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Disney MagicBand Upgrades Now Available

New Upgrade option to your Disney MagicBands are here.

For all guests staying on a Walt Disney World Resort property, Disney will ship you Disney MagicBands for free. Up until this month, there have been complimentary standard colors like red, yellow, pink, gray, orange, etc.

How to get an Upgraded MagicBand

This month Disney unveiled that you can now upgrade your MagicBand to include a character. Here are some screenshots of how you can order them from the Walt Disney World website when you are logged into your account (with a reserved vacation).

Ordering your MagicBand for your trip! – Photo Credit Disney.com
List of Categories of MagicBands – Photo Credit Disney.com

These Disney MagicBands are going very quick, as two days ago when I looked at the designs there were several other designs that are currently out of stock. Not sure if the categories and Disney MagicBands available with change on a daily basis (or maybe they will just have the ones that they have overstocked), or if these are what they will move forward with and just restock as needed.

Mickey Mouse and Friends – Photo Credit Disney.com

Is it worth $10?

The upgraded charge is only $10.00, which is an amazing deal, considering the retail value on these normally is $24.99 for each of them on ShopDisney.com.

Disney Pixar Options – Photo Credit Disney.com
Disney Princess Options (I know Flynn Rider is not a Princess, but that is how he is categorized! – Photo Credit Disney.com

Hopefully, Disney chooses to re-stock some of the most popular designs really soon, as they are so fun and offer a refresh of the standard colored bands because I was really looking forward to getting my Baymax MagicBand for $10!

Baymax MagicBand
Baymax MagicBand

What are your thoughts?

Do you have a trip coming up anytime soon? Are you going to spend the extra $10 to get one of the upgraded MagicBand options? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Curious to know more about Disney’s MagicBands? Check this out – What are MagicBands and Why do I Need One?

Disney’s Upgraded MagicBands offer popular designs featuring some of the world’s best-loved Disney friends, from Mickey Mouse to Super Heroes and beyond.

Getting Around at Walt Disney World

If you are traveling to Walt Disney World, you’re probably planning how you will travel from park to park, to resort, and probably even Disney Springs. There are so many ways to move between resorts and parks, there are options for everyone’s style and budget. Disney offers tons of options that are also complimentary with your Resort stay.

How do we get around at Walt Disney World?

We’ve been to Walt Disney World a few times or two over the years, both by flying and by driving our own car. Here are some options that we did, which might give you some insight into how to travel between your resort and all the attractions.

Getting Around Walt Disney World if Flying in

If you are flying into Orlando’s airport, Disney offers transportation via the Magical Express. This is a large charter bus that will take you directly to your resort. When booking your Walt Disney World vacation, you’ll want to link up your flight arrival and departure times to the Magical Express, so that you have a bus available to take you to your Resort. Once you arrive at the airport, you will follow the signs to all the rental car, shuttles, and Magical Express transportation areas. There will be signs posted all over showing you where the Magical Express is located. You will check in to the kiosk desk at the front of this are and they will direct you to which line to get into. This is because during the peak arrival times during the day (basically anything up until late at night) they shuttle people who are staying at resorts next to each other, on the same bus. This allows for efficient transportation to resorts. Some resorts that are much larger than others and are always busy, like the All-Star resorts, might have a longer line to wait in, rather than a luxury resort with fewer guests, that take the Magical Express, like the Yacht Club or Contemporary.  

What do we think about the Magical Express?

We’ve taken this route two different times. Our first experience was when we stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter, which had limited guests compared to some of the other resorts. We waited maybe 20 minutes in our line and were quickly boarded on our bus and off to our Resort. The second time we went, we were staying at Pop Century and it was much busier. We probably waited closer to 45 minutes because there were so many people staying here and Art of Animation that was right next to us. Either way, we enjoyed our trip as the Magical Bus was fully air conditioned and had comfortable seats. They even play a movie introducing you to Walt Disney World while you are on board. Little ones will need to sit in a parent’s lap, if they aren’t old enough for their own seat. Booster seats and car seats will be stowed underneath the bus with the luggage, so plan on this when ready to board.

Benefits of the Magical Express

The great thing about the drop off for Magical Express is that our luggage is taken off the bus and given to the luggage area employees upon arrival. They tag them at drop off and will get them to your room (whether it is ready now or not) so you do not have to worry about walking around the resorts with tons of suitcases. They all have an area where they will stow luggage and strollers/scooters until you are ready to check into your room. If you are having a stroller or scooter dropped off by a third-party Stroller Rental company, this is also where you will pick up and drop off these items.

What if you don’t want to wait for the Magical Express?

If you didn’t want to take the Magical Express and mess with the lines, you are also welcome to rent your own rides, such as an Uber, or Minnie Van. Disney introduced their Minnie Van Service within this past year, and they’ve become a huge hit. Not only are they driven by knowledgeable Disney employees, they are also very clean and come equipped with child car seats if needed. The cost per trip from any destination to another is around $35.00 per trip when traveling around Wald Disney World. The Minnie Van service is technically provided by Lyft, so feel free to utilize this app to order one.  While the Minnie vans are available for transportation to and from MCO (Orlando airport), you must call (407) WDW-PLAY to reserve, and the cost will be much higher at $150 each way (gratuity not included).

Minnie Vans - Photo Credit Disney World
Minnie Vans – Photo Credit Disney World

Driving your own car to Disney World

When driving your own car to Disney World
When driving your own car to Disney World

The other few times we’ve gone to Walt Disney World we have driven our own car, and just drove right into the resort area, regardless of what time of day it was, found a place to park and checked in. You are still able to take advantage of the luggage claim area outside of the resorts if your room is not ready. We especially enjoyed this service during our time at Pop Century one time, since we arrived around 10:00am in the morning and our room wouldn’t be ready for several hours. We were able to drop off all our luggage and hang out by the pool and restaurant while we waited.  Please note that Disney now charges a parking fee if you will be taking your own car on property, so you will want to check with your resort as the price is different depending on which level of resort you will be staying in (this is a per-night fee).

Once you are checked in and Ready to head to the Parks, how can you travel?

There are advantages to taking several modes of travel to several different parks, it just depends on your schedule and what fits your style.

Using the Disney Bus System to get around Walt Disney World

Buses are always available, starting from an hour before the park opens and run an hour after it closes. This also takes effect if there are “Early Magic Hours” and “After Magic Hours,” which means if the park opens at 8:00am, buses will run as early as 7:00am, or if they close at 1:00am, then you’ll have transportation until 2:00am available. Some advantages to taking buses is that they will drop you off at the bus depot at the front of the park at all Resorts. This is especially beneficial if you are traveling to Magic Kingdom, as if you take your own car and park, you are in for a longer trek than you think. The parking lot is no where near the front of Magic Kingdom, so people who take their own car will actually park in the parking lot, take a tram to the transportation and ticket center, and then you have three options from there: Take the monorail around to the front gates, take the ferry across the water to the front gates, walk around a mile to get there, or in a rare occasion there are a few buses waiting here to take you to the front gate. Also, if you are driving your own car, then make sure you remember where you park. This parking lot has more parking spaces than I’ve ever seen, and it can be easy to get lost.

Using the Disney Bus System to get around Walt Disney World

Using the Disney Bus System to get around Walt Disney World

Cons of using the Disney Bus System

The down side to taking buses, they do get crowded, which means that you might be standing and holding on to a rail the entire way. This gets hard when you have kids and are toting large strollers and bags. Keep this in mind. Also, if at the end of the night, and you are exhausted like everyone else, you might be waiting in a longer line than you’d like to get on to a bus. For larger resorts, like the All Stars and Pop, we have waited three and four bus cycles before we were able to make it on to the next available one.

Using your car to get around Walt Disney World

For all the other parks, taking your own car is an option that isn’t too bad, just try to get to the park close to open so your car will be parked somewhere near the front. Don’t stress too much, there is a tram that goes through each of the parking lots frequently to pick up guests and get them to the front. If you are traveling with a large stroller, it will need to be folded up, so be prepared for this upon arrival. The tram is not very large, so oversized double-strollers might not fit and you might spend your time walking.

Using Boats through the Waterways

For Epcot and Hollywood Studios, if you are staying at a resort near the waterway of these two parks, there are several boats that will shuttle you from those resorts to the boat dock of these two resorts. There is a back entrance to Epcot, called the International Gateway, that you can get to by boat as well as by foot if staying at resorts close by, such as the Board Walk.

Taking a boat from Fort Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom
Taking a boat from Fort Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom

Also, if you are staying at the Wilderness Resort or Fort Wilderness, there are boats that go between each of the resorts and the Magic Kingdom that are located on Bay Lake.  This is a slower way to get around, but when the weather is right, it makes for an enjoyable boat ride.

Finally, if you are staying at either of the Port Orleans resorts (or any of the resorts on the water near Disney Springs), there are boats that take you between the resorts and Disney Springs.

Using Disney’s Monorail to get around

Disney Monorail - Photo Credit Walt Disney World
Disney Monorail – Photo Credit Walt Disney World

You can take the monorail from three different resorts to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. These Resorts are the Grand Floridian, The Polynesian, and The Contemporary. The Magic Kingdom monorail (resort monorail) will take you between all three results and the front of the Magic Kingdom. Heads up, if you are not staying at one of these Resorts but you end up at the Transportation and Ticket Center via car, as you walk up to the monorail there is the Magic Kingdom entrance and the resort entrance. If it is early in the morning, then take the resort monorail. It will stop at both the Poly and the Grand Floridian before Magic Kingdom, but it is usually less crowded than everyone piling up for the Magic Kingdom. From this same Transportation and Ticket center, you can also go to the line for Epcot, which will take you directly to Epcot and back. This is a unique way to travel between Epcot and Magic Kingdom in the most efficient way. On super busy days at Magic Kingdom, some people have even actually gone to Epcot to park, and then taken the monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center and then switched to the MK monorail.

Using Ride Share (Uber – Lyft – Minnie Vans)

Ubers and Minnie Vans are also ways to navigate between your Resort and parks, just keep in mind the cost per trip of each of these is separate, versus the monorail, boat, and bus are all included in your park stay. Uber and Minnie Vans are efficient and convenient when you have a reservation for breakfast or a special event, where you’ll want to make sure you are dropped off right on time and won’t be impacted by waiting for other transportation. We had an 8:30 am reservation at “The Pirate’s League” for our daughter when she was 5, and we ended up running inside the park to make it because we took the bus route, versus our own car that trip. (We flew that time and probably should have taken an Uber) but we made it!

Using the Disney Skyliner (coming sometime in 2019)

Disney Skyliner - Photo Credit Walt Disney World
Disney Skyliner – Photo Credit Walt Disney World

According to the Disney World website:

Beginning in fall 2019, Guests can discover Disney Skyliner, an incredible new way to travel around Walt Disney World Resort!

Glide above the treetops and add an extra dash of pixie dust to your day. This grand, state-of-the-art gondola system will conveniently connect Disney’s Hollywood Studios and International Gateway at Epcot to the following Resort hotels: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Riviera Resort.

Guests will be able to enjoy easy access to Disney’s BoardWalk entertainment district and a fun way to travel between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Plus, the Disney Skyliner provides a relaxing trip to dining locations across Disney Resort hotels—including Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.

Some of the gondolas are adorned with iconic Disney Characters, figures from Disney attractions and film favorites, which makes getting around even more magical as Guests enjoy breathtaking vistas over and between each of these enchanting locations!


Disney World Website

All in all, multiple ways to travel from the airport to your Resort, and between your Resort and all the parks or Disney Springs.  Tell us how you like to travel! Have you tried any of the ways listed above? What is your favorite way to get between the different parks and resorts at Walt Disney World?

Oh yeah, did we mention that we have an amazing community of Disney World Fanatics in our Facebook Group – Disney World Questions and Answers?  If you want to hang out with us and thousands of other Disney World Fanatics that are there to get all of your Disney World vacation questions answered, click here to join our FREE private Facebook Group!

One of the biggest parts of planning a Disney vacation is trying to figure out how you will be getting around at Walt Disney World. Here are our thoughts!

Walt Disney World After Hours in 2019

Walt Disney World should be experienced during the day and all over again at night – it seems like everything comes alive at night, especially in certain lands like Toy Story Land and Pandora – Land of Avatar when you take advantage of the Walt Disney After Hours events.

Disney After Hours at Disney's Magic Kingdom Park
Disney After Hours at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park

What is Disney After Hours?

Disney offers something unique to guests, called “Disney After Hours” events. This is a hard-ticketed event on select evenings throughout the year, where with a purchased special event ticket, you gain access to the park with little to no wait for major attractions, character meet and greets, and there are select desserts, popcorn, and refreshments included in the price.

This is not Extra Magic Hours

This event is not to be confused with “Extra Magic Hours” which is free access for any park guest staying on Walt Disney World resort property, which is held on select dates throughout the year as well. These are beneficial as well, but more crowded than this hard-ticketed event.

Disney After Hours at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Disney After Hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

How much will you have to shell out?

Tickets to the “Disney After Hours” events currently cost $125.00 per adult and child if purchased in advance, or $129.00 plus tax if purchased the day of. There is a discount to Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club members, where tickets are only $95.00 per person. The price is the same for both adult and children.

Times for Disney After Hours

Disney allows guests in for this event as early as 7:00pm, or if you already had a regular day ticket, then you might already be in the park. There is no rule that you can’t use a regular day ticket (especially if you are already there for a week’s long vacation) and then stay after hours.  However, you may plan to break up your vacation and not use a day ticket at the certain park that offers after hours event, but only the after-hours ticket.

The actual event is scheduled from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am, which means that the park is closed during this time to guests without the hard-after-hours ticket.  Cast members will be manned at the entrance to rides to check for tickets. The same goes for the complimentary food and character greets.

Disney After Hours at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

What about the stragglers from the day?

Now it might take some time to get all the people who are not part of this event out of the park. No one can prevent them from slowly walking out, but eventually throughout the night the crowds get smaller and smaller. There have been reports that there is no wait for many attractions, and only a very small wait for the most popular ones.

What Parks Participate in Disney After Hours?

Right now, Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios have dates released for Disney After Hours events. The dates and times for these events are located on Disney’s website.  All the major popular attractions are opened at Disney’s Magic Kingdom lik Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Big Thunder Mountain, Space Ranger Spin, and much more (up to 25 attractions). At Hollywood Studios, all the major attractions are opened: Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and Rockin’ Roller Coaster.  At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the famous Flight of Passage and Navi River Journey are open as well as Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, and TriceraTop Spin.  Even if you only rode these major attractions listed above, you would have covered the most highly anticipated rides to try and gain a fast pass to! To me, this event seems well worth the price. Especially if you maybe drop a day of regular park tickets and only go during this after-hours event.

So, tell us what you think? Do you have plans to buy tickets to one of these Disney After Hours events? Have you been before? Let us know in the comments below!

If you will be getting tickets to the event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be sure and check out our review of Avatar – Flight of Passage to learn more of what you can expect with this amazing ride!

Oh yeah, did we mention that we have an amazing community of Disney World Fanatics in our Facebook Group – Disney World Questions and Answers?  If you want to hang out with us and thousands of other Disney World Fanatics that are there to get all of your Disney World vacation questions answered, click here to join our FREE private Facebook Group!

If you are looking for a way to experience everything that Disney Parks have to offer with little to no waits, you will need to check out the Walt Disney After Hours Events.

Where to Find the Best Character Dining Experiences at Walt Disney World

Whether you are a small child or an adult, there is a joy that is present with everyone when you get to experience any Character Dining Experiences at Walt Disney World. For an adult, it takes you back to your childhood, or maybe you are enjoying the site of seeing joy through your children’s eyes. If you are a child, this might be your hero, your best friend, and the characters that you watch repeatedly in your favorite movie. For a child, they are the real deal.

So where in Walt Disney World are the best character dining experiences? Well, here are some of our favorite Character Dining Experiences that we highly recommend that you try.

Meet the Princesses at Cinderella’s Royal Table (Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom)

Princess Character Dining Experience at Cinderellas Royal Table
Princess Character Dining Experience at Cinderellas Royal Table

This dining experience will cost you two table service credits per person, so it is not cheap, but to do this experience at least once in your life, it is well worth it. Once you are checked in at the host stand, you will wait with your party on the bottom story of the restaurant. Here, everyone gets to meet Cinderella in a one on one setting, with her giving ample time to spend with each guest. Once your table is ready, you will be escorted upstairs to the main dining hall of the restaurant via elevator. Here you will have a magical dining experience because you get to meet almost every single Disney Princess.

Meeting all of the Princesses!

The last time we were able to go, we met Ariel, Jasmine, Aurora, Rapunzel, Snow White, Belle, and of course Cinderella. The venue does state that character experiences are always subject to change and can be different. We haven’t been back since Frozen came out, so I’m sure that it is quite possible Elsa and Anna make an appearance. The experience was magical as you are truly dining inside the Castle – so beautiful architecture and stain glass windows all around while meeting Disney Princesses is a must. We do notate that while the food is not the best, this is a must do at least one time while at Disney World – especially if you have a small child who is into Disney Princesses.

The Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh and Friends (Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom)

The Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh and Friends

The Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh and Friends

This dining experience is buffet style, so the meal goes quickly, but you can go at your own pace. You never feel rushed, so feel free to truly enjoy yourself and go back for more. You get to meet all of Winnie the Pooh and all his friends- Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet. Every single character spent ample time with my daughter, laughing, dancing, and playing around. After they spend time with each child throughout the evening, they do also have a follow the leader type song and dance throughout the restaurant. The entire place is very casual where you can have a great experience in a relaxed environment. This restaurant experience will cost you 1 Table Service Credit if dining on the Disney Dining Plan, but for no wait for the character meet and greet, we highly recommend it.

The Garden Grill Restaurant with Disney Characters (Epcot’s Land Pavilion)

Dining with Chip & Dale at Garden Grill
Dining with Chip & Dale at Garden Grill

This table service restaurant is one of the coolest experiences. Not only is the food great, and served family style, the restaurant offers meet and greets with Chip and Dale, and at least two other Disney Characters. We’ve met Donald Duck and Mickey at this restaurant. The restaurant also is a rotating restaurant with different scenes to look at, which are scenes also viewable from “Living with the Land” boat ride in Epcot’s Land Pavilion. The Garden Grill slowly rotates around scenes of a prairie, sandstorm, rainstorm, rainforest, and farmhouse.  We highly recommend this restaurant to families of all ages.

Hollywood and Vine Buffet with Disney Characters (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

Hollywood and Vine Buffet with Disney Characters

Hollywood and Vine Buffet with Disney Characters

This restaurant is one of our favorites. Not only does it have great food in a casual buffet setting, but it also hosts several Disney Characters. This location hosts a Disney Junior character dining experience for their breakfast buffet, with favorites like Princess Sofia and Vampirina. It also hosts select seasonal dining packages with Minnie Mouse and Friends. This is a very popular restaurant inside Hollywood Studios as it is the only one that has Character Dining inside this park. We recommend you book reservations as early as possible (6 months in advance if staying on property) and try to get there early in the day, so that you can enjoy the rest of the park afterwards, like Toy Story Land.

Some of the other popular places to see Characters that are highly ranked for Disney Fans are, that we haven’t been to (but are scheduled soon) are:

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Epcot – Norway Pavillion)

Visiting Akershus Royal Banquet Hall gives you the best chance to meet Cinderella, Belle, Ariel, Snow White, and Aurora while not spending as much as many other similar dining experiences (only 1 Disney Dining Plan credit).

1900 Park Fare – at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

Here you can meet Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, The Mad Hatter, Tigger, and Winnie the Pooh all while enjoying an all-you-can eat breakfast buffet. They are also open for dinner options as well.

Chef Mickey’s – at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

You will meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy while dining in an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.

Ohana – at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Here you will dine in an all-you-can-eat buffet while meeting Lilo and Stich for breakfast. This restaurant has an amazing dinner menu, but characters are not scheduled for dinner.

Have you been to any of these Character Experiences? Which ones were your favorites? Let us know which ones you’ll be trying soon!

Here is a great list of 11 things that you MUST have BEFORE your next trip to Disney World!

Oh yeah, did we mention that we have an amazing community of Disney World Fanatics in our Facebook Group – Disney World Questions and Answers?  If you want to hang out with us and thousands of other Disney World Fanatics that are there to get all of your Disney World vacation questions answered, click here to join our FREE private Facebook Group!

If you are looking for the best Character Dining Experiences at Walt Disney World, we have put together a great list for you including where to find them!

Official Date Announced for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge at Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios! (1)

Today is the day that so many people have been waiting for – the official announcement for the opening dates of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World! Disney just announced that the much anticipated Galaxy’s Edge will open on May 31st at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California and on August 29th in Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Official Announcement from Disney

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Opening in Phases

While Disney is excited to announce that the parks will both be opening a little ahead of time, there is one thing that might upset some. According to their release today, the new land will open up in two phases. In phase one which begins on the dates announced today, guests of both Disney parks will be allowed to:

Live your own Star Wars story and take the controls of the most famous ship in the galaxy aboard Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, sample amazing galactic food and beverages, explore an intriguing collection of merchant shops and more.

disneyparks.disney.go.com

As for phase two, here is what Disney had to say:

And for phase two, opening later this year, will be Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the most ambitious, immersive and advanced attraction ever imagined that will put guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance and will blur the lines between fantasy and reality.  In light of tremendous demand, Disney made the decision to open the land in phases to allow guests to sooner enjoy the one-of-a-kind experiences that make Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge so spectacular.

disneyparks.disney.go.com

Will you need any special reservations?

So, if you will be heading out to Disneyland, we did find out that in order to experience Galaxy’s Edge during the first month of operation, you will need to make a no-cost reservation in advance that will be subject to availability. The good news (or bad depending on how you view it) is that you will not need to make any special reservations to visit the land once it opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You will need a valid Hollywood Studios ticket, but other than that, it will be open to all guests, but I must add that they did state that “capacity is limited”. The release today also stated that Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will be available during extra magic hours.

Star Wars Galaxy's Edge to open on August 29th at Disney World's Hollywood Studios
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge to open on August 29th at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios

What are your thoughts?

So many guests have been waiting to plan their vacations around the opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge – either because they wanted to be there from the beginning or they were wanting to avoid it at all costs. How does this affect your plans to visit Disney World? How do you feel about Disney opening Galaxy’s Edge on what will most likely be the first or second week of school for most kids in the US? Will you be there? Let us know in the comments below!

Official Date Announced for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. Will you be there or will you be waiting?