Friday, January 31, 2014

Avatarland Has Officially Broken Ground at Disney's Animal Kingdom


Disney's Animal Kingdom is a-changing.  Camp Minnie-Mickey has officially closed.  We've all seen the posed footage of both Disney and Avatar executives at the ground breaking ceremony that took place a couple of weeks ago. (Which by the way...does anyone else think it's funny that they took a pile of dirt and some ferns and seemingly put them on a pathway at Camp Minnie-Mickey to make it look like they were breaking ground...cause I do!)

Of course, there have been times in the past where attractions or even World Showcase Pavilions didn't come to fruition, even when announced (with the most recent non-built project being Hyperion Wharf for Downtown Disney just a couple of years ago). And yes, there were rumors that James Cameron was possibly butting heads with Disney previously, the fact of the matter is, now that ground has broken, it seems unlikely that Avatarland will not be built.  (I  mean, I would think that there would have to be a MAJOR rift to occur here soon for things not to continue to progress.)

With all that said, I think you all know my stance on Avatarland.  I am happy to see new attractions being included in Disney's Animal Kingdom, a park that desperately needs attractions.  Because, despite the zoological nature, it is still a theme park and people do go to theme parks expecting to experience attractions.  Overall, though, the use of Avatar as the basis for these attractions baffles me.

I'm still convinced they think this is going to turn into a Harry Potter juggernaut type land.  (Which I can tell you right now, it's not.  There's always a possibility I could be wrong, but I honestly don't think I am.)  I stand by the fact that one of the main reasons that Avatar is the number one grossing movie is because 3D technology for movie theaters was relatively new still and this was one of the most visually stunning movies to use that technology.  Not that people were excited to see the story of Avatar.  I have my doubts that the sequels will be as successful as they think they will be, though I would certainly like to be proven wrong.

So, despite my reservations on the chosen theme, I was anxious to see a video of a presentation that was given to Cast Members at Disney's Animal Kingdom that featured Imagineer Joe Rhode and Avatar producer Jon Landau.  Here's the video from my friend BigFatPanda:

In it, Joe discussed how Avatar and it's message did fit with the ideals of Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Those themes include:

  1. The intrinsic value of nature - the idea that no other value can trump nature.  Nature is going to be more powerful than anything else.
  2. Transformation through adventure - the idea that if you experience something you've never experienced before, that it makes you a new person. 
  3. The sense of a personal call to action - the park's stories are about you and through your experiences, you will react with an appeal towards nature.
I'll admit, I've not seen the movie, however, even I know that based on the details that I know about this movie, that Avatar does seem to fit those three qualities. So, at least that's a step in the right direction.

It's also a good thing to see Joe Rhode so excited about this idea of a land.  He's been a driving force behind the park from the beginning, and he's really good at storytelling, so my hope is, that with him so willingly on board, this land will focus on telling a great story.  My overall hope is that they focus more on showcasing the land of Pandora and less on the giant blue aliens.  (Though that promo ground breaking photo does have an awful photoshopped alien in, that gives me some pause.)

I have talked about in the past how I think that the creation of this new land will bring about something that is sorely need in Disney's Animal Kingdom and that's attractions.  Especially attractions that the entire family can enjoy.  (Because I mean let's face it, the park is the most divisive between even my small family - and there are just two of us.  I love certain attractions found in the park, like Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest, Brian hates those.  He prefers Dinosaur and well, I think that's really it.) This park craves rides that appeal to almost everyone.  From what I've seen concept art wise, as well as in leaked blueprints that obviously match the concept art, there are two attractions here that I think the entire family will enjoy.

While I'm still not crazy about the Avatar theme and still think it's not the answer to Harry Potter that they probably secretly hope it will be...I have a teeny tiny ray of hope.  My hope is that if they can build a land that's immersive and includes incredible attraction experiences, it will benefit the park.  If they rely too much on trying to sell merchandise or on those blue aliens, I will think that my initial distaste for Avatar was probably right on the money.

What are your thoughts?  Did that video help to sway you a bit or do you still have intense hatred of the Avatar idea?  Let me know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Also, if you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word!  Share it on Twitter or the photos on Pintrest, hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here!  Also, make sure to LIKE our Facebook page and find me on Twitter, I'm @RikkiNibs!   

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Attractions You Should Use FastPass+ For at Walt Disney World

Updated 1/27/15

With FastPass+ and every one wanting to learn as much as they can about this new system (if you don't know all the details of FastPass+, make sure to read this post), many people keep asking, what attractions should I schedule my FastPass+ selections for?

It's a tough question, with many different ways to do it.

Overall, it's obvious that you're going to want to schedule FastPass+ reservations for the major popular attractions.  These are the ones that most people are going to experience and for good reason.  Something you may not know though is that choosing shows for your FastPass+ options are usually never a good idea.  If you show about 15 minutes before showtime, you'll almost always get a seat somewhere in the theater.  (Show up earlier if you want a particular seat, but don't use FastPass+ because you'll be seated in the same location that someone who didn't use FastPass+ would be.)

Also, unless you absolutely HAVE to, in my opinion, it's a poor idea to obtain a FastPass+ reservation for a parade or fireworks show.  You should always be able to obtain a spot somewhere where you will be able to see well if you stake your spot at least a half hour before.  (You may not get your choice spot on Main Street for the 3:00 parade, but if you head to Frontierland, you'll likely be able to get a spot with a good vantage point.)

Another wrinkle in the system is that both Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios are on a tiered system.  Which means that major attractions are placed in Column A and you only get to choose one attraction from that column and minor attractions are place in Column B and you get to choose two attractions from that one.

Disney has just allowed for the opportunity to gain more FastPass+ reservations as you continue your day.  This means that you will use your three already scheduled FastPass+ times and then you will have a fourth rolling FastPass+, where you can continue to make FastPass+ reservations until they run out for the day.  This is very helpful, because you now have the opportunity to have more options available to you.  In addition, guests will now be able to hop from one park to another and be able to make FastPass+ reservations for the other park. For more information about these changes and how they will work, visit this post.

So, here is my best list of which attractions you should consider obtaining a FastPass+ time for and which ones you should not at each park.  (I have also color coded this list to make it even easier.):

Red:  Absolutely should consider getting a FastPass+ reservation for the attraction, if it's a must do for your family
Blue:  Get a FastPass if you can with the rolling fourth FastPass+ reservation, otherwise, ride it in the morning or evening. 
Green:  Don't need to make FastPass+ reservations for that attraction.  

Magic Kingdom

Ariel's Grotto
Unless you have a little one who absolutely loves Ariel, skip FastPass+ reservation.

The Barnstormer
Ride either in the morning or evening, skip FastPass+. 

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Consider obtaining a FastPass+ reservation.

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
Ride either in the morning or evening, skip FastPass+. Or use a rolling FastPass+ reservation.

Celebrate the Magic/Wishes
Skip FastPass+

Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Ride either in the morning or evening, skip FastPass+.

Enchanted Tales with Belle
If this is on your list of an attraction you want to experience, YES, obtain a FastPass+ reservation.  It typically has some of the longest lines of all Magic Kingdom attractions.

The Haunted Mansion
With the introduction of FastPass+, lines here have grown exponentially. Get a FastPass+ reservation or ride in the morning or evening. 

it's a small world
Ride either in the morning or evening, skip FastPass+.

Jungle Cruise
Ride either in the morning or evening, skip FastPass+. Or use a rolling FastPass+ reservation.
Festival of Fantasy Parade
Skip FastPass+

Mad Tea Party
Skip FastPass+

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Skip FastPass+

Main Street Electrical Parade
 Skip FastPass+

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Ride either in the morning or evening, skip FastPass+. Or use a rolling FastPass+ reservation.

Mickey's PhilharMagic
Skip FastPass+

 Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
 Skip FastPass+

 Peter Pan's Flight
If you want to experience this one, FastPass+ it

Pirates of the Caribbean
Lines here have grown exponentially here due to FastPass+. So ride in either the morning or evening, skip FastPass+. Or use a rolling FastPass+ reservation.

Princess Fairytale Hall: Meet Cinderella and Rapunzel
Consider obtaining a FastPass+

Princess Fairytale Hall: Meet Anna and Elsa
Absolutely FastPass+, if you can get one.  This ticket goes FAST! Otherwise you'll be waiting hours to meet these two.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Obtain a FastPass+ reservation

Space Mountain
Consider obtaining a FastPass+ reservation

Splash Mountain
Consider obtaining a FastPass+, unless you want to ride in the morning or evening

Tomorrowland Speedway
Consider obtaining a FastPass+ reservation

Town Square Theater Mickey Mouse Meet and Greet
Skip FastPass+

Town Square Theater Tinker Bell Meet and Greet
Skip FastPass+

Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
Ride either in the morning or evening, skip FastPass+. Or use a rolling FastPass+ reservation.

The Magic Kingdom is probably the hardest one to schedule out FastPass+ options because there are so many attractions and you only get to start with three.  (Though now Disney has added the ability to obtain the fourth rolling FastPass+ reservation that I previously mentioned.)  Your choices will also likely depend on if you have kids or don't.  So, my top three choices for those with little kids are: Enchanted Tales with Belle, Peter Pan's Flight, and Princess Fairytale Hall - Meet Anna and Elsa or Meet Cinderella and Rapunzel, or Buzz Lightyear, depending on if your little one wants to meet the princesses.  For those who don't have kids or have older ones, my three choices are:  Peter Pan's Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Enchanted Tales With Belle (if you don't want to see that, then Space Mountain.)  Of course, the Magic Kingdom is the major park where the rolling FastPass+ option will be extremely vital. So, once you use up your three, make sure you go to a kiosk to make additional FastPass+ reservations from those choices marked in red or blue above.  


Group A (Choose 1 attraction)

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
Skip FastPass+  

Living with the Land
Ride in either the morning or evening, skip FastPass+. Or use a rolling FastPass+ reservation.

Consider obtaining a FastPass+

Test Track
Consider obtaining a FastPass+ 

Group B (Choose 2 attractions)
Captain EO
Skip FastPass+

Epcot Character Spot 
Skip FastPass+, experience it in the evening with minimal wait

Journey Into Imagination With Figment
Skip FastPass+

Mission: SPACE Green
Consider obtaining a FastPass+

Mission: SPACE Orange
Consider obtaining a FastPass+ 

Spaceship Earth  
Lines have grown exponentially here thanks to FastPass+.  Obtaining a FastPass+ reservation, or ride in the evening with minimal wait.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends  
Consider obtaining a FastPass+, or ride in the evening with minimal wait. Or use a rolling FastPass+ reservation.

Turtle Talk with Crush
Skip FastPass+

So, Epcot is more interesting, because of the tiering and the fact that most attractions don't really NEED FastPass+, especially those in the second tier.  But, since Disney is making you choose three and the two attractions that ACTUALLY need FastPass+ are in the top tier, you have to pick something.  My three choices are:  Soarin (Test Track you can always do single rider, if your family doesn't mind being split up), Mission: SPACE - especially if you want to do the Orange (spinning) version, and Spaceship Earth (especially if you want to ride it when you first enter the park.) If you don't want to ride Mission: SPACE, then choose The Seas With Nemo and Friends as your Group B attraction choice.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Group A (Choose 1 attraction)
Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage
Skip FastPass+

Skip FastPass+

The Great Movie Ride 
Ride in either the morning or evening, skip FastPass+. Or use a rolling FastPass+ reservation.

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Consider obtaining a FastPass+ reservation.

Toy Story Mania!
Consider obtaining a FastPass+ reservation.

Group B (Choose 2 attractions)
Disney Junior - Live on Stage!
Skip FastPass+ 

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
Skip FastPass+  

Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
Skip FastPass+

Muppet*Vision 3D
Skip FastPass+

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
Consider obtaining a FastPass+ reservation.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Consider obtaining a FastPass+ reservation.

Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Skip FastPass+

This one was easy to choose.  FastPass+ Toy Story Mania!, The Tower of Terror, and Star Tours. 

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Consider obtaining a FastPass+ reservation.

Expedition Everest
Obtain a FastPass+ reservation

Festival of the Lion King
 Skip FastPass+

Finding Nemo - The Musical
Skip FastPass+

It's Tough to Be a Bug!
Skip FastPass+

Kali River Rapids
Consider obtaining a FastPass+ reservation

Kilimanjaro Safaris
Obtain a FastPass+ reservation

Meet Mickey and Minnie at Adventurers Outpost
Consider obtaining a FastPass+ reservation

Primeval Whirl
Ride in either the morning or evening, skip FastPass+

Here, there are two attractions you absolutely WANT to FastPass+ and those are Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris, as far as the third attraction, I would choose Kali River Rapids.  Unless you have little ones or really want to meet the characters, then consider meeting Mickey and Minnie. 

Keep in mind, these are just suggestions and more of a guide to start with based off of my own personal experiences and observations while touring the parks.  My suggestions are absolutely the attractions I would certainly consider getting a FastPass for on my Disney vacations.  Of course, choices will depend on your particular family's make-up.

No matter what you decide, you will have a wonderful time and as of right now, it appears that you can change reservations on the fly, day of quite easily.  (Let's hope that continues as time goes forward.)

What are your thoughts?  Am I on point or way off base?  

Also, if you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word!  Share it on Twitter or the photos on Pinterest, hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here! In addition, make sure to LIKE our Facebook page and find me on Twitter, I'm @RikkiNibs!    

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 1/20/14 - 1/26/14

News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.


Magic Kingdom

  •  I've seen confirmation from Disney that the Festival of Fantasy Parade is scheduled to start in March. It was originally just slated for Spring. 
  • The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has been seen testing.  We're getting closer to an official opening. 


  • The artists have been announced for this year's Flower Power Concert Series for the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.  They are: 
    • March 7-9 The Guess Who “American Woman”
    • March 14-16 Gary Lewis and The Playboys “This Diamond Ring”
    • March 21-23 The Orchestra starring former members of ELO “Evil Woman”
    • March 28-30 The Lovin’ Spoonful “Summer in the City”
    • April 4-6 Paul Revere & The Raiders “Good Thing”
    • April 11-13 Village People “Y.M.C.A”
    • April 18-20 The Grass Roots “Midnight Confessions”
    • April 25-27 Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone “I’m Henry the VII, I Am”
    • May 2-4 Starship starring Mickey Thomas “We Built This City”
    • May 9-11 Chubby Checker & The Wildcats “The Twist”
    • May 16-18 Alan Parsons Live Project “Eye in the Sky”

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  •  The Monsters University meet and greet will be closed from Jan. 29 - Feb. 8.  It's rumored the area will be going back to a Monsters Inc theme.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  •  Creature Comforts, a shop found in Discovery Island will be closing next January.  It will reopen in the summer of 2015 and will be turned into a quick service dining location.  (Does anyone else smell Starbucks?)

Downtown Disney

  • The Smokehouse, a new counter service location that is attached to House of Blues has opened on the WestSide.  Menu items include: pulled pork sandwiches, pulled chicken sandwiches, half-racks of ribs, a turkey leg, a brisket sandwich, and hot dogs.  Sides include cole slaw, potato chips, and baked beans.  
  • Team Mickey is now closed.  It will make way for the Marketplace Co Op store, which is comprised of 6 different smaller boutique stores, each selling different and unique merchandise.  

General WDW News

  •  The Wilderness Lodge has rejoined the list of AAA four-diamond-rated hotels


  • Some of the nighttime events for Disney's Animal Kingdom could be starting as early as this summer...including, perhaps the new nighttime spectacular. 
Download the Disney Food Blog Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks!  Read about all the fantastic treats the park has to offer

Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Information About Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando

©Universal Studios Orlando I know this is a Disney blog...but you'll have to deal with me fangirling for Universal for a moment.

You see, I'm a large Harry Potter fan.  I bought the books at Midnight, went to Midnight showings of the movies, named my cat Professor Snape....the usual.  So, you have to understand that I'm a very large fan of Universal Studios Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  And today, I was able to view the webcast of new information about the upcoming Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, which opens later this summer.

Hello Neville Longbottom....

I feel like the webcast consisted of the information you'd expect.  A little bit of teases, stuff to whet your appetite, but nothing full out.  I mean, heck, they didn't even give an opening date.  But for the most part, they did include a bunch of new information that the general public didn't really know.  (and you wouldn't know unless you were up to date on Universal rumors...of course, I I knew some of the details, but not all.)

The majority of the webcast talked about the trip you'd be able to take from Hogsmede (found at Islands of Adventure) to Diagon Alley (over at Universal Studios).  It even took us inside the Hogwarts Express train, which trust me, looks as realistic as it did in the movies.  You will only be able to ride the train if you have park to park admission, but along the way you will get to see views of London and the British countryside – as well as a few surprises. (Oh my god if it's the rumored Dementors, I will poop my pants!  They scare the bejesus outta me!)  

King's Cross Station ©Universal Studios Orlando

Hogsmede Station ©Universal Studios Orlando

The other main focus of the webcast was to talk a bit about some of the new stores that would be found in the new area.  Of course, Universal would be including new unique shopping and dining establishment.  One because duh...and two....because they really do help to tell the story of Diagon Alley.  I mean those of us who have read the books and seen the movies know what integral parts some of these places play.  Included in the new Diagon Alley will be:  

©Universal Studios Orlando

    • Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes:  the joke shop from our two favorite brothers which will feature novelty items, magical jokes, and toys inspired by the books and films.

o Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions:  where guests will find a variety of wizardwear from Hogwarts school uniform ties, scarves and jumpers, to authentic wizard’s robes and character costumes
o Magical Menagerie:  Want your own owl or cat?  Ok, well, these will be plush animals, but I'm sure you'll be able to pick up your very own Hippogriff, owl, or maybe (hopefully) a Crookshanks? 

©Universal Studios Orlando

o Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment: Grab any wizarding essential you may need, such as telescopes, binoculars, armillary spheres, compasses, magnifying glasses and hourglasses
o Quality Quidditch Supplies:  Got a team you cheer for?  Then here, you'll be able to pick up apparel and equipment to support, say the Chudley Cannons.  Items will include things like Quidditch sweaters, brooms, Golden Snitches, Bludgers, Bludger bats, Quaffles and more
o Scribbulus:  Here you'll be able to find authentic writing implements and products such as feather quills, ink and inkwells, bookmarks, journals, parchment paper, seals, stationery sets and postcards
    • Leaky Cauldron:  When dining here, you'll be able to enjoy traditional British fare that includes favorite dishes such as fish and chips, bangers and mash and more

©Universal Studios Orlando

    • Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour:  Head here for frozen treats in a variety of tantalizing and unique flavors such as strawberry-and-peanut-butter ice-cream. (Which I always thought sounded kind of weird even when it was written know I'm going to have to taste it.)  

©Universal Studios Orlando

Of course, we also found out some information about the attraction - Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts.  The new ride will take guests on a groundbreaking, multi-dimensional, immersive ride putting you in the action as you navigate the Gringotts vaults. If you enjoyed the detail of the queue of Forbidden Journey, I hear that this is even more incredible.  The attraction is slated to be accessible to families.  Just how accessible is still anyone's guess.

©Universal Studios Orlando

A couple of additional things that were mentioned during the webcast that I thought were interesting was that the Knight Bus was going to have an interactive element to it.  (Take it away Ern!) Also, Knockturn Alley will be included.  The street that revolves around the Dark Arts will feature Borgin and Burkes and will sell things like Death Eater masks.  Plus, you see that dragon in the concept art?'s real...and supposedly breathes fire.  Um....sweet.

©Universal Studios Orlando

There will also be an expanded version of the popular Olivander's Wand Shop experience.  Which trust very much well needed.  That thing saw HUGE wait times in Hogsmede. 

Overall, Diagon Alley looks like an incredible addition to Universal Studios Orlando.  I know I was superbly impressed when I visited the Hogsmede portion a few years ago.  The details there were astounding and I'm sure that this new land will be just as incredible.

I remember walking in and just being floored that it really was how it appeared in the movie.   the shops were there, Hogwarts was incredibly detailed, the Hogs Head was realistic, and Butterbeer was delicious.  Honestly, I cannot wait to get the chance to go back and better yet, explore this new Diagon Alley.  Because for a Muggle like myself...this is the closest I'll ever get.

If you would like to see the webcast, here it is in it's entirety:

To find out more information about Diagon Alley, visit

Ok...enough Harry Potter Fangirling... What do you think?  Will you take the trek over to Universal?  What are you looking forward to in this new land?  Let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page.

Also, if you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word!  Share it on Twitter or the photos on Pinterest, hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here! In addition, make sure to LIKE our Facebook page and find me on Twitter, I'm @RikkiNibs!    

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Disney PhotoPass 101

With the new MyMagic+ system, Disney has been tweaking it's Disney PhotoPass System.  Now, guests will have the ability to use MagicBands, resort reservations, the new Memory Maker system, and yes, you'll still be able to have access to PhotoPass cards to obtain your Disney photos.

This is where our story begins.  You see, on my last trip, I was able to take advantage of Disney PhotoPass, when Brian and I stopped by Buzz Lightyear's meet and greet (our good friend was the PhotoPass photographer!) and got some great photos taken.  Buzz arm wrestled my hubby and everything.  So, I was curious to see what would show up when I looked at our PhotoPass photos online.

(PS: Anyone can use Disney PhotoPass and it's really easy to do.  Simply approach any of the Cast Members in the tan vests that can be found throughout the park - though usually in heavily traversed areas featuring well known monuments and at character meet and greets - and have them take your photo of your whole family.  Then, either have them touch your MagicBand to a device that they wear or they will hand you a PhotoPass card.  You can also hand them a PhotoPass card if you have one.  There ya go.  It's that simple.)

To start this process out once you get home, you first need to pull up  This is the website where all Disney Photopass photographs live.  Click on the location where you visited.  Of course, we visited Walt Disney World, so I clicked there.

From there, you will have to input your registered My Disney Experience username and password.  If you don't have an account, you can easily create one.

Once you enter the site, you will be able to retrieve your Disney memories.  As I mentioned earlier, you can do this through a number of different channels, like Memory Maker or your MagicBand, but on this trip, we just had the plain PhotoPass card.  I entered the code that was found on the back and it instantly pulled up my photos. (Got more than one card, no problem!  You can input more than one.)

Once it pulled up my photos, I had the ability to change them up and design them any way I wanted.  I could change the size, the color, add a border, add stickers, the sky is the limit.  You could spend hours creating different combinations.  But make sure that before you start arranging your photo the way you want it, save a copy, so you still have the base one.  (Though you can also revert the image back to the original image after saving your masterpiece too, so you can work on another masterpiece.)

Make sure to keep in mind that your photos have an expiration date!  They will expire 45 days after they are taken.  You can purchase a 15 day extension for $19.95 to give you 60 days total from the date they were taken.

Once you have enhanced and edited all your photos, you can then order any products that you would like.  This includes things like a CD with all your images and the copyright (this can also be purchased ahead of your trip for a discounted price), make photo books, automatically download images, make greeting cards, mugs, etc.

Another nice perk is that you can also share your images, via a slideshow with your friends and family.  You can do this two ways, either by email or by Facebook.

Also, be on the look out for special offers that periodically pop up.  One of mine was for a PhotoPass Extension for FREE!

That's the nuts and bolts of this system.  Of course, there are additional things you can factor in, like Memory Maker, which allows you to instantly download your images, as well as images from family and friends you are connected with.  But, that's a whole other topic.

Disney PhotoPass is a great tool and it really does allow for every member of the family to be included, which is nice in my family cause it's just the two of us.

Have you used Disney PhotoPass before? Purchased anything?  Think it's overrated?  Let me know your thoughts on the system either in the comments or on Facebook.

Also, if you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word!  Share it on Twitter or the photos on Pinterest, hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here! In addition, make sure to LIKE our Facebook page and find me on Twitter, I'm @RikkiNibs!    

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 1/13/14 - 1/19/14

News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.

Magic Kingdom

  • The Heritage House is now a MyMagic+ Service Center.  


  • The list of HGTV and DIY Stars that will be featured at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival has been revealed.  They are: 
    • March 7-9 – Vern Yip “Design Star”
    • March 14-16 – Chris Lambton “Going Yard”
    • March 21-23 – Matt Blashaw “Yard Crashers”
    • March 28-30 – Matt Meunster “Bath Crashers”
    • April 4-6 – Taniya Nayak “House Hunters on Vacation”
    • April 11-13 – Amy Matthews “Renovation Raiders”
    • April 18-20 – John Gidding “Curb Appeal”
    • April 25-27 – David Bromstad “Color Splash”
    • May 2-4 – Chip Wade “Elbow Room”
    • May 9-11 – To Be Determined
    • May 16-18 – Alison Victoria “Kitchen Crashers”

General Walt Disney World News

  • FastPass+ will be rolled out to the entire park at both Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Epcot will be rolled out on January 23rd and Disney's Hollywood Studios will be rolled out on January 21st.


  • Tinker Bell may be moving to Town Square Theater.  It is rumored that it will only be her, not her fairy friends.  It is expected that she will be utilizing FastPass+.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

GreenBuilder Media Celebrates Their Vision House at Epcot With a Trip Sweepstakes Giveaway

©GreenBuilder Media

I don't usually post things like this here, but thought this one was interesting, so I wanted to share it with you all too!

In honor of the VISION House's second anniversary at INNOVENTIONS in Epcot, GreenBuilder Media is giving away one 4-day, 3-night Walt Disney World Resort vacation.  The exhibit opened on Earth Day in 2012 where the house is set up to highlights the very best in green residential design and sustainable living. During their visit, guests will be able to gain a greater understanding of green design, technology, and products.  They will also be able to take home with them a variety of sustainable living ideas that they can then incorporate in their lives.

Enter for your chance to win at and good luck! The contest runs until January 25 and you may only enter once. Check the rules for more information and stipulations.

Have you experienced the VISION House yet?  What are your thoughts?  Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tips For Cheering on Runners During a runDisney Event at Walt Disney World

I am just back from this weekend's fun-filled runDisney Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World!  Holy cow!  What an event!  It was absolutely spectacular to see the weekend unfold and I had an absolute blast getting the opportunity to chEAR on the runners!

A lot of people have questions about getting the chance the cheer on the runners.  Should I do it?  How do I go about doing it?  I have to get up at what time?  Where are the best places to view?  What should I do to cheer?

I'm here to discuss with you some of the things I learned this past weekend.

First off, YES!!!  Cheer on those runners!  You have no idea how much a little positivity means when you're feeling like you can't make it to the next tenth of a mile, let alone finish the race.  I had so many people thanking me for being out there.  But really, I mean, it's all the runners.  They are amazing to get out there to run the way they do (and even more amazing are those who ran the Dopey challenge of all four races back to back).  It is a huge help to these runners to see a smiling face. feels a little silly at some points to start yelling for people you don't know, but as soon as you get started, you will have so much fun with it and won't care.

To go about cheering, it's very simple.  During the morning events, yes, you'll need to arrive super early in the morning.  The roads get shut down in many cases, so if you aren't there early, it will make it a lot harder to get where you want to go.  I was usually at Epcot between 4 and 5 am.  (Makes for a super early 3 am wake up call...yuck!)  During the evening events, you'll still need to get to the park early, because they also shut down some roads, but at least it's not at 4 am. 

I like the Marathon Weekend to cheer, because they seem to offer a lot of locations to cheer along the course.  Some of the other races, it's next to impossible to be able to cheer the runners on, which I think is quite unfortunate.  (And at the evening races, one of the few ways to cheer on the runners cost money at a special expensive special the Tower of Terror 10 Miler.  I very much wish they would find a way to allow for spectators to cheer on the runners while they are on the course for these races.)

The first thing first, is to try to find the information online of what the course looks like or visit and check their spectator information.  If you have a runner who is participating, they will receive a booklet in their swag bag which will share additional information. If you have access, make sure you read that booklet!  It will be a major help, with the most updated information.

Edit:  A friend of mine pointed out this handy little Spectator Tool found on the ESPN Wide World of Sports website.  It can also help you potentially track your runners. 

When I looked at the booklet for Marathon Weekend, it gave me an idea of the race course, as well as some ideas on where I could go stand to cheer on the runners.  I decided to forgo the Magic Kingdom, because it's one of the most densely populated areas (meaning your runner might likely miss you).   And, if you're in the Magic Kingdom, it's a little harder to go from location to location to cheer on your runner.  Instead, I opted for busy, but less populated areas that could be found along the course.  This way, I could make sure to cheer on the runners at more than one location.

Over the course of two days, I was able to cheer runners on at the Transportation and Ticket Center, outside the Grand Floridian, outside and inside Disney's Animal Kingdom, and at Epcot's bus depot. It was more fun to do it this way.  If you are looking for a place to cheer, try to choose the more obscure areas and be there to cheer!

Which brings me to my next point.  You are there to cheer!  You should actually cheer!  I saw many people along the course just standing there, but these runners need some pep!  You may be tired yourself, but grab a cup of coffee and get ready to show your support!  How else can you get these runners more motivated?

Here are a few of my tips on how to best cheer on the fantastic runners:

  • Make a fun sign!  I saw some great ones online from people tweeting the event, including one that said "Run Faster...He Just Farted" and pointed at the fellow cheerleader.  The more unique the sign, the better.  It makes the runner laugh and maybe forget that they're having a hard time running.  
  • Bring a noise maker:  Many people brought clackers or cowbells.  (I heard Party City had cheap clackers that were perfect for the event.)  Again, it gets the runner out of the monotony of running, which is always a good thing.  
  • Yell!  Even if you don't know the runners.  Giving them words of encouragement can be all it takes to get them through to the next stage.  Giving the runners motivation is what's important.  Not if you look silly.  

  • Grab a Mickey Hand:  On this round of cheering, I learned the power of the fist bump.  I had cheered before asking people for high fives (with my hands), but people are sweaty and let's face it, high fives all the time can hurt.  I mean, that's a lot of high fives you're giving out.  So, this time, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to borrow his Wreck It Ralph gloves he was originally going to wear while running, but couldn't because his watch wouldn't fit with it.   So I used it to give out Fist Bumps.  Oh my god, were people excited to see me!  They came running over to me from the middle of the course just to get in on it.  So, the next day, I bought a Mickey Glove that they sell in the stores and used that.  It was a huge hit too!  Honestly, one of the best ideas I could have done.  And I know it gave people motivation to start running again because I clearly saw them running towards me and after reaching me.  
  • Track your runners:  You'll be able to get text messages, emails, or tweets telling you where your runners are in relation to the k's on the course.  It' can be helpful when trying to make sure you see your runners to know where they are and when. 
  • Give yourself some time: To go with the tracking, if you want to make sure that you're not missing your runners, know you'll need to give yourself some extra time to get to the location you're cheering at next.  Transportation runs very slowly.  It took almost an hour to get from the Transportation and Ticket Center to Disney's Animal Kingdom because of road closures.  This means that if you want to see your runners, know their pace and decide from there where to go cheer next.  Or, if they have an iPhone, the Find My Friends app is a huge advantage!  My friends had their phones on them while running and it was such a great tool that I certainly used during this past weekend. 
  • Do whatever you can to get these runners motivated:  One guy near us had a megaphone he bought off ebay for the event!  Somebody was handing out chocolates.  Whatever you can think of to do to get these runners pumped, do it!  It's a huge help to them!  
I have to admit, watching the runners is a sport all in itself.  You'll marvel as you see the elaborate costumes, you'll cry as you see people carrying flags or in full firefighter gear, and you'll be amazed as you watch people do things like juggle, or yes, even play the sousaphone.

Keep in mind that cheering for these runDisney events can become an all day thing.  And yes, it's tiring, (I got like 9 hours sleep in 48 hours) but just giving that extra boost to these runners is reward enough. There is absolutely nothing like being out there.  Matter of fact, it can even motivate you.  Who knows, next time, we could be cheering for you out on the race course!

Do you have any tips for cheering on runners at a runDisney event?  Make sure to let me know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Also, if you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word!  Share it on Twitter or the photos on Pinterest, hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here! In addition, make sure to LIKE our Facebook page and find me on Twitter, I'm @RikkiNibs!    

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 1/6/14 - 1/12/14

Well, sorry for the delay this week, but I was in Walt Disney World this weekend, so hopefully that gives me a bit of a pass.  Without further adieu, here's the latest News and Rumors!

News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.


Magic Kingdom

  • While work goes on at the Agrabah Bazar, Aladdin and Jasmine are now meeting guests at the Adventureland Veranda porch though Feb. 13th. 
  • The Main Street Confectionary will see a facade rennovation from Jan. 13th - April 11th.  The shop will remain open during this time. 
  • The construction crane will be behind Cinderella Castle from Jan. 13th - March 27th. 


  • Spice Road Table, the new small plates restaurant found at the Morocco Pavilion in World Showcase opened on Saturday.  It serves dishes like Cod Croquettes, Fried Calamari, Chicken Roll, Lamb Slider, Hummus and Imported Olives, and Spicy Shrimp.  The restaurant has seating both indoors and outdoors and includes a view of Illuminations each night.  (I ate there this weekend and thought it was pretty good.  There were some dishes that exceeded my expectations and some that did not. Also, thought the view for Illuminations was just ok.  It's better in other places around the Lagoon.)

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • Avatarland officially broke ground this week.  The new land is expected to be finished by 2017 in the former location of Camp Minnie-Mickey.

General WDW News

  • FastPass+ testing for both onsite, as well as off-site guests, will begin taking place at the Magic Kingdom.  This test begins on January 14.  It's similar to the test that’s currently taking place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Off-site guests may make FastPass+ reservations via the MyMagic+ kiosks that are found throughout the park.  (They will not be able to make reservations via the My Disney Experience app at this time.) Resort guests will continue to be able to use My Disney Experience to book FastPass+ choices in advance at all four parks.  Legacy FASTPASS will cease to exist at the Magic Kingdom.  Off-site guests will however, still be able to obtain Legacy FASTPASS tickets at both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (These two parks are expected to get rid of Legacy FASTPASS by the end of the month.)

Download the DFB Guide to Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Little Things: Adventureland

The Disney Details are one of the most important parts in making Walt Disney World s stand out among the rest.  They are little touches or experiences that they don't have to include, but the parks would feel somewhat naked if they weren't there. 

It's time to take a look at some of the smaller details that can be found in probably one of the most themed lands in all of Walt Disney World, Adventureland.  Adventureland is the land of daring and mystique.  It's the land of jungles, pirates, and tiki culture.  While you wouldn't think that these would all work together, they totally do in one fantastic land.

We start our journey entering from Main Street USA.  I absolutely love the sign that can be found welcoming you to the land.  It's classic Adventureland.  But the thing that I'm going to discuss is the volcano rock bench that sits right out front.  Wait...what?  Volcano rock bench? to the right hand side, before you actually enter Adventureland, there is a beautiful planter that doubles as seating and it's made from volcano rock.  It is filled with palm trees and a tiki and is a wonderful teaser for what is to come when you actually enter the land. (Ok...I SWORE I had a pic of this planter...I'll be in WDW this weekend and will take one to post!)

The view from Swiss Family Treehouse
Next, is an attraction that I think most people walk right past.  I know I was guilty of doing just that for years.  I'm talking about the Swiss Family Treehouse.  I know you're can people miss an entire attraction, but with it's mostly unassuming entrance, the fact that Swiss Family Robinson isn't a movie that's particularly relevant in this day and age, and the fact that the treehouse is pushed back from the main part of the path, it gets done quite frequently. I've been know to take in this attraction when I want to get away.  It's the perfect spot to avoid the hustle and bustle of the busy park below.  Plus, when you get to to the top, it affords you an amazing view. Don't skip this the next time.  You won't be sorry.

Speaking of attractions, one of the most famous attractions in this section of the park is the Jungle Cruise. While the jokes are certainly corny, there is one time that's better to ride...and that's at night.  Now, if you haven't ever ridden, then, I certainly suggest taking it in during the daytime, but at night, it just feels, as I would say, Junglier.  The lush foliage surrounds you and it's so so dark.  (The boats have a light on them, but it only shines so far out.  Enough to see the scenes, but not much else.)  Just trust me.  Ride this one at night.  It will give you a whole new perspective.  (PS:  Make sure to listen to the radio program that airs as you're waiting in the queue.  Matter of fact, the queue here should be another little thing added to this list.  There are a ton of little gags...I especially like the menu...and how everything seems to resemble one particular dish.)

Of course, you can't forget the sweets and Adventureland is home to two incredible finds.  The Dole Whip has become the most famous of the two.  This pineapple flavored soft serve is a cult classic.  It can be served on it's own or as part of a float.  Pick this delectible treat up at Aloha Isle.  In the mood for something with an orange flavor?  Then head over to Sunshine Tree Terrace where you can grab a citrus swirl.  It's vanilla, it's's like the best creamsicle ever.  It was gone for a long time, but recently within the past few years, it has made a triumphant come back. 

Also recently making a comeback, while you're at Sunshine Tree Terrance, be on the lookout for the Little Orange Bird.  This cute little guy with an orange for a head is one of those pieces of nostalgia for many who would visit the parks in the 70s/80s.  I won't tell you exactly where you can find him, but be on the lookout when you visit this stand. 

You know what I love about this land?  It's tie to the Polynesian culture.  (This land is supposed to tie into the Polynesian Resort, in case you didn't know.)  Take a look everywhere and see if you can spot all the tikis that surround the land.  They all have different faces and some even squirt water when it's hot! 

Captain Jack is ready to lead
I also LOVE the music of this land.  It's so rhythmic.  Many people don't notice it, but it absolutely sets the mood.  When it comes on I just get happy. Take a listen the next time you're down there and notice how happy you feel too!   

Ready to go on a Pirate adventure?  Well, you don't have to hop on Pirates of the Caribbean to get a taste of Captain Jack Sparrow.  Instead, make sure to catch the fabulously entertaining Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial.  Here, little ones can get up on stage and learn to become pirates.  And Captain Jack is extremely suave.  Try not to swoon too much ladies. 

A Pirates Adventure can be found near Pecos Bills
One last way to get your pirate on is by taking part in A Pirates Adventure - Treasures of the Seven Seas.  I talked about this a while back on the blog right after it opened and had mixed feelings on it.  I felt it may be a little hard for people not familiar with the parks.  I wonder if I misjudged it and think I need to experience this again because it is a wonderful little diversion, especially for younger kids.  It also has some really interesting effects and lets you explore more of the land to learn about more of The Little Things Adventureland really does have to offer.    Make sure to put this on your list.  It's back on mine. 

Finally, there is one thing that's no longer in Adventureland that I desperately wish they'd bring back.  You see, a long time ago, there was a steel drum band that would play here.  Now, you must know...I am a sucker for steel drums.  (I actually hired a steel drum band to play at my wedding joke.)  While I never got to see this personally, this would be such a fantastic addition to bring back.  It sets the tune (literally) of the land so well and I miss all the live entertainment that they used to have so prevalently around the park.  So, Disney, please, please bring back the steel drums!  We miss them! 

That's gonna do it for this edition of The Little Things, but I'm sure I've missed something that you think should be on this list.  Let me know what it is in either the comments or on my Facebook page. 

Also, if you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word!  Share it on Twitter or the photos on Pinterest, hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here!  Also, make sure to LIKE our Facebook page and find me on Twitter, I'm @RikkiNibs!    

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 12/30/13 - 1/5/14

News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.


Magic Kingdom
  • The Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade has now ended it's run.  The new Festival of Fantasy Parade is rumored to debut on March 16.  
  • Pirates of the Caribbean is set to have a short refurb from April 28th - 30th.  It is rumored to be receiving an on-board photo system.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will see a short refurb from April 7th - 9th.  It's rumored to also be receiving an on-board photo system.

  • The Frozen meet and greet at the Princesse Plasse in the Norway Pavilion has been extended to last until Jan. 31st. 

Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • Camp Minnie-Mickey is now closed to make way for Avatarland.  The characters that could be found there have been relocated to other areas of the park and Festival of the Lion King will be relocated to the Africa section of the park starting in the summer. 

Downtown Disney

  • Work on the Marketplace Co-Op will begin on 1/27 in the location of the former Team Disney shop.  The shopping experience will open later this spring.  
General Walt Disney World News
  • A reworked version my My Disney Experience should be on it's way to the public in the next few months.
  • FastPass+ should be rolled out to all guests (both onsite and off-site) at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and the Magic Kingdom sometime this Spring.  The rollout should be similar to how it is being tested at Disney's Animal Kingdom with off-site guests being able to stop at MyMagic+ kiosks within the park to make their reservations.  
  • As part of additional MyMagic+ testing, all Walt Disney World Resort hotels will be testing MagicBands only in place of Key to the World cards.  This test will roll out to all hotels by Jan. 31st. Key to the World cards will still be available to guests who request them, but they will not work to obtain Legacy FastPass tickets.  Resort guests will need to make FastPass+ reservations only.  Here is the schedule of the rollout:  
    • Jan. 6 – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
    • Jan. 7 – Disney’s Port Orleans Resort
    • Jan. 8 – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
    • Jan. 9 – Disney’s Old Key West Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Spring Resort & Spa
    • Jan. 10 – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
    • Jan. 13 – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
    • Jan. 14 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
    • Jan. 15 – Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
    • Jan. 16 – Disney’s Contemporary Resort
    • Jan. 17 – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Resort
    • Jan. 20 – Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground


  •  A Frozen attraction is currently being looked at for the Norway Pavilion.  It is currently being BlueSkied, so really, the sky could be the limit here. 
  • We can likely say goodbye to the garlands that would hang on Main Street during Christmas.  It's said that the new parade will be too tall for the garlands to remain.
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