Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Review

I’d like to reiterate that the opinions of this blog do not represent the opinions of the Walt Disney World Resort. With that out-of-the-way…

I will be quite honest. I don’t think Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, MNSSHP for short, is worth the money, especially for a family with small children.  Unless, of course, taking pictures with  special characters is worth spending the extra money. Or the special perimeter fireworks is worth it. Or the specialty parades. Or fun.
On a side note. I am not a huge fan of fireworks or parades. Or fun.

Just kidding. That last bit was part of a new running joke.
On a further to the side note. You should probably see some Disney perimeter fireworks at some time in your life. Don't skip that. 

Julie's humor aside, let's get to my concierge opinion of this event. 

Yes, Concierge Class is in session.

If this is your first, second, or even third visit to the Walt Disney World Resort, paying the extra money for a hard ticketed event probably isn't worth it. You already have so much ground to cover, since there is no chance you've done every attraction, seen every show, used every monorail, and had time to use the pool at your resort. There is just no way.

As a former Disney concierge, I would have LOVED to give this one piece of advice to every single first time family before their arrival. If I could have planned their vacations for them, I would have taken their itinerary and have gutted at least half of the items they planned on doing.

So after hearing my negative opinion of paying for a hard ticketed event at Disney, you are probably wondering why I am still even writing a review on MNSSHP. Personally I love Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, but I may love it for different reasons than the typical Disney tourist. I love it because I always go with a huge group of friends. We do rides together. We eat way too much candy. We admire every single costume that guests have put together. 

It is one of the few occasions where adults can dress up in full costumes in a Disney park. I never turn down an opportunity to dress up. Just wait until you see my Christmas costumes.
Example A

Example B
Example Princess Status
I have been to the party a few times. My last party was in 2014, so this overview/review will cover what was featured at that particular event. Since I have not gone this year I will not be able to comment on the new offerings, like the Sanderson sisters from "Hocus Pocus." Believe me. No one is feeling more left out about this update than me.

Beside the topics I will cover ahead, a ticket to the Halloween party also gets you access to the Magic Kingdom at 4pm with the party not starting until 7pm. You will also have access to most of the rides during the party, so you have the possibility of shorter wait times (no fastpass is available). Read on for a better understanding of the additional offerings at MNSSHP.
The fireworks are villainy themed. They display pictures on the castle and make it green a bunch of times. Of course the wonderful perimeter fireworks are featured.  Like I mentioned earlier, I am not a fireworks fan. Not one bit. But I LOVED the Fourth of July fireworks at Magic Kingdom this past year. I like Wishes a lot too. The reason I liked them both so much is because of the music. Probably my favorite Disney park thing is listening to the pop version they play of Wishes right after the fireworks have ended.

The music for the HalloWISHES is not my favorite. It has all the different Disney Villains in it, so if you are a villain fan, I'm sure you'll love that. The "Oogie Boogie man" from Nightmare Before Christmas has his own little number. There is also this doorbell sound effect they use before each villain, like each villain is trick or treating. Cute idea, n'est pas?
They do the Halloween parade twice. Go to the second one. Believe me. It will be much less stressful, and you won't have to stake out your place very far in advance. Unless parades are not important in your life. In which case DO WHATEVER YOU WANT.

The parade only travels in one direction and one direction only, which is different if you are familiar with the other Disney parades. The "Boo to You Halloween Parade" is actually led by a horse, with a headless horseman. The horse knows the route by heart, so the parade will only travel the one direction because that is how they trained the horse. Pretty cool, right? 

It is a very LONG parade, so don’t let yourself get trapped on one side of the park while you wait for the parade to finish. I found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time once, and the parade trapped me in Frontierland when I was attempting to ride Big Thunder Mountain. Since then I have made it my duty to make sure that doesn't happen to anyone else I know. There were 2 Haunted Mansion floats, which were incredibly impressive. My favorite part was the parade performers recreating the ballroom scene.
Candy Trails
There is lots of candy, and it is all over the place.  One year they gave out bananas, and my roommates picked up each one they saw. They didn't even like bananas. I made so much banana bread. The first year I attended the party, they gave out craisins. None of my friends like craisins, so I ate a lot of craisins. The last party I attended only had candy.

If candy is your prerogative, then don’t worry. You’ll have lots; however, I don’t view “gathering candy” as a huge perk for a party that you have to pay for.
Yes, there are characters that are not normally out. I do think having the Princes out is a very nice perk. I love any excuse to see Prince Phillip. Of course the Seven Dwarfs are out. There is typically a HUGE line for the dwarfs, so plan to get in line very early or expect to wait a long while. I have also seen the Old Hag from Snow White, Tarzan and Jane, and Captain Jack Sparrow. But I HATE taking pictures in the parks at night because they do not come out well.  This is part of the reason I am shopping for a new camera. But even if I get a big fancy camera, I will be visiting the parks early for my best photos.
Speaking of bad pictures
"Villain’s Dance Mix & Mingle" They performed and walked off stage, and I had to ask my friend multiple times, “Is that it?” So if you’re going to the Villain’s Mix & Mingle for a show, skip it. But if you’d like to stay after and fight the mob, so you can get pictures with all of those villains, then this is your grand opportunity. Seize it.

Have you or are you planning on going to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party? I'd love to hear about any of your experiences!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Flights of the Kingdom: Beer Flights

Black Velvets. Not a beer flight, but yum!
Arguably my favorite of all flights.

Scratch that.

Easily my favorite of all the flights (besides flights to somewhere exotic or maybe Peter Pan's Flight... Nope. Thought it over. Still my favorite). The Beer Flight.

Beautifully enough, most places in Disney that serve beer offer a beer flight. With that being said, many of the beer flights you encounter will be very similar, so completing each of them will not necessarily teach you anything new about beer. For example both Ragland Road and the Rose and Crown have a beer sampler. They are both the same beers, Harp, Guiness, Bass, and Boddingtons. Chances are if you already have an interest in beer of any kind, you have already sampled each of these, so there is really no need for you to take part in this flight. Unless of course you are on vacation and completing 4-5 different pours of beer sounds like a really good start to your day or night.

With this understanding in hand, there are ultimately 2 reasons to try any beer flight.


Reason #1. To taste and sample without committing to a full pour usually with the goal of picking one beer to commit to.


Reason #2. To drink.


Here are Kingdom Hopping, we are not here to judge your beer flight tasting reasoning. Honestly, whichever path you choose, we just want to help you and give you all the facts. But really Reason #2 is what we are all about today.

Completed Beer Flights: 

Big River Grille and Brewery

Beer Flight at Big River Grille and Brewery
Price: $
Ranking: FAVORITE!
This was the first flight I had ever done in Disney World. It actually might have been the first flight I had ever completed ever! I am 21 in this picture and that smile says it all. My mom and I were on holiday together at the Boardwalk. We had just arrived from visiting family in West Palm Beach, and we had actually just received some tragic news. It was on of those moments when you feel almost guilty continuing on with something like a vacation. My mom and I needed something to distance us from the news, since we couldn't really do anything about it until we returned home. A beer flight flew us right back to Neverland.
Big River is the only microbrewery on Disney property, and it is wonderful. The beer flight featured 4 pours of their normal beers, plus one seasonal beer they brew. During our trip they actually had 2 seasonal beers, so we had 6 pours to ourselves! If you're looking for a real quality beer flight in Disney, this is your stop. This is one of your only stops, so don't skip it!


Ragland Road
Beer Flight at Raglan Road at Downtown Disney
Price: $
Ranking: Okay.
My parents and I found ourselves bar hopping through the Downtown Disney Area, and naturally we found ourselves stopping in at Ragland Road. Ragland Road is a great atmosphere to get drinks or share a meal. The inside bar was actually imported from Ireland and there is live entertainment like bands and Irish dancers all year round. They are really entertaining, and if you have kids, they may take them on stage! I do not have kids, nor have they ever taken me on stage, so we are going to move past that part of the experience.
My choice when I am at a more traditional pub is always a Black Velvet (half Guinness, half cider), but my parents were just beginning their night, so they each opted for a beer flight. One of those beer flights is the standard "Irish" beers, Harp, Guinness, Kilkenny, Bass, maybe Boddingtons. The other flight choice at Ragland features their own beers, so that is definitely a flight worth trying.
The Wave at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Beer Flight at The Wave Restaurant at Disney's Contemporary Resor
Price: $
Ranking: Good.
Do you need organic beer in your life? If you answered yes, then the Orlando Brewing Company Beer Sampler is for you.
This is another one of those, you've probably had this beer before. If you are a beer fan living in Orlando, there's a chance you've already made your way to Orlando Brewing Company to check our their free brewing tour and to sample some of those brews in house. If you have not, congratulations. New beers for everyone. Plus they are served in these stylish ,stem-less wine glasses in their own metal flight...container.
Epcot's Rose and Crown
Imperial Sampler at The Rose and Crown in Epcot
Price: $
Ranking: Okay.
My boyfriend and I found ourselves at the Rose and Crown one evening. He opted for a whiskey flight. I just wanted a beer, but I did not want to be left out, so I opted for the IMPERIAL SAMPLER. Doesn't that just sound fancy? Or like what they would serve on the Death Star? Mostly the latter.
There is nothing in this flight that I have not sampled before, Bass, Harp, Strongbow, Boddingtons, and Guinness. But as you can see, these are pretty large pours... and I love a classy flight/sampler with its own beer mat. Makes you feel special.
Beer Flights during Special Events/Festivals
Farm Fresh Beer Flight at Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival
Availability: Seasonal & Subject to change
Price: $
Ranking: In love.

Beer Garden Beer Flight at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival
Availability: Seasonal & Subject to change
Price: $
Ranking: Good.
The last 2 flights I am including can be purchased during one of the Festivals at Epcot, either during Food and Wine or Flower and Garden. These offerings change year to year, but I can say with some confidence that there will always be at least 1-2 beer flights offered during these festivals.
Personally I enjoy the "food and wine" offerings a lot more during Flower and Garden than I do for Food and Wine festival. The Farm Fresh Beer Flight was definitely my favorite of the flights as well. I love Florida Brewing Company's I-4 IPA. This year at Flower and Garden they were not offering larger pours of beer. I would have just opted for my IPA, but it was a small pour. If I am going to get in line and purchase a beer, I want it to be worth my time. That's why I opted for the beer flight. I was not disappointed.
What beer flights are your favorite? Are there any more that you would include on this list? Let me know in the comments, and I'll be sure to sample it myself!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Running Around the World: The Wildest Run in the Wilderness!

Running at Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort and the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds has been my absolute favorite run at Walt Disney World. Even now since moving home, running "in the Wilderness" has been one of the parts of Disney that I miss the most. That and literal Starbucks runs to Magic Kingdom. And Dream Along with Mickey. And CANDLELIGHT PROCESSIONAL. I'll be writing some posts about Candlelight Processional. Correction. I'll probably be writing TOO many posts about Candlelight Processional, so I'll will save my thoughts for those.

I thought about doing 2 separate posts for Wilderness Lodge and Ft Wilderness, but... I did them both in one day because I was so excited about the run! It's also so easy to run from Wilderness Lodge to Ft Wilderness, that it is almost difficult not to do it.

Usually I would start this run by parking at the Wilderness Lodge. The day of this run I decided to be adventurous, so I ran/walked to Magic Kingdom and took a bus to the Lodge.

The final part was a boat ride back to the Contemporary, where the boat driver said there are otters in Bay Lake. Did you hear that? There are otters in Bay Lake! She said she has seen 3 at one time, so we know there are at least three out there. I have seen at least one of them on the boat dock at the Contemporary. It was the most exciting thing ever!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Working in the Magic Kingdom

First and foremost, actually working in the Magic Kingdom is such an experience in itself. If you are in the College Program and are not working in the Magic Kingdom, make sure you pick up at least one shift at MK before your program is over. Be prepared for a slightly stressful and confusing day, but then you'll carry that experience with you forever and have a new appreciation for the park! And a new appreciation for not working at Magic Kingdom every day!
My goal is to work in all 4 parks and as many as the resorts as I can. I've already worked at Animal Kingdom, so now I've got to get working on the other 3. My goal is to work a Fantasmic shift at Studios, do a Temporary Assignment (TA) working Food and Wine at Epcot, which just left me with a shift at MK. So when there was a PAC (Parade Audience Control) shift on one of my days off around spring break (with detailed instructions on where to meet), I hesitated, called my mom, and finally went for it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Where in the World?

Where in the World would you see these turtles playing together?
Read on for more clues!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Running around the World: Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

I think this is as good a time as any to talk about how much I love Coronado Springs.

My mom stayed at Coronado for a conference, and we had an amazing time. I had just started working at All Star during her visit, so I was so happy to have a familiar face around while I adjusted to new faces, a new title, and new work environment. Instead of using my Cast Member discount, she used a discount rate through her conference, which included access to the business lounge (the closest thing to a concierge lounge at a Moderate Resort). We had a room with 2 queen beds in the Cabana section, which was one of the closer buildings. I could go on and on about the business lounge, but I think I will save that for another post.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Where in the World?

Where in the World would you see these adorable woodland creatures?

Read on for more clues!