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Wordless Wednesday – Virtual Safari Tour!

Published April 17, 2013 by Disneyways.com

This week’s theme is Flora, Fauna, Fantasy 15 in celebration of Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 15th Anniversary.

Thank you Deb from FocusedOnTheMagic.com for the great idea!

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Focused on the Magic

Kilimanjaro Safaris – Hippopotamuses for Christmas

Published December 25, 2012 by Disneyways.com

Every year at Christmas the radio stations here in Orlando play that old song, I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas!

Here are some actual pictures we took on Animal Kingdom’s  Kilimanjaro Safaris recently! I hope you enjoy them and have a magical day!

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Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safaris – Zebras!

Published November 25, 2012 by Disneyways.com

Once upon a time there were Zebras at Animal Kingdom!

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Animal Kingdom Safaris Sunday – Rhinos!

Published November 18, 2012 by Disneyways.com

I LOVE telling this story. Mama and baby were playing and running around. At one point they were headed straight for our ride vehicle! They were literally 5 feet away when they stopped dead in their tracks. Were they being aggressive? NO! Our ride vehicle was blocking the door that led to their food, and the rhinos had heard it open. Once they realized we were in the way, they politely turned to their right, walked in front of the vehicle and out of the opening that lead backstage. I don’t know how my husband kept calm enough to get these fantastic pictures, but I am so glad he did! What an awesome day at Animal Kingdom!

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Kilimanjaro Safari Tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Published November 5, 2012 by Disneyways.com

Friday November 2nd 2012 was a great day for the safari ride over at Animal Kingdom. The weather was BEAUTIFUL, and the animals were loving it! Since they were feeling so frisky and active, some of them modeled for my photo shoot. A few pictures are a little blurry but others came out great!

What do you think?

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10 Disney Films That Will Inspire You to Travel ~ By Guest Author Jason Biondo

Published January 7, 2016 by Disneyways.com

10 DISNEY FILMS THAT WILL INSPIRE YOU TO TRAVEL

Disney films are beloved and admired for their colorful story-lines, enchanting and beautiful princesses as well as handsome prince charmings. All movies that Disney creates are loved not only by children, but everyone who are young at heart because they simply showcase beautiful musical scores and shows stunning pictures. Over time, Disney continues to create memorable
memories and inspiration brought about by magic and dreams.

If you’re a big Disney fan and a travel junkie at the same time, then you must know where you can find and experience being on the setting of your favorite Disney movie. Here are some of the all-time favorite Disney movies that were inspired by real-life locations.

1. Lion King

lion king

This classic Disney movie has surely created wonderful memories because of the morallessons it brings, songs that marked in every child’s life and of course, the stunning settings of this film. The scenery of this film was inspired by a gorgeous desert in Africa – Serengeti, which is located across northern Tanzania and southwest of Kenya. This safari desert is life-changing like how it was pictured in the movie as it holds beautiful landscapes and wild animals that will surely spark your wanderlust. This movie will awaken your adventurous side as well as you desire to see more of this wonderful world. Hakuna Matata and enjoy life!

2. Aladdin

As a child, you were surely dreamt of riding the magic carpet and wonder how it feels like to see the world up in the sky. Aladdin is a movie based on Arab folklore that is full of enchantments – a magic lamp, a genie and three wishes. The movie has highlighted several stunning places like pyramids, palaces, deserts, alley ways and even China. But did you know that the Sultan’s Palace in the movie was inspired by the real life famous architecture in India – the Taj Mahal.

3. Mulan

Showcasing the countryside and unique cultures of China, Mulan is a story about a fearless girl who disguised as a man to go to a war. The Emperor’s Home in the movie was actually inspired by the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. If you remember the famous line told by Fa Zhou to Mulan about life and how it should be enjoyed, you will surely be moved to accomplish your dreams and go on different adventures and explore the world.

4. Frozen

Photo credit Disney

Photo credit Disney

Remember the scene where Elsa went away from her kingdom to elude people’s judgment about her hidden capability? The ice palace she created as a place she could live for isolation was based on the concept of Hotel de Glace in Quebec City, Canada. The hotel is surrounded by snow vaults and crystalline ice sculptures that open during winter. This fortress has 44 rooms, abundant ice sculptures, and imposing snow vaults. This film by Disney will surely motivate you to free yourself from fear and give you the
opportunity to do things you want without worrying about other’s verdict. Do you want to build a snowman?

5. Tangled

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Rapunzel, leaving the tower to take control over her own life brings inspiration to go on the road and explore different adventures. If you have watched the movie and look forward to seeing settings like the places featured in this film, then the real life places that were actually used as inspiration for this movie will completely amaze you. The tower was inspired by the Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France – a fortified islandcommune with a population of 44 people. The art director of the movie chose this location in order to create gallant painting style. Additionally, the scene at the lake fullof floating lanterns was taken insights from the annual festivity in China, Taiwan and Thailand.

6. Up

Who would have forgotten about the exceptional and adventurous journey of Carl and Ellie? Ellie’s desire to fulfill his and his wife’s dream of going to Paradise Falls was fortified after his wife passed away. Voyaged through Carl’s house hovering in the air has amazed children and the paradise Falls has enthused people to see a similar setting. Well, you may want to visit the Angel Falls in Venezuela’s Canaima Natural Park where this famous setting has been based. It is known as the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, it is also called as “waterfall of the deepest place”.

7. Lilo & Stitch

As Lilo and her family ventured towards the world, it has left a moral lesson about the importance of family and the bond created by traveling together. The settings of this film were enthused by the landscapes of Kauai town in Hawaii which was perfect for its homey-inspired tale.

8. Brave

Meridahorse

Merida, a fearless girl who’s desperate for freedom from her royal family set foot in the woods alone for the liberty she wanted. Brave features beautiful ruins, majestic landscapes and castles along Merida’s journey and some of it were actually real pictures that you can visit. This movie will surely inspire you to visit Eilean Donan Castle, which is known in the film as DunBroch Castle. Built during the mid-13th century, it is located in the Scottish highlands and is overlooking the sea. If you are fond of historic places and folklore, visiting Eilean Donan Castle is what you might need to satisfy your wanderlust.

9. Finding Nemo

MFB_shop_Nemo

The film was set in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of Queensland, it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Watching this movie may inspire you to book a scuba diving classes, go snorkeling to a marine conservation or even urge you to book a trip to Australia.

10. Enchanted

The movie is about some animated characters coming into the real world and becoming real people. Based in New York settings, this film features various scenes featuring the Central Park will surely make you want to visit the busiest city in the world. This romantic comedy movie will surely bring in the wanderlust in you as the urbaninspiration and soundtracks will motivate you to see the world.

Inspired to travel? Open your travel planner now, and create your own magical and enchanting Disney-like escapades!

About the Author: Jason Biondo is a travel junkie and an amateur bodybuilder who loves to share insightful tips to his fellow travelers and fitness enthusiasts. He is also a User Interface Developer Consultant and the founder of Trekeffect.
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Top 10 Tips for First Time Disney Guests ~ By Guest Author Jen

Published July 6, 2014 by Disneyways.com

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Top 10 Tips for First Time Guests by Guest Author Jen B.

10) Stay on property

Though this could easily be further down on the list and closer to one of the most important tips for your first visit, many of the following tips are only available if staying on property, so alas, your #10 tip! Disney offers more than 25 different hotels that are broken down into various categories according to price (value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villas). Staying on Walt Disney World property puts you that much closer to the magic, provides you with extra benefits, and presents you with even more hidden Disney magic. Each hotel is themed differently, so find the one that fits you and your party the best and book your stay!

9) Try ALL forms of Disney Transportation

In order to take full advantage of all the transportation opportunities Disney has to offer, you must be staying at a resort. Rather than paying for parking and waiting in long traffic lines, opt for the complimentary buses, monorail, ferry, walkways, and magical express. Each form of travel is unique and serves as a great way to both start and end your magical days at WDW!  Disney buses pick up from every resort and arrive every 15 minutes or so. They start running before parks open and drive all day until after parks close. The monorail is a must ride for your first visit as it is an attraction within itself! Another neat option is the ferry between some of the resorts and MK. Lastly, start your vacation the right way and let Magical Express pick up your bags from baggage claim once you arrive at Orlando International Airport. Hop on that motor coach and head right to the parks, there’s tons to see and do!

8) Extra Magic Hours & Fast Pass

With so much to see and do, plus the benefit of being a WDW resort guest, be sure to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours and Fast Pass Times. Every day one of the four main parks either opens up to 1 hour early or stays open up to three hours late.  Only guests staying in a WDW resort can take advantage of these times when crowds are minimal! Use this time to see the wild animals roaming the savannah after their morning stretches, ride the Tower of Terror before the wait time climbs to 2 hours, or stroll down Main Street USA and window shop without the crowds and endless strollers!

7) Park Hop!

 Adding the Park Hopper option to your Magic Your Way Base Ticket is truly a personal preference, but I would advise that you do! When vacationing to WDW you can either plan every minute of your vacation or agree to be flexible, but either way, the ability to travel from park to park to help with either schedule will make your vacation much less stressful and far more magical! I can’t tell you how many times we woke up to catch the first Kilimanjaro Safari ride, but then wanted to see the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular before bed that same night. On a first time trip, it might seem overwhelming and you might be sitting there saying, “This is crazy. One park per day is far more than enough, Disney offers so much!”, but I find the park hopper option to be far less overwhelming. When on vacation, one is supposed to be relieved of all stress, free of all plans, and in favor of spontaneity. Be spontaneous and hop!

6) Visit Magic Kingdom in 2 days (There’s far too much magic to explore!)

After reading #7, this is only necessary. Given that the park is broken into different lands (Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, and Main Street USA) it’s almost as if this park is really 5 parks in one. Thus, the more time you can spend here the better. Strolling through the shops on Main St. and watching the parade that rides down the street as well, can easily eat up a solid chunk of your afternoon. Pending ride wait times and if you enjoy a sit down meal or not, no matter how early you enter, or how late you stay, Magic Kingdom deserves at least two days. Just think, this was Walt’s dream and the very first part of the Walt Disney World grounds. Plus the castle serves as the iconic staple of all things Disney. All first-timers should truly immerse themselves in all the magic that the Magic Kingdom has to offer. Don’t rush through it!

5) Bring your own snacks and drinks but splurge on a Main Street Treat!

When you’re waiting for the parade to start (as it is suggested that you find your spot along the parade route at least thirty minutes before it is to begin) enjoy a delicious treat from one of the many shops and snack stands. Disney, in an attempt to cut back on cost for it’s guests, allows you to bring in your own snacks and refillable water bottles, but the Mickey ice cream bars, Dole Whips, or anything from the Main Street Confectionary will appeal to your taste buds and please your tummy, just as much as a honey jar does for Winnie the Pooh!

4) Slow Down & Take Part in Character Meet and Greets

It is unacceptable to visit Walt Disney World without meeting Mickey Mouse right? What about his sweetheart Minnie Mouse? Or his friends Goofy, Pluto, Cinderella, Winnie the Pooh, and Donald Duck? Though the lines may often seem long, there is nothing better than interacting with the characters that roam the parks—this is when the magic truly comes to life.  Take a picture with Donald Duck wearing his sombrero in the Mexico pavilion of Epcot; meet Rafiki in the jungle at Animal Kingdom; high five Sully and his pal Mike Wazowski on the Laugh Floor in Hollywood Studios; or spend some time chatting with the princesses in Princess Fairytale Hall in the Magic Kingdom. Hugs are free, autographs are unique, and interactions with all of Disney’s characters, whether you are young or old, last a lifetime!

3) See the Shows & Parades

Festival of Fantasy Parade, Main Street Electrical Parade, Wishes Nighttime Spectacular, Illuminations, and Fantasmic. just to name a few. Walt Disney World prides itself on all the intricate details it employs for the fantastic, heart-pumping, ear-to-ear smiling, sing along shows and parades throughout each park everyday.  Take a break from the sun, find some shade, sit back and relax. Immerse yourself in Disney Entertainment. Without it, no first time visit is complete.

2) Timing is Everything…On many different accounts!

First things first, plan the proper length of stay for your visit. My suggestion is at least a week, but of course that decision is up to you! Don’t try to cram all four parks into a 3-day visit.  It’s just not worth it. In addition, plan your first visit for the right time of year. Take into account all factors including first, what works best for you and your family, but also weather, crowd control, and WDW specials and promotions.

Next, once visiting WDW, timing continues to be everything. Save valuable time as you venture through the parks by using your time wisely.  Eat your meals during non-meal times, either earlier than normal or after the rush; Ride the most popular attractions during major parade times or fireworks shows; Take breaks during the middle of the day and go swimming in your resort pools or enjoy a nap to recharge!  And lastly but most importantly, by no means rush through the parks. Slow down, you’re on vacation in the happiest place on earth! Enjoy every millisecond!

1) Allow the magic to erase your fears!

2, 10, 14, 27, 42, 60, 75…no matter your age, Walt Disney World is a place for you to always feel like a kid. Allow the magic to erase all of your fears. Celebrate your first visit, and every consecutive visit afterwards, by releasing all your fears and fully embracing the happiest place on earth! Conquer your wardrobe fears and wear something that you wouldn’t think to in your “normal” life. Embrace your inner child and break out that Goofy t-shirt. Or, buy yourself your first official pair of Mickey ears, in whatever style suits you best, and wear them around the parks for a full day, at least. Conquer your fear of heights and free fall 13 stories on Hollywood Studios’ Tower or Terror or face the Yeti on Animal Kingdom’s Everest.  Conquer your fear of the dark and ride Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Rollercoaster at Hollywood Studios or Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom. Conquer your fear of all things haunted by gliding through the Haunted Mansion. Conquer your fear of stage fright and bright lights by volunteering to be an extra in the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular show at Hollywood Studios. Conquer your fear of singing and dancing in public by singing along and dancing to the beat at Animal Kingdom’s Festival of the Lion King or any of the shows at the stage at Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom. Lastly, conquer your fear of the unknown by allowing the magic to take control and see what Walt Disney World has in store for your very first visit!

Most of all, get that trip booked and enjoy your magical first time at Walt Disney World!

Feel free to comment with YOUR tips for first timers – or email guest blogger Jen at diariesofdisney@gmail.com if you have questions about any of these tips!

 

Become Senior Wilderness Explorers in One Day! ~ By Guest Author Kelly

Published November 9, 2013 by Kelly of Simply Kelly Designs

Are you excited to learn some great tips on how to become Senior Wilderness Explorer in one day? This fun, interactive game has taken the Animal Kingdom Theme Park by storm and I have only heard great things about it. This fantastic post comes to us from guest author Kelly! Kelly loves to share her passion for digital scrapbooking and preserving memories. Her blog features tutorials, tips and designs to help make scrapbooking your memories easier! You can check out her blog HERE. Thank you Kelly for your wonderful contribution!

Become a Senior Wilderness Explorers in One Day! ~By Guest Author Kelly

BadgeStationsLast month we went to Animal Kingdom for the first time since the beginning of the year. We got there soon after the park opened and we stopped at the Wilderness Explorers booth at the end of the bridge leading to the Tree of Life. My 4 and 6 year olds, each received their own Wilderness Explorers handbook from Disney cast member. I was only half listening when I heard the cast member say that there was 31 badges the kids needed to earn to become Senior Wilderness Explorers. 31? I remembered there were only 5 or 6. The new Wilderness Explorers program replaced the Kid’s Discovery Club at Animal Kingdom. Kids take their handbooks to stations throughout the park to earn badges. Earning badges consisted of different activities like a scavenger hunt, reading signs for information, finding animals, etc. A Wilderness Explorers guides give each child a sticker for their handbook when a badge is earned. The sticker for each badge is different. Here is the handbook map of all the badge stations.

WildernessExplorersBadgesMap

The cast member explained to us that they didn’t have to earn all the badges that day and that their handbooks would be good for years. I think what my daughter heard was that it could all be done in a day! From that point on she was on a mission. Can it be done in one day? YES! Will you be exhausted? YES! Will your kids learn a ton of great information about animals and the environment? YES! Will you get to see all of Animal Kingdom? YES!

Here are my tips:

  • Get a fast pass. My husband made a beeline to get a fast pass for the Kilimanjaro Safaris as soon as we got to the park while the kids and I took our time getting the handbooks and taking photos.
  • Plan out your day (rides, shows, dining) so that you only have to go through each section of the park one time. We started with Festival of the Lion King at Camp Mini Mickey and worked our way around the park in a clockwise direction. In order, we earned badges in Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia, Dinoland U.S.A. and then Discovery Island.
  • Bring a stroller if you have young kids. My 6 year old barely fits in our double stroller but that doesn’t keep her from sitting in it to be pushed all over the park. At the end of the day my husband and I were exhausted from all the walking but my kids were still full of energy.
  • Take time to enjoy the park. If you can’t get it done in one day, you can always come back. Beyond earning all the Wilderness Explorer badges, we also saw the Festival of the Lion King, went on the Kilimanjaro Safaris and had a delicious lunch at Yak and Yeti Restaurant. The kids spent extra time at Conservation Station and the Boneyard (Dinoland USA).
  • Keep an eye on the map in the handbook. My daughter was our navigator and she is great at reading a map but she missed a few stops so we had to backtrack once.
  • Make this a learning experience! The Wilderness Explorer guides were great at teaching the kids important facts at each station and making sure they understood. My husband and I took the time to discuss the topics with the kids and we learned extra information from reading the signs, etc.

WildernessExplorerBadges

  • Make sure your kids want to do this! Both of my kids were self-driven to earn all the badges in one day. I think both my husband and I would have preferred a more relaxed pace but the kids were having fun so we decided to go with it. If they hadn’t wanted to do it so badly, I think it would have been miserable trying to push them through the park. We have also been to Animal Kingdom many times so the kids have been on all the rides and seen all the shows.

My kids picked up their handbooks at 9:49 am and at 5:55 pm they were taking the pledge to become Senior Wilderness Explorers!

SeniorWildernessExplorers

I could tell that the sense of accomplishment and all the information they learned made this day of the best my kids have ever experienced at Disney and a day that I will never forget! Enjoy your Disney Adventure!

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Rare Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Published November 4, 2013 by Disneyways.com

There’s a new baby at Animal Kindgdom Lodge. A rare Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra…the proper term for her is a “filly”…and she was born in October 2013. I am hearing through the grapevine that her name is Prima, although this has not been confirmed by Disney. Her photo is below, isn’t she a cutie?!

Photo credit: Disney Parks Blog

Prima the baby zebra

Prima’s mom was pregnant for a whole year, so you know she is probably as overjoyed as the rest of us for this new arrival. The filly and her mother are bonding well and doing fine.

Typically found in mountainous regions of southwestern Africa, the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra is characterized by a striking pattern of narrow vertical stripes covering its head and body. They can weigh up to 800 pounds and grow up to eight and a half feet. This species is considered endangered, with only 50 of Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra in the United States and an estimated 7,000 throughout the world. Disney’s Animal Programs team is actively involved in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan for this critical species. The team is proud to have a successful birth of a rare species.

It might be fun to head over to the mara and celebrate the new baby with a zebra dome – or by doing some of the free activities that Animal Kingdom Lodge offers! I know I can’t wait to head out there to see if I can get a photo of Prima.

Photo property Disney

Photo property Disney

Some fun zebra facts:

There are three species of zebra, two of which live on the savannas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. You can see plains zebras as well as Hartmann’s mountain zebras during your stay. The Hartmann’s Mountain zebras (Prima and her mom) have thinner stripes that don’t extend around the belly.

Just like snowflakes, no two individual zebras look exactly alike.

Most scientists believe that the zebra’s stripes may serve to break up the outline of the zebra’s body in the herd and provide some camouflage when the zebra is standing in tall grass.

Mountain zebras eat mostly grass, bark, leaves and tree and shrub shoots. Though they prefer mountainous regions for their habitat, they are known to move to lower elevations to graze in cold weather and seek shelter in caves or wooded areas.

World Secrets – Zebra Domes! Are They Made of Zebras?

Published July 20, 2013 by Disneyways.com

Maybe you’ve heard of the iconic Dole Whip or maybe even the lesser known

School Bread?

The Disney parks aren’t the only place you can find iconic food items. Inside the fabulous Animal Kingdom Lodge you can find Zebra Domes – a culinary hidden gem – and possibly one of the best kept World Secrets at Disney! Some guests love Zebra Domes, and some don’t. I am one who adores these little striped treasures –  so get ready for a completely biased Zebra Dome blog post!

Despite what the name suggests, they do NOT contain bits of real zebra.

They get their name due to their striped appearance.

Zebra Dome

The main ingredients are actually espresso, heavy cream, and Kahlua. I am not usually a fan of strong coffee flavors and I don’t drink coffee at all. Zebra Domes, however, contain just a hint – and it is not over powering. They require refrigeration because they are so soft and smooth. They are not made of ice cream –  but beware –  they will melt in the heat. I tried to bring some home for my husband and they did not survive the 40 minute drive.

Zebra Dome

See the little thin layer of cake on the bottom? Mmmm….

Zebra Domes are always on the buffet menu over at Boma. No time to make a dining reservation? No problem! Just head on over to The Mara – where they are packaged in little clear boxes as a grab and go item! Bite sized pieces of heaven in a little box of 5 for $3.69 or a snack credit?! Yes please. I would like a herd of them…but once I am done they will surely be extinct. 

Can we head over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge right now? 

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So what team are you on? Do you love Zebra Domes or maybe not so much? If you haven’t given them a try yet, now you know the secret!

I hope you will find inspiration to trot over and grab some for yourself…and please let me know what you think!

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