Saturday Blog Showcase: Disney For Five+

To Disney, the average family coming to visit their resorts  is two parents and two kids.  You can see this reflected in their price estimates when they are marketing offers (family of four – always, family of four) and in the fact that relatively few of their resorts, outside of the Deluxe Villas, can accommodate more than 4 in all, unless the fifth is an infant.

And this is fine; this is standard. But just because they operate on the default assumption that you’re going to be coming with four people or less, that doesn’t mean that Disney is necessarily hard to navigate if you have more people.  It does, though, mean that it’s good to have resources and advice from someone who regularly does navigate with five or more, and that is where today’s Saturday Blog Showcase comes in.

Heather’s Disney For Five + is, first of all, written by a mother of three – so there is plenty of first-person experience.  Heather says that she is not only sharing her own experiences, but actively seeking input from other larger families, so if this mirrors your experience and you haven’t found her blog before now I’m sure she’d LOVE to hear from you – and you can only have a great time checking out her blog to begin with. 🙂

Much of the content on Heather’s blog is in the form of reviews (like this one for Be Our Guest, or this one for All-Star Music Resort), announcements of news (and breakdowns of the promos), which can apply to anyone travelling to Walt Disney World so don’t write the blog off just because you say “Eh, I only have one kid, I won’t have anything to read.”  Not that I think anyone would say that but y’know what I mean. 😉  One of the other reasons why I recommend Disney For Five + is because, as with so many of the blogs I showcase, I love her writing style.

I also love her choice of content.  I don’t mention it much but Mousekeeping (the term used for the housekeeping staff on Disney properties) are generally wonderful and if you have a great experience, they deserve to hear about it.  The latest post as of this writing is an entry on Mousekeeping and ways to show them some love if the person tending to your room goes above and beyond with a bit of extra pixie dust.  Another recent entry is a glowing review for Gaston’s Tavern that makes me crave pork. 😀

Unlike some of us bloggers (ME), Heather is able to keep many of her posts short and to the point, so you’ll get some nice bite-sized entries, easy to keep up with.  Definitely put her on your follow list, and enjoy!

Hopefully I will see you next week with another inconsistently-scheduled Saturday Blog Showcase! 😀

Top 5: Best Attractions for Young Children at the Magic Kingdom

Caveat: this list does not include Fantasyland.  Why?  Because CHALLENGE!  Because if it did everything in the Top 5 would be in Fantasyland!  Because EVERYTHING IN FANTASYLAND IS GREAT FOR CHILDREN YOUNG AND OLD ALIKE.

 

Is that enough caps for you? Probably more than enough, no?  Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of my Top 5 Attractions for Young Kids, so here’s a refresher of the criteria I make my lists by: I’m listing things that aren’t necessarily just made for children, so much as things that families can enjoy.  So I’m not looking at things like play areas, designed with young children in mind, because I can’t participate with my kids there. But I’m also ruling out rides with strict height requirements that would rule out a child of 2, or things that have a high scare factor.  So this is not a “Top 5 Best Rides”, or that, sort of thing, but rather my list of rides I consider really great for kids in, let’s say, a 2- to 6-year age range.  It’s based partly on my own experience with my kids a few years ago, partly on my own judgment, and partly on… uh… well, that covers it, actually. 🙂  As with anything there is room for lots of variation, as all kids are individuals and have their own tastes.  This is just a general guideline!

So here we go!

#5: All of Main Street, USA

Balloonies! (image is mine)

Balloonies! (image is mine)

Is this cheating?  Well, I make my own rules, so I say NO! 🙂  Granted, in WDW, there aren’t really any attractions on Main Street (aside from the train station that is!).  But the land itself is the attraction here.  The shops are classic – the Emporium, the Bakery, the Barbershop – but even without that, this area is just such a great introduction to the Magic Kingdom, or Walt Disney World in general.  Take some time with the kids and let them soak in the atmosphere.  You walk in and you’re immersed in a completely different place!  You’re surrounded already by characters, balloons, vintage vehicles, the train, the classic music… take your time here, and don’t just rush through on your way in and out of the park.  Really enjoy all that Main Street has to offer!  Remember, just around the corner is a Fantasyland… and it’s not going anywhere. 🙂

#4: Tie between the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland, and the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland.

I kept waiting for him to tell the story about that time he shot his eye out with the Red Ryder BB Gun. (image is mine)

I kept waiting for him to tell the story about that time he shot his eye out with the Red Ryder BB Gun. (image is mine)

Both are classics, both are somewhat “secondary” attractions in their areas, but both have lots of story appeal.  (Note, I don’t equate “secondary” with “overlooked” – nobody could call the Jungle Cruise overlooked!  But in WDW, it IS secondary to Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland!)  The Jungle Cruise is just plain fun, with the corny jokes and the great décor.  Although the animals aren’t live, that certainly has its appeal, because you’re guaranteed to see them doing just what you want them to do!  Since there’s no possibility of disappointment, this is a great option for kids who are just INTENT on seeing some hippos wiggle their ears today.  Carousel of Progress, meanwhile… I refuse to believe that anyone, especially kids, could dislike this attraction.  What does it have in its favour?  Let’s just say everything.  Excellent animatronic design, a room that rotates, a catchy song, and mercy me, Jean Shepard!  Yeah, okay, the kids aren’t going to care about that one. 😉  But between the song, and following the family through the years along with appliances that seem to come alive at times, this one is silly and goofy and sweetly nostalgic, even the ending.  My daughter requested to watch movies of it when we came back from our trip, she enjoyed it that much.

#3: Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Adventureland

SO MUCH SKILL is evident in this amazing photo. (it's mine, if you were wondering.)

SO MUCH SKILL is evident in this amazing photo. (it’s mine, if you were wondering.) Actually I don’t know the people in that picture but I love them! That baby with the mouse ears on! I could not have planned this shot better 😀

OK, if you have kids and you’re going to go on a spinning ride, you’re probably going on Dumbo. Right?  Well, don’t overlook Aladdin.  Essentially the same ride, but typically with less of a line (I can’t speak to how it is now with the new dual Dumbo, plus they’ve really improved the queue on that ride now; but PREVIOUSLY in the Magic Kingdom…), this one also has… spitting camels!  DadadaDAAAAHHHH!  No, but seriously, it is equally fun and an equally big hit.  If you find you just can’t make it over to the elephants, go see Aladdin.  He’s got seventy-five golden camels.

#2: Pirates of the Caribbean, Adventureland

This is not mine. But that dog is never going to give them that key. (image is (C) The Walt Disney Co.)

This is not mine. But that dog is never going to give them that key. (image is (C) The Walt Disney Co.)

This was a tough choice, and I realize I’ve heavily loaded this list with Adventureland choices and not as many choices from the other lands.  Well, believe me, a lot of thought really did go into this list and I’ll first defend my Adventureland choices with the fact that they meet more of my height requirement requirements (all the Mountains are out), and my daughter had no interest at all in the Country Bears which she found a little freaky.  She did like the Hall of Presidents but my son would not have sat through it.  And although the Haunted Mansion was a fave of my daughter’s at age 5, and my son was too young to find it scary, AND it’s my absolute treasure of all WDW rides, still, I left it off this list because it is just spooky enough that it might be too much for some kids so I leave it to your discretion as parents.  ‘Pirates’, though – it has a couple of skeletons and dark moments, but once you get through those, most kids are swept away by the pirates pillaging the town and singing their hearts out.  No children can resist that song!  I can’t resist that song! 😉  For the record, my daughter loved it and my son slept through it 2 out of the 3 times we went on.  The time I took him on SO THAT he would go to sleep though, OH no.  Wide awake and wiggling around so he could see EVERYTHING.

#1: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Tomorrowland

Good luck getting a candid photo that's not blurry on this ride. (image is mine.)

Good luck getting a candid photo that’s not blurry on this ride. (image is mine.)

 

You might be asking – Why???  Even if you love this ride you might still be asking that.  You might be saying “Hey, I love this ride, but Rebecca – you put this HIGHER than Pirates?”  Yep!  And I have Reasons.  Remember, I’m not saying this is the Best Ride.  I’m not even saying it was my daughter’s favourite, or my son’s, but it has no height restrictions, it’s not scary, it’s fast, it’s fun, and you can enjoy yourself on it even if you’re too young to shoot that gun.  It may not be anyone’s literally #1 favourite (and then again it may be! That’s not my point), but it’s a safe bet that most kids will enjoy it. I tend to go on it twice in a row every time I’m there!

And remember: you really can’t go wrong with Fantasyland, either old or New.  There’s no ranking it!

Wordless Wednesday: Little Letter L

Each week when I am able to participate in Wordless Wednesday, I end up cheating reinterpreting the theme a little; I’m doing so this week too. Rather than put up pictures of Disney things themed to the letter L, well, L is the first letter in the name of my adorable son who was 1 1/2 at the time of our last (his first) visit.

Here come the baby pictures, y’all.

Family Pictures 1294

WDW 2011 160

WDW 2011 306

WDW 2011 367

WDW 2011 459

Big “Thank you!” to Deb at FocusedOntheMagic.com for hosting the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!

Focused on the Magic

A World of Character Meet and Greets

Before we went to WDW, I was a little worried my daughter might be scared of all the characters I’d told her of so many times. She was not quite 5, and though brave and social, she had been nervous around costumed characters before in the past.  I did all of the “they’re much bigger at parks, honey”, I showed her pictures and even videos on YouTube (look up some of the ones of Donald when kids are wearing something to do with Mickey. LOL), and just generally made sure she loved the characters.  She also figured out on her own that they were people in the suits, though she went back and forth on believing that. 😉

But would this stand up when we actually got there?  I couldn’t be sure until we went, so I just crossed my fingers that all the character meals I had planned wouldn’t end in freak outs.

I really needn’t have worried.  Enjoy a huge number of pictures.  I really hope she gets to meet even more the next time we go.  Please keep in mind that booking a Disney trip with me is free, and it will help me get my girl back to WDW for at least a few days.  With that said… here we go. ^_^

The very first character we saw. And he was EVERYWHERE. This was Hollywood Studios.

The very first character we saw. And he was EVERYWHERE. This was Hollywood Studios.

Daisy and Donald had the greatest costumes!

Daisy and Donald had the greatest costumes!

And Minnie! EVERYONE loved Minnie.  What a dear.

And Minnie! EVERYONE loved Minnie. What a dear.

I like to think Mickey is kind of like "She's ... choking me..."

I like to think Mickey is kind of like “She’s … choking me…”

D was really into Woody for months after she saw Toy Story :)

D was really into Woody for months after she saw Toy Story 🙂

I don't know, some people might be creeped out by faceless soldiers.

I don’t know, some people might be creeped out by faceless plastic soldiers.

 

We came out from the restrooms and NOBODY was in line to see Brer Rabbit. She got him to herself!

We came out from the restrooms and NOBODY was in line to see Brer Rabbit. She got him to herself!

 

Minnie again! Minnie sang Happy Birthday to her. :D

Minnie again! Minnie sang Happy Birthday to her. 😀

 

Goofy liked her hat.

Goofy liked her hat.

 

I LOVE her face in this. at the Garden Grill.

I LOVE her face in this. at the Garden Grill.

 

Her she's asking Chip to dance. :D

Here she’s asking Chip to dance. 😀

 

We didn't get a lot of character time our first day at MK, but the Fairy Godmother was out first thing!

We didn’t get a lot of character time our first day at MK, but the Fairy Godmother was out first thing!

 

First time I'd ever seen Pirate Goofy! We came out and there he was!

First time I’d ever seen Pirate Goofy! We came out and there he was!

 

At the Princess Breakfast at Akershus, Belle and D were twins :)

At the Princess Breakfast at Akershus, Belle and D were twins 🙂

 

Cinderella was the BEST.

Cinderella was the BEST.

 

I love this hug with Ariel! I keep trying to get her to love Ariel best but she really does like Cinders too. ;)

I love this hug with Ariel! I keep trying to get her to love Ariel best but she really does like Cinders too. 😉

 

And Stitch again, at the Magic Kingdom this time

And Stitch again, at the Magic Kingdom this time

 

...Does this count as character greets?

…Does this count as character greets?

 

And Stitch AGAIN, at Hollywood Studios,

And Stitch AGAIN, at Hollywood Studios,

 

Then Rafiki came in! And it was like "WHUUUT?"

Then Rafiki came in! And it was like “WHUUUT?”

 

AND Mary Poppins. This party was ON.

AND Mary Poppins. This party was ON.

 

Princess Jasmine had to fix D's tiara. She's motherly like that.

Princess Jasmine had to fix D’s tiara. She’s motherly like that.

 

D was very, very taken with Jack Sparrow.

D was very, very taken with Jack Sparrow.

 

This was my favourite meet and greet of all! I may be biased.

This was my favourite meet and greet of all! I may be biased.

 

Top 5: Attractions for Young Kids at Animal Kingdom

It’s the Return of the Top 5 at Disney With Me! Well, for this week at least…

In case it needs saying, I did not design this logo; image (c) the Walt Disney Co.

In case it needs saying, I did not design this logo; image (c) the Walt Disney Co.

So as always – your kids may vary. This is based on my children’s likes, plus reviews I’ve read, my awareness of average kids’ preferences, and so forth. I’m also leaving out play yards which means the Boneyard is out, even though for the record I think the Boneyard is the best play area Disney parks offers. 🙂 I’ll tell you why I left out “It’s Tough to be a Bug” – because when I saw that with my husband, I loved it, but that sequence when the lights go out and then things drop from the ceiling, etc – that’s when the screaming started, and at least five people had to take their crying kids out of the theatre then. So I say wait on that 3D movie, and not only for 1-2 year olds.

Honorable mention goes to: all the animal/nature trails. I think these are *great* for every single person, but I’m not putting them officially on the list for two reasons: 1, it’s a lot of looking and no interacting for young kids, and two, it’s a lot of *walking* for young kids. Without something specific to hold their attention, some – not all, but some – children under five aren’t able to get a full experience out of nature trails and similar things. I think once they get older and can draw their own experience out of such attractions, it gets better and better. On the other hand, I still think the opportunity to see a huge variety of animals, at your own pace instead of the Safari’s pace, is a fantastic one for kids, so it HAS to be mentioned.

Now, the actual list!

#5: Flights of Wonder.

Just don't watch any Hitchcock movies before you go to this. (Image from Wikipedia)

Just don’t watch any Hitchcock movies before you go to this. (Image from Wikipedia)

Low on the list because I haven’t “tested” this one – we didn’t manage to catch a show on my last trip. I am reasonably certain that my children would be enchanted with this, I mean – the birds fly out over your head! I would only really worry about whether your kids like being relatively close to real live animals; my daughter is skittish about this and though she was willing, she was nervous about whether the birds would land on her. I still don’t know how she would have handled it in the actual show when they were flying around.Myself, I think this show is phenomenal – one of the best “Animal Stars” shows I’ve ever seen. Best is that they are not trained to perform tricks, they are displaying natural behaviours, just doing it on cue. And they manage to make it funny. It’s an all-around pleasure.

#4: Character Greeting Trails at Camp Minnie-Mickey (and elsewhere). I was sort of amazed by all the meet and greet opportunities. Animal Kingdom is really FULL of them and some are unexpected, like Flik. It’s neat to come out of Festival of the Lion King and pretty much stumble into a nest of characters; my daughter and I used the restrooms and when we came out Brer Rabbit was just standing there with no line at all. So she went to see him, and he started dancing with her and spinning her around, and she was giggling, and it was awesome. Then we saw all the others, and even waiting in line wasn’t hard, because the handlers were coming by and kidding around with the kids; then the characters were making us feel like we were the people they’d been waiting to see. They focused on the kids but it was really an inclusive feeling; I’m always so impressed by character greets.

I should add that this hat made her pretty popular.

I should add that this hat made her pretty popular.

#3: Speaking of Camp Minnie-Mickey, and the afore-mentioned Festival of the Lion King, here we have it at number 3!

Ladies and gentlemen, PHISH!  No, wait... What? Image (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Ladies and gentlemen, PHISH! No, wait… What? Image (c) The Walt Disney Co.

I myself am going to go on record and invite criticism by saying… I’m not a huge fan of “The Lion King”. Certain songs, certain characters, but the overall package I can skip. (Lord help me though, I do LOVE Rowan Atkinson.) However, when we went to this show last time, I was blown away. The audience involvement is high-level, the songs are so well-performed, the use of Timon & Pumbaa is perfect (and they are among the characters I really like), and hey! Tumble Monkeys! 😀 No, this was everything I liked about TLK and none of what dragged for me. My son actually slept through it but my daughter was VERY into it, and interestingly, so were both my husband and I – and he feels exactly the same about TLK as I do. 😉 Every time I’d read a review of someone saying “Not to be missed!” I’d think “Yeah, well, fine for YOU” but actually they’re right. Highly recommended and not to be missed.

#2: Finding Nemo: The Musical.

I’m going to confess here. I… I haven’t seen this. But I know for certain that, in spite of that, it’s a must-see and it’s our loss for not having seen it. The puppets alone… From reviews I have heard, they do a great job of condensing the movie into a shorter timeframe *and* add songs, and the performers are brilliant. I can’t give personal experience recommendations, unfortunately, but it slightly outranks FotLK just on reputation alone.

I'm sure this is completely how immersive it is for the audience, too.  Lots of fish. Image (c) the Walt Disney Co.

I’m sure this is completely how immersive it is for the audience, too. Lots of fish. Image (c) the Walt Disney Co.

#1: Number one for anyone I recommend this park to will always be Kilimanjaro Safaris. I honestly can’t think of anybody who should not go on this attraction; it’s super fun, you see SO many animals, and it’s deservedly the showcase of the park. IMO, having done both Kilimanjaro and Expedition Everest (which I only just got to do last trip), Kilimanjaro is my preferred choice. Everest is amazing though. But obviously it would not be on a list for young children. 😉 The setup and organization of this safari ride are expertly managed; you see so many animals that it’s really highly likely your kids will see something that excites them. Our last visit, a giraffe crossed the road right in front of us. My daughter’s favourite animals are giraffes and she still goes on about how beautiful it was. 🙂

This isn't the giraffe that crossed the road but it is a giraffe!

This isn’t the giraffe that crossed the road but it is a giraffe!

New Disneyland Hotel Offer for Spring 2013!

This is the pinkest castle I will ever love.

This is the pinkest castle I will ever love.

It’s not very often that Disneyland extends travel offers. Unlike Walt Disney World, Disneyland tends to have a thriving day-trip local base which doesn’t rely too heavily on vacationers making a home at their resorts. As a result, they don’t usually offer the same kinds of hotel discounts or package deals as Disney usually cooks up throughout the year.

But for travel in April and May, Disneyland Resort is offering up a pretty spiffy special; if you book between now and April 27 for most stays between April 7 and May 22, you can save up to 20% per night Sunday-Thursday, and up to 15% per night on Fridays and Saturdays! This deal requires at least a two-night stay. You can add tickets and Character dining and make it into a package, and keep the room discount!

There are little fine-printy things involved; one thing to know up front is that this offer isn’t good on suites, and it can’t be applied to previously-booked rooms. This means that if you had a reservation you’ll have to cancel it and make a new one to get the savings. The offer doesn’t include taxes or hotel fees; there’s a limit of two rooms per party, and five people per room.

Also, understanding the timing of what dates are covered and how can be tricky, so this is how it works: book anytime between right now (RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND!! …Sorry, feeling silly) and April 27, for stays beginning no sooner than April 7 through May 22, 2013. This doesn’t mean that the discount itself ends on May 22, though – that is done on May 24. If your stay begins on May 22 or earlier, you can stay with the room discount through May 24. If, however, your stay begins on May 23, there is no discount. (Remember – two nights minimum stay.)

Wondering what, exactly, are the benefits of staying at the Disneyland hotels? Well first of all… the Disneyland hotels. 🙂 This offer is good on the Disneyland Hotel – I know, I sound like a broken record up in here – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. All three hotels are themed and packed with fun and luxury. In addition, by staying at a Disney hotel, you get Extra Magic Hour at a park each day, an exclusive entrance into the parks, Character Dining and wake-up calls, and a lot more.

Hope you get a chance to take advantage of this! If you do, tell me how it went!

Top 5: Attractions for Young Children at Epcot

No point in not continuing this as a series, I suppose, right?  As in my last Top 5 post, about Hollywood Studios, I’m thinking of family-friendly attractions that appeal to kids right around five and under.  Family-friendly meaning, it’s not going to be something that only the kids can do by themselves, such as a play area or the like.  I know my children would adore the Oz play garden at Epcot right now, but I can’t do it with them, so I’m leaving it off this list.  For the record, my daughter loves Test Track passionately and always has, but there is a height requirement so my son couldn’t do it, so things like that are off the list too.

Getting right into it:

We have a big love for the Three Caballeros in my house. Image (c) Disney Co.

We have a big love for the Three Caballeros in my house. Image (c) Disney Co.

#5:  Gran Fiesta Tour with the Three Caballeros.  Although I think the movies in the World Showcase are terrific, and you should definitely explore each pavilion with your kids, the films themselves aren’t really suited for younger children in general. Now – odds are at least someone can say that their kids LOVE them, and I’m sure that’s true!  But I think on average, the movies are less likely to hold the attention of younger kids and are better for, say, 7 and up.  I’m not here to debate that though!  Instead I’ll put my money on the Gran Fiesta Tour for a good young-kids ride.  After the boats in ‘small world’ and Pirates, who wouldn’t love a good boat ride?  And this one is, I think, more kid-friendly than Maelstrom which gets a bit intense.  Though my youngest liked it, my daughter at age 5 did not.  The only down side of Gran Fiesta Tour is that, going into the temple at the start, it does look as if it might be a bit spooky.  Get through that though and it’s downright jolly!

This is not my daughter, but she wishes it was. Image (c) Disney Co.

This is not my daughter, but she wishes it was. Image (c) Disney Co.

#4: The Seas Pavilion, including both Nemo & Friends, and Turtle Talk with Crush.  You may be asking why this isn’t closer to number 1 since it seems quite obvious and is actually targeted directly at kids.  Well, here’s why.  First of all, Nemo & Friends… well, I find it a disappointment.  You sort of can’t go on it if you DON’T have kids – not unless you really, really love Nemo.  It doesn’t transcend its theming, not even at the very end with the aquarium.  It’s neat technology, but I had thought that the idea would be to have the Nemo fish teaching you about sea life, instead of just riding through and sort of recapping the movie.  Meh.  Crush, on the other hand, is BRILLIANT.  I loved sitting through that with and without kids.  But *with* kids, you have to prepare your little ones in advance for the fact that Crush might not talk to them and they shouldn’t take it personally.  And depending on personality, even if you do prepare them, they might still be disappointed.  My daughter cried pretty hard for a while afterwards when it ended without Crush answering her question.

Eggplant tree!  Because... EGGPLANT TREE. (This one's mine too.)

Eggplant tree! Because… EGGPLANT TREE. (This one’s mine.)

#3: Living With the Land: I was a bit skeptical as to whether this would definitely appeal to the kids, to be honest. I love this ride and make a point to go on it every time (yep, another great boat ride!), but I wondered if my children would be interested.  But my son liked the whole thing – I think he liked anything that wasn’t really loud, though he did cry at the end of Peter Pan’s Flight – and my daughter loved it.  She talked about it for quite a while after.  My favourite part is really the part in the greenhouse, but what stuck with her was the part where you go through the different ecosystems.  The fact that this part of the ride is overlooked by the Garden Grill, where we’d eaten dinner a few nights earlier, really appealed to her. If you do this ride I’d suggest eating at the GG first, so that you can point it out while you’re there.  It’s an added dimension of neat for the kids later!

I never get tired of taking the same picture over and over again. (This one is mine.)

I never get tired of taking the same picture over and over again. (This one is mine too.)

#2: Spaceship Earth.  Everyone ever must go on this ride.  I don’t know any age group that wouldn’t enjoy it, except perhaps a very jaded teen or pre-teen who was hoping for something faster that went in upside-down loops. 😉 Both my children loved it, and my daughter still remembers it well as an attraction that taught her and also “seemed like it was going back in time”.  I’ll admit I like the prior version with Jeremy Irons a bit more than this version, but kids aren’t going to miss anything.  I just like Jeremy Irons’s voice. 😉

This is the World of a Thousand Figments, I think. Image (c) Disney Co.

This is the World of a Thousand Figments, I think. Image (c) Disney Co.

#1: Journey Into Imagination with Figment!  Now, I am aware that this attraction is a letdown compared to the original, and it would not top my list of recommendations for adults.  But younger kids love Figment and they don’t know how cool it used to be. 😉  My daughter talked about Figment for weeks afterward.  Much as I might cringe at the part with the skunk, it stayed with both kids. 😉  My son was a bit alarmed at the train part, because he’s not a fan of loud noises, but over all there is so much whimsy in the look and feel of the ride that it’s easily overlooked.  Plus they had a terrific time afterwards playing all the games; I have a wonderful video of my son jumping around onto all the musical instruments and making music.  Speaking for myself, I love Eric Idle and love that they extended his role past the “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” movie into this ride.  And I loved the “Imagination” song before I even knew it was a Sherman Brothers tune!

So there you have my picks… as always, if you agree or disagree I welcome comments and input!  All kids are different and I bet some will hate everything I put on here and prefer all the Circle-Vision movies. ;D

Top 5: Attractions for Young Kids at Hollywood Studios

So, this might not be obvious to anyone reading casually, but I actually keep a schedule on this blog (or try to).  I don’t have specific post types for every single day, but I do for most, and then I stick in unscheduled things when they come up, too.  The Top 5 posts are supposed to be on Tuesday, but I’m a bit late with this one.. well, technically it is still Tuesday but I try to have it done earlier in the day, and the blog’s time zone has this set already on Wednesday so it’ll be archived a day late.  This doesn’t actually matter to anyone but me.

So this week’s Top 5 list is about the best attractions at Hollywood Studios for small children.  But I’m going to add that I’m thinking of it as also “…and their families”, ie, attractions that the whole family can enjoy together.  For that reason I’m leaving out one of the no-brainers, the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area, since that’s really JUST kids and parents tend to sit it out.  Not that this can’t be appealing, mind you, but for the purposes of this list I’ll just leave it off. 😉

When my family and I visited the parks last time, my daughter was just about to turn five and my son was one and a half.  I’m basing these rankings on their reactions, which may of course COMPLETELY differ from those of your children (or yourself!).  Maybe your kids were not into any of these and loved ‘Tower of Terror’.  And don’t tell me about height requirements, my daughter was already tall enough to go on if she’d wanted – well, she was actually game, so I should make that “if I’d been crazy enough to let her”.  Anyway, I always welcome comments!  Please speak out if you have anything to share!

And now… THE LIST!

The totally-not-boring, honest-give-it-a-try One Man's Dream!

The totally-not-boring, honest-give-it-a-try One Man’s Dream!

#5: One Man’s Dream.  If you haven’t been, you might not think this is a great choice – it’s not all that exciting, nothing moves – but before we left HS our first night my daughter was allowed to pick any attraction she wanted (except Toy Story, which was still a 1 hr wait).  She chose One Man’s Dream.  And she really liked it.  It was a great, lowkey way to end the evening, and she was very eager to learn about Walt Disney.  Most kids are pretty interested in museums and all the things you can look at, so even though they may not really pick up all the educational aspects or come out of there knowing everything there is to know about Walt, this is a great way for them to connect the parks and the cartoons with the man who created them.  Both my children especially liked the recreations of his office, and the original Dumbo car up on the ceiling. 😉

Mickey and Friends at Disney Junior; image is not mine

Mickey and Friends at Disney Junior; image is not mine

#4: Disney Junior Live!  Now to be honest – we didn’t actually do this.  When we were there it was closed for updates (it was actually transitioning from Playhouse Disney to Disney Junior).  But I’ve watched videos and they both would’ve LOVED it.  I think my daughter is a bit old for it now – she still likes Mickey Mouse Clubhouse but isnt’ interested in most of the other shows – but my son is still prime target audience.  Since this is targeted at younger kids, it might seem to go against my rule of “for families”, but I find that I tend to enjoy a show aimed at kids more than just watching my kids run around, so I’m cool with this.  And as shows go I think it’s a much surer hit for the kids than, say, “Lights, Motors, Action”.  I know my son would find that one way too loud.  DJL has some great puppets, is very energetic and interactive (even more than the TV shows it’s based on), and at least the previous version had bubbles.  Automatic win with my kids.  I think they’d like it even without the bubbles, though.

Ariel is the Most Beautiful Princess Of Them All.  (this is an image I actually DID take!)

Ariel is the Most Beautiful Princess Of Them All. (this is an image I actually DID take!)

#3: Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  I have to be honest, my top three are REALLY tough to order.  I have even moved this around a few times now!  Anyway – this is one of the few attractions that my kids really pushed to do twice.  I go with this instead of “Beauty and the Beast” for younger kids, for a few reasons: it’s shorter, so there’s less to sit still during; the wait time is somewhat less; and the presentation is more sort of “intimate”, being inside and with effects and such.  BatB is GORGEOUS, but I think the kids got more out of the lasers imitating water, the bubbles floating down, and the puppets singing “Under the Sea” (wait – those are PUPPETS??).  My son absolutely wriggled in his seat when the bubbles were released. 😉  He also really likes The Little Mermaid, even now, so I think this would still be a hit with him – though I think that he’d be a bit freaked by the Ursula puppet now.  My daughter, meanwhile, got to be First Mate when she saw it a second time!  She was brought up and introduced the show to the audience, and got  a special card afterwards signed by Ariel and Eric!

And here she is pretending to be a mermaid while we waited for the show (she was SO mad having to wait; this was my idea of a fun game. Lame, Mommy.)

And here she is pretending to be a mermaid while we waited for the show (she was SO mad having to wait; this was my idea of a fun game. Lame, Mommy.)

Another that's not one of mine; my camera angle would be much more mundane.

Another that’s not one of mine; my camera angle would be much more mundane.

#2:  Muppet Vision 3D (It was SO hard to pick between this and the one I put as #3!)  Zany to the end, this film is over 20 minutes but it never feels that long to me.  In the end, I went with this over VLM for one major reason: you are more likely to have boys and girls who will like this show than will like VLM.  Even though I think my son would still sit through Mermaid, I know there are some 4-5 year old boys who would flat-out refuse.  But I don’t know any kids that age who would pass up the chance to see the Muppets.  Especially in 3D!  I am going to be deeply, DEEPLY depressed when they move this one out (and I’m sure they will sometime in the next few years).  I’ve seen it so many times and it’s still always funny. 😀  The animatronics they use within the theatre are by and large really good – I can totally buy that Statler and Waldorf are really up there, and the goofy stuff at the back of the theatre with the Swedish Chef is just great.  At least half of the jokes go over the kids’ heads, but that’s the beauty: there are so MANY jokes that they’re still laughing the entire time.  And my daughter still talks about “the part where Fozzie sticks his head out of the screen” to look up at Statler and Waldorf.  And even the pre-show holds the kids’ attention – I mean – it’s The Muppet Show, basically.

This is actually the entrance a few days before it opened, in 2008, when I got to go on a soft open. YEAH you jealous.

This is actually the entrance a few days before it opened, in 2008, when I got to go on a soft open. YEAH you jealous.

#1: . Toy Story Midway Mania! At one point, I had this one as number 3 because the wait tends to be very long, and because there is a point in between the age my kids were when we were there, where it might – MIGHT – be frustrating to kids who have trouble aiming.  But you know what?  Oh well.  My daughter loved every minute and even though she wasn’t the best shot, she had a blast with just having Woody and Buzz there to cheer her on shooting at all the targets.  My son was too young to shoot any of the targets or even wear the 3D glasses, but he didn’t care.  He liked seeing the moving characters but his favourite part – and I still remember this with a big smile – was when the cars would whirl around from spot to spot.  Every time we’d move, he’d laugh and look around – I could tell he liked the wind rushing over his face and through his hair.  So even though he was too young to “get” this ride, I think it’s a good endorsement.  Works for me!  I love the queue, too.  We didn’t really get to see Mr. Potato Head because we had Fast Passes; it’s really almost worth the long wait just to see him.

Agree?  Think I’m crazy and completely missed the boat?  My comments section is waiting for YOU!