Question of the Week (5/31/15)

Every Sunday our writers get together and answer a Disney-related question.  Leave your answer in the comments, here is this week’s question!

Question of the Week:  Is it a goal for you to go to the foreign Disney Parks at some point in your life or do they not interest you as much? Why?

Stanley's Oasis

Cassie – I would LOVE to visit Disneyland Paris if I could someday! I imagine that both the culture and the food would be incredible! Plus, my favorite Disney Movie of all time takes place in France, Beauty and the Beast. And, although it’s not a foreign park, I would also love to visit Aulani in Hawaii.

Melissa H. – You know how some people like to travel to every state? Yeah, I think it would be awesome to say that I’ve been to every Disney Park in the world. I think it would be fun to see the differences between some of the classic attractions at different parks and experience different food and culture while there. The only thing I am afraid of is that, from my research, it appears that the parks in other countries aren’t quite as detailed as those in the states. I guess I don’t really have the highest expectations if I ever do go… Just think it would be cool!

Harambe theater

Melissa L. – Andrew has been trying to convince me that we need to go to Tokyo Disney and he endeavors of persuasion are starting to work. The park seems really cool and I think it would be a great experience!

Kelsee – It would be fun to see all of the parks, but it’s not a priority. Honestly, I would rather spend my money sticking with the staple two parks in the U.S. rather than go to the parks in Europe and Asia. If I were to go to Europe or Asia, I’d rather experience the tourist attractions and culture they have there rather than visit the Disney parks, which is more of an American icon. It would be fun, but priority wise, it’s not on the top of my list.

MK gold fw

Andrew – It is absolutely something I would love to do and plan to do. As Melissa L. mentioned, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are my top priority. The photos I’ve seen from this place are astonishing and the bloggers I trust the most have said that Tokyo DisneySea is the best theme park in the world. Hong Kong and Disneyland Paris are places that I’d like to go but aren’t as big of a priority to me as the Tokyo Resort.

Tree of life open AK

 

We really appreciate you reading Wandering in Disney!  If you enjoy these posts, please like our Facebook page and subscribe to the blog.  You can do both of those things on the right side of this page.  Have a magical week, everyone!

Advertisements

Stand Out in the Crowd as a Disney Fashionista!

Whether you are five years old and wearing a princess dress or 85 years old and wearing Mickey ears, dressing up for a day at Disneyland can be a whole lot of fun. Many people put thorough thought into a perfect outfit for their visit to the parks. Maybe you want to look good for the pictures that will last a lifetime or maybe you want to match with a group of friends or with a significant other. Personally, I love wearing a fun, new outfit every time I visit Disneyland. It is something I always plan and always enjoy creating. Whatever your reason is for dressing up, there is a fun and new way to express yourself and your own taste! Whether you are on a budget (or plan to spend your entire salary on Disney merch) there are plenty of ways to stand out in the crowd and look magically amazing on your visit to the Disney Parks!

Cassie castle

Create something from scratch:

As an artistic person, I find that creating items from scratch are the most original way to stand out and look amazing at the Disney parks. However, not every one has a creative bone nor has interest in making their Disneyland costume, and that’s fine too! There are MANY places to purchase unique Disney items and still rock an awesome getup!

My dear friend Kelsey (AKA my Disneyland partner in crime) makes all her own outfits when she visits the parks and has been a big inspiration to me with her creativity. The last time we went to Disneyland together she had sewn a beautiful Little Mermaid skirt that she had made out of a bed sheet! Every five seconds, someone complemented Kelsey on her awesome and original skirt, which led to a lot of fun conversations with fellow park goers. The skirt cost Kelsey a mere $5 to make and was the cutest item ever!

Little Mermaid skirt

Side Note: If you do not know where to start with creating an item from scratch, I recommend searching through a site like Pintrest for easy DIY projects. Pintrest has a lot of great ideas for beginners, easy enough for even the most novice Disney fans. See site for examples:

Shop in the park:

Lets face it, shopping at the parks is a big part of a Disney visit. I could spend hours in World of Disney looking at every single item and fawning over all the things I wish I could buy. Finding your Disney outfit at the parks is by far the most convenient way to put together something fun, especially if you are staying at the resort and do not have access to outside shopping. There are also certain items I would highly recommend only getting at the parks. For instance, if you want personalized Mickey ears you must do it here and it is completely worth the experience. I am also all-for purchasing your little one’s princess or prince outfit at the park, as they are the highest quality and seem to contain just the right amount of Disney magic.

Shop outside of the park/saving money:

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE shopping at The Disneyland Vault and World of Disney just as much as anyone. However, there are a few drawbacks to only purchasing Disney merch at the parks. First off, while adorable and amazing, the merch at Disney is a tad pricey. Shirts average at about $35 and sweatshirts at about $50. Items like dresses and handbags are even more expensive. Secondly, any item you purchase at the parks are likely to be seen worn by another person during your visit. Much like having the same dress as another girl at the prom, wearing the same outfit as someone else at Disneyland can be a tad competitive.

Cassie sword

I have found many items you can wear to the parks at places other than Disneyland. Forever 21 is one of my favorite spots to grab a quick shirt the night before a visit. I tend to cut the neckline or change the sleeves just to make it a little new and edgy. (And at about $10 per shirt, I don’t mind cutting and changing it up a bit.) There are also a lot of treasures to be found at your local Value Village, Goodwill, or thrift store. Trust me, finding an old retro Mickey sweatshirt for $3 can be quite the steal.
At places like the Dollar Store, you can find tiaras, wands and tutus for your little ones to wear. And lets face it, these are usually the first items to fall apart or get lost while on a ride, so its best not to break the bank on them.

Shop online:

Shopping online is probably the second best way to have something unique at Disneyland. Sites like Etsy are filled to the brim with totally original pieces. I would especially recommend Etsy for unique Disney items such as jewelry, cell phone cases and handbags!

Expressing yourself even further:

Other than clothing, there are a lot of other ways to express your Disney side. Many women get manicures or pedicures with Disney themed nail polish designs. Again, if you don’t want to see a professional for this, Pintrest is a great site to find ideas for Disney inspired nails. Other ways to jazz up your Disney look include jewelry, handbags/backpacks, temporary tattoos, hair designs and makeup.

The possibilities are endless, so don’t think you have to limit yourself to just these ideas. Sometimes, it’s the smallest details that are the most enjoyable.
All in all, I hope that whatever way you choose to express yourself, it makes you happy and feel wonderful all day long!

Cassie Mickey Mouse

– Cassie

Favorite Places to Rest in the Walt Disney World Parks

Going to a Disney Park can be an exhausting experience.  The crowds, heat and walking can combine to wipe anybody out in the mid-afternoon.  We could all use a break every now and then while at the World.  Obviously, your resorts pool is probably the top location but not everyone wants to take a break from the parks in the mid-afternoon.  Luckily, there are plenty of places to sit, cool down and take a load off within the parks.

Today, I’m going to share a favorite location in each Disney World park to relax.  There are plenty of places in each park, although some parks have more than others, that combine a great setting with a place to get off of your feet.  That’s the criteria I’m using to find my favorite spots.  I also don’t want the locations to be somewhere that you have to pay to enter, so that leaves out lounges and table-service restaurants.  If you disagree with my spots, leave your favorites in the comments.

Magic Kingdom – Gaston’s Tavern

Gaston's Tavern

New Fantasyland is setting for where our first location resides.  While Be Our Guest receives all the acclaim, and rightfully so, in this area there is a little tavern right next to it that I’m pretty fond of.  The whole Beauty and the Beast area of New Fantasyland is really well done but I think it’s Gaston’s Tavern that completes it.  Inside of the tavern is a food ordering station and some seating off to the right.  There aren’t many tables but this doesn’t seem to be an area that many people sit down and relax in so I’ve never seen it full.  The room is adorned antlers.  The inside of Gaston’s feels like a little, log cabin that we’ve happened upon in the woods.  Beauty and the Beast tracks play quietly in different arrangements above guests.

The food offered here is limited but pretty tasty and iconic.  The most well-known of these are the cinnamon rolls, turkey legs, and Lefou’s Brew.  As I said, Gaston’s never seems all that crowded and it’s a very fun place to look around and soak up the atmosphere.  The Tavern puts guests right in the scene in which Gaston sings his favorite song.  Even if you aren’t looking for a place to relax, I highly recommend stopping in and seeing this place.

Honorable Mentions in Magic Kingdom:  The top floor of the Columbia Harbor House and Country Bear Jamboree.

Epcot – Katsura Grill and The American Adventure

Japan Bridge Epcot_edited-2

Instead of honorable mentions here, we’ll go with a tie.  Both of these places have their pros and cons.  Katsura Grill is a beautiful location when you eat outside.  There is plenty of shade and guests are able to sit right along the relaxing gardens and flowing water that make Japan one of the most beautiful pavilions in Epcot.  Sitting or eating here will relax you and it’s easy to have nice conversation with whoever you happen to be with.  The downside of this place is that you are outside.  As I mentioned, there is quite a bit of shade but shade doesn’t help much when it’s over 100 degrees outside.

If air-conditioning is your biggest goal then I suggest that you head over a few pavilions to the American Adventure.  This is a wonderful, long show that showcases the history of America.  It receives bonus points for being long (about 30 minutes) and possibly the best attraction in World Showcase.  The con here is that if you were looking forward to relaxing and visiting with your friends or family, this place doesn’t offer that.  Unless you want to receive glares from other guests around you, that is.

American Adventure

If it were up to me I’d pick the gardens of Japan in this spot but I think both offer chances to relax and unwind.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream

This attraction first allows guests to walk through what is almost like a museum.  Museums are air-conditioned!  There are interesting pieces of history dating back to Walt Disney and models of theme parks and attractions inside.  The walk-through portion of this attraction is my favorite part, although it’s not super relaxing due to the fact that you’re walking.

After walking through, there is a short film about Walt Disney.  The film is informative, entertaining and will probably have you learning something along the way.  This is a really nice attraction that allows you to cool off and get immersed in some Walt Disney history.

Honorable Mention:  Muppet-Vision 3D

Muppet-Vision

 

Animal Kingdom – Flame Tree Barbecue

Animal Kingdom provides some challenges in picking a spot to relax because there are limited indoor activities and restaurants.  The one’s that are indoors are shows that are nice to cool off in but aren’t as relaxing as simply just taking a break.  That’s how I settled on Flame Tree Barbecue.  Aside from having some of the best barbecue on property, Flame Tree boasts some of the best views around.  As you get your food, head down the stairs toward the water and keep going until the path ends.  There are seating areas all along the path.  Unfortunately, these areas aren’t air-conditioned but they are under shade.  This area is right down by the water which always makes it feel a little cooler (in temperature and atmosphere) than other places.  Seeing Expedition Everest tower in the distance while eating barbecue by the water makes everything slow down for me.

Everest:discovery

Honorable Mentions – Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo – The Musical

I hope I’ve given you a few good ideas on places to relax while at Disney World.  Again, let me know some of your favorite spots in the comments!

Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

Question of the Week (5/24/15)

Every Sunday our writers get together and answer a Disney related question.  Here is this week’s question and answers (leave your answer in the comments).

Question of the Week: This week Disneyland debuted it’s new firework spectacular, Disneyland Forever. The question this week is what is your favorite part of these firework shows? Is it generally the fireworks themselves, the music, the storytelling through the show, the ambiance, the crowds excitement or something else entirely?

DLFW

Leslie – For me it is definitely the story telling that wraps it all together for me. Don’t get me wrong I love fireworks and music but I think it is the story telling that pulls it all together. After all I don’t start crying until Jiminy Cricket starts talking to me.

Melissa L. – My favorite part about any firework show are the fireworks themselves. But what I love most about Disney ‘s firework shows is how they sync the magic of music and film to the bursts of fire in the air. Their synchronization is beyond anything I have ever seen and it makes the show come to life every time we see it! It’s always a whole new experience every time!

DWMKFW

Kelsee – My favorite part is a combination of storytelling and the music that brings the stories to life. The nostalgia and magic gets to me every time. I get goosebumps every time I see one of these fireworks shows and it’s because of the music and storytelling. The fireworks are awesome and definitely pleasing to eye, but the stories and music pull at my heartstrings and they make a fireworks show into a magical spectacle that brings back wonderful memories.

Melissa H. – My favorite part would probably be the combination of moving pieces of music with the fireworks themselves. Even though I have seen other shows where the fireworks are timed to go with music, Disney seems to go above and beyond in the production of their own shows. Pieces of Disney music that I find incredibly moving and that are filled with wonderful memories for me are then paired with majestic fireworks. Seriously – it brings me to tears. I still love watching the show Remember Dreams Come True from Disneyland’s 50th because of how brilliant it is!

DHS FW

Cassie – My favorite part of the fireworks isn’t usually the fireworks themselves, but the excitement and emotions it brings to all the viewers. I often find myself watching the faces and expressions of those in the crowd rather than the fireworks. I love nothing more than seeing a happy couple in love kiss beneath them or a toddler on their fathers shoulders watching in awe. The cathartic experience brings together thousands of people from all walks of life, all enjoying the same moment at the same time. It’s so lovely to see all the Disneyland goers connected in the beauty of the fireworks.

Andrew – I’ll be the guy and just go with the fireworks. Fire exploding in the sky seems pretty cool to me. Plus the explosions are loud, so bonus points there. Like the Melissas said, how they connect to the show is amazing. Without the amazing fireworks, there is no show so I choose them.

California Grill Fireworks

Leave your answer in the comments!  If you like what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney, like our Facebook Page and subscribe to the blog for more updates.  You can do both of those things on the right-side of this page.

No recap this week but a very sincere thank you from all of our writers to any veteran or current member of the military.  Have a wonderful, safe long weekend everyone!

Kickoff to Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration: 60 Facts and Secrets about the Disneyland Resort

As a Disney fanatic, I find myself wandering the internet quite often looking for various facts about the wonderful world that is Disney. Searching for these random facts, is something I do to occupy my time when I am bored. In honor of the kickoff of Disneyland’s 60th Diamond Celebration, I decided to put together a list of 60 interesting facts and secrets about the park that started it all.

DL Castle

1. Walt Disney decided to build a theme park after taking his daughters to a merry-go-round at L.A.’s Griffith park, what a sweet inspiration!

2. There is a basketball court inside of the Matterhorn. I’ve always wanted to secretly sneak in there and shoot some hoops!

3. It cost $3.50 to get into Disneyland when it first opened. Wouldn’t we love to be able to pay that now?! Although, park guests still had to buy tickets for the rides, like you would do today at a fair or carnival. I’m glad the ticket system for the rides are a thing of the past.

4. All of the plants in Tomorrowland are edible. Maybe the imagineers envisioned this as a futuristic detail that we will have one day, this is definitely an odd one!

5. On opening day at Disneyland, the asphalt did not set in time! Apparently, the high heel shoes of the women that were visiting that day were sinking into the ground!

6. Doritos were invented at Disneyland. Cast members came up with this idea when they were trying to figure out what to do with leftover stale tortilla chips.

7. Walt’s Main Street firehouse apartment: Walt loved being at Disneyland and being able to watch everyone enjoy the parks. He had an apartment built for him and his family overlooking Main Street located in the fire station. When he was in the park, he would light a lantern to let everyone know he was there. However, now it is lit at all times to signify his constant presence.

8. Whenever the water rides are drained and cleaned, the coins thrown in the water are collected and donated to charity.

9. Keep Disneyland clean! Trash cans are strategically placed within 30 feet of you at all times. Walt had researchers do a study to see on average how many steps it took before a person would drop trash on the ground, apparently 30 ft. was the magic number.

10. Harold the Snowman: The abominable snowman inside the Matterhorn is named Harold!

Matterhorn

11. Working drawbridge: Sleeping Beauty’s castle has a working drawbridge that has been lowered twice in its history. Once at opening day and again at the unveiling of the Fantasyland remodel in 1983.

12. There is a special railroad car on the Disneyland Railroad named after Walt’s wife, Lillian. It is the caboose car and it’s called Lily Belle Presidential Train Car. However, access to riding this car is limited to special events and mostly VIP guests.

13. The Hollywood Tower Hotel is the tallest building in Anaheim. It stands a whopping 183 feet tall.

HTT Day

14. Steve Martin used to work at the Magic Shop on Main Street before he made it big in Hollywood, wouldn’t that have been a site to see!

15. Main Street USA is mirrored after Walt’s boyhood hometown: Marceline, Missouri.

16. Disneyland’s address is 1313 Harbor Blvd., which is code for Mickey Mouse’s initials. Since “M” is the 13th letter of the alphabet, 1313 stands for “MM”.

17. Mainstreet USA and Tomorrowland are set in 1910 and 1986, both of the years in which Halley’s comet was visible to Earth.

18. Mickey Mouse’s birthday is November 18th, 1928.

19. Disneyland was built in a year.

20. The fastest teacups at the Mad Tea Party ride are the purple teacup or the orange with diamonds on it. For a slower route, choose the two teacups with hearts on them.

teacups

21. Originally, Walt envisioned Disneyland being built across from Walt Disney studios in Burbank, Ca.

22. Every year, 2.8 million churros are sold at Disneyland!

23. Feral cats live at Disneyland to keep rodents such as rats and mice under control. Ironic isn’t it?

24. Real human skeletons were used as props when Pirates of the Caribbean first opened. Imagineers felt the skeletal props were not realistic at the time, so they purchased real ones from UCLA Medical School. There is still a real skeleton head located on the headboard in one of the scenes.

25. Three babies have been born at Disneyland!

26. King Arthur’s Carousel is older than Disneyland. It was built in 1922 for Sunnyside Beach Park in Toronto.

27. The Matterhorn was the first tubular steel roller coaster in the world.

28. Pirates of the Caribbean was the last ride Walt supervised the construction of.

29. Splash Mountain was originally going to be called Zip-a-Dee River Run.

30. Walt originally wanted live animals in the Jungle Cruise ride! Looks like his vision came true in a big way at Animal Kingdom.

Elephant in Jungle Cruise

31. Disneyland has the 4th largest Navy in the world based on its ships.

32. The fastest you’ll ever go on Space Mountain is 35 mph. Fans that are installed throughout the ride make you feel like you are going faster than you really are.

33. “Smellitizers” are placed throughout the parks to enhance your experience. The machines spray smells into the air according to each land or ride you’re in. For example, on Main Street during Christmas, sweet smells of peppermint fill the air.

34. Cast members display their first name only on their name tags, due to the fact that Walt despised being called Mr. Disney.

35. You can drive the Mark Twain river boat if you are lucky enough! Ask a cast member before you board the vessel if you can visit the wheel house. From there if luck is on your side, they’ll lead you to the captain and you’ll be able to drive the boat!

36. 11-year-old George Lucas visited Disneyland with his family on opening day. I’m sure he never fathomed the ongoing relationship he’d have with Disney one day!

37. All costume characters cannot answer or acknowledge anything about the outside/real world.

38. There used to be “live mermaids” (actresses in mermaid fins) that swam in the area where Finding Nemo’s Submarine Voyage is located now. I would’ve loved that job!

39. Disneyland cost $16 million to build.

40. “It’s A Small World” represents 100 different regions from around the world.

It's A Small World Christmas - day

41. King Arthur’s Carousel has 68 horses on board, each have their own name and no two are alike.

42. Disneyland’s monorail stretches 2.5 miles and takes 9 minutes to ride round trip.

43. An estimated 400 items are collected at Disneyland’s Lost and Found each day.

44. There is a “no sad kids rule” at the parks that all cast members must abide by. Whether it’s a dropped ice cream cone, popped balloon, lost toy, etc. Cast members are told to replace the items at no cost. After all, it is the happiest place on earth!

45. California Adventure was originally going to be called Westcot, the west coast version of Epcot. For budget reasons, this plan never went through.

46. Cast members are not allowed to point with one finger, it is considered rude in some cultures. Therefore, they either use the “two finger point” or guide with their whole hand.

47. The Matterhorn attraction is 1/100th of the size of the real Matterhorn in Switzerland.

48. California Screamin’ reaches a top speed of 55 mph, the fastest at Disneyland Resort.

49. Radio Spring Racers cost $200 million dollars to build, which is the most expensive ride out of any theme park! Even with inflation adjustments, that is a considerable amount more than the $16 million it took to build ALL of Disneyland in 1955.

Daytime Cars Land

50. There were 18 attractions on opening day at Disneyland. Today the resort has 92 attractions.

51. There is a fake pet cemetery at the Haunted Mansion.

52. You used to be able to fish on Tom Sawyer’s Island.

53. Disneyland spends $42,000 a night on fireworks.

54. Disneyland has a strict no fly zone, except for Tink and Dumbo of course!

55. It costs $25,000 to join the exclusive Club 33 located in New Orleans Square, and it’s around a 10 year wait to become a member!

56. Water attractions have brown and green water to hide the vehicle track system and filtration. They are always trying to preserve the magic!

57. Disneyland is older than 110 different countries.

58. The reason you get a stamp on your left hand when you park hop, is because Walt was left-handed.

59. Disneyland could fit into Magic Kingdom’s parking lot in Florida.

60. Finally, my favorite “fact” from Walt. “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

Castle sparkle

– Kelsee

Enjoy Disneyland Magic All-Year-Long: Picking an Annual Passport That is Right for You

Please welcome our new writer, Cassie Schwartz, to the blog.  She’s going to be writing posts here on Thursdays, as well as contributing to the Question of the Week and other random posts.  You can learn more about her and all of our writers on this page.

My whole life I grew up looking at Disneyland as the ultimate vacation destination, and many people think of Disneyland as being simply that; a place to take a great trip. Families save for months or even years to be able to bring their loved ones to the happiest place on Earth, creating memories that last forever. My parents took us to Disneyland for the first time when I was eight and my brother was ten and it was, of course, the trip of a lifetime. I always figured that that is just what Disneyland would be to me, a place to visit every few years or so. However, after making the decision to move to Los Angeles in 2012, the experience, magic, and attainability of the Disney Parks became so much easier. For those of us lucky enough to live mere miles from the park, there is a way to enjoy the Disney experience for an entire year. By purchasing a Disneyland Annual Passport, southern California residents can attend the parks whenever they desire, making Disneyland so much more than just a vacation destination, it can become, like it has for me, a second home.

Cassie annual pass

An annual passport is a clever and financially smart decision for locals who plans on visiting the Disney Resort Parks throughout the year. There are three different levels of passports, each with their own pros and cons. All three passes allow admission to both Disneyland and California Adventure, allowing you to pop back and forth from one park to another as much as you want. For the past two years, I have had the Select Annual Passport and loved every minute of it! Personally, this has been the best pass selection for me and below I will tell you why:

1. Premium Annual Passport

Pros: The Premium Annual Passport is definitely the head honcho of all the passports. A lot of my close friends have purchased this plan and used it to its full potential. With the premium pass you have access to the parks 365 days a year with no blockout dates, meaning you can pretty much go to the park whenever your little heart desires! With this pass, you will definitely get the best perks of all of the plans. This includes free parking, 15% off dining and 20% off merchandise. This plan is for people who mean serious Disneyland business.

Cons: The only con I can truly state for this pass is the price. The pass costs a whopping $780 dollars, which of course is chump change for a lot of wealthy SoCal residents/celebs. However, if you cannot easily afford this steep one time price, you can always opt for a payment plan, which includes a down payment and monthly payments.

Disneyland Minnie

2. Deluxe Annual Passport

Pros: The Deluxe Annual Passport is a very practical choice for someone who works a Monday-Friday job or who has children who are in school during the week as it allows you to visit the park on many weekends (the SoCal select pass does not—see below.) The park allows you to visit 315 days out of the year with minimal blockout dates. You also receive 10% off merchandise and food with this plan. It also has a more practical price of $550.

Cons: Similar to the SoCal Select Annual Pass (below), the block out dates are probably the biggest con of the Deluxe Passport. If you enjoy spending the holidays at the Disney parks, this plan is not for you. There are blockout dates for the second half of December, as well as most of the other major holidays. You also have to pay for parking each time you visit, and at $17 per car per visit, that can add hundreds of dollars to your annual Disney budget.

Disneyland balloons

3. SoCal Select Annual Passport

Pros: The SoCal Select Pass is by far the best option for anyone on a budget. The pass costs $300 and has 170 days of park admission. Keep in mind, a daily ticket to only one park is almost $100, so once you have visited the park three times in a year with the SoCal Pass you have pretty much paid the pass off. (That’s how I like to see it anyways.) In addition to the lower pass price, you will receive 10% off food and merchandise.

Cons: With this pass, you have a ton of block out dates. You cannot attend the park on any weekends, holidays, and are blocked out for the majority of July and August. For many people, especially those who work Monday through Friday or have children in school, this pass is out of the question. You have to pay for parking with this plan as well.

Side fireworks

I believe the SoCal Annual Pass is the smartest decision for someone like me. I do not have kids or a family yet, so when I visit the parks, it is mostly with friends and done on our days off work. Also, keep in mind the SoCal Select Pass blocks you out on certain days because THOSE ARE THE BUSY DAYS! Personally, I try my very best to go to the park when it is slower and I avoid the busy weekends and hot summer days. I enjoy the park more in the “off season” and on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday because it is much less congested and wait times are low. With this pass, I have still been able to go to the park almost once or twice a month for the past few years, which makes it completely worth the lower price.

All in all, I hope my info has helped you make the right decision if you are considering an annual passport at the happiest place on earth!

Jolly Holiday at night

Best, Cassie

Disney’s 60th Anniversary Staycation

Hello Disney fans!

In all honesty, I had another post all ready to go for today and, at the last-minute, I decided to change the topic to let you know about some exciting things!

As you probably know, Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary is upon us. On July 17th, 1955 the park officially opened to the world and changed the way that many of us view theme parks forever. Even though the actual anniversary is still several months away, celebrations at the parks have already begun.

Mark Twain Disneyland

This week, it seems that everyone has been at Disneyland. Morning talk shows are broadcasting from the parks, blogs and social media accounts are going crazy, and it seems that every day I am hearing about all of the different celebrities who are visiting for the festivities. I, personally, get overwhelmed in large crowds (which it seems that there are in the parks right now), but I still find myself wishing that there was some way for me to experience the excitement!

Well, I would like to share a very fun and exciting opportunity for YOU to experience some of the fun that is happening at Disneyland RIGHT NOW.

Fireworks, crowded DL

For the 60th Anniversary, Disney is premiering a brand new night-time parade, World of Color show, and firework show. Tomorrow, May 21st, you can join in on the unveiling of two of these new shows – Disneyland Forever (the new firework show) and Paint the Night (the new night-time parade). You can watch LIVE broadcasts of the new shows starting at 8:30 pm PDT on Wednesday, May 21st via Disney Parks Blog.

I know many of us Disney fans are wishing we could be there and figured I would share this amazing opportunity!

DL Castle Side

You can read the official post from Disney Parks here: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2015/05/watch-premiere-performances-of-paint-the-night-parade-and-disneyland-forever-fireworks-and-disneyland-resort-24-hour-event-live-on-disney-parks-blog/

Also, don’t be afraid to go through the other recent posts on Disney Parks Blog to get more behind-the-scenes looks and information.

Hopefully I will “see” some of you there!

DL Partners statue

Have a magical day!

Melissa H.

Why You Shouldn’t Eat Off-Site (Very Often) While Vacationing at Disney

Many people insist that they know the best ways to save on costs at Disney Parks.  To be sure, a Disney vacation can, and probably will, take a chunk out of your bank account.  While there are many ways to save on a magical vacation, I don’t think that all of these ways benefit your trip.  In short, some ways to save money just aren’t worth your time and sacrifices.

California Grill steak

One popular piece of advice in trying to save money at Disney is to “eat your meals outside of the Disney Parks”.  This “advice” is the most annoying to me of all the money-saving “tips” people offer.  Yes, that’s a lot of quotation marks.  That’s how I show my half-sarcastic disdain!  In this post, I’m going to lay out 6 reasons why I think eating off-site all the time isn’t a good idea while on a Disney vacation.

Before I give you the reasons why to eat inside of Disney, I will throw out a caveat or two.  First of all, there are great restaurants to try outside of both the Disneyland and Disney World resorts.  If you want to go get an In N’ Out Burger because you live outside of California, I fully endorse that.  In fact, I do it every trip.  If you want to try some of Orlando or Southern California’s premier dining locations, by all means, try it.  This is unique and something that will probably enhance your vacation.  The second exception to this post is that if you truly have budgeted your vacation to spend the absolute minimum on food (I’m talking dollar menu at a fast-food joint everyday).  I understand that a Disney vacation is once-in-a-lifetime for some and just going there is more important than eating.  With that being said, here are reasons why you should keep your dining inside the resorts.

1. Eating on-site isn’t much more expensive.
When looking at the costs of the different restaurant options, dining in the parks (or at the hotels) simply isn’t much more expensive.  As I mentioned above, as long as you weren’t just planning to scour dollar menus for a week the cost is negligible.  There are plenty of under $10 options at Disneyland and Disney World.  There are even more options under $15.  Sure, some of them might be your usual theme park food but a good share isn’t.  Off the top of my head, Disneyland offers Mexican, Cajun, American, and Bakery (salads and sandwiches) items all for under $15.  California Adventure adds pizza and Chinese food to the table.  That doesn’t even show the variety that Downtown Disney and the hotels add.  Some of these are of higher quality than others but a little research will help you decide.  In my opinion, almost all of these places are better than the usual fast food.

Be Our guest castle

Over on the other coast, there are even more options and variety thanks to the size of Disney World.  The cost of food at Disney if you are using strictly counter-service is roughly 2-5 dollars more per meal.  If you, drive to a different fast food location then that cost is close to off-set as long as you aren’t with a bus full of people.  That’s especially true if you are at Disney World.  To me, there is little value in buying your food outside of the parks and that’s not even bringing up one of the aspects we value most of vacation….

2.  A lot of time is lost when eating outside of the resorts.
Continuing with the talk of value, time is something of the utmost importance while on vacation.  Regardless of the pace you take while at the parks, guests want to have as much time at the parks or at their resort as possibly while on vacation.  If you are taking time out of your day to go eat cheap food that you can essentially get home, you are losing money by not being at the parks.  Disney tickets aren’t cheap.  To drive the point home, I’ll use my elementary school math.  I’ll take the most extreme examples (meaning you are buying the most days so that the cost of per day goes down) of Disneyland (that park because there are closer restaurants to walk to).

So let’s say a couple goes to eat at a restaurant outside of Disneyland because they don’t want to pay for the prices inside the park.  They have a 5-day park ticket which comes to $55/day each.  They plan to spend 10 hours a day in the park but have to subtract anytime that they go out to eat. At Disneyland it probably takes an hour to go eat (you could maybe cut it to 45 minutes) with walking out of the park to the restaurant (10 minutes minimum), ordering and eating (probably around 30 minutes at a fast food restaurant) then walking back, going through security, and getting to where you want to go in the park (another 15 minutes).  We’ll take away an hour of the day to make the math easy.  If you were planning to spend 10 hours in the parks and take away an hour that’s $5.50 this couple is losing per person just by spending a meal out to eat.  $5.50 is more than the different between a fast food meal and a counter-service meal inside the park.  The value simply doesn’t add up, and this was at the best per day savings possible at Disneyland.  If you are looking to save time and don’t want to spend much on food, get some groceries before you go into the parks and have a sandwich while there.

Rancho del Zocalo paint

3.  You get to see great theming when eating inside the Disney resorts.
Aside from PB&J’s losing their appeal after a few days, this is one of the biggest reasons why you shouldn’t just stick to the groceries.  Restaurants in Disney Parks are an extension of the land that they reside in.  While the theme in attractions and details around the parks are not to be missed, I’d argue that some of the best theming is in Disney restaurants.  While more expensive restaurants are bound to have more extravagant theming due to the budget it took to create them, counter-service restaurants can still have beautiful design and details.  My favorite counter-service restaurants due to theme are Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom for lunch), Flame Tree Barbecue (Animal Kingdom), Flo’s V8 Cafe (California Adventure), and Katsura Grill (Epcot).  All of those restaurants have meals well under $15.  There are many more wonderful themed restaurants in that price range, as well as many that are more expensive.

Japan waterfall_edited-2

4.  Eating inside the resorts keeps you inside the Disney bubble.
Now, this one is going to fit different guests preferences.  It is also more applicable to Disney World than Disneyland.  When vacationing at Disney, many like to forget the world around them.  I include myself in this category.  When at Disney I don’t want to be reminded of the outside world.  When you only eat on-site, that bubble isn’t burst.  There is no reminder of the outside world.  Again, this category isn’t for everyone.  Some people don’t like to be locked away.  I, for one, enjoy the convenience and the care-free nature of staying inside of Disney.

5.  The ‘Free Dining’ discount provides a way to save money while getting to eat quality food.
I wrote about the free dining discount a few weeks ago on the blog so I won’t delve into it here.  Suffice to say, this reason only applies to Disney World but I really do think it adds to the experience of Disney World especially if your family is apprehensive about eating all of their meals inside of the resort.  My wife went to Disney World without the dining plan the first time and ate mostly off-site.  The next time, we went with the dining plan and a decent amount of research on where we wanted to eat.  She said she’ll never go back to the first way after doing that.

BTRBBQ corn bread

6.  The food really is good.
One last reason I’ll add is that the food really is enjoyable.  I mentioned this in my dining plan post but this is a safe place for people to really try to branch out and try new ethnic food.  They will be slightly Americanized (in most places) so they aren’t quite as big of a jump as going to a different country and eating there.  There are good counter-service restaurants and there are good high-priced restaurants.  Some of my favorite meals I’ve ever had have come at Disney Parks, namely Napa Rose and California Grill.  There is something for everyone out there, even if your budget is a little smaller on food than you’d like it to be.  Like with most things at Disney these days, the more research you do, the better your dining choices will probably be.

1557340_10201691880599315_7346545221556736988_o

If you are ever in need of suggestions or want more advice on dining in a Disney Park leave a comment here or email us at Wanderingindisney@gmail.com.  We’d be happy to help you out and would love to share some more specific suggestions.  Do you think dining mainly on-site at Disney is the way to go?  Let us know in the comments.  As always, thank you for reading!

– Andrew

Lights. Camera. Action!

The rides and attractions created for the Disney parks all tell a story.  They are themed and designed to a tee making every moment you are in a park an experience. Whether the attraction is bringing an animated classic to life or an entirely new experience, each one is memorable.

One of my favorite rides is the Indiana Jones Adventure.  I love walking into the queue line and immediately being immersed into the story.  It’s like I am standing right beside Indy on his entire adventure.  So many rides at the Disney parks are just like this.  Peter Pan, Radiator Springs Racers, Dumbo, and Snow White’s Scary Adventure are just a few of the other attractions that have made our favorite movies come to life before our eyes.

Snow White

But not all of the Disney attractions were created after a movie came out, some of them have inspired movies of their own.  Some of these movies have even been major blockbusters such as Pirates of the Caribbean and the soon to-be released Tomorrowland.  The attractions were popular before, and after the movie was created, they became even more popular.  I love being able to pop in Pirates of the Caribbean and immediately think of the attraction found in New Orleans Square.  It always brings back memories of the original ride and my memories of riding it.

There are some really big rides at Disney that aren’t based off a movie or don’t have movies based off of them yet.  And there are some attractions that I think would be GREAT movies that when I turn them on, they’ll remind me of all my memories on those classic rides. I don’t have many storyline ideas, but I know Disney would knock our socks off with whatever they come up with.  So, with that being said,here is my top five list:

It's A Small World

5.  It’s A Small World:  Most people would not want this made into a movie, but it’s one of my favorite rides.  I wouldn’t want the movie made up of the dolls though…that would be rather creepy and may give kids and their parents nightmares.  What I’d love to see happen is just a bunch of kids (real) from all around the world having to work together and ultimately learn that it’s a small world after all.

4.  The Enchanted Tiki Room: This could make for a really fun movie.  It would be filmed on an island with breathtakingly beautiful landscapes and have many different tropical birds flying around.

space mountain

3.  Space Mountain:  Now they may be doing something about this attraction in Tomorrowland, but I can’t say for sure since I haven’t seen it yet.  Regardless I think it would be an awesome movie to watch.  There would be so many story lines to choose from – I mean it would be about the universe and we all know that the universe is gigantic!

2.  Big Thunder Mountain Railroad:  Can you just imagine what kind of movie would be created off of this attraction?  It would be one of the great wild, wild west stories filled with action and adventure.

BTMR Line

1.  The Jungle Cruise:  This is one of my favorite rides.  It’s always a relaxing journey down the rivers of the world listening to some pretty hilarious jokes.  I don’t know what kind of movie they would make for this ride, but I know that it would be great.  How could it not be, if it’s based off one of the best rides at Disney???

kidshippojunglecruise

A message for all my readers that are great at writing screenplays and have a lot of influence in the decisions that Disney makes – go make these movies happen. 🙂 Thanks very much and I look forward to seeing them in theaters some day soon.

– Melissa L.

Question of the Week (5/17/15)

Every Sunday our writers come together to answer a Disney Parks related question.  Here is this week’s question and answers (leave your answer in the comments):

Question of the Week:  Earlier this week the newly rethemed Grizzly Peak Airfield opened in Disney’s California Adventure. It looks to be a beautiful land that is easily superior to its predecessor, Condor Flats.

With this in mind, what is an area or land in any of the US Disney Parks that you think could use some refreshing or re-theming?

Kelsee – I think the Bug’s Life area needs a complete re-theming. I do like “it’s tough to be a bug”, but I don’t think it’s enough to keep it there. Even though A Bug’s Life is one of Pixar’s early movies, it is not popular enough to draw people to the area. I’d much rather see another Pixar themed movie in that area such as Monsters Inc, Up, Finding Nemo, or some of their more popular films.

A Bug's Land

Andrew – I would choose DinoLand U.S.A. in Animal Kingdom as a place that, at the very least, needs to be redone. The backstory of this area is very cool and well thought out but the area is a definite blemish on the most beautiful American theme park. A land based off of dinosaurs by all means should be awesome. The attraction ‘Dinosaur’ is fun and pretty well done, as is the Boneyard playground. It’s the carnival area that really brings this land down. It’s just so ugly and cheap looking. Primeval Whirl is one of the worst attractions at Walt Disney World. I would like to see an area based off of dinosaurs but have it look a lot better. Maybe create a new backstory for the area where you have gone back in time like you do in ‘Dinosaur’ to an area that’s full of different plants and species of dinosaurs. There are better ideas than that out there, I’m open to any of them that make this area look better.

Melissa H. – I’m going to be the grump who goes with Toontown in Disneyland. Honestly, I love the idea of Toontown – it’s fun and cute and gives you the opportunity to become a “toon”. However, there really isn’t enough to draw guests back there and the area (to me) feels a little worn. I honestly don’t know what the answer is for Toontown, but I do think it needs some sort of attention.

Mickey's toontown

Melissa L. – You all took my ideas…So I’m going to go a little bit bigger and name a whole park. I think Disney’s Hollywood Studios needs a face lift on a whole. Now I know there is a lot of work to come for this park in a pipeline, and it is much-needed. It has some great rides, but they are all in opposite sides of the parks. If you are a ride hopper like me and want to ride all the big rides in a park and then move onto a new park, but it’s hard to do that here. You literally have to walk to one end of the park to another. Anyways, I think it could all use a facelift.

DHS

Leslie – I won’t pick Soarin’ this time…that being said, I think the Seas with Nemo and Friends could use an updating. It would be nice to see different aquatic animals, or maybe an update to the ride with Finding Dory coming out (or its own ride maybe?). I would like to see a hands on exhibit as well to help explorers learn about the ocean and its animal friends. Most children (and larger adult sized children) are interested in things like this so I believe it would be a nice addition.

What area would you like updated?  Let us know in the comments!  A recap of the week after the jump.   Continue reading