Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour

Thanks to my sons-in-law, Domenic and J.R. for inviting me to be a guest blogger today and Congratulations to both of you on creating such an awesome Disney Travel web site!!

Many bloggers will talk about “touring plans” which will save you time and allow you to see all of your favorite rides and attractions in Disney theme parks in record time,  but rather than a touring plan….. Let’s talk about…. planning a tour!

photo 1On our recent trip to Disney World, my husband Phil and I took the “Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour”.  This is a three hour walking tour that includes a few of the Disney World classic attractions.  The tour begins prior to the opening of the park, so we had early access to the park with very little tourist traffic for our excursion!  We had a small group and a super inspirational guide named Julie!  We donned our souvenir Marceline name tags and neat headphones so that we could hear every word our tour guide articulated and off we wenphoto 5t!

Marceline, as we discovered, is the small historic railroad town in Missouri and the childhood home of Walt Disney.  It is where he began his “career” as a youngster drawing, painting and selling his pictures to neighbors and family!  The town of Marceline served as his inspiration for Main Street USA, sparked his life-long love for trains and his focus on the importance of the American Family.

After an interesting and informative trip down Main Street “Marceline”,   we turned to make our way to Liberty Square and… the Haunted Mansion!   Did you know that all of the creators and collaborators of Haunted Mansion are memorialized on the tombstones and grave markers surrounding the eerie estate?   Take the tour and you will discover all the spooky secrets that lie within!

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Walt Disney and his Imagineers were very focused on creating a story around the rides in the park.  From the instant you pass through the gates of the Haunted Mansion to the moment you exit  .….if you exit…..you are transported into the world beyond with creative interactive haunts.

After experiencing the ride, we were then escorted by our guide to a special “viewing” of the behind the scenes inner workings of the Haunted Mansion!  Want to know how the dancing ghosts appear and disappear in the ballroom?  Take the tour if you dare…photo 3

The haunted mansion is a wonderful combination of spooky and silly that reflects the styles of the two main designers, Marc Davis and Claude Coats.  They originally disagreed on whether the ride should be scary or funny, but both men got their “dying” wish and today we get to ride the doom buggy through a delightfully “spirited” adventure.

After touring the mansion, we walked through Fantasyland and rode The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  This is another “story” ride that sweeps you through the world of Pooh on a blustery day in the hundred acre wood.  We boarded our giant honey pot and bounced along with Tigger, entered the dream world of Heffalumps and Woozles , then celebrated sunny days with Winnie’s successful attempt to eat some honey!

Our group then ventured to Tommorwland and the Carousel of Progress.  This attraction was the main feature at the General Electric Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City.   In 1967 it was moved to Disneyland in California and then in 1975 it was moved to Disney World!  The ride has been updated throughout its 50 year history to reflect the technological advances experienced by the American family.

photo 2It is said that the Carousel of Progress was Walt Disney’s favorite attraction and I can see why!  As you watch the family members interact through the different seasons and throughout the years, it demonstrates the promise of continued progress and advancement to create a better family life in the future for all of us!  The Carousel of Progress has a catchy theme song that will have you humming “It’s a great big beautiful tomorrow” well beyond tomorrow!

Our tour ended there with a rare insider’s view of some of the history of Walt Disney and little-known tid-bits of Disney World.  Julie, our tour guide was an expert and was open to answering any questions about anything Disney during our three hour adventure!

The Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour is just one of a few different tours you can opt to participate in at Disney World.  Ask your Disney Travel Planner to reserve a spot for you and your family to see this magical park from “behind the scenes”!  The cost was $30 per person and well worth the walk!  So on you next trip to Disney World, in addition to a touring plan, plan on a tour!!

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Enchanted Tales with Belle

Background

Although the attraction has been open to visitors for almost a year now, Enchanted Tales with Belle (ETwB) continues to draw large crowds daily in New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom.  Due to the nature of the experience and its popularity, wait times for this attraction start building early in the morning and are consistently 30-40 minutes or more throughout the day, even on less crowded days.  If you do not select this attraction in the newly implemented Fast Pass + program, DWDads suggests making ETwB your first stop after rope drop to avoid the impending large crowds later in the day.

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Photo courtesy of Disney.com

 What to Expect

If you have not already watched a walkthrough on YouTube, we do NOT recommend doing so.  We recommend experiencing the magic of this attraction LIVE,  but if you feel like you MUST, then Be Our Guest. (See what we did there?) 

You approach Belle’s cottage, through Fantasyland Forest and you can see it is a tiny little home. The majority of the ride queue is outdoors,  wind your way closer take notice of the beautiful details of Belle’s cottage,   Only about 30-40 people are admitted at a time, the line tends to move in spurts.  Once your party makes its way into the entrance of Belle’s cottage, you are immediately transformed into Belle‘s world.   You feel like you are in her family home from the movie.  Although my boys loved the checkerboard and mugs in the center of the room, make sure you take the time to pick out some of the details that the imagineers used to immerse you into Belle’s childhood home.

IMG_0557After you move your way through the living room area – you’ll enter Maurice’s workshop at the back of the cottage. Every inch of the room is covered with inventions and gadgets that Maurice has been working on in his shop.  Then magically a door appears before you and you are whisked away into the parlor where you are greeted with an amazing piece of animatronics Madame Wardrobe.

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Here with the help of a wonderful Cast Member Madame Wardrobe explains that we are to surprise Belle by re-telling the story of how Belle and Beast met.  Props are then given out to guests who volunteer to play parts in the telling of the story.  After roles are all given out Lumiere then calls everyone to gather in Beast’s library.  Lumiere is one of the most impressive displays of animatronics around.  Seeing this character come to life is reason enough to visit the attraction.

4142048003241420480035Once in the library those with roles gather in the front around Lumiere, while the rest of the audience sits on comfortable benches around the room.  Lumiere calls Belle (live person) into the room and together they direct a small show with each of the guest volunteers playing a special part in the show. A photopass photographer captures all of the great moments of the show, and every guest that plays a role in the show, is given a chance to meet Belle and take a quick photo.  Belle is then rushed out to meet Beast at a ball, but every member that played a part is given a bookmark as a memento of the occasion.

These bookmarks, along with the photopass photos, make this attraction a memorable one.

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Top 5: Reasons Disney World Veterans Will Love Disneyland

If you’ve spent any considerable amount of time visiting Walt Disney World, the thought has likely crossed your mind of visiting the original Disney Park, Disneyland, in California.  Like others, you may be hesitant to make the trek out West. Maybe it seems too far, maybe it seems too small to be worth the effort, or maybe you are simply too comfortable at Disney World and you don’t want to feel out of your element.

I’m here today to tell you: stop making excuses and start planning your Disneyland trip.  It will be every bit as magical as the Disney World vacations that you cherish. Here are a few reasons Disney World frequent visitors will love Disneyland.

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5. The California Weather

California July weather calls for sweatshirts in the morning (whereas Florida July weather usually calls for an I.V.).

California July weather calls for sweatshirts in the morning (whereas Florida July weather usually calls for an I.V.).

My family usually has to visit the parks in the summer.  Anyone who has visited Florida in the summer knows how hot and uncomfortable it can be.  Even at rope drop, you’re likely to be sweaty and in need of air conditioning. This is not the case in California. When we visited in July, we needed sweatshirts in the morning and evening and just t-shirts during the day.  It is amazing how much energy you have for touring when you’re not being taxed by the heat.

4a. Disneyland Attractions That Are Also in Disney World

They said: "Disney characters in small world? Blasphemy!" But, it's fun and the characters look great.

They said: “Disney characters in small world? Blasphemy!” But, it’s fun and the characters look great.

There are a number of attractions that both coasts share, such as: Pirates, Haunted Mansion, small world, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Jungle Cruise, and several others.  And these are just the attractions in the Magic Kingdoms.  The thing is, many of these are slightly (or, in some cases, more than slightly) different from their East Coast alternative.  You’ll still prefer the WDW versions of some of these, but at least you’ll be able to be part of the debate of which doppelganger is superior!

4b. Disneyland Attractions That Are Unique To Disneyland

This nice family has taken the matching t-shirt tradition to a new level.

This nice family has taken the matching t-shirt tradition to a new level.

The Matterhorn Bobsleds, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland. There are many attractions that can only be found in California, so why wouldn’t a Disney junkie like you want to experience them all?

4c. Disneyland Attractions That Were Once In Disney World, But Are Gone Now

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I’m talking specifically of one attraction and one land: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Toontown.  Mr. Toad holds a special spot in the hearts of many Disney fans, so it is nice to know you can still experience his Ride somewhere in America.  Toontown in Florida may have never been anyone’s favorite land, but the Disneyland version will illustrate how great that land could have been.

3. California Adventure is Actually Pretty Great

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This was not the case a few years ago, but things have changed since the re-imagining of the park. Buena Vista Street is probably the best “main street” besides Main Street, USA; all of your favorite Disney World rides (Soarin’, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania – with hardly a wait!) are all within walking distance of one another, and a whole lot of new attractions are there for you to experience.  And The World of Color is about as perfect as fireworks over the castle as a way to end your Disney day.

2. Cars Land

This is really reason enough to want to visit DLR.

This is really reason enough to want to visit DLR.

Even though this one could have been included above, it deserves its own category.  Cars Land is the greatest accomplishment to come out of Walt Disney Imagineering in years.  You’ve heard others say it, so let me echo their thoughts: walking into Cars Land is like walking into the movie, and Radiator Springs Racers may be the perfect Disney attraction.

1. It’s Walt’s Park

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This has become a bit of a cliche, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Disneyland is the only park that Walt actually experienced, and that is palpable when you are touring the park.  Furthermore, California Adventure – especially Buena Vista Street – also emphasizes the connection between the man and our happiness. I’m not going to go as far as to say that a trip out west is a pilgrimage for Disney fans, but…

Well, maybe I am saying that.