Thursday, July 22, 2010

“Dumbo the Flying Elephant”No visit to Disney Theme Parks is complete without a ride on the charming, classic, big eared elephant, Dumbo! The classic Dumbo ride was inspired by Walt Disney’s 1941 animated feature, Dumbo.

The original Dumbo had hinged ears that were supposed to move up and down, but they could never get the mechanisms to work properly. So, Dumbo’s ears are now stationary, but the elephants do the flying anyway. Eventually, the ears became an integral part of dumbo as opposed to inoperative hinged appendages.
The elephants were and still are grey, just like in the movie with different color schemes for the accent colors. The original ride had ten elephants and each held two guests.

Dumbo was supposed to be one of the attractions ready for the invitation-only opening of Disneyland on July 17, 1955. (It opened to the public the following day.)
The first elephants arrived three weeks prior to opening day weighing 700 lbs each. The ride unfortunately was a mechanical failure, but was quickly reworked and managed to open on August 16, 1955.
In 1990 they made a magnificent sixteen elephant version of Dumbo that was to be brought to Disneyland Paris. They decided to take that one to Disneyland in California. It would have 60% more capacity than the original. They had plenty of time to build a new one for the Paris opening in 1992.
Disneyland Paris (aka Euro Disney) opened in 1992, and Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005. They both opened with sixteen-elephant rides. Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983 and still remains the only park with a ten-elephant ride, so if you are looking for nostalgia that’s the place to go!
Disney World in Florida opened a ten-elephant Dumbo ride in 1971, and updated to a sixteen-elephant version in 1993.
This past September, Disney announced that Fantasyland in Disney World was getting a makeover. The 2012 changes will include the Dumbo ride being relocated and expanded to double its current size.

The new area will be called Dumbo’s Circus and they will be adding a covered three ring circus that will contain indoor air-conditioning. There will be a Circus Tent with play area and interactive games. Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm Rollercoaster will remain, but will be renamed and rethemed with a circus overlay. There will be two new Dumbo ride carousels (aka The Dueling Dumbos). The new Dumbo area will encompass most of the existing Toon Town.
Dumbo is one of the few rides that can be found in all of the Magic Kingdom Parks around the world. Dumbo will always be a classic, making it one of the most popular rides in all of Disney Parks!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Character Dining in Walt Disney World

When you walk through the gates of Walt Disney World, you are immediately immersed in the magical sights, sounds and smells.
Not the least of these are the Disney Characters, brimming with all of the excitement and enchantment that is synonymous with Disney. Because the characters are so beloved by children of all ages, you will very often find a line of Disney-clad fans waiting anxiously for their moment alone with them.
While this is a tradition, it can also be time consuming for those on shorter trips. Another attractive option is Character Dining experiences. These offer one-on-one time with each character in attendance, table service dining with varied menus, and the option of making advanced dining reservations (ADR).
Your little princess will truly feel like one with a dining experience at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the unforgettable setting of Cinderella’s castle in the Magic Kingdom, or Akershus Royal Banquet Hall located in the Norway Pavilion, at the World Showcase in Epcot. Both are highly sought-after, serving Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. ADRs are strongly recommended and available 180 days in advance. Another option for the princesses would be Dinner at 1900 Park Fare in The Grand Floridian. Characters at that venue will include Cinderella and Prince Charming, as well as other members of the Royal Family, which are subject to change.
A Disney Dining must is a character dining experience with the “Fab Five”. The opportunity to dine with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto are offered in more than one location. Chef Mickey’s in The Contemporary Hotel, The Garden Grill in EPCOT, Donald’s Breakfastosuarus in Animal Kingdom, Cape May CafĂ© in The Beach Club Resort and the O’Hana breakfast at The Polynesian are all options. Each include members of the “Fab Five”, if not all of them as well as some friends such as Chip-n-Dale or Lilo and Stitch. Character dining is also expanded to dining with characters that may be of particular interest to your children. The Crystal Palace in The Magic Kingdom gets you up close and personal with Winnie the Pooh and friends, while Play-n-Dine at Hollywood & Vine brings your favorites from Disney Channel's Little Einsteins and Jo Jo’s Circus right to your table. You can have tea with Alice in Wonderland and friends at the Wonderland Tea Party at 1900 Park Fare or a Bar-B-Que with Mickey and Friends at Fort Wilderness Camp Grounds (seasonal). Please visit the Character Dining section of our website to get information on menus, pricing, times and characters attending. Advanced Dining Reservations are strongly recommended.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Whispering Canyon Cafe

When my family and I travel to Walt Disney World in Florida, one of the things we look forward to the most is the dining! We always get the dining plan, no matter the length of time we are staying. Disney has so many wonderful restaurants to choose from, but one we always go back to is Whispering Canyon at the Wilderness Lodge. We discovered Whispering Canyon a little over 4 years ago when we stayed on property for the first time. We were staying at Wilderness Lodge so we made reservations at Whispering Canyon just for convenience. We had no idea it would become one of our favorite restaurants! When you arrive at Wilderness Lodge, whether you take the boat from the Magic Kingdom, drive your car, or take a Disney bus, you can’t help but be impressed by the beauty and grandeur of the resort! It is absolutely gorgeous and themed to the hilt. Finding Whispering Canyon is SO easy. Once you go in through the main entrance into the lobby, the restaurant is right there on your left. While you wait for your table, the kids can play with Lincoln logs in the waiting area, or stroll through the lobby to see the sights – fireplaces, bridge, totem poles. You can also check out the dessert tray which is always strategically placed by the hostess stand. Once you are seated, the fun really begins! They have stick pony “races” for the kids, and all the servers are great. The last time we went there, our server threw our straws on the table and told us to get them ourselves, and kept up a continuous banter with our 11 year old. If you ask your server for ketchup, they’ll yell out that you need ketchup, and everyone in the restaurant is supposed to bring their ketchup to your table. Once my husband asked for a “large” soda and they brought his drink out in a glass that must have held a half gallon or more! Our favorite thing to order is the “All you can eat Canyon Skillet”. It has Smoked Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork, Oven-roasted Chicken, Beef Brisket, Mashed Potatoes, Cowboy Beans, Corn on the Cob, Mixed Greens Salad with Apple Vinaigrette, Coleslaw, and Fresh-baked Cornbread. Everything is delicious! A few tips for Whispering Canyon … One – make advance dining reservations. You don’t want to plan to eat there and get there and find out they don’t have any openings, or that the wait for a table is 3 hours. Two – go for supper. The atmosphere is even more fun and crazy at suppertime. Three – go hungry! There is so much food offered, especially with the Canyon Skillet, that you want to be sure to get your money’s worth. Finally – ENJOY! It’s a great dining experience!