Tag Archives: Amusement Parks

Disney World: The Road Less Traveled

By Rohan:

I just got back from the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando with my high school as part of our Senior Class Trip. While checking out our favorite rides and taking in some magical shows, the little things of Disney World can sometimes be the most memorable parts of the vacation. While any ordinary guidebook would recommend you meet Mickey Mouse, enjoy a wild safari at Animal Kingdom, or scream your lungs out on Tower of Terror, we recommend you also check out stores, restaurants, and attractions that are glossed over in the parks.
1. The Peoplemover (Magic Kingdom – Tomorrowland) 
 
The Peoplemover looks like a smaller version of the Walt Disney World monorail. From a first glance, it appears to just circle around Tomorrowland. But like all Disney attractions, this humble little ride has a story to tell. It discusses Walt Disney’s visions of the park’s future after the opening of the Magic Kingdom in 1971. Although Disney did not live to see his “Florida Project” open to the public, many artifacts are presented on the Tomorrowland Peoplemover that show how accurately the end result matched his original vision. One of the highlights of the ride is seeing Walt Disney’s model for a utopian city, an experimental prototype community of tomorrow, that later evolved into the Epcot Theme Park.
The Peoplemover transporting guests over Tomorrowland Speedway
The Peoplemover transporting guests over Tomorrowland Speedway
2. Mitsukoshi (Epcot – Japan Pavilion) 
 
If you’re a fan of Japanese culture, whether it be manga, anime, video games, or comic books, or if you’re just taking a peaceful stroll through Epcot’s World Showcase, Mitsukoshi should not be missed. This Japanese store sells everything from authentic clocks and home goods to the latest in electronic entertainment. The kids will have a blast checking out their enormous Nintendo section, which contains merchandise ranging from Super Mario to Pokemon. Looking for a romantic gift for that special someone? For fifty dollars, you can search for pearls in oysters and create a beautiful necklace.
Mitsukoshi at Epcot's Japan Pavilion (source: http://i1.disneyfoodblog.com/)
Mitsukoshi at Epcot’s Japan Pavilion (Source: http://i1.disneyfoodblog.com)
3. Club Cool (Epcot – Future World) 
 
Club Cool is an attraction/dining experience that is sponsored by Coca Cola. It allows guests to sample soft drinks from around the world for no charge. Club Cool is generally overlooked so you rarely see lines going out the door, an unusual sight in a place as crowded as Disney World. Try Watermelon soda from China, Orange flavored Coca Cola from Germany, or if your mouth can handle it, the bitter Strawberry Fanta from Costa Rica. Other than the Coke Factory in Atlanta, these drinks are nearly impossible to find in the United States. We recommend checking this attraction out and introducing your taste buds to a new pallet of flavor.
A medley of sodas at Club Cool in Epcot (Source: http://i1.disneyfoodblog.com)
A medley of sodas at Club Cool in Epcot (Source: http://i1.disneyfoodblog.com)
4. Gaston’s Tavern (Magic Kingdom – New Fantasyland)
 
With the opening of the first part of the New Fantasyland came the immensely popular Be Our Guest restaurant, a majestic eatery that has a wait list that spans months. Next to Be Our Guest however is a charming tavern themed to Gaston’s pub in Beauty and the Beast. The featured drink is a frozen apple cider with a hint of toasted marshmallow that is topped with a mango-passionfruit cream. Just the description made our mouths water. Although the drink is pricey at five dollars for a small glass, its incredibly thick, and the five of us couldn’t finish one serving. We highly recommend checking it out. If you’re looking for a unique souvenir, put down a little extra money for a mug that resembles Gaston’s mugs in the film.
Frozen goodness at Gaston's Tavern in Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland (Source: http://parksandresorts.wdpromedia.com/)
Frozen goodness at Gaston’s Tavern in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland (Source: http://parksandresorts.wdpromedia.com/)

Rohan’s Top Five Theme Park Travel Tips

Tokyo Disney

It feels like no matter where you go these days, there’s always a huge theme park waiting for you to dare to try their intense roller coasters and of course, beg you to spend big bucks on sugary snacks and souvenirs. Theme park travel and hopping from one attraction to the next is a ton of fun, but it can also be very stressful if you don’t follow these important tips.

1. Reserve Tickets Ahead of Time: The greatest insult of going to a theme park (especially a major one like Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens, or Universal Studios), is looking at the park skyline in awe only to find out you have to wait two hours just to get in. Print out your tickets and keep them in a folder. You are going to need this folder for later so hang on to it! It’ll be your best friend by the end of the day.

2. Establish Priorities: Think of five rides that you HAVE to do before exiting the park. This way, you can plan your day around these five rides, finding restaurants and shopping locations adjacent to the attractions you are dying to hit.

3. Expect the Unexpected: This category is pretty self-explanatory. Bring an umbrella, even if there’s only a slight chance of rain. You don’t want to get soaked and then have to pay thirty dollars (or more) for a theme park umbrella. Make sure you research indoor activities (arcades, indoor attractions like the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom, eateries, etc.)

4. Skip the Lines: Why wait two hours to ride the 30 second long Rockin’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Many major theme park chains have something called a Fast Pass. For you theme park newbies, a Fast Pass is a ticket that allows you to re-visit rides at a later time and skip the line all together. I recently got back from a trip to Orlando and Fast Passes were our best friends by the end of our five days. There’s nothing more satisfying than a white-knuckle ride on Test Track with a two minute wait.

5. Be Unconventional: It has been proven (and is evident through personal experience) that theme parks are the busiest from eleven in the morning to around three in the afternoon. This is why you need to re-structure your day if you want to make the most out of it. Hit the biggest rides bright and early. We rode Expedition Everest at eight in the morning and could get on it three times in fifteen minutes. Another great time to check out the park’s thrill rides is during popular shows and parades. If you are traveling with older kids who are uninterested in watching Disney or Nickelodeon characters prance around the park, that’s your cue to get in line and scream to your heart’s content. Another great and unique time to hit these rides is late at night. I was so glad that we rode Test Track at night since it actually felt like we were speeding down a highway at sixty miles per hour and the idea that we were in a theme park was erased from our minds.

Follow these tips, and you can make the most out of your day at any amusement park! If you have interesting stories or tips to share, please feel free to post them in the comments section below. We would love to hear your perspective on theme park travel!