Saturday, March 22, 2008

Opinions and Comments on Shades of Green

The pool was light years away from our room it seemed - the whole resort is roomy and spread out - so bring good shoes for walking.
We've stayed here twice and are going back Sept 2006. It's a great value. The rooms are huge and very nicely done. We've stayed in both the pool side and the golf course side. The rooms by the golf course are much nicer (newer) and quieter. In the mornings you can watch the wild turkeys on the golf course.
My only issue with the hotel was the pillows. If you want comfy, soft pillows, bring your own! I tried to get different ones and was told by a couple of different people that they only had one brand. (note: Ray and I usually pick up pillows at Wal Mart when we travel, and we're going to be there a week or more. It's one of the perks of being older!)

Many previous posts mentioned the long distance of the pools from the newer section. We had three kids with us seven years-old or younger and none of them had a problem walking the four or five minutes to the pools. We originally wanted to be right by the pools, but I am glad we ended up in the newer section because it seemed to be a lot quieter than the pool area rooms.

The driver of the bus that brought me from the airport to SOG announced as he came up the driveway that here was the best place to stay in all of Disney World. And I have to agree with him. Family members stayed at another resort to be close to a conference, but they liked to come to SOG to eat, relax in my spacious room, use my spacious bathroom, and look for alligators. I was on the first floor of the new section, and when I sat outside in the early morning, it was wonderfully peaceful and beautiful. If I had had children or grandchildren with me, I would have tried to stay in the old section, closer to the pools. The whole setting doesn't look commercial, although the restaurants, AFES shop, etc are convenient. And the buses are the most direct and seem to run more frequently than on any other route - of course it is just a couple of minutes to the transportation center and the monorail. Can't beat the price, convenient, attractive, spacious - what more can you ask for? (note: Three transportation options: 1. The busses to all the resorts go right to Shades of Green. 2. We "cheat" and walk over the Polynesian to take the monorail. 3. The official 'Transportation Center' is a short walk away. I'll explain more about transportation once we get there. It's simple. Real simple.)

A Few Comments About Shades of Green

The buffets were horrible, food was poor quality and the hot items were never hot. We ate there the 1st day and never returned again. Evergreens by the pool had wonderful lunch type foods~ sandwiches, pizza etc.served until late evening.Heard more then one guest saying that Evergreen's food was by far the best the resort offered. A Starbucks stand and breakfast area near the bus pickup both had breakfast food/beverages. Only complaint was there was a wait every day I was there, At times there would be more then a dozen people waiting in line at the Starbucks. If they were getting anything except plain coffee, it took a minimum of several minutes per customer

Oh, one last thing, they have these crazy turkeys running around the grounds and lots of ducks. Just be careful you don't slip on the droppings!
I would not recommend the sit down restaurants. The little food stand near the bus stop has cereal, breakfast croissants, coffee etc. Good enough to get you started in the morning.
We just returned from a week at the Shades of Green and we're already talking about "the next trip". The nice thing about a Disney/Orlando trip is it only takes six months to pay for it, and six more to save for "the next trip". :-)
Breakfast buffet was well worth the price. Once we arrived from the airport, we didn't see our rental car again for five days. The bus transportation worked extremely well for us.
The AAFES Exchange was well-stocked. An earlier reviewer said there was no milk, but by the time we got there, they did! White and chocolate. (note: The AFFES exchange is like a little store they have downstairs. As a guest and a civilian, you can buy anything EXCEPT alcohol. For some reason, only active military can buy that there.)
The entire staff was very friendly and knowledgeable about the SOG and the local area.
If you're eligible, take advantage of SOG. If you're not, find a friend or relative who IS eligible and convince them to take you with them on their next trip.


Some Comments on Shades of Green

The hotel is too big in my opinion. We had a room next to the pool and the restaurant on ground level. Took about 5 minutes to get from the room to the lobby (if you didn't get lost)...heard that comment from several other guests throughout the week.
Our family had a great stay at Shades of Green! The grounds are beautiful, the staff is friendly, the rooms are huge by Disney standards and the price can't be beat.
We stayed in the newer section of the hotel, which I highly reccomend. Yes, it is a LONG walk to the pool (the hotel is large and only 3 floors, so very spread out), but at night it is much more peaceful away from the pools, which I felt was a big plus. The soundproofing is great at this hotel, but I'm imagining it's a lot louder when you stay in the poolside rooms.
The room has a small refrigerator, hair dryer, iron & ironing board, coffeemaker and soap dispensers (in the shower, rather than the traditional small bottles).
The hotel also has a very small AAFES store, an ice cream shop, a Starbucks, several different dining options

you can always take the monorail or boat to the Polynesian and then walk to Shades of Green from there (only about 1/2 mile, but it's a tough 1/2 mile after a day of Disney)- sometimes you can hitch a ride on a golf cart if you are lucky. (note: There is a long golf cart vehicle that cruises up and down the Shades of Green entry between the lobby and the road. I didn't realize you could just flag the guy down and they give you a ride to the lobby. There's a regular trail of "Polynesian" walkers going back and forth all day and night, so it's a great 'perk'.)
Pretty much the only disappointment was that the pools are really not that kid-friendly for young children/ non swimmers. There is a Mickey shaped pool, clearly for the kids, but it has a VERY VERY small shallow area. (note: Mickey Mouse will be bringing the boys two of those styrofoam float boards, nerf balls and a few nerf tube squiters - not water guns, but tubes - for when they do go in the pool. It's not a great pool. Ray told me that one day he and Rose went over to the Polynesian pool that had the fancy water slides, etc. That's a possibility, though it is not official!)
We had a great family vacation to Shades of Green. I wouldn't hesitate reccomending this hotel to anyone, and we will definitely be returning!

The air conditioners in the room are toggled by motion sensors, so the room isn't cool when you get in from a hot day at the park. It takes about 30 minutes for the room to cool off once you walk in, but once it gets going, the AC works fine.
There is literally not one bad comment on this resort. So awesome. We stayed for three nights and went to Disney World. We didn't move the car once, the resort provided our transportation. Our room was beautiful, clean and well-located. It had a great porch, a mini-fridge, large bathroom. We ate at the sports bar, the on the go cafe, the Italian restaurant and the general restaurant and everything was delicious. There was a shoppette on site and a Starbucks. We got our discounted Disney tickets on site. We had our picture taken on site. I mean they have EVERYTHING. It was just lovely and we cannot wait to return.

Shades of Green Opinions

The access to the monrail by walking to the Polynesian is also great. It is a walk but a pleasant one. We have seen many birds,deer, alligators etc. If we retired folks can do it so can the young ones. (note: Yes, there really are alligators. Ray said he has seen them. I can only testify to the raccoons that roam around the building and garbage cans at night.)
Shades of Green on the Disney World Resort was very much like the description on the website. We stayed for 2 nights and were very comfortable in our decent sized room. It had 2 queen sized beds and a pull out couch, dining table and a refrigerator. Everything was clean and orderly and check in was a breeze. The bell man helped us with our luggage and was very prompt in delivering it.
My biggest complaint is the noise. The walls are paper thin. Don't plan to sleep in or turn in early if you have neighbors and especially if the neighbors have kids. We were up pretty late with noise and then were up pretty darn early with the excited kids next door which isn't exactly what we planned.
Also, skip the overpriced and bland buffet breakfast. It's really not worth the money or the effort. Bring cereal and milk or something of the like and just eat in your room.
We did order take out pizza and chicken fingers from the bar and that was very reasonable and decent tasting.
The best part of the hotel is the location. We just walked across the way to the Polynesian and took the Monorail into the parks. No fuss and no wait!
For MK we walked to the polynesian resort and caught the tram. My youngest daughter and I even walked back after 10 PM and felt safe. As far as the food at the SOG - do not eat the buffet!! It was expensive!!!! Eat at the sports bar instead - pizza, burgers, salads etc - a lot of food and very reasonably priced.
The restaurants are overpriced and the food is unpredictable. We had a great meal at the Italian place in 2006 and a so-so meal there during our last visit. During our first visit in 2006 our meal at the sports bar and grill was fine. The breakfast buffet is horrible and we usually optfor a quick breakfast from the little kiosk in the downstairs lobby before we headed out fo the day. They have decent croissants and fresh fruit.
We talked to other families that had kids to see what they liked or did not like. It seemed their biggest complaint was that when they got back late at night it was a long walk back to the room with the kids.



It was great and on time. As you make your way to the bus there is an Express Cafe to pick up coffee, drinks and snacks. At the transportation center SOG has one of the first spots for drop off/pickup which is a great bonus! No extra walking from the parking lot.


We used the Mickey shaped pool (outside of Evergreens)2 of the 3 days we were there. It was very warm and the kids loved it. They have complimentary towels too poolside.

Transportation was provided with shuttle buses to the Magic Kingdom via the Transportation Center every fifteen minutes, and direct service to the other parks on a less frequent basis. If you miss a direct bus, it is possible to catch a bus to the Transportation Center and take one of the Disney buses to the other parks. We spent most of our time at Magic Kingdom, so we usually walked over to the Polynesian Resort and used the monorail. As others have mentioned, you can also use the Shady Shuttle from the lobby to the end of the drive and walk a short distance to the monorail.


Wow! What a great place to stay if you are military or DOD. We absolutely loved this place and plan to return next year. My husband and I stayed here with our 3 children ages 11, 3 and 1. There are 2 queen beds and a sleeper sofa. They will also provide a full size crib if needed. There are fridges in all rooms free of charge.
The room itself is huge. I have stayed at the Contemporary and the Polynesian and the rooms at Shades are bigger. With 5 of us in the room, we weren't even close to tripping over each other. The bathroom is also large. Instead of leaving the complimentary shampoos and soaps, they have dispensers in the shower.
We also had a beautiful view of the golf coarse. Even the balcony is large!
The setup of the hotel is a little confusing. It took us a couple of days to figure out how to get back and forth to the lobby.


Shades of Green is across the street from the Polynesian. We walked over to the Polynesian and picked up the monorail. You can also ask for their shuttle(a glorified large golf cart) and it will take you to the end of the property. This reduces your walk time. Probably about a 5 minute walk from there. The total walk is probably 20 if you don't use the shuttle. They do have buses but we didn't use them.


The best value and service was at Evergreens. We ate there three times and were never disappointed. The lobby and facilities were generally very nice, though not "Disney-ish". Those who have stayed in a Disney-owned property know what I mean: those special Disney touches everywhere; from mouse-ear pats of butter, to character appearances. The biggest selling point of this hotel is that it is on Disney property in an ideal location. You can take a short walk to the Polynesian and ride the the monorail to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. We loved this feature. We also enjoyed the restaurants at the Polynesian, eating breakfast and dinner at the Kona Cafe. Fabulous!!!! The bottom line is, with Disney charging $300-400 a night for the next-door-neighbor Polynesian Resort, a rate of little over $100 a night makes the Shades of Green a bargain. Just don't expect a luxurious resort, and you'll be happy.


Just the Basic Facts

  • Address: 1950 W. Magnolia Palm Dr., Lake Buena Vista, FL, 32830.
  • Resort Phone #: 407-824-3400.
  • Resort Fax #: 407-824-3460.
  • Reservation #: 888-593-2242.
  • Date Opened: 1973 (as The Golf Resort).
  • Resort Category: Moderate.
  • Room Information
  • # of Buildings: 1 large three-story building.
  • # of Rooms: 586.
  • Room Rates: MMR resort pricing operates differently than most hotels in that the price goes up as does the guest's rank. Rates start at $80 for E-1 through E-5 and go up to $109 for others. Junior suites cost $225 regardless of rank and full suites are $250.
  • Services Information
  • Concierge Service: No.
  • Valet Parking: No.
  • Internet: No.
  • Laundry: There are two self-service laundry rooms on the first floor. A laundry service is also available.
  • Pools and swimming: The resort has two swimming pools, one of which is in the shape of Mickey Mouse's head.
  • Gym and Exercise: A full gym is provided with equipment, free weights, and aerobic space.
  • Spa: No.
  • Turndown service: No.
  • Transportation Information
  • On foot: Walking from Shades of Green to other destinations is discouraged.
  • Bus: Shades of Green does not use the regular free bus service, instead operating its own. There are two routes. Bus A goes to the Ticket & Transportation Center at Magic Kingdom and Bus B goes to Animal Kingdom, the Blizzard Beach water park, and Disney's Hollywood Studios. From these points you can connect to other destinations using the Walt Disney World busses.
  • Monorail: No.
  • Ferries: No.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Shades of Green resort


The Garden Gallery. Themed buffets include a great selection of international cuisine and a fresh fruit, soup and salad bar. Open daily for breakfast from 0700-1100 ($8.95 adults/$4.95 children without drink (Dec07) and dinner from 1700-2130.

Mangino’s. Italian restaurant with nightly specials, an array of traditional Tuscan dishes and a sprawling wine list. Open daily from 1730 with the last seating at 2100.

Evergreens Sports Bar & Grill. Serves traditional American Cuisine with favorites like burgers, grilled sandwiches, soups, salads and pizza. Open daily from 1100-2400 with regular menu served until 2200 and pizza only menu from 2200-2400. Carry-out service and pizza delivery are also available.

14 inch Cheese Pizza $8.95 with additional toppings $1.25 each; Foot O Rings served with three special sauces $6.50; Fried fish fillet served with French fries $7.50; 6 oz Burger served with lettuce, tomato and pickle $6.25; Side order of French fries $1.75; Soft drinks $1.95 (free refills); Domestic draft beer $3.75; Domestic pitcher beer $12; Desserts (Chocolate cake, Caramel apple pie, Key lime pie and Cheesecake $4.25) (Dec07).

Express Café. Counter service restaurant features breakfast sandwiches, pastries, snacks, fresh coffee, tea and more. Lunch items are available to go. Located next to the bus area. Open daily from 0600-1700.

Java Coffee. Java Café serves fresh Starbucks coffee and assorted pastry items. Located next to AAFES and open from 0600-1300.

America, The Ice Cream Parlour. 1950’s themed ice cream parlour. Enjoy your favorite songs playing on an authentic Wurlitzer juke box. Choose from a variety of flavors of handmade ice cream, prepared at SoG. Open daily from 1600-2200.

Room Service. Available during breakfast 0700-1100 and dinner 1600-2300.


AAFES. Sells nearly everything you will need during your vacation, from sodas, snacks, and film, to postcards, t-shirts, sunglasses and toiletries. Magazines, books and newspapers are also available in addition to beer, wine and tobacco products. AAFES is located on the lobby level across from Guest services and open daily from 0700-2100.

East Meets West. Gift Shoppe offers one of kind souvenirs from SoG and other AFRCs around the globe. A unique selection of jewelry, art, pottery, clothing and gifts are featured. Located on the lobby level next to the Attraction Tickets Office. Open from 0800-2000 on Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun and Mon and from 0800-1600 on Tues and Wed.


SoG is available to certain eligible members of the U.S. Armed Forces community, their families, and certain civilians in the Department of Defense (DoD) and elsewhere. For the exact requirements for authorized patronage at SoG, see

For a list of the most commonly asked questions about SoG, see

Shades of Green rooms

Shades of Green Activities & Entertainment


MPOG (Mulit-Player Online Game) kiosks are available 24/7 and located across from AAFES. They can also be used to surf the internet, check e-mail and print boarding passes. At the Mini Marina, you have the chance to steer one of the military’s smallest fleets ever! The boats operate electronically and can be activated by purchasing tokens on the dock. One token gets you two minutes with the boat of your choice. Choose from the USS Army, USS Marine Corps, USS Navy, USS Coast Guard, USS Air Force or USS Lest We Forget! Four Wheel Monster truck fans can test their skills at the outdoor coin operated course next to Evergreen’s. Two brand new game rooms are located on the resort. There is one adjacent to Evergreens, where you can also shoot a game of pool while watching sporting events on one of the big televisions at the bar. The other arcade is located inside the hotel on the first floor of the Magnolia Wing and has an air hockey table, pool table and the latest video games.

Fitness Facilities. State of the art Fitness Center is open every day from 0700-2200. A valid room key is required for access. For safety concerns, children under 16 are not permitted in the Fitness Center.

Tennis Courts. Two hard surface, lighted Tennis Courts are located on property and open 24 hours a day.

Pools. Swim laps or relax in the bubbling hot tub at the Magnolia Pool or splash with the kids in the children’s wading pool and Millpond Pool, located next to the playground. Both pools have areas for relaxing with sun chairs, tables and umbrellas. The Millpond Pool Pavilion provides towel services. No lifeguards are on duty, but swim aids are permitted. Pools are open from 0700-midnight, Hot Tub hours are 0700-2200.

Shades of Green


Post Office Box 22789
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-2789
Reservations: 888-593-2242
Fax: 407-824-3665
Hotel Direct: 407-824-3400

Shades of Green (SoG) originally opened in 1994 as the only Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) in the continental United States. In response to ever-increasing demand the resort undertook a massive expansion and renovation in 2002 increasing in both size and services offered. SoG more than doubled the number of guest rooms to 586, added 10 family suites; additional dining options, meeting facilities, a fitness center and multi-leveled parking garage. Reopening in March 2004, SoG has emerged as a premier resort destination in the heart of Walt Disney World.

Extra spacious hotel rooms (480 square feet) accommodate up to five persons and amenities include coffee maker, refrigerator, in-room safe (free), hairdryer, iron and iron board, in-room movies and internet access and video games. Each room has either a patio or a private balcony with two chairs and a table.

- Two championship golf courses and a 9-hole executive course (part of WDW Resort) right outside the door
- Two lighted tennis courts (open 24 hours a day)
- Two heated swimming pools (open 0700-midnight)
- Hot tub (open 0700-2200)
- Children’s pool and play area
- Attraction ticket sales (open 0800-2100) & Guest services (open 0700-1900)
- Restaurants, lounge and sports bar
- Room Service
- Gift shops
- Video arcade
- Laundry facilities (open 0900-2300)
- Fitness Center (open 0700-2200)
- Automated teller machines
- Transportation to all WDW Resort attractions
- Early entry into select WDW attractions

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The Adventure Begins at Animal Kingdom - Each morning, 15 minutes before the schedule opening time, you can go through the turn styles and head to the Tree of Life area. Soon, Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy arrive to welcome you to the park! Soon Mickey appears and gets on the truck and you can follow them into Harambe as the Adventure Begins in the Animal Kingdom!

In January 1990, Imagineering Concept Designer Joe Rohde met with Michael Eisner about a proposal for a new animal park. His concept was simple: a traditional theme park, an Epcot style pavilion, and a nontraditional zoo.


The Tree of Life, an impressive icon, stands tall in the distance as you emerge from the entrance, called the Oasis. Then think of the park as a bicycle wheel, the Tree of Life is the hub and the various lands stretch out like spokes.

Animal Kingdom opened with the Oasis, Safari Village (renamed Discovery Island), Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Conservation Station (renamed Rafiki's Planet Watch), Dinoland USA and a small portion of Asia. Before the park's first birthday, a larger portion of Asia opened to complete the circle.

Some say Animal Kingdom is only a half day park and not worth the price of admission. I disagree, yet there is a fair group of visitors that feel that way. I tend to think those are the folks who run from attraction to attraction, with the sole purpose of checking off what they have done and to hurry and get to what is left. By doing so, you'll miss much of what Animal Kingdom is about.

"Disney's Animal Kingdom won't be for everyone. The difference will largely be in one's expectations. Come expecting "rides" and you're bound to be disappointed. That's why Disney is advertising it as "a different kind of theme park". If you come expecting to learn a bit about animals, to view them in as natural a situation as any zoo in the world, to experience a themed environment as convincing as Main Street or Hollywood Boulevard, and to be awed by the many fantastic details from the walkway design to the Tree of Life, you'll love it!" (ZaZu)

The exquisite detail that Disney is known for shines through in Disney's Animal Kingdom where landscaping and attention to details dominate the 500 acre park.

On the southwestern edge of the Walt Disney World Resort, Imagineers have created a nature rich and protective environment for exotic animals. Most of the barriers between the animals and you are natural looking or invisible.

The park is beautiful with wondrous vegetation, a broadway class show (Festival of the Lion King), a 20 minute journey into an African savannah (Kilimanjaro Safaris), time travel back to the Cretaceous Period (Dinosaur), and lots of exotic birds and animals to discover.



Walt Disney first had the idea for a park based on the movies more than 40 years ago, but it wasn't until May 1989 that the Walt Disney Company unveiled the Disney-MGM Studios, where guests of Walt Disney World could witness the inner workings of living, breathing movie and television production facilities. In January 2008, the theme park underwent a major name change and is now known as Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Through its exciting attractions, like the new Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, Broadway-caliber shows, and hands-on participation, the Studios not only entertain but educate. The Studios have nearly doubled in size in the last 10 years and continue to expand -- in fact, the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, an indoor roller coaster featuring a high-speed launch of 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds, was part of the largest property-wide expansion in Walt Disney World history.


HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD: At Disney's Hollywood Studios, guests enter the turnstiles onto the main street, Hollywood Boulevard, where reality blends into fantasy -- neon and chrome, art deco and modern architecture dominate the scenery. To enhance the old-time atmosphere, Streetmosphere characters like 1930s detectives, starlets and gossip columnists, populate the streets, interacting with the crowds they draw.

As you walk down Hollywood Boulevard, immediately in front of you you'll see the park icon, a gigantic Sorcerer Mickey Hat, originally built to mark WDW's 100 Years of Magic Celebration. Behind that is a replica of Mann's Chinese Theater, which houses one of the park's hallmark attractions, The Great Movie Ride. This slow-moving tram ride showcases some of the most memorable moments ever captured on the silver screen. In front of the Chinese Theater, you'll see where numerous celebrities, including Robin Williams, Samuel L. Jackson, Sylvester Stallone, Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley have left their handprints in cement.

ECHO LAKE: The first left you encounter off Hollywood Boulevard takes you past Echo Lake, distinguished by the towering Dinosaur Gertie who serves up snacks and desserts. You pass by a pair of eateries -- Hollywood & Vine, home of a new character breakfast and lunch featuring the Little Einsteins and JoJo and Goliath, and the '50s Prime Time Cafe, where the servers treat you like family -- right down to scolding you for putting your elbows on the table! As you follow around the lake, you encounter the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, a live show with death-defying stunts. Nearby, Star Tours takes you on an amazing journey to the Moon of Endor, featuring some of the familiar Star Wars characters. On the other side of the lake is Sounds Dangerous, a showcase for special sound effects featuring funnyman Drew Carey. Next door is the ABC-TV Theater, currently vacant. In between these two attractions is the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza, which features sculptures of famous television legends, as well as the second-largest Emmy statue in the world (14 1/2 feet from its base).

SUNSET BOULEVARD: As you make the first right off Hollywood Boulevard, you come upon Sunset Boulevard, with its specialized shops that feature gifts themed to classic films and Disney characters, especially the Disney Villains spotlighted in the night-time show Fantasmic! In fact, the entrance to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater, home to Fantasmic!, is just a little further down Sunset on the right. Light dining and snacks can be found at the outdoor Sunset Ranch Market on the left. Looming menacingly at the end of Sunset Boulevard, is the Hollywood Tower Hotel, which dares guests to enter The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Adjacent to the Tower of Terror is the Studios' hot thrill ride, the indoor Rock'n'Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. Across the street from this coaster, is the Theater of the Stars, which houses Beauty and the Beast -- Live on Stage, a lovely musical stage show based on the hit Disney movie.

MICKEY AVENUE: To the right of the Chinese Theater is Mickey Avenue, home to several of the park's production facilities. At the end of Mickey Avenue, guests can board the Disney's Hollywood Studios Backlot Tour for a 25-minute tram tour that allows theme park guests to peek in at shooting on state-of-the-art soundstages and sprawling backlot sets.

ANIMATION COURTYARD: At the other end of Mickey Avenue is the Animation Courtyard. Here you'll find the popular Voyage of the Little Mermaid, delighting young and old as you journey Under the Sea. Another major attraction in real-life film making is The Magic of Disney Animation, a tour allowing guests to get an insider's view of animators. Across the Courtyard, children can see their favorite characters like the Bear in the Big Blue House, Jojo and Goliath, Stanley and Pooh in the Playhouse Disney Live! show.

STREETS OF AMERICA: To the left of the Chinese Theater is Commissary Lane, featuring several dining options, including the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater Restaurant.At the end of Commissary Lane turn right onto the Streets of America, which create the illusion of New York City, San Francisco and other cities using forced perspective techniques. The new Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, inspired by a popular show in Disneyland Paris, debuted in this area in May 2005. With stunt cars and motorcycles, and even some daring jet skis, this show, in a newly constructed amphitheater that holds 5,000, gives an adrenaline rush to the once-quiet backlot area.

Kids can spend some time the size of ants winding their way through giant blades of grass in the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure. Nearby, the Muppets star in Muppet*Vision 3D, which combines Jim Henson's puppets and special-effects with Disney's famous Audio-Animatronics. Finally, spot your favorite Toy Story characters at the nearby Al's Toy Barn.


Disney's Hollywood Studios opens daily at 9 a.m. Closing times vary according to the season, with the park staying open later during summer months and holiday times. Plan to arrive at the Studios about 8:30 a.m., for when the gates open -- even though no attractions are accessible until the ropes officially drop, there are usually plenty of characters milling about at the park entrance!

Fantasmic! is shown nightly at park closing. During busier seasons, Fantasmic! may have two performances nightly. When this is the case, the later show is much less crowded -- consider staying for that if it's practical for you. Or take advantage of the Fantasmic! dinner package for special seating, to avoid the long wait. If you don't mind waiting, though, plan to arrive at the theater early to ensure getting a seat at this popular show.


Disney's Hollywood Studios has many opportunities for children to meet and greet their favorite characters, from Al's Toy Barn to the Streets of America area to stations along Mickey Avenue and the Animation Courtyard. Consult your daily Times Guide for times and locations.


LAY OF THE LAND: The Magic Kingdom is laid out like a wheel, with the hub centered directly in front of towering Cinderella Castle. Pathways act as the spokes leading to the following themed areas:

Main Street, U.S.A. -- Inspired by Walt Disney's memories of his hometown, Main Street U.S.A. is a re-creation of early 20th century small-town America, on a 7/8 scale. There are quaint shops, a town hall, fire station... even an old-style barbershop.

Adventureland -- An exotic mix of jungles, wild animals, pirates and a Middle Eastern bazaar, Adventureland is home to several of the Magic Kingdom's best-known and best-loved attractions, including Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise.

Frontierland has all the adventure and excitement of the Wild West, including the wet wonders of Splash Mountain and the wild thrills of roller coaster Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Liberty Square honors this country's colonial heritage with the Hall of Presidents. It is also home to the ever-popular Haunted Mansion.

Fantasyland is the quintessential fairytale experience with castles, princesses, pixies and boys who won't grow up.

Mickey's Toontown Fair is THE place to meet Mickey, Minnie and the gang up close and in person. Geared specifically to the littlest park-goers, there's even a kid-sized coaster, The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm.

Tomorrowland is a look at the future where you can battle aliens at Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, or hurtle through the universe on a high-speed coaster at Space Mountain.

Disney's Pirate and Princess Party

INTRODUCTION: Dreams of becoming a young buccaneer or pretty princess can come true during Disney's Pirate & Princess Party, a fun-filled after-hours event at Magic Kingdom. With an adventure map and treasure pouch in hand, adventurers can explore Magic Kingdom on a quest for pirate coves and princess courts brimming with specially themed entertainment, participate in character meet-and-greets and experience some of the most popular Magic Kingdom attractions open throughout the evening. Guests are invited to dress up as a wily pirate or favorite Disney princess as they search for princess jewels and pirate treasure.

WHEN: May 2, 9, 16, 21, 26, 31

HOURS: 7 p.m. - Midnight

COST: $51.07 for adults; $44.68 for children 3-9

Extra Magic Hours

Morning Extra Magic Hour occurs one hour prior to regularly scheduled park opening. That means if the park is scheduled to open at 9 a.m. to the general public, the Extra Magic Hour begins at 8 a.m. Transportation for the park offering Morning Extra Magic Hour will begin 30 minutes earlier than the opening time.

Evening Extra Magic Hours typically extend three hours beyond a park's scheduled closing time. You'll need to obtain a wristband at the theme park by presenting a valid Key to the World Card at one of several designated locations no sooner than two hours prior to park close.

May 2008

Morning Extra Magic Hours
Magic Kingdom - 1, 8, 15, 20, 22, 27, 29
Epcot - 6, 13, 18, 25
Disney's Hollywood Studios - 3, 10, 17, 19, 23, 26, 30
Animal Kingdom - 5, 12, 21, 24, 28, 31
Blizzard Beach - 22, 29

Evening Extra Magic Hours
Magic Kingdom - 4, 11, 18, 23, 25, 30
Epcot - 2, 9, 16, 20, 22, 27, 29
Disney's Hollywood Studios - 5, 12, 21, 28
Animal Kingdom - 8, 14, 19, 26
Typhoon Lagoon - 24, 31


Goofy catches a topiary wave while Mickey Mouse and gal pal Minnie chill at the "beach" for the 15th annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 19-June 1 at Walt Disney World Resort.

As guests enter the park near Spaceship Earth, they'll spot a 14-foot Goofy topiary riding a 6-foot wave of flowers and plants. Sandcastles, palm trees and starfish will surround Mickey and Minnie topiaries posed on a floral beach towel spread upon a sandy "beach."
Other beloved Disney characters like Lady and the Tramp and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will make topiary appearances for perfect photo ops in the park.

In all, there will be up to 70 topiaries -- plus 30 million blooms, artfully designed floral beds, expertly crafted bonsai trees and lush rose gardens -- gracing the 300 acres of Future World and World Showcase. And Minnie's Magnificent Butterfly Garden returns with hundreds of butterflies in a walk-through screened enclosure featuring a live exhibit showing how caterpillars form a chrysalis and emerge as butterflies.

Each evening, Flower Power concerts will rock the park with live entertainment from top acts of the 1960s and '70s. Featured acts will include The Guess Who, Davy Jones, Jose Feliciano, Petula Clark, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and other crowd pleasers.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hidden Mickeys

What began as an inside joke among Walt Disney Imagineers, the artists and engineers who design Disney parks and attractions, has become a passion with many Walt Disney World Resort guests. "Hidden Mickeys" are not the life-sized, two-legged, and four-fingered variety, but silhouettes and abstract images of Mickey Mouse cleverly hidden by Disney Imagineers throughout the 47-square-mile Vacation Kingdom.

Imagineers include Hidden Mickeys when designing, building, or putting the finishing touches on a new attraction or hotel, hiding silhouettes, profiles, and other images of Mickey Mouse in murals, queue areas, and even golf course sand traps. As word spread of these subtle tributes to Walt's famous mouse, guest sought to find them all.

Where the next Hidden Mickey will appear is anyone's guess. Here are some hints to start your quest for Hidden Mickeys at Walt Disney World Resort:

Magic Kingdom

· While the Haunted Mansion boasts "999 Happy Haunts," it also has one "mouse" – a Hidden Mickey formed by an arrangement of dishes ont he table in the attraction's banquet scene.

· A Hidden Mickey enjoys a lazy day on the river in the final scene in Frontierland's Splash Mountain. A pink cloud floating high above the "Zip-A-Dee Lady" paddlewheeler bears a striking resemblance to a profile of Mickey lying on his back.


· Mickey goes around the world in Norway, Gateway to Scandinavia. A burly Viking sports a pair of Mickey Mouse Ears on the mural above the queue line for Maelstrom, the pavilion's boat ride attraction.

· Mickey Mouse has always been the brightest of starts. And at Spaceship Earth in Epcot Future World, Mickey is actually hidden in his own constellation just beyond the attraction's loading area.

Disney-MGM Studios

· A subtle Hidden Mickey can be found in the supernatural realm of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The Young child actress who vanishes from the Hollywood Tower Hotel one stormy night is clutching a Mickey Mouse doll in the attraction's pre-show.

· Mickey rocks his way into Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. Two Hidden Mickeys were placed in the tile floor in the attraction's rotunda area.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

· Mickey can be "spotted" in the Pizzafari restaurant in the park's Discovery Island. His silhouette can be found on a wall mural, cleverly hidden among leopard spots.

· Mickey really digs The Boneyard in DinoLand U.S.A. In the woolly mammoth dig site Mickey has been formed with fan and two hard hats.

· The are more than 25 Hidden Mickeys at Rafiki's Planet Watch, with Mickey found hidden in murals, tree trunks and paintings of animals.