A Stroll Down Disney’s Main Street, U.S.A.

First-time visitors to the Magic Kingdom are looking forward to experiencing the sights and sounds in the five lands that comprise the park. In reality, there are 6 lands that comprise Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. They are Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, Adventureland, and Main Street, U.S.A. Yes; Main Street is considered its own land.

IMG_9159The Mature MouseTM likes to think of Main Street, U.S.A. as Yesterday-land. Like it’s counterpart in Disneyland, Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom depicts Walt Disney’s vision of the quintessential American town, circa 1890-1920. However, Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A. does differ in architecture from Disneyland’s.

Most guests do not stroll down Main Street, U.S.A. examining the number of Victorian-styled buildings, reminiscent of a developing east-coast town. The Imagineers applied forced perspective to create a sense of scale to the buildings. Reducing the scale of the second and third levels creates an optical illusion, so the buildings appear to be larger, grander. Imagineers apply this optical illusion throughout the Disney Parks, not just on Main Street, U.S.A.

The next time you are in Magic Kingdom, stand in Town Square, directly in front of the Walt Disney World Railroad and look down Main Street at Cinderella’s Castle. The use of forced perspective creates the illusion that the street is longer and the buildings are taller than they are in actuality.

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IMG_8880Just the opposite happens when you look down Main Street from the Hub in front of the castle. The Walt Disney World Railroad was not built using forced perspective. This sets up the illusion that Main Street is shorter during your exit from the park. Why did the Imagineers design the architecture of Main Street in this way? Well, think about it. You enter the park excited to be there and full of enthusiasm. However, even after the best of days in Magic Kingdom, most of us are tired and eager to exit the park.

During your next visit to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom remember that Main Street is a land unto itself. Take some time to appreciate all the nuances created by the Imagineers, while taking a trip back to an American town of yesterday.

For more information about Main Street in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, The Mature MouseTM recommends listening to Lou Mongello’s recent podcast 10 Secrets You Never Knew About Main Street, U.S.A. If you have not previously had the opportunity to hear the WDW Radio podcasts, Lou never sticks to just 10.

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Make sure you consult Jennie Nowers about your next Disney vacation. She will assist you in all your vacation planning. Tell her that The Mature Mouse™ sent you and receive a special gift from Jennie with your next booking.

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Best Themed Restaurants in Disney World

As I have stated before, one of the best things about visiting Disney World is enjoying your surroundings. Disney magic lives in the exceptional theming in the parks, the resorts, and in the restaurants. Here is a list of the best themed restaurants in Disney World, as determined by touringplans.com.

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Chapter 7: Disney Magic and Romance at the California Grill

Our Walt Disney World vacation was a celebration of our 20th anniversary, and we chose to make an ADR at the California Grill as an elegant and romantic way to commemorate the occasion. It was important to us to fill this experience with as much Disney magic as possible. After all, that is why we came to WDW for our anniversary. To that end, we planned to walk from our resort at Disney’s Beach Club to the front of Epcot, by way of the International Gateway that leads into the World Showcase. From the Epcot monorail station, we could ride to the Ticket and Transportation Center, transfer to the resort loop in order to ride into the Contemporary lobby. It would take us about 90 minutes, but it would be a truly Disney experience.

On our way through the World Showcase, we stopped on the bridge that leads to France and had a Disney photographer take our picture with the France pavilion behind us. This certainly added to the romance of the evening. We also stopped at a Disney photographer at the entrance to Future World. He took a picture of us in front of a fountain and Spaceship Earth. It was a little further to the front of the park than we had imagined, and it was a warm afternoon, but we took it slow and enjoyed our first look at Epcot.   Our first ride on the monorail gave us an extensive view of the expanse of Walt Disney World between Epcot and the Seven Seas Lagoon. Luckily, we did not need to wait long for the resort monorail. This ride gave us an opportunity to get a glimpse of the Polynesian and Grand Floridian Resorts, as well as the entrance to the Magic Kingdom Park. There we were, on the monorail, traveling in true Disney style.

We arrived at the Contemporary with some time to kill, so we explored the massive lobby. There are several gift shops, and the beautiful 90-foot-tall mosaic by Mary Blair, which celebrates the Grand Canyon and the American Southwest. I was most fascinated by how smoothly the various monorail trains glide in and out of the foyer.

Our dinner reservation at the California Grill was for 7:30. My wife did not realize that I had left special instructions with our reservation. It was important for us to have a table next to the window to give us the best view of the Magic Kingdom. FL0005_dtI had also placed a special order with the Disney florist for a rhinestone tiara, which comes sitting on a rhinestone-studded pillow, surrounded by roses, on a silver-tone plate. This surprise was to be delivered to the restaurant earlier that day and placed on our table before we were seated. During our check in at the restaurant podium on the 2nd floor of the resort, I tried to convey who we were and the special instructions for our reservations without openly telling the hostess. It was a little awkward for me, and I had no way of knowing if things were going as planned when they finally called our name.

The hostess instructed us to follow a cast member to a private elevator, which took us up to the restaurant on the 15th floor. DSC04639-940x624A wine wall greets you as you exit the elevator. The California Grill has a curved wall of windows with a vista of the lagoon, the Floridian and Polynesian Resorts, and the Magic Kingdom. The entire dining room opens to the bank of windows, IMG_1413but it was the tables nearest and next to the windows that offer the guests the best view. There are linen tablecloths and napkins, as well as a candle centerpiece. The décor has a retro feel, and the rug design echoes the southwest mural in the lobby of the Contemporary.DSC04633-940x624

As we approached our table, I could tell that all my arrangements, along with some Disney magic, had gone as planned. On our table for two, which was next to a window, sat the tiara and roses. The staff at the California Grill had spread Mickey glitter all over the table and left us a note wishing us a happy anniversary. My wife was very surprised and very happy. OuIMG_6456-940x704r meal was delicious and the wait staff was very friendly and accommodating. I ordered the Pork Two Ways, which is a plate of grilled tenderloin, goat cheese polenta, mushrooms, lacquered belly and applesauce. We took our time, and ended our evening with a spectacular view of Wishes. The restaurant turns down the lights and the audio from the Magic Kingdom is piped in to the restaurant.

We were surprised that there were many young children at the restaurant that evening. There was a young couple, with a baby in an infant seat and a toddler, sitting near us. This family had come in shortly after 9 and stayed through Wishes. Most, if not all, Disney restaurants try to accommodate young children with different menu items. However, these parents had to, or decided to, bring infant and toddler food into the restaurant. I can only assume that they chose to come to the California Grill for the view of the fireworks, but their children seemed too tired to enjoy the show. I would not bring young children to this restaurant; they would not be able to appreciate the fine-dining experience.

Have you ever had the opportunity to dine at the California Grill, or one of the other fine dining restaurants on Disney property? What are your go-to restaurants for romantic evenings? How do you prefer to travel around Walt Disney World? Do you make an effort to ride the monorail during your vacation, even if you are not staying at one of the Magic Kingdom resorts?

In the next chapter of The Mature Mouse I will discuss our trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including our lunch at the Sci-Fi Drive-in Theater Restaurant. If you are indeed a mature fan of Disney, a mature mouse, please use the link to visit The Mature Mouse store for logo merchandise. And, do not forget to consult Jennie Nowers about your next Disney vacation. Tell her that The Mature Mouse sent you.

Top-10 Disney Attraction Scenes

Disney Magic lives in the details created by the magicians known as Imagineers. You will miss it if spend your time in the parks rushing from attraction to attraction.

Wandering In Disney

Before Disneyland opened in 1955, theme parks didn’t exist.  There were carnivals, circuses, and amusement parks but Walt Disney brought us the first theme park.  What’s the difference?  A theme park is more than just a collection of rides and shows.  A theme park has attractions that tell stories and are designed to fit specific lands.  At their best, theme parks are a theater that shows tons of different stories that all somehow meld together.  Just like a film, these attractions are made up of different scenes.  Today, I’m going to tell you my ten favorite scenes in Disney attractions.

Jungle Cruise Line

Now that I’m done with my extreme round-about way of explaining attraction scenes, I need to add in some caveats before I get to my list.  First, my favorite attraction scenes do not generally reflect what my favorite attraction is.  Some attractions are so good as a whole (Pirates of the…

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Chapter 6: Our trek to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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Based on all of the crowd calendars I read, we decided that the first morning of our vacation would be spent at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Many regular WDW visitors do not recommend scheduling a FP+ during the first hours of the park opening. However, we did not want to rush to the park for rope-drop, then dash through the park to an attraction. We had scheduled a FastPass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris from 9:15-10:15. If we really enjoyed the attraction, and the lines were short, we could ride it again. This is the way we structured all our mornings in the parks. This morning would be a test-run for our system.

We had stocked a few food items in the room for a quick breakfast. So, after a quick stop at the Beach Club Marketplace for coffee, we headed off to take the bus to DAK. The wait was not long, and the ride was fairly quick and uneventful. Before entering the park, we stopped to have our picture taken in front of the park sign by one of the Disney PhotoPass photographers. We had added Disney Memory Maker to our package. I will address the value of this added expense during my post-trip blog. For now, let me say that it was a pleasure to have our picture taken together in front of the park. We have so many vacation photos of one or the other of us, or selfies that do not include much of our surroundings.

We took our time wandering toward the back of the park. This would have been an appropriate time to explore some of the various paths heading toward Africa. We did not do this and I wish we had taken more time to discover the unique elements of this park. However, being June, it was hot and humid that morning. We did not want to take too much time getting to the attraction.

The theming of Harambe Village is very authentic to an African village, from the thatch roofs, to the aged and weathered look of the buildings, even the crumbling or missing walls left over from the occupation by the British. For some, this could seem unwelcoming. I found the theming to be part of the DAK experience; I was immersed in my surroundings. I felt as if I was in Africa, and the weather was adding to the atmosphere.2014-06-22 09.51.53-1

Kilimanjaro Safaris was also very authentic, although I doubt you would find all those animals in such close proximity to each other in Africa. However, that is not the point. A ‘real’ African Safari would take days or weeks, without any guarantee of seeing an animal. The Disney Imagineers have created an authentic safari experience, including creaky, old bridges and washed out roads, without any visible barriers or pens for the animals. I was surprised at just how close you get to them. The ride was often jarring, but that added to the experience.

PartScreen Shot 2015-02-02 at 4.18.10 PM of our vacation planning included designing and printing thank-you cards for exceptional cast members. These were the size of a business card. It was an idea I found on a few of the planning blogs I had consulted. Our safari driver was the first park cast member to receive one of these cards. She did an excellent job explaining the surroundings and the animals, and making us feel like we were on an African safari.2014-06-22 10.18.51-1

We took a walk through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Unlike Kilimanjaro Safaris, this felt more like a zoo. Despite the fact that animals were situated within authentic environments, they were behind cages or glass walls. One of the silverback gorillas mooned us while bending over for a drink at a spring.

2014-06-22 10.35.26-1Our next FP+ was scheduled for Dinosaur, between the hours of 10:40-11:40, which is located on the other side of the park. We took our time walking in that direction. Again, it would have been nice to explore diverse areas on Discovery Island, but the crowds were building along with the heat, which kept us moving. We did stop along the way for a few shots of the Tree of Life. This was a little emotional for both my wife and me. We had heard so much about this park icon, and there we were standing right in front of it.

Dinosaur was a thrilling experience, albeit a short one. We were given the opening spiel about time traveling back in time, just before the meteors wiped out all the dinosaurs. ThroughDino special lighting effects, a jeep that bounced and jarred us through the blackness of the past, we were given a fantastic ride. This is one of the attractions that include an on-ride photo. Although you know that this world and the creatures in it has all been imagineered into reality, you do get caught up in the moment. I certainly did.

We lunched at Restaurantosaurus, which is humorously themed as living quarters for a group of young paleontologists. As quick service food goes, it was good. We each had a Chicken BLT Salad. Each quick service meal comes with dessert, and who were we to argue? I had the cheesecake and my wife had the chocolate mousse. Both were served in a glass. Our meal also included two bottles of water. You need to remain hydrated! The price of this lunch was just around $33 for the two of us, just over $15 per person.

NemoWe made our way over to the theatre to see Finding Nemo – the Musical. We had a FP+ for this production, which did get us quickly through the line, but did not give us preferred seating. The theater is large, as are the sets and characters. We are fans of the movie, and we became fans of this live-action version of the story. The characters are huge puppets controlled by actors, who also give the characters their voice. Without giving too much away, there are special effects that immerse the audience in the underwater adventure of Nemo, Marlin, and Dory. This is a must-do for all ages.

As we were leaving the theater, heading toward Asia, we decided the park was getting very crowded, and we were getting tired. We had a special evening planned for at the California Grill, so we decided to head out of the park and back to our room at Disney’s Beach Club. The wait for the bus was short, and the ride not too long.

Some consider DAK a ‘half-day’ park because it does not have as many attractions as some of the smaller parks. However, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is huge, and attractions are dispersed throughout the park, which requires a lot of walking. There are a few walking trails to explore and details to investigate in all areas of the park. It is also considered the hottest park; for some reason, the temps are always higher at DAK than in the rest of the parks. I would like to revisit this park, on a cooler, less crowded day, and take some time to study all the special touches the Imagineers included in their design of the park. There are new experiences coming to DAK, including Rivers of Light and Pandora, a separate area based on the movie Avatar.

How do you plan your time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Do you consider it a half or full day park?In your opinion, is Disney’s Memory Maker a good value? Has a cast member ever gone out of their way to share some extra Disney Magic with you? Do you give thank you notes or gifts to exceptional cast members?

In the next chapter of The Mature Mouse I will review our evening at the California Grill. If you are indeed a mature fan of Disney, a mature mouse, please use the link to visit The Mature Mouse™ store for logo merchandise. And, do not forget to consult Jennie Nowers about your next Disney vacation, and mention this blog for a free gift with your booking.

Top 5 Disney World Vacation Planning Myths: Busted!

This is great article, from Fast Pass to Fantasy Land, which debunks the myths associated with a Disney World Vacation. Please pay close attention to number 3 – “Disney is all Mickey Mouse and kid stuff.” The Mature Mouse is focused on promoting the positive aspects of a Walt Disney World Vacation to middle-aged vacationers, and “some of the best things about Disney are geared toward adults.”

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10 Most Beautiful Places in All of Walt Disney World

Disney Fanatic has posted a great review of the 10 most beautiful places in Walt Disney World. http://www.disneyfanatic.com/10-beautiful-places-walt-disney-world/

As The Mature Mouse has stated before, it is this immersion into your surroundings that makes a WDW vacation an excellent choice for adults. Those Disney guests that spend their time rushing from attraction to attraction miss the Disney magic created by the Imagineers. It is my recommendation that you take your time to look and experience every detail while you are in the parks.

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