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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...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Digital Disney: Memory Maker

Should I get Memory Maker?
Memory Maker costs $169. That sounds like a lot, but let's break it down. If you are wanting to purchase photopass pictures, you can purchase a package of 4 photos for $30. Or you can purchase individual photos for $15 each. So, if you download at least 12 pictures with Memory Maker, you will be getting your money's worth. This is why it is recommended to purchase Memory Maker if you plan on buying a lot of pictures. If you only want a couple, it is better to purchase them individually.
Overall, it is recommended to purchase Memory Maker if...

  • You are traveling with a big group
  • You are staying for a week or more
  • if you know you'll really want to get a lot of photos
If I don't want Memory Maker, What are my other options?
Be your own photographer. Take pictures on your cell phone or camera. You can also purchase the picture packages as mentioned above.
TIP: If you are planning on purchasing individual pictures, wait until the last day of your vacation to do so. This way, you will be able to see all the pictures you have taken throughout your stay and choose the best ones.
TIP: some hotels even have a photo pass stand. Check to see if yours does and how late they stay open to. This will help you avoid lines in the park photo pass shops

Where do I go to purchase Memory Maker or if I questions about it?
If you are wanting to purchase Memory Maker, individual photos, or just look at the pictures you have taken so far, you can visit these shops in the parks:
Magic Kingdom : Town Square
EPCOT: Camera Center
DAK: Garden Gate Gifts
Studios: the Darkroom

When should I purchase Memory Maker?
You can actually choose to purchase Memory Maker when you order your tickets online. However, I recommend waiting until you arrive at the parks to purchase. It might turn out that you don't take as many pictures as you anticipated. Wait a few days. If you are taking a lot of pictures with the photopass photographers, then go ahead and purchase Memory Maker.

Are the pictures that the Disney photographers take worth it?
Benefits of the photopass pictures:

  • Stock photos! You will be able to download stock photos. These are pictures that the photographers have taken of the parks. These include pictures of Wishes, Fantasmic, the park icons, and characters.
  • Magic shots. The photographer may ask you to pose in a specific way. Later, you will see Disney characters that have appeared like magic into your shots!
  • High quality. Honestly, the photographers of the park are excellent at their job. Most pictures that they take will probably be of better quality that you could take with just your cell phone. 
  • Attraction photos. You will also be able to purchase the pictures that are taken on the rides. 

magic shot

stock photo of Wishes

How does this work with my Magic Band?
One of the ways you can use Magic Bands are to store your photopass photos on them. After a photographer takes the pictures, they will ask for your Magic Band. They will then be able to save the pictures to your Magic Band. When you want to look at your pictures in the park shops, you can tap your Magic Band and your photos will show up on screen.
TIP: Have just ONE person in your party store the photos on their Magic Band. This ensures that all photos will be in one place.

What if I do not have a Magic Band?
If you do not have a Magic Band, a photographer will offer you a card. This card is the size of a business card or credit card. Photographers can save all of your pictures to this card, just like they can with Magic Bands. Make sure to keep this card safe. Put it in your wallet, and carry it with you to all four parks.

How do I get my photos?
If you have Memory Maker, you do NOT actually have to go to the photo shops and buy your photos there. Instead, you will have to download your photos from a computer or smartphone. It is all digital. You can go to https://mydisneyphotopass.disney.go.com to view and download your photos. You will have 45 days since the activation of your Memory Maker to download all of the photos you want.

Should I purchase Memory Maker if I am doing the Disney College Program?
Yes! I highly recommend this. I purchased Memory Maker in September. My boyfriend visited me in October, I went to the Halloween party with my friends, I went character hunting on my birthday in November, my parents visited in November and we went to the Christmas party. I knew I would be taking a lot of pictures with all these events in the fall, so I planned out when exactly I was going to need Memory Maker.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Movies to Watch Before Going to Walt Disney World

The parks are made to transport you into the movies, which is why it is important to see the movies before going to the parks. I suggest watching these movies a few months or weeks leading up to your vacation. You could even bring a portable DVD player in the car ride there. A Disney movie marathon is great way to get excited about your upcoming trip!

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

  • Snow White meet and greets in Magic Kingdom and EPCOT
  • Character dining at Cinderella's Royal Table or Akershus
  • Hear Snow White in Wishes
  • See Snow White dance with her prince in Fantasmic
  • See Snow White dance in the Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • See Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the Electrical Parade
  • Ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland

1. Pinocchio

  • Jiminy Cricket narrates Wishes
  • See Pinocchio in the Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • Eat at Pinocchio's Village Haus in Fantasyland

2. Fantasia

  • Fantasia mini golf
  • See Sorcerer Mickey and scenes from Fantasia in Fantasmic!
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice scene in Mickey's Philharmagic
  • Meet Sorcerer Mickey in Hollywood Studios

3. Dumbo

  • Storybook Circus in Fantasyland - an entire area themed after the movie
  • The Classic Dumbo ride 
  • Casey Jr. song in Wishes
  • See Dumbo in the Festival of Fantasy Parade

4. Cinderella

  • The park icon is Cinderella's Castle
  • See Cinderella's fountain and wishing well in Magic Kingdom
  • Meet Cinderella in Princess Fairytale Hall
  • See Cinderella's pink ball gown in Castle Couture
  • Eat at Cinderella's Royal Table
  • Character dining with Cinderella, Prince Charming and the Tremaines at 1900 Park Fair Dinner
  • See Cinderella and Prince Charming in the Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • See Cinderella in the Electrical Parade

5. Lady and the Tramp

  • Bella Notte scene in Celebrate the Magic
  • Tony's Resturant on Main Street
  • Both the setting of the movie and Main Street are based off Marceline, Missouri
  • A Lady and the Tramp themed area in Pop Century Resort

6. Sleeping Beauty

  • Meet Aurora in Magic Kingdom and EPCOT
  • Help fight Maleficent in Fantasmic
  • See Prince Phillip and the Three Fairies in the Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • See Aurora's color changing dress in Castle Couture

7. Mary Poppins

  • Meet Mary in Magic Kingdom and EPCOT
  • Mary Poppins takes place in the same time period as Main Street
  • See Mary Poppins and Bert in the Great Movie Ride

6. The Jungle Book

  • Meet Baloo and King LouieAnimal Kingdom
  • the jungle section in Fantasmic
  • A Jungle Book themed area in Pop Century Resort

7. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

  • Ride themed after the movie
  • Meet Pooh in Magic Kingdom and EPCOT
  • Character dining at the Crystal Palace

8. The Little Mermaid

  • See Ariel in Philharmagic
  • A Little Mermaid themed section in the Enchanted Forest
  • Under The Sea ride in Magic Kingdom
  • See Ariel in Fantasmic
  • Hear Ariel in Wishes
  • See Ariel in the Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • Stay in a Little Mermaid room in the Art of Animation

9. Beauty and the Beast

  • A Beauty and the Beast themed section in the Enchanted Forest
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle attraction
  • Eat in the Beast's castle at Be Our Guest
  • Hear Beauty and the Beast in Wishes
  • See Belle and the Beast in Fantasmic
  • Sing along to Be Our Guest in Philharmagic
  • See Belle and the Beast in the Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • See the Beauty and the Beast show in Hollywood Studios

10. Aladdin

  • Fly on Aladdin's Magic Carpet ride in Magic Kingdom 
  • Meet Aladdin and Jasmine in Magic Kingdom and EPCOT
  • Sing along to A Whole New World in Philharmagic
  • Genie has his own section in Wishes
  • Sometimes you can see Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie in Fantasmic

11. The Lion King

  • A lot of things are themed after TLK in Animal Kingdom
  • See Rafiki in fantasmic
  • Sing along to I Just Can't Wait To Be King in Philharmagic
  • Sometimes there is a TLK section in celebrate the magic
  • See the Festival of The Lion King show in Animal Kingdom
  • See Pride Rock on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride in Animal Kingdom
  • Stay in A Lion King themed room in Art of Animation

12. Pocahontas

  • Meet Pocahontas in Animal Kingdom
  • See Pocahontas in Celebrate the Magic
  • Pocahontas has her own section in Fantasmic 

13. Lilo and Stitch

  • Stitch is one of Walt Disney World's mascots!
  • Eat with Lilo and Stich at Ohana
  • Stay in a Hawaii-themed room at the Polynesian

14. Princess and the Frog

  • Stay in an New Orleans themed room in Port Orleans
  • Meet Tiana in Magic Kingdom
  • See Tiana in Celebrate the Magic
  • See Tiana and Naveen in the Festival of Fantasy parade
  • Sometimes you can see Tiana in Fantasmic

15. Tangled

  • There is a Tangled themed area in Magic Kingdom
  • Meet Rapunzel in Princess Fairytale Hall
  • Now I See the Light section in Celebrate the Magic

16. Toy Story/ Toy Story 2/ Toy Story 3

  • Defeat Zurg in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in Magic Kindom
  • Meet Buzz in Tommorowland
  • Meet Woody and Jessie in Frontierland
  • Meet Woody and Buzz in Hollywood Studios
  • Build your own Mr. Potato Head in Once Upon A Toy at Disney Springs
  • Ride Toy Story Midway Mania in Hollywood Studios
  • Stay in the Toy Story section in All Stars Movies
  • In 2017/2018, see Toy Story Land added to Hollywood Studios

17. Finding Nemo

  • Ride the Seas with Finding Nemo in EPCOT
  • See Finding Nemo the Musical in Animal Kingdom
  • Stay in a Finding Nemo room in Art of Animation
  • In the summer you can see Nemo in Celebrate the Magic

Watch Mickey Mouse Cartoons on Youtube
Star Wars (Hollywood Studios)
Your favorite Disney movie (if not on the list)!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hidden Mickey: History and Facts of Hollywood Studios

Before coming up with the idea of Disneyland, Walt wanted to have tours throughout his animation studios. This way people could learn about the movie-making process. He even wanted to add rides, like a small theme park. However, his idea kept growing - too big to fit into his actual studios. The Hollywood Studios park is what Walt's original idea of a studio backlot tour might have looked like.

At the same time Disney was planning their Hollywood theme park, Universal was also planning on establishing a Hollywood theme park in Orlando. The two had very similar attraction ideas. They parks were racing against each other to be the first one to open. Disney, of course, was the first to open on May 1, 1988.

A lot of people view Hollywood Studios as a half-day park. And Disney imagineers originally intended for Studios to be a half-day park. However, more was added to the park after its unpredicted popularity. Some additions are Sunset Boulevard, which feature Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror.

Hollywood Studios is home to Walt Disney World's largest hidden Mickey. It is the park itself! However, this Mickey has become distorted with the addition of Sunset Boulevard.

If you have ever been to guest relations, you might have noticed that the building does not look like the others in the park. The guest relations building resembles a small cabin. This is to represent the residents of Hollywood before it became home to the stars.

The buildings along hollywood boulevard and sunset boulevard are designed after actual buildings in Hollywood.

You can find the dedication plaque between echo lake and the great movie ride. The plaque reads, "The World you have entered was created by The Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood—not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was—and always will be."

I am not sure if this is true or not, but rumor has it that a cast member was fired for "cleaning" the fake cobwebs in the Tower of Terror queue line. The fake cobwebs were very expensive to create. Believe it or not, custodians actually do clean the queue. However, there are very strict rules on what exactly should be cleaned.

Studios is the only park that has had more than one icon. It's original icon was the Earful tower, the Mickey shaped water tower that was seen on the Backstage Tours. When that attraction closed, and the new millennium came around, the sorcerer hat became the new icon. A while ago, the hat was taken down, and now the park icon is now the Tower of Terror. While guests are not allowed to access the Earful Tower, you can still see it from the Tower of Terror as you are lifted high above the park.

Just like on Main Street, there are names and dedications on some of the windows on Hollywood Boulevard. One of them is a reference to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This movie came out one year before Studios opened, and the movie takes place in the same time period (the golden age of hollywood)  as the park does. Above the Vine you can see "Eddie Valiant Private Investigator".

Just like the Hollywood walk of fame, there are signatures etched into the cement right outside of the Great Movie Ride. Some signatures include Disney actors, like Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Steve Martin, who used to work in Disneyland, has signed his name here as well. And this is the only place you can find Audrey Hepburn's signature, as she never earned an official star in the real Hollywood. Don't forget to look for Mickey Mouse's signature, which is dated on Studio's opening day!

Tower of Terror was added to the park in order to compete with the thrill rides of Universal's park.

The Cast Member Cafeteria backstage is called Take Five.

Three Disney movies were animated in Florida - Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, and Brother Bear.

A revival of the Mickey Mouse Club TV show was filmed in the park. This was the same Mickey Mouse club where our favorite pop superstars - Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christian Aguilera - got their start!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Shop Disney Parks App

The Shop Disney Parks App is a life savior when it comes to tracking down the right souvenir. You can use the app to search through the variety of items you can buy in Walt Disney World. You can also use the app to find out exactly where those items are located in the parks. Or, you can order them and have them shipped to your house.

The home screen should look something like this:

Click on the magnifying glass in the top left corner. A menu will pop up that looks like this:

This menus displays categories that souvenirs are typically listed under. This menu is helpful for when you know what category of souvenirs you would like to shop for. For example, say you want to look at picture frames. You would click on "Home & Decor". This will take you to another menu of sub-categories. Then you would click on "Picture Frames". Now you will be able to see only picture frames that the parks carry.


Another way to find what you are looking for is to type it into the search bar. The search bar is right next to the magnifying glass in the top left corner. Just type into the search bar what you are looking for. For example, say you are looking for Eeyore souvenirs. Once you start typing in "Eeyore" a list of suggestions will pop up underneath the search bar.

Click on "Eeyore in Home & Decor".

This will lead you to some Eeyore mugs and ornaments!

It is important to try to be specific when you are typing in the search bar to help you find exactly what you are looking for. Let's say you're looking for a Magic Band with Mickey Mouse on it. You can try to find it by category. So you go to the menu and click on "Hats & Accessories" and then "MagicBands". You will notice that this brings up 119 results! That's a lot of Magic Bands to sift through.

So instead, type into the search bar "Mickey Magic Band". This narrows the results down to only 9.

Once you find an item that looks interesting, click on it. The app will take you to a description page of that particular item.

Let's say you really want that Sorcerer Mickey Magic Band and you're currently visiting Walt Disney World. You can use the app to find out where you can buy this exact product in the parks! On the description page of the item is a blue button on the left that says "Find on Map". Click that.

A map of all of Walt Disney World will pop up. There will be green checkmarks over the places that have the product in stock.

Now let's say you're going to Animal Kingdom tomorrow. Zoom in on Animal Kingdom.

Looks like there are three stores in Animal Kingdom that sell this Magic Band. Click on one of the green checkmarks to see what store it is.

Looks like Garden Gate Gifts has the Sorcerer Mickey Magic Band in stock! So now you know to head straight to Garden Gate Gifts to find your Magic Band when you go to Animal Kingdom.

Maybe you're not currently at Walt Disney World. But you're planning to go soon, and you want to order that Sorcerer Mickey Magic Band before your next visit to the parks. On the item description page is a blue button in the middle that says "Add to Bag". You can view your bag by clicking the shopping bag icon in the top right corner.

Your bag will be a list of the items you want to order and the price. Click "Review & Purchase". From here on out, the process of ordering your items will be similar to any other online shopping website.

And that's a basic tutorial on how the Shop Disney Parks app works! If you have any other questions, please leave them in the comment section below. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Favorites: Favorite WDW Resorts to Visit

These are some of my favorite resorts to hit up on resort hopping days. See if you can include these hotels on your resort hopping day!
  • Art of Animation - fun photo ops, and a great food court

  • Grand Floridian - the most beautiful of all the resorts. I usually stop in the Basin gift shop.

  • Polynesian - eat at Ohana with Lilo and Stitch and watch MK fireworks from the beach with a Dole Whip in hand

  • Wilderness Lodge - ride bikes or play tetherball on the beach

  • Animal Kingdom Lodge - see animals without the crowds in the parks

  • Coronado - beautiful setting. Relax in a hammock!

  • Port Orleans - love the theming. Some of the buildings look like mansions!

  • Beach Club/Yacht Club - Walk around the beautiful beach, watch Illuminations at night, and dine at Cape May's buffet for dinner or Beaches and Cream for dessert. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Finals Study Playlist

I love listening to Disney music when I study. Some songs are very relaxing, some songs motivate me, and some songs give me an extra burst of energy when I need it!  I have complied a playlist of Disney songs that will hopefully motivate you to whistle while you work.

I'll Make A Man Out Of You - Mulan
Whistle While You Work - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Go The Distance - Hercules
Hakuna Matata - The Lion King
Son of Man - Tarzan
Why Should I Worry - Oliver and Company
One Jump Ahead - Aladdin
Be Prepared - The Lion King
Almost There - The Princess and the Frog
When Will My Life Begin - Tangeld
A Spoonfull of Sugar - Mary Poppins
Heigh Ho - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride - Lilo and Stitch
Bear Necessities - The Jungle Book
Steady As The Beating Drum - Pocahontas
Zero To Hero - Hercules
I'm On My Way - Brother Bear
One Last Hope - Hercules

Some people find the musical numbers too distracting to study to. So, I have also complied a playlist of my favorite scores from Disney movies. Right now, I really love to study to the 101 Dalmatians soundtrack as most of it is score. 

This Land - The Lion King
Under the Stars - The Lion King
King of Pride Rock - The Lion King
West Wing - Beauty & the Beast
Transformation - B & the Beast
Fireworks - The Little Mermaid
Tour of the Kingdom - The Little Mermaid
Bedtime - The Little Mermaid
Suite from Mulan - Mulan
Mulan's Deision - Mulan
Blossoms - Mulan
Kingdom Dance - Tangled
Waiting for the Lights - Tangled
Realization and Escape - Tangled
The Hydra Battle - Hercules
Cutting the Thread - Hercules
Overture - 101 Dalmatians
A Beautiful Spring Day - 101 Dalmatians
Can You Leave Tonight - 101 Dalmatians
Pulling A Snitch - 101 Dalmatians
My Darlings - 101 Dalmatians
Through The Snow - 101 Dalmatians
Dinsford - 101 Dalmatians

Good luck on finals!