June 25th, 2017
“Every Guest Has Their Own Story”
I was reading the story about the man in California who has gone to Disneyland for 2000 straight days on Facebook the other day. If you haven’t seen the article click here. As I was reading the story and watching the very heartwarming video that ran with it, I had a very uplifting feeling. Then, I made the mistake of reading the comments under the post on Facebook. People were calling him a “pedophile”, “Creepy old guy”, and many other disturbing things. My anger turned to sadness as I thought about what he must be feeling reading those things.
My wife and I are in our late 30’s, no children, and huge Disney fans as you can imagine. I sometimes get asked why I am a Disney fan if I don’t have any children and isn’t Disney World for kids. I usually laugh it off and tell them I am just a big kid and enjoy the escapism that Disney Parks provide. Once in a while I feel weird going to movie opening nights, or other Disney inspired events where 99% of the other guests there are families. However, no one has called me those vicious names that the man in the story was called.
As I continued to read all of those nasty comments about this man, I began to reflect on my own future. My wife and I always joke when we are walking through Disney World and see a cute older couple hand in hand that will be us some day. Of course we say it lovingly as if “wouldn’t it be nice for that to be us some day”. Walt himself created Disneyland with the hopes of it being a park that both children and adults could enjoy. I was always an introvert and shy when I was younger. Growing up with a stutter and overweight didn’t do a lot for my confidence. The Disney community really helped me be ok with who I am. I have made so many friends and been accepted for just being me. I love that about being part of this community.
Every guest that goes through the “tapstyle” has a different story. Some go there as a place to escape their troubles at home or work. Some go because they just want their children to be happy dreaming about drinking by the pool. Some might go because they just love to eat great food. Whatever the reason, we shouldn’t judge those we do not know.
One of my favorite quotes from Walt Disney is ” Happiness is a state of mind. It’s just according to the way you look at things”. You never know a person’s story until you take the time to find out what it is.
May 29th, 2017
Main Street Memorial Day 2017
We all know what a patriot and supporter of the military Walt was. He tried to enlist in several branches of the service and even for the Canadians during World War I. After being turned away from all of them he decided to enlist with the Red Cross Ambulance Corps. He went overseas to help any way he could fight for his country. His two older brothers had enlisted already, but Walt yet again showed his determination.
In my opinion one of the most overlooked things at any Disney Park happens every day at 5:00pm. The Flag Retreat at the top of Main Street in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland is a great way to show your patriotism and pay respect to the men and women who fight for our country.
They have the Dapper Dans, Philharmonic, Honor Guard, and either a Veteran or active duty soldier help with the ceremony. The Pledge of Allegiance can be heard recited. As well as America the Beautiful and as the flag is lowered the Philharmonic will play the Star Spangled Banner. I love how they include guests to the ceremony. Children are often recruited to help recite the pledge. A randomly selected Veteran of active duty service member helps carry the folded flag.
There are many opinions on how to help you chances of being picked for this honor. Wearing shirts or hats that show you are a veteran, going to City Hall and asking if they had picked someone yet, and one I know doesn’t work. Before our last trip to Walt Disney World I contacted Guest Services via email to try and get my dad to be selected for the day. I knew he would love doing it being a Marine Veteran of the Vietnam War. I was nicely told that the honor is random and maybe some pixie dust would fall on us that day. Sadly it didn’t.
I highly recommend taking a few minutes out of your busy Magic Kingdom day to watch this amazing retreat and pay respect to all of those who give us the freedom to enjoy life in this great country!
May 8th, 2017
Eating Your Way Down Main Street USA
The restaurants on Main Street are not the most talked about on property. However, it has so much to offer and you can find some amazing food.
So lets start with the quick service spots. If you listen to the podcast you know my stance on having Starbucks in the parks. However, the Starbucks formerly known as the Main Street Bakery still can provide some great treats. Of course you can get all of your early morning caffeine filled pick me ups, but you can also get yummy breakfast sandwiches. You can also get some of your favorite treats from Animal Kingdom without having to park hop. They offer some of their amazing cupcakes. The Bakery is also open before the other lands open in the morning.
The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor is another great place to give your sweet tooth what it needs. Not to be overlooked is the interior of the parlor. It really does take you back in time. Take a couple of seconds to look around. Also, they keep that place very cold. It is a great place to stop in the middle of the day when you need to get your body temperature down. Now onto the food. You can get your favorite flavor or ice cream. They also have my favorite the Mickey’s Kitchen Sink. This mini version of the Beaches n’ Cream challenge comes in a little Mickey pants shaped mini sink you can take home.
I’m saving my favorite for last. Casey’s Corner is easily one of my favorite places to eat in the whole park. I love the atmosphere walking in there and how it transports you back to the early days of baseball. The pictures and memorabilia on the walls are always fun to look at while your waiting to order. The food is your ballpark favorites that make you wish you could see a ninth inning walk off homer. I love their footlong chili cheese dogs and fries. They have also started having a monthly “featured dog” which is usually something themed to a holiday or time of year. My favorite so far was the breakfast dog topped with hash browns, cheddar cheese, bacon, fried onions, and a chipotle ranch sauce. It is also a great place to enjoy a late night snack before heading back to your resort. There is something romantic about enjoying a chili cheese dog and watching the “Goodnight Kiss” on the castle (my wife might not agree).
Stay tuned next week we will dive into the table service restaurants that Main Street has to offer!
May 1st, 2017
Good Morning From The Magic Kingdom
For those of you who have not been to Walt Disney World this year, you will notice a change to the Magic Kingdom’s opening for the day. I was recently listening to the WDW Parkhopper Podcast, he shared his first time with the new procedure and it got me thinking.
First, let’s go through how things were before the change. As we all know you would get to THE Magic Kingdom about a half an hour before park open. You would be corralled in front of the train station for the amazing welcome show. The two side entrances of the train station would open and the stampede would begin. Only the strong would survive and get to the main attraction of their choice first. I’m not sure if I like this method because it’s the one we always had and I’m just used to it. We would always find a spot by one of the entrances, watch the welcome show, and then make our way to Fantasyland without stopping. This allowed us to get on most of the rides with little wait (aside from the mine train). We would always knock out Peter Pan, It’s a small world, Pooh, Journey of the Little Mermaid, and maybe Dumbo. Then it was off to Gaston’s for a cinnamon roll. I would usually save our fastpasses for the other lands, because we could check Fantasyland off the list early.
Now, let’s go through the new procedure. Instead of having you wait at the train station. Guests can now enter the park before the official open. This allows you to make your way up mainstreet as far as the spokes of the hub and castle. There is a short five minute welcome show on the castle stage. I don’t want to get too negative so I’ll just say I really miss the old welcome show. The castmembers are stationed at the enterances to each land with actual ropes to prevent you from getting too far into the park before it opens.
This system has it pros and cons. So first the pros. You aren’t packed into a herd of guests at the train station and it does allow you to casually walk up Main Street without getting trampled. Most of the shops are open so you can browse and shop while the stores have that new day smell. Most guests are heading further down Main Street so you can shop without too many guests clogging up aisles. The bakery is open for you to enjoy that morning pick me up if the pot of coffee you chugged at the resort hasn’t done its job yet.
Now for the cons (in my humble opinion of course). I think I have mentioned how the welcome show is sorely lacking. It’s a mere five minutes, just long enough to trot some main characters and princess’ out to say hi. They do not pick a family any longer to help open the park. I always thought that was such a nice thing to do. It really forces you to choose your poison on which land you want to go to. Guests will still coral, but it’s in front of the land enterance they wish to go to first. So that means Fantasyland for the most part. This eliminates my method of making a bee line for Fantasyland and hitting as many things as I can before it gets busy. It is already busy when the rope drop. If you listen to Dan’s podcast (link above) he goes through it first hand.
Judging by what I know of how the new opening has gone. It is time to change up my strategy a little. As far as the fast passes we will either have to use them for all of the Fantasyland favorites later in the day or wait until the very end of the night and hop on many of them. We will probably start our day in Adventureland, which doesn’t seem to be as popular as Fantasyland upon opening. This will allow us to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, and possible head to Frontierland for either Splash Mountain or Big Thunder before it gets too crowded.
If it is one thing you learn by being a Disney park guest is adaptability. Things are always changing and you have two choices. Be a free spirit and just go with the flow or be a super planner and have a plan A, B, and C. Which one are you? let me know how you like to open The Magic Kingdom in the comment section!
April 24th, 2017
“THE SWEET SOUNDS OF MAIN STREET, USA”
The barbershop quartet known as the Dapper Dans have blessed Main Street visitors since 1959 at Disneyland. They were added to The Magic Kingdom in 1971, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland. Sadly, they do not perform in Paris or Hong Kong anymore.
The quartet fill the street with classic songs from productions of Oklahoma, and Music Man. Of course they add in Disney favorites like Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, the Mickey Mouse Club theme, and many others. Around the holidays they will also add in some holiday themed songs. Christmas is my favorite of course!
I think my favorite part of the Dapper Dans are how friendly they are with guests. They truly embody the spirit of Main Street. Their funny jokes, puns, and overall interactions with each other make their show one not to be missed. They also play the Deagan Organ Chimes, which add a great musicality to the performance. It also adds some props for a few jokes along the way.
During the flag retreat ceremony the Dapper Dans will also perform. This takes place around 5pm every night at the main street flag pole.
I put a short video of one performance I saw on our Youtube channel. It was a rainy day, but nothing will dampen the Dans!
I always tell people to not dismiss Main Street as just a vessel to get you to the different “Lands”. Take a leisurely stroll, look, and listen to all Main Street, USA has to offer.
“Where It All Begins”
April 17th, 2017
For my first “Main Street Monday” article I thought it was only fitting to focus on the Main Street Railroad Station.The Station itself is constructed as a replica of ones dating back to the early 1900’s. Where passengers would board a steam powered locomotive that would whisk them to their destinations. Walt was always fascinated with trains. He even built a small scale locomotive in his back yard for his kids (and himself too).
Today guests know the Railroad Station as a place they walk under and run to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction. However, the station can serve many other purposes. Here are a few of the ways.
- It is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom. They do have some chairs and benches up there and it is one of the best places to people watch from. (listen to our episode on best places in WDW to people watch)
- It is also an excellent spot to view parades and nighttime shows. Word of warning it does get crowded during firework shows so get their early
- It is a great historical replica of a working train station from the period. Walk around and look at some of the era specific artifacts in the windows on the upper level.
- It also serves as a great meeting place for families. Since magic bands don’t have GPS in them (yet) you can always use the station as a place to meet family and friends.
- Lastly, you can use the station as transportation! What a concept huh? You can board the locomotive and take a ride around the park with stops at Fantasyland and Frontierland. There are plenty of things to see along the ride!
Main Street U.S.A as a whole is a window into Walt Disney’s formative years. It is based on the town of Marceline Missouri, where Walt spent many years as a child. So take your time and look at all of the details that makes this “park entrance” one of the best places in THE Magic Kingdom.