Saturday, January 31, 2015

5 Ways to be a Courteous Guest at Walt Disney World

     We have all been on vacation at some point in our lives, trying to relax with our families and friends, when the unintentional carelessness, ignorance, or lack of knowledge of another person we don't know intrudes on our own experience. It could be a group being too loud, someone cutting you off in some way, stealing your place in line, screaming children in places they shouldn't be, or a number of other things. In this post I want to talk about some things we can all do to minimize the number of times we are the person committing such heinous atrocities, as well as ways we can help our fellow guests have an amazing trip. Remember, there are families all around you at Walt Disney World who are spending their entire life savings to take their loved ones on this experience. We all owe it to these families to make sure their trip is magical.

  1. Don't walk abreast too often or in groups too large. The paths in Walt Disney World are made wide so that many people can get where they need to be, and not so that all of your friends can walk side-by-side at a slow walk. I am a huge fan of walking slowly through the parks, but don't make a line that people can't get through. 
  2. Don't take your babies to California Grill. Or, at least, don't take them at 10:30 at night if you know they will be screaming the entire meal. I don't just mean California Grill, either. This goes for Jiko, Citricos, Be our Guest, Le Cellier, Coral Reef, or any other romantic fine-dining establishment. The World is a place for kids, but adults need these eateries to go and have their time. Disney World isn't just for little kids, and Disney puts a lot of work into making these restaurants beautiful and unique. Disney also offers kids clubs and connections to babysitting services so you and your honey can go eat finely without bring the baby.
  3. Be careful with kids on shoulders. I have visited World of Color at California Adventure several times only to be blocked completely at the last minute by a dad who lifts up junior on his shoulders so he can see. There are ways to make sure your child can see the fireworks shows without making them 8 feat tall. This blocks out most of the show for everyone behind you, and can ruin the single most important part of a day at the park: the goodnight spectacular. In a similar vein, holding your giant ipad above your head can block and distract from the show. Enjoy the amazing things that are happening in front of you!!
  4. Watch where you're going! With the evolution of society heading toward every single person having a smart phone, there are more and more guests walking around staring down at their phones. First of all, be present where you are! Watch for the beauty and detail around you! Second, you very well may trip over a four-year-old in front of you, or walk into someone huge and scary (like Gaston).
  5. Talk to Strangers. Parents always teach you not to talk to strangers. I learned at a young age that Walt Disney World is the place I can break that rule. When you stroll down Main Street, greet the people who are walking by. In Epcot, meet the people from around the world who love to talk to inquisitive guests! When you shop, ask the cast members what their favorite items are. Find some pin traders and ask them what the hottest pins are today. When you see a family laughing at their photo on space mountain, laugh with them! One of my favorite things about Walt Disney World is the mood. Almost everyone here buys into the idea that we are all united in celebrating the place we love. Meet new people and share your happiness with them! Chances are you will improve their day and they could improve yours!
Thank you so much for reading,
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The 5 Best Ride Queues in Walt Disney World

     Walt Disney World was built to be a place where the company fixed some of the mistakes it made in Disneyland. One of those mistakes, and a notable one at that, was the size of the property. Disneyland ended up being so small that the area available on which to build limited the creativity of the Imagineers. One of the ways to clearly see this is the difference in queue lines between Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Walt Disney World allows enough space for the design and story of the ride to truly consume you. You enter into a place at many attractions in which you cannot see anything from the outside world. I will concede that Disneyland's attractions also do a magnificent job with storytelling and immersion, given the space that they have, but the World has really mastered this art. The following are my favorite examples of Disney absorbing you into the attraction and story long before you ever get on the vehicle or enter the show.  I did limit my choices to rides, because shows often have a pre-show, putting them into a category all their own. 

  1. Expedition Everest: At the foot of the mountain, before you head up to meet the Yeti, you first must learn about the legend. In this queue, Imagineers will transport you in and out of buildings and temples in an old Nepalese town. As you walk outside, you will see statues of gods and yetis and offerings to them. You will see beautiful gardens and authentic decoration. Inside you will see displayed evidence of the Yeti, and many many newspaper articles and real (and imagineered) accounts of encounters with the snowman. Take this line slowly and appreciate the work that was put in here. It will make the ride much more meaningful. 
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean: In the Walt Disney World incarnation of this ride, you enter a pirate fort, under a tower, and first step into the dungeon. The air is dank and the light is low. Cannon balls and swords line the walls. You can peer in through iron-barred windows and see the skeletal inmates of the prison (watch for a game of cards). You'll meet a parrot, and can interact with props from the ride. This attraction is worth it just for the queue. The entire area of Pirates of the Caribbean is perfectly to theme, and is full of jokes from the movies, as well as countless treasures that show you just how far into pirate territory you have ventured. Perhaps too far?
  3. The Tower of Terror: Maybe I have an affinity for eerie queue areas? The queue for the Tower of Terror is an absolute treasure. Whether it is sunny or hazy, stepping into the hotel garden at the entrance to this attraction will make you feel like the mist is closing in on you. The chipping cement and constantly dying plants create the perfect quiet and ominous imminence. The silence is broken only by the screams of those who are going before you (whom you cannot see at this point). After the garden, you enter the lobby of the hotel, which resembles perfectly an elegant hotel from the 1930's (and clearly it hasn't been dusted since then). Read every sign in this line if you want to catch the jokes and hidden treasures. Look for statues that talk to you, or signs that tell you the story of the hotel. This line is marvelous, and I would wait in it all day.
  4. Jungle Cruise: Here we return to the Magic Kingdom for a good ol' Jungle Cruise. Most guests waiting in line here do not appreciate the genius that is all over the walls and beneath and above you. This is mostly because the queue is completely outdoors, and it is often real hot. My solution? Go at night! It is often empty and you can stroll at your own pace. The fire-lit attraction and queue make it even better! Watch for name gags, signs that tell the tale of the boat tours before you, and endless jokes. The audio you hear playing is an hour-long loop that features authentic olde music and a radio host who will make you smile. It all follows the story wonderfully.
  5. The Haunted Mansion: I thought I would conclude at the Magic Kingdom, just across town in Liberty Square. The Haunted Mansion is a true classic, and features Disney fun and creativity at its finest. This fun starts long before you board the ride. Outside, you wait beside a graveyard covered in headstones with fun phrases, all of which are mementos to past Imagineers who have had a large impact on the parks. Inside, you have a fun interaction and introduction to the story, and then walk down a hall lined with shelves of books. Are the busts on the wall watching only you? Pay attention to all the illusions and tricks here. It is often just walked by. Enjoy!
    I always say to slow down and watch for all of the hard work that imagineers put into their parks! This includes the queues. These are not the only five that are magnificent. What are your favorite?

Thank you so much for reading

-William Tollefson (

Friday, January 23, 2015

Disney and the Age of Acquisition

     I would like to take one post and dedicate it to an opinion I have that is coupled with a fear about the Disney company. As Disney grows and becomes even more of a monolith, it is facing several temptations as a company, and I feel that it is falling victim to many of them. This post is not intended to denounce or show any reduction in my love of Walt Disney World, but just to be a reminder that we all need to hold Disney accountable for what it is doing.
     Let's go back, first of all, to the roots of the parks. At Epcot, an innovative and new idea about practical solutions to world problems arises from a dream of Walt Disney. While this theme park titled "Epcot" is not at all what Walt had planned, the park did stay true to its theme. It was a place where corporations shared new ideas, and Disney was a part of it. It was a Disney original. It was about teamwork. The attractions in early Epcot included two Disney original characters created and imagined by Disney exclusively for use at that specific park: Figment and Dreamfinder. Each land was new and exciting, and the shows and rides showed hope for progress, and were Disney at heart.
     In 1989, the Disney MGM Studios opened so that guests could be part of the movie making process. While this didn't go particularly according to plan, the park did play host to some films with which Disney either cooperated, or created in-house. And at the center of it all was the animation studio that created real Disney movies in front of you.
     In 1998, Disney opened a theme park that had never been done before. It took its experience with designing rides, shows, and exhibits with unparalleled storytelling, and applied it to the world of live animals! Animal rights activists, critics, and much of the world said it was going to be a zoo, and that it would flop because theme park and animal don't go together. However, through Disney's innovation and creativity, as well as their striving for excellence, they created a theme park that has changed the lives of many who have visited.
     And let's not forget the Magic Kingdom. In 1971, Walt's Floridian Disneyland opened and graced the East Coast with its complete immersion and magnificent scale and beauty. No theme park of this magnitude had been built before. Funded by Walt's faith in Mary Poppins, the Magic Kingdom defied expectations and became the Vacation Capital of the World that it was supposed to be.
     All of this, one will notice, began with originality, creativity, risk, excellence, and imagination. These traits, I'm fearing, are slowly being lost in the Disney company. I fear that as a reaction to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter across town, Disney has grasped at outside sources and thrown obscene amounts of money (5.5 Billion for Star Wars) so that it could stay afloat and promote worlds and stories that already exist outside the company. In an effort to expand and make more and more millions each year, they seem to be trending toward simply acquiring stories rather than telling them and writing them. I use as examples their purchases of Star Wars and Marvel in the last few years. I, for the life of me, cannot decide how sci-fi space movies (with the word WAR right in the title!) and huge muscled punching shooting fighting gun-obsessed strong men physically punching each other for two hours on the big screen reflect the ideals of Disney.
     I have memories of Disney telling me to wish upon a star when I was a child. That spirit has never left me. I challenge all of us to pressure Disney to stay true to that spirit of gentle and beautiful wishes coming true, rather than violent (though often awesome) movies being bought and sold under their name so they can make more money off of them.

     Again, these are my opinions, and I hope they don't offend any of you. I LOVE Star Wars, and Marvel has its place. I just don't want them anywhere near my Cinderella Castle at night beneath the fireworks and uplifting music. I want them far away from my someday 4 year-old daughter who will learn just like me that wishes do come true, and not from shooting all the bad guys with guns, or having the biggest muscles.

Thanks for reading my rant!

-William (

Sunday, January 18, 2015

5 Reasons to Stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

     Perhaps you've heard about Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. Maybe you have visited to see what all the hullabaloo is about. I trust that you weren't disappointed. Disney created an incredible thing when it built this resort, which could be a vacation destination all its own. I want to preface this article by saying that I have visited both sections of the resort: Kidani Village and Jambo House. I will refer to only things at Jambo House for the purposes of this article because I believe that every aspect of it is better. Kidani Village is also a wonderful place, but Jambo House has everything Kidani Village has, and more. Here are my 5 reasons that I think you need to stay at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge on your next trip:

  1. Boma lies along the stream of water that runs from the massive lobby down toward Uzima Pool. What you'll find here is a buffet-style restaurant that features a combination of authentic African fare and fun food that artistically displays African themes. For example, you will find "fufu" (an African sweet potato dish that will blow you away) as well as famous little domes of chocolate mousse painted like Zebras. The waiters are wonderful, the location is romantic and beautiful (and loud), the smells will get you excited before you see the place itself, and the food will make you wonder how you lived before eating here.
  2. Live Animals roam the savannas that wrap around and completely envelope the resort building. These animals include Zebra, Giraffe, and Ostrich, as well as animals much less known such as Kudu, Bongo, Gemsbok, and other antelope, with a highlight being the great Eland, the largest antelope in the world. Walking around the resort, there are various windows, balconies, offshoots, and walkways that allow you to see the savanna. Be sure to visit Arusha Rock, which juts out from the end of the lobby, as well as the viewing area from the pool.
  3. The Cast Members that work at the Animal Kingdom Lodge are welcoming and delightful, and many of them are from Africa. In a similar way to Epcot, Disney hires patrons from other countries to come and represent their homeland in Walt Disney World. You will find men and women from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and all over Africa standing around the resort waiting to talk to you. A highlight that I always make sure to enjoy is the nightly Africa talk. In a small seating area next to the lobby, one of the African ambassadors will give an intimate presentation on their home country and its politics, animals, culture, and reasons why they love their homeland. They love answering questions, and will enlighten you profoundly. 
  4. The Lobby at Jambo House is in itself a reason to stay at the lodge. When you walk in through the sliding doors and through the breezeway, you look forward toward a massive room made of dark carved woods, and an authentically African-thatched roof. Hallways, a fire pit, stairways, rock work, waterfalls, and separate rooms shoot off from the large central seating area. Dimly lit side areas and inviting paths toward adventure are broken by the only natural light in the room coming from the expansive window opposite you. Vines have made their way up this window, and you can see plants and trees and rocks outside that hint at the savanna. Do not take this moment lightly. Pause and plan which paths you want to explore.
  5. The Rooms at the resort are beautifully decorated with dark browns and yellows and African art. The real highlight, however, is waking up in the morning and going to bed at night. I have been known to, since I was a pretty small child, wake up at 5 am and watch the sun rise over the savanna, and the animals marching into their feeding areas. It is so perfectly quiet and awe-inspiring to see these animals doing their daily routines. If you can, stay in a room with a savanna view. If you do, spend time at the room on the balcony taking it in.
     Even if the Lodge is above your budget, do take time to visit. It is a unique and amazing experience independent of the rest of Disney World. All of the Disney magic is there, plus a piece of Africa that you can't see or feel or smell anywhere else.

Thanks so much for reading!

-William (

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Two Rides We Know are Coming to Pandora

     It has been a couple years since Disney announced that it would be building a land themed after James Cameron's world from Avatar. The opening has been scheduled for 2017, and details are very slowly coming out as to what will be featured in this new land. We can count on atmosphere, decoration, "floating islands", food, rides, and long lines. In the realm of rides, Disney has confirmed the plans to open two specific rides: a boat-style ride and a flying ride on the back of a Banshee. Here is what we know:

     The boat ride will be a slower ride. It will be dark at times, which will give Disney a chance to show off their technological breakthroughs for the land. Imagineers have hinted at an abundance of "bio-luminescent" plant life around your boat. They have also confirmed that there will be small drops on the ride, but made it sound like this would be a relatively tame ride, as compared to the other ride coming to the land. I would guess that your boat will be floating along peacefully in Pandora, on a tour of the land, when a corporation looking to harvest minerals interrupts you and tries to ruin your adventure. Just a guess.
     The second ride that Disney has confirmed is a flying simulation in which guests ride atop Banshees. Joe Rohde of Expedition Everest Imagineering fame has commented that the ride will borrow some technology from Soarin' over at Epcot, but will also bring in new and innovative "ground breaking" technology. He also said it will be a much more thrilling experience than Soarin'. My guess is that Disney is going to use similar technology to that used in The Adventures of Spiderman and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey over at Islands of Adventure. However, I'm sure Disney would never admit this. I am also sure that Disney's storytelling ability will push this attraction well beyond either of those previously mentioned in overall quality.
     Another thing that should be mentioned is the testing of technology for flying creatures that fly independently in the sky. Disney has surprised guests a few times in the sky of the Magic Kingdom by shining a light on a dragon that flies by itself and breathes fire. I could see this working very well with Banshees flying in the skies of Pandora. Here is a link to the video that Disney has released of the dragon technology. That, of course, is speculation. I think Disney is doing exciting things here!

Thanks so much for reading!

-William (

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

5 Things to do with Dad at Walt Disney World

     Many of us grew up making powerful memories with our dads. Some of the best times of my own life have been spent doing nothing of any particular importance within the context of paternal care. Walt Disney World offers endless opportunities for dads and their kids to get away from work, school, or even the rest of the family for some good fatherly time. Here are my ideas for the very best places for you kids to take your dads on your next trip (or vice versa perhaps).
  1. Crescent Lake next to Disney's Yacht, Beach Clubs and Boardwalk Resorts is a perfect place to connect with dad. You can rent a rat racer boat together from the dock over by the Yacht Club and explore between Epcot and Hollywood Studios. At night, you can walk over by the Boardwalk and catch a magician doing his tricks, each with some popcorn in hand. For a small fee, you can rent a cycle trolly and ride it around the entire lake! They come complete with four seats, bells, and a cloth cover to keep you dry! A day on this lake is the perfect place for some fatherly time.
  2. World Showcase at Epcot is my favorite place in the world (lower case). While the Showcase is perfect to explore with anyone at all, the aspect that I connect most with dad time is meeting people from other countries. Most of the individuals that work at each pavilion around World Showcase Lagoon are citizens of the country they are representing. This means they speak the language, know the culture, and actually grew up there. They very often love talking to you about the country they love, and are an incredible wealth of knowledge and understanding of a place you probably know nothing about. Dads, take this opportunity to approach good and kind strangers with your kids, and teach them about how other cultures are different from our own, and that this is a good thing! 
  3. Disney Springs Marketplace (formerly known as Downtown Disney) is the perfect place to geek out with your dad. Have you ever heard of pin trading? Some of my fondest memories are that of buying a pin or two with dad from the giant pin station at the Market, and looking around at the pins possessed by the unbelievably dedicated collectors who spend their time standing and talking to people about pins. These people don't work for Disney, but often use all of their free time in the parks and at pin stands talking to other guests! They are often wonderful to kids, and will sometimes offer them treasures they will never forget. This makes for great adventures with dad.
  4. Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is its own vacation. With the art, architecture, African cast members, wild animals, African dining, lobby, pool (I could go on ad infinitum), etc., featured here, you could easily spend several days being immersed in Disney's Africa. One of my favorite things to do as a child was to run around the Resort with a checklist in hand of all animals featured on the property. Disney, however, was smart and didn't put all the animals together all through the savanna. The Gemsbok is in some places, and not others. There are Bongos, but they hide in the bushes only next to the pool. I won't spoil all of it! Go run around with dad and see if you can find them all!
  5. Disney's Electrical Water Pageant is a tradition from opening day. it is a series of barges that float around the Seven Seas Lagoon outside the Magic Kingdom after dark, and often after park closing. They were designed so that children who are sleepy and ready to sleep can look out their hotel room windows for one last bit of magic before they snooze off to dreamland. The floats are bright, beautiful, and pretty magical. The music is cheesy and catchy, but it is an intimate and charming kiss goodnight from Walt Disney World. If you stay along the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon, do wake up your young one just to see this. They will wonder the next day if that time dad woke them up to see those lights on the water really happened, or if it was a dream.
     This post is dedicated to my dad, on his birthday. Happy birthday dad. I love you.

Thank you so much for reading! Subscribe and follow for more!

-William (

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Two Homages to Past Attractions hidden in Walt Disney World

     As is the way of things, attractions at Walt Disney World are always coming and going. They become outdated, are no longer popular, or simply need to go to make way for something bigger and better. When this happens, Disney does not just forget about what was there before. Disney will often remove an attraction from one of its theme parks and leave a copy of that attraction in another park. Just that has happened to Walt Disney World in the demise of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
     Disney Parks are famous for their constant and clever hidden attributions to the origins and history of their parks. When you see a name on something in Walt Disney World, there is a very high chance that behind that name or label or title is a story. Nothing is there for no reason. One example, which I wrote about here, is the decoration of windows along Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom. In this post, however, I will tell you about two hidden homages to extinct and beloved attractions: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
     Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was an opening day attraction at Disneyland and in Walt Disney World in 1955 and 1971, respectively. It was based on Disney's 1949 film, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The Magic Kingdom incarnation of the ride closed in 1998 and was replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. However, there is a wonderful little homage to the former attraction in the new ride there. On the ride, observant guests will notice a picture of Mr. Toad handing over the deed to the property to Owl of Winnie the Pooh fame.
     Another attraction that has not been forgotten in Walt Disney World is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. 20,000 Leagues opened in 1959 in Disneyland during a major expansion along with Matterhorn Bobsleds. The 20,000 Leagues in Walt Disney World opened in 1971, and closed in 1994 due to the fact that it didn't handle crowds well, and was expensive to run. In the New Fantasyland expansion of 2013, Disney added several attractions, including the new Journey of the Little Mermaid. This attraction lies roughly on top of where the lagoon for 20,000 Leagues was. In the queue for the Mermaid attraction, Imagineers carved into the face of the rock one of the submarines from the former ride.
     Keep your eyes out for Disney referencing former attractions and shows in their new construction. This is all part of Disney's obsession with storytelling that is constantly adding incredible depth to their parks.

Thanks for reading!

-William (

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Sorcerer's Hat Comes Down Tomorrow. Why Was it There, Anyway?

     Disney announced earlier this year that 2015 would bring the removal of the Sorcerer Mickey hat that has  long adorned the end of Hollywood Boulevard at Disney's Hollywood Studios. It has functioned as a pin station, a hub of different shows and events, and a merchandise shop. Many don't know, however, that the hat came for a reason, served a function, and will now leave for a reason.
     In 2001, Disney World celebrated (17 months of) its "100 Years of Magic" promotion, counting 100 years since the birth of Walt Disney. The World brought in several attractions from around the rest of the Disney world to accompany this celebration. These included Soarin' from Disney's California Adventure and the Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show from Disneyland Paris. Along with the celebration in Florida came a name and sponsorship change in the then called Disney MGM Studios. Disney no longer had a partnership with MGM, and was working on retooling the park so as not to infringe on legal rights of MGM. One of the issues that came up at this time was the Chinese Theater at the end of Hollywood Boulevard. Since the Park's opening in 1989, the Theater had been the dubbed "weenie" of the park. It was all over signs, advertisements, postcards, trash cans, and everything they sold at the Studios. Those of you with better memories will remember that Disney very suddenly removed that facade from all of its merchandise, and stuck a giant sorcerer hat in front of the Theater. This happened as a deal between Disney and MGM, in response to a claim by MGM that Disney remove the theater from the park completely, because it owned the original Chinese Theater in California. As a compromise, Disney essentially covered up the Theater, and removed it from all of its merchandise and signs.
     Thirteen years later, Disney will tomorrow remove the Sorcerer's hat, and allow the theater to once again shine as the center Hollywood Studios. This change comes in front of major upheavals coming to the Studios, and is a sign that Disney is not completely abandoning its roots in its Studios park. What changed between Disney and MGM you ask? The new deal between Disney and Turner Classic Movies allowed Disney to upgrade the Great Movie Ride, and purchase the rights to the beautiful building that was once so iconic in the park. However you feel about the hat, big and exciting things are happening here!

Thank you for reading!

-William (

Monday, January 5, 2015

5 Quiet Corners to Complete your Date Night

     Walt Disney World is truly a romantic place. The lights, music, people, mood, positive atmosphere, and old world feel of it all lend themselves to the perfect date night. However, a problem that you may encounter on your night out is that of other people... and lots of them. Walt Disney World is getting more and more crowded, and it is getting increasingly difficult to find a moment to share between you and your date. In this post, I want to give you a few ideas about where you can take your date to have just a moment to yourselves. I will keep them within the theme parks, because you will not have a problem finding a place if you have a hotel room (duh). There are many more than this, but here are some of my favorites!

  1. In the French Pavilion at Epcot, there is a small street that veers off to the left of the main square. While this used to be a much better spot to have a moment of relaxation, before the addition of a major counter-service restaurant in the back, it is still very romantic and quaint if you go when that restaurant is closed. The alley is decorated with French shops and signs, facades and art. In addition, there is nothing more romantic than sharing an ice cream cone and watching the rushing passers-by. Check when the restaurant will be closed, and make your plan for that time. You won't regret it
  2. At the UK Pavilion in Epcot, follow the path next to the cottage when entering from the International Gateway, and you will find yourself in a quiet garden square behind the buildings. There are paths, flowers, and wonderful buildings to look at. This garden is often completely empty during the day, and is often wonderfully shaded by the trees. The music, plants, and seclusion will whisk you away to a land of English Royalty and the elevated lifestyle that you deserve.
  3. Streets of America, over at Hollywood Studios, are rich with detail and attention, although they are oft-ignored. This, however, will work to your advantage if you are looking for places to have a romantic walk. Save for the holiday season, these streets are usually bare at night, and are dimly lit and will give you the feel of walking city streets at night by yourselves, with the addition of Disney enhanced reality. Take advantage of these streets while you still can! Big changes are coming to the Studios, and this area could be gone before you know it.
  4. The Walt Disney World Railroad, which circumnavigates the Magic Kingdom throughout the day, is a classic attraction that suffers because it is not a thrill ride. However, it is a beautiful and quaint tour of the Magic Kingdom, with a charming and informative narration that will brighten your evening. On a day in the off-season, the train will be nearly empty when it runs at night, and you and your date can enjoy a private tour around the Kingdom. What is more romantic than that? These steam engines are full of history, and are a staple of the Disney company. Go enjoy them!
  5. The Oasis, over at the Animal Kingdom, is a treat at night. If you find yourself lucky enough to be at the Animal Kingdom past dark, do not rush out with your date. Even if the park is closed, take your time meandering over the bridge from Discovery Island, and stop at the Oasis. Listen to the waterfalls and streams, and enjoy the seclusion under the trees and in the plants. The Oasis is dimly lit at night, and has a magical feel to it. The Tree of Life is also beautifully lit at night, and is visible from the back of the Oasis.

     Do your research before you go on your date! There are many many places to escape the crowds and enjoy having a section of a Disney Park to yourselves. Happy dating!

Thank you for reading!

-William (

Friday, January 2, 2015

Animal Kingdom's Coming Night-time Spectacular: Rivers of Light

     Since its inception, Disney's Animal Kingdom has been the only park in Walt Disney World without a night-time show. In previous articles, I have written about how night-time spectaculars at the World are arguably the most important facet of the parks. The shows are inspirational, thought-provoking, tear-jerking, and bring together the themes of everything you learned and experienced throughout the day. Therefore, I have long advocated for the Animal Kingdom as a half-day park. While the attractions are incredible, the shows beautiful, and the music and atmosphere unique and wonderful, the park has lacked a uniting event to tie together all of the threads of a day at the park. It has lacked a reason to stay and spend time there. However, all that is about to change.
     Disney recently announced officially, and began construction on, a night-time show that will be in the realm of World of Color (at Disney's California Adventure) and Fantasmic!. However, the show will have its own identity, and will feature all new effects and elements that Disney has never done before. Below is the concept art that Disney has released to raise excitement about the coming show:

     Some have responded with skepticism about the show, saying that there was a reason there has never been a show. Animal Kingdom has always closed early because the animals in the park need to sleep. Also, a show with bright lights and loud sounds might disturb the animals. However, Disney officials have responded by saying that while the animals are on the savanna and in the exhibits during the day, they go inside to their enclosures at night and are well away from the front of the park. They also say that the show will be suited perfectly for the park that hosts it, implying that the show will be designed to accommodate nearby sleepy animals.  
     This show coincides with the scheduled opening of the Pandora at the Animal Kingdom. Disney is hoping that with these two additions, they will be able to create a reason to visit the park at night, and therefore keep it open longer. The show after dark, as well as the beautifully lit night-time area of Pandora should create plenty of draw to the park at night. One will also notice that the two lands toward the front of the park (Dinoland U.S.A. and Pandora) could both remain open after dark with no fear of disturbing animals. Maybe this was the plan all along...?
     The show will take place on the lake between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest. Construction walls are up around the Tree of Life, as well as around this lake. It is expected that the land around the lake will be expanded, and that trees and other view-obstructing structures will be removed, so as to make a viable viewing promenade. Cranes are up around the Tree of Life, with cherry-pickers being seen next to the tree at night. This leads me to think that the show will include lights and effects on the tree itself. Disney has said that the show will debut some time in 2016, which is interestingly before the scheduled opening of Pandora. Exciting things are afoot! 

Thank you for reading!

-William (