Looking for something?

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Motivation: What Really Matters at the End of the Day - A Lesson From Walt and Many Others

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Motivation: What Really Matters at the End of the Day - A Lesson Learned From Walt and Many Others

Today isn't about planning so bear with me a little bit.

I'm a firm believer in the fact that life truly is what you make of it and what you strive to do and make of not only yourself but also your passions in life are perhaps some of the greatest decisions you'll ever make. I'm also a believer in the fact that when you are at your absolute worst and nothing seems to be going right that it is the single greatest opportunity you'll have in life to try something new. So many people go through life with an inherent desire to do something or to fuel a passion and try something new but never entirely take the time to make it happen or turn their passion into motivation. 


I recently listened to a speech by Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson where he shared the mind blowing reality of his past and a certain circumstance before his career took off where he had $6 and a little pocket change in his wallet and that was all he had to his name. I share this not to say, look how far he's come, but rather to share the motivation that ultimately fuels so many decisions in life. When your back is up against a wall and you refuse to look back at what put you in an unfortunate circumstance or resulted in a less than stellar outcome, you can't help but focus on anything and everything that stands in your way of future success. You know you cant let life get worse, you have to make the most of every minute, and you know good and well that you're going to out work anyone and everyone that stands in your way of that success that you're working day in and day out for. Failure isn't option.

I share this not because it's the perfect advice but rather to share the fact that no matter where you are in life, no matter what your past looks like, or whatever you think stands in your way, it's never too late to try something new. This is kind of my soap box, for lack of a better word, but so many people go through life feeling like they have to punch a clock that they forget to chase the things that really drive them in life.



Walt Disney was and is the perfect example of this concept of chasing your dreams in action. So many people on the outside looking in assume Walt Disney was an overnight success with theme parks and films. That's the furthest thing from the truth. When Walt started out he was fully broke after trying new ideas and as soon as his films gained traction Charles Mintz ultimately stole the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. As soon as that situation unfolded Walt found himself on a train from Manhattan to Hollywood with no idea as to what was next. He and his brother were ultimately facing the end if nothing changed and Walt knew it. Instead of squandering in self pity Walt first and foremost sent a telegram to Roy and simply stated the he shouldn't worry and that everything was okay. In those hours of travel, Walt developed and slowly but surely refined what would become Mickey Mouse. 

I share this story because, at least to me, it means something and shows that no matter what life throws at you and whatever you think is the worst possible thing that could happen, there is always an opportunity hiding in the shadows. It doesn't matter if it's a business opportunity or a chance to follow your dreams or if it's just a life scenario that makes you feel like your world is falling apart. There is always something positive hiding in the worst of situations. Making the most of those seemingly hopeless situations is that motivation and that drive that will help you rise above everyone else and give you that push to be better than all the rest. 


It's not a matter of arrogance but rather a matter of heart and using your past to help you frame your determination and to genuinely make the most of your future no matter what it may look like. Life isn't perfect but there's something to be said for motivation and true determination that tends to get overlooked. The people you may perceive as overnight successes or vastly happy individuals that "have their life together" have more often than not fought a battle that you can only imagine in your wildest dreams. The "overnight success" is the exception rather than the rule, but the journey that gets you to success is what really makes all the difference in the world. Chase a dream, live a positive life, and some how some way find a way to make each day better than the last. 


Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

Ready to Plan?

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.



Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Why Staying On Disney Property Is Our Only Recommendation!

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin


Why Staying On Disney Property Is Our Only Recommendation!  

Nearly two weeks ago I came up with this topic for an article and honestly I wanted to put something out that was going to be that "click baity" 5 Reasons I Always Tell Guests to Stay On Property type of article and then I realized that that's not what anybody really cares about. Truth be told, there's more articles like that out there than there ever really should be. Instead, I want to be real with people and that's ultimately my goal today. I'm not going to tell you to stay on property because it could theoretically save you money in the long run (even though it probably could) or that could improve your vacation ten fold. Instead I'm going to tell you the real world reasons I have always preferred staying on property through a story that I personally find helpful.


Truthfully, some of my affiliates may not be thrilled with this post and I know I'm not going to be making any friends with the fine folks who run the off property hotels, but to me that's not what really matters. I told myself really early on in this content sharing journey that I was going to tell people the un sugar-coated real world realties of everything I witnessed and experienced at Walt Disney World. I wanted to create a site that wasn't on the market and something that wasn't overly negative but I didn't want portray every single thing I reviewed as "perfect" and as the exact thing that advertisers or even Disney themselves wanted me to share. In the big picture, what really matters and what's actually going to be helpful to you as a prospective or returning guest to the parks is the reality of every situation. I'm not going to be that person that bashes a restaurant three weeks after it opens for a bad meal or anything of the sort, because being negative doesn't do anyone any good. Instead, I share what I do enjoy and what genuinely means something to me. In the long run, that's what you all want to hear anyway. We can argue about stuff all day but in the end none of that even matters.



As a bit of side note, I'm a person that believes that positivity can change the world. I'm no where near the perfect example of a person that's positive all the time but I can't help but wonder if we all turned off our TV's for a week or we changed the local news to a place that only shared positivity how our world would change.

But, in getting back to today's topic, I prefaced this article in this seemingly odd way because I don't want this to be a list. I want this to be real world info and real world stuff that nobody else tells you when you're booking a Disney vacation. When it's all said in done, I stay at almost exclusively Disney resorts when I travel to Orlando for one thing and one thing only, the experience. I know that's a hopelessly vague description but bear with me. When I say experience, I'm not talking about the included transportation, the cast members, the perfect resort room, or even that perfect view you've always dreamed of peering out over the Seven Seas Lagoon from a Polynesian Bungalow. Instead, when I say "experience" I'm talking about the little things that the on property resorts help to create. It's a multifaceted experience but ultimately when it comes down to it the resort is only a vehicle for the memories the overlying place helps create.


I've said it time and time again, but there is no perfect resort, there is no perfect way to tour the parks, and ultimately there is not ideal way to do anything at Walt Dinsey World, no matter how hard I try to share my top tips and tricks to help you better your vacation.

The point of it all is that the story you and your family create is the ONLY THING that truly matters when you're at Walt Disney World. If you get nothing else from this article, just understand that concept. You can be staying at the crappiest hotel on International Drive and you may have a better experience than someone staying Club Level at the Grand Floridian! It sounds insane but more often than not the people who are experiencing their only trip that they scraped together every penny they could possibly save to visit WDW are the same people that make the most of every single solitary minute of their Disney vacation. Their story from their trip isn't this grand and glamorous story that Disney will likely put on their next marketing campaign, but all that truly matters are those memories they created that they'll never forget.


So, at this point you're probably asking, why do you bother with staying on property??? I stay on property because the memories the on property resorts generate for me and my family are unparalleled when compared to the trips where we've stayed off property. It's not because of the reasons you'd expect. I can go on and on about how much I love deluxe resort theming and at some point I probably will here on the site, but the things that make a difference to me and my family are the things that you truly never expect but that happen more often than not when we're staying on property.

It's not unusual for a narrative to develop when we're staying at a Disney resort. It's not one particular element of the experience that makes a solitary swaying difference, but at some point there will be one little thing that sticks with us that we wouldn't have otherwise experienced staying off property. Perhaps the greatest example of this is from my own personal memories. I can vividly remember a night with my sister Caitlin walking around Wilderness Lodge nearly two hours after the parks closed for the night in the summer (so that tells you how late this was) taking pictures around the resort when nobody else was around. I can never explain in words what the feeling is like but in that moment you realize that there's something about the experience that will stick in your mind for years. I do not think I'll ever forget wandering the resort that night with my sister.

It seems so incredibly simple but I look back on that night and I don't think about the crap that was falling apart in the world around us or even in our personal lives but rather I remember those real world conversations we had. Again, it's not something I can convey in words, but there's an inherent difference to simply being there that opens up an entirely different realm of memories. Part of that is undoubtedly the nostalgia we feel on vacation and the recounting of memories from previous vacations but so much of that is just this surreal escapism that you can experience at WDW and I hope that I'm fully conveying that here and if nothing else that it makes sense to even one person reading this.



In the end this is the stuff that really matters to me and the articles that I truly believe can make a difference in some way or another. I hope that the message is conveyed in some way shape or form, but more than that I hope that Disney and possibly booking your next Dinsey vacation gives you an outlook on life and a perspective change that no other place truly can. So often we get caught up in the next big thing that we forget that our true vacation experience and life in general is more about the people and the pursuit of happiness than anything else. Stay positive every day and make the most of each day you're given. Today isn't perfect, tomorrow won't be perfect, but there's something to be said for making the most of every minute and chasing a dream no matter how outlandish and ridiculous it may seem. Be good to people, be authentic, be the best version of you you can be, and the results may surprise you.

As I wrap up, I just want to say thanks to each every person reading this. I hope the non-click bait realness of this means something to somebody some where and that somehow some way it helps you out or helps you relive a WDW story or memory. I don't tell you all how much I genuinely appreciate you reading what I post enough and always know that every click, every comment, and every like genuinely means something to me in this content sharing journey and I see your support every single day. If you have questions, comments, or anything I can do to help you, never hesitate to ask.  

                              



Monday, April 22, 2019

What's Next? - A Real Question But One That Ultimately Never Goes Away

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

What's Next? - A Real Question But One That Ultimately Never Goes Away 

It's rare that a day goes by in life that I don't think about the future and the inevitable reality that 5 years from now I could be like the vast majority of society working a job that I hate, paying bills, and living life for the weekends. 

Honestly, that potential reality is one of my greatest fears in life and I'm not entirely sure why. There's nothing wrong with wanting that "white picket fence" life, but I honestly don't want to live that life in any way shape or form. To be quite honest, I don't even know why I'm sharing this tonight, but for some reason or another it felt like something somebody, somewhere, needed to hear. It may just be one of those things I needed to get on paper and think through in my own mind and if by chance it helps someone else along the way that's the perfect culmination of end results. 

In life, so many of us spend our entire lives trying to do "the right thing" but doing the right thing isn't always the best thing. I'm a business student and hear the words being "preached" every day reiterating that you want to get a degree to someday find yourself in a corporate role of your dreams with this grand scale expectation of making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. When I started college, I inevitably bought into that expectation and goal for life, but when the real world started to set in I realized that there's more to life than a perfect job. You see, to me you could have any high paying dream job in the world and you can push each day to be the very best you can be and to outperform everyone in your field of expertise but the reality of life is that happiness is far more than any high paying job or dream salary. Instead, I choose to believe that happiness is driven by finding a way to do what you love and love what you do each and every day. For those on the outside looking in that seems like a pursuit of the impossible, but I like to call it chasing a dream.   


We're so conditioned to take that next step and trudge through every day in pursuit of the perfect and ideal situation in life that slowly but surely our own personal goals and passions in life tend to fall away as life goes on.

That single sentence is a reality I dread more than just about anything else because if you're striving for a goal that doesn't come from your own thoughts and desires in life but rather somebody elses, you're wasting 5 out of 7 days of every single week. You can call me an idealist or a hopeful optimist or whatever title you want to put on me, but the reality of life is that if you slave through the week hating your life you're missing out 71% of life. That's a scary number. 

I don't share all of this to be super negative but rather to hopefully encourage someone to try something new and make the first step towards enjoying every minute in life. In my own life, I have absolutely no idea "what's next." In a perfect world I'd find a way to turn what I love into what I do every single day. To me an ideal job would be doing exactly this every single day. I love writing about the Disney parks and resorts and if I could find a way to make covering the parks my real world job, I'd do anything to make it a reality. I strive towards that goal every single day, but in all reality I doubt it will ever become a feasible job. Is that going to stop me from trying? Not in the slightest. I share this not because it's real and authentic but rather because I hope it helps just one person get out of their own way to find something in life that they enjoy and can take the first step towards making their ideal life a reality. 

Ask yourself one question. "What does my perfect day look like?" If the answer to that question isn't "the life I lived today" why aren't you working to make your "perfect day" every single day of your life? Everyone has their own reasons and I have a massive list of all of my own reasons why my dream isn't my reality at the moment, but it never changes the fact that there's more to life than punching a clock and cashing a pay check. 

Do I know what's next in life or what the next step is in my journey? Not in any way shape or form, and truthfully it's probably more unclear now than it's ever been in the past. I wake up each day though with one goal in the back of my mind, "make the most of every minute." I'll be the first to admit that I am not the perfect example of this. I get discouraged more days than not, but it's always there in the back of my mind and has stuck with me in a shockingly pronounced way over the last few years. Nothing is guaranteed in life. We are not guaranteed tomorrow and we never know what life holds so make the most of every moment you have. Life is so much more than waking up, going to work, coming home, and doing the same thing the next day. Find a way to take the first step towards making your dream a reality. If I could find a way to share that reality with people every day while living my dream of doing what I love and loving what I do every single day, that would be the "ideal" life. You can change somebodies life by encouraging them to take that first step and I believe that because I'm living proof. 


Nearly three years ago, this site didn't exist (I wouldn't have believed you if you would have told me I'd be doing this right now), I was an awkward college kid (some things never change), and I was pushed by a distant friend to try something new. That single "push" turned a book into a website, and perhaps some of the greatest experiences I've had in life. I've met people that I can genuinely call friends today that I never knew 3 years ago, and they are the people that encourage me every single day and I'm thankful for every single day. They're the people you can share anything with without judgement and the people that you really want in your life. I'm far from where I want to be but I wouldn't trade the journey for anything.  

I know so many people reading this are thinking, I'd love to try something new, or I'd love to have done that ten years ago and it's easy for you to say that at 22, but that's not what any of this is all about. It's never too late to find a way to wake up happy and doing what you love every single day. You just have to start taking steps towards your dream and forget what other people think about you along the way. At the end of the day, when you are loving life it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks. 

I know this post wasn't Disney related, but to me these are some of the important things that I like to share. They won't drive massive amounts of page views, they wont be backed heavily by an advertiser, and they wont help you book your dream vacation, but I hope they share a dose of perspective on life in a way that you may have overlooked along the way. 

Long story made short --- make the most of every day, find a way to love what you do, and never forget to find a little piece of happiness in every day of your life. Sometimes that happiness is hard to find (trust me, I know that feeling all too well), but there's something to be happy about in life every single day and a blessing to be appreciative of even on the very worst of days.                 
         



Wednesday, April 17, 2019

How to Secure Last Minute Fastpass+ Selections - Even For Toy Story Land!

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

How to Secure Last Minute Fastpasses - Even For Toy Story Land!

Recently, we decided to take a last minute trip to go see Toy Story Land before the summer ends. Believe it or not, we booked our trip 3 weeks ago and will be flying out in one day. It's the shortest booking window we've ever dealt with and obviously that brings about a few challenges. Perhaps the greatest difficulty is that this late in the game, you've missed the 30 day and 60 day fastpass+ booking window. As always, it's incredibly difficult to secure the top tier and favorite attractions, but it's far more difficult when new attractions have just opened like Alien Swirling Saucers and Slinky Dog Dash. Believe it or not, we were able to secure a Slinky Dog Dash fastpass only days before our trip to the park. 

UPDATE: April 2019 - As you may have noticed, Toy Story Land has been open for nearly a year at this point. However, it is worth noting that all of these tactics still apply and the story is perhaps the best example I can share of the last minute fastpass+ booking scenario. 

Obviously, as with any booking system there are a few ways to work with the system and give yourself the very best shot at securing those hard to get fastpasses and at times it may be easier than you'd think to do so. Rather than just telling you to keep looking, today we're sharing some of the tips that have worked for us in securing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Slinky Dog Dash, Flight of Passage, and many others over the past year without spending hours on end searching the website. None of these are fool proof solutions and "your results may vary" but this is what has worked for us time and time again. 





1. Look for Passes At Strange Times 

This is one of those tips that sounds obvious but in practice is a bit less obvious than you may think. The tip in and of itself is to look when nobody else is looking. There's always going to be others looking on Disney's site with guests coming from all over the world, but the more random the time you check the better off you tend to be. When we were planning our last minute trip for this week, we found Alien Swirling Saucers at three different times by checking at 1:30 or so in the afternoon on week days. However, and likely the one more of you are here to find out about was our Slinky Dog Dash fastpass pick up. I'll be honest with you, this one took some time to get. We checked the app once or twice a day for around 3 days (far fewer attempts than some) but the passes popped up at 12:40 in the morning (yep... the middle of the night on the East Coast). Sure, it's not ideal but if you can check for passes at these strange times, you may be surprised at what fastpass selection you can get!      

2. Repetition is Key 

The old adage of "if at first you don't succeed, try try again" is more true than ever in this case. If you're getting close to your travel dates, pick a night when you're doing nothing else, grab a seat on the coach and turn on some TV. Pull up your current fastpass+ selections and choose the one you like the least and select the option to "modify" your fastpass selection. If you get lucky your favorite attraction or the one you're looking for will pop right up... but I wouldn't count on. At this point, here's what I recommend. Take the next 15-30 minutes and continuously back out of the "modify" your selection menu and go back into it. As you search time and time again, you'll be surprised at how fast offerings change. I saw passes for Alien Swirling Saucers pop up on two separate occasions and two different times within the first 15 minute when we tried this a few days ago. 

That 15-30 minutes may be boring but if you're set on riding the attraction it may pale in comparison to how long you could have waited in the heat of the park!      

3. Don't Be Too Picky About Times

If you're late to the booking game like we were in this instance, you can't be overly picky about times. Take what you can get and modify it as more offerings become available using the tips mentioned above. With the exception of dining reservations, very little has to be done at specific times in the parks, and remaining flexible or being willing to stay late or head to the parks early can make a huge difference. Also, and perhaps more importantly, if you cant get the attraction you want at first book something else anyway! You can always modify your selections but if you don't have a fastpass+ selection to begin with, it makes the process that much more difficult. At the very least, you'll have a second favorite attraction to fall back on and one that may save you a few extra minutes waiting in line which you can spend in the standby queue of the attraction you couldn't get.  

4. Check The Day Before Your Park Day 

Do not give up hope if your stay begins tomorrow or if your park day is the very next day. The greatest foray of fastpass changes and modifications will likely happen within the last two days for most guests or even the day of their trip to the park. Check the app religiously the day before your trip and you may be shocked at what pops up. Other guests flights get  canceled or they may have to cancel their trip and if that happens you'll be there waiting for the fastpasses to get dropped!    


5. Check While You're in the Park 

If you're in the parks, check early in the morning when you're in that particular park. Inevitably someone's plans will change or they'll realize their child isn't tall enough to ride an attraction they've booked or any other array of weird situations could unfold. On recent trips I have been utterly shocked at how many last minute great fastpass+ selections have been available while we were in the parks. At one point I was so surprised in fact that I almost modified a few of our plans just to grab a second ride on a few of our favorite attractions late at night.   

6. Have Someone Look For You! 

This may sound like a shameless plug but if you do have an interest in using a travel agency or already use a travel agency that really knows their stuff in the Disney realm, they may just look day after day for you. Many of the more experienced travel agencies will offer this service for you and I know for a fact that our recommended travel planner offers it completely free of charge. It may not be the ideal solution for everyone, but if you really want to sit back and let someone else try to secure those tough to secure passes for you, it's always an option. Personally, I do opt to book them myself simply because I like to do all of these things listed above, but Travel Agents can be really helpful thanks to their knowledge of the Disney systems and when it is best (and worst) to look.      


You never really know when something will pop up when another guest has to cancel their trip last minute or decides to trade that pass for something else. They may even decide to go to a different park altogether. When that happens it occasionally frees up a tough to get pass for you and your family.  

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, if all of these strategies fail, don't worry about it! Standby isn't the end of the world and you'll get to experience the queue of the attraction and the queues are becoming more and more interactive as the parks continue to grow and change.   
      

Your Thoughts


As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!


Need a Travel Planner?


If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.


Ready to Plan?


Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.



Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Little Details of Magic Kingdom's Liberty Square You May Have Never Noticed

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

The Little Details of Magic Kingdom's Liberty Square You May Have Never Noticed 

In my humble opinion, Liberty Square is perhaps the most under appreciated area in all of the Magic Kingdom. For the most part, it's a land devoid of attractions with the sole exceptions of Haunted Mansion and the Liberty Square Riverboat. While both attractions are iconic in their own ways, the land itself often tells a far more intricate story than many guests realize at first glance. 

So, after talking with a few friends on Facebook after sharing the photo below, I figured why not dive a little deeper into some of the lesser known hidden stories of Liberty Square. Today, I'm trying to stay away from the more "mainstream" details that tend to make their rounds including (but not limited to) the "river of poop" marked by the color changes of the pavement of the land (which may or may not be entirely true), the crooked shutters representative of the worn leather straps that would have been period correct, or even the two lanterns high in the window reminiscent of Paul Revere's midnight ride. 


Instead, we're looking a little deeper at some of the things even a select few of the more versed Disney parks fans may have never noticed along the way! While some of the stories may vary slightly depending on who tells them, it's interesting to note that many of the details exhibited in Liberty Square often go untold. As a result of that point all on it's own, let's jump right into today's breakdown and a closer look at some of the iconic details that truly set Disney World and that Disney theming apart from all the rest!        
     

A Transplanted Tree   

From a very young age, Walt Disney exhibited a fascination with American history that seemed to continue on in his thoughts for years to come. As a young boy Walt and a classmate in elementary school designed and performed small skits for local theaters and school productions based off of their favorite presidents and historical circumstances. While the teachers praised their efforts, that small scale fascination seemed to stick with Walt for many years. 

In the early 1950's Walt Disney bought the rights to the classic novel Johnny Tremain. The novel, which was a favorite of Walt's, led to an onscreen film released by the Disney company in 1957. The movie itself never stood the test of time quite as well as others, but the story transcends into the parks in a way that you may have completely overlooked. Believe it or not, that's where our transplanted tree story begins and the tree in this story is none other than the iconic Liberty Tree. 

The Liberty Tree concept developed directly around the time the Johnny Tremain film released. If you happen to be wondering how that is possible when the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World didn't officially open until 1971, the answer is found in the lands rich history. 

At one point in time the entire Liberty Square concept was destined for Disneyland. Sadly, the technologies Walt needed to make his dreams for the land a reality, were not technically possible at the time. Thankfully, as always with the Disney company, a good idea never truly dies. Later on, Walt decided to bring that once conceived idea for Disneyland to his latest development, Walt Disney World. 


As is typical in large scale projects, Walt's Imagineering and horticulture group faced a daunting task in making this dream a reality. While Walt never got to see his Liberty square (Liberty Street in his original design) concept fully developed in Florida before his death in 1966, a few select Imagineers continued his plans down to the very details. One of those many intricate details led to one of the greatest challenges in theming history, the placement of the Liberty Tree. 

In the development phase, the design group bringing Liberty Square to life found what they believed to be the perfect Florida representation of the tree pictured in the classic Johnny Tremain film, a Southern Live Oak. The tree was perfect, but there was one huge problem, relocating it. Typically, tree relocation is quite simple, but when the tree being moved weighs over 38 tons, a whole new series of challenges present themselves. If you were to use typical methods of roping the trunk and lifting, it could destroy the delicate inner structures of the tree (it would've been destroyed by its own weight). On top of the weight problem, the earmarked tree was 8 miles east of where it needed to be relocated in the Magic Kingdom. 

The solution to their problem tells a story of its own. In the early days of Disneyland, Walt told one of his top landscapers, Bill Evans, that he wanted to remove a Coral tree from the park in order to replace it with a man-made tree which could support the weight of the electrical equipment needed for his next big idea. Evans knew the tree was too large to up and move without damaging it, he found a new way to disperse the weight and safely relocate it. In order to do so, a series of beams were drilled through the tough inner core of the tree to disperse the weight. The beams, which were drilled in a crossing pattern, would spread the weight around and allow for the safe removal of the Coral tree. 



Years down the road, Evans was still with the Disney company and conveniently helped with this Liberty Tree project. Borrowing from this earlier idea, the Liberty Tree was lifted in a similar manner and relocated over a period of time to the location where it still stands today. 

So, while many guests assume the tree is fake, it was certainly all a part of the larger plan for the land and a detail that Disney certainly did not have to include. Fortunately, the creative minds of Imagineering knew what their former head of creations would have wanted, and the backstory is something that Walt recognized would have purpose years down the line. That level of authenticity was always a key part of the experience and very well could have played a role in what has become one of the most "untouched" lands in Disney history. 

Today, the Liberty Tree marks the largest living tree ever transplanted on/to Disney property. It is also the largest living aspect of the Magic Kingdom and has helped develop over 500 new trees across property. The Liberty Tree itself is certainly beautiful, but be sure to think of it's rich history next time you pass through Liberty Square. Appreciate the details, and take in one of the last stories Walt Disney personally developed. 

A Single Doll Tells A Story

Just around the corner from the Liberty Tree and the Hall of Presidents you can find a single window with a small doll carefully placed in a rather prominent spot just in front of the curtains. As the story goes, early colonists would place a single doll in the window of homes that contained children in the case of a fire or emergency situation to signal to firefighters that a child was present in the home. At the time, there was a certain prioritization process when fires broke out and this is an incredible hidden aspect pointing to the authentic level of detail Liberty Square encompasses.   

The Signage of Columbia Harbour House 

In a similar yet different way, as you round the corner coming from Fantasyland and pass through that portal type "tunnel" that leads you into Liberty Square, look up and to your left to find a sign. The sign itself features two shapes, one is a chicken and the other is a fish. 

During the time period represented by the area, a vast majority of society was illiterate. Instead of trying to write words for signs, it was far easier at that point in time to depict what a business or location sold by means of pictorial references so that people could see what the building was known for or sold within.  


The Eagle and the Arrows 

Just around the corner, if you look carefully you'll find a second sign referencing Columbia Harbour House. While this sign does use words, which is largely for the modern theme park guests benefit, it also features an image of the eagle. To many, the eagle appears quite similar to one that many of us as Americans have seen time and time again on the back of the dollar bill. However, this representation of the eagle, the olive branch, and the arrows is slightly different. 

The eagle represented is crying and in a "less than dominant" position. The olive branch is in the eagles dominant right hand opposed to the current iteration of the arrows in the dominant right hand in a position of power. At the time in history represented by the various years of Liberty Square, the colonists were on the verge of war and the area was broken in a way that is hard for us in the modern world to fully grasp and understand. It's a symbol of the times hidden in plain site and one that only the most detail oriented guests will ever pick up on. 
        

The Old Harbour House Name

Believe it or not, the Columbia Harbor House began its journey in the parks as the Nantucket Harbour House when it debuted with the park in 1971. If you're lucky enough to be one of the select few with a copy of the 1971 park map, dive into the details and you'll find the Nantucket Harbour House name proudly present on the simple map depicting the earliest days of Magic Kingdom.

While this list only scratches the surface of the many level of intricate details in this land of Magic Kingdom, it's interesting to note that there are far more details in the Walt Disney World experience than the vast majority of guests will ever fully recognize. To me, that's one of the many wonders of Walt Disney World. There's always something new to uncover and the ever changing parks keep us coming back time and time again!       


Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's here and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

Need a Travel Planner?

If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.

Ready to Plan?

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way!  



Thursday, April 11, 2019

How a Disney Trip Can Change Your Perspective - A More Personal Story

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

How a Disney Trip Can Change Your Perspective - A More Personal Story

So many of you know that I'm not the best person in the world at sharing personal stories. More often than not this site is all about planning tips, but on the rare occasion I do like to try and connect with you all in a new and different way. You can call it being authentic and open, or whatever you want to call it but at the same time I'm starting to realize that I can share all the trip planning tips in the world, but if it doesn't share a story and a reason to make the journey to Walt Disney World I'm missing out on conveying perhaps the most important aspect of the entire Disney vacation experience. 

I truly believe that a Disney vacation can change your outlook on life time and time again and it has a way of putting life in perspective and conveying what really matters when it's all said and done. Life, in my option, isn't about accumulating things or having the latest and greatest stuff, but rather finding ways to enjoy every single day. Disney has a way of bringing that simple concept to the forefront of our minds time and time again. There's no better way I can convey this than with a story of my own and one that honestly I'm a little hesitant to share for some reason or another.


If you follow along with our Instagram feed you may have noticed in our stories a few weeks ago that my dad and I made the journey to Walt Disney World on our own on a super last minute trip. Ironically, as the trip got closer we realized that we had never really gone to the parks without the entire family. Long story made short, we were hesitant of how the trip would play out but looked forward to it with eager anticipation as we do every Disney vacation.

I don't know why and I don't entire know how but it hit me during this trip that this may be the first and last time I get to spend a few days in the park alone with my dad. I hope that isn't the case but with college drawing to an end, breaks going away, and the real world starting to set in, it really hit me that this was something special. On top of that it hit me how incredibly lucky I am to have a dad that love the parks just as much as I do and how fortunate I am to call my dad one of my very best friends in life. The trip was incredible and while I'll spare you the full details it was one of those series of days in life where you couldn't have wished for life to be any other way. 

It's a strange concept to portray in words, but when life really is going in a hundred different directions and you don't have any clue "what's next" it's an incredibly freeing experience to have a trip like this where you can simply enjoy a few days of escape from it all and you  cannot put a price on moments like that. 



I know, without a doubt in my mind, that one particular night on the Boardwalk and a meal at Cape May Cafe will always stick in my mind as one of my greatest memories in life. In all reality, there's nothing I would have changed about that day, and if only for a brief few hours, life was exactly as it was supposed to be. We didn't care about a "timeline", or a work deadline, or even a single one of the many concerns that inevitably existed back home, and for a few hours we laughed at ridiculous jokes, risked our lives at the buffet, and capped the night off with a walk through Epcot and Illuminations. 

As soon as we returned home I knew that the trip was going to be implanted in my mind forever and would be one of those things we'll talk about for years on end. 


I share this story for one main reason and it's a concept that I try to put into words here time and time again that shares the reality that Disney really can change your perspective on life. I know some people reading this think I'm crazy but others understand the concept on a personal level. We've all created memories with family at Disney and while everyones story is different, those moments in time where nothing else really matters are some of the most reflective times of your life. In many ways it puts life into perspective and if even for a short few minutes, you realize that what really matters in life isn't living a perfect life, but rather savoring the moments that make you really and truly happy in a way that is indescribable in words. 

So often in life we're so caught up in what we "want" that we overlook what we really need. We may want the next big thing, but when you step back and experience a moment like this you really start to adopt a perspective where life is too short to worry about anything else but finding a way to be happy every single day of your life. 

Your Disney experience may be entirely different than mine, but I can guarantee that no matter what the crowds are like or how little or how much you planned your trip, moments like this are what you will genuinely remember years later and to me that's all that really matters.     



Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's here and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

Need a Travel Planner?

If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.

Ready to Plan?

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way!  



Sunday, April 7, 2019

Our Guide For Disney Springs - What To Try and What To Skip!

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Our Guide For Disney Springs - What To Try and What To Skip! 

"Your in the moment, stay-up-late, can't help but smile place to be." That's the wording Disney uses to describe Disney Springs on the Disney Springs website homepage right now and honestly it's perhaps the most fitting simple description they could have created! 

For those of you who may not know, Downtown Disney underwent a massive change that was completed back in 2016 to transform the area into a more family centric environment with a rich backstory and a truly all encompassing space to focus nighttime entertainment. 

I was one of the many skeptics of the project and while my site was only a thought deep in my mind back when the construction began, it was and is one of the few projects I've followed heavily from concept art all the way into real world construction. When the very first conceptual rendering rolled out I remember thinking "This will never leave the drawing board. There's no way Disney will spend this kind of money on a non-ticketed area of property." I was wrong in every way imaginable and I'm not at all ashamed to admit that. 

The project transformed the Downtown Disney I knew growing up into something entirely different and it was largely for the better.  Back when I was a kid we spent most of our time in the Marketplace and only rarely made the journey down to the West Side to visit DStreet (anybody else remember when Vinylmations were the hot item??) or the Magic Masters shop before it closed back in 2011. Considering those two things alone, I've now made it blatantly obvious how nerdy I can really be but at the same time I know that today's experience is far more family centric. 

There's no denying that I miss that feeling of unique separation between the multifaceted Downtown Disney experience, but today it's more of a cohesive design and one that you can really recommend to guests of all ages. In essence that's why I'm sharing this article today.



Disney Springs is no longer "new" in the way it once was, but it does remain fairly unexplored by the typical Disney guest and is often under utilized by guests spending week long vacations on Disney property. There's so much more to the area than it gets credit for and at times you really have to spend some time just exploring to fully get a feel for all that there is to offer. 

Years ago, you could tour Downtown Disney, to a reasonable extent, in one night. You wouldn't see and do everything but you wouldn't feel like you missed much along the way either. Today, if you spend less than a day there you're going to miss out on an unbelievable array of offerings that have debuted that truly span the age range while providing one unified experience. It's a massive area and quite possibly one of the best things to happen to Disney in the last ten years and that is a bold claim coming from me. 

The only real problem with that reality is that there simply is more to do than you can ever get done. It's overwhelming and in many cases you really have to pick and choose what's worth your time to visit or try while you're there and what can be set aside for a future vacation. Ultimately, that's what sparked the idea for this list today. We want to look at what we've tried in the last three years and share a few tips and recommendations on what's worth your time and what may be worth putting on hold until a future vacation. 


Perspective is Important

This concept is at the top of my list because to me it is the most important thing to consider when you're headed to Disney Springs. If you are traveling with kids some of my greatest recommendations center around highly family friendly environments including many of which we've reviewed here in detail in their own dedicated posts: 
  • Homecomin' Kitchen
  • Polite Pig 
  • Chicken Guy  
  • D-Luxe Burger  
  • Planet Hollywood (early in the night) - As it gets later in the night, Planet Hollywood does get a bit more "adult" oriented. It's not off-putting or inappropriate for kids in my opinion but at the same time I wouldn't take young kids there. Personally I prefer the desserts to the actual food but it's a fun place to dine nonetheless!
  • The Boathouse - Boathouse offers a great menu with a good array of high end and reasonable price point offerings. You can even grab a seat out on the dock for a spectacular view over the water and an equally incredible meal!   
While you do have other incredible options, if you want to stay away from chain restaurants or more expensive and somewhat more intricate menus and offerings, those are some of your very best options. 


If you are looking for those top notch and more intricate dining options that many adults tend to prefer, I suggest you look at STK, Morimoto, the Edison, or even possibly one of the many Wolfgang Puck locations. Overall, you really cant go wrong with dining at Disney Springs. There's something for every budget and nearly any desire!  
        

Base Choices on Your Length of Stay/Plans

As strange as it may sound, you really do need to plan out a good amount of time if you plan to try and walk and explore every area of Disney Springs. As with anything Disney, you'll never see and do it all, but it does take at least 3 or 4 hours to even walk through and hit the highlights. 

If you're booking a long trip to Walt Disney World, I highly recommend taking a day of your trip to set aside a large amount of time to spend at Disney Springs. You can easily make a day of the experience. Book two meals, plan some shopping time, and plan at least one activity and it will make for an excellent day! Personally, I recommend trying the Void, the Aerophile balloon (which you'll never get me in lol), or even quite possibly Splitsville. 



For a shorter stay, it's still well worth talking some time out of your vacation to explore, but at the same time it's not something I'd deem a "necessity" of your vacation experience. The atmosphere of Disney Springs is electric at night and a ton of fun to say the least but if you're only spending two or three days at Walt Disney World, it may not be feasible for you to devote a large amount of time to the area. 
          

Avoid Some of the Shopping

To me, Disney Springs is more about the atmosphere and the simple elements of the experience including the street performers, live music, and lights and colors of the overall area, but I do have to say that some of the shopping can be avoided. Truthfully, when I go to Disney Springs I typically hit about 6 stores. I always head to World of Disney, the Marketplace Co-op, Art of Disney, Uniqlo, and occasionally stop by some of the more high end shopping locations in the springs area to window shop if I'm traveling with family. 

The problem with the latest and recently added shopping of the redesigned area is that so much of it is very very expensive. Often it's fun to look through these stores but I cant recall ever buying anything from any of the stores. If I'm looking for high end merchandise, watches, or things of the sort, I'd personally catch an Uber or Lyft and ride 5 minutes to the Orlando Premium Outlets were you can find stores such as Coach, Tag Heur, Citizen, Nike, Vera Bradley and many many others at much more affordable prices. I know I'm not the target audience of high end shopping as a senior in college, but all things considered it's not the perfect storm and array of shopping in my opinion. 

Not all the shopping is non-Disney but a good portion of it is so personally I'd be very selective in what you decide to spend your time on. If you're from a more rural area, these shops may be incredible to wander through. It's all about your perspective going into it and what you want out of the experience. Either way, it's something you may want to consider along the way.        



Accept The Spontaneous Nature of the Experience

At Disney Springs, it's not out of the ordinary for a saxophone player to be wandering the streets performing, a magician to be unveiling his latest tricks, a piano to roll past you playing a song, or even for a dance party to break out at any variety of different stages scattered around the area. Go into the experience expecting the unexpected. Don't spend so much time rushing to get from store to store to store that you overlook the spontaneous events that pop up during your time there. Also, and in a very similar way, don't be afraid to enjoy the fun. You're on vacation! Let yourself enjoy the moment and it will likely be a moment that will stick with you for years. As I always say, 99% of these people you'll never see again so why worry about what anybody else thinks. If you take yourself too seriously everyone else will too so why not enjoy a moment of spontaneity! In the end, that's what it's all about in my opinion. Enjoy just being there and making the time count in any way you can! 



Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's here and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

Need a Travel Planner?

If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.

Ready to Plan?

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way!  



My Link