My favorite show at Disney World – Festival of the Lion King

Disney World is home to many wonderful shows that could play to a packed house on Broadway and every Disney fan has their favorite show and you can find information about many of the shows here on My Dreams of Disney. Personally, my favorite part of all the Disney movies and shows is the music which probably explains my passion and appreciation for Festival of the Lion King.

The Festival of the Lion King is in the Camp Minnie-Mickey section of Animal Kingdom. The show is shown in air-conditioned comfort in a “theater in the round”. There are four sections and each is named after a specific savanna animal (specifically a giraffe, a warthog, an elephant and a lion). Before the show, each section will be given a chance to practice their animal noise (if you haven’t seen the show, you may not even know that giraffes make specific noises) which they will be called upon later in the show to join in with.

The show begins with the arrival of costumed singers that “lead” each of the four animal sections. All of your favorite songs from the Lion King movie are presented along with dancing, a bird ballet and my favorite – acrobatic monkeys. The jumps and tumbles of the monkeys entertain and thrill everyone in the audience. A word of warning, Scar and the hyenas make an appearance during the show (they perform the song “Be Prepared”) so if your child is frightened by Scar in the movie, you may want to prepare your child for this eventuality. It’s not too long and  you shouldn’t miss out on the show for this one small part. There’s a grand finale but I don’t want to ruin the surprise so you will need to check out this show.

So, when you are visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom, take a break from the rides and excitement to take in Festival of the Lion King. Bonus, Camp Minnie-Mickey houses many character interaction areas so your little ones will be able to visit with some of their favorite Disney characters before or after the show.

FastPass 101

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FastPass wb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello everyone, this post is for those people who are checking us out as part of their research for a first Disney World trip or inexperienced travelers. I apologize to those that are familiar with the FastPass system but wanted to share some knowledge.

1. What is FastPass? Disney’s FastPass system is basically like a ride reservation system. The way it works is that at select attractions (list below), you approach the FastPass  machine, insert your park ticket and receive a FastPass with a return time stamped on it. When that time arrives, you enter a separate line for a much shorter wait time.

2. Is there a charge for using FastPass? Unlike the ride reservation systems at some amusement parks, currently there is no charge for using FastPass (I don’t expect this to change in the future but you never know.)

3. What attractions offer FastPass access? The list for Disney World by park is as follows:

Magic Kingdom® Park:
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Jungle Cruise
Mickey’s PhilharMagic
Peter Pan’s Flight
Space Mountain
Splash Mountain
Stitch’s Great Escape!
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Epcot®:
Maelstrom
Mission: SPACE
Soarin’
Test Track
Captain EO

Disney’s Hollywood Studios™:
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Star Tours
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Toy Story Mania!
Voyage of The Little Mermaid Show

Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park:
Dinosaur
Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
It’s Tough to be a Bug!
Kali River Rapids
Kilimanjaro Safaris
Primeval Whirl

4. What else should someone know about FastPass? The number of FastPasses is limited and may go quickly. If there is a particular attraction you are interested in obtaining, I suggest you make it your first stop in the park. For instance, in Hollywood Studios, I made the mistake of riding Tower of Terror and Rock N Rollercoaster before heading over to Toy Story Mania. By the time we made it over to the FastPass kiosk, there were no more passes available. Also, each person boarding in your party will need their own FastPass but one person can obtain all the passes (but will need each person’s park ticket to do so).

I find FastPass to be very user friendly and easy to insert into my touring plans. I suggest you plan on using FastPass if any of your must sees are included in the program. If you have any questions that I didn’t answer, please feel free to add it to the comments section and I will do my best to answer the question. 

Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor at Magic Kingdom

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Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor is usually not listed in people’s list of favorite Magic Kingdom rides or shows. If you are using those lists to plan out your Magic Kingdom touring, you may miss out on a often overlooked but entertaining (in my opinion) experience. Of course, Disney doesn’t offer boring wastes of time (again in my opinion) but I really think this should be on everyone’s ride list at least once.

Monsters Inc. makes it’s home in Tomorrowland, next to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and across from Stitch’s Great Escape. The fun begins when you enter the waiting area before the show. Guests are encouraged to text their (family friendly) jokes that may be used in the performance. There are television overhead that explain the main story line of the show. (You don’t need to have seen the movie to understand this show)

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Next you make your way into the main seating area which has been set up to resemble a comedy club. There are rows of benches with clusters of light (it makes the benches feel like tables). A camera pans the audience and will stop on a person and use humorous descriptions below the person on camera (for instance, one man was tagged as “This guy will be buying churros after the show).

The show starts when Mike comes out to explain that instead of screams Monsteropolis now uses human laughter to power their city. Mike is also the show’s MC; he introduces the three comedy acts. The show is interactive, it will be funnier if the audience members play along with the “performers”. Near the end of the show, Mike’s nephew comes out and this is when you will hear some of the jokes the kids sent via text from the pre-show area.

Because the actual show is interactive, the show is different each time. In fact, the first time my daughter and I saw this show, we noticed that there were empty seats. I asked a cast member if we could stay rather than leave and line up again. We sat through three shows and laughed every time. Bonus, you get to sit through the show so your feet get a rest. So to sum up, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor is a good time and I suggest everyone see it at least once (I don’t think you will be disappointed).

Learning at Disney World OR Why I think it’s okay for kids to miss school for a Disney World trip

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I love Disney World but Disney World during a school vacation? Not as much. There are too many people in my opinion. That’s why I try to schedule all my Disney trips while school is in session. Of course that means that my kids have missed school in order to head to Disney but there are plenty of opportunities for learning at Disney World. Plus, most teachers will give kids work ahead of time. I always try to get most of the school work done before we head out and while traveling (in the airport or on the plane); this way we are not worried about hitting the books at night.

In Animal Kingdom, you can see animals in their habitats. There is also nature talks at Raffikki’s Planet Watch as well as a chance to watch vets work on the animals. Animal Kingdom has dinosaurs, which includes opportunities to learn about the dinosaurs and possible explanations as to what caused their extinction. Also at Animal Kingdom, you will get plenty of information about conservation, always useful.

At Magic Kingdom, the Carousel of Progress is an entertaining look at technological changes from the 1800-1900 turn of the century  as well as a look at some ideas of new technology to come. One of the most informative attractions in the Magic Kingdom is the Hall of Presidents. In the pre-show area, there are on-going exhibits which rotate; there is a good chance you will see something new each time. Recently, the displays included some First Lady gowns, Presidential china and President Eisenhower’s gold clubs. The show features a brief history lesson and then the curtain rises for the Presidential roll call.  As each President is named, that President acknowledges his name, I love watching each head bow or nod (watch carefully and you may also notice  whispering between the Presidents). President Obama addresses the audience (if you are not a fan of history or really need a break, this cool, dark show is perfect for a nap)

Declaration of Independence

Washington’s Inauguration

Lincoln

Of course, Epcot is a learning mecca. Some of the learning in Future World includes the history of communication (in Spaceship Earth), the oceans of the world are explored at The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and at Club Cool you can learn about other cultures while you try different flavors of Coca Cola from around the world. It’s really interesting and kids will be more receptive to trying something close to what they know (like Coca Cola).

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Over in World Showcase, every nation is a learning opportunity. Disney hires employees from these countries to staff the pavilions. These staff love talking about home and will happily discuss home and answer questions for you. There are chances to try foods from around the world while including kid friendly options at each restaurant. There are unique demonstrations in each country. You can learn belly dancing in Morocco, origami in Japan and (for adults) wine tasting in France.

Last but not least, you can learn about show business over at Hollywood Studios. The back lot studio tour takes you behind the scenes of movie making and you can learn about Walt and his innovations at One Man’s Dream. I also found a great picture of Thomas Edison. I was thrilled because I had never seen a picture of Thomas Edison before and didn’t even know that there were any pictures of Thomas Edison.

Thomas Edison from a picture found at Hollywood Studios

I hope I have given you some information that may be helpful. I’d love to hear your thoughts about learning at Walt Disney World or if you have questions. Happy learning and lots of Disney Dreams everyone!

Traveling to Orlando – My tips and notes to make your journey to Disney World a little easier

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Hello everyone, today I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips I give to friends and family who are traveling to Disney World for the first time. I think these tips are worth noting whether this is your first trip or another trip to Disney World.

First, make sure you are on an airline you like. I was thrilled when JetBlue started operating out of my “home” airport this November. Personally, JetBlue is my favorite airline. There is no charge for your first bag of luggage, they have direct flights at a good price, there is satellite TV and radio at each seat and they offer Dunkin Donuts coffee. In New England, it seems like there is a Dunkins on every corner and that little extra makes a difference to me. But the important factor here is that I dislike flying so I want to be as comfortable as possible. If you prefer a different airline, use that one but try to choose an airline you like.

When you get off the plane, you will need to make the journey from your arrival gate to the main terminal (and back again on the return home). I always look forward to the ride in the tram on the way there and am sad on the return trip home. I view this as my first ride of the trip. I use the ride on the way home to carefully tie my shoes and get myself together for the flight home. If you are the type that dislikes waiting or you are in a hurry, there are walkways between the main terminal and the two gate areas. FYI, there are also plenty of places to shop and grab a bite to eat in both the main terminal and the gate areas.

The next thing to consider is your transportation to the DisneyWorld property. As I have said before, I LOVE Disney’s Magical Express. I wholeheartedly suggest using the service whenever possible. All transportation options including Disney’s Magical Express are located on the baggage claim area of the airport (don’t forget that if you opt to use Disney’s Magical Express, you can bypass the baggage claim area! Always a bonus while traveling).

It’s important to note that the Orlando International Airport doesn’t sell gum. If you are like me, you rely on gum chewing to help relieve the ear pressure that is often a result of flying. Make sure you stock up before you leave home or head out to the airport for the flight home. If you don’t chew gum, I have found if you stick your tongue out and swallow (it’s difficult but possible), that tends to relieve the pressure without that uncomfortable “pop” you get if you block your nose, close your mouth and “blow” (it works but I find that the “pop” hurts so much that it’s sometimes preferable to continue being blocked).

I hope you have found something in these tips that you can use. Do you have any tips you would like to share? I love getting new tips. Happy travels!