My Disney World Guide Blog

A blog relating to a Florida Disney World pass holder's experiences at the parks and hotels.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival - May 2008

We just came back from the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. What a great experience! There are so many wonderful things to mention. The kids loved seeing the topiaries depicting favorite Disney characters and scenes, especially at the front entrance where Goofy is catching a wave on his surfboard! Minnie's Magnificent Butterfly Garden was a huge hit as well. There is a magnificent, huge butterfly topiary as you enter. Then you are surrounded by many different species of wildflowers and live butterflies -- my girls were beside themselves. Another great experience was the ladybug release at the garden near the Germany Pavilion. Each child got a box of ladybugs to release into the garden, which is a natural way to eliminate garden pests. Also amazing were the collection of Bonsai trees in the Japan Pavilion, they were so beautiful. One of my favorites was the English Tea Garden at the United Kingdom Pavilion. It was not only fun, but educational too -- we will definitely be going back again next year!!! Also part of our May trip was a visit to the newly-renamed Disney's Hollywood Studios. We caught the new Playhouse Disney Live on Stage show with all-new characters from the new TV shows: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Little Einsteins, Handy Manny, and My Friends Tigger and Pooh. It was great, and a huge improvement over the old version. My 5 year old was also thrilled to see the High School Musical show, though she was a bit disappointed that the show didn't include the "real" characters!

Presidents' Week, 2008 - Epcot Illuminations and Dolphin Resort

This year we decided to be bold, and made a short 3-day trip over Presidents' Day weekend, expecting huge crowds. Surprisingly, the parks were not too crowded at all, and we had a wonderful time. The best part of the trip was seeing the Epcot IllumiNations fireworks with our kids for the first time. Because our children are so young, this was the first year they were able to stay up late enough to see the show, which usually starts around 9pm. We weren't sure how they would react to it, but, they LOVED it! The show's inspirational message even touched a 2 year old and a 5 year old. Luckily, we stayed at the Disney World Dolphin Hotel, so after the show ended, it was a quick boat ride back to the hotel and into bed. I cannot say enough about the Dolphin and Swan resorts. We've overlooked them for so many years, in favor of the "true" Disney resorts. But they are great! They have the same great Disney perks and service (like fast and free transportation to the parks, extra magic hours, etc.) -- with the exception of resort parking, for which you have to pay a daily charge if you have a car. Best of all, these hotels are owned by the Starwood chain, so if you are part of their frequent guest program, you can stay for free using your points!

Halloween at the Magic Kingdom - October 2007

This year we went to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for the first time. I hate to say this, being a huge Disney fan, but -- this was absolutely not worth the time and money. First, of all, since it was Halloween eve, the crowds were absolutely overwhelming. You could barely move going down Main Street. Secondly, Disney promised plenty of characters in costume. We could find very few, and when we could, the lines were so long, there was no chance of the kids being able to meet any of them. Thirdly, the "candy stations" resembled a cattle herd, with lines of costumed kids being hurried through lines to be greeted by a Disney employee unloading handfuls of candy from a barrel, then herded out again. My advice: save yourself the extra $50 per person (which you have to pay IN ADDITION to your regular Magic Kingdom admission ticket), and do your trick-or treating at home!!! Now, putting the griping behind me, there were some great highlights from our Halloween trip. First, the Princess Breakfast at Cinderella's castle was terrific. Our kids got to meet all of the princesses, who spent plenty of time at each table. The food was very good (though pricey) and the service was wonderful. Expensive, but well worth it. The second highlight was our stay at Disney's Polynesian Resort. The kids loved the pool with the volcano water slide, and we really enjoyed the two restaurants on-site. Although we were a bit disappointed in the rooms and the general resort decor, which seemed a bit dated compared to some of the newer resorts. The third highlight was the new Finding Nemo show at the Animal Kingdom Park. It was excellent! The kids were riveted to the entire performance! I was so sorry to see the old Tarzan show leave, which I thought was awesome -- but glad to see it has been replaced with a show of the same high quality and entertainment value. Bravo!