Saturday, March 28, 2015

Must Do: Pirates of the Caribbean

By Lisa Green


When family and friends ask about must-do rides and attractions at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, I’m always tempted to direct them right to the mountains:  Space, Splash, and Big Thunder.  I think “thrills” first and foremost – everything else second.  Wrong way to go.  I should be steering newbies to the best, most quintessential, iconic attractions first.  The most Disney-ish rides of all.  While I have (surprise!) several favorites in that category, today I’m just going to focus on one…Pirates of the Caribbean.  Why?  Multi-generational appeal, superior theming, top-notch effects, and old school Disney style.


The queue for Pirates does a great job setting the mood – you descend into underground caverns.  Stone walls, arched doorways, cannons, cannonballs, barrels of gunpowder – all set just the right tone for what happens once you board your boat.

“Dead men tell no tales” – the haunting voice repeats the words over and over as the ride begins.  You set off on your journey by sailing through several scenes with a multitude of very spectacular effects to take in – if you get to ride twice, pick a different side of the boat each time – there’s so much to see.

Purists may be bothered by the modernization of Pirates, but the 2006 refurbishment kicked the ride up a notch with fantastic new things to see and hear!  The addition of Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa (and other Pirates of the Caribbean movie tie-ins) at several points during the ride added more excitement – especially for first-time visitors who have seen the movies.  Those partial to the theme song from the movies will love that it’s now in the ride.  And, guests still get to visit Port Royale and see all of the original and beloved animatronics that make this ride a classic!

Pirates is cool and dark – If you’ve been outside in Florida’s scorching summer sun, this ride is a perfect way to cool off!  There are no major twists and turns and only a little bit of up and down (one big-ish drop) as your boat sails leisurely through the pirate-infested waters.  Before FastPass+, Pirates rarely had a long wait – it’s my understanding that things may be different at this time.  I would still recommend you spend your valuable FastPass+ choices on other rides, but it may be worth trying to fit Pirates in early – at the very least, keep an eye on the wait times via your My Disney Experience smartphone app and catch the ride when the lines are shorter – otherwise be prepared to wait 30 minutes or more.


The gift shop at the ride’s exit is one of the best in the parks.  The unique and plentiful merchandise is as fun as the ride!  Even if we don’t make a purchase, we love to take a few minutes to look at all the pirate gear.  Parents of little boys may want to keep this particular shop in mind when planning souvenir shopping.

If you’re really lucky, you may even run into the real live Jack Sparrow outside the ride entrance!

What’s your favorite part of Pirates of the Caribbean?  Is it a must-do ride for you? 

This article was originally posted on Lisa's Living a Disney Life Blog

Editor's Note: Lisa can also be found co-hosting The Disney Exchange Podcast along with Dave Hodges and myself! - Nick

Friday, March 27, 2015

Do You Remember: When Tusker House Was a Counter Service Restaurant?

By Nick

Tusker House at Disney's Animal Kingdom is an awesome buffet, but do you remember when it was an equally awesome counter service restaurant?

In fact, this was where Barbie could find her favorite lunch item, the vegetable pita sandwich. They also had a delicious half chicken meal.

If you've eaten at both, which do you prefer?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My First Disney Souvenir

By Gaylin

My first trip to Florida, July of 1978, I was 18. The whole month visiting a friend and her family. One day she asks “Do you want to go to the Magic Kingdom for a day”? My response, “Sure, if it is not too expensive”. This was my first vacation away from my family, including my first airplane ride and much to my relief my first non-camping vacation.

A few days later 4 teenage girls, on a road trip to see Disney World. I had little clue what I was heading for, we didn’t yet have cable TV until I was 13 and my parents ruled what we saw. I had a few memories of the World of Disney but not much beyond that.
The shocker for me was how the magic hit right there on Main Street. I loved it, every ride, every line-up, the junk food and seeing characters, I was amazed. There was very little in the budget for souvenirs and my friends, being Florida natives, had little interest in shopping. I did manage to talk them into letting me look around a bit and I bought a beach towel. If memory serves me, it was $6.95.

As soon as I got home I started using the towel. I used it constantly, a new favorite.

The next summer, this lovely family invited me back! Of course I went and yes, we did go back to the Magic Kingdom for another day. This time I bought 2 towels.

I wore the first towel out by sheer overuse and then started using the other two. Thankfully I didn’t wear them out quite as much and then stopped using them because I wanted them to last.

This is the whole towel. Very thin cotton when compared to the plush, highly colored beach towels they make now:

The top of the towel with Pluto and Minnie all ready for the beach.

The center with Mickey, hanging ten like the cool dude that he is.

And the bottom of the towel, including the Walt Disney Productions logo.
And, proving it was well made, the tag is still attached!

Finally, one of the few photos I have that proves I was really there, 1978, me and Tigger!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters

By Nick

Back when I was a kid, I had to walk to school, uphill, both ways. Television? We had 3 networks and PBS. That's it. And we had to get information out of things called books. For instance, if I wanted to know something about a favorite animated Disney character, such as Humphrey, instead of Googling, I'd open up this wonderful tome.

The Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters by John Grant was purchased at the Disney Store I was a Cast Member at back in 1993. There is a forward by Disney Archivist Dave Smith, as well as a special forward from Roy E. Disney for this Second Edition.

With the dust jacket off.

This book is a wealth of knowledge, starting way back with the Laugh-O-Grams, The Alice Comedies, and Oswald, and going through to Aladdin, with a description of every character from every short, animated feature, and television series in between.

Oh, and another thing about television, to change the channel, we had to get up, walk way over to the 13 inch TV screen and do it ourselves!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Disney Pin Blanket

by Gaylin

Since I have posted on social media about the blanket I use to display my Disney pin collection, I realized it is about time I post it here.

The stores at Walt Disney World often have a promotional item, buy X amount of product and the promotional item is offered at a really reasonable price. This blanket was one of the promotional items during a trip, I think in 2007. When I saw it, I realized I could use it to hold my pins.

I brought it home and sewed a curtain sleeve at the top, bought a curtain rod and voila, a great way to put them on display and a great way to have easy access to them when I want to wear a pin.

When I first started using this, I had way less pins, I told myself I would stop buying pins when the outside edges were filled up . . . we all know how that went. At the rate I buy pins, I may need to buy a stronger curtain rod because this blanket is getting heavy!

I am glad I saved my Extra Magic Hours bands, as well as the Not So Scary and Christmas party bands, they make a fun addition to the blanket. I use the ends of the rod to hang lanyards so all my Disney pin accessories are in one place.

This corner of my blanket has all my tour pins attached to it, I never wear them since they would be hard to replace.

Anyone have anything like this? How to you store your pins? Do you wear them or just buy them for display?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Disney Exchange- Episode 14 Show Notes: A Day at the Magic Kingdom

By Nick

Podcast: Play in new window | Download 

-Main Topic: A Day at the Magic Kingdom 

-The Disney Exchange is Lisa Green, David Hodges, and me, Nicholas Maglio

-The show starts with me showing off my mad math skills.

-We all discuss what time we like to get to the Magic Kingdom, and all agree we like to get there for rope drop and the opening ceremony.

-Next up, what land we visit first, and the ride strategies. Dave needs a park map. I reveal my fear of water.

-We all agree morning is the best time of day to be at the Magic Kingdom, and we are podcasters, so this must be true.

-Fastpass choices are revealed and I have a senior moment when I can't recall the name of that boat ride where we get to see the Backside of Water and elephants bathing.

-Apparently Dave and Lisa use my team of handlers when I'm not looking.

-We make it almost 12 minutes in before food is brought up. I believe that is a new record!
Breakfast, lunch and dinner options are discussed. We very briefly discuss snacks, particularly at Big Top Treats and our love of the whole Storybook Circus area.
(Please stop back for a future episode which will feature favorite snacks at all of the parks.)

-Apparently people are lounging in the new hub area, causing a bit of a scandal. I am shocked.

-Must see parades and shows, such as Festival of Fantasy, which I think we have mentioned once or twice, as well as favorite firework viewing spots are talked about.

-I have yet another senior moment where I refer to Pincocchio's Pleasure Island as "Fantasy Island."

-We talk about rides we have never done as well as favorite rides by land.

-The Wheel of Distiny topic : Favorite Adult Beverages at Walt Disney World. We give several shout outs, so be sure to listen if you answered this question on our Facebook page. And be sure to listen, even if you didn't!

Thank you for listening!
We can be found at:
If you'd like to drop us an email: info@thedisneyexchange 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

5 Great Things About Walt Disney World's Monorail


By Lisa Green 

Stated simply, I love the monorail.  I’m pretty sure it’s a family thing, too, since we ALL love the monorail, and the resorts, restaurants, and shops on the monorail loop!  We have stayed at all three resorts on the loop (The Contemporary, The Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian) and became DVC members at the earliest possible time once Bay Lake Tower was complete.  Yes, we can walk to the Magic Kingdom from our DVC “home”, but let’s be honest – it’s the MONORAIL that drew us in.


If you’ve ridden the monorail EVER, then I’m sure you love it too!  I’m sharing today the FIVE things I love most about this most unique, special, fantastic, dare I say magical mode of transportation in the whole wide World!  Please don’t hesitate to comment with what YOU love most about Disney’s “Highway in the sky”.


1.  The VOICE – and I’m not as picky as some.  I do love the late Jack Wagner’s “Please Stand Clear of the Doors. Por favor manténganse alejado de las puertas.” – the original voice of the monorail system and still the voice that says that particular line.   I’ve loved ALL the voices!  Joe Hursh, voice of the monorail from 2004 to 2012 is probably the one I like the best – because I have incredibly happy vacation memories from those years!  In 2012, voice actor Tom Kane (Star Wars, The Clone Wars) took over…taking a bunch of flack from die-hard monorail fans for being too bland in his delivery.  The first time Joseph looked me in the eye (around age 9) and deadpan, perfectly lip-synced “Por favor manténganse alejado de las puertas” was one of the most memorable, happiest moments of my life as a parent!

2. The SMELL – call me weird, but the monorail has a unique smell and I love it!  Maybe it’s the air conditioner – for sure, on a hot day, the monorail is a cool and relaxing oasis – nearly a destination on its own – the fact that it takes you places while you’re listening to #1 and riding in cool, shaded comfort is just a great bonus!

3. The WRAPS – if you missed “Tronorail” or “Avengerail” I’m so sorry!  The outside of the monorail occasionally gets a totally fabulous new groove.  There have also been wraps for Iron Man 3 and Monsters University.  Inside and out, the monorail often adopts an alter-ego based on Disney’s latest cinematographic endeavors.  It’s just the coolest thing EVER.  Anybody remember when Stich was inside the monorail with you?  Ah, good times.

4.  The EATS – No, the monorail hasn’t started serving snacks, but it can take you to some of the very best, most exciting (and delicious) restaurants on Disney property.  Take ‘Ohana for example – this resort-loop favorite has been, for a long time, one of the hardest places to get into for a meal.

5.  The CONVENIENCE – even if you are not staying at a resort hotel on the monorail loop, you can’t beat the ease of jumping on the monorail at the Magic Kingdom, making a quick switch at the TCC (Ticket and Transportation Center) and…presto!  Arriving at Epcot!  If you haven’t had the pleasure of riding the monorail into the station at Epcot, you’ve been missing out!  Also, if you ever want to see some truly exceptional Christmas decorations – jump on the monorail at the Magic Kingdom, hop off at each resort for a look-see, and end up back at the Magic Kingdom.  Grownups can do the very same thing for happy hour – hop off at each resort for a snack and a beverage!


One time, six of us were anxiously awaiting the monorail to whisk us off to our ADR at ‘Ohana and we could see it in the distance (Magic Kingdom station) – inching, literally, barely moving forward.  As our ride drew slowly closer we could see what the problem was…not a mechanical malfunction as we would have expected, but a squirrel on the rail!  And that squirrel was running for his life – straight towards all the spectators on the platform now watching the drama unfold with rapt attention.  Surely, that squirrel would jump off the track and head for safer ground….but NO!  He kept on running towards us – the HUGE crowd waiting for a ride – and holding our collective breath in anticipation of what fate the squirrel might face.  As it ran ever closer, the poor thing began stopping every few feet to rest – and we all just quietly looked on!  The air fairly crackling with anticipation.  Finally, AT THE STATION – the poor squirrel leaped for safety and the crowd sighed in relief before, as one, everyone began to cheer!  With that uproar, the monorail came to a stop and shortly, we were off – to enjoy our evening.

Now, it’s your turn!  What do YOU love most about the Walt Disney World monorail system?

This article was originally posted on Lisa's Living a Disney Life Blog

Editor's Note: Lisa can also be found co-hosting The Disney Exchange Podcast along with Dave Hodges and myself! - Nick

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cinderella's Carriage at Disney's Hollywood Studios

By Arnick

After seeing Cinderella, I fell in love with her carriage! Once I found out that Cinderella's carriage was located on the streets of America at Hollywood Studios I had to go see it. When you enter the street you can spot it immediately. It's shiny and gold, not hard to miss.

As you get closer, you notice all of the intricate details on it. Even the glass windows have etchings. The interactive part of it was awesome. You got a chance to hold Cinderella's golden slipper. I felt like a kid in a candy store!

If you're a Cinderella lover like me, make sure you stop by Hollywood Studios because everyone deserves to be a princess for a moment.