Sunday, February 16, 2020

Slow down, you might actually enjoy yourself more that you realize.


So many people rush here and rush there when visiting the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

The last time I was there I stopped to admire the mosaic inside Cinderella Castle and to take pictures of it.  Some guy yells to his wife and they hurriedly push a stroller with a girl between 6-7 years old somewhere... “great place to stop, what the hell is he looking at”.  In hindsight he was probably yelling at me, but it’s hard to kill my joy when I am in the Magic Kingdom, no matter how rude you are.

What I was looking at was Disney’s attention to detail and storytelling.  If people just slow down and enjoy the Magic Kingdom, they will notice things like the mosaic telling the story of Cinderella. But alas, they were probably in a rush to go sit on a sidewalk somewhere.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

May the Force Be With You


Not everything is as it seems at Walt Disney World.
Walt Disney began his career as a storyteller. When his kids were young, he would spend time at local amusement parks. During that time, amusement parks weren't the most wholesome or cleanest places to take a family. Walt came up with the idea to build an amusement park where the entire family could spend the day in a safe, clean, and fin environment.
As he drew up plans for Disneyland, being the storyteller that he was, one of his decisions to save money was to invest in the what he considered to be "on stage" - the areas of the park that guests could see, and leave the backstage areas unfinished. So much of what you see as you experience one of the Wald Disney theme parks is a facade.
Disney's Hollywood Studios was initially designed to reflect actual working sets and on purpose several of the icons at several attractions are purposely "unfinished" on one side to invoke the feeling of being on a real movie set and seeing the back stage part of the prop.
The Shot:
Camera: Sony A6000
Lens: 16-50mm kit lens
Exposure: 1/640 sec at f/8.0
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 23mm
Post-Processing in Lightroom CC

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Reflections of Everest


I love seeing Expedition Everest during Golden Hour.  The mountain takes on a soft warm tone and the reflection in the lake makes an interesting composition.

The Shot:
  • Shot on an iPhone 7 Plus 
  • Post-processing with Adobe Lightroom Mobile
Have fun capturing the magic of Disney.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Why you should stay "on-property" the next time you go to Walt Disney World.


Many families who stay off property tell me they do so because Disney is too expensive, or they are staying with several families or groups, and they rented a house.

With over 25 unique resort hotels, Disney can accommodate almost all family needs and budgets.

If you are looking for something affordable for just a couple people, then check out their value resorts.  If you are planning a huge family reunion and you want everyone close by, many of the Deluxe resorts have suites that can accommodate large families.


Is it really cheaper to stay off property?

When staying off property, you'll need to rent a car or Uber to the parks, and both have a cost.  When you get to the park if you are driving, there is a $20 per day parking fee if you are not an Annual Passholder, and on top of that, you have to pay for gas to get back and forth.  That doesn't include the time to not only travel from your off-property hotel to the Parks, but then parking, and waiting for a tram.  Can you put a value on the time not being immersed in your vacation experience?

Disney has a variety of resort hotels ranging from Value all the way up to Deluxe that can accommodate any off-property price range.

There are benefits even before you arrive!


Reserve Dining


Have you ever tried to just walk up to a full-service restaurant for lunch only to be told they are all booked up?  As a resort guest, you can reserve dining up to 180 days in advance.

Access to Fastpass+ Planning


Get first access to reserve select shows and attractions up to 60 days before your arrival.  When booking your Disney resort hotel, purchase and link your theme park tickets, and you can reserve up to three Fastpasses per park, per day.

Disney's Magical Express Service


Disney's Magical Express service is a complimentary service that transports you and your family to and from Orlando International Airport via a luxury motor coach.  The service also includes luggage delivery right to your Disney hotel room.  Just add a Magical Express luggage tag provided in your pre-trip paperwork to your luggage before you check them at your home airport and the next time you see your bags will be in your Disney hotel room.

Now that you are on property


Stay immersed in the Disney experience


Experience the same Disney service and storytelling even when you are not at one of the four parks. Staying at a Disney resort puts you in the middle of the magic close to the parks and Disney Springs. Not only do you stay immersed in your Disney experience, but you don't waste time driving off-property.


Some resorts are close enough to walk to certain parks.



Extra Magic Hour

Guests at Walt Disney Resorts can enjoy extra time in the parks before they open and after they close.  Additional hours at the parks each day allow you and your family to experience select attractions and entertainment experiences without the crowds of non-resort guests.



During our most recent trip, Pandora Extra Magic Hours started at 10pm, and we were able to get in the standby line for Flight of the Banshee which took 80 minutes.  Significantly shorter than the standby times for the regular operating hours that exceeded 3 hours that day.   All you need is a valid park ticket and Magic Band, and Key to the World Card.


Complimentary Magic Bands

When you stay at a Walt Disney Resort hotel, you receive a complimentary Magic Band for each person in your party.  The Magic Band resembles a wristband and can be personalized with your name. Magic Bands can be used to:

  • Unlock your Disney Resort hotel room
  • Enter theme parks and water parks (with valid admission ticket)
  • Charge food and merchandise purchases back to your Disney Resort hotel account
  • Connect Photopass images to your account
  • Check-in to Fastpass+ attractions 

On select attractions, Magic Bands can also enhance your experience by bringing a personal touch.

Resort Package Delivery

Whether you plan on doing a lot or a little shopping, having your purchases delivered to your Disney Resort hotel is a free and convenient service that prevents you from having to haul your purchases around the parks all day.


As a Disney Resort hotel guest, you can have your purchases delivered to the resort gift shop available for pickup usually no later than 3pm the next day.

Free parking and complimentary transportation between resorts, parks, and Disney Springs


If you plan to drive to Walt Disney World, parking at your Disney resort hotel is complimentary.  Once at your Disney Resort hotel, if you prefer, depending on where you are coming from and going to, Disney provides complimentary transportation via many options such as busses, monorails, and various types of watercraft.

Flexibility
One aspect of staying at a Disney Resort hotel that isn't talked about much, but for us is probably the best reason of all to stay is the flexibility of coming and going from the parks when we want.  

This is even true today with older children, but this was even more so when we had very young kids.  When our family was young, we could not last all day at the parks.  We tried staying from open to close once, it didn't work.

Our revised strategy is as follows:  We go to the parks in the morning before the bulk of the crowd gets there, and enjoy the parks with relatively shorter lines.  Then we leave the parks and go to Disney Springs or our resort for a nice relaxing lunch. When the kids were younger we would go back to the resort, and at least one parent would stay in the room while the kids napped, and the other parent rode thrill rides, had some quiet time or whatever they wanted.  At any age, this is a winning strategy during the summer when it can be blisteringly hot. We go back to the parks either at dinner time or after and enjoy the magic of the parks at night and again, with relatively fewer guests. 

Using this strategy really only works when you stay on Disney property.  With complimentary Disney transportation, you can wake up early with the younger kids who seem to want to wake up at 7am while on vacation - go figure, and take them to the parks while the teenagers sleep in.  Later you can meet-up with the family members who didn't want to greet the world at the crack of dawn.  Maybe Grandma and Grandpa can only do a few hours at the park and want a nice relaxing place to rest after being at the parks, it's so easy to head back to an on property resort for anyone who is ready for a break.  Have you seen all those exhausted people sleeping on benches, and ledges at the parks, chances are they are staying off property, but the rest of their party was not ready to leave.

Once we started doing our Walt Disney World vacations this way, we realized that we did not think of our "vacation" as going to the Magic Kingdom.  In reality, our vacation started the minute we boarded the Magical Express at the airport, and it ended when we got back off the Magical Express a week later at Orlando airport.  Everything else in between was a magical experience immersed in the world of Disney.

So is it really better to stay "off-property?
For most of the people I talk to, they tell me the cost of renting a big enough place for everyone is the reason they stay off-property.  

Disney has over 25 unique resort hotels that can accommodate any size family arrangement or budget.  There are also additional costs that should be considered when staying off-property.

There are also a host of other intangible benefits for staying at a Disney Resort hotel.  I hope this article gives you insight into both the tangible and intangible benefits to help you plan a wonderful Walt Disney World vacation. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Magic Kingdom


The Shot:
  • Aperture: f/8.0
  • Shutter Speed: 1/500
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 36mm
  • Three bracket HDR 
  • Post Processing: Lightroom
Have fun capturing the magic of Disney