Resorting: Port Orleans French Quarter

An odd place to start I know. I want to let you in on some secrets I’ve discovered over time about some of the resorts. I’m starting here because French Quarter has some of my favorite secrets. Port Orleans is a resort cut in two. Riverside is larger and French Quarter is the smaller side. I love French Quarter particularly because of its size. There is only one bus stop and it goes directly to most parks with the exception of the bus to EPCOT (which makes extra stops in Riverside), so transportation is easy. As a moderate resort, it is also one of the more cost efficient options. Even though it is a small resort, you still get all the amenities of Port Orleans Riverside. But my favorite aspect of French Quarter is the breakfast of beignets and coffee. Bonus, because of the size, it is never a long walk to get to breakfast either. The recently renovated resort looks pleasantly new.

The theming of a resorts matters to me quite a bit because for me it really helps extend the magic outside the park, and I think French Quarter does a great job. The pool and lobby feel like a new and exciting experience. The rooms have a unique feel. The music pumped throughout the resort is my favorite of all the resorts. You can’t beat some New Orleans jazz as you make your way to the bus stop for rope drop.

While I love trying new resorts and changing things regularly, I will be returning to French Quarter for all of the small resort charm and large resort amenities.

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Picture Perfect: The Dumbo Ride

Today’s Picture Perfect moment is your family on the Dumbo Ride. This isn’t the most artistic or aesthetically pleasing shot, but I love the quintessential Disney-ness of it. Dumbo is a classic ride and if you time it right you can get the castle in the background.

You can only fit two per Dumbo, so just get in the Dumbo in front of your family and turn around to shoot them. Keep the young ones on the inside so they don’t get blocked by the Dumbo head (I think that is a safety rule anyway). Don’t wait for the perfect moment. You’ll take a lot of shots like this because the kids will move the dumbos up and down and getting everyone in a line can be challenging. You may want to ask everyone to try and get at least one revolution with their dumbos in the up position for the best shot. Also, Keep one eye on your background. As you can see, the castle will be there for a good portion of your shots, so you should be able to capture it. DSCF3023

This shot works well on all the rides of the same style and it can be another fun, active shot to remind you of your magical experiences. This shot also works pretty well with your camera (or phone) on automatic, so it is easy for anyone to achieve.

Technically Speaking: Remember to skip this if you aren’t interested in the details and just want to shoot on automatic. For this shot you want a higher shutter speed, but because you are outside, it shouldn’t matter. You should have plenty of light. Also, stop down your aperture to give you a longer depth of field so your whole family, or background castles stay sharp. I was at 800 iso to balance everything. 

It can be tempting to worry so much about taking great pictures that you forget to enjoy yourself. Use this guide to help prioritize when to be shooting and when to be just enjoying the trip. Just remember to keep a firm grip on those cameras, use the strap, have fun, and keep shooting.

Crystal Palace: Character Dining

One of my favorite Character Dining experiences is at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom. The restaurant itself is so light and airy. We go there for breakfast on just about every trip and the morning sun pours through the windows making the white and green decor glow. It sits right between Main Street USA and Cinderella’s Castle and fits beautiful into the decor of Americana from Main Street as well as the romantic whimsy of the castle. DSCF1370

The characters at the Crystal Palace are our pals from the Hundred Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh and friends. As someone who doesn’t like hunting down characters in the parks themselves, this is always a great way to see some of my all time favorites and enjoy a relaxing meal to begin the day.

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My nephew meeting his favorite Disney Character.

 

I’m not much of foodie, but I go on a lot of Disney trips with little ones and they can be very picky eaters. The Crystal Palace is buffet dining, so even little picky eaters can see and pick out food they will like (including the all too tempting dessert area). As of yet, we have never had a hard time finding something everyone will eat there. I’ve never had a bad meal either.

If you are on a dining plan, this is a sit down dining credit, but for the opportunity to meet these characters for a nice breakfast to begin a epic Magic Kingdom, I don’t think you can go wrong. Always a credit well used for us!

Kids Corner: 5 Best Things in EPCOT

As a quick introduction, I’ve asked my niece, now a very experienced Disney World traveler, to give us the insight of a young person about different aspects of Disney World and what she likes best about them. We don’t have to guess about what our children may like to do most. She will gladly tell us. Any edits I made are in brackets for clarification and I added the photos, otherwise this is straight from her.

By Pan

I have been assigned to write about my top 5 favorite rides in Epcot.

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My first ride I will talk about is Spaceship Earth. I like this ride because you get to learn a little about the past. You descend the “vacation ball” as my brother calls it, backwards and tilted back making it feel like you are upside down.

 

Another ride I like is Journey into the ImaginationIt is about imagination and that you should use it and should not always be serious. I also like this ride because it has a funny character named Figment and he is really funny. This ride will make you laugh out loud.

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I also really like the ride Test Track.  It is were you make a car and then ride in a car that looks kind of like the car you made.

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I also like the Dancing Fountains, kids are sure to get wet when they play in that area.

I also like walking the countries [World Showcase]. You can also get different souvenirs from the country that you visit. My favorite country is either Mexico because it has great food or Japan because you can open an oyster and get a pearl. If you want to go to Japan just go to Disney World and go to Epcot. It will save you time and money.

 

Hidden Gem: Tom Sawyer Island

It is getting toward mid-day and you are just finishing the first third of an epic Magic Kingdom day. You are hot, you are tired, you just had something to eat, or you are looking to find a little space to enjoy a snack you just picked up. Well then, step right up to the wooden rafts in Frontierland and head over to today’s hidden gem, Tom Sawyer Island. It is a quiet spot that has been through a lot of iterations over the years, and rumors have it disappearing altogether soon. Visit Tom Sawyer Island before it is gone. It has great tree coverage and shade with lots of little nooks and crannies away from the bustling crowds. It can also be a great way for kids to explore and roam a bit more freely given the only access on and off the island are those rafts.IMG_5825_6_7_8_9HDR

Often, on Disney vacations, we just want to get from point A to point B in the parks. Tom Sawyer Island is off the beaten trails, doesn’t connect any two places, and takes some time to get to and back from. If you need a rest and a little breathing room, it can be a nice mini-vacation from your vacation. The views are also really unique. The photo bugs out there may want to visit just to see things a little differently. You don’t often get to see the Great Thunder Mountain or Gracey Manor (Haunted Mansion) from those angles. I recommend, on your next long Magic Kingdom day, you take a few moments out out to explore a bit of a forgotten piece of Frontierland and Magic Kingdom history.