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Na’vi River Journey review

Located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Na’vi River Journey is a family friendly boat ride through the forest of Pandora. The attraction features advanced audio-animatronics and digital effects to bring the bioluminescence rainforest of Pandora to life as you journey to meet the Na’vi Shaman of Songs.

Quick Facts

  • The attraction last between approximately 4 1/2 minutes.
  • The ride vehicles are boats that seat 8.
  • Guest in wheelchairs must be able to transfer to the boats to ride, there are no wheelchair accessible boats.

So now for my review I will start with:

The Good

This is a stunningly beautiful ride, with music that compliments what you are seeing (though you likely will not get off the boat with the music stuck in your head).    As with most newer Disney Attractions the queue theming is part of the ride experience, informing the guest about the story the attraction is trying to convey before you even get into the ride vehicle.  In my opinion this is the kind of attraction that Animal Kingdom needed in Pandora, to give guest who are not up for a motion simulated thrill ride, a reason to visit the new section of the park.

The Bad

At only four and a half minutes long, this attraction seems really short. (For comparison Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom is approximately eight and a half minutes long.  This short length of the attraction is magnified by the long waits, that often come with opening a new attraction.

Additionally, there are not ride vehicles in the attraction that are wheelchair accessible, which means disabled guest who can not transfer from their wheel chair miss out on the attraction.  This is something that I just do not understand for an attraction that is a slow boat ride.

Overall Na’vi River journey is a good attraction that I personally felt was too short.   At the time I am writing this the wait time for the attraction is routinely well over an hour.  I think that in a few years when the excitement about Pandora, and the new attraction wears off,  that the wait times will decrease to be more in line with attractions like it’s a small world.  For now I would recommend that if you want to experience this attraction that you either get a Fastpass for it, or ride it first thing in the morning before the wait gets too long.

Finally, if someone in your party has mobility issues, you may want to skip this attraction.  There are no wheelchair accessible ride vehicles, and getting into the boat requires stepping down into them (Or stepping up to get out of the boat at the end of the ride).

Disney World attractions that stay open during thunderstorms

So you have planned your Disney vacation months in advance and when you finally get to go the weather is horrible. There are thunderstorms predicted for the entire week. So what should you do? The bad news is to enjoy the parks you will have to get wet. The good news is that there are a lot of attractions at Disney World that remain open during thunderstorms. Below are the attractions by park and land that remain open when there is danger from lightening.

Cinderella’s Castle

The Magic Kingdom

Adventureland

  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

Frontierland

  • Country Bear Jamboree

Liberty Square

  • The Hall of Presidents
  • The Haunted Mansion

Fantasyland

  • it’s a small world
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Mickey’s Philharmagic
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid

Tomorrowland

  • Space Mountain
  • Walt Disney’s Carousel if Progress
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Ranger Spin
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

Epcot

Future World

  • Spaceship Earth
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • Living with the Land
  • Soarin’
  • Journey into Imagination with Figment
  • Mission: Space

World Showcase

  • American Adventure
  • Gran Fiesta Tour
  • Impressions de France
  • O’ Canada
  • Wonders of China

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Rockin’ Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • Frozen Sign Along Celebration
  • Star Tours
  • Muppets 3D
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Animal Kingdom

  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo the Musical
  • Dinosaur

As you can see Magic Kingdom and Epcot are your best bets during rainy weather. However, all of Disney’s theme parks have something to offer. So what do you think? Did I miss any? Please share if you like my article.

Tips for visiting Disney during the busiest times of the year

Most Disney travel blogs will include in their tips something about not visiting Disney during major Holidays or during the summer. This advice is so that you avoid the crowds, and while it may make sense for some people. For those of us with school aged children or who work for a school, those busy times are the only times you will be able to go. So below are some of my tips for surviving the busiest times of the year at Walt Disney World.

  • Planning – When you go to Disney during the peak summer season or during the Holidays, you need to plan. Make sure you get the Fastpasses you want and the dining reservations you want as soon as you can reserve them. Remember that is 180 days prior to your visit for dining reservations and 60 days prior for Fastpasses (if you are staying offsite you can only get your fastpasses 30 days prior to your arrival).
  • Fastpasses – If you go during the Holidays forget about any strategy that you have read about maximizing Fastpasses. You will most likely only be able to get the three you are initially allotted. Just get Fastpasses for the attractions that you most want to ride and consider anything else to be a bonus. Normal summer weeks are not as bad as holiday weeks, but still don’t plan on getting more than your initial 3 Fastpasses (most likely Fastpasses that are available will be for shows that you can easily do without a fastpass).
  • Arrive early – Just about every Disney blog will tell you that you need to arrive early, this is particularly important during the peak season. On many Holidays (like Christmas, and Independence Day) it is not unusual for Magic Kingdom and Epcot to reach capacity. So you need to arrive early to make sure you are in the park, and not turned away at the gate. Also the earlier you get there the more time you will get with relatively short lines.
  • Be flexible – Just because there is something that has been recommended to you as a must do, or must try does not mean you have to wait for hours. Be flexible try something else. Also pay attention to the shops around you. I have seen people waiting in a 30 minute line in the German pavilion, while just feet away in Weinkeller you could buy German beer with almost no wait.
  • Don’t overlook the less popular attractions – I try very hard not to dissuade people from any attraction, because even if I did not like it, there are others that probably do like it. Having said that the peak season is the perfect time to try and escape the crowds to try some of the less popular attractions.

I hope these tips help those of you that keep me can only visit during the peak seasons and Holidays. Please share this post if you found this information useful.

Must do attractions for different types of Disney Guest

Disney Attractions to avoid if you suffer from motion sickness

The more I read them, the more I hate it when a writer does a “worst of” article, because those articles are totally that writers’ opinion, and I know there are people who will read it and make decisions based on that opinion.  You might be thinking to yourself “What is so bad about that?”, well for example if the writer is a thrill ride junkie, they may be telling you to skip every thrill ride.  Or in an article I recently read, the author essentially told the reader to skip everything that wasn’t filled with Intellectual Property from the Disney movies.  To avoid falling into this trap myself, I have decided to focus on list of rides that may or may not appeal to certain types of people.  In this case attractions to avoid if you are prone to motion sickness.   At some point in the travels to Disney someone in my traveling party has gotten sick on every attraction that I include here.  I will be listing these attractions starting from what in my opinion is the most likely to cause motion sickness to those that are least likely to cause motion sickness.

  1. Mission Space – This attraction is a motion simulator that simulates a trip to Mars.  This attraction is notorious for making guest sick.  So much so that Disney changed the attraction so there are now two versions, the green version which is a milder version with the centrifuge used to simulate the g-forces of lift off turned off, and the orange version which is the original version of the attractions.  I have only ridden this attraction once.  I was so sick that even when they created the green version of the attraction I was not interested in doing it again.
  2. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue – Based on the Star Wars universe this is another motion simulator, that includes 3D effects.   Though not as difficult of a ride as Mission Space it still has the ability of making many guests sick.   The trouble with this attraction is there are more than 50 different versions of how the ride can go.  Some make me sick some don’t, there is no way to tell which version a guest will experience until they are already in the ride vehicle (it is randomized by the attractions computer).  As a result, I normally avoid this attraction too.
  3. Flight of Passage –  Set on Pandora, the world of the movie Avatar, this is Disney’s newest 3D motion simulation ride.  I must admit that I have not yet had the chance to experience this attraction, so I am basing this placement on conversations I have had with other Disney fans who have gotten to ride it.  I have been told that this attraction is more intense than Soarin’ but not as bad as Star Tours.
  4. Mad Tea Party – As you may have guessed by now, motion simulators make me sick, but so do rides that spin.  The Mad Tea Party, AKA “the teacups” is a spinning ride that has the potential to make a lot of people sick.  This is because you can control the speed that your individual teacup.  For me I do not have much of a problem with this attraction as long as the tea cup is only spinning slowly.  Many of my family and friends cannot handle this attraction at all.  If you are like my teenage children and like rides that spin fast, then the Mad Tea Party is for you.  If you are like the rest of my family then you are better off skipping it.  There is a coffee stand right next to the attraction, and I have enjoyed many cups of coffee while waiting for my kids to get through the line.
  5. Primeval Whirl – This is a roller coaster that also spins.  The spinning is not controlled, so every ride on this coaster is a little different.  I find that most of the time the spinning on this ride is not too bad and generally get off with no dizziness or nausea at all.  However, I have had a few trips where the spinning was bad and got off feeling horrible.
  6. Dinosaur – The premise of Dinosaur is you are sent back in time to retrieve a dinosaur right before the event that causes the extinction of dinosaurs.  The ride vehicle looks like a large jeep, and the ride is bumpy and jerky.  While I personally have not gotten sick on this attraction I have family members who do get sick on it.
  7. Dumbo the Flying Elephant/ Astro Orbiter/ Magic Carpets of Aladdin/ Tricera Top Spin – I have listed these four attractions together because they are all essentially the same attraction with different seating configurations and theming (though Astro Orbiter is on the roof of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority station so you get a good view of the park).  These four rides are the spinner type attraction where the ride vehicles travel in a circle around the central hub.  As with Dinosaur I know a few people who get sick on these.
  8. Soarin’ – Yet another motion simulator, this attraction simulates a ride on a hang glider.  Without the quick jerky movements of some of the other motion simulators I have only seen a couple of people get sick on this attraction.  Both ot them found that if they shut their eyes they felt like they were sitting on a swing and the nausea subsided.
  9. O’ Canada / Wonders of China – Both of these attractions are 360 degree movies where you stand in the middle of the theater and look up at the screens on the walls above you.  I have found that a lot of children tend to make themselves sick in these because they constantly look from one screen to the next to try and see everything that is being projected.  Some adults that I have gone to Disney with feel disoriented because they are getting mixed signals from their senses.  If you do start feeling sick in these attractions the simplest thing to do is look away from the screens.

These are the attractions that I think you should consider avoiding if you are prone to motion sickness, or at least be prepared that they may make you feel sick.  Please comment if you know of any other attractions that make people sick, and please share if you liked this article

Common Mistakes that first time Disney World guest make and how to avoid them

Walt Disney World is a unique vacation destination.  Many guests on their first visit do not realize that Disney World is not just another theme park, and make mistakes, some of which could ruin their vacation.  Below I have listed some of the most common mistakes that guest make and how to avoid them.

  • They do not respect the Florida heat/ sun –  Many guests particularly from the Northern United States and Canada, just don’t realize how hot and humid Florida can be.   Even in December and January the average daily high is around 72 degrees Fahrenheit.  As a result, you see many guest walking around with bad sunburns and looking just miserable.  So how do you protect yourself from the sun and the heat?   Be sure to use sun screen, drink plenty of water, and if you start feeling sick go to the first aid station.
  • They do not plan – Guest that have never been to Walt Disney World often make the mistake of thinking that it can all be seen in one day and that planning is not necessary.  They will often find when they get there that they cannot get on some of the most popular attractions without waiting for hours.  They will also discover that eating at the popular table service restaurants is virtually impossible without an Advance Dining Reservation.  To properly plan for a Disney trip, you need to do two or three things 1) Download the My Disney Experience app.  In the MY Disney experience app you can view current attraction wait times, make Advanced Dining reservations, order food from counter service restaurants, and get Fast Passes.  2) You need to plan which parks you are going to go to on which days and get your three Fast Passes for those days.  You can get Fast Passes up to 60 days before your arrival if you are staying at a Disney Resort, or 30 days prior to your arrival if you are not staying at a Disney resort.  On the day that you are in the park, after you use all three of the Fast Passes that you got in advance you will be able to get an additional Fast Pass.  3) You need to get Advance Dining reservations for any table service restaurant that you wish to dine at.  You can make these reservations up to 180 days before your arrival.  The most popular restaurants, like Be our Guest fill up quick, so be sure to make your Advance Dining reservation as soon as you can.
  • They Over Plan –  I just mentioned that you will not be able to do it all in one day, but I am always amazed at the number of people who try by planning out every minute of their day (this never works it is only a matter of time before something happens to get you behind schedule).  I recommend that you plan your three Fast Passes, and plan any table service dining that you are interested in.  After you plan those things you can enjoy yourself at the park, doing whatever you feel like.
  • They wear the wrong shoes – Many guests don’t realize how much walking a visit to Disney requires.  On my last trip to Disney World 6 miles was the shortest distance I walked in one day.  You need a good pair of shoes that you can walk in for hours without problems.
  • The arrive too late and/or leave too early – I once had someone tell me how much they hated Disney World because it was so crowded that they were only able to do three rides.  This sounded odd to me, so I started questioning them about their visit.  It turned out that they did not arrive at the park until 11:30, and they left at 3 pm.   To not repeat this mistake that my friend made, you should plan on being at the park for opening (some people recommend a half hour before opening), and plan on staying late into the evening.   With the exception of a few of the most popular attractions, in the first hour of the park being open you can get on the attractions with no wait.  The later in the evening it gets the shorter the lines get (though they will rarely get as short as that first hour in the morning).
  • They miss out on great experiences because of something they read on a blog – Remember that everyone that writes a blog has their own opinions and biases.  Don’t automatically assume that you will not like an attraction because someone put it on their “worst of list” or wrote that an attraction is a waste of time.  I recommend that you find a good description of what the attraction is, then decide for yourself if that attraction is something you would like.  Remember Disney is a business and they rarely keep something open if it is not drawing a crowd, or is hated by most guest.
  • They don’t pay attention to what is going on around them – I honestly am amazed at the number of people in Disney World who are totally oblivious to what is going on around them.  With some people they just become an annoyance to other guests as they stop (usually at an attraction exit) blocking traffic to look at the park map.  Some though are so focused on what they are doing next that they walk straight pass something that could have been a truly wonderful experience.   If you happen to come across a Disney performer, take a minute to watch you may enjoy the show.  As your walking past attractions, take a look at the queue, you may get lucky and find a line that is short for no particular reason.

So these are the mistakes that I encourage first time guest to try to avoid making.  Can you think of any others?  Please comment and share if you like my work.

How much spending cash should you bring to Walt Disney World

Tips for surviving the summer heat at the Walt Disney World resort.

The summer temperatures in Orlando regularly get into the mid 90s.  For someone who is not used to being outside in these temperatures this can be unpleasant and even dangerous to your health.  Below are some tips and touring plans that will help you survive the summer heat of Orlando.  Disclaimer: I am not a health professional.  These are tips to help protect yourself from heat and sun exposure.  If you experience any symptoms of heat illness you should seek medical attention immediately.  Disney has first aid stations near the entrances of their parks, and if you can not make it to one of those get the attention of a cast member, they will help.  If you are unfamiliar with the symptoms of heat related illnesses you can read about them at Web M.D.

First lets start with things that will help to prevent heat and sun related illnesses and injuries.

  1. Wear Sunscreen – This is important for everyone, but it is especially important if you are not used to being out in the sun.  Sun burns can be really painful, and in extreme cases you can end up in the emergency room.  You don’t want your vacation ruined because you failed to apply sunscreen to protect yourself.  So follow the recommendations of your doctor on the sunscreen that you should use.  Also remember that you will be sweating so you will need to reapply the sunscreen every few hours, or after you have gone swimming.
  2. Wear a hat – Hats provide instant shade and keeping the sun of your face and neck will help you feel cooler.  While not a perfect protection against sunburn (you should also follow my first tip), a hat can help prevent sunburn.  As a bonus tip, if you have a hat that you don’t mind getting wet, you can run it under water to help you feel cool.
  3. Stay in the shade as much as possible.  The sun is strongest from about 10 am, till around 4 pm.  During this time of day you should try to stay in the shade as much as possible. If I am in the park during this time of day I like to view shows like the Hall of Presidents, which not only gets you out of the sun, but gets you into air conditioning helping you cool off.
  4. Drink lots of Water – During the summer months at Disney World you want to drink lots of water, and avoid soft drinks and alcohol.  I like to bring a bottle of water to the park with me and refill it throughout the day.  At all Disney restaurants you can get a cup of ice water for free.
  5. Take a break – One of the best ways of getting out of the sun is to go back to your hotel in the afternoon to take a break.  Don’t worry during the summer months the Disney parks are open late.  You can usually return to the parks around 4 after your break and still have 5 to 8 hours before the park closes.

So now I have two Disney touring plans that you can use to beat the heat.  The first plan only requires the base Walt Disney World ticket, though a park hopper would expand your options.  The second plan requires a park hopper plus ticket.

  1. This first plan is rather simple and I alluded to it in my tips for surviving the heat.  You start by trying to get to the park at least a half hour before it opens.  You do as many things as you can until about 11 am.  Then you head back to your resort, eat lunch, take a swim and take a nap.  Then around 4 pm you head back to the park (if you have a park hopper pass it does not have to be the same park).  Unlike the guest that have remained at the parks during the heat of the day you will be rested and ready to enjoy the attractions in the cooler evening hours.  For this plan I would recommend getting fast passes for the evening return rather than in the morning, as most of the attraction will not have long lines until around 10 am.
  2. This touring plan is a little different as you will start your day at one of the Disney Water parks.  You will want to be there when it opens so you can ride as many of the attractions as possible.  Then in the afternoon (just like with the first plan) you will head back to the resort to each lunch and nap.  Also just like the first plan, you will head to the park around 4 pm.  With this plan your only choices for fast passes will be in the evening when you head to the park.

I hope this article helps those of you who are not used to the Florida heat to have a better vacation.  Please share and comment if you liked the post.

 

Disney News February 2018

In this latest news brief I will start with the 500 pound gorilla or err mouse in the room.  Disney World has raised prices of tickets again.  This latest ticket price increase affects the cost of the peak season 1 day tickets the most.  This is apparently part of Disney’s strategy to spread the crowds more evenly throughout the year.  You can see the entire list of new ticket prices at All Ears Net.  One thing I have noticed in articles that I have seen about the ticket price increase is the news source comparing it to the price of the 1971 general admission ticket.  In 1971 it cost $3.50 for a general admission ticket to the Magic Kingdom (Epcot did not open until 1982).  What none of these articles mention however, is that in order to get on most attractions you needed a ticket, a ticket book at the time cost $5.50.

In Disney Movie news Coco which one the BAFTA for best animated feature, was released for digital download on Feb 13, 2018 and will be released on Blu-Ray on Feb 27, 2018.  In theaters The Black Panther was released on Feb 16, 2018.  The Black Panther has had a massive marketing campaign and is highly rated on rotten tomatoes.  It opened with record ticket sales and appears to be positioning itself to be one of Disney’s top earning movies of 2018.

Oh My Disney has published a video showing clips of the cast from “Frozen the Musical” signing with the orchestra for the first time.  You can see the video here.

The LA Times is reporting that the Disney Wonder will be sailing from San Diego to Mexico in 2018 and 2019.  For those of you on the West Coast this will be an opportunity to go on a Disney cruise without having to fly all the way to Florida.

Disney has announced that Toy Story land will officially open on June 30, 2018, just in time for the fourth of July, one of the busiest weeks of the year for Disney World.  This is huge improvement for Hollywood Studios, just in time for the holiday, as at the moment there are so few attractions that are open there.  The park will still be wanting for entertainment choices, but for the first time in years the count of attractions there will increase instead of decrease.  You can read more in this Fox new article.  Also in Hollywood Studios Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and Mickey’s runaway train are supposed to open sometime in 2019.

The new Pixar Pier in Disney’s California Adventure is scheduled to open on June 2018.  Also the popular Paint the Night Parade will be moving to Disney’s California Adventure from Disneyland in April 2018.  Paint the Night will include a new Incredibles float.

That is all the news that I have for now, I will update this post throughout Feb with any interesting stories that pop up in the last few weeks of the month.  Please share and comment.

Top Disney World Attractions that are better at night.

The thing that I have discovered about Walt Disney World, is that it just seems more magical at night. The lighting makes the parks prettier than they are during the day, and there is just an energy with the guest that are still there at night. Below are some of my favorite attractions that are just better at night.

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Let’s face it Big Thunder Mountain is not the most thrilling coaster. Like many of the attractions in the Magic Kingdom it was designed as a “thrill ride” that the family could enjoy together. At night though it is more thrilling, maybe the low light tricks your mind into thinking it is traveling faster than it is. At any rate I have always enjoyed this ride a lot more at night than during the day.
  • The Jungle Boat Cruise – While you still get the same corny jokes that you get during the day, the Jungle boat cruise feels like a different attraction at night.  The lighting for the attraction at night comes from the boat, which makes it feel more dramatic as you can not see the scenes until you are almost next to them.  Another advantage of a night-time cruise is usually the lines are shorter at night.
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris –  Recently I rode Kilimanjaro Safaris in the evening for the first time.  I was shocked, and pleasantly surprised at how active the animals were.  I have been riding Kilimanjaro Safaris since my first trip to Animal Kingdom in 2000.  In the 14 trips prior to my most recent trip, I had never seen the lions or cheetahs do anything other than sleep, but on my most recent trip I saw both species walking around in clear view of the ride vehicle.  The big cats were not the only animals that were more active, it seemed like they all were.
  • The Liberty Belle –  The Liberty Belle is usually a relaxing ride around Tom Sawyer’s island that provides guest with fantastic views of Frontierland and Liberty Square.  While the Liberty Belle normally closes at Dusk if you go on the last ride of the evening, you will be rewarded with beautiful views of Frontierland and Liberty Square with all of the lights on.
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover – Like the Liberty Belle, Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover provides a relaxing ride through the park.  In the case of Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover that ride is through Tomorrowland, with some great views of Main Street and Cinderella Castle.  At night these views are spectacular with Main Street and Cinderella Castle all lit up.  This is especially true in the holiday season, when Cinderella Castle is decorated with it’s holiday lights.
  • Pandora the Land of Avatar – The two attractions in Pandora are inside ride buildings, so no matter the time of day you get the same ride.  The land however is much different at night.  All the floating mountains, plants and even the walkways glow.  The land also offers some unique Photopass opportunities at night.

So these are some of my favorites.  What are some of yours?  Please share if you like my work.

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