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.
As you enter the Magic Kingdom and head down Main Street USA if you are looking for adventure take a left at Casey’s Corner and head towards Adventureland. Adventureland has two rides that were E Ticket rides when such things were still used. One is the Jungle Cruise. The other is Pirates of the Caribbean.
Even if you have never been to Disney World you have probably heard of Pirates of the Caribbean. How could you miss it after four films that made almost four billion dollars? You are probably even aware that the film took its inspiration from the theme park attraction.
What you may not realize is that if you rode the ride you might recognize some scenes from the first movie and even some characters. Subsequent movies also borrowed a line or in one case even some of the soundtrack from the ride. If, having seen the movies, you expect to experience the movie in the ride you will be sorely disappointed though. Some scenes have been modified and added to the ride in tribute to the movies but it’s still not a ride through of the movie.
Pirates of the Caribbean was not originally intended to be part of the Magic Kingdom. Walt thought it would not be exciting or exotic enough for people who were living so close to the Caribbean themselves. Guests who experienced the ride at Disneyland disagreed though and began to demand that the Pirates dock in the Magic Kingdom.
Instead imagineers envisioned a western themed area called Western River Expedition. This area would have included a dark ride, hiking trails and a roller coaster. This attraction would have been built where Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain are today. Guests, however, wanted Pirates so plans for the Western River Expedition were put on hold and then because Pirates took up so much of the proposed budget eventually scrapped.
When imagineers turned to adding Pirates to the Magic Kingdom they did not do a complete recreation of the Disneyland version. Either because of space, time or budget there were several changes made and the Magic Kingdom version is shorter than its predecessor and among those who have experienced both they say it is inferior. I have never made the trip to Disneyland so I cannot offer an opinion on which is better.
I can say that Pirates of the Caribbean has earned its place as an E ticket ride. I ride it every time I find myself in the Magic Kingdom and sometimes multiple times in a day.
Like almost everything Disney there is a story behind the ride. As you enter the building it is not just any building but an old Spanish fort, Castillo Del Moro. Guests enter through the Torre Del Sol. The façade of the building is a great recreation of a Spanish fort modeled after the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro in the Old San Juan in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Besides the impressive stone walls, gates cannons and muskets one of the first things I notice entering the building is that is cool! That alone makes the ride great after hours in the Florida sun. You can also catch music and the sounds of fighting.
Usually the line for Pirates moves pretty fast which is good. There is no Fastpass option for the ride. The ride itself is the typical Disney dark ride. You join the crew of a 30 passenger boat for a tour of a mostly successful pirate raid on a fictional 16th century town.
The ride begins once you join your crew and set sail. The first thing you will encounter will be either a ghostly apparition of Davy Jones or Captain Blackbeard himself(Blackbeard is rumored to be only a temporary part of the ride.) Next you get the famous dead men tell no tales scene complete with a skeleton or two. This is the audio that was lifted for the At World’s End movie. Then it’s a short drop in the dark to find yourself in the middle of a battle between Captain Barbossa and the town he is trying to sack. Be careful of the cannonballs! There are very few direct hits but there is a danger someone in your crew may be splashed a little.
You will also encounter an auction for the fair ladies of said town and an attempt to get the mayor to reveal a secret. Be on the lookout for Captain Jack Sparrow. You will also see a pirate or two in the jail trying to coax the keys from the jailhouse dog. This scene was borrowed for The Curse of the Black Pearl. The keen observer will find Mr Gibb’s inspiration in one scene with a pirate passed out with the pigs.
After touring the town and getting to hear a rousing chorus of It’s A Pirates Life For Me you will find Captain Sparrow one last time as he joins in the singing.
Finally your tour of duty is over and you will exit the ship to be given the standard opportunity to gather some booty of your own in the gift shop. I do not recommend trying to pirate the goods though. Use money please.
While this ride may lack the splash of Splash Mountain or the thrill of the other two mountains in the Magic Kingdom it is a must see. The animatronics are great and the music is compelling but not nearly as annoying as It’s A Small World. The ride is definitely child friendly. The pirates are portrayed as more comical then fearsome. Check it out if you haven’t already. If you have leave a comment about your favorite part.
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!