Why EPCOT and Animal Kingdom Are Such Important Disney Theme Parks

When I think of Disney World, I admittedly picture Cinderella Castle, the iconic landmark at the heard of Magic Kingdom. Disney World, however, is so much more than the castle and fantasy that Magic Kingdom provides. EPCOT and Animal Kingdom are two of the most important Disney theme parks, arguably across the world. Why you ask? Let me explain.

If you have never visited Disney World, it’s important to explain what makes these two parks unique. EPCOT houses the World Showcase, a section of the park filled with 11 different Country “pavilions.” These countries include Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, UK, and Canada. Each of these countries is modeled to resemble the country itself, houses unique dining and experiences in line with the country, and introduces cast members who are native to the countries to interact with the guests. Having 11 different countries to explore in a day is an important interaction that shouldn’t be dismissed. Allowing guests to fully immerse in the different cultures of these countries provide a well rounded, education experience that would lack in that area with another theme park.

Travel west of EPCOT and you will hit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the newest of the four Disney World theme parks. Similar to EPCOT’s World Showcase, Animal Kingdom is split up into individual lands to immerse the guests in a unique experience. Here, guests can visit the Africa area and the Asia area. Like EPCOT, these two sections of the park truly involve the guests in the culture of these continents and are home to cast members from these locations. The music, entertainment, food, and overall style of these two sections of the park truly make guests feel as if they are a part of the culture.

The importance of these two parks really can’t go unnoticed or underappreciated. While this experience is important for kids and adults alike, families are especially lucky for this experience within the parks. A family with kids is unlikely to have the financial ability to visit the various countries represented, and I imagine overseas trips with kids to a brand new country comes with a handful of difficulties. But in Disney World, any child can get the chance to experience new cultures and then meet Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse in the same day. Sprinkling in the chance to learn about other countries and experience them within Disney World is a great way to keep kids attention and promote learning in a fun, friendly, exciting environment.

I know that there is no comparison to traveling the world. The France Pavilion in EPCOT cannot compare to taking a trip to France and visiting the landmarks, speaking with the people, and learning about the history. But, for those of us who simply cannot afford to visit a different country each year, the importance of the Disney World parks including a world traveling type of experience is one that truly makes EPCOT and Animal Kingdom two of the most important and special Disney parks.

Disney World is Changing: What’s to come before 2021

If you’re an avid Disney World fan like me, then you know that there are quite a few changes coming to Disney World in the new few years. The big reason? Disney World’s 50th anniversary will take place in the year 2021, and they are gearing up for large crowds, passionate fans, and visitors from all over the world stepping foot on the property. Disney wants to make sure it is in the best position come 2021 to provide a special memory for us all.

Some of Disney World’s most monumental changes are actually coming sooner than some may think. This August, Disney World’s version of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be opening up in Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. If you’ve seen the pictures from Disneyland, you know how huge this is going to be for the resort. It will draw massive crowds and further Disney’s already great relationship with Lucas Films. Galaxy’s Edge will be bring two new attractions to Hollywood Studios; Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run opening on the day the land opens and Rise of the Resistance opening in very early December. This brand new land will bring much needed attractions, food, and immersion into Hollywood Studios, a once easy to look past park.

Shortly after Galaxy’s Edge opens, Disney World will unveil a new form of transportation. As far as I know, there has not been a new way to travel between resorts/parks in quite some time, so this is a huge step in a forward direction for Disney World. The Disney World Skyliner will be available for use this September and will travel between Pop Century/Art of Animation Resorts, Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT. These advanced gondola-like vehicles will cruise over top the Disney World property to transport it’s guests between these 5 locations. Personally, I couldn’t be happier about this addition. A new way to get directly between two Disney theme parks and an additional form of transportation to my go-to Value Resort? Sign me up!

Other changes coming throughout 2020 and 2021 include new attractions, restaurants, and aesthetic changes. The process of upgrading the remainder of the rooms at Disney’s three All Star Resorts is currently underway. On my last post, I linked the updated All Star Movies rooms, so feel free to check that out if you’re interested! These aesthetic changes to Disney’s cheapest hotels will be huge for them to garner more interest in visitors having interest in staying at these hotels on property rather than a similarly priced (maybe formerly nicer) hotel off property.

Other aesthetic changes are coming to EPCOT as well. Those of you who have been visiting Disney World for a while know that those large, triangular looking stones have been the face of the entrance of EPCOT for as long as we can remember. Finally, Disney World is moving those out of the way to make for a new, more visually pleasing entrance into the park. Spaceship Earth is such a beautiful, well known monument for EPCOT, and it’s always been clouded by the, some would call tombstones, planted in front of it. With a new look to the entrance of the park, I believe guests will feel much more welcomed as they walk in.

Beyond aesthetics, Disney World is going to have plenty of new attractions to finish before the 2021 celebration. Starting at Magic Kingdom, if you’ve visited recently you may have noticed some major construction there behind Space Mountain. That’s because, coming to Disney World is the Tron roller coaster, an exact copy of the ride that is currently in Shanghai Disney. This coaster is going to be a MASSIVE draw for crowds and really helps Magic Kingdom bump up their capacity.

Moving on to EPCOT, the park that I would say is coming with the most changes the next few years, there will be two brand new attractions in store before the 2021 anniversary. The Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster is going in near where Ellen’s Energy Adventure once lived. If you’re a Marvel fan like me, you’re thrilled to see some Marvel characters finally able to seep their way into Disney World. If you don’t know the story behind why Marvel cannot be in Disney World, it’s a confusing one but I’m more than willing to explain to the best of my knowledge. Just let me know! Beyond that, the France Pavilion will be home to a Ratatouille ride that can currently be found in Disneyland Paris. World Showcase has been lacking in attractions since it’s opening, so it’s exciting to see new rides pop up!

Hollywood Studios may already have Galaxy’s Edge to lean on, but that’s not all that’s coming. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be taking to former home of The Great Movie Ride. Not much has been released as far as details go for this attraction, but we’re interested to see what it’s all about. The Great Movie Ride is already very missed by Disney World fans, so I’m sure the Imagineers are working hard to create the perfect attraction to take it’s place. This will also be Disney Worlds first ever attraction to be directly based on Mickey and Minnie. I know, I was shocked too when I first realized that we have no Mickey and Minnie based attractions throughout 4 theme parks, but it’s true!

All of these changes will, no doubt, bring larger crowds to Disney World in the next few years. But, if you are able to avoid those busy Summer and holiday months, I still believe you will be able to visit Disney World and not have to wait 60+ minutes for every single attraction on property. The benefit of all this? Changes and new attractions mean more things for visitors to do. Hollywood Studios, at one point, only housed 4 attractions; Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, Star Tours, and Toy Story Mania. Even if the crowds were slightly lower, the attention was only dispersed through 4 attractions (and a handful of shows.) Once Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway opens, Hollywood Studios will be home to 9 attractions plus shows. That’s over double. So, unless the crowds double, you can expect that increasing attraction offerings will spread the crowd thinner.

Is there anything new that you’re looking forward to the most? Let me know in the comments!

Disney World Money Saving Tips

We all know that Disney World can cost you an arm and a leg as a vacation destination. So how do so many people afford to visit year after year? The more you research Disney World and learn about vacation planning at the Happiest Place on Earth, the more you come across tips and tricks to save money for your Disney vacation.

As a 25 year old, these money saving tips were a little bit more of a necessity than a preference for me. As much as I loved visiting the Wilderness Resort as a kid and staying in club level (one time) it’s just not something I can afford right now. But every single part of me wants to continue to visit Disney World at least annually, so finding ways to save was big for me to be able to continue to do that.

The first tip I have for any fellow Disney World vacationers on a budget is to not look past the Value Resorts. Gone are the days of the 90’s looking carpers and bedding, wallpaper lining the tops of the room, and lesser amenities. If you haven’t seen the newly remolded Pop Century or All Star Movies rooms, I encourage you to click these links and take a look. Pop Century, All Star Movies. These renovations, which will be spreading through the remaining All Star Resorts as well, really give an upgraded look for such lost cost hotels. For someone like me who can only visit Disney World once a year with my current budget, I spend the majority of my time out at the parks anyway. So having a super fancy resort is not at the top of my priority list. However, these renovations make staying at a Value Resort feel much more high-end than the cost shows.

Another save money is always to book my trip during the window of a room or package discount period. Now, I know that it’s important to book your vacations far in advance to ensure that you get the hotel you want on the days you want. However, I have found a lot more success in having 3-4 different weeks that work within my schedule and seeing what is available for me when those room discounts come up. For a Value Resort, you can save (usually) 10-15% off the room price during those discount periods. Typically, they will be available about 4 months in advance, so that’s still plenty of time to book your airfare (if needed), plan out your days and fastpasses, and prepare for you upcoming trip!

While this isn’t necessarily a money saving tip, I love to have gift cards on hand prior to my Disney World vacation. Each time that I have a little bit extra money to spare after a paycheck, I will go ahead and purchase a Disney gift card for that amount. By prepaying on Disney gift cards, I don’t have to worry about spending as much during the trip. This also helps keep me to a stricter budget as I will only allow myself to spend what we have in Disney gift cards on food and drinks.

Last, but certainly not least, if you are not an Annual Passholder, consider looking at dropping your Park Hopper tickets and doing 1-park per day tickets instead. This has been a really hard thing for me to let go of recently as I have always been a Park Hopper person. However, seeing the cost difference between Park Hopper and 1-park per day is enough to lead me to looking into the latter option for the future. It requires a bit more planning to ensure you hit all of the things you would like during your trip, but it’s better to only be able to attend 1-park per day than to not be able to afford your trip at all!

Disney World is getting pricier and pricier as the years go on. As that continues, it’s important that those of us who are constantly researching and learning more about Disney World and the costs associated with it share our tips with others! Do you have any money saving tips I didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!

The Angry Disney Reviewer and The New York Post: My Response

There has been something in the air lately that has been making everyone hate on millennials who love Disney. If you haven’t seen what the angry reviewer said, I can sum it up nicely for you. Basically, if you are an adult without kids, you should be BANNED from Disney. Disney is a place only for parents and their children and everyone else should not be allowed in. She also may have used some rude, derogatory language to describe a young woman who got a pretzel, but I’ll leave that out of this for now.

This review, albeit funny to read, has lead to quite a few outlets standing up for young adults and their right to visit Disney if they want to. However, one Johnny Oleksinski of the New York Post decided to write up this article. He has every right to do so, and I have every right to tell him why he’s wrong. Let’s begin:

First of all, Johnny made a nice little claim that all of us born between the years of 1981 and 1996 remain constant 12 year olds. Because planning a week (or more) long vacation, strategically scheduling out your time and how to make the most of your trip, budgeting yourself for months beforehand, and traveling alone to a destination all while working full time, some of us working more than one job to pay off all that fun college debt, is something that 12 year olds frequently do. Things must have really changed since I was 12.

Johnny then rants that we should be spending our time seeing non-Disney movies in the theaters, and that’s such an irrelevant point that I don’t even need to get into it. However, he follows that with talking about how a trip to Europe is the same price as a trip to Disney World, and we should explore meeting people that are different from ourselves. Johnny must not know much about Disney World at all if he thinks that there is no single person there that isn’t from the United States. Not only is Disney World one of the most popular theme park destinations in the world, but Disney World has made a name for themselves with how they incorporate people from other countries into their parks and resorts. Does Johnny know that all of the countries in EPCOT have cast members from that country representing? Does Johnny know that you can speak directly with people from those countries to learn about the culture and history of where they’re from? Does Johnny know that, instead of having to take 11 trips to different countries to speak with people about their experiences there, they can just walk into EPCOT and experience it that way? Not to mention that you can head over to Animal Kingdom and speak with even more cast members from Africa and Asia?

I appreciate what Johnny is trying to say here. It’s important for people to gain experiences outside of what we know and are used to. But having little to no knowledge on the Disney World parks and the opportunities for experiences they have there is not the best look.

Johnny continues to go on about how much a Disney World vacation costs and how us non-parent millennials should choose to branch out and visit other countries instead of Disney World. Because, as usual, millennials are KILLING international’s travel!!!! Millennials kill everything these days, so just add that to the list, Johnny.

I choose to visit Disney World because it’s a place where I made memories with my family as a kid. Just because I’m 25 without kids doesn’t mean that it’s wrong for my to enjoy visiting and reliving my childhood memories. Disney World is a place where I can go, walk around and explore and remember moments with people that I no longer have here in my life. Why that’s so offensive to people is something I’ll never know.

Disney World’s innovation in their attractions, resorts, experiences and more also fascinates me. To me, there is something so special and interesting about a company that puts so much though into each and every thing that they do. Yes, people like Johnny will roll their eyes at this, but it’s true. When Disney World was creating the Morocco pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase, Morocco’s emperor sent his personal architect to Florida to help with the creation of the buildings and scenery. When Disney World decided to build Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom, the Disney Imagineers flew to Nepal and spent time with the people there to get accurate ideas of what the Himalayan mountains really looked like, what the local villages looked like, and spoke with believers of the Yeti to determine what natives believe that creature actually is. That is a level of attention to detail that shouldn’t be disregarded.

Disney makes me happy. Disney makes a lot of us childless millennials happy. The fact that people doing things that make them happy is such a problems is really mind blowing to me. But, you can all keep ranting and raving about how millennials are running everything. I’ll be riding Space Mountain and having the time of my life in Disney World. Thanks!

I’m Back! And I’m Here to Talk Pin Trading

It’s been quite some time since I’ve hopped on the blogging train. There’s been a lot going on in the Disney universe, and I have been admittedly distracted. What could possibly distract me from blogging about my favorite place in the entire world? Pin trading.

For those of you who don’t know, pin trading is a real experience for Disney lovers. Disney creates a LOT of different pins. Limited Edition, Limited Release, Mystery Collections, Box Sets, you name it, Disney has probably released it. And the best thing about Disney pins is that you have the ability to trade them with other pin traders. If there’s a pin you don’t like or a pin that you already have, there may be (and probably are) others out there searching for that exact pin to complete their collection or sets.

If you’ve never pin traded before, here’s a little background. In the parks, most cast members in the shops and around the parks will have a little lanyard or apron where they hold a handful of pins. These are pins you can trade for if you have a certified Disney Trading pin to trade with. The benefit of trading with cast members is they have to say yes to any trade you want to make, even if they don’t want the pin that you’re interested in trading. Trading with cast members is a really good way to find pins you like to add to your collection.

If you want a little more of an experience, you can also find other guests who are interested in pin trading. There are certain areas of the parks where pin traders typically meet to trade, but you can also reach out to someone if you see them wearing a lanyard with pins on it. Now, with other guests, they do NOT have to say yes to your trade. You are a lot more likely to get shot down in these situations because pin traders can be very particular about what they want/need. Most pin traders are looking to complete pin sets or they have a certain interested in one character or movie and they only want pins that fit those categories. But, you never know what you can find or what pins you may have that may spark an interest from a fellow pin trading guest.

Now, if you’re like me, you may not live near Disney or be able to visit as often as you wish you could. When you only visit Disney once a year or so, you may be itching to pin trade in your day to day life. Don’t be discouraged, because you can! How you choose to online pin trade is really up to you. For me, I was able to join a pin trading group on Facebook. The biggest up side to these groups is that they are usually monitored by hosts and moderators. If for some reason you don’t receive a pin you traded for or if it comes bent or in a different condition than the picture you received, you can reach out to the page hosts to try to get the situation rectified. Most members of these groups do NOT want to risk getting kicked out of the group, and they will get the situation handled in order to prevent that.

If you don’t want to join a group, you are obviously welcome to pin trade via social media. For me, I have a Disney dedicated Instagram page (@all.about.the.ears if you’re interested!) If I wanted to, I could easily post my traders (pins I want to trade) to my Instagram Story or post it on my feed to see if any of my followers are interested in the pins I have up for trade. You can reach a lot of people this way, but you also don’t have any moderators if a trade goes wrong.

If you’re interested in the pin trading world, step 1 is obviously getting some pins! Again, if you can’t make it to Disney do not be alarmed. You can purchase pins online. There are a variety of different websites where pins can be purchased. Obviously Shop Disney is a very easy go to. They will have mystery sets, exclusive pins, and much more available to purchase! However, do your research. There are some reputable websites and sellers where you can purchase some pin sets for a cheaper price than you will find on Shop Disney. Make sure you do A LOT of research, though. If you are finding a seller who is selling a pin lot of unpackaged pins for a small amount of money, there is a good chance those pins are not authentic. However, you are usually safe if you find a seller with good feedback who is selling pins that are packaged and, while cheaper, not ridiculously and unbelievably cheap.

I’m biased to mystery collections. There is something so exciting about not knowing the pins that you are about to receive. And the work it entails to complete a mystery collection is a lot of fun. This also can make building your trader collection easier, as well. If you’re always purchasing pins that you KNOW you will like and don’t have, your trader collection will never grow. Purchasing multiple mystery packs will likely lead to some duplicates, and that’s the best way to grow a collection of traders.

If you’re interested in pin trading, get yourself started! Join a group, purchase some pins, pick what you want to collect, and have yourself a ball! Everyone needs a little Disney magic and fun in their daily life, and pin trading is a great way to do so!

Extra, Extra Magic Hours

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that Disney World is planning to introduce Extra, Extra Magic Hours this fall to accommodate the large numbers of visitors they are expecting. At the end of August, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This brand new, highly anticipated land is likely going to come with huge crowds this fall. In order to plan for that, Extra, Extra Magic Hours have been announced.

If you have not heard about this yet, let’s start with explaining what Extra Magic Hours are. If you stay at a Disney World Resort Hotel, Disney World offers Extra Magic Hours. These are additional hours that Resort guests are able to stay out at the parks after they are closed to regular day guests. Typically, parks will open an hour or two early or close an hour or two later to allow the Disney World Resort guests some time in the parks with a lesser crowd. Now, Extra Magic Hour crowds aren’t what they used to be. With more and more hotels and more people visiting and staying on property, Extra Magic Hours are still extremely popular. However, it is still much better than the regular day crowd that you experience when you visit a Disney World park. Usually, there is one park each day that offers the Extra Magic Hours either in the morning or at night. Rarely is there an overlap in Extra Magic Hours.

This Fall, Disney World is going to have Extra, Extra Magic Hours. This means that every day from the end of August through the beginning of November, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios will offer morning Magic Hours. This means that every single day, three of Disney World’s four parks will have Extra Magic Hours that Resort guests can take advantage of. At Hollywood Studios, in particular, the Extra, Extra Magic Hours will take place from 6:00 am – 9:00 am every day. That is three full hours each morning to experience the brand new Star Wars land, and that is going to be a HUGE advantage for the Resort guests. Staying on Disney World property already comes with its advantages like the Magical Express, Disney Transportation, the close proximity to the parks, and much more. Now, Resort guests also get hours upon hours of extra time to spend at the parks with lesser crowds.

You may have noticed that EPCOT was not a park of the Disney Extra, Extra Magic Hours. I’m not 100% sure why this doesn’t apply to EPCOT, to be honest. However, don’t be alarmed. EPCOT will still have its standard Extra Magic Hours like it usually does. Typically, that includes nighttime hours on Tuesdays and morning hours on Thursdays. That being said, every single Tuesday and Thursday for the few months that Extra, Extra Magic Hours take place, each of the four Disney parks will have Extra Magic Hours.

Do you have any thoughts about this new experience Disney World is offering up to its Resort guests? Comment!

Endgame Instant Reaction: Spoiler Free

I just got back from seeing Avengers: Endgame and I decided the best thing to do was to try to put my thoughts and feelings into words here. For those of you that don’t care at all about the MCU, feel free to not read this. For those of you that do care, please come along on this journey with me.

I cannot remember when EVER I have seen a movie that makes me laugh, cry, cheer, smile, and more all at once. I am not lying when I say that I had tears in my eyes while I was laughing at some points. That movie was the PERFECT culmination of so many years and movies in the MCU. The Russo brothers played that absolutely perfectly. The way that this story weaves in to the overall universe was incredible.

I know that tickets are hard to come by. I know that going to see movies in theater isn’t exactly the cheapest way to spend your money. I know that sometimes it’s a pain. But if you are an MCU fan, if you are an Avengers fan, if you are a Superhero fan, you NEED to see this movie in theaters.. The experience of watching this film with a large group of people who are feeling your same emotions is such a powerful thing.

This is quite a short blog, because I really don’t want to spoil anything for those who did not get as lucky as I did to find tickets for today. If it makes you feel better, though, my seat did NOT recline because it was broken. In about a week (or so) I’ll be making a FULL recap blog of everything that happened and how I felt about all of it. For now, I will leave you with this… This is the end of a cinematic era and sometimes the end is the very best part.