Eight Weeks

Eight Weeks Until Disney – Eight Things to Experience

Eight Weeks

Last week, we started our weekly countdown series to our trip to Walt Disney World on Thanksgiving.  Since last week was nine weeks until Disney, this week is eight weeks!  As a result, here are eight things that we want to experience when we get there!

Eight Weeks until Disney: Eight Things to Experience

Epcot® International Festival of the Holidays

This special event used to be known as the “Holidays Around the World” but Disney has transformed it into a festival similar to what we are used to seeing for the Flower & Garden Festival and the Food & Wine Festival.  This added feature to Epcot is not a special ticket event, so you can experience the yuletide traditions of all of the World Showcase pavilions at your own pace.  The festival runs from November 19 – December 30 this year, and it is something that I am extremely interested in experiencing!

The World of Avatar

Eight Weeks

Image ©Disney

The World of Avatar opened up over the summer at Animal Kingdom, and with it comes two big attractions — Avatar – Flight of Passage, and the Na’vi River Journey.  When Avatar was announced for Animal Kingdom, so many people, myself included, thought it was a ridiculous notion to put the land there instead of Hollywood Studios.  Well, it seems that the Disney Imagineers have outdone themselves again and created a world that will literally take you away. Cue the Calgon commercial, please.  While I’m not certain I want to try Flight of Passage (I think I’ll like Na’vi River Journey better), I can’t wait to experience the drastic change in Animal Kingdom.

Rivers of Light

Eight Weeks

Image ©Disney

The Rivers of Light is another thing at Walt Disney World I want to experience.  Based on the World of Color attraction over at Disney’s California Adventure, this show features water, lights, and music to paint a picture and draw a scene you will not soon forget.  This is another experience I want to see in eight weeks!

Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse

Eight Weeks

The top of the Swiss Family Treehouse.

While the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse is not a prime ticket attraction, to me it’s still one of my favorites, but what I really think would be cool would be to see how the Christmas decorations could be seen — if they could be seen at all — would look from there, or if they would add anything to the attraction for the season.

It’s a Small World and Peter Pan’s Flight

I know I touched on different attractions before in last weeks post, but I really want to see if attractions like it’s a small world and Peter Pan’s Flight will be modified to include decorations in some of the scenes.  For example, will we see stockings hung in Wendy’s room, or will we see a Christmas tree in one of the scenes of it’s a small world?  Those are things I want to be on the lookout for.

IllumiNations

During the Christmas season, IllumiNations has a special ending that includes special holiday greetings from each of the World Showcase pavilions and other details to add a festive take on the traditional fireworks show.

Sunset Seasons Greetings

Eight Weeks

Image ©Disney

This special event is included with your theme park admission to Hollywood Studios, and from reading about it, this may be one of my favorite things to experience this year.  Picture Sunset Boulevard snowing in a Norman Rockwell backdrop, and it just might become your favorite experience of the season.

Santa Claus

Over at Disney Springs, you can have your picture taken with the man himself while he takes a break from toy building to get some much needed R&R.  Since we will be at Disney Springs for some of our meals, this might be a good time to stop by and say hi!

This wraps up our eight weeks countdown of eight things to do.  What is on your list to try out? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!

Nine Weeks

Nine Weeks Until Disney – Nine Things to Experience

Nine Weeks

Image ©WDW Shutterbug

Hello everyone!  Today marks nine weeks until my family experiences Walt Disney World again!  Starting with today’s post, we’re going to feature each week a post counting down the number of weeks until our trip, and highlighting a number of things we want to experience when we are there.  So, since today we are nine weeks until our arrival, we are going to feature nine things we want to experience.

Nine Weeks Until Disney: Nine Things to Experience

Main Street, U.S.A.

Nine Weeks

Image ©WDW Shutterbug

One of the things I’m most excited about is all of the Christmas decorations, especially those to be found on Main Street, U.S.A. For me, all I’ve got is pictures taken by a friend of mine some years back, no real first hand experience, so I’m very excited to get in the thick of it all and witness these things up close.

The Resorts Decorated

Nine Weeks

Image ©WDW Shutterbug

All I’ve read has told me that the resorts have their own unique way of decorating for Christmas, and that each of them is special and should be seen if possible.  What’s exciting for me is that we’re going to spend some time at Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian during our trip, and we’ll be able to see for ourselves all of these incredible scenes.

New Restaurants

During our trip, we are going to be eating at several restaurants that we’ve never eaten at before!  We’re going to enjoying Whispering Canyon Cafe, The Boathouse, and Kona Cafe as part of our dining, and I can’t wait to try them all out.  Can I have ketchup please?

Old Attractions setup for Christmas

Nine Weeks

Image ©WDW Shutterbug

“Jingle Cruise” transforms itself for Christmas, and other attractions, such as Carousel of Progress, feature Christmas decorations in different scenes as part of the show. I think those will have more meaning for me when seeing them at Christmas, and I can’t wait to experience that!

Photographing Decorations

One thing that I absolutely want to do is to take stunning photos of the decorations throughout the Walt Disney World resort.  I like to take photos, and I think I will like it even more when I’m able to capture these incredible decorations all over.

Animal Kingdom Changes

This will be the first time I’ve been to Walt Disney World since the world of Avatar opened up.  I can’t wait to see it for myself, and I’m looking forward to trying the attractions out as well!

Candlelight Processional

Nine Weeks

Image ©Denny

The Candlelight Processional is the story of Christmas told in the American Adventure Pavilion in the World Showcase of Epcot.  Narrated by a well known celebrity, the Candlelight Processional is at the top of my list to see and experience. When we are there the narrator has not been announced yet, but I look forward to hearing it — whomever it may be!

Celebrating Birthdays!

It’s Jagan’s birthday, and we’re celebrating with her! That, plus seeing her parents, is going to be a lot of fun and something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.  I can’t wait!

Getting a well-deserved vacation!

That kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Thank you for joining me today on our look at nine things we want to experience.  Next week we will continue this theme by looking at eight more things we want to see and do, and before you know it, we’ll be counted down to our trip!

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!


Swiss Family Treehouse

Magic Kingdom Attraction Guide – Swiss Family Treehouse

Swiss Family Treehouse

Attraction Name: Swiss Family Treehouse
Attraction Type: Walk-Through
Height Requirements: None
Location: Adventureland
Hours of Operation: All Day
FastPass+: N/A

The Swiss Family Treehouse is actually one of my favorite attractions at the Magic Kingdom.  I know, it doesn’t have the glitz or glamour of something like Space Mountain or the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but the 116 steps take you up six stories, and at the very top, provide very cool views of the entire park!

Unfortunately, this attraction is not accessible to those in a wheelchair or scooter, so that is a shame for those that want to see it but can’t because of physical limitations.  The attraction almost never has any sort of line, so take your time, relax on your journey, and imagine yourself living in such a way.

The attraction features all of the types of rooms you would expect in a house, including:

  • The Living Room
  • The Kitchen and Dining Room
  • The Crow’s Nest
  • Study/Library
  • Jungle Lookout

Finally, here are a couple of photos that show you some of the unique views you can experience on the attraction.  Thanks for stopping by, and happy climbing!

Railroad Story

Walt Disney’s Railroad Story: The Small-Scale Fascination That Led to a Full-Scale Kingdom

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing the Disney books you should have in your collection.


Railroad Story

Walt Disney’s Railroad Story is a treasure for any Disney enthusiast young or old.  This coffee table book of 432 pages written by Michael Broggie is an illustrative work that takes the reader through the life of Walt Disney in a way that features his early beginnings and how his love for railroads led to a passion that he incorporated into his parks worldwide.

The book is divided into several sections, called “scenes”, but before all of that, this reader was captivated with a forward written by Lillian B. Disney, wife of Walt Disney, and spellbound by two of Walt’s Nine Old Men, Ward Kimball & Ollie Johnston, with incredible introductions.

A book of this length can’t be written about properly in one blog post, so what I’m going to do is take each of the scenes in order and offer up my favorite parts from each scene. Let’s journey down each scene in our railroad story, starting at scene one.

Scene One: Humble Beginnings

This scene, comprised of seven chapters, looks at various aspects of Walt’s upbringing.  What I like about this whole book is the incredible photography seen throughout; some of these photos and drawings are ones that we haven’t seen in many a year, if ever, and many of them are likely only found now in the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.

Near the end of scene one is chapter six, which talks about the trip that Ward Kimball and Walt Disney made to the Chicago Railroad Fair.  Reading through that chapter, Michael Broggie paints a picture of Walt that many of us have imagined, but few have witnessed.  In it, he describes how sentimental that journey was for Walt.  Of course, Walt Disney had some raising in Chicago, so he knew it well; at one point in the story, Walt is leading Ward through various stations in the L, describing where this track went or where that track went. While Ward Kimball had no idea where they were, it finally dawned on him that Walt was reliving his childhood.

Our railroad story continues in scene two, where we learn how the stage is set.

Scene Two: Setting the Stage

In scene two, the stage is set for exploring the growing fascination with railroads, and Walt and Lilly purchase the land that would become the site of their home in Holmby Hills. This scene goes into greater detail on the building of Walt’s backyard small scale railroad, but what I really enjoyed reading was the chapter known as “The Birth of Lilly Belle”.  In this chapter, Broggie goes into detail on the locomotive that would run Walt’s backyard operation, the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, and how they made the locomotive by hand in the machine shop at the Studio, under the direction of Michael Broggie’s dad, Roger.  Reading more about the deadline they were under, and the pressure to make it work, really made the pages turn in that chapter, and I felt like I was there with them making it happen all over again.

Scene Three: Happiest Place on Earth

Our railroad story continues in scene three.  In this section, the real meat of the story starts to come alive as we look at the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland, and the Santa Fe  & Disneyland R.R. that was built at the park.  In addition, we learn of how the park attendance outgrew the pace that the railroad could operate at, even with two running locomotives at a time, and the search is on for a 3rd locomotive for the railroad.

Scene Four: A Magic Kingdom

It is in scene four that our railroad story takes a sad turn.  As you all know, Walt Disney died before the Florida Project could be completed, and Walt Disney World (replacing the original name of Disney World) is completed with Walt’s brother Roy at the helm.  Though the show must go on without Walt, the legacy that he built and left behind continued with many of the same special features that were employed under the direction of Walt.  The new Magic Kingdom was built with a railroad around it like at Disneyland, but the trains were larger — and I learned that the reason for this is because the railroad had as much as a 2% grade in places, and larger trains would make that more manageable, as well as allow for more cars and more passengers as a result!

Epilogue: Leaving a Better World

The conclusion of our railroad story leaves us with perhaps the words that we all should strive to emulate.  Thank you for reading our post today, I leave you with the words of Walt Disney himself to close us out:

“If I leave this world a better place, then my time here will have been worthwhile.” ~ Walter Elias Disney

For more Disney book recommendations,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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