2018 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival Guide

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival showcases beautiful flowers, plants and food around Walt Disney World’s Epcot every spring.  In 2018, the festival runs from February 28th to May 28th.  The festival is running for the 24th year in a row.  While the entirety of the festival is difficult to cover, this post will give an overview of what to expect and our favorite parts of the festival.

Back of Beauty Beast topiary Epcot

Over the years Epcot has become Festival Central.  The Food & Wine Festival and Flower & Garden Festival have each taken up more dates every year.  This year brought the Festival of the Arts in January.  While the festivals started as a nice addition to slow parts of the year, now their reach may be a bit overextended.  I suspect a festival in the summer will come over the next few years.  Aside from huge crowds, this isn’t that big of a deal if the festivals offer something unique.  While I can debate the merits of the Food & Wine Festival (which we’ll cover when the time comes), I do think the Flower & Garden Festival does bring a nice addition to Epcot.

Epcot began as a park that, among other things, celebrated the beauty of the world and the ingenuity that would lead the planet into the future.  Flower & Garden showcases both of those ideas and combines them seamlessly.  Using the beauty of blooming spring flowers, Epcot enhances those with topiaries, flower beds, butterfly gardens and, of course, food.  We’ll start with the food.

Outdoor Kitchens

Like the other Epcot Festivals (notably Food & Wine), Flower & Garden utilizes temporary booths around World Showcase to offer unique food items to guests.  These booths are called Outdoor Kitchens.  Most of these booths are themed to the countries around them.  Here is a complete list of the booths and the menus that coincide with them.  Most of the food items range from 4-7 dollars, with a few outliers.  The alcoholic beverages range from $7-$10 typically and the non-alcoholic drinks are usually around $5.  The portion size is never very large but is comparable to most snacks throughout the parks.  Generally, I think the items at these booths are a little overpriced for what you get but the quality of food usually makes up for that.  I’ve never been very disappointed in what I’ve paid for a snack at Flower & Garden or Food & Wine Festivals.

Scallops Epcot FG

We tried a few items in 2017 and thought they were good but not great.  The Northern Bloom booth was a favorite of mine and it returns in 2018.  Sitting outside of the Canada Pavilion, I tried the Beef Tenderloin Tips and the Seared Scallops with French Green Beans.  These were my second and third favorite items I tasted at the Festival and I can never decide which order.  The scallops were prepared nicely and had a rich, buttery flavor.  I thought the green beans and potatoes paired with them was a nice addition.  My only complaint is that the dish could have used another scallop or two.

The Tenderloin Tips were also delicious and rich in flavor.  The meat was really tender and the mushroom sauce with it was a great pairing.  The mashed potatoes were pretty average but didn’t bring the dish down at all.  I’d happily recommend either of these items.

Tenderloin Epcot FG

At $6.25 and $6.50 each, I found the dishes to  be priced accurately.  This was a good way to taste something a little more expensive at a lower price point.

My favorite item from 2017 came from the French Pavilion (Fleur de Lys) but was not brought back this year.  I’d definitely recommend that booth though as everything looked tasty last year.

Macaron France Epcot FG

We’ve had a few dishes from Florida Fresh and were pretty underwhelmed by them.  They have a slightly revamped menu this year so others may have better luck.

Melissa also really liked the Lemon Scone from the Cider House booth (UK Pavilion).  I missed out on trying that one but she gave it a rave review.  Those were a few of our favorites that we tried and, as I said, I would have liked to try a few more.

Topiaries and Gardens

While the food is good and follows a pretty natural theme, the star of the festival are the, you guessed it, flower and gardens.  These are spread throughout the park but reside near or in World Showcase more than anywhere else.

Monorail flowers

The gardens are a nice treat that you can happen upon naturally throughout Epcot.  Most of that is thanks to the season and flowers blooming.  Many of these gardens or plants could be found throughout Disney Parks thanks to the wonderful horticulture staff that the parks utilize.  There are exceptions that make Epcot unique though.  My favorite of which are the beautiful gardens that surround the ponds on your way to World Showcase.  If given the chance, entering the park via monorail is a great view of those gardens.

Minnie topiary blur epcot

Another of my favorite gardens were the bonsai trees in the Japan Pavilion.  I enjoyed seeing the different types of plants aren’t typical in our country.

The topiaries are a great treat, that are a little less ‘natural’ than the gardens.  That doesn’t make these presentations any less impressive or beautiful.  These topiaries are most often of Disney characters.  Here are a few of my favorites throughout Epcot in 2017.

Dandelion Fantasia end monorail Epcot

Troll tall Epcot FG

Figment topiary wide

One small portion I was disappointed in is the way the topiaries were lit up at night.  I don’t think the lighting they put on the topiaries was flattering.  Still, this is a minor issue with only a few of the topiaries.

There are a few new gardens in 2018.  One is the Tropical Rainforest Garden in the Mexico Pavilion.  This sounds appealing to me in that it showcases how nature and animals adapt to the climate of the rain forest.  The other new garden is the Imagination Play Garden which seems like a playground and a maze?  Disney calls it a musical maze which brought up more questions than answers in my mind.

Butterfly Garden

One of my favorite aspects of the festival is the butterfly house, this year called The Goodness Garden Butterfly House Presented by GoGo squeeZ.  If that name doesn’t scare you off, then I think you’ll really enjoy this.  The butterfly garden resides in Future World between Inventions West and World Showcase.  I could have included this in the Topiaries and Gardens section but I spent a good amount of time in here.  There were an array of different butterfly species as well as plants.

Brown butterfly corner Epcot

While the garden isn’t very big, we spent nearly half an hour in there, snapping photos and looking at all the different plants and butterflies.  I thought it was a beautiful area that was really inviting.

Lots of butterflies

What Else Does the Festival Offer?

The Flower & Garden Festival also features the Garden Rocks Concert Series.  There are plenty of bands that play throughout the course of the festival, mostly on weekends.  While different genres of music appeal to others, I can’t say the concert series interests me that much as most of the bands aren’t huge draws for my taste.  Still, it’s worth checking out the lineup (which you can see here) to see if you want to take the time to watch a 45 minute set from some professional musicians.  The bands always sound good while walking by.

Tea Tour Buttermin Epcot FG

For kids, there is an egg hunt as well as some temporary play areas.  Who would have known, kids don’t really enjoy looking at flowers and eating somewhat experimental foods for hours on end.  While I don’t consider the kid entertainment to be anything extraordinary, it is a nice addition for when the little ones get a little restless.

There are also tours and presentations available to festival goers.  Most of these cost money and I recommend reserving them early.  Here’s a list of those available.

We took part in the complimentary English Tea Garden Tour.  This was free if you sign up on the day of the event at the UK Pavilion.  This tour took us around the UK gardens where tea cups were filled with the plants that make up Twining’s tea blends.  While the tour heavily promoted Twining’s, I found it to be very informative and I thought our guide did a great job.  The tour lasted about half an hour and helped guests understand what goes into making tea.  It also helped me understand what teas I might be interested in.

Woody topiary night Epcot

Is the Flower & Garden Festival worth making a special trip for? How much extra time will I spend in Epcot due to the Festival?

Above are the two questions I consider to most align with those interested in the festival.  There’s no hard and fast rule for this.  If you like and enjoy plants more than the average person then the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is definitely for you.  Even if you’re not that into plants, like me, then you will still probably find the festival interesting, informative and beautiful.  Is it worth making a special trip to Epcot for?  Probably not, unless money isn’t an issue or you live close by.  But, if you’re planning a trip and are somewhat flexible in timing the spring might be a good choice.

As far how many hours or days to allot for Epcot when the Festival is ongoing… That answer is even more tricky.  I think you could fill up just a day exploring the Flower & Garden portion of Epcot as well as the World Showcase Pavilions.  More realistically, if you’re planning for a day and a half for Epcot on a normal trip, I’d just make it two full days.  If you have kids, that may be pushing it but I think most adults could easily spend 2 days at the park experiencing Epcot and Flower & Garden.

Epcot UK Peter Pan

If you have questions or comments about the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, please leave them below in the comments.  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, please subscribe to the blog on the right side of this page.  That’s where you can find links to our social media accounts, as well.  Thank you for reading!

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Leaky Cauldron Review

Leaky Cauldron is a counter-service restaurant in Universal Orlando’s Diagon Alley.  Inspired by the world of Harry Potter, Leaky Cauldron serves English-Pub style food.  The restaurant has several nods to the Harry Potter franchise and is thematically on point.  Aside from minimal savings on a meal plan that Universal offers (this might be worth looking into), Leaky Cauldron doesn’t accept any dining discounts.  While largely a Disney Parks-focused blog, we’re going to head over to Universal for a quick review today.

As I’ve said before on this blog, I love the Harry Potter sections of Universal Orlando but am lukewarm, at best, on the other areas.  This continues with the food.  Most of the counter-service restaurants Universal offers don’t appeal to me.  While other areas have made strides in recent years, I’d absolutely recommend Leaky Cauldron or Three Broomsticks (in Hogsmeade) over other options.

Leaky Cauldron inside US

A big reason for this is because of the atmosphere Leaky Cauldron offers compared to the lack of atmosphere elsewhere.  The inside of the restaurant looks old and rusted.  High ceilings and faded walls are a nice contrast to the colorful facades that adorn Diagon Alley.  This feels like an old dining hall.  The light fixtures are beautiful and certainly add to the atmosphere.

The one drawback of Leaky Cauldron’s atmosphere is that seating can be a bit cramped.  The tables are long and there is a decent chance that you’ll end up sharing one with some person.  On top of that, we had a hostess sit us pretty closely to another group even though the restaurant was fairly empty at the time.  I’m not sure why this happened but it wasn’t a big deal.

Framed photos Leaky Cauldron US

There are photos all around Leaky Cauldron.  No doubt, Harry Potter himself took these in his Photography 101 Class at Hogwarts.  I know next to nothing about Harry Potter.  These might have some great meaning?  They add an interesting decoration to a purposefully dull seating area.

All in all, the atmosphere at Leaky Cauldron is a great study in themed atmosphere.  As I was writing, I realized just how dull the atmosphere of Leaky Cauldron appeared.  But when I was in the restaurant that thought never once crossed my mind.  I was struck by the beautiful high ceilings and the wonderful theme throughout.  The restaurant feels like a warm respite, with the glowing candles, to a dreary London day.

Salad pies US

Moving on to the food, Leaky Cauldron serves pub food for $10-$15.  Melissa ordered what you see above, the Mini Pie Combination.  Both the Cottage Pie and Fisherman’s Pie are in this combo.  Melissa preferred the Fisherman’s while I liked the Cottage Pie more.  Both were warm and rich.  Neither were spectacular but I thought it was a solid option.  At $13.49, I thought the value was pretty strong and would get this again.

Salads Lamb stew US

I ordered the Beef, Lamb & Guinness Stew.  This was also quite rich and tasty.  While the salt was eventually a little strong, I thought this had better flavor than the pies.  The beef and lamb servings were generous and decent pieces of meat for being a counter-service restaurant.  This was the same price as the pies ($13.49) and offered a decent value.

I liked that both options came with a salad, as that’s not the norm for counter-service restaurants at Disney World or Universal.  While this clearly isn’t the best salad, it was nice to have a relatively healthy side instead of french fries.  There are other interesting options on the menu at Leaky Cauldron which you can see here.  I’d like to try the Bangers & Mash sometime.

Leaky Cauldron menu US

Overall, I think Leaky Cauldron is one of the best options for quick-service dining at Universal Orlando.  While the food won’t wow, it is well made and interesting.  On top of that, the prices won’t overwhelm guests.  The atmosphere fits that of Diagon Alley and gives park-goers a reason to never leave one of the best theme park lands in the country.  I’d absolutely recommend Leaky Cauldron to anyone visiting Universal Orlando.

Have you tried Leaky Cauldron or have any questions about Universal Orlando?  Let us know your thoughts or questions down below in the comments.  Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney.  If you like what you’re reading then please follow us on social media and subscribe to the blog.  You can do both of those things on the right side of this page.  Have a great day!

– Andrew

Question of the Week (2/25/18)

Every few weeks our writers get together and answer a Disney-related question.  Here is the latest installment of Question of the Week!

Blue and pink lotus RoL

Question of the week: A few weeks ago I wrote about things I miss in Disney Parks when I’m not there. What are a couple of things you miss? No cheesy answers like “I miss the magic” or “I miss just the feeling that the park gives”. They have to be specific things inside of the parks. This directive didn’t work so well, just answer with whatever…

Cassie – I miss the Garlic Twists from Disneyland. I miss the smell of Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain. I miss the music as you walk into the entrance of Disneyland. I miss wearing my sparkle Minnie ears (which broke.) I miss browsing through World of Disney at the end of the night. I miss hurting my butt every time I ride Matterhorn. I miss screaming until my throat hurts on Screamin’. I miss that first bite of a dole whip. I really miss the parks!

Leslie – I miss standing in front of the castle to watch fireworks. I miss walking around Epcot just soaking in a bit of different cultures. I miss seeing how happy other guests are to be where dreams come true. I miss hugging Mickey and taking a picture with him. I miss Casey’s Corner even though it is always hectic. I miss the kindness of Cast Members. I miss Soarin’ over California and the smell of the oranges. I miss Mickey Ice cream bars and Churros. I miss walking through the gates and knowing I was home.

Friendship Faire Mickey Minnie

Andrew – I miss World Showcase at night probably the most. I often get the urge to just walk around that area while sitting at home. In that same vein, I miss the being at Cars Land around sunset when all of the neon turns on. Kilimanjaro Safaris would be the top ride I miss as I love all of the animals. And I miss the unique castle park lands, New Orleans Square and Liberty Square, as I love walking along the water in both of those areas.

Japan bridge Epcot night

Mackenzie – Whenever I go to Disney I feel like I’m coming home. I feel like I belong there and I am always welcomed. I miss waving at people.. I know that sounds odd, but where ever you go in a Disney park cast members are always waving. I love it. The one thing I miss the most is riding splash mountain at night and coming over the big drop and seeing the castle all lit up. It is one of my favorite things. I love seeing Disney bring people from all over the world and all walks of life to one place and I miss observing that while I walk around. I also love the energy of cast members. Overall, I love any park at night and riding attractions at night. And I miss a place that brings so many people together without judgment and spreads happiness.

Little Mermaid castle back away MK night

Melissa – I agree with Cassie…I miss the Garlic Twists A LOT, it’s my all-time favorite snack…but along those same lines, I always get cravings for those special unique Disney treats: Dole Whip, Gaston’s cinnamon roll, BBQ skewers from Bengal Barbecue, corn dogs, and Mickey macaroons to just name a few. 😉
I also miss that feeling of anticipation you get when you are about to get on a ride.
I miss the People Mover in Magic Kingdom – it’s a relaxing ride that sounds wonderful to go sit on after a long week of work.
I also miss Africa in Animal Kingdom. It’s filled with culture, one of my favorite treats, my favorite show, and the safaris!

Closer Discovery River Harambe AK

What do you miss about the parks when you aren’t there?  Let us know in the comments.  Also, if you have any ideas for Question of the Week posts drop them there.  Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney.  If you enjoy our content please subscribe to the blog (via WordPress or email) and like our social media pages.  You can find all of those things on the right side of this page.  Have a great day!

– Andrew

More News From Disney – Mostly About Food

Typically this blog doesn’t give a take on every single piece of news that Disney releases about the parks.  There are other sites that break the news and that has never been the goal of Wandering in Disney.  Frankly, it’s hard to come up with a semi-original take on each piece of news Disney comes out with and I like to add commentary to those posts.  With that said, Disney has been dropping interesting bits of news almost daily so here is another ‘reacting to the news’ type of post.

Tiki Room night

Just in the last two days, Disney has announced a good deal of changes and additions coming to the stateside parks.  Most of these center around food and loyal readers know that those are the most important announcements.  Why all of these announcements in the last few weeks?  I there’s a mix of factors.  One is simply timing.  The D23 Expo in Japan is a good reason to announce things and that’s exactly what they did.  This latest round of news mostly came out at a social media conference at WDW.

The second factor is Disney trying to turn over the news cycle of them raising ticket prices.  Announcing a bunch of exciting additions and the opening date for Toy Story Land is an easy way to turn over the news cycle.  I expect the news to slow down as we move closer to summer and some of these items start to open.  Enough of the preamble, let’s get onto the news.  I’ll link the Disney Parks announcement for each item (if applicable) with the bold header.  We’ll start with the non-food news first.

More Star Wars Hotel Concept Art

This is less of an announcement and more of an update.  This new concept art is interesting as it looks nothing like a hotel.  The Star Wars-inspired resort will be set in space instead of one of the famous planets that the franchise boasts.  Every window will be looking into space, meaning that there will be an incredible amount of screens.  I would also speculate that a wing of the hotel may look into the Star Wars Land.  That’s a guess and may be hard to pull off with sight lines inside of the land.

I think the hotel is an excellent idea and could be the future of theme park lodging.  Unfortunately, the cost will likely price me out for many years after opening but the concept looks ambitious.  The new pieces of art don’t add much in way of what will be at the resort but they are somewhat interesting.  Here’s another one.

Be Our Guest Dinner Menu Change

Be Our Guest, one of Disney World’s most popular dining locations, is changing their dinner menu.  The new menu will be a prix fixe menu with french-inspired appetizer, entrees and desserts.  Along with this change, it seems that Be Our Guest will transition to a signature restaurant in the evening – costing those on the dining plan 2 credits instead of 1.

BOG clams

After having dinner at Be Our Guest a few months ago I’m happy with these changes.  I think Magic Kingdom could use an upscale dining location and hopefully the new cuisine will match that.  On top of that, I was not all that impressed with Be Our Guest’s food and menu.  I thought the dessert options were especially lacking and hope this will change that.  It remains to be seen if the current menu will remain as an option behind the prix fixe menu.  All in all, I think this is a good change despite the higher price.  I will likely still recommend lunch at Be Our Guest over breakfast or dinner, regardless of food.  Lunch is one of the better values of any dining location at Disney World when considering both food and atmosphere.

Ariel’s Grotto and Cove Bar Turn Into Lamplight Lounge

I’ve written plenty about the transition of Paradise Pier to Pixar Pier, so I’m not going to rehash that here.  New information about the restaurant has come out though.  The Lamplight (you know, because of the PIxar lamp) Lounge will serve gastro-pub cuisine and be themed to a renovated old warehouse.  Disney is all over this new trend and I think it’s becoming a little tiring.  I don’t go to the Disney Parks for en vogue coffee shop feel, I prefer the elaborate themed areas.  Sure, these places usually end up nice enough but they aren’t memorable.

For what it’s worth, Lamplight Lounge will keep an open-air area (currently the Cove Bar) and the Lobster Nachos.  Largely, I think the outdoor bar will remain close to the same feel and the inside lounge doesn’t sound that interesting to me.  I don’t have much else to say and now you know why I lump all this news into one post.

The Tropical Hideaway Coming to Disneyland’s Adventureland

A new dining location(?) is coming to Disneyland, sitting between the Tiki Room and Jungle Cruise.  Hardly any information was given about this location aside from it taking the place of Aladdin’s Oasis.  It does not appear to be a table-service restaurant and will not serve alcohol since it’s in Disneyland.  Even without more information, I think this is great news.  Disneyland needs to find a role for any unused space or buildings once Star Wars Land opens.  Adding capacity is a key for the resort and things like this seem like small additions but will matter in the long run.  Plus, the concept art looks really cool.

via Disney Parks Blog

That will do it for this news recap.  Let us know your thoughts or questions about any of this information in the comments!  If you enjoy what you’re reading on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook page.  You can find both of those on the right side of this page.  Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

– Andrew

Utilizing Disney World’s Deluxe Dining Plan

The Disney Dining Plan is an extremely popular topics among Disney World fans and trip planners.  We’ve discussed the positives and negatives of the dining plan before and, frankly, I should update my thoughts on the subject at some point.  In short, I don’t think there’s a big value to be had from adding on the promotion but there is an added convenience or comfort for some, especially when going with a bigger group.  With that out-of-the-way, the standard dining plan is not what we’re getting into today.  Instead let’s talk about the Deluxe Dining Plan.

Tiffins green tea cheesecake

This is what is offered per night when you add the Deluxe Dining Plan to your on-site resort stay:

  • 3 meal credits (any combination of table-service and quick-service) that include an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage, appetizer, entrée and dessert (for lunch and dinner, no appetizer or dessert for breakfast unfortunately).
  • 2 snacks
  • Refillable mug

That’s a bunch of food.  The cost of this package is $116.25 for each guest per night.  At roughly $50 a night more than the standard dining plan, the deluxe is a pretty penny for more food than most guests will likely eat each day.

Beef saulti canteen Pandora AK

Before we go on, the deluxe dining plan is probably not the right choice to add-on to your entire vacation package unless money is of no object to you.  If that’s the case, then go for it!  Eat like a king for a week and enjoy yourself.  Even then, the plan may simply just end up taking too much time away from the parks.  So, I wouldn’t absolutely recommend it.

Again, that’s for those guests who money is of no object.  Since that likely isn’t many of you, this will not be a full review of the deluxe dining plan but instead a few ideas on how to properly utilize the plan.  There is a great value to be had if you go about it the right way, and that’s what I’ll try to convey in this post.

My pizza Via Napoli

Starting off, this is entirely too much food.  Yes, it’s 3 meals but an appetizer, entrée and dessert at every meal (outside of breakfast) adds up.  On top of that, there are 2 snacks a day that can be fairly heavy.  With this and the cost in mind, if you were going to use the deluxe dining plan then you should do it for only a portion of your stay.  My wife and I used it for a 2 night stay and this worked out well.  Pushing it to three would probably be fine and shouldn’t put you on food overload.  After 3 days I’m not sure I’d recommend it unless you want to leave food on the table (pun intended).

Along with wanting a shorter span to use the deluxe dining plan, another practical tip is to go to a few signature restaurants.  Neither of these tips are to really give you more bang for your buck instead I recommend them to simply make the plan more realistic.  Going to Disney World to eat a pretty nice sit-down meal 3 times a day is a novel goal but I don’t think that’s anyone’s actual purpose for a trip.  There are better places to go and eat in the world than Disney World.

Boathouse Mac n Cheese

Aside from these recommendations, the deluxe plan actually does offer a pretty good value.  Using very conservative estimates for each meal ($50 for a drink, appetizer, entrée and dessert) and snacks ($5 each) will get you to $180 a night.  Say instead you go with a signature restaurant and a table-service meal along with the snacks.  That will still be around $150 and that’s, again, conservative.

When we utilized the plan a few months ago on a 2-night stay.  We ate 5 meals over the course of 3 days (you can use the plan the day you check in and the day you check out, so while charged for 2 nights we can stretch out those 6 credits each over the course of 3 days).  The total for those 5 meals would have been around $300.  Our snacks were all over $5, but let’s be cautious and say that’s what it was.  That’s a total of $320 for the price of $232.50.  My total also could have been much higher because this was before alcoholic beverages were offered in the plan and I didn’t factor in the refillable mug.  As you can see, the value is there.

Skippers Mango dessert

But this plan involved eating most of the food we wanted to eat during our long trip over the course of 3 days.  The problem in comparing the costs straight across like I did in the above paragraph is that we may not have eaten all of that food if we didn’t have the plan.  In our case, the restaurants we ate were all places we had in our plans.  Instead of spreading it out across our trip, it made financial sense to put the reservations in the span of 3 days and then eat counter-service meals throughout the rest of the trip.

All this to say, I think the deluxe dining plan fits a few vacations quite well.  I would recommend it to people who have gone to Walt Disney World before and have table-service or signature restaurants that they absolutely want to do.  On top of that, I would recommend the plan for no more than 3 nights and then spread it to the course of 4 days.  Mix in some signature restaurants along with the table-service restaurants.  This idea would require a split-stay, unless your vacation was short in the first place.  Yes, this is quite a few prerequisites to make a dining plan fit your family.  But there is a place for it and it certainly saved us a little bit of money last trip.

Lobster again narcoossees

Do you have any questions or thoughts about Disney World’s deluxe dining plan?  Let us know in the comments.  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook page.  You can find both of those on the right side of this page.  Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

– Andrew

Opening Date for Toy Story Land is Revealed

A couple of days ago Disney released the opening date for Hollywood Studios upcoming Toy Story Land – June 30th, 2018.  While many, including myself, thought this new land would open by Memorial Day, Disney has decided otherwise.  The construction may be behind schedule or Disney may be looking for a boost in mid-summer attendance, as the great Tom Bricker writes here.

If you don’t know already, Toy Story Land will feature two new attractions, a counter-service restaurant and I’m guessing a few gift shops.  The new features will connect to the already built Toy Story Mania, so I guess we can give the land credit for three attractions.  Toy Story Lands have been built at international parks as an easy way to get some children’s (cheap) rides in the parks.  Renderings show a slightly different Toy Story Land coming to Walt Disney World than the previously built lands.

I do think the purpose still centers around getting more child-friendly attractions into Hollywood Studios.  There is nothing wrong with this if executed correctly.  Hollywood Studios has five attractions currently so I won’t complain about a few more.

What are these new attractions?  Slinky Dog Dash is the biggest addition and will absorb about half of the land’s size.  The roller coaster will be child-friendly, in the same vein as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  With that said, the Slinky Dog Dash is not nearly as elaborate as the Mine Train and will likely be a straight-forward roller coaster without much extra.

Alien Swirling Saucers is the other addition to the land.  This is the same ride system as Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree in California Adventure, which is more fun than the average spinner ride but nothing to be all that excited about.

Toy Story Land’s idea is that guests are shrunk down (not literally) to the size of a toy and entered the backyard of Andy.  While I think the theme will be executed well enough, I’m just not sure that the idea is all that great.  Pandora, Harry Potter, and Cars Land all work because, among other things, they are specific places with unusual characteristics.  Entering a backyard is not unusual.  Now, seeing a slinky-dog far bigger than you is different but is it enough to make the land stand out?  Time will tell.

If you haven’t caught on from the tone, I’m fairly pessimistic about the addition of the land.  It’s not that I think this will be bad or isn’t needed.  Hollywood Studios absolutely needs to add more kid-friendly attractions and the land will accomplish that to a small extent.  It’s more that none of it is interesting to me.  I love Pixar and Toy Story but the attractions are run-of-the-mill and don’t add anything that will move the needle.  Instead the land will likely offer a few fun rides and add capacity to the park.  Again, that’s mostly good news.

Whether the land is viewed as a success long-term may come down to how well Toy Story Mania is integrated into the new additions.  While it will be a part of the land once it opens, I’m not convinced that it will feel like that.  If it does then Toy Story Land will feature 3 attractions, all varying in degree of popularity.  In my eyes Toy Story Mania is a D-ticket, Slinky Dog Dash a likely C-ticket, and Alien Swirling Saucers a B-ticket.  Pair that with a quality counter-service restaurant, which Hollywood Studios desperately needs, and this land will be a success.  If you don’t connect Toy Story Mania to the project then it may disappoint in your mind as this will simply be two attractions that are fun but lacking depth.

All in all, I’m not expecting big things from Toy Story Land.  The attractions are needed and will likely be fun but I don’t think the environment will measure up to the latest land’s Imagineers have created.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming Toy Story Land?  Let us know in the comments, along with any questions you might have.  Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney.  If you enjoy our content please subscribe to the blog (via WordPress or email) and like our social media pages.  You can find all of those things on the right side of this page.  Have a great day!

Ranking the On-Site Disney World Hotels We’ve Stayed In

Deciding what Disney World hotel to stay in is one of the toughest choices when planning a vacation.  There are different price points, types of rooms and locations to consider.  On top of that, do you stay at the same hotel all trip or move around throughout?  Unfortunately, I can’t decide all of that for you.  Well, I could but it might not match what you actually want.  What I can do is rank all of the Disney World resorts that I have stayed in so far.

OKW golf course

Before we get to that, a few caveats.  I’ve only stayed in approximately half of the on-site Disney World resorts.  While I’ve visited all of them, I’m going to leave the resorts I haven’t stayed in off of this list.  My favorite ones to walk around that I haven’t stayed in are the Polynesian Village Resort, Grand Floridian, and the Boardwalk Resorts (Boardwalk and Beach Club).  Not surprisingly, the reason I like these more than others I’ve walked around is also the reason I haven’t stayed at them – they are very expensive.  All four of those resorts are beautiful and have prime location.  Because of that, they are four of the most expensive hotels in Disney World.

A quick tangent – just because you’re staying at one hotel doesn’t mean you can’t walk the grounds (and eat at the restaurants) of another.  In fact, I encourage people to do that.  Not only will you get to see some beautiful areas Disney has created, you might come up with a better idea of where you want to stay next trip.

Polynesian sunset

Back on track, when ranking these resorts I tried to consider all factors – price, rooms, location, amenities.  I was hopeful that considering all of these would even out my rankings and put some value resorts (or at least moderates) near the top of the list.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.  While there is some parity among the values and moderates, all the deluxe resorts or villas ended up at the top of the list.  I do think there is a pretty big jump from moderate to deluxe.  That doesn’t mean the other resorts are bad, on the contrary as some are quite nice, it’s just hard to ignore all the positives the deluxe resorts offer.

With all of that out-of-the-way, it’s time to get to the rankings.  If you’re interested in reading more about each resort, click on the name to see our full review (no reviews for Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, or Bay Lake Tower at this time).

10. Pop Century Resort

Pop Century certainly has its place among the Disney World Resorts.  While I haven’t stayed a night in the All-Star Resorts the consensus seems to be that Pop Century is a step above that while still being at a cheaper price range.  But when compared to the other resorts on this list, Pop Century doesn’t excel in many categories.  The rooms are by far the worst of this group (although the newer ones are significantly nicer), the pools and food court are decent but nothing spectacular.  The proximity to Epcot and Art of Animation is nice but no better than anywhere else on the list.  Theming is somewhat lacking throughout the resort or is so broad that anything can fit.  Cost is far less, and that’s great, but not enough to overcome the other resorts we’ve stayed in.

Pop Century sign

9. Caribbean Beach Resort

This isn’t exactly fair.  Caribbean Beach is in the midst of a major renovation that began several years ago with rooms being remodeled and continues now with upgraded dining and transportation offerings.  When we stayed here I liked the resort pretty well.  The grounds are very pretty and the proximity to Epcot is a definite plus.  On top of that, the main pool is very fun.  Still, the resort showed its age and was so large that the it became inconvenient at times.  I’m excited to see what the future holds for Caribbean Beach, I could see it moving up this list a long ways, but for now it stays near the bottom.

Caribbean Beach lighthouse

8. Art of Animation Resort

Art of Animation is like Pop Century’s younger cousin.  While the prices are a little higher, everything about the resort feels more fresh.  The pool is similar but with a few more interesting quirks.  The food court has a similar layout but slightly better food.  Where Art of Animation really excels is the variety of rooms offered, whether it be family suites or standard hotel rooms.  I also think the grounds and themes are far more interesting than its neighbor (Pop Century) across the pond.  I’m not sure I’d pay $40 a night more for Art of Animation over Pop Century but if the gap is smaller than that I’d probably splurge.

Coronado Springs fountain

7. Coronado Springs Resort

Coronado Springs is another resort that is about to be plussed with another restaurant and rooms.  This isn’t as substantial but will be a nice upgrade to Coronado.  I think this hotel is fairly interesting with distinct southwest architecture and a beautiful lake to walk around.  Coronado Springs also offers one of the best pools in all of Walt Disney World.  The rooms are solid and the counter-service dining is the best of any moderate resort.  Melissa ranked Art of Animation above Coronado Springs but I think the pool put it over the top for me.

Coronado Springs fountain

6. Port Orleans – Riverside

Port Orleans – Riverside moves above of Coronado because of two factors.  One, the grounds are absolutely stunning with beautiful buildings, paths and architecture all around.  Two, the theme is wonderful and executed to perfection.  Acting as a town outside of New Orleans, I find Riverside a quiet escape to the chaos of the parks.  The pool isn’t great but being near French Quarter is a plus, as is the boat ride transportation to Disney Springs.

Port Orleans greenery

5. Old Key West Resort 

Old Key West’s pros and cons are more extreme than most other on the list.  We’ll start with the pros.  Old Key West’s location and transportation are strong, offering easy (boat) access to Disney Springs.  The room size is also advantageous, with a bigger footprint than any other Disney resort.  I also find the pool area to be quite nice and the walking to be beautiful.  Unfortunately, the resort looks a little older (and it is).  The theme is executed but might not have been the best idea as I find it quite boring.  There are times when you can find Old Key West at a significant discount and booking then is a solid choice.  Also, if you want a larger room then I’d absolutely recommend Old Key West.

Old Key West pool

4. Bay Lake Tower at Contemporary Resort

Maybe my most controversial pick on this list as I imagine it would be very high on some lists.  If this was actually the Contemporary Resort and staying inside the A-frame then I’d have a hard time not putting it at number one I’m guessing.  But Bay Lake Tower isn’t much of a consideration for the number one spot as the resort has no theme and the rooms were nice but not exciting.  The location can’t be beat, steps away from Magic Kingdom and a monorail ride away from Epcot.  Still, Bay Lake Tower can’t overcome being one of the dullest resorts at Disney – especially compared to what the top 3 offer.

Contemporary from boat

3. Wilderness Lodge

From dull to a resort with incredible character, Wilderness Lodge’s beauty is jaw-dropping.  The lobby, pool, room, restaurants, and location are all top-notch.  Every aspect is as solid as it gets and the price point is on the lower end of the deluxe resorts.  That Wilderness Lodge isn’t in the top 2 is no fault of its own.  The top 2 just extra something over the top that Wilderness Lodge doesn’t quite have.

Wilderness Lodge inside

2. Animal Kingdom Lodge

While Wilderness Lodge beats Animal Kingdom Lodge in location, AKL wins out in every other aspect.  There are beautiful, original rooms that fit the theme perfectly.  The pools are very nice, if not spectacular.  Food is a spot where this resort excels with three of the best table-service restaurants in Walt Disney World.  Oh, and there are animals right outside of the room.  This distinction alone would make Animal Kingdom Lodge incredible, thankfully they didn’t stop there.  The resort offers more extras than others as well, with free tours of their dining locations, open fire-pits and much more.  Melissa and I both agreed that if just looking at the resort alone, Animal Kingdom Lodge would be number one.  Factoring in location changed the top spot though.  Fortunately, you can find pretty decent values at Animal Kingdom Lodge with rooms sometimes around $250/night.  If you can’t stay there though then go visit the hotel, it’s worth your time.

AKL deck view

1. Yacht Club Resort

 

Frankly, if just considering the room, lobby and them the Yacht Club would probably be in the 3-5 range on this list.  Where the resort excels is the outstanding pool (Stormalong Bay) and location.  Walking to and from Epcot and Hollywood Studios is my favorite location of any resort, even more than the Magic Kingdom resorts.  And that pool is like a miniature water park, except more relaxing.  If you can swing it even for a night or two, Yacht (and Beach) Club is an incredible place to stay.

That does it for my resort rankings so far.  I’ll update the list as we stay at other resorts over the years.  Let me know any questions or thoughts down below in the comments!

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Catching Up – Disney Announces Stuff and Raises Ticket Prices

Last weekend was a busy one for Disney.  On Friday, they raised their ticket prices at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  On Sunday at Japan’s D23 Expo they announced and updated fans on the future projects of the company.  Since none of what they announced (along with the ticket prices) is particularly interesting to me, I’m putting it into one blog post.  Also, John Wick: Chapter 2 just came on TV as I write this so if this post turns into a rage of blubbering blame that.  Let’s begin…

Disney Raises Ticket Prices

In case you missed the online outrage this weekend and my opening paragraph, Disney raised their ticket prices last weekend.  If you’re looking for more outrage you have come to the wrong place.  It’s not that I’m happy about Disney raising ticket prices, just rather indifferent.

This seems like a good place to start… DISNEY RAISES TICKET PRICES EVERY FEBRUARY.  I put it in capital letters so you wouldn’t forget.  If you were outraged this year, you get a free pass.  When everyone is outraged next February, tell them you saw it coming.

Tomorrowland night 2

With that out-of-the-way, is it annoying that Disney annually raises their ticket prices?  Sure.  I think the increases were far more annoying five years ago when these increases weren’t being met with investment on the other side.  Prices would continue to increase for largely the same product, especially at Walt Disney World.  Now, at least, the investment is there to match the price increase.  Pandora opened, Star Wars Lands are opening on both coasts, Toy Story Land is soon to open, new shows have come, Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland is receiving a minor renovation, Epcot is on the verge of major changes and Marvel is on the way to California Adventure.  These are the major projects with other minor items on the way.  So, like a fan of a high budget sports team who spends money in free agency, I can at least be partially satisfied that the money I spend is somewhat going back into the parks.  I’d also like to see Cast Member wages go up at least a little as my fees go up a couple of percentage points, but that’s a battle for a different day.

I also can’t get to up in arms about these increases when Disney’s competition is roughly the same price.  Universal raises ticket prices every year too and they aren’t much, if any, cheaper than Disney.

Do tickets cost too much is a different question?  That depends on how you use them and when you go.  First of all, I absolutely recommend staying away from 1 day tickets.  They are a bad value and those ticket prices didn’t actually go up by that much.  I think most of the outrage when Disney raises prices comes from those that haven’t been in many years and see the price of a 1 day ticket.  Yes, it’s shocking but that increase was minimal.

Mcducks safe MK

Where Disney really increased the prices were on the multi-day tickets.  The highest increase was $50 on 4-day tickets at Disney World.  There is still quite a bit of value to be had there by getting tickets for 5 days or more.  Likewise, at Disneyland guests start to see a value in tickets at 4-days.  Anytime the price for a standard ticket can be under $80 per day, I consider this to be a good value.  I know that not all guests can stay this long and that doesn’t necessarily mean that you spending too much for tickets.  Just be prepared to spend long days in the park to be able to get any value of the tickets.

That was quite a bit of babbling (again, John Wick…) but I’ll close with this thought.  People think everything costs too much now.  Movies, restaurants, sporting events – you name it and it probably costs too much.  It’s not that this is wrong-thinking, the prices of most entertainment have increased at a higher percentage than wages.  But, maybe entertainment has a different value now than it used to.  Disney isn’t about to let prices remain the same if the parks are packed to the brim every day.  Attendance keeps rising and that means prices keep rising.  This is no one’s fault, just an inevitability.  Disney, more than ever before, is a business that wants to make a profit more than it wants to make dreams come true.  That’s their prerogative and it’s ours to decide if we want to buy tickets.  The company will continue to raise prices and eventually will price some people out of going.  That’s too bad, I’d rather see them add capacity to address that situation instead of out-pricing customers.  But, as long as there is steady investment going back into the parks, I won’t complain too much about the price changes.

via Disney Tourist Blog

D23 Announcements and Updates

Speaking of investments in the parks, let’s take a look and see if there was anything of interest here.  I’m not going to cover everything, so here’s a quick recap for those that missed it.

Marvel Roller Coasters

Marvel played a big role in the park announcements, taking center stage at Disneyland Paris and Disney World.  It was announced that Rock n’ Roller Coaster at Walt Disney Studios Park would be re-themed to a Guardians of the Galaxy ride.  This is a great change and one that I wish had been done stateside instead of Guardians into Epcot.

Via Disney Parks Blog

Speaking of that project, Bob Chapek (head of Parks and Resorts) announced that the Guardians coaster coming to Epcot will use an innovative ride system and will be one of the longest indoor coaster rides in the world.  I don’t know how a coaster can be especially innovative but I’m interested to know more.  With that said, is Disney a little too roller-coaster heavy right now?  My answer is yes.  There is more Marvel coming to Hong Kong too as that park continues to bolster its surprisingly strong roster of attractions.

Star Wars

Some stuff was said about Star Wars Land and hotel but none of it was new or particularly interesting so click on the above if you want to see what was updated last summer.

Pixar Stuff

Pixar Pier in California Adventure is set to open on June 23rd.  Here are my thoughts on the project although I will concede that the latest work on the project has me a little more optimistic.  It was also announced that an Incredible float will be taking the place of the Frozen float in the Paint the Night Parade.  This parade will be coming to California Adventure on April 13th, with the Incredibles float joining in June.

via Disney Parks Blog

Japan 

Disney also announced that Japan will be added to Adventures by Disney.  While I’m sure the price will be outrageous, this sounds incredibly appealing and something that I would really enjoy.  I’ll be curious to see what the itinerary is when details are revealed.

On top of that announcement, fans were given an update on the current plans at Tokyo Disneyland.  I’ll be able to address these plans a little more when I see the parks for the first time in April.

That’s it for now.  Let us know your thoughts on this foray of topics in the comments.

Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney.  If you enjoy our content please subscribe to the blog (via WordPress or email) and like our social media pages.  You can find all of those things on the right side of this page.  Have a great day!

Question of the Week (2/11/18)

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

Question of the Week:  What are a few of your favorite drinks at Disney Parks?

Andrew – I’ll do an alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink on both coasts.
Starting at Disneyland, my favorite drink is the Prickly Pear Soda in DCA at the Cozy Cone’s. The pear flavor is prevalent and sweet enough. This is close to a pear juice but with carbonation and one of the more unique drinks for those that don’t like alcohol. Trader Sam’s (Disneyland Hotel) boasts my favorite alcoholic drink in the HippopotoMai-Tai. Not only a fun name, this is Mai-Tai with a decent amount of rum in it as opposed to some in the park where the drinks are more sweet than anything.

Harambe Market lemonade AK

In Disney World, Flame Tree Barbecue (Animal Kingdom) has an Mandarin Orange Lemonade that is fantastic. I like my lemonade sweet and this definitely fits the bill, plus the flavor is unique and always refreshing. The Lapu Lapu at the Polynesian is my favorite alcoholic drink. This is another rum based drink with fruit juices but it’s served in a hollowed-out pineapple to be extra cool!

Cassie – Oh boy I love anything from The Cove Bar in DCA. There is nothing better than a fruity drink over Paradise Pier! The Mickey’s Fun Wheel is a classic choice. The Fun Wheel is a multi-colored, fruity, and delicious cocktail! I will really miss going to the Cove Bar as it’s set to close soon. I hope whatever takes its place is equally as delicious!  The Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum is another winner! My favorite at Trader Sams for sure!

Leslie – Is it sad to say I’ve only really had the alcoholic drinks other than soft drinks? But here goes, I’d say I have a few favorites but the ones that I find myself ordering repeatedly would be the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum from Trader Sam’s that Cassie mentioned, it’s a tamer drink in my opinion as I prefer a sweet drink. The atmosphere definitely adds to the experience too. Something folks can get at home that I typically get in the Germany pavilion is called apfelkorn, it’s a smaller shot but definitely hits the spot.

Germany Epcot night

Melissa – Andrew definitely took my favorite – the mandarin orange lemonade from the Flame Tree Barbecue. As someone who doesn’t drink soda or alcohol…I love finding fun drinks that isn’t water to enjoy. As I said, the Mandarin Orange lemonade is my top favorite. Another favorite also comes from Animal Kingdom. This can be found at Tiffins and the Nomad Lounge. It’s the Passionfruit Vanilla Flavored Iced Tea. Some of the best tea I have ever had and served with a fresh vanilla sauce. SO GOOD!

Nomad Lounge drinks AK

What are a few of your favorite drinks at the Disney Parks?  Let us know in the comments.  Also, if you have any ideas for Question of the Week posts drop them there.  Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney.  If you enjoy our content please subscribe to the blog (via WordPress or email) and like our social media pages.  You can find all of those things on the right side of this page.  Have a great day!

There’s Never Enough Time

Returning from a vacation is never an easy task, especially when that vacation is at a Disney Resort.  After a week of walking near double-digit miles everyday, most travelers are even more exhausted than when they left.  Of course, there’s the usual “I don’t want to go back to work/school” mood that sets in.  That kind of goes along with every vacation.  While the exhaustion and return to everyday life are prevalent the post-vacation blues, for me, derives from one feeling.  I’m usually settling in for the evening and the thought, “I wish I had just had a little more time for _____ (fill in the blank)” comes into my mind.

Bird ToL AK

Some would call that regret but I think that’s too strong of a word for vacations.  I’m typically happy with how I spend my time at the Disney Parks (and other destinations).  I’m just not happy when that time ends.  This post was initially titled “Stuff I always wish I would do more of at the Disney Parks.”  I thought the current title was a little more eloquent and less confusing.  But, this post is simply a list of Disney experiences that I miss when I’m at home.  Think of this as a sequel or extension of an earlier post on the blog called Favorite Disney Stuff.  Maybe you can learn from me and devote a little extra time to these experiences while on your vacation.  This is in no particular order.

Walking Around World Showcase at Night (Epcot)

As I was making this list, I was surprised by how few attractions came to mind.  Most of what I miss is simply different atmospheres.  World Showcase still tops those lists of atmospheres.  I love where I live and wouldn’t trade it for many places but I often think about being local to Disney World and how great it would be to stop by World Showcase once a week, grab a bite to eat and then just walk around the lagoon until an hour after park closing.  The atmosphere around World Showcase is hard to describe.  The best analogy I can come up with is that it’s similar to a sporting event without the cheering.  Everyone is brought together to experience unity and eventually watch something (Illuminations) before heading their separate ways.  While all of the parks bring people together, none bring quite the vibe that World Showcase has once the sun sets and the torches are lit.  I always promise myself that I’ll spend more time there when on vacation but it’s never enough.  It’s a feeling I crave almost weekly and the one I miss the most when I’m not there.

Pirates of the Caribbean (Disneyland)

As I’ve already said, there are few rides on this list but it should come as no surprise that Pirates is one of them.  One of the crowning achievements of Imagineering, Pirates of the Caribbean is relaxing and mesmerizing.  While thinking of topics for the blog my mind often wanders to certain experiences in the parks.  I can play out Pirates scene-by-scene in my head but can’t capture the incredible detail that the actual ride showcases.  Vehicles to which to tell stories always has fascinated me whether it be songs, books, vocally, or theme park attractions.  Pirates in Disneyland is one of the most interesting and thought out bits of storytelling in theme park history.  Because of that, I always miss the ride, that musty water smell and waterfalls that signify going back in time.

Pirates night

Animal Kingdom at night

Usually I’m pretty calm at Disney Parks.  I typically have a plan or am just happy to wander around.  This is true at nearly everywhere except Animal Kingdom at night.  Maybe it’s because I’d never experienced this until the last two years but once the sun sets at Animal Kingdom I’m pulling myself four different ways.

“Do I want to see Pandora – World of Avatar after dark?  Should I just take a seat and watch the wonderful entertainment in Harambe?  Maybe a ride on Everest followed by Rivers of Light is the right move?  But what if there’s not enough time to catch a few of the Tree of Life Awakenings?  Oh, and that harp player on Discovery Island is amazing!  I wonder if the lions are awake and walking around on the safari?”

ToL Awakenings Jungle Book AK

That’s what my mind does and I can never complete all of that.  I’m lucky if I complete 2 of those things in a night.  There is simply not enough time at Animal Kingdom at night and I always wish I had more.

Disney Springs

I’m not a good shopper.  There are other things I’d rather be doing so I can’t usually get my head into it.  With that said, every trip to Disney World I plan on spending more time at Disney Springs.  Then after every trip to Disney World I think, “Dang it, we should have spent more time at Disney Springs.”  I think this area has come along nicely and is a great place to spend an afternoon/evening.  The dining scene is great now and there are enough stores to appease most shoppers tastes.  I’m excited to see how Disney Springs evolves and will hopefully spend some actual time in it soon.  I don’t actually miss Disney Springs when I’m not there, I just wish I had more time to enjoy it.

Grizzly Peak and Cars Land (California Adventure)

I’m pulling out a two-fer here as these lands both offer atmospheres that I want to linger in.  Cars Land is the obvious one.  The Cadillac Mountains set the scene and this kitschy, little town just jumps out at you.  While the neon is stunning at night, the atmosphere doesn’t fall off much during the day.  I’d guess that a quarter of my time in California Adventure is just hanging out in Cars Land and even that’s not enough.

Grizzly Peak is a little more of a hidden gem.  While the area around Soarin’ gets crowded, the path from Grizzly River Run to Paradise Pier (or whatever they call it now) is quiet, shaded and lovely.  The trees around give off the feeling of a national park even with the bustling Cars Land a stones throw away.  I love the back trails around Grizzly River Run, especially on a hot summer day.  Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is a fun area at Grizzly Peak, as well.

Main Street and Fantasyland in the morning (DL and MK)

I’m not a morning person but I’ll admit that Main Street and Fantasyland each have a special aura to them in the morning.  The air is fresh and Main Street feels like a town that woke up with you.  All of the Main Street Vehicles are generally out and there is usually some entertainment going on.  Fantasyland is largely the same feeling, just a bit more whimsical.  When I wake up for work in the morning, I often wish that it was just to go soak in the sights, sounds and smells of early morning Main Street and Fantasyland.

New Orleans Square (Disneyland) 

Like World Showcase, New Orleans Square is a place I’d just come and hang out if I was a local.  The land offers the best food in the park, has live entertainment and wonderful views of the river.  Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion reside here.  There is nothing to dislike about New Orleans Square.  The area is inviting with the different pastel-colored facades and the light features at night are stunning.  Another area that is just a place that I always want to spend more time in.

New Orleans Square night

Disney World’s Resorts

It’s hard to go to Disney World and decide to spend much time at your hotel.  There is too much to see and do.  Still, I always wish I could have spent a little more time at the resort I was staying in.  Whether it’s swimming in the pool, wandering the grounds or eating at the resort’s restaurant, WDW resorts each offer something fairly unique.  They are worthy of exploring, now if only I had the time…

Giraffe Bird AKL

Nighttime Spectaculars

I could see Happily Ever After, Fantasmic!, Illuminations, World of Color and all the other nighttime spectaculars a thousand times and I’d still wish I had time to see them again.  These shows are what drew me in to being a Disney Park fan in the first place and I can never get enough of them.  I’ve seen plenty of shows with more pyro but not many combine the storytelling, nostalgia, and pyro like Disney does.

HEA gold MK

That’s my list so far, but I’m sure I’ll think of more to add!  What do you always wish you had more time to do at Disney Parks?  Let us know in the comments!

Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney.  If you like what you’re reading then please follow us on social media and subscribe to the blog.  You can do both of those things on the right side of this page.  Have a great day!

– Andrew