That's right. In honor of our trips to Disney this week, we are highlighting our favorite things about this magical place. We had two totally different experiences here- Monica had no kids which meant sleeping in and staying out late and taking in all the "adult" rides and activities. I was with my family and some extended family which included 5 kids, so we were up early, getting home early and hitting up all the kid-friendly attractions. So, don't be jealous- just take some notes on things you do NOT want to miss next time you're in Disney World. :)
Jessica's Top Picks
1. Disney Photo Pass. This pass is ingenious! There are the usual photographers posted strategically around the parks (you know, in front of Cinderella's castle, with the characters etc.), but instead of having to go to a booth to pay for a picture and take it home with you, they scan your pictures onto the photopass card. You'll want to keep that card and have it handy any time you get your picture taken. When you get home, you can input the information into the photopass website, and all your pictures can be found in an album. From there, you can order and buy prints, or share the photos on facebook or through email, at no cost! We were told that if there are 9 or more prints that you love and want to have to use as you wish, ordering a CD of the prints is the easiest and cheapest way to go (however buying the CD will set you back $150!)
2. Disney Live Shows. Honestly, these shows are Broadway quality, but cost nothing (after you pay to enter the parks). The talent is amazing, the costumes and backdrops are so colorful and amazing, and the music is phenomenal! Our favorites include The Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom, Beauty & the Beast at Hollywood Studios, and Finding Nemo-the Musical at Animal Kingdom. Plus, the kids love all the colors and lights and music. It really is a fun-for-the-whole-family event!
3. Camp Minnie-Mickey at Animal Kingdom. If your kids are into meeting all the characters, this is the best place to do it! The three older kids in our group had autograph books and nearly filled them at Camp Minnie-Mickey. We met Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Pluto, Chip & Dale, Pocahontas and a bunch more. Definitely get there as it opens at 9:00 AM to avoid the lines.
4. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor at Magic Kingdom. This interactive show is hilarious and incorporates real people from the audience into the show. The technology truly is amazing- the characters (ie: Mike Wazowski) are animated, but somehow they can interact with the audience. The kids (and my husband) thought this was hysterical.
5. We used the book Birnbaum Guides: Walt Disney World 2011 to help us navigate the parks successfully with kids. It has a suggested game plan of action if you have kids which didn't steer us wrong. I highly recommend this book!
Monica's Top Picks
1. FastPass. Basically, the best thing at Disney since sliced bread! FastPass removes the one complaint people used to have about Disney... long lines. With this system, you can reserve a spot in line for a ride while you visit other areas of the park. You go to the ride, use the Fastpass ticketing area and are given a slip of paper which gives you a one hour window that you can return during to go on the ride with a very minimal wait (our longest was 10 mins max.) All of the most popular rides have FastPass, but if you're thinking of going early in the morning to get reserved spots for all of your favorites, think again. You're only allowed so many FastPasses within a certain amount of time, so you can get one and then your ticket will tell you when you can go and reserve another one elsewhere. It's just plain old awesomeness!
2. Test Track at Epcot is a high-speed vehicle-simulation ride that I loved! It's one of Disney's longest (5 mins) and fastest rides. It takes you through a series of driving simulations (heat, corrosion, anti-lock breaks, etc.) but, the fun starts when you head out onto the open road. The speed and smoothness of the ride is amazing. Definitely check out this ride and of course use a FastPass to avoid an eternal line.
3. IllumiNations at Epcot. Every night this show is done at 9pm and I think I just happened to catch it on the best night ever. It was a warm night with an almost full moon, and the music, lights, and fireworks made "Disney Magic" come to life. It's a 14 minute show and it's not overly loud if your little ones aren't huge fans of the crazy loud fireworks. I recommend dinner in China and then watching right outside of Japan for an amazing viewing spot.
4. Downtown Disney. I like this part of Disney for many reasons, but the top two are that 1. It's free and 2. It has great shops and restaurants and isn't grossly overpriced. Earl of Sandwich was perfect for a midday lunch and in my opinion rivaled Panera (which is impressive in my book.) The Lego store (and the amazing Lego displays outside), the huge Disney Store, and the specialized Disney Toy Store were my favorites.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Jess for dinner at Downtown Disney's Rainforest Cafe. We were laughing about the fact that we rarely get to go out for dinner just the two of us and had to go to Orlando to do it.
The famous hold the camera ourselves shot...
Do you see the size of that dessert?
My favorites list is a little shorter, but that might be because one of my very favorite parts of this trip was just sitting poolside reading for hours! Being able to get through three books in five days was just a little bit of paradise for me.
So, we hope you enjoyed hearing our Disney Fab Finds.
Now, do tell... what are your Disney Favorites?