Walt Disney was no doubt a great man with great vision but he is not the only individual behind the movies and especially the parks that we have come to love. He had a team of some of the best and brightest individuals who did not just think outside of the box they threw the box away and the sky became the limit. These are the people we have come to know as imagineers.
Surprisingly the term did not originate with Walt Disney but with a company called Alcoa but the name will forever be linked to the Disney legacy. Obviously the term combines two words, imagine and engineers. Normally these two terms are not connected. Engineers are supposed to work on concrete fixed principles and people who imagine are supposed to be dreamers thinking of the impossible. Putting the two words together seems an odd fit but Disney not only did it on paper they did it in the real world. Imagineers come up with a dream and then make that dream come true.
Disney is no making a documentary about these individuals and their work and I for one am excited to get my hands on it. Check out this short clip about the imagineers and the upcoming documentary.
Spend Your Whole Vacation In Disney World
Did you know that whether you are staying two days or two weeks Disney has eliminated the need to ever leave Disney property? They have gas stations, groceries, movies, restaurants and even a place to lay your head after a long day of having magical moments.
No you cannot stay in the Castle, although there is a suite in it, but you can stay within the confines of Walt Disney World for your entire vacation! There are a few options ranging from hotels to camping.
When it comes to hotels there are two classes, Disney owned and non-Disney owned. As you might guess the Disney owned ones tend to be a bit more expensive but they may just be worth it if it fits in your budget.
Disney does not call its hotels hotels. They call them resorts and in all fairness they are not like any other hotels Grumpy has ever stayed at. Some of them are destinations in and of themselves. In fact I like to have one day just at the resort to enjoy everything Disney offers.
So what does Disney offer at its resorts? Let’s take a quick look.
If guests fly into Orlando International Airport they can arrange for several perks. By making the appropriate arrangements, a simple process really, Disney will take care of picking up your luggage and carry it from the airport to your resort room. They will also pick you up, via Disney’s Magical Express, and carry you to your resort. You do have to carry yourself to the room though. When it’s time to go bring your luggage down to the lobby and load it on the Magical Express and they will whisk you and your luggage back to the airport.
Each resort has its own theme. They range from child friendly (and decidedly adult repulsing in some ways) themes with over-sized bowling pins and cartoon characters at the value resorts to the Africa where giraffes may just peak in on you while you eat breakfast on your balcony at the Deluxe Animal Kingdom Lodge. There are a range of choices to suit both your tastes and your budget.
All of the Disney resorts have at least counter service, similar to fast food, offerings. These are offered food court style. Deluxe and Moderate resorts also have (or at least have reasonable access to) a sit down restaurant. Some of these are world class so be prepared to make reservations (which can be, and in some cases should be, made up to 180 days in advance of your check in.)
All Disney resorts also have pools. Some have multiple pools ranging from heavily themed large pools with slides to small quiet pools.
Each Disney resorts also has bus service to all of the theme parks, the water parks and Downtown Disney. They are glad to do the driving and parking while you relax. This service can be a little slow sometimes though and crowding is often an issue. You might have to stand for the ride but in my grumpy opinion it’s still better than trying to drive, navigate and park not to mention remembering where you park. But if you insist on driving your Disney will let you park for free for the duration of your stay.
The final perk to be mentioned here, and perhaps the best, is Extra Magic Hours. These are hours that a park is open only to Disney World Resort guests. The Extra Magic Hours are normally one hour before opening or up to three hours after closing for all non-resort guests. As you might expect this cuts down on the line size, especially the morning magic hours when so many guests opt to sleep in but Grumpy is up and running! On one visit Mr and Mrs Grumpy had ridden Aerosmith five times before most people could get into the park! Extra Magic Hours are offered for at least one park per day but during busy season sometimes one park opens early and one stays open late.
Disney’s Resorts are broken into three categories, Value, Moderate and Deluxe. As you probably guessed their is a big difference in price from value to Deluxe. In any case they are all listed below. In future updates we will be giving each resort its own article.
- All-Star Movies- The movies are celebrated with oversize tributes to movies.
- All-Star Music
- All-Star Sports
- Art of Animation Resort
- Pop Century Resort
- Caribbean Beach
- Coronado Springs
- Ft. Wilderness Cabins
- Port Orleans Riverside
- Port Orleans French Quarter
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Beach Club Resort
- Boardwalk Inn
- Contemporary Resort
- Grand Floridian Resort
- Polynesian Resort
- Wilderness Lodge
- Yacht Club Resort
Disney Vacation Club (You do not have to be a member to rent one if it’s available!)
- Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas
- Bay Lake Tower (At the Contemporary)
- Beach Club Villas
- Boardwalk Villas
- Old Key West Resort
- Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Wilderness Lodge Villas
The problem with some old people is not they they grow old but that they grew up! Sure we have responsibilities and we should meet them. Sure we don’t move as fast or as far maybe but does that mean we have to grow up? No Way! We cannot forget to laugh, love and enjoy life. If we do the child inside us dies and what a tragedy that is. The kind of people who do that remind me of Mr. Fredrickson from up. Don’t be a Mr Fredrickson!
If you are like grumpy, you always worry if what you have done is good enough. That is the wrong thing to worry about, worry about doing your best. If you have done your best and that is not good enough for someone that is their problem not yours. After all you can only do what you can do. So do your best and let the rest take care of itself.
Keeping with the retro future feel that predominates Tomorrowland, Ray’s looks like something out of a 1950’s sci-fi movie. In this case the premise seems to be that guests are in a spaceport. Looking for food as well as entertainment to pass the time on one of those dreaded lay-overs between planetary destinations guests find themselves at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.
The entertainment comes in the form of an intergalactic lounge singer named Sonny Eclipse. Sonny is an animatronic alien who performs on a regular basis throughout the day. If you eat a meal here you can be guaranteed at least one performance. He act ranges from music to jokes and while it may not tickle the fancy of the average adult it does entertain smaller children.
The seating at Cosmic Ray’s, again this is the largest quick service eatery in the Magic Kingdom, can be divided up into three distinct areas. There is outdoor seating. The tables are shaded by the large overhang from the restaurant itself and also have ceiling fans so while not air-conditioned you at least can be out of the sun with a little breeze. There is also an area that is mostly out of reach of Sunny’s entertainment. It is on a higher level than the show and separated by glass. You can still here it but it is not so overpowering. Finally there is the seating in the main, and largest, area where you are fully exposed to Sunny and his antics. This can be a very loud area when the alien is performing and crowds are high.
While Comic Ray’s boasts the largest menu of the counter service restaurants that variety comes at a price. There are three different ordering counters each of which is serviced by multiple registers. These counters, designated Bays to keep with the feel of a space port, each have their own menu and while there are a few items offered at more than one bay when it comes to the main course they are pretty exclusive. There is no ordering from one bay’s menu at another bays register. Side dishes are pretty much common across all three bays. When it comes to Ray’s and ordering it might be easier of it think of a food court. There are really three restaurants sharing a common seating area.
The food itself is pretty good. I don’t remember ever being disappointed by my entrée or side (always french fries) but the desert was really a lot like a Hostess or Little Debbie snack cake, nothing impressive about it. Of course I was full already so that might have contributed to my lack of enthusiasm.
The main items on the menu are hot dogs, cheeseburgers, wraps (including a vegetarian one), BBQ chicken, grilled chicken sandwich and chicken nuggets. A full menu is available below.
One of the best things about Cosmic Ray’s is the “fixin’s bar.” After you pick up your food head over to the condiments bar to add ketchup, mustard and the normal sandwich toppings to your meal. Of course that is not exciting. What is exciting is the sautéed mushrooms and onions. They make a real difference on your, especially on a burger.
While Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe is not my first choice for counter service at the Magic Kingdom (Pecos Bill’s is) I don’t complain when that is where everyone else wants to go.
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe Menu (Updated April 2013)
Chicken noodle soup $3.49
Cucumber Salad – $2.99
Angus Bacon Cheeseburger, served with apple slices, french fries or cucumber salad-$9.99
Hot Dog, served with your choice of French fries or apple slices (add bacon $0.79)-$7.59
BBQ Pork Sandwich, served with your choice of french fries or apple slices. – $9.59
Chicken Nuggets,served with French fries or apple slices.-$8.69
Chili Cheese Dog, served with your choice of French fries or apple slices (add bacon $0.79)-$9.59
Grilled Chicken Sandwich. served with your choice of apple slices, French fries or cucumber salad – $9.59
Half Rotisserie Chicken, served with mashed potatoes and a seasonal vegetable. – $9.99
Turkey Sandwich, served with your choice of apple slices, french fries or cucumber salad – $9.59
Vegetable sandwich, served with your choice of apple slices, french fries or cucumber salad – $9.59
Vegetarian Burger, served with French fries or apple slices. – $8.39
Glatt Kosher meals available upon request. Price varies.
Side of French fries. – $2.49
No sugar added Brownie – $2.39
Carrot Cake – $3.59
Gelato:Chocolate or no sugar added mango – $3.29
Strawberry Yogurt – $1.99
Triple Chocolate Cake – $3.59
Dasani bottled water – $2.50
Iced Coffee: French Vanilla, mocha or latte – $3.89
Milk: Whole or low-fat milk $1.49 and Nesquik chocolate milk $2.19
Minute Maid Orange Juice-$2.39
Nestle Hot Cocoa or Hot Tea- $2.09
Selection of Soft Drinks: Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Fanta Orange, Nestea Ice Tea, or Light Lemonade $2.59& $2.89
Menu is subject to change!
Walt Disney World will soon be introducing the Rapid Fill Mug to replace the standar refillable mug that has been sold at Disney resorts for years. The biggest difference will be that each mug will have a RFID chip. These chips will communicate with the new self-serve drink filling stations. The stations will also recognize traditional paper cups which can also be purchased will also have a chip and can be only be used for one hour from the initial serve and are limited to four 20 oz pours.
This is an obvious change from the way things currently work. Currently the drink stations are basically functioning on an honor system. Guests can fill any cup they want. Some have even been known to fill bottles and other assorted containers. I have seen mugs from resorts other than the one I was staying in filled as well as mugs that are obviously years old. In effect, if you wanted a free beverage at the resort, there was nothing to stop you from getting one.
Of course it was not intended to work that way. For those who have not stayed at the Disney on-property resorts a little explanation might be helpful. For years Disney has been selling refillable mugs. These mugs were sold with the clear understanding that they were for the length of your current visit and for use only in the resort you were staying in.
They were a bit pricey. The first one I bought was about $12. The last one was about $15. However, if you are staying in one of the resorts and you only bought two drinks for two days, at your resort, you about broke even for what if would have cost just to buy a single use paper cup plus you had a handy souvenir. Since I was always staying for more than two days I not only broke even but I saved money.
As a guest, I must admit I was a little frustrated to pay the money for a mug and watch others using the old mugs they had bought. By nature I am an honest, if slightly grumpy person. I do not abuse a system nor do I like to see others abuse the system. I am also smart enough to know that they money Diseny was losing from dishonest customers was costing us honest ones. We were, in effect, going to pay for those who were abusing the system.
Which brings up a moral question. Though these people were doing was an obvious abuse of the system was it wrong? Was it stealing? By definition stealing is taking something that does not belong to you. These people doing that were they not? What is the difference between that and shoplifting? None in my book.
Of course some people are going to say that Disney is making plenty and that Disney prices are outrageous. I do not disagree. It irks me to pay the price I have to pay for a drink at Disney too but I have a choice. I can always bring my own.
There are two other changes in the system.
The first is that guests can use the mug at any resort now. I am not sure how much impact this will have for the average guests. How often are they going to be at another resort after all? However, there are a good number of guests who split their stays between multiple resorts. Now they will not have to buy two mugs to stay legal.
The second involves pricing. Because the number of days the mug is valid varies the price will too. The price will start at $8.99 for one day and go up to $17.99 for length of stay plus four days.
Since Disney is going to start charging more as well as eliminating theft, I would like to make one suggestion. Get rid of the generic mugs and bring back resort specific mugs!
The new system was tested in 2011 and will starting rolling out to all Disney resorts soon.
For more information check this out this articl article from Orlando Theme Park News.