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Hello Disney lovers. One of Disney World’s best kept secrets is that you can meet the Disney characters for a private meet and greet at Epcot Center. Thee best part is, it’s free! All you need is a Disney Rewards credit card presented by Visa. Here’s how the meet and greet works. You go to the Innoventions Pavilion located at Epcot. The location of the meet and greet is directly across from the “Where’s The Fire?” exhibit. Once you go up to the cast member working there, he or she will ask you for your Disney Rewards credit card. Once you show the person your card, you will be guided through the curtains where the Disney characters will be waiting for you. A word of caution before you go. If you do not have a Disney Rewards credit card, you will NOT be able to have your picture taken with the characters. Disney takes this very seriously. I’ve actually seen people be turned away because they did not have this credit card. As far as the character selection is concerned, the results can vary. All the times I’ve had my picture taken there, they have usually stuck with the original fab 5 of Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Goofy. The mixture of these 5 have been different every time. Sometimes it’s been all 5. Other times it’s been just Mickey and Pluto. You never know which combination you will receive. Once you have your picture taken with them, you can either pick up your pictures while you are at Epcot at their photo shop or you can wait until you arrive home to order your pictures. Either way, you will have memories that you can treasure for a lifetime. Have you ever had your picture taken at this special meet and greet? If so, which character or characters did you have your picture taken with? If you have never been to Walt Disney World, would you consider going to the meet and greet? Why or why not? Please post your comments below or E-mail us at admin@beyondthecastleblog.com with your thoughts. For now though, as always, have a magical day!

Happy Birthday Epcot!

October 1st, 2012

Hello Disney lovers. Today is a very special day in Walt Disney World. It is the 30th anniversary of Epcot. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the theme park, Epcot stands for Experimental Prototype Experimental Community of Tomorrow. This theme park was made to resemble what life would be like in the future. It was Walt’s very own idea. It was so much so, that legend has it that even as he was in the hospital where he would later pass away, people found him brainstorming ideas on paper of what Epcot would look like. I feel that Disney Imagineers wanted to create a learning experience when you went to Epcot. This unfortunately did not go over well with the guests. Their feeling was that they did not want to simply learn and be educated while on vacation. They also want to be entertained in the process. That’s the purpose of a vacation, isn’t it? :) To counter act this, Disney began to create attractions that would serve the purposes of informing and entertaining as well. One of the most iconic examples of this ideology is Figment, a small dinosaur like creature that takes you on a ride all while testing your 5 senses. It’s a great ride for all ages. Epcot also has the various lands of which I’ve talked about in a previous blog post. All of these elements make for a great day of fun and learning for the entire family. What is your favorite attraction at Epcot? If you are a fan of the lands, what is your favorite country? Please post your comments below or E-mail us at admin@beyondthecastleblog.com with your thoughts. For now though, as always, have a magical day!

Received My Photopass Pictures!

September 19th, 2012

Hello Disney lovers. Today I’m proud to announce that last Friday I received my Photopass pictures. What is Photopass you ask? Well let me tell you. Photopass is a feature where you can have your picture taken in front of any or all of the 4 Disney park monuments. By the way, the 4 Disney park monuments are Cinderella’s Castle (Magic Kingdom), Spaceship Earth (Epcot), The Tree of Life (Animal Kingdom) and Mickey’s Sorcerers Hat (Hollywood Studios). Once you have your picture taken, you then go online and order the prints that you liked. There are many different options to choose from when you do order your prints. You can purchase anything from a standard 5 X 7 to a CD to even having the pictures delivered to you electronically. I ordered 2 prints, each 5 x 7 I believe. One was just of me in front of Spaceship Earth and one of my father & I in front of Cinderella’s Castle. By the way, your prints do have an expiration date so it’s a good idea to order them as soon as possible. If you really love pictures, there’s a way to have your picture taken with the Disney characters, but I’ll go into detail on that in a future post. ;) Have you ever used Disney’s Photopass feature? If so, did you like the shots the photographer took? Why or why not? If you’ve never used Photopass, would you ever consider doing so on your next Disney World vacation? Why or why not? Please post your comments or questions about the Photopass system below or E-mail us at admin@beyondthecastleblog.com. For now though, as always, have a magical day!

Diluted Disney Stores

September 17th, 2012

Hello Disney lovers. Over the weekend, I had a thought about the various Disney stores in Walt Disney World and Disney stores in general. Unfortunately, it seems like Disney stores in both areas have become diluted. For example, years ago I know someone who received a music box from her father-in-law. Apparently the music box was purchased in a store on Mainstreet U.S.A in the Magic Kingdom. To go along with that theme, I remember a regular Disney Store close to me having paintings in there store of various Disney characters and things that appealed to adults. Nowadays however, things at both your local Disney Store and Disney gifts shop in Walt Disney World have changed. Now, unfortunately, these stores have become nothing more than souvenir shops with just various items with the Disney characters on them. Now I’m as much of a collector as the next person. I enjoy purchasing things like hats, T-shirts, etc. However, I would like to see some non-characterized Disney material come through the stores. I think Disney should go back to the days where you could purchase unique items that were not Disney plastered.. Give us some variety, Disney. That is what we are looking for. What do you think? Do you like the Disney stores the way that they are or would you like to see some non-Disney material come through their stores? Please leave your comments below or E-mail us at admin@beyondthecastleblog.com with your thoughts. For now though, as always, have a magical day!

 

Hello Disney lovers. The big Disney news of the week is that the Be Our Guest Restaurant, located at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, specifically the new Fantasyland, will be offering alcohol during your dinner. This comes as a surprise to many as restaurants at the Magic Kingdom strictly prohibit the serving of alcohol up to this point. Apparently the wine will complement the French inspired menu. Also, the beers will come from the German region. I am kind of surprised that Disney chose to start serving alcohol at this restaurant. Especially since it is located at the Magic Kingdom park. I could definitely see this choice being made at Epcot for example where they serve adult beverages at the various lands in World Showcase. Also, while all 4 parks are obviously geared towards children, Epcot and even Hollywood Studios for example, are geared more towards adults. For this reason, I can easily see why both Epcot and Hollywood Studios serve alcohol at their various dining areas. Even Animal Kingdom I believe serves alcohol at there restaurants. However, when it comes to a place like Magic Kingdom, the park that has the most children themed atmosphere, serving alcohol in their newest eatery is a very bold progressive step forward in my estimation. However, what do you think? Do you like the idea of the Be Our Guest Restaurant serving alcohol? Why or why not? Please comment below or E-mail us at admin@beyondthecastleblog.com with your thoughts. For now though, as always, have a magical day!

Avatar Plans Cancelled?

September 12th, 2012

Hello Disney lovers. There is brand new information regarding the new Avatar project at Disney’s Animail Kingdom. According to Disneydigitalfiles.com, there has been slight friction between James Cameron, the creator of Avatar and the Disney Imagineers. If you had not heard by now, Disney World was supposed to add a land to its Animal Kingdom theme park based on the blockbuster movie “Avatar”. This project is supposed to be completed by the year 2016. Due to the latest setback however, the project as a whole is very much in question. When I posted this news as a question on my Facebook (www.facebook.com/beyondthecastleblog), the response I received was somewhat surprising to me. The general feeling was that they did not like the idea of having Avatar Land put into Disney World at all. I found that to be interesting. I always felt that Disney fans would welcome new lands, especially ones of this projected magnitude. Some are also saying and I agree, that if Disney does decide to scrap the Avatar Land, maybe that would pave the way for Cars Land to be put into Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Going this route may be more cost efficient forĀ  Disney as oppose to building an Avatar Land. I feel that an Avatar Land would be way more complex. However, what do you think? Do you feel that Disney should work with James Cameron and continue with the plans for an Avatar Land? Why or why not? Do you feel Disney should scrap the Avatar plans and build a Cars Land instead? Why or why not? Please post your comments below or E-mail us at admin@beyondthecastleblog.com with your thoughts. For now though, as always, have a magical day!

Disney Prices

September 7th, 2012

Hello Disney lovers. Today’s topic is based on a discussion I had with my fellow viewers of the beyondthecastleblog.com Facebook page (www.facebook.com/beyondthecastleblog for those who don’t know the address.) The topic was will people stop going to Walt Disney World if Disney raises there prices too much. Some stated that yes they would. Those who had this view went on to say that if the prices keep going up that people would think that Disney World is too expensive for them and they would choose not to go at all. While I understand this ideology in the short term for some people, in the long term, I do not agree with this mindset. Here is my view on this issue. Disney World is an American landmark. If you are in this country for any amount of time, especially if you have children, you are arguably judged by whether or not you have ever been to Walt Disney World. Therefore, my thinking is that Disney will always have first time visitors coming to there parks. Now could Disney lose returning guests by raising there prices? Absolutely. Unless of course they convince the first time attendees to become Disney Vacation Club members, but that’s a different story. The fact is that Disney will continue to have visitors, they will continue to raise the prices and people will continue to pay them. This doesn’t make what they’re doing right by any stretch of the imagination. Disney has found a system that works though and I don’t see anyone including Universal Studios, Sea World, Busch Gardens or any other theme park stopping them. Where do you stand on this issue? Do you see Disney sales dropping significantly enough to cause a problem to the company? Why or why not? Also, do you have a price threshold that says if Disney raises its prices so high I will stop going to Walt Disney World? If so, what is your limit? Please leave your comments below or E-mail us at admin@beyondthecastleblog.com with your thoughts. For now though, as always, have a magical day!

What Is It There For?

August 31st, 2012

Hello Disney lovers. Today I wanted to share an answer to a great mystery I had regarding Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex. Now I already knew about this complex in generality terms. A place with its own baseball field, football fields and a basketball court among other things. However, I hadn’t heard of any big events there other than the Atlanta Braves having there Spring Training baseball games there. This had me thinking. Other than for those games, what is the complex really there for? My answer to this puzzling question came to me when I was watching TV on my latest trip to Walt Disney World. I was watching a basketball game on ESPN U featuring the top high school basketball players. I found out that the top recruits in all the major college sports including basketball, football and even lacrosse play in Walt Disney World at the Wide World of Sports complex. This makes sense seeing that the top college coaches would want to go some place warm to watch the top athletes in the nation compete. Why not watch them play at the happiest place on Earth? Have you ever watched a game at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex? If so, what was the sport? If you haven’t seen a game there, would you ever consider watching a game on your next Walt Disney World vacation? Why or why not? Please post your comments below or E-mail us at admin@beyondthecastleblog.com to share your thoughts. For now though, as always, have a magical day!

Spreading Themselves Too Thin?

August 30th, 2012

Hello Disney lovers. Today I have an interesting topic I would like to discuss. As you know, Walt Disney World recently opened another resort on its property called Art of Animation. The opening of this resort opens the door to one simple but very important question. Is Disney spreading themselves too thin? Think about this for a minute. A couple of years ago, a Disney employee who will remain nameless, told me that the Port Orleans Riverside was just over 50 percent occupied (I forget the exact number this person told me). Now that is at a moderate resort. My question is if that’s the case, why would Disney even think about opening up another resort? When you open up a resort, that means you have to hire and pay more staff, which includes more cleaning crews, more grounds crew, etc. This also means more upkeep for Disney all after you are not filling the resorts that you already have. Now obvious.ly once the U.S economy picks up, the rooms will become even more full. For the time being though, if you were Disney, wouldn’t you somewhat hold off on the opening of new resorts? On the flip side of the argument, I guess you could say that Disney wants to offer its guests variety by opening new resorts to expand people’s options. I just feel that Disney needs to be careful not to open too many resorts. It could lead to major financial losses which I know Disney does not want. Where do you stand on this issue? Do you feel that Disney is spreading themselves too thin by opening Art of Animation? Why or why not? Do you favor the other side of the argument of having resort options to choose from? Again, why or why not? Please post your comments below or E-mail us at admin@beyondthecastleblog.com with you thoughts. For now though, as always, have a magical day!

 

Hello Disney lovers. A couple of weeks ago, Disney announced that it is now taking reservations for its new Be Our Guest restaurant. The restaurant will be open as part of the new Fantasyland that is open at the Magic Kingdom. This new restaurant is just the latest thing that amazes me about the expansion of Fantasyland. I had heard that the expansion would be the largest in Magic Kingdom history. However, I don’t think you can really comprehend how large the new area is until you see it in person. I had the opportunity to see view the parts that are done on my last trip to Walt Disney World. I must say that I was even amazed by how much effort Walt Disney World put into it. You will be seeing pictures and videos we took of their progress in the coming days and weeks. Back to the restaurant though. I look forward to hearing what people say about the food and service. I read that the style of food is American and French which I feel is an interesting combination. I expect the service to be slow at first while they try and get their feet on the ground. Once it becomes an established restaurant though, I expect Be Our Guest to be one of the top restaurants in all of Walt Disney World. How do you feel about Be Our Guest now taking reservations? Would you be inclined to eat there on your next Walt Disney World vacation? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts below or E-mail us at admin@beyondthecastleblog.com. I look forward to reading what you have to say. Until next time, as always, have a magical day!

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