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Magical Melinda Blog

Half Disney World, Half Universal Studios… ALL TALK!

Things to do at Walt Disney World

While Walt Disney World Resort has four amazing theme parks to visit there are plenty of others things to do while on vacation.

Coming during the warmer months? Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are great ways for your family to take a break from the Florida heat and cool off. Each park offers up different attractions for the whole family! Have little ones? Both parks have special areas for them! Whether you’re looking to take the day to relax or looking for some thrills, the Disney Water parks are a great choice for the whole family.

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Why not spend a day with some cool thrills at Typhoon Lagoon?

Staying at a Disney Resort? You will receive vouchers for the two mini golf courses! Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland are open every day and offer up a fun little break from the parks. Fantasia Gardens is located near the Swan and Dolphin Hotel and offers up two mini golf courses. The first is The Fantasia Fairways, which is for the more serious golfer. Whereas the second, Fantasia Gardens offers up a whimsical course based on the Disney Film you guessed it, Fantasia! Over in Winter Summerland which is located near Blizzard Beach, you can play a round of mini golf in Santa’s permanent off-season retreat. Both courses offer up unique and fun experiences.

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Winter Summerland is fun for the whole family!

Did you know Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort offers high tea every day? Reservations are hard to come by as they are only open in the afternoon and it is a very small space.  There is nothing like listening to the piano in the lobby play as you sip your tea and enjoy yourself while relaxing.

Looking for something for the fishermen in your family? That’s right, you can go on fishing excursions too! A private catch-and release for large – mouth bass in the lakes of Walt Disney World. This experience is for up to five people and includes a guide, rod and reel, tackle, bait, and beverages.

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Take some time for a private catch-and release fishing

What about the pro golfer in your family? Walt Disney World offers three 18-hole 4-star par for the course at 72 courses. The PALM course offers a “villain” of water. MAGNOLIA’s “villain” is sand. LAKE Buena Vista’s “villain” is narrow fairways. Golf instruction by PGA Pro Staff is available by appointment.

Looking for something a little more relaxing? Disney World Resort has you covered. With spas all over the resort you can spend the day being pampered and finding pure relaxation. The Senses Spa boats a soothing confection of revitalizing techniques and therapies. Facials, massages, body wraps and aromatherapy – all designed to elevate the mind and have you looking and feeling your best.

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Magic Kingdom’s Wishes Fireworks as seen from California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Want a nice night out? Why not have dinner at one of the various deluxe resorts? The Boardwalk is a wonderful spot for not only a delicious meal but also offers nightly entertainment! You may even be able to view some of the fireworks from EPCOT’s Illuminations! On the opposite side of The Boardwalk are The Yacht and Beach Club, both of which offer delicious dining experiences. Dine at one of the three monorail resorts and you may catch Magic Kingdom’s Wishes fireworks display as well as The Electrical Water Pageant Parade!

 

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The Electrical Water Pageant Parade as seen from Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.

 

There’s so much to see and do at The Walt Disney World Resort, you simply cannot do it all in one trip!!

Top Ten Things we love about Disney during the holiday season

After the last guest leaves the parks on October 31st magic happens. The Walt Disney World Resort is transformed from its festive fall décor to into a wonderful winter wonderland!

Here is a top ten list of things to love about Walt Disney World Resort during the holiday season!

Disney Springs

Disney Springs has announced that from November 14 – January 8th guests can come and catch the spirit of the season with an incredible mix of seasonal entertainment, shops, cuisine and family fun. They will have their own nightly tree lighting ceremony at Once Upon a Toy. The shopping district will also have a live DJ that will host games and dance parties. Meet Santa in his Chalet and take a keepsake photo with him until December 24th. From December 25th guests will be able to meet and greet with Santa Goofy! Look for the photo ops with oversized toy sculptures throughout Disney Springs. You will want to be sure and check out the decked out trail near the Marketplace bus loop which is have custom-decorated holiday trees-all centered around a different Disney theme. All this and so much more awaits you and your family at Disney Springs!

Characters and Santa Claus

While guests can meet characters year round, it is only during the holiday season you can meet them in their holiday best!

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Come meet Santa and Mrs. Claus during the last few weekends of their holiday vacation before The Big Guy himself boards his sleigh.

 

Santa Goofy can be found in Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Looking to meet the Santa Claus? Well he can be found all over Walt Disney World Resort! If you are lucky you may find him taking a break in Magic Kingdom. You can also find Santa and Mrs. Claus in EPCOT. But Santa’s favorite little spot is The Swan and Dolphin Hotel where he takes his holiday! Here you can meet both he and Mrs. Claus in their vacation attire. Remember kids, he knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake!

Have dinner at Hollywood and Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios which is transformed into Minnie’s Hollywood and Dine Christmastime Dinner. Here you can meet Santa Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, Daisy and Donald all in their holiday best.

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Who wouldn’t want to dine with these dapper characters?

Food

Find yourself craving a holiday treat during your stay? Have no fear, they are always nearby! From Christmas themes cupcakes in a special Mickey Mouse mug to Snowmen caramel apples Disney has a treat for all taste buds! Looking for something a little less sweet? EPCOT’s World Showcase will surely have what you are looking for! For those 21 and up warm up with some spiced wine from Germany. Maybe you’re looking for a holiday sandwich filled with turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, you can find this delight at Earl of Sandwich in Disney Springs or in one of the theme parks!

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The Grand Floridian always has a larger than life gingerbread house as well as a beautiful tree.

Resort Décor

While staying at a Walt Disney World resort is special in its own right, there is just something even more magical when you stay during the holidays. Each resort will have its very own specialty themed Christmas tree up as well as other decorations.  The three monorail resorts (Grand Floridian, Contemporary and Polynesian Village) all feature unique gingerbread displays. Disney’s Beach Club Resort has a working carousel made entirely of chocolate, whereas its sister resort boasts a stunning train display. So why not take a little time out of your vacation and visit a resort or two that isn’t your own. Discover the magic and wonder each unique resort offers.

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 Sit by the roaring fire in one of the many rocking chairs as you admire the decor at Wilderness Lodge.

Holidays around the World

Traveling to EPCOT during your stay this holiday season? Between November 27-December30, 2016 you can experience Holidays around the World. You won’t want to miss the amazing storyteller’s from each country located in World Showcase. Here you and your family can discover the sights, sounds, and flavors of each host countries customs. While each pavilion hosts their own unique storyteller, the American Adventure hosts three! You can hear the story of Hanukkah, learn about Kwanzaa, and of course meet Santa and Mrs. Claus in Santa’s Village. Over in Germany you can visit with Helga, who will tell you about the first Christmas tree and the tale of the nutcracker. In Norway meet Sigrid, who will tell you all about the mischievous Christmas Gnome, Julenissen.  In China watch the Chinese Lion Dance. You can see those and so many more. Check your EPCOT times guide for performance locations and times.

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Specialty tours

Disney World offer special tours year round such as Backstage Magic, Wild Africa Trek, and more. But did you know during the holiday season they add two very special tours to their lineup? Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy and Holiday D-Lights.

When you take the Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy tour you will come upon the Cast Members of Holiday Services. You’ll explore World Showcase learning about the different holiday traditions each country offers. Get an up close look at the trimmings of Main Street USA. Topping it all off with a visit to a resort hotel to learn how the holidays come to life. At the end of the tour each guest will receive a special treat and holiday keepsake!

During the Holiday D-Lights tour as night falls, your “holiday host” will unwrap some secrets behind Disney’s most cherished traditions. You’ll enjoy Candlelight Processional at EPCOT. Ride the Jingle Cruise in Magic Kingdom. Meet the team that is responsible for turning the Walt Disney World Resort into a winter wonderland right here in Florida. On this tour you will also enjoy a family style barbecue feast which is included as well as receiving a limited-edition keepsake pin.

Holiday Fireworks and shows

There is something so magical about standing in front of Cinderella’s Castle watching the fireworks light up the night sky. But did you know Disney often has special holiday themed shows as well?

This year Disney is debuting the all new Jingle Bells Jingle BAM in Hollywood Studios. Santa Claus is missing and the search-and-rescue mission to get The Big Guy back to the North Pole in time for Christmas Eve is all part of the fun. The show comes to life on, above and around the Chinese Theater with state-of-the-art projections, special effects, fireworks and a rousing seasonal musical score.

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Jingle Bell Jingle BAM! The all new nightly fireworks and projection show only at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Don’t miss a special seasonal conclusion to IllumiNations, taking place from November 25 to December 30, 2016! Featuring holiday greetings in native languages from the countries of World Showcase, along with the beloved sounds of the classic song “Let There be Peace on Earth,” this festive finish is sure to fill your heart with comfort and joy—and leave you with a message of “peace on earth and goodwill to men.”

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Holiday IlluminNations only at EPCOT

Candlelight Processional

While this is part of EPCOT’s Holidays around the World it is truly something special and therefore deserving its own spot on our list. Each year in the American Gardens Theater in EPCOT the biblical story of Christmas comes to life by interweaving the sounds of a full orchestra, choir made up of high school and college students from across the US, as well as the Voices of Liberty and a celebrity narrator. This takes place 3 times nightly starting November 25th 2016. It is truly an experience you will not want to miss. Please note that there is a line for this event which is free to all park guests. We recommend you book a Candlelight Dinner Package which reserves you VIP seating to a show.

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You do not want to miss a performance of Candlelight during your visit!

Décor in the Parks

One of the most spectacular sights during the holidays is seeing Cinderella’s Castle all light up, or the tree in EPCOT’s International Gateway light up for the first time that night. Main Street is lined with garland and wreaths. EPCOT is lined with beautifully red poinsettias.

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Spaceship Earth surrounded by a stunning Christmas topiary.

Everywhere you turn it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Walt Disney World Resort. Lights will illuminate come nightfall and transform each park and resort into an indescribable sight of wonderment. The smell of peppermint, coco and gingerbread waft through the air. The sounds of holiday cheer fill your ears. You could truly spend all day looking at the different décor each park has to offer, since it is unique according to the park!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is an event not to be missed! On select nights from November 7-December 22nd 2016 Magic Kingdom Park will host this hard ticket event for its guests. Join Mickey Mouse and all his pals as they celebrate the season. Cinderella’s Castle lights up as Queen Elsa herself spreads some holiday cheer in A Frozen Holiday Wish. Festive music will fill your ears as you wonder your way through the park! Of course you won’t want to miss the special Mickey’s once upon a Christmastime Parade or Holiday Wishes. Be sure to catch Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration Show as well as A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas! Other special shows on party nights include Voice Play, Notorious Banjo Brothers and Bob, and Club Tinsel Dance Party at Cosmic Ray’s featuring your favorite Disney characters. Be sure to drop in at select dining locations for free refreshments during the night. Attending this special event will surly put you in the holiday spirit!

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Snow on Main Street, Nutcracker Solider’s, what could be more fun then a night at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!

The holiday season is truly a great time to bring the entire family to Walt Disney World Resort and celebrate the season. There is so much more to see, do and experience that we couldn’t fit on this list. So why not come and celebrate the most wonderful time of the year!

On this Day in Disney History…

On October 1, 1971, the Walt Disney Company opened the doors of the Magic Kingdom! With 10,000 visitors in attendance for the opening, the Magic Kingdom had promptly begun its reign as a major cornerstone to the Walt Disney brand.

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Roy O Disney giving the dedication

However, the park was not officially dedicated until October 25th, 1971. This allowed time for any problems to be worked out prior to official opening. This was done as a precaution taken to avoid any of the problems that plagued Disneyland on its opening day.

While there was no individual dedication to the park Roy O. Disney had a dedication for the entire Walt Disney World Resort which was is located on the ground near the Town Square flagpole on Main Street U.S.A.

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Walt Disney World dedication plaque

“Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney…and to the talents, the dedication, and loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney’s dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring Joy and Inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place…a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn – together. Dedicated this 25th day of October, 1971. Roy O. Disney”

The Walt Disney World Resort opened with only the Magic Kingdom and Polynesian Resort, Contemporary Resort and Fort Wilderness Campground.

The park opened with just 23 attractions, three of which are unique to the park. The Hall of Presidents, Mickey Mouse Revue and Country Bear Jamboree. The other attractions were copies of attractions from Disneyland in California.

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1971 map of Magic Kingdom

Opening Day Attractions, Shops and Restaurants:

Walt Disney World Railroad with only the Main Street Station. The three steam trains were names Walter E. Disney (#1), the Lilly Belle (#2), and the Roger E. Broggie (#3)

Town Square: Town Square Café

Main Street Transportation: Fire Truck, Horse-Drawn street cars, Horseless carriages, Jitney vehicle and Omnibus

Main Street: Market House store, Camera Center, Coca-Cola Refreshment Corner, House of Magic shop, Penny Arcade, Main Street Confectionery shop, Emporium, Main Street Bake shop, New Century Clock shop, Main Street Cinema, and The Crystal Palace Restaurant

Adventureland: Adventureland Veranda Restaurant, Jungle Cruise, Swiss Family Tree House, Sunshine Pavilion (also known as the Tropical Serenade)

Bear Country: Country Bear Jamboree

Fantasyland: Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Tea party, Snow White’s Scary Adventure, Pinocchio Village Haus Restaurant, Cinerella’s Golden Carrousel, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Mickey Mouse Revue Audio-Animatronics Musical, It’s a Small World, Skyway to Tomorrowland

Cinderella’s Castle : King Stefan’s Banquet Hall

Frontierland: Frontierland Shooting Gallery, Trading Post, Pecos Bill Café, Mike Fink Keel Boats, Mile Long Bar, Diamond Horseshoe Revue

Liberty Square: Hall of Presidents, Columbia Harbor House, Heritage House shop, Liberty Tree Tavern Restaurant, Haunted Mansion

Tomorrowland: Skyway to Fantasyland, Grand Prix Raceway, Mickey’s Mart store, Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant

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The very first parade on opening day down Main Street

So how much did a ticket to Walt Disney World cost in 1971? Well a general admission ticket had a ticket which entitled the guest to use the trams, monorail or ferryboat from the Transportation and Ticket Center to the Magic Kingdom. It also had a ticket which your admission ticket into the park itself. Once there, guests were free to roam about the park and view any show or attraction that did not require a ticket, such as The Diamond Horseshoe Review in Frontierland.  So how much did that cost the guest? $3.75 in 1971!

Now how did a guest ride attractions? Guests would need to purchase ticket books. These ticket books had tickets that ranged from A to E tickets. Each park attraction that required a ticket would be labeled according to which ticket you would use for the attraction. For example, an “A” ticket attraction was attractions such as Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel or the Main Street Vehicles; whereas more popular rides such as Jungle Cruise would need an “E” ticket.  Each ticket book consisted of a number of tickets, but there were never enough D and E tickets in the books. So for guests who wanted to ride more of those attractions, Disney had ticket booths inside the park where guests could purchase additional ride tickets. These tickets ranged in price from 10 to 90 cents each.

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Magic Kingdom ticket books

Nothing in Disney’s theme parks ever stays stagnant. Think about Magic Kingdom’s opening in 1971 and look at Magic Kingdom today. Two vastly different and yet similar versions of one another. The most recent change would be the New Fantasyland Expansion

Walt Disney always said “Disneyland will never be completed. … It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world” and the very same holds true for Walt Disney World. Since Magic Kingdom’s opening in 1971 the resort has added three more theme parks, two water parks, multiple resort hotels, a shopping district, world championship golf courses, the list goes on and on! Is it any wonder that Walt Disney World is the #1 vacation destination in the world? Magic Kingdom alone had around 20,492,000 visitors in 2015 alone!

So why not come back to Walt Disney World and rediscover the magic that awaits you and your family? Explore EPCOT, go wild in Animal Kingdom, discover adventure in Hollywood Studios and come celebrate the 45h Anniversary of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

Dining in Disney World: Alternatives to Restaurants that book up quickly.

Coming to Disney World soon? Are you one of the many guests who were not able to get a reservation at some of the more popular Walt Disney World restaurants or spots? Worry no more! We have compiled a little list of delicious alternatives for you!

Cinderella’s Royal Table inside the Magic Kingdom theme park. Most everyone who visit’s Disney wants to try and grab one of these very coveted reservations for breakfast, lunch or dinner. However, due to its small size and sheer popularity it is one of the hardest reservations to obtain.

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While eating inside Cinderella’s Castle is a wonderful and fun experience, don’t be afraid to try one of the other Princess meals!

If it’s a Disney Princess meal you are looking for we suggest trying to grab a reservation for breakfast, lunch or dinner at Askershus which is located in the Norway Pavilion at EPCOT. This has also become quite popular as well, but none the less, easier to obtain. Please note: at the time of this blog Anna and Elsa from Frozen still do not meet at Princess Meals. The only place to meet these two is at their Royal Sommerhus in the Norway Pavilion.

A not very well known option is 1900 Park Fare inside the Grand Floridian Resort. Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine as well as her daughters Drizella and Anastasia appear at dinner only.

Another hard to get reservation in Magic Kingdom is Be Our Guest. While dinner is the most popular meal here as you can meet Beast in his own castle, you can also try and get a reservation for breakfast or lunch if you have your heart set on this restaurant.

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All meals here are delicious and will not disappoint.

Want to dine with Mickey and the gang? Chef Mickey’s is the place to go. This restaurant serves up character breakfast and dinner, both of which tend to book up quickly. So where do you go if you can’t get a table here?

In EPCOT you can go to Garden Grill in The Land Pavilion. This table service restaurant offers up all three meals with Chip, Dale, Pluto and Farmer Mickey! What makes this meal so much fun (besides the characters) is that the restaurant rotates slowly so your scenery changes. The menu also features many foods grown right in the pavilion. So why not take a ride on Living with the Land, have a meal at Garden Grill then go Soarin’ over the World?

Want to do more of a buffet? Disney has you covered! Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios offer’s up a great buffet. During breakfast and lunch little ones can dine and meet their favorite characters from Disney Junior shows. However at dinner, it becomes Minnie’s Hollywood and Dine and the theme changes according to the season! Here you will meet Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald and Goofy. Right now you can catch Minnie’s Halloween Time Dine until November 6th and on the 7th it will become Minnie’s Holiday Dine! Other experiences include Springtime, Silver Screen and Summertime Dine.

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Who wouldn’t want to have a Holiday themed dinner with these finely dressed characters?

But wait, there is one more option! Planning on going to Animal Kingdom? Give Tusker House a try. Here you will find Donald, Daisy, Mickey, and Goofy.

Looking for breakfast? Cape May Café located at The Beach Club Resort is another wonderful option. While Mickey is not at this particular location it does feature Minnie, Goofy and Donald.

Did you have your heart set on seeing Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review over at Fort Wilderness only to find out all three nightly shows were booked? Why not give Whispering Canyon Café at Wilderness Lodge a try? While there is no show per say this dining location offers up some great interactive fun! Kids and adults can join in horse races, or find themselves in “jail”. Ask for a small or large drink and see what you get!

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The Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review is a great dinner show! It usually has three shows every night, but it does book up rather quickly!

If you’ve heard about the infamous and delicious Le Cellier in EPCOT’s Canada Pavilion and were unable to get a reservation don’t fret! There are two other amazing places on property to get a great steak. The first is Shula’s Steakhouse located in the Dolphin Hotel as well as Yachtsman Steakhouse located in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.

Looking for a view of fireworks? We have you covered! Magic Kingdom Resort dining can offer up wonderful views of Wishes nightly (weather depending) and if you’re in the right place at the right time, you can also catch the Electrical Water Pageant!

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Fireworks as viewed from California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
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Enjoy dinner at Narcoossees located at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and be able to see Disney’s Electrical Water Pageant as it goes by on the Seven Seas Lagoon.

Restaurants for best viewing the fireworks are California Grill atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian. PRO TIP: If you dine at California Grill during the Sunday brunch or an earlier dinner time, save your receipt and come back later to go up to their viewing deck by showing you dined there earlier!

Finding both of those options booked out? Try making an earlier reservation at a dining location of your choice at any of the monorail resorts on the Seven Seas Lagoon. Ask a Cast Member where the best viewing location at the resort is. PRO TIP: Currently Grand Floridian offers up the “Gone Mad Party” Wishes Fireworks dessert party on Wednesdays! The party itself is free to anyone, but if you wish to take part in any specialty food and/or drinks you must purchase them.

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Stop by Gone Mad Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian for a nice view of Magic Kingdom’s Wishes Fireworks without having a dinner reservation or being inside the park!

Where ever you dine, we are sure it will be fantastic! Disney is known for their guest service and anywhere you enjoy a meal will be delicious. So why not try something new? Something a little off the radar? Sit back, relax and enjoy the culinary delights that await you and your family!

Reservations are strongly encouraged. They can be made 180 days before your visit.All characters at any character dining location are subject to change without notice.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2016

Have you heard about Walt Disney World special ticketed events? Have you wondered if they are worth the price? What makes these events so special? Well the newest member of our Create-A-Dream team Jill is here with her report on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Hello everyone! I am your host, your guest blog host. I hope you find the following blog delightfully informational. (Okay that was a bad Haunted Mansion impression of sorts, sorry!)

According to Disney the party officially starts at 7PM. However Disney will let you into the Magic Kingdom starting at 4 PM for MNSSHP. That means instead of 5 hours you get 8 hours in the Magic Kingdom! The price is a bit hefty, especially when you are purchasing tickets for a family. Prices (plus tax) are $86.00+.

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Now what makes Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party special? During the official party hours of 7PM-12AM there’s special dance parties, the Hallowishes fireworks, Celebrate the Magic castle projection show, stage show starring everyone’s favorite witches The Sanderson Sisters. Special character meet and greets which includes the elusive Disney Villains. Disney’s Boo To You parade, specialty treats,merchandise, and let’s not forget the trick or treating!

For those with food allergies don’t you worry, Disney has you covered! Disney now offers allergy friendly treat bags. Cast Members will see your special teal treat bag and give you coins. When you are ready, take these coins and trade them for allergy friendly treats you can do so on Main Street USA or in Liberty Square!

I entered Magic Kingdom at exactly 4 PM using my MNSSHP ticket. I then received a special wristband and was guided to the very right (behind Tony’s Town Square Restaurant) where you will go down a special path. Here you will see the Halloween time statues, receive your treat bag and be able to stop and take special photo pass photos! This path leads you right onto Main Street!

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On the walkway towards Main Street we took full advantage of the fun photo pass pictures available.

Now I am sure you are asking yourself why can’t I just walk down Main Street? While I do not have a definite answer, I believe it is because in recent years Disney has had trouble with non-party guests staying later than they should have. Thus Disney now has this path for party guests to enter so that non- party guests may exit via rope lines with Cast Members guiding them towards the exit. These rope lines towards the exit start between 4 and 5 PM.

After a delicious dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table (our reservation was for 4:10 PM) my friend and I headed over to Jack and Sally’s meet and greet around 5:30. Please note that Jack and Sally are the two most popular characters during the Halloween and Christmas parties and therefore their lines can be 2+ hours long. However this year Disney starts the meet and greet for these two at 5 PM! You must have the special MNSSHP wrist badge to get in line as well. We only waited 40 minutes and it still wasn’t even 7 PM so the party had not officially started!

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Meeting Jack and Sally was a ton of fun! We even played a game of hide and scream.

It wasn’t even 6:30 PM by the time we had met Jack and Sally. So we headed over to Main Street USA and sat down in front of Cinderella’s Castle. My friend and I wanted to see the first Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular which that night was followed quickly by the first Mickey’s Boo To You Parade! Please check your party map for official times for both of these events but do not miss them! They are both so much fun. Especially the Headless Horseman who rides right before the parade!

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The Sanderson Sisters always draw a big crowd
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A parade you will not want to miss! Make sure to get a good “seat” on the parade route.

After those we headed over to Tomorrowland. But on the way I noticed the line for The Queen of Hearts and the Tweedles was super short. So I asked the cast member how long the wait was and she said 10 minutes! So naturally being an Alice fan I hoped in line. Now you can also meet Alice and the Mad Hatter, but they meet every day in Magic Kingdom as well as breakfast at 1900 Park Fare.

We hit all four candy stops starting at Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies, Stitch’s Great Escape, Carousel of Progress and then the stop over by the dance party. The Monster’s Inc Dance Party is a lot of fun! The play some great dance music and you will find some of your favorite characters out and about dancing along with you! On the night I was there we saw Mike, Sully and Boo! My friend and I even rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, and it was only 9:30 PM!

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James P. Sullivan aka Sully
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Mike Wazouwski

We left Tomorrowland via the pathway that connect’s it with Fantasyland’s Storybook Circus. Here we passed by Cruella De Ville who meets by the train station, Minnie, Donald and Daisy who all meet in Cassy Jr’s Play area and The Seven Dwarfs who all meet in the circus tent. (The Seven Dwarfs meet and greet is also very popular. Plan to pick between them or Jack and Sally.) We hit both sides of the candy stop inside Pete’s Silly Sideshow. By now we both needed another bag, which cast members happily gave us.

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Be sure to stop by to visit Mickey on Main Street or Minnie in Storybook Circus in their Halloween Costumes.

Leaving Storybook Circus we found two photo pass photographers just standing there waiting for someone to do their magic shot. So naturally we jumped at the chance and may I saw it is an awesome photo with the Haunted Mansion Tombstones in the backround!

Making our way into Fantasyland we stopped at Gaston’s Tavern to share a La Fou’s Brew and got in line to meet Gaston and Belle. Now yes, both of these characters do meet during the day but never together! The line was nice and short and the interaction was the best! Poor Gaston tried his best to impress us and Belle but alas, it did not work.

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Always fun to meet Gaston, even when Belle is unimpressed with him

Heading to the next candy stop which was through the Fantasyland pillars and then off to Peter Pan’s candy stop! It’s to the left of the attraction. By now it was 10:30 and time to ride the main attraction of the evening The Haunted Mansion. Yes, you can ride this attraction any time, but not like on MNSSHP night! The cast members makeup is done up, they have Madam Calotta and/or Madam Renata sitting on the lawn entertaining guests and when you exit be sure to stop by  the horse and buggy for a special spooky photo op!

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The amazing Haunted Mansion Cast Members get into the Halloween spirit.

After Haunted Mansion we headed to Adventureland. We decided to skip Frontierland and miss those two candy stops as our bags were already pretty full. In Adventure land we hit the Tiki Room’s candy stop, Jungle Cruise candy stop as well as the one by Aloha Isle! Now in this area you can meet Aladdin with his monkey Abu and/or Jasmine with Gennie. You can also meet Jafar.

By now we were exhausted and decided to make our way out. But not before stopping to take a photo with The Headless Horseman himself!

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Look closely at the Main Street Train Station.

While waiting in the short photo pass line I noticed that for the party, the “set the train station on fire” and the effects were really impressive! Just another piece of the show guests may miss if they don’t stop to take a moment and look. We ended our night at 11:45 PM. That’s fifteen minutes before the parks “official” closing for the party. Both my friend and myself had two very full bags of candy each.

On the way out we could hear The Haunted Mansions Little Leota calling to us. Hurry back….hurry back….

Don’t worry Little Leota, we will be back next year!

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Overall, was it worth the price? For us, ABSOLUTLEY! Halloween is one of my favorite times of year and what better than to spend it in my favorite place.

Some Pro Tips:

Eat BEFORE the party. Whether you do a quick service meal or an early table service meal like I did, make sure you eat. Eating during the party takes up precious time. You paid extra to be there so enjoy all the extra fun! Yes there are some delicious treats exclusive for the party (see photos below) but you’ll need something other than the copious amounts of sugar to get you through the party.

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If you plan to open a park that morning, take at least a 3 hour break. Trust me, even relaxing in your hotel room for three hours will help you sustain energy for the long night ahead.

Dress Up! Wear a costume (following guideline) or Disbound! Wear a Halloween themed shirt or hat. I saw more adults dressed up than I did kids. Most of all make it comfortable! You don’t want to be walking around Magic Kingdom in a costume that you are uncomfortable in.

Go in with a plan. You WILL NOT be able to ride all of the rides, meet all of the characters, and do all the treat stops. The night I went with my friend we knew our main focus was meeting Jack and Sally, parade, stage show and candy. The rides and other character meets were all a bonus.

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This years MNSSHP map front.
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Inside this years MNSSHP map.

Take advantage of the photo pass photographers and special magic shots! Trust me, the shots are so much fun and most people pass by them. During the Halloween Party they add some extra Disney magic to shots.

Check the weather!!! I cannot stress this enough. It is Florida and it is Hurricane season. While there on September 23rd I chatted with cast members who said this was the first party of the season that didn’t have a drop of rain. Now should it rain, don’t be alarmed! More than likely it will pass. Just adjust your plans accordingly. Yes, some things may be canceled if the weather is bad (IE: Stage Show, Parade, Fireworks, Dance Party), but Disney always does their best watching the weather and adjusting so their guests do not miss anything.

And last but certainly not least. Be nice to the Cast Members. They generally work 12 hour shifts and do it multiple times a week. Some even open the park have a break then work the party which closes the park. They work hard to ensure the guests have a magical time.

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Don’t forget to always be kind and courteous to the hard working Cast Members!

 

 

Walt Disney World Mosquito Prevention

The Zika virus is all over the world news and is a big concern for those traveling. Even those coming to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando Florida are concerned as there have been a few cases reported in the lower parts of Florida.

That however does not mean you should go ahead and cancel your magical vacation! Unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. Disney has taken it upon themselves to help do their best to help prevent the spread of the Zika Virus as well as other mosquito borne illnesses. How you may ask?

Here are just a few ways Disney is helping their guests in the fight against mosquito borne illness:

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Mosquito’s are common here in Florida and Disney is no stranger to mosquito control. One of the biggest concerns to Disney is reducing the amount of stagnant water on property. This includes draining and filling in a large pool in what was Disney’s River Country (Disney’s first water park that is no longer in use) which has remained unmaintained for 15 years. By doing this (among other preventative measures) Disney is doing their best to eliminate potential breeding areas for the mosquito.

Another way Disney does their part in keeping mosquito populations down is by keeping chickens! The mosquito population is monitored by Disney World’s own government, The Reedy Creek Improvement District. Samples are taken of the mosquito’s and then dissected to check age, and ability to carry and transmit diseases.  The chickens, which eat the mosquito’s are checked weekly for the presence of antibodies to viruses borne by the insect. The results are then used to decide on further action, such as spraying chemicals and other anti-mosquito acts!

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A Walt Disney World Cast Member in Tomorrowland ready to help guests with information and complimentary bug spray.

In addition to the various mosquito control methods Disney has in place and is doing they now offer all guests in the parks, Disney Springs and resorts free mosquito-repellent. There are kiosks located all around the parks and Disney Springs with Cast Members handing out pamphlets to guests about mosquito prevention. Cast Members also invite guests to apply mosquito repellent to themselves.  Guests can feel free to use these kiosks as much as they’d like throughout the day as well and is free of charge! Guests staying in one of the many wonderful Walt Disney World Resorts will discover that upon checking into their resort room they will now find bottles of mosquito repellent left by  Mousekeeping (Disney’s housekeeping) and guests may keep these bottles as well.

 

 

Top Ten things to love about Fall in Disney World

With summer quickly coming to a close, the fall season is upon us. What does that mean for Walt Disney World? Lots of wonderful and exciting things! In fact the month of September is regarded as one of the best months to come to Disney World for a vacation. We have gathered a small list of the top ten best reasons why you should visit Walt Disney World in the fall.

  1. The “Cooler” Weather.

Yes, it is still rather hot here in Florida but do not let that fool you. It is not nearly as hot as it would be if you visited the resort in the summer time. Usually the high is in the mid 80’s with a low in the lower 70’s historically. Humidity is another issue people often concern themselves with while planning a trip. The average humidity in the daytime is still rather high, however come dusk it drastically changes.

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  1. Smaller crowds

Since school is back in session most families do not visit during the fall season. In fact if we were to rate how crowded the resort is on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being extremely low for crowds and 10 being extremely high, the fall months are often anywhere between 2-6! Though we will note that during the Food and Wine festival (especially weekends) EPCOT’s crowd level tends to be a tad higher.

  1. Night of Joy

Night of Joy is a Christian Music Festival held one weekend every year in Disney World. This year’s event is September 9-10th and will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Disney World. This is a hard ticket event so be sure to buy your ticket early! The festival features a wide array of music. This year some of the acts include MercyMe, Switchfoot, and Casting Crowns.

  1. Food

As mentioned in our last blog, fall brings EPCOT’s Food and Wine festival. The festival is not the only culinary delight during this time though. Disney World is often filled with many delicious wonders waiting to tempt your taste buds! In Magic Kingdom why not stop by Sleepy Hallow Refreshments near Liberty Square and indulge in a pumpkin spiced waffle sundae? Travel around the world on a culinary adventure in EPCOT with the Food and Wine festival or stop by L’Artisan des Glaces in the France pavilion for some unique and fall inspired flavors. Hollywood Studios is sure to serve up some fall theme sweets such as a carrot cake with a pumpkin mickey topper! Animal Kingdom doesn’t get left out of the delicious fun either. The park offers up a Bat cupcake! There are many more treats with no tricks to be found. So why not explore, you never know where you will find your next favorite treat.

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  1. Dapper Day

Many Disney fans know Dapper Day, but there are a few who do not. So what is Dapper Day? Well it is a semi-annual gathering in Disney theme parks (most often Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris), in which fans of fashion and Disney can combine their two passions and stroll around the park at this unofficial gathering. Participants dress up in fashions that range, but often add Disney flare to their attire. You don’t have to participate to enjoy Dapper Day either! Though should you chose to participate we encourage you to look closely at the dress guidelines so you have appropriate attire.

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  1. Discounts

Due to the lower crowds during fall, Disney has started to offer discounts as incentives for more people to come vacation during the slower time. One of the most popular discounts Disney offers is “Free Dining”. This offer includes the purchase of a hotel and ticket package at select resorts and then includes the “free” dining. For those of you who are not familiar with the Disney Dining plan, there are currently three tiers.

Quick Service Dining Plan entitles each guest on the reservation 2 quick service meals and 1 snack per day of stay as well as the resort refillable mug.

Disney “Regular” Dining Plan entitles each guest on the reservation 1 quick service, 1 table service and 1 snack per day of stay as well as the resort refillable mug.

Deluxe Dining Plan entitles each guest on the reservation 3 credits per day (can be used in any combination of quick and/or table service) and 2 snacks per day plus the resort refillable mug.

If you book a Value Resort you can receive the Quick Service Dining plan for free. If you book a moderate or deluxe resort you will then receive the Regular Dining plan for free. Please note that if you would like you can upgrade your dinning but you will pay the difference per day.

  1. Celebrate the Magic

Celebrate the Magic is a castle projection show that is shown nightly at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park. It transforms the castle into living art which honors the art and storytelling of Disney. However during fall expect to see a few Disney villains bringing their own flare to the show leading up to Halloween. Be sure to grab a great spot around the Castle hub to see the show! It is one you won’t want to miss!

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  1. EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival

There’s so much to see, do and eat here you probably need more than one day to do it all! EPCOT is already known for the culinary delights of World Showcase, but come fall the park is turned into a culinary world’s fair. This year features 30 unique kiosks to wine and dine your way across the world. There’s also culinary demonstrations, seminars, and celebrity chefs. Don’t forget to end your night at the American Garden’s Theater for the Eat to the Beat concert which features many popular acts throughout the event.

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Some of the delicious food at EPCOT’s Food and Wine festival
  1. Decorations

Disney decorations are simply the best to put you into the spirit of fall. Even in Florida the orange, brown and red colors flood Disney theme parks as well as resorts! Disney is all about the details and they go above and beyond when it comes to decorations.  I would really like to take a minute and shine some well deserve appreciation and gratitude to all the cast members who transform Walt Disney World throughout the entire year. While guests sleep in their comfortable resort beds, these cast members are hard at work in the parks and resorts bringing the magic of Disney to life. Here is a short video from Disney’s site with a sneak preview of last year’s fall decorations.

  1. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

This event is truly not to be missed. On select nights throughout September and October the Magic Kingdom Park closes at 7 PM to all guests who do not have a ticket to the party. Children and adults are encouraged to dress up in their Halloween best (please see guidelines as per Disney for costumes) for this spooktackular night! The Magic Kingdom is transformed as guests are invited to trick or treat all over the park, watch Mickey’s Boo to You Parade, Hallowishes (replaces Wishes), and of course the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltackular! We will have a full party review this year as one of our own will be attending the party in September. So stay tuned for more on the party.

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The Headless Horseman leads Mickey’s Boo To You Parade
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Meet your favorite characters in costume!

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this list and that it inspires you to visit Walt Disney World during the fall season. It truly is a magical time to visit with something for everyone!

 

EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival 2016.

Have you always wanted to try different foods and drinks from around the world? The EPCOT Food and Wine festival makes it easy to do just that!

This year the EPCOT Food and Wine festival will be held from September 14th-November 14th 2016 around EPCOT’s World Showcase. This event is not to be missed and is included in your park admission to the theme park.

The festival started in 1995 and has since grown into a not to be missed yearly culinary adventure.

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This year the festival will feature 30 different global marketplaces around the World Showcase to entice your taste buds. Each kiosk offers anywhere from one to five different foods to sample from their region. Pro Tip: Always wanted to eat in the famous Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canada Pavilion but can’t find a reservation? Don’t worry! Here at the festival you can sample their infamous cheddar cheese soup served with a pretzel roll and or their wild mushroom filet mignon with truffle butter sauce. (Both are highly recommended!!)

Try something new or indulge in an old favorite. Want to add a little fun and whimsy to your culinary adventure? Be sure to grab a passport (available at various EPOCT locations, including at the front of the park next to the park maps) and have each kiosk you visit stamp the passport while you check off what you sampled. Pro Tip: Grab a festival themed re-loadable gift card that rests on your wrist for a cash and hands free time!

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Are you vegan or vegetarian? Don’t you worry, the festival is full of culinary delights for you! Stop by almost any kiosk and you will find something to tempt your taste buds.

Stop by the festival center (located in Future World) for exclusive merchandise.

Indulge yourself in a demonstration or seminar while you are at the festival (price not included with your ticket). They have something for everyone to enjoy. Want to book a special event and or demonstration? Call 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378).

Want to learn something new such as cake decorating, mixology or other various preparations? You’ll want to take part in the Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!

How about sharpening your kitchen skills with tips and tricks from professionals in the food industry? Then you will want to take part in a Culinary Demonstration! Ever wanted to dine with a culinary superstar such as Robert Irvine, Buddy Valastro, Andrew Zimmern, and many others? Then you will want to take part in “What’s cookin’ with…” series.  You’ll start the day with a plated breakfast while sampling the visiting chef’s favorite dish listening to tips and tricks from them.

World-Renowned Chefs come every year to visit the festival and share their culinary knowledge with festival patrons.

Have children? What a way to introduce them to something new! Bring them along to the festival and have a family scavenger hunt around World Showcase with Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak. Guests of all ages will embark on this Ratatouille inspired activity. Just purchase a map and stickers from select Festival locations. Be sure to look up, down and all around. You never know where Remy will be found! Once your family locates all the statues of Remy around World Showcase, bring in your complete map to Disney Traders for a little surprise-compliments of Chef Remy!

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At night enjoy a live performance from pop and rock to new wave and swing bands (dinning packages available) at the American Gardens Theater. Catch a concert as you finish your night while enjoying some of the cultural food from nearby kiosks. Some of this year’s bands includes, Wilson Phillips, Christopher Cross, Chaka Khan, Boyz II Men, Hanson, Sugar Ray and so many more.

There is so much to discover at the festival it will take more than one day to see, eat and do it all.

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To all who come to this place of joy, hope and friendship, welcome.

Epcot Center is inspired by Walt Disney’s creative genius. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, the wonders of enterprise, and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all.

May Epcot Center entertain, inform and inspire. And, above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere.

(Dedication Plaque)

The second of the four Walt Disney World Theme Parks to be built, EPCOT opened on October 1st 1982 as EPCOT Center or as children from the 80’s know it the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Did you know you EPCOT is more than twice the size of The Magic Kingdom?

The park itself it dedicated to celebrating human achievement, international culture and technological innovation. Fun fact: Disney has only created three characters who have never appeared in film. One of these characters was created specially to be the official mascot of EPCOT. The answer? Figment! (The other two characters are Duffy the Bear and The Orange Bird). Figment is the little purple dragon that can be found on the Journey Into Imagination with Figment attraction.

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EPCOT fuses together two very different ideas from the Imagineers in order to bring Walt’s vision to life. Some Imagineers wanted to represent the upcoming cutting edge technology side, while others wanted to showcase international cultures and customs. Two different models were made and the Imagineers couldn’t come to an agreement. That was until one of the Imagineers pushed both models together to have the park be not one or the other but, combine both ideas.

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Imagineers work on a model of EPCOT

Future World has two very different sides to this part of the park. The right side of the park stands for the living world while the left side represents the world of innovation. Both sides feature wonderful attractions. The most popular attractions of Future world are Soarin, Test Track and Mission Space. Be sure to grab your fast passes early for one of these can’t miss attractions!

Currently there are eleven different countries to visit in World Showcase. Going clockwise the countries are;

Mexico

Norway

China

Germany

Italy

American Adventure

Japan

Morocco

France

United Kingdom

Canada

 

Note: Only Mexico, Norway and American Adventure currently have attractions. China, France and Canada have films.

Looking to meet characters? World Showcase is full of them! And I am not just talking about Disney characters. World showcase is a wonderful way to explore new countries and meet people who come from that country. Fun tip; If you are traveling with children (or not), visit each country with a notebook or one of Disney’s autograph books and have someone from each country write a message in their native language as well as in English! Another example of this is buying the pack of World Showcase Postcards and having each country write something on them (I had them write their seasonal greeting since it was the holidays).

Speaking of World Showcase and characters you can meet Donald Duck in Mexico, Snow White in Germany,  Mulan in China, Aladdin and Jasime in Morocco, Belle in France, Alice, Mary Poppins, as well as Pooh and friends in United Kingdom, and of course everyone’s favorite princess and queen Ana and Elsa from Frozen!
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In Future World you can meet Daisy, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Joy and Sadness (Inside Out), as well as Baymax (Big Hero 6). All characters are subject to change. Pro Tip: If you are a Disney Visa Card holder, you can get a free photo in Innovations (times vary) with some of your favorite Disney pals!
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Throughout the year EPCOT hosts special events include Flower and Garden Festival (usually held from March-May) as well as Food and Wine festival (usually held from mid-September to mid-November).

For the holidays EPCOT features many wonderful additions to their World Showcase. Each country has their own story of how they celebrate the holidays and as such, each of these stories has their own storyteller. The American pavilion however gets not one but two story tellers! Also be sure to check out the Voices of Liberty in the American Pavilion’s rotunda where they will sing traditional Christmas Carol’s in Dickens period costumes (various show times daily). The crown jewel of the holidays at EPCOT however is the Candlelight Processional which is held 2-3 times nightly from end of November till the end of December. The show features the Voices of Liberty who are accompanied by various high school and college choirs from throughout the US. Every few nights a new celebrity narrator accompany the mass choir in the telling of the story of Christmas which includes between 10-12 songs from the choir.

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Don’t want to wait in the line to secure a seat in the theater? No problem! Book a lunch or dinner through Disney reservations with the Candlelight dining package.

EPCOT a place where you can Soar over the World, explore the seas, go to Mars, enjoy a stroll around World Showcase and sample foods from each country and end the night with a spectacular fireworks and laser show via Illuminations. A day here is sure to entertain and educate. Just as Walt Disney would have wanted.

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