Festival of Fantasy Parade Tips & Photos


Festival of Fantasy Parade is the newest Magic Kingdom parade that debuted with New Fantasyland’s opening at Walt Disney World. This post has viewing tips plus photos of the new parade, and my quick review.

Honestly, when the Festival of Fantasy Parade was announced, I wasn’t all that excited. I thought it was a good idea to tie-in with the conclusion of the New Fantasyland expansion, but other than that, I wasn’t all that enthused. At the time, I often said I was “not a daytime parade person,” an opinion that was largely the result of not having been particularly enamored with any daytime Magic Kingdom parade since I was a kid in the mid-1990s. Also as a result of that, I didn’t make a huge effort to see the Festival of Fantasy Parade following its debut on our Memorial Day Walt Disney World trip.

With that said, I really enjoyed the Festival of Fantasy Parade. Actually, I downright loved it. Unlike almost every Magic Kingdom parade in recent memory, this parade actually feels ambitious, and large in scale and scope. The parade floats are all large, detailed and have a lot of substance to them. The float that has captured everyone’s attention is the steampunk-esque Maleficent float, and this is understandable because it breathes fire, but the Brave, Tangled, Peter Pan, and Monstro floats don’t garner nearly as much attention, despite being quite well done.

Add to this performers in costumes that have a lot of detail and are, in some cases, a bit darker and more interesting than the ‘fantasy fluff’ you’d expect to find in a Magic Kingdom parade, a catchy soundtrack, and a great energy, and you have a parade that’s a real winner. In terms of overall quality and appeal, I’d put Festival of Fantasy Parade up there with the parades I’ve seen at Tokyo Disneyland, and the park sets the gold standard for daytime parades.

With that said, I don’t think the Festival of Fantasy Parade is entirely perfect… (more…)

Liberty Tree Tavern Review

Liberty Tree Tavern, photographed with a special infrared converted camera.

Liberty Tree Tavern is a Thanksgiving-style and table service restaurant in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, with a colonial American theme. By Thanksgiving-style, I mean that dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern is served family style, and the foods served in the “Patriot’s Platter” are what was consumed for the first Thanksgiving. (Didn’t know the Pilgrim’s had Coca-Cola! ;) )  Liberty Tree Tavern is a fairly popular restaurant, and a top choice for guests around the holidays who want to have a family meal for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Liberty Tree Tavern participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a one credit table service meal. It also accepts the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount. Unfortunately for guests on the Dining Plan, Liberty Tree Tavern is not a good value on the Disney Dining Plan (click to see top restaurants for maximizing your bang for buck on the Dining Plan). Not that it’s an awful value on the Disney Dining Plan, it’s just not great, thanks to its generally middle of the road menu prices. However, that does typically make it a good value when paying out of pocket!

One caveat about this review is that I’m not really sure how to approach it. It’s really more of a story than it is a proper review. Sarah and I last dined at Liberty Tree Tavern for dinner a while ago (back when it had characters!) and had an excellent time. So much fun, along with a solid meal, that I’m not sure why we hadn’t made it back in so long. Perhaps bitterness over the lack of characters.

We had reservations during our recent May trip, but we had to cancel because she wasn’t feeling well. Then, I went down for a weekend solo trip in August, and decided to eat here by myself on a whim when I saw an empty lobby and was told I could be seated within 5 minutes. My plan was to get a full meal, and then return with Sarah on a future trip so we could have enough of the menu to allow us to fully review the restaurant.

Suffice to say, after my meal here, I will not be back anytime soon. Rather than just not review it due to only trying a couple items, I thought I’d at least share the experience with an anecdotal review…. (more…)

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2014 Tips

The 2014 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties at Walt Disney World will occur in September and October. This post covers our tips and tricks for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2014, which is scheduled for the following dates: September 1, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, and 28; October 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30, and 31. You can purchase tickets (ranging from $57-77 per person) on Walt Disney World’s event page.

On these nights, the Magic Kingdom closes at 7 p.m. to guests who haven’t not purchased tickets for the Halloween Party. So you can prepare for the Halloween Party now, here is our analysis based upon the last several years (we go to it yearly) to help you determine whether this expensive hard ticket event is worth it to you, and if so, what your “Plan of Attack” should be to efficiently conquer the various offerings. Between this party and Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, plus improving weather, the fall months at Walt Disney World are one of our favorite times of year to visit!

Note that this guide covers Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, not Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland. For info about the latter, read our comprehensive Guide to Halloween Time at Disneyland!

Should You Attend?

So at over $60 a pop for tickets to the 2014 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, you might be trying to determine, “is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party worth it?” Our opinion, as Disney-biased tourists, is that it most definitely is worth the price at least once. Once you’ve experienced the party once (it doesn’t change much year-to-year), you might determine that it’s simply too expensive to experience again. For a one time event, it’s definitely worth it if your budget allows. While we prefer Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, we do attend both every year.

There’s a lot of special entertainment including one of Disney’s best parades and a great fireworks show, a great ambiance to the party including special decorations and lighting, lots of unique character meet & greets, and even seeing other guests in Halloween costumes makes for a fun experience.

If you do decide to do the Halloween Party, make sure to buy your tickets in advance, and use any available discounts (Disney Vacation Club member, Annual Passholder, etc.). Tickets are more expensive on the day of the party, and several nights each year sell out completely. It would stink to wait until the last minute and have your dates sell out!

If you’re a potentially returning guest to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, here’s what’s new for 2014. The big news is that there is actually a hard ticket event within this hard ticket event. Called Villains’ Sinister Soiree (we still wish they went with “Mickey’s Halloween Inception”), it’s essentially a dessert party in Cinderella’s Royal Table with reserved seating for the Boo to You Parade and HalloWishes fireworks. This costs $99 per person on top of the ~$60 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party ticket. So, if you’ve been thinking that the Halloween party is just too darn cheap, this option is for you!

Seriously though, we have absolutely no intention of doing this party. The reserved viewing area is not a good spot for viewing the fireworks, as it’s too close to Cinderella Castle (for the best spots, check out our Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations Guide), and there are just too many other great things to do at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (it’s unlikely you can do all of the regular entertainment in a single night) to justify attending a dessert party, especially at the $99 price point. In fact, we wouldn’t do this dessert party even if it were “only” $25 per person. It’s just not worth taking the time from the regular awesome entertainment of the Halloween party to do this. Plus, the idea of another upcharge event within an upcharge event just makes us cringe.

Fortunately, the other “significant” new thing (besides some minor changes to the Boo To You Parade and a couple of different meet & greet characters) is the Club Villain dance party in Frontierland, and it offers guests the opportunity to ‘mingle’ with some villains without paying the upcharge price. Beyond that, it looks to be mostly the same entertainment as last year.

As for what you should do during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, here’s our guide, fully updated for the 2014 parties! (more…)

Best Days for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

With Halloween season at Walt Disney World on us already, some of you have asked us which days are least crowded at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? While we have not attended every single Halloween party at Walt Disney World ever, this is somewhat easy to figure out with a bit of deductive reasoning plus past experience. For 2014, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party occurs multiple dates starting in the beginning of September through Halloween night in October. Unsurprisingly, Halloween is always the busiest night of the party, but if you have other options, when should you attend?

In an ideal world, we would recommend attending a party in early to mid-September on a Tuesday night. Our reasoning for this is because we have observed that there are generally two rules for how busy Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party will be: 1) Tuesday nights are historically the least crowded and Friday nights are the most crowded; and, 2) The parties get progressively busier the closer you get to Halloween season.

We consider these fairly hard and fast rules because locals/Annual Passholders don’t want to take their kids to the Halloween party on a school night, and because they actually start thinking about Halloween when you get closer to Halloween. Basically, tourists go to the parties on whatever night they feel like going (they’re on vacation, it’s all the same to them), but locals who could go any night of the season choose more carefully, and tip the scales in terms of crowded-ness. We’ve found that October is also slightly more crowded (in general, not just the parties) than September, which probably adds to it. Still, they are both two of the best months of the year in terms of crowds.

Tourists generally don’t have the same luxury of picking and choosing nights, having only a few days from which to choose during their trips. But locals with the entire calendar in front of them want to get dressed up and take their kids later on weekend nights, once Halloween is actually on their radar and they have made costumes. Plus, locals know that Florida is still hot and humid in September, and typically cooler in October, making those bulky or ornate costumes more feasible later in the season. (more…)

The Plaza Restaurant Review

The Plaza Restaurant as seen from the Tomorrowland bridge. It may come as a surprise, but we aren't fans of the Plaza. Here's our review: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/plaza-restaurant-review/

Tucked away behind the Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street USA in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, the Plaza Restaurant is in what would seem to be a high traffic area, yet it never seems to be too busy–at least not when we’ve stopped by. Perhaps this is because it’s a high traffic area when people are entering and exiting the Magic Kingdom, and at those times, a table service meal isn’t crossing the minds of most guests. The Plaza Restaurant’s menu consists of mostly American deli and soda-fountain classics, and is actually a lot like the Magic Kingdom’s version of Beaches & Cream.

The Plaza Restaurant participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a one credit table service meal. It also accepts the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount. We always pay out of pocket when dining here, as this restaurant is a terrible value on the Disney Dining Plan (click to see top restaurants for maximizing your bang for buck on the Dining Plan) because the restaurant is so inexpensive.

In terms of ambiance, the Plaza Restaurant is basically a simplistic soda fountain with Victorian and Art Nouveau stylings. Its interior is very light and airy, with a lot of natural light plus some pretty, yet understated design flourishes. It’s not going to win any awards for being one of the best themed restaurants at Walt Disney World, but I would definitely call its design intimate and charming. Plus, it’s fun when the Mayor stops in to entertain guests or sing ‘Happy Birthday.’ (more…)