Fantastic Fantasmic!

Fantasmic rock

Fantasmic! takes the cake when it comes to Disney Magic!

While Disney stage shows and spectaculars are almost always spectacular, there is just something about Fantasmic! that just leaves me in awe…yes, even more than Wishes.

On Black Friday (yes, I know I just talked about NOT going to the parks during Thanksgiving) we decided to have a 3 park day (Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom) and made sure to hit Fantasmic! because it has been months since we last sat in the Hollywood Hills’ Theatre.

We arrived about 1/2 hour before the show was set to begin and the theatre was already very full, but mainly of FP+ seating. By a stroke of luck, we managed to get prime seating at stage left.

Fantasmic rock

 

 

We were in the 2nd row back which is apparently the “Splash Zone” and busted our our kid snacks. We had grabbed some Gingerbread Popcorn earlier and hubs went to grab a beer and a snack for the adults. Yay stadium nachos!

I tend not to buy seasonal snacks because they are even more overpriced than regular snacks, but this was phenomenal. Gingerbread syrup and white chocolate covered popcorn…I must figure out how to do this.

Popcorn Smiles

 

 

 

 

I always try to post a lot on social media when we are in the parks and this was no exception.

Shout out to Simon who was seeing the same show as me!

 

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I also Periscoped a good bit of the show for you guys to enjoy!

 

I hope you guys liked this little glimpse into Fantasmic! Are there other shows/rides you would like me to do this for? Let me know in the comments!

Until then, let’s connect on social media for live updates from my park trips and occasional WDW news.

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Thanksgiving Break!

Epcot Tree

Are you thinking about going to Disney for Thanksgiving?

DON’T DO IT!

Especially if you are a passholder. You have options! Take advantage of them and don’t even think of setting foot in the park. We almost learned this the hard way.

This weekend we made Sunday a 3 park day by hitting Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Magic Kingdom before wrapping things up at the crazy McDonald’s near International Drive. The lines weren’t terrible (spoiler, we rode Star Tours 3 times). Then yesterday, Monday November 23, I saw posts on social media of the lines at Magic Kingdom and was sick. MASSIVE CROWDS. Huge lines for everything.

 

So here is what we did on our 3 park day.

Hollywood Studios

The park opened at 8am and we arrived around 7:40 so that we could make a beeline to Toy Story Midway Mania because it is humanly impossible to get FP+ for it as a passholder. This is because guests staying on site can make their reservations 60 days in advance and passholders only get 30 days. I’ll offer some tips on this another time.

So we made it to Midway Mania BEFORE the park technically opened and there was already a 20-30 minute wait. BOO! However this is better than the 70 minutes that we have waited before and got in line. I think that the problem with this line is it is SO DECORATED that people are constantly stopping to take pictures and holding up the line. I get it. You’re on vacation. That picture with the life size Barrel of Monkeys will not make your memories better. At least the talking Potato Head was blocked off (presumably because of construction to add the third track) because he REALLY holds up the line.

On this particular trip I was wearing a Greetings from Storybrooke t-shirt and one of the Cast Members commented about Mr. Gold’s shop in Streets of America. This is a common tidbit that they like to share. However this CM told us that the shop will not be there too much longer 😦 It seems that since this is the last year for the Osborne Lights and there is SO MUCH CONSTRUCTION coming to Hollywood Studios that the Streets of America might be going away. So, of course, we had to walk by and tip our theoretical hats.

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.jsNext up was an overdose of Star Tours. Since they have added scenes from the new movie and there are over 50 different combos that you can get we always got a new adventure. On our second trip Kid #2 got to be the Rebel Spy. You should ask her about it. She has been reminding us of it FOR DAYS. The only downside (IMHO) is that all three trips had the same middle and a transmission from BB8.

After hitting a few more rides including our favorite The Great Movie Ride and not-so-favorite Voyage of the Little Mermaid we headed off to Epcot. We probably would have stuck around a little longer, but the lines for Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Rollercoaster were just this side of too long because I would have to entertain the little kids for too long.

Epcot

Stitch at Epcot

Kid #1 went to a birthday party not long ago and they were talking about the World of Coke and Epcot’s Club Cool and he got obsessed! He wouldn’t stop talking about it. So we promised that we would take him this trip EVEN THOUGH we went to World of Coke when we lived in Atlanta and it is essentially the same thing. I think they were just excited to drink pop because we only allow it on special occasions. So we all OD’d on samples before heading off to the World Showcase for adult lunch and a Perry Mission.

Club Cool

Since Food and Wine is over the Showcase is MUCH calmer and it doesn’t make me twitchy to go there anymore. It was also not too busy for a Perry mission through Germany. There seemed to be a lot of people who had the same idea because there were kids with phones all over and Agent P and Doffensmirtz popping up all over the place. The kids had a blast!

We also did some things that we had never done before! We finally made it to the O, Canada! and Reflections of China movies, as well as catching part of the Lumberjacks show. My kids were unimpressed by having to stand for the Circlevision movies, but I thought they were beautiful. I want to take a vacation to Canada now!

I also learned, after our visit, that the Lumberjack show has ended! We caught one of the last shows 😦 If I would have known I would have gotten more pictures/video.

Mid-afternoon we were met with tantrums, a freak rainstorm, and wait times in excess of 2 hours on Soarin’ and Test Track. This is when we decided to grab the kids a snack (low blood sugar?) and head off to Magic Kingdom to round out a 3 park day.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom Tram

This was before round 2 of tantrums started.

“I want to go on this ride.”

“I don’t like that ride.”

“Noooooooooooo!”

*Throws self on ground.

Becomes a limp noodle.

We were those people. I HATE being those people.

So we plopped them all on a wall and gave them a Wasa cracker and a timeout. Mommy and Daddy would be dictating what rides we went on. Kind requests would be taken, but no promises that we would do them.

We made it on Big Thunder Mountain and Buzz Lightyear before giving up and heading home.

In Conclusion…

I fully blame myself for many of these tantrums. I did not bring enough food with us to keep bellies full and blood sugars evened out. However, I am so grateful that we went when we did. We had been planning on making a few trips over the Thanksgiving week and we have cancelled those plans to do other things, like go see Pan!

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Christmas at the Magic Kingdom

Christmas Tree - Christmas at Magic Kingdom

The parks have all been pretty busy on the weekends since Mickey’s Not-so-Scary Halloween Parties and Food and Wine started. This week we decided to check out the Magic Kingdom in the middle of the week because it was BOUND to be slower…right?!

WRONG

Main Street - Christmas at Magic Kingdom

We arrived at the park right around dusk and were heading up Main Street towards our first FP+ (Jingle Cruise) ohhing and aweing all of the Christmas decorations when an announcement was made. Elsa would be lighting the castle in 5 minutes.

It was like fate! We had watched the first lighting the other night when it was streamed online and Kid #2 was SO EXCITED (who am I kidding, I was excited too). This is something that I thought was just for the Christmas party and here we were walking right into it!

Blue Castle - Christmas at Magic Kingdom

We politely pushed our way through the crowd to find a good spot in the Hub. We ended up being right behind a pretty big TV screen that the show was on that I am pretty sure was there because they are recording the Christmas parade this week in the park.

And then it began with a little banter from the characters and Olaf being Olaf before the main event, and as with most Disney shows, it did NOT disappoint!

White Castle - Christmas at Magic Kingdom

After the lighting was Jingle Cruise time! We had only been on the Jungle Cruise once before and I couldn’t wait to see the holiday overlay. It was adorable and we had a great skipper! The special cruise Santa hats were awesome and I kind of want one.

Jingle Cruise - Christmas at Magic Kingdom

We also had some extra special Disney magic. Peter Pan was flying by and saw how brightly our kids were shining and sent 2 castmembers with a special present for them…a HUGE hot fudge sundae! They were beyond thrilled (especially since we had NO intention of buying anything).

Ice Cream - Christmas at Magic Kingdom

We only hit a few rides since it was a school night and we had to get home (we also had some VERY cranky/sleepy kids), but it was a wonderful night. I can’t wait to spend a full day in the park (and maybe grab some better pictures). We also didn’t sample any of the fun, seasonal treats and that HAS to happen!

Are you coming to Disney for the holidays? What are you most looking forward to?

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The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Spectacle

We are all saddened that this is the last year for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For us it is especially sad since this is our first time seeing them. I have a feeling that we will be making quite a few trips back to see the lights before they are gone.

Here is a periscoped walk through the Streets of America and the Osborne Family Lights in November 2015.

My Disney Bucket List

My Disney Bucket List - Disney Passholder Project

 

So having an Annual Pass for Walt Disney World is fantastic, but it has only wet my appetite for everything Disney. This has left me wanting more and more of the extras! Here is some of my Disney Bucket List as of October 2015.

Afternoon Tea at Garden View Tea Roomafternoon-tea-at-garden-view-tea-room-00-full

When I was in college a group of my friends starting going to High Tea at the Ritz-Carlton. It gave us a chance to dress up and be fancy vs. covered in paint and learning lines as theatre students. I guess that is the definition of a theatre kid 🙂 This is an experience I would love to share with my almost 6 year old daughter because who doesn’t want to dress up and be fancy?

Complete the Disney Princess Glass Slipper Challenge – Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 2.36.08 PM

I am not a runner by any means, but I have read such amazing things about competing in the runDisney events that I am chomping at the bit to compete! I am hoping to start doing some training in the next few months so that I can get signed up when 2017 signups open. Want to join me?

Be the family in the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show – Welcome Show - Magic Kingdom

I’m sorry, but how fun would it be to be apart of the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show!?! Until this past year I didn’t realize that they chose a family to be IN the show and now I am dying to get picked!

Meet ALL of the princesses in one (two) days! – character-meet-anna-elsa-with-visiting-princess-fairytale-hall-00

Yes, I am that girl! I would love to challenge myself (and maybe drag my little diva along) to park hop and meet all of the princesses in one day! It would take a ton of planning, but I think it could be done.

Stay in one of the nice Suite/Villa/Bungalow – Jambo House

People ask me all the time about the hotels, and I honestly can’t answer a single question about them! The only one I have ever been in (except while on the Monorail) is the Grand Floridian for a late dinner and fireworks viewing. This has only perked my interest over and over again and I cannot wait until I am independently wealthy and can spend a week in a fancy suite/bungalow/villa.

Do a solo trip –

Anne Marie

I love my family and all of their craziness, but I think it would be super fun to do a solo trip to Disney…any of the parks! Single rider lanes, quick service meals that are actually quick, not having to listen to someone ramble on about the Country Bear Jamboree. The possibilities are endless.

Do some serious Disneybounding –

Snow White and the 2 Dwarfs

For their school’s Storybook Parade to celebrate their annual bookfair my kids dressed like a Disneybound version of Snow White, Doc, and Doopy. I have never, and will never love a costume as much as this, but I am totally jealous!! I want to put together some adult versions of characters and go Disneybounding!

Go on a Disney Cruise –

G01-DDDF-deluxe-oceanview-verandah-stateroom-cat5ABCD-01

I have never been on a cruise, so why not make my first one a Disney cruise?  I have been working on hubby for a few months to get him to agree to one and I am pretty sure I can do it sometime in the next year. Fingers crossed!


 

I know that there are A LOT more things that I could (and will) add to my Disney Bucket List, but they escape me at the moment. What is on your Disney Bucket List? Have you ever done anything on my list?

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I Need More!

I Need More - Disney Passholder Project

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

A Tour of Mr. Gold's Storefront - Disney Passholder Project

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?

Tomorrowland vs. Epcot: Which Future is Better? - Disney Passholder Project

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

Epcot - Not Just for Adults - Disney Passholder Project

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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