How Villains Unleashed Can Be Improved

Disney’s Villains Unleashed hard-ticket event came and went on Saturday night.  The reviews of the event were not good.  There were long character lines.  There was only one place to get event-specific merchandise and it was sold out around 10 pm.  There were long lines, up to 45 minutes, for event specific food and beverage.  Those also sold out.  All of this left some people disappointed.  They weren’t able to see and do everything that they paid for with their hard ticket.  They felt for $70 that Disney should not run out of merchandise and food or be forced to choose which characters they want to meet.  I agree with them to an extent.  I think this event can work for Disney, in the future, they just need to improve upon some things.  Some of things are easy while others are more difficult and will involve some tough choices on Disney’s behalf.

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Getting The Most Out of Your Kilimanjaro Safari Photos

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Welcome to those of you joining me from Home is Where the Mouse is and those of you just hopping on board.  I am the 4th stop on our Magical Blogorail.

The overall theme of the Blue Loop, this month, is Disney Photography 101.  I will be focusing on one of the most highly photographed attractions at Walt Disney World – Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom.  This attraction winding through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve provides guests with many opportunities to get pictures of various animals.  This article will give you some tips and how to get most out of your photos and the best out of your camera.

Canon PowerShot SX200IS
Canon PowerShot SX200IS

All pictures in this article were taken with the camera in the above picture which my wife and I have nicknamed “Little Red.”  This is a powerhouse of a camera for its size.  It’s very compact making it easy to transport through the parks and it’s easy to use.

Tip #1: Learn everything about your camera

Most cameras have a lot of different settings, speeds, lighting, zooms, etc.  Don’t be intimated and overwhelmed by all of things your camera can do.  Instead learn what they can do.  The two things about my family’s camera which we take advantage of on this attraction is the zoom but, more importantly, the “burst setting.”  This setting allows the user to take multiple pictures each time the picture button is pressed.  The downside is a lot of wasted pictures but in an era of digital photography the wasted pictures are easily deleted.

An example of the burst setting:

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These pictures were taken in the same take picture button press.


An example of the zoom setting:

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Can’t get that close in real life or the crocodile jaws will take a good chunk of your leg.  😉

Tip #2: Have a spotter with you

This can be sometimes difficult if you have kids and you are spending more time finding the animals for them to see.  It’s difficult for one person to see out of both sides of the car.  A spotter can look out that other side of the car and/or find those hard to spot animals that a hiding in the trees.

I see you.  Do you see me?
I see you. Do you see me?

A solo rider could easily miss this picture without the benefit of a spotter.  This picture is also another great example of the zoom on the camera.

Tip #3: Have the photographer sit in the end seat.

Don’t put the photographer in the middle seat of your group.  Have him or her sit on the end seat.  In an end seat, the photographer does not have to get the heads of their fellow riders out of the picture before taking the picture.   An end seat provides a good view out onto the savanna to spot the animals.

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Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to ride the attraction multiple times

One of the benefits of the Kilimanjaro Safaris is one of the most dynamic attractions at Walt Disney World.  No two rides on the attraction are the same.  The animals will move.  Some will go away as the day goes on while others will make an appearance.  One trip, my family rode it at the end of the day.  Then, the next day, we arrived at the park at rope drop and rode it again so we could see more animals that were not out the day before.

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Those are some of my tips for getting the most out of your photos on the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction.  It’s a combination of knowing how to use your camera and learning its features, having a spotter to watch the other side of the savanna, and a willingness to ride the attraction multiple times, if possible, in one visit.  I’m going to close with one of the best photos that my wife was able to get which used all four of the tips in this article.

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Thank you for joining me today.  The next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is For the Love of Disney.

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1st Stop ~ Rolling with the Magic – Cell Phone Photography Tips & Apps

2nd Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog – Memory Maker 101

3rd Stop ~ Home is Where the Mouse Is – Do’s and Don’ts of Theme Park Photography

4th Stop ~ Dad for Disney – Getting the Most Out of Your Kilimanjaro Safari Photos

Final Stop ~ For the Love of Disney – Recommended Gear to Take Good Photos and Still Enjoy Your Vacation


Dad For Disney Tours Hershey’s Chocolate World

I’m taking a short break for my annual dad-daughter getaway.  Our getaways usually involve going to some attraction in Southeast Pennsylvania where I grew up and then go to a Phillies.  This year, we chose Hershey’s Chocolate World as our attraction.

Hershey’s Chocolate World is a small (by Disney standards) area where guests can go and learn about Milton Hershey, the Hershey Corporation, and the chocolate-making process.  Chocolate World has five attractions along an expansive gift shop, dessert studio, and ice cream area which also sells coffee and hot cocoa.  The five attractions are:

  • Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Tour (15 minutes)
  • Hershey’s Create Your Own Candy Bar Attraction (45 minutes)
  • Hershey’s Great Chocolate Factory Mystery in 4-D (30 minutes)
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Tasting Adventure (20 minutes)
  • Hershey’s Trolley Works (60 minutes)

Admission to Chocolate World is free.  The Great American Chocolate Tour is free as well.  The other four attractions have an admission fee.  The fee varies from $8 to $15 depending on the attraction.  You can also package the attractions.

  • Happiness Experience (4-D Mystery & CYOCB): $20.95 adult; $18.95 child
  • Chocolate Expert (Tasting & Trolley): $20.95 adult; $13.90 child
  • Celebration Experience (Trolley, 4D Mystery, & CYOCB): $32.95 adult; $26.95 child
  • Enthusiast Experience (everything): $39.95 adult; $29.95 child

We chose the Celebration Experience and started with the trolley tour.  The trolley tour takes guests around Hershey while enthusiastic tour guides tell the story of Milton Hershey and his family.  They give great background on how the Hershey Corporation was founded and how Milton Hershey did great things like the Milton Hershey School and funding public works projects himself during the Great Depression to keep the people of Hershey at work.  Guests get a free Hershey Kiss, Reese Peanut Cup, and mini Hershey bar on the tour.  If you want pictures, sit on the right side of the trolley.  That side has much better views of the buildings on the tour.

Our tour guides Kiera and Wilbur
Our tour guides Kiera and Wilbur

After the trolley tour, we had enough time to go on the free Great American Chocolate Tour.   This attraction is a stereotypical omni-mover style attraction.  The tour takes people for the nuts and bolts of how cocoa becomes Hershey’s chocolate with the help of singing cows: Gabby, Harmony, and Olympia.

Hershey #2

Our chocolate tour ended just in time for our viewing of The Great Chocolate Mystery in 4-D.  This attraction is a combination of Monsters Laugh Floor, Stitch’s Great Escape, and Muppetvision 3-D.  It’s a 3-D show so you need special glasses.

Hershey #4The waiting area has an area with pictures of Hershey, Kiss, and Reese on various adventures.  While you are waiting, a cast member goes around asking questions mainly to children.  You enter the theater for the show.  Hershey comes on the screen and gives children, who were asked questions in the waiting area, different jobs like Head of Security, etc.  The mystery is something is sneaking into the Hershey factory.  The show continues with Hershey, Kiss or Reese asking interactive questions.  Blasts of air coming from under the seats and various scents mainly peanut butter and chocolate to create the 4-D effect.  Not to spoil the show, the mystery does get solved at the end and each guest gets a mini Hershey’s bar upon exit.

We finished our day with the Create Your Own Candy Bar experience.  This attraction starts with a “gowning up process” to simulate working in a factory.



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The candy bar inclusions vary during the day.  Our choices were butterscotch chips, butter toffee crunch, chocolate crunch bits, crisp rice, pretzel bits, and chocolate chips.

You start with picking your type of chocolate bar: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or white chocolate and then any inclusions.  You can choose up to three inclusions.  I chose pretzel bits and chocolate chips.  Guests move to the next station which is to watch your candy bar get picked up by the robot and then get filled with any inclusions.  It is topped with chocolate before the bar moves to the cooling station.

Candy bar getting topped with chocolate
Candy bar getting topped with chocolate

While the candy bar is in the cooling station, guests get to select wrapper for their candy bar.  After six minutes, the candy bar is ready to be wrapped and the box is laser inscribed and matched with their creator.

Overall, it was a fun experience at Chocolate World.  Guests can order tickets and experiences ahead of time which I highly recommend.  We chose a 9:45 trolley ride, an 11:00 4-D show and a noon CYOCB experience.  After going through the expansive gift shop and some lunch, we were done by 1:30 pm.  I would also recommend getting there early in the day.  Chocolate World opens at 9 am but gets more crowded as guest leave the adjacent Hershey Park.

I also got this nice touch from the Chocolate World twitter as I was tweeting my experiences during the day:

I like big organizations that see what is happening on the twitter feed from their guests and then respond to them.  Adds a little magic to the day especially when they are enjoying the sweetest place on Earth where the streets are lined with Hershey Kisses.

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Remember to continue to tell your friends and family about the Dad For Disney Facebook group.

I can also be followed on twitter: @DadForDisney

Thanks for reading!









News Bites and Weekly Update – August 16

Another busy week for the Dad For Disney blog.  I’m going to close the week with a couple of news bites and some goings on at the blog for the next 10 days.

photo courtesy of wikipedia
photo courtesy of wikipedia

First, the news bites:

  • The Frozen Sing Along at Hollywood Studios is now a Fastpass+ attraction for the rest of its run.  The attraction is scheduled to end on September 28.
  • The closure date of the American Idol Experience has been moved up from January 2015.  The attraction’s last day is now scheduled for August 30, 2014.

The next 10 days are going to be travel filled days for me.  I’ll be going to Hershey and Philadelphia for my annual dad-daughter road trip.  After we return from Philadelphia, my wife and I will be traveling to Walt Disney World for the Villains Unleashed party.  As a result, I will be blogging less (this is a one man show) but tweeting more.  So, the best way to stay up to date, especially during the Villains Unleashed party, is to follow me on twitter: @DadForDisney.

Here’s a recap of this week’s blog articles:

Preparing to run in a Run Disney event – Where to Eat

Dad For Disney Game – Create a Character Meal

Disney Music Monday

More Frozen Rumors Regarding the Norway Pavilion

Walt Disney World’s Sister City 

Resort Guide to Pop Century

Wordless Wednesday – Celebrations

Attraction Guide to Toy Story Midway Mania

World Showcase Bus Transportation

Top Five Attractions at EPCOT

The Dad For Disney Facebook group has almost reached 500 members.  Please continue to tell your friends and family about this growing community.

Thanks for reading!

Top Five Attractions at EPCOT

EPCOT is a theme park without many attractions.  However, there are enough attractions between Future World and the World Showcase to come up with a top five list.  There is a very popular attraction which did not make my list.  One attraction just went through a massive refurbishment which preserved its spot on the list.  Let’s get on to the list:

5) The Gran Fiesta Tour

The Three Caballeros

Donald and his Latin American friends, Jose Carioca and Panchito, take guests through a tour of the Mexican countryside.  It is one of only two ride-able attractions in the World Showcase.  The ride is located in the giant pyramid which is the centerpiece of the Mexican pavilion.  You start the ride going past the San Angel Inn which can only make you hungry for the Mexican food as you go into the meat of the ride.  Because of the ride’s location at the back of the pavilion, there is rarely a wait for this attraction.  If you are lucky, you can get your picture taken with Mexican Donald Duck outside the pavilion when you are finished with the attraction.

Continue reading Top Five Attractions at EPCOT