Disney blog postings

Disney Postings

Earliest: May 30, 2003Latest: April 24, 2017Total: 83

April 24, 2017

Tom Sawyer Island

Here's some information about Tom Sawyer Island from the Explorer Map on the Island:

Mark Twain was born Samuel Clemens in 1835, in Florida, Missouri. He is up not too far away in the small town of Hannibal. From there he would raft over to islands in the Mississippi and watch as majestic steamboats paddled by. As a young man, he became a riverboat pilot, listening for the leadsman to sing out "Mark Twain" which indicated the river measure two fathoms deep, making it safe to proceed. As a writer, his two most famous creations, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, sprang from his boyish memories of life on the Mississippi. All the names on the island can be found in the literary classic Huckleberry Finn.

Places You may encounter

  • Tom's Landing - How you arrive and depart the island
  • Old Scratch's Mystery Mine
  • Potter's Mill
  • Huck's Landing
  • Indian Joe's Cave
  • Superstition Bridge
  • Pappy's Fishing Pier
  • Rifles Roost
  • River Pirate Ridge
  • Indian Territory - Only visible from the steam boat.
  • Fort Langhorn - Guard House, Horse Stable, Checker's Board
  • Secret Escape from Fort
  • Poor Old Jim's Shack
  • Barrel Bridge
  • Fidgety Ledge
  • Smuggler's Cove
  • Aunt Polly's - Only Snack bar on the Island
  • Catfish Cove -
  • Harper's Mill - Don't scare the bird in Harper's Mill!
  • Scavenger's Fort -Highest point on the Island. A play area for children ages 2-12 years old.
  • Privy's

Click on image for a larger version.

Miscellaneous Information

  • Opened in 1973, two years after the park opened.
  • It's about a minute and a half raft ride to get to the island.
  • The main fort was called Fort Sam Clemens until 1996 when it was changed to Fort Langhorn to help promote the "Tom and Huck" movie.
  • Island Closes at Dusk
  • Aunt Polly's Dockside Inn hasn't been open in a while. There's rumors that it may open during peak seasons.

Fort Langhorn

A replication of an early frontier fort. Here children can have fun exploring various features of the fort.

  • Gun Gallery - where you can pretend to shoot passengers from a boat that appears to threaten the fort.
  • Blacksmith Shop - where you can hear horses and other farm animals.
  • Guard House - See what the guards are doing to keep the place in shape.
  • Fort Escape - Escape the fort via the rear exit.
  • Checkers Table - Take a break and play a game of checkers.

Fort Langhorn View

Barrel Bridge

To get from Fort Langhorn to Aunt Polly's you should use the Barrel Bridge. This is a fun crossing where you try to keep your balance as you cross some oak barrels to get to the other side. Just be careful. You won't fall in the water as the ropes are there to keep your balance.

There is a "rest stop" between bridges. This is a great location to get pictures of the Haunted Mansion. Listen carefully you should be able to hear the howling dogs coming from the mansion.

Barrel Bridge has a one-way crossing. You are crossing correctly if the Haunted Mansion is on your left side as you cross the bridge.

There is a "the other Way" if you want to avoid the barrels.

Caves of Tom Sawyer Island

There are three caves on the island. They are pretty dark. If someone in your party is scared of the dark, then it's best to avoid the caves. You can bring a small flashlight if you want. You don't need to use the caves to get from point A to point B. You can still get to the other side of the cave via walking.

Typical Length of Stay

Depending on what people are doing on the island, you could be on the island for about a 1/2 hour.

A quick walk around the island and various caves should take about 15 minutes.

April 17, 2017

Norway Pavilion

The week?s Disney Blog is about the Norway Pavilion at Epcot.

Did you know that the Norway Pavilion is the newest country to the showcase. It was added in 1988, six years after Epcot opened.

There are three reasons that you should visit the Norway Pavilion:

  • Frozen ever after ride
  • Royal Sommerhus - Only place in Disney where you can Meet Anna and Elsa
  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Where you can meet several princesses)

Frozen Ever After Ride

Frozen Ever After Ride

On June 21, 2016, one of the most anticipated rides to open in Disney was the Frozen Ever After Ride. On this ride, you get to experience some of the music from the Frozen movie.

Wait times on this ride can be from 30 - 45 minutes. Disney did a good job of decorating the waiting area to entertain the guests. You certainly feel that your in Norway in the Winter by the time you get on the ride.

The water-type ride is fun, you get to see many of the famous characters of the Frozen movie. The ride does have a drop and you may get a little wet, but this is Disney - so you won?t get soaked. It?s a fun ride to see all the latest special animatronics technology.

My six-year-old daughter loves it. She was very excited to go on the ride and wanted to ride it multiple times afterward. Which we did when we saw that the wait time was shorter.

Fast Pass is a must for this ride!

Royal Sommerhus


Next to the Frozen Ever After Ride is the Royal Sommerhus where you can meet Anna and Elsa. You can get pictures with them and even interact with the characters.

The wait time was a bit long here. The is some decoration around the Royal Sommerhus Cabin which showcases some family pictures in the cabin.

Once you get to meet the characters, you see Anna first and then Elsa. They are both in the same room. There is a Disney Photographer that is available to take your Disney Memory Maker photos. They will also help take group pictures with a regular camera.

Unfortunately you can?t get a picture of the two of them together.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

At the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall you can enjoy Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner with many Disney Storybook Princesses.

The following princesses are available in the hall

  • Snow White
  • Cinderella
  • Belle
  • Princess Aurora
  • Ariel

There is some dancing that happens every once in a while, where the children can dance along with their favorite princess.

Lunch and Dinner is served as a Family style. Reservations are recommended.

April 10, 2017

Gravestones at the Haunted Mansion

Just before you enter the Haunted Mansion in DisneyWorld, you will see a fictional graveyard.

In the graveyard are 13 regular headstones. (How appropriate!) There are two honorable mention gravestones.

The graveyard starts over by the interactive waiting queue and finishes right up to you get inside the Mansion. The best view of the graveyard is to be on the left of the line.

Haunted Gravestones

Epithets List

Here's a list of all the epithets that you can see, in the order that they appear:

  • Dear Departed Brother Dave - He Chased a Bear into a Cave
  • In Memorium Uncle Myall - Here you'll lie for quite a while
  • Good Friend Gordon - Now you've cross the river Jordon
  • The Lady of the Opera Our Haunting Harriet - Searched for a tune but never could carry it
  • Here Lies a Man Names Martin - The lights went out on this old spartan
  • Dearest Dorothea
  • Master Gracy Laid to Rest - No mourning Please at his request - Farewell
  • Rest in Peace Cousin Huet - We all know you didn't do it
  • Here rests Wathel R. Bender - He rode to glory on a fender Peaceful rest
  • Here Lies Good Old Fred - A great big rock fell on his head R.I.P
  • At Peaceful Rest Lies Bother Claude - Planted here beneath this sod
  • RIP Mister Swell - The Victim of a dirty duel Peaceful Rest
  • Dear Sweet Leota. Beloved by all in regions beyond now, but having a ball

Many of the original tombstones we a tribute to some of the architect and designers of the Haunted Manions. Check out WDWRadio.com for additional details.

H M Waiting Area

Interactive Gravestone

The "Dear Sweet Leota" gravestone has some motion. About every sixty seconds the head will slightly pop out and the eyes will open for five seconds and then close and the head goes back to normal position.

This happens rain or shine. I have stood in line during some serious downpour and have seen the motion from the tombstone.

Honorable Mention

If you were a major contributor to the Haunted Mansion creation, you may get your own gravestone. Kind of like a Hall of Fame:

  • In Memory of Our Patriarch Dear Departed Grandpa Marc
  • Requiescat Francis Xavier - No Time off for good behavior R.I.P.

Wikipedia description of Marc Davis - "as a prominent American artist and animator for Walt Disney Studios. He was one of Disney's Nine Old Men, the famed core animators of Disney animated films, and was revered for his knowledge and understanding of visual aesthetics." He did a lot of the design work for the Haunted Manion. Marc Died January 12, 2000.

Legendary Imagineer Francis Xavier "X" Atencio helped develop the Haunted Mansion story line, wrote the theme song's lyrics, and helped come up with the tombstone inscriptions. Still alive!

Memorable Tombs

The "Dear Old Fred" is easy to remember because it's an easy rhyme. It's also the grave you most likely see while waiting for the doors to open.

The "Sweet Leota" is memorable because it's the only headstone that has any interaction.

Future Gravestone?

Maynard at the Haunted Mansion in 2000.

Will Maynard be memorialized with gravestones at the Haunted Mansion?

Many fans at Haunted Mansion in Disneyland feel Maynard makes the ride special. In the early days of the Internet, many Haunted Mansion sites talked about him and some sites posted his working schedule.

I wasn't able to find any new information about the whereabouts of Maynard the famous Ghost Host of the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland.

Also surprised that there isn't anything for Thurl Ravenscroft, who's voice you hear as you travel along the Haunted Mansion ride.

April 3, 2017

Be Our Guest Restaurant

In Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, there is a very popular restaurant called "Be Our Guest." If you're planning a trip to the Magic Kingdom, this is one place that you should plan to stop at.

The main theme of the restaurant is based on the original "Beauty and the Beast" movie.

Fun Facts about the "Be Our Guest" Restaurant

  • Officially opened on November 19, 2012 - week's before the official opening of the New Fantasyland
  • Offers Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
  • License to serve 500 guests - one of the largest dining rooms in the Magic Kingdom!
  • Average cost per meal is $20
  • Accepts the Disney Dining plan and only counts as 1 meal point.
  • The only place in Disney where you can meet "the Beast" from "Beauty and the Beast"
  • You will need eat in the dining room to see the Beast. (Similar to other Character dining experiences.)
  • The Beast will not sign any autographs.
  • There is a known Hidden Mickey in each of the dining rooms.

Be Our Guest

Main Ballroom

The Main Ballroom is the large room you see when you walk into the restaurant. Disney does a great job to make it feel like your eating in a castle. As you walk in the Main Ballroom you can see a large window where snow is endlessly falling. It's a very cool effect, and you can almost feel the cold air blowing in.

The nice thing about eating in the Ballroom is that it's fairly quiet. While eating you don't hear a lot of people talking.

West Wing room

The thunderstorm erupts every time a rose petal falls to the ground. When the thunderstorm hits, immediately look at the Beast painting in the room, it changes very quickly. If you eat in the room, make sure to sit so that you can see the painting.

This room is darker than all the other dining rooms. A lot of people come into this room to see the rose and the picture. If your sitting near them then you may encounter people walking by your table.

Rose Gallery

This room contains various paintings from the movie. In the center of the room is a large chandelier with a stained glass center that carries out the rose motif from the film. The Beast will usually come out of this room before heading to the meet and greet area.

These room lights are the brightest of all the rooms.

Dinner is the Best Option

In our experience, we have found that the dinner service to be the best. We did eat at the lunch service and didn't really get a good feeling of the place. That is because lunch is quick service meals. You basically order your meal when you make reservations. It's a good way to get a fast meal in the park, but you miss out on what makes the "Be Our Guest" restaurant special.

There's no particular favorite meal that we have had, the choices are excellent and the food has always been very good. You certainly don't feel like you're at a theme park while you are in the restaurant.

As you leave, don't forget to take a group picture in front of the stain glass window. There's usually a cast member walking around that would be happy to take your group photo.

March 27, 2017

Penny Machine in DisneyWorld

The Penny Machine at Walt Disney World is a very popular place to get a custom souvenir. You can find them scattered all over the parks and hotels. In some gift shops, you can buy penny and quarter holders. However you can find some pretty creative ones on Etsy.

The key to having a good quality press is using the right penny. The best penny to get is one that's dated between 1962 and 1982. Those pennies have the most copper which will help produce an excellent design.

Penny Machine

Things we learned on a previous trip

  • You are not likely going to find old pennies at the parks. You best bet it to look through your change drawer at home. Surely you have a stack of pennies someplace in your home.
  • Its going to take a while to find the pennies, so the early you start the better.
  • We found using a magnifying glass help with some of the pennies since the dates can be hard to read.
  • Depending how serious a penny collector you are having 30-40 pennies would be ideal.
  • You can spend time cleaning the pennies, however, we have not discovered any difference in pressing quality.
  • The quality of the machine plate can make a difference in how clear an impression that is made. So if the penny doesn't look good, it's probably the machine.
  • You can use an M&M mini container to carry the pennies. You can prep up the Penny Machine amount ( 2 Quarters and a Penny) that way you know when you reach the daily quota. It will make visiting each machine a pleasurable experience. Instead of spending a few minutes fumbling for change, you can just get the next set out of the M&M container.

Frozen Ride

At the end of the Frozen Ride you walk through the souvenir store with lots of goodies. In the store is one of the parks newest a penny machines. This machine actually doesn't take pennies and you can use your credit card to get 5 pennies.

Just be careful of this machine and read the instructions. It took a couple of tries for us to get it to work and I am pretty sure that we got charged extra.

It's pretty cool that it's automatic but I think that it loses the appeal for kids since they like to crank their own souvenir. (At least the younger ones try.)

March 20, 2017

KidCot at Epcot

One of the ways that Disney makes Epcot World Showcase fun for kids is Kidcot.

Kitcot allows children to track each country that they go to by getting a stamp at each country in the World showcase. In some of the countries, the cast member may draw a picture on the back of the paper.

Kid Cot Sign
Sign at the Kidcot at the American Adventure

Tips and Tricks about Kidcot

  • You can start Kidcot in any country, simply look for the Kidcot sign and let them know that you wish to start the Kidcot program.
  • If your planning to get every country, your better off starting at Mexico or Canada - it will minimize the walking that you have to do,
  • Many of the countries have the Kidcot in a store in the country, typically in the back so that people can explore the country before getting a stamp.
  • If you are unsure of where the Kidcot is, simply ask a cast member or another family that is also doing the Kidcot program.

The best part of Kidcot is that you have a very personalized souvenir of your Epcot trip.

This is what the backside of the KidCot sheet looks like:

Kid Cot Paper White

Bonus Fun

When we were doing Kidcot, I had my daughter ask how to say 'Thank You' in that country language. It was a great way to educate her on the different languages each country had. In England and Canada, the cast member talked about local traditions that they would do.

March 13, 2017

Laundry at POP Century

It tough to do laundry on vacation. Nobody wants to do it. More often than not it's done out of need.

Tips on Doing Laundry at a Disney Resort

First buy and pack up a large laundry bag. It takes up almost no space and weight in your luggage. I personally liked this one that I purchased on Amazon a week before the trip:

Laundry Bag

Pack up laundry supplies - At least pack up Dryer Sheets. They take up zero space. You'll save $2. Pack up some detergent and not only will you save more money but you'll have better quality detergent than what's in the vending machine.

You'll be happy to have the better quality laundry supply when you need to get that BBQ stain off the shirt.

Also the vending machines are a mix bet. I ended up having to "buy" two boxes of dryer sheets because the machine didn't take my first transaction correctly. (There's no 'refund' request for the vending machine only for the washer and dryer)

Laundry Time

When you need to do laundry throw all the dirty clothes in your laundry bag.

Make sure to bring a credit card and your wristbands with you. The laundry room doesn't accept cash and most laundry places require a wristband to get in.

You will need a watch with you too if you don't plan on hanging around the laundry room while your clothes are getting washed. Plan on

When you get to the laundry room, simply dump the bag in with the clothes. That way you have something to carry the clothes when they are done.

March 6, 2017

Disney Spring Entertainment Tokens

If you have an off day on your Disney World vacation, there's nothing like spending some time at Disney Springs to do some shopping and enjoying the beautiful Florida day. (Around here we still call the place Downtown Disney)

Disney does offer some entertainment around the shopping area for the kids, such as face painting, Lego area and a place where you can enjoy music by the water.

There are a couple of popular attractions that kids seem to gravitate to when they walk by:

Marketplace Train Express

Miniature train ride for small children to enjoy. Little ones pay $2 to ride, parents are free.

Fun Facts

  • Number of Seats: 15
  • Number of cars: 6
  • Average Train Ride: 3 minutes

Marketplace Carousel Tickets

The Marketplace Carousel is much smaller carousel than the one in the Magic Kingdom. There is no special "Cinderella Horse" to find. You can usually find this attraction by the popular music that is played instead of the traditional organ music.

Fun Facts

  • Height Requirements: Children under 42" tall, must be accompanied by an adult
  • Number of Horses: 19
  • Average Length of ride: 3 minutes

Ride Tokens

To go on the Train or Carousel you need to get a ride token. You can buy them at each attraction, but they work at either ride. Each token cost $3.

When you arrive at the Carousel or Train, your much better off getting a couple of tokens instead of the one. You save money when you buy more than one coin.

Typical scenario:

You visit the Marketplace Train and your child wants to go on, so you buy a token for a single ride. After the train ride, your child sees the carousel and tells you that it's their favorite ride. Now you buy a second token.

In this situation you end up spending more for the single purchases.

What if you buy coins and don't use them?

You can keep them for a future trip. Optionally you can give them to a parent that you meet in Disney Springs or as a gift to someone you know that is heading to the DisneyWorld. (Remember you went to Disney Springs for Shopping?)

Would have been nice to know

I wished we knew that the tokens worked at both entertainment venues, as we would have saved some money and time. After all, once you have a token, you can bypass the token line and get right on.

I found this out by asking the person working the Carousel if they would accept Train tokens and they said 'Yes!'

February 27, 2017

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue

The Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue is a great dinner and musical show at Disney?s Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort.

The show is an hour and a half long and feature the cast members interacting with the audience. The show is never the same twice, as the show typically revolves around the people in the audience and getting the crowd involve.

There?s lots of singing and audience interaction.

Getting to the Theater

If you're not staying at Disney?s Fort Wilderness Resort, the best way to get to the resort is via boat at the Magic Kingdom entrance. It?s a ten-minute boat trip from the Magic Kingdom to the Disney?s Fort Wilderness Resort dock and then a five-minute walk from the dock to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue check in.

On out last visit, we caught the 3:05 bus from Pop Century and was able to catch the 3:30 PM boat. We arrived at the Disney?s Fort Wilderness Resort at 3:40. We did investigate going to Disney Springs and catching the Disney?s Fort Wilderness bus, but we found out that if you go by bus, the drop off point is far away from the theater.

Food Menu

At your table you will get a buck of Crispy Fried Chicken, Smoked Barbecued Pork Ribs, Seasonal Vegetables, Mashed Potatoes and Cowboy Beans. For desert, there?s Strawberry Shortcake.

Eating Gluten Free

When making reservations to for the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, make sure to mention that you need to eat Gluten Free.

When you sit down you get some corn bread, unfortunately, that not Gluten Free, but they will get you some fresh gluten free bread.

After you place your drink order, the chief will substitute the fried chicken with baked chicken and offer ice cream instead of the Strawberry Shortcake.

Everything else on the menu is Gluten free.

Enjoying the Show

There are no ?best seats? in the theater. The cast members work hard to make sure that everyone in the theater has a great time. Someone from the show will visit your table to interact with you, ?Where do you live?? ?How is your dinner?? etc? they will try to use your response as part of the show.

February 20, 2017

Disney Engraved Hats

The Magic Kingdom isn't the only place to get your Mickey Mouse ears, you can get them in Disney Springs.

Getting customize Mickey Mouse ears is a great way to start a fun family trip. Traditionally we would get our ears on Main Street on the first day at the Magic Kingdom. The problem was that it took time from enjoying the park.

Get your Mouse Ears at Disney Springs

Did you know that you can get the same customized hat engraving in Disney Springs?

In the Disney's Wonderful World of Memories store is the same hat selection that is available on Main Street. After purchasing your hat, you can them engrave your name to the hat.

Creative Memories
A large wall of Disney Hats to select from.

Looking for Activity on Arrival Day?

Traditional the day of our arrival we spend some time in Disney Springs and do some shopping. Now we can order our hats and pick it up after shopping.

Now we don't have to wait for our hats and can start our Magic Kingdom adventure on some rides.