Walt Disney World Approved to Reopen

Orlando Weekly

Caroline Silva on May 27, 2020

Walt Disney World presented reopening plans to an Orange County task force on Wednesday morning, saying it hopes to welcome back tourists and residents with…

Source: SeaWorld and Walt Disney World approved by Orange County to reopen, dates await approval by DeSantis

PHOTO VIA DISNEY/FACEBOOK

 

The Mature Mouse™ returns to Walt Disney World

IMG_7770Magical News: The Mature Mouse™ returns to Walt Disney World this April. This will be another solo trip that will feature my first experience at the Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival. I have heard that this springtime event has incredible Disney themed flower and garden displays, along with live concerts and unique food offerings. Although the displays contain Disney characters, it appears to be geared toward the older Disney guests.

As much as I would enjoy sharing my trips to WDW with family and friends, that cannot happen as often as I wish to visit. A solo trip offers an inexpensive way for me to return to WDW more often. There are numerous articles about the pros and cons of taking a solo trip to Walt Disney World on the net, like this one by Zach Basler on the WDW Prep School website. I do not want to focus my blog on the reasons why you might want to consider a solo trip.

I will share my steps in planning for this solo trip over the next few months. Hopefully, my steps in preparing for my visit will help you prepare for your next trip, regardless of what type of Disney vacation you will be taking. Of course, I will be posting reports while at WDW, and I will be gathering information, photos, and videos to share after my visit. Although I cannot promise, I might try Periscope while in the parks.

Normally, one would begin their planning by deciding when to visit Walt Disney World. However, as a high school teacher, my choices are confined to school vacations. I have now traveled to WDW twice in June. As I have researched WDW for this blog, I have considered a visit in April to enjoy the cooler weather, the Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival, and, hopefully, “lower” crowd levels. April vacation can be a very hectic week at WDW, especially if it falls in the calendar around Easter. This year, Easter is early, so the crowd levels during the third week of April are lower, normal (if there is such a thing at WDW). An additional incentive for traveling to WDW this April is that Disney is offering a spring discount.

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Not having to decide when to visit, my first step in planning for this trip to WDW began with setting a budget. This decision would guide the decisions for my length of stay, type of a resort, possible meal plan, and flight options. My goal was to put a package together that would fit my budget of $1500. Yes, it is possible to make a trip to WDW for so little. A low vacation cost is a major perk to a solo trip. Of course, to assist me in this endeavor, I made a call to my travel agent, Jennie Nowers. Given her knowledge and experience with Walt Disney World, Jennie knows the best way to create a vacation package to meet each guest’s unique requirements.

My original goal was a 5-night/6-day trip, but this was not possible with my budget. To keep costs low, I realized that I would need to stay at a value resort, but which one was the question. So, after some research and many email discussions with Jennie, I settled on a 4-night/5-day trip, and booked my stay at Disney’s All Star Music Resort. I considered returning to Pop Century, but it cost almost $10 more a night than the All Star resorts. When dealing with a tight budget, it all adds up. I was in a position to include the quick-service meal plan, which worked well for me during my last solo trip. I also included park-hopper tickets to afford me flexibility in developing touring plans. So the final package, before adding the cost of round trip flights, was just under $1000.

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Fortunately, after a lot of online research, I was able to purchase round trip airfare for just under $600. Here is a tip: Google Flights. All things considered, even though I broke my budget of $1500, it is still a very inexpensive trip. Searching for, and booking flights first can be helpful. Being able to adjust your trip dates affords you the opportunity to find the best price on flights. However, as in my case, I have a fixed window of travel days.

In my next post, I will discuss my next steps in the planning process. This involves consulting Touring Plans, and other crowd calendars, to determine which park to visit on each day of my stay at WDW. There will be a lot of time planned for Epcot and World Showcase to experience the Flower and Garden Festival. And, of course, I will plan as much time as possible in Magic Kingdom, just because. I will find time to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios, before the park, as we know it, completely disappears. However, I am considering not taking the time to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

IMG_2098-0Please use this link to visit The Mature Mouse™ store for logo merchandise. Many of the items would make great gifts for the Disney fan in your life.

And, make sure you consult Jennie Nowers about your next Disney vacation. Tell her that The Mature Mouse™ sent you and receive a special gift from Jennie with your next booking.

 

Parking Fees Increase at Disney World

The Mature Mouse™ is often asked if he prefers staying at a Disney Resort, or offsite in the nearby Orlando area. Although an offsite hotel or motel may offer a less expensive, per-night cost, there are other expenses to consider. By staying off property you may be required to pay for numerous extras, such as car rentals and daily parking fees.

 

Walt Disney World just raised their parking fees for all their theme parks. According to WDWinfo.com, you can expect to pay the following:

$20.00 – Car/Taxi/Shuttle/Limousine/Motorcycle

$18.00 – Camper/Trailer

$21.00 – Bus/Tractor Trailer

 

There is also the value you place on convenience to consider when making your resort decision. Disney transportation will take you directly to and from the pScreen Shot 2015-10-06 at 3.09.57 PMarks. Yes, you do need to wait with others for the bus, boat, or monorail to pick you up. However, for me, that is a minor inconvenience to parking in one of the numerous parking lots outside the theme parks, not to mention fighting the traffic. It is much easier to return to your resort for an afternoon break if you are staying onsite and using Disney transportation. Although there are shuttles from some of the offsite hotels and motels, most of them do not make regular trips to the Disney Parks.


The Mature Mouse™ enjoys being in the Disney bubble during his Walt Disney Vacations. What about you? Do you prefer to stay onsite or off? Please leave your comments below.IMG_2098

Please visit The Mature Mouse™ store for merchandise. Many of the items would make outstanding additions to your vacation gear and attire. If you are a mature fan of Disney, consider getting an item. Are you a Mature Mouse™?

A travel agent who specializes in booking Disney Vacations is a valuable free resource when planning your next trip, and will assist you in choosing the right resort for your stay at Walt Disney World. I started planning my recent trip by calling Jennie Nowers. When Cool Summer Savings was released, Jennie was up early applying these savings to my trip, which saved me 15% on the price of my resort stay. I did not need to do a thing. Tell Jennie that The Mature Mouse™ sent you and receive a special gift with your next booking.

Details of Disney Magic

The Mature MouseTM visits Walt Disney World because it is more than a theme park. A tour of a Disney Park is an intensive experience. Plans for Disney Hollywood Studios, announced at the recent D23, reflect the Imagineers plans for intensifying that experience.

During my recent trip to Disney World, I took some time to capture some of those details in the various parks. The magic of a Disney Park is imbedded in those features; it is the quality that makes a Disney Park more than just another theme park. Imagineers went to great lengths to design an atmosphere that enhances the storytelling. This attention to detail surrounds you at Disney’s resorts, four theme parks, and 2 water parks.

Below are images from my recent visit to Walt Disney World. You should also visit The Theme Park Tourist to read their list of  10 Absurdly Intricate Details at Walt Disney World That Most People Never Notice.

IMG_2018Please visit The Mature MouseTM store for merchandise. Many of the items would make outstanding additions to your vacation gear and attire. This baseball hat is just one of the featured items available through the store. If you are a mature fan of Disney, consider getting an item. Are you a Mature Mouse™?

A travel agent who specializes in booking Disney Vacations is a valuable free resource when planning your next trip, and will assist you in choosing the right resort for your stay at Walt Disney World. I started planning my recent trip by calling Jennie Nowers. When Cool Summer Savings was released, Jennie was up early applying these savings to my trip, which saved me 15% on the price of my resort stay. I did not need to do a thing. Tell Jennie that The Mature Mouse™ sent you and receive a special gift with your next booking.

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Liberty Square Street in Magic Kingdom
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Tangled Restroom in Magic Kingdom
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Tangled rest area in Magic Kingdom
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Harambe Village in Anima Kingdom
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Harambe Village in Anima Kingdom
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Morocco in World Showcase
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Morocco in World Showcase
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Mexico in World Showcase 
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Germany in World Showcase
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Streets of America in Hollywood Studios
Yacht & Beach Club
Yacht & Beach Club

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

The Mature Mouse™ hopes to convince more middle-aged travelers to see the enjoyment and value of a Walt Disney World vacation. One of the key ingredients in any type of vacation is your home base, the resort you decide to call home during your trip. I recommend staying on Disney property at one of their numerous resorts, priced to fit any budget, and themed to fit your style and comfort. A resort should be more than just a place to sleep, and your time at Walt Disney World should not be spent roaming the parks from open to close. I must confess that The Mature Mouse™ did not follow his own advice during my last trip. I choose a resort based on budget and simply as a place to crash after each exhausting day. However, I did make sure that I chose a resort that offered certain perks and amenities that I would enjoy.

IMG_7795It has been a little over a month since The Mature Mouse™ returned from my trip to Walt Disney World. I have briefly mentioned Disney’s Pop Century Resort in past posts. I have included links to those pages below. However, I realized that I have not dedicated an entire post to a review of this value resort.

Previous references to Disney’s Pop Century Resort:

IMG_7793As I stated earlier, I chose the Pop Century for this trip for two specific reasons. As a value resort, this Disney motel fit into my budget for this trip. And, the theme of this resort reflects the first 50 years of my life.

Did you notice that I referred to this Disney Resort as a motel? Although extremely large in area and capacity, Pop Century is built like motel; you enter your room from the outside of the building, not from interior corridors. Except for Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, all the other value resorts are constructed this way.
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The balconies are decorated with images representing the pop culture of a specific decade. These images are of the two buildings in the section representing the 1960s. At the center of these two buildings is the Hippy Dippy Pool.

IMG_7361POP Centurey210_0.preview

My travel agent booked me a preferred room, meaning it was closer to registration, central pool, food court, and park busses. This convenience cost a few more dollars a night. IMG_7312My room could use some updating. The beds were comfortable, but not exceptional, tiles and grout are worn, as are the rugs.IMG_7775
However, rugs and wallpaper feature hidden Mickeys.
IMG_7790Disney’s Pop Century features an exceptional food court, one of the best on property. There are hot and cold dishes, most made to order, as well as assorted snack choices. There is plenty of room to dine in the food court area, and you can always bring your meals outside to the pool areas, or back to the room. There is also a gift shop on site, offering many of the items one would find in the parks.IMG_1838 This would also be the place to pick up items bought in the parks and shipped back to your room.

IMG_7794Disney transportation busses are dedicated to Pop Century, meaning that they will not stop at multiple resorts traveling to and from the parks. However, Pop Century busses traveling to and from Animal Kingdom will also stop at Disney’s Blizzard Beach. As with all the other Disney resorts, there are well-marked waiting areas for the busses. However, the lines are not covered, which can be brutal on those hot and humid Florida days, or during one of the daily downpours.

IMG_7160Guests staying at Pop Century can cross Hourglass Lake, via Generation Gap Bridge, to visit Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Although it is in the value category, the cost per night at this resort is higher than the other value resorts. You are allowed to eat at the AoA food court, which is also exceptional, as well as use the pools. Knowing that Pop and Art are sister resorts affords you some flexibility in transportation. One could take a park bus to the Art of Animation and walk across the bridge to POP very easily. Although, if you are like me, you will usually return from the parks exhausted and not want a longer walk to your room.

IMG_7158 IMG_7159Overall, The Mature Mouse™ recommends Disney’s Pop Century in the value resort category. Although adults can appreciate the theming of the resort, it is geared more toward families with kids. I can only speak from my experience; the rooms could use some updating. However, the resort worked for me as a place to crash after a long day in the parks. I am in the process of planning a student trip to Walt Disney World for next April and this is the resort I have chosen for our stay.

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Follow this link to the unofficial fan site of Disney’s Pop Century Resort.

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A travel agent who specializes in booking Disney Vacations is a valuable free resource when planning your next trip, and will assist you in choosing the right resort for your stay at Walt Disney World. I started planning my recent trip by calling Jennie Nowers. When Cool Summer Savings was released, Jennie was up early applying these savings to my trip, which saved me 15% on the price of my resort stay. I did not have to do a thing. Tell Jennie that The Mature Mouse™ sent you and receive a special gift with your next booking

IMG_7405Please visit The Mature Mouse™ store for merchandise. Many of the items would make outstanding additions to your vacation gear and attire. This baseball hat is just one of the featured items available through the store. If you are a mature fan of Disney, consider getting an item. I am a Mature Mouse™, are you?

Disney’s 7 Dwarfs Mine Train is a real gem

Imagineers include many details in their design of the parks and attractions immerse guests in Disney magic. Whether it is force perspective used to create Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, or the remnants of British occupation found in the African village of Harambe at Animal Kingdom, the details enhance the guest experience. Although The Mature MouseTM has often stated that a Disney vacation is not just about riding an attraction, we cannot ignore the details evident in those attractions. Imagineers’ attention to theming makes a Disney attraction more than just an amusement park ride.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, often referred to as the crowning jewel of New Fantasyland, is more than just a rollercoaster; it is an experience that immerses you into the world of Walt Disney’s original full-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Before we discuss this attraction, take a few minutes to watch this clip from the 1937 movie.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 2.56.39 PMRising up in the middle of New Fantasyland, surrounded by walkways and other attractions, Imagineers were given a relatively small space in which to design and build this attraction. They did an amazing job capturing the key elements of the original movie, while offering guests a family-friendly thrill ride.

The Mature MouseTM experienced Seven Dwarfs Mine Train twice during my last visit, both times utilizing a FastPass+ selection. The queue has been designed to keep guests entertained while waiting to board the mine train. However, with wait times that can often exceed 90 minutes, this is one of those attractions for which I recommend reserving a FastPass.IMG_1980

You board the train in the Dwarfs’ cottage. It is obvious that Imagineers took great effort to create a ride vehicle that looked and acted like an authentic train car that would have been built by the Seven Dwarfs. Each car looks and feels as if hewed from trees, weathered and worn over the years.

JPEG image-8EFFF49EF7C4-1Your car takes a short spin before climbing a small hill. The track then drops as you speed your way into the mine, where the coaster becomes a ‘dark ride.’ You slowly pass each Dwarf working in the mine. The Imagineers have created an experience that replicates scenes from the movie. The audio animatronics and new 3D projection technology brings each Dwarf to life. Toward the end of this portion of the ride, the clock chimes and the Dwarfs break into a round of “Heigh-ho, it’s home from work we go.” As you climb out of the mine, you see the shadows of the Dwarfs following along beside you. From there you rdsc_0008ush through the woods, pass a waterfall, and back to the cottage. Your car stops in front of the Dwarfs’ home. You can see them dancing with Snow White through the front window, oblivious to the imminent danger that lurks at their door.

The ride is smooth with none of the clickety-clack of most coasters. Each car sways independently from side to side as you take each curve of the track. The Imagineers included several of the original items from Snow White’s Scary Adventures, which closed as part of the New Fantasyland construction.

This is a the on-ride video from my recent trip. Look for me in the second seat of the first car, wearing the blue shirt. This type of video is available for purchase if you have the Memory Maker package.

Have you had the opportunity to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? Is it on your must-do list? If so, why? Or, is this attraction you choose to skip? If so, I would enjoy hearing why? Please leave your comments below.

A travel agent who specializes in booking Disney Vacations is a valuable free resource when planning your next trip. I started planning my recent Disney World Vacation by calling Jennie Nowers. When Cool Summer Savings was released, Jennie was up early applying these savings to my trip, which saved me 15% on the price of my resort stay. I did not have to do a thing. Tell Jennie that The Mature Mouse™ sent you and receive a special gift with your next bookingIMG_1869

Please visit The Mature Mouse™ store for merchandise. Many of the items would make outstanding additions to your vacation gear and attire. This baseball hat is just one of the featured items available through the store. If you are a mature fan of Disney, consider getting an item. I am a Mature Mouse™, are you?