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Florida Villas : Vacation Articles : Orlando Vacation Rentals - Disney Hints and Tips

 

Disney Vacation Rentals and Holiday Homes in Florida


If you are looking forward to visiting Disney World or other attractions in Orlando, planning the trip with a little information could help save you money. Instead of opting for the first package that comes your way, its best to get some more knowledge of hotels and other kinds of lodgings available might be a good idea. Even if you are from Florida, some tips form this article may help you in getting your required and budgeted accommodation.

A popular misconception is that the resort exists in Orlando. In fact, the entire Walt Disney World property is outside Orlando city limits; the majority sits within southwestern Orange County, with the remainder in adjacent Osceola County to the south.

Most of Walt Disney World's Central Florida land and all of the public areas are located in the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, located southwest of Orlando and a few miles northwest of Kissimmee. The land within Walt Disney World Resort is part of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which allows the Disney corporation to exercise quasi-governmental powers over the area.

Hotels always come across to be trifle expensive on the agenda whenever you travel irrespective of the destination. The alternative is vacation rentals that offer far cheaper rates than most hotels. Vacation rentals may come to include various kinds of lodging like privately owned cottages, condos or large and luxurious villas that can be directly rented or leased from their owners, their agents or through vacation rental agencies. A lot of variety is available to choose from and they are ideal for families looking forward to make use of Disney vacation rentals.

Florida Disney vacation rental lodgings offer cheaper prices resulting in huge savings in costs compared to staying at a hotel. Most of these privately owned accommodations are listed directly by their owners, resulting in saving more money by avoiding middle men. Orlando being one of the most popular vacation destination in the USA because it has something for everyone - Disney with its four theme parks – MGM Studios, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom in addition to the 3 water parks and more than eight golf courses, not to mention many other attractions.

The Walt Disney World resort also includes six world-class golf courses. The five 18-hole golf courses are the Magnolia, the Palm, Lake Buena Vista, Eagle Pines, and Osprey Ridge (the last two are part of the Bonnet Creek Golf Club). There is also a nine-hole walking course called Oak Trail, designed for young golfers. Together, they are known as Disney's "99 holes of golf." There are two miniature golf courses, Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland.

Walt Disney World paved the way for many other theme parks and attractions in the area, including SeaWorld and Universal Studios, and helped make Orlando a popular tourist destination for people from all over the world.

Since the best time to visit Florida and its attractions is from October to April, it is best to get reservations at least 2 months in advance. If you are a regular Disney buff, you may even consider owning a vacation home there which can be rented out as and when not required by you. Investment, return and appreciation along with the pleasure of a Disney holiday is a reality.

 

 

 

The Best Age For a Disney Vacation

Grappling with the idea of taking the kids on a Disney vacation? Are you not sure if they are too young and will just be overwhelmed or too old and will be bored? Well, I will let you in on a secret; the best age to take the kids on Disney Vacation is............whatever age they happen to be! We first took our son when he was two and he loved it as did our neighbour’s teenagers, but the trip will be smoother if you follow a few simple guidelines:
Keep their ages foremost in mind….
Choose rides and activities that are age appropriate, your toddler will not appreciate the Tower of Terror and your teenagers will want to pluck out their fingernails on It’s a Small World. If you are traveling with children of wide age ranges, then a compromise will be in order. Some options are to split up, do alternate half days or make it clear that if they do this for two hours, will then do that. Find other ways to keep them amused if they are out of their element, younger kids may nap in line ups, older kids might be amused with their Game Boys etc.
Balance out your days...
The younger the children, the less you will be able to pack into one day. Try not to do it all at once. Let you family pick and choose the rides and events they really, really want and focus on those. A day at the parks can be followed by a day at a water park or relaxing by the hotel pool.
Disney tips for young children...
Make sure you plan for plenty of naps and rest times, bring a stroller, choose hotels close to the parks or stay on site so you can get back and forth easily, bring snacks and juice along, go at your child’s pace. Some children will love all the excitement, others may find it too much, so take your cues from your child and go at THEIR pace.
Disney tips for older children...
Give them some breathing room, let them explore on their own if possible, set a time and meeting place if they do go off on their own, bring walkie-talkies or cell phones to stay in touch, don’t force them to do things they don’t want to do, remember it’s a vacation - it’s supposed to be relaxing right?
Try to avoid releasing the beast...
The most important guideline to follow on your Disney vacation, or any family vacation for that matter, is to not let your children get too hungry or too tired. All parents are familiar with the tired, hungry, cranky child. On vacation, when they are probably already out of sorts, pushing them to the limit should be avoided. Keep an eye on meal times and nap times and try to keep them on track. Rest before the kids are exhausted and eat before they are ready to chew their own arms off.

Keep in mind these guidelines and you and your children can enjoy a Disney vacation at any age!



10 places to escape from Disney -- inside Disney

 

You've been running from ride to ride, seeing the attractions and keeping the kids happy. Now you deserve a break.

ORLANDO - Is it possible to find peace at Walt Disney World?

The short answer -- at least to most parents -- is ''No!'' To trek through four attraction-filled theme parks with an eager-to-do-it-all child (or two) in hand is to ask for trouble. Add in the sauna-like heat, the wallet-busting concession prices and the interminable waits and you've got the perfect cocktail for a parental migraine.

Unless, of course, you learn to take a break. And I'm not just talking about stopping for ice cream (well, maybe I am, but more on that later).

In nearly a decade of traipsing through Disney with two children, I've learned to find mini escapes -- places that offer a little bit of shade and quiet and an opportunity to rest your feet. Some are so easy to find you might wonder why you didn't think of them in the first place. Others are less obvious, but still worth seeking.

In no particular order, here are 10 of my favorite places. Trust me, the more of them you visit, the more peaceful your Disney travels will be.

• Afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian Spa & Resort's Garden View lounge: Who would think such an oasis exists in Disney -- just a short ride on the monorail from the Magic Kingdom? The setting is wonderfully Victorian. The treats -- finger sandwiches, scones, pastries, strawberries and cream and, of course, tea -- are delicious. And there's no minimum -- you can get by with just a reasonably priced pot of tea. It's great to visit after the afternoon parade at the Magic Kingdom. (Note: Reserve well in advance.)

• The fire pit at the Animal Kingdom Lodge: Yes, it's hot outside. But it's cool inside the lodge -- so cool that you'll be inspired to sit 'round the fire pit and watch the dancing flames. There's an outdoor one, too, perfect for those rare chilly nights.

• Tomorrowland Transit Authority at the Magic Kingdom. OK, this is admittedly among the lamest rides at Disney -- a train that makes a long, slow loop around Tomorrowland, with a corny narration as accompaniment. But it's so lame, it's, well, relaxing. And the train goes indoors for a brief bit -- a cool respite, indeed.

• The petting zoo/stables at Fort Wilderness Resort. It costs nothing to visit, but the interaction it affords is priceless. Unlike the petting zoos you'll find at most traveling carnivals, this one is a class act -- the animals look well-groomed (and well-fed). It's rumored the goats and pigs may no longer be part of the zoo, but the horses and ponies are expected to stay (and, yes, you can ride them for a fee).

• Frozen margaritas at EPCOT's Cantina de San Angel. On a scorching day, nothing beats ''that frozen concoction that helps (you) hang on,'' to quote Jimmy Buffett. And the waterfront view at Cantina makes it seem all the more thirst-quenching.

• The 'Villains' Room'' (aka the watch department) in Downtown Disney's World of Disney. Your kids will want to come here for the tremendous selection of character merchandise. But if you can sneak away from the bedlam in the stuffed-animal department, you'll find the decidedly more sedate (though villain-themed) timepiece section, with watches to suit every taste (and every budget). The staff is always helpful, too.

• The fishing hole at Port Orleans Resort: Even if you don't get a bite, there's nothing better than whiling away a couple of hours at this fully stocked fishing spot. But you better not mind baiting your hook with live worms.

• The boat ride from EPCOT to Boardwalk: You might call this just another form of transportation, but when you ride this ferry at night, taking in the sights along the way, you'll feel as if you're cruising the Seine.

• The Writers' Stop at Disney-MGM Studios: It's so small that you can't call it a cafe (even though it serves coffee) or a bookstore (even though it sells books and magazines). But it offers enough of each experience to somehow qualify as its own Starbucks-meets-Barnes & Noble equivalent within Disney.

• Beaches and Cream at the Beach Club: Maybe a scoop of ice cream isn't such a bad way to take a break, especially at this retro-minded ice-cream parlor. Or make that a few scoops of ice cream -- for a totally indulgent treat, go for the Kitchen Sink, a ''sundae'' that combines every flavor of ice cream and every topping the park offers. After a long day in the parks, you deserve it.

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Disney Ticket Prices Increase August 6, 2006

Walt Disney World announced an across the board ticket price increase for Magic Your Way and Annual Passport tickets effective August 6, 2006. Water Park and Disney Quest tickets were increased $1 each. Ticket prices were last raised in January of this year.

A one-day one park ticket for persons 10 and older becomes $71.36 with tax from $67.10 with tax.

The price to add on a Park Hopper Option to the Magic Your Way tickets goes from $40 to $45. The No Expiration option also increases in price beginning with Day three, this seems to have the biggest price increase.

New Adult Annual Passport goes from $441.98 to $462.21 (tax included); while the Premium Annual Adult Passport goes from $574.05 to $595.36 (tax included).

 

First-Timer Primer

So you've finally succumbed to the kids' pleading. Or maybe those beautiful, happy TV commercials got to you. You've decided to go to Walt Disney World! You go to the Disney World website and realize they are speaking a whole new language. What is park-hopping? Why would anybody want to hop through a park anyway? A hidden Mickey? Why would they hide Mickey Mouse? Isn't he just out in the open? Then you try talking to a co-worker who has been to Disney World before, to see if maybe you can get some answers to these questions. But before you can say more than, "We've decided to go to Disney World " she starts talking at a high rate of speed about "ADRs" and "extra magic hours" -- she seems to speak that strange language, too!

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WHAT IS THIS PLACE?
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Walt Disney World (or WDW, just one of the many acronyms you're going to encounter as you learn this new language) sits on 27,000 Florida acres (or about 43 square miles), and encompasses four separate theme parks, two water parks, shopping and entertainment areas, more than 20 resort hotels, golf courses, a sports complex and a whole host of other recreational activities. That's really an extension of Lesson 1: This place is huge!

Most people who are unfamiliar with WDW think of it as being very much like the original Disneyland Park in California -- the one with the castle we saw every Sunday night on the "Wonderful World of Disney" when we were kids. The first of the four WDW theme parks, the Magic Kingdom (MK) is SIMILAR to Disneyland, but it is bigger, and it's not all there is to WDW. MK is separated into sections called "lands,"each with a different "theme" (get used to hearing that term, as almost everything around WDW is built with its own special theme, or motif). There are Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland, Liberty Square, Main Street USA and Mickey's Toontown Fair -- you can pretty much guess the theme of each land from its name. Each land has a variety of themed "attractions," many of which are based on Disney movies. Although MK is the park usually thought of as being for "the kids," it is by no means a "kiddie" park. There is plenty for the adults to do, and it is, in fact, the favorite park of many grown-ups.

But wait... "What's an attraction?" you're asking. Attractions are the rides or shows -- the roller coasters, the carousel, the slow "dark" rides, like Pirates of the Caribbean, or Peter Pan's Flight. An attraction can also be a short movie, a live show, or a 3-D show. There are also a few attractions that are not rides or shows, like the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, which is a walk-through. Disney has a huge variety of attractions, so whether you are a thrill-ride lover or get motion sick on a porch swing, there is plenty to do for everyone.

The second park is Epcot (which used to be an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, but now it is just used as a name). This park has two sections (or "worlds") -- Future World and World Showcase. Future World is mostly about science and technology, while World Showcase is a small-scale walk around the globe. It consists of pavilions arranged around a lagoon, with attractions, restaurants, and shops from 11 different countries. I know, I know -- it sounds stuffy and "educational," and a lot of people will tell you that kids will be bored here -- they are wrong. There is plenty of fun to be had. This has actually been my daughter's favorite park from the time she was 5.

The Disney-MGM Studios (or the Studios, which many people erroneously call "MGM") is the third park and, as you might assume from the name, it is themed around movies. Again, some people think there is not much in this park for kids, but that is not true either. I actually think this park has the best balance of attractions aimed at people of all ages.

The fourth park is Disney's Animal Kingdom (AK). Although this park is themed around animals and, in fact, has many live animals, it is NOT a zoo. Attractions in this park are either rides, shows or live animal exhibits. Kilimanjaro Safaris is actually a ride through an animal habitat. Warning: AK covers a lot of ground and seems to end up being the hottest of the four parks, so try to go early in the morning.

In addition to the attractions, each park has ongoing entertainment throughout the day, usually including a parade in the afternoon and fireworks of some kind at night (except for the Animal Kingdom). When you enter each park, be sure to pick up a park map and entertainment schedule for the day.

Meeting the Disney characters is also a fun thing to do in the parks. You may see them at any time in any of the parks, but there are also designated places and times to meet them -- meet-and-greet spots. There are two kinds of characters: "face" characters, who do not wear masks over their faces and will talk to you, and costumed characters, like Mickey Mouse and Winnie-the-Pooh, who are completely dressed up and do not talk. Many people like to pick up an autograph book and pen and get the characters to sign the autograph book, and then have their picture taken with the characters. Adults are welcome to do this as well as the kids.

The parks generally have varying operating hours, depending on how busy they are -- they're usually open longer during "peak seasons,"which would be the summer months, and around the holidays. Your hotel staff will be able to tell you the operating hours for the time you are there, but you can also find the hours out in advance by checking the official WDW website. Also, Disney hotel rooms have a special WDW information channel on the TVs that tell you times, events and other information about the parks.

Oh, and here's another term you should know relating to park hours: "Extra Magic Hours" (EMH). EMH refers to a benefit for guests staying at a Disney resort -- on certain days the parks will open an hour early or stay open three hours later at night just for Disney resort guests.

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WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO?
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There is obviously a lot more to do than just ride rides and watch shows. For example, there are two water parks (parks with pools and water rides and all kinds of other swimming and get-wet stuff to do) on Disney property: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. They both have the same type of activities -- the big difference between the two is "theming." Typhoon Lagoon has a tropical theme, while Blizzard Beach has a "ski resort melting in the Florida sun" theme.

There are also miniature golf courses and award-winning regulation golf courses; the Wide World of Sports complex, which hosts sports events ranging from the Atlanta Braves spring training to amateur soccer tournaments; the Richard Petty Driving Experience that allows you to drive a real race car; DisneyQuest, a five-story super high-tech arcade; and Pleasure Island, a nightclub district located at Downtown Disney, which is itself a shopping and dining area. These things are just for starters -- there are so many other activities available, we can't fit them into an article called a "primer."

Many of these activities require separate admission. Which is a good way to introduce another important thing you'll need to know about: Tickets!

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TICKET BASICS
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Admission passes to the parks are called Magic Your Way (MYW) tickets. They come with a variety of options and in two sizes: Adult (age 10 or older) or Child (ages 3 through 9). Anyone under 3 is free, and there are no discounts for seniors or the disabled. Your MYW ticket to the park covers all the entertainment and attractions in the park, but you have to think carefully about what type of MYW ticket is best for you: a Magic Your Way "Base" ticket (without any options added on) allows you all-day access to ONE single park each day for however many days you purchase, within 14 days of the ticket's first use (after that, the ticket expires). If you purchase the "No Expiration" option that means any days you don't use during this trip will still be valid the next time you go to WDW, no matter when that is. The "Park Hopper" option on your ticket allows you to go in and out of any of the four main theme parks as many times as you want each day (i.e., to "park hop"). A "Water Park Fun & More" option adds admission to water parks, Pleasure Island, DisneyQuest, and the Wide World of Sports. There is also an Annual Pass, which provides you with park hopping admission to the theme parks for an entire year, and Premium Annual Pass, which adds the other recreational choices -- but we're getting ahead of ourselves. You just want the basics now.

Getting to Meet the Characters

Explore tucked away places in the parks Quiet cul-de-sacs in the Magic Kingdom or small side streets in Epcot’s World Showcase keep large crowds from swarming the characters. Keep in mind that character’s schedules are subject to change, especially in inclement weather. There are no guarantees that you will see these characters at the places mentioned. If there is a particular character that you want to see, ask a cast member when and where that character is scheduled to appear.

Etiquette

Before you visit, remind your group to treat the characters with care and respect. They prefer gentle hugs to tight squeezes. Get your camera ready while you are waiting to greet the characters. That will allow you more time to interact with them. The characters will be as accommodating as possible. Have your autograph pens and books ready if you want an autograph. Characters will sign autograph books, hats or plush animals, but won’t sign t-shirts that guests are wearing. Mickey and his friends are not allowed to hold children in their arms – it is too dangerous with those big gloves and paws. They will drop to one knee for a hug and a photograph with small children. The Disney villains will be true to their personalities. They may shake an angry fist, do impatient foot tapping or misbehave by ‘stealing’ an autograph book. Harmless and often enjoyed by older children and adults, the villains may frighten younger children.

Keep your eyes open at...

MGM Studios

The end of New York Street around Washington Square. Al’s toy barn for the stars of Toy Story.

EPCOT

The market streets of Morocco for characters from Aladdin. Mary Poppins makes appearances in the streets of the United Kingdom area. Snow White is known to make appearances in the Germany area.

Magic Kingdom

The Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit often make their way to the Mad Tea Party Ride. You may find Captain Hook and Mr Smee around Pirates of the Caribbean. Brer Bear and Brer Rabbit have been found tucked away in Frontierland.

Animal Kingdom

Rafiki, Timon and King Louis have been known to bid farewell in the late afternoon at the gates of the Animal Kingdom.

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Disney Pin Trading

One of the things which has taken off in Disney is Pin Trading.

If you’ve visited Walt Disney World in the last few years, you’ve probably noticed people, including Cast Members wearing large numbers of pins. Did you know that trading these pins is an enormously popular hobby? Well, it is for many Disney fans.

Disney World has sold pins as souvenirs for many years. In the early days, they were simply an inexpensive memento of your trip or gift for friends back home. That all changed with the Millennium celebration. During the celebration, pin trading became an official event at Disney World. If you haven’t heard of it, then basically you buy a strap which hangs round your neck and you fasten ‘pins’ which are badges with a stud on the back on to the strap.

The idea is you collect so many and then you can swap with other guests or cast members. There are pin trading stalls throughout the Disney parks and some other areas. Some people even carry books of spare badges so you can swap with them, a friend bought a starter kit at $25 which was a strap plus 2 lots of Mickey and Minnie badges.

You might be wondering why pin trading has grown to such a size. Well it's part good marketing and part that it’s a great way to meet people. Anyone can trade, old or young, male or female, novice or seasoned visitor. Pin trading can be an expensive hobby, and it is addictive. The more pins you have, the more you want. However even someone with only a few pins can enjoy the fun of trading and it’s even great fun to watch the traders in action. One of the largest trading station is in the Disney Village.

It seems that the Disney Cast Members cannot refuse to trade with you unless they already have the badge you want to swap or they have traded with you once already that day. So remember this when you get to the park first thing in the morning as this is a good time to find those different badges on the cast members. The cast members can pick up there pins from the many available for the staff to trade. To add a bit of excitement to the process Disney adds a few of the old and hard to find badges to the pot each day so that there is always a chance for you to find that long wanted badge.

Pin trading is obviously a big money maker for Disney because they encourage it by making new pins available almost daily in incredible numbers and at all the various Disney sites. You can find pins at Disney World and Disneyland, also at local Disney Stores, and in the Disney Store catalogue and online. Also to add to the game pins are also available at the Paris and Tokyo Parks.

Each location’s pins are unique to the location and issue. There were three different Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party pins last year, and each design was only sold after the previous one had sold out.

As a marketing excise and way to get people to continue to buy small pieces of metal it's superb. The more pins Disney produces the more people buy to trade. You can find people selling early pins, from before the trading era, on EBay for amounts which seem unbelievable.

So be warned this hobby can be both expensive and addictive.

 

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Golf at Walt Disney World

Golf may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Walt Disney World, but if you rate every location you stop at in relation to its distance from top quality golf courses then this should be high on your list.

The Walt Disney World Resort is the largest golf resort in the world with five ‘tour’ level courses. These are the same courses the pros play during the annual PGA-tour events. The major event used to be known as the National Car Rental Golf Classic, and is now the annual PGA FUNAI Classic and features most of the PGA Tours top players. The final round is always played at Disney's Magnolia Course.

As you would expect with this standard of course you will find modern clubhouse facilities, full-service pro shops and golf instruction. The instruction from full PGA pro staff is available by appointment only.

A recent report stated that Disney is planning to spend millions on the clubhouse located at the Shades of Green Resort where the Magnolia and Palm courses are located. As well as this the Palm course has reopened after a new irrigation system was installed. However one of the biggest improvements will be starting in 2004. Beginning with the Palm, there are plans to close one of the five courses each summer in order to install new Tifeagle putting surfaces. This grass is said to be the best available for courses with climates like Florida give a smooth fast surface.

Disney requires that you have proper golf wear on the all courses, so you can't just go from the parks in your shorts and T-shirt. Spike less golf shoes are required or you may use alternatives like ‘SoftSpikes’ or tennis shoes. However should you need equipment rental, everything including shoes, are available if you are unable to bring your own and are lucky enough to get a last minute reservation.

While all this may sound like your ideal holiday it’s not something that you can normally just turn up for. The popularity of the courses means that at most times you will need to make a reservation. One of the most important things you need to know is that peak season is from January to April, because of the climate. The PGA Classic is normally held around mid October so you should remember this when planning any trips if you really want to play.

You can book up to 90-days ahead if you have a Disney Golf Package or are staying at either a WDW Resort or a resort on Hotel Plaza Boulevard. Otherwise, you can call 30 days ahead to secure preferred times and locations. Call 407-WDW-GOLF (407-939-4653). The other thing that important is that all tee times are set for foursomes. If you're party is less than four, you'll be paired with other golfers. None of this is included in the cost of park passes so here is an indication of cost for 2004.

If you don't want to play and you're lucky enough to visit Orlando during the PGA Classic, practice rounds are open to spectators at no cost. Tickets for tournament play are available on site each day for a fee, ranging from $15-25/round, depending on the round.

18-hole course greens fees including required cart vary with course and season. Here are some examples: rates range from $129 to $174 for WDW Resort/Hotel Plaza Blvd. guests; $134-$179 for day visitors. Twilight rates, available throughout the year beginning at 3 pm daily, are about $60 to $80. Tee times must be guaranteed with a credit card and must be cancelled at least 48 hours prior to the tee time to avoid payment.

Resort Guest & Day Visitor Golf Rates are per person for greens fee, use of electric cart and pre-round practice balls. Twilight Special Golf Rates are per person for greens fee and use of electric cart but pre-round practice balls are not included. Twilight Times: (Sept. 27 - Oct. 26 start @ 3:00 pm due to Daylight Savings) and (Oct. 27 - Jan 16 start @ 2:00 pm) Replay rates are 50% of applicable full rate on same day; on space-available basis and may not be reserved in advance.

Finally, remember that lessons are available from full PGA pro staff by appointment only. Reservations can be made by calling 407-WDW-GOLF (407-939-4653) and, of course, there is an additional fee.

 

Disney Photo Pass

This is a relatively new feature of Disney's but we found the service wonderful. It is a process of being able to view photos taken by professional Disney staff on-line when you get home.

Disney always has lots of Cast Members milling around to take photos at fantastic photo spots (ie. just in front SpaceShip Earth at Epcot – no matter how hard you try to get your family and the top of the globe in, only Disney camera people can manage it!) Also at character greeting areas such as Mickey’s House in ToonTown or at MGM in Mickey the Sorceror’s studio trailer. Previously once you had a photo taken, you were given a card with a number on and then you had to proceed to various photo locations to view your photos and decide if you wanted to take it home with you. However, personally five times out of ten, we were simply too tired to stand in-line as we left the parks and I am sure we therefore missed out on some excellent photos.

Disney has now introduced Disney Photopass which means there is no longer queueing at the photo booths but you can simply view your photos on-line and pay once you have returned home.

How it works : you will see camera people in the parks, simply ask them for a Photopass card and they will hand you one – this can be used for the rest of your holiday but don’t worry if you forget it one day, simply get another as you can view multiple cards when you get home. I keep saying ”get home” but you can still view them at the parks if you prefer. However, you only have three days after viewing in the parks to decide whether you want to buy whereas at home, you have 30 days before they are taken off-line.

Every time you want a photo taken, ie at a certain spot or with the characters, simply hand the card to the photographer, they swipe it and the photos are then registered to your photopass number. A word of advice, the cards can get rubbed a lot and the numbers sometimes fade away, make a note of the number separately in case it is lost (or in our case washed!!)

We used a couple of cards a number of times and it was so simple when I got home, just log onto www.disneyphotopass.com, register, attach your cards to your account and then you can add WDW logos and choose any price packages you like. I had two 8x10s and 2 x 5x7x plus 4 wallet size photos – check out the home page of the site for discount offers available and put in the code when you go to Checkout.

My photos arrived from US to England in about 5 days – the only downside to doing it this way is do not come with the Disney cardboard frames which I love but I would probably have not viewed the photos at the parks, but now I have wonderful photo memories.

Well worth doing.

 

What is a “Hidden Mickey”?

For those of you that have never heard of a “Hidden Mickey” here is a short explanation of what it means:

A Hidden Mickey is an image of Mickey Mouse which is hidden somewhere, whether it be a silhouette (the most common one being a large circle for Mickey’s head with two smaller ones for his ears), profiles of his head, an actual cartoon image of his face or even a three dimensional figure eg. a Mickey Mouse doll. A “Hidden Mickey” can be found anywhere on Walt Disney World property, in the theme parks, the resort hotels and their golf courses etc.

In the design or building stage, or when finishing touches are being added to an attraction, the Imagineers hide these Mickeys. Some are quite easy to spot, others more difficult, even when they are pointed out to you.

Hidden Mickeys originally started as an inside joke amongst the Imagineers, but then word spread amongst the Disney Cast Members, and eventually the guests. Immediately a quest began to find the Hidden Mickeys. This pastime has become increasingly popular with families who visit Walt Disney World with the sole intention of finding as many of them as they can!!

Some Mickeys are intentionally hidden by the Imagineers, others are hidden by the cast members who work on the attraction i.e. the plates in the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom. Some are even accidental, maybe a shadow formed when the sun is in the right place, or a design of Mickey which is part of an attraction, for example, the hat in the teenage boy’s bedroom in Spaceship Earth in Epcot, or the tee-off mats in Fantasia Gardens golf course.

These days Hidden Mickeys are expected in any new attraction and fans will avidly await the opening, just as excited about finding the Hidden Mickey as they are about the new ride. It is anyone’s guess where the next one will appear.

As you enter an attraction, ask one of the cast members where the Hidden Mickey can be found. It could be in evidence whilst you are waiting in line, or in the attraction itself. You just never know. Not all of the Cast Members will give away the secret and encourage you to find them for yourself, maybe giving you a few clues. However, if you go into Guest Services at Epcot I do happen to know that they have a list of Hidden Mickeys, and if you ask extra nicely, they may hand one to you.

Happy hunting!!

Travelling With Kids


Having travelled with kids, here are just a few tips we found made our holiday that little more relaxing.
Before you go, buy some Disney Dollars from the Disney Stores and keep giving them as their pocket money – this way they have some money to spend on that huge cuddly toy that every child has on the plane trip home.

Disney caters for everything for children, there are Baby Services – private rooms with seating and low lighting for nursing mothers, feeding rooms with highchairs, bibs, plastic spoons and nappy changing rooms. Baby-care products such as disposable nappies, pull-on rubber pants, formula and teethers are for sale - remember these will be US milk and “diapers” so whilst great for an emergency, obviously have your own supply.They even have nappy changing areas in the men’s room so no excuses for Dads!

In-park stroller rental ($6 a day plus $1 refundable deposit) makes travelling through the theme parks easy so no need to worry about taking your buggy, although you will have to carry your child from the car park.

Take a swimsuit and possibly a change of clothes for the kids to the parks, kids will love playing on Donald's Boat & in the water fountains around all the parks, & will inevitably get very wet!
"Kid Switch" policy gives both Mom and Dad a chance to enjoy the latest attractions without the wait. Here's how it works. One parent waits in line with a small child while the other parent rides the attraction. The first parent returns to the loading area and takes the child while the second parent rides.

Make sure your child knows what to do if he/she gets lost - tell them that cast members wear name badges & to go to one of them immediately if he/she gets lost; or for older kids arrange a place to meet if they get lost. Introduce them to one of the Cast Members, they are always happy to chat to the kids to make them feel at ease and tell them to come straight to someone who wears the same uniform as them. If your child has pockets put their name on a piece of paper just in case. Disney does has special name tags for very young children. Guests can get them at - City Hall or Baby Care Centre (Magic Kingdom); Guest Relations or Baby Care Centre (Epcot); Guest Relations (MGM & Animal Kingdom).If you do lose your child, report to Guest Relations/City Hall, Baby Care Centre, or tell a Cast Member.

Character Meals are great for youngsters – make sure they eat all their food otherwise the characters won’t visit with them!!!! Works wonders for those fussy eaters.
If your son hates having his haircut, wait until your holiday and take them to Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street, Magic Kingdom.

Be prepared for the Florida sunshine. Bring extra sunscreen, a hat, umbrella, plus a jacket/cardigan for chilly, air-conditioned theatres.
Buy an autograph book for your child to get character's autographs and a big pen for the characters to hold – there hands are too large for small pens and always have the autograph books open ready to save time for everyone.

Try to get your child used to the different characters before you get there by watching Disney movies. Explain that the characters will be bigger than them & there's no need to be scared. If your child does get scared when meeting a character, don't force them into it just because you want a picture of them with Mickey Mouse! So many parents seem to push their kids up the characters when it is obvious they are terrified – don’t worry, they do grow out of this practically the next year.

Kids under 3 are admitted to the parks for free. Kids over the age of 9 are considered adults in Disney's eyes, & so have to pay adult rates for tickets & passes.
And don’t forget when they get tired, take them back to the villa for a nap and return later.

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The Best Dates to Visit Disney World Florida & Tips

 

Are some months better to visit Orlando Disney in Florida than others? The answer to that question is YES!

Most visitors tend to visit during the summer months of July and August, when children are out of school. That may be your best option, however,if you and your party can arrange alternate months to visit, here are some suggestions for less crowded and more pleasant visits.

Valuable Tips:

BEST TIME TO VISIT ORLANDO FLORIDA DISNEY WORLD:

Early January to mid February:
The weather is cooler this time of year, and can even have spells of cold whether, but if you’re dressed right, it most likely won’t bother you. Quite often the weather will be in the region of 70 degrees F, very pleasant and most likely sunny. Cues at the parks are much shorter and waiting times for the most popular attraction rides will be minimal. Keep in mind that on occasion, rides may be closed for refurbishment. Visit the individual websites of those parks you would like to visit to ensure that the rides you want to visit will be available.

May:
Quite often May a quiet month for attractions and theme parks. The weather is normally sunny and warm without being too humid, and crowds are minimal.

Late August and September:
Although still very hot and humid, these months will provide a good time to visit. Many families with children are preparing for the return to school and have had their vacations. Make sure you plan to visit the water parks in the mornings as late afternoon showers still take place during this time of year.

December - First three weeks in December:
Cooler in temperature, but crowds decline due to preparation for Christmas. The decorations will normally be in place, stores will still provide excellent sale prices from their Thanksgiving Day Bonanza Sales, and many parks will have started their Christmas Parades or firework displays. Check individual attraction websites for specific information.

BUSIER TIMES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD:

Christmas – December 25 – 31:
Busy, Busy, Busy but the entertainment and décor are fantastic!

Easter:
Whether it falls in March or April, Easter will be extremely busy but weather should be very pleasant. This includes President’s Day. Disney does not do a special parade for Easter.

Grad Nites:
Usually the last two weekends in April. Private parties for graduating high school seniors are held 11:00 pm to 4:00am at the Magic Kingdom. The park closes from about 7:00 pm. Avoid the areas around the Magic Kingdom from about 9:00 pm as buses will tie up traffic for hours.

Jersey Weeks:
Usually the second week of November. The New Jersey schools have a teachers’ convention so lots of kids have several days off and lots of people take advantage of going to Disney World. With New Jersey being the biggest market for Walt Disney World – it can get really busy.

Press Events:
Very big parties held for the media and VIP. They last 2-3 days but don’t happen too often (usually not more than twice a year). Due to these events, a park may close early or close late to the public. The abbreviated opening times are normally listed a month before on the park schedules found at Disney’s website.

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Did you know................

 

The following are just a few little known facts about Walt Diney World and the way it works.

Did you know…………………..

All garden and plant displays within WDW are done in pots, even the trees!! This means that if, when a shrub or plant grows, it is the wrong height, or the flowers are the wrong colour, they simply dig up the pot and replace it with a different one.

All “Disney Princesses” are employed on a one year contract. They must be a dress size 6- 8 ( Uk 8 – 10 )and must agree to remain at that size for a year.
Each “Princess” is given a book and must learn the mannerisms of her character, for example, Snow White always claps with the the heel of her hands together, her palms and fingers never meet!!!!!! She must also learn the answers to questions that guests might ask.

Characters inside full costumes are not gender specific, eg; Cinderella’s Fairy Godmothers’ appearing in the parade, may be male and Captain Hook may be female!!

Autograph signing is always limited to 20 mins as the temperature inside the full costumes is approximately 20 degrees higher than the outside air temperature….that’s hot!!

The wigs of characters are made of synthetic hair, whilst the wigs of animatronics are made of real hair and cost up to $5000 each!! This is because characters are make believe but animatronics are intended to look real.

New recruits to the Disney organisation are said to be “ earning their ears “ and cast members will usually wear a red ribbon under their name badge which says just this!

The canal system around WDW was designed by the US military, however, the first attempt was so structured and ordered that Walt Disney had them redesign it.

When Cinderellas Castle was designed it was intended that there would be an apartment inside for Walt Disney to use on his trips to the Magic Kingdom, however, he died before it’s completion and the space for the apartment was left empty.

The distance between trash cans is never more than 27 paces. An experiment was carried out whereby all trash cans were removed from Mainstreet in The Magic Kingdom. All visitors were given a candy in a wrapper as they entered the park and observers noted that the average distance a visitor would walk before dropping the wrapper was 27 paces!!!!!!

The rotunda within The Great American Adventure is actually oval!!

The colour of the tarmac on the sidewalks of Magic Kingdom’s Main Street is especially dsigned to make the sky appear more blue and the trees appear more green.

The height of the window ledges in Main Street are all child height to encourage children inside, there is one notable exception,………the shop selling crystal and glassware!

There is a sunglasses code for those who work outside in the public areas of WDW, lenses cannot be dark or mirrored so that guests can always see the eyes of the cast member.

And finally, pin trading began after the Atlanta Olympic games where a Disney employee observed teams swapping pins from their own countries for those of another competing nation. The pin trading business is worth $70,000,000 ayear to the Disney Corporation.

If all these facts have whetted your appetite why not consider taking one of Walt Disney Worlds Backstage Tours?
To find out more, visit the Walt Disney World Website, or contact WDW on
407-939-8687

 

 

 

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