D23-What I should have been doing this month, by Gil Pohl.

For the first time ever, Disney brought everything Disney under one roof, even if that roof was a very large one.  Disney hosted the D23 Expo (D for Disney and ‘23 for the year the Disney Company started) at the 800,000 square foot Anaheim Convention Center September 10-13.  The Expo covered Disney animation, movies, TV, and most of all the Disney parks. 

Because I could not be there this year and my overwhelming interest in everything to do with Disney parks, I spent as much time as I could following the happenings on the internet.  Thursday and Friday were busy days for D23; but Saturday was the day I looked forward to most.  Saturday was the day that D23 had scheduled a lot of time to discuss plans for Walt Disney World.

Rumors have been flying around the internet for months about the two big projects that might be coming to WDW and to the trill of us park lovers both where officially announced on that Saturday.

The first is the reworking of the Star Wars attraction at Disney Hollywood Studios.  Star Tours has always been one of the great rides at Disney, but the ride is getting dated.  I can remember that a few years ago when I was watching the pod racing scene from the first of the three new Star War movies I told my wife; “They should remake the Star Tours ride with this as the theme.”  While after years of waiting, the dream is coming true and during my 2011 trip to the World I will be experiencing it in 3D.

The other big news is that the first major expansion to the Magic Kingdom in over 20 years will be starting later this year. 

Map of new Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom

Map of new Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom

The most popular land in all of the Magic Kingdom, Fantasyland, will be growing much larger in size and adding several new attractions.

The big new “E ticket” ride, Journey under the sea with Ariel, The Little Mermaid that is already under

Little Mermaid attraction in the new Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom

Little Mermaid attraction in the new Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom

construction at Disney’s California Adventure will be coming east.  Also to

Dumbo's Tent at the new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom

Dumbo's Tent at the new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom

be constructed is a new twin-Dumbo ride that will be part of a new interactive, three-ring circus tent.  There will also be a meet and greet area for Tinker Bell and her friends.  Plans call for a Disney Princess castle, cottage, or chateau where you can share a dance with Cinderella; celebrate Sleeping Beauty’s birthday with the Good Fairies; or join Belle in an enchanting story performance in the Beast’s castle library.

Another big addition to the Magic Kingdom will be a new restaurant to be themed around Beauty and the Beast to be named “Be Our Guest”.  Here you will be able to dine at a counter service restaurant during the day and enjoy table service at night in one of three enchanted dining rooms inside the Beast’s castle.  Additional table service dining is much need in the Magic Kingdom.

I know that I soon will be working with Ears of Experience to plan a trip to next year’s D23 Expo and looking forward to them planning trips for me to see the new attractions coming to Walt Disney World.

 

Welcome Gil to the Ears of Experience Team!

Gil and his wife Vicki are big Disney Park fans.  It started with trips to Walt Disney World while they where in college and has continued throughout their lives.

Gil served in the USAF for 21 years and would take the wife and two kids (Mary and Mike) on Disney Vacations between each assignment.  They where stationed outside of LA for four years and everyone that came to visit them had to have a trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth”.

When he retired on the East Coast from the USAF and the children got older, they wanted to bring friends along to share their now every other year family trip to Walt Disney World.  In order to accomplish this, a membership in the Disney Vacation Club (Boardwalk Villas) was purchased by the family.

Now that he has two grandchildren (Violet and Tyler); additional DVC points have been added and they make annual trips to WDW.  Two of his friends also have joined the DVC and this year they will be having an early December Magical Gathering of 27 family members and friends.

Vicki and Gil still do some traveling to the other Disney Parks and with their June 2009 trip to Hong Kong they have been to all five Disney Resorts.  The two of them also celebrated a wedding anniversary on a cruise on the Disney Magic.  The plans for the next few years call for a trip to WDW for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, a second cruise and a trip to Shanghai is already in the planning stages.

10 Interesting Walt Disney World® Fun Facts

I had a hard time narrowing this list down to 10, because there are so many to choose from, but here are 10 interesting picks:

  1. Covering 47 square miles, Walt Disney World® Resort is about the size of San Francisco, California. Of the more than 30,000 acres, less than one-fourth has been developed, with another quarter designated as a wilderness preserve.
  2. More than 50 million Cokes are consumed each year at Walt Disney World® Resort. Guests also gobble 10 million hamburgers, 7 million hot dogs, 9 million pounds of french fries and more than 300,000 pounds of popcorn.
  3. Spaceship Earth, the visual and thematic centerpiece of Epcot®, weighs 16 million pounds — more than three times that of a Space Shuttle fully fueled and ready for launch. The outer “skin” of Spaceship Earth is made up of 11,324 aluminum and plastic-alloy triangles. Also, did you know that rainwater never falls off the sphere? It’s absorbed into the ball and funneled away.
  4. The “Liberty Oak,” which is the focal point of the Liberty Square area in the Magic Kingdom® Park, is the proud parent of more than 500 young trees. They all started out as acorns harvested from the majestic oak.
  5. Space Mountain® Attraction and Big Thunder Mountain only move at 26 mph? Pretty slow for a roller coaster. The Monorail was the fastest ride in Disney until Test Track was installed in Epcot®.
  6. Cinderella’s castle is not made of stone… it is entirely made of fiberglass.
  7. Other than the White House in Washington , D.C. , The Hall of Presidents in the Walt Disney World® Resort is the only place in the world that is allowed to use the Official Presidential Seal, which is located in the carpet in the rotunda.
  8. The six trains at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are named I.B. Hearty, I.M. Brave, I.M. Fearless, U.B. Bold, U.R. Daring and U.R. Courageous.
  9. Epcot® is the only Walt Disney World® Theme Park that boasts two entrances (one being accessible via Disney’s Boardwalk Inn). 
  10. $35,ooo is spent on fireworks each night for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at EPCOT® and 2,800 shells are used for each show.

Do you have any favorite fun facts? If so, send them in and I will post them here.

Discover the magic of Walt Disney World® Resorts and parks on a Walt Disney World® family vacation, and share the joy of Mickey Mouse and company with your kids. Let Ears of Experience plan the perfect Disney trip for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at 1-877-80MOUSE. We look forward to sending you on the magical vacation of a lifetime.

http://www.themouseexperts.com/

The Many Benefits of Character Dining

To feed off last week’s blog on Crystal Palace and why I am such a fan of Character dining, I thought I would explain in more detail. I am a big fan of time management; using my time the most efficiently yet still having an incredibly good time and still being flexible. I find by being a time manager, I am able to be more flexible, if that makes sense.

My kids have always beenvery big into the Characters when traveling to Disney destinations. Next to being on a Disney Cruise Line® ship, there is only one other way to have a unique meeting experience with the characters. That is through character dining, where the characters take the time to interact with members of your dining party.  You won’t feel rushed in getting the photo and autograph and it is all done in a good atmosphere. You’re not out in the hot sun, you’re not hungry, and you’re not at the end of a seemingly endless line of people.

The time management part of me is two-fold. We have to eat, but we we would also like to see the characters. Why not do them together so we can quickly get back to the parks, rides, shows, and attractions?  While they are eating, the kids are able to see, interact, and get photos and autographs of their favorite characters. This can be a nice break during the day or a magical beginning to a day at the parks.

Everyone wants to see the Fab 5 (Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto). A great place to do this is at Chef Mickey for breakfast or dinner. You will typically see all these guys there (characters are always subject to change) and it’s right off the monorail, either on your way to or back from the Magic Kingdom® Park. As I mentioned before, a favorite spot of mine is the Crystal Palace restaurant in the Magic Kingdom® Park, which is where you will find all of the Pooh Characters. If you can, make an early reservation so you will be able to enter the park ahead of the regular crowd. This will also let you experience the Main Street, USA® Area virtually to yourself as you walk to an early breakfast before the park opens.

There are many options when it comes to character dining. The hottest ticket is Cinderella’s Royal Table, which takes place in Cinderella’s castle.  Here, you dine with princesses in a magical setting, creating an unforgettable event for any young child. Can’t get in? No worries, there are plenty of other options to meet the princesses.  I have been twice to Norway’s Akershus restaurant located in the Epcot® World Showcase. The breakfast there is wonderful and the experience with the Princesses is a little more interactive. Their breakfast and lunch menus both have traditional Nordic food, but for those with finicky children, the breakfast menu did include some American fare food.

In summary, there are many benefits to character dining, such as time management, personal interaction, and unforgettable memories. And remember, if you are on the dining plan, these meals will only count as one table service (subject to change).

So sit back, put the camera and autograph books on the table, and let the kids have a blast while you grab that extra cup of coffee.

Discover the magic of Walt Disney World® Resort and parks on a Walt Disney World® family vacation and share the joy of Mickey Mouse and company with your kids. Let Ears of Experience plan the perfect Disney trip for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at 1-800-80MOUSE. We look forward to sending you on the magical vacation of a lifetime.

http://www.themouseexperts.com/

Guest Kid Blogger Arrington, Age 10

I love Walt Disney World® Resort so much! I wish I could live in Cinderella’s Castle! If you are booking a trip soon, I recommend shopping at the Downtown Disney® Marketplace! Here are some places I would recommend; The World of Disney® Store, Pooh Corner, The Toy Store (Gigantic), Disney’s Days of Christmas, Design-a-Tee, and Pin Trading.

Downtown Disney® Area

[Written by our Guest Kid Blogger, Arrington. Arrington lives in  SC and is in the fourth grade. She loves the color lavender and absolutely anything to do with Pooh. She loves watching Disney Channel’s Sonny with a Chance, Deal or No Deal, and Fetch with Ruff Ruffman. She has visited the Walt Disney World® Resort seven times.]

Here are her favorites:
Park -Disney’s Hollywood StudiosTM
Restaurant -Crystal Palace
Best RideRock ‘n’ Roller Coaster® Starring Aerosmith Attraction
Best Overall Disney Experience-The new Kim Possible Mission Attraction
Disney Food -Rainforest Cafe in the Downtown Disney® Area

Discover the magic of Walt Disney World® Resorts and parks on a Walt Disney World® family vacation, and share the joy of Mickey Mouse and company with your kids. Let Ears of Experience plan the perfect Disney trip for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at 1-877-80MOUSE. We look forward to sending you on the magical vacation of a lifetime.