Featured Post

Things I Wish I'd Known For My First Walt Disney World Visit

  The first visit to Walt Disney World is stressful, confusing, and a dream come true. I am not the first on...

Friday, April 22, 2016


It's Animal Kingdom's 18th Birthday!

Welcome to a kingdom of animals...real, ancient and imagined: 
a kingdom ruled by lions, dinosaurs and dragons, 
a kingdom of balance, harmony and survival, 
a kingdom we enter to share in the wonder, gaze at the beauty, thrill at the dream, and learn. 
Dedicated this 22nd day of April, 1998. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hidden Mickey: History and Facts of EPCOT

EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. And that's what it was intended to be. Walt Disney wanted to build a city that utilized the technology of tomorrow. Walt said that the city would "never be completed, but will always be introducing, and testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems."  The city was set up in a "wagon wheel" style, just like Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. The center of the city would feature businesses, schools and community centers. A transportation system would spoke outwards to neighborhoods along the perimeter. 

Original Plans for EPCOT

 The driving force of the city would be it's advanced transportation system. The People Mover would transport people around neighborhoods, while the Monorail would drive into the city's heart. Now you can ride the People Mover in Tomorrowland. It will drive past a scale display of what Walt intended EPCOT to look like. And the Monorail will transport you to EPOCT.

So why didn't EPCOT become what it was supposed to be? After Walt's death, the company had a difficult time obtaining funding for this idea. After its opening, Magic Kingdom quickly became a very popular park and drew huge crowds. Imagineers thought it would be a good idea to add a second park in order to disperse guests. This way, one park wouldn't be too crowded. Disney may not have been able to obtain funding for a city, but a theme park? No problem.

Since imagineers could not create a city, thy wanted to stick to Walt's core idea of futuristic technology. And so the beginning stages of Future World in EPCOT began. Around the same time, there was an idea for a World's Fair style theme park. Different countries could purchase plots in the park and fund a representation of their country. Eventually, these two ideas were pushed into one to create what we now know as EPCOT - with a Future World and World Showcase.

World Showcase Park

The addition to a second park at Walt Disney World is what inspired the addition of a second park at Disneyland. Imagineers planned to build a replica of EPCOT in California called Westcot. It's park icon would be similar to Spaceship Earth, except it would be bigger and gold instead of silver. However, plans changed and now the second park is known as California Adventure.

Building in Florida is difficult because the swampland has a lot of sinkholes. There was a sinkhole that construction workers could not fill. So instead, they turned it into a pond.

Spaceship Earth's exterior is occasionally cleaned. How does this happen? Cast Members can go through passage ways and up ladders to get to the very top of Spaceship Earth. They are harnessed to it and off they go!
the Mouse Man himself on top of Spaceship Earth!

I've heard guests joke about what would happen if Spaceship Earth were to ever somehow become detached from its supporters and start rolling around EPCOT. I guess the imagineers thought about this, too, because they made sure that there is no way that would ever happen. The supporters and legs of Spaceship Earth actually extend 160 feet into the ground below.

One of the biggest complaints from guests when EPCOT first opened was that it didn't feel like "Disney". They wanted to see Disney characters. So, Mickey and friends characters were put on a bus that travelled around the World Showcase. Guests liked this. They liked it so much that they would chase the bus around the World Showcase. This proved to be a safety hazard, so they added a permanent meet and greet spot for Mickey in space gear. As the years went on, more characters were added to the park.
Character Bus

Future World
You can spot NSYNC at EPCOT! They are on Leave a Legacy. As you enter EPCOT, you'll notice monuments in front of Spaceship Earth. On them are engraved names and pictures of guests. Look to see if you can find NSYNC!

Leave a Legacy

Ellen Degeneres has is in two different rides in EPCOT. They are Ellen's Energy Adventure and The Seas with Nemo and Friends.

The aquarium in the Seas Pavilion used to be the biggest in the world.

If you have ever ridden Living with the Land, you would know that Disney grows much of its own produce.

Wanting to go from Future World to the World Showcase or vice versa? Take the often less-crowded path by the Odyssey Center.  If you look closely on the path, you will find a Mickey survey marker!

Lots of people love Figment from Journey into the Imagination. But at one point, Disney took Figment out of the ride! Guests were upset, and voiced their opinions. A few months later, Figment was placed back in his ride. That shows how much Disney listens to their guests concerns!

World Showcase
Walt Disney World has an International Program. People from all over the world visit to become Cast Members for a period of time. A lot of them are placed in their respective country pavilions in the World Showcase. So the next time you buy something from the UK, the CM ringing you up might actually be from the UK.

The pyramid in Mexico holds a marketplace. When you enter, go to the left, towards the boat ride. There is an animatronic parrot in a cage!

There is a miniature village and train set in Germany. This was originally placed temporarily for a Flower and Garden Festival many years ago. But guests loved it so much, that Disney keeps it out year-round.

When walking around the World Lagoon, look down. You'll see cool theming touches, such as boats and bikes!

There is a butterfly garden in the UK, near where Alice meets.

There is room in the World Showcase for more pavilions, but they have not been filled. Some that were planned were Spain, Israel and Africa. 

Morocco is the only pavilion that was funded by its home country. The government of Morocco saw EPCOT as a way to educate Americans on the culture of Morocco. Professional architects and designers were shipped over to make sure everything in the pavilion was authentic, including the hand-made mosaics

Backstage EPCOT
Most people know about the tunnels under the Magic Kingdom. But there are also tunnels under EPCOT. However, it is not as big or elaborate as the Magic Kingdom tunnels. It is only under Future World

If you ever wonder what EPCOT's backstage looks like, hop on Test Track. The part of the ride that tests speed actually takes you backstage! Most guests are too distracted by the thrill of the ride to notice. The next time you ride Test Track, look around and down below the track in order to catch a glimpse of backstage.
Where Test Track goes backstage

Backstage EPCOT is huge. There are a few busses running backstage that will transport Cast Members around backstage.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Favorites: Places To Eat

  • Tony's (Such cute theming. Melts my heart)
  • Be Our Guest (lunch). (Try the Gray Stuff cupcake! It's delicious.)
  • Cosmic Rays (when you just want a cheeseburger)
  • Pecos Bill's (get a rice bowl and head to the topping bar)
  • Gaston's Tavern (The cinnamon rolls are amazing)
  • Colombia Harbor House (Fish and Chicken)
  • Storybook Treats (grab a swirl ice cream cone, sit on a nearby bench and people watch)
  • Le Cellier (Cheese soup, steak, and chocolate mouse)
  • Yorkshire (fish and chips)
  • Yak and Yeti Quick Service (The honey chicken is amazing. Beware of bees, though)
  • Flame Tree Barbecue (Try both kinds of barbecue sauce they have)
  • Tamu Tamu (for an alcoholic Dole Whip)
  • Trillo-Bites (buffalo chicken waffles)
  • Starbucks (yes, I know that there's one in every park, and it's not exclusive to Disney. But this is the best themed Starbucks in all the parks)
  • Starring Rolls (try the chocolate peanut butter cupcake. Your stomach will thank you)
Disney Springs
  • Earl of Sandwich (I crave the buffalo chicken wrap and pasta salad)
  • Wolfgang Puck Express (The Alfredo is great)
  • Ghiradeli Ice Cream Shop (Split a painted lady with a friend)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Are the Disney Princesses Good Role Models? Part 2: Cinderella

Cinderella is the most iconic Princess of them all. She’s always dead center in any picture of the Princess line up. She has three castles named after her. She’s what many people think of when the word “Disney” is mentioned. She’s also subject to a lot of argument on whether she makes the cut as a good role model. 

Why do people dislike Cinderella so much? Many oversimplify the plot, twist it and reduce it to: an attractive girl gets everything she wants because she’s attractive. One of my friends claims that Cinderella is so nice that her level of niceness is unattainable for most people. And therefore, an impossible person to emulate. 
Some people dislike Cinderella because they claim she needed a prince to save her. This was one of the reasons I hated Cinderella for a while. Couldn’t she have just gotten up and left her abusive step family anytime she wanted? Did she have to marry the first man that came along? 

Let’s put Cinderella into historical context like we did Snow White. Cinderella was released in 1950, shortly after WWII. After the destruction of the war, many people craved safety and security. Women could not get a job as easily as they could during the war. Women were homemakers. Cinderella was a homemaker, too. My mom, born in the 1950’s, says that she can relate to Cinderella the most out of any Disney character. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. 

Maybe Cindy couldn’t get a job to save up her own money and move out because it was rare for women to have jobs in her society. But is this detail really important to Cinderella’s plot? No. People often get sidetracked by it. 
Disney movies are all unique in the way the stories are told. Sometimes writers choose to focus on one story element at a time. Sometimes they focus mainly on character development, as in the case of The Jungle Book and Mulan. Sometimes they focus on the animation, like in Sleeping Beauty and Frozen. Sometimes they focus on setting, like how Lilo and Stitch showed the justipuxion of poverty-struck Hawaii and intergalactic space.  And sometimes they focus on plot, much like Cinderella. Did you know that there was originally a scene at the ball where Prince Charming and Cinderella had a real conversation? Disney ultimately decided to take it out, as it wasn’t important to the plot. How they fell in love isn’t as important as the fact that they fell in love. 
Did Cinderella need a prince to save her? Walt Disney doesn’t think so:

"Cinderella believed in dreams, all right, but she also believed in doing something about them. When Prince Charming didn't come along, she went over to the palace and got him." - Walt Disney

Cinderella did need help. She needed help from the mice to make her dress. And when her stepsisters tore up that dress, she needed help from her fairy godmother. She needed her mice friends to help unlock her bedroom door so she could try on the glass slipper. Does the fact that Cinderella needs help sometimes make her weak? I do not think so. Everyone needs help at some point in their lives. And refusing to get help does not make you strong. It makes you stubborn. 
Cinderella does not take advantage of those who do nice things to her. Cinderella and her animal friends are a prime example of the Pay it Forward theory. Cinderella saved Gus Gus from the trap, gave him clothes and food, and introduced him to the other mice. In return, Gus Gus helps make Cinderella a dress and helps get the key to her room. 
Of course, this method does not work on everyone. Cinderella is nice to Lucifer, but Lucifer does all he can to stir up trouble. And that. my friends, is reality. Being nice to people might not always pay off. But one day it will. 

Apps while waiting in line

Quiz Up
Test your knowledge in topics such as Disney Movies, Disney Princesses, Disney Music and Walt Disney World!

Heads Up
This is great to play with a big group while waiting in line. It's basically charades.

Kids Doodle
This is like a coloring book without the markers that are easily lost.

Cinderella Free Fall
A collection of different puzzles themed to the live-acton remake of Cinderella.

Disney Junior
Have your kids play games with their favorite Disney Junior characters.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Friday Favorites: Favorite Attractions

Animal Kingdom:

  • Wilderness Explorers
  • Expedition Eversest
  • The Festival of the Lion King
  • Test Track
  • Soarin'
  • The World Showcase (I love just to walk around and explore it). 
Hollywood Studios:
  • Rock'n' Roller Coaster
  • Tower of Terror
  • One Man's Dream
  • The Osbourne Lights (RIP)
Magic Kingdom:
  • Dumbo
  • Philharmagic
  • Teacups
  • Winne The Pooh

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Hidden Mickey: History and Secrets of the Magic Kingdom


Disneyland was a huge success for Walt Disney. Always wanting to improve and innovate, Walt was dissatisfied with the size of Disneyland. It was very difficult to add all of his ideas into such a small space. So, he started looking elsewhere to open up a bigger theme park. 

Another problem with the park was that you could easily see and access the outside world. Walt wanted guests to feel transported. He wanted guests to forget about the outside world. This is also reasoning behind buying more land. The more land Disney has, the more difficult it is to see the outside world. This is also why the Magic Kingdom has a parking lot that is separate from the park itself. Then, guests can take one of 2 transportation options - one of the future (monorail), and one of the past (ferry boat) - to arrive to the Magic Kingdom. 

At the time, Orlando was not the tourist destination that it is today. Most of the tourists in Florida could be found on the beaches of the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. Orlando was halfway between each coast. Walt figured that tourists might stop at the theme park before heading to the beaches. Florida is also swamp land, making it very cheap to purchase. Florida was also an ideal location because it had warm weather year-round, similar to southern California. 

Walt Disney World was originally called "the Florida Project".

Walt was very sly about his plans for a new park. To celebrate Disneyland's 10th anniversary, Walt made a speech to the Cast Members of the park. In his speech, Walt said "this is only the beginning". No one knew it at the time, but he was referring to the Florida Project. He had already purchased land before the park was even announced. 

Unfortunately, Walt died before he could see his final dream. However, his brother, Roy, did not let the dream die. Roy postponed his retirement just so he could finish the Florida Project. 

Walt Disney World cost $400 million to build. Mary Poppins had been a huge box office hit. Most of the money made from Marry Poppins went into building Disney World. 

Because Orlando was not a tourist town (yet), it did not have very many hotels. The success of Disneyland brought hotels from outside businesses.  The Disney Company did not like this because he thought it distracted people from Disney. So, they took advantage of the lack of hotels in Orlando and built resorts on property. The Polynesian and Contemporary were the first two resorts to be built. 

The swampland of Florida proved difficult for contraction workers. The Seven Seas Lagoon is manmade. Dirt was scooped out to create the Lagoon, and the dirt was layered on top of the area for the Magic Kingdom. This allowed for the tunnels to be built. The dirt was piled higher for Cinderella's Castle. This makes the Castle more visible from anywhere in the park. 

Disneyland's opening day was in the middle of the summer. It was hot, crowded and disastrous. Disney learned from their mistakes, and Disneyland was opened on October 1st, 1971. 

There were about 10,000 guests on opening day. 

Roy O. Disney made the dedication speech for Walt Disney World, just like his brother had made the dedication speech for Disneyland. During his speech, Roy impulsively asked Mickey Mouse to stand next to him. When asked by reporters why he did this, Roy said, "I needed my brother by my side". 

Roy named the park "Walt Disney World" in dedication to Walt. It is the only Disney theme park to have Walt's name in it. 

Walt did not live to see Walt Disney World completed, but Roy did. In fact, Roy barely lived to see it. He passed away only 2 short months after Walt Disney World's opening. 

Magic Kingdom is the smallest of the four parks in Walt Disney World.

Today, the Magic Kingdom is the most visited theme park in the entire world. 

Main Street

Much of Disney architecture is forced perspective. This means that the buildings look smaller or larger than they actually are. However, the Main Street Train Station building does not utilized forced perspective. It looks as big as it actually is. This is because the imagineers do not want guests to see the inside of theme park before they enter. The Train Station acts as a portal. In addition, it also blocks guests inside the theme park from seeing the outside world.

As you enter the park, you have to walk underneath the Train Station. The walls of the entryway feature posters of attractions found inside Magic Kingdom. Walt wanted Main Street to serve as the "opening credits" for the theme park. Thus, the movie posters advertise the adventures you will encounter in the plot of your visit.

The rest of the opening credits can be found on the windows all along Main Street. Most of them are on the second story of the buildings. Gold letters spell out names of those who have contributed to the making of the theme park, much how the credits will name the animators, writers and actors in a movie. The first one you see faces the Train Station. For a better view, climb the stairs to the second story of the Train Station, face the castle and look to your right. You will find "Roy O. Disney" on the window. 

Walt's father has his own window, too. Elias 

Disney - Contractor window can be found above Uptown Jewelers. The land for Walt Disney World was purchased under fake company names. Some of these fake names are on a window above Crystal Arts. Some of the names are Tomahawk Properties, Reedy Creek Ranch Lands and Compass East Corporation. 

My personal favorite window is on the first story of the Emporium. It is a window dedicated to all of Walt Disney World's Cast Members. 

Walt Disney's own window is the only one that faces the castle.  It is found above the Plaza Restaurant. 

To the right of the Train Station is the Town Square Theater. On the lobby floor, tiles spell out 1901. This is a nod to Walt's birth year. 

The Theater used to be a museum dedicated to advancements in movie history. However, character meet and greets became more popular. The Theater is now used as a meet and greet location for two of Disney's icons - Tinkerbell and Mickey Mouse. 

Everyone recognizes the Partners statue of Walt and Mickey in front of the castle. In this statue, Walt is holding hands with Mickey and pointing with excitement towards something in the distance. This is to show that Walt was the dreamer, the visionary. There is another statue by Town Square Theater. The Sharing the Magic statue features Roy O. Disney sitting on a bench with Minnie Mouse. His hand is underneath Minnie's. This is to show that Roy was the supporter. The Mouseplanet did an amazing article with further information about these iconic statues. 

Inside Guest Relations is a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Not only does this add to the theming of Main Street, but Honest Abe was Walt's hero and role model. 


If you have ever been in Tomorrowland, you might have noticed metal palm trees outside of Space Mountain. The palm leaves on one of the trees is folded up. There is a story behind these trees. They produce energy, which is stored in the "coconuts". The tree with the folded leaves does not have any coconuts. This is because the energy coconuts have been collected and are being used to power Tomorrowland! 

Unfortunately, not all of the outside world is blocked off from the Magic Kingdom. The Contemporary Resort is huge, and very close to the park. It is visible from inside the park. However, imagineers made sure that the Contemporary is only visible in Tomorrowland, where it blends in with the theming.

The Carousel of Progress is the only ride in Walt Disney World that Walt himself rode. This ride also has had three different locations in its lifetime. It was originally created for the New York World Fair. Then, it was moved to Disneyland. In 1975, it was moved to Walt Disney World. Since this show has been open for more than 50 years, it is the longest running stage show in all of American theater history. The Carousel of Progress is not the most popular ride in WDW, but it is never going to be retired. This is because it was Walt's favorite ride, and he said that it should never cease operation. 

Space Mountain is one of few rides that was originally built in Walt Disney World before it was added to Disneyland or other Disney Parks.

Liberty Square

After Disneyland opened, Walt wanted to add on more lands to it. Walt loved America, and wanted a land dedicated to colonial America. However, there was not enough room in Disneyland to continue building. So after Walt died, Liberty Square was added to Walt Disney World, as a tribute to Walt's original plans. 

The Liberty Tree towards the middle of the land has exactly 13 lanterns hanging from its branches. This is to represent the original 13 colonies.

The bell that is next to the Liberty Tree was made from the same cast as the actual Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. 

What's the most guarded thing in all of Walt Disney World. Go, on. Guess. Is it the apartment in Cinderella's castle? Is it props on display in the queue of the Great Movie Ride? Is it Walt's frozen head? Nope. The most guarded thing in all of Walt Disney World is found in the lobby of the Hall of Presidents. It is the Presidential Seal, of course! Every American is familiar with this design as it is on the carpet of the White House. The only other place the Seal is allowed to be used is at the Magic Kingdom. It took an act of Congress for the Seal to be used. Even if you do not care for the attraction, it is worth venturing into the lobby to look for this.


If you enter Adventureland from the front of the park, take time to notice the transition from Main Street to Adventureland. The transition is the most prominent on the Crystal Palace. The half of the building that is closest to Main Street is white, white the half closest to Adventureland is green and surrounded by more trees. 

The Jungle Cruise was originally built for Disneyland. While designing the ride, Walt wanted to use real animals. This proved to be highly impractical, which is why there are animatronics. However, you can see Walt's dream of having real animals in his parks at Animal Kingdom!

One idea for Adventureland that never made it off the drawing board was meet and greets with tiki heads. Imagineers realized that would be terrifying. Instead, there are tiki heads that shoot water at guests as they pass by. 


The Country Bear Jamboree is another ride that is exclusive to the Magic Kingdom. It originally opened in the Magic Kingdom. Due to its popularity, the attraction was added to Disneyland. A few years ago, The Country Bears in Disneyland was closed to make room for the Winnie the Pooh ride. Now, it is only located in Walt Disney World.

A crate near The Country Bear Jamboree has the words "Davis Tobacco" on it. This is a reference to Disney animator and imagineer, Marc Davis. Davis animated Cruella De Vil, Cinderella, and Tinkerbell. He worked on attractions such as the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. 


There are three sections of Fantasyland. The Castle Walls extend from the Mad Tea Party all the way down to it's a Small World. The attractions in this section are themed after a carnival. Storybook Circus is modeled after Dumbo. The newest area is the Enchanted Forest. This is themed around three classic Disney movies - Snow White, Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid

If you look on the ground in Storybook Circus, you will find remains of Dumbo's favorite snack!

When planning the design of the Enchanted Forest, imagineers originally wanted the land to include a Pixie Hollow themed area. Dumbo was not to have its own land. Instead, it would be a stand-alone attraction. The center of the Enchanted forest would feature the cottages of Snow White and Aurora, where Princess meet and greets would take place. Disney fans voiced their criticisms. Princesses and meet and greets are great, but they are not for everyone. There was no E ticket attractions. Disney imagineers responded quickly. They replaced Pixie Hollow with Storybook Circus for Dumbo and they replaced the cottages with the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster. Snow White's Scary Adventure was replaces with Princess Fairy Tale Hall. 

Imagineers recycled animatronics from Snow White's Scary Adventures into the cottage scene at the end of Mine Train. 

Inside Princess Fairy Tale Hall, there is a Snow White book. This pays homage to Snow White's Scary Adventures, which used to be in the same building. 

The area that the Enchanted Forest now resides in used to house 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. However, Disney payed homage to the former ride. When The Little Mermaid ride opened, water from 20,000 Leagues was dumped into the stream near Ariel's castle. 

As part of the queue of Enchanted Tales With Belle, guests wait inside Belle's cottage. Inside it you will find what Belle is currently reading. It is Sleeping Beauty! You will also find a portrait of Belle's mother.

If you head to the Figaro room in Pinocchio's Village Haus, you will find a wishing book that was left by the Blue Fairy. Guests can write down their own wishes here! Reading other people's wishes is heartwarming, and leaving your own wish is a memorable moment for any Disney vacation. 

Castle Couture is known for outfitting Princesses. Behind the register is Aurora's dress. Look closely - it changes from blue to pink! In the fitting rooms there is Cinderella's pink ball gown that the mice made for her. 

On the Prince Charming Carousel, there is a horse with a gold ribbon on its tail. This is rumored to be Cinderella's horse.


Most people are aware of the tunnels that run underneath the Magic Kingdom. Cast Members use these tunnels to walk from one land to another without destroying the illusion. Guests can pay a wad of cash to take a tour of the Magic Kingdom, including venturing into the mysterious tunnels. A lot of people are fascinated with the tunnels. However, they are nothing special. They are dirty and smell of trash and sweat. 

Without the land markings above ground, the tunnels can be quite confusing. There are maps and arrows posted along the walls to help Cast Members navigate their way. 

The Cast Member cafeteria in the Magic Kingdom is called the Mousecateria. 

There are also backstage areas in the Magic Kingdom that are not underground. On especially crowded nights, the backstage path by the Plaza Restaurant will open up to make more room for guests who are trying to exit the park. 

What's your favorite Magic Kingdom Fact? Share below in the comments!