Tag Archives: Disney World

Inside the Magic – Tower of Terror

Since we cannot be at Disney World right now, let’s take a look at some of the things that make it so special.

Another one of my favorites! This attraction opened its doors on July 22, 1994.

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The story

The plot of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror follows the tragic night of Oct. 31, 1939, when lightning struck the building. Five people were aboard an elevator as the building was struck, causing the elevator to free-fall. The hotel was closed after these tragic events and now guests are permitted to visit the obviously haunted hotel.

The History

The Tower of Terror is basically a drop ride with an incredible themed story around it. As for the drops, it drops 130, or 13 stories down. The first smaller drop in darkness is about 8 stories, then back to the top for the 13 story plunge doubled. The speed of the drop is about 39 MPH, and the drop itself only lasts for around 2 ½ seconds, although it seems longer!

Early on Mel Brooks was involved and it started out as “Castle Young Frankenstein” which would have featured a Bavarian village with winding streets to the castle with a drawbridge.  The idea later changed to “Mel Brooks’ Hollywood Horror Hotel”. Mel Brooks eventually left the project and Disney Imagineers had some ideas of their own and brought in the idea to have a moving elevator off its track and moving down hallways. Imagineers decided on Spanish-Renaissance/Riverside Mission Inn architecture because it would fit in on Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. Disney also felt the attraction needed a movie reference and settled on the Twilight Zone theme making it an eerie and thrilling attraction.  

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The attraction uses an Autonomous Guided Vehicle. A self controlling, self contained ride vehicle, that can move without track. Although the 5th Dimension floor has guideways for traction, the vehicle itself runs on its own wheels along the floor. The AGV guides itself into the ride shaft to ascend to the boiler room (load) level, it slots into a larger elevator the VVC, or Vertical Vehicle Conveyance. This is a normal elevator car complete with cables and wheels. It is this that lifts the AGV up through the corridor scene, and to the 5th Dimension level. As the AGV transfers horizontally, the VVC returns to the basement level to receive the next AGV. The AGV then will get into another VVC for the drop portion of the attraction. 

An informative video on how the Tower of Terror works.

Fun Facts

  • Our Walt Disney Imagineers viewed 156 episodes of “The Twilight Zone” for inspiration when creating The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
  • The ride vehicle is an elevator car.
  • The storyline of the attraction sets the date as Halloween night – October 31, 1939.
  • The architecture of the tower was inspired by multiple Southern California landmarks, such as the Biltmore Hotel and the Mission Inn.
  • The building has 27,000 roof tiles.
  • The grounds of the Hollywood Tower Hotel were inspired by the look of California’s Griffith Park and Elysian Park.
  • The lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel was outfitted with antiques and furniture purchased at Los Angeles-area auction houses.
  • The Library room features a hidden nod to Mickey Mouse in this sheet music, which is for the song “What! No Mickey Mouse?”
  • The clip of film in which Rod Serling introduces the attraction was taken from a “Twilight Zone” episode called “It’s a Good Life.”
  • The young girl who disappears in the elevator carries a Mickey Mouse doll.
  • The attraction’s “Fifth Dimension” scene was inspired in part by the “Little Girl Lost” episode of “The Twilight Zone.”
  • The drop is 13-stories.
  • The drop sequence for each elevator car is selected at random by the attraction’s computer system.
  • Measuring 199 feet tall, Tower of Terror is one of the tallest attractions at Walt Disney World Resort.

Step into the elevator

 

Inside the Magic – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Since we cannot be at Disney World right now, let’s take a look at some of the things that make it so special.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was one of the first Disney rides to utilize computer-aided design. The attraction first opened at Disneyland in 1979, and the Magic Kingdom’s larger version opened in 1980.IMG_3222_original

The Story Behind the Mountain

Once a working mine during America’s Gold Rush, there was gold found deep within Big Thunder Mountain in Red Rock Canyon. Almost overnight, the town of Tumbleweed became a thriving mining town. Barnabas T. Bullion established the Big Thunder Mining Company to go after the gold. Barnabas was born into a powerful East Coast family, so naturally, he thought it was his very right to claim the gold inside the mountain.

Big Thunder Mountain was protective of its gold and would curse anyone who dared try to take it. Miners would hear ghostly sounds, strange events occurred, including cave-ins and equipment failure. On a stormy night, a flash flood completely wiped out the town, destroying the mining company. Rumors has it Professor Cumulus Isobar, a rainmaker, brought the flood to Tumbleweed. If you look carefully, you might spot a mysterious machine with Cumulus’ name on it during your ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad travels through an empty ghost mine and rushes riders through the canyons, caverns, abandoned mine shaft and the ghost town of Tumbleweed! Barnabas, however, is still trying to dig and find gold inside Big Thunder Mountain, despite the warnings and curses from the mountain. Spooky!

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Big Thunder Fun Facts:

  • As you whiz past the Gold Dust Saloon in the town of Tumbleweed, you can spot the “Wildest Party in the West” happening on the second floor.
  • The setting of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was inspired by Monument Valley in Arizona.
  • A miner in his pajamas can be seen relaxing in a bathtub.
  • The attraction’s top speed is 36 miles per hour and has a 40-inch height requirement.
  • There are 3 lifts (two indoor and one outdoor) on the roller coaster.
  • The trains from Disneyland’s version were used in the mine chase sequence in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!”

Climb aboard the Wildest Ride in the West…

Your rip-roaring adventure proves that some legends are true. You’re sure to have a real blast!

Inside the Magic – Haunted Mansion

Since we cannot be at Disney World right now, let’s take a look at some of the things that make it so special.

Climb aboard a gloomy Doom Buggy for a grave journey through a labyrinth of haunted chambers. This is always my family’s MUST DO first ride at Magic Kingdom.

The Haunted Mansion at Disney World opened at Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971, with the park. The Haunted Mansion is the perfect balance of spooky and silly, making it a favorite attraction.

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Before you climb into your Doom Buggy, you have to brave the Stretching Room, which uses distraction to make you think you are in an elevator. At Magic Kingdom, it actually does not move. In some of the other parks around the world it does go up or down a level.

The Story Behind the Mansion

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Master George Gracey of Winsocket, Rhode Island, was the owner of the mansion. He received the deed under the grimmest of circumstances when his mother murdered his father. In an attempt to connect with his father, even in death, Gracey turned to the spirit world. Master Gracey met Madame Leota, the seer, in New Orleans and persuaded her to return to his mansion, where she performed séances. Master Gracey grew demoralized and, well… “There’s always my way!” That gentleman hanging from the rafters is Master Gracey. And he’s also Imagineer Yale Gracey. This brilliant human being invented many of the tricks on display at the Haunted Mansion, most famously Madame Leota’s floating head-in-a-jar. As a way to pay tribute to him, they named the character after him.

Leota Toombs isn’t just a character. She was a very real Disney Imagineer who worked on the attraction. She received the honor of voicing her character, whose physical appearance resembles the face in the ball.

Hidden Mickey

The ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion is full of amazing detail including the waltzing duos, dueling ghosts high above, and a birthday celebration. This is my absolute favorite scene of the ride, I always hope for a breakdown so I can take it all in. If you look down at the dining table, you can spot a trio of plates that have been arranged to form a hidden Mickey!

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Let’s climb aboard a Doom Buggy…

Happy haunting!

Inside the Magic – Jungle Cruise

Since we cannot be at Disney World right now, let’s take a look at some of the things that make it so special.

First up, the iconic Jungle Cruise!

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The Jungle Cruise was an opening day attraction at Disneyland inspired by Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures films and “The African Queen.” The original attraction was more serious than today. Walt wanted it to be the Kilimanjaro Safaris of the 1950s. He even wanted live animals to be used in the attraction before learning that wasn’t exactly the best idea.

Since the day Disneyland park opened, the Jungle Cruise has been one of its most popular attractions. As you cruise the rivers of the world, you’re surrounded by fascinating animal life and a lush jungle of exotic trees, plants and flowers.

When building the Jungle Cruise, Walt Disney turned to Imagineer and horticulturist Bill Evans to create the landscape. Bill created a “Hollywood Jungle,” a mixture of exotic plants and trees that would give the feeling of traveling through exciting and uncharted territories. To create his Hollywood Jungle,  Bill developed some intrepid techniques, like smuggling plant seeds inside the cuffs of his socks and planting orange trees upside down to resemble mangroves.

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Through the years, the tall trees engulfing the Jungle Cruise have created a lush canopy that regulates the temperature inside this Hollywood Jungle, allowing plants that you won’t find anywhere else in Southern California to thrive right here in Disneyland park.

The Queue

The Jungle Cruise queue is an open-air outpost accepting bookings for cruises. Winding through the queue, guests can see the boats pulling up to the docks, as well as cargo, artifacts, and maps.

The Jungle Cruise Experience

The premise of the Jungle Cruise is that guests have signed up for a lengthy tour down the rivers of the world guided by a skipper from the Jungle Navigation Co. The ride lasts about 8 minutes, guests journey down the Amazon, the Congo, the Nile, and finally the Mekong.

Each section has audio-animatronics specific to that region, such as a giant python, a camp raided by gorillas, headhunters, waterfalls, or a pride of lions. While some of the scenes are humorous, more so the main draw of the attraction is the rapid-fire puns and cheesy jokes from the skippers.

Several jokes and gags from the skipper’s spiel have become iconic over the years, and often get a big reaction from guests who have cruised before. Be expecting the famous “backside of water” cheer when your skipper takes the boat behind a waterfall. 

Let’s take a ride on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland…

The Jungle Cruise is a gentle, slow-moving boat cruise with plenty to see. It’s the perfect family attraction as it truly offers something for every age and member.

Touring the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

We are in uncharted territory at the moment, with the Disney Parks worldwide closed due to the Corona Virus. This is all so unprecedented.

To brighten your day a little, I wanted to take you on a little tour of the beautiful topiaries Disney World has decorating Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival.

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Anna and Elsa in Norway
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Lady and the Tramp in Italy
Character Topiaries at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White in Germany

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Hopefully, you can get there next year and see them all in person. Stay healthy.

TICKETS ON SALE FOR MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY AND MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY AT MAGIC KINGDOM PARK

This year, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will transform Magic Kingdom Park for a sweet 34 nights.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Dates

August 17, 24, 28, 31

September 3, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30

October 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31

Returning treats include the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular stage show in front of Cinderella Castle featuring the mischievous Sanderson sisters from the hit Disney film “Hocus Pocus,” Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade and “Happy HalloWishes,” the fall spectacular led by the infamous Disney villains!

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party tickets start at $75 in advance or $85 at the gate, if available.

When the seasons change, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will transform the Magic Kingdom Park into a winter wonderland for the most magical 22 days of the year!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Dates

November 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, 30

December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21

Returning favorites for the holidays include Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade; “Holiday Wishes,” fireworks spectacular; “A Frozen Holiday Wish,” featuring Queen Elsa using her incredible powers to present a gift to everyone in the kingdom—transforming Cinderella Castle into a sparkling, icy centerpiece for the celebration; and the jubilant show, “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration.”*

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets start at $95 in advance or $105 at the gate, if available.

AN INCREDIBLE SUMMER AWAITS – SAVE UP TO 25% ON ROOMS AT SELECT WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT HOTELS

Save up to 25% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights June 11-Aug. 1, 2018 when they book by May 22, 2018. Plus, discover other savings for stays most nights May 28-Jun. 10, 2018 and Aug. 2-30, 2018.

Staying in the middle of the magic will help make a Walt Disney World Resort vacation even more super—especially when there are new and exciting experiences debuting at all 4 parks.

With this offer, you can save on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights June 11 through August 1, 2018:

• Save up to 25% on rooms, when you book by May 22, 2018.

• Save up to 20% on rooms, when you book by August 1, 2018.

Ask about great rates for stays most nights May 28 through June 10 and August 2 through August 30, 2018.

This special offer is valid for the Disney Resort hotels listed below. View the chart to explore savings within each Resort Category.

Resort Category

Resort Savings

Select Disney Deluxe Villas

Save up to 25% for stays most nights
6/11/18 to 8/1/18

Book now through 5/22/18

Book 5/23/18 to 8/1/18

Disney’s BoardWalk Villas

Disney’s Old Key West Resort

Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village

25%

20%

Disney’s Beach Club Villas

Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows – Studios only

15%

10%

Select Disney Deluxe Resorts

Save up to 25% for stays most nights
6/11/18 to 8/1/18

Book now through 5/22/18

Book 5/23/18 to 8/1/18

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

25%

20%

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

15%

10%

Select Disney Moderate Resorts

Save up to 20% for stays most nights
6/11/18 to 8/1/18

Book now through 5/22/18

Book 5/23/18 to 8/1/18

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

20%

15%

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside

10%

10%

The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

20%

20%

Select Disney Value Resorts

Save up to 20% for stays most nights
6/11/18 to 8/1/18

Book now through 5/22/18

Book 5/23/18 to 8/1/18

Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort

Disney’s All-Star Music Resort

Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Family Suites only

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

20%

15%

The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room. Length of stay requirements may apply.

See Important Details.

Note: Moderate and Deluxe suites may be available at a lesser discount.

Important Details:

• The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.

• Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room.

• Additional per adult charges may apply if more than 2 adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts.

• Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion.

• Advance reservations required.

• Offer excludes the following room types: campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalow

The number of rooms allocated for the offer is limited. Length-of-stay requirements may apply. Additional per-adult charges may apply if more than two adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. Cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions. Advance reservations required. Offer excludes 3-bedroom villas, campsites, Cabins at Disney’s Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid standard rooms. 25% savings based on the non-discounted price of the same room for select Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts. Lower savings may be available at other select Disney Resort hotels.

Top 5 Hidden Gems in Magic Kingdom

5. Main Street Windows

Look up! Above the shops, the windows host a variety of names of people who were influential in creating Disney World. Along with the company names Walt Disney used when he was first creating the “Florida Project” as it was called. Incredible attention to detail.

4. Totem Poles

Just at the entrance to the Jungle Cruise, you’ll find water spritzing Totem Poles. A perfect little refresher as you walk by on a hot day.

3. Tangled Restrooms

The prettiest restrooms in all the land! Here, just through the arches from Liberty Square into Fantasyland near It’s a Small World are the Tangled Restrooms. Rapunzel’s Tower and beautiful lanterns that glow at night make this area a unique picture spot. It’s also the site of the very popular floating lantern pictures offered by Photopass photographers.

2. Excalibur’s Sword

Have your kids tried to remove the sword from the stone? Every once in awhile a little Disney magic and pixie dust causes a tiny guest to pull the sword out, it’s exciting…you never know when it will happen!

1. Dumbo Playground

At Dumbo the Flying Elephant a playground in the queue with child entertainment and a place for parents to rest. Kids may forget there is a ride there!

So be sure to spend a little time taking in these special gems on your next visit!

Flight of Passage

The latest greatest attraction in Orlando since the opening of Pandora, the World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is in my opinion, Flight of Passage.

 

The lines are long with this one!

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Flight of Passage is a thrilling ride (with a 44″ height requirement) on the back of an animatronic banshee wearing 3D glasses. It’s far from just another simulator ride though. The experience starts in the queue itself. It meanders through rock formations, past waterfalls, interesting landscapes and into what appears from the outside to be a gigantic rock. Inside it’s nice a cool and continues its meandering ways. There is plenty to look at and makes the long wait, not quite so bad really.

 

The two pre-ride videos explain that the conflict between the humans and the Na’Vi aliens has ended and now humans can experience this amazing thrill that is a rite of passage for the Na’Vi. The ride is a flight simulator perched in front of a 65-foot wide, 90-foot tall 3D screen. As you enter the flight room, after you’ve been matched with your banshee, you get your first glimpse of the motorcycle like contraction you’ll be riding. But this isn’t a motorcycle, it’s a living breathing banshee! Put on your 3D glasses and FLY!

The thrills are strong with this one!

You’ll fly through forests, past waterfalls avoiding animals and a tsunami! The wind blowing, the sights, and sounds. It truly is an incredible attraction.

It’s Soarin on Steroids!

I managed to ride this 3 times in one day on a busy September day. Arriving at park opening with the crowds all heading there, the line started right about where the sign is telling you what the wait time is. It said 2 hours. But the crowds were still filing in, filling in the queue and we pretty much walked steadily, slowly without stopping. It took about 45 minutes to get to the first pre-ride movie. The second time was with a Fastpass, took about 30 minutes even with the Fastpass. The 3rd time we just waited. The sign said it was a 90-minute wait and we had some time to kill. It took 60 minutes. But this time we got to see the entire queue which we skipped the first 2 times through.

Flight of Passage is definitely the best use of a Fastpass at Animal Kingdom, but even without one, with a little planning and some patience, it’s well worth the wait.

Mobile Ordering at Walt Disney World

One of my favorite new convenience features available on the My Disney Experience app is mobile ordering. I was able to use this several times on my recent trip and loved it!

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When in the parks, you can access your My Disney Experience account as you would to view or change your fast passes and you can pull up any quick service that offers mobile ordering, most do now. You can order your food as you are heading to a restaurant and when you arrive at the location, simply tap the “I’m here, prepare my order” button. Within minutes, you will receive a response on the app telling you your order is ready for pickup. Then you go to the well-marked mobile order pickup counter to retrieve your food. No waiting in lines to order! No waiting at the counter for food!

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Just this past week, Disney opened up mobile ordering to Disney Dining Plans, it was not available before. So now you can order online and choose the dining plan as payment and your credits will be adjusted accordingly.