It’s never too late to get prepared for your Disney vacation and today we have Halloween Tips for WDW. Walt Disney World celebrates the seasons with unique parties, festive decor, and yummy treats all year long. During the fall months, the Magic Kingdom features not-so-scary fun for the whole family.
While you’ll find plenty of costume choices and seasonal bakery items, store shelves are also filled with Halloween wares for your home.
Haunted Mansion Hatbox Ghost.
Trick or Treat!
Decorate your home for Halloween.
Halloween Costume Tips
Keep your costume comfortable, family-friendly, and weather appropriate. Visits earlier in the season should plan for an outfit that can be comfortable in the Florida heat. Yes, even after dark, you’ll be sweating (or glistening!) from the high humidity. For truly unique Disney styles, head to The Dress Shop at Cherry Tree Lane.
Haunted Mansion items.
Read the guidelines. Plan your costume ahead of your vacation to save money on last minute shopping or higher prices at Walt Disney World.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Since August 25, 2017, families have been enjoying Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on select nights at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. The event is held from 7:00 PM to midnight.
Kids of all ages have been seen trick or treating throughout the park. We spotted some terrific costumes on our fall visits. If you are lucky to attend one of the last parties of the season or have plans to visit in 2018, don’t plan your costume until you read over the Halloween costume guidelines. Parties end November 1st giving the park time to transform for the Christmas celebrations including Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Adult ticket prices started at $74 for the earlier parties and went up to nearly $100 for the late October/early November events. Book tickets early for popular dates including Halloween night on October 31st.
Reserve party tickets early for popular dates!
We love this family friendly party.
Don’t forget to line up early for character greetings as long queues are the norm.
Line up early to meet Jack.
These adorable dwarfs love the Halloween party. Well, maybe not that Grumpy one. 😉
Seven Dwarfs at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Tip: Arrive at 4PM and Cast Members will allow entry with your party ticket. We recommend resting earlier in the day so that you can take full advantage of the late night hours. Boo to You!
Seasonal Halloween Treats
Many Halloween treats can be found throughout the parks, resorts, and Disney Springs. No trip down Main Street is complete without a detour through the Main Street Confectionery. Tip: Visit bakery hot spots prior to closing time to avoid long lines while your tummy is rumbly.
All-Star Music filled their bakery case with sugar cookies with orange and black sprinkles.
Seasonal sugar cookies are delicious.
Mouthwatering treats add doses of deliciousness to the Halloween festivities in Walt Disney World.
Grab a seasonal cupcake!
Of course, Rice Crispy Treats take on holiday designs too. These Candy Corn Rice Crispy Treats make great snacks and gifts.
Rice Crispy Treats make great gifts for friends back home!
At All-Star Music, we spotted guests showing off their Halloween spirit with this fun window display.
Based on the upscale London address in Disney’s Mary Poppins, Cherry Tree Lane is a source of must-stop shopping fun at the Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs in Walt Disney World.
While the square footage of this store is small, there are a lot of tempting items for purchase lining the shelves. From pricey Dooney & Bourke handbags to unique jewelry, Cherry Tree Lane is THE place to splurge on a souvenir or gift.
You should stop by Cherry Tree Lane!
The Dress Shop at Cherry Tree Lane
The Dress Shop is a collection of nostalgic Disney designs for adults. Perfectly created for grown ups, dresses and accessories feature designs from popular Disney attractions.
Look for designs inspired by Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, “it’s a small world,” The Haunted Mansion, and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Other creations showcase classic Disney characters, including Minnie Mouse, Snow White from Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” and Alice from Walt Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
Inspired by The Hollywood Tower Hotel.
Dresses range in sizes from XS-XL. There are some styles that go up to 3XL, so keep checking for your favorite dress pattern.
Haunted Mansion items.
Vera Bradley Handbags
Also, Disney designs are offered on Vera Bradley bags.
Choose from several Vera Bradley Disney patterns.
Dooney & Bourke Handbags
Next, you’ll want to peruse the Dooney & Bourke handbags with beautiful Disney patterns. On my recent visit, I spotted this Bambi bag. It’s adorable, right?!
Adorable Bambi bag by Dooney & Bourke.
The stock changes frequently, so stop by when visiting Disney Springs.
Dooney & Bourke displays are nestled within The Dress Shop items.
Stop by Cherry Tree Lane and look at the Dooney & Bourke collection.
Pet Merchandise for Your Dog
Even your favorite furry pal can find stylish accessories at Cherry Tree Lane!
Accessories for your dog!
This is one of my favorite places to shop at Walt Disney World!
Author P.L. Travers brought magic to 17 Cherry Tree Lane with the arrival of Mary Poppins to this fictitious address in London. Shopkeepers at The Dress Shop at Cherry Tree Lane in the Marketplace Co-Op of Disney Springs send shoppers on their way with nostalgic outfits.
Cherry Tree Lane Tips
Annual Passholders get a discount here. Don’t forget to show your AP!
WDW Table Service Review: Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’
You must add Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ restaurant to your next Walt Disney World itinerary. Bless your heart; this is southern comfort food served with innovative style.
Michael and I booked a meal at this cozy Table Service Restaurant — Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ — located in Disney Springs.
Lunch at Homecomin’!
Repeat visitors may have noticed the subtle name change here. The restaurant debuted as Homecoming and then took on a more southern sound, Homecomin’. Indeed, Chef Art has brought his culinary skills back to his Floridian roots. In Jasper to the north of Disney World, Chef Art’s mom, Addie Mae, used local ingredients like sugar cane and citrus in her homemade recipes. You’ll find cake on the menu if you have room for dessert; Chef Art baked cakes for Central Foods in the 1981 Magic Kingdom college program. Welcome to Homecomin’!
An outdoor patio (and screened porch) welcomes guests to sit a spell while drinking beverages from Shine Bar.
Large Dining Table.
Beautiful view of Disney Springs from screened porch.
Inside, some of the rustic chandeliers boast the wonders of russet potatoes. I’m a starch, lovin’ spud fan so I was already digging the farmhouse ambiance.
Russet Potatoes. Yes, please!
With a late lunch reservation, we were seated quickly inside the quiet restaurant. As the dinner hour neared, the restaurant filled up and the noise level increased. Still, it was a relaxing meal with attentive service.
The dining room showcases local farmers.
You’ll notice that some tables offer pretty views of Disney Springs.
Tables in Dining Room.
Inside and outside, guests will find mentions of Florida Sunshine and local ingredients throughout the decor.
The open kitchen window.
While waiting for your table or prior to exiting the restaurant, look for personal artifacts adorned on the restaurant walls.
Letter from WDW to Chef Art Smith.
While the ambiance is comforting, the food also sets the mood for an experience to relish.
Homecomin’ Food and Beverages
Local farmers are key to the fresh ingredients showcased on the menu. As you’ll see, this restaurant’s menu is Florida-inspired.
Beverages include shine on tap, crafty moonshine, resort cocktails, wine, moonshine flights, and beer (drafts, cans, and bottles).
Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Beverage Menu.
My husband and I both ordered the Thigh High Chicken Biscuits as our entree.
Thigh High Chicken Biscuits
Drizzled with hot honey, three biscuits are filled with Chef Art’s famous fried chicken thighs plus bread and butter pickles. These were absolutely divine.
Thigh High Chicken Biscuits.
Drizzled in honey!
Typically, southern dinners showcase an assortment of sides that are usually no less delicious than the main course. The choices we made at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ did not disappoint. We opted to share the Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Momma’s Mac and Cheese. Both were easily shareable due to the hefty portions and rich flavors.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
These were a game-changer for both of us. We wondered throughout the meal how a simple dish like mashed potatoes could be elevated to such divine quality. Yes, they are as creamy as they are unforgettable.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes.
Look at that gravy!
Momma’s Mac and Cheese
Please, just order the mac and cheese. First of all, this dish is visually stunning; the family seated near us had to ask what it was so they could order it too.
And every forkful is filled with tender macaroni brimming with cheese.
Momma’s Mac and Cheese.
It’s impossible to describe the mouth-watering adventure that our taste buds were treated to during this meal. We both agreed that all three of our choices were some of the best food that we’ve ever tasted. We truly left wondering how these simple, southern specialties could be so different from anything we’ve previously tasted. Every bite was savored and yes, we’re going back for more very soon!
Recommendation and Tips
Portions are hearty. Share some or all elements of your meal.
Dine early to beat the crowds.
Order an appetizer as your entree; as a picky eater, I’m always a fan of restaurants with apps that are entree-worthy.
Ask your server about the restaurant, Chef Art Smith, and local ingredients. We found out that Chef Art Smith is as generous and kind in person as he is portrayed in the media.
Chef Art stops by about twice per month.
The restaurant features local farmers.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Ten Expedition Tips for Pandora
Pandora – The World of Avatar opened on May 27, 2017 in Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. While fans of “Avatar” and the Animal Kingdom wondered how this mythical land would come alive, the unveiling of Pandora quieted the skeptics with out-of-this-world scenery. Nearly ten years after “Avatar” touched viewer’s hearts at cinemas, Pandora is now experiencing intense fandom.
With peak crowds rushing to Pandora and waits for Flight of Passage over two hours, I wanted to share these tips before you journey to this exotic land. Don’t miss a thing; Pandora is worth the effort!
It’s time to step inside the Valley of Mo’ara; here are your expedition tips:
Welcome to the Valley of Mo’ara.
FastPass Plus for Pandora Attractions
My Disney Experience and FastPass+ (FP+) are going to be your must-use tools for a visit to Pandora.
I recommend narrowing down your FastPass+ choices before your booking window opens. Book your Animal Kingdom day first, and grab any availability for Flight of Passage. If it’s not available on your first-choice touring day, go to your second choice, and so on. You can go back and edit your FastPasses and touring plans once you secure a FastPass for this incredible attraction.
Flight of Passage Queue.
What if you don’t secure a FastPass+ before your Walt Disney World Arrival day? Don’t panic. In fact, the same thing happened to us recently. I kept looking for availability and one popped up while we were at Walt Disney World. It was about midnight when I secured the FP+ for a late Animal Kingdom morning that was three days away. Score!
What if you are unable to reserve a FastPass for Flight of Passage? You have two options: one, plan to be at the Disney’s Animal Kingdom one hour before opening and put yourself in the swarm of early-risers headed for Flight of Passage. Two, enter the standy-by line about 60-90 minutes before park closing.
To appreciate Pandora’s beauty and excitement, it’s not necessary to see the film. However, your personal journey to Pandora will be somewhat richer after seeing the movie. Consider “Avatar” to be a familiarization travel video. Then, let yourself wander Pandora and experience the interactive power of nature.
The power of nature.
Visit Pandora Day and Night
Repeat visitors to Walt Disney World already know that many attractions should be seen in the daylight and after nightfall. However, this is absolutely a must for the bioluminescent world of Pandora.
You’ll see and hear details by day and by night that are of otherworldly beauty. Visually inventive, Pandora’s emotional resonance is memorable for the whole family.
Sample the Unique Food and Beverages at Pandora
Fortify your troops at Pandora’s Quick Service Restaurant — Satu’li Canteen.
The friendly expats working at Pongu Pongu have concocted some unique frozen cocktails. Get one with a glowing Unadelta Seed!
Pongu Pongu in Pandora.
Bonus Tips: Satu’li Canteen is a welcoming refuge from the elements. However, this place gets jam-packed by lunch time. A word of caution: signs note that tables are for the canteen’s patrons only. Really need a respite? Get a beverage and small snack!
Dining Room at Satu’li Canteen.
To save time, use Mobile Order to pre-order your meal at Satu’li Canteen.
Save time with Mobile Order.
Plus, you’ll want to see the morning “entertainment” here:
Yes, we did jump the “rocks”!
Avatar Flight of Passage – a Pandora Thrill Ride
Relive one of the film’s powerful scenes by taking your own flight atop a banshee. Imagineering marvels outdid themselves when they created this 3-D simulator. It’s a multi-sensory thrill ride like none other at Walt Disney World.
RDA – Mining the Universe, together
So, there are no disappointments, note before your visit that the minimum height for riders is 44 inches.
Na’vi River Journey through Pandora
Gently floating down this mysterious river, your reed boat will journey through exotic caves filled with wondrous plants and creatures. Through music, the Na’vi Shaman of Songs fills the rainforest with positive energy.
Watch the Weather on Pandora
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has always been the park that our family avoids on rainy days. It’s also a really tough park to tour in the Florida heat and humidity. While the park is lush with greenery, it’s difficult to find air-conditioned spots to recharge and dry areas to get out of storms. This is even more of a concern in Pandora.
On a recent visit, we had to wait for our FastPass+ time at Na’vi River Journey underneath a sparse tree that did little to keep us from getting soaked in the pouring rain. After the attraction, we found a hidden cave to escape the downpour and lightning. Yet, a lot of Pandora visitors were heading to Discovery Island to seek shelter. Expect long walks to find a place to take cover and be prepared with rain jackets or ponchos.
Shop at Windtraders
Even on Pandora, the main attraction, Flight of Passage, dumps you right into a gift shop. Or you can enter at your leisure.
Windtraders has an assortment of mystical treasures to take back to Earth. Look for items that glow in the dark, an Avatar Maker, Adopt a Banshee opportunities, and all kinds of souvenirs.
Take a souvenir back to Earth!
Be an Explorer
Informative Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) guides can teach you Na’vi phrases, point out special plants and creatures, and answer your questions about this exotic land.
In this interactive world, find the creatures and plants that react when touched by a human. Will it light up, mist, or spit? You’ll only find out if you take time to explore!
Flaska Reclinata, near the entrance to Pandora, sprays a mist of spores when humans transfer their energy by touching it.
The landscaping is stunning!
Lush landscaping and floating mountains.
Bonus Tip: Look for two Wilderness Explorer stations in Pandora. Kids can begin Wilderness Explorers at any station throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom. These are fun and free activities for young trekkers.
Earn Wilderness Explorer Badges.
Visit During Extra Magic Hours for WDW Resort Guests
While you’ll be arriving Pandora with many other excited trekkers, Walt Disney World hotel guests can still get ahead of the masses by touring on a day that Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a scheduled morning Extra Magic Hour.
Explore nature in Pandora.
Bonus tip: Get a FastPass+ for later in the morning so that you can ride Flight of Passage twice!
With some advance planning, your adventure to Pandora can be stress-free.
Contact Us, Friend Us on Facebook, or comment below to share your tips for exploring Pandora. Let us know when you’ll be traveling to Pandora!
Top Twenty Tips for Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort (POR) sits alongside the Sassagoula River in Walt Disney World. As a moderately priced hotel, Port Orleans Riverside is a popular lodging choice with WDW visitors.
Here are my top twenty tips for guests staying at this gorgeous resort:
Splurge on a Royal Room
In March 2012, Oak Manor and Parterre Place mansion buildings debuted Royal Guest rooms. Underneath the royal themeing, guests will notice that the amenities are similar to standard rooms at the moderate resorts.
Yes, these rooms may be a bit too princesss-y for some guests. However, the headboards that burst with a fireworks display add a touch of whimsy that will likely appeal to the whole family. See how many princess mentions your family can find. The beautiful Tiana definitely holds court here.
Princesses will feel right at home.
Take a Carriage Ride
The rustic ambiance of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside can be viewed from a horse-drawn carriage ride. For $45 ($55 starting October 1, 2017), you’ll receive a 25-minute ride for up to 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 small children.
Make reservations up to 180 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-PLAY.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride
Hang at the Muddy Rivers Pool Bar
Muddy Rivers is a serene watering spot near the Ol’ Man Island pool. Refreshments are served up by an attentive bartender. Seating is shaded!
Sip a beverage at this relaxing bar.
Visit Disney Springs via the Riverboat
The leisurely boat ride from Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside to Disney Springs takes about 20-25 minutes with a brief stop at French Quarter. Operated by the Sassagoula Steamboat Co., the boats along this route sail under a yellow flag. Plus, this ferry service is complimentary!
Float down the river on a ferry boat.
Walk to Port Orleans French Quarter
For additional shopping and dining, take a leisurely stroll around the riverbend to Port Orleans French Quarter.
Of course, you’ll want to get some beignets while you’re there.
Messy but good!
Take Breakfast to Boatwright’s
In the morning, diners can take their quick service breakfast from the Riverside Mill food court to the dining room in Boatwright’s. It’s a quieter, less chaotic location.
Eat your quick service breakfast in Boatwright’s.
Look for Hidden Mickeys
I love looking for Hidden Mickeys!
Look closely at the mansion railings.
Look up high for Hidden Mickeys.
Alligator Bayou Room’s Murphy Bed
Families with young children will appreciate the pull-down Murphy bed.
Pull down child-size murphy bed.
Stop by River Roost
For musical entertainment, stop by River Roost in the evenings. During the day, this is a quiet place to wait for your Disney’s Magical Express return bus to the Orlando International Airport. For charging your electronics before your departure, look for electric outlets along the wall.
Recommendation: Order an Albita Purple Haze on tap.
Fishing excursions include fun amenities, including an experienced guide, rod and reel, tackle, artificial and/or live bait, non-alcoholic beverages, and one year BASS (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) membership, which includes 11 issues of Bassmaster Magazine (one membership per excursion).
Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance by calling 407-WDW-BASS. Choose between 2 and 4 hour trips!
Fish for largemouth bass.
Look for seasonal events
The Beignet Dash Fun Run takes place Sundays at 8AM at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. Check-In begins at 7:30AM with a cost of $15 plus tax. You’ll receive a race bib, finisher’s medallion, a small goody bag, and a certificate for an order of three beignets at the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory.
Join in a Fun Run.
Fulton’s General Store
Fulton’s carries necessities such as sundries, rain ponchos, and beverages. It’s also a relaxing spot to browse through the latest Disney merchandise. We love finding resort-specific goodies.
Stop by Fulton’s General Store.
Compare prices! A bottle of Dasani Water was $3.19 in the Riverside Mill food court compared to $3.00 in the General Store.
Online Check In
If you check-in online (and have a MagicBand) before your WDW arrival, you’ll be able to skip the Registration Desk. Watch for a text indicating that your room is ready; I love getting this text!
Your Resort Room is Ready.
On our most recent trip (August 2017), we arrived Riverside at 11:30AM. By the time we had lunch and walked around the resort for a bit, we had already received the “Your Resort Room is Ready” text at 10:07AM.
Riverside Mill Food Court
During prime dining hours, it gets crazy in here. Dine early or late for a less chaotic meal.
The pasta dishes here are satisfying. For dessert, get the chocolate cake. When you’re craving a snack or light meal, nosh on the breadsticks with marinara sauce.
Buses can be a tad bit aggravating at this resort. Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside often shares bus transportation with nearby French Quarter resort. Depending on what stop is nearest your building, you may find that exiting the bus at French Quarter and walking to Riverside is quicker. (I’m not kidding.) You’ll also want to line up near the blue line where the motor coach stops for a better chance of finding space on the next bus. This is a large resort and buses can be packed full during theme park rush hours.
Bus Transportation Arrival Times.
Fashioned after a Bayou swimming hole, Ol’ Man Island’s pool is a refreshing oasis for adults and kids of all ages.
Cool off at Ol’ Man Island.
Don’t miss the Recreation Calendar filled with fun activities. Some of your choices include bike rentals, evening campfires, and outdoor movies.
Go pedaling around the resort.
Note that the two-story Alligator Bayou lodge buildings do not have elevators. If this is an issue for your family, request a first floor room or lodging in the Mansion section of the resort.
Stairway at an Alligator Bayou building.
Disney’s Magical Express
Disney’s Magical Express took about 90 minutes from stepping off the Southwest airplane to arrival at Port Orleans Riverside. We made stops at Old Key West and French Quarter first. The longest wait that we endured was waiting for the bus to depart the airport once we were seated on board. It was about 9:30AM and since we were among the first passengers to board, it took time to fill up the bus. At least we were sitting down!
Bus Queues at MCO.
Our luggage arrived our room 2 hours and 50 minutes after our plane landed. We know because we were just settling in to take a nap; it was perfect timing.
Resort Airline Check-In and Luggage Storage
Resort Airline Check-In was well organized at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. We dropped off our luggage in the morning prior to heading to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Boarding passes were delivered to our room the day prior so we only needed to have our luggage weighed and tagged.
Open 5AM until Noon.
After, we headed to the Luggage Room to store a carry-on bag. Again, service was exemplary.
Why Stay at Port Orleans Riverside?
Stay here for the choice of lodgings — Alligator Bayou or Mansion buildings — giving families two themed options. Also, Port Orleans Riverside boasts prime real estate along the Sassagoula River with the opportunity to take a boat to Disney Springs. With French Quarter around the river bend, Riverside guests get two resorts filled with fun activities within easy walking distance of each other. Book your stay at this WDW moderate resort!
This week, I’m taking a look at some Walt Disney World throwbacks. These are things I miss at Walt Disney World. Each week, I’ll add three more items to my list. Some, like Wishes, were removed recently.
My first three Walt Disney World World Throwbacks are…
Chef Remy at Les Chefs de France
An adorable dinner guest, Chef Remy was at his best while visiting tables at Les Chefs de France in Epcot. This was one of my favorite dining experiences, however it ended in October of 2013.
The adorable Chef Remy
Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade
The Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade in Disney’s Hollywood Studios debuted in October 2001. My son’s first visit to WDW was January 2002, thus he grew up watching these floats go by.
Toy Story Float in Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade.
From our seats on the steps of the now-defunct Sounds Dangerous, he had fun waving to the characters. In fact, the variety of characters and fun motor vehicles made this afternoon entertainment a highlight of our Disney World visits.
Hi Mickey and Minnie!
R2-D2 rolled along the parade route! Unfortunately, this parade’s last run was in March 2008.
R2-D2 in the parade.
Mickey’s and Minnie’s Country Houses in Toontown Fair
While this was a small land in the Magic Kingdom, Toontown Fair offered kids and kids-at-heart the chance to tour the homes of Mickey and Minnie. These structures were removed to make way for an updated Fantasyland.
My son toured these houses with wide eyes throughout his younger years. He was fascinated with their homes and was always excited to see where the beloved mice lived. I miss the simplicity of these attractions. While simple, they were extraordinarily magical for children and their parents.
Touring Minnie’s Country House.
What’s in her fridge?
Kids flocked to Minnie’s oven to watch the cake that was baking inside.