History, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

Things We Take For Granted at Walt Disney World

We visited our local amusement park a few weeks ago, and when we ordered a fountain drink, we watched the vendors struggle to find enough ice to fill our cup. This got us thinking, that would never happen at Disney. What else do we take for granted at Walt Disney World?

Cleanliness

Walt Disney Picking Up Trash
Walt Disney picking up trash at Disneyland

Staying clean is an important characteristic of Disney parks that separates them from other parks. Of course, that idea started with Walt. He wanted his parks to be so clean that people would be embarrassed to throw anything on the ground. While that wish hasn’t come true, it is true that Walt Disney World cast members (AKA employees) all pitch in to keep the parks clean. Cast members at all levels, from ride operators, to managers, to executives are required to pick up any trash they see as they walk through the parks. One of the hardest things to clean is gum – so you won’t find any for sale on Disney property.

Trash Cans

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Trash cans all around, helping keep trash off the ground.

To minimize the need to pick up wrappers and waste, trash cans are strategically placed at Disney parks. Walt Disney, after studying guests at other parks (and reportedly seeing how long it took him to finish a hot dog while walking), placed trash cans no more than 30 steps away from any spot to encourage people to throw away their trash instead of dropping it on the ground. While this doesn’t stop all trash from being left where it doesn’t belong, it definitely reduces it. A clean park is one factor in an amazing guest experience.

Camouflage

Disney parks go to great lengths to hide the behind-the-scenes workings. From the utilidoors that keep Magic Kingdom operations “underground,” to scenery that hides the infrastructure, it’s truly an immersive experience. Compare that to most amusement parks where, as you navigate the sections of the park, you can see service vehicles, the fence at the edges of the property, or electrical boxes. Seeing those things isn’t bad, but changes the experience. It’s Disney’s attention to these details that make you feel as if you are in another world.

Friendly Cast Members

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This cast member at Sweet Spells at Hollywood Studios gave our son a free Mickey Mouse cookie!

More times than not you’ll see a friendly face at park gates, restaurants, rides, and more. It’s all part of the experience Disney is trying to create. Cast members go through intensive training and have strict rules around interacting with park guests. At our local park, I wouldn’t say the employees are mean, just indifferent and doing their jobs.

Anything else?

We just returned from our most recent trip to The World, and had a better appreciation for the immersive experience Disney creates. What else do we take for granted at Disney parks?

Hollywood Studios, News, Quick Service, Walt Disney World

Baseline Tap House Opening in New “Grand Avenue” Area at Hollywood Studios

If you’re anything like us here at Word Of Mouse, visits to Disney’s Hollywood Studios typically do not include a whole lot of time spent eating. Although there are some popular table service restaurants, such as 50s Prime Time Cafe, Mama Melrose’s Ristorante (try the flatbread!), and The Hollywood Brown Derby, there are very few choices to grab a quick bite and get back on your way.

That may be about to change. Opening this fall will be a re-imagined area at Hollywood Studios known as Grand Avenue. Grand Avenue will showcase modern-day Los Angeles and will include vintage office buildings and warehouses representing different cultures from around the city.

Opening up in this area (in the building which used to be Writer’s Stop) will be Baseline Tap House. It will specialize in food and drinks from California, including craft ales, lagers, and cider. California wine and specialty cocktails will also be available. There will also be non-alcoholic choices to round out the drink selections.

 

Baseline Taphouse
(C) Disney

If you are coming in hungry then you will not be disappointed. Baseline Tap House will be serving small plates including Bavarian pretzels with beer cheese fondue, and spiced almonds. Also available will be a charcuterie board featuring a selection of California cheeses.

 

Baseline Tap House will open daily at 11 AM although no official opening date has been set.

 

Disney Springs, News

Farewell to DisneyQuest

Walt Disney was a man who believed in innovating and always moving forward, so it should come as no surprise that changes are always being made around the Walt Disney World Resort. Today, a big and emotional change is happening as we say farewell to DisneyQuest.

DisneyQuest

DQ Animation Academy Donald
Animation Academy Donald Duck

DisneyQuest opened on June 19, 1998 as a part of a large expansion to Downtown Disney West Side. When it opened, DisneyQuest was ahead of its time. Spawning over 100,000 square feet and five floors of electronic games and virtual attractions, there was something for everyone. Guests could paddle down the river on a virtual Jungle Cruise, score big points on the life size pinball game Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam, jump behind the wheel on one of eight linked Daytona USA racing consoles, and learn to draw popular Disney characters at Animation Academy. Guests could even design and experience their very own roller coasters on Cyberspace Mountain, or practice their aim on Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlasters.

 

AstroBlasters

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Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters

Few Disney attractions hold as many positive memories for my family as Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlasters. Best described as a cross between bumper cars and dodge ball, players would board their enclosed vehicle, collect asteroids (AKA foam balls), and fire them at other vehicles to disable them. This attraction wasn’t one we would typically put on our list, but all of that changed after our first time playing. AstroBlasters became one of our favorite attractions in all of WDW.

Personally, I love this ride because my daughter loved it and it was something that we could do together, as a team. I was the pilot and she was the very hungry gunner. We didn’t just play, but we were students of the game. We studied the best way to maneuver around the arena, most efficiently fire our asteroids, and even pick out newbies to shoot at. We loved the disappointment on their faces as their vehicle would light up and spin out of control. Occasionally this would result in retaliation, but that was the price of playing. We would spend hours and hours in those ride vehicles, stopping only for the occasional mango-strawberry smoothie, or to take a picture picking Buzz Lightyear’s nose on the rules sign in front of the game.

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Picking Buzz Lightyear’s Nose

Future

All of these times are just memories now as we are forced to say “so long” to this once iconic place. Unfortunately, years of falling into disrepair, and more technologically advanced attractions going in elsewhere around property, have driven attendance numbers down and have forced DisneyQuest to close its doors for the final time. However, in true Walt Disney fashion, a new attraction is planned for this space on the Disney Springs West Side. Work will begin on a multi-year transformation from DisneyQuest to the NBA Experience. According to the Disney Parks blog, the NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort will be, “a one-of-a-kind basketball-themed experience featuring hands-on activities that put guests of all ages right in the middle of NBA game action. There will be immersive NBA video productions and numerous interactive experiences, as well as a restaurant and a retail store.” On the heels of news that Walt Disney World will be the jersey sponsor of the Orlando Magic, this attraction appears to be a perfect fit and will appeal to basketball fans young and old.

News

BREAKING: Memory Maker Price Increase

 

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We love using Memory Maker on our WDW trips!

Beginning today, June 7, the price of the very popular Memory Maker is increasing by $20.

Memory Maker allows Walt Disney World guests to purchase all of the photos taken during their vacation.

Purchasing memory maker on property will now cost $199 (up from $179) while buying it at least three days prior to your trip will now cost $169 (up from $149).

Memory Maker can be purchased prior or during your trip on the Walt Disney World website or in your “My Disney Experience” app.

This price increase does not impact annual pass holders who have selected Memory Maker as a perk of their annual pass.

Disney Springs, News

Preferred Parking at Disney Springs 

Preferred parking has been in place at Walt Disney World parks for several months, but beginning on June 1, 2017 preferred parking is an option for guests visiting Disney Springs as well.

disney-springs-preferred-parking

Preferred parking is available in two different lots, the Lemon lot (located near the World of Disney store on the Marketplace side) and the Grapefruit lot (located near the West Side). The cost for preferred parking at Disney Springs is $10.

Guests who are looking for complimentary  parking are in luck! Free parking is still available in both the Orange and Lime garages, as well as the Strawberry and Watermelon parking lots.

Would you pay for preferred parking at Disney Springs?

Tips

5 Tips for Staying Cool On Your Summer Disney World Vacation

Sun Cropped SmallWe’ve often heard people ask how hot it really is in the summer at Walt Disney World. Answer – it’s very hot – all day. Imagine waking up at your resort, taking a shower, feeling nice and clean, then stepping outside to head to the parks. The heat and humidity hits you in the face. It feels like you just opened an oven door, and you can’t see through the steam on your sunglasses.

Before long you wonder what the point of taking a shower was, because you’re already sweating through your clean clothes. We know this because our vacations are always in the summer. But we still love it! There are ways to beat the heat during your summer trip to Walt Disney World, and we want to share our tips for keeping cool.

Stay Hydrated

Drink Water Small
Drink That Water!

Step number one for staying cool and feeling good is to stay hydrated. Your best choice is water. Fill a few bottles at your resort and keep them in the freezer overnight to help them stay cold during the day. All quick service locations in WDW will give you free cups of ice water. Don’t like the taste of Florida tap water? Try bringing instant flavor packets or liquids, or if you prefer no flavor, get your free water from Starbucks! They use special filtered water so it doesn’t affect the taste of their coffee.

Take an Afternoon Break
Avoid the hottest part of the day, from around noon to 4:00, by taking a break from the heat. Our favorite way to do this is to head back to the resort to freshen up and try to rest. We’ll head back to the parks around dinner time and stay until park close. If you don’t want to leave the park or it’s not convenient, take a “break” by planning to experience the indoor rides midday. Every park has multiple indoor rides and shows that will help you cool down. Our favorite is Carousel of Progress at Magic Kingdom!

Choose the Right Clothes
Wearing light colored, loose clothes will definitely help you stay cool. Dark colors absorb the heat and make you feel hotter, and tight clothes don’t allow and breeze or other air movement, keeping the heat in.

Walk Through Gift Shops
There are several opportunities to walk through gift shops on your way to your next attraction. Pop in to browse the merchandise and get a quick cool off in the process. TIP: the stores on Main Street at Magic Kingdom are all connected. You can start just after Casey’s corner and walk all the way to the beginning of Main Street without going back outside.

Get Wet

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Our Laughing Place (I’m in yellow.)

One good thing about the Florida summer heat is that you can ride water rides and play in splash pads without worrying about staying wet all day. Trust us, you’ll dry off quickly. Consider taking a plunge on Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom or braving Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom – warning – you could get drenched on that one.

Looking for something lighter? Bring a water misting fan. You can get them outside of WDW for under $10; they’ll run you about $20 in the parks.

Finally, don’t forget your sunscreen! The Florida sun can sneak up on you even on overcast days. Apply before you leave your resort, and reapply during the day.

So, go ahead and plan that summer Walt Disney World vacation! What tips do you have for staying cool? Let us know in the comments.

 

Magic Kingdom, News

From Wishes to Happily Ever After – Walt Disney World Replacing its Nighttime Show at Magic Kingdom

Wishes
Faith steps in and sees you through.

On May 11, 2017, Disney’s nighttime fireworks show at Magic Kingdom, Wishes, will have its final show. Happily Ever After, the new show, will debut May 12. Reactions from Disney fans range from devastated to hopeful.

Over the past 14 years, Wishes has been a favorite of visitors to Walt Disney World. The story of believing in your wishes and dreams, and being careful what you wish for, has tugged at the heartstrings of the young and old. So the new show has a lot to live up to.

We first saw Wishes in 2005 on our honeymoon, so it has special meaning to us. We make a point to see it multiple times every trip, even getting park hopper passes just so we can return to Magic Kingdom after spending the day at another park. We’ve even watched Wishes from the Polynesian beach on a trip to Orlando when we didn’t have any park tickets. When we heard that Wishes would be ending, we were not happy at all! So, you can say it’s going to take a lot for this new show to impress us.

That being said, I’ve learned to never judge something from Disney before you have experienced it yourself. This past week, the Disney Parks Blog released a preview of Happily Ever After and I have to admit the music was promising. Disney’s castle projections have always been impressive and who doesn’t like lasers, but I hope the story makes it a show that goes beyond just visually appealing.

In just a few days (hopefully sometime this summer for us) people will get to experience it for themselves. I predict that some will hate it, some will love it, and others will be somewhere in the middle. Or maybe it will be so amazing that we all develop a new love. Only time will tell.

News

Word of Mouse

Welcome to Word of Mouse!

If you found this blog, you must be a Disney fan, and we are too! Though neither of started out that way growing up. In this post we want to share who we are, how we developed our passion for all things Disney, and what to expect from Word of Mouse.

Who We Are

Sassagoula Boat Ride
Sassagoula River Cruise – Port Orleans French Quarter

My name is Jennifer and my first trip to Walt Disney World was in 2001 when I was 19 years old. It was exciting to finally be visiting The Most Magical Place on Earth! I didn’t know much about the parks, but the thought of seeing Cinderella Castle in person made me smile. Spoiler alert – when I rounded the corner on Main Street and saw the castle for the first time, I cried.

I have my husband Chad – the other author of this blog – to thank. It was his family that I went with on this magical first trip. Chad’s first trip to Walt Disney World was when he was five years old, but he didn’t go again until our trip with his family in 2001. We stayed offsite at what was then called the Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels. Though we now prefer to stay onsite, we are glad to have the offsite experience.

One Little Spark

Something about that trip stuck with us, and in 2005 we honeymooned at Walt Disney  World. It was this trip that sparked our love. Maybe it was Port Orleans French Quarter (still our favorite resort today), maybe it was the food (but definitely not Spoodles – more about that in a future post), or maybe it was Disney magic. Whatever the reason, we have vacationed in Walt Disney World nearly every year since. In that time, we have grown to love the parks, the planning, the food, and Walt Disney himself.

Why We Are Writing

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Partners Statue – Magic Kingdom

Our goal with this blog is to share our love for all things Disney – from our experiences in the parks and resorts to Disney news. We’ll talk about our favorite things (and least favorite), planning tips, mistakes we’ve made and learned from, with a little history thrown in. In the end we hope to never lose sight of one thing, it was all started by Walt Disney and a mouse.