News Nuggets from Around Disney World

It’s Easter Weekend and and that means (among other things, obviously) lots of visitors to Disney World, and a whole bunch of new Disney World News Nuggets.

The biggest news is probably the new “extra” hours opportunities at the Magic Kingdom:

  • Disney “After Hours” Event Announced. – 3 extra hours at the Magic Kingdom with a low attendance sounds pretty awesome, but $150 per person is a lot of money for it. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I have the option to go to this. (I’m not the first / only person to say this, but it seems like the DVC Fireworks we saw a couple of weeks ago might be a good fit for this party.)
  • Disney adds “Early Morning Magic” to the Magic Kingdom – Rumors are saying that $69 gets you rides on Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh, as well as a “breakfast buffet” at Pinocchio Village Haus for 1.5 hours before the park opens to regular guests. I was hoping this would be $50 per person, not $70.

That wasn’t all the news from the past few days, though. Here are the rest of the News Nuggets:

We’ll end this edition of the News Nuggets with this look at what has become of Disney’s River Country “Watering Hole”. I used to love River Country, and I was sad when it was closed. It’s freaky to see what it looks like now that Disney has abandoned it. Hopefully, the rumors Jim Hill talks about (building a DVC resort in that area) turn out to be true.

See you next time!

What special entertainment will be part of After Hours at the Magic Kingdom?
What special entertainment will be part of After Hours at the Magic Kingdom?

Announcing the Rope Drop [dot] Net Mic Drop with the Mighty Men of Mouse

Today is a big day here are Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ, as Elyssa and I are proud to announce a new collaboration with the fabulous Mighty Men of Mouse podcast: The Rope Drop [dot] Net Mic Drop. The Mic Drop will be a recurring segment on the MMoM podcast (probably around every 3-5 weeks) during which Elyssa and I will discuss some of the recent happenings we’ve been writing about on the site. If that sounds good to you (and we hope it does), then  you can check out the very first Rope Drop [dot] Net Mic Drop in this week’s MMoM episode! In this segment we talk about our recent trip and highlight some of the places that we ate. We hope that you enjoy it. (Also during this episode of MMoM, Elyssa enters the Disney Podcaster’s Studio with Russ Liption and answers “the questionnaire.”)

Of course, this post would be incomplete without thanking Dutch, Russ, and Kip for inviting Elyssa and I to join them on their show. Elyssa and I have been singing the praises of Mighty Men of Mouse since long before we started Rope Drop [dot] Net, and we are honored that the guys asked us to be even a small part of it.

  

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

We talked yesterday about the changes coming to Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend at Disney World, but what are we to do with the news of menu changes, new dessert parties, and (sadly) more price increases? Sounds like it’s time for another edition of the Rope Drop [dot] Net News Nuggets! Before we get to the majority of the Nuggets, we should need to point out one huge item:

With that out of the way, let’s get to the rest of the News Nuggets:

Though not a traditional “news nugget”, I would also like to point out that Disney plans to launch “Frozen” and “Tangled” themed wedding packages!. Yes, they’re only available in Tokyo now, but, if you ever need photography for Disney wedding (Frozen themed or not), feel free to contact Elyssa at Kivus & Camera. I bet there would be a discount for involved for getting to photograph that.

Shower Time!
Shower Time!

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

Here are Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ we’re still recovering from the price increase that happened this weekend. Of course, even 8-10% ticket price increases can’t stop us from publishing the next edition of the News Nuggets!

Phew. That was a lot of News Nuggets. Let’s take a quick break to relax in the early morning glow of World Showcase:

Early Morning at World Showcase
Early Morning at World Showcase

Now, back to the News Nuggets!

We’ll finish things up with a couple of “events” from Disney World. First, they recently had a DVC 25th Anniversary “party” at the Magic Kingdom. It featured, among other things, a rare appearance by the Haunted Mansion’s tightrope girl and a special fireworks show. Here are the videos of that show from DVC News, Inside the Magic, and The DIS:

Also, Flower & Garden festival starts tomorrow. There’s a nice primer to the festival at TouringPlans and Denise at Mouse Steps has put together a really nice preview. If you’re still looking to get more hyped for the festival, I’ll leave you with this video from The DIS:

Thanks for reading!

Initial Thoughts from our February 2016 Trip to Disney World

The BOATHOUSE Sliders
The BOATHOUSE Sliders

Elyssa and I just got back from a recent trip to Disney World. Though we anticipate doing more in-depth posts about various parts of the trip, here are some initial thoughts:

  • The location for the new Flamingo Crossing hotels is pretty awesome. It’s too early to really review the hotels themselves (they had opened only a week before our 1 night stay there), but the concept seem promising. I wonder how different it’ll feel when there is more than just 15 people staying in them, though.
  • Breakfast at Kona is the real deal. Tonga Toast, the Big Kahuna platter, etc…are great. If there’s a day where you don’t want to be waiting at the turnstiles at rope drop, then definitely stop by. (Same goes for Whispering Canyon, where we ate breakfast twice on the trip. Skillets AND giant Mickey Waffles, baby.)
  • Speaking of “real deal” food options, both Sanaa and The BOATHOUSE are great places to have lunch. Sanaa’s bread service is always good (TIP: You can order more bread for it if you want (and we almost always do)), and the filet sliders are The BOATHOUSE are delicious (and a complete steal at only $12.)
  • Skipper Canteen was pretty good. We both really liked the theming of the place (but I would have been fine with a few more puns from our “Skipper”.) Once you get past the slightly flowery “garnishes” to the dishes, they really are serving steak, chicken, pork, and mac ‘n’ cheese with beef. My pork was fine. Elyssa enjoyed her mac ‘n’ cheese (but not as much as the mac ‘n’ cheese from the BOATHOUSE which is probably now her favorite thing in Orlando). In an interesting twist, the $1.75 “Kid’s Volcano” dessert tasted better than the $8 Kungaloosh (so we’ll probably just 4 kid’s desserts next time instead of getting “grown up” desserts.)
  • The construction around the Wilderness Lodge right now is kind of bummer. I knew to expect it, but seeing so much of the resort closed and the trees near Bay Lake being removed is a bummer. I’m sure the new DVC rooms will be nice, but I’m going to miss that little buffer between the lodge and rest of the World that the “Woods View” rooms used to have.
  • There’s a few running jokes about Elyssa’s and my visits with Tinker Bell, but the cast members who portray her are consistently some of the best we interact with. We had one who must have dropped 15 “leaf” puns in the span of 2 minutes, all while carrying on conversations with Elyssa and I about running, pixie dust, and various other things that she was “tinking” about.
Tink Mode!
Tink Mode!

I’ll end by saying that the logistics that must go on behind the scenes at a runDisney race have to be insane. So many people getting moved around, running down World Dr., through theme parks, etc… while being provided with various character meets, and other entertainment. It has to be a tremendous effort. Our local races might get choked up if we get 2,000, but Disney handles close to 20,000 really, really well.

As I said, there will be more coming from this trip (hopefully, at least 2 or 3 of the 3,000 pictures Elyssa and I took turn out to be worthy of being included in a few posts), but these are some of the major takeaways from our 5 days down there.

Oh, and one last thing: BOATRIDE CLUB, BABY!!

Boatride Club
Boatride Club

 

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

Elyssa and I have a big week ahead of us, so we figured we would try to start it off on the right foot…with another edition edition of the Rope Drop [dot] Net News Nuggets!.

There isn’t a ton of major news to start the week, but the time changes at Epcot might indicate that things are going to be a little over there until for a few months.

Let’s take a look at that and some of the other news:

That’s it for now. Stay tuned tomorrow for a little Rope Drop [dot] Net special feature!

Haven't you always wanted a monkey?

It might be a good time to buy your Disney World Tickets

Friend of the site, Josh Gonzalez, pointed out that Universal Orlando has raised ticket prices. Since a ticket price increase was expected, and since Disney normally raises its tickets around the same time as Universal, it might be worth considering buying your tickets now for any upcoming trips. The TouringPlans Ticket Calculator is a good place to find out where to get the best prices on your Disney tickets.

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

  It’s time for another edition of the Rope Drop [drop] Net News Nuggets! (Don’t worry, we haven’t given up the site as a result of our new found fame as models on Orlando Weekly) .Before we get to the “new” news nuggets, we have a couple of updates from WDW News Today on items we posted about last week:

and this announcement from Disney that:

With that out of the way, let’s move on to our traditional nuggets!

That does it for this edition of the actual “news” section of the News Nuggets, but I’ll leave you with this “Escape to the Magic Kingdom” video from The DIS to help you through your day:

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

With the storm taking place last week, it was a good chance for us to put together a pretty significant helping of News Nuggets. The theme for this edition: “changes”. We have closings at The Studios (shocking, I know), as well as other various changes and new entertainment offerings. Let’s get to it!

I’ll finish up this post by urging you to check out a new feature that Josh at easyWDW has been doing: daily wait times analysis. It’s a nice “only at easyWDW” feature that it is worth checking out if you’re into that kind of in-depth analysis of crows at Disney World.

With all these closings, I need a drink.
With all these closings, I need a drink.

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

Though we still haven’t recovered from Monday night, we can’t keep our loyal Rope Drop [dot] Net Readers waiting any longer. It’s time for a new edition of the News Nuggets!

Let’s jump right in:

That’s all for this latest edition of the News Nuggets. I’ll leave you with a couple of links to WDW Magic videos of New Year’s fireworks from Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom

img_0876

Someone finally recorded a Star Wars – The Force Awakens Podcast

I’m surprised no one thought of this sooner, but Elyssa and I recently joined the guys from Mighty Men of Mouse and Wes James to record a podcast about a recent movie that might have slipped under your radar: Star Wars – The Force Awakens.

The full episode starts with a recap of the Walt Disney World “Cruise Cup” challenge, featuring friends of the site Josh Gonzalez and Eric Laycock, but gets to the Star Wars Discussion right about the 39 minute 55 second mark. (You should definitely listen to the whole episode, not skip right to the part about Star Wars featuring Elyssa and me).

All kidding aside, thank you to Mighty Men of Mouse for having us on. It was a blast! (And I bet other podcasts are now going to do shows about this movie.)

Trying to Keep Elyssa from Reacting to  some of the Opinions
Trying to Keep Elyssa from Reacting to some of the Opinions

New Balance has announced its 2016 RunDisney Collection

New Balance has posted a page outlining its 2016 runDisney collection. The collection features:

  • Dumbo Vazee Pace;
  • Ariel Vazee Pace; and
  • The “Red Carpet” Minnie and Mickey 860v6s.

You can see the Dumbo and Ariel shoes on the New Balance page, and you can see a sneak peak of the Minnie & Mickey shoes right here:

If you want to get a pair of these new shoes at a runDisney event, you should sign up at the NB Virtual Queue as soon as possible for the day you’re attending your event expo. For Marathon Weekend, the NB Virtual sign-up queue timing is listed as:

To begin, runners can sign up at www.NBVirtualQueue.com using your bib number starting Wednesday, January 6th, at 6:00 AM EST, and all other guests can sign up Thursday, January 7th, Friday, January 8th and Saturday, January 9th, starting at 6:00 AM EST each day. 

Good luck! (And make sure you ask if they accept any discounts! I know they’ve given us an Annual Pass discount in the past.)

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

With 2015 coming to a close, I figured we could sneak in one last edition of Rope Drop [dot] Net News Nuggests. After the big edition last week, this will feel like a little bit of a down week:

Let’s end things with a link to a video of this year’s holiday Illuminations and a link to Corey Disbrow’s 2015 Disney World photo recap. (And don’t forget that Disney is live streaming it’s New Year’s Eve fireworks from the Magic Kingdom tonight!)

The original news nugget picture for the last nuggets of 2015
The original news nugget picture for the last nuggets of 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all our readers from Elyssa and me (and Fenway!). Thank you for all your kind words and support during our first few months running Rope Drop [dot] Net.  We hope y’all have a magical holiday season.

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

There has been a lot of Disney World news over these last few weeks of 2015. So, let’s not waste any time and get right to this edition of the Rope Drop [dot] Net News Nuggets: 

That’s it for this edition of the New Nuggets. Let’s finish off this post with a link to some pictures of some of the great Christmas trees found at Disney World And a video of the new Symphony in the Stars, Star Wars-based Fireworks at The Studios

News Nugget time!!
News Nugget time!!

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

So many nuggets, they don't even fit in the cup.
So many nuggets, they don’t even fit in the cup.

It’s about time for a hearty helping of news nuggets. As you are probably aware, new Star Wars offerings opened at The Studios this week, but since Star Wars is so important (both to Disney, and to Elyssa and me), I will be saving a recap of that coverage for another post.

On to the nuggets!

We’ll close out with some links to the various Christmas decorations that are up around Disney World, including gingerbread sculptures at Contemporary, Mickey’s Village at the Yacht Club, and the famous gingerbread house at the Floridian.

John’s Guest Appearance on Mighty Men of Mouse Episode 229

The gang at the Mighty Men of Mouse podcast were kind enough to invite me on the show. You can find the episode here.

Here are links to some of the things we talked about:

Disney Annual Pass Price Increase.

Trip Planning – Segmenting

RopeDrop.net

Listener Questions

As always, thank you to the Mighty Men of Mouse guys for having me on the show. Please don’t blame them when I bring the overall quality of the show down.

Reacting to Disney World’s Annual Pass Price Increase

On an upcoming episode of the Mighty Men of Mouse podcast, I briefly discuss my thoughts on the price increase of Disney World annual passes. I frame those thoughts on the idea that they impact “people in Florida” at a much higher level than they impact Disney World guests at large. Thinking things through a bit more, I think my explanation on the podcast lacked some of the nuance that I intended to convey.

When people listen to my reasoning tomorrow, I would anticipate that one major criticism of my opinion is that I fail to account for the impact the price increase has on DVC members. Ultimately, I think is more a failure in my word choice than an actual point against my position. I should have said that the changes in annual pass pricing impact “people in Florida AND DVC MEMBERS” at a different level than it impacts other people who may purchase annual passes. My thoughts are the same for both groups.

The Yacht Club Lighthouse at Dusk
There’s a not of text on this page. I just kind of wanted to break it up. This is a picture of the Lighthouse at the Yacht Club.

My position (which I share with various other theme park commentators) is that Disney World has a certain, definitive capacity that, at peak times, is actually reached. Disney, therefore, has determined that if people who have the “option” of attending the park other times during the year (such as Florida residents and DVC members) want to attend at peak times, those people will pay a premium to do so. Basically, Disney is saying “if you want to take the spots that could go to a family making their only Disney World trip in 2 or 3 years, then you’re going to have to compensate us for that privilege.” I’m not saying thats “right” or “fair”, but it’s the decision that Disney appears to have made. (And it shouldn’t really be a surprise to DVC members who sometimes have to spend almost twice as many points to stay during Christmas as during September.)

A common attack on this pricing approach by Disney has been the idea that “Disney World is punishing its best customers.” I understand that position (and frankly, I would much rather pay the previous $535 to renew my annual pass than the new $635 (before tax)), but Disney has determined that attempting to funnel these “best” customers into non-peak seasons is a better economic strategy than trying to preserve the “loyalty” of certain repeat guests. Only time will tell if this strategy pays off, but I think it’s clear that the strategy is in place.

Lastly, I want to show some of the math that fueled my position that these prices had a disproportional impact on Florida residents and DVC members. As a non-Florida resident, non-DC member, it will cost me $676.28 (including tax) to renew my annual pass next year. Here are a couple of possible trip plans that Elyssa and I have for 2016, along with their combined prices for a Park Hopper pass:

  • Five Day Trip ($367.50) + 2 Two Day Trips ($257.30 * 2) = $882.10
  • Five Day Trip ($367.50) + Three Day Trip ($325) + Two Day Trip ($257.30) = $949.80
  • Five Day Trip ($367.50) + Four Day Trip ($367.50) = $735.00

Buying individual tickets for these trips still comes out to be more expensive than buying an annual pass, even without including the benefits like free parking, photopass downloads, and restaurant discounts that an annual pass provides. (Also, these ticket prices are almost surely going to go up next year, probably in February. At that point, these numbers will look even better.)

NOTE: All ticket prices were found using the lowest price available from the TouringPlans Ticket Calculator (And, yes, the 4 day and 5 day passes do cost the same according to that calculator)

In other words, as someone who is purchasing an annual pass as a way make multiple trips a year, I am still saving money versus buying individual trip tickets. (And also getting some benefits I’ve questioned the value of in the past.) That said, there’s a good chance that I “make up” some of the difference in my annual pass renewal price by having an extra meal or two offsite during those visits (Always feel free to let me know if you want to meet up with Elyssa and me for some G-Mac and Cheese).

In summary, I stand by my position that the annual price increase impacts certain types of guests (Floridian residents and DVC members) more than it impacts regular Disney World travelers, but I wanted to “show my work” a little more than I did when I made those statements on the (soon to be released) podcast.

Changes to Disney World’s Annual Pass, Parking, and Tables in Wonderland Pricing

As first reported by WDW News Today, Disney World has changed the Annual Pass pricing structure, effective immediately.

Annual Pass Box
Annual Pass Box

For Non-Florida residents, the Annual Passes now come in two options: “Platinum Plus” and “Platinum”. Both passes include admission to all 4 parks (with park hopper privileges), free parking (which has been raised from $17 to $20 per day) and photopass downloads (a new addition this year). The Platinum Plus option also includes admission to Disney’s waterparks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and the Oak Trail golf course. There are also a number of changes to the Florida resident pass options ,which can be seen at WDW News Today and TouringPlans. These changes include new “Gold” and “Silver” options that include certain blackout dates, and could possibly point to the tiered pricing structure that we have seen hints of over the past couple of months.

Looking at the numbers, renewing my annual pass as a new “Platinum Pass” is going to cost $102.24 more this year than it did last year (including tax). I had assumed that the amount would be closer to a $50 increase, but I can (kind of) stomach the larger increase because of the inclusion of Photopass downloads as part of the pass (especially since I have previously said that I don’t think Memory Maker is worth its cost.)

In a related move, Disney has increased the cost of Tables in Wonderland by $50 for annual pass and DVC members. Translated, this means that you have to spend $750 in food at Disney World in a given year to break even on your Tables in Wonderland purchase (up from $500 a year.) Based on Elyssa’s and my eating habits on our Disney World visits, this price increase might mean we will no longer be purchasing Tables in Wonderland.

Your First Visit’s 2017 Walt Disney World Season Projections

For those of us who like to plan far, far in advance, Dave Shute of Your First Visit has posted his projections for Disney World’s 2017 pricing “seasons”. If you’ve been following Walt Disney World pricing for any length of time, you know that Disney World’s seasons don’t really parallel the traditional “spring, summer, fall, winter” calendar. Thankfully, Dave’s post gives us some early indications about when prices at Disney World might be at their highest and lowest.

This information might be especially interesting if there is a Mighty Men of Mouse Listener Vacation in October 2017. According to Dave’s analysis, the end of October (starting with October 15th) might end up having Deluxe Resort prices only 6% higher than the lowest prices of the year.

Details about the DVC Expansion at Wilderness Lodge

Earlier today, Disney released a press release that goes into some of the details about the Wilderness Lodge DVC expansion. As someone who loves staying at the Wilderness Lodge (John & Elyssa’s Favorites article preview?), I have been interested in seeing how Disney positioned this expansion.

Based on the press release, it appears that Disney is going to create an entirely new condo association for this expansion. My immediate reaction to that news was “shoot, that means they might not extend the contracts for the original Wilderness Lodge villas” (which are currently set to expire in 2042.) This post from DVC News, however, suggests some other potential issues:

  • Points Charts could be different;
  • Annual Dues could be different; and
  • The 11-month “home resort” booking window might not be good for the original Wilderness Lodge Villas if you buy a contract for the “new” ones.

At this point, that is a lot of speculation (and things with Disney are always subject to change), but even the possibility of those things happening is making me hesitate about buying an original Wilderness Lodge contract on the DVC resale market in an effort to take advantage of the new construction. With so much in flux, I think I’m going to spend a little more time observing before I make any moves.

Disney World October, December, and January Park Hours Updates from easyWDW

Josh at easyWDW has posted updates to Disney World’s operating schedule for October, December, and January. The December update is especially important since it includes a number of new Extra Magic Hour mornings around Christmas.

As a general note, I always check easyWDW for schedule updates before any trip. I know that I could pull the information directly from Disney but Josh’s layout and information is way more convenient. (I even prefer it to using MyDisney Experience to look for future park hours.)

Elyssa’s Definitive WDW Land Rankings

Sometimes, your heroes are wrong. In Episode 226 of the Mighty Men of Mouse podcast, our friends Dutch, Kip, and Russ attempted to rank the various lands at Walt Disney World. They did pretty well – see their rankings here: Russ’sKip’s, Dutch’s – but they also got some things wrong. Put on some potholders, because here are my takes/rankings.

Celebrate the Magic
Celebrate the Magic

1. Fantasyland. I knew my top 3 lands without a doubt, but determining the order among the 3 was tough. Ultimately, the first place position came down to the number of offerings. The magic I felt flying on Peter Pan as a child is still present in Fantasyland. The expansion has only made it more amazing. There is just so much to take in and enjoy in Fantasyland; the fact that Kip can say Mexico is better with a straight face proves that he is a cyborg.

2. Main Street, USA. I, for one, CAN feed my family on nostalgia. (And corndog nuggets). A trip to WDW does not feel complete for me without going to the Magic Kingdom, even if it’s just for a brief walk up and down Main Street. Seeing Town Square the first time each trip still brings tears to my eyes. This is my favorite place to watch parades. Also, I like shopping and Meet & Greets (more about that below).

3. Adventureland. Jungle Cruise, people. Don’t take it for granite, it’s my favorite. I really like the Swiss Family Treehouse too, which is often overlooked. Finally, it’s like I have ESPN or something and I believe that Skipper’s Cantina will serve booze and will be my new favorite restaurant at the Magic Kingdom. That was not a typo. You better believe there will be Mean Girls references on this site.

4. Africa. The perfection of this theming has been discussed thoroughly, so I’ll just preface some other rankings by taking this opportunity to point out that I really love animals.

5. Echo Lake. This is probably where takes start to get a bit warm. I still love Hollywood Studios. Quite a bit. Echo Lake and Pixar Place are in the order they are in because, at the moment of writing, I like Star Tours a little more than Toy Story Midway Mania. Also, Echo Lake is not just about Star Tours. I think Jedi Training Academy is one of the most adorable things in the universe and my love for Harrison Ford obviously extends to Indiana Jones. Last but not least, I am not ashamed to admit I sang my heart out at the Frozen Sing Along and loved it.

6. Pixar Place. Having Pixar Place so high when it’s basically just one ride, a coffee cart, and some Meet & Greets is probably crazy. But Toy Story Midway Mania is so so so fun.

7. Future World. East and West have been lumped together because I can’t remember the difference and they would have been right next to each other anyway. Soarin’ is my favorite part of Future World, so whichever has Soarin’ is 7(a) and the other is 7(b).

8. Tomorrowland. I agree that the theming could be better, but the attractions are still great, especially Buzz Lightyear. One thing that killed me the whole MMOM episode was that none of you mentioned Meet & Greets. These are a crucial part of my WDW experience, and Tomorrowland has one of the most unique. #IncrediblesSuperDanceParty

9. Liberty Square. Rounding out my top ten are the other two Magic Kingdom lands. It is by far my favorite park and I am quite content to just walk around without even experiencing any attractions. Liberty Square edges out Frontierland because I like the stocks.

10. Frontierland. Splash Mountain is scary.

11. Asia. I don’t even ride Expedition Everest because it’s scarier that Splash Mountain, but there are tigers in Asia. Enough said.

12. Sunset Boulevard. I hold John’s bag when he rides Tower of Terror and Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster. While I hold his bag, I delight in the Citizens of Hollywood Cast Members surprising and entertaining while dressed in their Old Hollywood garb. I also can’t ignore the Beauty and the Beast show, because Belle was my favorite Disney princess when I was little. She’s second to Leia now.

13. Hollywood Boulevard. I mentioned that I like shopping right? I also like movies and the Great Movie Ride will always have a spot in my heart.

Okay, be careful, because the takes are about to get HOT.

14. Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Hey MMOM fellas, your ranking of Rafiki’s Planet Watch was NOT COOL. There are animals, some of them BABIES, and you can PET them. YOU CAN PET THE ANIMALS. It’s also educational.

Rafiki's Planet Watch petting zoo
Rafiki’s Planet Watch petting zoo

15. Animation Courtyard. This would have been in my top ten before they closed the Animation Academy and the character Meet & Greets there. The only reason it’s as high as it is now is because One Man’s Dream is still hanging on by a finger. It will break my heart if this does not come back somewhere. I like museums almost as much as I like theme parks, so this is the best of both worlds for me.

16. Mexico Pavilion. What the MMOM said. This pavilion is just phenomenally done. You can also meet Donald, in a sombrero. (For the record, Donald’s in the sombrero.  I guess you could be too, if you wanted.)

17. Italy Pavillon. After Mexico, I ranked the Epcot countries based primarily on food, shopping, and Meet & Greets. Italy has my favorite food. I also think the theming at the lake edge is done better in Italy than it is some of the other pavilions.

Beers of unusual size
Beers of unusual size

18. Germany Pavillon. I like Biergarten for the experience. And the beer. I like beer. And caramel. And animals. You know who else likes animals? Snow White. Germany is the best place for you to meet Snow White outside of a meal. She gets swarmed at Town Square.

19. Norway Pavillon. Uh hello? Almost all the princesses! And puffins! Awesome!

20. France Pavillon. I think we all recognize by now that L’Artisan des Glaces does really, really good work. France also has good lakeside theming, Aurora, and Belle in her adorable peasant dress.

21. United Kingdom Pavillon. I like pub atmospheres. In terms of Meet & Greets, you’ve got Tigger & Pooh, Alice, and Mary Poppins. They also sell Her Universe merchandise in the UK Pavillon which is awesome. (Instead of Patreon sponsoring, you guys can just buy me Alex & Ani bracelets and things from Her Universe).

22. Morocco Pavilion. Very well themed. You can meet Aladdin and Jasmine.

23. China Pavillon. This would be the lowest ranked country for me except for the fact that the China pavilion is the only place you can meet Mulan outside of a  meal. Mulan is a badass.

China at night
China at night

24. Discovery Island. There are several Wilderness Explorer Badges to be earned on Discovery Island. The Tree of Life needs to be looked at up close. And you can meet Pocahontas, and several other characters (like Dug).

25. DinoLand, USA. These rides are my speed. And the boneyard is quite fun. Even for “grownups.”

Boneyard slide!
Boneyard slide!

26. Streets of America. I think the Streets of America are pretty meh. I obviously love the Osborne Lights, and that puts this land above the next three, but the lights are all that Streets of America really has for me. Lights, Motor, Action is just hot and loud, and I’ve never really been a Muppets fan outside of Muppet Babies.

27. Japan Pavillon. Shopping! With swords! And pearls! I also like the Koi.

28. America Pavillon. Full disclosure: I’ve seen the movie thing like once. I’m also a bit of a contrarian. But really, the food is terrible, and our country has a lot more interesting time periods than the colonial days.

29. Canada Pavillon. Oh Canada. You’re a very nice hat. And Buffalo Plaid is nice. Sorry for ranking you so low, I’m sure you’ll understand.

30. Oasis. I thought about putting the Oasis above America because animals, but that would have just been mean.

31. Africa Outpost. I mean, drums are cool.

Fenway wants to bang on the drums all day
Fenway wants to bang on the drums all day

Disney’s Official Video on the Polynesian Village Resort

I understand it’s a marketing video, but sometimes these type of videos just make me smile:

Also, can you honestly tell me you are a Disney fan but that have absolutely no interest in ever staying at the Poly? Come on.

(If you want more Polynesian Village coverage, Josh at easyWDW just posted a nice little photo report of the resort, including a write up on Trader Sam’s Grotto, and, if you want more marketing videos, check out this video about the “fall decor” at the Magic Kingdom)