10 spots to get splashed in the Disney Theme Parks

Visitors to the Walt Disney World theme parks generally know going into the game that they’re likely to encounter some heat. The index can range from toasty warm in the milder months to darn near sweltering in the summer. Much appreciated are the myriad ways to cool off around property. If it’s not yet time to head back to the hotel swimming pool, we’ve got 10 spots in mind in and around the theme parks where you can catch a break from the temps and savor a splash or two.


Casey Jr Splash ‘n Soak Station

First stop on our Splash Tour is this colorful, spurting collection of circus cars in Fantasyland. Themed after the animated film Dumbo, Casey Jr Splash ‘n Soak Station will be a magnet to your parched tykes on a hot day at the Magic Kingdom. We prefer to “splash” instead of “soak” at Casey’s — use your own discretion.

Splash Mountain

Beat the heat with Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, Br’er Bear and the rest of the briar patch residents on this insta-cooling flume ride. Best to ride when the mercury’s rising and you’re in need of a little relief. If a 5-story splashdown is not your cup of tea, try cooling off in the mist on the bridge at the foot of the slide. (more…)

Learn some new jokes on the Jungle Cruise

I remember being an 11-year-old riding the Magic Kingdom’s “world famous” Jungle Cruise for the first time: was the skipper for real? What possessed him to spout off corny jokes the entire trip down the great rivers of the world? By age 17 I’d wizened up. No way was it coincidental that all the Jungle Cruise guides had a penchant for comedy. And, by the time I was a honeymooner, finally had a soft spot for the witty spiels and classic commentary. Indeed, the jokes and puns are likely why we ride it.

It’s not the for animals, for sure. Don’t jump on the “Amazon Annie” or the “Irrawadddy Irma” expecting to see exotic species populating the jungles you cruise through. At least, not live species. These are of the Animatronic variety, but they manage to entertain and lend themselves to the skipper’s spiel. (And yes, I took the above photo myself back on my very first cruise in the early ’90s.)

Have you heard the latest about “Dr. Albert Falls” and the backside of water? Have you had the chance to attend the “Republican National Convention” (aka the elephant herd)? Did you get to meet the “uninvited guests” (monkeys) trashing the safari camp? Oh, and don’t miss all the jokes about the zebra at the “Hard Rock Cafe”! With each new ride comes new souvenir punch lines.

Location: Jungle Cruise is located in the Adventureland sections of both Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort.

Touring tip: If you visit during the holiday season, be sure to ride the “Jingle Cruise” for new jokes, gags and scenery!

Hitch a ride on the Main Street Vehicles

Cruising down the Magic Kingdom’s main drag in one of the Main Street Vehicles  requires some departure from our usual traffic patterns. Like many families, when we enter the park in the morning we’re on a mission. Usually it’s to seek out a favorite attraction to avoid waiting in a long queue later. The vintage vehicles that tool along Main Street have always been more of a part of the backdrop for us than a mode of transportation. More like colorful props that lend authenticity to a turn-of-the-century scene.

However, if you’ve got some time to spare and are in the nostalgic mood to take in the details of Main Street USA in either the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World or at Disney, there is no better way to travel than by one of four vehicles:

  • horse-drawn trolley (as pictured above)
  • jitney
  • early fire engine (also above)
  • open-air, double-decker omnibus (pictured below)

 Hop on board for your trip down memory lane!

Location: Find the Main Street Vehicles on their-one way trip down Main Street USA at Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort.

Hunt A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas

[This post is a contribution by Junior Disbird Andy, Disney interactive games enthusiast.]

Arrgh, mateys! Captain Jack Sparrow be requestin’ your help.

Find the skull with crystal eyes in an idol, or find hidden gold in a fish tank! Make a pirate skeleton emerge from the depths of the water! All of these adventures and more await you in A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas.

Located in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom, this exciting interactive game involves scouting out a boatload of pirate mischief. Embark on different adventures: Blackbeard, The King’s Ransom, Guardian’s Curse, Haven Defense, and Heads, You Lose — where you go to find the aforementioned skull. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you are the only pirate on this quest. You must escape from the British Navy and Captain Barbossa and his crew while trying to find the treasure!

Each of these missions take about 20 minutes to complete, and you have up until 30 minutes before the park closes to finish. Plus, you can stop and start at any point in the day, and even pick up the next day! Oh, and a special bonus – after you complete all the adventures, you get a special card signed by Captain Jack Sparrow himself!

Happy treasure hunting, fellow pirates!

Location: Play A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas at Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort. There is no separate admission charge to play. Use your MagicBand or park pass to obtain mission supplies at the Pirate’s Adventure post in Adventureland – and the souvenirs are yours to keep!

Disney Classic: Country Bear Jamboree

The Country Bears: what’s your take? Do you cling to the last threadbare pieces of the original Magic Kingdom? Do you wish the veteran bears would make a date with the taxidermist? Or are you kind of “meh” about the whole hoedown – you’ll stop in to reminisce if you’re in the neighborhood but don’t take it hard if there isn’t time? Our family doesn’t often fit the bears into our schedule; in fact, half of our children have yet to be introduced to Buff, Melvin, Liverlips McGrowl, Teddi Barra, and Big Al crooning their twangy tunes.

That said, this is a classic attraction. One that opened with the Magic Kingdom in 1971 and was designed and voiced by Disney legends. And that counts for a lot — at least in my neck of the woods. Jam on, Country Bears.

Location: Find the Country Bear Jamboree at home in the Frontierland section of Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort.

“Kill” Time in the Haunted Mansion Interactive Queue

Got some time to kill? Or are you just dying to join your 999 happiest haunts inside their ghostly retreat? If you dare, take a detour into the interactive graveyard queue of this classic attraction (yes, you can opt out and continue along the traditional queue, but you’ll miss some fun encounters with both familiar and new faces of the Haunted Mansion).

I missed a couple myself even spending a decent amount of time in the queue. For instance, next time around I want to listen for the family of busts whispering clues to the identities of their killers. Less grisly and decidedly more kid-friendly is the “Composer’s Crypt” where my kids pressed raised carvings of musical instruments to compose the Mansion’s main melody “Grim Grinning Ghosts”. One side of the crypt’s wall is composed of normal instruments, the other bizarre looking and sounding. A “Ravenscroft” organ, replica of one found in the Mansion’s ballroom scene, also plays the tune and mists those who take to the keyboard with a ghostly vapor.

Try your hand at solving the “cryptogram” sprinkled on the spines of books that pop themselves off their shelves in the Library Crypt. My kids were so busy scrambling to shelve the books that we didn’t realize the symbols made up a code. 

All the more reason to “hurry back…hurry back…”.

Location: Loiter in the Haunted Mansion’s interactive queue in the Liberty Square section of Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort.

Pilot a rug on the Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Salaam and welcome to the Dumbo of Adventureland! Except this time, you’re piloting a magical rug and orbiting a particularly sought-after lamp around the marketplace of Agrabah.

We usually have to ride this slow loader at least twice so the kids can switch off riding in the front and back seats. Why? Because the front seat controls how high the magic carpet will fly and the back seat pitches the carpet forwards or back. You’ve also got to maneuver yourself out of the way of the spitting camel – or, depending who’s at the controls, they might be aiming to get a spray!

Fun find: Our kids were the ones who first pointed out to me the gems embedded in the pavement outside the Magic Carpets. How many have you spotted? Which is your favorite?

Location: Find the Magic Carpets of Aladdin in the Adventureland area of Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort.

Catch Mickey’s and Minnie’s 1928 debut in Steamboat Willie

disneyland main street cinema

We finally ended up popping into this rather obscure little attraction this past fall in order to escape throngs of families lining the streets for the evening parade. All we were searching for was a bare patch of ground to get off our feet for a few and this fit the bill perfectly. The cinema was nearly empty, had a viewing platform just for shorties, and screened classic cartoons that kept the kids entertained while we recharged.

I was happy to spare a few minutes to show the kids the 1928 cartoon that launched Mickey Mouse’s career. It’s pretty incredible that Walt Disney, buoyed by the popularity of this character, would go on to create an entertainment empire. A great lesson in dreaming big and having the gumption to go after your goals. The kids appreciated that Steamboat Willie is the lone one of six shorts shown at the Main Street Cinema to have sound. This is significant as the cartoon was the very first to feature an entirely post-produced synchronized soundtrack.

Location: Find the Main Street Cinema in the Main Street U.S.A. section of Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort.

Join in the “Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It!” Street Party

What I appreciate most about the Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party is the way it encourages guests to work off that Dole Whip. (Or, less aggressively, join in the festivities.)

The first time I saw the caravan coming down Main Street — originally called Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! —  I figured it was another rather passive parade and staked out a spot on the curb. It wasn’t until observing the street dance at the Castle hub that I realized there was a very interactive second half to the show. Once the parade – made up of giant gift box floats carrying characters like Mickey, Donald, Baloo the Bear from Jungle Book, and the stars of Zootopia – reaches the hub, a full-on dance party breaks out. Stilt-walkers and characters leading conga lines pump up the energy level. Be sure to snap some pictures while you’re rocking out — if you share the photos on social media they might be chosen for display on the giant gift tag screens!

Nearing the end of the party, guests are asked to vote by cheers for the final song played. The floats then parade back down Main Street until the next dance party is scheduled to break out. In the meantime, go grab yourself that second Dole Whip.

Location: Find the Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party coming down Main Street USA multiple times a day, Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort.

Four places to bang the drums in Walt Disney World

Kids don’t want to work – they just want to bang on the drum all day! So where can you do that at Walt Disney World? Here are four spots we’ve found:

MH walt disney world drumsThe Little Drummer Girls are performing at the following locations clockwise from top left: the interactive play queue of The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh at Magic Kingdom Park, the Outpost area of World Showcase at Epcot, while waiting to be seated at Boma – Flavors of Africa at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and in the Harambe Village area in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Let me assure you – you don’t have to be a kid to join in!