Captain Cook’s Dinner Review

Captain Cook’s is a counter service restaurant at the Polynesian Village Resort in Walt Disney World.  The restaurant serves mostly American food with an island flair.  Captain Cook’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and takes part in the Disney Dining Plan (1 credit).  They are also currently offering a 20% Annual Pass discount.  While we love the Tonga Toast they serve for breakfast, this review will cover a recent dinner we had here.

Part of the appeal to any counter-service location at the Contemporary, Polynesian or Grand Floridian resorts is the means of transportation to get there.  I still get a kick out of guiding through the sky on a monorail or hopping on a boat with Cinderella Castle in the distance.  All of these resorts offer solid counter-service options, a break from the huge crowds and a nice change of transportation from the usual busses.  In my opinion, the Polynesian Village Resort offers the best retreat from the Magic Kingdom’s hustle and bustle due to the relaxed nature of the hotel’s theme.  We’re talking about island living, mon.  Sorry about that.  Back on track, if you have ample time and a choice between eating counter-service meal in Magic Kingdom or at a monorail resort, you’re probably best off at the resort.

Via Disneyworld.com

With that being said, Captain Cook’s has it’s good and bad.  That begins with the theme.  As you can see above, the inside of the restaurant is fairly bland.  There’s a lot of the same shade of color in that seating area and brown isn’t the most appealing color to look at unless it’s on a big dog or bear.  The light fixtures are a saving grace as are the posters.  Some of the posters feature items from the restaurant and some are a nice nod to Disney or the Polynesian Resort’s history.  I wish they’d sell a few prints of these posters in the gift shop but I haven’t found any (although I didn’t look too hard).  All in all, I find the indoor seating area to be a little drab.

The outdoor seating is a big upgrade to the interior, unless you go in the afternoon on a hot day.  Much of the seating outdoors overlooks the beautiful pool and beach.  There were plenty of tables out there and, while the inside was nice enough, the outside is beautiful.

Moving on to the food, the lunch and dinner menu here (click on the word menu to see the… menu) is pretty diverse for a counter-service restaurant.  Drawing from Asian, Thai and American foods, there isn’t a shortage of choices and Captain Cook’s.  This is another reason to take a break from Magic Kingdom and visit some other counter-service places.  While the park has a few good quick-service places, there is no menu that offers the variety seen here.

Captain Cook's fish tacos

I was definitely tempted by the Curried Seafood Stew and Thai Coconut Meatballs but ended up settling on the fish tacos.  If I go back, I’d likely try one of the options I previously mentioned as I like the ambition behind them.  Playing it safe with the fish taco wasn’t a bad choice though.  The fish was blackened and juicy.  While there wasn’t much spice to it, I still thought it had good enough flavor.  The slaw didn’t add much as it was lacking flavor but I did like the sauce on it pretty well.

I believe that the fish tacos come and go from the menu and I can see why.  They were good but not to the point where I’d get them again.  I’ve certainly had much better fish tacos, but there wasn’t anything wrong with these.

Captain Cook's noodles

Melissa went with a noodle bowl (I believe it was with chicken but I’m not positive) and found this to be largely disappointing.  The main problem was that the dish came out lukewarm.  These looked like the noodles that had been sitting out a little bit too long at Panda Express, which was a shame.  As for the flavor, I liked it pretty well.  There was an unexpected spice to this dish, which Melissa didn’t like but I did.  The dish could have used a few more veggies and meat and a few less noodles.  Maybe we got unlucky with it being lukewarm and other people have had better experiences?  I like to give restaurants the benefit of the doubt but this noodle bowl was largely disappointing.

Captain Cook's nachos

I saved the best for last, as the clear winner of the items we tried were the Pulled Pork Nachos.  Forgive the up close photo, these were a lot better than they look here.  The pulled pork on these nachos was surprisingly juicy and flavorful.  I loved the pineapple salsa and spicy mayo (the same sauce as on the fish tacos) on top of the chips, meat and cheese.  I would happily go back for these nachos, as they are one of the best counter-service items I’ve had at Disney World recently.  Really healthy too…

The dessert options and Captain Cook’s are somewhat lacking but they do serve Dole Whip down the way.  So, I’d recommend skipping dessert here and going for some soft-serve there.  That way you can walk off your dinner before dessert 😉  Trader Sam’s is also right by this restaurant and is a perfect night-cap to a busy day.

Polynesian sunset

I did think Captain Cook’s prices were fair, relative to other Disney restaurants.  Everything was in the 8-15 dollar range and there are some pretty good values on the menu.  The sandwiches seem to be a bit overpriced but the more ambitious portion of the menu offers some good deals.

All in all, we found Captain Cook’s to be a bit of a mixed bag.  The ambiance inside of the restaurant was a little bland and some of the food was hit and miss.  Counterbalanced by the beautiful Polynesian Village Resort in which it lies and an ambitious menu, I still think Captain Cook’s is in the upper echelon of WDW counter-service restaurants.  I wouldn’t hesitate trying it out, especially if this type of food is up your alley.

Overall Rating – 7.5/10

Magic Kingdom Attraction Rankings

We’ve finally reached the end of our attraction rankings series.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever actually finished a series on this blog so it’s truly a groundbreaking day.  Another series that I’m pretty excited about is right around the corner but first we have to make our way over to Magic Kingdom and rank those attractions.  If you have missed any of the previous posts in this series just click on the corresponding park (Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, California Adventure, Disneyland).  As always, let’s brush up on the rules.

  • No Meet & Greets. These are impossible to rank as each experience is unique. Also, I don’t particularly like them.
  • No Live Shows. Nighttime shows are almost always better than rides, in my eyes. Also, big stage shows are impressive and don’t fit the profile of a typical ride. I will include 3D movies though. Basically you have to physically ride or walk through something.
  • These are all my opinion. Lou Mongello constantly says that “every attraction is someones favorite.” While that is corny and seems a little silly, I think the sentiment is mostly true. I can’t account for other people’s memories in these rankings and will try (probably unsuccessfully) to take some of the nostalgia out of my views of these attractions. You’ll likely disagree with these rankings. Please let me know what you disagree with in the comments.
  • No Stitch’s Great Escape. This attraction is hardly open anymore and it would have been the worst ride on the list.  I won’t even bother.

Wishes pink castle

Magic Kingdom has the most attractions of any park at Walt Disney World.  While some are more outdated than others, there is a good lineup of attractions and these rankings will have plenty of tough decisions abound.  I’ll try to keep nostalgia out of this, which may be hard due to some of these being classics from my childhood.  Like the Disneyland post, there are a ton of rides at Magic Kingdom.  The park is in good health overall.  Of course Magic Kingdom isn’t perfect but just looking at the attraction lineup is impressive.  Let’s get started!

30. Tomorrowland Speedway – I get it, the Tomorrowland Speedway is a classic and is fun for some kids.  But you know what else is fun for kids?  Go-Karts at your local Family Fun Center.  This attraction doesn’t look particularly good, smells bad, and is a pain in the butt to ride for numerous reasons.  Some may disagree with Tomorrowland Speedway being last on the list (it wasn’t originally but after further consideration was moved down) but I’ll happily let those people ride this while I go do something more fun.

29. Casey Jr. Splash and Soak Station – Honestly, I couldn’t remember if I had been ranking splash areas so I threw this one in.  This is a pretty fun little play area, especially on a hot summer day.  It’s rated so low because it is a splash station, which don’t generally appeal to all ages.

Casey Jr Splash MK

28. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – Speaking of not appealing to all ages, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin is dumb.  Flying on a carpet is cool and all but this is another spinner ride in a park that has two vastly superior spinners.

Aladdin camel

27. Prince Charming Regal Carousel – The history behind the carousel is great (it’s the oldest attraction in Disney World, built in 1917) but when it comes to riding this, it’s still just a carousel.

26. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – This attraction probably doesn’t deserve to be so low but it took the place of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and I’m petty.  This is an average dark ride with an interactive queue.  I always feel underwhelmed after riding it though.

25. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – The Disneyland Buzz Lightyear ride is so much better, mainly because you can hold the blasters in that attraction instead of them being connected to your vehicle like they are here.  If you ever have the choice of holding something or not holding something, usually choose holding something especially if it pertains to you protecting the universe against Evil Emperor Zurg.  This is a fun ride to cool off on and shoot some lasers but it’s nothing more.

24. The Barnstormer – The Barnstormer is a kid roller coaster that’s not that great.  But go late at night when there are no crowds and they’ll let you ride this over and over again until some other poor saps show up looking for a blast.  How do you make a short roller coaster longer?  1. Build more track. 2. Just never get off.  Number 1 doesn’t appear to be an option, so go with number 2.

23. Mad Tea Party – Most of these rides so far and kind of dumb or lacking and Mad Tea Party fits that bill.  Still, I find it charming with all of the decor around it.  I’m also a sucker for rides that people can’t stop laughing on like this and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.  This is only 23rd but definitely a jump in quality here.

Mad tea party MK

22. Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid – The joys of Disney blogging include contemplating for 15 minutes where to put a ‘ride you hate/queue you love’ on an arbitrary list that relatively few people will see.  Under the Sea is my least favorite type of attraction, a 10 minute book report of the movie that doesn’t particularly look good.  But that queue is really something with the beautiful rock-work and waterfalls.  I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling (this attraction) at 22.

21. Astro Orbiter – A terrifying version of Dumbo.  The Astro Orbiter goes really high in the air.  It also feels like it’s on the verge of tipping over.  You also stuff yourself into an elevator with a bunch of strangers to get up to where the ride takes off.  The whole experience is weirder than anticipated which is one of the best case scenarios for a spinner.  I also am probably in the minority on this but I like the way Astro Orbiter looks, especially at night.  A+ for the views too, unless you’re too scared to open your eyes.  Not that I know what that’s like….

Astro Orbiter sign MK

20. Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor – This is a pretty fun, original attraction that is in the worst possible location.  I think some of the jokes really work well and I like the actual concept of Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor.  But… What in the world is it doing in the middle of Tomorrowland?  Put it in Hollywood Studios and I would really like this attraction.

Laugh Floor sign MK

19. Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress – This is kind of the inverse of Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor.  An attraction that is dated and lost a bit of its punch but it’s the perfect representation of the optimistic Tomorrowland.  I hope they update Carousel of Progress at some point, I’d love to see a new ending with the same great spirit that the attraction already possesses.

18. Liberty Square Riverboat – I love slow boat rides and unique views.  The Riverboat offers these things plus is an actual steam boat, which I think is really interesting.  Far from exciting, but this is a perfect place to spend half an hour in the afternoon.

MK River + castle

17. The Hall of Presidents – This is a cool attraction that modern-day management would never agree to make.  I truly believe there’s a need for these slow-paced, educational attractions in theme parks.  Just from an operational standpoint, they help spread people around and give guests more diverse options.  The Hall of Presidents does this very well and I’m going to stop writing about it now so that I don’t make some really stupid political joke.

16. Walt Disney World Railroad – Like the River Boat, the Railroad isn’t the most exciting thing to do but it’s a wonderful way to spend the busy parts of the day at Magic Kingdom.  Another thing it shares in common with the River Boat is it does a nice job of taking you back to a simpler time with a different means of transportation than we’re used to today.  That along with the history puts this in the ‘very good’ section of the list.

15. Swiss Family Tree House – I surprised myself by how high I put the Swiss Family Tree House.  We just went up it on our last trip for the first time in a while, so it may be benefiting from recency bias.  I was impressed by the detail and some of the picturesque aspects of the attraction.  I also liked the running water throughout the treehouse, giving it a nice kinetic energy.  Swiss Family Tree House is far preferable than Tarzan’s Treehouse (Disneyland) in my opinion.

Swiss Family Robinson piano

14. it’s a small world – I love it’s a small world but I do find the Disneyland version better, mainly due to the beautiful facade.  The most divisive Disney attraction there is, it seems that most people either love this or hate it.  I fall in line of loving it as I think it perfectly embodies the idea of Disney Theme Parks – bringing people from all over the world to experience joy together.

13. Mickey’s PhilharMagic – A really charming 3D movie that does a decent job of incorporating great moments from Disney film history.  Another attraction that is great to cool off at, PhilharMagic is really fun.  This short movie also gets the whole ‘Donald Duck is an idiot’ thing completely right.

MK Philharmagic night

12. Dumbo the Flying Elephant – As good as spinners get, count me as a big fan of this updated attraction.  I think Dumbo still holds nostalgia and is an old, simple attraction made more accessible.  I love the blue and red colors of this attraction at night and also love the views it offers.  The queue is innovative and the ride is as possibly high as it could get given the ride system’s simple nature.

11. Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room – I love this old show and that Disney World does a longer version than Disneyland.  The Tiki Room has held up well even though the show is quite old.  I think the soundtrack is fantastic and the animatronics and attraction still look great.

10. Country Bear Jamboree – Just like the Tiki Room, this is some good old-fashioned fun.  In fact, the attractions are very similar but just have different animals and musical genres to fit the area of the parks they’re in.  I would imagine both Country Bear Jamboree and the Tiki Room will eventually be replaced but they are a testament to a simpler story-driven time.  I put Country Bear Jamboree one slot above the Tiki Room because I think that it’s funnier and I love Big Al.

Country Bear piano

9. Pirates of the Caribbean – Pirates holds the title of the most disappointing attraction at Magic Kingdom if you have ever been to Disneyland.  That’s not to say this version isn’t impressive, as the story is slightly different from it’s predecessor and the long, winding queue is great.  The show scenes are still beautiful but the scale just isn’t as impressive as Disneyland’s.

8. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – Magic Kingdom’s newest mountain is a fun roller coaster for all ages.  I like the technology used in slowing down your cart and rocking back and forth.  I also think the mine is really impressive.  I do think the attraction need to be at least another minute longer and that’s what holds it back from being a clear-cut classic.

MK Mine Train car going by

7. Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover – Count me as just another Disney blogger who loves the PeopleMover.  The most relaxing ride in Disney Parks, the TTA takes guests on a tour of Tomorrowland.  There are some unique sight lines throughout  the attraction and good bits of Disney history like the original Epcot model.  I’m also a fan of attractions that are titled after what they actually do.  Sure, there are some extra words here to make it sound fancy but PeopleMover is an apt description of this ride.  This is another attraction where if your ride at a less busy time then they’ll typically let you just go around again.

TTA night

6. Peter Pan’s Flight – This queue has become a lot more interesting in their work and the attraction is still a classic. I’m not sure any ride is worth waiting more than an hour for but Peter Pan’s Flight remains the crown jewel of Fantasyland dark rides.

MK Peter Pan's flight bedroom

5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad may be slightly better at Disneyland but I like the queue in this one better and also like the route of the track better.  I think MK’s version of Big Thunder has the benefit of space and utilizes it well.  With a little plussing, Big Thunder could easily be in the top 3 attractions at Magic Kingdom.

4. Space Mountain – Space Mountain is like wrestling.  As a kid it’s really fun because it’s cool to jump on your dad’s back for what you think is an expert takedown.  As an adult, it’s enjoyable because the activity is fun and everyone is laughing but it also hurts because a kid just jumped on your back.  Space Mountain hurts to ride but is still awesome.

Space Mountain night

3. Jungle Cruise – The Jungle Cruise sometimes gets overlooked because its an old, cheesy attraction that is a bit gimmicky. The Magic Kingdom version boasts both the funny script and animatronics as well as a beautiful segment in the temple with the tigers. That peaceful moment in the temple is a great balance to the constant puns in the first half of the attraction. All in all, I think the Jungle Cruise exceeds it’s reputation in Magic Kingdom which is some pretty high praise.

2. Splash Mountain – I used to prefer the Disneyland version of Splash Mountain because it splashes guests more.  Then I rated a splash park 29th out of 30th on this list and realized my thinking was nonsensical.  Magic Kingdom’s Splash Mountain is beautifully detailed and looks great.  Splash Mountain is some of the best storytelling done in a theme park attraction while still having amazing thrills.

1. Haunted Mansion – Speaking of storytelling, Haunted Mansion spares no expense in bringing this spooky house to life.  I love the length of the ride (nearly 3 months longer than Disneyland!), the queue, the amazing show scenes.  While Magic Kingdom has its own Pirates of the Caribbean, I think Haunted Mansion is the best comparison to Disneyland’s Pirates.  The grand scale and seemingly never ending show scenes are where I draw the comparisons.  You could ride this 100 times in a row and still not catch every detail.  That’s what lands Haunted Mansion at the top of my Magic Kingdom list.

MK Haunted Mansion bench

As you can see, Magic Kingdom has an impressive array of attractions.  Second only to Disneyland in quantity, Tomorrowland Speedway is the only ride on this list that I simply don’t like and even that holds a special place for many people.  While I think Magic Kingdom could use one or two more massive E-ticket attractions (mainly due to capacity reasons) I think the lineup is very good as is.

What did I get wrong on my list?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney, you can subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook site on the right side of this page.

– Andrew

Making a Disney Trip More Affordable

Melissa and I are often asked how we’re able to vacation so often.  We do like to travel and try to get away several times a year, whether it be to a Disney Park or not.  There are simple answers to the question that don’t need much explaining.  We don’t have kids, don’t have many extra expenses, try to stay on a budget while at home, and we make traveling a priority.  Not everyone is in that place in their lives and we’re well aware of how lucky we are to travel often.

Mowgli Baloo Pop Century

There are other obvious ways to make Disney trips (and other travel) more affordable.  Stay in value hotels, eat at cheaper restaurants, etc.  Even with those obvious things out-of-the-way, I think traveling is more affordable than many people realize.  There are several ‘tricks’ we use that I didn’t mention above that are more or less available to everyone.  I wanted to dive into a few of those money-saving tricks today.  Now, some of these are more common sense than others.  One of the main goals of this blog is to help you have a better experience at Disney Parks and I think being able to go more often (or spend a little extra while you’re there) fits the bill.  These aren’t in any particular order and will certainly have dumb and cheesy headers, so let’s get started!

Budget, budget, budget!

I did mention this above but I think this is certainly an important aspect to traveling (on a budget) often.  There are also two ways Melissa and I budget.  First, is just at home with monthly expenses.  We try to set a limit on spending when it comes to eating at restaurants and shopping.  This is very basic so let’s just move on.

Red gold fireworks

The other area we budget is try to figure out how much money we have to spend on a vacation and then fitting our trip into that price.  I think many people do it the other way, where they look at an estimated price of a trip and then get scared off.  I think setting a budget and then looking works much better.  Typically I’ll price out flights (or driving costs) and hotels first because those are necessities.  With whatever we have left in our budget, we’ll divide into a daily amount for food.  It’s not exactly a ‘sexy’ way to vacation but knowing that you have $40 to spend on food per day (for example) well ahead of time makes planning easier and keeps everyone in your group from overspending.  This is something we do for every Disney vacation and is a somewhat fun way to get even more excited for your vacation.

Credit Card Rewards

This is probably the way we save the most money, but is also probably the one people are most afraid to do.  If you are in a financially safe space and know your spending habits, credit cards can offer an easy way to travel.  Over the last year, we’ve earned well over $1,000 in rewards.  That cuts the cost of a trip to Disney World for us in half (at least) and makes return trips more realistic.

Winnie the Pooh

We’ll often look for the best travel rewards in credit cards and won’t worry about carrying more than one at a time.  We’re very careful in paying them off every month (more like every week since it’s so easy online) and never go into debt on these cards.  We currently use Chase Sapphire Rewards and the Bank of America Travel Rewards cards the most.  I also don’t hesitate to recommend the Capital One Venture card, as that has been solid for us as well.  What cards you might prefer could depend on the annual fee you’re willing to pay and how much you spend.  Disney Tourist Blog has this informative post on different options.  As long as you are confident in yourself and not one to run up debt, credit card rewards are easily the best way to get earn extra savings on your trip.

Stay Flexible!

This isn’t an option for everyone’s job or families but it is more or less common sense.  Be flexible on when you vacation and you’re likely to find better prices.  For example, staying at Disney hotels in June is far more affordable than 4th of July.  Most kids are out of school at some point in June or late August and that is a much better time to go to Disney Parks (price wise and crowd level wise) than the middle of summer.  Even better, take a week off school or work and go in early September or February.  The prices are far more affordable as the hotels aren’t as crowded and flights aren’t as in demand.

The Boardwalk night

Gift Yourself Gift Cards

If traveling is a priority and you have a little extra cash to spend, go out and buy a Disney gift card that you can later use on a trip instead of spending the money on something else.  This goes back to budgeting, but being able to turn extra cash now into money for your later Disney trip is an easy way to save without putting much thought into it.  While this doesn’t technically save money, it is a good way to make a Disney trip look a little less daunting.

Boat DHS

What are some of the ways you save for a Disney Trip?  Let us know in the comments.  Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney, you can subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook site on the right side of this page.

– Andrew

Question of the Week (3/21/17)

Every few weeks our writers get together and answer a Disney related question.  Here is this week’s question and answers!

ToT sunset DHS

Question of the Week: Trying to take nostalgia out of the picture, are you more drawn to the theme of a traditional castle park (like Disneyland and Magic Kingdom) or a park with a more original/less classic theme?

Andrew – I think both styles of parks have their positives and negatives. Castle Parks have a more whimsical feel and can integrate different types of architecture seamlessly because of that whimsy. I also think Castle Parks can flow from land to land easier. With that being said, I’m drawn to the less traditional parks. I’m always curious to discover if these truly follow their theme. For example, I like walking around California Adventure and figuring out what part of California they are mimicking. Epcot is also an innovative and ambitious idea that the Imagineers got right for many years. I enjoy exploring the different thematic ideas slightly more, but it’s a close call.

Cozy Cone Cars land night

Melissa – I would have to say yes, I am more drawn to the traditional castle park. While it’s hard for me to take nostalgia out of it, I still think it would be on top. For me I feel that it is the quintessential essence that is a Disney park. No matter how much I enjoy the themes and ideas of the non traditional parks, I’m always drawn back to the fantasy that emanates from and around the castle. I truly feel like a princess and I’ve entered my kingdom as soon as I enter through the gates!

Splash Mountain light

Leslie – Cheater answer. I am drawn to both for different reasons. The castle for me screams Disney and it screams home. It is the first thing I want to see when I arrive and the last thing I want to see when I leave.

When it comes to where I want to spend my time, I know I personally spend more time in the original parks. Epcot and Hollywood Studios are my parks of choice for theming and overall atmosphere. I can spend so much time simply enjoying the area let alone the attractions found there. This leaves me excited for once with Animal Kingdom now that Pandora is nearing completion.

Wishes purple red castle

What thematic design are you most drawn to?  Let us know in the comments.  If you enjoy what you’re reading here at Wandering in Disney please subscribe to our blog and like our social media pages.  You can accomplish both of those things on the right side of this page.  If you have any Disney Parks questions please send us an email at wanderingindisney@gmail.com or leave a comment.  We’d be happy to help!  Thank you for reading!

Epcot Attraction Rankings

We’re winding down our attraction rankings series.  If you have missed any of the previous installments click on the corresponding link (Disneyland, California Adventure, Hollywood StudiosAnimal Kingdom).  Today we move on to Epcot but before we get there, let’s brush up on the rules.

  • No Meet & Greets. These are impossible to rank as each experience is unique. Also, I don’t particularly like them.
  • No Live Shows. Nighttime shows are almost always better than rides, in my eyes. Also, big stage shows are impressive and don’t fit the profile of a typical ride. I will include 3D movies (or World Showcase movies in this instance) though. Basically you have to physically ride or walk through something.
  • These are all my opinion. Lou Mongello constantly says that “every attraction is someones favorite.” While that is corny and seems a little silly, I think the sentiment is mostly true. I can’t account for other people’s memories in these rankings and will try (probably unsuccessfully) to take some of the nostalgia out of my views of these attractions. You’ll likely disagree with these rankings. Please let me know what you disagree with in the comments.

Compared to Hollywood Studios, Epcot is in pretty good shape currently but that doesn’t mean it’s also in a state of flux.  The park seems to have lost it’s identity and a large overhaul is in the works.  Opinions vary on what this park should become (I plan on writing a post on this in the future) but it’s clear to all that Epcot is a lesser version of itself than basically any other time in its history.

Illuminations lights

Epcot does have some really fun attractions and on top of that the park has always had an emphasis on walking around and enjoying the World Showcase Pavilions.  Somewhat like Animal Kingdom, Epcot is best enjoyed at a slower pace and experiencing more than just the things you can ride.  As an adult, World Showcase is one of the very best places in Walt Disney World and that isn’t reflected in a simple ranking of attractions.

While this isn’t a touring plan post, I’d quickly advise to do most of your attractions in the morning and then World Showcase in the evening.  Of course that can change depending on crowd levels and whatever festivals are going on in World Showcase but that is a decent rule of thumb.  Now, let’s get to see what attractions should be on the top of your list to visit.  We’ll go from worst to first partially because that’s a fun phrase to chant. (Worst to first! Worst to first! Worst to first!)

17. Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival – You can watch these shorts on Netflix.  Sure, if you do that then you won’t be sitting in a big theater that used to house a superhero known as Captain E.O. but if you watch these on Netflix you won’t be wasting your time at Disney World.  Get Netflix on your phone and watch these shorts while you wait in line for Frozen Ever After.  That way you can knock two attractions off your list.  Hopefully this won’t be here much longer.

16. The Circle of Life – This doesn’t come in last place because you can’t find it on Netflix.  I love The Lion King probably more than you do (no offense) but even our favorite comic relief duo can’t save this dated short film about saving the planet.  I imagine this was bad when it came out and the last few decades haven’t been kind to the movie.

15. Journey Into Imagination with Figment – To start, this is a bad dark ride.  Really not enjoyable aside from being housed in a cool looking building.  Then when I factor in how legendary the old version of this attraction used to be and I move this down a few more slots.  While the two attractions at 17 and 16 are clearly worse, this is the biggest bummer on the list.

Imagination monorail Epcot

14. O Canada! – This is a film in the Canada Pavilion in World Showcase.  It’s a 360 film, meaning the screens are all around you.  It is narrated by Martin Short and, while the visuals are pretty cool, the humor is over the top.  Mileage will vary on this attraction.  If you’re a Martin Short die-hard then pack a lawn chair and just camp out here all day.  Joking.

13. Turtle Talk with Crush – This is an attraction mainly for kids.  I do think it’s kind of fun as Crush from Finding Nemo comes on a giant screen and interacts with the kids sitting in the front.  The experiences will differ and overall this isn’t a bad way to spend a couple of minutes.

UoE

12. Ellen’s Energy Adventure – I’m just going to leave the Disney World description on here because I don’t even know…

When the charmingly candid comedienne falls asleep while watching Jeopardy!, she dreams she’s a contestant on the show. Unfortunately, the category is energy, a topic she knows nothing about. Thankfully, her friend and neighbor Bill Nye is on hand to tutor her, and you’re along for the ride as they embark on a time-traveling quest for energy knowledge.

What I didn’t include from the WDW description is that this is 45 minutes long.  That’s really long for a weird and, I’ll be honest, pretty bad attraction.  Still, it has a small cult following and can easily house an inside joke or two for your group if you endure the adventure.

11. Mission: SPACE – I surprised myself with how low this is but it really is a disappointing attraction.  Mission: Space is supposed to give you a real feeling of what it’s like to be an astronaut.  Instead it turns out to replicate some G-forces and then gives you some really bad visuals.  You might throw up and even if you don’t you’ll be lucky to land a rocket ship on Mars.

Mission Space Planets

10. Reflections of China – This is similar to the Canada film in that it’s 360 degrees but this takes a more serious tone and has a few more interesting things to look at.  Again, your preference between this one and the Canadian film will vary based on personality.

9. The Seas with Nemo and Friends – Another attraction that replaced a superior version.  This still isn’t a bad idea as it incorporates the Finding Nemo characters into an aquarium full of real fish.  I don’t think the Nemo projections look the best and the story is lacking but it’s fine.  I also don’t love the inclusion of characters in Epcot just for the sake of having characters, but that’s a subject for another day.

The Seas Epcot

8. Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros – If you’ve made it this far in the attraction rankings posts then you know that I’m a sucker for slow boat rides.  This is no exception as the characters from one of the craziest Disney films ever are dropped in throughout it.  I think this is a decent showcase of Mexico, albeit a little dated, and I love the audio animatronics at the end.  All in all, this starts the run of attractions that I undoubtedly like.

7. Spaceship Earth – Spaceship Earth could be great, and I think it used to be.  This takes you on a quick lesson of human history.  It’s also inside of the great Epcot park icon.  The scenes and audio animatronics still work pretty well and this looks good overall.  Where it really lacks is in the last quarter of the ride, when guests are riding backwards and they fill out a dumb survey about how their life will turn out.  Also, the narration isn’t great.

SSE fountain

6. Test Track – Test Track is like a good B-movie.  This lacks in quality as the story of building your own car and testing it is pretty clunky.  The visuals inside the building aren’t great either.  Still, zipping around corners and then accelerating into the open air is always fun.  Fun is good which in turn makes this a decent attraction.

5. Frozen Ever After – This could be as high as number 1 or as low as 7.  I settled on 5 because this doesn’t fit the area it resides and there are some blank spaces in the ride that cause a small lull.  Still, some of the audio-animatronics are really impressive and, for the most part, this looks really good.  I also like that the plot isn’t just a book report of the movie.

Sven Frozen Ever After

4. Impressions de France – I think this World Showcase film is far superior to the ones I’ve already mentioned.  The soundtrack is absolutely beautiful and the cinematography fits the artsy France vibe.  I doubt this would be in the top-5 for most people but I do think Impressions de France is extremely underrated and I would do it over everything on the list considering the usual no-wait time.

3. The American Adventure – The American Adventure is American history told to you by audio-animatronic Ben Franklin and Mark Twain.  The half hour-long show is really well done and hasn’t shown its age even though it opened with the park.  I think this attraction embodies the spirit of ‘edutainment’, being both entertaining and educational.  Bonus points to the pre-show, which features the wonderful Voices of Liberty singing some old-time classics.

2. Living with the Land – Speaking of ‘edutainment’, Living with the Land really gets that.  I imagine most people find this boring but I love the attraction.  A slow boat ride (surprise, surprise) takes you through an Epcot greenhouse and showcases some of the ways they are growing food.  Many of the Disney restaurants feature some of these homegrown vegetables, and that’s a nice way to be able to connect all the dots (especially if you have kids).  While far from the most exciting, I think this is one of the most interesting attractions Disney still has.

Living With the Land stream

1. Soarin’ – I don’t love the new version of Soarin’ but giving it the top spot here was a fairly easy decision.  I’m not sure Epcot has an E-ticket attraction outside of this one and I think this combines a fun ride with some impressive technology.  Still, Soarin’ uses too much CGI and I don’t think simulators are that great to begin with.

Morocco night

Overall, I think Epcot has a decent line up of attractions.  I do think the park could really use a top-notch attraction somewhere.  Soarin’ fits the bill for the most part but I think the other five Disney Parks feature better headliners.  For example, Soarin’ (the exact same ride) came in 3rd in the California Adventure attraction rankings.

Like I said at the beginning though, Epcot isn’t just about attractions.  World Showcase in itself is the headliner for adults.  While no real headliner is a small problem for Epcot, the park has much bigger problems than that.  Most of which is finding a true identity and moving some of these attractions into current day without smashing Disney IP’s in places they don’t fit.  A decade from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were only about 5 attractions that still exist as is.

What is your favorite Epcot attraction?  Let us know in the comments!  Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney.

– Andrew

Flame Tree Barbecue Review

Flame Tree Barbecue is a counter-service restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  The restaurant resides in Discovery Island and has a vast seating area.  Flame Tree Barbecue is one of the most popular places to eat in Animal Kingdom.  The restaurant serves barbecue food and takes part in the Disney Dining Plan.  Flame Tree currently accepts a 20% Annual Pass discount but is not a part of Tables in Wonderland.

I can’t believe that I’ve never reviewed Flame Tree Barbecue.  Wandering in Disney has been around for a little over two years and this restaurant is one of the most on-the-radar counter-service options around.  I always just assumed I had written a review of Flame Tree but you know what they say about assuming?  Don’t do it very often.  I think that’s how the phrase goes.  Anyway, here’s the long-awaited (sarcasm) Wandering in Disney Flame Tree Barbecue review!

Via Disneyworld.com

Barbecue and a beautiful setting don’t always go hand in hand.  When I think of barbecue restaurants my mind typically pictures a crowded counter and outdoor seating with barbecue sauce dripping from the corner of everyone’s mouth.  I guess that’s beautiful in its own little way but not exactly picturesque.  While there are parts of Flame Tree Barbecue that certainly fit that stereotype, most of the restaurant transcends and fits the overall beauty Animal Kingdom possesses.

As you can see above, Flame Tree Barbecue has a counter where people order their food and then go sit down.  Possibly the biggest downside of the restaurant is standing in line to order during the heat of the day.  Lines can get quite long and Animal Kingdom isn’t a place to go cool down during a hot day.  There is some shade but Flame Tree Barbecue isn’t the most pleasant place to wait and order food.  Fortunately, the experience gets much better after that.  To limit your wait time try to plan your meal at Flame Tree Barbecue for an off-hour.  Instead of lunch at noon or 1, go at 11 or 2.  This will make for a more enjoyable experience for you and your group. (I should note that sometimes crowds aren’t bad at all and you won’t need to worry about that at all.)

Via Disneyworld.com

That’s the bad of the Flame Tree Barbecue experience.  The good is nearly everything else.  We’ll start with the seating.  The seating area is all outdoors but is shaded by these beautifully carved wood pavilions.  These pavilions also tell the story of the food chain, each one showcasing different predators that eat other predators.  It may sound vicious but I find the pavilions all very tongue in cheek as I take a bite of barbecue food.  As you can see, there is a ton of foliage around the seating areas and this makes for a relaxed dining experience.

On first look, the seating area appears to be a bit cramped but instead, after ordering, hang a right and just keep following the steps down the path. This will eventually lead you to waterside pavilions that look out towards Expedition Everest.

This is one of the better lunchtime views you can have.  Even if the food was bad (it isn’t) I think this area is worthy of spending 15-30 minutes of your day, having a cool drink and sitting by the water.  It is usually easy to find a seat down here because people don’t follow the path all the way down.  I highly recommend it.

On to the food!  I don’t generally have high hopes for barbecue food at theme park restaurants, especially counter-service ones.  Bland barbecue sauce and dry meat is your typical fare at these places.  Flame Tree Barbecue consistently rises above that and offers quality options in comparison.

Flame Tree entree

I should caution, I’m far from a barbecue snob.  I haven’t spent much time in the midwest and I’m sure this pales in comparison to barbecue in those areas.  Outside of those areas where barbecue is like a religion, I think a meal at Flame Tree compares favorably.

There are a decent amount of choices here (menu link) and I’ve tried several.  Pictured above is the Ribs, Chicken and Pulled Pork Sampler.  I really like the rub on the ribs and chicken, as it blends really well with the barbecue sauce.  Both of those meats were juicy and prepared really well.  I didn’t think quite as highly of the pulled pork, as I thought it had a little too much fat.  With that being said, Melissa regularly gets the Pulled Pork Sandwich here and we both really like it.  When served by itself, I didn’t find it quite as enjoyable.  They don’t skimp on the serving size here as the dish also comes with coleslaw, baked beans and corn bread.  The coleslaw was good but nothing spectacular.  A nice option on a hot day.  I prefer the baked beans to the Coleslaw but they aren’t as refreshing.  The corn bread was solid, as well.  At $19.99, this is a good meal to share with another person.  The sampler is also a great use of a Disney Dining Plan counter-service credit.

The Ribs and Chicken Combo is also good and what I actually recommend.  I think this gives you the best two items on the menu at a more affordable $16.49.  The Pulled Pork Sandwich is $10.99 and is also a good option, as I mentioned above.

Onion Rings AK

We had the Onion Rings here last time and I thought they were well prepared.  They were crispy and fresh, with a good seasoning to them.  One last recommendation I would make is the Mandarin Orange Lemonade.  As opposed to most lemonades around Disney World that are just from the Fountain, this is made fresh and is one of my favorite drinks.  The orange flavor and lemonade balance each other really well to make something sweet and just a little tart.  Another great option to cool down with on a hot day.

Overall, when you combine Flame Tree Barbecue’s atmosphere with the quality food I think the restaurant earns it’s reputation.  Sure, the food is a little overpriced (like nearly every theme park restaurant) and the food may not be quite as good as it was when the restaurant first opened (I can’t speak to this as I’m a relative newbie), Flame Tree Barbecue far exceeds expectations as theme park BBQ restaurant.  Animal Kingdom doesn’t lack for good counter-service options but Flame Tree is still my favorite place to eat there.

Overall Rating – 9.5/10

Have you eaten at Flame Tree Barbecue?  What are your thoughts on this restaurant?  Let us know in the comments!

– Andrew

First Visit to Café Orleans

It is still amazing to me that there are restaurants in Disneyland I have never tried! I can’t count the number of times I have been to the parks in the past four years, but alas, I have not been as adventure with dining, as one should be. I tend to flock to my regular spots, and eat items I know I will enjoy. Plus I usually hit up counter service/cafeteria style places over table service restaurants.

That being said, I enjoyed a new place when I visited Disneyland last Saturday, Café Orleans. Andrew has reviewed this spot in the past, and you can re-read his dining experience here.

Cafe Orleans inside

I went to Disneyland with my friend Dom once again and visiting Café Orleans was my only “must do” items of the trip. We headed to the Café around 10am to make an evening reservation. At 10am the only available time slots were 4:00 and 7:30pm. Clearly, the spots at this place go very quickly, especially on a busy spring Saturday. We picked the 4:00 slot, wanting to enjoy the views while it was still light outside. There was also a line forming around the building for “stand by” spots, diners hoping to get a seat who didn’t make reservations.

By the time our early dinner reservation rolled around Dom and I were both very tired and need of a pick-me-up. We had been at the park since opening, and needed a nice break and some grub. We had the option of sitting inside or outside and opted for a nice table for two over looking the Rivers of America.

The menu and food options at Café Orleans were pretty vast, offering items from salads to crepes. Everything on the menu was fairly New Orleans comfort food-esque. There wasn’t anything on this menu I wouldn’t eat, and a lot of options I will be trying in the future.


Dom and I each ordered hot tea to start, as it was getting chilly at this time of night and we needed a little caffeine to jolt us awake. The tea was lovely, and came out with our own teapots. Our waitress was very attentive, and filled our hot water whenever we ran out.

For an appetizer we ordered the Pommes Frites. The Pommes Frites were easily some of the best French fries I have ever eaten. I was blown away with how good they were. I am a French Fry snob, and these parmesan, Garlic fries with a cajun rémoulade were no joke. I am only mad that I have tasted their deliciousness, because now I need them again…every time I visit.


For an entrée we shared the classic Monte Cristo Sandwich. This dish consists of turkey, ham, and swiss cheese, deep-fried in a batter and served with berry purée dusted with confectioners sugar. I have been meaning to try this sandwich for four years, and it was actually a lot different than I imagined. I had this idea that it would taste like a grilled cheese, when it reality it was a meat and cheese filled donut. Lets just say, I am very glad we shared one sandwich. It was so decadent and so rich and filling, one sandwich with the side of fries was more than we could handle. The sandwich was very tasty, but probably something I won’t order again. I am pretty sure there are 4000 calories in one.


My only complaint, which is minor, is the price of the sandwich seemed pretty high. It was filling and huge, but coming in at $20 with no side dish seemed like a bit much. The fries were a steal though. The portion was very big and a great value for $7. I would be happy to visit again and just have fries and nothing else.

I will definitely be back to Café Orleans in the near future. There are several other table service restaurants I need to try as well, including the Blue Bayou and Ariel’s Grotto. I can’t wait to explore new dining options at The Happiest Place on Earth.

– Cassie

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Attraction Rankings

Today we continue our attraction rankings series, moving on to Animal Kingdom.  If you missed any of the series thus far check out the Disneyland, California Adventure, and Hollywood Studios posts by clicking on the coinciding park.  Before we get to the rankings, let’s quickly brush up on the rules.

  • No Meet & Greets. These are impossible to rank as each experience is unique. Also, I don’t particularly like them.
  • No Live Shows. Nighttime shows are almost always better than rides, in my eyes. Also, big stage shows are impressive and don’t fit the profile of a typical ride. I will include 3D movies though. Basically you have to physically ride or walk through something.  I’ll include walking trails at Animal Kingdom because I think they are vital to the park and are more attractions than entertainment (unlike live shows).  I won’t be including any of the Rafiki’s Planet Watch ‘exhibits’ as I don’t think they’re exactly rides or walk-throughs.
  • These are all my opinion. Lou Mongello constantly says that “every attraction is someones favorite.” While that is corny and seems a little silly, I think the sentiment is mostly true. I can’t account for other people’s memories in these rankings and will try (probably unsuccessfully) to take some of the nostalgia out of my views of these attractions. You’ll likely disagree with these rankings. Please let me know what you disagree with in the comments.

ToL ram day

Like Hollywood Studios, this post will be shorter than the Disneyland and California Adventure posts because there are fewer attractions.  Animal Kingdom has legitimate reasons for this as there aren’t many theme parks like it in the world.  The park isn’t about racing from attraction to attraction but instead is best experienced taking a leisurely pace and exploring the vast grounds.  If you’re just doing attractions at Animal Kingdom and are skipping the live entertainment (especially at night), the trails, the smaller animal exhibits and just soaking in the atmosphere, I’d highly recommend you adjust your touring plan.  While I’m sure the park isn’t for everyone, I think slowing down would make any experience at Animal Kingdom better.  That is the reason why attraction rankings at this park don’t tell the full story and I even hesitate to do this post in the first place.

With all of that being said, Animal Kingdom could use a few more attractions to ride.  Pandora, opening in a few months, will certainly help this.  Another expansion, an upgrade at Rafiki’s Planet Watch or a quality replacement for DinoLand would do wonders and make this maybe the best theme park in the country.  Hopefully that comes in the future.

On to the rankings!

10. Primeval Whirl – One of my least favorite attractions in any park.  This is the roller coaster in DinoLand where your ride vehicle spins as you go along the track.  It fits the theme of the land in looking like something that could be set up at a pop-up carnival.  While fitting the theme is typically a good thing, it’s not a compliment here.  I’ve seen better looking roller coasters at the county fair.  It’s an eye sore and the ride is bad while also having ridiculous wait times.  Even more negative points are headed its way because of spinning while on a roller coaster.  No one wants that.  Kidding about that last point, sort of.  If you couldn’t tell already, I despise Primeval Whirl.

9. TriceraTop Spin – A dumbed-down version of Dumbo.  Instead of elephants though there are Triceratops.  Triceratops are really cool, but that can’t offset the feeling like this could be ridden at your local fair just like Primeval Whirl.  I don’t have much against this spinner ride but the attractions take a significant jump up in quality after this one.

8. Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail – This would be a near perfect trail in a zoo.  There are a ton of animals to showcase.  The trail loops around nicely and is a great length.  The animals here are interesting, blending some obscure ones with favorites.  With that being said, this attraction comes in 8th place because there isn’t the beautiful theming we see in other areas of the park.  While I think this is definitely worth your time, I don’t think Gorilla Falls transcends being anything more than a walking trail to see some cool animals.

Timon

7. It’s Tough to be a Bug! – A wild, weird 4-D movie featuring characters from A Bug’s Life.  The queue is wonderful, taking you under the Tree of Life. Loyal readers know that I’m terrified of this ride/movie.  It’s the ride I’m most scared of at Disney Parks.  No, this isn’t justifiable but I don’t go on this anymore.  All that aside, I do think this is a wacky and fun attraction that’s pretty strong overall.

Back of ToL with waterfall

6. The Boneyard – The Boneyard is a playground on the outskirts of DinoLand.  This is the best themed playground in any Disney Park and is fun to explore.  The playground acts as an archaeological dig site with bones to uncover and little tunnels throughout.  Now, if you’re on an adults-only trip then spending half an hour here isn’t advisable but I do think it’s worth walking through.  If you’re a kid or a parent with a kid, I think spending a decent amount of time here is a good option.  There’s much to explore while still offering what a standard playground offers.

5. Kali River Rapids – If the theming of the actual attraction met the standards of Kali River Rapids’ queue then this attraction would easily be in the top 3.  Unfortunately, the ride is somewhat lackluster after the significant buildup of a beautiful queue.  This river rapids ride has a few thrilling moments but the story falls a little flat, as do the visuals throughout the ride.  Still, I have a soft spot for river rides and this is still a good attraction even if it could improve.

4. DINOSAUR – With an awesome ride system and a recent refurbishment, DINOSAUR is on the up and up.  The story is pretty fun, going back in time to grab a dinosaur to bring back to the lab.  Naturally, everything goes wrong before it’s solved.  I thoroughly enjoy the attraction but it’s not without its faults.  The attraction is a little bit campy and doesn’t have the thrills that comparable Indiana Jones Adventure (in Disneyland) has.  Overall though, this is an extremely fun ride in a park that needs one.

3. Maharajah Jungle Trek – There is a pretty big jump from DINOSAUR to the top-3.  Maharajah Jungle Trek isn’t your typical theme park attraction but it is magnificent.  An animal trail tells the stories of a beautiful land that was eventually overrun with poachers.  Over time, animals and the people of the area ousted the poachers and learned to live in harmony.  All of these stories are told through sculpting and murals on old ruins throughout the path.  Intertwined with these ruins are amazing animals that you can get really close to.  The path culminates in a few great areas to see tigers.  I think this path is one of the most beautiful areas Imagineers have ever developed.  While I can understand people being more excited about thrill rides, this is an incredibly unique and beautiful attraction.

Prayer flags AK MJT

2. Expedition Everest – I always thought Expedition Everest was a great roller coaster that was a step below some of Disney’s classic mountains.  Then I rode this at night and it became one of my favorite attractions anywhere.  Mind you, this is all with an audio-animatronic in the middle of the ride that is broken.  If they ever figure out how to get the yeti in Expedition Everest working again then this attraction will be one of the best in the world.  As is, I still love this roller coaster that’s especially augmented by the queue and surrounding Asian themed area.  The prayer flags throughout Asia, the queue, and the actual ride makes the experience feel more authentic.  Many people could have Everest as number one on this list and I wouldn’t argue.

Everest pink sky

1. Kilimanjaro Safaris I’ve written before about Kilimanjaro Safaris and how it’s my favorite attraction that I’ve ever been on.  Not much has changed since.  The scope of this attraction that takes you to see nearly 100 different types of animals is unheard of in theme parks.  In fact, this attraction is nearly the size of some theme parks.  Kilimanjaro Safaris takes guests to see more animals than are in most zoos and does so in about 20 minutes.  It is the perfect blend of entertainment and education in a theme park ride, as the skipper has plenty of facts to go along with the sights.  On top of that, the ride experience is never the same making this one of the most rerideable (if that’s a word I definitely didn’t spell it right) attractions around.  Kilimanjaro Safaris is the flagship attraction of Animal Kingdom and has more than earned that title.

Elephant AK

Once Pandora opens up in May, Animal Kingdom will have 12 attractions and 10 of them will definitely be worth your time.  On top of that, there is some incredible entertainment and atmosphere throughout Animal Kingdom that’s not to be missed.  All in all, this park could use a few more attractions but is becoming the most complete park at Disney World.  Headlined by Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest, the attractions are largely to thank for that.

What did I get wrong in my rankings?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney!

– Andrew

One Trade Each Disney Park Should Make Right Now

When I’m not planning my next Disney trip or writing about the Disney Parks in my free time, I’m typically reading about or watching sports.  I thoroughly enjoy watching my Seattle-based teams and soaking in any information that I can.  While games and playoffs are obviously the end-all in sports, not much beats a good trade or trade rumor.  The prospect of your team trading for a piece it desperately needs is encouraging and full of optimism that you can’t get during games.  The possibilities feel endless when your team makes a trade.

MK fountain castle

So what would happen if the Disney Parks could make trades?  While we all love the parks, even the most loyal fan can admit they need improving in one way or another.  A trade of attractions, restaurants or other items between parks could prove beneficial to both sides.  With that in mind, I felt the pointless exercise of coming up with fake trades between the six Disney Parks was a necessity.  Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe you can come up with a better fake trade.

A few quick notes and rules before we begin.  Each park will get their own trade.  For example, Disneyland could make a trade with Epcot but Epcot will still get their turn to make a trade.  In this fictional universe, all of these trades are independent of each other.  I will do my best to make these trades fair for both sides, filling needs with the parks involved.  I can’t trade Splash Mountain for Flik’s Flyers because Disneyland (or Disney World) would never agree to that.  I will also just assume that all of the parks have the size for these trade additions (it’s easier that way).  Lastly, just to reiterate, in no way will these ever happen.  This is useless.  Let’s get started!

Disneyland trades Pinocchio’s Daring Journey to Magic Kingdom for Country Bear Jamboree

This isn’t the most exciting one to start off with.  Disneyland is pretty strong and doesn’t need much to bolster its roster.  With that said, I find their Frontierland to be a little bit weak while Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland is a little weak.  Maybe this just swaps the two but I think it would be an interesting trade and I’m not sure who says no.  Both attractions probably need an update but the lack of dark rides in Magic Kingdom and the lack of anything in DL’s Frontierland makes this appealing.

Country Bear piano

Disney California Adventure trades King Triton’s Carousel and Corn Dog Castle for Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

California Adventure is a strange park when looking for needs.  There are solid rides all around and mostly coherent areas.  The one negative in the park is the back corner where the current Monsters Inc ride is.  With this trade, DCA can turn that section of the park into a mini Monsters Inc. land while adding a much better Monsters attraction in the laugh floor.  I don’t think Magic Kingdom will miss it too much as it certainly doesn’t fit the theming of a crowded Tomorrowland.  In exchange, Magic Kingdom gets a carousel that will fit in right by the Little Mermaid ride in New Fantasyland.  They also get the Corn Dog Castle, which is really solid and something Magic Kingdom is certainly missing.  A castle park needs good corn dogs like a dog needs a bone.

Laugh Floor sign MK

Magic Kingdom trades it’s a small world and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin to Epcot for Frozen Ever After

I think this deal is fairly obvious.  Frozen Ever After is a very solid dark ride that doesn’t belong in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion.  It belongs in Fantasyland with all of the other Disney dark rides that feature animated films.  Magic Kingdom gets an incredibly popular attraction to add to a somewhat lackluster Fantasyland.  In exchange, Epcot gets a boat ride that actually fits World Showcase.  it’s a small world embodies the heart of World Showcase in that we’re all connected and should celebrate each others cultures.  I threw in The Magic Carpets of Aladdin because I didn’t think the trade was fair as 1-for-1 swap.  Magic Carpets could fit in somewhere on the outskirts of Morocco’s World Showcase, where Aladdin and Jasmine sometimes meet.  While I’m not a huge fan of the idea, it seems like Disney executives would be for it.  It also gives kids something to do in World Showcase.  I don’t think Aladdin is quite as bad fit in Morocco as Frozen is in Norway, but this swap is more about it’s a small world for Frozen Ever After.

Aladdin camel

(3 WAY TRADE!!) Epcot trades The Seas Pavilion to Animal Kingdom – Animal Kingdom trades Dinosaur and anything else from Dinoland (except The Boneyard) that they want to Epcot, Pizzafari and The Boneyard to Magic Kingdom – Magic Kingdom trades Astro Orbiter to Epcot

I had to go big on one of these!  Okay, Epcot gets Dinosaur plus any of the rides or restaurants they want from DinoLand.  This can be added to The Land pavilion in Epcot and gives Epcot more rides.  They also get the Astro Orbiter to add by Mission: Space to give them a little space pavilion.  All in all, Epcot becomes more kid friendly while keep IP’s out of the park.  The Seas Pavilion goes to Animal Kingdom, giving them aquatic animals and a few more tie-ins to Finding Nemo, which can sit right by Finding Nemo – The Musical.  In addition to DinoLand (which is weak outside of Dinosaur) Animal Kingdom has to give Magic Kingdom The Boneyard and Pizzafari.  The Boneyard is a great playground outside of DinoLand that will fit right in the Frontierland theme.  Pizzafari will be a much-needed pizza option in Adventureland by the Jungle Cruise.  Magic Kingdom obviously gives up the Astro Orbiter, which isn’t a great ride but is a good visual presence, in exchange for those items.  All in all, this is the most outlandish trade.  I’m confident that someone would say no in this situation but I’m not sure which park would.

Astro Orbiter sign MK

Hollywood Studios trades Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream to Disneyland for Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and a FTBNL

Hollywood Studios is in desparate need of actual rides and that’s what they get here.  Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters would be a nice addition to a Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios.  It can fit in quite a few riders per hour, is pretty fun and would play off Toy Story Midway Mania pretty well (although they could be seen as too similar).  One Man’s Dream is a great, underrated film and exhibit but doesn’t exactly fit the current state of Hollywood Studios.  Adding that to somewhere on Main Street would be a great addition for Disneyland.  In reality, this trade makes more sense for Magic Kingdom but I like the idea of One Man’s Dream in Disneyland and DL’s version of Buzz Lightyear is far superior.  I don’t think Buzz really fits in with Tomorrowland so I don’t think it’s a big loss for Disneyland.  FTBNL stands for Fountain to be Named Later.  Disneyland has some nice fountains and Hollywood Studios needs one that they can pick when their park is more complete.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom trades Finding Nemo – The Musical to Magic Kingdom for Tom Sawyer Island

This was the trade I had the hardest time with.  It’s a testament to how well themed and unique Animal Kingdom is that there aren’t many attractions that will fit in here.  I thought about the Jungle Cruise going to Animal Kingdom but they didn’t have the expendable assets to pull that trade-off.  Instead I settled on Magic Kingdom’s Tom Sawyer Island.  Animal Kingdom is all about exploration and this is one of the few attractions I think that fully embodies that theme.  Again, I would have liked to added a ride but couldn’t come up with a decent match.  Let me know in the comments if you can!  In exchange, Magic Kingdom got a nice sit down musical in a big theater that they can plop in New Fantasyland or old Fantasyland.  I wouldn’t be surprised if imagineers are looking for a justifiable way to get rid of Tom Sawyer Island so they can add a ride in that space.  What better way than trading it to another one of your theme parks!

Animal Kingdom sunset

That’s probably enough words about alternative universe where theme parks can just trade things willy-nilly.  I enjoyed thinking about these situations but have no idea if anyone will enjoy reading them.  Do you like any of these would-be trades?  Can you think up any of your own?  Let us know in the comments!  Thank you for reading.

– Andrew

Question of the Week (3/5/17)

Every few weeks our writers get together and answer a Disney-related question.  Here is this week’s question and answers!

Question of the Week: If you could put a restaurant into any attraction (like Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean, for example) what attraction would you pick and where in it would you put the restaurant?

Cassie – I would put one smack dab in the middle of space mountain. Everyone would have to wear night vision goggles and all the food would be space 🚀 themed.

Space Mountain night

Maybe also in Splash Mountain, in the upper part where the train use to pass through. It’s just my favorite right so I’m bias, but I think that’s would be awesome.

Andrew – Cassie cheated and put two, which is unfortunate because I was going to pick Splash Mountain! Jeez Cassie…

This may be cheating but I’m going to pick the Jungle Cruise. There’s already a restaurant inspired by the Jungle Cruise that executes its theme wonderfully. I would stick with that theme but make a restaurant in the Jungle Cruise an outdoor venue in the savannah scene (with the lions, zebras, etc.) That place sets you up for jokes galore and the skippers on the boats would have some added puns about the folks dining there. They have done this in Disneyland to an extent but the event is highly priced and isn’t an actual restaurant.

Jungle Cruise cat night_edited-1

Melissa – You guys all picked good ones!!! (I especially really like the night vision goggle idea haha!) Since those lovely attractions are already taken I’m going to go with a restaurant in Kilimanjaro Safaris. Then while you’re eating you can watch the animals and if you’re on the ride you get another set of animals to look at!

Giraffe savannah safari AK

Leslie – I would definitely pick to have a restaurant, or at least a special dinner night in the ballroom for Haunted Mansion. I think it would be such a neat experience and great for the guests both from those riding the ride and those enjoying the dinner. It may need to be an addition to the current ballroom but I think it would be cool.

Haunted Mansion night

What attraction would you put a restaurant in?  Let us know in the comments!

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