Magical Memories – Visiting Pizza Planet

As you wander the Streets of America in Hollywood Studios, there is a great quick service restaurant called “Pizza Planet”. It is based on the restaurant that Andy frequents in the Toy Story movies. Robert and I had a great time here during our last visit to Walt Disney World.

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This 2 story restaurant offered plenty of seating both inside and out. The food was yummy and the arcade was a lot of fun. Our lunch consisted of personal sized pizzas for each of us (1 adult and 1 child), a salad, applesauce, our drinks and a cookie for Robert. You can use your quick service credits from your dining plan to pay for this meal. After we ate, my son had so much fun being a ninja slicing fruit, hip hop dancing, practicing his skee ball skills, and of course, challenging me to air hockey.

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I do have to say my favorite details were the little green aliens seen hanging from the ceiling. I loved these guys in the movies.

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And what Pizza Planet restaurant would be complete without “The Claw”!

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If you are looking for a quick and easy place to grab your lunch or dinner, Pizza Planet is a great choice. It will also give you a great chance to sit and cool off while your children burn off some extra energy (and quarters).

If you have any questions and would like to use a planner for free – contact me at Robyn@travelwiththemagic.com or call me directly at 1-800-670-4312 ext 125. I have an unexplained passion for Disney and making sure that everyone is getting the most that they can out of every visit!

Magical Memories; How to Build a Lightsaber

The next time you wander the streets of Downtown Disney, take a moment to visit the “Once Upon a Toy” shop. You will not be disappointed. Located in the center of the action figures and blasters, lies a neat activity – Build your own lightsaber! What child wants to pass up the opportunity to create their very own lightsaber. They have the advantage of being able to choose each and every piece. It is a lot of fun!

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My son has a blast doing this. He can choose whether he wants to build a single or double saber. He also gets to choose the color, handles, and more. There is always a cast member supervising the station, offering assistance. They are there to make sure that all of the pieces get locked into the right place.

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There are 2 locations for your child to have the chance to create their own piece of magic from your trip – Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney and at the shop in Hollywood Studios called Tatooine Traders. Tatooine Traders is shop designated strictly for the Star Wars fan on your trip. The shop is located right next to the Star Tours attraction. There is not much difference in price between a single or double saber – $21.95 for a single and $24.95 for a double. After they build weapon of destruction for battling the dark forces, they can climb on this speeder located just outside of the Tatoonine Traders.

lightsaber complete

If you have any questions and would like to use a planner for free – contact me at Robyn@travelwiththemagic.com or call me directly at 1-800-670-4312 ext 125. I have an unexplained passion for Disney and making sure that everyone is getting the most that they can out of every visit!

Muppet Vision 3D

Muppet Vision 3D is located on Streets of America at Hollywood Studios. It opened in Walt Disney World in 1991 and at Disney’s California Adventure in 2001. Jim Henson fans (like ME!) will love the fact that he directed the show. It was also the last time he voiced everyone’s favorite green frog, Kermit. Frank Oz, Dave Goelz and Steve Whitmire also voice their well known Muppet friends. Perhaps because it was the final Muppets project directed by Henson, it’s no surprise that the show opened at Walt Disney World on the 1 year anniversary of his death.

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Before entering the theater for the 3D (at times 4D) show, you are lead to the soundstage area. This is a great place to sit (on the floor-there are no seats) and rest for a little bit. Kids and adults will love looking at the wacky movie props that surround them as well as the funny labels on the boxes. A 12 minute pre-show movie featuring your favorite Muppets will show above you on 3 monitors. Kids always laugh at the chaos going on as the Muppets rush around, trying to get ready for the show.

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After the pre-show is when you will pick up your 3D glasses. They are available in multiple spots around the room. As you enter the theater it’s hard for adults not to feel nostalgic… the theater is set up just like it was on The Muppet Show – complete with Waldorf and Statler up in the balcony! There is enough seating for over 500 people at a time (which helps cuts down greatly on the attraction wait time).

Without giving too much away about the show itself, it revolves around a computer-generated Muppet – Waldo C. Graphic. Although he is meant to be part of a “demonstration”, Waldo (created by Dr. Honeydew and Beaker) causes all kinds of trouble throughout the film. Kid friendly special effects (think “It’s Tough to be a Bug”), audio-animatronics and in theater Muppets make this a show not to be missed!

I love all things Muppets so I love hanging out in this area to slow down the pace. The fountain is a MUST DO photo op for any Muppets fan. Is there anything more glorious than a huge water fountain with a statue of Miss Piggy front and center? Yes, I really mean that; I have a special love for the pig.

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The show is just one great way to escape the heat as well as give your feet a rest! (See also “Beat the Heat” for other great tips on staying cool!)

TIP: Once you’ve gotten your Muppet fix, head across to the Muppet Stuff store and TRY not to buy everything you see. It’s not easy. This store has the best selection of Muppets merchandise ever!

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If you want to experience this show or others for yourself, contact me today! I can help you plan an amazing vacation for you and your family.

Erin Santamaria 1-877-377-0505 or erins@travelwiththemagic.com

You can also find me on Facebook or Pinterest.

Magical Memories – Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!

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Towards the back of Hollywood Studios, off the Streets of America, hides an amazing adventure for children of all ages. As you walk in, you are shrunk to a size smaller than an ant. You have just entered the “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” playground. Kids of all ages will have a blast running around and having the freedom to climb on everything

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There is so much to do and see. Kids can pretend to ride a chattering ant, climb through a spider’s web, or slide down a giant strip of film (the kind we all know from our childhood – 35mm). They can even get splashed by a giant water gun and can of playdoh – a great way to cool off during the hot summer days. There is so much for them to climb on and explore. This is a great outlet for them after they have been standing in so many long lines, trying their best to be good before each ride. Here – they can let loose!

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For parents, there is stuff for you too – fans and places to sit! Yes – this is a great opportunity for you to SIT DOWN and let your kids be kids while you rest. There are fans going throughout the area so that you too can cool off but not get wet. There is only one way in – so you can feel pretty safe letting the kids go where they want.

If you have any questions and would like to use a planner for free – contact me at Robyn@travelwiththemagic.com or call me directly at 1-800-670-4312 ext 125. I have an unexplained passion for Disney and making sure that everyone is getting the most that they can out of every visit!

Beat the Heat! Indoor attractions to cool you off on your Summer trip

Indoor attractions at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort to cool you off on your Summer trip

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Summer in Florida and California can get HOT. VERY HOT! But you can still enjoy your trip by planning out some cool off zones in each park. Finding a spot to cool off doesn’t mean you have to be bored or waste time away from the attractions. There are TONS of things you can do at any of the parks that do not require standing in the heat. Below are some of my favorites:

Animation Academy: (Hollywood Studios and California Adventure Park)
Take an art class from a Disney Animator! This is An Animation Experiencethat you won’t soon forget. The class lasts 20-30 minutes and there is even more to see and do inside the Disney Animation building at Disneyland and Animation Hall at Hollywood Studios. Plan to spend at least an hour cooling off here!

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Turtle Talk with Crush: (Epcot and California Adventure Park)
This show is geared toward kids but with or without children this is a must see. Crush is live and interacts with audience members which make each show unique. Everyone will laugh and you will remember why Crush stole the show in Finding Nemo. Turtle Talk is located inside The Seas with Nemo and Friends at Epcot and inside the Disney Animation building in Disneyland. Both locations offer more indoor activities besides turtle talk so this could also easily be an hour or more of cool off time.

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3D movies: (All Parks)
Even before you get into the theater to see the movie you get to wait inside for a little while and still be entertained. This maximizes the cool off time and gets everyone rested up and cooled off before the show. Each park has 3D movies available including Captain EO a resurrected classic featuring Michael Jackson (Disneyland and Epcot), MuppetVision 3D at Hollywood Studios and California Adventure), Its Tough to be a Bug featuring your favorite critters from It’s a Bug’s Life (at Animal Kingdom), and my favorite, Mickey’s Philharmagic at Magic Kingdom. Make time for the 3D movies and you will be refreshed and entertained, ready for your next walk in heat!

Live Stage Shows: (California Adventure, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios)
If you do not typically take the time to see the live shows you are really missing out! Not only will you get to sit down and cool off but you will get to experience Broadway quality shows that are unique to the Disney Parks. Some of my favorites include Festival of the Lion King (Animal Kingdom) which is an interactive musical and dance show that is non-stop thrills and fun the entire time. Finding Nemo-the Musical (Animal Kingdom), Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage (Hollywood Studios), and Aladdin-a Musical Spectacular (California Adventure) are wonderful retellings of your favorite stories with live actors, music, and some great special effects.

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Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor: (Magic Kingdom)
Like Turtle Talk, this show is always unique because of the audience participation and interaction with the animated characters from Monster’s Inc. Text your joke to a number you will see in the lobby before your show and they might use your joke in the show. Be ready to be a part of the show and the laughter when you enter the Laugh Floor. This is one I could do over and over again.

These are just a few of my favorites but of course I need to at LEAST mention some runners up, Kali River Rapids (California Adventure and Animal Kingdom), The Enchanted Tiki Room (Disneyland and Magic Kingdom), Innoventions (Epcot), and of course all the great movies and shows in the pavilions of Epcot’s World Showcase.

There are MANY more tips for keeping your cool during your summer vacation to a Disney Park. And don’t forget to add the Water Park Fun + More option to your tickets so you can cool off at the Water Parks and indoors at Downtown Disney’s DisneyQuest! For more info and help planning the perfect trip for YOUR family give me a call or shoot me an email, I would LOVE to help you book and plan your next magical vacation.

See ya real soon,

Aleshia

Aleshia Sokoloski, Travel with the Magic
~ 1-800-670-4312 ext. 139 ~ aleshia@travelwiththemagic.com ~Find me on Facebook ~

Star Wars the Weekend 2013

Once a year the galaxy far, far away comes to Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios! It’s the place where The Clone Wars and A New Hope unite generations over a beloved saga in the magic of Star Wars the Weekend (SWW)!

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In order for you and your family to get the most out of SWW you need to plan!

Hollywood Studios usually opens at 8am. The park traditionally opens at least 30 minutes early to accommodate the large crowds. This year my family got there by 7 and the park opened at 7:28. The Stormtroopers will be guarding Hollywood Boulevard. Stop, take pictures and interact with them. They are a lot of fun.

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Now once inside the park, what do you do first?

You split up. If you have children ages 4 to 11, you will want to head over to the Epic Stunt Theater to sign up for Jedi Training. Space is limited and your child MUST be with you. Next, head over to ABC Sound Studio to sign up for the Padawan Mind Challenge.

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While you are signing up for these 2 events, give a family member your Keys to the World (room key or park ticket) and send them to get fast passes for Toy Story Mania. Toy Story Mania fills up FAST and if you don’t have fast passes, you can be waiting 2 or more hours.

There will be plenty of opportunities to take pictures with SWW characters. You will find the good guys around the Star Tours and Premiere Theater area and the “bad” guys will be hanging around the Back Lot area. Have fun and interact. Ask Queen Amidala questions about the Senate or the weather on Naboo. And be sure to bring something to trade with the Jawas. Any little trinket or small toy from the dollar store is perfect!

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And don’t miss the Legends of the Force Motorcade. The parade includes all your favorite Star Wars characters, the Celebrities and the Florida 501st Legion.

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As with any Disney parade, you need to get your spot early. The parade travels down Hollywood Boulevard at 11 am. We like to line up around 9 – 9:30 to get a spot in the shade and to get a street view for the kids. Everyone will be crowding in. Take turns saving your spot with other family members.

Your next stop is Darth’s Mall.  A MUST DO for SWW.  Great merchandise that can only be bought during SWW will be here, as well as pictures with C3P0 and R2D2.

Ashely Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano in the Clone Wars, will be at the Mall promoting her line of Star Wars clothing, Her Universe. Ashley is an awesome person to follow and meet. Be sure to purchase your Her Universe merchandise before getting in line for an autograph. She will only be there an hour each day so check the event times and be there early!

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There’s plenty more to see at Darth’s Mall, so plan a couple of hours here.

If you need to get out of the heat, consider taking in one of the Celebrity Appearances. These events take place in the Premiere Theater, and you line up across the street in an alley (shaded). You probably don’t need to be there too early, an hour will get you in. This year I saw “An Ewok’s Take” by Warwick Davis, a very funny and entertaining actor. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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A day at SWW is not over till you see the Hyperspace Hoopla! The Hyperspace Hoopla, located on the stage at “the hat”, is a dance-off between The Rebel Alliance and The Empire. A lot of fun! This is a big attraction and the crowd will reach from the hat all the way to the entrance of the park. So get there early!

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Make your dinner reservations for around 9. The Hoopla is only 30 minutes, and you will need to re-fuel from a busy day. We love the Sci Fi Theater and a cold milkshake for then end of our day! How about you?

Planning is the key to a great SWW, and I have many more tips to make it smooth and enjoyable! You will not only want to catch your favorite Star Wars characters but also want to include all the fun at the other parks. It’s easy to get it all in if you know what to do – and it’s time to plan your 2014 SWW Adventure! I’m here to help!

Sylvia@travelwiththemagic.com

Why I love the Playgrounds at Disney World

Disney Playgrounds

We all know Disney has awesome rides, attractions and restaurants but did you know they also have some great playgrounds? I bet I know what you’re thinking…Why in the world would I want to pay money to go on a Disney vacation and have my kid play in a playground? I can do that at home, thank you very much. I completely understand and I’ll be honest, the playgrounds used to drive me nuts because I had to drag my children out of them kicking and screaming every single time. Well, I’ve since changed my ways and now I’ve come to embrace the playgrounds.

My 8 year old son particularly has A LOT of energy, as most young children do. I discovered while at the parks, most of the time, we were either walking to and from rides, standing in line or sitting down riding a ride. While this does allow movement (and certainly can be exhausting), my son thrives off running, jumping, sliding and spinning. I noticed whenever we would come across a playground, that’s where he would have the time of of his life. I’ve since learned to make time for active play with playgrounds (and swim time too). In case you aren’t sure where the playgrounds are located, here you go!

Playgrounds at the Resorts

You will find playgrounds at many of the Disney resorts. They are usually your standard playgrounds with swings, slides and tunnels. Some are more elaborate than others. A couple of our favorites are at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort and Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort. The kids can enjoy playing on the playgrounds which are located on the beaches of Bay Lake. If you time it right, you’ll also get a great view of the Electrical Water Pageant as it goes by each night. Disney’s Coronado Springs also has a pretty impressive playground near the Dig Site pool you won’t want to miss if staying there.

Honey I Shrunk the Kids

Playgrounds at the Parks

  • The Boneyard, located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is amazing! A two story elaborate playground designed to look like a dinosaur dig site. It’s complete with slides, caves, an area to dig for “bones” and a water feature to cool off.
  • Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure, located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is another elaborately themed, interactive playground which makes you feel like you’ve shrunk down to the size of a bug. You are surrounded by huge grass, ant tunnels, a sniffing dog and other oversized details you won’t want to miss. There are also a couple of water features you may want to hit (or dodge).
  •  Tom Sawyer Island, located at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park. OK, so this one isn’t “technically” a playground like I’ve been discussing but it’s an island where kids are free to run around and burn some energy. It features caves, a barrel bridge, a rope bridge, mine, dirt paths and an old fort. Did I mention you’ll need to take a river raft to get to the island which is a unique experience in and of itself? Please note: Tom Sawyer Island is quite rugged and not wheelchair accessible.
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Located at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park. You’ll find this interactive playground inside the big top tent located at the Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction. Use the standby line and you will receive a pager upon arrival. Kids are then free to play in the air conditioned playground featuring a toddler play area, fun sound effects, flying nets and slides instead of standing in line (Best. Concept. Ever.). Your pager will let you know when it’s time to ride. If the kids are still having fun, you can stay and play and ride later.

Dumbo Playground

Seasonal Playgrounds

My personal favorite of the playgrounds are the ones you can find at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival each year. My kids LOVE these and I enjoy sitting on the “grass” taking in the beautiful atmosphere the festival brings each Spring.

Flower and Garden Festival Playground

Tips

  • Keep an eye on your child. It can be tricky so be prepared! If your child is older, you may be able to sit at the entrance if there is only one way in and out. Have them check in with you regularly. With younger children, parents may need to split up, one go with one child and another can keep an eye on the entrance. Be sure to set up a meeting place in case someone gets lost.
  • Make sure kids don’t get overheated! Florida weather can often be hot and humid which doesn’t usually go well with running around. I recommend bringing a mist fan and having a cold beverage near by.
  • Set time limits before entering a playground. This will help children not become over exhausted or over heated. It will also make it easier to get them out and on to other attractions if they know ahead of time they have X amount of time to play.
  • Bring a change of clothes. Some playgrounds have water features so kids may get wet.
  • Lots of little hands touch play equipment- bring sanitizer.

The Boneyard Playground

While I may prefer to ride leisurely on one of Disney’s rides, obviously my son prefers to be active. It took several vacations until I came to the conclusion…We are all different and it’s not just my vacation, it’s for the whole family. Each family member should be able to enjoy whatever it is that makes them happiest, even if it’s a playground. We used to have our fair share of arguments on vacation. We’d get to a park and my family (full of hard heads) would start fighting over what we wanted to do first, getting little accomplished in the process. Now we have conversations during our vacation planning about what is most important for each person to do for that particular trip before we even get in the car. Each person has a list and we make sure they get to scratch off their top picks so no one leaves unhappy. We all have to compromise at some point.

If you have an active child who enjoys getting lots of physical play, I would encourage you to take time out each day to allow them to get some energy out. They’ll be happy and you’ll get a kick out of watching them enjoy themselves.

If you are considering a trip to Disney World, feel free to contact me at corby@travelwiththemagic.com. I’d love to assist with your Disney vacation planning!

Don’t Miss Toy Story Midway Mania!

At Hollywood Studios

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Toy Story Midway Mania! at Hollywood Studios is no doubt one of my family’s favorite rides. It’s a ride that’s a game; it’s a game that’s a ride! It is a competitive 4D interactive game/ride like no other. The fun begins the moment you get in line. You will experience a world of super-sized classic toys and board games as you wait in the queue. Mr. Potato Head himself will also entertain your family as he interacts with guests. You will then grab your 3D glasses and off you go to board the carnival themed ride. Each car holds 4 guests. Grab your toy canon and get ready to rack up points as you are whirled into a world of Disney-Pixar characters and targets. You will be cheered on by Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep, Ham, and the Green Army Men as you launch darts at balloons, toss rings at aliens, plunge eggs at targets, and throw baseballs at plates. This attraction is fun for the entire family as it appeals to beginners and more competitive gamers. I must admit that my family and I rode this ride 3 times on our last visit to Hollywood Studios, and my hubby and I even engaged in a little friendly competition.

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The wait for this ride can get fairly long as the day goes on. Get your Disney’s Fastpass  early because they are usually gone by lunchtime. I recommend going straight to this ride as soon as you enter the park. I hope you have a blast!

I would be glad to help you plan a magical Disney vacation. Contact me today for a no obligation quote.

Michelle Terry

MichelleT@travelwiththemagic.com

1-866-Hi-Miki-2

Disney’s Star Wars Weekends

If you are a Star Wars fan and are visiting Disney during May or June, be sure to take advantage of Disney’s Star Wars weekends! These are special weekends in which Hollywood Studios is taken over by the Force. The weekends the event is running this year are May 17-19, May 24-26, May 31-June 2, and June 7-9. No special tickets are required – just admission to Hollywood Studios!

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Welcome to Star Wars weekend!!

During these special weekends, you’ll find:

· Celebrity autograph sessions (past celebrities have included Ray Park who played Darth Maul in Episode I and Warwick Davis who played Wicket the Ewok in Episode VI)

· Special character greetings (think Chewbacca, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers, Princess Leia, Leia Minnie, Vader Goofy and more!)

· Special Star Wars merchandise only available during Star Wars Weekends,

· Star Wars trivia (for kids AND for adults!)

· Star Wars Parade

· Q&A sessions

· “Behind the Force” presentations

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Leia Minnie meets Sarah and Jenise

Be sure to arrive EARLY (90 to 120 minutes before the park opens if you want the Celebrity autographs) and get in line for the Celebrity Autograph FASTPASSES. If you’re going to skip the Celebrity autographs, plan on arriving 60-90 minutes before park opening. But you won’t want to miss the Stormtroopers skit that happens before park opening.

If you see merchandise that you like, buy it. You never know how quickly some items will sell out. There is usually some great limited edition merchandise available. One awesome souvenir last year was the “Freeze Yourself in Carbonite”. Panoramic pictures are taken up close of your face from all angles (so no face paint on children), and about 6 weeks after the event, you receive a block of Carbonite but instead of Hans Solo trapped, it’s YOU. (I’m still awaiting an announcement from Disney about merchandise available to see if this will be offered again this year but I know it was VERY popular and advanced reservations were offered). There are multiple locations set up around the park besides Tatooine Traders to purchase Star Wars merchandise.

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Having fun with Star Wars themed merchandise

Don’t think that the Character Greetings are just for kids! Interact with the characters. The “dark-siders” tend to be a bit more fun if you egg them on.

If your children want to participate in the children trivia contest, Jedi Training Academy or any other event, head to the sign up table EARLY in the day as these slots are limited. Study the Star Wars Park Map as soon as it’s available so you know where to go.

Be prepared for long lines. Not just for attractions but for parades and merchandise too. The Star Wars parade is at noon. Avoid Tatooine Traders after the Star Wars parade (it ends right near the shop and the crowds are SUPER CRAZY then).

Remember that you’re in Florida in May and June. It will be HOT. Be prepared for the heat and be sure to stay hydrated. Consider a lunch or dinner at one of the table-service restaurants inside Hollywood Studios to escape from the heat! (Be sure to get your reservations for these ahead of time; ask your travel planner for more information).

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Enjoy a R2D2 Icee while you wait to watch Hyperspace Hoopla!

I’d like to thank Sarah and Jenise for letting me use their pictures!! Sarah and Jenise are long time clients of one of our Travel with the Magic planners. Their big tips – “Don’t miss the Hyperspace Hoopla show at the end of the day. And keep a camera ready at all times – you never know who you’re going to see!!”

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Is that Vader or Goofy?!

Want to freeze yourself in carbonite!? I cannot wait to help you plan your MAGICAL vacation to Disney World! Contact me via email at Amy@travelwiththemagic.com, or call me at 1-800-670-4312, x129. You can also find me on Facebook!

Who knew Terror could be so much fun

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I don’t know if it’s my love of Hollywood or my love for Disney but when I took part in the Tower of Terror attraction I was taken from 2012 to 1939. I’m not sure if you know the premise behind this incredible attraction so let me fill you in. This Twilight Zone Inspired attraction feels true to life as you enter. The story goes something along the lines of 5 unfortunate souls are at the Hollywood Hotel on Halloween night in 1939, they are in the hotel elevator when a storm come through and they are never seen again…strange yes, but it makes for an incredible attraction that often has long wait times. The fastpass is a definite to insure your ticket on the mysterious elevator.
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As you approach the ride you will walk through a dusty library that looks abandoned and you will be greeted by a bell hop however it is not your normal friendly greeting so prepare yourself for great acting and a feeling of terror. It’s fun but I must say every time I ride this ride I get that scary feeling in my stomach. The fun kind but definitely a sense of “Do I really want to get on this elevator”?
When the ride opens and you enter the elevator you will buckle in be ready for a ride, a fun little fact is that you never have the same sequence so you can ride time and time again and never be able to tell weather your going up or down. As the ride starts you get start in complete darkness, when the door opens you will find yourself in the the hallway which explains the unfortunate event that lost 5 souls. You will not know if your dropping to the ground or sailing  13 stories to the top of the elevator. It is really the ride of a lifetime and one that makes great memories, I would suggest not eating before you ride it. It is definitely a ride for people of all ages however it might be a little much for children under 9.
When you finish the ride and are “released” back to the real world you will go through a gift shop filled with lots of memorable trinkets  don’t forget to take a look at your picture from the ride, even if you do not purchase it, it is sure to make your day!
If you would like some help getting to Hollywood Studios please contact me for help at 1-800-397-4674.
Amy Blades