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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – with Marc & Kriss

This week on Travel With Rick,  while Rick is still in Maine for part of the summer but was really missing Walt Disney World! His friends Marc and Kriss were at the Magic Kingdom last week and when he saw their video of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, he loved it so much he knew he had to share it with you!.

We hope you enjoy this POV ride on Big Thunder as much as we did, it’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!


Please Pardon Our Bus’s Dust – Guest Blog Post

One thing that you can count on when it comes to Disney is that they’re always trying to improve Walt Disney World in some manner, shape, or form.  Our last trip to Orlando was no different.

As we arrived at the Magic Kingdom, we discovered that a mammoth construction wall had been built between the bus stop and Seven Seas Lagoon.

As we arrived at the Magic Kingdom, we discovered that a mammoth construction wall had been built between the bus stop and Seven Seas Lagoon.

I don’t know about you, but curiosity ‘kills’ this ‘cat’, so, as usual, I went in search of answers.  What in “The World” we’re they up to now?

In most cases, all you need is a friendly Cast Member and a few minutes of their time to chat.  This time, the bus driver that chauffeured us back to our resort fit the bill.  Folks, when it comes to “The Wall”, a new bus loop is being built.  It will be the Magic Kingdom’s third bus stop and will be tailored specifically for WDW’s twelve, soon-to-be new, articulated buses.

If you aren’t familiar with articulated buses, they are essentially double-buses that comprise two rigid (bus) sections linked by a pivoting joint.  Think of a two-piece bus that bends in the middle!

If you aren't familiar with articulated buses, they are essentially double-buses that comprise two rigid (bus) sections linked by a pivoting joint.  Think of a two-piece bus that bends in the middle!

Articulated buses, obviously, come with a higher passenger capacity, while still allowing the bus to maneuver adequately on the roads, and, boy, does Disney have the right task in mind.  These buses are mainly targeted for use to service the massive crowds of guests that stay at Disney’s Value resorts – Pop Century, Art of Animation, and the three All-Stars.  Given the long lines we’ve waited in when we’ve stayed at any of those places, this is very appropriate, let me tell you.

Could these tandem buses be used to pick up and deliver guests elsewhere?  Our driver speculated as to the potential for use at Port Orleans but was unsure as to whether or not they would have room to maneuver.  I would ask the same about Caribbean Beach or Coronado Springs, perhaps.

It is expected that a select portion of the driver force will be trained to drive these types of buses in the near future.

Our Cast Member was full of other prospective details, as well.  For example, Disney is evidently expanding their team of drivers.  Currently at about 1,600 drivers, they are, allegedly, trying to grow the force to near 2,000.  Plus, clearing up another misconception (that I had, at least), the resort bus drivers ARE Disney Cast Members.  We had thought that WDW had out-sourced their various bus services to Mears Transportation Group a long time ago.  Apparently, only Disney’s Magical Express and the Disney Cruise Line drivers are employed by Mears.  And, according to that Cast Member, Disney might be taking those drivers back into the fold!

Have you already heard the stories (and seen the pictures) of Disney’s new paint scheme for the WDW resort buses?  It is a ‘red and silver’ style that has been applied to two buses already, according to our bus driver.

Have you already heard the stories (and seen the pictures) of Disney's new paint scheme for the WDW resort buses?  It is a 'red and silver' style that has been applied to two buses already, according to our bus driver.

In addition, when it comes to the resort buses, WDW is angling to add 40 of the new-style buses to their fleet.  You know the ones … they’re “boxy” in shape with a big wide aisle down the middle and seats against the side of the bus.

In addition, when it comes to the resort buses, WDW is angling to add 40 of the new-style buses to their fleet. You know the ones ... they're "boxy" in shape with a big wide aisle down the middle and seats against the side of the bus.

In the meantime, all but six of Disney’s older buses will be retired.  Those few will be kept to help out in peak seasons.

In addition, when it comes to the resort buses, WDW is angling to add 40 of the new-style buses to their fleet. You know the ones ... they're "boxy" in shape with a big wide aisle down the middle and seats against the side of the bus.

What do you think, folks?  Have you seen the buses with the new red and silver paint scheme as yet?  What do you think about the idea of using articulated buses to service the Value resorts?

Leave us your comments and let us know!


Guest Author – Bob Sikon

Guest Author Bob SikonBob Sikon is a Cast Member “Wanna-Be”. He fell in love with Walt Disney World on his first visit to Mickey’s Florida home in 1999, and it was all because of the Cast Members. In his words, “The way they take care of you, they make you want to be part of The Magic.” Someday, his dream will come true, and he’ll proudly wear a Cast Member name badge, but, for now, you can find him in Atlanta, GA, planning his next trip to “The World”, and blogging about the place “Where Dreams Come True” at allinwdw.com.

Star Wars Weekends Bring the Force to Walt Disney World Resort

Star Wars Weekends are four weekends from May 17 through June 9 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. During each weekend, the park is overrun with characters from the Star Wars universe. Even the classic Disney characters get into the spirit of the event and appear in Star Wars costumes. Mickey Mouse dons his Jedi robes, Minnie Mouse dresses as Princess Leia, Goofy turns to the Dark Side as Darth Vader, and Donald Duck wears a Stormtrooper outfit.

Celebrity guests (also from the Star Wars universe) appear in meet and greet sessions, sign autographs, and give talks for the crowds. It all caps off with a special Star Wars parade from the StarTours attraction and ending right down the middle of Hollywood Boulevard.  At the end of each even, the Hyperspace Hoopla features a Dance-off style show with your favorite Star Wars characters strutting their stuff on the dance floor…and it’s a MUST DO for any Star Wars fan!

wdw,star wars weekends,Disney's Hollywood Studios,Walt Disney World Resort,Storm TrooperClick Image for More Information.

Just Two More Party for the Senses at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

There’s still time to enjoy one of the real treats of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – the Saturday night Party for the Senses, a feast of food, wine, beverages and entertainment that’s a true delight. And while the reserved seating is sold out, our favorite way to experience the party is to stroll and nosh (we never sit, but instead enjoy conversation with the chefs and wine experts, and compare notes with fellow party-goers). The final two parties for this year are on October 27 and November 3.

And while the cuisine changes each week, we always find something delicious at the tasting stations. A recent party featured everything from Peking-style braised duck (Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Resort) to Chef Paula Da Silva’s (1500˚, Miami Beach) buttery lamb belly and spicy tuna tartare cleverly wrapped in a crisp shell from Wolfgang Puck Café at Downtown Disney. All in all, there are nearly two dozen tasting stations with wine, beer and cocktails to pair. You won’t know until you arrive what you’ll be having, but the discovery is part of the fun.

Party for the Senses at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

The only thing that stops our noshing is the extraordinary spectacle of Cirque du Soleil, on stage throughout the evening with live music and thrilling acrobatics.

You can start the evening at the Eat to the Beat concert at America Gardens Theatre and end with a stroll around World Showcase and the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks and laser show – it’s a special evening you won’t want to miss. Just come hungry (and leave satisfied).

Price is $145 per person, plus tax. Epcot admission is required. Call 407-WDW-FEST for reservations.

‘Keep Moving Forward’ Epcot Segway Tour & Breakfast Debuts September 17

We have an update that’s sure to be a real treat for fans of early Epcot history.

Beginning September 17, Epcot guests can enjoy a new Segway tour that explores Walt Disney’s vision for a better tomorrow – and the results of that vision: The Florida Project and Epcot. The “Keep Moving Forward: See the World, Share the Dream Segway Tour” lasts three hours and includes a Segway training lesson, breakfast at Sunshine Seasons, an in-depth tour of World Showcase, and an exclusive Disney pin.

Segway tour

The tour will cost $99 (plus tax) for guests age 16 and older. A parent or guardian must sign a waiver for participants age 16-17. Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members will receive a 15% discount.

For more information or to book, call (407) WDW-TOUR (939-8687).

Countdown to Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Reservations at Walt Disney World Resort

Don’t forget, the phone lines open at 7 a.m. August 14 for reservations for all of the ticketed events for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – call 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378). And this year, you can book some of the hottest tickets online at epcotfoodfestival.com: Party for the Senses, mixology seminars, “3D” Disney’s Dessert Discovery, Epcot wine schools and culinary demos in the Festival Center.

We know seats go fast for the signature events, but there are dozens to choose from – find all of the information to help you plan at epcotfoodfestival.com. And try something new this year!

But we’re looking forward to some of the festival events that don’t need reservations and don’t require a ticket, just admission to the park. Of course, there’s the array of tastes around World Showcase, paired with beer, wine and cocktails – we got a sneak taste of the chocolate chili mousse with salted caramel, and can tell you we’re heading there first.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

We love stopping to talk with the cranberry farmers in the beautiful “Discover the Cranberry” featuring the Festival Cranberry Bog hosted by Ocean Spray Craisins Brand Dried Cranberries, and this year we can add the new Watermelon Patch (especially fun for kids) as we’re making the rounds. Chocolate lovers will want to head to the Festival Center for the free “The Chocolate Experience: From Bean to the Bar” hosted by Ghirardelli Chocolate Company (yep, there’s chocolate samples while you learn). The Festival Center is the perfect place to cool off when the weather heats up – take a seat and listen to the HGTV folks during complimentary 30-minute seminars. Or sit in on a free Authentic Taste Seminar presented by Driscoll’s Only the Finest Berries. Or just stroll through the Festival Center Wine Shop and sample a few of the wines.

Then, when the sun goes down, head to the Eat to the Beat Concert at America Gardens Theatre, with live entertainment every night at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. during the festival. Favorites are back, but new this year are Smash Mouth (Oct. 11-12); Javier Colon, winner of “The Voice” (Oct. 13-14); Blues Traveler (Nov. 5-6) and Dennis DeYoung, original member of the group STYX (Nov. 7-8).

Can you recommend your favorite happening at the festival?

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