The registration for the 2015 Disney World Marathon Weekend is now Open! The pinnacle of the runDisney running season returns to the Walt Disney World Resort January 7-11, 2015.
There is a new 10K race that has been added to the weekend agenda that had already included a 5K, Half Marathon, and Marathon races. There is also a new classification for those runners who wish to tackle these 4 races on 4 consecutive days: The Dopey Challenge!
The new challenge must be appealing to runners because just a few hours after registration opened today, the 5K, the new 10K, and the Dopey Challenge are already considered SOLD OUT and closed to further registration.
On this initial day of registration, more than 8 months prior to the race, also sees the Half Marathon at 85% capacity and the Walt Disney World Marathon at 50% capacity.
If you are a runner, this is a great place to experience either a Half Marathon or the full Marathon. There is truly something special about running through the Disney Theme parks that cannot be matched in other running venues.
Life isn't always about the destination, sometimes it is about the journey. Today for our Disney World Top 6 we take a look at the top methods of FREE transportation to get yourself around the Walt Disney World Resort. None of the forms of transportation that we will look at require theme park admission, so they really are free to all who visit Disney World.
Top 6 FREE Transportation Methods
6. Disney World Resort BusesThe backbone of the Disney World Transportation System is its fleet of buses. Over 230 buses make their way from the Disney Resorts to each of the theme parks and Downtown Disney from morning until late at night. Rarely does a Disney World guest need to wait over 20 minutes for the next air conditioned bus. Although they may not be glamorous, they make it easy to get around without the stress.
Bonus Tip: Disney World Buses provide the quickest way to get to the Magic Kingdom, since they drop you off right by the entrance. No need to take another form of transportation to get in to see Mickey Mouse (unless you want to!)
|Admiral Joe Fowler crossing the Seven Seas Lagoon|
5. Ferry To Get From Ticket & Transportation Center To Magic Kingdom EntranceFor Disney guest that drive to the Magic Kingdom and Park in the nearby lots, one of your choices to get to the Magic Kingdom is by Ferry across the Seven Seas Lagoon. This relaxing ride on the General Joe Potter, Admiral Joe Fowler, or the Richard F. Irvine, is a great way to start or end your day.
4. Boats To Get To Downtown Disney From Port Orleans ResortsOne of the Disney World Hidden Secrets is to ride the boats from Disney's Port Orleans Riverside or Port Orleans French Quarter Resorts to Downtown Disney along the Sassagoula River. This relaxing boat trip is a unique way to unwind and isn't well known to the public. There is also a separate boat that travels from Downtown Disney to Disney's Old Key West Resort for Disney Vacation Club Members to enjoy.
3. Boats To Get From Magic Kingdom To ResortsA treat for guests to try is traveling by boat from all the Disney World Resorts that can connect to the Magic Kingdom by water. The list includes 5 different resorts that each have dedicated boats. The resorts are Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Wilderness Lodge, and the Fort Wilderness Campground and Resort. Even if you are not staying at one of these resorts you can still catch the boats to enjoy the trip and get a chance to visit the resorts to check them out for a potential future stay!
2. Boats To Get From Epcot To Boardwalk To Disney's Hollywood StudiosThere is one series of boats, the Friendship boats, that make their way back and forth from Epcot to Disney's Hollywood Studios. Along the way they make stops at Disney's Boardwalk Resort, Disney Yacht Club & Beach Club Resorts, and the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resorts.
Fun Fact: Epcot & Hollywood Studios are the only Disney World Theme Parks that are connected by water.
1. MonorailThere are few places in the world where you get to ride a monorail and Disney World is one of them. With the Magic Kingdom Resort loop around the Seven Seas Lagoon and the connecting ling to Epcot, there is a coolness factor to riding the Disney World Monorail System. It is a rite of passage and it is hard to say you visited Disney World without riding the monorails and their nearly 14.7 miles of elevated track. Some of the best views of Epcot can actually be had by riding the monorail.
Fun Fact: Where is the only place at Disney World where you can easily get inside a theme park for FREE without a ticket and not get into trouble?
Answer: While riding the monorail from the Ticket & Transportation Center to the Epcot Station you enter Epcot and circle around before again exiting to reach the station.
|Disney's Magical Express Bus|
Bonus: Disney's Magical ExpressHere is a bonus form of FREE Disney Transportation, but the catch for this one is that you must fly into the Orlando International Airport (MCO) and stay at a Disney World Resort Hotel. If you can answer Yes & Yes then you can take Disney's Magical Express bus to your Resort Hotel from the airport and it will return you to the airport at the conclusion of your trip. Another great FREE service that is great to be familiar with.
The easy part of your vacation is deciding that you want to visit the Walt Disney World Resort. The toughest decisions involve wading through all of your options, choosing the best ones, and then booking your trip.
Should I Use A Travel Agent?Many people come up against this roadblock when planning their Disney World Vacation. Many questions come up during this process:
- Will it cost me more to use a travel agent?
- Are all travel agents alike?
- What happens if a better promotion comes along after I book my vacation?
- Do I lose flexibility if I use a travel agent?
- What if I'm not sure exactly what I am looking for?
- Am I better off just calling Disney directly and booking with them?
Maybe you have found yourself asking these same questions. Let's go through them one by one to help you find the best answer for your vacation.
Will it cost me more to use a travel agent?
The simple answer is that it should not. Travel agents are paid by commission by the travel providers and in this case Disney World. Most travel agents accept the commission paid by Disney as their only fees and do not charge their customers and extra or additional fees. Disney World also makes sure that you can receive any promotion that you book directly also if you book through a travel agent.
Don't be afraid to ask your Travel Agent if they charge any extra fees for their services. If they do, make sure you understand what you are paying for. As I mentioned earlier, most travel agents do not charge extra fees for the Disney portion or trips, but may have fees for booking airline tickets, etc.
Are all Travel Agents alike?
Here the answer is a resounding NO. Like most fields, Travel Agents typically have specialties. There are so many different travel options, it is hard to be an expert with all of them. Disney World can be one of the most difficult vacations to plan and book if you are not familiar and current with all the latest developments and programs that they have.
If you use a travel agent, please choose one that specializes in Disney Travel. There are many great ones out there. In addition to finding a Travel Agency that specializes in Disney Travel, make sure that your Travel Agent knows Disney World.
Ask them how many times they have visited Disney World and how recently. Ask them how many different Disney Resorts that they have stayed in. Ask them how many different Disney World Restaurants they have eaten in. You will find there is a big difference between reading about a Resort or Restaurant on-line or in a brochure versus actually staying there or eating there in person.
Again there are many great Travel Agents that can pass that hurdle and they are the ones that you want on your side helping you plan your next vacation.
What happens if a better promotion comes along after I book my vacation?
Here is one of the age old dilemmas, do I book my Disney Trip now or do I wait to see if a better offer comes along? A good Disney Specialized Travel Agent will proactively look for better promotions even after you book your vacation and either re-book your vacation at the better rate or ask your permission to do so, even though that means that their commission will be lower as a result.
Why would they do that? They value your business and hope that you will return to them for booking and planning a future vacation.
You can go through the same process yourself if you book directly through Disney, but do not expect them to call you to make you aware that you could save money by re-booking your trip. Please note that in either case, the timing has to fall within Disney Travel guidelines, which at the time of this article means that any Disney World trip more than 45 days prior to arrival can be re-booked at a better rate if similar rooms are available for that promotion.
Do I lose flexibility if I use a travel agent?
A good travel agent should be your partner from the moment you first contact them, right through the end of your vacation. If you have questions, or need to make changes they should be there to help you.
What if I'm not sure exactly what I am looking for?
This is where a Disney Specialized Travel Agent can really shine. They have the time to listen to you explain your situation and get to know you. They can provide multiple options that you can discuss and then work towards a solution that works for you. This is not really an option if you want to book directly. Then you are kind of let on your own to come up with the answers.
Am I better off just calling Disney directly and booking with them?
If you know exactly what you want you can make the choice to book directly with Disney and still have a great vacation. What you lose in the process is not having that person who will proactively contact you to make you aware of new attractions, shows, promotions, or options. You also won't have someone working with you to help you save money or fit your trips to your particular budget.
How Do I Find A Great Disney Specialized Travel Agent?
There are several ways to find a great Disney Specialized Travel Agent. One way is to talk to your friends and family to get recommendations. Another way is to search on the internet. As I mentioned earlier there are several great Travel Agencies that can help you make your Disney Vacation a magical hassle free experience.
At Only WDWorld, we recommend Only WDWorld Travel (full disclosure: The Blog and Travel Agency are related entities.)
Only WDWorld Travel is a full service travel agency that specializes in Disney Travel. Michelle Collins, owner/agent, has vacationed at the Walt Disney World Resort nearly 50 times and stayed in nearly all of the on-site resorts, eaten in nearly all of the on-site restaurants, used the Disney Dining Plans, taken all forms of Disney transportation, including Disney's Magical Express, and traveled with kids, large family groups, and done adult only vacations personally. This personal experience, along with a sincere love of Disney World allows her to work hard to ensure that all of her clients have their best Disney Vacation ever! when then book with her.
To get in touch with Michelle and Only WDWorld Travel to book or plan your next Disney Vacation:
If you have visited Disney World recently, you probably already know that the most popular Disney Characters to meet right now are not America's favorite Mouse couple, but rather sisters Anna & Elsa from the movie Frozen.
Waits to see the adorable pair have exceeded 4 hours on a consistent basis during their stay in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot, but starting on Sunday April 20th they are moving to a new venue at a different Disney Theme park.
Meet Anna and Elsa with a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall
From the kingdom of Arendelle to the Magic Kingdom, sisters Anna and Elsa will be meeting Disney World guests daily at the Princess Fairytale Hall in Fastasyland. Joined by a visiting Disney Princess each day the sisters from Frozen will meet and greet their fans young and old.
Stop by throughout the day till the late afternoon and hear a story about their adventures. Be sure to tell them all a tale about your kingdom too! Best of all, you can use the new Disney FastPass+ system to reserve a time to meet them!
When you make your FastPass+ choices (up to 60 days ahead of your visit if you are a Disney World Resort guest) make sure to look for the option to meet Anna & Elsa. Don't be left out in the cold and miss your chance!
When you make your FastPass+ choices (up to 60 days ahead of your visit if you are a Disney World Resort guest) make sure to look for the option to meet Anna & Elsa. Don't be left out in the cold and miss your chance!
Sometimes simple is best. One of the most beloved attractions in all of the Disney Magic Kingdom Theme Parks all over the world is the Mad Tea Party. This simple spinning attraction that is themed upon the famous scene of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party in Alice In Wonderland, continues to be a favorite for children of all ages.
There is a certain charm that is appealing. It calls to young children and get adults return to their youth to enjoy this fanciful ride. Although the spinning action rules some people out, many look forward to their next twirl in a tea cup.
At Disney World you can find the mad Tea Party situated on the edge of Fantasyland near the Tomorrowland Speedway. A special treat for all is catching the Dormouse peaking out from the central teapot while the teacups are spinning.
Disney World Fun Fact:
Did you know that the Mad Tea Party was an opening day attraction at both Disneyland (July 15, 1955) and Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort (October 1, 1971).
Sometimes it doesn't take millions of dollars and advanced technology to bring joy to a child. Joy can come in the form of a simple spinning giant teacup.
It is hard to believe that the first Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon took place almost 5 years ago, but it is true. This amazing night time Half Marathon makes its way through Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios on the way to a finish at Epcot and a special late night party inside Epcot to enjoy the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.
Disney Yellow Shoes Art Director David Brotherton has been busy designing an amazing finisher medal to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.
The artwork from classic Disney Attraction Posters has made it's way onto 4 new limited time T-Shirts. If you are like us, you can never get enough of those great posters. Turning them into wearable art is a great idea, but unfortunately your chance to get your hands on one is very brief.
Here are the details posted by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager on the Disney Parks Blog:
This year, we’ve been featuring a series of Disney Parks’ attraction poster T-shirts on our Disney Parks online store. These shirts are sold for a limited period of time, and feature some pretty amazing art of things I love at Disney Parks! Today, I’m happy to share details about four new T-shirts coming to the online shop in April. Once again, Disney Design Group Artist Richard Terpstra was inspired by posters featured in the outstanding “Poster Art of the Disney Parks” book by Vanessa Hunt and Danny Handke (a must have book for any Disney fan!).
From April 15-20, the Disney Parks online store will release two T-shirts – a purple shirt celebrating Fantasyland at Disneyland park, and a green shirt featuring the Sunshine Tree Terrace at Magic Kingdom Park. The original Fantasyland attraction poster referenced for the purple tee was created in 1955 by Bjorn Aronson.
For the green t-shirt, many readers may recall seeing this attraction poster when the Orange Bird returned to the Sunshine Tree Terrace in April 2012. I can’t wait to wear mine while enjoying a citrus swirl in Adventureland (does anyone care to join me?).
Then, from April 22-27, we salute the 50th anniversary of two classic Disney attractions – “it’s a small world” and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. Both attractions debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and later found their way to Disney Parks. For these T-shrts, we will offer both adult and kids sizes.
The “it’s a small world” shirt was inspired by the attraction poster designed by Paul Hartley in 1966. The Carousel of Progress shirt references a design from 1967 by Ken Chapman (I want to be that guy pictured at right living in Progress City!).
To find these T-shirts, I invite you to visit http://www.DisneyStore.com/ParkEvents during the dates referenced above. The shirts will ship in 6-8 weeks once orders are completed (express shipping is not available).
As guests at Disney's Animal Kingdom journey to Africa they encounter the East African village of Harambe. This town that to many only provides the backdrop to Kilimanjaro Safaris, holds many details for the observant visitor.
|Tamu Tamu Refreshments|
Welcome To HarambeThere is much to learn about the story of Harambe as you make your way through this authentic looking town. It tells the story of a town who's roots go back nearly 700 years. As you look closer you will also see a town that struggles to fit in with the modern connected world.
|Harambe Fort Erected in 1420|
The Harambe Fort displays a sign that says it was erected in 1420, letting you know that this area has been settled for nearly 700 years. One side of the Fort is were you will find the Tamu Tamu Refreshment stand.
Elsewhere you will see that the year 1961 is prominently displayed. This date is significant in the story of Harambe. This is the year that it gained its independence and let the citizens take charge of setting their own direction.
The architecture of the town is varied as you look across the shops, restaurants, and hotels that line its main street.
The entertainment in the center of town displays some of the cultural heritage of the region. This shows how old traditions are still interwoven with this town struggling to enter into the modern world.
Signs of progress are evident on this building advertisement for Vivuko Computer Training Centre.
The textures and details put into the buildings and signage are simply amazing. Here you can notice the pitch for "Best Food In East Africa" next to the Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery. Few People take the time to check out all of the amazing details that surround them as they stroll through Harambe. The resulting effect is so good, they people just accept the story and believe that they have been transported into this bustling East African Town with the ancient roots.
|Kilimanjaro Safaris - Harambe Wildlife Reserve|
|Sausage Tree in Harambe|
|Tusker House Restaurant|
Harambe means "Working Together" in Swahili and you definitely get the sense that a community exists here. The different disparate elements have been brought together to form a "real" village that will leave quite an impression on you if you take the time to explore.
Where is the best place to meet and interact with Disney Princesses at Disney World? The answer may surprise you, but it is in the Norway Pavilion in Epcot at the Storybook Princess Dining Experience.
Akershus Royal Banquet HallThe building where you dine and meet the Disney Princesses is called Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. It is inspired by the real 14th century Akershus Castle in Norway which overlooks the harbor in Oslo.
|Inside Akershus Royal Banquet Hall|
Storybook Dining Experience
The intent of the meal is to make guests feel that they have been transported to a real Storybook Experience in a Norwegian castle. Outside you can read the Royal proclamation and inside you can see the Royal Storybook housed under glass. The pages read:
Once Upon a time...
A great Viking king and queen welcomed royal visitors to the castle Akershus.
That tradition continues as we invite you to experience a feast fit for royalty of all ages.
Meeting Disney PrincessesOnce you are admitted inside Akershus, you will be taken to a small alcove to have your picture taken with one of the Disney Princesses. You don't get to choose, it will be whichever one is in there at the time. During our meal, Belle was the Princess posing with families for pictures near the entrance. A Disney Photographer will take you picture with their camera (and yours too if you request) and during your meal you will receive a print of the picture to remember your dining experience.
|Cinderella at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall|
|Snow White Signing Autographs|
During the meal there is a constant stream of Princesses coming to each table to meet guests, interact, sign autographs, and of course, pose for pictures. Although they will not commit to a set roster, typically you will find: Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, Snow White, & Ariel.
|Aurora with her fans at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall|
|Ariel at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall|
The Dining ExperienceDining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall also provides a unique experience. The meal is broken up into a couple different segments in order to allow you to experience some of the flavors of Norway and their cuisine.
The meal starts by visiting the buffet line to experience the Flavors of Norway. Here you will find some of the finest Scandinavian Seafood, Imported Cheeses, cured and sliced Meats, and a vast selection of Salads and Fruits. This is a great chance to try a variety of different foods that you may not regularly get to try. This serves as your Appetizer/Salad portion of the meal.
For the main course you get to order off of the menu. The menu changes, but some of the options may include:
- Braised Short Ribs
- Grilled Pork Chop
- Mushroom Stuffed Pasta
- Oven-Roasted Chicken Breast
- Pan-Seared Salmon
- Roasted Rack of Lamb
- Traditional Kjottkake which are Norwegian Meatballs
The final dessert course features a selection of Norwegian treats served family Style including the traditional Rice Cream served with Strawberry sauce.
We would have to give the dining experience at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall very high marks. The setting was wonderful as you really do feel that you have been transported to another place and time. There is no better place for meeting this many Disney Princesses and interacting with them.
We really enjoyed the Taste of Norway appetizer/salad buffet as it allowed the ability to try some different foods including a number of seafood choices. The entrees were a little disappointing as we feel that they were good, but not great. We also enjoyed sampling the different desserts.
The Princess Storybook Dining Experience at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Dinner is the current Best Use Of Table Service Credit for the Disney Dining Plan among all of the 70+ choices.
If you are using the Disney Dining Plan, this should be a must do on your Disney World Vacation. If you are not on the DDP, we would suggest visiting Akershus for their breakfast, as you will still get to see all of the princesses and experience Akershus at a more reasonable cost.