Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is a nice place to go when you need a break from the parks. There's a variety of stores (mostly with Disney items), as well as Pleasure Island which consists of nightclubs and restaurant as well as Cirque du Soleil and DisneyQuest (entertainment complex). Something for everyone. We did a little shopping here of course and also got talked into going to hear about the Disney Vacation Club. Definitely worth checking out! 

One of the hits here at Downtown Disney was the Lego Imagination Centre. All the pictures below are of different lego creations. At the Lego Imagination Centre kids can build in a building centre outside and inside they can buy pieces they're missing. Or they can just fill a bucket. There is also a huge assortment of everything Lego.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Epcot is one of Disney's hidden gems. It's not known for it's wild rides. There are two sections to Epcot, Futureworld and World Showcase. World Showcase consists of pavilions showcasing 11 different countries. Children can have passports stamped and can do a craft at each pavilion. Every country is showcased in a different way. A day could be spent in this section alone. Our favourites were Mexico and Norway.

View across the lake of the World Showcase. 
In Future World there are a number of different exhibits. Each one is quite educational if time is taken to thoroughly enjoy them. One of Mason's favourites was Spaceship Earth where you travel into the sphere and take a look at each of the past decades. In the Seas we visited the Nemo attraction twice. This was Mickey's favourite. We also went to Turtle Talk with Crush (from Nemo). This is another of Disney's animated marvels. The audience can communicate with animated Crush. Unbelievably well done. Facial expressions are amazing. In the same building we were able to see a manatee up close and learn all about them.
The Land was one of my favourites. The US FDA is working with Disney on a variety of research projects and this building is where the work is being done and showcased. We got to see some really incredible growing projects being done with a variety of fruits and vegetables. For example; tomatoes growing upside down, plants growing hanging up without soil, etc...Below is a picture taken on the boat tour through the greenhouse. Behind the scenes tours are also available.
This is one of the fish farm research projects being down inside The Land. There's also a restaurant in the land where visitors can try foods that have been grown on the property.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom are my two favourite parks within Walt Disney World. First of all, the Animal Kingdom is very lush, unlike Hollywood Studios. It has been divided into four areas; Asia, Africa, Dinoland, and Camp Minnie and Mickey. 

Our first stop had to be the Kilimanjaro Safari. We went as soon as the park opened. This is a ride that many people enjoy going on at different times of day. We got onto a safari truck for a tour of the safari. All the animals are real and what is fantastic about this safari is that barriers are not visible to visitors. You feel like you are on a real safari. The property is also quite extensive. There's a good selection of animals and birds and again, depending on time of day you'll see different species.

The photo taken below was taken on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Visitors go on a walking tour that takes them through a variety of bird and animal exhibits as well as a very thorough research station with a great deal of hands on samples (skulls, etc...). The highlight are the gorillas at the end. Again, the barriers are not obvious. There wasn't any glass or fences between us - just a 15-20 foot gully! I felt like I could reach out and touch these magnificent animals. We also were thrilled to be able to talk with with one of the volunteers who is a retired zoo keeper. He was able to give us a lot of information about the animals and was very familiar with our own Lion Safari. It was interesting to hear an experts take on our local attraction.

This photo was taken in the Asia section. The mountain in the background is of the ride, Expedition Everest. Heinrich went on as a single rider - twice, and loved it! We though we better not let Mason try this one out. It's quite something.

As a family we went on Kali River Rapids. We Fast Passed this one. This is another that we would go on more than once. There's a good drop and you get wet! Potentially really wet! I loved it!
A nice tame ride for a rest. We're in Dinoland! Mason and Heinrich had just gone on the Dinosaur and apparently it was VERY scary. So glad I didn't put Mickey on!
Below are pictures of The Boneyard. It's a play structure and large sand pit with bones. The kids loved it.

The highlight of the Animal Kingdom was definitely the Finding Nemo puppet and live musical show. It was breath-taking. I don't think Mickey took a breath through the whole thing! 

Things we missed that we must check out the next time:
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek
  • Rafiki's Planet Watch (have been before and it's very good - educational)
  • Festival of the Lion King

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hollywood Studios

It was a scorcher at Hollywood Studios the day we went. The first attraction we went to was The Little Mermaid. We used a Fast Pass to avoid the lines. It was very well done. We tried to get into the Buzz Lightyear attraction but all Fast Passes had been used for the day and the lines were too long. 

Below is a picture of a covered play area called Honey I Shrunk the Kids. All the sets are oversized to match the theme of the movie. Really neat. The kids had a blast while Heinrich and I were on hyper parent alert making sure we didn't lose them! They had fun and that's all that mattered.

Behind Heinrich and the kids is a set backdrop. 
Another parade....

We didn't spend more than a half day at Hollywood Studios. This is something we'll do in more depth on our next visit. Heinrich and I enjoyed our visit here last time. Some highlights were Indiana Jones and the Backlot tour (really cool to see how movies are made).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tigger, Pooh, Donald and so many More!

When we planned our trip to Disney our intention was not to go crazy trying to meet all of the characters. Our kids actually didn't know most of them prior to our trip. They do now! I had planned three character dinners and these were wonderful. 

Our first character dinner was at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom. Although we did have a reservation it was still a half hour wait. There we met Pooh, Tigger, Eyore, and Piglet. It was a buffet dinner and quite good. A very active dinner though with a different character greeting us every 10 minutes of so. When you book a character dinner you have to be prepared for interruptions.

At Hollywood Studios Mason was over the moon to meet Lightening McQueen and Mater. They didn't talk but they did move. Very cool.
At the Animal Kingdom we stumbled upon Brother Bear, the Chipmunks and Pochahontas in Camp Minnie and Mickey. There were very few people there. Good quality time with the characters.

Mickey's biggest thrill was at Epcot. We had booked a dinner at the Norway house. It was a princess dinner. When we arrived we saw many little girls showing up in their finest. Many had gotten new dresses and had had their hair done at the Bibbety bobbety boo boutique. A little over the top in my opinion. Mickey chose to wear her princess dress from her dress-up box (with pink crocs of course) and her wild curls topped it off. Humidity doesn't help! When we arrived at the restaurant she and Mason had their photo taken with Belle. The dinner was very good and Mickey was able to meet all five princesses. She was so excited she was shaking. It's hard not to get caught up in the moment. Some of the girls looked so real. The resemblance to the animated characters was uncanny! 

Snow White
Sleeping Beauty
and Belle!
Outside Mommy's favourite restaurant at the Mexican pavillion we met Mexican Donald!