Showing posts with label Pirates of the Caribbean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pirates of the Caribbean. Show all posts

Friday, September 6, 2013

Minnie Moms: Must-Do Attractions


Our Minnie Moms are back from summer vacation and it's time to discuss 'Must-Do' attractions as we gear up for fall visits to Walt Disney World.  


Janine: My 'Must Do' attraction is a selfish one, because it is MY favourite ride. I absolutely love The Tower of Terror and have been lucky enough to ride it at least once on every visit I've made to WDW bar one (when I was pregnant) and even at Disneyland Paris. Last year I even rode it alone as Tink was too small to ride so daddy waited outside with her while mama got to enjoy herself. I know that not everyone is into thrill rides, and although this isn't a super-fast roller coaster, the fact is is up very high and has several drops and parts are in the dark, means that it is not everyone's cup of tea, but for me, those are the things I most like about it. I also relish in the fact that there is now the random drop sequence so every time you ride really is not the same. Another point which makes this, for me, my 'Must Do' is that the ride also changes dependent on where you sit and what time of day it is. Riding on the front row in the day and the back row at night are 2 completely different experiences, and I just LOVE riding at night and being able to see the lights from the park below.

If you haven't been brave enough to try it up until now - go on, I dare you!!! And I might just see you there!
A shot of Disney's Hollywood Studios I took at the top of the Tower of Terror in 2007. ~Amy 
Hollywood Tower Hotel taken by Ridge

Corby: Obviously, I have lots of favorite attractions in each of the four Disney parks. Sometimes I'll have to miss some attractions due to the kids or time constraints, however. There are a few attractions though that I just cannot think about going to the park and not riding. It just wouldn't be the same. At Magic Kingdom it's, and I know this sounds crazy but...It's a Small World. I have to ride that attraction every single visit. It is a Walt Disney classic! There's just something about getting in the boat, waving to the controller and hearing the song over and over and over again. Makes me warm and fuzzy. Ironically, it's the one attraction my husband skips every single visit but I love it! At Epcot, I can't imagine visiting and not riding Spaceship Earth or Living with the Land. That would be a crime. My whole family enjoys the two attractions and we typically ride them over and over again when time allows. Does anyone else love the waterfall scene smell as much as I do? If I could bottle it up I would! At Hollywood Studios, it's Toy Story Mania hands down and at Animal Kingdom it's definitely Kilamanjaro Safaris. If I had to pick one out of all of them, I'm going with “The Happiest Cruise that Ever Sailed,” It's a Small World.



Natalie: Vacations to Disney are hectic. My family loves to go all different times of the year. In fact, this year, we have gone for New Year’s, Spring Break, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. As you might imagine, many of these times to visit Disney were extremely crowded. The visit on New Year’s was, at times, so crowded I wondered if we could even walk across Main Street must less get to an attraction!

My favorite attraction in the Magic Kingdom has long been a variety. I know. I am supposed to write about my absolute favorite but who can really say! See if you agree with my line of thought. During certain times of the year, such as Halloween, I most love riding the Haunted Mansion. I love attempting to figure out all of the special effects and details of the storyline found within the attraction. I also love feeling a bit scared by the eerie attraction! Other times of the year, I most love Pirates of the Caribbean. Who doesn’t appreciate the fun boat ride as it moves through the intriguing story line which includes animatronics of Johnny Depp!


However, my longstanding favorite is the Peter Pan attraction in Fantasyland. I cannot say why I love this attraction so. I believe it is the thought that you can fly and stay a child forever. Or it may instead be the use of beautiful pastels throughout the ride and the hide and seek with other famous Disney characters (such as Pocahontas). This is one of the few attractions I remember riding as a child. I remember loving the use of the speed ramps and how the Cast Members could use “pixie dust” to close the safety bar on the ride vehicle! However, the long standing problem with this attraction is that the lines are often times extreme. To get on, you really need a fast pass or to head to the attraction as soon as the park opens or right before it closes. If you are not able to do any of these, you will find that you are standing in line for over 45 minutes to catch your flight.

In the end, I believe I would narrow down my favorite “Must-Do” attraction to all those attractions found within the Magic Kingdom! Each is special to me and my family in some way. Yep, all of the Magic Kingdom.


Beth: Our family's must do attraction each trip is the Mad Tea Party. My kids absolutely love this attraction, and it always tops their own personal "touring plans." This has a very personal meaning to me far beyond the big smiles of my children as they try to spin my husband and I as fast as they can. This attraction was my very first Disney ride back in 1986. Though that was almost 30 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. Being able to now share that same feeling with my children, makes it quite magical to say the least. If I were to ask each of my children individually what tops their must do list, Emily (5 years old) would say Prince Charming's Regal Carousel, though she used to call the "horse go round." Hayley (7 years old) would choose It's a Small World. She has loved this ride since her first trip and dances the entire boat ride. Joey would say the Tomorrowland Speedway, which is now tall enough (well almost) to drive himself - quite a change from his first experience at the age of 3.5 years old! Each of these three attractions are experienced at least two to three times each trip. Clearly, I have raised three children who love Disney as much as I do. Our must do list is actually quite long for our trips, and I can imagine as they get older, it will continue to grow!


Amy: My must-do attractions have evolved over the years.  As a teen, I wouldn't have missed Space Mountain for anything, my history major self loves American Adventure, and as a mom, we always ride Small World and Living with the Land.  But the one attraction that has always been a favorite and I never miss is Pirates of the Caribbean.  1. It's a great break from Florida heat.   2. Love that song.  3. Audio-animatronics, especially ones with hairy legs, make my inner Disney nerd happy.


Many thanks to JanineNatalieCorby and Beth for sharing their must-do attractions!   Please check out our Minnie Moms page for past articles and more information about this terrific team. 
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Photo Flashback! Disney Weenies


In Disney speak, a "weenie" is something that can be seen from a distance, peaks a guest's interest and pulls them into the park or land.  The Walt Disney World Resort is full of great examples of this and I'd like to share a few with you today.

The best and most obvious weenie is Cinderella Castle.  I'd say it even draws people all the way from their homes states away and it has real power once you arrive in Central Florida.
From across the water, Cinderella Castle beckons to arriving guests
 My girls have already felt the call of the castle
Pirates of the Caribbean entices guests further into Adventureland 
Beast's Castle is a weenie in New Fantasyland

Hmm, wonder what's in that spoky building in the distance?
Splash Mountain encourages guests into the far reaches of Frontierland
I love Space Mountain but somehow this photo from 1975 was all I could find. (LOVE DisneyDad's old photos.)
Spaceship Earth calls to you while entering the park
American Adventure encourages guests to trek aound World Showcase
I'm with the group who prefers the Chinese Theatre, but the Sorcerer Hat is ahead as you enter Hollywood Studios
Let's go see what that is...
Our nephew's Flat Grant wants to see what's going on with that huge tree
Early vistas of Expedition Everest certainly draw guests toward the forbidden mountain
And as a DVC Member, I have to include the lighthouse from Old Key West

Thanks to Deb for a great theme this week!  And many thanks to the Growing Up Disney family: today's post includes photos taken by each of us.
Focused on the Magic
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Monday, January 9, 2012

Brother/Sister Walt Disney World Vacation

2007 was the “Year of a Million Dreams” or should I say one of the years since that promotion ran for 27 months. I made two trips to Walt Disney World that year. My in-laws joined us for our usual fall trip for the Food and Wine Festival. However, the really special visit was one with my brother in February of 2007.

My husband and I moved to Oklahoma in late 2005. By early 2007, my brother Chris and I decided a second brother/sister WDW trip was in order. Our first had been in 2004 for the Mission Space Annual Passholder (AP) preview. Chris and I travel really well together. I like to plan and he’s happy with most plans, as long as there is one.
At the Mission Space preview in 2004
We are Disney Vacation Club members but chose not to use points for this trip. Instead, we got an AP discount at our favorite moderate resort, Port Orleans Riverside. I love this resort. The grounds are lush and beautiful and it’s a great place to go for a morning jog. Chris’ flight didn’t arrive until really late so I had the first evening to myself. I took the opportunity to meander to Port Orleans French Quarter, taking photos along the way. After a stop in the POFQ food court for dinner, I did some shopping at Downtown Disney. I discovered that I really shouldn’t shop there alone. Let’s just say that I spent more than normal, however I still love the items I bought that day.



Since it was the Year of a Million Dreams and we (probably just me) wanted an excuse to do so, Chris and I had t-shirts made showing our vacation checklist. It didn’t get us anything from the Dream Squad but they made a great souvenir. We took pictures along the way of some of the items on our list. (I took 4 trips to WDW during the YoaMD and my only encounter with the Dream Squad was a very cute ear hat.)



We were able to check out a few things that were fairly new on this visit. The pirate tutorial sessions near Pirates of the Caribbean were just getting started. There is a stage now but in the beginning, they just used an open space to the left of the queue entrance. It features every big girl’s favorite face character...Captain Jack.


Finding Nemo The Musical was also new to us on this trip, having just opened in November 2006. Chris humored me and stood in the rain to wait for the show. I love this show. It’s amazing how you are so aware of the actors but at the same time, convinced that Nemo is real.



I don’t know if this was really new or not, but it was certainly the first time it had caught our attention. Club Cool offers free sodas from around the world, including everyone’s favorite, Beverly. There are some Coke products for sale in Club Cool. Chris had recently worked for the local Coca-Cola distributor at home so we lingered a bit longer than usual. He decided to pay an extra fifty cents over the regular price of water to create the “souvenir bottle.” You choose a wrap, slide it on the bottle, and this gizmo shrink wraps your disposable bottle. If that’s not genius marketing, I don’t know what is. Get people to pay more for something they aren’t going to keep anyway.



We did not attend but the short-lived Pirate and Princess Party was being held at Magic Kingdom that spring. This party was along the lines of the holiday parties but didn’t earn nearly the rave reviews of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. It wasn’t tied to any holiday, it just used pirates and princesses for the themes of the parade, fireworks, dance parties, etc. By 2009, no more dates were scheduled.


Pal Mickey made the trip with us again in 2007. He had been an excellent travel buddy during our 2004 adventure so we let him tag along again. We really didn’t need more pictures of ourselves in the parks but it was funny to take photos of Mickey. Since this was before we all carried smart phones, it was neat to hear him tell jokes and share park information and know where he was on Disney property.


In general, we just enjoyed spending some time together, taking in attractions and dining at a few favorite restaurants. Garden Grill was a good meal and a wonderful character greeting opportunity. Our lunch at Brown Derby was one of the best meals I’ve ever had at Walt Disney World. I had a cobb salad topped with seared tuna and Chris loved his steak. And for some reason, I remember the butter was the perfect temperature for their crispy rolls.


Time moves on and life happens. Since this 2007 vacation, I’ve had two children and moved to yet another state. Chris and I may not be able to take another brother/sister trip for a good while but we get to share Disney fun several times a week here on the blog.


This article originally appeared on Distherapy as a part of the 40 Days to 40 Years series.  DisneyDad and I were each proud to share a memorable vacation.  --Amy Pin It

Monday, April 25, 2011

Minnie Moms: Surprisingly Scary Attractions Part 2

Have you ever boarded an attraction vehicle only to find out too late that this ride you thought was simple was frightening to your child? The Minnie Moms discuss their experiences and ideas on Walt Disney World attractions that are surprisingly scary.


Janine: I think that this totally depends upon your kid or indeed, even the adult. My husband and I are pretty fearless when it comes to rides, in fact if one is slightly scary it just adds to the whole experience for us. But there are adults who won't ride The Mountains, The Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Rollercoaster etc. because they are afraid. Conversely, I've seen tiny kiddos only just tall enough to ride, squealing with delight and begging to do them over and over.

It also depends on your definition of scary. The one attraction I would have to be forced to do again because I was so nervous and uncomfortable throughout is ... Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor at the Magic Kingdom. Not because I'm frightened of one-eyed green aliens, I love Mike (with one I), but because of the audience participation. Believe it or not, I'm pretty shy. I hate being centre of attention. I'd rather run for 100 miles than do public speaking. So when the cameras started cutting to the audience and they had to do something like a silly dance in front of everyone, I actually felt sick for the duration of the show. So if your kiddo is shy too, I wouldn't recommend this attraction at all. Maybe it's an English thing though, because the American kids in there just adored being up on the screen, as they should.

If ExtraTerrorestrial was still at the Magic Kingdom, there's no way I'd take Tink on it until she was much older. I was 21 and was spooked. I'm still slightly wary of the Stitch version and won't take her on it on her first trip (she'll be 4). Another ride which always gets me is Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom. I'm the same with the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios.  I love them, but my heart does flutter, especially towards the end. I also find Dinosaur a little bumpy. I'll consider taking Tink on this but I think it could freak out small children.

A definite one to think about seriously is It's a Bugs Life, also at Animal Kingdom. I'm terrified of spiders. I know when 'that bit' is coming now, and even at 29 on my last trip, I had to close my eyes and hug my husband for dear life until he says it's safe to look again. Every time we go into this attraction, I hear children screaming. And I don't mean happy, adrenaline screams like I make on ToT, I mean real cries of fright that don't stop. If your child is in any way, shape or form scared of insects, this is NOT the attraction for them.

Another one just to consider in my opinion is The Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios. I think some of the scenes are quite intense, and the Alien one could potentially be a little scary. That being said I've not seen a child go into total meltdown on this ride so maybe today's kids are used to seeing more stuff like this on the TV and on video games?

So all in all, I really think each ride's potential scariness depends totally on an individual child. While some 4 and 5 year olds (so long as they are tall enough of course) will be ready for rides some adults are too scared to go on, other 9 and 10 year olds may not be ready. So it's best to plan ahead as much as you can and if you haven't been to WDW or on a certain ride before, read up on it beforehand or ask a CM what it involves.

As said, some are obvious. If your child is scared of water, don't go on Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom or Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom. But also be aware that things like It's a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean at Magic Kingdom are also boat rides on the water. It's also obvious to avoid the coasters if they're scared of heights but both Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom and Rock 'n' Rollercoaster at Hollywood Studios are in the dark too, which can be extra fun or super frightening!

So if your little one has any fears, just check out any of the many guides or websites before you go, so you don't end up with a total meltdown mid attraction.

As a side note, I have heard parents say that their kiddos have never been upset by something before and yet had a major wobbly over something in the Parks. Just remember that heat, tiredness, being over excited or totally daunted can all add up to a child's worst nightmare. Don't panic or feel bad if kiddo kicks off during Talk with Crush in EPCOT when normally they watch Finding Nemo ten times a day. WDW is a massive explosion to the senses and it can just all be too much. Just be forewarned and be prepared, most things can be sorted out with a cuddle and a Mickey bar.


Amy:  My "Tink" has been to Walt Disney World twice now, once for her first birthday and again at 18 months.  Between her need for naps and my pregnancy on the more recent trip, she didn't ride much so we haven't yet personally experienced attraction meltdown. 

However, I have done some research on this for the future.  Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers (2011) has some great information on attractions that can be too much for little ones.  The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2011 (Unofficial Guides) is another good resource for parents.  Arm yourself with some information and you can help keep your trip a positive experience for the whole family. 

Tink has been on Pirates of the Caribbean a number of times but has never had a problem.  However, if your child is scared of the dark, water, or pirate scenes, this might be one to walk past.  We also didn't have any problems on The Great Movie Ride, but I could see this being a little much for some children.  On each trip, we'll decide what is appropriate for the girls since what might not scare a one year-old could totally frighten the same child a little further down the road. 

Keep in mind that Disney does a great job of making pretend things look realistic and children don't yet have the capacity to separate reality and fiction.  Also, many indoor attractions take place in the dark.  This doesn't mean you should avoid the parks with small children, but rather, simply be aware of what fears your child may have.  Better to skip something this vacation instead of setting up a situation where they won't go on a ride for many years.  When I would go to WDW as a preschooler, my parents took me on Haunted Mansion and it scared the fool out of me.  It's a little embarrassing to admit this but I wouldn't go on it again until I was in high school and could appreciate the details of the attraction.

For Tink's first trip, we planned a couple of character breakfasts.  I was thankful that she loved Pooh and Tigger, but during my Cast Member days, I saw quite a few kiddos freak out when such a large creature was coming their way.  If you'd like to test your child in advance, take him or her to meet someone locally, maybe the Easter Bunny, a school mascot, etc.  Then you'll know their tolerance for characters.  Some kids are ok with a little distance, so please allow them just to wave from a few feet away, if that's what they are comfortable with.  Forcing them to hug a character just because you've paid for breakfast or park tickets isn't good for anyone.  Most kids are ok with face characters, so if Chip and Dale are too much on a particular trip, why not look for Peter Pan or Snow White instead?  (The only time Tink cried around a character was the Mad Hatter, but that was due to his obnoxious personality.  Seriously dude, sign the card and move on.  Don't harrass my 12 month old baby.)

Please also be aware that some attractions are rather long and you are stuck for the duration.  Ellen's Energy Adventure is 45 minutes long and has large dinosaurs.  We skipped this one in October.  I didn't want to risk a freak out with nowhere to go. 

The Voyage of the Little Mermaid at Disney's Hollywood Studios is a great show, but it's a little intense for small ones.  If you try it, shoot for a seat near the far end of the row so you can make a quick exit if needed. 

Fireworks can also be too loud for some children.  It wouldn't be a bad idea to try out the local 4th of July fireworks to see how your child reacts before waiting for a prime spot at Magic Kingdom.

And don't forget that you can always use FastPass and RiderSwap to minimize wait times if the adults in the group want to trade off going on an attraction the little ones are too nervous (or short) to try.

Cast Members are there to help, so feel free to ask questions before entering an attraction if you are unsure if it's a good idea.  They'll also help as much as they can if you do end up with a meltdown, because as all parents know...kids will surprise you. 


Thanks to Janine for joining me on this post and sharing her ideas.  Please check out our Minnie Moms page to find past topics and to learn more about these ladies' other projects. Pin It

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Photo Flashback!!! T-Shirts



One of the ways that Amy and I made our last brother sister trip in 2007 special is by having commemorative t-shirts made. On them we placed our favorite do not miss attractions and things we love to say. The list goes:

_Mountains, Presidents & Aliens

_"Lower your head and watch your step. If you forget, then lower your voice and watch your language."

_Off Kilter and The Jammitors

_Tonga Toast, Dole Whip & Turkey Legs

_Haunted houses and Peter Pan

_"Hey you in the yellow poncho!"

_Ragland Road and Dad's Den

_Magic orchestras and fiery car chases

_Snack at Columbia Harbor House

_Space Missions and high-speed tests

_"Por favor mantenganse alejado de las puertas."

_A Pirate's life for me!

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Photo Flashback! Captain Jack

With the recent release of the trailer for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, I thought I'd share this photo of Captain Jack during the Pirate Tutorial from February 2007.
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