We’ve got a new feed on Instagram– follow us @theresagirlinthecastle to see exclusive photos from Walt Disney World rides, decorations, food and more, year-round.
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.from disneyworld.disney.go.com
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.
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.Collecting pressed pennies at Disney World is a great hobby! Download a free spreadsheet to help start your fun. Click To Tweet
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.
Once you’re at Walt Disney World, you can keep your eyes peeled for pressed penny machines everywhere. Make it a sort of scavenger hunt! Or, use the My Disney Experience App, which will give you the location of every pressed penny machine in the Parks. Lastly, you can download a Complete List of All Walt Disney World Pressed Coins here, for free, in Excel spreadsheet form. This list was last updated 7/29/2019.
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!
So in my last post I explained how to rent a scooter, or ECV, to use at Disney World. That was the easy part. The harder part is deciding that you need one, and then overcoming any concerns you may have about what using a scooter will be like. I’ve got the scoop on what to expect, and some tips to making it the best experience possible.
But let’s start with why you might need to rent a scooter at Disney World. There are tons of reasons why this might be a good choice for you. You might be physically disabled permanently, or temporarily. You might be recovering from knee surgery, or the flu. You might have plantar fasciitis. You might have back problems, joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis. You might have digestive, respiratory, circulatory, neurological, or any other physical condition that impacts you. You might have terrible blisters from wearing the wrong shoes the day before. You might have fibromyalgia. You might have anything at all that will impede your ability to walk many miles in a day, and/or to stand for long periods of time. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what your reason is for needing a scooter. WHATEVER THAT REASON IS, IT’S A PERFECTLY GOOD REASON AND NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. (Warning: you might hear me say this again.)
I confess, I had a hard time convincing myself to use a scooter the first time. I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to admit I needed it. I wanted to get the exercise from walking all day. And I could walk, albeit sometimes slowly and painfully, leaving me an exhausted wreck at the end of the day. I’ve got a spinal fusion, sciatica pain, and some other issues that drain my energy. My back makes standing harder than walking, so there are tons of things at Disney World I was never able to do, such as watch the castle show, wait in a long line to meet a character, stand and listen to musicians in EPCOT or Animal Kingdom, or do any rides standby. But now, when I do rent a scooter? We do EVERYTHING. We watch shows, we wait in super long lines to meet characters, we go everywhere and anywhere. We get to do more and I hurt less. It’s a win-win.
For some people, a mobility device is a day to day reality. That’s okay. For others, it’s something they need in special circumstances, and that’s okay too. Disney is tough. Disney is a haul. You might be able to get around without a scooter in your normal environment, but not be up to walking 7 or 8 miles a day. That’s okay. And if you’re telling yourself, “I’m not one of those scooter people,” stop it. There’s no such thing as “scooter people.” You’re just a person who needs mobility assistance. And that’s OKAY. It might not be what you want, and it might be hard to adjust to your current reality, but cut yourself some slack and do whatever it takes to make your vacation as magical as it can be. Never once have I met anyone who’s regretted getting a scooter. Instead, every person I know who’s needed one and gotten one has said it was a terrific decision.
Still feeling nervous? There’s a fantastic Facebook group you might want to join. It’s called Magical Guide to doing Disney with chronic pain and other conditions. (It’s a closed group so you’ll have to request to join.) I am so grateful to the people who started this group, it’s been a lifeline. It’s a terrific bunch of supportive people that can help make your Disney trip as magical as possible. As the group description says, “If you need help planning, need emotional support, or want to help others by sharing your experience, please join us!”
But maybe you’re still hesitant, and maybe one of the reasons you still don’t want to rent a scooter is because you’re worried about what other people will think. “Will they judge me?” So many of us have hidden or invisible disabilities that aren’t obvious just by looking at us. “Will they think I’m just lazy? Will people be mean to me?” You know, it’s human nature to feel insecure about these things, but you need to put it in perspective. Firstly, of course, you shouldn’t worry about what other people think, especially people who are strangers. You have to think long and hard about what’s more important to you: living your best life at Disney World to the fullest degree possible, or worrying about what some person you’ll never see again might be thinking. Secondly, scooters are everywhere at Disney World. You won’t stick out using one, not at all. And lastly, always remember this if you start to feel self-conscious: other people at Disney are not as interested in you as you think they are. They’re much too busy. They’re ultra-focused on getting a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train FastPass or getting in line to meet the stepsisters, making family memories and enjoying themselves. You should be doing the same.Thinking of using a scooter at Disney World? No need to stress, here's the scoop on what it's like. Click To Tweet
Will people be mean or rude to you? There are some unkind people in this world, unfortunately, so it’s possible someone might. But in my experience this is the rarity, not the norm. Cast members are extraordinarily kind when you’re using a scooter. I mean, they’re always so helpful and friendly, but when I’m doing poorly enough to need a scooter, I really notice how they go that extra mile to make me feel welcome and comfortable. As for other visitors at the Parks, remember, what I said: most of them do not care whether you’re on a scooter or a pogo stick. They’re too busy planning and executing their vacation. Then, some people will be friendly, some will be on scooters themselves, and yes, I won’t tell a lie: there’s a percentage of people out there who “hate scooters.” There’s also a percentage of people out there that hate strollers, parades, dessert parties, ‘Ohana, and anything Frozen. What can I say? There’s no accounting for taste. 🙂
The biggest complaint you’ll see about people in scooters is that they run into (or “plow into,” “run over,” “crash into”) people walking. I’m sure it happens sometimes, accidentally. The problem is on both sides. One, scooters don’t stop on a dime. If you stop pressing the forward button, there’s a little hitch before you stop moving. So a person using a scooter might not notice an obstacle coming to be able to stop in time from bumping into someone. At the same time, people like to dart in front of scooters, either because they’re focused on their own journey and they’re darting in front of everyone, or because they don’t want to get stuck behind a scooter so they try to get ahead. Or — and we all love this one, riding or walking — they stop dead in their tracks in front of you, with no warning. Once in Magic Kingdom, I was trying to cross Main Street, which was as busy as it ever was (in other words, wall to wall people). I had the scooter on the lowest setting and was creeping along carefully when the woman who’d been walking in front of me a moment ago stopped dead in her tracks. I bumped her backpack slightly with my scooter’s basket, and she whirled on me like I’d run over her with a semi. She screeched, “Watch where you’re going!” I said, “Right back atcha!” and we both went on our way. What can you do? But really, most of the time, a simple “excuse me” works wonders. Be careful and be kind, and most people will return the favor. We’re all there to enjoy the magic, after all.
Having said that, if you’re going to use a scooter at Disney World, you should take the time to learn how to use one before hitting the Parks. It’s not difficult at all, but practice never hurts. Go to a Target or Walmart and use one there. Then, when you get to Disney, tool around your resort a little bit before heading straight for Magic Kingdom on the busiest day of the year. Go slowly — there’s a dial that lets you set your speed, and you don’t have to have it at full blast.
Getting on and off Disney buses can be a little tricky. You have to parallel park the scooter, essentially, and while I’m a whiz at parallel parking my car, I seem to be less than stellar at doing it with the scooter. To be frank, my personal experience with this was not good. I asked the bus drivers for assistance with steering, but the ones I encountered weren’t especially helpful or friendly about it. I’m assured by a lot of other Disney friends that they’ve had bus drivers coach them through it, though, so I’m going to assume my experience was an aberration. Using a scooter on the monorail, for what it’s worth, is much easier. You don’t really have to park, you just pull in and drive off.
Once you’ve decided to rent a scooter, and now that you know there’s no reason at alI to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about it, you still might have some concerns about navigating your way through the Parks. In my opinion, EPCOT and Animal Kingdom are the easiest parks for using a scooter. Walkways are wide, which means it’s easier for people to go around you and for you to go around other people. Disney Springs is likewise spread out, though some stores are a closer fit than others. Lines for ordering food are generally tight. I haven’t been to Hollywood Studios on a scooter, so I’m afraid I can’t comment on the experience there. I’d like to, though, because it would make watching the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks a lot easier.
Magic Kingdom is, for me, probably the most challenging Park to use a scooter in, first off because of the crowds. Most days, it’s packed. Walkways are a little smaller and there’s not a lot of open space. You have to go through Main Street at least twice, to get in and out of the park, and it’s always a zoo there. People stop in the middle of the sidewalk or the street and aren’t looking where they’re going. I totally understand, it’s really exciting being there! The first time I walked down Main Street towards that beautiful castle, I was in a daze. There are also the trolley tracks in the street, which can be difficult to drive over. All in all, it’s slow going. Just be patient and careful. It might even be easier to duck into the Emporium (or the Confectionary on the other side) and navigate down through the shops, which are all connected.
When you get back into Fantasyland/Adventureland/Tomorrowland etc., if you’re able to walk a bit, you might consider parking your scooter in a central spot and going on some rides without it, if that works for you. Or keep it with you, but know that for some of the older rides (Haunted Mansion, for example, my favorite, and Pirates of the Caribbean) you do need to be able to transfer out of the scooter. Just remember to take your key with you and not leave any valuables behind.
Remember, a scooter is an assistive device that’s there to help you because you need help. It’s nothing to feel funny or worry about, and it’s only there to make your life easier. Heck, they come with baskets for storing your Disney loot, so that’s a bonus right there. If you’re worried about heavy sun, you can even get a shade canopy, if you rent from the offsite vendors, or a cupholder. Do whatever makes your trip to Disney better for you and your family, and enjoy each magical moment to the fullest.
As Annual Passholders, we visit WDW about once a month. Sometimes, on those trips, I’m in good shape. Or sometimes we’re not spending a full day at the Parks and I can manage okay. But sometimes, I’m having a bad day. Back problems, sciatic pain, vertigo, IBS, whatever the current health issue is, sometimes I can’t manage walking around the Parks all day. On those days, I use a scooter, also know as an ECV (Electronic Convenience Vehicle). And so do a lot of other people who need them for any variety of reasons.
You can rent scooters at each of the four Parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios). The cost is $50 per day, plus a $20 refundable deposit. Scooters are also available from Disney at both water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon) and at Disney Springs for $50 a day, plus a $100 refundable deposit. Daily rentals are transferable between all locations. You can use a scooter at Magic Kingdom, return it mid-day, and use one at Animal Kingdom in the afternoon, and just pay once. At Magic Kingdom, however, they do tend to run out of scooters early in the day.Renting a scooter at Walt Disney World is easy! Here's everything you need to know. Click To Tweet
Your other option is to rent them from an outside company. There are many in the Orlando area, and they will make it easy for you, bringing your scooter directly to your resort so that it’s waiting for you. Disney even has Featured Providers that can come into the Parks if you need any assistance. Learn more about rentals here.
We use Buena Vista Scooter Rentals and have had a great experience with them. You can rent for any number of days — even one day, though you have to pay for a minimum of two days at least. They will deliver the scooter right to your resort, so it’s waiting there for you when you arrive, and you return it there when you’re done.
We also recently learned you can have your scooter delivered to a resort you aren’t even staying at. For example, I recently needed a scooter for just one day we were spending at EPCOT. EPCOT is hard for me; I love it but it’s big and involves a lot of walking. We were staying at Port Orleans and could have gotten the scooter delivered there, but then would have had to take a bus to EPCOT, which I didn’t want do do as we wanted to go in through the International Gateway. Buena Vista delivered the scooter to Beach Club for us instead, with just an extra fee of $20 as a damage waiver. We took Uber there, picked it up, and then returned it there at the end of the day. Easy.
There’s a wide variety of scooters available, different sizes and capacities, ones you can take apart and put in your car, ones with canopies to protect you from the sun, cup holders, and so forth. You can rent scooters as well as strollers, walkers, wheelchairs, and other mobility products. Renting a mobility device to use at Disney World is really simple, and can make a big difference for anyone who needs one.
But … maybe you need a scooter, but you’re hesitant. You might not want to use one. You might be shy about it, or even embarrassed (though you shouldn’t be). Will it be hard to navigate around the crowds? Will people judge you? More on that in my next post.
We had a chance to visit Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and it was a blast!
Woody is there to greet you with a “Howdy, Pardner!” and you find yourself shrunk down to the size of one of Andy’s toys.
We went during Extra Magic Hours, from 7 to 8 AM. Disney World is offering daily Extra Magic Hours for Hollywood Studios through August, 2018. If you can, take advantage of them! Crowds were incredibly light. Everyone seems to be running straight to Slinky Dog Dash, and you can do that too and have only a short wait. We walked onto Alien Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania twice, each, no waiting. We also were able to meet Buzz, Woody, and Jessie with waits of less than five minutes.
Toy Story Mania has a new entrance and queue, but it’s still the amazingly fun ride you know and love. Alien Swirling Saucers is kind of like the teacups on steroids — all the swirly fun but some added bits. I loved it, but I’m a fan of spinny rides.
As for Slinky Dog Dash, it’s a great coaster. Not a thrill ride for sure, but not a kiddie coaster either. The speed is comparable to Seven Dwarves Mine Train and the trajectory is similar to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but the ride is very, very smooth. For a more intense ride, sit in the back; for a calmer experience, try the front.
One disappointment was Woody’s lunchbox. Some of the more interesting items, the brisket sandwich and the grilled cheese and totchos, are only served at lunch, after 10:30 AM. The breakfast offerings we tried did not impress. The turkey and egg sandwich was okay but not exciting and the tater tots were cold.
There’s no actual gift shop in Toy Story Land, which is a little surprising — for one thing, it would be nice if there was one place to go that provided shelter from the elements and even a little air conditioning. Instead, merchandise is sold from carts. There are a few fun toys, Slink eats, alien ears, and an alien souvenir cup, as well as t-shirts, hats, and pins.
Toy Story Land isn’t jaw-droppingly innovative, but it is a great and much-needed addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which has been rightly called a “half-day Park” for some time. The Toy Story franchise has enthralled both children and adults for years and this new land is a long-overdue expansion we were very glad to see.
We love the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom, Happily Ever After, and we’re always looking for new and different ways to view the show … especially since that front-of-the-castle mob scene can be exhausting! We’ve tried watching from Fantasyland, from the deck of California Grill, from ‘Ohana at the Polynesian, and soon will be attending the dessert party at Magic Kingdom. This last trip, though, we tried something outside the box: we had dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table during the show.
To start with, some tips on how to watch Happily Ever After from the castle. Once you pick a day to go, find out what time Happily Ever After is scheduled for that night and then try to get a reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table for dinner shortly before that time. This can be a tough-to-get reservation, so you have to make it a priority when you can make dining reservations 180 days before your trip. Once you get the reservation, make sure to re-check that timing of the fireworks show when it gets closer to your trip. Times can change, and you’d need to make adjustments.
Cast Members will start roping off access to the castle as much as an hour before the fireworks show, so leave yourself plenty of time to get to Cinderella’s Royal Table, which is located in the rear of the castle. We had been shopping on Main Street, for example, and at 8 PM started heading to the restaurant. Front and side entrance to the castle was already roped off, and we had to go around the long way either through Liberty Square or down by the tea cups, and for the most part, you’re going against the crowdflow. We had plenty of time to get to our 8:30 reservation, but were glad we’d left early. Even when you reach the back, you’ll need to let them know you have a dining reservation or you won’t be let into the roped-off area around the castle. At your reservation time you’ll be checked in and taken in to meet Cinderella, and then escorted up to your table. For an ideal view of the fireworks, you’d want to be seated at the windows.
Unfortunately, Cinderella’s Royal Table does not take seating requests of this nature. As we and every other person who asked was very politely told, it’s simply not possible due to the fact that almost everyone would make this request. You’ll still be able to see from a great many tables in the restaurant, but the window spot is definitely best. You’ve just got to cross your fingers and hope for a little pixie dust on this one. Here’s a bit of information, though — there are a number of two-person-only tables at the windows. At least one or two four-tops as well, but because of the small, angled space, it seems like the restaurant tries to take advantage of every bit of space and sort of crams those tables in there. So if you’re just a party of two … you might stand a better chance. Still not a guarantee, though — we saw couples seated at four-tops elsewhere in the restaurant.
When Happily Ever After begins, the princesses leave the dining area and the music and voiceover from the show is piped in to the restaurant. The fireworks begin and you have a truly magical view.
Some of the fireworks are shot off behind Fantasyland and you have a perfect view of those here. Others shoot off from the castle itself, literally right above your head! It isn’t too loud but it can be dazzling.
Obviously, you miss the castle projections that are part of what tells the story of Happily Ever After — you’re in the castle they’re being projected on. I certainly don’t recommend skipping those entirely, so catch the show with a clear view of the projects another time. But if you’re looking for a different experience, I very much recommend this one.
A bit of video from the show — you’ll hear a lot of “Oh mys!” from a young lad seated nearby. We were all glued to the view.
Having Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room has been on my Disney bucket list for some time. Since the tea room is relatively small, reservations can be a little hard to come by, and it’s also difficult sometimes to carve out time in a busy Disney Parks afternoon. I very highly recommend doing so, though, after our delightful experience there.
The cafe is small, light and airy, but the seating is comfortably intimate without being too tight. We were seated and offered ice water while we went over the tea options on the menu.
Having already had lunch that day, we opted for the simplest/smallest tea, the Bedfordshire Tea. I will end up saying this over and over, but it was far more food than you might think. Somehow even now it seems like a few finger sandwiches and desserts would not be enough to fill anyone up, especially if you’re Disney foodies like we are. But it was substantial. We noted another couple two tables over ordered the Cheshire Tea, which adds a fruit and cheese plate. The plates were enormous. Next time, we’ll skip lunch and order the Cheshire. Neither of us are fans of caviar so I don’t think we’ll ever go for that option, but it’s available for those who are, with the Berkshire Tea.
Then we made our dessert choice. The Bedfordshire Tea has these three courses. The first is finger sandwiches, the second is a scone, and then the final course is dessert. You each choose between one of three desserts: pastries, including a mousse-filled swan, macaroons, and a chocolate-covered strawberry; strawberries topped with whipped cream; or, an English trifle with custard, ladyfingers, fruit and cream. We decided to each choose something different and share. I got the trifle, and my husband got the pastries.
Next, we made our tea selections. There were a few that looked interesting, and I decided to go with the Rose Garden black tea. It was really good. My husband can’t have caffeine of any kind, so we were happy to see a very nice herbal tea selection on the menu. It’s nice when there’s more than just your basic chamomile. He chose Thoroughly Minted and liked it a lot, but wants to try Golden Caramel Rooibus next time.
Very soon, a pot of your chosen tea is brought to your table, complete with a tea cozy. This keeps the tea very warm — in fact, be careful when you remove the cozy and pour, the pot is hot. It holds a lot of tea, but if you run out, they’ll happily bring you more.
The first course of finger sandwiches arrived. This was the only disappointing part of the experience, with one notable exception. Starting clockwise from twelve o’clock, the sandwiches pictured below were chicken curry, goat cheese and fire-roasted tomato, cucumber, caramelized onion tart, and egg salad. I found the chicken curry, goat cheese, and cucumber sandwiches to be fine but bland, and the egg salad to be unpalatable because it contained celery (that might be just me, but I hate celery in egg salad). My husband, on the other hand, considered the onion tart to be one of the best things he’s ever eaten, so it saved the day.
Moving forward, though, things went back to being delectable. The scone (second and bottom tiers, below) was nicely made, not too dense; I think it was orange and golden raisin in flavor. I tried each of the accompanying gooey bits in turn. Loved the marmalade and clotted cream. The lemon curd was too tart for me, and overpowered the scone. The berry tart was a quick, enjoyable bite.
Finally, dessert. The macaroons were light and flavorful, and the strawberry dipped in chocolate certainly didn’t disappoint. The mousse-filled swan was beautiful to look at, airy, and a perfect bite. As for the trifle , I enjoyed every bite — and it’s a lot of bites! The trifle is seasonal, so mine was a lemon custard and blueberries. Not even two of my favorite flavors, but still delicious. And filling. The trifle alone, with tea, would have been a nice-sized dessert/snack. I recommend each getting different selections and sharing as we did.
The Afternoon Tea at the Garden View Tea Room of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is held seven days a week, on the following schedule: