Monday, July 6, 2015

The 10 Best Pools the We've Enjoyed at Walt Disney World

Which are the best pools at the Walt Disney World Resort?  

10 Best Pools at Walt Disney World | Home is Where the Mouse is

One of the things we're looking forward to on our upcoming vacation is trying out the pool at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.  We've stayed a 12 of the 31 Walt Disney World Resorts so far, and we've tried out about a dozen pools.  So far, these are the 10 best that we've personally enjoyed.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Celebrating The 4th of July in Walt Disney World

When it comes to holidays, Disney takes the celebration to the next level. The 4th of July is no exception.

Celebrate the 4th of July at Walt Disney World | Home is Where the Mouse is

With special fireworks displays in three of its theme parks, patriotic entertainment, and some very American attractions, Walt Disney World is a great place to celebrate our nation's birthday. 

Magic Kingdom

Buildings on Main Street U.S.A. decorated with patriotic bunting

Main Street U.S.A. feels just a bit more American for the 4th of July celebration.  There's red, white and blue bunting hung on the train station and buildings in Town Square.

A plaque that is found on the bridge to Liberty Square reads:

"Past this gateway stirs a new nation waiting to be born.  Thirteen separate colonies have banded together to declare their independence from the bonds of tyranny.  It is a time when silversmiths put away their tools and march to the drums of a revolution, a time when gentlemen planters leave their farms to become generals, a time when tradesmen leave the safety of home to become heroes. Welcome to Liberty Square!"

The Hall of Presidents attraction in Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom

Liberty Square is home to the Hall of Presidents, possibly the most patriotic attraction in all of Walt Disney World. 

Replica of the Liberty Bell on display in Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom

A replica of the Liberty Bell was cast from the very same mold as the original and even has a crack.

Lanterns hanging from the limbs of the Liberty Tree in Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom

Here you'll also find the largest living thing in Walt Disney World: the Liberty Tree.  The tree is adorned with 13 lanterns representing the 13 original colonies and stands as one of the most impressive, yet often overlooked Disney tributes to America's history.

Liberty Square doesn't boast many attractions, but it is rich in detail and history.  You might feel inspired to spend some extra time here on the 4th to really soak in the spirit of Independence Day and imagine what it might have been like to live here during that time.  

The Liberty Tree Tavern, a colonial era themed restaurant in Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom

And what could be more patriotic than dining in the Liberty Tree Tavern?

A "Happy Independence Day" sign hangs over a balcony in Frontierland, Magic Kingdom

Over in Frontierland, you might find a swingin' celebration with music, dancing, and maybe even some characters.

A veteran participates in the Flag Retreat ceremony on Main Street, U.S.A., Magic Kingdom

There is a daily Flag Retreat ceremony in Town Square.  If you are member of our armed services, or a veteran, you can inquire about participating in the Flag Retreat at Guest Services on Main Street, U.S.A..

The finale of the Main Street Electrical Parade is great way for guests  "to honor America", and the Electric Water Pageant that takes place on the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon has a very patriotic segment to tunes like "You're a Grand ol' Flag", "Yankee Doodle", and "America, the Beautiful".

July 4th Fireworks over Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom
Photo: Disney

To cap off the Independence Day celebration in Magic Kingdom, Disney has a special fireworks display, "Disney's Celebrate America!"   This display features fireworks all around the Magic Kingdom and can be seen from inside and outside the park!

This year, Disney Parks Blog will be streaming "Disney's Celebrate America!" on their website at 9pm EST!  (you'll probably want to open up their page about 10 minutes prior to the show)


The Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps performs at the American Adventure, Epcot

In Epcot, the American Adventure is the host pavilion of the World Showcase, and like Liberty Square, it features the architectural style of Colonial America.  

The American Adventure attraction in Epcot's World Showcase

The main attraction is the "American Adventure" show, depicting the most pivotal moments and most influential people in America's history.  The pavilion is also host to performances by the Voices of Liberty, who also perform a special 4th of July concert at the American Gardens Theater. 

Special patriotic character greetings are available throughout the day, and don't miss the special exhibit in the American Heritage Gallery. 

The Liberty Inn is a quick-service restaurant in the American Adventure, Epcot

If you're hungry, you can grab some American fare at the Liberty Inn or the Fife and Drum Tavern.

Bella poses with the Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps at the American Adventure in Epcot

Epcot caps off the night with "Illuminations: Reflections of Earth" featuring an added finale entitled, "Heartbeat of Freedom".  Many guests consider Illuminations to be the best Disney nighttime spectacular, and this just adds to it.

It also doesn't hurt to be nice to the folks in the United Kingdom pavilion.  Our fight with them was hundreds of years ago, and we're all friends now, right?  So be sure to stop by and pay extra attention to the similarities we share and the influence their culture has had on ours.

Disney Hollywood Studios

Lisa, Bella, and Jackson dressed in red, white and blue on Hollywood Blvd at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Aside from being a park built around the very American concept of a Hollywood movie studio, there aren't many obvious American attractions.  

Bella spells out "U.S.A." with help from Buzz and Woody

Still, be sure to enjoy the finale of Muppetvision 3D, which is, as Sam Eagle describes, "a salute to all nations, but mostly America".  Of course, there is also the fountain featuring Miss Piggy as the Statue of Liberty. You can also take time to linger on the Streets of America.

Lisa and Bella celebrating the 4th of July in Disney's Hollywood Studios

The 4th of July is also one of the rare occasions that Disney's Hollywood Studios has a fireworks show.  It begins with a rock n roll party in front of the Sorcerer's Hat featuring both a DJ and live performances by Mulch, Sweat, and Shears.  It culminates in a special patriotic version of Sorcery in the Sky fireworks.

A Sign at Rosie's All-American Cafe in Disney's Hollywood Studios reminds us to "Stay True to the Red, White, and Blue"

Disney's Animal Kingdom

The Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Photo: Disney

Aside from one of its lands, Dinoland U.S.A., having a patriotic name, Disney's youngest park doesn't have anything special for the 4th of July holiday.  If we were looking to avoid crowds on the 4th, you might choose this park for that reason.


Roasting marshmallows at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Our 4th of July celebrations at home usually include barbecues and campfires, and one of the little touches Disney has at each of its resorts is nightly campfires where you can roast marshmallows and maybe even make s'mores.  Other patriotic activities such as movies, crafts, and poolside games are held, so check with your resort for more details.

The Fort Wilderness Pavilion is home to Mickey's Backyard BBQ

If you're looking for more complete camping experience, you can stay at or visit the Fort Wilderness Campground.  Fort Wilderness is home to Mickey's Backyard BBQ, a fun-filled character dining experience for the whole family.  They don't have this BBQ every night, but they do add it on July 4th!  The campground is also where you can make s'mores with Chip and Dale at their nightly campfire sing-along!

Fort Wilderness also boasts the most unique of all the Walt Disney World Independence Day celebrations:  The 4th of July golf cart parade.  Golf carts are a popular way to get around the campground and each year guests decorate their golf carts and drive them around the campground in a parade unlike any you've ever seen!

Lisa, Jackson, Bellla and James wearing red, white and blue at Disney's Hollywood Studios for the 4th of July

With so many ways to celebrate America's birthday, Walt Disney World is a great place to be on July 4th. We can't wait to see what it's like for ourselves.  No matter where you are this Independence Day, have a happy and safe holiday!!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Teen Beach 2 Family Movie Night

Let's hit the waves and hang ten. It's time to go back to the beach, the teen beach that is, with Brady and Mack, and all of their "Wet Side Story" friends. The follow-up to the 2013 Disney Channel hit, debuted on Friday, June 26th. To celebrate the movie's release and the start of our summer vacation, the kids and I had a Teen Beach 2 Family Movie Night.