I Need More!

Animal Kingdom has the absolute BEST shows in all of the parks and I had NO IDEA! No one talks about it. No one gives any inclination that there is anything worth seeing at Animal Kingdom. It wasn’t until I started this blog and started paying attention that I began to realize the wonder that is Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

I mean, we didn’t rush to Animal Kingdom when we got our passes for the same reasons as many people:

  • Not too many rides
  • Isn’t it just a zoo?
  • They close so early
  • It’s under as much construction as Hollywood Studios (well, it feels like it)

Now feel like I was missing out.

The shows were absolutely amazing and I didn’t even know most of them existed!

Festival of the Lion King 

All we really knew about this show was that the people who worked on the Broadway production also worked on this. We had high hopes because that (and as theatre geeks we always go into a show with high hopes) and were not disappointed.

Festival of the Lion King - Animal Kingdom

While this show doesn’t tell an amazing story, it’s basically a party to celebrate The Lion King, it exposes you to some phenomenal artists. Two thirds of the kids had no interest in going to see this show because they were never really big fans of The Lion King, but Kid #2 leaned over twice to tell me that it was SO MUCH BETTER than she expected.

The performance is done in the round with colors, lights, sounds, and spectacle surrounding you. With talents spanning from amazing song and dance to gymnast monkeys to costumed characters and floats to fire twirlers and beyond this show has something for everyone.

The crowd interaction is also wonderful. Each section of bleachers is assigned an animal to perform and a handful of kids are brought on stage for a parade (I believe you have to FP+ for this).

One of the wonderful things about live theatre is that every performance is just a little different. This is one I will now look forward to every time we go to Animal Kingdom.

Finding Nemo: The Musical

When presented with the option of going to a 40 minute long production of Finding Nemo while at the park I was not so thrilled. Neither was my husband who hasn’t even watched the entire movie (he tends to zone out on kids movies). However, in the middle of the day when it was hot as blazes sometimes you just have to go for it. 40 minutes sitting in air conditioning…who cares if the show stinks!?

Finding Nemo: The Musical - Animal Kingdom

Um, it was amazing!

Finding Nemo: The Musical (2) - Animal Kingdom

Like, these pictures are doing it ZERO justice!

The actors were so amazing that you barely saw they running around attached to puppets. Their bodies and faces expressed everything that their character was vocalizing, but couldn’t physically do because it was a puppet.

I don’t know how else to describe this, except that yes, I know it sucks to basically take an hour out of your day at a park that closes early, BUT you have to go see this!

It’s Tough Being a Bug

So this may sounds silly, but this show is pretty dark and scary! I know, right. Who would expect a show based on A Bugs’ Life to be scary?

Granted, I think that only 1/5 of our family has ever even seen this movie, but we decided that since the other shows were so good that we had to give this one a try. We were happily entertained…even when it was a little stinky and bumpy!

More Please!

I would love for the other parks to take this approach to some of their shows!

Hollywood Studios would be the perfect place to put on an elaborate show (or three) like this, but they don’t. Well, except for Beauty and the Beast…which I hear rumor is in danger of being closed…surely to be replaced by something Star Wars. *pout*

And Epcot! Can we PLEASE get rid of Captain EO and do something a little more fun and exciting?

Then there is the Magic Kingdom. My family are huge fans of the Enchanted Tiki Room, Carousel of Progress, and the Country Bear Jamboree (well, my husband loves this one), but it would be nice to have something a little more modern to sit and watch. As theatre nerds we love the singing and the dancing…bonus points for audience participation!

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A Tour of Mr. Gold’s Storefront

Are you a fan of ABC’s Once Upon a Time?

I am so much that I co-host a weekly fancast (podcast) about the series called Greetings from Storybrooke. On a recent trip to Hollywood Studios my co-host (husband) periscoped a tour of the Mr. Gold’s Storefront. There are some awesome hidden gems in like Stealthy’s ax and Emma’s unicorn mobile.

Have you ever investigated some of the storefronts around the parks? Did you find anything fun?

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Tomorrowland vs. Epcot: Which Future is Better?

On last night’s episode of Universe Box we talked about all things Retro Futurism. From a “Great, Big, Beautiful Tomorrow” to Captain EO and Spaceship Earth we compared the Disney futures and pasts.

You can catch the full episode below, but be sure to join us each week at 8:30pm EST at live.universebox.com  where we talk about topics such as chocolate, Harry Potter, family, Disney Renaissance, and many more.

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Epcot – Not Just for Adults

For some reason I am struggling to write the posts recapping our trips lately. It’s not like nothing happened!

  • We celebrated our anniversary and my birthday.
  • We park hopped for the first time.
  • We got rained on BOTH days.
  • We went to Epcot for the first time.

We have been super busy and have the sore feet to prove it, but for some reason the motivation wasn’t coming for a basic post.

I took to social media and asked our Facebook fans what they wanted to know about. I thought that would help…and it has! Today I am going to address Nicole’s question about whether Epcot is more adult-centric and if the kids seemed to enjoy themselves.

The quick answer is…both!

Here is why I think that Epcot is a great park for the entire family. I think that the reason everyone thinks that Epcot is just for adults is because you can drink your way around the world. I get that. I cannot wait to get to do that (hello, Uber!). But there is SO MUCH MORE to Epcot!

Spaceship Earth - Epcot

Rides

First there are the amazing rides like Spaceship Earth, Mission: SPACE, Chevy Test Track, Soarin’, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Journey into Imagination with Figment. There are some height restrictions for the more popular rides, but there are a lot of extra activities after the rides (you walk out into games and then the gift shop) which apply to everyone. Mission: SPACE even has an inside playground to help pass the time while you wait for the rest of your group. It’s a pretty long ride so they will need the entertainment.

On the first day that we went the forecast was calling for rain all day so the park was pretty slow. This made for some pretty short wait times throughout the park. I think that around 10:30 the longest wait time was under 1/2 hour. We rode Spaceship Earth right away and headed to Test Track because we had FP+’s.

Mission SPACE - Epcot

We soon learned that it was down thanks to some AMAZING wait time signage around the park. (Seriously, Disney, put this in every park) When the time came for our FP+ I received an email telling me that the ride was down and to go ahead to one of the other attractions listed and we would be able to use a freebie FP+ there. Awesome! I was wondering what would happen with that.

Not even half an hour later (still within our FP+ window) Test Track was back up so we made a beeline for it…along with everyone in the park! All three lines were long (Standby, FP+, and Single Rider) but we went with it. This ride was so much fun! I’m not sure it is 100% worth the long wait that it usually has, but if you can get a FP+ do it! All 3 kids loved it!

On our second trip it was Labor Day weekend and there was substantially more people in the park, but still not outrageous. We knew to head straight to Test Track to make sure that we got that in because our FP+ was for Soarin’ for this trip. We actually waited less time in the Standby line this trip vs the FP+ line on our last trip, but I blame the fact that the ride had been down before.

Some rides that you might glance over and skip are Living with the Land and the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. DON’T! Living with the Land is awesome and takes you back through some of the research parts of Epcot. It is really neat to see some modern farming techniques, as well as where some of the food for the park is grown. Gran Fiesta is hidden inside the Mexico pavilion in the Worlds Showcase. We almost missed it behind the various merchandise carts and restaurant but had so much fun on it. These are both slow boat rides which are one of my favorites. As much as I love the rides that get your heart pumping, sometimes it is awesome to take it slow.

Living with the Land - Epcot

Shows

Then there are the shows. Captain EO for those of you who haven’t left the 80’s and Turtle Talk with Crush if you wanna talk like a turtle, DUDE! Heck, there was even Circle of Life if you feel like being preached to by adult Simba.

While I cannot get behind Captain EO (sorry, guys, I’m not a Michael Jackson fan!) everyone else in my family loved this 3D adventure. It was kind of cool watching the pre-show behind the scenes stuff. Theatre nerd for life!

I really liked Turtle Talk! I took the little kids on this while Hubs took Kid #1 on Soarin’. We figured a show would be a perfect way to entertain them while they had to wait in a 50 minute ride! It was so cool! The lobby had trivia set up, as well as a few fish displays where they played hide and seek with Nemo and his dad. On our second visit to Epcot Kid #1 got picked to talk to Crush…there was a LOT of “Duuuuuuude” and then Hubs had a little chat with the turtle. It is pretty cool how they make these shows highly interactive.

Then there was the Circle of Life. While we knew going in this was a Save the Earth kind of show we thought it was going to be a bit more enjoyable. The theatre looked like they were going to have some live performers or something in addition to the video, but no such luck.

Characters

Minnie - Epcot

And if you are there strictly at Disney for a character experience, you can meet Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy at the Epcot Character Spot with Chip and Dale nearby! However, there are also a TON of characters spread throughout the World Showcase AND most of them have fairly short waits!! My theory behind this is that since most people who are on their Disney vacations almost exclusively for the kids will skip Epcot and even if they do hit it, they may not be in character meeting mode. But Epcot is a great option for maximizing your character meeting. I walked by all of these princesses and there was maybe five people in line to meet them.

  • Mulan
  • Belle
  • Alice
  • Mary Poppins
  • Mexican Daffy
  • Duffy the Bear
  • Winnie the Pooh and Friends
  • Princess Aurora
  • Aladdin and Jasmine
  • Snow White

Snow White - Epcot

Those are just the ones with set meeting spots! If you are looking for the FULL princess experience, book a meal at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. This is basically the Epcot version of eating at Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom…and from what I hear just as hard to get in to.

With the announcement of the Frozen ride at the Norway pavilion you can almost guarantee that Anna and Elsa will be making an appearance somewhere. I’ll update you when I know something for sure.

World Showcase

Now this is what everyone thinks of when they think of Epcot. This is the easiest (and cheapest) way to explore the world without actually having to travel the world.

The World Showcase is why there is the common misconception that Epcot is just for adults. You can eat and drink different things that you wouldn’t normally have the chance to try. There are so many fun shops to explore (I am going to be doing A LOT of Christmas shopping in Japan because, Pokemon and Hello Kitty). But that isn’t everything.

British Revolution - Epcot

The entertainment is also spot on. We have wandered past a Mariachi band in Mexico, sat and ate dinner to a set by British Revolution, and almost ran into Sergio the street performer in Italy. My kids absolutely loved playing in Italy. There is a tower that they all insist on knocking on. The door doesn’t open. Nothing happens. They just LOVE knocking on it.

Italy - Epcot

Kids Stuff at World Showcase

Disney has also made sure that there are some activities specifically designed for kids to do while the parents explore the showcase.

Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure to stop Doofenschmirtz is very fun, but may be difficult if you have a group of kids (ahem). You pick up a smart phone interface at the Recruitment Centers and choose a country to explore then you follow the clues to get you around that country’s pavilion to solve the mission. There are about four things that you need to find and interact with before completing your mission. We completed China and all of the kids really liked it. It made you look a lot closer at the whole pavilion.

Agent P - Epcot

Another mostly kid-centric activity is the World Showcase passports. You can buy these in a gift shop and then take them to the Kidcot areas in each country to be signed in the native language. We haven’t tried doing this yet, but it is on my to-do list. Maybe

Kidcot - Epcot

Illuminations

Last, but certainly not least is the nighttime spectacular Illuminations. This is a much lower fireworks show than Wishes, but it is amazing! I would advise finding your spot at least 15 minutes before the show is set to begin otherwise there might be some tipsy adults who don’t want to let your kids have a closer view. Not that that happened to us or anything. 🙂

This show encompasses the entire World Showcase with fire, fireworks, lasers, and music. Even my husband who is not a big fan of fireworks displays said that this was amazing. Do not leave before seeing this show is you can help it.

Wrap Up

Well, that is a pretty good wrap up of the Epcot experience. I hope that this was helpful and will help you plan your next trip to Epcot. Please let me know if you have any questions that you would like me to answer either in the comments, or Twitter (@DisneyPassProj) or by sending an email to disneypassholderproject@gmail.com.

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