The Must Do’s of Disney World by Bennett

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is the most popular and ‘ride-iest’ of all the parks.

Imagine flying through space at millions of miles per second.  That’s Space Mountain, a fast thrill ride that is dark and jerky.  It is one of my favorite thrill rides in Magic Kingdom.  The first time on this ride may be scary, but the second time you will be ready.  It is in my favorites because of its sudden ups, downs, and turns.

My favorite ride in Magic Kingdom is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which I will be referring to as Big Thunder.  Big Thunder was my favorite thrill ride in Magic Kingdom.  Big Thunder is an open air ride that is very rickety and its like Space Mountain with lots of ups, downs, and turns.

My favorite show in Magic Kingdom is Wishes.  It was a great fireworks show that is even better than the one at Disneyland.

Epcot

Epcot isn’t really for kids because it’s mostly displays.  Here are the fun parts:

  1. Mission Space: Use this newest type of rocket ship to fly yourself to the Mars.  This extreme simulator really made me want to throw up.   (It also made dad want to.)
  2. Test Track: Make your own car and test its abilities on the Simtrack.  You can check out how well you did at the finish.  Carter got in the top 5 for the fastest of the day.
  3. Chinese Acrobats: Watch these acrobats flip, balance barrels on their feet, and make human pyramids.  Try to get their a few minutes early so that you can get a good spot.  We got their late and got bad spots.

Disney Hollywood Studios

DHS is made for the movie lovers.  There is a Star Wars Ride, Jedi Training Academy, and The Great Movie Ride.

I’m on the ride, Tower of Terror, and I have my eyes closed and my ears plugged.  Then I’m lifted off my seat and I hear people screaming (even with my ears plugged).

“Woohoo,” I think while I’m on Rock Coaster, the best roller coaster in DHS.  You start super fast and the photos come immediately after you start.  Then you go on lots of turns.  It’s like Big Thunder, but you go upside down and it’s much, much faster.

Lights, Motor, Action is an extreme stunt show that you should really go to.  It is a high action show with everything I wanted to see, firing of guns, cars jumping on trucks, and real fire.  Watch a car jump backwards at this extreme stunt show.

Disney Animal Kingdom

DAK has a lot of rides, but not many thrill rides.  Here is one fun thrill ride: Expedition Everest.  Watch out for the Yeti on this ride or you’ll be sorry.  I had a close call with him.

Here’s a must do: Kilimanjaro Safaris. Watch animals roam these safari.  You can see giraffes, elephants, and cheetahs in this safari.  I was able to see a cheetah run.

If it’s a hot day, you’ll want to go on Kali River Rapids.  One warning: You may get soaked.  That’s what I did.  Once I got off the ride I was soaked from head to toe.

Bennett's Drawing

Summary

Those are the must dos of Disney World.  You should try to do everything (except the little kid rides – unless you are a little kid), but make sure you do the ones I wrote about.   Feel free to ask any questions.

 

Note from mom: Bennett usually reads these to me after he has written them out by hand and then he makes all the edits on the computer.  I can’t help but add commas, etc when I type.  It’s automatic.  Sometimes when he edits he takes them out or makes other changes (making any mistakes entirely his fault :-) ).  I just don’t want anyone to think he has grammar down this well.

 

Carter’s Take on Disney

This blog is not about what we did at Disney World. It is some facts and secrets about Disney World.

Disney World – Magic Kingdom

Adventureland

Did you know that only 2 countries flags are permanently on display in the parks: the American and Swiss flag.  The Swiss flag is hanging over the Swiss Family Tree House. I think that’s a great honor. Be careful around a large golden camel next to the Magic Carpets of Aladdin ride, it spits. I think with that one Disney has gone too far.

On Tom Sawyer Island, it is rumored that the creaks and groans of the mill wheel actually play “Down by the Old Millstream.” They don’t, but it would be pretty funny if they did. Bennett and I ran around on the island for a long time on the day we went just with mom.  We really liked the fort there since they had shot guns that made shotgun sounds.  There was a rickety bridge made out of barrels that was fund to run across.

Here are some fun facts about the Magic Kingdom

Did you know that Big Thunder Mountain is 197 feet high – the tallest any building or object can be in Disney is 200 feet?  Now that’s high.  Space Mountain is 183 feet. In it’s a small world there are 289 miniature figures all singing the same song and you have to listen to it for 5 minutes. The 289 miniature figures have 2296 specific garment pieces.  When we were waiting in the line, the ride got stuck.  We thought the people coming off the ride after it got started looked a little shaken – can you imagine getting stuck with all the some miniature figures doing the song over and over and over again?

Epcot

Did you know that Test Track has nearly one mile of track and goes nearly 65 miles per hour. It’s the longest and fastest ride at Disney World. Maybe that’s why we rode it 3 times!

In Mission Space, take a look at Mars It has color shifting paint that costs $800 per gallon. I think that that is exactly what Disney does.  They buy expensive stuff and get more money then they spent.

Stop for a moment in front of Mexico pyramid.  It looks tall, but it is only 36 feet.

Stop at the outpost between China and Germany and lift the lids on the old fashion Coca Cola coolers. I didn’t know about this when we went or otherwise I would have done it.  If someone knows, please let me know.

There was a problem when they made ‘Soaring’ because flying above national parks is not allowed.  It took months to get permission to fly over and film it but it was worth the time, well at least I think so. Those rock climbers at Yosemite had to stay suspended there for 6 hours.  I don’t think I could take it.

Did you know that the Eiffel tower in the France country section was made using Gustavo Eiffel’s actual blueprints? I thought that one was cool.

Animal Kingdom

In Africa next to the Tusker House listen closely and you will here a landlady banging on a door shouting.  That one was funny.

For Kilimanjaro Safaris come early in the day the animals are most active then.  I planned our itinerary for Animal Kingdom and we did this.  It really worked, we saw lots of animals and the line was really short.  We even had to stop the tour bus because some giraffes were standing in the road.

On Expedition Everest, look down at the track when the yeti is tearing up the track.   If you look down you will actually see the track flip over.  It’s really cool we saw that one. The ride is awesome. Just to show you how awesome, I went 8 times. All right that wasn’t to show you but its still. AWESOME!

Here are some facts for the Animal Kingdom. There are 1,500 animals in the Animal Kingdom these 1,500 animals require 4 tons of food each day. Now that’s a lot of food!

On the Tree of Life there are 103,000 different leaves each placed to sway in the wind.

Hollywood Studios

In Muppet Vision 3-D as you go in LOOK UP at the clock, specifically the minute hand. No, he is not going to fall. He is tightly secured on it. It’s doing its job and I laughed.

To get the feel of the Twilight Zone for Tower of Terror, Disney imagineers watched all 156 episodes more then once.  The elevator cars on the Tower of Terror ride is pulled down faster then the speed of gravity.  You know that because you are pulled up agaist the strap.  Mom screamed.

I got all this information from Walt Disney World Notecast. It’s a great app and there is much more information.  Also there is a hidden mickey guide.  There are 200 fun facts and 250 secrets. I really enjoyed this app. (its 1.99 but it’s worth your money.)

Being in the parks is just so tiring (well at least for mom) but it’s tiring for me too when we are there from 9:00AM until 10:00 and don’t get back to bed until 11:00pm. It’s a ton of fun though so it makes it all worth it. It’s also big so you have to be a fast walker, but you can rest your feet in the lines, so that’s not so bad.  The lines are usually big so Fast Pass work well, but also you have to stop for a moment and just rest.  You should try to go.  It’s fun.

Waiting for Fireworks

Orlando

We just finished up our 14 days in Orlando.  This is the longest we have spent anywhere on this trip.  It was nice to be in one spot, but our reason for being here was exhausting.  We did 6 days in the theme parks, 2 lazy days of visiting relatives in St. Pete, some poolside days, and a few days just sleeping and trying to recover from the theme parks.  The theme parks are too tiring.  Nothing was shorter than a 9-hour day and we had some 14-hour days!  I certainly racked up the steps on my Fitbit.

First, the RV Stuff, we stayed in a private RV park that was near Disney, had cheap weekly rates, and a nice pool.  It was just a sea of RVs, but the location and the pool saved it from being boring.  Plus it had the fun name of Magic Lake and it was in the same town as my mommy grew up, Clermont, Florida.

Everyone tries to give advice for Disney visits.  Here’s mine – if you can afford it, spread out the days, buy an app that give you a suggested itinerary, bring your own snacks, and then completely block out how much you paid to try to enjoy yourself.   (By the way, the app that we liked was called touringplans.com.  It suggests a list of rides and parades based on the age of your kids – you can add and delete from the suggested list – it then continuously optimizes the order based on times and where you are.   Having an app ends the thought process of ‘where should we go next’ and you can just blindly follow the app if you so desire.)  After the first day, we made the kids come up with itineraries.  Carter took this very seriously and read additional articles and some library books on the parks.

Summary, we had one day in each of the Disney World Parks, one day in Universal (for Hogwarts), and one final day in the Magic Kingdom for just the boys and me while David caught a spring training baseball game of the Minnesota Twins.  The kids had a great time, the Disney Corporation awed David and me and we don’t want to see another theme park for a long, long while.  It also cost more than a months rent at a nice house for a family in most cities in the country.

To make the blog post more interesting, I thought our foray into Disney pin trading gave me insight into my boys and was somewhat informative.  First, a pin trading explanation is in order.  Here’s a Wikipedia article, but basically, you buy a starter set of pins ($7.95 and up each) then you can walk up to any Cast Member (that’s what you call ANY Disney employee) that has a pins on and trade one of your pins for one of theirs.  They have to accept the trade as long as yours isn’t a fake / knock-off pin.  The pins that the Cast Members have on are PROVIDED BY DISNEY.  When they get their uniform on, they are given 9-20 pins on a lanyard and they have to come back with the same number.   Here is what a trade looks like, you walk up to the shop attendant who has a lanyard with pins, and you stare at her chest to decide if you like any of hers better than yours, if so, you trade.  If not, you move on.

Some think that this is a fun way to talk to employees or other park visitors.  It is a whole sub culture, with conventions and forums, and massive amounts of eBay listings.   It didn’t really sound like my thing because, you know, you have to talk to people.

However, we had dinner with my lovely cousin, Katie and her husband David who works for Disney.  David has been a Disney photographer for over 30 years and has amazing Disney stories to tell.  You’ve seen his work if you have ever seen a commercial or print ad for Disney!  He and his team will photograph an attraction or even a whole resort months before it is finished construction.   The marketing department has to make it look ready to go so you want to be there opening day.

Katie gave each of the boys two exclusive pins for their last day at Disney so that they could experience the art of the pin trade.   The pins she gave us were super cute of Mickey and Goofy saying “CHEESE” for a photographer.

If you know my boys, you can make a prediction of how our trading day went.   Bennett got really into it and traded quite a few times.  He struck up conversations with employees and other guests. Carter really, really liked the exclusive pin he started with and could not find anything he liked better.  I finally forced the issue around 7:00 at night and told him the next look had to include an exchange because Aunt Katie didn’t want us to keep these pins and she had promised the boys that she would send them a duplicate if they really wanted.  (Carter really wants that.)

Here, in pictures is the day:

The original pin (we had 4 total of these).

We had four of these to start!

Bennett: Got a cute starburst Donald Duck one.  I actually liked this one and was sad to see it go.

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Bennett: Got a puzzled Mickey.

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Carter: Got a nice one of Donald and Mickey hugging.

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Bennett: Puzzled Mickey gets exchanged for Goofy and Mickey hugging.

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Bennett: Cute starburst Donald gets traded for Chip n Dale.  Bennett really likes Chip and Dale and I’m not sure why, but he likes them.

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Carter: Forced getting of an ostrich.  (Katie really wanted us to trade our pins, so yes, I’m a mean mom and forced a trade.)

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Carter: Happiness!  Ostrich traded for a Pluto.  We love Pluto.  Bennett had wanted this trade, but Carter got his ostrich pin off faster so he won.

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Carter: Last minute trade of Donald and Mickey hugging for a patriotic Donald.

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Doesn’t sound so bad, does it?  Yeah, those exchanges are a SMALL percentage of the looks and conversations held around these pins.  It took the entire 14 hour day for Carter to get a system down of politely asking to see pins and then saying “no thank you, I don’t want to trade” instead of the brusque dismissal he started with.  Dude, you’ve been staring at the girl’s chest for a whole minute while she stopped her job and stayed absolutely still  – say something before you walk away!  He finally got the routine down.  Now that I look at it, they actually did the same amount of trades.  It just seems that every time I looked around, Bennett was 10 feet away talking to another Cast Member.

Anyway, I’m glad we did it for the experience, but I’m glad we didn’t do it until our last day and our second day in Magic Kingdom.  I want to thank Katie for giving my kids the experience.  We got into it and enjoyed the process, especially once I got used to the feeling that if I couldn’t find Bennett immediately, look for the nearest Cast Member as Bennett was likely chatting her up.

IF you like talking to people and want to add a twist to your Disney vacation, I’d recommend picking up a few at an outlet store or second hand store and going for the whole trading thing.   If you are cheap like me and don’t like talking to people, ignore the trend and spend all of your time concentrating on the experience that is Disney and wring as much fun as you can out of your 14 hour days.  Disney runs an incredible and admirable business and NOBODY does theme parks as well as they do.  They just do it right from the big idea to the smallest detail.

The boys are going to write up posts on the actual parks.

New Orleans City Day (Part 3 of ?)

Now, I get to describe an easier day.  Just fun in The Big Easy.

We tried to take the ferry from Algiers Point across to Canal Street – thinking it would be a fun way to transport ourselves across the Mississippi.  Well, ignore what that website says about a dollar for the car – you can’t take cars on this ferry anymore.  No cars allowed.

Undeterred, we drove over to the 9th Ward to see the houses being built under the Make It Right Foundation.  A very small personal connection to Hurricane Katrina exists for our family, Bennett was born when all the newspapers and televisions were covering the flood and the aftermath.  (I told him that’s the only reason his birth didn’t make the front page.  He rolled his eyes.)   I remember being in labor and watching the news coverage.  Afterward, I made the typical donation to American Red Cross, but when I heard my first Hollywood Crush, Brad Pitt, was the poster boy for this group that wanted to build smart, eco-friendly houses in the 9th Ward, I sent another donation to that.  So we went to see the houses.  They are super colorful, wild, wacky, inspiring, a greenies heaven.  They bill themselves as the largest eco LEED certified houses in the US.  There is also lots of criticism about spending so much money here in an area that is still below sea level and may never recover because the 14,000 people who used to live there have moved on.  Only 2000 live there now.  This was an interesting urban planning article on why putting houses here is a bad idea. 

By the way, 8 years later there are still abandoned houses in this area that have the international search and rescue X on the front showing if any living or dead were found in the house.  It is sobering.

Then we drove off to the French Quarter for some beignets, muffulettas, some street musicians, a lame-ish Junior Ranger badge from the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park outpost in the French Quarter,  a two hour walking tour that you only paid what you that it was worth, and finally alcoholic smoothies.  We did the tourist part of the city up in grand style.  The kids REALLY liked the tumblers in front of Jackson Square.  The funny thing is David and I are pretty sure we saw this exact group 12 years ago.

So no innocence lost on our second day in New Orleans.

These really aren't the wacky Make It Right Houses.  Check out the link for some better ones.

These really aren’t the wacky Make It Right Houses. Check out the link for some better ones.

Just music everywhere in New Orleans.  Some of it is even good!

Just music everywhere in New Orleans. Some of it is even good!

 

I challenge someone to show me how you eat these with out getting sugar all over yourself.

I challenge someone to show me how you eat these with out getting sugar all over yourself.

Compare those prices!

Compare those prices!
Boys like to give love to dogs stretched out in parks!

Boys like to give love to dogs stretched out in parks!

Note the eager participants in the front on the Walking Tour.

Note the eager participants in the front on the Walking Tour.