Behind the Scenes Tours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

My husband and I are planning an adult-only visit to Walt Disney World sometime in 2018.  While there is nothing I love more than planning any Disney World trip, I really love incorporating special requests from my family.  Because I tend to be so type-A, research-mama, crazy planning chick, my husband often leaves the bulk (read 99%) of the planning and scheduling to me.  For this trip, however, he made a special request.  Since Animal Kingdom has started staying open into the late hours of the night, it has quickly become one of our favorite parks.  My husband requested that I look into the special tours and opportunities available because he really wanted to know what was going on in that lookout you can just see jutting out from the Kilamanjaro Safaris path.

So, being who I am, I dove right into the world wide web to find out all I could about the special tours offered in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Childcare Options in Walt Disney World

Ready for a confession?  Even on a family vacation, sometimes I need a break from my children.  There are times when my husband and I want to spend some child-free time together in the parks or go to a restaurant that’s less than kid-friendly.  When these times come up, I am grateful that Disney offers childcare centers and baby-sitters.
 When I mention using Disney childcare, I’m often met with disbelief from family and friends that I’m allowing a stranger to watch my children.  However, all childcare cast members for the in-room baby-sitting are rigorously vetted and have an impressive list of qualifications, including:

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Height Requirements for Every Attraction in Walt Disney World

While Disney World is known for being inclusive and family friendly, there are attractions that are not appropriate, or safe, for little ones.  To ensure the utmost safety of all guests, Disney has height requirements for specific attractions. If the attraction you are curious about is not listed below, Disney lists it as “any height” and all are welcome to ride.

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Attraction Spotlight: Gran Fiesta Tour with the Three Caballeros

 Located inside the Mexican Pavillion, the Gran Fiesta Tour is a gentle boat ride through the sights of Mexico along with the three feathered friends, including Donald.

Donald could pop up anywhere, climbing Mayan pyramid steps in Chichen Itza, diving off a cliff in Acapulco or even disguised as a piñata! José Carioca and Panchito are in hot pursuit on their magical flying serape, treating you to vistas of ancient and modern Mexico on their merry chase.

I love this attractions for several reasons.  One, my kids love it, always a big indicator as to whether we’ll repeat any attraction.  Donald’s antics make them laugh and the animatronics are reminiscent of It’s a Small World.  Two, it’s indoors.  In a park as hot and with as little shade as Epcot, a nice, cool ride is a great break during a tour around the World Showcase.  Three, it’s neat to see the inside of La Hacienda de San Angel, the Table Service located inside the pavilion.  My daughter loved calmly floating by all the diners. Next time you need a quick break, take a stop inside of the Mexico Pavilion and enjoy Donald and his friends!  You may even get a little surprise at the end of your journey.

The Best and Worst Times to Visit Walt Disney World in 2018

Time and experience have made making this yearly crowd calendar a bit easier each year.  I’ve compiled information based on Walt Disney World events, marathons, holidays and many of the major school district calendars from around the country to put together estimated crowd levels for the entirety of 2018.

I will note, I have, for the most part, marked each weekend as “yellow” or medium crowd levels because you will see an influx of locals during the weekend most of the time.  I’ve noticed over the years there are fewer and fewer “green” or low crowd level times of the year as Disney introduces more events, discounts and other enticements to fill their resorts and parks.  You can expect an influx of crowds in Animal Kingdom in particular, as Pandora: The World of Avatar will have just opened in 2017.  I expect, if Disney stays on track with the summer 2018 opening of Toy Story Land, that crowds will surge even more in the summer months.

Here is the projected crowd calendar for 2018:

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Top 5 Walt Disney World Quick Service Restaurants

One of the best things about planning Disney World trips is deciding where we are going to eat on that trip.  Have I mentioned that I love food?  As we are often looking for a quick bite, more often than not we are looking for a quick service restaurant.  I typically plan one table service meal per day as our plans allow, but for the rest of the time we are hitting a quick service on the way to our next Fastpass.  Below, I’ve listed my top 5 favorite quick service restaurants.  Obviously, I haven’t eaten at every single quick service available, but I’ve sampled a good many.

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What to do in Disney World when it rains

Have I mentioned before that it rains a lot in Florida?  Especially during the summer and fall months.  Truly, no matter when you visit, you are more likely than not to have at least one shower during your vacation.  Does that mean you should hit the bus and head back to your resort?  No!  That’s what everyone else will be doing, meaning you have a chance to visit your favorite attractions with shorter lines if you’re willing to wait out the rain.  Today, I’ve made a list of attractions that can keep you dry during a short rain shower and keep you entertained all the while.

It goes without saying that indoor shops and dining options are perfectly acceptable options to add to this list.  I will warn you, this is everyone’s first choice as well, so expect long waits if you don’t already have an advanced dining reservation (as I found out first hand while waiting in 50’s Prime Time Cafe one particularly wet afternoon).

Let’s break it down by park.

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