“Welcome, Foolish Mortals” are the words that you hear when you board one of Disney’s most popular rides, The Haunted Mansion.
The original ride opened in 1969 in Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom, and in 1971 at Walt Disney World. While the idea behind the ride was thought up by Walt himself, he was not alive to see the finished product. The Imagineers had to finish the ride’s design and construction on their own after Walt’s passing in 1966. The ride represents their ability to come together after such a tragedy and to produce something truly amazing on their own.
There are so many things going on in the attraction, from the gravestones with funny inscriptions outside, to the spooky ghouls and spirits inside, it is truly amazing, and I know I see something new every time I visit The Haunted Mansion!
Here are some of the ways Disney scares us with this attraction:
The Endless Hallway: This one is actually pretty simple, as you look down the hallway that appears to go on forever, there is actually a mirror at the end of it, which fools you into thinking you can see twice as far as you actually can, and since it’s dark, the mirror portion of the hallway just seems to continue on into darkness
The Crystal Ball: Madame Leota’s head is created through digital projection – the face is projected onto a head sculpture within the crystal ball. Fun fact – the other floating objects in this area are suspended by fishing wire
The Ballroom: A common thought is that the ghosts in the ballroom are holograms. This is actually not the case – how it really works is a row of columns in front of the mezzanine are supporting gigantic panes of glass, which are nearly invisible to the guests. The “ghosts” are merely the reflections in the glass of audio-animatronic figures, located in rooms above and below the mezzanine, where the walls are painted entirely black.
The Hitchhiking Ghosts: Ever wonder how they get the ghosts at the end of the ride to actually appear to be sitting next to you in your Doom Buggy? Well, its actually quite simple – the mirrors in which you are seeing the ghosts are actually two way mirrors, and the ghosts are audio-animatronics in a room behind the mirrors. They move along in sync with the Doom Buggies, and weak lights shining on them allow them to be seen through the mirrors.
A few random Haunted Mansion facts:
- When Cast Members are hired for The Haunted Mansion, they are given a book as a part of their training that explains the “official” backstory of the ride, as well as various safety rules/regulations, and detailed maps of the ride itself.
- Walt’s original vision was to have the attraction as something guests would walk through, but the Imagineers ultimately decided a sit down ride with the “doom buggies” made more sense
Remember….there are 999 Happy Haunts currently residing in the Haunted Mansion…who knows, maybe you could be their lucky 1000th resident!
- Epcot Holidays Around The World: Entrance Topiary, Christmas Storytellers, Gingerbread House, Candlelight Processional, Illuminations Holiday Finale – Photos and Video (jefflangedvd.com)
- You Don’t Know Until You Go (chipandco.com)
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World can be a daunting task – one that can be a lot of fun, but can also be overwhelming at times. The hardest part for most people (myself included!) is figuring out where to start, what to plan first?
Using the 5 W’s (and 1 H!) – Who/What/When/Where/Why/How can help you get a grip in what you need to do to make your WDW vacation unforgettable:
Who: First off, who do you want to experience the Happiest Place on Earth with? Are you planning on bringing just your close family or will it be a family reunion of sorts, with 20 people all traveling together? This makes a huge impact on everything from where you stay, to where you eat, and how you spend your days. If it’s your first trip, I would suggest traveling with a smaller group, fewer people means fewer opinions on what you should spend your time doing, so it’s more likely that everyone will get to experience more of what they want to see
What: What will you do while you are there? There is SO much to do, that this might be the hardest question of all! There are 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a shopping/entertainment complex, and countless other places to explore within the walls of Walt Disney World. Personally, I like to start with a day in the Magic Kingdom, it really is the true essence of the Disney experience. Beyond that, it really depends on what you like – there’s Hollywood Studios for the movie buff,Animal Kingdom for the animal lover, and Epcot for the tech nerd/world traveler, and tons of restaurants and places to shop mixed in there too. I recommend checking out a book like Birnbaum’s Guide to Walt Disney World (published with updates annually!), or the Passporter (a really cool planner that you can write in!), and of course internet research on www.chipandco.com will help you make the most out of your days at WDW. One tip that will be invaluble is DON’T try and do too much – I have been guilty of it, I want to see and do everything at WDW, and it’s just not possible. If your trip is a week long, chances are good you’ll be able to see all 4 theme parks, but if you’re only going for 3 days, be realistic and pick out the things you know you want to do, and leave the others for your next trip.
When: When will you travel, and how long will you stay at WDW? Busy times at WDW include Spring Break (anytime from February through April), summertime, and holiday time (including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years). While there are other “peak” times, these are the main ones, and your best bet is to avoid them all and go at a random time, during the week if possible. That being said, any day has the potential of being crowded at WDW, so the best thing to do would be to prepare yourself for it, and remember that you’re in a magical place where you will have a great time no matter what you are doing!
Where: Where will you stay, and where will you eat? These are two VERY important questions to tackle early on in your trip planning. When it comes to a hotel, there are TONS to choose from on WDW property, in price ranges “Value”, “Moderate”, and “Deluxe”. If you feel like you will only use the room for sleeping, Value might be your best bet (definitely have had lots of luck here, the rooms are pretty basic but the food courts are great and the bus service has been good in my experience!). If you’re celebrating a special occasion and want to indulge, something in the Moderate or Deluxe price range might better suit you. For a rundown of Disney Resort choices, check out this page. Of course you can stay off property too, the hotel rates tend to be better, but you will probably need to rent a car (which is an added expense to consider!). As for FOOD, there are tons of choices! One great thing about WDW is they allow you to make Dining Reservations up to 6 months (180 days) in advance (great for those who like to plan ahead!), plus there is the Disney Dining Plan, which allows you to pre pay for some or all of your meals, so that makes things even easier. Whether you’re into character meals, buffets, snacks, theme restaurants, 5 star 6 course meals, mexican, french, american….no matter what, Disney has it all and more! Quick dining tip: when picking restaurants, try and pick ones that are in the same general area of the park/resort you will be visiting that day, it makes things much easier on everyone, trust me!
Why: Why go to Walt Disney World in the first place? There are so many reasons, but some top ones: It truly is a magical place where you can escape it all and act like a kid again, the theme parks are beautifully themed, the resorts are amazing, the food is out of this world, there is something for everyone to enjoy, and most of all, its FUN and a special place to share with those you love.
How: How will you make it happen – how will you get there, and how will you pay for it? Let’s be honest here, a Walt Disney World vacation doesn’t come cheaply, but there are lots of ways you can save money while you’re there. Some popular ones in my household: make a budget before you go, and stick to it (sounds easy, right? It can be harder than you think!), bring snacks/light meals with you to save money on costly Park snacks/meals (things like granola bars, fruit snacks, and juice boxes work well!), and try to limit spur of the moment purchases that you won’t ever use again once you leave WDW. As for Transportation, if you live in Upstate NY like me, plane is the best way to go, and sites like Travelocity.com or Kayak.com are great for comparing prices and finding the lowest fares. If you decide to stay on Disney property, Disney’s Magical Express shuttle will transport you and all your luggage (for free!) from Orlando’s airport to your WDW resort. Otherwise, there are plenty of car rental companies within the airport, or you can choose to drive from home (can be the most economical choice depending on how many people you’re traveling with and how far away you live from WDW!). Again, the thing I want to stress here is plan ahead, do your research and find which options work best for you
The time you spend planning your WDW vacation will all pay off in the end – no matter what you decide to do, you will have a magical time in an amazing vacation spot. Start your planning by working out the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, and everything else will come easily. Happy planning!
- T.G.I.F. Pic of the week-Christmas has arrived at WDW! (livinginagrownupworld.wordpress.com)
- You Don’t Know Until You Go (chipandco.com)
Walt Disney World has a lot of different resort options to choose from, so the question is, where should you stay, what resort will best suit you and your family’s wants and needs? When I was young, my family always chose to camp at Fort Wilderness, and I have many fond memories of the resort from my childhood.
To help you figure out if Fort Wilderness is right for you, weigh the pros and cons:
- Peace and Quiet: it is a big, beautiful, peaceful resort, full of lush green meadows, and it seems like you’re a world away. It really is a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of the parks
- Lodging Options: When staying at Fort Wilderness you have the option of camping with your own equipment (they offer sites with hookups for all kinds/sizes of RV’s and campers), or you can rent one of their Cabins, which sleep 6 and come complete with a bathroom and kitchen (truly a home away from home!)
- Cost: compared to other WDW resorts, camping at Fort Wilderness can be considered cheap if you already have a camper, since you’re only paying for a campsite. If you decide to rent a cabin, since they sleep 6, if a few people are pitching in on the cost, that’s another way to be able to save some money. Not to mention the fact that you can cook your own food in the cabins or in your camper and save on meal costs (the resort has 2 small stores where you can purchase grocery items)
- Built in Entertainment: Since the resort is so large, it is able to offer lots of ways to keep you and your family amused away from the parks. Swimming, biking, nature trails, horseback riding, canoe and powerboat rentals, nightly campfires featuring an appearance by Chip and Dale, golf cart rentals (that’s right, you can even rent a golf cart here!)…there’s so much to do that Fort Wilderness is practically a theme park itself!
- Shuttle Boat Service: You can take a boat from Fort Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom, and from there you can take a monorail or bus to pretty much anywhere in Walt Disney World. The boat is really a time saver (versus staying at a value resort and having to take a 30 minute bus ride to the Magic Kingdom)
- Restaurant options: Fort Wilderness is home to the famous Hoop Dee Doo Revue dinner show, a wild west themed show that is a must-see at WDW! If you’re looking for something a little more tame, try Trail’s End, where they serve breakfast and dinner buffet style and lunch is offered a la carte. Either way, you won’t go hungry with the delicious food offerings at Fort Wilderness!
- Confusingly Large: Fort Wilderness is so large that it has it’s own internal bus system which can be confusing, and you could spend 15 minutes or more walking back to your campsite from the bus stop after a long day at the parks (not fun on feet that have already spent 12 hours walking!)
- Bus Service: The Magic Kingdom shuttle boat makes things easy, but bus service to other parks can be slow, with long times between buses and the rides can be crowded and long
- Grocery Offerings Small: Should you plan to cook the majority of your meals at your campsite, and you will need to purchase food once you arrive at the Resort, you may end up paying too much….the Resort offers groceries, but the selection isn’t huge, and the prices tend to be way higher than a regular grocery store. Try using Garden Grocer to have food delivered to you!
- “Wild West” cuisine offerings not for everyone: Trails End has some great food, but the variety is not as large as you would find at a Value or Moderate resort’s food court. Health wise, the options aren’t as plentiful, and it’s really the only place to eat at the Resort, so it might get old fast
Overall, I can’t say enough good things about Fort Wilderness, as an adult I would definitely bring my family there, it’s a beautiful resort with a ton to offer, and something for everyone for sure.
Hopefully it ends up being the right WDW resort for you, and you can make some memories there too!
- Celebrating Thanksgiving at Walt Disney World (chipandco.com)
- Is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort For You? (chipandco.com)
Walt Disney World has so much to offer, including some of the finest cuisine in the country. So how does WDW make the best food even better? Easy, just add entertainment!
Dinner shows have been a WDW staple since the first Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review opened in 1974. Read on to learn more and you can make the decision if the combo of live entertainment and great eats is right for you!
The Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue: Performed 3 times a night (5pm, 7:15pm, and 9:30 pm) at Pioneer Hall in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, this Wild West themed show is full of laughs and good times. The actors dance and whoop it up with the best of them, and even get the audience involved and bring them up on stage to join in on the antics. There is nothing classy about this show, so if you’re looking for a quiet, civilized dinner, you better go elsewhere! The food is served family style (meaning they will bring you as much as you want!) and consists of bread and salad, followed by ribs, friend chicken, mashed potatoes and baked beans, and finished off with strawberry shortcake for dessert. Simple and delicious food (the fried chicken is especially mouth-watering!), and the entertainment truly is funny and engaging. Prices range from $59-$68 a person for adults ($30-35 for children), and the more you pay the better your seats are and the closer you are to the stage and all the action! If you’re using the Disney Dining Plan (which I strongly recommend!), the Hoop Dee Doo costs 2 Table Service credits (and in my opinion is totally worth it!). Oh, and one more VERY important thing, they serve unlimited “adult” beverages too (Draft Bud Light, Chardonnay, Rose, Sangria, and Merlot), which is definitely a plus!
The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show: This tropical luau themed show is performed at 5:15pm and 8pm nightly, and features hula dancers and a fire-knife performer! The outdoor setting is beautiful and magical, and the performers tell the story of a young native girl and her traditions and people. The food is delicious polynesian themed dishes like pork ribs, roast chicken, rice, and vegetables, with a special volcano dessert! As with the Hoop Dee Doo, the admission price includes soft drinks as well as unlimited beer and wine. Prices are $59-$68 apiece for adults, with child admission ranging from $30-$35, and the higher price will get you seats closer to the stage and all the action! For those on the Disney Dining Plan, this show also costs 2 Table Service credits per person. I personally prefer the earlier seating for this show, because once the show is done, I like to walk around the Polynesian along the paths and pretend I really am in someplace tropical and exotic! This show has always been a favorite of mine, and I remember as a kid learning to do the luau with the dancers, and it is a memorable experience for this of all ages!
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ Dinner Show: This one is relatively new to WDW, and is a dance party with live entertainment and…characters! So basically, a character meal with dancing, and delicious food! The buffet style meal includes chicken, ribs, hot dogs, corn on the cob, cornbread, baked beans, watermelon, cake, and all you care to drink beer/wine/soft drinks. Like the other 2 shows, the cost of the BBQ on the Disney Dining Plan is 2 Table Service credits, out of pocket you will pay $55 for an adult and $32 for a child. Unlike the other 2 shows, there is no better/preferred seating, there is 1 price for all seats. The characters (Mickey, Minnie and friends) come out to dance and interact with everyone, but one big difference here versus other character meals is that the characters do NOT visit every table, if you want an autograph or photo you have to approach the characters, which might work better for some people than others. Overall, it’s a good time, with great food, and who wouldn’t love to square dance with Mickey as their partner?
One thing I want to note is that reservations are HIGHLY recommended should you decide to partake in any of the dinner shows, so plan ahead and book one of these shows and you’ll be set for a night of great food, great entertainment, and great fun!
- How to get onstage at the Hoop Dee Doo Musical (meetthemagic.com)
- Disney Dining Review: Mickey’s Backyard BBQ (mydreamsofdisney.com)
It’s not always easy being an adult Walt Disney World lover. When I tell people I am headed to WDW on my next vacation, I get that weird look, that one that says “really? What a weirdo”…usually it only lasts a second, and they say something like “Oh, that’s nice” when what they really mean is “that’s for kids…I wouldn’t want to go there”. In these situations, I usually try and be a Disney cheerleader, rallying for Team WDW, and i have come up with this list of things that are so unique, that you can only get them at Walt Disney World:
The Service: The employees of WDW (they call them Cast Members) provide the highest level of service I have ever experienced. They are friendly, polite, helpful, and most of all, they actually seem to really like their jobs. They will bend over backwards to make sure you have an amazing time, and that is truly special, and something you don’t see much of these days.
The Food: Most theme parks keep it simple with burgers, fries, and other fried items. Not Walt Disney World, where you can sample authentic cuisine from 11 different countries at Epcot’s World Showcase, feast on a AAA 5 diamond rated meal at Victoria and Albert’s, or grab a giant turkey leg in the Magic Kingdom. Everything they sell tastes fresh and is prepared with meticulous attention to flavors and the result is out of this world! Oh, and in case you’re in the mood, WDW has those burgers and fries too, and they taste amazing.
The Accommodations: Disney has many different choices of places to stay, all with their own theme. From the Polynesian Resort that’s like living in a luau, to the Port Orleans Resort where they serve up gumbo and beignets with a true Louisiana flair, to the Boardwalk Resort-where they have a real wooden boardwalk reminiscent of Old Atlantic City (this one is my personal favorite, and is breathtaking at night!)
The Detail: WDW pays people to create all the experiences in it’s parks and resorts, down to the chair fabrics and napkin designs (they call them Imagineers, which might just be the coolest job ever!). The themes are carried out in every ride, restaurant, hotel room, and swimming pool, and are breathtaking. My favorite example of Imagineering is the Haunted Mansion ride, where you get to ride in a “Doom Buggy” through a truly creepy haunted house (where I still find something new and scary every time I ride it!)
The Experience: This one is a bit harder to put into words, but its that feeling you get when you walk into any of the parks, for me it hits me hardest in the Magic Kingdom, when you gaze down Main Street USA and see Cinderella’s Castle up ahead…and you know that you can have a real vacation, an escape from the pressures of the real world, in a place where you can feel like a carefree kid again.
So next time a non-Disney lover gives you that weird look, let them know about what they are missing. You never know, you might actually convince them to visit the happiest place on earth, and the truth is, they won’t really know until they go.
- The “Comforts of Home” are never far away at Disney World (chipandco.com)
- Top 5 Things to Know When Visiting WDW at the Holidays (chipandco.com)
Plugin by Social Author Bio