The weather has started to hit the sweet spot here in Orlando – beautiful mid 70s during the day – a warm breeze yet still perfect to hop in for a mid day pool visit. With the change in weather comes the changes in seasons and Disney has stepped up to embrace this Christmas season. I visited Magic Kingdom to get a glimpse of what is in store for you when you visit during this very merry time!
Upon entering Magic Kingdom, you find yourself slow down to take in all that is before you. Garland and wreaths adorn all of Main Street and the feeling is palpable. It’s breathtaking. The combination of Disney magic and holiday nostalgia comes in a double dose. Like a warm soup on a cold day, the feeling of the first snow of the season, and the magic of Christmas morning all wrapped into one – you walk around in gentle wonder. Christmas music wafts at you and tells you that this year is finally reaching its conclusion which gives you a sense of “thank goodness – we have made it here.”
I always advise that the start of the day is a great time to take family pictures. Everyone is looking fresh and spirits are high. There are many Disney PhotoPass photographers around Main Street and Cinderella’s Castle. Don’t forget to ask if they have any Magic Shots to make your pictures even more full of cheer! Starting around 10:30, you’ll hear the music announcing character cavalcades. These are smaller parades that being near Splash Mountain and end near the trolley station at the front entrance area of Main Street.
For the Christmas season, there are cavalcades featuring Mickey, Minnie, and Friends in Christmas gear, Goofy’s Candy Cavalcade, Santa’s Cavalcade featuring his reindeer, and the beautiful Toy Soldiers marching with the Main Street Philharmonic Marching Band. Throughout the day, the barber quartet Dapper Dans traverse the park on their Holiday Trolly spreading Christmas merriment. My favorite spot for these cavalcades is at the base of the Christmas tree near the front entrance facing directly down Main Street. It is a prime spot so you may want to get there a bit early. Contrary to previous parade planning, finding a spot to watch is much easier. During regular capacity crowds you would easily be several families deep trying to find a last minute spectator spot. This time, you can easily move throughout the crowd as the cavalcades pass on to get some lovely holiday photo memories.
Christmas themed snacks are in high demand and Disney has been especially creative! You can sample a Christmas tree cupcake with a red velvet Hidden Mickey inside, an Orange Bird Christmas treat consisting of white chocolate mousse filled with orange curd, or my personal favorite a “Let It Snow” taco which is a sugar cookie taco shell filled with salted caramel and spiced chocolate mousse. The flavor is amazing and it’s an eye catcher – quite a few people asked where they could get one (Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe in Frontierland).
This year Disney transforms Cinderella’s Castle each evening with holiday projections. Overlays of red, green, and gold rotate with looks such as Christmas sweater decor and a jeweled frozen castle. The designs rotate approximately every 15 minutes so it’s the perfect time to grab that festive holiday snack and relax. You’ll want to keep in mind that this is not an official show but rather a rotation of festive backdrops meant to allow guests to come and go while enjoying the ambiance. And grab those magical evening PhotoPass snaps with the beautiful background! Easiest Christmas card shot ever!
Each time I visit Disney parks, I make sure to pay close attention to safety. Disney has set the bar very high from their reopening this past summer and they have remained consistent throughout. When there are times groups seem to be congregated together, Cast Members gently make sure to remind everyone to stay a safe distance. Guests are reminded to keep masks on unless eating and drinking (while stationary). I went out of my way to thank the Cast Members last visit for this. Of course it’s an economical decision to have the parks open. Yet I truly believe that at the core of Disney philosophy they care greatly about their guests and their well being. If you need further proof of this, read Bob Iger’s “Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company.” A fantastic, open, and heartfelt look into what it’s like to be the leader behind all things Disney.
One more note – don’t forget to visit the “Jingle Cruise” – the Christmas themed Jungle Cruise sure to delight travelers from near and far!
If you are considering a holiday Disney getaway and would like a free, no obligation quote – proceed here to get started! Disney is currently offering discounts for those who want resort/ticket packages, Florida residents, Annual Passholders, Disney Visa Cardholders, and many more!
Ever wanted to see the fireworks on Independence Day at Walt Disney World? Good news! We’ve got your July Fourth survival guide to help you make the most of one of the most magical days in the Magic Kingdom!
1. Arrive Early
July is a busy time at Walt Disney World and July Fourth is one of the busiest days at the Happiest Place on Earth! The first key to making the most of your Independence Day at Magic Kingdom is to arrive early. Arrive at the Magic Kingdom before rope drop, enjoy your walk down Main Street and into the Hub to experience a one of a kind welcome to your day at the Magic Kingdom. The early morning crowd is light compared to the numbers that will begin gather after lunch.
2. Go Left!
When the Magic Kingdom opens go left! When the Magic Kingdom opens for the day most people will venture to the right into Tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain or into Fantasy Land to try and catch a quick ride on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. But if you’re looking to avoid the crowds and experience a fun start to your day, go left into Adventureland where you can catch an early ride on the Jungle Cruise and then make your way around to Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain.
3. Book Your FastPass+ Wisely
Think about how long you are going to be in the park on the Fourth. Early in the morning will be less crowded and will allow you to quickly jump on some early morning rides (especially if you went left!). So, start making your Fast Pass Plans around 10am and into the early afternoon when temperatures soar and shade gets scarce. Also, think about where you will be in the park when you book them so you’re not having to quickly move from one end of the park to another.
4. Take a Break
Our family’s favorite spot to take an afternoon break on Independence Day is Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. Here you’ll enjoy great Italian fare in a quiet (and air conditioned) environment. Plus, if you ask to sit near the windows you can get a great view of the afternoon parade!
5. Find Your Perfect Viewing Spot
Getting a great spot for the fireworks means getting settled early in the afternoon. I recommend around heading toward your spot between 5:30-6pm. Be sure to bring glow sticks, bracelets, and lots of ways to occupy yourself and your children as you await the show.
6. Enjoy the Show
There will be a huge crowd and sometimes people can get frustrated, but keep your cool as the crowd grows and be ready to experience one of the Magic Kingdom’s best shows. Then relish the moment because you’re in the Happiest Place on Earth experiencing one of the most spectacular shows on earth!
Jonathan Smith, pictured with his family, is a seasoned Walt Disney World expert. He's been a great friend, advocate, and client of Magic Bound Travel since the very beginning.
Walt Disney World Imagineers exceed expectations with every new park, every new world, every new resort. The most recent Pandora- The World of Avatar at Walt Disney's Animal Kingdom Park is breathtakingly beautiful. As you enter into the Valley of Mo'ara and leave earth to enter another world, the sounds, the glowing flora and fauna, playful plant life that reacts to your movement and touch- everything invite you into an adventure of the senses. Floating mountains welcome you to a winding path to explore and celebrate nature to the sounds of the Na'vi tribe.
Head to the left of the floating mountains and ride Na’vi River Journey, a serene boat ride through a bioluminescent forest full of creatures, creations, and sounds of the mesmerizing and beautiful Shaman of Songs. (Fastpass+ recommended!)
To the right of the mountains is the entrance to Avatar Flight of Passage- the show stopper. The ride not to be missed. If you have the patience to wait in the ride queue, you'll slowly wander through the lab and see the avatars prepared for their journey. I'd highly recommend planning ahead with a Fastpass+ for this one though and skipping the queue; wait times are hours long due to popularity! You will be paired with an avatar and, through a bike-like 3D simulation ride, have the experience of flying on the back of a banshee. It's like nothing you can imagine. Sivako! (Na'vi for "rise to the challenge")
THE FOOD. AHHHHHMAZING. Healthy (and not so healthy) options. Tons of flavor and creativity and no chicken fingers and fries. Rest and enjoy a meal at the Satu'li Canteen or grab a fun frosty drink at the Pongu Pongu drink stand.
Our family attended Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party over the weekend, and we had a blast! If you are planning on going to the party sometime in the next several weeks, here's a couple quick suggestions to help with your experience:
Brad Farrington is co-owner/agent for Magic Bound Travel. Email Brad if you would like his help planning your trip to Walt Disney World for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or for any Disney or Universal vacation.
Disney is truly a magical place. What I find so magical is that every time I go, I notice some new detail, or learn some new fact. The amount of detail that goes into every aspect of Disney is astounding. This is why I find the behind the scenes tours so exciting. First, let me say, they are not for everyone. If it’s your first time going, or maybe even your second or third, I would argue there is plenty of magic just being in the parks and around the resorts. For that matter, if you never do one of these tours, your time at Disney will still be magical. If you have young kids, these tours may also not be for you, as many have minimum age limits that range anywhere from tweens to adults. (Of course, you could always leave the kids with the grandparents.) Some are designed for kids too though. But, if you are like my family, and consider yourself to be complete Disney nerds. If you set your dinner plate down, and the first thing your family yells is “Hidden Mickey.” If you have that one burning question about Disney that you just want to get answered, then these tours may be for you.
My family has personally done two separate tours, though not together. I did the Keys to the Kingdom tour when I was down with some friends for a RunDisney event. My wife and son did the Behind the Seeds tour at Living with the Land on a mother/son trip. The Keys to the Kingdom tour was excellent. We spent some time on Main Street learning history, got priority access to two different rides, went backstage and saw the parade floats, and went into the famed utilidors (the tunnels beneath Magic Kingdom that they use to move people and objects from land to land). It was an exciting day filled with all sorts of insight. The only problem I had with the tour is that it was so filled with information, it overwhelmed my brain, and I had a hard time trying to remember what I had learned as the tour ended. On the bright side, I can do the tour again and relearn it all.
I can’t really tell you much about the Behind the Seeds tour as I did not do that one, but I can tell you this…It potentially insured that my son isn’t going to move back in with me. Prior to going on the tour, he wanted to study Philosophy. Afterwards, he wanted to study biochemistry. This fall, he will be applying to colleges, and the quality of their biochemistry programs is one of his primary criteria. He dreams of eventually getting to do an internship with Disney in their Living with the Land area. So now you know, Disney can truly change your life.
Neal Jones, pictured with his wife Mandy, is a seasoned Disney fan and a runDisney enthusiast and expert. He's been a great friend and advocate to Magic Bound Travel and has been with us since the very beginning.
Whether you are an experienced runner, or have never run a day in your life, a Disney race may be for you. In fact, Disney Half Marathons have more first time Half Marathoners than any other races in the world, so regardless of where you may find yourself, you will not be alone. I love Disney races. I have run every distance they offer, and have done several of the challenges, and I’m not in great shape. In fact, the last Disney race I ran, I was 80 lbs overweight. Truly anyone can do a Disney race, you just have to be prepared. Here are a few tips to help you make sure that you have a magical time.
When I say anyone can do it, I mean it. However, if you just decide that you are going to do it and don’t prepare, it can make the rest of your vacation miserable. You will be struggling just to make it through the parks, and it will not be a magical time. Fortunately, RunDisney puts out training plans for all of their races. They use interval training which is also known as the run/walk method, which I personally love. Not only do I use the RunDisney plans for their races, but also for any other race I do. If you don’t like their plans, do a quick google search and you will find plenty. Just know that the more you train, the better time you will have.
2. Stay Hydrated.
Florida races can be very hot. (I haven’t done one at Disneyland, but that is on my bucket list) It is easy to become dehydrated. Fortunately, Disney races have plenty of water/powerade stops. Some would say too many. Make sure that you keep plenty of fluids in you.
3. If you can hold it, use the restroom in the parks.
Keeping hydrated also means that there is a decent chance you will have to take a pit stop at some point. I have never seen so many port-a-johns as at Disney races. They have hundreds of them at the start and finish and plenty all along the race course. However, the one thing that Disney has that most races don’t is real bathrooms on the course. Every time we hit a park, we make sure to stop at a restroom because, let’s face it, a bathroom with running water is always nicer than a box with a hole in it. Bonus tip: I tend to not stop at the first restroom in the park, because the lines are often the longest.
When I asked my family, what tips they had to make a Disney run magical, the first thing my 14 year old daughter yelled out was “Biofreeze!” For those who don’t know about Biofreeze, it is essentially a fancier version of Bengay, and they have it at every medical tent, which are almost as frequent as the water stops. Don’t be afraid to stop and get help if you need it. Each station has professional medical people that can help with things as simple as chafing and as dangerous as heart conditions. The medical care is top notch. As far as the Biofreeze goes, my daughter’s advice is, “Put it wherever you hurt. Use a lot of it. Use it often.”
5. Dress the part
When you head out to the race, you will see people in all sorts of gear. Some will be dressed up in the fanciest of racing gear, while others will have even fancier costumes. Have fun. I’m personally not a costume type of person, but I will often wear different colors, depending on the theme. For example, at the Star Wars Dark Side Half, I wore all gray, and ordered a green magic band. My round belly was the Death Star, and the magic band represented the laser shot out of it. Others were more fully dressed in costumes, but mine was perfect for me. Word of Warning: Train at least once in your costume. My daughter wore a tutu for the Princess half for exactly ½ a mile, before it became annoying. That is something that you can take off, but other costumes may not be so simple. Know what it will be like before you run.
6. Stop for characters, or rides, or McDonalds
Disney offers opportunities that most races don’t. They have characters out on the course, and not just the run-of-the-mill characters you see in the park, but Disney characters rarely seen. For at least two races, the Dark Side Half and the Mickey Full Marathon, the course goes on an overpass next to a McDonalds. If you finish going over the overpass, at the end you can cut through the grass and get a quick breakfast. If you’re slow enough, you will also run into the parks just as they are opening. That is a great time to jump on a ride. I have taken breaks to ride Mt Everest and Tower of Terror. How many people can say they have ridden a thrill ride in the middle of a running race?
7. Take your time
Obviously, if I’m willing to stop and get character pictures, eat some McDonalds, and ride rides, I’m not that worried about my finishing time. Particularly if this is your first race at that distance, you already know you are going to set a personal best. While some go for time, Disney races are for me a celebration of the training and hard work I did to get to that point. To help you take your time, follow tip 8.
8. If possible, get a qualifying time
You start a Disney race based on your estimated finishing time. The faster people start first, while the slower people and those without a qualifying time start in the back. The last people to start are a group of women that are called the balloon ladies. They walk an approximately 16 minute mile, which is the slowest you can go without being removed from the course. If you run a race before Disney and can prove that you can run faster, than the other paces, you will start closer to the front. The 16 minutes/mile clock doesn’t start until the last runner crosses the start line, which means the closer to the front you are, the more time you have to play and enjoy yourself on the course.
9. Don’t be afraid of the balloon ladies
First, I used to think the balloon ladies were a myth. That is until my wife forgot her inhaler one race, and her asthma kicked in about a mile and a half into the 10K. It was about mile 4 that we met the balloon ladies. They are nice. And they told us that we needed to speed up, which we were able to do by doing very short run/walk intervals. If you meet the balloon ladies, it is not the end of the world.
10. Have fun
At about mile 18 of my first full at Disney, I saw a man wearing a shirt that read, “DLF>DNF>DNS.” Below it, it said Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish is greater than Did Not Start. Running a race is ultimately a competition against one’s self. If you have taken the time to train and made it to race day you have won. When you cross that start line, you will have accomplished something that literally billions of people have not. Even if you get passed by the balloon ladies and end up being pulled from the course, the fact that you started, and didn’t finish is better than most. And when you finish, you will have accomplished something many only dream of. As it turns out, the person who finishes last will be able to wear the same medal around the park as the person who finishes first. The point is to do your best and to enjoy it. If you follow these 10 tips, then running at Disney can be another magical part of your vacation.
Neal Jones is a seasoned Disney fan and a runDisney enthusiast and expert. He's been a great friend and advocate to Magic Bound Travel and has been with us since the very beginning.
You can get a FREE dining plan when you purchase a non-discounted 5-night/6-day Magic Your Way package that includes a room at a select Walt Disney World® Resort hotel and ticket with a Park Hopper® or Park Hopper Plus Option Aug. 21-Sept. 30, Nov. 14-20, Nov. 25-27, Dec. 8-23, 2017 when they book April 24-July 7, 2017.
BUT WAIT! Do you see that little fine print on the right hand side..... just under the dates? That says "Ask about packages of other lengths of stay"? Second star to the right and straight on til morning! Technically, the minimum required is a non-discounted 3-night/2-day package with Park Hopper passes! But they are very limited and are going fast- so contact us TODAY for a FREE QUOTE!
When you stay at a select Disney Deluxe Resort or Disney Deluxe Villa Resort, you get the Disney Dining Plan with a variety of delicious dining options. When you stay at a select Disney Value Resort or Disney Moderate Resort, you get the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan.
Booking Window: April 24-July 7, 2017
Travel Window: Aug. 21-Sept. 30, Nov. 14-20, Nov. 25-27, Dec. 8-23, 2017
Excludes the following room types and Disney Resort hotels:
Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Let us help compare the other available offers (such as Discounted Fall Room Rates) to find you which promotion or discount gets you the best value for your hard earned Disney vacation dollars.
For a FREE & No Obligation Quote, contact us at http://www.magicboundtravel.com/walt-disney-world-quote.html
It's only Spring but Fall already in the air for those of us planning magical vacations!
Beginning in September, Fall decor will adorn the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World and select nights, ticket only access to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party will come alive! This amazing Halloween party is one of the few times kids of ALL ages can come in full garb, trick or treat for candy, enjoy character dance parties, special castle show and fireworks, parade, and rides late into the night! It's the perfect event for anyone that loves Halloween but not the stuff of nightmares.
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Dates for 2017:
**Special notes to consider-
Are you ready to RunDisney?! Magic Bound Travel is a contracted sports travel provider with runDisney and has discounted race packages! Click above on RUNDISNEY in the menu bar for more details!