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Memento Mori- A Store Dedicated to All Things Haunted Mansion in Disney’s Magic Kingdom ~ By Guest Author Karyn Locke

Published November 13, 2014 by Karyn Locke

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Those of you that have read my blog posts in the past certainly know my affection for Disney’s Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom. I get asked what my favorite ride at Walt Disney World is all the time, and without hesitation, I happily answer, “Haunted Mansion”. My family and I have gotten to the point that we know which wall panel of the stretching room will slide open and head directly to it, and can talk right along with “Your Ghost Host” while he is reciting his monologue. Yeah, I’m that much in love with the ride. With each visit to Magic Kingdom, I would hunt out the latest Haunted Mansion items for sale in the shops and carts, hoping for something other than a HM key chain or t-shirt to purchase.

Fast forward to the opening of Memento Mori- Disney’s Haunted Mansion store in Liberty Square. From the Latin phrase Memento mori (remember death), the Magic Kingdom store was bound to not only have every item that I’ve dreamt of owning, but a sense of humor just like my beloved ride.

I, along with my family,  was one of those folks happy to queue up outside the storefront in Liberty Square waiting my turn to purchase goodies covered with spooky-eyed wallpaper and adorned with candlestick-holding gargoyles. Giddy with delight, my family and I headed into the shop, and just like a kid in a candy shop, could not decide what to purchase first.

What’s “In Store” for You?

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What’s in store for happy shoppers, you ask? So many spooky, kooky, creative, and downright awesome Haunted Mansion items that you’ll be hard-pressed to choose a favorite!

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When you walk through the store entrance, you’ll notice a cool photography room where you can get “ghostified”, as my daughter calls it. Just like the famous paintings in the ride, the photo will look normal from one angle and creepy from another. Well worth the $20 if you ask me.

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There’s tons of fun items to take home, like well-made pens, fedoras, and of course, t-shirts.

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Make sure to mosey around the store, as there’s some really cool details along the walls.

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Haunted Mansion phone cases, necklaces, and other themed jewelry as far as the eye can see!

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Want a Haunted Mansion hair accessory? Look no further. There’s really cute headbands with the bat stanchions from the ride queue available for your wearing pleasure.

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Here’s the part of the store that was the most fun for me- the kitchen/table ware area. There’s Master Gracy china, Madame Leota towels, HM aprons, cups, glasses, and candlesticks for your table.

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Looking for a way to spruce up your living room & bedroom? There’s throws and pillows that would make a fine addition to the room.

I did notice an absence of one important item: the doombuggy! I’ll put that on my list for Santa this year.

Karyn Locke, Marketing and Social Media Guroo and Mid-America Guroo for trekaroo is a travel writer from Ohio that has a passion for all things Disney and a hankering for Dole Whip Floats at least three times a week. Also creator and blogger for Sand and Snow…and everywhere in between!, she’s happy to give Disney tips to anyone that asks and is pleased as punch that her family shares her love of the most magical place on earth.

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!

 

World Secrets: How to Get a Last Minute Dinner Reservation at Be Our Guest

Published January 9, 2014 by Disneyways.com

Does anyone else find it a little ironic that a restaurant that is literally named, “Be Our Guest” can be so hard to get in to?

Anyone who has ever called 6 months in advance just to find out they are completely booked knows what I am talking about here. But guess what? Last night I got a seemingly impossible dinner reservation at Be Our Guest and you can do it too. In fact, you can use these tips for any popular Walt Disney World restaurant.

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Now please don’t hold it against me that I have had a little practice with this process. If you called Disney Dining at 407-WDW-Dine at any time between 2008 and 2011 or so – I might have been the one that answered the phone and got you in at your favorite Disney restaurants. However…I wasn’t a miracle worker then and I am certainly not one now. Anyone has a chance to get into the most popular Disney restaurants at the last minute by utilizing these simple tips I am about to share with you today.

I’m going to start by stating the obvious. You best bet is to plan way in advance. There are lots of articles out there with tips on how to go about doing this. However, this particular blog post is for those of you out there who for whatever reason didn’t have the luxury of planning so far ahead.

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So here is step one: try getting in 2 days before and even 1 day before you want to dine. First go on-line to WaltDisneyWorld.com and if that doesn’t work, make the phone call to Disney dining reservations at 407-WDW-Dine. In training we were always told that table inventory was exactly the same on-line and over the phone, however, for whatever reason, the system CAN show different times of availability. I have seen it happen with my own eyes. So go ahead and try both methods. You can book dining as late as 3 hours in advance but either 2 or 1 day before you are wanting to dine is your best bet. Why? Because guests will cancel either 2 or 1 day before their reservation so that they don’t get hit with the $10 per person penalty depending on the policy of the respective restaurant. That is when you can hit the jackpot, swoop in, and score your dream dining reservation.

Even if you aren’t able to accomplish your booking with step one, there is still a glimmer of hope in step two. Don’t go out of your way, but if you are close to a restaurant that you would really love to try, ALWAYS walk up to the hostess stand and ask politely if they are taking walk-ins. You just never know. This works best if you are in a smaller party of 1 to 4 people. When we dined at Be Our Guest for our late dinner, we were told they had been taking walk-ins all evening. Please be nice and be understanding if they are completely booked. They can’t give you what is not there…but it never hurts to ask…especially if you are very nice about it.

It’s OK to keep asking too. Don’t be annoying and keep bugging them every hour – BUT do try again later if you are close by and notice there aren’t a lot of guests waiting around with pagers. I have experience with working at a hostess stand at Disney as well — and I can tell you there were many days where one hour we could not take walk-ins and then an hour or two later on that same day – we were able to. It all depends on how busy the parks are and how many people just didn’t show up for their dining reservations.

Finally, if all else fails, remember you are still at Disney World! All the restaurants are special in their own ways. Check the internet for those hidden gems that often have availability at the last minute, simply because they don’t get as much “hype.”

Just a few examples:

I have found a real treasure in Biergarten! The food is terrific and they’ve got a German polka band! Restaurant Marrakesh has belly dancers! Don’t forget about the Lava Lounge in Downtown Disney. It shares a kitchen with the Rainforest Cafe – and you never need a reservation because they only take walk-ins. Many Disney resort lounges and bars serve appetizers and even full meals. You can walk right up and order fast.

Best wishes in your last minute search and “Be Our Guest” to use these tips and score some great dining! If you enjoyed this post be sure to check out our next WORLD SECRET: HOW TO GET A PRINCESS MAKEOVER WHEN THE BIBBIDI BOBBIDI BOUTIQUE IS FULLY BOOKED! 

There are even more World Secrets to be found HERE. Have a magical day!

Tokyo Disneyland Exclusive: The Magical Dreamlight Wand

Published December 6, 2013 by Disneyways.com

Wand Collage

All of these photos came directly from Trish our Tokyo Disney correspondent! Here’s what she had to say:

“During Episode 80 of the podcast Tony wondered why Tokyo Disneyland uses the Magical Dreamlight Wand instead of the Glow with the Show Ears. There are two reasons that I can think of, with the first being that the person who purchased the wand can actually enjoy seeing the wand as it changes colors along with the show. The second reason has to do with the show viewing rules and courtesy to others. Before the show starts there is always an announcement asking guests to remove large hats and head bands so as not to block the view of others.”

In an effort to fulfill our mission of bringing you Disney news from around the globe – The Disney Parks Podcast is super excited to introduce a new segment to the news each week that will get you up to the minute on what’s new at Tokyo Disney Resort AND Tokyo Disney Sea! Because many of us may never get to visit the park in person, we are delighted to bring just a little bit of this amazing park to YOU!

Our wonderful Disney Parks Podcast Correspondent Trish – is an American girl living minutes away from Tokyo Disney Resort. She enjoys going by bicycle when the weather is nice! Having grown up in Florida and going to WDW each year of course she loves going to Disney Parks! Trish hopes everyone enjoys her updates from Tokyo Disney Resort and that they will inspire people to visit! For photo updates from the resort please check out Trish’s twitter account @DreamSweetsLove – and we will also be posting links to her periodically on all the Disney Parks Podcast media outlets! Thank you Trish for these amazing photos!

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Video! “Glow with the Show” Mouse Ears Debut at Fantasmic!

Published October 16, 2013 by Disneyways.com

Last night was the very first official night that guests were able to try the “Glow with the Show” Mouse Ears on Disney World property. “Glow with the Show” Mouse Ears illuminate in sync with the show! It is really a gorgeous and amazing thing to see – so instead of trying to explain it – here is an AWESOME video from the event. Video credit goes to the fantastic BigFatPanda.com

It was perfect timing because the Fantasmic show at Hollywood Stuios also celebrated it’s 15th anniversary – so debuting these ears was s a GREAT way to do it with a bang! The hats cost $25.00 including tax. They are improved over the California version but to me they were still pretty heavy and the strap was not super comfortable. This is just my opinion though. My reccomendation is if you know someone that has some – try them out before buying to see what you think! Soon the hats will debut at Magic Kingdom for the Wishes fireworks show – and during Celebrat the Magic – our castle projection show.  I can’t wait to see how guests will embrace this technology here in Florida as time goes on.

What do you think? Will you be buying a pair of these ears and giving them a try?

A First Look at the Disney Collection by Vera Bradley “Where’s Mickey?” Design

Published October 15, 2013 by Disneyways.com

Today Disney released a first look at the brand new Disney by Vera Bradley collection called “Where’s Mickey?” If you recall, back in August we predicted more Vera by Disney patterns would be released.

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Photo credit Disney

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Photo credit Disney

I am happy to announce that Steven Miller of the Disney Parks Blog informed us that the new “Where’s Mickey” pattern was release at the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney Marketplace on Tuesday, October 29th! I have seen photos on social networks of the bags in the stores already. No information yet on when the new pattern will be available to purchase on the Disney Store Online. It will be featured on several familiar and popular styles such as the hipster, backpack, large duffel, Smartphone wristlet and more. In addition to a future release at the World of Disney Store in Florida, the “Where’s Mickey?” color will also be available on Disney Parks online store and at select Disneyland Resort locations in the coming months.

Depending on what style you choose, most likely, measurements will be the same as the previous line . You can click either of the pictures below to see those numbers.

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In other exciting news, you can visit DisneyStore.com/VeraBradley starting October 21, 2013, to get the “Just Mousing Around” and “Midnight With Mickey” colors online!

Disney by Vera Bradley: New Details Revealed – Don’t You Just Love Being Right?

Published September 19, 2013 by Disneyways.com

Congratulations! If you read Disneyways back on August 31st 2013 you already knew the measurements, pricing and styles of the highly anticipated Disney By Vera Bradley collection! You get to tell your friends and family you were right! Today we got official word from Disney on these numbers, and here they are! Photo credit Disney Parks Blog.

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In addition we got a reminder about the patterns! They melt my heart! Aren’t they adorable?!

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We got some new information today too! Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, Vera Bradley Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, will also be attending the September 21 release party. Barbara will be meeting with fans that morning from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. A limited number of wristbands to meet Barbara will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis to guests who make purchases that morning.

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We love you Barbara! Not to outshine you though…there is more BIG news everyone has been waiting for!! It’s almost like an early black Friday! Are you ready for this?

If you are planning on attending the event on Saturday, Disney would like to make you aware that parking for Downtown Disney Marketplace will begin at 3:00 a.m. YES – you read that right. That is 3 o’clock in the morning eastern time!

Getting up before the birdies helps guarantee you a place in line.

There will be a designated queue outside World of Disney starting at 4:00 a.m. Wristbands will be given to guests in line to “ensure an enjoyable shopping experience for everyone”.
There will be purchase limits in place at the World of Disney in Florida on September 21-22, 2013.

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Guests can get (1) of each style of Vera Bradley bags in the “Just Mousing Around” collection (8 styles total) and one (1) of each style of Vera Bradley bags in the “Midnight with Mickey” collection (8 styles total). You can get your bags only while supplies last. Disney reserves the right to change any of these rules without notice.

Being a huge fan of Vera Bradley bags, especially in for use the parks, I think I would get in line in the middle of the night if I could. (I am in love with the Midnight with Mickey Hipster and Smartphone Wristlet!)

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Don’t feel sorry for me though…I have invested in a ticket to Florida Blog Con – a currently sold-out blogger conference being held here in Orlando on the very same day. I have been looking forward to his conference since tickets first went on sale months ago. Last year was amazing and this year is expected to be just as wonderful! I am super excited and I just can’t wait!

Besides…if I am a good little girl maybe Santa will leave one of these gorgeous Vera Bradley bags under my Christmas tree this year. Do you think Santa reads Disney blogs?

OK so what are your thoughts? Are you going to get involved in all this excitement? What patterns and styles will you be wishing for – or perhaps buying? Please leave me a comment and tell me all about it! Have a magical day!

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