At Walt Disney World and its many parks in Orlando, Florida, there are an abundant number of ways to have fun with the entire family.
From classic rides to new shows to things you can’t do anywhere else in the world, Disney has plenty to keep the kids as well as the parents entertained.
Breaking it down by the three major parks and factoring in height limit restrictions for the little ones, here are the best attractions for the whole family to enjoy!
Disney Parks go to great lengths to ensure guests have the most magical time of their lives while inside the park. This of course stretches to the incredible detail designers put into rides, to the perfectly Disney-friendly foods served throughout the park right down to the way each and every cast member interacts with guests.
Take, for example, the fact that cast members (otherwise known as employees) are never supposed to tell a guest “I don’t know.”
According to a former cast member, if a guest approaches a cast member inside the park with a question they are not allowed to answer with “I don’t know” even when they don’t actually know the answer. Instead, cast members must go to any and all lengths to find the answer, including calling other cast members around the park. This way, guests never have to wander around looking for something.
Moreover, cast members are never allowed to laugh or mock a guest for any of their questions. As another former cast member revealed, “If someone asks you ‘what time does the 3:00 parade start’ you can’t laugh. They may be serious! Actually, they are most of the time! You have to say ‘3:00′ with a smile that doesn’t suggest to them that you think they are a big stupid and should go learn something.”
Of course, these rigid cast rules don’t stop there. For example, no Disney park employee is ever allowed to point with just their index finger. Instead, they must point using both the index and middle finger, which is known as the “Disney point.”
According to an anonymous Disney park employee, the gesture is indeed part of the training program for all employees and is actually an homage to Walt Disney himself. As legend has it, Disney would walk through his eponymously named park with a cigarette in hand. When he would point out different attractions he would do so by pointing with two fingers stretched out.
Now, however, Disney also uses the two-finger gesture to ensure that they are not misinterpreted as being rude with the single-finger point.
Beyond fingers and answers Disney cast members must also cover any visible tattoos, keep nails and makeup clean and simple and are banned from ever chewing gum. But hey, at least they get to dress up as princes and princesses.
PHOTO: Frozen Ever After at the Norway Pavilion, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL. (photo courtesy of Walt DIsney World Resort)
Walt Disney World’s popular MinnieVan car-hire service, which takes guests across property in polka-dot minivans, is now expanding to a new destination: Orlando International Airport.
According to fliers passed out at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, the polka-dotted, chauffeured car service will now offer themed transportation at the end of one’s vacation for the first time ever.
MinnieVan rides, which are booked through the Lyft app, currently offer point-to-point trips within Walt Disney World for $20. Trips to Orlando International Airport, which seat up to six passengers, will cost $150.
The price is irrefutably high, especially when taken into consideration that Walt Disney World operates its own complimentary airport bus transportation, Disney’s Magical Express, for hotel guests. Walt Disney World regulars may be put off by the fee, but it may soon become a reasonable splurge for busy families. Though guests could take two taxis or three Ubers for the price of one MinnieVan, Disney’s rideshare vehicles guarantee three car seats; Uber and Lyft only promise one and both charge $10 extra for the service.
With the reassuring safety and comfort associated with the Disney brand and the ability to turn the very end of a trip into an “experience,” this new MinnieVan offering could be ideal for the vacationing family who wants to squeeze every last ounce of pixie dust out of their trip — or one who wants to start their visit with a bang.
Though the new option is currently exclusive to departing trips, if regulations can be cleared with Orlando International Airport — Uber struggled for years to gain approval for airport pick-ups — we don’t doubt MinnieVans will soon offer transportation both ways. And, as the only car-hire vehicles allowed to drop off directly in front of Magic Kingdom, MinnieVans may soon be able to whisk families straight from the terminal to Tomorrowland, saving them valuable vacation time.
With Disney’s Magical Express Luggage Delivery whisking bags straight from the plane to on-property hotels and My Disney Experience allowing for remote room check-in, guests could soon be able to dive into their vacations sooner — and with more style — than ever before.
MinnieVan’s airport transportation is currently offered to concierge-level guests at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, but like its initial slow rollout, will likely soon expand to additional Walt Disney World resort hotels.
If the vintage roots of Space Mountain, high-flying joy of Astro Orbitor, and retro futurism of rides like the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover are among the highlights of your trips to Disney World or Disneyland, Japan may very well be the next place you should visit.
News broke over the weekend on TDRExplorer with details of a brand new park exclusive to Tokyo Disney Resort that may be on its way. According to Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, plans are being finalized for a space and flight-inspired theme park called Tokyo DisneySky that could possibly open within the next four years.
You’ve traveled to Orlando for a family vacation full of theme parks and outdoor activities. But when you get there, it’s raining so hard that you want other options besides a soaking wet Disney World. What to do?
Luckily, there are plenty of great indoor activities in Orlando. Here are a few of them.
Andretti Indoor Karting and Games has plenty of games, including arcades, bowling, laser tag and pro-racing simulators. It also has a high ropes course and professionally designed, multi-level indoor go-karting.
iFly Indoor Skydiving
This indoor skydiving attraction has two all-glass wind tunnels in an open, single-story floor plan that allows passersby to see skydivers in action.
Bring your kids to Crayola Experience, which has 26 hands-on activities including a color playground and “doodle in the dark.” Kids can also name and wrap their own Crayola crayon and learn how crayons are made in a live show starring animated crayon friends and a meet resident Crayonologist.
Sea Life Orlando
This aquarium has a 360-degree Underwater Tunnel with up close views of sharks and stingrays swimming overhead. There are themed habitats with places to pop up in bubble-tanks for close views.
Main Event Orlando
Main Event combines a restaurant, virtual and interactive games, high-rope adventure courses, pool, 61 big screen TVs and bowling.
This indoor golfing attraction features 230 high-definition TVs, more than 100 climate-controlled hitting bays that can fit up to six players at one time, and the ability to track the accuracy and distance of players' shots.
Madame Tussauds Orlando
Just like the one in London, this museum is filled with detailed wax figures of celebrities from film and television, sports stars, musicians and people from history. The museum also has Orlando-specific statues, including Pitbull and Walt Disney, plus Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lopez.
Learn how chocolate goes from the bean into a chocolate bar in this interactive museum. You’ll get a personal chocolate tour guide, a handsome prince and a dragon sidekick as you go through a Cacao Tree Greenhouse, a Chocolate Museum, a Mystical River of Chocolate and a Bean-to-the-Bar Factory using old world machinery.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium
This whacky-looking building hosts a 10,000-square-foot “Odditorium” that looks like it’s falling into a Florida sinkhole. There are exhibits and artifacts ranging from shrunken heads, an authentic vampire killing kit, a shooting gallery and a wild spinning vortex tunnel.
You can also try dinner and entertainment at a range of dining shows, including Mango’s Tropical Café Orlando, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament and Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Show.
If the rise in popularity of “millennial pink” has taught us anything, it’s that everything is better in rose gold.
And it’s not just our iPhones, beauty products, and home decor that are getting a rose gold upgrade these days. We’re also getting a taste of pink, glittery goodness at Disney World restaurants as well.
Disney Parks in Florida have rolled out some new pink treats, including cupcakes and margaritas, to add even more rose gold in our lives.
First up, the Main Street Bakery has baked up some fresh Red Velvet Swirl cupcakes to treat your sweet tooth. The Red Velvet Swirl is topped with a mini-vanilla cupcake, rose gold buttercream, chocolate crispy pearls and chocolate rose gold Minnie ears.
If you’re in the mood for a straightforward, Rose Gold cupcake from Sunshine Seasons in Epcot, you’ll get a mouthful of vanilla cake with hazelnut swirl, rose gold buttercream, fondant ears (of course), edible glitter and chocolate pearls.
Over at Hollywood Studios, you can grab a Strawberry Rose Gold cupcake with strawberry icing and crispy pearls at The Trolley Car Café.
If you’re in the mood to take a stroll down Disney’s Boardwalk, make the day complete with a Rose Gold Yellow Cupcake at the Boardwalk Bakery. Or, take the monorail to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. At Captain Cook’s and Kona Cafe, you can snack on Rose Gold Vanilla Cupcake with guava pastry cream.
But there’s one rare cupcake to savor while you’re staying at Disney. At the Gasparilla Island Grill in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, you can catch a glimpse of a Rose Gold Unicorn Cupcake with rose gold sponge and hazelnut cream cheese filling. Or, at Disney’s Beach Club resort and Disney's Yacht Club Resort, you can grab a Strawberry-Chocolate Mousse Cupcake with buttercream icing without ever entering a park, Food & Wine reported.
Disney's Parks and Resorts division was the only business segment that delivered fiscal first-quarter income and revenue growth for the Walt Disney Company.
"Our parks and resorts business ... continues to successfully leverage our incredible collection of IP (intellectual properties) to create and deliver an exceptional entertainment experience for millions of guests," Disney CEO Bob Iger said during the company's earnings call on Tuesday.
He added that Parks and Resorts' performance "deepens our confidence in the significant investments we're making to grow the business around the world, including commissioning three new cruise ships to expand our award-winning fleet, adding Toy Story Lands in Shanghai and Orlando, building Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in Disneyland and Disney World, and preparing to incorporate more of our popular IP into Disneyland Paris."
Revenue for the Parks and Resorts division for the quarter ended Dec. 30, 2017, grew 13% to $5.2 billion and segment operating income increased 21% to $1.3 billion.
Per room spending at domestic hotels was up 6% and occupancy was steady at 91%.
Operating income at the domestic parks was up 18% over the prior year, and attendance at the domestic parks was up 6%. The recently opened Pandora -- The World of Avatar contributed to record attendance at Disney's Animal Kingdom and Walt Disney World in Florida. The Guardians of the Galaxy -- Mission: Breakout! attraction at Disney's California Adventure contributed to higher attendance at the Disneyland Resort in California.
Haunted Mansion—A must for every Disney trip, the whole family can embark on this classic thrill ride through a spooky mansion that hosts ghosts and other supernatural shocks. Get the fast pass, though, because this is a popular ride and lines will be long.
Mad Tea Party: A ride for all ages; kids and parents can spin around and around together in the Mad Hatter’s teacups. However, parents with more adventurous children might want to jump in a different teacup if they can’t handle the fast spins. The ride is controlled by those inside the teacup, so you can spin as fast or as slow as you want.
Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid—A new ride, you can dive deep beneath the waves and not get wet. The kids will love this quirky musical adventure and adults can feel nostalgic with these classic Disney characters.
Honorable mentions: Space Mountain (height limit 44 inches), Pirates of the Caribbean, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
Frozen Ever After—This is a slower ride with some small drops, which makes it perfect for the whole family to fit together. Board an ancient Norwegian vessel and set sail in the wild world of “Frozen”!
The Seas with Nemo and Friends—Based on Disney Pixar’s “Finding Nemo,” go deep in the ocean and join Marlin and Dory in search for Nemo. The whole family can explore the sea together on the ride as well as real marine life afterward in the pavilion.
The Circle of Life—Watch as characters from “The Lion King,” Simba, Timon and Pumbaa learn about the environment in this 20-minute film on conservation. A great way for the whole family to cool off from the hot sun and show the kids that it’s important to care about our planet.
Kilimanjaro Safaris—The true highlight of the Animal Kingdom experience, ride in an open-air vehicle and tour through the home of majestic and exotic animals such as lions, giraffes, elephants and more. This is an 18-minute guided expedition you will never forget!
Wildlife Express Train—Get a behind the scenes look at the park by jumping on board this train that travels from Harambe, Africa to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. A relaxing ride that lasts seven minutes and journeys just over a mile, you will pass multiple veterinary facilities and animal housings
Animal Exhibits—Obviously, you’re at Animal Kingdom to see the animals, and all the exhibits are worth exploring. From lions to tigers to gorillas to giraffes to so many more, the whole family will love getting up close to so many animal’s habitats.
The Walt Disney Company is changing employees' hotel-room entry protocol at some of its properties at Orlando's Walt Disney World Resort, according to the non-Disney-affiliated WDW News Today news blog.
Disney is replacing its "Do Not Disturb" signs with "Room Occupied" markers and is informing guests that employees will enter guestrooms at least once a day, WDW News Today wrote.
The Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary Resorts, all of which are closest to Disney World's Monorail, are the first three hotels where the policy change will take place, though other Disney World hotels are expected to have the signs switched out within the next few weeks.
WDW News Today said the change was most likely spurred by an Oct. 1 mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, in which a Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino guest brought dozens of firearms to his rooms and opened fire from his guestroom window, killing 58 concert-goers below.
Work on the Margaritaville Resort Orlando is underway on the newly developing west side of the Walt Disney World Resort.
When the resort opens, it will feature a 187-room Margaritaville hotel, 1,000 vacation homes and 300 timeshare units. The property will open in phases, with vacation cottages debuting in July and the hotel next November.
Renderings of the cottages, which are one style of vacation home on the site, were recently released. Cottages will be scattered among tropical landscaping with multiple gathering spots that include communal fire pits, hammocks and outdoor grills. The cottage design features vibrantly colored exteriors, open floor plans, Caribbean-style siding, gingerbread trim and louvered shutters.
Renters and homeowners will have access to all of the resort's amenities as well as housekeeping and grocery delivery service.
When Disney’s latest rumored enhancement is ready, it won’t be arriving at Cinderella Castle, Fantasyland, or Epcot. Instead, it’ll come right to your vacation’s front door. According to Viral Disney, the Florida theme park resort will begin using bluetooth technology with MagicBands at two of its hotels to allow hotel room doors to open automatically.
Previously, the powerful digital wristband, which also works as a key card, would be held against a digitized doorknob to open each hotel room door. Now, doors will sense the MagicBand nearby and instantly unlock — a seamless enhancement that, if rumors are true, will be rolled out across both Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa this month.
But the seconds-saving enhancement outside hotel rooms isn’t what has us most excited about this change — it’s what else this potential shift could mean. The powerful digital wristband, which can additionally replace credit cards and physical park tickets, is popular for its ease among Walt Disney World guests.
MagicBands have always been Bluetooth-enabled, as they’re powered by an RFID chip that sends short-range and long-range communication throughout the parks, but Disney potentially changing how MagicBands are used at a main point of contact five years after their inception is likely a larger sign of updates to come. One can only assume that if Disney parks are indeed starting small with these enhancements, other Bluetooth-powered changes may be in store for experiences throughout Florida’s four theme parks and Disney’s many resort hotels.
Pricing for MagicBands starts at $12.99, but they are complimentary for guests with a Walt Disney World Resort hotel reservation. When used in conjunction with My Disney Experience, Disney’s digital vacation planning tool, the wristbands may also be used to access FastPass+ reservations, link photos taken by Disney Photopassphotographers to one’s online account, and trigger small surprises throughout the park.
Tokyo Disney Resort is currently home to two parks: Tokyo Disneyland, which is derived from the design of Disneyland Park in California, and Tokyo DisneySea, a standalone location with attractions, lands, and entertainment that appear nowhere else. Similar to Tokyo DisneySea’s aquatic inspiration, which features lands within a harbor, port, island, and mermaid lagoon, the supposed Tokyo DisneySky would touch on outer space, aerodynamic flight, and futuristic travel — and be the only one of its kind in the world.
Moving walkways would transport guests from place to place — likely as a riff on Disney’s Omnimover-style boarding or the PeopleMover ride system — and while no specific attractions have yet been announced, a jet plane simulator is said to be part of it. With an emphasis on technology, it would also be the first park without paper ticketing of any kind; guests would use a smartphone app to enter.
Tokyo Disney Resort is rumored to be repurposing a parking lot for the project, and with its footprint being significantly smaller than Tokyo’s two others, theme park enthusiasts are speculating one thing will set this expansion apart from all other Disney parks: they’ll build upwards. Multi-story buildings, ride atop rides, vertical attractions — it could all fit perfectly within the horizon-gazing theme. It’s possible, too, that Tokyo DisneySky could serve as an overseas home to an additional location of a Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed land, which is set on a remote planetary outpost, or possibly Pandora: The World of Avatar, which opened at Walt Disney World last Spring. Both fit the theme, and it’s not as though it hasn’t been brought up before; Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger teased the idea of additional Avatar expansions back in September.
Mainichi Shimbun claims an announcement will come this spring followed by the project breaking ground next year, but Oriental Land Company, which owns Tokyo’s two Disney parks — it is the sole resort Disney does not operate itself — has not confirmed the rumors, which began spreading last November, and issued the following statement:
“On Feb. 4, 2018, there were articles on Tokyo Disney Resort expansion, etc. posted by the media, however, none of the contents were announced by our company. Following our release on April 27, 2016 named ‘TDL/TDS Future Development Plans,’ we are considering various development strategies for 2021 and after to further enhance values of TDR as a whole.”
The latest revelations can be somewhat substantiated by Tokyo Disney Resort’s decade-long $4.5-billion investment and confirmed multi-year expansion across both parks. Soarin’, the popular ride at Epcot and Disney California Adventure parks, will soon make its way to Tokyo DisneySea, while a "Beauty and The Beast"-themed land and innovative ride, “Big Hero 6” attraction, and new entertainment and meet-and-greet locations will open at Tokyo Disneyland through 2020. A planned "Frozen"-themed port at Tokyo DisneySea was initially confirmed, but has not appeared in press materials following its announcement.
Whether or not you can make it to Tokyo for the possibly forthcoming park, there’s thankfully something slightly similar arriving at Disney World soon. Epcot is undergoing work to create an outer space-themed restaurant within its Mission:SPACE attraction featuring state-of-the-art technology that’ll make it look like you’re actually gazing out across the cosmos. It may not be a true international vacation, but it will definitely be an intergalactic experience.
Note: This article has been updated with the complete statement from Oriental Land Company.
Walt Disney World Resort has announced an incredible summer for 2018 starting during Memorial Day Weekend, May 25-27.
Travelers heading to all four Disney World theme parks, as well as Disney Springs, will be treated to new attractions and experiences this summer. At the Magic Kingdom, Disney characters like Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone from The Incredibles will take over Tomorrowland for a super dance party.
Super Heroes will also have the spotlight at the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot when Star-Lord and Gamora from the Guardians of the Galaxy take over and through an out-of-this-world music party.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the 20th-anniversary celebration will feature two new experiences, including Donald Duck taking over Dinoland U.S.A. and the Explorers Meet UP! A Great Bird Adventure show. The facility also houses the popular Avatar–Flight of Passage attraction.
For guests looking to visit Disney Springs, the site will host the much anticipated Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire hyper-reality experience, in addition to several new restaurants and bars.
Movie fans visiting Orlando will also be treated to the opening of Toy Story Land. Debuting this summer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the new land will allow visitors to step into the world of the popular film series.
Totaling 11 acres, Toy Story Land will transport tourists into Andy’s backyard, where they will be able to enjoy two new attractions, including the Slinky Dog Dash family-friendly coaster and the Alien Swirling Saucers themed ride.
With so much planned for this summer, travelers should be booking their family vacation to Disney World as soon as possible.
The change could point to a larger pay-to-play trend at the parks.
Now, however, thanks to a few recent updates to the FastPass+ system that Disney plans to implement, things in the land where dreams come true might be changing.
Beginning January 12, Disney World will allow some resort guests to purchase three extra FastPass+ selections per day for $50 per person, a Disney spokesperson confirmed to Spectrum News 13. The option, now in its pilot stages, will only be available to those guests staying in club level rooms and suites on property.
Club-level rooms can be found in many Disney deluxe resorts, like the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, and Yacht Club Resort, and also encompasses cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, bungalows at the Polynesian Village, and various suites at the Swan and Dolphin Hotels.
According to The Kingdom Insider, guests must participate in the program for a three-day minimum ($150 per person) and can only purchase one Fastpass+ per ride, but will be able to use FastPasses in more than one park per day, as well as book FastPasses 90 days in advance, as opposed to the traditional 60 days for resort guests.
While there are already claims that these extra FastPasses will NOT affect other guests’ ability to book their regular selections in the future, many Disney fans are worried about the consequences of the seemingly small change. The pilot program introduces Disney’s first foray into a “pay-to-play” system for FastPasses, offering those families who have the means to stay in Disney’s most expensive rooms to spend additional money to skip some of Disney’s lines. Many argue that now that a price has been applied to FastPass+, it can only point to a larger trend in the future, especially if the pilot program is rolled out to more guests.
Others maintain that, for now, the number of people taking advantage of the program will not cause a noticeable difference in the number of FastPasses available, especially while the program is in the pilot stages.
The idea of paying to skip the lines isn’t altogether new, though. Disney neighbor Universal Orlando Resort has been offering an Express Pass system for years, allowing guests to skip every line in the park for about $90 a day. The pass is also included with your room at some of Universal’s on-property resorts. While the option to skip the line over and over again can be well worth the money, the price is still steep, causing many fans to look at Disney’s FastPass+ as a more “fair” system.
Some Twitter users point out that Disney’s increasing hotel prices, ticket costs and (now) FastPass+ upcharges are making it less and less affordable to take an enjoyable Disney vacation. Disney day guests who do not have the luxury of booking FastPasses months in advance are also at a loss, especially if the system continues to allow for more purchasable FastPasses.
Another notable change is Disney’s recent decision to allow some neighboring hotel guests to book FastPasses and participate in Extra Magic Hours (a change from the usual system that only allows Disney resort guests to do so.) While this could allow for a more affordable trip for families who do not stay on property, it does not benefit the annual passholders who already live in the area, and could make FastPasses even more scarce.
Of course, much of this is merely conjecture for now, and only time will tell how these new policies affect Disney’s overall wait times, costs and crowds.
Delta Hotels & Resorts will reflag the Radisson Resort Orlando-Celebration near Walt Disney World this fall after the 718-room hotel undergoes a multimillion-dollar renovation.
The hotel, currently operating as the independent Grand Orlando at Celebration, is about five miles south of the Epcot and Hollywood Studios theme parks.
Once reflagged, the hotel will be Delta's second near Disney World. The 241-room Delta Orlando Lake Buena Vista opened in spring 2016 as the first Delta hotel in the U.S.
Most of Delta's hotels are in Canada. Marriott International acquired the chain in 2015.