Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool Tips

The Surf Pool at Typhoon Lagoon is one of the water park’s coolest features, and also one of its most dangerous (cue overly dramatic music). Actually, the pool is quite safe, it’s just that many guests don’t quite understand it or are not properly prepared for it. That might seem odd. After all, it’s just a wave pool. What’s there to know? You walk out into the Surf Pool, waves happen, you have fun for a while, and then leave. If that’s what you’re thinking, you might have a point.

Then again, this is the blog with a comprehensive Refillable Mug FAQ, so we’ve already demonstrated that we devote too much text to simple topics. Plus, we’ve finally dug out of winter in the midwest, and I have summer fever so it seemed like a fun topic to cover today. Before we get into the tips, let’s get acquainted with the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool.

For those unfamiliar with it, Typhoon Lagoon’s Surf Pool is one of the largest inland wave pools in the world. It’s approximately 2.5 acres in size with 3 million gallons of water (80,000 gallons are used for each wave). The Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool uses a machine to generate an approximately 6-foot tall wave every 90 seconds, with periods of calm between the waves.

When the wave is released, you can hear the collective shriek of guests in the Surf Pool up to 37 miles away (or on the other side of the park, our data here is unscientific). It’s so loud that you’d think Jaws had appeared in the pool, not just a large wave. The Surf Pool features 90 consecutive minutes of these 6-foot waves spaced 90 seconds apart, followed by 30 minutes of  bobbing waves and calmer water. From the wave pool, you can see the Miss Tilly’s (the boat stuck atop Mount Mayday) smokestack “erupt” with water every half hour as its foghorn sounds.  (more…)

New York Deli Review

New York Deli is a counter service restaurant in Tokyo DisneySea’s American Waterfront port-of-call. The Deli serves a variety of small sandwiches similar in nature to what you might find at an actual deli in New York. The flagship menu item here is the Mile High Deli Stack, which is so popular(?) that there are posters for it elsewhere in the American Waterfront. Other than that, there are a few other sandwiches and a salad.

It is themed after a local New York deli (pretty obvious given then name), but the restaurant also bleeds over into the surrounding storefronts in American Waterfront, with seating areas representing a variety of other small shops and the personality of their proprietor. Suffice to say, this restaurant has a pretty thorough backstory, especially for a counter service spot.

Let’s take a look at a few of the different rooms… (more…)

Mailbag: New Camera For Disney Under $500?

I often try to write posts that indirectly answer frequently asked questions we receive via email, but for a new weekend series (hopefully…depending upon how many emails we get!), I wanted to do posts that directly answer your reader questions with quick-hit blog posts. I posted about this Friday on Facebook, and thought we’d get started right away with our answer to a reader question. If you have a question you’d like us to answer in a blog post, please send it Questions@DisneyTouristBlog.com.

Reader Nancy L. asks:

“…I have a point and shoot camera, but it’s several years old and I don’t like the quality and I wasn’t happy with my photos on our last trip…I’m going to WDW this summer and want a better camera before then. I am willing to spend $500 but don’t know what I should buy…”

One thing not mentioned in your question is how serious you are about photography. I ask because, while the equipment you use is important, it’s more important to know how to use whatever equipment you own. Your current point and shoot may be able to do everything you’re looking for in a camera, it may just be a matter of learning more about it and photography and unlocking its potential. To that end, I highly recommend reading the manual if you haven’t already, and grabbing a couple of books on photography. My top recommendation is Understanding Exposure, which is an absolute must-read. Beyond that, I have a list of recommended photography books that will help. Your local library should have most of these, so you might not have to spend any money to capture better photos.

With that said, you might already know all there is to know about your camera and a good amount about photography, and may still be unsatisfied with your camera. Or, you may not want to learn about photography, and just want a camera that does better in auto mode. There’s nothing wrong with that, and while every camera will perform better with the photographer choosing the settings, it’s also true that nicer cameras in auto mode will produce better results than in auto mode than lesser cameras.

Since you’re using your camera for travel, size might be a consideration, so I’m going to provide a couple of different options with that in mind. Essentially, you’re going to be making a trade-off of either smaller size or better quality. Regardless, either solution can capture great photos (I shot all of the photos in this post with an entry level DSLR or point & shoot). As far as budget goes, $500 may seem like a lot, but in the world of photography, it won’t get you too far. In fact, for my two main suggestions, you’re going to be just on the cusp of needing to spend a tad more to accomplish what you need.

Let’s take a look… (more…)

Top 10 Disney Theme Park Attractions

Disney has hundreds (if not thousands, I’m not counting!) of theme park attractions and rides at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland. Obviously, not all of these attractions were created equally. At their best, Disney attractions are timeless classics that have multi-generational appeal. At their worst, they’re dressed up versions of amusement park staples.

I thought it would be fun to put together a list of what I consider the 10 best attractions worldwide. As there are literally more Disney parks than there are attractions on this list, some great ones are bound to be snubbed, but I’m keeping to a strict 10 attraction limit. Even if I had a list with 40 more honorable mentions, I’d be still be snubbing some very worthy attractions. As it’s a multi-continent list, it’s not like this top 10 has any functional utility anyway…it’s more geared at being a fun conversation piece for Disney theme park fans. I want to do more worldwide lists like this, so if this one is popular, it will be the first of many more to come. I enjoy comparing and contrasting all of the different parks, and want to do more posts like that, anyway. They’re a nice change of pace from the normal trip planning material here.

A few notes about the list before we get started. First, while it’s my personal list, I’m considering not just what I like the best, but also what I consider to be objectively the most impressive and captivating attractions. I don’t have any specific scoring criteria–it’s basically just a mix of my gut reaction and analysis. Second, only attractions that are currently operational are eligible. It’s very easy to say Horizons or Journey into Imagination should be #1, but there’s no perfect way to tell how those would have aged or if opinions today are clouded by the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. Third, only the best version of each attraction (we’ll call this the “Tower of Terror” rule). Finally, this list is a moving target based partially on how I feel when I’m writing it. If you ask me my top 10 tomorrow, you might get different answers.

With that said, here’s the list in no particular order! (more…)

Tokyo Disneyland: The Bizarro Magic Kingdom

I love Tokyo Disneyland. That much is probably a given considering how much I gush over Tokyo Disney Resort. However, having visited Walt Disney World all of my life, there are some times when I almost stop in my tracks and do a double-take as I walk around Tokyo Disneyland, since parts of it feel like a “Bizarro Magic Kingdom,” borrowing from common elements of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and to a lesser extent, Disneyland. Certain parts of the park mirror present day Magic Kingdom, other parts (like Tomorrowland) look like the Magic Kingdom of years past, other areas feel like out of place versions of the Magic Kingdom, and other parts still incorporate a dash of Disneyland.

Then, of course, there are the entirely original areas of Tokyo Disneyland, which tend to be the most interesting of all. These original areas are pretty much everything of consequence that has been added to Tokyo Disneyland since the mid-1980s, and what really make Tokyo Disneyland a world-class theme park and not just “the Magic Kingdom, but in Japan.” This post focuses primarily on the similarities that make some areas of Tokyo Disneyland feel eerily familiar, so don’t underestimate Tokyo Disneyland based on the cloned or near-cloned parts of the park covered here. You don’t get to be the best Disney castle park, as Tokyo Disneyland is in my opinion, by being nothing but clones!

If all of this doesn’t make sense via text, don’t worry. The photos tell the story a lot better. I thought for today’s post on the 31st Anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland, it would be fun to take a look at the areas of the park that look like they’re Twilight Zone versions of the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland! (more…)

Downtown Disney Tips (+Hotel Stay Giveaway!)

Downtown Disney is the shopping and dining district at Walt Disney World, which is currently being transformed into Disney Springs. This post covers some of our tips for visiting Downtown Disney. More importantly, for those of you who like free stuff, it introduces our new giveaway courtesy of the Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels. We’ll be running a giveaway for 3-night stays at each of the 7 Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels from one hotel per month, now through October. More details on the giveaway at the bottom of the post.

Our reason for combining this tips post with the giveaway is simple: Downtown Disney is a bit of a knowledge-gap for us, so what better way to do this giveaway than by having you help crowd-source some tips for us! ;) While we’ve been to Downtown Disney many, many times, most of our visits came in the Pleasure Island days. In fact, before this year, our last Downtown Disney visit was to the Adventurers Club. So yeah, it’s been a while…

With that said, we do have a handful of tips of our own regarding Downtown Disney, but our tips are far from comprehensive. (more…)

Boma Review


Boma – Flavors of Africa is a buffet in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World. This review features photos and thoughts about dinner at Boma. The menu at Boma features a wide variety of American and African cuisine, and features both adventurous cuisine and more conventional options, making it one of the most diverse buffets at Walt Disney World. Arguably the best buffet at Walt Disney World, participates in the Disney Dining Plan, and accepts Tables in Wonderland for a 20% discount. While it’s not a great use of a Disney Dining Plan table service credit if you’re trying to maximize your value on the Disney Dining Plan, it isn’t a bad option either.

We’ve dined at Boma for dinner on a few different occasions, and each time have been really full. It’s certainly not the cheapest buffet on property, but we think it’s the best due to its huge range of high quality options, especially the soups, meats, and desserts (especially those delicious zebra domes pictured above). It’s not a character buffet, so if that matters to you but you still want the kids of foods found at Boma, we recommend lunch at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom (the park) instead. In terms of cuisine, it’s like Boma-lite.

Boma is located on the lower level of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House, adjacent to Jiko – The Cooking Place (one of our favorite restaurants at Walt Disney World) and The Mara (one of the best counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World). With this hard-hitting trio plus the often-overlooked Sanaa in Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Kidani Village, Animal Kingdom Lodge has arguably the best dining of any resort hotel at Walt Disney World. Only the Grand Floridian really gives it a run for its money. (more…)

Mystic Manor Photo Tour & Review

Mystic Manor is the newest attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland, and one of Disney’s best-ever attractions anywhere in the world. This post takes a look inside Lord Henry Mystic’s manor, with photos, descriptions, and commentary along the way. As Mystic Manor itself is a Magneto-Electric Carriage tour of Lord Henry’s manor, consider this post the tour of the tour.

Since Mystic Manor is still less than a year old and probably hasn’t been experienced by many guests, a warning seems appropriate… WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS PHOTO AND PLOTLINE SPOILERS OF MYSTIC MANOR. If you have not yet experienced Mystic Manor, but plan to in the near future, we highly recommend clicking here to exit now. These photos and details cannot possibly do justice to the actual attraction experience, anyway.

If you only want to read the portion of this post that contains the photo-free and mostly spoiler-free review, click here.

With that said, let’s start the tour. Spoilers start below the jump… (more…)