Tag Archives: #DisneyWorld

How I Made a Cultural Connection at Epcot: My Italian Adventure

Epcot Sunset Over Spaceship Earth

When you think of Epcot, you may recall fragrant florals from the “Flower & Garden Festival.”  Or, perhaps, delectable dishes from the “Food & Wine Festival.” (I, too, love to ‘eat my way around the world.’)  Most of all, I enjoy Epcot as a gathering place to meet friendly cast members from various countries.  My last visit to Epcot’s Italy Pavilion did not disappoint.

Venice, Italy vs. Italy at Epcot

Through the years, I have come to love the “real” Italy, especially Venice.  Epcot’s Italy Pavilion transports me back to Venice every time.  Strolling through, I see architectural reminders of Saint Mark’s Square: the delicately intricate façade of the Doge’s Palace, and the Campanile (bell tower).

Italy Pavilion at Epcot – Detail of Doge’s Palace and Campanile

The entrance is guarded by two columns, topped with Venezia’s patron saints: Saint Mark’s Lion and Saint Theodore standing above a crocodile.  (Though Epcot’s version is actually reversed)

Admittedly, Disney puts a spin on their presentation of each country.  (Germany’s Bavarian region is famous for their large, scrumptious pretzels.  But they certainly are not Mickey-shaped, nor come with cheese dipping sauce.)

To their credit, though, Disney is committed to recruiting native cast members to represent their countries’ pavilions at Epcot, creating a more authentic experience. Continue reading How I Made a Cultural Connection at Epcot: My Italian Adventure

9 Things You Won’t Want to Miss at Disneyland Paris Resort

Good advice is worth its weight in gold, especially when you’re traveling.  Getting first-hand advice can save you time, ensure you don’t miss an essential moment, and help you make good decisions on how to spend your hard-earned vacation dollars.  This is especially true for specialty locations like Disneyland Paris.

Disneyland Paris is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2017 (the park opened as Euro Disney on April 12, 1992), making this the perfect year to enjoy the festivities.  The anniversary theme – “It’s Time to Sparkle!” – introduces new spectaculars to make your visit even more memorable.  You’ll want to be prepared, so you won’t miss a second of the magic.

Here are my top 9 things you definitely won’t want to miss – gained from experience as a DLP annual passholder.  Some are unique and found only at Disneyland Paris Resort.  Some are delightful variations of classic Disney attractions.  All are outstanding.

There are two parks at the Disneyland Paris Resort:  Disneyland Park, and the Walt Disney Studios (now celebrating its 10th Anniversary).  I divided this List into “family-friendly” and “wild side” features, with notations in which park they’re located.

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com on April 10, 2017.  Continue reading 9 Things You Won’t Want to Miss at Disneyland Paris Resort

Why You Need to Visit Disneyland Paris This Year

If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting Paris, and wished upon a star to walk through Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle), this is the year to do it.  Disneyland Paris – the sparkling European jewel in the Disney crown – celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2017.  And they have been diligently preparing for you to ‘Be Our Guest.’

Park improvements progressed throughout 2016 to prepare for “It’s Time to Sparkle” the Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary celebration starting March 26, 2017.

This article was first published on LaughingPlace.com on April 7, 2017.

Troubled Beginnings

The path wasn’t always sprinkled with pixie dust.  “Euro Disney” – the fourth Disney castle Park – opened on April 12, 1992 to much controversy.  There were protests against this invasion of American culture in France, including a one-day train strike that effectively cut off the Disney resort to anyone without a car.

Continue reading Why You Need to Visit Disneyland Paris This Year

Soarin’ Around the World: From California to Shanghai

First published on LaughingPlace.com on July 7, 2016.

With the Grand Opening of Shanghai Disneyland, you literally can ride Soarin’ around the world.  From Disneyland, to Disney World, and now to Shanghai Disneyland: we compare the three versions of this attraction.

Soaring Collage DCA Epcot SHDL
Soarin’ California Adventure, Epcot, and Shanghai

The Original Soarin’ over California at Disneyland Resort

Soarin’ Over California debuted on February 8, 2001 with the Grand Opening of Disney California Adventure (DCA).  The unique ride system, designed by Imagineer Mark Sumner, was inspired by an Erector toy set.  It was an immediate success.

Guests love the sensation of flight as they are raised skyward into the 80-foot domed projection screen, while safely seated in a theater.  The original attraction highlighted California landmarks such as the Golden Gate bridge and Yosemite National Park.

Soarin’ Over California ran on IMAX HD film until its refurbishment in 2015 with digital projectors.  The attraction building resembles a large aircraft hangar, built in homage to California’s record-setting aviation history.  As you enter, you pass commemorations of historic aircraft – the SR-71 Blackbird, the Bell X-1 – and notable aviators: Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager, and Amelia Earhart.

Continue reading Soarin’ Around the World: From California to Shanghai

Pictorial Tour of the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort


Come with us as we share a pictorial tour of the (much coveted) over-the-water Bora Bora Bungalows of Disney’s Polynesian resort.

Disney’s Polynesian Hotel has been a premiere property at the Disney World resort since it opened.  Located on the monorail track of the Magic Kingdom, it is a touch of the exotic wrapped in luxury at the Walt Disney World resort.

Polynesian Bungalow Outside walkway

Disney Vacation Club (DVC) added Villas and the Bora Bora Bungalows this year, making the Polynesian one of the hottest properties at Disney World.

There are twenty Bungalows, built over the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon.  They are accessed by specially-keyed, gated boardwalks on the northeast side of the resort property.

Each bungalow has two bedrooms (but the equivalent DVC points cost is equivalent to a 3-bedroom unit).

Here is a map layout of the Bungalows by room number, and the Polynesian Resort buildings (click to enlarge).

Continue reading Pictorial Tour of the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Hotel Review: Disney’s Polynesian Villas, Tips and Warnings!

Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows are a touch of the exotic wrapped in luxury at the Walt Disney World resort.  Disney Vacation Club added Villas and the over-the-water bungalows this year, making the Polynesian one of the hottest properties at Disney World.
Polynesian Hotel Lobby
Polynesian Hotel Lobby
We had the chance to stay in a studio villa at the Polynesian in June, and wanted to share our impressions.  There are four Disney Vacation Club (DVC) buildings at the Polynesian: Moorea (waterfront), Pago Pago, the newly-opened Tokelau, and of course, the Bora Bora over-the-water Bungalows.
All the main buildings have only studios (as opposed to other DVC accommodations that have studio, 1-,  2-, and even 3-bedroom configurations).  These were converted over from previous Polynesian hotel rooms.
Polynesian Moorea Building
Polynesian Moorea Building

Continue reading Hotel Review: Disney’s Polynesian Villas, Tips and Warnings!

Hotel Review: Disney’s Villas at Wilderness Lodge

We did not discover the Wilderness Lodge at Disney World until the last few years.  We are not strangers to the Disney World parks and resorts, but had somehow overlooked this less-talked-about hotel.

Wilderness Lodge is now one of our favorites, even though it is not on the monorail track.  It is a serene getaway in the heart of the Magic Kingdom area, and a place that feels most like home at Disney World.

Wilderness Lodge lobby
Wilderness Lodge Hotel main lobby
The Wilderness Lodge is not one of the highest-tier hotels on the monorail track of the Magic Kingdom.  Those honors belong to the Grand Floridian, Contemporary, and Polynesian resorts.
It is not a budget hotel, like the All-Star hotels.  It is not coveted like the Beach Club (and Boardwalk) hotels with their walking proximity to EPCOT.  It does not have animal safari savannah views, as does Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Instead, the Wilderness Lodge Hotel and Villas (Disney Vacation Club — DVC) offer the convenience of a Magic Kingdom resort (just a short bus or boat ride away), with the feeling that you’ve escaped from all the hectic theme park pace…into a relaxing wilderness haven.

Welcome to Wilderness Lodge.

Hotel Review: The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian


Disney’s Grand Floridian hotel balances classic beauty and elegance with exceptional service in the heart of Disney World.  Being a top-priced Disney hotel, there is always high demand for this property. We have found the service to be exceptional here, even by Disney standards.

Grand Floridian Lobby Flowers
Grand Floridian Hotel Lobby Flowers

We stayed in a studio Lake view Villa (DVC, Disney Vacation Club) at the Grand Floridian, and were again very satisfied with the location and overall service.

It is worth the premium to reserve a Lake view Villa here.  You’re already paying for the Grand Floridian… it’s just a few more points for an exceptional view.

Grand Floridian Studio Villa Pano
Grand Floridian Studio Villa


Continue reading Hotel Review: The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian