Big Thunder Mountain ~ Overview by: Cindy Presley

Big Thunder Mountain Overview ~ by: Cindy Presley

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Located in Frontierland at Walt Disney World in Florida is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Set during the gold rush days, this runaway mine car roller coaster will take you past donkeys, chickens, goats, skunks and possums.  While walking through the queue, and all over Thunder Mountain, look out for real mining gear, such as an old stamp mill, hand-driven drill, press gears, picks, shovels and more.

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While waiting to load the ride you’ll hear that it is the “Wildest Ride in the West”, however it is really one of the milder coasters in the park. The ride is geared towards adults and teens, with a height restriction of 40”. The ride itself is just under 4 minutes in length. The coaster tops out at a speed of 32 miles per hour, so it definitely has some thrill with its speed, turns and drops.

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If you are a real thrill seeker, sit in the back of the train. You can ask the cast member when they are putting you in line for this position. You might have to wait a turn or two, but it is definitely worth the excitement.

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My family has found riding this at night time can be even more amazing. Seeing the park from a different perspective with all the twinkling lights from around. You can get a fast pass for this attraction, and I would highly recommend it.

And lastly, like you will find all over the Disney parks, Hidden Mickeys. Here are just a couple, but be on the lookout as you stand in line and enjoy the ride. They are there. I promise.

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Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom – Overview

Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom – Overview by: Shannon

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If you are looking for some extra adventure during your day at Magic Kingdom, look no further than Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom. This is an interactive experience you can enjoy throughout most of the park. You will join Merlin as one of his apprentice sorcerers and try to defeat some of Disney’s most daring villains.

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You will need to stop at one of two locations throughout the park to get your family started on their adventure. The first location is on Main Street, U.S.A. when you first enter the park. It is to the left when you first enter and has a sign for Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom. There is a second location to get set up in Liberty Square behind Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe. At these locations they will need your park tickets or Magic Bands to get you started. You will be given a sorcerers map and key card for your group in addition to one pack of “spell cards” per ticketed guest. They will then instruct you of where you need to go to get started.

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Once you have been instructed on how to get started you will use your map to locate Magic Portals throughout the park. These portals along with your Sorcerers Key Card will open up a whole new level of “magic” throughout your day! What appears to be a regular display window on a store turns in to so much more when you put your key up and open the portal. Before you on a screen will appear some of your many Disney friends guiding you on your mission. Pay careful attention to what they say, there is often a hidden message about which spell cards you may want to use on your challenge. Each spell card has a Disney character and a unique “spell” associated with your character. You will need to figure out which spell would best work during your challenges against the villains. If you successfully pass that challenge you will be sent to the next portal where you will be greeted by a new Disney friend and given new instructions. Didn’t pass your mission? You will be instructed on what to do next and will be given another chance to try a new spell card.

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This is a great activity to do when you are tired of standing in line for rides or wanting something new to try. I recommend getting set up early in the day so that when you are ready to start your adventure you can jump right in. There is no additional charge for this activity; it is included in your park ticket. Did you end up with some duplicate cards in your group? No worries! There will be many other families running around who are apprentice sorcerers with duplicates also. While you are waiting for them to finish up their mission ask if they have duplicate cards they would like to trade. It’s a great way to meet new people and get new cards. And everyone with duplicates is always up for a trade! This is a great activity for kids of all ages, including you “Big Kids” (aka Adults!). One more tip – if you are going to be at Magic Kingdom more than one day be sure to stop at one of the locations during each visit. Each day that you go there you will be given one package of spell cards per person!

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If your family is thinking of booking a trip to Walt Disney World and you would like a quote, please contact me at Shannon@goofygetaways.com . My services are always FREE to you and I would love to help customize a trip for YOUR family!

 

Star Wars Character Breakfast – Sci Fi Diner

Star Wars Character Breakfast – Sci Fi Diner

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In 2014 Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s began offering 2 Specialty Star Wars Character Meals during select days in May and June for Star Wars Weekends – a Dinner at Hollywood and Vine and a Breakfast at Sci – Fi Diner – The moment these were announced the entire Disney Community went crazy and reservations filled up quickly! I knew immediately that these were going to be a hit and was very excited when Disney announced that they would be returning for 2015 as soon as reservations opened I grabbed both a Lunch at Dinner for my May Star Wars Weekend Trip!

At over $50 per person or 2 Meal Credits on the Disney Dining Plan these meals are not cheap…  however they provide an unique opportunity to meet some awesome Star Wars Characters! In order to see these characters during Star Wars Weekends you would have to wait in lines for hours! Being able to have them come to your table is hard to put a price tag on (well I guess not for Disney because it is $49.99 not including gratuity…)

Star Wars Character’s – 

The Character’s were the best part of the meal! As soon as I stepped into the restaurant and saw Darth Vader and Boba Fett I was like a little kid ~ All I wanted to do was run up and get my picture with the characters! I can say without question that during this Star Wars Weekends Trip I felt more excited than I had during any Disney World Trip in recent memory! Hollywood Studio’s had such a fantastic vibe and really made me excited for the possibility of a Star Wars Land in the future!!! This excitement carried into both of the Specialty Meals ~

Darth Vader and Boba Fett – Greet you as you walk into the Sci Fi Diner – I do not know why I didn’t get my photo with Boba Fett seeing as he is one of my favorite Star Wars characters… I guess I need to go again next year to redo the photo 😉

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The Rest of the Characters wander through the Car’s as Star War’s Clips scroll on the Big Movie Screen! This was really cool as you had to be on your toes as Characters would just “pop up” out of know where!

Storm Trooper’s

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Jawa’s – If you brought something to trade with the Jawa’s they would trade with you!!!

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Greedo –

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Food

All of the food was pretty standard (average to below average Disney Breakfast fare) with the exception of the Blue Milk – None of it was inedible however I wouldn’t recommend this meal if you were just going for the food…

The Famous Mos Eisley Cantina “Blue Milk” – It had a Blueberry flavor – overall it was pretty good  I wouldn’t order it again and it wasn’t quite as good as ButterBeer

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Star Wars Breakfast Pastries ~

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Yoda Fruit ~

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“Darth Waffles” ~ Imperial Delight Caramelized banana-stuffed french toast with caramel sauce and strawberry compote

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The Dune Sea ~ House-Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs, Wild Mushroom Potato Hash with multigrain toast slathered with goat cheese butter

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Overall: 8.5

I will rate this Restaurant differently than I do others because it is a Special Event / Character Meal –

In short absolutely LOVED The Star Wars Character Breakfast at Sci Fi Diner – In all actuality it is EXTREMELY over-priced seeing as the food was just average at best… However you are getting to spend one on one time with a lot of really awesome Star Wars Characters without waiting in any lines, they transform the whole restaurant into a Star Wars theme and the whole restaurant has a different energy than I have ever experienced! I think adding Star Wars movies and original trailers on the large movie screen is an awesome touch! I can say without question that Breakfast is better than the Dinner and a great way to start your Star Wars Weekends day!

For my “regular” Sci Fi Dine in Theater Review Click Here

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Hollywood Brown Derby Review

Hollywood Brown Derby Review – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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The Hollywood Brown Derby is the Signature Restaurant in Hollywood Studio’s – located right on Hollywood and Sunset – It has been a staple in Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s or MGM Studio’s since that Park Opened in 1989 – I have been fortunate enough to have a few meals here over the years and can say without hesitation that it is one of the most consistent restaurants on all of Walt Disney World Property!

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Detail’s –

The Hollywood Brown Derby was a restaurant (or restaurant’s as there were multiple over the years) that started in “old” Hollywood – It is where the famous Cobb Salad was created as well as the Original Grapefruit cake both of these remain on Disney’s Hollywood Brown Derby menu still to this day!

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Onto the Food –

Lunch – 

The Hollywood Brown Derby has both a Lunch and Dinner Menu if you are looking for a spot to sit down and get out of the Florida Heat this is a great restaurant especially if you do not have a reservation as the Brown Derby is almost always a walk up during lunch especially!

Grilled Wagyu Beef Burger –  with Gruyère Cheese, Pastrami, Heirloom Tomato, Avocado, and a Fried Egg on a Toasted Brioche with Cognac-Mustard Aïoli and Hand-cut Steak Fries

This Burger was INCREDIBLE!!! Generally I find the burgers at Disney to be well… awful… however this burger was outstanding! The Meat was flavorful and great quality, I love fried eggs on a burger the bun was excellent! I did not have one complaint about the burger it was top notch and well worth the 18$ price tag!

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Dinner – 

Sea Salted Butter and Warm Bread

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Brown Derby Specialty Cobb Salad

The Hollywood Brown Derby is where the Cobb Salad Originated – at 16$ it is a very large portion and a great value!

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Pan-seared Black Grouper – with Half a Herb-crusted Lobster Tail over an Orzo Salad with a Cognac-Mushroom Beurre Blanc

Without a doubt this is one of the best entree’s I have had at a Disney Restaurant in a long time!  The Lobster and Grouper tasted fresh (the waiter said the Grouper had been caught earlier that day) and the orzo was superb it had a lot of flavor and really added to the dish!

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Dessert Trio – Grapefruit Cake, Banana Toffee Cake on Cocoa Crunch and Strawberry-Banana Pearls and Amaretto Flan and Opalys White Chocolate Whip with an Almond Cookie

All three of the desserts were good however I don’t like Trio’s I wanted a whole Grapefruit Cake or a Whole Amaretto Flan…

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Overall:

Food 9.5: – Almost every dish that I have ever had here has been superb! My only complaint is the dessert trio’s… I know it is silly but it is just enough to knock it down from a perfect score!

Atmosphere 8: The Hollywood Brown Derby is a beautiful art deco restaurant and it fits perfectly with the Old Hollywood Theme of Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s!

Service 8: I have always had great service here

Overall 9: The Hollywood Brown Derby is one of my favorite restaurants in all of Walt Disney World I have always had great service, I find the food to be excellent (I love that the menu is constantly changing) and I love the atmosphere and history attached to the Brown Derby – Therefore I can say without hesitation that it is my favorite in Theme Park Restaurant in all of Walt Disney World!

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Dumbo the Flying Elephant By: Nikki Barth

Dumbo the Flying Elephant – By: Nikki Barth

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You’ve made it to the Magic Kingdom! If you are like me, one of the rides that calls your name is a classic: Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Every time my family goes to Walt Disney World, my parents and I reminisce about when we were there all those years ago. It’s those stories that make my kids love the idea of riding Dumbo, regardless of how old they are. It is a family tradition. When my daughter was three, this was the first ride we went on because it holds a special place in my memory. It is also a ride that is perfect for kids of all ages.

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One thing that’s changed about the Dumbo ride is how we wait! The imagineers at Disney World realized how nostalgic the Dumbo ride is for families and had a stroke of genius when they added the New Fantasyland: two Dumbo rides! This is fabulous because you now have two options for riding: traditional wait and Fastpass+ lines. Here’s how it works: you can either get a Fastpass+ for Dumbo and go in the faster line to the “Fastpass” Dumbo, or take the traditional line that is nothing like the lines I waited in as a child! Many families choose to wait in this line because it is a great opportunity for kids to stretch their legs and play while waiting for a ride the whole family will love. Once you get into line, your family will receive a “play while you wait” pager, which “virtually” holds your place in line. While waiting, your kids can play in a large play area. If you have a toddler or young preschooler, there is a safe area for them too! Let your kids play in the cargo nets of the circus instead of having to wait in a traditional line the old fashioned way. Once it’s time to move into the next cuing area, simply return your pager to a cast member and they will direct you from there.

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Regardless of which line you choose, the end result is a fabulous, classic Disney world experience: Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Guests of any size are welcome. Find yourself riding on Dumbo, which comfortably fits 2 adults, or one adult and 2 small children, buckle in and enjoy the ride. As you take off, you realize that Dumbo is holding the magic feather and he can fly! After Dumbo takes flight in his circular path, riders can use the joystick to move him higher or lower. Those nervous about speed need not worry, this ride is very tame and a consistent speed (my husband is thankful for no spinning). In fact, one of my family’s favorite activities on Dumbo is to ride in front of each other and take pictures. The view is great, and these are some of our favorite Disney vacation photos. We hope your family enjoys Dumbo the Flying Elephant as much as we do. Happy travels!

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If you want to learn more about planning your family’s trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, or any other Disney Destination, please feel free to contact me for more information and a FREE, no-obligation quote. Working with a Disney travel planner is easy and costs you nothing! We will help you with every aspect of your trip, and I genuinely enjoy doing so. Simply send me an email at nikki@goofygetaways.com to get started.

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Expedition Everest By: Kelly Fales

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Are you ready to face the wrath of the Yeti? If so, then take a ride up to the top of Mount Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park! Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain is one of my favorite rides in Animal Kingdom (and in all of Disney for that matter!) The ride opened in 2006, and holds the record for the most expensive rollercoaster ever built at $100,000,000!

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Located in the Asia section of Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest is themed around the infamous Yeti hiding in Mt. Everest. Arguably one of the most thrilling coasters at Disney World, the ride starts with an elaborate queue in a Tibetan-themed stone building. You have arrived at the office of the fictional “Himalayan Escapes” Travel Agency, about to embark on an expedition to search for the mythical creature. You then pass though at tea garden and a “Yeti Museum,” a room filled with equipment from previous expeditions. There are about 8,000 artifacts here that were brought in from Nepal. Disney actually sent a team to Nepal to do research and bring back these artifacts prior to building the ride!

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Once through the queue, riders board a “train” and begin their ascent into the Himalayas. During the steep incline, you travel through a stone tunnel and a temple that was destroyed, presumably, by the Yeti. Once at the top of the 199 foot-tall mountain, you curve around and pass through a cave. When you emerge, you stop suddenly…the track has been torn apart by the Yeti! You begin to roll backwards along a new route and speed down the mountain, stopping abruptly in a cave where you see the giant shadow of the Yeti on the wall! After an 80-foot drop, you speed through another cave, all while hearing the roars of the Yeti. A few more caves and drops later, and the ride is over. It lasts approximately 2 minutes and 50 seconds. Riders exit through a gift shop where you are able to purchase Yeti-themed merchandise.

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Unfortunately, the audio-animatronic 25-foot tall Yeti that is supposed to be seen during the ride has not worked properly since a few months after the ride opened in 2006. You now see just his shadow and hear his roars. Disney Imagineers have promised that they are working on getting the Yeti operational again, but so far they have not succeeded. It would definitely add to the overall experience for the Yeti to make an appearance during the ride.

And even though Everest is a thrill ride that travels backwards and through dark caves, it doesn’t go upside down, which I think makes it a great ride for all ages. Smaller children may be scared of the caves, drops and the Yeti’s shadow and roars. But older (or braver) kids are sure to enjoy this ride. My nine-year-old loved it last summer, and it’s now one of her favorite rides at Disney World! The height requirement is 44 inches, and you will definitely want to either make this one of your first rides in the morning, or get a Fast Pass+ for it, as the line is usually very long!

So, will YOU be able to escape the Yeti? Or have you already survived the challenge? If so, what did you think of Expedition Everest?

Cape May Cafe – Character Breakfast Review

Cape May Cafe Character Breakfast Review – Beach Club Resort

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Cape May Cafe is a restaurant that features a buffet Character Breakfast located in The Beach Club Resort – Breakfast features Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck all in their beach attire! It is a relatively easy reservation to get and it doesn’t really get to much buzz in the Disney community so I went into the meal with relatively low expectations…

Atmosphere and Characters –

The restaurant looks just like you would imagine a restaurant in The Beach Club would! Its bright colorful and all of the character costumes are excellent! I found the Character interaction to be very good here as well! As the restaurant is not nearly as crowded or as loud as restaurants like Chef Mickey’s it really allows the characters to spend more time with each table we even saw Goofy and Minnie twice in our 1 hour breakfast!

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Food –

The Breakfast buffet at Cape May features pastries, bacon, eggs, sausage, Mickey waffles and other traditional breakfast items – Also if you ask your waiter they are more than happy to give you Pancakes and Omelets made to order – This is a very nice touch as I like to have a nice omelet for breakfast –

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Overall Rating:

Food – 8 – The food at Cape May was very good, fresh, I loved that they had Omelets if you wanted as well as a wide variety of other options! It is one of the better character breakfasts –

Service – 8 – Our service was very good – In full disclosure I was there with a friend who works at Cape May so that could have helped…

Atmosphere – 7.5 – Cape May is a very laid back Character meal – I found the restaurant to be very fun and vibrant and fit quite well with The Beach Club –

Overall Score – 8 – Cape May Cafe is one of the better Character Meals in Walt Disney World and at 25$ it is cheaper than most too! I would recommend it to anyone especially if you are staying at an Epcot area resort!

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Splash Mountain Overview – by Amanda

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How do you do? Fine. How are you? ….This song (How Do You Do) and other catchy tunes including Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah and Ev’rybody’s Got a Laughing Place are just one of the reasons that Splash Mountain (located in Frontierland of Disney World) is one of my favorite attractions. This 8-passenger log ride takes you through the comical adventures of Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear as they try to catch up with the mischievous Br’er Rabbit. This ride is over 10 minutes long ensuring lots of fun and excitement along the way. Critter Cave, the Fishing Place, the Old Swimming Hole, Br’er Fox’s Lair and Br’er Rabbits home in the briar patch are the stops along the ride. It’s colorful, it’s bright and it is definitely eye catching! Along the ride there are thrills and surprises that keep the riders on the edge of their seat. A few smaller dips, indoor and outdoor attractions and the animated characters make it an all-encompassing ride, which is what makes it my number one attraction. The finale of the ride is a thrilling drop down Chick-A-Pin Hill into Briar Patch. Riders are sure to get a little wet – hence the name – but it is well worth it. It’s hard not to smile when you are on this attraction and that makes me want to ride it over and over again. Make sure to ride it during the day and a night for totally different experience. Many would agree that this ride is one of the best Disney has to offer, so this may be a ride you would want to take advantage of having a Fast Pass for!

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Meet Amanda!

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Favorite Park – Magic Kingdom

Hotels Stayed at – All Star Movies, Coronado Springs and Port Orleans Riverside (Favorite – Coronado Springs)

Last Visit – March/April 2015

Favorite Character – Mickey Mouse

Favorite Restaurant – Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

Favorite Quick Service – Restaurantosaurus

Favorite Snack – Ghirardelli – Downtown Disney

Tip – Take advantage of the early Magic Hours to avoid large crowds.

Favorite Ride – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

 

 

 

 

Meet Shannon!

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Favorite Park – Magic Kingdom
Walt Disney World Hotels I have stayed at – All Star Movies and All Star Sports
Last Visit – September 2013
Favorite Character – Beeker (Muppets) and Phineas
Favorite Restaurant – Crystal Palace
Favorite Quick Serve Restaurant – Pecos Bills
Favorite Snack – Anything to do with ice cream!!!!
Favorite Tip – NEVER pay for water!!! You can go to any quick serve restaurant with fountain pop and ask for a glass of ice water. They will give you some for your whole group!
Favorite Ride – Pirates of the Caribbean and Toy Story Mania