highlights that you absolutely must see and then follow your schedule so that you don’t miss anything.

One thing that you want to keep in mind with Magic Kingdom is that it is broken up into smaller park ‘Themes’.  If you choose attractions in each theme, make sure that you completely finish up in one area before moving on to the next.  It is designed to get you to and from attractions much faster that way, rather than criss crossing the whole park jumping from Tomorrowland, to Adventureland, etc.

First of all, make sure you purchase your tickets ahead of time and arrive early.  Lines are long early in the morning, so buying your ticket in advance allows you to save time there.  Plan on arriving at the very latest, an hour early.  Often times the parks will open before the listed time and if you get there too late you will be stuck in a long line of traffic waiting to park.

Once you get inside, while it’s tempting to shop around on Main St., save it for later.  It stays open an extra 1 or 2 hours after closing so you can do your shopping at the end of the day and not waste time or have to lug around a lot of merchandise.

Another thing you will want to note is that Magic Kingdom is built in a large circle and you can start in either direction.  Most people don’t realize this and automatically turn right, beginning their day in Tomorrowland.  You can be the smart little bug and turn left, beginning your day in Adventureland instead, and going against the crowd.

When checking out the lines, double check that there aren’t two lines that you can choose from.  Hop into the shorter one, as often times folks miss that completely and don’t realize a second line is open.  Another great way to avoid lines and crowds is to hit the rides during parades.  Be sure you are on the side you want to be on before it starts, otherwise good luck trying to cross over.  And of course that is assuming no one is going to be particularly upset if you miss the parade in favor of popular attractions!

If you need a mid-day siesta, plan on taking it inside the park somewhere.  It is much easier than trying to leave and then come back later.  Also plan on staying late, as the park empties out pretty dramatically after dark and often times you can pack more great attractions into the last few hours before close than you managed to squeeze in all day.

Also remember to plan for rain, as you are in Florida and it rains regularly.  Pack a poncho and you can continue your journey without too much mishap.  Also, it would behoove you to avoid Fantasyland during the day and visit it instead at night.  It tends to be extremely crowded in the daytime and is much more fun a journey after dark.

Obviously your schedule will vary based on your family and tastes, but some of the top attractions you will want to plan to see include Adventureland, Space Mountain, Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean.  Of course there are many more attractions than that and again you just need to choose what you want to see and map out your day.  With a proper plan of action you should have a spectacular Magic Kingdom experience!

Your One-Day Schedule For Hollywood Studios

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

 

Starting your day at Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s when you first enter the park will put you directly on Hollywood Boulevard.  Mickey’s giant sorcerer’s hat will be a prominent view for you as you decide on your next direction.

Mickey’s sorcerer’s hat is the perfect place for photo op’s in the morning as it is the place Disney characters tend to congregate early in the morning when the day is fresh, usually around 9 AM or so.  On your way to the hat, you can do some light browsing in some of the many shops along the way.

While you are there, just behind Mickey’s hat is The Great Movie ride, which will take you through some great movie history of major American movies like Tarzan and The Wizard Of OZ.  Afterwards, you can mosey off to the right, onto Sunset Blvd and check out two the the major MGM attractions there, which are geared to the thrill seekers.

First up, the not to be missed Tower of Terror, which is one of the major feature attractions of MGM studios.  Experience a scary thrill dropping 13 flights in an elevator and then go back and do it again!  After that you can hop on the Rockin’ Roller Coaster and rock out to Aerosmith while barreling along the track going from 0-60 mph in no time flat.

If you have kiddies along with you, you can check out the Beauty And The Beast- Live On Stage, and then head on over to Rosie’s All American Cafe for a quick lunch time snack.  If that doesn’t appeal, there are several other restaurants all near by with varied cuisine.

After lunch, head on over to the Animation Courtyard.  There you can hop on the Star Tour’s simulator for a fun excursion into all the characters of Star Wars.  After that, ramp up the excitement with the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, a live stage show sure to entertain both you and the little one’s.  If you arrive early you can even get the chance to volunteer as an extra during the show!

Once done there, you can head over to The Streets Of America, where you will find 3 more of Hollywood Studio’s most popular attractions.  Muppet Vision 3-D, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure, and The Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show.  At Muppet Vision 3-D, you get to watch those adorable muppets literally pop out of the screen at you, and enjoy a bit of cool relief while you get a stitch in your side from laughter.

The stunt show is pretty incredible as well as you get to see first hand how Hollywood movie car stunts are done.  On the Honey I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure, you can let your kids loose in the huge playground and let them get an idea of what it REALLY means to be one of the ‘little people’.  This is a great spot to grab some hilarious photo’s as well, so make sure to have the camera ready!

Top it all off with some pizza from the Toy Story Pizza Planet Arcade, and then head over to the night time show Fantasmic.  Here you will watch Mickey battle some familiar villains with pretty lasers, see dancing fountains, and other cool effects that will be the perfect ending to your Hollywood Studio’s day.  Just remember to get there a bit early or you might not get a seat!

Your One-Day Schedule For Epcot

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

 

Planning your day at a theme park in advance can take loads of stress off of you and your family by the time the big day rolls around.  You will have an idea of all that you want to try to see and do and a plan on getting through it as efficiently and enjoyably as possible.  And while you may not be able to get through the entire park in a day and see every last thing, it is definitely possible to catch the highlights and have a wonderful experience.

The first step though is to purchase your tickets and preferably in advance.  No sense wasting time standing in the ticket line if you don’t have to!  Also be sure to arrive early, at least an hour early as parks often open ahead of time and allow early parking.

Once you get inside, Epcot is divided into two main sections.  World Showcase and Future World.  Depending on your tastes, you can travel around the world inside the World Showcase.  Dine in Italy, drink in France and shop in Morocco, all in the space of an hour or two!  You might also consider getting the Fastpass to save you some time in lines once you start hitting the attractions.

If that doesn’t appeal just yet, you can start your day by taking a hand glider flight over sunny California.  One of Epcot’s most popular rides, you can fly down to Hollywood, California from San Francisco and experience a little exhilarating wind in your hair.

Next, you might like to mosey on over to the Future World park area.  It offers an interactive space travel ride called Mission Space that you can hop on if you are a thrill seeker.  It also offers two different versions, so if one is too intense for you, there is a second less intense one for you to enjoy.

While you are there you might also hit some of the other Future World attractions as well.  Journey Into Imagination With Figment and Bodywars is a good choice, and whatever other attractions might strike your fancy.

Another not-to-miss feature of Epcot is the 3-D special effects movie, ‘Honey, I Shrunk The Audience’ which is based on the hit movie ‘Honey, I Shrunk The Kids’.  It is great fun for the whole family, so you won’t want to miss out on that.

Afterwards, browse around the Innoventions Pavilion, where you can play with all the futuristic tools that might be around some day, and grab some lunch to refuel for the rest of your day.  While digesting lunch, you can take a nice relaxing boat ride through Living With The Land and have some great photo opportunities of some beautiful scenery.

Once you hop off the boat, you can check out the Sea’s With Nemo And Friends, and ride the ‘clam mobile’ to journey under the sea and Find Nemo!  On the way you can stop and let the kiddies have a talk with the Turtle Crush at the Crush show and find out all kinds of Turtle Trivia.

Top off your day by having dinner in the Coral Reef restaurant, where you can dine with a view of the beautiful fish tank and enjoy exquisite steak and sea food.  The perfect way to finish a perfect day at Disney’s Epcot center wouldn’t you say?

Your One-Day Schedule For Animal Kingdom

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

 

Animal Kingdom happens to be the largest of Disney’s four theme parks.  That being said, you definitely won’t see everything in a day, but it is possible, as with all the parks, to hit the major highlights and still have a wonderful time.  This however takes some planning on your part, and obviously every person’s plan will look a bit different based on likes and dislikes.

However, there are some basics that hold true for all theme parks and that’s what I will cover here!

First of all, buy your tickets in advance.  There is nothing worse than wasting two hours of your day standing in a long line to purchase entry tickets.  That is not getting off to a good start at all!  Also remember to arrive at least an hour early to park.  Lines are extremely long in the morning and many times the parks will open early to allow for parking.

Because both Cast members and the animals are just starting their day, mornings are very busy.  Rafiki’s Planet Watch and viewable medical procedures happen in the morning and also morning is the best time for animal spotting’s on the Safari, so you will need to decide ahead of time which you’d prefer to do.

If you decide ahead of time whether or not your group is willing to split up to ride the Expedition Everest coaster can also shave some time off your day.  Instead of heading there first thing and fighting the huge morning crowd, you can wait until later in the day and use the single riders line.

Another thing to note, is don’t attempt to walk all the nature walks.  It’s impossible and you can still see a good chunk just by varying your routes from attraction to attraction.  Also, remember to dress appropriately.  Florida is hot and muggy and tends to rain when you are least expecting it.

So go prepared, and if you find yourself running out of steam due to heat and lack of food, head on over to Africa’s Tusker House to grab an afternoon lunch and much needed rest.  It is one of the few places offering indoor dining, and a great place to have a bit of a noon time break with out actually leaving the park and fighting to get back in.

You can also get a little wet if you find yourself getting hot mid day and want to do a bit of cooling off, at the Kali River Rapids.  It is a thrill ride with a message and you are sure to get a kick out of it.

You will also want to remember that Animal Kingdom closes a little earlier than the other parks.  As early as 5pm in off season, and 8pm in peak season.  When creating your schedule for the day, keep that in mind so that you can be sure to see everything you hope to see.

Also take advantage of a bit of psychology and look for empty lines to the left.  Unless something is roped off, it is probably not closed, but because most people tend to veer to the right, many don’t even realize there are less crowded rides off to the left.

Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the details of Animal Kingdom.  Part of it’s charm is that it’s a theme park and animal habitat all wrapped up into one.  Nature trails abound, and there are tons of unique things to see and do besides the major attractions.  Enjoy that, as it’s something you won’t necessarily find at other theme parks, and have a wonderful Animal Kingdom experience!