Beane Family Vacation: April 2016


Just this past week my family traveled down from Massachusetts to enjoy their annual(this year will be bi-annual) family vacation. Our trip included 2 pool days, 1 day at Gatorland, and 5 days in Disney World. This was a fun trip and I hope some of what I share with you can help you plan a long family vacation. 

Planning:

Something that gets forgotten when you live down here is that your family doesn’t get to just drive back down to Disney if they didn’t get on a certain ride. I have, many times, walked out of a park saying “oh I didn’t ride space mountain this time, I’ll just go on next week.” Well visitors don’t get that option! So when planning our days, I really planned out fastpasses. 

One thing I really focused on with fastpasses is trying to not make them on top of each other. Having fastpass after fastpass is tiring especially if they are across the park. So in order to have a relaxing vacation I set them up 2-3 hours apart. This way we could actually have time to do other rides, in the same land then make our way over to the next fastpass. It worked very well and it kept the vacation somewhat relaxing.

The other aspect I had to keep in mind was where I parked. Going to Disney a lot I tend to find new places to park such as near the Boardwalk Hotel or even parking at a resort and bussing in. These are great when you have an hour to spare but with 6 guests just wanting to get into the park it’s just better to park at the park itself. My crazy parking ideas can be picked back up again when they are at home.

Gatorland:


Now, I am a Disney Snob so I was not optimistic for our day trip here but Gatorland was a great experience for our family. The park is not big but has a lot to do. The best part of our stay was most of our party zip lining across an alligator filled pond! I suggest this for a low cost vacation day if you have extra days in central Florida. 



Animal Kingdom:

Animal Kingdom was super fun. The kids enjoyed all of the rides. This was Patriots Day so the park was fuller than usual but we made the most of it. We decided to spend some extra time at Rafiki’s Planet Watch since it was not only busy but also very hot, especially to people who just left 35° weather 2 days prior. All of us got to get on all of the rides and took in some shows around the whole park. The key to today was taking our time and enjoying some Mickey Ears! 

Magic Kingdom:


Time for what everyone’s been looking forward to; Magic Kingdom!! We did 2 days here and on one of those days we met some more family for the day. Anyways the park was actually not all that busy and we were able to get on most of the rides. One tip for people who keep track of wait times just remember that when the app says that Mine Train is a 40 minute wait everyone in the park is going to run to the ride so that 40 minute wait is going to turn into a 80 minute wait in moments. 


They were great days and a lot of memories were made. One of the best moments for us was very simple. Being super warm we brought the kids over to the splash zone in Fantasy Land and they were able to play around and cool off.


Of course our days ended with fireworks and proof that the days were a fun filled success my little Macy fell asleep before even getting on the monorail out of the park both times. 


Epcot:

Epcot is a difficult park right now since there is no Soarin which is everyone’s favorite ride and the World Showcase is “the worst thing ever” to Zachary but we made the most of it. It was one of those people watching days while enjoying some of EPCOT’s best snacks. We even got to meet up with Aunt Gina!


Hollywood Studios:

We went to Hollywood Studios and since we were wicked tired we decided to get a late start. We were able to ride all of the rides. For Zachary we did Star Tours two times since he is a huge Star Wars fan. 

We didn’t stay for fireworks because the kids were just getting wiped out and we wanted the rest of our vacation to be enjoyable so we called it an early night(not all that early, we didn’t get home until 10:00 but compared to our other days, it was early).

Extra Days:


We had 3 extra days this year. We used one on Gatorland which was great. Another day we did swimming and a night at Disney Springs and then just a full pool day with dinner at Golden Corral(kids absolute favorite).

So how do you guys vacation as a big group? And how do you do non-Disney days?

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Saying Goodbye to Streets of America

Saying Goodbye to Streets of America

We’ve had some good times over the years. We’ve laughed and we cried. We spent holidays together and eaten candied almonds. We’ve jammed out on you and danced in the snow.
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When MGM Studios opened in 1989, you were part of the Backlot tour. You only represented New York back then.
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I accept the change and know that it is going to be so exciting! One of the things that makes Disney so wonderful is that it’s always evolving. Let’s just take a minute and look back at some wonderful memories of the streets of America:
1. The (original) Backlot Tour – riding in a tram, you would loop around and spot a New York City street scene, complete with subway sounds. The real treat was when you turned the corner and realized the buildings were just facades.

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Picture from Google

2. Mulch, Sweat and Shears – for over 11 years, the bandscaping company rocked out on the streets. People grew up listening to them. When they left Hollywood Studios , they left a real hole behind.
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3. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – we were awed for 20 years with the music and blinking Christmas display. When it would start snowing on the street, faces just lit up as bright as the displays!
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Also going away:
Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground – my kids spent many happy hours within the giant blades of grass.
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Lights, Motors, Action – the wild driving and explosions were totally thrilling!
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In the next few years will be enjoying Star Wars land and Pixar land but we’ll be able to look back at our old friends.

Enjoy!
PD
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And On Wednesdays, We Wear Pink: The Unwritten Rules of How to Dress in Disney World

Okay, not rules, more like, guidelines!

We’ve all seen it right? Each park seems to have its own themed attire. Walking around Magic Kingdom girls dress as their favorite princess or show off their favorite character on their shirts. All four parks have their theme that many park guests just seem to gravitate towards.

Magic Kingdom

 

Like I said above, women will find a way to represent their favorite princess or even pay homage to all of the princesses or favorite character in the way they dress. Or they just dress in a way that makes them feel like a princess. I tend to do more of the paying homage to them. I really like to be comfortable in the parks so I will often wear a shirt with my favorite character(that changes daily), exercise bottoms and my favorite ears! I never worry about coordinating shoes since I am really just for optimal comfort and feel like everyone else should as well.


For others, they go all out. Something that has really been popular at the parks lately is Disney  Bounding. Wearing costumes to the parks for adults is not allowed but that doesn’t have to stop you from making you feel like your favorite character. Bounding doesn’t mean you have to look exactly like the character. You can simply wear their color scheme and you are golden.

Hollywood Studios 

For Hollywood Studios it is much more obvious that there is a “dress code” for entering the park. I think it’s much more prevelent because both men and women do it….

STAR WARS

From t-shirts to bounding to almost everybody having a light saber, walking into Hollywood Studios can sometimes feel like you’re walking into a Star Wars Convention. Most wear their vintage looking t-shirts but other get quite creative.


Animal Kingdom

I think this one is pretty obvious. Animal Kingdom’s forever fashion tend is animal print. Some people keep it minimal, finishing their favorite outfit with an animal print accessory. Some kick it up a notch and have a piece of their clothing be animal print. And for a very few everything is animal print. So whatever your style type is make sure you pack your animal print for Animal Kingdom.


Epcot

This park is very hard to pin point trend. Many come dressed representing their country so they can feel festive walking around the World Showcase.

This park is where you see a lot of the group shirts. These shirts usually have some saying that indicated what the group is celebrating. A lot of the shirts will include drinking around the world which is a game adults play where they drink in each country at the World Showcase.

Epcot is definitely the most relaxed park when it comes to fashion. No one seems to go all out. With the amount of great food and drinks they offer I prefer to wear my looser fitting clothes! Lol!!

So, how do you dress in Disney World? Are you more laid back with just a few Disney touches to your outfit or do you give yourself a memorable outfit for each park? Also, what other trends do you notice in the parks?

PD Courtney

All outfits made by myself on Polyvore.com

Quick Service Part 7 – Pepper Market and the Backlot Express

The Pepper Market at Coronado Springs

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The Pepper Market is a very well equipped food court. Their menu and choices are a little different from some other resorts at WDW. It’s beautifully decorated and has plenty of indoor seating. There is also a seating area outside of the PM.

For breakfast, they have the quick grab and go items – yogurts, pastries etc. They also have some really great omelets and of course the famous Mickey Waffles. Two items stick out as mouthwatering – the Egg, Chorizo & Cheese Sandwich and the Mexican Eggs Benedict Burrito. The kid’s menu is smaller but can be more than enough food for an adult.

Lunch and Dinner is where PM really excels. The Tacos, Enchiladas and Cheese Empanadas are fresh and made to order. The Market Nachos are the BEST! The baked pasta and chicken are good but the BBQ Ribs are amazing but can be messy.

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The Pepper Market is a destination for our family as the food is wonderful and the scenery is pretty special. It’s nice that after you stuff yourself, you can go for a walk around the resort to take in the views and burn some calories.

Backlot Express at Hollywood Studios

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I need to write this fast before it changes! This wonderful indoor/outdoor quick service spot is located on the side of Space Tours and behind the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. I’m sure it will be completely Star Wars themed as it has been during Stars Wars weekends for several years.

Lunch and Dinner are served and are the basic in-Park fare with a twist of the Force.

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The children’s menu is limited to The Power Pack, Uncrustables and Dark Side Chicken and Waffles. There are a few deserts and the cupcakes are updated on a regular basis.

From some spots, you can watch Jedi Training on the stage beside Star Tours. I am excited to see this restaurant reimagined!

PD

 

My Fast Pass – Only Rides

Rides that I won’t go on unless I have a Fast Pass

Walt Disney World is a pretty popular place. Very popular! There was once very distinct on and off seasons to visit. It now seems like it’s always hopping! I haven’t seen much off time in over a year of visiting each week.

There are also very popular rides in each of the four parks. We always joke that there can be 10 people in Magic Kingdom but the line for Peter Pan is 50 minutes! I mean, I really enjoy the ride but wow! The new queue is really fun and interactive at least.

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Magic Kingdom

  1. Peter Pan’s Flight – see above
  2. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – This is a favorite ride of several generations. I just wish the queue were more entertaining.
  3. Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train – It’s the newest funnest biggest ride so it’s always got an obscenely long line.

Instead, I’ll go on:

  1. The Carousel of Progress – It’s nostalgic and campy but it’s also a great place to cool down or stay dry.
  2. Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor – This is an interactive comedy show with everyone’s favorite one eyed green monster – Mike Wazowski!
  3. The Barnstormer Featuring the Great Goofini – This is a fast little roller coaster in the circus area near Dumbo. Always a blast!

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Hollywood Studios

  1. Rock N Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith & Tower of Terror – I have seen the lines for these rides actually meet up! Insane! I’ll just drive really fast home and then jump on a broken elevator.
  2. Toy Story Mania – As wonderful as the theming is, I can’t spend 150 minutes of my life in Andy’s room.

Instead, I’ll go on:

  1. The Great Movie Ride – The line can be long at times but it does constantly move. It’s pretty rare that they have a break down and I love the new movie at the beginning.
  2. Star Tours – Again this ride does move at a good clip. The queue is super spacey!
  3. Muppet Vision 3D – I don’t really need an excuse to see this show.

 

 

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  1. Test Track – This is a great ride. I love the remodel but not the long long lines.
  2. Soaring – Unless you run to this ride as soon as Epcot opens, you could be waiting hours. Literally.

Instead, I’ll go on:

  1. Mission: Space – The line moves. There are the Orange and Green Teams for more or less intense versions of the ride. Double the speed.
  2. Living with the Land – Or even better yet, The Behind the Seeds Tour. It’s only $20 per person and is a lot of fun and educational too!

 

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  1. Kilimanjaro Safaris – This is a great opportunity to see animals up close and personal in their own habitats.
  2. Kali River Rapids – Who can resist the chance to cool down with a good soaking?

Instead, I’ll go on:

  1. Rafiki’s Planet Watch – Hop on a slow train ride to a nature station. You even get to interact with the animals!
  2. Flights of Wonder – Birds will swoop in just inches above you! They are so well trained and entertaining. Well worth the visit.

 

Extra hint: Instead of waiting in lines for autographs, I go to character meals and get a bunch all at once. Breakfast and Lunch are not awfully expensive and the food is usually quite yummy.

3 Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World in February – Courtney


1.Weather: Most people imagine their Disney Vacation as a warm. There is a time of the year in Florida that the weather drops to the low 60’s. For people who hate the constant feeling of walking on the sun while in the parks, this time of year is perfect. Just don’t forget your long pants and at least a sweatshirt!

 2.Crowds: The warm times at the park also tend to be the busiest. The beginning of I February has very low crowds so the lines to your favorite rides are much shorter. Also, there is less of a struggle getting around the parks and quick service eateries. As I mentioned, it’s the beginning of February that is less crowded towards the end of the month though, the crowds pick up since Spring Break starts for much of central Florida.

 3.Valentine’s Day: I cannot think of a much more romantic thing to do on Valentine’s Day than spending the day with the one you love at Magic Kingdom. Getting a picture kissing in front of the iconic Cinderella’s Castle, wearing couple Mickey ears. You can even finish up your day with dinner at Tony’s Restaurant or Be Our Guest Restaurant, two of the more romantic venues on Disney property. If you are looking for a less expensive way to show your love a lovely stroll around Cresent Lake on one of the Boardwalk bikes would be romantic a great way to see part of Disney that most guest don’t get to see. There are also some nice sit down restaurants all around Cresent Lake.


PD

Saying goodbye to Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

  
We went to Hollywood Studios to view Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights before they are taken down for a final time after 20 years. It’s kind of a bitter sweet moment. As a family, we truly have enjoyed the many times we were lucky enough to view this amazing light show during our December trips. Being a Florida resident these past two Christmases has aloud us to soak them in from the first night to the last.

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Of course, with all things Disney, there are many rumors dancing around about where, when or if ever we will see this show again. That’s not what matters now. To me it’s more about appreciation for what was and the many memories of family and friends standing and looking up in amazement at moments  that will always leave a smile on all of our faces. 

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So even though I will welcome the new things to come to my favorite Disney park, I’m glad I have these memories to look back at and remember,  with a smile,  what was truly a wonderful expression Disney magic.

PD

Quick Service Part 3 – Pizza Planet, Ghiaradelli’s and Everything POP Dining

Toy Story’s Pizza Planet at Hollywood Studios

When you step into Pizza Planet, you are walking into the first Toy Story movie. There are video games, Randy Newman songs, Green Aliens and of course the smell of pizza everywhere. This is a nice place to relax and enjoy a meal. There is plenty of seating on two floors and can be quite busy at peak times.

The menu is limited; personal sized pizzas with a few varied toppings served with a small Caesar salad, antipasto and meatball sub – children’s menu also includes a mini chicken sub. They also offer a few different seasonal cupcakes. They do have gluten free pizza and cookies.

Stop in to feel like part of the Toy Story gang!

Haight AshBerry strawberry, vanilla and blueberry sundae on a table in front of Ghirardelli mural

(Picture from Disneyworld.disney.go.com)

Ghiaradelli’s Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop – located in Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney)

Shopping can be exhausting! With so many wonderful options, you can’t help but pick up a little something for every person on your list. Take a load off your feet and treat yourself to a perfect frozen confection!

Ghiaradelli’s has every decadent chocolate that you can imagine! Then you can get started on the ice cream. The options are limitless, from sundaes to shakes to smoothies. They have something to appease every appetite. Who says you can’t have a Treasure Island Warm Brownie Sundae for lunch? I’m not judging! Just return the favor when I indulge in a Sea Salt Caramel Banana Quake Shake for dinner.

They have light options also. I thought I should add that.

Everything POP Shopping and Dining – located at Pop Century Resort

POP Century is a delightfully themed value priced resort. There are different decades represented throughout the main building which houses the front desk, food court and shopping area and buildings along with the pools. The 50’s building with Lady and the Tramp accents have a bowling pin pool that has always been my favorite.

Every POP is the food court that has been recently renovated. From the beautiful flooring to the new artwork, this is a wonderful place for a meal before or after your jaunts into the parks.

For breakfast, you can grab a pastry or sandwich freshly made. Platters are available with any combination of eggs, meats and potatoes. Mickey waffles are always a favorite and especially topped with fruit! If you are using the Disney Dining Plan, we sometimes use a snack credit for a muffin for breakfast.

Lunch and dinner has the normal fare of pizza, macaroni & cheese and chicken nuggets. There are different sandwiches and build your own salads as well as a huge selection of specialty burgers.  Pasta is always a favorite here for our family. There are also some veggie options that are quite yummy.

Deserts are varied and wonderful! From cookies to ice cream, you can’t go wrong. The Tie-Dye cheesecake is probably the best known and is fantastic!

There are toasters and microwaves available. I can’t tell you now many times we’ve brought Pop Tarts for the kids. Microwave popcorn goes great for the movies in the evenings.

My Day Alone in WDW

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My Husband had to work (@Grand Floridian) a short daytime shift on a Saturday. It was only 6 hours so I figured I’d go in with him, spend some time in WDW and meet up with him afterwards. Well I had a blast! What a fun day exploring by myself, at my own speed, doing what I wanted to do. No compromising for me!

I had Joe drop me off at Hollywood Studios. I saw it as a sign to visit the Muppets first because I saw the billboard for the new show in the parking lot. FYI – I loved the new show!!

I started at Muppet Vision 3D and found the key under the mat. Love that pun. I also saw A Net Full of Jello, get it, Annette Funicello! I love the updated movie in the holding area that mentions Constantine from the last Muppet Movie (with Tina Fey). Statler and Waldorf make me giggle – they can’t escape – they are nailed to their seats!

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I crossed over the Streets of America to check on the progress of the lighting for the Osbourne Family Lights. I can’t believe how fast that many lights can go up! I window shopped at Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop from the television show Once Upon A Time. I love seeing the glass slippers and Sorcerer’s Hat! All Magic Comes At A Price!

A quick walk through a very busy Pixar section and I was at One Man’s Dream. For me, this is always a must so I’m pretty sad to see it go. I’m good with change and I’m sure I will love what comes next for Hollywood Studios. It was sad that Walt’s office is gone but nice to say good bye.

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When I left the exhibit, I heard music so I knew that I had to get moving to see Mulch, Sweat and Sheers! I didn’t want to miss a chance since they are ending their fantastic 11 year run on October 11th. They are always a fun time. I could watch the interaction with the audience forever! They Rock! I will miss them, they’ve been such a staple in the park.

I decided to stop at Starbucks, get a refresher and head out.

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I next walked to the Boardwalk. I love the feel of this resort. It’s turn of the (last) century charm and kitsch gets me every time. Yes the clown pool scares the heck out of me up I walk really fast by it. I did a quick walk through pit stop but didn’t explore as much as I normally do.

It’s a great walk with wonderful views. You can see The Yacht Club with it’s lighthouse and the Beach Club with it’s pirate ship across the water. I stopped in at the Bakery but was only window shopping. I wanted to visit Germany (you’ll see why later)!

I entered Epcot through the International Gateway. I love this entrance because it’s never busy. I thought I’d so something crazy and take a left and head into France. I usually take a right into United Kingdom. I went to see Impressions de France. I really enjoy that movie. The music and imagery are stunning. I then kept going on my trek around the world. I stopped briefly to listen to the Voices of Liberty. I missed most of their set unfortunately.

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I was giddy as I stopped in Germany. If you haven’t tried their freshly made and warm Werther’s Popcorn, you haven’t lived! I buy the prepackaged to ship up to my daughter in law, Kristen but have to get a fresh bag for myself. I don’t share.

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My next spot was to visit my favorite guy – Figment! I went to Future World and with a brief stop at Club Cool for some non-Beverly refreshments. I love the pineapple and melon Fantas mixed together! Journey into Imagination with Figment is such a happy ride, it makes me smile and sing each time. I know some people miss the earlier versions. I have seen them on You Tube. I’m just happy with any Figment I can get!

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I went to the Land to Sunshine Seasons and had quick meal of a premade sandwich and a yummy cupcake. I relaxed from all my walking and people watched a bit. The stand-by line for Soaring was 75 minutes. I decided to visit Spaceship Earth to thank the Phoenicians! Since I was all about learning at this point, I head over to Ellen’s Energy Adventure. I know it’s dated but I love the ride/show. It’s also a great place to cool down or escape the rain.

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I had FP+ for Illuminations and Joe was almost done with the work day, so I got in line and started getting excited! He had never seen the entire show due to our placement around the World Showcase. It was a perfect ending to both his day working for the Mouse and my adventure alone!

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Going to Walt Disney World Without Going on Rides

Going to Disney Without Going on Rides

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We all know that Walt Disney World has some fantastic rides. Magic Kingdom has the mountains – Splash and Space. It is also home to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train which opened to rave reviews. Hollywood Studios is known for The Rock ‘N Roller Coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror which looms over the park and can be seen from everywhere. Expedition Everest with Yeti and Dinosaur will get your blood pumping in Animal Kingdom. Test Track and Mission:SPACE are the thrill rides in Epcot although Sum of all Thrills at Innoventions can be as wild as you want to make it – within the boundaries of math, of course. So if you are looking for some adventure, you’re sure to find it.

For me, nope. Not looking for that at all. Of the above rides, I will go on 1 maybe 2 if the mood strikes. I have a soft spot for Dinosaur. Not sure why but I love it. Also, I can be persuaded to go on Sum of All Thrills if I am allowed to create it (no drops for this girl). So what could you possibly do in Disney World if you are not going on rides?Well, there are tons of shows!

 They do a pretty good job right at the front of Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom. I could watch that show over and over.  Philharmagic is always a fun time reliving some favorite movies and the Carousel of Progress helps me to remember that Walt had a hand in all of this. Oh and the parades! The Festival of Fantasy parade blows my mind. There is a fire breathing dragon! Fire. Breathing. Dragon. I don’t need to plummet down a mountain for excitement.

So if I choose to watch the Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo instead of visiting the Yeti, don’t think I’m not having a blast. I am getting so much out of every visit to Beauty and the Beast that I wouldn’t trade it for all the Terror in the world! Figment is enough to get my imagination going, I don’t need to go into Space. Don’t skip the wonderful movies in France, Canada and China!

I get enough excitement dodging raindrops in Florida or as I refer to it – Liquid Sunshine. I don’t need to go on any rides! I could also people watch forever and there is no greater variety than right in WDW. People from all over the world and every culture is represented. Talk to cast members and other guests. There are some really great people out there!

Enjoy Disney your own way but make sure you are having fun!

PD