Monday, March 27, 2017

Last one ~ Disney Photopass aka Memory Maker Photos

Just dropping off a 'few' of my favorite Disney Photopass pictures!  Memory Maker is definitely worth buying.  If you need a price break, there are lots and lots of people who host shares out there.  Someone purchases Memory Maker, then a group with similar travel dates split the cost.   You just have to know where to look to find a share!

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Disney ~ last day!

Since we had a late night at Disney After Hours, we slept in a bit on Friday and took our time getting moving.  I thought that we would have had our fill of the Magic Kingdom by Friday, so we had planned to visit Animal Kingdom.  Both girls were so sad to leave MK Thursday evening that we decided to go back to MK and skip AK.  They wanted to see "Wishes" one last time as it is ending in May and being replaced by a new fireworks show.

We ended up just hanging around Main Street for a while hoping to catch a glimpse of the Festival of Fantasy parade.  We had a dining reservation at O'hana at 4:00, so we had to leave MK just as the parade was about to head down Main Street.  Bummer.  I'm glad we left when we did though because the monorail was down and we ended up having to wait for a boat.  All was good though and we made it to our reservation just in time.

O'hana was probably the best meal we had all week!!  I do believe it will replace 1900 Park Fare for our dinner.  We ordered off the kids' menu for Val and Roni just in case, but they both actually liked the food.  Veronica didn't even eat her hamburger.  O'hana is definitely worth doing again.

After dinner, we went back to Magic Kingdom for the night.  We re-rode a few things, watched the dance party parade, and Val rode Space Mountain (by herself!) twice.  I took Veronica shopping in the Emporium and we got a spot to watch Wishes for the last time ever.  This is the first trip we were able to stay for the fireworks.  Veronica has always been sensitive to noise, and they were much too loud.  We've watched from the Ticket and Transportation Center before, but never up close.  Both girls stood there teary-eyed when it was over.  We hung back a bit and waited for some of the crowd to thin out before catching the ferry back to TTC.

Saturday morning we packed up and headed out about 9:30am.  Clint drove until we hit I-10 and I took over.  He slept a bit while I drove for about 5 hours.  We had hotel reservations to stop in Alabama for the night, but when we hit Pensacola, FL we decided to keep going and drive straight through.  With both of us driving, it wasn't bad.  We got back home about 10:30 Saturday night - whew!

It was a great vacation....   I love me some Disney World!!  Is it too early to start planning for 2018??

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Disney After Hours at the Magic Kingdom - a review

A review of Disney After Hours at the Magic Kingdom.

When Disney first introduced After Hours last year, it wasn't well received.  It had a $150 per person price tag for one, and not many people seemed to 'get' what it was actually about.  For three hours after closing, you'd get the Magic Kingdom to yourself.  Almost.   It is a limited ticket event, a very, very limited ticket event.  Nothing official has been released, but it is said to be limited to 3,000 guests, which results in a very empty Magic Kingdom.  I read reviews and saw pictures of an empty park.  Reports were consistent that the Magic Kingdom was deserted and often guests were the ONLY riders on attractions and sometimes could stay on as many times as they wished.  We could have almost pulled it off last year as one of the After Hours events fell on our very last day.  We had an early flight the next morning though, so we didn't even really consider it.

THIS year, however, Disney announced 2017 After Hours Event dates long before our vacation and with a new lower price of  $119 per person.  Still pricey, but isn't everything at Disney??  It did not take much convincing but we knew we had to do it.  Who knows if this event will continue, so we didn't want to miss what could be our only chance to experience a (nearly) empty Magic Kingdom.  I purchased tickets for March 2, 2017.

The tickets claim you can enter as early at 7pm, but I knew from reading reviews that the event entrance had been set up as early as 4pm.  I ended up re-arranging some of our dining plans to leave that afternoon wide open.

We slept in a bit, drove to the Magic Kingdom to park (since that was where we'd be leaving from,) then hopped on the monorail to spend the afternoon at Epcot.  I had a few Fast Passes booked and we did a few things that the kids wanted to do.  At exactly 5pm, we were walking through the event entrance picking up our lanyards at the Magic Kingdom.  With a few hours to kill, we wandered around a bit.  The kids rode Dumbo and we grabbed dinner at Pecos Bill's.

We went back to Main Street just before Wishes and Once Upon a Time to get a good spot.  We saw few lanyard people, but not many.  At 9pm the park closed to everyone who was not wearing a lanyard.  I was a bit surprised at the crowd crossing the bridge back to Fantasyland.  Part of it was because of the many people heading to Mine Train and Peter Pan it seemed.  We split up here, as I didn't want to ride Mine Train but the kids did.  Clint went one way with them, and I headed to my favorite - The Haunted Mansion.  I half expected it to be empty as well, but I was joined by 14 others.

I met up again with my family and rode a few things together -  everything was walk on.  I mean everything.  You know those rides with 120++ minute wait?  WALK ON.  The longest lines were at the snack/drink carts.  We did split up again, but in three hours we managed what probably was two full park days of rides.

Mine Train
Haunted Mansion x 2
Peter Pan x 3
Big Thunder x 2
Jungle Cruise
Magic Carpets
Tea Cups
Both sides of Princess Meet and Greet
Winnie the Pooh
Space x 2 

We also stopped for Mickey Ice Cream bars, popcorn, and drinks.  We did a few Photopass pictures and hung out on a quiet Main Street USA.  I have to say we had a FABULOUS night.  MK did not seem as empty as reported at the earlier After Hours Events and rumor was 3/2 was close to being sold out.  Word must be getting around about how great this is!  There seemed to be a few people around almost everywhere, but still it was nothing compared to the normal crowd level.

It was rather expensive, but you could easily replace a few regular MK days with DAH.  Or just to DAH and use your park days at Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Studios.

Was it worth it?  YES
Would I do it again?  YES

I really hope Disney continues this and that it falls during our next trip!

Now on to pictures!!  But first, for reference here is what Main Street USA and Fantasyland look like on a regular day:

Here are my pictures from Disney After Hours, March 2, 2017


September 2017 UPDATE:   Disney has announced the After Hours Event will continue in 2018!!   YES it once again falls during our trip, so we will be doing this again!  I am so excited as this was the highlight of our trip.  My kids are still talking about it.   You can read more about it here on The Dis website.  

Disney Part 2

Continued from....

Tuesday it was back to the Magic Kingdom.  It was a pretty HOT day as temps got close to 90 degrees.  Yes, in February.  Like Epcot, the Magic Kingdom was incredibly busy.  We tried to do inside attractions and not be in the sun too much.  We took a lot of breaks!

Our dinner reservations were at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian Resort.  We have dined here nearly every trip and it has been a favorite!  Prince Charming, Cinderella, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drucilla visit your table.  It took us a while to find it, but the entrance has been moved to the other side of the lobby.  There's also no place to sit while waiting for your table.  There were two benches, and a crowd of people standing.  Kids sitting and laying on the floor.  There is plenty of empty space, so I don't know why there aren't more benches.  We'd been walking in the hot park all day, and the last thing I wanted to do was stand for a half an hour waiting for dinner.

Unfortunately, this may be our last visit to 1900 for a while.  The food was not impressive at all and it seemed mostly side dishes on the buffet. Not that it was bad, but the menu has been paired down a lot.  The desserts were yummy.  The characters were great as usual, but with a $180 price tag, it just doesn't seem worth it.

Wednesday was our REST day!  I purposely left it wide open to do something else or nothing.  We drove over to a close by outlet mall because I wanted to check out the Disney Character Warehouse.  If you get the chance - GO!  It is merchandise pulled from the parks and 50% off or more.  I saw Halloween and Christmas t-shirts for $1.99!  Tons and tons of great Disney merchandise at a fraction of the original cost in the parks.  We stopped for lunch and went back to the condo for some pool time.  Did I mention how HOT it was?  We had a nice afternoon hanging out in Windsor Hills' pool.

Thursday was the day I had been waiting for - We had tickets to the Disney After Hours event.  We tried to sleep in since we knew we'd have a late night and we went back to Epcot for the afternoon.  Since this was our last Epcot visit, we tried to knock out our must dos like Test Track and Soarin'.  Both girls are crazy about Figment, so we had to do that -- again.  It was a pretty easy afternoon.  A cool front was approaching, so the wind picked up a bit and temps started to drop. Clouds rolled in but thankfully it only sprinkled a little bit. It went from almost 90 to being in the 50s Thursday night!  About 4:00 we started to make our way to the Magic Kingdom for the After Hours event.

To be continued......
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Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Back from the People Trap!

We are back from The People Trap created by a Mouse - aka Disney World!!

This was one of the best Disney trips we have ever taken, and that says a lot considering we have gone almost yearly since 2009.  I never thought we would be 'those people' who are big on Disney vacations, but somehow we are.  The kids love it so much and I really like going there, too.

Airfare has gotten ridiculously expensive from New Orleans to Orlando, so we opted to drive this time.  It's about a 12 hour drive.  The kids skipped school on Friday, 2/24 (shhhh) and we drove a little more than half way to Tallahassee, FL for the night.  Saturday we finished our journey and arrived in Orlando a few hours before check in at our condo.  We hit the Super Target for groceries and wasted time in the Dollar Tree before going to Windsor Hills to check in.  Windsor Hills is our usual resort to stay in as it is a short 10 minute drive from Disney and is much easier on the wallet!  Our 3 bedroom, 2 bath condo was less than a value hotel room at Disney.  I'd also rather drive 10 minutes, pay $20 to park, then catch the monorail or ferry rather than stand in line for an hour to get on a Disney bus.

Sunday was our first Magic Kingdom day!!  That morning was a half marathon race, and luckily it seemed many people were occupied with that as MK was empty. We got there prior to park opening mainly to see the new welcome show on the castle stage.  I am really, really sad to see the train station welcome show end.  The new show was cute, but it lacks the magic of the train station show.  Sigh.  Anyway, it was a beautiful Florida day and it wasn't really busy until after lunch when the race people started to arrive. We rode almost everything we wanted to do that first day with very little wait.

Monday we had an early breakfast at Chef Mickey's, which is a favorite of ours.  The buffet is great and you can't go to Disney and not meet the fab five - Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy.  After breakfast we went to Epcot and the plan was to stay until closing to see Illuminations.  Epcot was slammed and it was starting to get hotter outside.  I managed to snag Fast Passes for the new Frozen ride, which was a disaster.  There are two small drops, which scared the bejesus out of Veronica.  She screamed and screamed, right in my ear.  Ow.  It took her a while to calm down so we walked the entire World Showcase until it was time to get a spot for the fireworks.  I actually laid down on the cement for a while because I was so tired.  It was a long, long day!!

To be continued........
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