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Things That Rainforest Cafe in Disney World Does Right

Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Chain restaurants are typically an easy skip at Walt Disney World.

With more than 400 quick service and table service dining opportunities on property, you really shouldn’t have to spend your food budget on something that can be found at your local mall.

The Rainforest Cafe isn’t a recommended stop, but what does the chain known for lacklustre food and out-of-date audio-animatronics do well that other restaurants at Disney World could learn from?

Things That Rainforest Cafe in Disney World Does Right

Massive gift shop

Native Shoes at Rainforest Cafe in Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

The original reason why I wanted to cover this topic was the sheer size of the gift shop and all the interesting parts of the store.

From partnerships to city-exclusive merchandise, there’s few stores on property that can compete with the variety. In fact, I’ve been known to complain about the lack of park-exclusive merchandise on property and point out all the mistakes that Disney continues to do with its gift shops.

  • Why can you find Haunted Mansion merchandise in the Animal Kingdom?
  • Why isn’t there more park-exclusive clothing at the various theme parks?
  • How can they be out of stock with shirts and clothing? They’re literally DISNEY!

I’ve had amazing respect for the buyers at The Rainforest Cafe because of the variety of merchandise, which rivals the exclusive merchandise at the Coca-cola Store at Disney Springs.


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Open for all meals

The Volcano Dessert at Rainforest Cafe Disney Animal Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Rainforest Cafe has all meals covered, including desserts and snacks. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner – with an efficient method for calling the next-available reservation.

It would take a long list and a few hours of research to come up with all the examples of Disney World restaurants that don’t open for certain mealtimes, but just off the top of my head:

  • Victoria & Alberts doesn’t have a lunch
  • ABC Commissary is open from 10-8pm (but the park opens at 9am)
  • California Grill is only open from 5-10pm daily.

Those are just a few examples, but the restaurants should be available during park hours if they are open in the parks. The cafeteria-style food courts should also be open after the parks are closed….basic.


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Part of Landry’s – Discounts

Landry’s Select Club (Image: Dustin Fuhs /StepstoMagic)

Discounts are great. Why not add more frequency of value-add discounts? I would love to get non-AP discounts for repeat visits (like Dole Whips, etc).

Back entry into DAK

Rainforest Cafe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

The ability to bypass the regular entrance is great. It’s completely not needed, but talk about a system that actually works.

We’ve got an entire article on the secret entrances, so it’s definitely worth knowing about this one!


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Waterfront lounge

Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Disney Springs is full of entertainment options, but how many of them have a waterfront lounge?

Consistent

Rainforest Cafe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

It may not be a complete positive, but the experience that you find at Rainforest Cafe is…consistent.

How many times have you went to a Disney restaurant and wondered why there isn’t more consistency? I’ve had great food at a Quick Service and then literally the next day had a horrible experience. This may be due to staffing or to the food, but at least with Rainforest, it’s consistent.


What are your thoughts? Let me know via social media if I should add anything!

Disney World Vacation Lies

Disney Springs Bus Transportation (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Walt Disney World can be overwhelming when you put all the “strategies” to the test.

The goal will be to showcase all the un-truths that you can deal with while planning your vacation and to share what the statement is actually referring to.

Disney Transportation is Reliable

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Bus Transportation (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

The concept of taking a bus from Point A to Point B is easy on paper, but the realization that you’ll discover is that you’ll be resorting to alternate plans throughout the trip to avoid Disney Transportation.

It’s not bad, but I’ve been stuck for 30+ minutes midday at the Disney Springs bus station and stuck in a line that rivalled certain attractions at the Magic Kingdom at the end of the night.

The main issue comes that buses ride loops, which doesn’t work when you have two buses going from Disney Springs to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Laws of frequency will come into effect when you see 10x more buses for Old Key West because of the distance travelled.

That being said, I’ve waited for 20-25 minutes more for a Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge bus from Disney’s Animal Kingdom (literally a 5-minute trip up the road) because the buses are re-routed.

Not reliable – sorry Disney.


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You have to stay on property

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

At one point, staying on property had it’s benefits.

There is no more “Extra Magic Hours”, no more free Magicband, and definitely a lack of enticing offers to pay a significant mark-up for less.

The suggestion is to look at all options and see what’s best for your party, but the days of having to stay on property because of all the added perks are in the rearview mirror and not coming back.

Plus, with UBER and LYFT, the savings for staying off-property can be used for added dining reservations and reallocation of funds for snacks and merchandise.


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You can’t drink at Disney

Beer at the Canadian Pavilion in EPCOT (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

At one point in time, this was true…and some folks still believe it.

Beer is available all over the parks, resorts and everywhere. You can drink at 8am (Oga’s Cantina literally has breakfast reservations), so the days of having to secure a reservation to Be Our Guest for a drink in the Magic Kingdom are over.

The suggestion would be to research the Disney-exclusive drinks and put those on your to-do list and skip the $12-$17 beers that you can get back home.


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Disney is only for kids

Victoria & Alberts at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort (Image: StepstoMagic)

Disney World is for everyone. Deal with it.

Even if you’re not a Disney fan, you can still have a great vacation at Walt Disney World!


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Disney Food is theme park food

Chicken Sandwich at The Polite Pig at Disney Springs (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

This is hard to dispute when you look at the offerings in the Magic Kingdom, but I will definitely stand behind the statement that Walt Disney World has memorable dining experiences that you won’t find anywhere else.

Want a burger? Want a corn dog? Want popcorn or Mickey Waffles? Sure, but remember that you can get a Prime Rib Sandwich with Parmesan Fries for $20 within a 5-minute walk of the Magic Kingdom at Steakhouse 71.

You can also go to Victoria & Alberts…but I digress.


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Don’t get Starbucks

Starbucks (aka The Trolly Car Cafe) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Oh, this is a fun one. Who are you fooling?

If you want Starbucks, get Starbucks.

There are other options, like Joffrey’s, but there are exclusive snacks and drinks that only exist at the Starbucks locations on property – and why not grab what you want?

I will share that you get a better value at the corporate Starbucks locations (at Disney Springs) than in the theme parks, but that’s because you can use your rewards.


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There’s nothing to do at Disney Springs

Sprinkles Cupcakes at Disney Springs (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

I have an entire article on the fun things to do at Disney Springs, but you can plan a full day at the shopping district without actually shopping.

If I had a part in the planning, I wouldn’t spend a full day at Disney Springs, but you can definitely run through a few hours without even thinking about it.

Art of Disney, World of Disney, Splitsville, Aerophile, Gideons Bakery, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Chef Art Smith….just to name a few.

Hollywood studios is a half day park

Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Rope Drop (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

I’ve been a part of this crowd for the better part of a decade, and it’s can be tough to dispute under certain circumstances.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a number of e-ticket attractions that can cause a huge backlog of lines when they go down. If Rise of the Resistance goes down, the rest of the park doubles the wait times. When you add that Tower of Terror and Rock n Rollercoaster are finicky as well, you’re making the park a half-day park because no one wants to wait more than two-hours for a 90-second ride.

Even with Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, DHS is the park with the most outdated and underdeveloped areas that need attention. The former Star Wars Launch Bay, the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the former Pixar Place, Star Tours….that’s just OUTSIDE of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.

And does anyone actually know what Gertie the Dinosaur is and why ECHO lake is still a thing?

All of this to say that you can still have a great day at the studios, as long as everything stays online and doesn’t break.


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All of the animals at Disney are fake

Kilimanjaro Safari
Kilimanjaro Safari – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

You know that Kilimanjaro Safari’s opened in 1998, right? That’s almost 25 years of real animals at Walt Disney World.

And one time, I saw a real life bird on Jungle Cruise. True story.

You won’t cry

The Magic Kingdom at Night (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Everyone cries at Walt Disney World.

  • Fireworks
  • Soundtracks
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Dole Whip

Shall I go on? Brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it.


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Everything is Mickey Mouse

This is a fun one, as there are classic “Mickey” items that have been transformed into other non-Mickey things.

  • Mickey Ears are just the category – lots of random hats to find.
  • Mickey Pretzels are made in different characters (Simba, etc)
  • There’s a Hidden Donald on the Haunted Mansion

But yes, you can find a lot of Mickey at Disney. Remember, it’s the only company that started with a Mouse.


Hope this was fun for you! I had a blast putting the list together – and lots more coming!

Disney World Restaurants That We’ve Never Eaten At (And Why)

House of Blues at Disney Springs (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Disney World has hundreds of dining opportunities, but there are some restaurants that we’ve never actually got past the reservation stage.

From changing plans to just having no desire to eat there – there is a huge list that we’ve never eaten at.

Tony’s Town Square (Magic Kingdom)

We can get a bad Italian meal at home.

Story Book Dining at Artist Point

We can never get a reservation. Please Disney – we’re asking nicely!


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Space 220

We were excited, and then quickly weren’t. Everyone said that it’s not worth it…it’s not worth the Hyperspace Hoopla!

Hollywood Brown Derby

There’s always a better way to spend an hour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios than sitting in a restaurant.

Liberty Tree Tavern

The vegetarian meal is very un-appetizing and let’s be honest…Magic Kingdom is lacking in good table service anyway.


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La Cava

The line at 9am is massive! We get it folks…we do…but seriously! How early is too early for tequila?

House of Blues

I’ve made reservations. It’s just never a place that we end up for dinner and it’s on the same list as Rainforest Cafe, Blaze Pizza and Earl of Sandwich – chains tend to be re-prioritized.


Is there any restaurant that you’ve planned to go and always cancelled your reservation? Let me know!

Places You Don’t Want to be Caught in a Disney World Thunderstorm

Rain Storm at Cosmic Rays in the Magic Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Disney World is in Central Florida, which means that there’s an inevitable rain shower that will come out of nowhere. You can be prepared with all the best rain gear, but there are times that you’ll just need to find cover.

With that premise, the goal is to share a few lessons that we’ve learned over the years from running to get out of a torrential downpour that makes you feel like you’re in a shower.

The Magic Kingdom

From the Google Maps view, there’s actually only a couple of large-format spots to escape the rain.

  • Stores (like The Emporium, Confectionary, Big Top Souvenirs, Pirates of the Carribbean)
  • Attractions (like Space Mountain, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion)
  • Restaurants (like Cosmic Rays, Pecos Bills and Pinnochio Village Haus)

The worst places?

  1. The Emporium & Main Street USA
  2. Cosmic Rays
  3. Breezeway at Adventureland

At the end of the day, the Magic Kingdom can provide a great number of indoor attractions that can shelter you from the classic storms – but don’t be surprised if you have to hunker down in a random alcove as you think about how much $$ you’re spending to be standing in a single spot outside of a set of washrooms and the Sunglass Hut.


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EPCOT

World Discovery at EPCOT During the Rain (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

There are definite lessons to learn about where to be when the storms hit at EPCOT.

The best places are easy:

  • The Land Pavilion
  • The Seas with Nemo Pavilion
  • Creations Shop, Club Cool and Connections Cafe

The worst places?

  1. The World Showcase – there’s too many shops that can become busy with guests
  2. World Discovery – Test Track shuts during rain, Mission Space is lacklustre and Guardians can get busy.
  3. Spaceship Earth – Iconic, but it’s a massive wind tunnel and you can’t just ride it over and over because the entrance is outside.

EPCOT can be a difficult location because of the size of the park, but the big thing to keep in mind is that you can always duck in and grab a good meal (Le Creperie, Sunshine Seasons, Regal Eagle) as they are all covered and indoors.


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Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The golden rule is that the absolute worst place to deal with “weather” is at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. From the scorching heat to the downpours, you’re basically left to your own devices when it comes to sheltering as most of the park is outdoors and not covered.

The Best place to hide from Rain:

  • Creature Comforts and Discovery Island
  • Pandora: The World of Avatar
  • Dinosaur

The worst places?

  1. Pandora: The World of Avatar (when you’re not at Satuli Canteen or in line at an attraction.
  2. Africa and Asia (All outdoor experiences and the shops can get cramped)
  3. Bus Transportation (Infrequent and unpredictable)

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios

This is an easy one, as there are very few places in the park that you would be getting “caught” in the rain. Lots of indoor experiences and not a lot of trouble to find a good spot to shelter in place.

The Best place to hide from Rain:

  • 5 & 10 and most shops in the hub of the park
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railroad, Star Tours, Tower of Terror
  • Frozen Sing-a-Long, MuppetVision3D and all of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge attractions.

The worst places?

  • Toy Story Land (minus Toy Story Mania) due to the outdoor experiences
  • Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage
  • The hub in front of the Little Mermaid and Star Wars Launch Bay (It get’s flooded quickly)

Disney World is full of great places to hide from the rain, but you don’t want to be caught under the awning of Cosmic Ray’s for 90 minutes if you can help it.

Hope this was helpful!

An Anniversary Meal at Victoria & Albert’s in Walt Disney World

Victoria & Albert's at Walt Disney World (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

The crown jewel of the Walt Disney World Resort’s dining program is hidden gem that is well worth talking about, and so we’ll be going into a nice overview of Victoria & Albert’s.

This Victorian-themed dining room at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort brings together the high-end culinary adventure with a little Disney magic sprinkled throughout the experience.

Before we start, it’s important for me to share that the opinions of this piece are 100% my own – and it should be, as this meal was NOT comp’d and we paid full price on our own.

Reservations

Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

For those of you who know me, I absolutely love the challenge of getting Disney Advanced Dining Reservations, but there are times that even I get worried on my specific skillset.

We had attempted to secure reservations 60-days in advance, but decided to try a couple other strategies.

  • I went onto the Disney World app multiple times a day, including first thing in the morning and late at night.
  • I emailed [email protected] and asked to be placed on the wait list.
  • I called the reservation line (1-407-939-3862) biweekly leading up to our trip.

The actual way that I secured the reservation was anti-climatic, as I was scrolling through the app on September 12th at 1153pm and got lucky.


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Dress Code

Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Once you have the reservation, the mood for the trip changes dramatically.

We ended up bringing down the basics:

  • Jill brought a dress
  • I brought a blazer.

In Florida, my goal was to find a pair of dress slacks and a pair of dress shoes, as packing my own collection would get in the way of valuable suitcase space and it would make more sense to buy something on property.

Long story short, everything was either out of my size or completely unreasonable in price that I ended up visiting a local department store just off-property and that made my outfit complete. It was a stressful situation, until it wasn’t. Don’t overthink the “dress code”, as you’re just wanting to have a great evening of being “fancy”.


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Pre-planning

Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

We knew ahead time from our previous meals at Victoria & Alberts (this was our 3rd time) that we would be contacted by the restaurant to confirm various dining preferences and other details.

This time, because of the communication trail from the wait list, I was able to confirm all details via email.

Welcoming

Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

We arrived to our 7pm reservation around 530pm via UBER.

We were incredibly excited, and although the weather was torrential rain storm-y, we ended up taking the monorail to the Polynesian Village Resort to check out some of the shops and enjoy the time before our meal in a non-Victorian location. Sometimes the Grand Floridian Resort can make folks uncomfortable – and we didn’t want that before the experience.

We actually went to the check-in desk to take photos around 615pm and was able to start our meal early. Don’t worry – the meal lasted until 10pm.


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Food

Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Anytime I discuss the Victoria & Alberts experience, the food takes centre-stage (as it should).

The meal includes a multi-course culinary journey that changes seasonally, so please keep this in mind when you look at the menu.

The 7-course and 10-course Victoria & Albert’s Menu (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

We opted for the traditional menu, which is priced at $295 for seven courses. The optional wine pairing was valued at $150, which we passed on and instead decided to order drinks throughout the evening on a case-by-case basis.

There is a 10-course menu for $375 ($200 wine pairing).

Plant-Based Menu

The 10-course Plant-Based Victoria & Albert’s Menu (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)
The 7-course Plant-Based Victoria & Albert’s Menu (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

This is one of the main reasons why we continue to return – Jill has the opportunity to taste things that are incredibly unique to her diet. She’s been vegetarian for years, so eating something different is always a draw and well worth the price for us.

Price

Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

There has been discussions on the price increase of the re-opening of Victoria & Albert’s after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, and the comments are completely valid.

The original price was $100+ less per person. That fact can’t be avoided and is definitely not something to overlook in your opinion of the establishment.

We reserved the meal because it coincided with a huge celebration – our 10 year anniversary. It was also part of our Disney World experience that we’ve missed since the beginning of the pandemic, so the cost-blindness was fully in effect.

Anniversary Dessert at Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Our budgetary process was different than others, but we did the following to afford the meal:

  • We stayed off-property.
  • We put money aside during the pandemic for our eventual Disney vacation.
  • We re-allocated funds from other vacation categories, including souvenirs and other dining.

When you look at our cost savings, we actually only paid $1400 for airfare and 7-nights for two people. Instead of staying on property or on Disney Springs Hotel Boulevard, we just knew that this could happen and we splurged on the memory vs the hotel.


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General observations

Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Victoria & Albert’s is the gold standard of Disney hospitality and although it is expensive, the overall meal is something that will create a memory that other experiences just can’t compete with.

There are one-and-done experiences on property. There are also things that would never cross our minds to do, like a dessert party at an extra-ticketed holiday event.

Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

This is something that we’ve done three times and, in our personal opinion, can’t wait to go back for a forth!


The Rest of the Experience

We have a lot of visitors who ask for images to show off the rest of the meal, but I would preface this with saying that every experience will be unique. Food is subjective, which is how I can get into “heated discussions” over the cuisine quality of established restaurants on property…and how Crystal Palace is a waste of money.

All that being said, I’d like to share images from our Victoria & Albert’s experience.


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The Plant-Based Meal

Victoria & Alberts Plant-based Appetizers (Pink Pineapple, Thai Basil and Spiced Mango; Panisse, Shiso, Tempura; Potato Glass, Radish, Celery)
Beets, Plum Wine, Yuzu Meringue
Heirloom Tomatoes, Gazpacho, 100 Year Balsamico
Gazpacho
Charred Mushroom, Bamboo Rice, Sambal
Black Mission Fig and Black Garlic Doppio Ravioli
Heirloom Beans, Potato and Turnips.
Preparation of “Cheese”
Warm Chocolate Cookie
Honey Elderflower Ice Cream
Praline Temple
Praline Temple
Pistachio Petit Four
Plant-based Desserts at Victoria & Alberts

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The Meat-Eater’s Meal

Cinco Jotas Iberico, Miso Caramel, “Eclair”
Cinco Jotas Iberico, Miso Caramel, “Eclair”; Pink Pineapple, Thai Basil, Spiced Mango; Langoustine Tartelette, Watermelon, Finger Limes
Royal Belgian Caviar, Cauliflower Panna Cotta
Danish Hiramasa, Carrot, Okinawan Potatoes
Glacier 51 Toothfish, Charred Mushroom, Sambal
Rohan Duck, Black Mission Figs, Balsamico
Lamb, Pickled Blueberries, Violet Mustard
Preparation of Cheese
Tropical Caramel
Spectrum of Chocolate
Pavlova
Warm Chocolate Cookie
Pistachio Petit Four
Praline Truffle

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Bread


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The “vacuum percolator”

Not a “Coffee Bong”

Dustin with the Coffee Vacuum Percolator at Victoria & Alberts
Vacuum Percolator at Victoria & Alberts

The Goodie Bag

Victoria & Albert’s Paper Bag (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Victoria and Albert’s does not have a gift shop or any merchandise, so the takeaways are your personalized menus and a paper bag.

Additional Images

Victoria & Albert’s Cinderella Mural
Victoria & Albert’s Chef’s Table
Victoria & Albert’s Washrooms

4 Things To Do at Universal Orlando CityWalk (and 4 Things To Skip)

Universal Orlando CityWalk (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

There is no comparison between Universal Orlando Resort’s entertainment & dining venue called “CityWalk” and Disney World’s entertainment shopping district “Disney Springs”.

They are completely different.

Let’s look at a few things that you should definitely do at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk (and a couple that you can skip)

Voodoo Doughnuts (Gotta Do)

Voodoo Doughnuts at Universal Orlando Resort (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

This Seattle-based donut chain is a must-do, especially if you need a sugar pick-me-up midday.

We’re a fan of the classic Voodoo Doll and the Chocolate Old Fashioned, but you really can’t go wrong if you wanted to take your chances with an off-the-board pick.


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Starbucks (Skip)

Starbucks Coffee at Universal Orlando CityWalk (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

You’re within steps of a Butterbeer.

The big thing to keep in mind is that there are Starbucks locations at both parks, so stopping into the CityWalk location will probably be a mistake due to the lines. It’s the first thing that people recognize when arriving at the resort, so if there’s a massive group of cranky non-caffeinated guests…you’ll be fine to wander into the parks.

Universal Legacy Store (Gotta Do)

In addition to great air conditioning, the store is probably one of my favourite hidden gems on property because of the ‘museum-quality’ Universal Orlando artifacts that any fan of the parks would get a kick out of.


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Mini Golf (Skip)

It’s mini golf y’all – you can definitely do better by spending time in the parks.

If you wanted to play a game of mini golf, you’ll be able to get a more impressive round up the street at Disney World.

Hard Rock Cafe Orlando (Gotta Do)

Completely understandable if you want to skip the food, but there are times that you’ll be able to see a show that could make your vacation!

Definitely check the calendar of events before your trip to see if there’s a fit for your trip. We’ve seen Matchbox Twenty, Weird Al and the artists formerly known as Mulch Sweat and Shears on-stage.


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The BK Whopper Bar (Skip – duh)

Universal Orlando CityWalk (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Do I really have to tell you to skip Burger King while at Universal Orlando?

Photo Opportunities (Gotta Do)

Voodoo Doughnut at Universal Orlando CityWalk (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

As you can tell, photos can tell the story of a great vacation.

Spending time wandering around CityWalk to get memories – definitely a must do.

  • Surfboard outside of Quiet Flight Surf Shop
  • Voodoo Doughnut Throne
  • Icons (Universal Studios Arch and Islands of Adventure Lighthouse)

Is there anything else that we should add to the list? We try to keep credibility, as there are parts of the Disney & Universal vacations that may not be the best – and anyone who says that everything is great…well, you get the point.

How To Avoid Dehydration at Disney World

Dasani at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Walt Disney World is located in Florida, which means that you have to deal with the heat of Florida.

In addition to tips for staying cool with air conditioning, we’ve been asked to provide a few options and tips to avoid dehydration while on vacation at Disney.

Free Water

Free Water in the Yacht Club Resort at Disney World – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

We have a full article on the best places to get complimentary high quality h2o while on the Disney World property, but it’s important to stay hydrated without spending a dime on cool water.

Quick Service vs Table Service

Skipper Canteen at the Magic Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

The first thing that happens at a table service reservation is that your waiter will bring your party water. It’s a great way to start the meal and will almost put your body into shock, as you’re adding a highly air conditioned environment with incredibly cold water.

It’s great!

If you’re going to a quick service restaurant, you’ll be able to ask for a cup of free tap water – but it’s not at the same level as a table service location.

The goal may be to look at lunch ADRs and doing dinner quick service dining.


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Best and Worst

The best tip for staying hydrated and avoiding dehydration is to always be thinking about your body temperature.

The worst tip is to put off your personal comfort for the betterment of your group. If you’re hot – say something.

Fountains

EPCOT Drinking Fountain (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Oh, you’ll want to fully avoid water fountains at Walt Disney World.

The water is usually warm and you’ll want to think about the times in grade school that you were stuck drinking out of a water fountain. No one likes it – so why would you subject yourself to it?

Most water fountains are within sight of a quick service restaurant, so why not run in for a cup of ice water.


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Soda tips

The draw of a soda is huge, and I’m not going to say that you won’t want to have a coke with your meal – but if you’re wanting to avoid dehydration, it’s all about the water intake.

My favourite tip is to visit a quick service location with a self-service soda fountain and start with a caffeinated soda. After finishing your meal, stop at the fountain and fill up your cup with a Powerade or an iced tea.

Budget

Outdoor Vending at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

The last tip is to have a $20 vacation budget for buying water.

If you have it in the “budget”, you’ll feel better if you have to buy a dasani and after seeing the bill…you’ll pre-plan for the rest of the trip!


Do you have any extra tips? Let us know on Instagram @StepstoMagic

How Has Disney World Changed

Halloween Popcorn Bucket at the Magic Kingdom in May 2022 (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Disney World has changed immensely over the last two years.

After not being at the parks from November 2019, our Spring 2022 was an eye-opener and we’d like to share thoughts and observations for those of you who (like us) hadn’t been down since pre-pandemic.

This may be a longer article, but my goal is to touch on everything that we noticed was different – and then give a quick thought on why it’s important.

No More FastPass

Lightning Lane at Expedition Everest
Lightning Lane at Expedition Everest (Image: Dustin Fuhs/ StepstoMagic)

With the introduction of Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane, the previously free attraction reservation system, FastPass+, was retired and changed out for a paid version.

What was free is now not.


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Cultural Representatives Aren’t Back

Canadian Pavilion in Spring 2022 with Non-International Cultural Representative Cast Members (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Walking through EPCOT’s World Showcase isn’t the same, as you’ll see more generic “flag” costumes – representing American cast members – in many positions around the park.

This is incredibly evident with stores like the Northwest Mercantile at the Canadian Pavilion, as the CMs are trying their best to make it through the days until the government will allow for Cultural Representatives into the country.

It’s very noticeable and sad.

Lack of Staffing

Citricos and Victoria & Alberts Closed in Spring 2022 due to Staffing (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

When Disney laid off thousands of Cast Members during the pandemic, it was never going to be easy to replace those roles when the world came back to a state of normalcy.

From the loss of the Cultural Representatives, to the College Program and even the long-term retired population that were seasonal cast during the year – it’s difficult to say this, but the parks just aren’t the same.


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Supply Chain for Merchandise

There is a distinct lack of merchandise and it’s actually funny to see. When you think about Disney, a multinational billion dollar corporation, not being able to fill the shelves with merchandise – it’s a real problem.

The funny part is seeing old merchandise being put on shelves as part of having something to sell – like when we found “Halloween in May” in the Magic Kingdom and stumbling on a popcorn bucket from Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party.

Ticketing (Annual Passes and Park Reservations)

Park Hopping Sign at EPCOT (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

This is a big one – the entire ticketing structure has changed.

When you put the lack of annual passes along with park ticket reservations and huge increases in prices…it’s not a good time to think about the budget.


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No Magical Express

Mears Connect at Orlando International Airport (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

So this wasn’t a huge loss for us personally, as we had jumped to UBER years ago for our reliable transportation from the Orlando International Airport to the Resorts/Theme Parks.

But as we discussed before – what was once included in your Disney Resort fee is now an extra charge with Mears Connect. Still not worth it.

Rapid Fire List

It’s a Wonderful Shop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Closed in May 2022 (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

This is getting long and this is more about “Expectations in Reality” than gripes with the Disney World “Brand”

  • No Streetmosphere or lack of classic “Disney” entertainment
  • Not Everything was Open (Muppet Store, Victoria & Alberts, etc)
  • Hotel Occupancy & Availability is minuscule (due to staffing)
  • More attraction issues (shutdowns, 101, and capacity)
  • Mobile Order changes daily (Aloha Isle wasn’t available on our trip)
  • Everything took longer
  • More discussion of revenues from on-stage cast members from management.
  • Lack of custodial – dirty washrooms.
  • Lack of buses (due to staffing)
  • Security (Bag Searches)
  • Bag checked at Disney Springs
  • Lack of Magic
  • Disney Feeling

The Main Thing Missing from Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom Park Reservations Sign (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

The lack of the “Disney Feeling”, as everything is just more awkward and not as magical as it was pre-pandemic. The real world has definitely entered the place that so many of us called our “escape from reality”.

What To Do When You’re Bored at Disney World

Good Vibes Only Lion King Hat at Disney Style in Disney Springs (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

There are times during a Disney vacation that you may find yourself awaiting your next reservation and have time to pass.

The amount of effort, money and energy that it takes to book a trip will make these times of excess availability in your schedule incredibly valuable, especially looking back on your trip when you’re at home.

Shop

Goofy’s Candy Co at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Spend time in a shop and see if there’s anything that will give you added meaning when you’re at home. This may involve picking up things like:

  • Specialty Tea
  • Goofy’s Candy Co.
  • Park Maps

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Snack

Say you’re waiting for an ADR at Saana in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Well you can wander over to The Mara and maybe pick up a Zebra Dome as an “appetizer”.

Maybe you’re waiting for an Individual Lightning Lane for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Head over to get a Blue Milk (or Green Milk if you prefer a more ‘tropical’ drink) or maybe wander to Toy Story Land to split an order of specialty tots!

Never a bad idea to snack when you have the time.


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FaceTime

Pick up your phone and video call someone back home. It’s incredibly thoughtful and because you’re attached to the Disney Parks wifi, it’s easy to do.

I actually really like going through Facebook Messenger and seeing if I have a “Disney Friend” online and call them completely randomly out of the blue. It’s really fun to see their face light up with excitement as you’re walking through Adventureland or around a Disney Resort.

Photopass

Got time? Take a photo in front of the icon.

There’s always an opportunity to get a new profile photo!


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Honourable Mentions

  • Wander: There’s no harm in wandering through a Disney park or resort.
  • Checklist: If you have something to do, it’s a great time to get something done.
  • Social Post: If you need help with an idea, just post for ideas on an instagram story poll.
  • Bench: People watching at Disney is incredibly fun.

Hope this was helpful! If you have a recommendation or idea for things to do when you’re bored on a Disney vacation, send me a note on instagram @StepstoMagic!

Staples of a Disney World Diet

Joffrey's Coffee at EPCOT (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

A Disney World vacation can a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will be remembered forever. Or, it can be a memorable trip that will entice you to make a follow-up trip as soon as possible.

In addition to attractions, characters and events – one of the best parts of a Disney trip is the food.

Let’s look at the ‘Staples of a Disney World Diet’

The Snacks, The Drinks and The Meals.

All three have different elements that will help you create a “balanced diet”;)


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The Drinks

Dole Whip

Dole Whip and the Tropical Serenade at the Magic Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Yes, you can find Dole Whip at other spots in your day-to-day life, but there’s something special about getting a Dole Whip float from Aloha Isle in the Magic Kingdom. It’s a right-of-passage and will absolutely lift up your day!

Lefou’s Brew

LeFou’s Brew at the Magic Kingdom – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

Lefou’s Brew is a frosted apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow and topped with an all-natural passion fruit-mango foam found at Gaston’s Tavern in the Magic Kingdom.

I promise that this isn’t just about drinks, but one of the cool parts about the Disney World resort is the plethora of unique drinks to help with the acclimation of the Florida heat.

Joffrey’s Coffee Cold Brew

Joffrey’s Coffee at Disney Springs (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

We tend to avoid Starbucks on vacation, as we like to visit places that we can’t get back home. This means that Joffrey’s Coffee is our go-to…and it’s perfect!

My order is typically the Shaken’ Jamaican Cold Brew with milk and vanilla syrup.

Yes, I get this every single day.


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The Snacks

Carrot Cake Cookie at Starbucks in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)
  • Mickey Pretzel
  • A Cupcake
  • Specialty Starbucks Pastry/baked good.

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The Meals

Satuli Canteen Bowls

Satuli Canteen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

If you’re looking for the definition of “consistency”, a build-your-own bowl from the quick service location in Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

We actually eat here every vacation, and when I’m on a solo trip – I’m here multiple times.

Les Halles Boulangerie in the France Pavilion

This is an easy one, as you can stop in and get anything that you go the hour before a busy meal time – you’ll want variety and a seat in the air conditioning.

Other Hits

  • Steakhouse 71
  • Columbia Harbour House
  • Saana
  • Chicken Guy at Disney Springs

The goal is to continuously update this article as time goes on, as dining at Disney World is always being updated.

Hope this was helpful in your trip planning, as I’m a huge fan of giving actionable ideas that could be used to improve your Disney World vacation!

Unexpected Disney World – The Pickle-in-a-Pouch

Pickle-in-a-Pouch at Liberty Village Market at the Magic Kingdom
Pickle-in-a-Pouch at Liberty Village Market at the Magic Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

The things that you wouldn’t expect to find on a Disney trip planning website – an article about a pickle-in-a-pouch.

Believe me when I tell you that this is one of the best articles that I think will ever grace the homepage of StepstoMagic.com. It’s less about the fact that you can buy a pickle at Disney World and more about the benefits that this will actually give to your vacation as a whole.

Three Things To Remember About the Pickle-in-a-Pouch

Helpful for Long Park Days

The pickle is actually a great source of energy. When you’re spending a day at Walt Disney World, the excitement could actually make your levels uneven – and it’s not just the acclimation of the weather.

Adding a source of sodium into your body when you are sweating and running on a high of anticipation can be a great way to get from one meal to another.


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They’re Cold

One of our favourite places to stop to see the pickles in “action” is the Liberty Square Market. When you walk into this outdoor vending area (covered from the elements), you’ll find a nice variety of overpriced drinks ($5.50 for a Smartwater) surrounded by three affordable pick-me-up snacks.

In-between the Mini Babybel cheese and the Cuties mandarin 3-pack, you’ll find the Pickles and everything is surrounded by ice.

This makes that first bite incredible! Have you ever actually eaten a cold pickle? Oh my goodness – you’re missing out.


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The Price and Availability

A pickle-in-a-pouch is currently listed at $2.29, but please keep in mind that prices can and will change.

  • The Magic Kingdom @ Liberty Square Market
  • EPCOT @ Outdoor Vending in front of The Land (Seasonal)
  • Hollywood Studios @ Anaheim Produce on Hollywood Boulevard
  • Animal Kingdom @ Harambe Fruit Market in front of Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Long story short – pick up a pickle when you’re in need of a little energy on your next Walt Disney World theme park day. It’s actually a worthwhile snack to invest in!

5 Experiences at Every Disney World Theme Park

Outdoor Vending at Disney's Animal Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

There’s a formula that makes a “Disney Park” unique in the marketplace.

Whether you’re walking into the Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there are experiences that are consistent across the spectrum of offerings at Walt Disney World.

Ice Cream Bar

No matter which park you’re walking through, there is always an outdoor vending cart that will be able to sell you a classic Mickey Ice Cream Bar.

You’re able to find gourmet and customizable treats at some spots on property, but if you’re thinking that the this generic ice cream is exclusive to a single stall – try again.


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Park Maps

Magic Kingdom Park Map (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Not only are park maps readily available at the entrance, you can also find them at merchandise locations and guest relations. They make for great “free” souvenirs and can help you remember a specific time at the parks.

Why is this unique? It’s not – just a fun part of the Disney experience that you should keep an eye out for.

Celebration Buttons

Stop at Guest Relations for a free celebration button. Whether you’re celebrating something or want people to know that you’re getting older…it’s all up to you!

Remember that if you want a customizable birthday button, you can buy them at Disney Springs and the Magic Kingdom.


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Meeting Mickey

You can meet Mickey and each and every single Disney World theme park.

Things can change and adapt over time, but normally you’re able to find the head cheese here:

  • Town Square Theatre (Magic Kingdom)
  • Various places, but guaranteed at Garden Grill character dining (EPCOT)
  • Various places, but guaranteed at Tusker House character dining (Disney’s Animal Kingdom)
  • Red Carpet Dreams (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

Attraction with 3D Glasses

3-D Glasses at Toy Story Mania – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

This was a fun one to find out, because there are times that you completely forget that certain experiences have 3D glasses until you’re getting into the ride vehicle, but you can find an attraction with 3D glasses at every WDW Park.

  • Mickey’s Philharmagic (Magic Kingdom)
  • Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival (EPCOT)
  • Muppet Vision 3D, Star Tours, Toy Story Mania (DHS)
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug, Flight of Passage (AK)

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Honourable Mentions

In addition of these 5 things, we can list a couple hundred other things that you can find at every Disney World theme park – but this was more fun.

Magic Kingdom Attractions That Never Change

Country Bear Jamboree at the Magic Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

When you’re visiting Walt Disney World, the to-do list of activities and experiences that you have to accomplish during a trip could be overwhelming.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know about the rides that never change? It’s not a negative – just a fact. If you wanted to do something “new” or “updated”, the attractions on the list could be re-prioritized.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain at the Magic Kingdom
Big Thunder Mountain at the Magic Kingdom – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

BTM has gotten more and more bumpy and rocky over the years, so although it’s in the category of experiences that never change – some would argue that it’s actually gotten a little worse due to the wear and tear of being subjected to Florida’s weather elements.

Country Bear Jamboree

It’s a great escape from the heat and a perfect spot to grab a nap – but there is nothing new of this Walt Disney World classic audio-animatronic show.

Mad Tea Party

The spinning never ends.


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Tomorrowland Speedway

Tomorrowland Speedway at the Magic Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Even with the current environmental concerns that are making the globe into a real life version of Sim City with random daily challenges – the biggest polluter of gas fumes is still around with zero concern for changes. This wouldn’t be a horrible thing to change, but it’s still here in “all its glory”.

Tom Sawyer’s Island

Tom Sawyer's Island at the Magic Kingdom
Tom Sawyer’s Island at the Magic Kingdom (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

In addition to most of the experiences around the Rivers of America, Tom Sawyer’s Island is definitely something that hasn’t changed. In fact, with the enhancements to Disneyland Resort’s version of the experience adapting a pirate theme, the Walt Disney World experience is significantly behind the eight ball.

Space Mountain

The only thing that’s changed with this coaster is the amount of down-time that’s been experienced in recent years that allow guests to see the entire thing with the lights on.


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Honourable Mentions

  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Swiss Family Treehouse
  • Prince Charming Regal Carousel
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
  • Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

At the end of the day, your vacation is YOUR vacation and it’s important to experience the Magic Kingdom in your own way. This means that if the goal is to check out a newer experience with a little nostalgia, then you do you.

Disney World Attractions That Are Showing Their Age

Gran Fiesta Tour (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” – Walt Disney

He said nothing about Walt Disney World.

Experiences and attractions that have never been updated or improved as new technology became available is a huge mistake. Walt Disney World is full of things that, as a guest, would make you question the decisions made and the budgets that obviously are being allocated into different spreadsheets.

The Gran Fiesta Tour

This headliner of the Mexico Pavilion at EPCOT was a replacement for El Rio del Tiempo, an opening day attraction from October 1st, 1982. The Gran Fiesta Tour made its debut on April 6th, 2007 and has had its ups and downs operationally and is culturally looked-down upon with the outdated representation of Mexico.


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Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin

This omni-mover continuous loader game attraction featuring the Toy Story franchise opened November 3rd, 1998 and has had little updates to the gaming mechanism, even after the debut of Toy Story Midway Mania in 2008.

We’ll ignore the fact that the experience is located in Tomorrowland and that there is nothing ‘forward thinking’ about an attraction that spins and uses tech that you would find at a laser tag in your local mall – it’s just in need of a full gut to bring the experience into the 2020’s and beyond.


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Living with the Land

Another opening day attraction from EPCOT Center, the idea behind creating an experience that focuses on the technologies that power the circle of life is important. You know what is also important – sharing technology that is actually relevant and current.

This attraction, although one of my favourites in all of Walt Disney World, can be seen as behind the times and looked at as an eyesore when you compare it with Soarin’ or the futuristic tech that isn’t found in a boat ride.

The main point for this attraction isn’t to change it’s historical relevance or educational standpoint. It’s to gut the show-scenes that make up the first 5 minutes, such as the rain forest, prairies and farmland.


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The only existing Carousel of Progress left is the one at Walt Disney World in the Magic Kingdom and is the oldest attraction at WDW to be touched by Walt Disney.

All of that being said, the last scene is all that we are talking about. Everything else is perfect.

Last updated in 1993, the scene depicts a “Christmas in the House of 2000” – which was more than 20 years ago and we can all agree that parts of the “future” never came true or have been fully outdated by the time 2000 even came around.


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Mickey’s Philharmagic

As Disney Animation continues to pump out classic after classic, there is something to be said with the story of this Magic Kingdom 4d movie in the middle of Fantasyland.

It needs to be updated, and I’m not just saying that Frozen needs to be included (although that would be low-hanging fruit). There are dozens of songs that have been released since the Disney Renaissance concluded in 1999 that would be perfect for this sing-a-long style experience.

From Moana to Princess and the Frog, Tangled to Coco – the soundtrack could be amazing if the imagination wasn’t being forced to choose between new attractions and maintaining existing experiences. And you know what’s amazing – the Disney Imagineers have shown that the film can be adapted, as in 2021 – they ADDED IN COCO!

May I share a few hits from Brother Bear that could be perfect for the show?


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Additional Experinces that are Showing Their Age

Magic Kingdom

  • Astro Orbiter
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • Enchanted Tiki Room
  • it’s a small world
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Monsters Inc Laugh Floor
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Tom Sawyers Island
  • Splash Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Speedway

EPCOT

  • The American Adventure
  • ImageWorks
  • Mission:SPACE
  • SeaBase
  • Test Track
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster® Starring Aerosmith (Photo: Dustin Fuhs)
  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
  • Disney Junior
  • Fantasmic!
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Muppetvision 3D
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Star Tours
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Walt Disney Presents: One Man’s Dream

Animal Kindgom

Animal Kingdom CDs – Photo by Dustin Fuhs
  • Affection Section
  • The Boneyard
  • Conservation Station
  • Dinosaur
  • It’s tough to be a bug
  • TriceraTop Spin
  • Festival of the Lion King

Those are all experiences that have an argument about having outdated technology, story or requires a full renovation.

Hopefully imagination is still left at Disney Parks and Resorts, as the legacy of Aerosmith could be changed at any point in time.

Enhanced Disney World Souvenirs

MaDe by D-Tech on Demand at Tomorrowland Power Co (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Merchandise at Disney World can be exciting or boring, but there is a category of souvenirs that can be enhanced into something that is unique.

Ornaments

Traditions are important with Disney fans, which may include the purchasing of dated merchandise. Ornaments are available to be personalized in many spots around property, with the main hubs at the Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs.

For an extra charge, you can have an ornament personalized with many customization options and pick it up in a reasonable turnaround time.


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Birthday buttons

Personalized Birthday Button at the Magic Kingdom – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

If you visit the shops that can personalize ornaments and ask for a celebration button to have something special on it – the cast members can definitely do it. In fact, this is one of our favourite birthday enhancements!

Arribas bros

Aribas Bros Personalization and Customization Options (Photo: Dustin Fuhs)

The staff at Arribas Bros have the ability to take things to a different level with customization. In addition to the glass blowing, they are also able to personalize frames and also operate the silhouette experiences at Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs.


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Parasol

If you visit the Magic Kingdom and head to Liberty Square, you’ll find a cart that specializes in the art of custom & personalized art onto parasol (umbrellas).

Leather treaty

At last check, the customizable engraving of leather bracelets are available at outside of Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and by the Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom. These are great souvenirs available at a reasonable cost and include free engraving on-the-spot by talented individuals who have experience making these bracelets (at scale) with quick turnaround (coming from personal experience, of course).

Customizable Coke Products

The Coca-Cola Store at Disney Springs has a number of products that can be customized, including shirts, cans and technology.


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Shirts

These have become more common with the release of on-site screen printing and can be found at most parks, including Disney Springs at Disney’s Wonderful World of Memories and online at ShopDisney.com.

D-TECH

MaDe by D-Tech on Demand at Tomorrowland Power Co (Image: Dustin Fuhs / StepstoMagic)

Disney Springs has a D-TECH kiosk at the CO-OP Marketplace, while the Magic Kingdom has a MaDe customizable technology station at Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. There is also the customizable D-TECH location in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Build Your Own Lightsaber at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

Build Your Own Lightsaber at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge (Photo: Dustin Fuhs)

More of a product than an enhanced souvenir, but it’s still a cool addition to the list!

and finally…

Ears

Mickey Ears can be customized and personalized with your name in a colour & font of your choosing.

Dollar Store Items That Aren’t a Dollar in Disney World

Disney's Animal Kingdom Gift Shop (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Budget is important when thinking about a vacation to Walt Disney World, but not in the ways that you would normally consider.

Why spend more than a dollar at a Disney World Resort gift shop when you can buy it for a buck at home in the dollar store and then toss when after your vacation to make room for a new souvenir?

Yes, this is consumerism and horrible for the planet – but work with me on this and you’ll save more space in your budget for new and exciting experiences.

Ponchos

This is a basic for anyone who doesn’t want to get soaked in a classic Florida downpour. It’ll happen, and even if you’re prepared – it’ll still be uncomfortable when you’re hunkered down in a gift shop surrounded by families spending $13-$17 on an “official” Disney World plastic bag with Mickey on it (aka a poncho).


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Bubble Wands

Easy to pack and a hit with the entire family (regardless of the ages) – pick up a package that includes a refill and it’ll save you $15+ on something that you would definitely not bring home at the end of your trip.

Light-up Toys

After the sun goes down, the parks become a sea of Disney merchandise carts with light-up toys that range from $5-$30 and usually break after the first couple days. I’ve seen guests exchange if they do break, but when you’re done the vacation – the toys just end up in a pile at home and will eventually make their way to a donation bin.

Socks

This is horrible to suggest but is also absolutely hilarious to see in practise. Imagine getting rained on in the typical mid-afternoon downpour and then walking around in wet socks for the rest of the day. Now think about how your feet would be if you changed socks after the rainstorms…..no one would know but it’s such a game-changer!


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Batteries

EPCOT Gift Shop
EPCOT Gift Shop (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Do you have anything that requires AA or AAA batteries? You definitely don’t want to spend $10+ on a replacement pack of batteries when you can have a replacement set in your backpack that will last you until you’re at the hotel.

Gum

Did you know that you can’t buy gum at Disney World? You know where you CAN buy gum….

Stickers

Keeping your family distracted in line could be as easy as pulling out the sticker book. I’ve seen it happen and it can change the mood from a potential meltdown at the worst possible time.


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Cough Drops, Ibuprofen, etc

Anything that you could need to make it through a potential mid-day headache or cough-attack will make everyone happy. There are official Disney First Aid walk-in medical facilities in the parks that can provide these if you forget, just in case you need help!

Headphones

Bring your good headphones with you for the travel portion, but if you need a cheap pair that you wouldn’t mind break or get soaked in a Florida rainstorm….cheap dollar store for the win.


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Honourable Mentions

  • Umbrellas (cheap-ish will save you $15+ in the parks)
  • Disney-themed Candy ($1 on princess candy will save you $5-$8 at Goofy’s Candy Co)
  • Charger Cables & Battery Packs (Get these on sale and you’ll be glad to have a backup, incase you don’t have a FUELROD membership)
  • General Snacks (Granola bars, fruit snacks, potato chips, etc)
  • Water bottles (We tend to recommend Swell and other higher-performance based water bottles, but anything is better than spending $5 on a bottle of water)

and the most recommended thing to buy at the dollar store…


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Sunglasses

Have you ever heard that the most reliable sunglasses are the cheapest pairs, while the ones that constantly break are the expensive ones? Bring a pair of cheap sunglasses (sport-style are the best) and you’ll be fine if you drop them. I also tend to use my cheap ones on water rides, as I don’t like to miss the action!

Hope this was helpful!