Archive for December, 2008

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

December 31st, 2008 by Alison | 1 Comment | Filed in Disney World, Orlando Theme Parks, Rides
Ghostly goings on at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Ghostly goings on at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Dare you ride Disney’s Hollywood Tower of Terror? Board the elevator and drop 13 floors? If that sounds like your idea of fun then one of your favorite Disney World rides will be the Tower of Terror.

So what will you experience on the Tower of Terror ride. The attention to detail on this ride is perhaps one of the most striking of all the Disney World attractions.

The Tower of Terror ride is based on the television series The Twilight Zone The Tower of Terror. Naturally it is 13 stories high! Walt Disney Imagineers watched all 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone so that they could recreate the mood and feeling of the series.

The Tower of Terror is Disney World’s second tallest building at 199 feet high. Any taller and Disney would have to have put a red light beacon at the top of the building – not something that would really fit in with the 1930’s hotel style!

Like all great Disney rides the Tower of Terror has a back story. According to Disney lore it was a hotel which opened in 1919 in Hollywood. It became a favorite place to stay for the Hollywood film star elite. But one day on Halloween 1939 the Hollywood Tower Hotel was stuck by lightning. Part of the building was destroyed and 5 guests who had just entered the elevator disappeared. All of the other guests ran out of the building in terror leaving all of their belongings behind. The Tower of Terror is left empty until 1994 when it mysteriously re opens in 1994 at Disney Hollywood Studios.

So much for the story – what is so great about the ride? It is one of the most intense and original rides that you can experience. The attention to detail is amazing – even as you walk through the line you will enter a ghostly world of the 1930’s Twilight Zone. I don’t want to give you the whole story here as there are some spoilers but if you want more details here is my Guide to the Tower of Terror. But just know that you will experience darkened rooms, Twilight Zone atmosphere and then be dropped 13 floors in an elevator!

So what is my personal opinion of Disney World Tower of Terror? I have to confess I have a fear of normal elevators so the thought of stepping into one, whether I know it is fake or not, is not something I took lightly! When I first rode the Tower of Terror many years ago I did have to be persuaded on to the ride! But was it worth it? It most certainly was and I have been on it many times since.

There is of course another trick that Disney has up it’s sleeve. On some attractions you can become ‘used’ to the experience because if you ride it enough times you know what is coming next. Not so with Hollywood’s Tower of Terror. Why? Because it has a computer controlled randomized sequence. So you never know which drop is coming next. So no matter how many times you ride the Tower of Terror each experience will be as thrilling as the first.

Remember of course that the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a popular ride. There is a Fast Pass available and most times of year it is advisable to use it. If you are at the park at opening time this may be the one that you want to ride first before the lines build up.

The height requirement is 40″ but remember also that it is a very intense and scary experience. My 10 year old used to love the Tower of Terror but now she just won’t ride it because it is just too scary for her. If your child, or even you, get through the pre show and just don’t want to ride then always tell a Cast Member – there is a last minute change your mind exit that is used quite a bit! If you have young children who aren’t riding with you then there is a Child Swap facility – you can all stand in line together and then one adult rides while the other stays with the child. Then they swap. It saves a lot of time.

So ride the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror if you dare. Check out my Guide to the Tower of Terror for more details of the ride, it’s secrets and some amazing pictures.

Photos used under Creative Commons from kevineddy

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Disney World Roller Coasters

December 30th, 2008 by Alison | 1 Comment | Filed in Disney World
Dare you ride Disney's Expedition Everest

Dare you ride Disney

If your idea of fun is to accelerate from 0 to 57 mph in just 2.8 seconds and experience more G Force than a Shuttle launch then Aerosmith’s Rock N Roller Coaster at Disney Hollywood Studios is the place to be. In recent years Disney World has created some amazingly innovative roller coasters such as Expedition Everest and Rock N Roller Coaster. For the more traditional coasters there are of course the old favorites of Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain at the Magic Kingdom.

Rock N Roller Coaster is one of my very favorite Disney World rides. Located right next to the Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is not only a fast and thrilling experience – it has that amazing Disney talent for theming too. Aerosmith recorded a special sound track which you hear through speakers fixed into your ‘limo’ seat. You speed around the track at up to 57mph, experience G Force of 4 or 5 and travel around 3 inversions. Not for the faint hearted!

The newest Disney roller coaster is Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom park. Based around the legend of the Yeti Again the attention to detail is amazing. Disney Imagineers spent 6 years designing the ride – and it certainly shows on every aspect of this ride, even the line. A Fast Pass is available but at quieter times it is actually worth going through the line just to see all the amazing sets and detail. There are many twists and turns on this ride – be ready for the 50 foot drop!

For the more traditional roller coaster fans then Big Thunder Mountain is a favorite. The Big Thunder Mountain train reaches speeds of up to 30 miles an hour and there are 3 significant dips. Nothing really scary though so this one is usually fine to take the youngest of the kids ( or the easily scared adults) provided they meet the 40″ height requirement. People who do not enjoy the larger roller coasters will usually enjoy Big Thunder Mountain. Want the most intense experience? Then choose the train at the back of the ride. Also try and ride Big Thunder Mountain in the dark for a different perspective.

Space Mountain was the very first roller coaster I ever rode. Whilst it is a favorite with many people I have to admit that these days I rarely ride it as it is so bumpy! But I know it is one of the most popular rides in Disney World. Grab that Fast Pass to avoid standing in line for a wait of up to 2 hours at busy times.
Which Disney World roller coaster will be your favorite ride? Learn more at Disney World Roller Coasters

Discount Deals on Disney Vacation Homes

December 30th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Uncategorized

Are you looking for a discount deal on Disney vacation homes? I have a discounted offer for my Solana 5 bed 4 bathroom home for all remaining dates in January. Arrive and depart on any Saturday in January and enjoy my best discounted offer yet! Just $995 for 7 nights which includes taxes and pool/spa heating.

January is one of the very best times to visit Disney World. The parks are quiet and the weather is usually still very good. So what are you waiting for?

My Solana resort 5 bed home features:

  • Large 36′ Swimming Pool with Spa with WATER FOUNTAINS – A UNIQUE FEATURE!
  • Extended 50′ Pool Deck with Speaker System on the Outdoor Covered Patio
  • Corner Lot with privacy screen around the pool
  • 2 Master Bedrooms – one with Built in Audio Speakers
  • Queen Bedroom
  • 2 Twins and 2 Bathrooms
  • All Bedrooms have Cable TV with DVD Player
  • Built in Surround Sound 50″ Cable TV in Living Area and Built in Audio Speakers
  • 2 Dining Areas
  • Upgraded Fully Equipped Kitchen with Dishwasher, Full Size Cooker, Microwave and Fridge Freezer
  • Laundry Room with Washer and Dryer
  • FREE Use of Baby Equipment – Play Yard Crib and Highchair
  • FREE Wireless Internet
  • Short Walk to the Clubhouse,Resort Pool, Spa, Gym, Play Structure, Concierge, Internet Cafe and Putting Green.

This is my newest vacation home and it was designed in collaboration with my most loyal guests – I asked them what they wanted from a home and I incorporated their requests to design a truly luxurious home just minutes from Disney.

For more information check out Solana Vacation Homes

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

December 27th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Disney World, Hotels
Disney World Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney World Animal Kingdom Lodge

Do you want somewhere completely unique to stay on your Disney World vacation? Well you must certainly consider a stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. This spectacular African themed Disney World deluxe hotel is set in a 33 acre savanna where over 200 animals including giraffes and zebras roam freely. If you have a savanna view room you really will wake up to a view which makes you feel as though you are on safari.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a deluxe resort but is usually priced at one of the lowest of all of the Disney luxury category resorts. Standard rooms start at around $240 a night. But I think that to get the true benefit of staying in the Animal Kingdom resort you really do need to pay the extra money and splurge on a savanna view room. The best ones are located in the Zebra and Kudo Trail buildings with an interior view of the savannas.

There really is nothing to compare with the excitement that all the family will have over viewing a giraffe from the balcony! I stayed there will my family this year and it was truly one of the best hotel experiences that we have ever had. I will never forget the excitement of my 7 year old son as he was the first to spot a zebra walking into our view.

Concierge level is also one of the very best of the Disney World hotels. Not only do you get access to the exclusive concierge lounge and services but also the chance to book the Sunset and Sunrise Safari tours. These very special experiences most report as being the highlight of their trip.

The Animal Kingdom Lodge also has some of my favorite Disney World restaurants. My favorite buffet restaurant is Boma which has very high quality food with a unique African twist. I know on hearing this many of you will think this is not a great thing! But give it a try and I am sure you will enjoy it. There really is plenty for all of the family to enjoy and if you have picky eaters there is always the kids buffet! Jiko restaurant is also a unique experience – a fine dining restaurant which really is kid friendly! Excellent food and wonderful service combine at one of my very favorite Disney restaurants.

I often visit the Animal Kingdom Lodge as it is so close to my vacation homes. I enjoy the restaurants, watching the animals from the many observation points and just soaking in the atmosphere people watching in the lobby. Be sure to make a visit on your next Disney World vacation and prepare to enter an African themed paradise.

Want to make sure to get all the information that you need about the Animal Kingdom Lodge? Want to know where the best rooms are and just what makes the resort so special. Be sure to check out my free and comprehensive Guide To Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge where you will find all you need to know.

Photos used under Creative Commons from afagen

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Epcot Illuminations

December 18th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Disney World

No visit to Disney World is complete without seeing Epcot’s spectacular fireworks display Illuminations – Reflections of Earth. But this is more than just a fireworks display. We all know that Disney is the master of entertainment and Illuminations is likely to be one of the highlights of your vacation. Illuminations features fireworks,music, pyrotechinics,lasers and a 350,000 pound globe. This really is one of the must see attractions at Disney World.

So what is the first thing that you have to think about when choosing a viewing spot for Epcot’s Illuminations? Well as the show is always run just before the park closes you have to think about how you are going to get to the exit! At busy times there may be as many as 30,000 people leaving Epcot at the same time as you are. So when you are choosing a viewing spot always remember that some places make for a quicker exit!

If you are staying at one of the Disney Epcot resort hotels or have parked in the Boarwalk parking lot then you should think about picking a viewing spot close to the World Showcase exit. The bridge between the United Kingdom and France Pavillions is good for this.

If, like most people, you are parked in the main parking lot then the further around the World Showcase Lagoon you are then the longer it will take you to get to the exit. So you might want to think about watching from somewhere between Canada and France.

The best place to watch Illuminations? In my experience probably Cantina de San Angel terrace in the Mexico Pavilion area. A table near the lagoon is an ideal spot. The disadvantage? Many people know about this and so at busy times you may find yourself having to lodge yourself at a table for up to 2 hours before the show! Only you can decide if that kind of wait is worth it. Personally I just wouldn’t sacrifice that much time in the park and devote it to getting the ‘perfect’ spot. There are plenty of other viewing places that give you a great view.

What do you look out for when choosing a viewing spot for Illuminations? Most places are good but some are blocked by trees and other structures. Viewing around the American Pavilion is not great as it is difficult to get an unobstructed view. The boat dock in Germany, the walkway between China and Germany, most places in Japan, including the balcony of the restaurant, the Rose and Crown restaurant in the United Kingdom – these are all good viewing spots for Illuminations.

Learn more details and see some great pictures of Epcot Illuminations – Reflections of Earth
Photos used under Creative Commons from Carlos

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Epcot Spaceship Earth

December 18th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Disney World

Spaceship Earth is to Disney’s Epcot as Cinderella’s Castle is to Magic Kingdom. Think of Epcot and you will most likely conjure up the image of the 180 foot tall geodesic dome. This is one of my very favorite Disney World rides although was once a part of one of my most difficult moments at Epcot, when the Spaceship Earth ride broke down and I had to climb down a lot of rather narrow stairs right down to the exit. Not one of my better moments, but I wished that I had my camera with me as at least I had a rare glimpse into the complex systems behind the ride.

Spaceship Earth takes you on a journey through time from the prehistoric era right up to the present day. The theme is learning through advancements in communication.  You all board a slow moving time machine which runs on a constant circuit. Since the 2007 refurbishment there is now an interactive touch screen in each vehicle. Now I won’t spoil the surprise of what happens with this but don’t get too excited about this element of the ride – it is I think a little disappointing and will not hold your attention for very long!

Having said that, this 13 minute journey through time is one which is well worth taking. The use of audio animatronics and the commentary by Dame Judy Dench make this one of my favorite places to spend some time in Epcot. But beware. The lines can be very long. What guests typically do is start to stand in line for the ride as soon as they arrive in the park.  At busy times this is a mistake as the line can be very long. There is no Fast Pass for Spaceship Earth so you may want to try waiting until later in the day to ride when the lines are usually much shorter.

Learn more about this Epcot ride and find out how it was designed and see some pictures of what is inside by reading my new Spaceship Earth Guide.

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Windsor Palms Resort Discounts For January

December 13th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Orlando Vacation Homes
At Disney World's Blizzard Beach the Snow is Fake!

Want to escape to a Disney vacation home this January? Well I have some great discount deals for my Windsor Palms and Windsor Hills resort homes for some last minute escapes to Disney World. January is one of the best times to visit Disney World. All the benefits of the Florida weather and the Orlando attractions without the crowds. Personally it is one of my very favorite times to visit. If you need to escape from the cold weather and the snow then there is no better place than Disney World. You can always go to Blizzard Beach if you want to sun bathe in the fake snow!

You can choose between homes on Windsor Palms and Windsor Hills. These are the very closest resorts to Disney World – yes I know that every vacation home owner says their home is the nearest but these really are! Both Windsor Resorts have exceptional facilities including community pool, children’s pool, playground, tennis, pool and table tennis tables, store,huge clubhouses and even a movie theater.

So just what are the January deals for these homes. Well I have 4 bed homes on both Windsor Palms and Windsor Hills to rent. There are last minute deals available for each. The Windsor Palms 4 bed is a discounted $995 for 7 nights and the Windsor Hills 4 bed is $1095 for 7 nights.

I have some limited dates available for my 5 bed conservation view home on Windsor Palms too. This is available at a discounted $1395 for 7 nights.

Limited dates are also available for the 6 bed 4 bath Windsor Hills home. The rates for this home are a discounted $1695 for 7 nights.

Each of the Windsor Resort homes is different but all offer very upgraded features. Some have game rooms, internet access, free phone calls. Just contact me to find out which home will suit your family.

So where is the small print? The rates are good for 7 night bookings Saturday to Saturday in January. Other start and departure dates are available for slightly higher rates – depending on availability. The rates include tax. Pool heat is available at an additional $20 a night for each home. This offer runs to all bookings made before December 31st 2008.

Disney Cruise Kids Sail Free Deal

December 11th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Disney World

There really has never been a better time to book a Disney cruise. The latest Kids Sail Free deal was announced by Disney Cruise Lines today.

Kids age 12 and under can sail free on most 3-night cruises from January 22 to May 28, 2009, when traveling with two full-fare Guests in the same stateroom.

Disney’s latest offer only applies to new bookings, and for stateroom categories 4 to 12. Taxes and Government Fees are not included

To book this great offer call your Disney travel agent, book online or call (800) 951-3532 using booking code FREE.

I am very tempted by this latest offer. Just wondering when I can fit this in to my 2009 schedule as I already have 2 cruises booked! This is such a great offer though I realize I will probably spend my morning browsing available sailing dates!

The past month or so has seen some great deals on Disney Cruises. There is no longer a fuel supplement on all bookings from December 1st, there is the great deal of the second cruise for $99, and now Disney announces this special deal of kids sail free. So if you are able to take advantage of these now really is the best time to book that I have ever seen. I just wish they would start some offers for 2010 as I am ready to book!

Is a Disney cruise just for kids? A big and definite no! Disney has gone to a great deal of effort to market the cruises to adults as well as children and has several kid free areas on the Magic and the Wonder. It even has an adults only beach on Castaway Cay.

Remember that you can always combine a Disney cruise with a stay in one of my vacation homes. You can save money on your accommodation and then take advantage of one of these great Disney cruise offers. Just contact me for more details……….

Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickrized

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World of Disney Annual Passholder Benefits

December 6th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Disney World

There are many benefits to having an annual pass for Disney World. A 10% discount on all World of Disney merchandise in Downtown Disney. This Disney store is the largest in the world and has something to tempt every mouse fan, particularly in the Holiday season.

Disney is planning a special event for Passholders on Saturday December 13th starting at 6.30am at World of Disney. If you can get up that early then there are some very special perks for AP’s. Not only will they get their 10% discount but Disney is offering special give aways. The first 450 guests will receive a free limited-edition pin.  Plus, the first 1,000 guests at the store will receive a free silver or red Disney coil ornament.

6:30-7:30 a.m.: Complimentary coffee, hot cocoa and treat tastings

6:30 a.m.: Select plush and other items $3 each

7-9 a.m.: Meet Santa Goofy

7:30 a.m.: Select jumbo mugs, 2008 dated merchandise and other items $5 each

8:30 a.m.: Select apparel $7 each

So if you are looking for a Disney bargain this Holiday season this could be your chance.

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