How awesome that it's a total surprise!!! You need to get their reactions on film!!
How awesome that it's a total surprise!!! You need to get their reactions on film!!
We plan to! We're telling them about 20 minutes before my daughter gets on the bus. They'll be good for nothing tomorrow but at least that way they can tell their friends.
The Fantasyland expansion isn't done yet, but some of it is being opened in portions as they get completed-I just got invited to the Passholder sneak preview of the completed project in early November, not sure if I'm going though.
I know a few people who have done the Enchanted Tales with Belle attraction (and it is apparently AMAZING, so if it is open, DO IT, they've been doing sort of unannounced "trial runs" some days), and I know Barnstormer (a Goofy ride) and Dumbo have both been open for months now. Be Our Guest is a restaurant, but not open yet.
The good news is that it really won't negatively affect your trip. The only difference will be that there are some big false walls in certain areas that are hiding the construction, the pathways are a little narrower, but otherwise it's been just fine. We haven't avoided the Magic Kingdom because of it or anything.
Have fun! Hope the kids feel better soon!
I'm glad I knew the Clubhouse houses were gone! Thanks Mohandas. My oldest loved that last time. I'm bummed it's closed. I didn't see the Belle area but I will look again Thursday. Thanks for the heads up!
The kiddos all have bad colds but they're having so much fun that they won't slow down. The hotel is more amazing this time. Every morning we've woken up to find all four giraffes and the zebra 30 feet from out 2nd floor balcony. Amazing!
For anyone who might be interested...we had a great time.
We told our kids we were leaving right before my oldest got on the school bus. Their reactions weren't what I expected. The oldest two were shocked and my daughter kept asking if we were telling the truth. When I picked her up from school after lunch, I heard her classroom explode with excitement. When I asked her what that was about she said she finally told them all she was leaving early to go to Disney. Apparently she thought we were just messing with her so she didn't want to say anything to anyone. She asked about 10 times on the drive if we were really going to Disney or if we were just driving in circles. Before anyone asks, we are not accustomed to torturing our kids with promises/surprises that we then take back so I have no idea why she was so reluctant. In any case, they survived the two day car ride beautifully.
Animal Kingdom Lodge (The Jambo House) was fantastic. The lobby is gorgeous and quite grand. My daughter finally broke into an ear splitting grin when we walked into the place and asked if we were really at Disney. (I mean! Seriously??!)
When it comes to hotels, I am the Monica Gellar Queen Clean Freak. If there are stains, dirty sinks/toliets, or heaven forbid...a stray pube, I can't take it. This place was immaculate. We had the Arusha Savannah view room which gave us the luxury of watching the giraffes, zebra, ostriches, etc from our balcony at any given time of the day. We ate breakfast most mornings on our deck while taking it all in. It was totally worth the extra money.
We wound up hitting Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. We've done Epcot before but didn't really have time to fit it in this trip. We also spent a day at Universal and another at NASA and the beach. I broke it down below in case anyone is interested.
It's such a great place for young kids but, like Mohandas said, they took down the area of the park with Mickey and his friends' houses. That was such a highlight for my kids the last time they were there and I really think it was a misstep to take it away. So many little guys love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and that part of the park was perfect for that group. We didn't get to see the Belle attraction that NoDay mentioned but maybe it's good enough to make up for the change.
It seemed much like a park in flux so it wasn't quite as magical as I remembered the last time.
We went to the Halloween Party on Thursday though and that was fantastic. My kids did the Pirate League where they are brought into a very convincing pirate chamber and are given pirate names, makeup, a medallion, patch, bandanna, and sword. It was such a cool way to spend that half an hour. My 2 year old wasn't old enough to participate but they still gave him all of the age appropriate props etc which was great. They do professional photos before you leave and they turned out fantastic!
The rest of the Halloween party was awesome. The fireworks include some very cool effects and the music is great. They also have a Villains Parade and a Villains show where you can meet Hook, Maleficent, the Queen of Hearts, the Queen from Snow White, and Cruella. They have Trick or Treating through the whole park and they give the kids huge handfuls of good stuff! Lots of characters were scattered around the park for photos too. We finished the night at a dance party with Goofy and Pluto. My two boys wound up stripping down to their t-shirts and shorts and danced like there was no tomorrow. Frankly, I'm now terrified of their college years.
There were very few lines and, in most cases, we didn't have to wait more than 5 minutes for any ride.
Hollywood Studios wound up being everyone's favorite surprisingly. The rides were a little "more" which my older two liked. They also have Star Wars. My son was too nervous to do it but my daughter signed up for Jedi training. They put them in little outfits and taught them how to fight with a light saber. During the demonstration, Vader comes out with Storm Troopers and the kids have to take turns battling him. O.M.G. It was freaking awesome! The photos we got were amazing and my kid is still beaming over it. Awesome experience. There were characters all over that park and we got to see some of the less common ones like Pinocchio, Mary Poppins, Hook, and the Incredible. Mary Poppins told my 4 year old he was quite the gentleman. He honestly swooned because he loves that movie so much. LOL
We went to The Beauty and The Beast production which was very condensed but good. I think Belle was at least 45-50 years old though...not joking.
Animal Kingdom was good for its own reasons but we only stayed a few hours. I've heard the safari is really fantastic but we didn't want to spend that kind of time. Instead we went to their parade where every single main character came up to my 2 year old and danced with him. He kept telling us Pluto high fived him. We also saw The Lion King production which was fantastic. My kids got pulled in to dance with all of them which was another big hit.
Overall Disney's customer service was out in full force. It truly felt like my kids were in the spotlight all of the time. That must be their goal because I know so many other people who felt the exact same way. How they manage that with thousands and thousands of people, I'll never know. Whatever they are doing, they're doing it right. Their Fast Passes worked really well and they do a Child Swap for families who have kids who are too young for a given ride/attraction. Essentially the first parent has to wait in the normal line with the kids. When they are done, the kids and the other parent get to go in the fast pass lane. It made things much easier.
Universal was good, not great but it did a few things better than Disney. Their superhero section of the park was awesome and a HUGE, HUGE hit with my kids. They got to see Captain America, Spider-Man, Cyclops, Storm, and Rogue. The Green Goblin and Dr. Doom came out too. THe photos we got were hilarious and fantastic. Those folks did a tremendous job with all of the kids.
I was really, really looking forward to the Harry Potter attraction. During the heat of the day, it looked like anything but Hogsmeade and it was disappointing. But as the sun set and it got cooler, it certainly did take on a whole new look. It was so much fun to go into the shops and see so many things from the books. We went crazy buying candy, all of which was delicious. We got Fizzing Whizzbees which were chocolate shaped dragonflies with Pop Rocks inside. It was beyond perfect.
One of the rides (The Flight of the Hippogriff) was meant for kids 35 inches and taller. My 2 year old easily made the cut off but there is no freaking way that ride was safe for him. I held on to that kid for dear life. The other ride took you through Hogwarts and had some awesome sequences. Overall, if you are a fan, nothing lives up to the books. But, it was really cool to step into that world for a bit.
I think Universal has Disney beat at least with the Suess stuff. It was perfect for the 2-5 year old set. The Child Swap was harder at Universal though.
Finally we hit NASA. My kids are maybe a little young for it but they really enjoyed all of the movies with the astronauts explaining their experiences. Some of those rockets were overwhelmingly huge. The tour guides were all retirees who varied wildly in what they knew and how good they were at presenting it. We had a really good one and a really awful one.
Hopefully that isn't information overload!
Bella, that is some fantastic information! I've never been to Disney, so I just drank up every word - I'd like to go when my youngest turns maybe 4-ish?
Thanks for sharing! Glad you guys had a good time.
If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.
- Kahlil Gibran
I was there in July, and I have to agree that the "magic" in the Magic Kingdom seemed to be missing. It was not like I remembered it, and we spent the least amount of time there out of any of the parks. The Snow White mine ride that they are adding does seem great, but I wish they hadn't taken out Mickey and Minnie's houses. Tomorrowland was very dated, and I think that needs to be next on their list of updates. I'm still upset that they took out the Alien Encounter ride about 10 years ago and replaced it with that cheesy Lilo and Stitch shit. Pirates of the Caribbean had been greatly improved and was excellent. This was one change that they got right. They changed the ride without dumbing it down. Instead, it's more intense, more thrilling. I would like them to add a scary Alice in Wonderland ride based on the recent live-action movie.
Bella, I am the exact same way about hotels, so that's good to know. I think we will stay in the Animal Kingdom on our next trip.
There were a couple of unfortunate things with losing that area. For one, it's a great photo opp area, and you can get into those little houses without waiting in long lines. Second, there was also a huge indoor pavilion there for photo opps with characters.It's such a great place for young kids but, like Mohandas said, they took down the area of the park with Mickey and his friends' houses. That was such a highlight for my kids the last time they were there and I really think it was a misstep to take it away. So many little guys love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and that part of the park was perfect for that group. We didn't get to see the Belle attraction that NoDay mentioned but maybe it's good enough to make up for the change.
That particular hotel sounds VERY appealing. The only problem for us, is we are usually heading out to hit the park by 8 am, and then getting back to the hotel by about 9 pm.We had the Arusha Savannah view room which gave us the luxury of watching the giraffes, zebra, ostriches, etc from our balcony at any given time of the day. We ate breakfast most mornings on our deck while taking it all in. It was totally worth the extra money.
I may have mentioned it earlier, but Disney was supposedly tightening up its Fast Pass policy and it sounds like you guys benefited. What had been happening was that the attendants had been letting in people whose fast passes had expired 30 minutes earlier or more. That was enough to cause really large crowds of people to converge in the Fast Pass areas of both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. When we were there, late in the day the Fast Pass lines were actually longer than the regular ones.Their Fast Passes worked really well and they do a Child Swap for families who have kids who are too young for a given ride/attraction. Essentially the first parent has to wait in the normal line with the kids.
^^ I'm really envious of you for this. My son is a huge Harry Potter fan and would have loved it. However, we had been hearing horror stories about crowds. One woman said, "Forget about it. It's not worth it because of the crowds." But I knew that eventually the initial huge crowds would die down.I was really, really looking forward to the Harry Potter attraction. During the heat of the day, it looked like anything but Hogsmeade and it was disappointing. But as the sun set and it got cooler, it certainly did take on a whole new look. It was so much fun to go into the shops and see so many things from the books. We went crazy buying candy, all of which was delicious. We got Fizzing Whizzbees which were chocolate shaped dragonflies with Pop Rocks inside. It was beyond perfect.
My wife's company booked a hotel in Cocoa Beach. I loved it just because I watched I Dream of Jeanie as a kid and they were always talking about Cocoa Beach. As it turns out, it's kind of a sleepy little town. The only place that's open late is Ron Jon's surf shop. EVERY DAY, there was a thunderstorm in the middle of the day.Finally we hit NASA. My kids are maybe a little young for it but they really enjoyed all of the movies with the astronauts explaining their experiences. Some of those rockets were overwhelmingly huge.
My wife had a special on-premise pass so that we could be REALLY CLOSE when the shuttle launched, but they had to cancel because of the freaking storms. She was practically heartbroken. But overall, it was an awesome trip.
I thought they ruined Pirates of the Caribbean. When I was little, I remember being on a little boat, in the middle of two boats, in a huge pirate battle, it was great. Now it's a tiny, insignificant battle mixed with It's a Small World, as you just ride in a boat.
I looked for Mickey's houses and thought I mixed up and it was really at MGM. Sad it's gone because my 2 year old would have loved it.
tomorrowland is looking dated. Good to hear about Universal. We've never done Universal.
RELIGION: Treat it like it's your genitalia. Don't show it off in public, and don't shove it down your children's throats.
I think we mostly benefited from being there in October. The lines weren't huge to start with and, admittedly, they didn't do a great job of paying attention to Fast Pass lines. Still, the system worked really well. It was nicer than Universal who sells a certain number of Fast Passes (or their equivalent) at the start of the day.
We were the same way about the parks and there were times I thought we were wasting our money on the hotel. To be honest, those animals are hanging around almost all of the time. It was peaceful to be able to watch them early in the day or late at night. An option is to split your stay. Do a few days at AKL and a few at a value resort or something. I hear Disney makes that transition incredibly easy.
The lines weren't bad at all in the HP part of the park. At most we waited 20 minutes or so. If your son loves the books, he will completely appreciate all of the small details. Honeydukes and Zonkos were amazing. They even have The Three Broomsticks which serves all of the HP favorites (butterbeer, treacle tarts, cornish pasties, strawberry peanut butter ice cream).
We actually went to Cocoa Beach (maybe I said that??) too! It is a very sleepy town. The water was bath temp and the waves weren't threatening to my boys so it was great.
Sorry to hear your wife missed out. Seems like it would have been a really cool opportunity.
I just realized I never shared our experience with the hotel we stayed at when we visited Universal and Disney World in July. We chose to stay at the Loew's Royal Pacific hotel which is affiliated with Universal Studios. The pictures online were impressive, and I had high hopes. It was around $375 a night.
The first thing I noticed was that they nickel and dime you for everything. Parking? $17 a day. And that's for a parking lot that's a 5-10 minute hike to the lobby. Internet? Nope. Even though it's advertised that they have free WiFi, you can only get it in the Hotel lobby. If you want to get online in your room, you have to pay extra. I think it was like $10 a day. There is also an additional fee to use the gym. Granola bars and bottled water in the snack tray in the room were $7 a piece. Interesting, considering that a box of 20 of the exact same bars costs less than that at Wal-Mart. They did have a Keurig in the room, which I enjoyed and used every morning. Room service was exorbitantly expensive (once you add the multiple fees they charge just for ordering it, we paid almost $30 for an order of pancakes. Just pancakes.)
The extra fees were annoying, but what really bothered me was the feeling I had that the room was not very clean. The bathroom fixtures were outdated. There was one of those big, fiberglass wall unit tubs, and it was yellowing. The built in "anti slip" grip on the bottom of the tub was wearing thin. The water didn't get very hot. The towels were thin, and although they had been cleaned (I assume), some had small, visible bleach spots, stains, or discolorations. (I bet Bellatheball is shuddering right now reading this!) They also "request" that you reuse towels to be green. Uhh, no. I felt gross every time I showered.
Then, I found out that the bed linens are only changed every 4th day unless you request otherwise. So they ask you to use the same towels over and over again, and only want to change the sheets every fourth day... after visiting a theme park and coming home covered in God only knows what kind of germs and filth. It sickens me to think that there are people who actually take them up on these suggestions.
I realize that part of what you're paying for is the convenience, but honestly, I think it would have been better to stay at a cheap hotel off property that offers a shuttle to the parks. I've stayed in Holiday Inn Express and Hilton Garden Inns for $100 a night that are brand new, had free on-site parking, breakfast, free WiFi, new flat screens in every room with crystal clear reception, and are immaculate. I don't mind paying $375 a night for a great hotel. But for what we paid to stay in that hotel, I expect a certain level of cleanliness and luxury, and it didn't meet my expectations. To be honest, I was somewhat relieved when we left.
LOL!! I started shuddering at the yellowing fiberglass but decided I'd have to power on and read the rest! That sounds fairly awful. It's miserable to spend that kind of money and be terrified about where you are placing your bare feet (assuming that there are actually people in the world that go without socks in hotel rooms....unlike me).
I've heard really good things about Daves DVC rental if you go with a Disney property next time. Otherwise you're totally right abotu the $100 Hilton!
Um, SB, I still waiting to hear which "toy" you wound up with over in the other thread.
I had a discount certificate for a week long stay at a time share for $250. So we stayed at the Legacy in Kissimmee, in a 3 bd 2 bath condo for 7 days. Had a full kitchen and totally updated with granite countertops, tile, etc... I thought it was great, and I couldn't beat the price!
We went to Daytona for our beach day and it was killer. Those waves were brutal and I didn't remember them being that bad. I couldn't go out over my waist, and even then, they knocked me on my ass. When I was a kid, I would go out there up to my chest. Next to Disney, it was by far the best day we had.
Did you drive down I74 through Springfield then over? I drove through that stupid road construction at 1am, while everyone else was sleeping, then stopped near Peoria, woke hubby up and told him he had to finish, which was fine because he took a nap.
RELIGION: Treat it like it's your genitalia. Don't show it off in public, and don't shove it down your children's throats.
No, went through St. Louis, Paducha, Nashville, Atlanta etc. Can't remember the numbers. Georgia is a looong damn state (says the person from Illinois).
We went to a passholder preview of the New Fantasyland expansion last night (the stuff that opens in December), and let me just say...it was pretty amazing. I really want to see it during the day though. One of the things, Enchanted Tales with Belle, is extremely kid oriented. It's the story of Beauty and the Beast, with a live Belle actress and a bunch of crowd members play parts (I assume usually children would be picked, but since the preview was at night we were mostly adults). However, it is DEFINITELY worth going. You walk through Belle and Maurice's house and get to see some really cool details, and then the transition to the castle is worth going to the kids show. There were a lot of "WOWs" from the whole crowd when it actually happened-I had seen a video of it on Youtube already, but it's way better in person. The whole French town looked really cool, there is Gaston's Tavern, which we didn't go into (but since Magic Kingdom doesn't serve alcohol....), and a new castle in the park-Beast's castle.
Journey of the Little Mermaid isn't NEW new, it's already in California Adventure, but it is a lot of fun. Really good Disney "imagineering", and I loved it (but Little Mermaid is one of my favorite Disney movies).
Also, found out the best time to go to the parks after having our passes for 9 months....after 9PM. We have never been at night, and figured it would still be busy because of the fireworks, but nope. Empty park, cool temp, walked right onto every ride-even Peter Pan's Flight. We were joking with the ride operator for that one about how we had never been on it and she was like "what, didn't want to stand in line for 4 hours?". It is a great ride though, I can see why that line gets so long!
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