A couple months ago, I was fortunate to find out that I would be attending a conference in Ft. Lauderdale in July. To me, this meant that I would be in Florida which, as usual, meant that we would make a quick stop through Orlando and, inevitably, Disney. Over the past two days we’ve been gleefully experiencing everything new that the World of Disney has to offer since the last time we swung by. In this post, I’ll be talking about our adventures in the park, but also giving my thoughts and impressions of the newest additions to the Disney World park. Our journey begins with a visit to the Royal castle of a girl who loved to read and the Beast who loved a girl.
Be Our Guest
Alright, this isn’t a new thing, but it was new to us, as will be many of the experiences in this two part series. I had always wanted to visit Be Our Guest and check out the interior of the castle. After all, Beauty and the Beast is one of my all time favorite films.
We actually almost missed our reservation as we ended up on an early morning boat to the Magic Kingdom that took its sweet time. I’m assuming our captain was catching Pokemon. It’s a good thing we’ve been to the park before, because as we made landfall, we dashed through the check-in line and then sped through the the park. Luckily, I was happy to find that the staff who checked us in at the restaurant were delightful. They even had a spare Birthday badge for my partner Carl, which was a relief as we hadn’t had time to get one on the way in.
The decor and room layout of Be Our Guest is lovely. If it is your first time there, you’ll be tempted to sit in the first room, which is the grand ballroom, but if you got a bit deeper, you’ll find the West and East wings. In these are several lovely paintings, decorations, a dancing Belle and Beast and of course, the magical rose. Eating in the West Wing seems to be the best place as it has the most ambiance and often times it will even thunder from within, giving it a great feel.
Unfortunately, not all was well in this little castle. We sadly found that the food was equally not special and terribly overpriced. This is the sort of meal you could get at any diner in New York for about $6. Here we were paying nearly $30 per person. The meal came with several pastries as well, which is nice, BUT doesn’t excuse the crazily high price. Park food is over priced. I get it. But this was on another level. Given that we didn’t even really have a server and most of the service was done cafeteria style, it simply didn’t make sense. While we were happy to be there guest, we most likely will not be going back to this place again.
Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
We made it just in time to check out the new show at the castle, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire. In this show, we see Mickey and Minnie explore the realms of Princess and the Frog, Tangled and Frozen, complete with music and dancing from all of them. Donald joins the party, as does Goofy and we get to see plenty of special characters.
This was not something that we had intended to do. In fact, going to Magic Kingdom for breakfast was a spur of the moment decision. So when we stumbled on this show, we were pleasantly surprised. It’s really wonderful and full of good lessons about confidence and friendship.
As a Disney fan, I also loved that we were so close so we could really get a look at the costumes. The fur characters such as Mickey, Minnie and Donald all look great. There mouths and eyes move with the words and I really feel that if I was a little kid I would look up at that stage and feel like these characters are alive. It goes to show how far these characters have come as far as how they interact in the park. I truly believe that in the next ten or so years we will have character meet and greets that all have voices and can interact with the guests.
This is not a new ride by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s one of the oldest BUT the funny thing about old rides is that they break down. On our first visit to the park, we simply missed it. Last time we visited, it was down all day. Today, we almost missed it again as it was down the first time we tried. Luckily we gave it one more shot before leaving to our next park of the day. I’m so glad we did. It’s such a wholesome little show and of everything in the park, this one oozes with Walt’s charm. You can almost feel him in the audience laughing along with the jokes. It’s a delight and some of the best animatronics even to this day.
On our way out the park, we simply couldn’t pass up an opportunity to meet one of my all time favorite characters, Stitch. He kept wiping boogers on folks and chewing purses. Luckily, he knew we were cool from the start.
As we waited to meet him, we also got treated to a lovely morning show all about summer and hopping. It was a great way to pass the time as we waited in line.
This was our first experience with Park Hopper. Midway through the day, we headed over to Animal Kingdom to take in the new nighttime experiences. We also took the chance to ride some of our favorites and meet some new characters we hadn’t met before, including the wise Rafiki.
We also had the chance to meet up with Safari Donald. Donald is one of our all-time favorite characters and he was a delight as usual. I was sporting my Donald Duck Colors, but Carl was wearing a Superman shirt…which Donald didn’t approve of.
We enjoyed the park until evening when we ate at Rainforest Cafe, which I highly recommend. The service and food was awesome and was a real treat given our sad breakfast. From there we headed to the new nighttime experiences.
As a show that is taking the place of Rivers of Light until it’s opening, I actually enjoyed Alive with Magic more than I had expected to. The show centers around the story line of the new live action Jungle Book movie and comes complete with performances of the songs from the film. This is done with some dancers, which are on land, while other performers around out on floating stages which allowed there to be multiple levels of the show. Everywhere you looked, something different was going on.
The singers were great, but my complaint of the show is that, because of where the performers were, no one really had a great seat. The auditorium in front of the water doesn’t really make it easy to view the whole performance. I feel that if we sat somewhere else, we’d see something completely new in the show. Maybe this isn’t a bad thing, but it was a bit jarring.
The dancers and live musicians are outstanding. From live drummers who give it their all to a display with fire that was one of our favorite parts of the show, all the parts of this show are amazing. I’d just love to see them mesh together a bit better. All in all, we liked the show and given the chance, would probably watch it again.
While this is simply another dance party, Carnivale is full of color and very fun music. We had no intention of checking it out but couldn’t help but stop to see what was happening as we entered Discovery Island after the nighttime show. It’s essentially one big party but it was a lot of fun and it took us a while before leaving. Even the cast members got into the action, dancing along with the fun. It has a great sense of liveliness and is worth jumping into, especially if the youngsters have some extra energy left to kill.
Tree of Life Awakens
If you’ve read my previous articles, you’ll know that I love the Tree of Life. I was especially excited to see the new Tree of Life show which involves little stories which come alive on the tree every 15 minutes or so. These are beautiful and remind me of Fantasia as they represent beautiful images of nature and the world around us.
Even when the tree isn’t telling these stories, it is lit up wonderfully, much like the castle and Magic Kingdom. It makes for a great sight at the end of the night and much like the castle, is hard to say farewell too.
Make sure to watch for my post on our second day, where I’ll talk about Frozen Ever After, as well as the new nighttime Star Wars show at Hollywood Studios! How about you guys? Have you experienced any of these new (Or old) attractions and which one was special to you?