Monday, May 28, 2007

So Your Going to WDW: WDW Transportation

If you are staying off site, there are not many options for transportation. You will need to rent a car. Some hotels offer free transportation to the parks, but I would not put to much faith in this. Each hotel has it’s own policy, but most have one bus and it stops at each park once in the morning and once at night. If you have special plans or want to switch parks it could be tough to do. Also, you will need to get from the Airport to your hotel. Without a car, you can get a ride from one of the bus services, like Mears, or take a taxi.

If you are staying on site, there are a couple of options. The first concern is getting from the airport to your hotel. If you are staying On-Site, then use the currently free Disney’s Magical Express service. This is a bus service that gets you to your hotel. Also included with the service is free luggage handling. What that means is that once you say goodbye to your luggage in your departure city, the next time you see it will be in your Disney hotel room. No waiting for the luggage to come off the plane in Orlando. Just find your way to the bus and relax. The same for the trip back to the airport. The only down-side is not knowing when you will get your bag. They say up to three hours and if you get in very late, maybe the next day. So if you have medications or plan on swimming you might need to pack a carry-on for the plane. Here is a link to MouseSavers.com where they discuss the pros and cons of the service. We used it and had no issues. All Good. It was amazing at how happy the bus ride from the airport was at the begining of the week. Wow was it depressing on the ride back.
Once you get to your hotel, there are three main types of transportation to get you to the parks and around WDW. The first are the buses. I found that the buses were pretty reliable. On our last trip of six days, I would say we waited for more than 10 minutes twice out of about 16 or so bus trips. Not bad. I would not rely on them for very early character breakfasts in the park though. Too risky. Maybe a taxi. Buses are great, usually clean and just recently have begun to give an information spiel as you ride. Similar to the Monorail announcements. For more specific information check out MousePlanet.com where they have pretty comprehensive schedules and routes for the buses. Look for the links toward the bottom of the page. Bus Tip: If you stay late at a park for the fireworks, expect the lines and waits for the buses and boats to be a extended. Although, we have met the most amazing people standing in line for the bus.
The second type of transportation are the boats. There are a couple different boats that you can use to get you places. The smaller transports which holds about 25 will take you from the Magic Kingdom hotels to the Magic Kingdom.
There is a second bigger type boat that will take you from the Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness and from the Epcot hotels to the World Showcase entrance of Epcot. The third boat is the huge ferry boats that take you from the Ticket and Transportation Center(T&TC) to the Magic Kingdom and back again. Now I've talked about Buses and Boats, what is left? The Monorail. The transporation system of tomorrow is a ride as much as it is a conveyance. The monorail circles Bay Lake and stops at the Polynesian Hotel, the Grand Floridian, the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary and then the T&TC. That's the local route, there also is an express from the T&TC to the Magic Kingdom. When you park at the Magic Kingdom, you take the tram to the T&TC and then the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom. The Monorail route was also extended to Epcot. This is becoming out traditional first ride for each visit. We take the monorail to Epcot and then back. The track goes into Future World at Epcot. It's a nice tease if you do not have time to waste a ticket on your first day. Here is some good information on the Monorail including a track map. One last tip for the Monorail, make sure you ask to sit with the driver. It is a great experience that I would consider a must do.
So, as you see there are many of ways to get around the world. A couple of hints. You can ask any bus driver to find out where the bus you need is and when it will get to your bus stop. When we stayed at the Polynesian we found that the boat was the fastest way to the Magic Kingdom and we would walk to the T&TC to go to Epcot. We took buses to the other two parks and DownTown Disney. When we stayed at Fort Wilderness, we took the boat to the Magic Kingdom and then a Bus to any parks. You can put your faith in the Disney Transportation Network and remember that if you are at the parks when it is crowded all things slow down. So plan accordingly.

Friday, May 25, 2007

An EarlyBirthday Gift

Look What I Got

This past week my parents came up from North Carolina to visit. We had a fun time and I got a very nice surprise, an early Birthday gift. When I was down in Epcot last December as we were touring through China I really admired the exhibit of the Terra Cotta Scale model soldiers that were found buried in china. As I was going through the gift shop I noticed that they had even smaller version of the soldiers for sale at $60. I thought that was a great price but could not figure how to get it home. The statue although smaller than the originals was still about 16” tall. It would break going home on the plane and how would I even carry it. And it weighed about 8 pounds, so shipping was out. I was bummed out but that’s life. Flash forward to the other day when Mom and Dad pull out this big wrapped box. And wouldn’t you know it, I now own the Kneeling Soldier Waiting to Fire w/ movable head. I also found the one person that read the Trip report I had posted on the dis-boards where I complained about my regrets about not getting the statue, Mom. She had read it after we had gotten back. They when they were in WDW with my brother and family in Feb. she had grabbed it. They had driven down to WDW so getting it home was easy. Even the box it came in has a look of authenticity. This is one product I am happy it was made in China. If you want to take a look at the exhibit at Epcot or the real statues and the original dig, check out these links.
This link is to a site called TravelchinaGuide.com and note the third picture down. There are a couple of the type I have that have no heads.
As for where put it, I think I will be re-doing the office and it should look nice up there. Any other suggetsions as to where to display it? Near the fireplace? Outside in the Garden? We'll see.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Meandering Mouse Podcast

"Do you need an escape? The Meandering Mouse is a Disney enthusiast podcast taking you on stereo audio adventures through the Disney parks and beyond. Join us as we explore the ambience of the parks and the attractions; large and small."
I cannot mention Earl and the Trapped on Vacation Podcast without talking about the Meandering Mouse Podcast. Jeff from Houston runs this show and it is great. From what I can piece together, Jeff was on Earls show in the beginning and then started his own podcast. This is one of the type of podcasts that have you walk around the parks with the host. We are doubly lucky because Jeff is bi-coastal. We get to hear Walk and Ride thrus from both properties, Ca and Fla. He has some really great Fans. There is a couple shows that a fan sent in from his trip to the Japanese parks. The audio on this show is most of the time of the highest quality. And no-where is off limits. From shows to rides to attractions. Jeff does them all. Jeff from Houston is also the creator of the Disney Podcast Network. This is a web site of links and forums for about a dozen different Disney Podcasts. Some of the podcasts that can be found on the DPN are: Mousepod, The Mouse Lounge, The Mickey Room, Trapped on Vacation, The Meandering Mouse, Window to the Magic, Beyond Main Street and more. The DPN even has it’s own Podcast called Inside the DPN. This is hosted by golden throated Mr. Mark and talks about the happenings of the various podcasts and personalities on the DPN. The DPN also sponsors WestFest, the starts of a Mousfest type meet in the Western Parks.. I listened to a lot of the Podcasts that were at Westfest, and it sounded like a great time.
The Meandering Mouse Podcast is another on my list of ‘Do not miss’. Jeff usually puts out a weekly show and mostly on Sundays but not always. So download a show and listen up. Ear-Phones are a must.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

So Your Going to WDW: When to Go.

The question of when to go is often not up to us. Do to work and schedules we might only be able to go to Walt Disney World only at one time of the year. For those who have more of a choice, the WHEN becomes more of an issue. If you ask the WDW Resorts, the best time to go would be during their value seasons. There are three, 1/1 – 2/14 and 7/8 – 10/3 and 11/25 – 12/19. WDW needs to keep their rooms booked and they offer the best rates during these off season times. We have gone in each of these dates and there are pluses an minuses for each. We would go in September before the kids and when they were in pre-school. Now that they are older it’s the battle of should we take them out right after they have started school? Which is one reason why this is a good time to go. A lot of people say that same thing, which means less people in the parks. And one reason why not to go during this season, is the weather. Either the Summer heat or Hurricane season. Hurricanes can really hurt you if you are traveling, with cancelled flights and such. It is a different story if you make it to WDW before the storm hits. I have heard stories of people that were at WDW when a hurricane hit. Disney is well organized in these matters. You are asked to stay at your resort if the storm is bad enough that the parks are closed. They offer different things per property to keep you busy. Once the storm has cleared, unless it was a class 5, Disney has their parks cleaned and up and running within 24 hours. Only you can decide if it is worth the risk.
The second good time of the year to visit is from 11/25 – 12/19. This is the time between Thanksgiving and the week before Christmas. Everyone is tired of traveling for Thanksgiving and gearing up for Christmas, so they tend to stay away from the parks,. This is beginning to get a little more crowded each year, but on a scale of 1-10 where 10 is you can walk on peoples heads crowded, this part of the year is a 4-5. When we were there in early December, it was hit and miss. MK was jammed one day and empty the next. Or, Epcot was crowded all day but emptied out before Night Extra Magic hours . This is a special time of the year because you also get to enjoy WDW decorated for Christmas. (I’ll post about some of the Christmas things you can do later). The other good time to visit WDW is from Jan 2 thru Feb 14. You take your chances with the weather though. One time we went in early Jan. It was so windy and cold that we wore almost every item of clothes we brought layered to stay warm. Another time we bought bathing suits at a local store to go swimming. As for attendance, this time of year is very light. A good website to look for park attendance levels is TouringPlans.com. It is a pay site, but they have a sample chart to look at. I paid $6 for a membership last year and this site was very accurate in attendance predictions and touring plans. Another good planning site is ALLEARSNET.com.

So bottom line is that there are a number of good times to go to WDW. I have mentioned the low crowd times, but you can go based on events. Food and Wine festival or the Flower show both at Epcot are good times to go also. During Mickey's not So Scary Halloween Party and the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party are also fun. So happy planning and let me know if I can help with any questions.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Steve Swanson's Muppetcast Tribute to Jim Henson

I just listened to Steve Swanson of the Muppetcast Podcast. This is a new show on the web I have been listening to. This is a very good show and I will review it more once I listen to a lot more shows. What I wanted to write about today was his Show # 6. This show is a tribute to Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets. Jim had passed away 17 years ago this past May 16th. That was truly one of the sadder days of my life. I had grown up with Sesame Street and the Muppet Show. Loved all of the Muppet movies and the Dark Crystal and Fraggle Rock. Steve’s tribute this week is one of the most emotional podcasts I have ever listened to. It is a roller coaster of tears and laughter and I was un-prepared for how emotional I got while listening. We get to hear Jim’s friends and family at his funeral and what they had to say about him. We hear parts of a letter that Jim had written to the family about the funeral and to not be sad. Again, I am not what I would consider a girly-man, but I had to wait to listen to the part where the Muppets learn about Jim’s death until after work. I knew I was going to lose it. Although, after listening to this show and shedding a bunch of tears I feel surprisingly up-lifted. This dose of what Jim Henson has done for the world and for me personally also brought a number of great feelings and memories from long ago. Listening to these stories had me laughing as much as crying. Frank Oz talking about “Bert in Self-Contemplation” and Jerry Nelson as the Electric Mayhem’s Floyd and his farewell to their ‘Fearless Leader’ were beautifully fitting to show this. If you believe in the wonders that can happen from ‘One Man’s Dream’, take a listen to this show and remember all of the good that can come from one man.

WDWRadio Disney Podcast

Your Walt Disney World Information Station

The WDW Radio Show Podcast is run by Lou Mongello. If the name sounds familiar, look on your bookshelf for your copies of the WDW Trivia Guides you have and check out the author. How about that?
Lou is one of the most knowledgeable Disney Podcasters that I listen to. There is never a show that I do not learn something new either about the WDW properties or the Disney Company itself. On top of that, Lou’s Rumors Segment should be called the Fact Segment. So many of his rumours turn out to be true, that I think he calls it the Rumors Segment so that he would not get investigated for being correct so often on his predictions. Lou often has guests on his show. One of the better guests is Jeff Pepper. Jeff does a segment with Lou and the WDW Radio Show Wayback machine. They have done a couple of shows on Epcot and past rides and concepts. Not to be missed. Also check out Jeff’s Blog, 2719 Hyperion. This is an incredible Blog about all things Disney. He has a lot of interesting posts. The Blue Sky’s series is a very cool view of some lands in the parks that could have been or might be so someday.
WDW Radio has a lot of good segments each week. The Best of the Best segment is what the title says. The Best of the Best in the WDW parks. Lou has guests on to help with this segment. Some topics covered so far were Best Character meals, Best Concierge, Best Jogging areas and more.
The WDWRadio podcast is a great resource for All Things Disney information. Lou’s show comes out on Sundays and is about an hour long. So the next time you are looking for a great Disney Podcast to listen to, Tune in the WDWRadio show and enjoy

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Base21 Part 3

We received another email the other day with a video of the floor plan for Base21. The Video is grainy but you can see what is planned. I can't wait to check it out, but I wonder how Disney can give up so much space to a Sponsor. Sure, Siemens is paying for it, but couldn't that space be used for the public? You might need to click twice on the video in the below post.

Just as an FYI, Project Tomorrow has been open for a couple of weeks. This is the exit area after Spaceship Earth. I have read various reviews so far nothing terrible, nothing great. You can check out pictures of Project Tomorrow at the
WDWMagic forums. Also, Ricky from Inside the Magic has Video from there also. Enjoy.

Base21 Part 3

Friday, May 11, 2007

So Your Going to WDW: The Disney Dining Plan, Is it for you?

The Disney Dining Plan (DDP) option that Walt Disney World offers with their Magic Your Way package is a great value. It's a shame that it is left up to you to learn how to use the plan to the best value. It took us about a full day to get a handle on how to use the plan. But, before I go any further, yes the plan is worth it. Worth it big time. The cost of an adult is $39 day and it is $11 per kid per day. What this gets you is a Table Service(Sit Down) Meal, a Quick(Counter)Service, and a snack a day. Trust me this is a ton of food. And to give you an example of out of pocket expense for a day in the world, here you go. Lunch in the Magic Kingdom at one of my favorites, Cosmic Ray's. With a QS meal you get a main, a dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage. $13.99 for the Rib Chicken Combo Meal(comes with mashed potato and veggie), $2.49 for the brownie and $2.39 for the drink. That's $18.87 plus tax. For dinner we made it over to Epcot for our Le Cellier meal. For a TS meal you get an Appy, an Entree, Dessert and a non-Alcoholic drink. $9.99 for the Wasabi Shrimp Cocktail, $26.99 for the Scopa Special(NY Strip), $5.99 for the Creme Brulee and one drink for $2.99. Total of $45.96 + $9.00 tip = $54.96. Tip is included with plan. Total for the day is $73.83 and I did not use my snack yet. Yes, well worth it indeed.

Even though I show above how well you make out with the DDP, there are some draw backs. First, as I mention above you get a ton of food. So much in fact that we changed our ordering habits a couple days into our trip. We are two adults and two kids. If we ordered four TS meals we had so much food that we were not going to finish it. Small issue but something to think about. Another issue we had was that kids nine and younger have to order off of the Kids Menu and in some restaurants it is very limited. Pecos Bill's has only Sloppy Joe or Cold, I mean Chilled Chicken. Columbia House has either Macaroni and Cheese or Grilled Chicken. Most are pretty good. One other kinda drawback was time spent in TS meals. Of our 6 TS meals, 2 went to the Hoop-Dee-Do, One for Ohana Dinner, One for Ohana Bkfst, one for Le Cellier and one for 50's Prime Time Diner. Most were good but Le Cellier and 50's Prime Time made us feel like Time Hostages. (WARNING: Severe Analosity Ahead) Our ADR for Le Cellier was at 4:45. We stopped what we were doing at Test Track at 4:10 to begin the walk to Canada. Arrived at 4:40 and checked in. Waited 15-20 minutes to be seated. We sat and Dinner took about another hour and a half. So total dinner time was 4:10 to 6:45. A big investment in time. Same thing happened at the 50's Prime Time.

The Disney Dining Plan is a great option. Keep in mind what kind of trip you are taking though. If you want a spur of the moment Commando trip than the DDP might not be for you. If you have some time and you don't mind planning around your dinning, than I highly recommend the plan. For more information, try this link:
Disney Dining Plan.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Base21 Part 2

The Siemens Disney Alliance group has released their second sneak peek of the new Base21 within Spaceship Earth at Epcot this past weekend. This had some more detail and describes how Base21 is to be used.
There are three levels of service that will be offered at BASE21. The first level of use for this hidden area is for Siemens Meetings. If you are a Siemens Employee and are bringing Siemens Reps. down to Orlando, you will be able to schedule Base21 for your meeting. Based on the Artist’s pictures, there will be every Audio/Visual aid at your disposal to make your meeting a success. The Second Level of use for Base21 will be for Siemens Customer relations. There will be space available for various catered events. Gotta Schmooze and Booze the customer. The Third level of use and the most important to me, is the lounge for the Siemens employees and family. Here is the quote from the email announcement:

“Visitors will have the opportunity to take a break from their theme park activities, interact with high-tech exhibits and enjoy complimentary refreshments. Plus all visitors will have back door access to the Spaceship Earth attraction”


Sounds like this could be a place to go for the mid-day break for the kids, instead of the Hotel. I also would like to find out more about the ‘Back Door Access’. Does that mean we get to see behind the scenes or is there a back entrance to the ride queue? I hope both. We’ll see. Look for some pictures to be posted soon. I will keep digging for info, and I look forward to taking a first hand look at this in December.
Trapped on Vacation
Trapped on Vacation has a great opening to each show:
”You know the kind of guy who does nothing but boring things and then wonders why his life sucks? Well That was me. Every time something boring would happen to me something more boring would be right around the corner. That’s when I realized I had to change, so I made a list of all the cool stuff to do in Florida and one by one I’m going to make up for all of my boring mistakes. I’m just trying to be a funner person. My name is Earl and I’m Trapped on Vacation”
followed by the song ‘Disneyland’ by Five for Fighting. I had never heard that song before and if you are here reading this and have not, you need to. TOV is run by Earl. Earl prefers not to use his real name since he works for the Mouse himself. But Earl fits. His show is more than just Disney, it’s all Florida. He will go anywhere. Universal, Sea World, Cyprus Gardens, and of course the Disney parks. One of my favorite shows was a visit to the Anheiser Busch Brewery in Tampa. Earl mainly does walk and ride thrus with commentary. He is usually accompanied by the Bleeping Wife, a character on his show. It’s like you were on a ride with your friends for the good and bad comments about the ride, people, or anything else that comes up. Earl is part of the DPN network and his shows can be found pretty regular on Sundays. So tune in Earl and the Bleeping Wife and friends and if you talk to him, ask him if the Eye Brows grew back yet.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


"Surround Yourself with the Magic"
The Window to the Magic Podcast is the first West Coast Podcast I had listened to. Paul Barrie and his son Patrick take turns on the show and they have one of the coolest catch-phrases. They do what they say. I found this podcast after listening to Paul and Ricky Brigante from Inside the Magic talk about the Disney Year in Review. The jist of this Podcast is to let you feel as if you are in the parks. Ride-Thrus and Walk-Thrus with and without commentary is the main-stay of this podcast. I hear so much of the background noises on these shows that I miss when I am actually at the parks. WTTM brings you everywhere, not just the rides. On any given show you can hear the inside of a favorite Disney Tavern, or hear one of the many musical shows that perform around the parks. My favorie shows are where they would start at Rope drop and then walk into the Park. Can you guess where they are by just the background noise? Their podcast is 75% Disneyland and the rest Disney World. That might be changing as we go. After last years Mousefest, there were a bunch of WDW broadcasts from WTTM. They do have guest hosts on occasion. Window To the Magic also has a great selection of park audio and video CD’s DVD's for purchase at their Store Page. They are part of the Disney Podcast Network and post new shows on Sunday. Earplugs are a must for this show, so shove them in, turn up the volume and Surround Yourself with the Magic.

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