Did You Know…
- Most guests know they can get Mickey Ear hats embroidered. There is a choice of three fonts as well as a number of colors, and you can do two lines per hat, with a maximum of 16 characters per line. But did you know there are other personalized items that can be purchased at Walt Disney World? Getting things customized is fun, and in many cases costs less than you might think. I don’t intend this list to be all inclusive, but here are a few of my favorite places where you can have items customized: You can get a personalized cell phone case and/or magic band at Space Mountain in the Magic Kingdom and/or at the Co-op at Disney Springs. Germany in Epcot will do custom etchings on glassware, as will Crystal Arts Shop on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. The Canadian Pavilion in Epcot will personalize leather bracelets. One of the few places that will embroider clothing, aprons, and other unusual items can be found on Hollywood Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Called Adrian and Edith’s Head to Toe, this is the place to have just about anything personalized.
- There are corporate lounges in Epcot which are used by employees of the company that is sponsoring the pavilion where the lounges are located. Spaceship Earth has a lounge for Seimens employees and their guests. GM employees have a lounge at Test Track (I have been to this one, my friend works for GM). HP sponsors Mission Space, and there’s a lounge there for HP employees and their guests. There is also a corporate lounge in The Land. That pavilion is currently sponsored by Chiquita.
- If you are a veteran, or if someone in your party is, you can be the Veteran of the Day at the Magic Kingdom and participate in the Flag Ceremony that is held daily. From what I understand you must be the first one to ask at City Hall, so if it’s important to you I’d arrive at park opening. I can’t promise you or the veteran you’re with will be chosen, they may have already got someone that day, but it cannot hurt to try. It’s a very moving ceremony by the way, Vet or not, so if you’ve never seen it I’d recommend you give it a look.
- If you visit Walt Disney World during Halloween or Christmas, you can see some amazing displays put up by guests at Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. It seems to get more beautiful every year. The best time to visit is in the evening when everything is plugged in and glowing, but it’s fun in the day too. It can be a lot of walking, but you can either rent a golf cart (it is generally best to do this in advance) or sign up for a carriage ride (fee) to avoid too much footwork. There is also an internal bus system, so if you decide to walk and get tired just sit down at the nearest bus stop and wait to be picked up. Be sure you take the correct bus, you don’t want to end up on the wrong side from where you came in. Ask the driver if you’re not sure. The campgrounds is separated into different regions, and some areas are known to be the most elaborately decorated, so ask a Cast Member if you want to be sure you see the best stuff.
- There is a way to enjoy Walt Disney World as an adult, even when you have little ones with you. A number of resorts have kids’ clubs that will keep the children entertained while you and your significant other or friends (or you alone) can get away and do something slated for 21 and over, or just have some adult time. You do NOT have to be staying at the resort to use the kids’ club. Kids’ clubs can be found at the Polynesian, Beach Club, Dolphin and Animal Kingdom resorts. These are not just babysitters, they are full on experiences with character visits, projects, games, and lots of attention from the Cast Members. Most children have a ball. These clubs are for children 3 through 12. For the littler Mouseketeers, Disney offers in room babysitting for kids 6 months and older. Prices for the in room start at $18 per hour (depending on the number of children). The kids’ clubs charges vary – some charge a flat fee of $55 and others charge by the hour, $10-$15 per hour, depending on the place you choose.
- You can save your pressed pennies and quarters in a neat little book that most stores on property sell. Look near the autograph books. Generally there are two, one with Tinkerbell and one with a blue cover with a number of characters. It’s so easy to throw the coins in a drawer and forget about them, the little books keep the coins neat and easy to view, ready to enjoy for years to come.
- You don’t have to take a boat when you’re going from Epcot or any of the Epcot resorts to get to Hollywood Studios. Yes, you can take a bus from the main entrance of Epcot, but you can also walk if you enjoy a nice stroll. If you start out at Boardwalk it’s about a 15-minute walk. If you start out at any of the other Epcot resorts or from the back entrance to Epcot, aka the International Gateway, it’s about a 25-minute walk. The exact directions will vary depending on where you start walking from, so ask a Cast Member if you’re not sure of the best route. Here are the directions from Boardwalk: Look for the path along the water behind the pools/community center and follow the signs pointing left to the Studios. You can’t get lost, just follow the path until the end and you’ll reach Hollywood Studios. You’ll be able to see the Tower of Terror as you approach. It’s a very relaxing walk, and quiet as well as you rarely see many other people. You may see shore birds, rabbits, flowering bushes and other fauna. If the boat happens to pass you while you’re walking wave to the captain. Most times you’ll get a toot of the Friendship boat in return. The path is lit at night, and if you’re staying at Boardwalk you’ll almost always beat the boat if you walk.
- Another great walk is from Old Key West Resort (OKW) or Saratoga Springs Resort (SSR) to Disney Springs. This is best done in the daylight, because the path is not lit at night and thus, closed. Starting out at the South Point area of OKW, or near the Disney Vacation Club Welcome Center at Saratoga Springs, look for a paved path that is next to the river. At OKW the sign is obvious, at SSR it’s not as obvious, so you may have to ask a Cast Member. It takes about 20 minutes from Old Key West and about 10 minutes from Saratoga to walk to Disney Springs. Again, not many people walk, so it’s a nice pleasant break from crowds. You will be walking near a golf course as well as lush greenery. Most of the time you’ll see some pretty birds or flowers on the path, depending what time of year you go. For a detailed map and description of this path, see our blog Walking in Nature at Walt Disney World.
- Many resorts give free tours. Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge are just some of the resorts that offer tours at no charge. Ask at the front desk when you check in, times and details can vary. One of my favorite tours was a tour of Boma and Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Not only did we get to have the décor explained to us in terms of how it related to Africa, we got to sample some free food as well. I was amazed at how few people were on the tour, it was just my daughter and me and another daughter mom combo the day we went. We were staying at the lodge when we did the tour but were told that was not a must, anyone can take the tour. Inquire at the front desk for more details.
- You can see all sorts of music absolutely free at Walt Disney World, without stepping foot in any of the main theme parks. Disney Springs has bands all over the place, all day long but especially in the evenings. You’ll find just about every genre at the Springs, from Jazz to Rock and Roll, and even Celtic tunes (at Raglan Road). If you can avoid weekends, it’s more relaxing to visit Disney Springs on weekdays. Another great musical opportunity is at Port Orleans – in fact there are two! At Riverside in the Roost Lounge you’ll find Yeeha Bob who is absolutely a blast, using his piano and jokes to make you laugh and entertain you, Wednesday to Saturday, 8:30 to about midnight. At Scat Cat’s lounge at the French Quarter most Saturdays through Tuesday nights you can see a duo called Jason and Billy perform from 8:30-11:00. They play whatever the audience requests, so shows vary but as you can pretty much count on a few regulars: It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere, Sweet Caroline, City of New Orleans and Devil Went Down to Georgia are played most nights. I’ve heard them do Freebird, Hey Jude, Ring of Fire and many more songs. They’ll do just about any genre, just ask them, if they know it they’ll do it for you. Jason plays fiddle and does harmony, Billy plays guitar and sings. Both are members of Off Kilter, the band that formerly played in Canada at Epcot. The two of them have great stage presence and have a way of making everyone feel like they are their best friend.
I will leave you with one bit of rather creepy “did you know”: It is not unheard of for the Cast Members at the Haunted Mansion to have to call in HazMat to remove ashes from the track of the ride. Evidently some guests feel it’s an appropriate place to leave a little of their departed loved ones. And how do the Cast Members know when this has happened? Eerily enough the ashes glow in the dark!