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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

1 Million - A Number I Never Thought I'd See

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

1 Million - A Number I Never Thought I'd See

Today is going to be a touch different than our normal posts for a variety of reasons but mostly because I want to take today to say thanks. Before the question arises, I just want to say the site isn't going anywhere anytime soon (at least I hope not) and this is more of milestone for us than anything else. And by us, I don't only mean me and Caitlin, but also all of you.  

Just short of 2 years ago I started this site in the wake of my book The Adventurers Guide to Walt Disney World. Once the book was published, unfortunately just as with any guidebook it was essentially outdated before it even went into print. You can still find the title on Amazon and truthfully I'm still proud of that book and what lies beneath the cover. It's full of little hidden gems but unfortunately suffered the same setbacks that most guidebooks face in that Walt Disney World is always changing and a book really can't change with the times. That's where the website came in. I'll happily admit that the book wasn't much of a success in a monetary regard, but it set the stage for what was next and what you see and experience today. Long story made short, a few short days ago, after almost 2 years as a website and writing on Guide4WDW.com, we've officially reached 1 Million page views. Sure, it took us almost two years to get to this point, but it's a journey I wouldn't have traded for anything and honestly one that I never expected. 



The first post here received 284 views in August of 2016 and most of those views likely came well after that post was written. At that point it blew my mind that people even found the site and much less were interested in anything I had to say. Today is obviously quite a bit different but those same exceeded expectations remain the same. I heard a quote from a friend not too long ago and basically they said that "the views may seem insignificant in comparison (obviously we’ll never draw views like people magazine or something like that), but if 2,000+ people showed on your doorstop every day you created content, wouldn’t it blow you away?" That’s when things were put in perspective for me, especially in the case of this 1 Million number.  It’s truly inconceivable to me that my content sparked enough interest in enough people (thankfully with some repeat visitors!) to get anywhere close to that number.   
However, a number is just that, a number. To me that means nothing more than the page it's typed on. It’s about the relationships I’ve made and the people I've been able to get to know along the way. The people I’ve met and social media interactions I get to enjoy means more than any number on any page. As touched on above, this was never the plan. The book was ultimately a failure by all logical standards, but it was a step towards what was right and ultimately better in the end. It just put into perspective for me that you never know what the wrong step, in the wrong direction could turn into in the future. 

Sometimes the steps you take in the wrong direction are the ones that define your future
That sounds bleak but those moments when you think things have gone all wrong you uncover the next step that takes you further than you ever expected.

I don’t know what’s next, but I owe all of this to you all. This is not the end and I appreciate each and every one of you that stopped by the site, helped me on this journey, or gave me a word of advice along the way. I appreciate you! Every like, every comment, every view means more to me than many of you will likely ever realize. It’s crazy to think that I have friends today (some of which I’ve never even met) that are somehow always there. If you told me two years ago I'd have friends all over the country and would have met what were at one point complete strangers in real life thanks to this site, I would have never believed you! 

There’s really no way for me to say thank you that will ever convey the blessing this has been in even a round about way. All I can say is thank you and truly if there’s anything I can ever do to help you out along the way, do not hesitate to ask. Want me to write for your site? I’d be honored. Have a question about building your now site? Ask away! I will do whatever I can to answer your questions and do anything I can to help you all out along the way. 

I wouldn’t be here without the help of those who encouraged me and pushed me to try new things and get out of my comfort zone in both large and small ways. If I could share one piece of advice to anyone in a similar situation it would be the same advice Lou Mongello gave me almost 3 years ago… If you believe in it, try it, because at the very least you can say you’ve done something that very few people have ever even attempted. 

It’s crazy to think that the book was over three years ago when I started writing the first pages. Honestly, I was turned down by two publishers. One told me I had no “story” the other told me they liked the book but that it didn’t fit their current content. Truthfully I was crushed but knew there was something more to that book than what was solely in the content. I went ahead and self-published it during my freshman year of college knowing nothing about marketing and nothing about publishing or writing professionally. It wasn’t very successful, but do I regret it? Not in the least! 


I would do it all over tomorrow if I had to. Looking back it was the first of many stepping stones. It wasn’t a great success but a step in the right direction that I never expected. You see, this article isn’t intended to be one to brag on the accomplishment (no matter how small that accomplishment may be - and it’s really YOUR accomplishment, not mine!) but more to say thanks for this journey. Hopefully this is simply the next step in a continuous journey towards something bigger and better in the future. For now, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and I hope that you all will continue to keep following along with us! 

Today, I want to leave you with one thing and it’s probably the only good non-Disney tip I can share. If you’ve ever considered trying something but were afraid of what could happen, try it! It may not end up how you expected it to, but it may be a decision you look back on years later wondering how you could have lived without the memories you’ve create along the way. If you’re passionate about something, try it! There will be hundreds of people that tell you your idea will never take off, or that you’ll never make any money doing it (I’m still working on that one lol), and you’ll have hateful comments to weed through time and time again. But at the same time you’ll have that one person or that select group of people that will be behind you and support even your most exaggerated idea. If you truly love what you’re doing you’ll find a way to make it work and the result may exceed your wildest expectations. 1 Million pageviews isn’t much in the grand scheme of things in the media world, but it struck me with somewhat of a shock today and I had to share a few thoughts and take a moment simply to say thanks in the only way I knew how. 

Again, thank you and I really appreciate the opportunity to share a few thoughts and tips with you all along the way. Times may change but my goal will always be to bring a smile into your day in one way or another. Everybody needs something to smile about each day in this world we live in and if I can provide that for even one person per day, it’s all worth it! 


Try something new, take that first step, and the story that unfolds in your life due to  the people supporting you will exceed your wildest expectations.    

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, July 22, 2018

Our Top 5 Strange Sounds of the Disney Parks - An Odd List

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Our Top 5 Strange Sounds of the Disney Parks - An Odd List 

A few short days ago we brought you Our Top 8 Smells in All of Walt Disney World and to our surprise it was an incredibly well received article. So, today we're sharing something quite similar but also a little different and bringing you Our Top 5 Strange Sounds of the Disney Parks.

Without a doubt, the things you hear are equally as important as what you see in the parks and resorts at Disney. They're so unique at times that it's rather difficult to picture places of the park without iconic sounds we've learned to love and expect each and every trip. From the outside looking in it's a rather strange concept, but to those who have visited the parks, you likely have a favorite "sound" of Disney and every time you hear it anywhere else you're instantly taken back to that place in the park or that moment you enjoyed at one point. With that being said, here are a few of the more strange, but distinctly recognizable, sounds that you can find on Disney property.    


1. Monorail Doors 

If you know this sound it really goes without stating how iconic of a noise it is for Disney fans. As the Monorail pulls into the station, the doors almost synchronize and basically all open at the same time. It's not quite as iconic of a sound as it once was but the subtle click and sweeping motion of the doors opening and closing is something every Disney parks fan knows and recognizes as distinctly a "Monorail noise." It sounds so crazy but it's a sound you learn to love because it typically means you're on your way to the parks. I have no idea why but for some reason or another it's a noise that sticks with you and that you can only really hear at Walt Disney World.    

2. The Old Soarin' Seatbelt Noise

From the Patrick Warburton intro to the simple soundtrack of the queue, Soarin' was and is an instant classic from it's first debut. However, the noise I'm talking about today is actually neither of those. Instead, it's a far simpler noise and one that Disney likely never even thought much about. In the original iteration of Soarin' (before the new film), at the end of the attraction as the lights came on as your hang glider returned to the ground there was  a slight delay before the seatbelts released. Of course, as soon as you land every guest is logically trying to exit the attraction. Eventually all of the seatbelt locks were released and everyone hit the button within about one second of each other. For some reason it created a very recognizable "swarm" of clicks and slight rattles as the belts released and everyone left their ride vehicle. It seems so incredibly strange but it's a noise you don't really forget. Unfortunately, the sound seems to have gone away after the last major refurbishment, but it has remained somewhat memorable along the way.      
     

3. The Steam Engine Whistle

As a slightly more recognizable noise, the train whistle of the Magic Kingdom is one that has  a way of taking you back to a walk down Main Street, or a trip through Frontierland, or even a stroll through Storybook Circus. The train whistle is iconic for so many reasons. The history of the trains and Walt's personal role in involving them in the parks coupled with the ever present whistle and clacking of the wheels as the train takes guests around the park has created a distinctly recognizable noise in the Magic Kingdom. No matter who you are or where you're from, after a day in the Magic Kingdom a steam engine and that whistle will never just be the sound of a whistle. Instead, it'll take you back to times with family and friends time anytime again.  


4. Thunder Mountain Railroad's Exit Station Sounds 

As one of the 3 true Disney mountains, Thunder Mountain is a lasting and vastly popular part of the Magic Kingdom experience. For many, it is a "must-do" attraction of every single trip into the park and one that they've enjoyed for years on end. The attraction itself is full of iconic noises, a distinct whistle as you barrel around the tracks, and even the clattering of the lift hills are a sensory experience. Today though, I'm talking about a slightly different noise. As you pull into the station after your ride or while waiting to board your train for the day, the cars roll into the loading area and stop with a slight screeching. Moments later, the lap bars release with a distinctly hydraulic noise and a loud clunk. Again, it's a simple noise but one you start to recognize year after year and learn to love as a result of your surroundings and what that particular noise represents.  

5.  PeopleMover "Clicks" 

As perhaps one of my favorite noises in all the parks, the slight thumping of the PeopleMover traveling around it's classic route high above Tomorrowland is distinctly recognizable and simply brings a smile to my face. It's a noise you can hear in a video or even a live stream and for a brief moment feel like you're right there in the park. Couple that clacking of the ride vehicle sliding along the track with the linear induction thump and you have a wonderful attraction with a short wait time that so many guests enjoy day after day.


Did Your Favorite Make Our List? 

Everyone has that favorite sound or that favorite smell from the parks. Those sensory experiences beyond sight alone really set Walt Disney World apart from all the others. Only a select few theme parks and entertainment destinations will put such an incredible effort into the little things that so many guests will completely overlook. It's a commitment to detail that very few appreciate but for those of us who return time and time again it's those little details and things to pick up on that keep us coming back year after year and trip after trip. If your favorite sound didn't make our list, be sure to share it in the comments on your favorite social media platform. There are so many sounds in the parks that this article only touches the surface of all that there really is to hear and enjoy! 

Want to partner with us or for us to write for your site? Just give me a shout at guide4wdw@gmail.com! Have questions or comments about your upcoming trip, feel free to shoot me a message as well!       
   

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.



Thursday, July 19, 2018

102 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018/2019

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin


102 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 and 2019  

Disney World vacation tips are truly a dime a dozen in many cases. Your friend tells you one thing, your second cousin tells you another thing, and countless websites tell you something different. Of course, not all of those are going to be good tips for a Walt Disney World vacation, while many of them may very well be excellent recommendations. However, in what I see as a continually innovative move in the right direction, the Disney parks and resorts are always changing. As we embark on a new year, a few things have changed (as always), but quite a bit has remained the same so we're taking a look at a vast assortment of tips we've shared with guests traveling to the parks and even a few new recommendations that apply to planning your vacation for this year in particular. (Updated July 2018 - Additions start at number 75!



In the past, we've narrowed our tips down to strictly categorical lists, but today we thought we'd venture beyond the list (for lack of a better word) and just share an unveiling of tips based on our experience traveling to Disney throughout our entire lives. As the year unfolds, we hope to keep this list updated and continually improve the tips shared while removing some that may no longer be accurate. At the time of posting (July 2018) each and every tip on the list should be easily accessible and useful during your vacation! 




Our Top Walt Disney World Tips! 


So, with the overall premise of today narrowed down, we'll jump right into it with #1. As a bit of a heads up, these are in no particular order and were not intended to be ranked in the list format:
  1. If you're going to venture into Pandora at Animal Kingdom, you'll want a fastpass+ for Flight of Passage, similar to how you still need a fastpass+ selection for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train long after it's debut. The attraction regularly reaches wait times well beyond 2 hours, so be prepared to wait, and reserve a fastpass well in advance (at the 60 day out reservation window if at all possible). Also, be sure to check out the new counter service location, Satu'li Canteen for an adventurous meal but one that guests tend to really enjoy. Many have called it the best counter service location on property. Concerned about riding Flight of Passage? Be sure to check out our An Honest Analysis: Flight of Passage From A Motion Sickness Perspective post. 
  2. Buy your tickets in advance. No matter if you are buying a package from Disney of buying everything independently (see tip 24 for more on that), buy your tickets early. If you wait until you arrive at the park or very late in your booking process you'll loose out on the opportunity to book fastpass+ selections far in advance. Want some more fastpass tips? Check out our 5 Simple Fastpass+ Tips That Could Better Your Vacation Experience 
  3. Don't worry about planning every little detail. So many guests over plan their Disney trip by creating a down to the minute list of what attractions they want to ride and at what time. To be quite honest, this strategy can lead to a ton of stress and you'll likely miss out on the joys of "the little things" of Walt Disney World. Of course, plan the big things, and even what days you'll visit what park, etc. but avoid the play by play itinerary and take some time to just take it all in. Here's a closer look at what we recommend planning and some extra tips on that topic in depth. Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018
  4. Avoid the mid week meltdown. Without a doubt, at some point in your vacation you'll get overwhelmed and reach that point where everything seems to be going wrong (especially if you travel with children). Avoid that meltdown moment by taking a mid afternoon break from the parks. Head back to the resort and cool off in the room, head to the pool for a few hours, grab a table service meal at your resort, and simply relax for a few brief moments. You'll be genuinely shocked at the difference it can make! 
  5. Prepare for the heat no matter what season you're visiting the parks. Orlando weather is truly unpredictable at times but you always face the chance that it will be extremely warm during your vacation at some point. We traveled to the parks around Christmas last year and faced a day of heat in the mid 90's. Sometimes it seems impossible to beat the heat at Walt Disney World but it's quite possible if you plan accordingly. Make sure to read 5 Ways To Beat The Heat At WDW for our tips on that. 
  6. If you're thirsty in a park, simply head to a counter service location and request a cup of ice water. It's completely free and saves you quite a bit of money in the long run by avoiding bottled water costs and soft drink prices. 
  7. Book dining reservations at resorts. Resort dining is excellent at Walt Disney World and even if you're not staying at that resort, parking is free or you can easily hop on that resort's bus at any of the four parks to catch a ride to your desired resort dining location. One of our favorites over the years has been Whispering Canyon at the Wilderness Lodge. We've had excellent interactions with cast members in the past which we wrote about in our Legendary Cast of the Disney Parks - "Sunshine" From Whispering Canyon  post.
  8. Sticking with Disney dining, save some money and try a few of the more budget friendly entrees on property. No matter what your budget, we recommend that you schedule at least one table service meal during your vacation, even if you're just going to be in the parks for a single day. A select few of our main recommendations pop up in our 5 Excellent Entrees Under $15 at Walt Disney World.
  9. Get to the parks early. For seasoned guests, this likely seems obvious, but if you arrive in the parks early you'll be surprised how many attraction you can enjoy without waiting in line more than around 10 minutes. This simple concept is a huge part of our How to Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+!  article.
  10. Read up on your Walt Disney World history. This is a tip you wont find anywhere else but I see it as fundamental in touring the parks and developing a greater appreciation of their past and how it has affected what you see in the parks to day. Our The "Western River Expedition" - The Walt Disney World Attraction That Almost Became A Reality is an excellent place to start! 
  11. Book a breakfast reservation mid-morning. If you've yet to schedule your dining reservations for your upcoming trip, be sure to pick up a reservation for around 10:30am. When you do, it allows you to hit key attractions at low wait times at rope drop opening, then as the crowds start to build you get to head inside for a hot meal. Our main breakfast suggestion at Magic Kingdom is Crystal Palace which we recently named One of the Best Table Service Breakfasts on Property.
  12. Order your Magic Bands early on in your planning process. After you book your resort reservations, you'll be asked to select colors for each member of your family before your magic bands are shipped and customized to your preferences. If you dont do it right away, it's easy to forget them entirely. 
  13. If you're driving or renting a car, be sure to head over to the outlet shopping centers near Disney property. There are two locations, one is less than 10 minutes from Disney Springs, that feature discounted Disney parks merchandise. If you arrive on the right day, you'll be surprised at some of the clearance merchandise you'll find!  
  14. Book your dining reservations carefully. When you start booking table service meals, especially on the dining plan, it's easy to overlook a fastpass+ selection or book a meal at an inconvenient time. Be sure to check and double check your plans to make sure everything aligns properly. For more on Dining Plans be sure to read Disney World Dining Tips For 2018
  15. Be advised that the dining plan may or may not be your best case dining scenario. A vast majority of the time, you are going to pay more for the dining plan than you will purchasing meals out of pocket. If you're curious of the details, here's a breakdown of the meal plan for last year in our Is The Dining Plan Truly a "Good Deal" From a Cost Perspective? - A Closer Look. The plan is certainly convenient but if you're on a budget, you'll want to consider what it will cost you in the long run.  
  16. When booking Epcot fastpass selections, you may want to book Test Tack as one of your 3 selections. The attraction has been known to break down from time to time, but if you have a fastpass and it starts back up you're typically given a free ride at any point after your original designated window. 
  17. Sticking with Epcot, if you pick Test Track as your top tier pass (unfortunately Epcot's selections are tiered) be sure to book it about an hour after park opening. In doing so, you'll provide yourself time to jump on Soarin or Frozen Ever After before their lines grow and still make it to your first fastpass selection. If you're curious on how this works out, check out our Our Tried and True "Epcot in a Day" Touring Plan 
  18. Book your fastpasses for early on in the day. If it works out just right, you'll be able to activate your fourth "revolving fastpass" as early as possible to use for a longer duration of time if you don't plan on park hopping. For more on that, be sure to read 5 Simple Fastpass+ Tips That Could Better Your Vacation Experience
  19. Check out hidden Mickeys across property. Unfortunately, the hunt for hidden Mickeys at Disney World has faded away for many guests, but Imagineering continues to push out some of the most elaborate hidden details of the park in the form of the iconic character that started it all! Personally, I've used Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets in the past and in my experience it's been the most helpful guide to finding these iconic hidden gems of the parks. 
  20. Explore the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk resort area is an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of the parks to enjoy a meal, grab an ice-cream or even catch an unconventional view of Epcot's Illuminations nighttime spectacular
  21. If you're staying on property, have your packages (in the form of any souvenir purchases in the parks) delivered to your room. Not only will it save you the trouble of carrying it around, but it will likely arrive the very next day at your resort hotel completely free of charge. 
  22. If you plan on riding Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom, ride it early in the day to see the animals at their peak level of activity. 
  23. If you end up eating at Columbia Harbor House at Magic Kingdom, be sure to head upstairs when you're looking for a seat. In the very back of the second floor there is a bridge style overlook that allows guests to eat their meal with a perfect and quaint little view of Liberty Square and a portion of Fantasyland! 
  24. If you're looking to buy tickets, avoid the scams and consider buying from the Official Ticket Center to catch an occasional free park hopper upgrade or extra free ticketed day with the purchase of certain tickets! 
  25. Head to Epcot on really crowded days. Epcot holds crowds better than any other park.
  26. Looking for a perfect Illuminations viewing location? We recommend the bridge between the United Kingdom Pavilion and the France Pavilion. Watch the wind, if it's blowing towards you, pick a different location on the other side of the lake to avoid the debris and smoke that will fall from the sky during the show.
  27. If you like to chew gum, pack it in your park bag or suitcase. You will not found it sold on property (with the possible exception of the gas stations). 
  28. Camp out at the counter service location outside of the Mexico pavilion or at the Rose and Crown table service location at the United Kingdom Pavilion for an excellent view of Illuminations from select seating locations. 
  29. If you're looking to eat a counter service lunch in the air conditioning, stop by La Cantina de San Angel outside of the Mexico pavilion. While a majority of seating is outdoors, if you round the corner by the large circular seating area on the water, you'll see two big doors, At lunch time, you can open those doors and sit inside of the adjacent table service location until they open for their first meal of the day.
  30. When booking a vacation with a travel agent, make sure they are a part of Disney's Authorized Vacation Planners. The somewhat rare ranking means that Disney works hand in hand with the agency and holds them to certain standards and qualifications that many other agencies may or may not. The link will take you to our recommended agency's quote request form (we do not own it).
  31. To get the best view of Happily Ever After, choose a spot near the castle but far enough back near the hub that you can still catch an unobstructed view of the fireworks from the rear launch site. I personally recommend standing on the left hand side of the partners statue. 
  32. If you want to visit the Contemporary Resort, take the walking path. Along the right hand side of the Magic Kingdom entrance (if you're facing the main entrance) you'll find a small path that leads directly to the lobby of the Contemporary and is much faster than waiting on a monorail. Don't forget to check out the five legged goat!   
  33. Want a neat little break from the parks? Catch a boat over to Wilderness Lodge and check out some true Disney history in the Carolwood Room. To be quite honest with you, it's one of my favorite hidden gems in all of Walt Disney World. 
  34. If you're at Epcot (or Hollywood Studios), make the short walk or boat ride over to the Dolphin resort for the best soft serve ice cream on property at the Fountain. I know that sounds like a bold claim, but try it yourself and you'll love it! It's incredibly creamy soft serve in a waffle cone that kids and adults alike will love! Just look for the line at the ice cream counter and you'll know you're at the right place. 
  35. If you want a Dole Whip but don't want to head to Magic Kingdom or don't have a ticket for the day, head over to the Polynesian (or Pop Century - Now), grab a Dole Whip at Pineapple Lanai, and take to the beach for an excellent view of Happily ever After across the water. 
  36. On Main Street there is one single lightbulb that is made with the similar tools and processes used to create the original light bulb created by Edison. The bulb resides in the car barn, but is visible to guests for the sole sake of authenticity. It's a simple touch but one that only Disney would go above and beyond to include. 
  37. If you're looking for a particular resort room location, call your resort the day of your check in and request a location on the property. It is far from foolproof but can work in your favor if they can make it happen. Unfortunately there are select room categories that are reserved for specific reservations but you can always request a location within your room category. 
  38. If you know you're going be back at Walt Disney World for a second trip the same year of your vacation, you'll want to look into a annual pass. The upfront cost is expensive, but it will save you a massive amount of money on the second trip. For similar ticket tips, check out our 2018 Discount Disney World Tickets article to compare a few options.
  39. If you're looking to book a vacation this year, you'll want to look into dates in the early to mid summer. I say that for one main reason. Toy Story Land is set to open in the summer of 2018. The expansion will end about half of the construction at Hollywood Studios and really open that park up to hold more guests and develop a better theme park experience. Plus, this discount is still available! Disney Discounts Are Here For Spring and Early Summer - Up To 20% 
  40. If you're on the dining plan (or not) you'll want to check out Floatworks at Port Orleans French Quarter. The food is excellent for a counter service location and rivals the quality of many table service locations.
  41. While you're at Port Orleans, be sure to try the Beignets! They're one of the best kept secrets (ok... maybe not so secret) desserts in all of Walt Disney World.
  42. Port Orleans, Pop Century, and Caribbean Beach are some of the very best resorts for the money on property. 
  43. Schedule a dining reservation at select table service locations in each park that offer breakfast up to an hour before the park even opens for a very unique view of the park with very few guests inside the gates.
  44. Stay late at night to experience the Kiss Goodnight to see the park near empty and to catch a short heartfelt show as you end your night in the perfect way.  
  45. Book with an official Disney Travel Planner! Here's a closer look at why. Disney Travel Agents - Who Do I Recommend?  You'll be surprised at the difference it can make in your overall vacation experience.
  46. Don't carry water bottles in your backpack if you can avoid it! Water bottles get heavy after a long day in the parks in the Florida heat. If you really want your own personal water bottle, take the bottle into the park empty and ask for a cup of free ice water at a counter service location and fill your bottle with it in order to keep the water cold and replenished anywhere you go. 
  47. Pack Sunscreen for you vacation. Sunscreen is horribly expensive in the parks and available at limited locations on property. Bring it with you or buy it off property.
  48. If you pick up a cup of water from a counter service location (for free), carry flavor packets to flavor your water and cover up that Florida water taste.
  49. If you aren't willing to carry around a jacket with you in the case of a pop up rain storm, head to the dollar store before your trip (or order on Amazon) a few disposable ponchos. Not only will it save you a ton of money in the parks if you end up having to purchase them there, but it may be a good option if you want to stay remotely dry on a water based attraction. For more on this one check out our Disney Packing List - What I Take to Disney World
  50. To avoid delays at bag check, try and pack a park bag that does not have 100 different pockets that will each have to be opened and checked before you get to head into the parks. The people behind you in line will be grateful!  
  51. Use the Magical Express if your flights line up with the timeframes when it is offered. It is not available at all times of day and it may not be the quickest option due to stopping at other resorts along the way, but it will save you quite a bit of money over taking a town car, Uber, or a taxi to your resort. 
  52. If you're looking to save some money when paying for your vacation, watch out for deals on Disney gift cards from certain retailers like Target, Kroger, Costco, an others. It may not be a huge savings but every dollar helps! For more on that plan, be sure to look into our 10 Easy Ways To Save Money At Disney World in 2018.
  53. If you're an Annual Passholder or looking to become one, look into the practice of "ticket bridging." Its not a fool proof solution but can make a big difference for larger families. 
  54. Pack a Sharpie marker if you are looking to get autographs from characters. They write way better than a typical ink pen and leave a much more solid signature in your autograph book. Additionally, they are much easier for many characters to write with.
  55. If you are planning a dining reservation at a park or other location, give yourself at least one hour to get there from any point on property. Transportation can be slow at times, so don't risk losing a reservation just because you arrived a few minutes late by accident. Disney recommends giving yourself even more time than that but I don't find an hour+ necessary.  
  56. If you're looking to eat at or stay at the Boardwalk, Swan and Dolphin, or Yacht and Beach Club, take full advantage of the back entrance of Epcot. It's largely overlooked and a great way to get in the park quickly and effectively without a majority of the crowds. 
  57. If you have allergies, be sure to tell Disney before you get to your dining location or when you arrive at counter service locations. Typically, Disney will allow you to talk to the Chef who will then create an item you can eat or at counter service locations bring you a book of ingredients for each menu item so you can find something that will work for you. 
  58. If you're looking for a good parade spot at Magic Kingdom, head to the front of the park near the entrance of the Harmony Barber Shop. On a normal day, that area of the park is the last spot to fill up and offers great views of the parade in a somewhat shaded area.
  59. Send purchases back to your resort from any shopping location in order to avoid carrying the purchases around the parks. The service is completely free of charge for on property resort guests and while your packages will arrive the next day, it's much better than hauling around an extra bag.    
  60. Don't pack beach towels for the pool. The Disney World resorts provide towels for guests and it's one less thing you have to pack in your luggage if you're flying and attempting to conserve space.
  61. If you're looking for a cheap and unique souvenir, grab a post card and mail yourself or a friend a postcard directly from Main Street USA! "Hidden Disney" - The Functional Mail Service Within The Disney Parks!
  62. If you're headed to Epcot during your stay, be sure to try something you've never tried before at the World Showcase dining locations. You may be surprised what's offered and what you may end up loving! 
  63. If you're a repeat visitor to the parks and looking for something new to try, look into the abundance of special tours available to guests ranging in topics from Disney history to aquatic life, and just about everything in between.    
  64. If you want to escape the parks for a day and relax away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds, consider a round of golf on property! It even made it onto our 4 Unconventional Ways to Enjoy Disney That You May Have Never Considered.
  65. If you want to save some money, look into splitting a villa with another family or a group of friends to find a way into a deluxe resort at a more budget friendly price. 
  66. If your birthday is on the same day as a counter service reservation, have a member of your party make a note on your reservation and you'll likely arrive at your restaurant to a small display of confetti and a special treat at some point during your meal. 
  67. If you're looking to book dining reservations for counter service locations during your stay, don't put that off until the last minute. Walk ups are possible but by no means a guarantee. Book early for the best variety of dining options, especially for large parties. 
  68. When you're making that iconic walk down Main Street towards the castle, be sure to look for the Osh Pophum connection among many others on the window of Main Street! The Main Street Emporium's Osh Popham Story
  69. If you love the history of the parks, or just want a deeper understanding of the parks during your journey, be sure to look at a few of the Disney Legend connections cleverly displayed on the windows of Main Street USA. One of my favorites is the connection to Jack Olsen casually tucked away high above guests. Legendary Cast of the Disney Parks: Jack Olsen and His Influence On The Disney Merchandise Experience
  70. Just a short ways away from the Magic Kingdom, I highly recommend all guests make a trip over to the Grand Floridian to pay respects to a legendary cast member of Walt Disney World, Richard Gerth. He created lasting memories fo iso many guests and unfortunately passed away a short time ago.  Legendary Cast of The Disney Parks: Richard Gerth and His Lasting Impression On Guests - Looking Back - Legendary Cast of The Disney Parks: Richard Gerth and His Lasting Impression On Guests
  71. In a similar way, head to Port Orleans Riverside for a show that is unique to Disney and incredibly entertaining performed by YeeHaa Bob. If you've not heard of Bob, his show is a little bit out off the ordinary but fun for the whole family. Just be sure you check what days he's performing so that you don't accidentally arrive on a day that he's not there.  
  72. When preparing for departure, use the scale at the resort to check the weight of your luggage in order to avoid over weight bags at the airport.
  73. If you're planning on staying in the parks for 4 or more days, be sure to take advil with you to the parks. It's a simple tip but you'll thank me for that one when your joints and feet hurt from walking around the parks all week. 
  74. If you're flying with children, avoid balloons at all cost. When you arrive at the airport, your child (or adult) will not be able to take the balloon on the plane. As a result, a tough situation tends to unfold with younger children and that's not always the best way to end a Disney vacation. 
  75. Don't be so concerned about getting everything done at Walt Disney World that you forget to take the time to enjoy the little things. Step back for a few minutes, find a quiet place, and just take it all in!    
  76. Take a break at Epcot and go eat at Cape May Cafe for a hidden gem dining experience that far too many guests overlook. It's just steps from the back entrance! 
  77. If you're looking to dine on a budget and like eating at Rainforest Cafe and other Landry's properties on Disney property, sign up for their loyalty program to get a free $25 reward on your birthday and a $25 reward just for singing up! We ate for $15 after the credit was applied!               
  78. Fully utilize all transportation options available to you. Unless you absolutely have to be somewhere at a specific time, or are simply really pushed for time, don't pay for transportation when staying on property. Every Disney resort has complimentary transportation. If your resort offers boat or monorail transport they will likely be far quicker than bus transportation. 
  79. If you plan on visiting Toy Story Land (in Summer of 2018), book your fastpasses early on in your booking window. If you've waited too long, there's still hope. The best way to overcome not getting the fastpasses you want is repetitively checking one or two days before your stay on the My Disney Experience site. If you constantly refresh the page while watching TV or doing something else, you may be surprised what pops up. 
  80. If you want a unique view of the Happily Ever After fireworks, plant yourself in the staircase of the Contemporary for this view!
  81. Something bad will happen during your vacation. Unfortunately it is inevitable but don't let it discourage you or ruin your day. Roll with the punches and be FLEXIBLE. So many guests get so bent out of shape over the simplest moments of bad luck or something going slightly "wrong." When that moment arrives, step back, look at things from the big picture, and make the most to the situation. 
  82. If you're a Target card holder, buy Disney gift cards to pay for your trip. That 5% discount doesn't sound like much but may save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.
  83. If you're not a Hilton Honors American Express card holder, get one! If you're willing to stay offsite or in the Disney Springs area there are quite a few Hilton owned hotels that you can easily rack up enough points to snag at least one free night when booking with points.
  84. Along the same lines as number 84, if you're willing to sacrifice a bit of that (Disney bubble) feel, on select occasions and times of year staying at the Double Tree by Disney Springs can be super cost affective. I wouldn't recommend it for a first time Disney guest but if you go quite often (like we do) it can save you a lot of money over time. If you're an annual passholder parking will be free at the parks so transportation wont necessarily be an issue.
  85. Cut some costs during your stay and skip one park day. You can do so much outside of the parks that you'll likely never miss that time. It'll save you hundreds of dollars depending on your family size and length of stay. We typically have one non-park day on each of our longer trips. It breaks up the trip a bit and creates sort of a rest day for lack of a better word.      
  86. Speaking of rest, don't over do it in the parks and make yourself miserable. Take breaks. An hour or two spent at the pool may give you 3 hours of extra time in the parks later that night. 
  87. Don't forget your budget. Too many guests over spend during their trip or leading up to their trip and end up with a massive bill hanging over their head. Truthfully any on-property Disney resort will be great accommodations so don't go too overboard.  
  88. If you plan on visiting Disney Springs, don't feel obligated to book a dining reservation. Most table service restaurants will take walk ups at Disney Springs and if all else fails, The Polite Pig, D-Luxe Burger, and the array of other quick service options are great alternatives.
  89. If you plan on carrying a bag into the park, try your best to take the absolute minimum amount of stuff that you can. At about 3:00 in the afternoon in the 90+ agree weather that lighter bag will be your best friend. Too many guests pack around 30 pound backpacks and likely only use about half the stuff in their bag.
  90. If you have an emergency of some type in the park, don't hesitate to ask a cast member for help. Often times first aid or even the medical team can help solve the most elaborate problems faster than you would expect. They see things happen every day and know the usual causes and how to overcome the problem.
  91. If you ever can't find your way in a park, ask a custodial cast member. As strange as it may sound they likely know the park better than anyone and they're always close by and willing to help first time and even returning guests find their way.
  92. In reference to autograph books (also mentioned briefly in number 54), consider bringing an autograph book with you. The Disney ones are nice but unfortunately yours will look like thousands of other guests' books. Picking up a nice notebook or one with your child's favorite character on it is a great solution to save some money and set your book apart from all the rest. If you do happen to lose it, it will be that much easier to identify.
  93. Speaking of lost items, if you ever forget something in the parks or lose something along the way, don't hesitate to head over to lost and found. Disney has a rather mind blowing setup designed to help guests find their lost items. You may be surprised at what they can find. 
  94. If you really need to get someplace in a hurry on property, Minnie Vans are a great option. Not only do you get the best in service by a Disney cast member driver, but it is a flat rate $25 fee to get anywhere on property.
  95. If you've already been to WDW and seen the fireworks shows from typical viewpoints, consider an "off the beaten path" spot to watch the various nighttime shows. A new perspective can really change the feel of the show and often times take away a little bit of the stress of finding that perfect spot. For Magic Kingdom check out Our Top Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations for 2018
  96. If you plan on going to see Illuminations, don't worry about staking out a spot hours in advance. There's enough land around the lagoon that you can easily find a fairly good spot within 30 minutes of when the show is scheduled to begin. (Pro tip: the second floor of the Japan pavilion is a great option.) 
  97. If you need a plan for your days in the parks, or even just a large overview of what we would do on each day of our trips, be sure to check out our itineraries here on the site! Disney World Itineraries and Trip Planning - What We Recommend
  98. Dont be afraid to ask questions on social media. Most social media platforms have hundreds of Disney fans on them and the vast majority of us are more than happy to share some recommendations or tips for your stay. 
  99. On the flip side of number 98, don't take advice from just anyone. Chances are you'll run into at least one person who is the self-proclaimed "expert" who has only been to the parks one time.... 10 years ago. Typically that same person is the coworker who thinks they know everything about everything so just be careful about who you ask for tips from. 
  100. Take some time to relax and view a sunset somewhere on Disney property. It seems simple but it's so important to us that we devoted a full article to it! 4 Places to Experience a Sunset At Disney That You Wont Want to Miss
  101. If you can avoid it, try not be that guest who only plans to spend one day at Disney World. If you try it, you'll be quite overwhelmed and while you will still have a great day, you'll be disappointed that you don't have more time to explore other parks and resorts. If you do get boxed into one of those 1 day stays, here's what we recommend: Our Ideal 1-Day Walt Disney World Itinerary for 2018
  102. Tip number 102... don't try to use all of these tips in one trip! Pace yourself and enjoy every moment. Sometimes the most seemingly trivial experiences are the ones you'll remember years down the line. You can't do it all in one trip so enjoy the time you have and plan a return trip when you get home. Or... consider booking a bounce back offer by calling reservations from your resort hotel to try and catch a discounted room rate for your next trip! We booked done of those offers in order to make staying at the Boulder Ridge Villas a little more affordable.     
So, that's our list of Disney World Tips. It's a bit random, but hopefully these tips share a little bit of Disney knowledge to shed light on any given Disney parks vacation planning experience. Amazingly, these 102 tips barely scratch the surface of information we could share with you and many of you may have excellent tips of your own you may want to share with us. If so, don't hesitate to share them with us in the comments of your favorite social media site. Don't forget to use those share buttons to invite a friend into this community of Disney fans by Disney fans. Want to share this article on pinterest? We'd truly appreciate it!


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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! 


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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, July 18, 2018

3 Nostalgic Magic Kingdom Backstories Many Guests Overlook

Guide4WDW.com
by: guide4wdw - Collin

3 Nostalgic Magic Kingdom Backstories Many Guests Overlook

It's been quite some time since I wrote an article strictly about Disney history, so today I'm bringing it back and sharing a few stories that long time Disney fans may know and love but other guests may completely overlook. Disney is a surprisingly unique property. Thankfully, with the gift of time and the blessing of space things have always been growing and changing since the very beginning of Walt Disney World. Unfortunately as things change, a few stories and experiences are also left behind. As true as that statement may be, the legacy those attractions and experiences develop for guests have created stories that have been passed down for years on end. 

As many of you may know, I was not there in the early years of Walt Disney World. Unfortunately that was before my time, but I've always been and likely always will be fascinated by the stories friends and family share with me of the years before my recollection of the parks. You could call it nostalgia or perhaps an appreciation of history and the little details of Walt Disney World, but to me it's more an appreciation of story in the most basic sense. 

You see, Disney is a living history book at times and the stories it has created for guests often transcend the made up stories within the attractions and carry over into the "real world" stories of how these attractions and experiences developed. That's what I hope to share with you today.           


1. The Orange Bird

The Orange Bird has had a unique rise and fall within the parks locally and internationally over the last 14 years. Today, the character and Sunshine Tree Terrace of Adventureland are a newly iconic piece of the Magic Kingdom lineup. However, it hasn't always been that way. In the early 1970's and very early years of Walt Disney World, the Orange Bird was created in partnership with the Florida Citrus Commission as a sponsorship agreement for the Enchanted Tiki Room. At that time, the character was more of a PR item than anything else and a way to back the attraction (in my opinion). In typical Disney style, every character had to have a story and the Orange Bird was no different. 

The bird was incapable of singing but ironically had a song that accompanied the years it spent in the parks written by none other than the legendary Sherman Brothers. If you remember the song or have heard it pop up years later, you inevitably and unashamedly started singing it as soon as you saw this character on our list. For those of you who may have never heard it, here's a quick clip from youtube to get stuck in your head. Sadly after years of the Orange bird being in the parks and in that prominent Sunshine Tree Terrace roll, the character disappeared from the Magic Kingdom.

Rather strangely, in 2004 Orange Bird arrived at Tokyo Disneyland as a correlation with a Japanese holiday and a series of simple festivities the park developed for the occasion. In kind of an odd way, the Orange Bird character was an instant hit and grew to mass popularity in the international park. So much so that around 5 or 6 years ago the Orange Bird made a welcomed return to Magic Kingdom. At first the characters re-introduction almost felt like a "test" to see how it would be received by guests, but it quickly grew in popularity. Today, Orange Bird merchandise can be found all over the parks and while Sunshine Tree Terrace isn't in the exact same place that it once was, the history the character brings to the park is greater than many may realize. 

2. The PeopleMover (Tomorrowland Transit Authority) 

The details and history of this attraction are truly mind blowing. So much so that I could never share the whole story here in this short article, but I'll happily share a brief rendition. 

The PeopleMover story essentially begins at the 1964 World's Fair many years before it would become a reality at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The project was, in a rather simple description, a creation developed for the Ford Motor Company's pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair in New York. That particularly world's fair was an incredible turning point for Disney in the realm of creativity and ingenuity and the Ford project was no exception. Ford had a grand idea of sending guests through their pavilion along a track in one of their forward thinking vehicles of that time, but they had to find a way to make the process more guest friendly opposed to simply driving them around. As a result, the WEDway PeopleMover system was born. The design allowed a vehicle to move along a fixed track with a wheel embedded within the track to move the vehicle without having to have a driver of motor for the car itself. 


Later on, this same concept was brought to Disneyland as an attraction towering over Tomorrowland transporting guests on a seemingly non-stop basis. The ride vehicles were far smaller than a Ford automobile and the track proudly featured "Goodyear" tires as a means of propulsion. Just as before, the vehicles themselves had no motor. It was an incredibly creative concept and one that was set to revolutionize transportation. Sadly, that obviously never became a reality and the Disneyland iteration of this attraction closed in 1995, but the system we enjoy today in Walt Disney World is quite similar. It is different in that it uses a linear induction system opposed to a tire based rotating wheel but the ride itself is the closest thing to the original iteration you can enjoy today. Will it ever be re-introduced at Disneyland? I doubt it... but anything's possible. 

3. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has created kind of a love-hate relationship among Disney enthusiasts. The great "debate" over this attraction stems from the attraction it sadly replaced in 1998, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Out at Disneyland, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was a day one attraction and part of that nostalgia carried over to the Walt Disney World iteration. The attraction itself was the definition of a near perfect dark ride. It took you through a story, had a fun and adventurous pace, and while incredibly simple, the simplicity is part of what made it great. 

Truthfully I can only go off of what I've been told about this classic attraction. Sadly, I have yet to experience the Disneyland iteration (that trip is on my list!) and the Walt Disney World iteration closed before my 3rd birthday rolled around. As true as that may be, Mr Toad and his legacy can be found throughout Walt Disney World today hidden in plain sight. If you've ever ridden the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh you may have seen a tribute to Mr. Toad in the form of a painting or if you've ever checked out the pet cemetery of the Haunted Mansion you've also come across a tribute to Mr. Toad hiding in plain site. Part of me believes these little elements were intentionally added to calm fans who protested the closing of the attraction, but another part of me still feels as if Imagineering also shares in a bit of disappointment thinking back at "what was."



These are just a few simple stories to touch the surface of all the hidden backstories of Walt Disney World and I share them for a reason. Perhaps you've been to Disney hundreds of times or maybe you're a first time guest. No matter what, I believe that there's a certain level of deeper appreciation that can be recognized when we know not only what we see today but also when we know the stories of how it got there and where it came from. The people who put it there and the people who made it a reality make up a far greater story than the attraction itself portrays. It's not a story that you'll see written outside the attraction or one that Disney will throw up on their website but those hidden stories hiding in plain site are often what make an attraction different and unique from all other theme park attractions across the country. If nothing else, I hope these little snippets of much more elaborate attraction backstories encourage you to "dig a little deeper" (I can't be the only one who just sang the song...) and to enjoy the stories that make these attractions great.   

I'm not the perfect Disney historian, and sadly didn't get to experience too much of this first hand, so if you have thoughts to share or a story to tell, don't hesitate to leave it in the comments or shoot me a message on your favorite social media platform.    

Check out a few of our recent articles for even more Disney content:




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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.          




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