Monday, August 29, 2011

Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats, worth it?

  As you exit the Jungle Cruise with your kids, get ready to hear – “Can I drive one?  Come on…. Please!?!”   Do your best to keep walking, but I will admit that I have been pulled in.   Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats is the chance for you to drive your own miniature version Jungle Cruise boat.  At a cost of $2 for a few minutes you’ll be able to steer your mini boat around a variety of obstacles, including a small volcano.   Be sure to have a few $1 or $5 bills to purchase your tokens.

  Let me start off by saying when I was a kid I loved the chance to drive anything remote controlled and this included the boats.  Now that I have a son, I truly enjoy sharing these attractions with him and seeing his eyes light up.  So, it hurts me to say that this area has been a major disappointment on our last few trips to the Magic Kingdom.   Many of the boats are out of service; with their wheels covered. Others that we have put money into don’t work.  Oh, and once you put your money in, if it doesn’t work, it is difficult to find an employee in the area to help out.  On the off chance that you have the coins and your boat does work, your kids may find steering difficult.  Good luck trying to get your boat turned around once you are trapped in a corner.     

  You have already had the thrill of seeing the back side of water and Da Nile river, so as you exit the Jungle Cruise be sure to walk swiftly and keep your child’s eyes from wondering to the right.   You and your pocket book will have a much better day.   If you enjoyed this blog then my name is Sean and this is the blog.   If not, then my name is Bill and this was Pirates of the Caribbean.   Enjoy the rest of your day here at DisneyDayByDay!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rate a Ride: Test Track

Ride Location: Epcot Future World 
Fastpass:  Yes  
Ride Duration: 4 minutes 
Year Introduced:  December 1998   
Height Restriction:   Must be 40 inches 
Tip:  Line does get long and moves slow after 10am when fast passes begin to kick in.   During long waits if you can break up into the single rider line you will definitely find a shorter wait.    

    It’s time to feel like a crash test dummy.   Welcome to Test Track a General Motors sponsored attraction where you get to experience what crash test dummies experience daily at their testing facilities.   In this attraction you will enter a prototype automobile that goes through  a series of vehicle tests including; hill climbing, maneuvering sharp turns, anti-lock brake testing, extreme condition testing, and finally acceleration.  

    Be sure to watch as you enter the corrosion room as you might see a hidden Mickey, that is if the acid doesn’t get in your eyes. 

    The best part of the ride is the last 12 seconds or so as you accelerate from 0 to 65 miles per hour in about 8 seconds.   Oh and I forgot to mention this is done on the outside of the building so get ready to feel the wind in your hair.  Not sure what that feels like since most of mine has fallen out. 

    DBD Rating 4 out of 5
    Rating Comments:   This is our 7 year old sons favorite ride, but I could do without most of the bits and pieces leading up to the final spin outside.   Let us know what you think by using the poll on the right side of this page. 

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Rate Dining: The Garden Grill

    LocationEpcot, Future World (Upstairs in the Land Pavilion)
    Type: Table Service (Character:  Farmer Mickey, Pluto, & Chip ‘n’ Dale)
    Meals: Dinner
    Cuisine:  American
    Reservations: Yes (recommended)

    How many times have you entered the Land Pavilion just to rush to get on Soarin and didn’t noticed the dining possibilities?   Well, next time how about going on a ride without waiting in a long line and getting a meal to go along with it?   Try dining at The Garden Grill, Disney World’s only revolving restaurant.   Don’t worry if you’re one that can’t take the spinning on the tea cups. The rotation is so slow it turns about 1 revolution an hour, so it is almost unnoticeable.     


    Overall this is a character experience so don’t think that you and your significant other will be having a nice, quiet dinner.   Though the layout of the round restaurant and the high back table booths cut down on some of the noise, it can get loud as Mickey and friends come around to the tables.  

    As the restaurant rotates your view will change from the inside of the land pavilion to some of the scenes from the Living with the Land ride.   So if you don’t like your current view just wait a few minutes and it will change.   Listen for the rooster as you go by the farm scene.   Besides the view the atmosphere is not as ornate as you will find in other Disney restaurants.  

    The Garden Grill is an all you can eat restaurant. Food is served family style with the first rounds coming out quickly after you place your drink order (unlimited fountain drinks are included with the price of your meal).   Your meal will start with warm breads served with sweet maple butter along with a salad.  

    Adults will enjoy grilled beef strip, turkey breast with cranberry sauce, a fish of the day, fresh veggies, mashed potatoes, and turkey dressing.   Dessert is a fruit crisp (similar to a cobbler) with a vanilla cream.   This can be a welcome experience from a week of fried food and burgers.  

    Kids can enjoy a chicken drumstick, mac and cheese, broccoli, and crispy sweet potato fries.   Dessert is a cookies and cream moose which both our son and nephew dearly loved on our last trip.   Adults are allowed to steal from the kids plate, just don’t get caught by your kids.  

    Remember, if you want second helpings, or even thirds just ask and your server will happily get you more.  

    Overall Rating: (4 out of 5)

    Rating Comment:   Overall good food and a wonderful character experience for the kids.   All you can eat but without having to get up from the table and stand in a buffet line.   Let me know what you think and vote on the right.     

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Tip: Kim Possible's World Showcase Adventure

    Location: Epcot
    Duration:   I would allocate 30 mins to your mission

    Doot-Do-Dee-Do-Deet   If you don’t know that sound you will after your adventure.   Welcome to Kim Possible’s World Showcase Adventure.   

               In summary, this free Adventure invites everyone to become a secret agent and help Team Possible save the world from villains and their mad inventions.  

                 Interested? Your first step is to head to Innovations East or West located at the front of the park. By using your park pass you’ll be able to secure a ticket at one of the recruiting stations in these buildings. These tickets (similar to a fast pass ticket) will display the time and location of your Kimmunicator pickup. What is a Kimmunicator? A GPS enabled cell phone that kids love! (Tip) If you have more than one child I would suggest scanning a couple park tickets to keep everyone happy.    (Tip) You do not have to rush to get to your country as the Kimmunicator can be picked up any time after the time noted on the ticket.   

                Once you make it to your designated country, there will be a booth where you can pick up your Kimmunicator.   And don’t worry if you’re new to this experience, there are plenty of agents there to help you get started.   (Tip) If you have fought crime in the country assigned, be sure to ask your agent for a new location.   

                 After you have your Kimmunicator and have moved a safe distance away from the pickup station, open the Kimmunicator to begin your mission.   As you go through your mission you will be introduced to many Kim Possible characters that will provide clues on how to stop these nasty villains.  There are many exciting tricks that the Kimmunicator will do throughout the mission; you might open a door, sound a bell, or scare the villain out of his hiding place in the toy shop.   (Tip) Some of these are so much fun you may want to do it again and the Kimmunicator will have a button to do just that.     

                 You can take up missions in seven of the World Showcase pavilions: China, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Norway and United Kingdom.  Each country features a different adventure and includes many surprises.  After you have completed your mission the Kimmunicator will direct you to a drop off location, or if you are lucky you may even get another mission.   

                Hurry! Kim Possible needs your help!

                Note:   The Kimmunicator does keep making sounds every so often to make sure you are still there.   Taking the noisy Kimmunicator into one of the nice movies or the American Adventure could result in pointed glares.  

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Rate Dining: Pinocchio’s Village Haus

    Location:  Magic Kingdom, Fantasyland
    Type: Quick Service
    Meals:  Lunch, Dinner
    Cuisine:  American
    Reservations: No

    Courtesy of
       For my first dining review I thought I would pick a place that has been operating since Walt Disney World opened.   Pinocchio’s Village Haus.  No, they didn’t misspell House.  It is Haus as in the German version of House.   Even though Pinocchio was set in Italy the architecture is a bit more German.   The theme as you can imagine is straight out of the Pinocchio movie with many of the characters getting their own room. 

       As you order take a look around the area.   This restaurant has many stained glass windows and a ceiling of lights made to look like you are still outside.   Are you in a small village?   Disney does a great job setting the scene but many of us are usually too busy with picking our food or wrestling our kids to take a moment and just look around.   

       The main dish here is pizza and Italian sandwiches.  The pizza is available as a combination meal which includes a Caesar salad.   Kid’s meals are also available (Pizza, PB&J, Mac and Cheese, or Grilled Cheese) and don’t forget the cookie.   At first you might think the pizza is average and a little bland but, oddly you'll become addicted to it.  Dessert is Chocolate cake (my recommendation), Strawberry Cheesecake, or Strawberry Yogurt.  

      Get to the restaurant right when it opens or when it's not busy and you might be lucky enough to get a seat near windows that overlook the load/unload area of It’s a Small World.   Kids love these windows as you can wave to the boats as they enter the ride.   There is also additional seating upstairs where you will find a few tables inside and outside overlooking Fantasyland.  With Fantasyland under construction this is a great vantage point to look over the wall and see some of the new additions.     

    Tips:  Eat an early (11am) lunch or an early/late dinner (before 4 or after 8).  This restaurant does get extremely busy.    If you are lucky enough to grab a table by the windows, be sure to smile and wave to brighten everyone's day.  

    DBD Rating 4 out of 5. 
     Rating Comment:  This is classic Disney when it comes to theme and architecture.  Food is good for counter service locations, just be careful of the pizza addiction.  

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Rate a Ride: Dumbo the Flying Elephant

    ·         Ride Location: Magic Kingdom
    ·         Fastpass:  No
    ·         Ride Duration: 90 seconds
    ·         Year Introduced:  1971 (Opening Day), 1993 (Replaced to increase capacity)
    ·         Tip:  Be sure to make this your first stop in the morning when the park opens as wait times are long towards mid day.  

    Dumbo the Flying Elephant is an original attraction at the Magic Kingdom.   Though the ride system was completely replaced in 1993 to increase capacity. Soon there will be two Dumbos with the Fantasyland expansion.  

    Dumbo is modeled after the 1941 classic movie with the same name.   Dumbo is a hub and spoke style ride system where the ride vehicles rotate around a central hub.   Much to the delight of smaller children, the elephants can go up and down by using the lever inside the ride vehicle.  The ride is very short at 90 seconds but the lines can get extremely long on busy days due to the limited capacity.  

    Dumbo will soon find a new home in Storybook Circus with the Fantasyland expansion.   So if you love flying close to the castle you don’t have much time left.  The move will also double Dumbo in size with the addition of a second Dumbo.  Look for this all to come sometime in 2012 (no official dates have been released).   
    Rating:  (3 out of 5)
     Rating Comment:   Although short and simple this iconic ride is a must for families with small children and first time visitors.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    A Bit of History

      Disney World turns 40 this year.  On October 1, 1971 it opened its doors to about 10,000 visitors.   Today, the Magic Kingdom tops 16 million visitors a year. 

       Walt Disney began purchasing property in Florida in the mid 1960’s.   He created many company names while purchasing the property to keep from creating a stir which would raise property prices.   Many of these company names can be found on windows as you walk down Main Street.   Walt passed away in ’66 and his brother Roy O. Disney took over the task of completing the Florida project.   In the end, over 30,000 acres were purchased, and about 20,000 acres remain undeveloped today.  Yep, there is room for more parks and hotels.
      It took more than 9,000 construction workers about 18 months to build The Magic Kingdom at a cost of about $400 million at that time.  On opening day $4.95 would get you into the one and only park (The Magic Kingdom), but each ride would cost a ticket (or coupon) A, B, or C with D and E tickets being added later.   A-Tickets could be used for smaller/unpopular rides with the E-Ticket being for the newest and most popular rides. This is where the term E-Ticket comes from today. Guests had two hotels to choose from, the Polynesian Village Resort and the Contemporary Resort (previously called the Tempo Bay Hotel). The Fort Wilderness Campground added 250 campsites in 1972.    

    While in the park you could enjoy:
    ·           Walt Disney World Railroad
    ·           Town Square: Town Square Café
    ·           Main Street Transportation: Fire truck, Horse-drawn street cars, and Horseless carriages.
    ·           Main Street: Market House store, Camera Center, Coca-Cola Refreshment Corner, House of Magic shop, Penny Arcade, Main Street Confectionery Shop, Emporium store, Main Street Bake Shop, New Century Clock Shop, Main Street Cinema attraction, & Crystal Palace Restaurant
    ·           Adventureland:  Adventureland Veranda restaurant, Jungle Cruise attraction, Swiss Family Tree House attraction, & Sunshine Pavilion
    ·           Bear Country: Country Bear Jamboree
    ·           Fantasyland: Dumbo Flying Elephants, Mad Tea Party, Snow White's Adventures, Pinocchio Village Haus restaurant, Cinderella's Golden Carrousel, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Mickey Mouse Revue Audio-Animatronics musical, It's a Small World, & Skyway to Tomorrowland
    ·           Frontierland: Frontier Shooting Gallery, Frontier Trading Post shop, Pecos Bill Cafe restaurant, Mike Fink Keel Boats, Mile Long Bar, Diamond Horseshoe Revue
    ·           Liberty Square: Hall of Presidents, Columbia Harbor House restaurant, Heritage House shop, Liberty Tree Tavern restaurant, & Haunted Mansion
    ·           Tomorowland: Skyway to Fantasyland, Grand Prix Raceway, Mickey's Mart store, & Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant
    ·           Cinderella Castle: King Stefan's Banquet Hall
     Some of these rides and restaurants still stand today while some of them have fallen to new and better things.   What is your favorite spot at the Magic Kingdom?

    Fun Fact:   Never Give Up
        When Walt Disney was young he worked for The Kansas City Star newspaper, because of his lack of creativity he was fired.   Years later he started “The Disney Company,” which bought ABC. Ironically, ABC owned The Kansas City Star newspaper.   So he was fired because of lack of creativity, only to turn around and buy the place from the money earned from his creativity.  This shows Walt didn’t give up in his dream, and neither should you.