Disney Parks Tag – Something different for me!

I’m used to just giving travel tips and reviews so after seeing a post from one of my fellow #disneybloggers the other day I thought I’d give this a go, a bit of fun before my next restaurant review (which is Cinderellas Royal Table)

Lovely Beth did this on her blog the other day, you can check hers out here and check out the rest of her blog too, it’s very good.

We both saw this for the first time when one of our favourite Disney Vloggers Adam Hattan did it on his channel, you can see his here

So here we go, 10 questions about the Disney Parks and my experiences in them πŸ™‚ Well the ones I’ve been to anyway, I’m yet to visit LA, Tokyo, Shanghai or Hong Kong so just Paris and Orlando for me at the moment.

1) WHEN WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU VISITED A DISNEY PARK?

The first park I visited was Disneyland Paris when it was called EuroDisney and that was the year it opened in 1992! I was 13 and in all honesty I don’t remember a lot about it.

I wasn’t actually into Disney then – I know it’s hard to believe – I don’t recall meeting any characters at all either, which is odd being as it’s the main thing I do now!

My Dad was a coach driver back then and he was doing a trip over so I got to go.

What I do remember is it was REALLY busy, I remember going on Star Tours (me and my Dad loved Star Wars) and buying a Star Tours baseball cap that I loved (and subsequently lost) and going on Phantom Manor (which for years I’d talk about but had NO idea where it was) and also Captain EO, the Michael Jackson ‘ride’ other than that it’s all a bit of a blur!

It’s a shame that I don’t have pictures at all but I was never that much of a camera person back then and lets not forget no such thing as a phone that took photos!

2) WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISNEY PARK?

EPCOT!!

No hesitation there. I just love it.

On my first visit to WDW I wasn’t that much of a fan but I think the older I’ve got the more I appreciate how wonderful it is and its the place I always look forward to going back to the most.

I love that I can travel all over the world pretty much, trying different food and looking in all the different shops. I love all the little hidden places for photos, doing the Passports and meeting all the characters as you walk through the showcase.

 

Plus you can have so much fun trying on all the native hats as you go round…

 

I really like the different elements you can explore in Future World and how it constantly changes. The Sea pavilion is just amazing and all the interactive stuff when you exit the rides is great.

Club Cool is another place I like and the shopping in Epcot is the best on site in my opinion.

And who can forget Spaceship Earth, my favourite of the Disney Park ‘Icons’ and I never tire of looking at it.

epcot2

3) WHAT IS YOUR HAPPIEST SINGLE MOMENT IN A DISNEY PARK?

ALL my moments in the park are happy but one that really stands out for me is from my 2015 trip.

Dopey is my favourite character and up until my last 3 trips he was always about meeting in the parks. Now he’s rare and you can only see him with the other dwarves at the Halloween and Christmas parties. Which is gutting 😦

For one reason or another I wasn’t really feeling the magic on that trip and we were spending the day in Magic Kingdom. Literally JUST as I walked in, who should walk past me but Dopey! He was doing a random meet with Snow White, I just managed to get in the queue and I was the last one in it.

I was so happy to meet him I actually cried!

There’s me a grown woman, actually looking like a mental with my Snow White skirt and my big Dopey autograph book crying like a baby!

He had to wipe my tears away! The shame!

But from that moment on the magic was back!

 

4) WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISNEY PARKS PURCHASE?

OOH thats a tough one!

Probably these guys!! I love them. Cogsworth is the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought in a Disney Park and he was so worth it! All I need now is a Mrs Potts to complete the collection. (Chip was in the Dishwasher!)

IMG_9113

5) WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISNEY ATTRACTION?

I can’t actually narrow this down to 1! It’s impossible!

However for Disneyland Paris it’s easy. Crush’s Coaster is the best ride there without a doubt. It’s completely deceiving when you see it cos it doesn’t look fantastically fast but it is. As much as I love seeing kids enjoying themselves at Disney it never fails to make me chuckle when you see kids crying on it as it’s not the kids ride they expected it to be! It’s a must do on every DLRP trip.

WDW is much much harder! I have a few.

Without a doubt the most visually incredible and immersive ride experience currently at WDW is of course Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdoms Pandora. I literally cannot put into words how incredible this ride is. Every little detail is just incredible and you really do feel like you’re flying over Pandora. I’ve talked about it in my blogs about my trips but when you’re on a VR ride and you have to cover your eyes to avoid one of the things that scares you the most, even though you KNOW it’s not real, shows you how real it does look! If this is the technology of a few years ago I cannot wait to see what they do with the Star Wars stuff which will be so much more advanced!

AK_PANDORAFLOATMTNICON_20170913_404830842419

Space Mountain is ALWAYS the first ride I go on on a day at Magic Kingdom. It’s actually the first roller coaster I ever went on and I still love it now. I think it’s a nostalgia thing it reminds me of one of my favourite ever trips with my best mate in 2002. We always do it multiple times on our trips and it’s now one of Amelias favourites as well πŸ™‚

The last one and another one I’ve lost count on the amount of times I do every trip is Expedition Everest. Another of Amelias favourites as well. It’s just a great ride with amazing views of the park and I swear it gets faster every time I go on it!

6) WHAT CHARACTER DO YOU HAVE TO MEET?

ALL OF THEM!! For me Disney is all about the characters so I have to meet all of them. If I had to make a choice though and could only meet one and seeing as Dopey isnt an option it’s gotta be DONALD DUCK! He’s just brilliant. I always come away smiling when I’ve seen him!

Having said that I do love meeting Winnie the Pooh, mostly cos he’s so cuddly and it’s like you’re having a cuddle with a real teddy πŸ™‚

7) IF YOU COULD BUILD AN ATTRACTION BASED ON YOUR FAVOURITE MOVIE WHAT WOULD IT BE?

These questions are so much harder than I thought! My favourite movie already has quite a lot in the parks. (It’s Beauty and the Beast if you were wondering) but I do have a few ideas of movies that are completely under represented and would be great to see.

Tangled is one. Yes we have the Tangled toilets but there’s so much you could do with that movie. some kind of kids coaster zooming on Rapunzels hair down the tower or a boat ride with the lanterns. Even a restaurant based on the Snuggly Duckling.

I would love to see some more attractions around the world showcase and a Mary Poppins ride in the UK pavilion would be amazing.

I’m hoping that there will be some sort of Coco ride put in the Mexico Pavilion although I can imagine them re imagining the current Three Caballeros one and taking you on a colourful journey to the land of the dead.

8) WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISNEY PARKS RESTURANT?

This is the easiest one for me to answer. SKIPPER CANTEEN!! I absolutely loved this place and it was because of a Vlog I saw Adam Hattan do that I booked it. You can see that here.

It seems to be one of those places that first timers by pass. It’s so underrated.

It was the best meal of our entire trip. It’s themed like the Jungle Cruise and your servers are skippers and the food was just unbelievable and healthy too. I still dream about that meal and it’s top of my list of places to eat in when we go back again.

In Disneyland Paris the best place to eat is by far the Agrabah Cafe. I discovered it a few years ago when I went with my friend who is Vegan and all the reviews said that was the place with the most choice for that. It’s another one I dream about and I’ve been 3 times now. It’s so so good. The themeing is wonderful, it really is like you’re in a Moroccon market and the buffet is HUGE. It’s all Moroccon things like Moussaka and lots of salad but the Tabbouleh is why I keep going back. Highly recommend it. Honestly book a late lunch and don’t eat breakfast!

9) DESCRIBE A SITUATION WHEN A CAST MEMBER WENT ABOVE AND BEYOND FOR YOU?

I’ve never come across a bad cast member at WDW. Everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting has been exceptional so it’s so hard to pick a moment.

However when we first took Amelia a few years ago she was really tired (we’d been out all day but she insisted she wanted to stay and watch fireworks) she was hungry as well and we had a few tears. We left her sat at a table while we went to get some food in Pinocchio’s resturant and when I came back there she was BIG smile on her face blue frozen slushy with a Mickey Straw in her hand. A lovely cast member called Ariel (wonder how I remember that name 3 years on) had seen she was upset and thought she would cheer her up πŸ™‚

I love chatting to the cast members when I get the chance to, while you’re waiting for rides and stuff. I’m one of those annoying guests who like to quiz them all about their jobs! :p

10) PLAN YOUR DREAM DISNEY HOLIDAY. INCLUDE YOUR PERFECT RESORT, RESTAURANT, PARK AND SHOW.

It has to be WDW although I do REALLY want to stay in the Disneyland Hotel in Paris. (I’m 40 next year and hopefully if all goes to plan that’s a good enough excuse to splash out and stay there)

Resort wise at WDW, I’d love to stay in the Polynesian. It’s just gorgeous and I could get to Epcot on the monorail pretty quick from there πŸ™‚

Restaurant I’d pick Skipper Canteen obviously but for somewhere I haven’t eaten that I want to maybe Coral Reef in Epcot.

The park is obviously going to be Epcot, it’s my favourite and I could quite happily spend every day of my holiday there.

Show. Fantasmic. It’s wonderful. It’s my favourite of the evening shows in the Disney parks and just combines everything that I love about the shows of Disney. Music, fireworks, awesome effects and of course CHARACTERS!! I cry every time I watch it!

So there you have it, my Disney Parks Tag, I hope you enjoyed a different sort of blog from me and gives you a little insight into my Disney favourites and why I love it so much.

I’d love to hear some of your answers πŸ™‚

 

 

Advertisements

Planning Your Trip – Where to Start – Fastpasses

UPDATE – It would seem that some of the info I have is out of date. Fastpasses at Disney are now unlimited but you can still only book 3 in advance per person per day. These can be booked 30 days before each day of your visit when offsite.

Universal do include some of the Harry Potter rides with the Express Pass, however it doesn’t include Hogwarts Express, Gringotts and Forbidden Journey.

Current lists of what rides are included can be found on the official park websites

There is so much information on the internet about Fastpasses for all the parks and My Disney Experience (MDE) and as I’m told on a daily basis ‘it’s a bit of a minefield’ researching an Orlando holiday I thought I’d try and condense it all a little and give a bit of a guide to how it all works.

DISNEY

My Disney Experience is for want of a better word – amazing! It’s a complete hive of information and will give you pretty much everything you need to be able to plan your days within the Disney parks and resorts.

How much do they cost?

Fastpasses are included free of charge with your Disney tickets.

So how do I start?

You need to either download the MDE app search your app store for ‘My Disney Experience’ it’ll have a Mickey Ears logo or you can do it online

You just set up an account much like you would a social media account with your email address and you’re away. If you’re visiting with a very large group I recommend setting up one account and giving the log in details to the others in the party.

If you have an on site booking you can input your booking number in ‘add reservation’ and all your details will come up.

If you’re off site, once you receive your park tickets you are able to ‘add tickets’ to the account. To do this you can either scan the QR code or type in the number on the back – you need to scratch off the silver panel to do that – it will NOT invalidate your tickets. You are able to assign tickets to certain members of the party. It’s worth either writing names or initials on the back of them so you know who’s is who’s if there is a large group as when it comes to getting in the parks fingerprints are taken so you need to be using the same ticket every day.

This is also where your Memory Maker photos will go (I’ll get into that on another post) so it’s easy to keep them all in one place.

How many fastpasses do I get?

You get 3, per person per day. These can be booked in advance and you’re able to book 1 more on the day.

How do I book?

When you log in you should see this:

mde

You are then able to choose a date and a park and select the rides you wish to book for, It will then give you the choice of times you can book. If there is more than one ticket connected to your account it will ask you who you want to book the passes for. You can choose all or some.

NB : You are able to book these 30 days before you go if you are staying off site and 60 if you are onsite. If you’re trying too soon – as I was – it will then tell you the date you can start booking them.

If you are able to book once you’ve selected your date/park this is what comes up to show the timings.

mdefastpass

Once you have picked your time you have an hour window from then to ride. All your fastpasses will show in your MDE account so with the free Wi-Fi in the parks you will be able to see day by day what your plans are.

Once you get to the ride at the right time you need to go to the fastpass queue and you scan your ticket (or Magicband) on the mickey and in you go.

disney-scan-band1

Its that easy!!

How do I choose which rides to fastpass?

The app for MDE has all the current wait times showing for all the ride and some of the character meetings. If it’s something you are able to fastpass it will show you. (Not all rides/experiences have fastpass enabled)

My advice is to download the app once your holiday is booked and dip in and out of it on different days and times. This will then show you which rides tend to continuously have long wait times, these are the ones you would need to fastpass. In some of the parks they catergorise the rides. Epcot is one of those. You are not able to book 3 fastpasses for the premium rides for example. So you wouldn’t be able to book Test Track, Soarin’ and Mission Space. All this information will come up when you go to book.

Some of the more popular character greetings you are able to fastpass – Mickey in Toontown Theatre for example always has a pretty long wait – unless you go straight there as soon as the park opens or during a parade – this is well worth booking a fast pass for! For those of you with Princesses of your own, meeting the likes of Cinderella, Belle and Anna and Elsa is a must whilst at Disney – these always have pretty long queues.

UNIVERSAL

Universal have their own version of fastpasses – called Express Passes. These are only available through Universal directly and allow you to enter the rides via a different queue. You are not able to book these rides in advance.

images

How much do they cost?

The prices of these vary and are seasonal. There are also 2 types of them, Express Passes and Unlimited ones.

You can buy passes in advance from the official Universal Bookings UK site. You can buy 1 day 1 park passes or a 1 day-2 park pass which I think are much better value. You can easily do all of the rides in both parks in one day with an Express Pass, you can then visit again another day and not have to worry about getting on everything.

Alternatively you can buy the unlimited ones on the gate or from the UniversalOrlando.com website.Β  They are more expensive but they do include unlimited rides on all Express Pass enabled rides.

Do the include the Harry Potter rides?

No they don’t express passes do not include any of the rides within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Is there any other way to get Express Passes?

Yes there is. Select Universal hotels will include unlimited Express Passes as part of your room rate. If there is a family of 4 it actually can work out cheaper to do that rather than purchasing the express passes. For a one night stay you would be given 2 days of Express Passes, one for the day you check in and one for the day you check out.

All Universal hotels allow you to enter the park early giving you access to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter before the park opens to the public.

TOP TIP: If you don’t mind splitting up your group and going on rides alone most rides have a single rider queue which is another way to get on the rides a little quicker than the regular line.

SEAWORLD PARKS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Seaworld and Busch Gardens have their own versions of these as well called Quik Queue you are able to buy these in advance from any of the ticket resellers.

These work exactly the same way as Express Passes and vary in price according to season and also if you want unlimited or not.

These do work out cheaper to buy in advance before you go, although you can purchase on the gate and you are also able to purchase one time tickets for use on one particular ride.

You can get these free if you stay in any of the Seaworld Resort hotels.

Planning your Trip – Where to Start! – Buying Park Tickets

I realized that although I’ve given you loads of tips and info on what to do when you get to Orlando what I haven’t really touched on is how to plan from the beginning!! So let me give you some basic info about Orlando and what there is to do, there are still people out there who don’t realize that Walt Disney World is not just ‘the park with the castle’…..

Orlando is a 8/9 hour flight from the UK. My big tip with booking flights is to leave the UK as early as possible to get to Orlando late afternoon – you’re able to have a look about go out for some food and then go to bed at the same time as you would at home. I find this stops any jetlag you may suffer from. Coming home, always get the latest possible evening flight, giving you at least half the day to maybe visit your favourite park or do a bit of shopping..

Orlando has 3 main theme park resorts. Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, Seaworld Parks and Entertainment.

Walt Disney World (the clue is in the name, it is a WORLD) not just one park. Disney is made up of:

Magic Kingdom (the one with the Castle)

Epcot (the one with the Golf Ball)

Animal Kingdom (the one with the tree)

Hollywood Studios (the one that used to have the Hat…)

Blizzard Beach

Typhoon Lagoon

Disney Springs

Disneys Boardwalk

ESPN World Wide of Sports

Disney Resort Hotels

Universal Orlando Resort is made up of:

Universal Studios (including Diagon Alley of Wizarding World of Harry Potter)

Universal’s Islands of Adventure (including Hogsmeade and Hogwarts of Wizarding World of Harry Potter)

Volcano Bay

Citywalk

Universal Resort Hotels

Seaworld Parks and Entertainment is made up of:

Seaworld

Aquatica

Busch Gardens

Discovery Cove

Most of the parks are in Orlando with the exception of Busch Gardens which is just over an hour away on the west coast in Tampa.

All the tickets that we can purchase in the UK are valid for unlimited access for 14 days, and on first trips people always say ‘but I won’t need 14 days’ – you will!! Buying your tickets in the UK before you travel is a lot cheaper than purchasing them on the gate in Orlando. The 14 day tickets are not available once you get there. With these tickets you’re able to ‘hop’ between the parks meaning you can visit more than one in a day if you like and Disney parks tend to stay open late. It gives you the flexibility to be able to see the evening shows at Disney but spend a day somewhere else if you wanted. ‘Hopping’ at Universal will include the use of the Hogwarts Express which transports you between the Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter. All 14 day tickets for the Seaworld Parks will include complimentary bus travel to Busch Gardens.

The only park that you cannot visit multiple times is Discovery Cove. This is a one day experience where you can swim with Dolphins if you wish. This is a fully all inclusive day with all your food and drink (including alcohol) included. You have to book a date for this as it gets booked up quickly and prices vary throughout the year. All the Discovery Cove tickets include unlimited access to Seaworld and Aquatica, there is an Ultimate package which will also include Busch Gardens.

Are there any waterparks included?

Yes. Disney has Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, Universal has Volcano Bay when it opens and Aquatica is Seaworlds offering.

What Parks Shall I Visit?

If you’re unsure what parks you want to visit my advice to you is to use YouTube to watch some holiday planning videos that show you what there is at each of the parks.

Think about who there is in your party and what would be of interest to them.

Surely I won’t need 14 day tickets?

You may not think you do and you may think that buying a smaller amount of days will save you money. That all depends on what parks you want to see.

If you want to visit all the parks at Disney including the Water Parks you will need at least 9 days! The 14 day tickets include water parks and park hopping. On the gate you’d pay $60 for each of the water parks and around $120 per day for each of the theme parks, plus an extra $55 to park hop. And don’t forget the 6% sales tax you have to add as well.

If you want to see all of Universal then as of June you’d probably need 4 days. One for each of the theme parks, one to hop between the 2 and see things you might not have on the other days and then a whole extra day (maybe 2 it looks HUGE) for Volcano Bay. Again the 14 day tickets are much more cost effective than buying 3 days on the gate and including the hopping.

Seaworld, Aquatica, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove you could spend a day in each and see everything. One day in each of the parks (with the exception of Discovery Cove) is around $70 (plus the sales tax). If you want to visit one more than once or all of them then again the 14 day tickets work out best.

Ticket Types

In the UK you are able to buy the 14 day tickets that I mentioned. There are many ticket sellers in the UK who provide these at a lesser cost than travel agents and usually the parks directly.

It is really important to check that whoever you buy from is providing you with real gate ready tickets. This means that when you get to the parks you are able to go straight in. Some travel agents will provide you with vouchers which you would need to exchange when you get there, meaning you have to queue for them BEFORE you get in the queue to get in.

You will also need your ticket numbers to be able to book your Disney FastPasses, although these numbers can be given to you by your travel agent 30 days before you travel this isn’t automatic and you may find yourself chasing them for it and missing out on booking some of the rides you want to do.

There are a number of resellers in the UK who send real tickets and will have offers on throughout the year.Β  There are links to some of those in the useful links page.

Most of these are Orlando experts and will give great advice.

Most will allow you to secure the current prices with a small deposit and will give up to 6 weeks before you leave to pay the balance.

The tickets all have the same names with the sellers:

Disney Ultimate

Universal Explorer

Seaworld 3 park

Discovery Cove Standard ticket and Discovery Cove Ultimate ticket.

All the resellers above do combination ticket packages which works out better than purchasing them individually.Β  They will all have different names but they will include the same tickets within them. Each of the tickets will have 14 days on it from the first day of activation so if you’re going for longer than 14 days you are able to stagger that so you can visit parks for the whole duration of your trip.

You cannot buy a combination ticket to include Discovery Cove. This is a stand alone ticket and will include your entry to the other parks owned by Seaworld.

Do they offer discounted tickets for Disabled or free carer tickets?

No. And the reason for this is that 90% of the rides and attractions are fully accessible. Universal do a small discount on the gate but this is for day tickets only and it the saving is minimal. There is a system in place for guests with disabilities. I go intoΒ  much more detail here – Disney with Disabilities

What’s included in my ticket?

All the tickets above will include unlimited park hopping access to all the parks owned by that company.

Disney tickets also include Disneys Fastpass which allows you to skip the line at some of the key attractions by being able to book your time on the ride 30 days before you go (60 if you’re staying on site). It gives you 3 fast passes per person per day which you can book on your My Disney Experience (MDE) account. The app for this gives you all the current wait times for rides so by looking at it a bit before you go you’re able to figure out what rides you would need to book for. Peter Pans Flight always has a really long line, as does Soarin’, some of the character meets will have a long wait you can book some of them too.

Currently the UK tickets also include Disney Memory Maker (or photopass) free of charge. This is ALL of your professional photos taken around the parks, ride photos (and videos for the ones that have them), character photos and all the ones in the scenic places around the parks. These are all digital photos that are uploaded to your MDE account when the photographer scans your ticket. You can then download them all when you get home and get them printed off when you like. I found when I did mine that if you leave them in your shopping basket with some of these companies they start to send you discount codes so you will buy them. Photobox is what I used for my 2000 odd when I came home. It’s a great thing to have with the tickets it’s worth $170.

Disney tickets also include mini golf free every day (before 4pm) there are 2 mini golf courses on Disney, Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens and they’re so much fun. Nothing like the boring golf we have here.

You can also use the Oak Trail golf course if you want a ‘normal’ round of golf. Tickets include a round and club hire.

Universal tickets include park hopping as well – this means you can use the Hogwarts Express to travel between the 2 Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter.

Seaworld tickets currently include free parking if you’re purchasing a ticket to include all 3 parks and you do get the free transportation to Busch Gardens as well if you don’t fancy the drive.

Can I skip the lines?

Yes you can.

Disney’s Fastpass is free and included in the tickets.

Universal have their own called an Express Pass which you can only buy from them directly. It’s more cost effective to buy a 1-day 2- park Express meaning you can do all the rides in both the parks in one day. With an Express Pass it’s easy to do that. The UK based booking site has them and they vary season to season – these tickets allow you one ride on each of the rides that day. You can get unlimited ones on the gate. Some of the hotels on the Universal Resort include free express passes and early entry to Harry Potter.

Seaworld and Busch Gardens have a ‘QuikQueue’ ticket which is the same sort of thing. All the re-sellers I mentioned sell an unlimited one which gives you as many rides as you like on each of the rides. This varies in price by park and season.

None of the waterparks have fastpasses. Volcano Bay however has a virtual queuing system using a wristband called ‘TapuTapu’ which allows you to select the ride and time you want and will vibrate when you can get on, meaning you can do other things while you’re waiting.

Hopefully that should answer most of the questions you have about tickets. If there’s anything else you want to know or I’ve missed let me know.