May 30

Festival of the Lion King and Other Coming Events

Laurie gives us some info on some upcoming events…….

We were first to announce that Fastpasses are now available for the Festival of the Lion King with dates starting June 1, 2014. I loved the old version of the Festival of the Lion King.Lion King6 It was as if a small town gathered in a warehouse to honor their king. It was not big like Las Vegas or Broadway. It was a place friends gathered to sing, dance, clap, laugh, and celebrate life. Nobody cared that the floats were from a parade as they were part of the Circle of Life gathering to honor their King. Guests wanting to avoid the hoopla can head to their right toward Dinosaur and Flights of Wonder.

Father’s Day is June 15, 2014 so make your dinner plans now. Usually there are a few collectible items for sale but not much else going on that day. That will be the last day for Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. At the American Gardens Theater in Epcot mostly tribute bands will be onstage in Sounds Like Summer. Dates are June 08 – July 26 and shows are 5:30 pm, 6:45 pm and 8:00 pm (except July 4: shows at 5:15, 6:30, 7:45 and 9:00 pm). Gay Days Orlando is an unofficial event that has been running a long time that will be held June 3-9, 2014. They do not affect park attendance and are in the parks only a few days. There are expos, shows, parties, and lots of fun at various locations in the Orlando area. Some events like the art auction are free but most of the parties and entertainment charge a fee. Disney Soccer Academy is being offered at ESPN Wide World of Sports this June and July. It is $390 per four day session of intense training for children ages 5 – 19. See for more details.

June has some great kid friendly activities including Pollinator Day on June 10th in Animal Kingdom and on June 4th it is World Oceans day at The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Epcot.

Epcot has celebrations for most countries throughout the year. July 1st is Canada Day, July 7 is Tanabata Star Festival in Japan Pavillion, and July 14th is Bastille Day in France Pavillion. September 16 is Mexico’s independence day. October 1st is China Day, October 3rd will be German Reunification Day, and Wednesday (no date given) is Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifices) in Morocco. November 5th is Guy Fawkes Day in the United Kingdom pavilion, November 18th is Morocco Independence Day, and the American pavilion maybe will have Chickahominy Tribal Dancers and a Pilgrim Storyteller on Thanksgiving Day. January 18th is Scottish Heritage Celebration in the Showcase Plaza. Tuesday and Wednesday in February come celebrate the Year of the Snake and Chinese New Year’s Day. April 25th might, this is tentative, be Italian Liberation Day. May 5th is Japan’s Children’s Day and May 17th is Norway’s Constitution Day. Most events run 11 am to 5 pm at the Kidcot station of that pavilion so check your times guide for more information. Events may change or cease to exist while new ones are added.
Labor Day weekend from Friday through Monday is the Great Irish Hooley Festival at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney. They are offering entertainment, food, and lots of fun in this annual event. Festival of the Masters is in November in Downtown Disney. This art show features artists and their wares, live entertainers, hands on things for kids to do, and food. On September 11th the Magic Kingdom will have a special flag retreat in Town Square in honor of Patriot’s Day. Check with ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex if you are interested in the Disney Fit Challenge on September 26 – 28, 2014 where you test your power, strength, endurance, and limits in this new athletic event. Not much yet on the Orlando International Dragon Boat Festival that takes place on Village Lake in Downtown Disney on certain weekends in October. Night of Joy is happening September 05 – September 06, 2014 at the Magic Kingdom. This is a Christian music festival with rock, pop, and gospel singers that runs each night from 7:30 PM to 1:00 AM. Purchase a 2-night ticket through August 5, 2014 and enjoy one admission to a Disney water park or DisneyQuest® Indoor Interactive Theme Park. For those not attending be warned that the park closes early on those days. Big River Grille will be having an Oktoberfest tapping party on September 12th. Epcot and the Magic Kingdom celebrate their birthdays on October 1st.

At Animal Kingdom
July 29: Big Cat Day
August 5: Primate Day
September 23: Elephant and Rhino

Future updates will cover Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Halloween, and other holidays. There is a lot out there to do beside rides. I will be at Animal Kingdom for the first show of the Lion King Festival if you want to meet me.

Thank you, Laurie.

May 20


DUPLO Valley is a 2.5 acre area for kids age 2-5 that will open May 23, 2014. It will have a train ride, mini tractor ride, and a water play area. The barn will reopen as an air conditioned place for toddlers to play and house the Baby Care Center. The Baby Care Center offers private nursing stations, rocking chairs, microwaves, bottle warmers, high chairs, changing stations, Wi-Fi, cell phone charging stations and more.

They are offering a Preschool Pass for one adult and one child age 5 and under for only $90 that is good during weekdays. The pass is assigned to the child so that the child may go with different adults. For divorced parents this means each parent can take the child to the park for the price of one pass. May is First Responder Days that gives eligible guests free admission and up to four tickets at $40 each. Police officers, EMTS, and fire fighters need to show professional organization or employee ID, applies to retired and active employees. There is a similar offer going on for active members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reservists. Do not forget to plan for the 4th of July, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s at Legoland.

May 20

Rock Your Disney Side – 24 Hour Event

Laurie gives us the low down on the Rock Your Disney Side.  Will you be there?  I may venture over there after the Star Wars event.

BE PREPARED!! Based on the Hollywood Studios villains fiasco you better be prepared for long lines, closed parking lots, long bus rides, traffic jams, detours, lack of traffic control, long lines at the gates, long ferry rides, and other difficulties. During the villains fiasco it took 2 hours to go 3 miles and I was stuck there despite repeatedly telling the driver that I needed to eat NOW. 2 hours while the guests were hungry and needing to go to the bathroom and no compensation. I was refunded by Disney for the Fantasmic event that my group was supposed to meet up with. About 20 of us missed that Fantasmic event and some did not even get into the Studios. One lady was at guest services complaining about a 5 hour trip from a Disney resort to the Studios. Be prepared for monsoons, heat, high winds, cold, and anything else that Florida can throw at you. There are few villain events, meet and greets, or parade characters in WDW or in any amusement park. People want villains and are not getting them except at Star Wars Weekends, Halloween, and a few of the weaker villains such as Lady Tremain and her daughters. The mine train ride is scheduled to open the next weekend and fastpasses were made available for the event at the Anna and Elsa meet and greet.

They will start off with a Welcome Show to open the event that will feature heroes and villains. There will be a closing special Kiss Good Night starring villains as the park closes. “Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!” Street Party will have 3 parades that feature Disney heroes at 10 a.m. and Disney villains at 1:30 p.m. Disney will announce how to vote for who gets to be in the 5:45 p.m. parade. They also have “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade” at 12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Rounding out the evening are “Wishes Nighttime Spectacular” fireworks at 9 p.m. and “Celebrate the Magic” at 8:45 p.m., 9:45 p.m., and 11:45 p.m. Those staying into the wee hours of the night can join the dance areas at Frontierland, Tomorrowland, and Cinderella’s castle. There is a pre-parade of villains before the Electric Parade.

Sleepy Hollow will offer the Poisoned Apple Waffle Sundae: waffles with stewed apple topping and whipped cream. Storybook Treats will offer the Poisoned Apple Shortcake Sundae: ice cream, yellow cake, stewed apple topping and whipped cream.  Princess themed cupcakes can be found at Gaston’s Tavern while Main Street Bakery will offer Olaf, Maleficent, and Frozen themed cupcakes. Lunching Pad and Friar’s Nook will sell an Olaf souvenir cup with a special beverage. Outdoor vending carts will have pink heroes and blue villains cotton candy with a special event themed bag label. Now for the scary part, breakfast, dare I go there? Quick service restaurants will offer breakfast sandwiches, French toast sticks and bacon, breakfast flatbread, and breakfast hot dog. There will be the usual breakfast baked goods, individual boxes of cereal, yogurt, and fruit. Check the times guide for restaurant hours as finding food in the wee hours may be hard.

Characters take over the park at about 2 am including Jafar replacing Aladdin, Dr. Facilier for Tiana, and Captain Hook for Peter Pan. Anna and Elsa stay in their home at Princess Fairytale Hall while the Queens from Snow White and Sleeping Beauty take over the other half of the hall. Expect very long lines for some villains as the Hollywood Studios fiasco had 2 hour wait times to visit with one of the few character meeting areas. Keep your children and any slow moving adults in front or next to your group. The crowds can suddenly break up a group so that kids get left behind. It is very important that you take pictures of children as you leave to go to the parks just in that rare incident that you get separated. Take photos of landmarks so you will not get lost. Mark your strollers with something unique that stands out when you see a sea of strollers. Some people use online maps on their electronic devices to bookmark where they parked. The application for Legoland has a link to a map that you can bookmark your parking spot. Use paper and pencil if that is easier to right down the directions. Have a specific meeting spot not just “in front of pirates”. Disabled guests should get their DAS before the event if possible.

Guests are encouraged to wear kid friendly costumes to the event. The usual WDW rules such as visible eyes, no swords and sharp objects, no signing autographs, no implying you are the REAL Disney character, and no dragging costumes. Hours of operation for the event will take place from 6:00 AM, May 23, 2014 to 6:00 AM, May 24, 2014. Not everything will be open in the wee hours and some things will be down for refurbishment. This is not a hard ticket event so any admission will get you into this event.

REMAIN CALM! As with any holiday or packed park day you can avoid the stress and issues by having a game plan and 10 back up plans. Try to get there at 5 am. Designate one person as the schlepper who takes bags through the bag check thus freeing up everyone else to get in line. They will have guests line up at the gates and wait for admission at about 5:30 am or a few minutes after that. Watch for hidden lines and lines on the end that are shorter. Guests will plow into the front area to watch the Welcome Show or to get strollers. I doubt it but they may have the human chain again on Main Street because of Anna and Elsa. Take the train around to Frontierland or Fantasyland if it is running. The traffic will not be so bad at 5 am compared to midday as the main villain related activities will not start until after noon. Check with your resort to see what buses are running that morning. Taxis will drop you off at TTC where you take a ferry or monorail. Enter the park and stay right then head back to the light then left to the taxis and and drop off area. You can have your taxi drop you off at the Contemporary and walk to MK. The Lynx buses will not be running that early.


May 16

The Ultimate Day at Star Wars™ Weekends

Any Star Wars Fans out there?  Well how about this?  A little pricey but wouldn’t this be great?

Disney VIP Tour Services is offering the Ultimate Day for Star Wars fans. Start off with a continental breakfast at The Hollywood Brown Derby then spend the day with a VIP tour that includes expedited access to Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, Toy Story Midway Mania! and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Guests have reserved viewing for Legends of the Force Motorcade and to Stars of the Saga at Premiere Theater. During the day guests will receive a table service dinner.

The Ultimate Day at Star Wars Weekends is available for $499 per Guest (tax not included) and takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from May 16 to June 15, 2014.

May 01

LEGOLAND Hotel in 2015 & Photos of Newest LEGOLAND Garden

LEGOLAND Hotel will open in 2015 along the northeast shore of Lake Eloise. This 4 story hotel will offer Legoland hotel152 rooms and be themed after the brightly colored Legos and Lego characters. There will be a pool, interactive areas, and a restaurant. The disabled parking area has been broken up and moved east but I had no problem getting a spot. This will bring 250 construction jobs and 250 permanent staff positions. They will renovate the boardwalk area too.

Based on old brochures one can see that the entrance was across from the main stadium for water shows. On your right were the botanical gardens as you entered. On your left was kiddie rides, dining, and Island in the Sky (sky tower). The far left (east) was a menagerie, gator show, bird show, and Magnolia Point Pier which have been hidden from public view while others were removed. The new hotel grounds will open up that area to the public and there are hints of make the pier open for guest experiences such as a boat ride.

The Oriental Gardens and the Florida Pool have reopened. Nestled in a corner southwest of the banyan trees lies a giant Buddha who watches over the Japanese themed garden. legoland gardens5There is a quiet hut for resting and contemplating life as well as paths decorated like a garden in Japan. Few find their way here and I hope someday to bring snacks and lunch to savor the beauty of this area as seen in these photos. I missed the pool probably as there are no maps and it is easy to get turned around. Head toward Lake Eloise for breathtaking sunsets and views. I am so happy to live so close to Lake Eloise. Paths can be hilly and bumpy but they are doable. I rather rent a park scooter as they can take the terrain better. Head north through the banyan tree to find St. Francis and St. Fiacre statues.

Thank you Laurie for taking us to Legoland and the gardens!

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