Nov 2, 2012 - Uncategorized    Comments Off

Fantasy Land Expansion Previews

This morning there were cast member previews of the new Fantasy Land expansion of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. I decided to go to that area of the park and see what I could observe. There were numerous cast members out in front of the roped off entrance turning guests away and letting them know that currently this part of the park was only open to cast members and their families. They also said to check back later in the day in case they changed it to a soft opening preview which would be open to guests.

I decided to chat with a couple of cast members and kill a little time. While talking to one them I happened to look behind me and witness an elderly lady slip and take a pretty hard fall. She was laying under one of the new castle walls in between the Pinocchio Village Haus restrooms and the roped off entrance to the Fantasy Land expansion area. She seemed to be in bad shape and I pointed this out to the cast member I was chatting with. He was able to get a few managers over to her and clear out the area. We all watched for what seemed like 10 minutes to pass before a medical team was able to get to her.

In the meantime a few groups of guests were able to walk right behind a cast member who was supposed to be watching for non cast members trying to enter the roped off area. The main manager who was clearly in charge of the area noticed these guests but decided not to pursue them. He actually went to the cast member who they had snuck by and said “go ahead and adjust the count by 12″. It was then I noticed that particular cast member had a handheld counting device or clicker. He was not reprimanded nor were any of the cast members beyond the rope notified to stop or try and talk to those guests.

The lady who fell was now sitting up and the emergency crew were able to get her in a wheelchair. They patched up a small scrape on her arm and said she was good to go. One of the managers who had rushed to her aid asked her and her husband if they would like to have special access to the Fantasy Land Expansion. Then she proceeded to direct them right in past the ropes. 2 more clicks on the handheld counter.

One of the cast members came over to thank me for assisting with the lady’s incident. As we were chatting a family of three came over and asked what was going on behind the ropes. They got the same spiel about checking back later that this was currently for cast members only. The father started complaining about being on the Fantasy cruise ship and having a horrible time because of hurricane Sandy. He told the cast member that they had a flight in a few hours and wanted to get into the preview “now”. The manager came over and listened and tried to turn them away but in the end… 3 more clicks on the handheld counter.

I had seen enough and I decided to go guest services and voice my complaint at the inconsistencies. The guest services representative could not be more on my side. She told me that on her visit with friends and family there were hundreds of guests milling about who were not employees and it was a real let down. She asked what if anything she could do for me but I declined. She did encourage me to pass this info along through proper channels and gave me some info on who to contact above her.

In conclusion what is the difference between a cast member preview and a soft opening? I have a spot reserved next weekend for an annual pass holder preview. I know there was lots of confusion and folks weren’t able to sign up for the AP previews. Disney did add more days so those who could not book theirs online the day of can now still get a chance to preview. I think I have the right to be upset if guests who didn’t reserve a spot for the preview get in anyways. I enjoy sharing the magic of Disney, but I also follow the rules and hope the rules are enforced.

Nov 1, 2012 - Uncategorized    Comments Off

Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom (An Introduction)

Just the Basics….

SotMK is an interactive game that features great Disney animation, characters we all love and special spell cards. Let me guide you through the basics.

The Magic Kingdom has two locations for you to sign up to play. The Firehouse which is between Guest Services and the Emporium as you enter the park. The other is more of a satellite¬† location which is behind the Christmas Shoppe and in view of Tiana’s current meeting spot. I recommend using the Firehouse for your initial orientation into the game.

All you need is you park ticket and a few minutes of time. You will be given a map, key card and pack of spells. A cast member will then show you the basics of holding your key up to a keyhole and how to cast a spell. Remember you can sign up the entire family which means one pack of spells per person in your party. It is not necessary for everyone in your party to play the game. They will have to assign a key card

to each individual ticket but I recommend picking one key card to use for all of your game play. *side note.. recently a cast member attempted to link all of our families park tickets to one key card, I haven’t heard of this before and I haven’t been back to test if it works.

The cast member will then “randomly” assign you to a portal in one of 4 park areas/lands. If given the choice the easiest place to start is right there on Main St. USA. They will either give you the exact location or tell you the symbol and park area. This is where your SotMK map comes in handy. Your map is broken down into 4 sections. Main St USA, Fantasyland, Adventureland and Frontierland/Liberty Sq. Each land has 5 portals which are designated by special symbols on your map. The portals are sometimes disguised but you will always find a circular sorcerers symbol on the ground. It is recommended that you stand on that circular symbol to get the best results when holding up your spells.

So you found your portal now you take your key card and hold it up to the key hole.

From there you are directed by Merlin or the screen to tell you what to do next. Three possibilities are to cast a spell, use the sorcerer’s crest or be directed to another portal. The sorcerer’s crest is the symbol on the back of all your spell cards. If asked to cast a spell just hold whichever card you like. You may play more than one spell at a time.

The cards are the gem of this game. Anytime you get a free souvenir it is great, but to get something the with this type of quality is second to none. These cards have become super collectible. Next time I will give more information regarding the cards and trading.

Good Luck Sorcerers!

Aug 17, 2012 - Uncategorized    Comments Off

Missing Paint Brushes

A lot of people have been asking where are the Paint Brushes? For those of you who do not know there used to be a big secret on Tom Sawyer’s Island at the Magic Kingdom. Cast members would hide paint brushes enticing guests to go on a “treasure hunt”. If you were lucky enough to find a paint brush upon returning it to a cast member you would be given a very special reward. A fast pass ticket good for anytime the rest of the day.

Many a family searched for paint brushes and it was an extra piece of magic provided by the cast members. The paint brushes left the island during the refurbishment of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad earlier this year. Unfortunately the reopening of Big Thunder did not lead to the return of the paint brushes. So what happened?

The most common answer is that since Walt Disney World is enforcing fast pass return times they are unable to give out a fast pass as a reward. This answer is seriously frustrating. For the simple reason that you can get anytime fast passes from doing a Disney Vacation Club tour and also guest services. I cant put much stock into that excuse.

I have a couple theories of my own. First off¬† maybe the appeal of a cheap souvenir was to much temptation for some guests. It could have been as simple as not wanting to replace them so often. Being that so much of the Disney products we love are manufactured in China I can not see that as a real big problem. Another theory is the labor cost of having someone on the island hiding paint brushes before park opening, just a thought. In reality it only takes a cast member 5 minutes or so to hide a few paint brushes. There is the chance that eventually Tom Sawyer’s Island will be closed and a new series of attractions will end up taking it’s place. This could be the first step in that direction.

Regardless of the reasons there is no doubt a piece of history and Disney magic now missing. So the next time you are on a raft floating out towards Tom Sawyer’s Island and you hear the family next to you talking excitingly about searching for them. You can either let them down gently or maybe we can let them continue to search…

Jul 20, 2012 - Uncategorized    Comments Off

Speaker of the Mouse Intro

My name is Ryan Unger and I am a Disney fanatic to say the least. I enjoy going to Walt Disney World at every opportunity and I am a voracious reader of all things Disney. We mainly watch Disney movies with our 3 year old Abigail! My wife Kim and I first visited WDW together in 2008 for ESPN The Weekend at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We then visited Epcot for Food & Wine when she was very pregnant the following year. We moved to Lake Mary, FL and became Annual Pass-Holders towards the end of 2009.

I try and get to WDW at least once a week to explore by myself and take the rest of the family at least once a month. I have a job that allows me to have time off during the week. So most of my solo visits are in the morning and early afternoon mid week. I use this time to explore all four parks and try and help out tourists who look lost. I feel like an off duty cast member sometimes!

In February of this year I came across Touringplans.com while listening to a Disney podcast. Since then I have become a vocal member of the “Liner” community and am always looking to investigate any issues or answer questions for my fellow WDW lovers who are spread out across the world. I have also participated in a “Liner Meet-Up” this past July 4th and it was a great experience.

The purpose of this blog will be to uncover some Disney secrets, discuss everything that is WDW but hopefully with a new perspective and to help make visits to WDW more enjoyable and insightful for all. I am a reader not a writer. This is a new experience for me and I ask you to bear with me through this journey. I would appreciate any and all feedback. I promise to give you some piece of WDW info or a secret to help you enjoy it all the more as long as you help me progress as a blogger!