Everything Walt Disney World

Parks, Food, Resorts and More

Category: Disney Parks (page 1 of 2)

Up Close look at California Adventure’s Buena Vista Street

With all the hype surrounding the new Disney California Adventure expansion over at Disneyland Resort, I thought everyone who plans to head out to the West Coast for some Disney adventures would love to hear some tips and tricks for exploring one of the new expanded areas.  The bloggersphere seems to be of  Carsland tips for hitting the rides there (get there early, FastPass the racers, use single rider lines, etc) but what about the new stunning opening street of Disney California Adventure?
One of the coolest parts of Buena Vista Street is the new Carthay Circle restaurant which I strongly advise getting a reservation for.  The menu looks fabulous and this is, after all, a replica of the theater in which Disney’s first full length animated feature, Snow White, premiered.  The fountain area is also a great spot for the afternoon parade and photos.
Even though I didn’t get to ride the Red Car Trolley because of wait times, this is my favorite part of the expansion.  Why, you ask? Because it takes a group of Newsies out to Buena Vista Street where they do a fabulous show multiple times a day! I love the music, love the dancing, and, well, our Newsies were chock full of cuties! 😉 Check the times guide for showings and be prepared to be singing “Suitcase and a Dream” all day! 
The most obvious, not to be missed, area is the new Storytellers statue.  This makes my heart flutter and I shelled out $195 for the Limited Edition replica while in the park.  Buena Vista Street just confirms what I have thought since my first visit to Disneyland Resort… California Adventure is and has everything I have always wanted out of Hollywood Studios at WDW. 
The statue was super crowded when I was there and I hardly had time to get good shots of it, but I think that may have been a “grand opening” thing and you will find more reasonable waits for some face time and photopass pics here in the future. 
Most importantly, don’t overlook anything on Buena Vista Street.  There is Disney magic around every corner.  Look for shops named for Oswald, Mortimer, and even Walt’s father (and Walt’s middle name) Elias.  Check out the balconies and Imagineering wonders- you have just set foot in Walt’s California afterall! Commit some time here not just for the ride on the trolley or to see the newsboys but for shopping, people watching, and enjoying the ambiance. 
The moment you set foot on Buena Vista Street, you are stepping back in history.  Enjoy every minute of it. 
Want more picturing from Disneyland Resort and my recent visit to Disneyland Park and the California Adventure expansion? Check out my photoblog Picturing Disney and visit us on Facebook to see even more pictures of Buena Vista Street

Special Needs and Disabilities at Walt Disney World

Traveling to Walt Disney World can be stressful for any family. Adding a child or family member with special needs can magnify the stress, but I’ve got some advice and tips to make it a better trip. I’ve traveled with special needs kids on many trips and have talked to other parents about their trips and advice they offer.

Guest Assistance Card

One of the most frequent questions we get is about the Guest Assistance Card, or the GAC. The GAC is issued at Guest Services in all four parks and is provided as a means to help guests that have issues (mobility, sensory, sun, etc) and need to bypass a major queue or use an alternative entrance. The GAC does not grant immediate access and it should never be used for that reason. The individual castmember can make the decision about when to get you on the ride (for the most part, you enter the Fastpass queue and are treated like a Fastpass return).

How Do I get a Guest Assistance Card?
Getting a GAC is a simple process:

  • Visit Guest Relations in one of the four theme parks with the child or person that needs the GAC.
  • Explain to the castmember that your child has special needs and you would like to know about the Guest Assistance Card.. You can provide a medical note or documentation if you feel it better addresses what your child’s needs are and how they can best be met, but a cast member should not specifically ask for this information.
  • The cast member will ask for the child’s name, dates of your vacation and the number in your party (up to six guests).

How Do I Use a Guest Assistance Card?

  • If you are not sure where the appropriate entrance is, ask the greeter or first host from the attraction that you see. usually, you will be directed to the Fastpass line or the Exit, depending on the attraction. There have been times that my family has been asked to use the regular queue since there was less than a five-minute wait.
  • You will need to show each cast member the GAC, until you reach a certain point (usually when the Fastpasses are collected). The cast member could ask if the child is with you.

You shouldn’t feel guilty about using the Guest Assistance Card while at Walt Disney World. Real life is stressful enough for families with special needs and a Disney vacation should be an enjoyable experience. Disney provides the GAC as a service to help you enjoy your vacation with your family.

What if I Lose Our Guest Assistance Card?
Head to the Guest Services location in the park and ask about a replacement. I have been able to run to Guest Services to get a card while my wife sat with the kids. it was never a hassle, but the cast member might want to see the child.

Researching and Planning the Trip

There are a lot of great resources online and in print that will help you plan your trip and decide how to approach your vacation. One of our favorite sites is Disney On Wheels. Melissa shares a lot of information about accessibility option for ride vehicles and hotel rooms.

Sometimes watching an attraction can make a child feel better about riding it.

One of our favorite guidebooks is The Complete Walt Disney World by Julie Neal and Mike Neal. The Neals break down each attraction and give you a good idea of what to expect.

Searching Youtube for ride videos is another great way to learn more about the rides and parks. You know your child better than anyone else and you know what rides could frighten or cause sensory problems.

Make sure to check out menus to decide on which restaurants will offer the best food choices. AllEars updates their menus frequently.

You can always check with your travel agent or call the restaurants ahead of time to ask about special foods or ingredients. Many people have told me that the chefs will come out and talk to you about ingredients and will go out of their way to prepare the food that you need.

If you have special foods that your child needs, instead of packing them, you can have them shipped to your hotel by Amazon or use a grocery delivery service. If you are unsure what foods you will find at Walt Disney World, then you are better off being prepared and bringing your own (like specific juice boxes, snacks or treats).

You are always welcome to take small coolers into the parks with you, just remember that you can’t bring in glass bottles or alcohol.

You will want to keep all medications with you when you travel, but there will be instances when you might forget or lose something.

Your best bet, at the resort, is to call or check with the front desk. They will have lists of pharmacies that will deliver or mix custom medications. It is expensive and they might need to get a prescription, so make sure you have your medical provider’s phone numbers.

In the parks, you should head towards the First Aid location or Guest Services. The first Aid locations are staffed with nurses and they can offer first line help.

There are plenty of chain pharmacies in the area, like CVS, Wal-Greens and Target. If you don’t have a rental car, check with the front desk for options.

Don’t forget that any prescription medications should be kept in a labeled container. Security hosts are very reasonable, but they will question pills and syringes/needles.

When we had to take a custom-mix medication for my son, our local pharmacy made a special envelope for us to keep it cool throughout the day.

Know Your Child

The most straightforward advice is to know your child.

You know their sleep habits, foods, cranky moments and situations that could cause a melt down. Plan your trip with those thoughts in mind and everything will be simpler. Even though you might want to see and do everything at Walt Disney World, it simply isn’t possible on a normal six day vacation. I have been visiting Walt Disney World for over 20 years and there are still things I haven’t seen.

Stick with sleep/nap schedules and build in as much down time as you can.

Break Times:
There are plenty of areas in the parks that will give you some semi-private space for a few minutes rest or to let the kids burn off steam. You just need to keep an eye out or ask a friendly cast member. One of my favorite areas in the Magic Kingdom is a small courtyard to the right of the queue of Pirates of the Caribbean. It offers a bit of shade, but there is a wide space to spread out or take care of a child for a few minutes.

Keep an eye out for other areas where you can sit in the shade, enjoy a snack and take a few moments to relax.

Remember to feed everyone on a regular basis. Pack snacks that are easy and simple to hand out or keep an eye out for favorite Disney snacks.

We had a few meltdowns with our oldest son that could have been remedied with a snack or two. Because we were too busy trying to enjoy the parks, we didn’t see his mood slip until too late and then it was about 45 minutes before he was back to normal.

What Next?

Talk to your favorite travel agent or ask your friends online. There are plenty of WDW Facebook pages where you can talk to people that love Disney and can offer great advice.

  • Know your child,
  • Start planning and researching,
  • Ask for help.

Do you have any advice you share about traveling to Walt Disney World with special needs?

What are some of your favorite tips?

Counting Down to Your Next Disney Adventure

Please welcome guest writer Melissa. You can check out Melissa’s writing and pictures at her blog, Picturing Disney.

One of the best parts of planning a Disney vacation is when you are all done! By that I mean when you have paid off your package, booked all your tours, booked advanced dining reservations, checked the park schedule and plotted out which extra magic hours you are going to hit.  How do you deflect all the excitement and adrenaline from your impending trip?

Here are a few of my favorite things to do!
Countdown Calendars!

I love to create countdown calendars! Whether it is a link chain or a poster this is a fun project to make and use to count down until your trip starts! Here’s a link to my craftsy project page for a DIY calendar: http://www.craftsy.com/project/view/Disney-Vacation-Countdown-Calendar/37666

Fun Fact Texts
When I was heading out to Walt Disney World with my husband and a  few friends, I thought it would be more fun to text them daily updates. So each day they got a text that said “We have ___ more days until Disney.” Followed by one of the Fun Facts below based on how many days we had.  I am not sure where these originally came from because I got suggestions from some friends on the Passporter forums–I think they are probably from some of the Walt Disney World Trivia books!
0.  Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World uses zero real stones but is instead completely made of steel and other building materials which do not easily wear down.
1.  There is only one kind of gasoline vehicle allowed in the Magic Kingdom’s utilidors—an armored car that picks up the cash each day.  It is such a tight fit the driver only had 4 inches on the sides of the car to maneuver!
2.  Walt Disney World is the 2nd largest purchaser of fireworks in the entire United States! They are second only to the US Military!
3.  Soarin exhilarates your sense of smell with 3 different smells: orange groves, pine trees, and ocean breezes!
4.  There are a total of 4 Walt Disney World Railroad trains to take you on a relaxing tour around Magic Kingdom Park.
5.  The big drop on Splash Mountain is 5 stories!  You drop of a total of 52.5 feet on your final drop into the Briar Patch!
6.  There are 6 different theaters in Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress!
7.  On Test Track the technician isn’t sure if guests should be exposed to #7, which is the corrosive conditions test!
8.  At 8:05pm on October 31, 1939 the Hollywood Tower Hotel was struck by lightening.
 9.  When World Showcase first opened there were only 9 pavilions ( Morocco and Norway were added later).
10. On The Backlot Tour enough water shoots out in Catastrophe Canyon to fill 10 Olympic size swimming pools!
I know, I know, who is so crazy that they pack as a countdown?  The answer: this girl right here.  About two weeks from my trip I start stacking some Disney shirts in the closet and setting aside my favorite flip flops or my park cutoffs.  I don’t quite take out my luggae that early but I usually dub a dresser drawer the Disney drawer or grab a small laundry basket and call it The Disney Box!
As the trip gets closer, I start adding all the things I plan to bring, whether its my favorite guide, my personal fan or toiletries I grabbed while grocery shopping.   By the time I get about a week out The Disney Box is literally bursting with pre-vacation fun!
Disney Meals & Movies
Planning to eat at Tony’s Town Square?  How about a Spaghetti night while watching Lady and the Tramp?
Looking forward to a drink at La Cava de Tequila?  How about a homemade Plato Mexicano?
Can’t wait to try the new Star Tours?  How about an original trilogy marathon and some cookies made with the awesome Williams Sonoma cookie cutters for dessert!
The great thing about the rides atDisney is the way they are so mainstream and accessible.  You can easily make a Disney themed meal or afternoon.
There is so much to do to build memories and excitement before you even leave for a Disney vacation-no wonder it’s called the Happiest Place on Earth!

What are your favorite things to do before a trip?

What To Do At Epcot With Kids

If you’ve ever thought about not visiting Epcot on your Disney vacation because you’ve got younger children  and think they won’t enjoy it, you’re not alone. A Google search for “Epcot with kids” turns up over 3.7 million results, which is only slightly more than what turns up if you Google my name. I try to convince so many parents with kids to visit the park that I’m waiting for Disney executives to name me an honorary ambassador and give me a sash and fancy hat. Sure, Epcot is known for “drinking around the world” and the not to be missed Food and Wine Festival, but there’s plenty for children to do there too -and none of it involves them having a hangover the next day, either.
If you’ve got young children, you may think that there’s nothing for kids in a park known for thrill rides like Soarin, Test Track (currently in refurbishment) and Mission Space,  all of which have generous height requirements, and World Showcase appearing to cater more to adults, but you’d be mistaken. Here then is why you should include Epcot in your theme park plans. 
1) Innoventions: A two building pavilion for kids (and adults) of all ages that is very hands on. Featured exhibits include Sum of All Thrills, where you can design your very own thrill ride, Storm Struck, where you learn what it feels like to be caught in a perfect storm, Videogame Playground, where you can try out the latest in video game technology, and Where’s the Fire, where you can have your picture taken by the 30 foot fire truck, try to become fire chief by answering the most fire safety questions, and explore the Play it Safe maze. 
2) Club Cool: Okay, so it’s not an attraction, and not even a pavilion, but if you like free stuff, you’ll like this. Sponsored by Coca-Cola, this building, located across from Mouse Gears, showcases unlimited free samples of Coca Colas from around the world, such as the Smart Watermelon from China – my personal favorite – and the Fanta Colita from Costa Rica. Plus, if your kids have been misbehaving, you can insist they drink a nice cup of Beverly from Italy. Maybe two cups. 
3) The Seas With Nemo and Friends/Turtle Talk With Crush: Board a “clamobile” (I think Batman used to own one of those) on this quick loading undersea adventure at the Living Seas pavilion. Through a little Disney magic, the characters from Finding Nemo can be seen frolicking with real fish in the massive 5.7 million gallon aquarium. After you get off the ride, take the time to look around the aquarium – one of the largest on the East coast. There’s plenty of marine life to see, from sharks to manatees. When you’re done, make sure you don’t leave without seeing “Turtle Talk With Crush”, where Crush interacts with guests in the “human tank” teaching him about his environment and asking questions about ours. This funny show is different every time, and kids get a huge kick out of having the chance to ask questions.
Visit Crush and Friends at the Living Seas.
4) Living With the Land: A gentle, slow moving boat ride in the Land pavilion, this is one part dark ride, one part greenhouse tour, giving you a behind the seeds” (see what I did there? Clever, huh?) look at how Walt Disney World grows many of the fruits and vegetables it serves in its restaurants. As a bonus -it’s air conditioned. Note that it is a little dark at the beginning and there is some noise of thunder early on.
5) Character Spot/Park Entertainment/Shopping: Located near Innoventions West, you’ll find the character spot. If you’ve got bigger kids who have run off to do Soarin or Mission Space, and you’re looking for something to do with the little ones that will kill some time, head here. This is the place to meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, Goofy and Chip n’ Dale. Also be sure to check out Mouse Gears, right next door, which is a huge gift shop full of lots of Disney goodies. It’s my go to store in Epcot, and probably the best gift shop for Disney merchandise in all the parks outside of Downtown Disney.
When it comes to entertainment, most guests think it’s all in World Showcase, but that’s not so. Future World has the Jammitors, a “Stomp” like percussion group that beats on trash cans and other assorted everyday objects in their environment to produce some amazing sounds. And, while Test Track is undergoing its facelift, you can still catch the sounds of an a cappella group singing songs, appropriately enough, about cars. I even caught some local choirs out there last weekend, too.

1) Grand Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros: Located inside the Mexico pavilion, this relaxing boat ride features Panchito Pistoles. Jose Carioca and Donald Duck on a humourous and fun tour through Mexico. Part of this boat ride is also similar to “It’s a Small World” in that it features moving and dancing animatronics in one section. This attraction is another great way to escape the elements, and kids love the ride itself. As a bonus, Donald Duck often appears outside the pavilion for character greetings. Check your times guides.
These happy fellows can be seen on the Grand Fiesta tour.
2) Maelstrom Boat Ride: In the Norway pavilion, climb aboard a Viking ship for a stormy voyage through a Norwegian fjord, a troll infested swamp, and onto the North Sea. Make it safely back from your voyage, and you can enjoy a 5 minute film about the beauty of Norway. If you want to skip the film, you can walk right through the other side to the exit doors. The boat ride is a lot of fun and most kids enjoy the mild thrills, however some are scared by the darkness, loud noises, or the slight backwards drop that your log flume takes.
3) Live Entertainment: Each country showcases some wonderful acts for kids and adults to enjoy. It’s important that you look at your times guide so if there is something you want to see, you don’t miss it. Among my favorites:
·         Voices of Liberty (America pavilion) – This a cappella group sings patriotic and folk songs in 15 minute shows before viewings of “The American Adventure.” With amazing sound, these vocal artists are not to be missed.
·         The Serveur Amusant (France pavilion) – A comedic balancing act, this “waiter” stacks more and more chairs on top of one another and then gently balances on them. As he goes higher and higher, you’re captivated by his skill.
·         Jeweled Dragon Acrobats (China pavilion) – This talented group of acrobats is a crowd pleaser. I don’t think there was ever a time in my life I was that flexible.
·         Off Kilter (Canada Pavilion) – You haven’t heard Bryan Adams until you’ve heard it played by this bagpipe blowing, kilt wearing rock band.
4) Kidcot Stations: Located throughout Future World and World Showcase (check your park map) these stations are set up where kids can decorate a cardstock Duffy the Bear at whichever station they visit first. Then, as they visit each additional station they can add another decoration onto Duffy.
5) Character Meet and Greets: World Showcase is a great place for your kids to meet characters. For example, you can see Belle and Beast in France, say hello to Aladdin and Jasmine in Morocco, and give a joyful “Cherrio!” to Mary Poppins in the U.K. The lines also seem shorter than in the other parks, so if you haven’t had the chance to see a lot of characters, Epcot is the place to go.
6) A Taste for Flavor: Epcot is a great place to expose your children to different tastes from around the world and show them that life is made up of more than pizza, chicken nuggets, and macaroni and cheese. Arrange to eat in Morocco, stop by the bakery in France for some wonderful pastries or sandwiches, sample a Kakigori shaved ice from Japan, or try to find chocolates or other sweets from each country to try. I’m fond of the Curly Wurlys from the U.K., personally. You could spend hours just walking through the shops in each country, exploring things and eating goodies. Not that I would have first hand experience with that. Ahem.
So you see, there’s no reason that Epcot can’t be enjoyed by the whole family, including children. These are just a few of the things you can do there, and it easily fills up a day of touring. Give it a try next time, you may find that Epcot becomes a favorite park!

Quick Bites: Kakigori Shaved Ice

Rainbow flavored Kakigori

For months now, I’ve been hearing people rave about the Kakigori flavored shaved ice that you can get at the Kabuki Cafe while visiting the Japan pavilion inside Epcot. “Isn’t it just a snow cone?” I’d ask people. “Oh, no, they assured me. This is so much better, you have to try it.” When we mentioned it on the Mouse Chat podcast, listeners wrote in to say how good it was. It even made the list of “100 Disney Foods to Eat Before You Die” over at Chip and Company.

Thus, I thought after fourteen years of living in Florida, and hundreds of trips to Epcot, it was finally time to try this icy treat, and this weekend, I did. The verdict: It’s a snow cone. Yes, the ice has a very nice consistency, and the flavored syrup (I chose cherry) was delicious, sweet, with just a hint of tartness at the end, and you certainly get a generous helping. But I can’t really say I was wowed by it, and I still don’t understand all the hype. Maybe I had the wrong flavor – looking at the people sitting around me enjoying their Kakigori, the favorite seems to be rainbow. Still, it did cool me off on what turned out to be a very warm day in the parks, and I’m glad to say that I’ve tried it.  I certainly don’t hate it, and I would eat it again. But I’m not going to be making a mad dash to get it, either.

Available in strawberry, cherry, tangerine, melon or rainbow (a combination of all) flavors, this refreshing treat sells for $3.50, and you can add a topping of sweet milk, sweet strawberry or sweet cherry for just a dollar more.

What about you? Are there any Disney foods that you think are overrated? Share with us in the comments. 

Quick Bites: The Butterfinger Cupcake

Who doesn’t love chocolate and Butterfinger?

Walt Disney World has no shortage of specialty cupcakes, with the different parks and resorts each offering a variety of flavors for one to try. And at under $4.00, or one snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan, they are a great value. 

Having heard legendary stories about one particular cupcake though, I had to  try it for myself -the Butterfinger Cupcake, at Starring Rolls, inside Hollywood Studios. This decadent dessert/snack/breakfast item (don’t judge me) consists of a chocolate cupcake, fudge filling, whipped cream icing, and a hard chocolate ganache covering, all topped with crushed Butterfinger pieces.

This thing is dense! I actually felt the weight of it when they put it onto my tray, which you can’t say for many snacks. As for size, the pictures are no exaggeration, it really is easily enough for two (or more) people to share. 

Can you ever have too much of a good thing? In this case, yes.

If there’s a downside to this cupcake, it’s that it’s too rich, as if it’s trying to be all things to all people. While the cake itself is moist, the fudge creamy, the whipped topping fluffy, and the Butterfinger crispy and crunchy, the combination of everything makes it all too much to handle. My wife and I couldn’t even manage more than a few small bites each before both saying it was too sweet; the combination of flavors was simply overkill.

If however, you think you’ve got a big enough sweet tooth, or perhaps a large group traveling with you you can share this with, this cupcake might just be for you!

Fantasyland Expansion Update: Storybook Circus – A First Look

Signs like this one on the construction wall welcome you.

The first part of the Fantasyland expansion, Storybook Circus, has been in soft openings for just over a week now, and I had the opportunity this past weekend to take a look. 

This snack and drink cart is located outside of Storybook Circus, as you make your way in.

It’s still very much in the early stages yet; no merchandise is available for sale in the new area, and there are no places to eat or grab a snack within Storybook Circus right now. And while beautifully landscaped, there’s still a lot of wide open areas where shade is needed, making it seem much hotter then it is. But of course, these are all things that will be worked out – we’ll see shops and lots of (new) merchandise, snack and dining options will be added, and trees will be planted. 

Even in its early stages though, Storybook Circus is truly incredible. Beautifully themed and designed, it was exciting to see even this small section (consisting of The Great Goofini, one side of Dumbo, and the Walt Disney World Railroad Train Station) up close, after months of standing on ledges and finding other unique places to take pictures. It also makes me excited for the months ahead as Storybook Circus grows and new areas open up. 

Who’s ready to ride?

The Barnstormer, featuring the “Great Goofini” is up and never looked better. And with a minimum height requirement of only 35″, this roller coaster is great for even the smallest thrill seekers in your family.

Take a ride and sneak a peak at the Fantasyland construction going on.

I’d make a point of checking out Storybook Circus early in the day, as by around 11 a.m., lines were already 30 minutes and growing to ride.

After months of seeing this cut-out over construction walls, it was nice to get an up close view. 

The new Dumbo looks great, and the water feature is a nice touch, too.

The lines are still long, but people didn’t care, even though there’s not a lot of shade available in certain parts still. This should change when the second Dumbo opens up. The interactive queue line should also help pass the time. 

The big top isn’t open yet, but I’m betting it will be in the next couple of months, once the second Dumbo is added.

Timothy Mouse hasn’t been added to the new Dumbo yet, but Disney has said he will be included as work progresses. He does, however, give guests instructions before the ride begins.

The new train station is open and looking good! 

And it runs frequently and for most of the day, too.

These are the new restrooms in Storybook Circus. The brick work is just great! It doesn’t even look like a bathroom. 

Although I was a little confused by this sign above the toilet. I know bottled water is expensive at Disney, but is this a real problem with guests?

There’s lots of nice detail work throughout Storybook Circus, like this stone work, which is everywhere. 

Since the circus came to town, it only makes sense that you’d see animal tracks of different shapes and sizes, as well as peanut shells, in the cement pathways. Disney has said as more of the expansion open, you’ll see the tracks leading towards those new sections, too. 

The garbage cans are themed too.  Disney did an excellent job incorporating the circus theme without it being too “in your face.” 

I even like the new outfits the cast members in this area have to wear. And while this cast member seemed happy, not all of them looked too thrilled with the new threads! 

I hope you enjoyed the photos. You can be sure as the new Fantasyland continues to grow and change, we’ll be bringing you updates and more pictures.

All You Ever Wanted To Know ( Or Not!) About Love Bugs

Don’t worry, they’re not really this big.
 Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

If you’ve visited Disney World in late spring, or in late summer to early fall, you may have come across hundreds of flying insects that seem to have two heads, and not known what they were. Indeed, it seems every year questions arise from visitors in the parks and on Disney message boards about these bugs and if they should be concerned about them.

Allow me to clear up the confusion and tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the Plecia nearctica, more commonly referred to as the “love bug”, and why you have no reason to fear them.

A popular rumor says that the love bug was the result of a scientific experiment created by the University of Florida in an effort to control the mosquito population that went horribly wrong. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth (I’m thinking a Florida State University graduate started that rumor). The bugs originated from Central America and over the course of the 20th century, have spread steadily over many southern states, including Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina. 

Annually, you’ll see two major flights of these bugs in Florida – once in the spring that happens between late April and May, and again in late summer, somewhere between August and October. The love bugs stick around for about 4-5 weeks, and in my experience, weather can have a major impact. When it’s been very dry, as it has been this year, the number of insects is far less then when the weather has been rainy. 

A swarm of love bugs at a Walt Disney World bus stop in 2006.

Love bugs are not double headed, as many believe, instead, they are just often seen joined together in flight. And yes, they are connected so that they can, ahem, “reproduce.” As an aside, unfortunately for the male love bug, after reproduction takes place, the female will eat him from the inside out in order to provide nutrition for the new larvae. Fellas, let that be a lesson to always treat your woman right. And, should I be reincarnated, please let me come back as a duck at the Magic Kingdom and not as a love bug. 

Despite their often large number and constant presence (they are attracted to light colors, and since many guests wear lighter colors in hot weather, this explains part of the attraction), the bugs do not sting or bite and are completely harmless to humans. There is not, however, currently any type of insect repellent that appears to keep them away. 

One thing they are harmful to, however, is cars. Besides light colors, the bugs are also attracted to exhaust fumes, so it’s common to find them on busy roadways. Of course, insects and vehicles traveling at a high speed don’t mix, resulting in an awful mess on your car. And, the high acidity in their bodies can damage your car’s paint job. So, if you are driving your own vehicle down to Disney World during love bug season, you’ll want to take the time to clean the bumper frequently. While you can buy sprays that are supposed to make it easier to clean up, all you really need is soap, water and elbow grease. A dryer sheet also works well at removing some of the mess. 

Bottom line, while the love bugs are a minor nuisance, they in no way will hurt you, and you shouldn’t let it keep you from enjoying your trip. I’d still take a day full of love bugs over a day at work or school! 

Agent P World Showcase Adventure Coming To Epcot

He’s a semi-aquatic egg laying mammal of action…
Doo-Be Doo Be Do-Ba Doo-Be Doo Be Do-Ba Doo-Be Doo Be Do-Ba Doo-Be Doo Be Do-Ba….Perry!
That’s right, secret agent fans, it’s official. Disney announced earlier this week that Epcot’s Kim Possible Adventure, which debuted in 2008, would end this summer and be replaced by Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure. 
For those of you who don’t know who Agent P is, he is Perry the Platypus, featured on the hit Disney animated show, Phineas and Ferb. Perry is the pet platypus of step-brothers Phineas and Ferb, but in reality, he is actually Agent P, a top-secret agent whose job is to save the Tri-State area from the evil (and perhaps a little mad, too) Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, and his crazy “inator” inventions.

Guests who wish to participate will become secret agents whose job will be to help defeat Dr.  Doofenshmirtz using a high-tech secret agent device and clues found in Epcot’s Mexico, France, Germany, Norway, Japan, China and United Kingdom pavilions. The game is expected to work similar to the current Kim Possible game currently running. 
Do you have what it takes to defeat Dr. Doofenshmirtz?
The Kim Possible game has proven extremely popular with guests and helped in the development of the recently released Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom game at Magic Kingdom (well, duh!) which already is a huge success. The timing of this change at Epcot shouldn’t come as a surprise either, given that the Phineas and Ferb cartoon is popular with kids and adults alike, and walking around any of the parks, you’ll spot tons of guests in “Agent P” clothing. In fact I myself am typing this while wearing Agent P slippers (they’re comfortable), and I have my eye on that neat Agent P hat I saw at Mouse Gears to go with my Agent P sweatshirt. 
And yes, Chris, I am bringing the slippers on the Fantasy cruise next week. I’m thinking of wearing them to dinner at Remy’s.  (editor’s note: If he wears those slippers, I’m posting a picture on Facebook).

Quick Bites: The Anchors Aweigh Tuna Sandwich At Columbia Harbour House

The sandwich is a good size and really fills you up!

Tucked away between Fantasyland and Liberty Square you’ll find Columbia Harbour House, a busy counter-service restaurant that is a lot bigger than it looks from the outside. 

On a recent visit, I decided to stop in and try their tuna fish sandwich, aptly named the Anchors Aweigh ($8.99), considering they serve almost all fish dishes. Unfortunately, the sandwich left me walking away disappointed. 

It’s is described on the menu as “white tuna with lettuce and tomato served on a toasted multi-grain bread. Served with chips.” I loved that the lettuce and tomato were both crisp and fresh and that the sandwich is a very good size that easily fills you up. But the bread was over toasted, making it dry on top of an already dry tuna which needed extra mayonnaise. It also appeared to not have been seasoned at all and just tasted “flat” on my tongue. I suppose if you’re used to a more bland tuna sandwich you would enjoy this, but most people would do better choosing something else from the extensive menu.

Despite my disappointing experience with the Anchors Aweigh, I like this location for a quick bite and would return again.

Columbia Harbour House is one quick service credit on the Disney dining plan. 

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