After 408 days away (our last visit was February 29, 2020), we finally went back to Walt Disney World yesterday.
We live a few hours south of Orlando, and as Passholders who usually visit once a month or so, the year and change away was hard on us. And while we have a lot of friends who went back once the Parks reopened in July, for us the right decision was to wait until we were fully vaccinated. That’s a personal decision for each person to make, and just what fit our specific situation. We missed Disney a LOT, though, so when we hit our fully inoculated date at the end of March, and we planned a one-day trip back to the Magic Kingdom as soon as we could. (We adhered to ALL safety protocols the entire time we were there, and wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise.)
So many things different, and so many the same. It’s still Disney. I still loved being on Main Street. I still got to ride two of my favorite rides, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Haunted Mansion. I still shopped (we call our Disney haul our “loot”), coming home with a very cool Haunted Mansion blanket and a celebratory new Pandora charm. But I will say, it was harder than I thought it would be to not be able to see people’s faces. To not be able to smile at Cast Members and see them smile back. More practically speaking, it was also hard to wear a mask in the humidity all day.
The worst thing for me, though, was the lack of Fast Passes. I can’t express to you how much I miss being able to plan out my three favorite rides of the day. Lines are long and despite what some will tell you, it’s not just because they’re socially distanced. (I actually saw zero social distancing going on in lines. The markers are there on the floor, and Disney reminds you to stand on them. No one was doing so on the rides we were on. I don’t know whether this was an unusual occurrence or not, but it shocked me.) The line for Winnie the Pooh was wrapped around to Cosmic Ray’s. If you’re familiar with the layout of Magic Kingdom, you know that’s pretty far. Some people say they’re glad that Fast Passes are gone for now, but I can’t imagine why. Spending that much of my Park day in a line is a waste to me. I can’t wait until FP+ comes back.
One change I do love are the Character Cavalcades. While under COVID safety protocols, Disney has suspended regular parades and fireworks. Instead, randomly throughout the day and in different locations in the Park, you’ll see a Character Cavalcade instead. These are such fun. Short, just a couple floats maybe, unannounced, but all the more fun for that. We saw three in the time we were there, plus a performance from the Dapper Dans up on the train platform.
These, I hope are here to stay. I love the longer parades, of course. Festival of Fantasy is beautiful. But it does sort of jam up Magic Kingdom for a big part of the day, every day, what with people staking out viewing spots sometimes hours in advance. I wouldn’t want to see it go away, but maybe it should just be once a week or something like that, with the smaller Cavalcades every day? Just a thought.
We weren’t at the Magic Kingdom very late, because of the long drive home. We probably spent more time in the car than in the Park. But it was worth it just to be back. Yes, the masks are hard, mobile ordering can be a bit hectic, and it’s harder to get dining reservations right now because not everything is open. You still need to be careful, even with a vaccine, by washing your hands, wearing your mask, using sanitizer, and trying to keep a little distance. But on the other hand, I got to see Mickey. I got lots of compliments on my Dole Whip dress. And when a Princess Cavalcade went by, the Fairy Godmother saw me waving at her and blew me a kiss. If that doesn’t make your day, I don’t know what will.
“Vacationers have more options to choose from than ever for transportation, including ride-share services that save time and offer more flexibility to go where they want, when they want. In light of this shift, when Disney Resort hotel bookings open for stays in 2022, we will no longer offer Disney’s Magical Express service for airport transportation, starting with arrivals Jan. 1, 2022. We will continue to operate the service for new and existing reservations made at Disney Resort hotels for arrivals throughout 2021.”
Disney went on to reassure guests that other complimentary transportation options such as buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner will continue to be available within Walt Disney World Resort for Disney Resort hotel guests, including to and from all four theme parks.
As locals to the area, the Magical Express wasn’t something that we used, but I know it’s a huge favorite service for many guests. While expected, this news is probably a disappointment for many.
Pixar Animation Studios announced today that its next feature film release will be “Luca.” Directed by Academy Award® nominee Enrico Casarosa (“La Luna”) and produced by Andrea Warren (“Lava,” “Cars 3”), “Luca” is set to open in U.S. theaters June 18, 2021. The voice cast has yet to be announced.
Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, the original animated feature is a coming-of-age story about one young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta, and endless scooter rides. Luca shares these adventures with his newfound best friend, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: he is a sea monster from another world just below the water’s surface.
This movie sounds like a beautiful love story to Italy, friendship, and growing up. I can’t wait to see it.
BURBANK, Calif. (March 20, 2020) –The Walt Disney Studios announced today that Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” will be available to buy digitally and on Movies Anywhere beginning today at 5:00PM PST/ 8:00PM EST and on Disney+ on April 3 in the U.S.
The film premiered in theaters on March 6 and earned rave reviews from audiences, including a 95% Verified Audience Score on RottenTomatoes. With cinemas currently impacted by closures due to the global health crisis, Disney will offer the film ahead of schedule to purchase on digital platforms in the U.S. beginning today at 5:00PM PST /8:00PM EST for $19.99.
“While we’re looking forward to audiences enjoying our films on the big screen again soon, given the current circumstances, we are pleased to release this fun, adventurous film to digital platforms early for audiences to enjoy from the comfort of their homes,” said Dan Scanlon (Director, “Onward”) and Kori Rae (Producer, “Onward”).
In “Onward,” teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot (voices of Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) get an unexpected opportunity to spend one more day with their late dad, embarking on an extraordinary quest aboard Barley’s epic van Guinevere. Like any good quest, their journey is filled with magic spells, cryptic maps, impossible obstacles and unimaginable discoveries. But when the boys’ fearless mom Laurel (voice of Julia Louis-Dreyfus) realizes her sons are missing, she teams up with a part-lion, part-bat, part-scorpion, former warrior – aka The Manticore (voice of Octavia Spencer) – and heads off to find them. Perilous curses aside, this one magical day could mean more than any of them ever dreamed.
Disney Parks has released a statement regarding Hurricane Dorian:
The Walt Disney World Resort is operating under normal conditions. We are closely monitoring the path of the projected weather, as nothing is more important than the safety of our Guests and Cast Members.
We are taking precautions, including cancelling weekend sporting events and closing Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park on Sunday. We are also contacting Guests with current and upcoming reservations at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Copper Creek Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to plan for anticipated weather impacts.
As Annual Passholders, we visit the Walt Disney World a lot. We love to collect things, too, so my husband collects trading pins, and I collect autographs. Collecting at the Parks can be fun; it’s like a big scavenger hunt sometimes, trying to get that elusive pin or coming across a rare character meet. We’re about ready for something new, though, and pressed pennies fit the bill. Each pressed penny souvenir is affordable and small, not taking up too much room, and it’s fun to find the machines scattered throughout all of Walt Disney World — the Parks, the resorts, and even some other places you’d never guess.
Scroll down for a free downloadable spreadsheet of ALL Walt Disney World Pressed Pennies and Coins.
If you want to start collecting pressed pennies, or just bring home a few as souvenirs, come prepared. Most pressed pennies cost 51 cents — that’s two quarters and the penny itself. You’ll need to bring change with you. One great way to carry your coins easily is to use a tube of M&M minis (minus the M&Ms of course). They’re a good size. A few machines make pressed quarters, too, so bring extra change.
There are also an increasing amount of machines that take credit cards, so no change required, and even the penny is provided for you. These digital machines cost more (often $1 each pressed penny or 8 for $5) but they save you the trouble of carrying around coins and finding shiny pennies.
How about those shiny pennies, too? You can clean dirty pennies by placing them in white vinegar for a few minutes and then wiping with a clean cloth. Another method is to use ketchup — regular ketchup, you heard me right! — and a little elbow grease. Using pennies made prior to 1982 may give you the best results, as these are all-copper; pennies made after 1983 are part zinc, and may leave a sort of streak when pressed. If you’re not worried about that and don’t want to clean pennies, just keep your eyes peeled for new, shiny ones whenever you get change at the store.
Now that you’ve got your souvenirs, you can store them in pressed coin books (Disney has some for sale), keep them loose, or even punch a hole in one end and wear them as a charm. Either way, you’ve got a fun and inexpensive souvenir — or a new bit of memorabilia to collect.
We’ve got a new YouTube channel — and some new videos to share! As annual passholders, we’re lucky enough to get to visit Disney World year round. So we have lots of videos of rides, attractions, special experiences, hidden gems, and everything that makes Disney the most magical place on earth to show you. Just click subscribe now!
First up, last week we got to ride the double-decker Omnibus down Main Street first thing in the morning. The best way to secure a seat is to wait the train station for the vehicles to pull up, before the welcome show at the castle (you won’t be able to see both). Then enjoy a bird’s-eye view down Main Street!