Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland

“Tomorrow can be a wonderful age. Our scientists today are opening the doors of the Space Age to achievements that will benefit our children and generations to come. The Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future.” – Walt Disney

This was Walt Disney’s vision for Tomorrowland at Disneyland and one that carried over when Walt Disney World was built in 1971. Of all of the lands at Walt Disney World, Tomorrowland is probably the most challenging for Imagineers in keeping with Walt’s vision. After all, our world is changing quickly and by the time a redesign is rolled out it’s not so futuristic anymore. So, in the mid 1990’s a redesign to Tomorrowland was debuted that didn’t focus so much on our realistic view of the future, but a more science fiction view where you might find Flash Gordon battling aliens.

Metallic palm trees, neon lights, synthesized music and kinetic (moving) elements are all used by Imagineers to set the atmosphere of this world of tomorrow.

Tomorrowland 1

The largest kinetic element is the Tomorrowland Transportation Authority Peoplemover (TTA) which glides above the land and through some attractions. If it’s your first visit to Tomorrowland hop on this attraction first as it will provide you with a great overview and lay of the land. The TTA departs and returns to Rocket Tower Plaza in the middle of Tomorrowland. This 10 minute ride will take you inside Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin for a sneak peak. You’ll also get a view of the original model of Walt Disney’s vision of a futuristic city. This model was on display at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York and was Walt’s early vision for Epcot.

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Want to help Buzz Lightyear save the galaxy from the Evil Emperor Zurg? Hop on over to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and grab an astro blaster and start blasting. You’ll be racking up the points in this ultimate interactive video game as you move through different rooms. Want to hit the point jackpot? In the room with the large orange robot watch HIS right eye. When it begins blinking with an X fire away – each hit is worth 100,000 points. There are other mega targets as well but I’ll let you find those on your own!

The centerpiece of Tomorrowland has and will continue to be Space Mountain. This was the first ever thrill ride at Walt Disney World and while the attraction has gone through several updates over the years it remains the classic trip into outer space. What makes Space Mountain so thrilling is that the entire attraction is in the dark. You would probably be surprised to know that the maximum speed the trains go is around 27 miles per hour – hardly a high speed roller coaster – but the darkness and sharp turns continue to make Space Mountain one of the most beloved attractions in all of Walt Disney World.

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Another Disney classic is located a short distance from Space Mountain. Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress dates back to the 1964 World’s Fair and was created by Walt Disney himself. This attraction was originally located at Disneyland until it was moved to Walt Disney World in 1975. The Carousel of Progress really is a carousel. Guest sit in a theater that then rotates around 4 different scenes depicting the life of the American family from the beginning of the 20th century. You’ll hear some famous voices to the audio animatronics including the voice of the father (Jean Shepherd) and Cousin Orville (Mel Blanc). The music was written by the award winning Sherman Brothers. When visiting the last scene (Christmas morning) keep an eye out for several hidden Mickeys. While the storyline has been updated throughout the years to keep up with the times, the overall attraction has stayed true to Walt’s original Carousel of Progress.

There are many other attractions to check out in Tomorrowland – all giving a different taste of a Disney tomorrow.

Tomorrowland Fun Facts:

The exterior design of Space Mountain uses “forced perspective” to make the mountain appear taller than it actually is. After all, Space Mountain couldn’t be taller than the castle but it still needed to look like an intergalactic mountain. While the structure looks huge it’s actually 6 feet shorter than Cinderella’s Castle.

When you are walking around the area make sure to keep an eye out for a wandering trash can! PUSH will come mingle with guests around Mickey’s Star Traders several times a day.

The Tomorrowland Transportation Authority vehicles move by linear induction. Magnets under the track push and pull the cars. This is the ultimate in clean energy.

The only area from inside the park that guests can see the Contemporary Resort is Tomorrowland. This is also the only resort that can be seen from inside. The Imagineers felt the contemporary A framed hotel fit nicely in the backdrop of Tomorrowland so there was no need to hide it.

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress was Walt Disney’s personal favorite attraction and it holds the record for the longest running stage show in the history of American theater.

Space Mountain is Florida’s oldest roller coaster.

This land takes on a whole different look and feel at night. Be sure to stop by after dark!

It’s details like this that make Walt Disney World such a special and unique place. My name is Susan Heidenrich and I am a travel professional with Travel with the Magic. I’ve visited Walt Disney World over 20 times and I would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation. Email me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com and follow me on facebook for tips, tricks and information on all things Disney!

Harmony Barber Shop, First Haircut Package

barber shop my 1st haircut ears (2)

If you are planning a trip to Disney World and want a special place to get your child’s first haircut I would strongly suggest making an appointment at the Harmony Barber Shop. Harmony Barber Shop is located at Magic Kingdom, no other place than on Main Street USA. As you you pass under the train station, look to your left and you’ll see City Hall, the Fire Station and Harmony Barber Shop with it’s red and white striped pole out front.

barber shop

They provide the following services:

Adult Hair Cut $19

Child Hair Cut (12 and under) $15

My 1st Haircut Package $18

Gel and pixie dust (colored gel not being offered at this time) $5

barber shop exterior sign

I had been anxiously awaiting for my daughter to get her first haircut (she just turned 3!) and decided Harmony Barber Shop would be the perfect spot. I made my reservation over the phone at (407) WDW-PLAY prior to arrival. They do accept walk-ins but I noticed quite a few guests walking in and being told they were full so I would strongly encourage calling ahead of time to be on the safe side. They are open daily from 9AM-5PM.

barber shop inside

As you enter the Harmony Barber Shop, the first thing you’ll probably notice is it’s very tiny. There’s not a whole lot of room with only 3 chairs with 3 barbers. It has old fashioned charm to it complete with black and white flooring, tile ceiling and ornately carved wooden mirrors.

My daughter was seated in the chair soon after we arrived and she wasn’t too sure about what was about to happen. I could see her lip start to tremble and tears welling up in her eyes. Diane who was cutting her hair had it all under control. She was calm and patient and began putting Mickey stickers on my daughter’s dress and blankie to distract her and then gave her a bottle of bubbles. Bubbles always make my daughter smile so any fear she had was forgotten in no time.

barber shop henley bubbles

While my daughter was getting her first haircut, my son had mentioned he wanted to get his hair styled with gel as he had seen some kids sporting at the parks previously. They were no longer offering colored gel but he did get a pretty funky “do” with regular gel and “pixie dust”.

Barber Shop Banks hair

Once my daughter’s hair had been cut, Diane handed us her freshly cut locks which were placed in a white mesh bag complete with sparkles sealed with a Mickey sticker. She was also given a certificate proclaiming that her first haircut was at the Harmony Barber Shop and an adorable Mickey Ear Hat with “My 1st Haircut” embroidered on the back. Cutest first haircut keepsake ever!

barber shop certificate

I highly recommend a visit to the Harmony Barber Shop, particularly for a child’s first haircut. It will be an experience you won’t forget and you’ll get to take home some cute souvenirs from the occasion.

barber shop first locks

*It is important to note that the Harmony Barber Shop is unable to accept tips using credit cards so please bring cash.

Barber Shop Henley with ears

If you are planning a trip to Disney World, I’d love be of assistance! Please feel free to email me at corby@travelwiththemagic.com.

Secrets of Adventureland

Last month we discovered several little known secrets about Liberty Square. This month we’ll move down the path and check out the imagineering secrets behind Adventureland at Walt Disney World.

Adventureland is located on the west side of the Magic Kingdom, right off Main Street USA. This area holds beloved attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise and the Enchanted Tiki Room. Adventureland was designed to represent many areas of the globe where one might find adventure – from the south pacific to Africa to Arabia. The original Adventureland in Disneyland was Walt’s idea. It was based on his love of his True-Life Adventure Films and early Adventureland was referred to as True-Life Adventureland.

As in any land at Walt Disney World, the architecture here helps to tell the story. You’ll find jungle huts, thatched roofs, Victorian buildings and Middle Eastern bizarres all blended together. Imagineers designed the transition from Main Street to Adventureland to be anchored by the Crystal Palace restaurant – a Victorian themed building that transitions from turn of the century Main Street to 19th century British rule in Africa.

“Visual intrusion” is when a building or attraction can be seen in a themed land other than the one in which it resides. Imagineers had to deal with visual intrusion with the top of the Enchanted Tiki Room, which can also be seen in Frontierland. So, imagineers used an Asian water buffalo on the roof as it would look like a longhorn when viewed from Frontierland – problem solved!

Adventureland 1

The Jungle Cruise was born from Walt’s love of animals. In fact, he originally wanted to use live animals in the attraction but quickly realized he couldn’t control the “show” when using live animals and they also slept quite a bit during the day. Audio animatronics solved that problem Check out the crates and boxes in the queue here. The names on these pay tribute to the Disney imagineers and cast members who worked on the attraction. . All of the scenes in the Jungle Cruise were taken from Walt’s True-Life Adventure films. Notice the plane wreckage scene – the front part of this plane is used in the Casablanca scene at the Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The queue at Pirates of the Caribbean has a cell with two skeletons playing chess. If you are a chess player you’ll realize this game is at a stalemate. There are no more possible moves. You’ll find actual movie props from Pirates of the Caribbean films in the gift shop – look up towards the ceiling.

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Check out the sidewalk around the Magic Carpets of Aladdin and you might find some hidden jewels. And watch out for spitting camels!

Adventureland 3

The Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland was the first attraction to use audio animatronics. The voice of Fritz in the Enchanted Tiki Room is that of Thurl Ravenscroft, also known as the voice of Frosted Flake’s original Tony the Tiger.

My name is Susan Heidenrich and I am a travel professional with Travel with the Magic. I’ve visited Walt Disney World over 20 times and I would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation. Email me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com and follow me on facebook for tips, tricks and information on all things Disney!

Secrets of Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom

Tucked away in the back of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is a tiny land with many secrets. A visit to Liberty Square is more than a visit to the Haunted Mansion or a ride on the riverboat. Take some time to explore and you’ll find a treasure of details and secrets.

There is a time period progression from the Haunted Mansion down to Frontierland. The Haunted Mansion is fashioned after the houses along the Hudson River in New York in the early 1700’s. There is an area with a succession of buildings, each with a front door. The addresses on the doors are two digits. Put an 18 in front of the numbers and you get the timeframe for that particular building.

liberty square 1

Along with the time period progression there is a geographical progression in Liberty Square. It starts in on the east coast with the Haunted Mansion and moves west. Watch the progression in style as you move towards Frontierland (American west).

Columbia Harbor House restaurant is technically located in Fantasyland and Liberty Square. Inside the restaurant, closer to Fantasyland, the restaurant is themed to Europe. As you move through the restaurant and out the door into Liberty Square the décor changes to early American.

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Notice the shutters in Liberty Square are all hung at an angle. This is because there was virtually no metal shipped to America from England during the Revolutionary War (they didn’t want it used for bullets). The colonials would use the metal off of the shutters for ammunition and then hang the shutters with leather. After a period of time the leather straps would stretch and the shutters would hang at an angle.

Since there was no plumbing in Colonial times you won’t find any restrooms in Liberty Square!

Look for the replica of the House of Burgesses complete with the “two if by sea” lanterns hung in the upper window.

The Liberty Tree located in the middle of the area is over 100 years old. It holds 13 lanterns, one for each of the original colonies.

In 1976 each state received a replica of the Liberty Bell in celebration of the Bicentennial. Since Pennsylvania already had the original they weren’t sure what to do with the replica so Walt Disney World asked if they could have it for the Magic Kingdom. Pennsylvania agreed and the replica now sits in Liberty Square. Florida is the only state with two replicas made from the cast of the original Liberty Bell.

There are genuine presidential artifacts located in the lobby of the Hall of Presidents. In fact it’s a federally recognized presidential museum. Make sure you take the time to see this wonderful show.

liberty square 3

The area around the Diamond Horseshoe is supposed to represent St Louis. The small offshoot stream that runs into the Rivers of America is known as the “Little Mississippi”.

Next time you visit this quaint little area of the Magic Kingdom make sure to check out all of the details!

My name is Susan Heidenrich and I am a Disney Destination Specialist with Travel with the Magic. I would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation or Disney cruise. My services are always complimentary. Contact me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com and follow me on facebook for tips, tricks and specials concerning all things Disney!

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

Title pic for pinterest

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!

Animation

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.

Turtle Talk

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.

Aladdin

Festival

Nemo

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 ~

Take a Plunge Down Splash Mountain

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If you wander by Splash Mountain located in Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom you might wonder what all of the commotion is about. Every few seconds a log full of guests plunge down Chick-A-Pin Hill and into a briar patch sending up a big splash of water. From the outside this might appear to be just another flume with a Disney spin but treat yourself to a ride and you’ll find out why it’s one of the best themed, most beloved attractions in all of Walt Disney World.

Sitting in the back of Frontierland, Splash Mountain is one of 3 attractions that make up Disney’s Mountain Range The attraction is based on the 1946 Disney classic Song of the South and features the tale of Br’er Rabbit and friends as he goes looking for his laughing place. Along his adventure he’ll meet up with a little bit of trouble and you’re along for the ride.

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The attraction is filled with over 100 wonderful audio-animatronic animals, award winning music and the journey is actually about a half mile long so this is more than just a quick drop down a hill.

Once loaded in your log you’ll begin your journey to the top of Chick-A-Pin Hill. From the top you’ll meander around the outside with a beautiful view of the Magic Kingdom. Once inside the mountain you’ll cruise through the woods and bayous to meet some of Br’er Rabbits friends (and those that are out to get him). Look up, down and all around. The attention to detail on this attraction is spectacular and every time you ride you’ll see something new. I won’t spoil any surprises but just know the drop you see from the outside is not the only drop you’ll experience! Several different scenes inside the mountain continue to tell the story. Br’er Rabbit is caught and thrown into the briar patch…which just happens to be 52 feet down.  Smile – you’ll have the opportunity to purchase photos of your plunge! After the excitement of the drop our rabbit has finally learned his lesson and we take part in a Zip A Dee Doo Dah celebration!

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While almost everyone on the log will get wet where you sit will make a big difference. Those in the back will get damp while those in the front may get soaked. TIP: Purchase cheap, disposable ponchos from the dollar store before you leave home. They are great for Splash Mountain (or pop up rain showers on Florida afternoons) and then simply throw them away when you are finished.

For a completely different experience try this attraction at night!

My name is Susan Heidenrich and I am a Disney Destination Specialist with Travel with the Magic. Are you ready to begin planning a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland or a Disney cruise? I’d love to help and my planning services are always complementary. Email me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com or follow me on facebook

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!

A Tour of the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World

Tucked in a quiet corner of Liberty Square, in the back of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, is a stately manor with a rather spooky feel. Come visit Disney’s Haunted Mansion, home to 999 Happy Haunts (there’s room for one more ~ any volunteers?).

The outside of the mansion is what you might find in the Hudson River Valley of New York and is perched on a hill overlooking the Rivers of America. It was important to Walt Disney that nothing inside of the Magic Kingdom would look run down or shabby so the mansion itself is quite beautiful.

HM1

As with many Disney attractions the experience begins in the queue. As you walk up to the front of the mansion an old, worn out, horse drawn hearse greets you with a taste of what’s to come. The queue includes an interactive pipe organ, a musical crypt, stone busts and infamous headstones such as “Here Lies Good Old Fred ~ A Great Big Rock Fell On His Head” and “In Memorium Uncle Myall ~ Here You’ll Lie – For Quite A While”.

HM2

These tombstones are all nods to those imagineers and artists who contributed to the Haunted Mansion and the early years of Walt Disney World.

HM3

You are greeted at the door by the housekeeper or butler and enter into the foyer of the mansion. Don’t rush through this room, take time to watch the portrait over the fireplace and take in the décor. We also meet our Ghost Host who will be our tour guide along the way. He invites us into the next room which contains portraits that look normal enough until the room begins to stretch (or is it just your imagination?). Is the ceiling moving up or is the floor moving down? This room at the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland moves one way while the room at Walt Disney World moves the other direction. Can you figure it out? When the doors open move forward, don’t drag behind or the gargoyles on the wall will whisper for you to “get out”.

You will now board a Doom Buggy, an egg shaped vehicle with sound speakers, for the rest of your visit. Beginning your tour in the portrait gallery, the pictures eerily follow you on your journey down the hallway. This hallway leads to another hallway, this one without an end and with many ghosts who are dying to get out. Then in the conservatory you find you are a bit too late for a funeral.

In the next room you will attend a séance with Madame Leota. Named after Disney imagineer Leota Toombs, you might recognize Madame Leota’s voice as the same voice as Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. Here creepies and crawlies are summoned as you join in the séance and are sent a message from somewhere beyond.

Your next stop on the tour will be to the ballroom. This is an area full of details and no matter how many times you visit the mansion there will always be something new to see here. Your Ghost Host invites you to this swinging wake so sit back in your Doom Buggy and enjoy the party. Notice the place setting at the far left hand side of the banquet table – it’s in the shape of our favorite mouse! The organ is a replica of Captain Nemo’s organ in the Disney film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Look up and down and all around this room – these ghosts know how to celebrate!

Moving into the attic you meet the bride who’s had her fair share of grooms. Something seems to have happened to all of them leaving her with wedding gifts and a heavy (and loud) heart.

Your Doom Buggy will now leave the mansion and take you through the graveyard. Here you’ll meet spooks and ghosts singing along with the Haunted Mansion’s theme song, Grim Grinning Ghosts. Can you find the grim reaper by the opera singers? Look for the cloth he is holding and you’ll see yet another Hidden Mickey.

Passing out of the graveyard you are told to hurry back and to be sure and bring your death certificate. Our friendly Ghost Host catches up with us here for his farewells. I’ll leave you some surprises but one word of caution – beware of hitchhiking ghosts!

The Haunted Mansion is a fun, tongue in cheek look at the spirit world. While there are a few loud noises and dark scenes that may be scary for young children, overall this is a light hearted experience that is one of the most beloved attractions at Walt Disney World. It is so detailed that each time you experience the attraction you will see something new. This is Disney Imagineering at its best!

My name is Susan Heidenrich and I am a Disney Destination Specialist with Travel with the Magic. I’d love to help your family plan their dream Disney vacation. Contact me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com You can also follow me on facebook

Enchanted Tales with Belle

On my most recent trip, we were able to experience Enchanted Tales with Belle for the first time. We were there December 4, 2012.

Let me start by informing you that this is one of the attractions of  New  Fantasyland. With that being said, it is quite popular! As of now, there is not an option for fastpass, so I have a recommendation. I suggest as soon as you enter the park (preferably at park opening) your family head straight to this attraction. On your way there, swing by and get a fastpass to a nearby attraction, possibly Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. You will then be one of the first in line for Enchanted Tales with Belle and will be able to do the new Little Mermaid ride shortly after you get out. You may also take advantage of this attraction during Extra Magic Hours offered to guests of Walt Disney World Resorts.

Throughout most of Disney, many of the upgrades are including enhancements to the waiting queues. As you enter the queue for this attraction, you will spend most of your wait time outside, following along a winding cobblestone pathway lined by small trees and flowers. It sets the perfect atmosphere, as I honestly felt like I was stepping into Belle’s world! Once you enter indoors, you will be in Maurice’s cottage. You will not spend a long time in this area, so be sure to soak in all the neat details. I loved seeing a portrait of young Belle with her mother.

As you move a little further along, you will enter Maurice’s workshop, and come to a magic mirror, which will help “transport” you inside Beast’s castle. This is where the fun really begins! A small group of you will be introduced to Madame Wardrobe along with a cast member. Here, Madame Wardrobe will ask for volunteers to re-enact “Beauty and the Beast”. Volunteers can be adults or children and will be given props to play characters including Maurice, Phillipe, Chip, Mrs. Potts and the Beast. Please note that it is meant for ONLY the people who are playing roles in the re-enactment to be able to take pictures with Belle, but when I was there in December, they allowed all the kids to take picture with her afterwards. If you are unable to get good pictures with your camera, be sure to grab one of the photopass cards the photographer will be handing out at the end!

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Once all the volunteers have been chosen, the group will move into the Beast’s Library. Here you will then be greeted by Lumiere, followed by Belle. The re-enactment will take place and will end with music and Belle posing for a few photos. Belle will not sign autographs, but be sure to get a bookmark with her signature on the back on your way out. The cast members should be handing them out as you leave.

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For more information, or if you would like to experience Enchanted Tales with Belle for yourself, contact me at casey@travelwiththemagic.com, find me on facebook or call me at 1-800-670-4312 ext 138.

Dessert Wishes

Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party

Who doesn’t like dessert?  And who doesn’t love a great fireworks show?  Combine the two and you have the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party held most nights in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.  I’ve had the pleasure of being able to experience this for myself and really enjoyed it!

 The dessert party starts roughly one hour before the nightly showing of Wishes.  You check in at Tomorrowland Terrace where you receive a wristband and then are shown to your reserved table

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You are then free to hit up the buffet which is filled with just about every kind of dessert you can think of.  Here is just a sampling of what they have to offer

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It was all good, but my favorites were the chocolate covered strawberries and the pistacio crème brulee!  While enjoying our goodies, we were able to relax and watch the castle as it changed colors throughout the evening

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Before long it was time for Wishes to begin.  Watching the fireworks from this location makes them appear to be off to the side of the castle instead of directly behind it like they do when watching from Main Street

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 But the trade off of being able to relax and watch with an unobstructed view, from the comfort of your own table, without hundreds of people surrounding you, is well worth it.  Not to mention, one of the best part of viewing from this location is that you are able to see Tinkerbell fly directly over you!

 Advanced reservations for the dessert party are strongly recommended.  Cost varies between $21.99-$25.99 plus tax per adult and $11.99-$13.99 plus tax per child.  Prepayment is required at the time of booking.  The dining plan is not accepted and theme park admission is also required.

 Would you like help planning your family’s trip to Walt Disney World?  I’d love to be your travel agent.  It doesn’t cost any extra to book your vacation through me and all of my planning services are free!  Drop me an email at michelle@travelwiththemagic.com or check me out on facebook and let’s get started!