World Showcase

Magical Blogorail: World Showcase at Night

World Showcase

Spaceship Earth at night is a majestic ball of incredible lights!

As far as I am concerned, Walt Disney World is so much more incredible to experience at night.  That’s why my family is always looking for the evening extra magic hours over the morning.  When it comes to specific areas of Walt Disney World that truly shine after dark, I look no further than the World Showcase area of Epcot.  Today, we are going to talk about some of the incredible things we’ve seen here, and you might too on your next visit!

For this hopeless romantic, few locations on Disney property hold the sway that World Showcase does for me after dark settles in.  For starters, I love the way the path just flows from country to country, pavilion to pavilion, all the way around World Showcase Lagoon.  There’s a tranquility there, a sense of calm, a timeless about it that just really strikes home in this writer’s heart.  It takes me back, back to that very first trip to Epcot, in the summer of 1983, when my grandparents took me, and we went with friends of theirs that had their grandson visiting also.  I remember, that was the very first time in a setting that big that I had been allowed to go (with Chris, of course) off without any adult supervision.  But it was Disney, and my Grandparents knew it would be all right.

The charm of the World Showcase at night is that it grabs you, clutches at you, drawing you this way and that, and all the while, the crowds start thinning out because they are heading towards the bus terminals, or their rooms on the Boardwalk, or maybe they’re driving back home; regardless, the night and the park soon feels like you and your special someone are the only ones there.  I remember one recent trip, we were walking around World Showcase, and we came to the drawbridge, and it went up!  We happened to be there when the giant Earth from Illuminations was passing through on it’s way back to where it is stored, and I was able to capture this photo with my phone…

World Showcase

The Illuminations Globe passes by on it’s way to bed for the night.

I had never seen it up close like that before, and haven’t seen it that close since.

Of course, the World Showcase at night also means fireworks!  Namely, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  This fireworks show to me is incredible, and now, with Wishes closed down over at the Magic Kingdom, is the longest running fireworks show at Walt Disney World.  IllumiNations strikes a great balance between fireworks, laser light affects, narration, and music, and is a great way to kick off the rest of the evening at Epcot.

World Showcase

In the end, the World Showcase at night is about more than a particular attraction; it’s about more than a special fireworks show; it’s about more than getting one last drink before heading out.  World Showcase at night, to me, is all about slowing down, reliving the day with your family and friends, and sharing a special, Magical moment with the one you love most.  That is why I like walking World Showcase at night.  What about you?  Do you like exploring the World Showcase at night? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!


For more ways to enjoy evenings at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Tokyo Disneyland Plates featuring World Bazaar & Adventureland

I had all but given up on Value Village (a Canadian charity shop) for finding Disney treasures. Either people weren’t parting with the stuff as much anymore or more Disneyana fans had caught on to the great deals!

But now that I have moved to a different part of Ontario, I have access to new Value Village stores with new donated treasures. And so I am again finding a Disney treasure or two. Like these:

World Bazaar

In the North American parks, this would be called Main Street USA. But even though the name has been changed, the attractions are mostly the same with lots of eateries and shopping opportunities.

Mickey and Minnie seem to be enjoying a fall day in dapper style!

Adventureland

I love the Jungle Cruise setting for this hunting expedition, but I think our three intrepid hunters have picked the wrong prey in Sher Khan!

Kudos to Goofy for shooting with a camera.

The back side of plate

Unlike the North American products where the merchandise is stamped with both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland gets to issue these all on its own.

I wonder if there were plates for the other lands? Those being Westernland, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Toontown, and Tomorrowland. Also, the 7 areas of Tokyo DisneySea could also have a plate each. The Internet yielded up no pictures to prove the existence of such plates.

Again, I am pleased as punch to again find Disney treasure on the cheap ($5.99 CAN each).

What Makes Disney, Disney

For this post, I wanted to take some time and talk with you about all of the things that we have encountered on our trips to Walt Disney World that truly make it our vacation spot of choice.

We have had several trips, as you know if you are a regular reader; Sophie has been six times in her nine years for at least one day.  It is as easy a decision for me to book this trip as any that we make.

We have had so many times where the Disney Cast Members (Disney staff are not employees, they are Cast Members) have shared with us the Disney Magic that I am certain to forget some of those great times.  However, here is a rundown of the ones that I remember.

  • When we took our first trip to Coronado Springs resort, that was during Disney’s Year of a Million Dreams celebration.  You may have heard about it; they were giving away gifts to random Guests, they included everything from free Disney Pins to spending the night in Cinderella’s Castle.  Well, we had our own special Dream happen to us while we were visiting.  One morning, as we were in the Main Street Bakery eating our breakfast, one of the Cast Members came over to us to talk to us.  She asked Sophie about her trip, and who her favorite Princess was.  When Sophie said Cinderella, the Cast Member then presented Sophie with a huge chocolate chip cookie that was a gift from Cinderella herself!  Cinderella had seen the Cast Member and asked her if she could give that cookie to Sophie for her!  That made Sophie’s day, and that cookie lasted us all day!
  • Some of the best experiences we have had at Disney are related to our dining.  The character dining experiences we have had have been second to none — being able to enjoy a fabulous dinner while having the ability to get autographs and pictures with our favorite characters has been great!  We have had so many more photos and autographs with the characters than we could have ever hoped to have by standing in line.  Take a look at the joy in Sophie’s face at this picture with Eeyore:
  • One day as we were leaving our resort to go to the parks, we were greeted by a Cast Member who asked Sophie about the trip she was having.  After we talked with him for a while, he presented Sophie with a set of pins — one for Sophie to keep, and one to give to her BFF, Riley.
  • In 2009, during our first trip to Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — French Quarter, nearly every day we were there we had the best pair of door openers you could ask for.  They were extremely friendly, really really knowledgeable, and every time that we would see them they would give Sophie Mardi Gras beads and coins for the wishing well.  Their outgoing personality truly fit the French Quarter lifestyle, and I was saddened when I didn’t see them during our second visit to POFQ.
  • As I have mentioned before, riding in the Monorail is one of the things that just keeps building the excitement of approaching the Magic Kingdom for a visit.  However, until just a couple of years ago, I had never ridden in the very front car of the Monorail.  Well, that all changed one year when we were able to ride in the front of the monorail twice!  It was a lot of fun, the pilot was really nice and answered questions we had.  Also, we got special souvenir cards documenting that we were official “Honorary” monorail pilots at Walt Disney World, and stickers with our “Monorail Wings”.  Sadly, with a monorail accident a couple of years ago, that practice is now discontinued, but I am glad that we were able to enjoy it.
  • In 2007, during our first Coronado Springs resort visit, I decided that my souvenir for the trip would be a pin trading kit so I could start trading pins.  In 2008, Sophie decided that she was ready to begin pin trading as well.  The excitement that child gets when she approaches a cast member to trade a pin is phenomenal.  Sophie will even make a bad trade for her, just for the experience of trading with a Cast Member!
  • Last year, when my niece Stephanie and I were waiting for our food at Cosmic Rays, we were greeted by a Cast Member who was extremely exuberant in his greeting.  He asked us if we were having a Magical Day, and when we asked him about his day, his answer was “A bad day at Disney is still a better day than anywhere else!”  He went on to ask, “Where else can you work where at the Happiest Place on Earth?!”  We were both extremely excited by his outlook, and that is just one of the things that separates Disney from everywhere else.
  • In 2009, while we were at the Mexico pavilion at Epcot, we were there during extra magic hours.  We went to ride the “Three Cabalero’s” ride, and walked right on, since that ride isn’t heavily trafficked, especially in extra magic hours.  Anyway, we enjoyed the ride, and as we proceeded up the ramp, we asked the attendant if we could ride again.  Since she didn’t have anyone in line, she just continued us on, with us serenading her with a chorus of “Gracias, Mucho Mucho Gracias!”.  She just laughed.
  • Yet another thing that makes Disney truly magical occurred the last time we were visiting.  That was this past June, and that was the trip my niece Stephanie accompanied us.  We were there over Sophie’s birthday, and on the morning of her birthday, I woke up to find the phone message light blinking.  When I checked the message, it was none other than the King and Queen of the Mice, Mickey and Minnie, calling to leave Sophie a message wishing her a truly wonderful birthday!
  • In 2008, when we stayed at Coronado Springs for the second straight year, we were there for Sophie’s birthday.  On the day of her birthday, after we had left to go to the park for the day, Minnie Mouse and her team came to our room and decorated Sophie’s bed with birthday balloons and a birthday card (which included a picture of Minnie Mouse for Sophie to keep).  Additionally, every time we have come for Sophie’s birthday (which was 2008 and 2010), Sophie has been given a special desert at each sit-down meal we have each day of our trip, and this year, she also received birthday cards signed by her character friends.
  • Another thing that makes Disney Disney is how excited Sophie gets when surprise her with a trip to Disney.  I remember in 2009 it didn’t look like we were going to be able to go to Walt Disney World.  We were worried about the affect that the economy would have on our jobs.  Well, as the summer progressed, we were able to determine that we would be able to afford the trip after all, so we made our plans.  However, we kept that little secret from Sophie until the day we left.  I’ll never forget it.  One of the playlists I have on my iPod is called “Mickey Mouse”, and it is a collection of songs by Mickey and the gang.  Sophie told me that she didn’t want to hear the playlist again until the day we were actually in the car heading to Disney, so I didn’t play it — until the day we left.  Here is her reaction to hearing that music in the car:


Needless to say, it was quite a surprise for Sophie!

I know that I have left out a great many of the special times that have made up our trips to Disney, but all in all, I think you get the picture of why we love going to Walt Disney World.  There are so many other stories to tell, I can’t wait to relive those moments with you in the upcoming days.  Have a magical day, and may the sun never set on your Disney (or other) Dreams!  Thanks for reading!

Friday Flashback – The Skyway

The Skyway - a bygone attraction from a bygone age at Disney...

The Skyway – a bygone attraction from a bygone age at Disney…

You know, to be honest with you all — and with myself, I might add — the early visits to Walt Disney World when I was a kid all those years ago are somewhat a fuzzy memory to me.  For example, in my first trip, when I was 11 years old, I remember the feelings I experienced more than the attractions I rode.  However, there is something from those early visits that I really do remember quite well, and today, I’m going to talk about it in Friday Flashback.  That attraction is the old Skyway attraction.

For those that are younger than I and don’t know what the Skyway was, I’ll tell you.  The Skyway was a special one-way transportation attraction that would take you from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland — or from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland.  When you rode to either destination, you couldn’t continue back without getting back in line for a second trip.  The Skyway was a suspended gondola type ride, where you were lifted into the air and suspended from a steel cable as your car was taken from one part of the Magic Kingdom to another.  It was a whole level of freedom that you just didn’t get any other way, because you were able to look at the Magic Kingdom from a whole different dimension than you would normally get, and I LOVED the Skyway.

At it’s least, the Skyway was a nice, relaxing way to journey to another part of the park without tiring your feet any more than they already were.  At it’s best, the Skyway was a way of seeing parts of the Magic Kingdom you never see anymore — a way to be above it all and reflect on the beauty of the park, how blessed you are to be able to experience it — and if you are a kid like I was — perhaps a way to tell your parents or grandparents thanks for taking you there!

The Skyway was an original opening day attraction at the Magic Kingdom, and had identical rides at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland.  The Magic Kingdom version of the Skyway attraction lasted the longest, being open until November 5, 1999 — over 28 years!  Now, for your enjoyment, here’s a YouTube video of the attraction for you to enjoy!

My Top 5 Epcot Attractions

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Hello everyone, and welcome to the second in my series of favorite attractions!  Last week, we took a look at my top 5 Magic Kingdom Attractions; today we are looking at my top 5 Epcot attractions!  Does my list match up with yours?  Read through, and then let me know your list in the comments below!  Thanks for stopping by!

#5: Maelstrom

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Maelstrom, located over in the Norway pavilion, is a boat ride that takes you through Norway’s past, present, and future as you see all of the ways that the seas impact the lives of Norwegians!  It is fun, with trolls, polar bears, and oil rigs — as well as a drop near the end!  It used to have a movie that would be shown at the end, but that isn’t shown very often anymore.

#4: The American Adventure

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When it comes to history, especially the history of our great country, at Epcot, there is nothing that comes close to The American Adventure, a great show that features many of the great moments of our country’s history, but highlights on it’s most important aspect — the people!

#3: Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros!

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The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros is a boat ride in the Mexican Pavilion that takes you on a journey through Mexico to try and find Donald Duck!  Jose Carioca and Panchito are your navigators as you look — and ultimately find — Donald Duck!

#2: Soarin’

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Soarin’ used to be one of my least favorite attractions — but I’ve had a change of heart!  This incredible ride takes you through the California countryside as you see the sights from a unique perspective — a hang glider!  Sit back, relax, and enjoy the wonderful beauty, knowing that it’ll be okay, you won’t fall…

#1: Spaceship Earth

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At number one, though, is my favorite attraction at Epcot — Spaceship Earth.  This unique attraction, which takes you deep within the geodesic dome, shows you how far we have come in our communication methods — and leaves us wondering how far we can journey…at the end of the ride is a simulator to give you an idea of what your future might have in store for it, and don’t forget all the great things you can do in Project Tomorrow!

Honorable Mentions

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Illuminations: Reflections of Earth — while not an “attraction” in the sense that I’m thinking, is still a great draw, and something I look forward to seeing every time we visit!

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O Canada is one of my favorite shows, with it’s CircleVision 360 view of everything, and narration by Martin Short!  Stop by and see it in the Canada Pavilion!

I hope you have enjoyed my top 5 attractions at Epcot!  What are your top 5?  Let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!