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Hollywood & Vine Review: Characters, Menu, and Fantasmic Dining Package

Hollywood & Vine Review: Characters, Menu, and Fantasmic Dining Package

I’ve been curious about Hollywood & Vine, a table service at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, for some time now. If you do any research about it in forums or blog comments, you’ll see that it doesn’t have the greatest reputation. I’ve even seen it called “the […]

Fantasmic! (Dining Package, Dessert Party, and FastPass)

Fantasmic! (Dining Package, Dessert Party, and FastPass)

Fantasmic! is an outdoor “mixed media nighttime spectacular” at Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. It includes, among other things fireworks, characters, live actors, water effects, music, decorated boat floats, and mist screen projections. Basically, the show stars Mickey Mouse (in his “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” role) […]

Disney World Height Requirements and Rider Swap

Disney World Height Requirements and Rider Swap

In this post not only will I give lists of the height requirements for rides in each park (including the water parks), but will also discuss:

  1. Why your child may be physically tall enough, but not emotionally ready to ride certain attractions
  2. What to do when your child can’t ride, including how to use Rider Swap

Is Disney Strict with Height Requirements?

Yes.
Very.

And they should be strict, since we’re talking about
a) Safety concerns and
b) Children

Note that some rides have two points of being measured: first at the queue entrance (this is just a courtesy so you don’t waste time standing in line), then again at the ride loading area (which is the “official” measuring and, I guess, a way of catching a cast member’s error or people who somehow snuck in).

So if your child is very very close to the height requirement and made it into the queue, know that you’re not out of the woods quite yet.

 

Please, please do not yell at the cast members, give them nasty looks, or get into an argument with them if they tell you that your child doesn’t meet the height requirement.

Aside from the fact that they work long hours at a tiring job, the cast members:
a) Could get fired if they fudge the height requirements; and
b) Are following a rule designed to keep your child safe.

Also be aware that, since you could be talking about the difference of a tiny fraction of an inch, it is possible that you will get different results at different times, so be prepared for that and be nice.

For example, get this — I read in the comments section of an article that people’s spines decompress throughout the day, causing you (and your kids) to get ever-so-slightly-shorter as the day goes by.

So … it is within the realm of possibility that your child got on a ride in the morning, but in the late afternoon got turned away for a ride with the same exact height requirement.

So now that you know that yes, the height requirements do matter and are strictly enforced, let’s go through each park to see what they are.

 

Magic Kingdom sign
Photo courtesy of Judd at WDWOW

 

Magic Kingdom Height Requirements

Space Mountain – 44″
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – 40″
Splash Mountain – 40″
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – 38″
The Barnstormer – 35″
Tomorrowland Speedway – 32″

 

Epcot Height Requirements

Mission: Space (Green) – 44″
Mission: Space (Orange) – 44″
Soarin’ – 40″
Test Track – 40″

 

Animal Kingdom Height Requirements

Primeval Whirl – 48″
Dinosaur– 40″
Expedition Everest – 44″
Flight of Passage – 44″
Kali River Rapids – 38″

 

Hollywood Studios Height Requirements

Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith – 48″
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue – 40″
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – 40″
Slinky Dog Dash – 38″
Alien Swirling Saucers – 32″

 

Height Requirements for Disney Water Parks

Walt Disney World Water Parks
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

 

Blizzard Beachs

Summit Plummet – 48″
Chair Lift – 32″
Downhill Double Dipper – 48″
Slush Gusher – 48″

 

Typhoon Lagoon

Crush ‘n’ Gusher – 48″
Humunga Kowabunga – 48″

 

Age for Single Rider Lines

There are three Disney rides that have a separate single rider line, which will move faster than the regular Standby line:

  1. Test Tract at Epcot
  2. Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom
  3. Rock n Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studies

Children have to be 7 years old to get in the single rider line. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they’ll want to. My kids never wanted to do single rider, even when they were considerably older than that, because they didn’t like the idea of having to ride with a stranger.

 

Magic Kingdom Castle
Photo courtesy of Judd at WDWOW

 

Disney Rides Without Height Requirements

Believe it or not, that still leaves a lot to have fun with, even if you have a child that meets none of those requirements.

Here’s the list of rides, alphabetically by park, with no height restrictions:

Magic Kingdom

Astro Orbiter
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Carousel of Progress
Country Bear Jamboree
Dumbo The Flying Elephant
Enchanted Tales with Belle
The Enchanted Tiki Room
The Hall Of Presidents
The Haunted Mansion
It’s a Small World
Jungle Cruise
Liberty Square Riverboat
Mad Tea Party
Main Street Vehicles
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Mickey’s PhilharMagic
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
Peter Pan’s Flight
Pirates of the Caribbean
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
Swiss Family Treehouse
Tom Sawyer Island
WEDWay Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
Walt Disney World Railroad

 

Carousel of Progress  in Disneys Magic Kingdom
Photo courtesy of Judd at WDWOW

 

Epcot

Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure
An American Adventure
Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
Frozen Ever After
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
Impressions de France
Innoventions
Journey Into Imagination With Figment
Living with the Land
O Canada!
Reflections of China
Spaceship Earth
The Seas with Nemo & Friends
Turtle Talk with Crush

 

Animal Kingdom

Affection Section
The Boneyard
Conservation Station
Cretaceous Trail
Discovery Island Trails
Finding Nemo – The Musical
Fossil Fun Games
Habitat Habit!
It’s Tough to be a Bug!
Kids Discovery Clubs
Kilimanjaro Safaris
Maharajah Jungle Trek
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
TriceraTop Spin
Up! A Great Bird Adventure
Wildlife Express Train

 

Hollywood Studios

Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
Fantasmic!
A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
Jedi Training – Trials of the Temple
The Magic of Disney Animation
Muppet*Vision 3-D
Disney Jr.—Live on Stage!™
Star Wars: Jedi Training Academy
Star Wars: Path of the Jedi
Toy Story Mania!
Voyage of The Little Mermaid
Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream

 

Slinky Dog Dash in Hollywood Studios
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

 

Which Rides are Too Scary for Kids?

Okay, that was the easy part, because it included strictly-enforced rules and facts. If your kid is only three and half feet tall, then they can’t ride Space Mountain. Period. Move along.

But, like most parenting matters, they are more decisions to be made that aren’t always that simple. And when it comes to rides at Disney World, it’s important to remember that just because a child can go on a ride doesn’t mean they should.

Originally I was going to list some rides that could potentially be scary for a child … but what’s the point?

If you’re a parent you already know that things that “sound” scary (ie, the skeletons at the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean are often not the things that freak your kids out.

For example, the first Disney movie I tried to watch with my girls was The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

How benign can you get, right?

Well, first both of them got scared when Pooh starting floating away with the red balloon. I fast-fowarded to the end of that section … and they both got upset again when Pooh got stuck in the door to Rabbit’s house. “How is going to get out?” one of them asked me in tears.

Winnie the Pooh at Epcot
Pooh and his red balloon at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

 

So yeah, I could say, “This ride could be scary because it’s dark, and that other ride could be scary because it has a dinosaur.” But if your children are anything like mine (or like me when I was a child), that won’t really help.

What makes it even worse is that you can’t even go by an obvious-sounding principle, like “Don’t go on anything your child doesn’t want to ride.”

Sure, that sounds like common sense. But the fact is that there are some kids who won’t want to do anything, but then after you force encourage them to, they end of having a really great time.

So I don’t really know how to help you here. Parenting can be tough, and most likely your kids are all wildly different from each other, which makes it even more challenging. Read the ride descriptions (this book is fantastic), read some of the YouTube videos if you like, and hope for the best.

Oh, wait … I do have two suggestions:
1. Start small. Don’t have your kids’ first roller coaster experience ever be Expedition Everest.

2. Be kind and gentle if you child does get scared on a ride. Don’t ignore them, laugh at them, or tell them to toughen up. Pull them close and, depending on the ride, say kind things and/or direct their attention to something else.

 

Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2019Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2019Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2019

 

 

Disney Rider Swap

Rider Swap is a great option for when to ride something that your kids don’t meet the height requirements for. It is sometimes referred to by other names, like Rider Switch, Rider Swap, Switching Off, Child Swap — or my personal favorite, Baby Swap.

What’s also nice about Rider Swap is that, according to Disney Park Moms, you can use it not only if your child doesn’t meet the height requirements, but also if they just don’t want to ride it.

So if you want to ride Space Mountain, but your nine year old doesn’t, you can use Rider Swap, even though they meet the height requirement.

 

How Does Rider Swap Work?

Disney transitioned from paper to digital Rider Switch passes in June 2018. With this change came another: you now have a limited return window of 1 hour for using your Rider Switch pass. So make sure you make a note of that, especially if you’ve used Rider Switch in the past prior to that date.

1. Split your party into two groups of people who will ride. (The “groups” can be as small as one person each.)

1. Everybody in your party approaches the ride’s queue and tells the Cast Member that you want to use Rider Switch

2. Everybody in the first group get on line to ride.

3. The Cast Member scans the ticket or Magic Bands of everybody in the second group of riders. The people in this second group have an hour window to come back back and ride.

This is basically like getting an extra FastPass — sweet!

The really neat thing, though, especially if you older kids or several adults in your party, is that each Rider Switch pass allows entry for up to three guests.

Okay, so in the hopes of better explaining all that, I’ll paint an imaginary scenario from when when my kids were younger.

In this scenario, my husband Rob and I both want to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Our daughters Rachael and Rebecca, are ages six and eight and also want to ride. Benjamin, however, is three years old and only 37″ tall, so he doesn’t meet the height requirement and can’t ride.

Big Thunder Mountain in Magic Kingdom
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

 

We do not have a FastPass in this scenario, for the sake of simplicity, but we were savvy enough to arrive during the afternoon parade so that the line won’t be too long.

Rob, being the great husband that he is, allows me to ride first, and Rachael and Rebecca both get to join me.

While the girls and on get on line, Rob gets his Magic Band scanned, then he and Benjamin go ride Walt Disney World Railroad.

The five of us meet up again in about 30 or 40 minutes. Rob hands Benjamin to me, then gets in the FastPass queue for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, taking Rachael and Rebecca with him.

Benny and I go ride the Walt Disney World Railroad, because three year old Benjamin really likes trains, and I like sitting.

The five of us meet up again when we’re finished.

Make sense?

 

Can You Use Rider Swap with FastPass?

Yes.

And there is where things can start to get a little confusing, but the basic gist is that only the people who ride in group one need a FastPass.

In the above scenario, only me, Rachael, and Rebecca would have needed a FastPass. Rob doesn’t, because he will get the Rider Switch pass that acts like a FastPass.

So it’s a pretty cool deal (assuming you can understand it.)

If you’re still a little confused, this infographic probably explains it better than I did:

 

And here’s a video explanation that also has some really nice footage:

 

Video: How to Use Fastpass+ and Rider Switch Pass

 

What to Do While Waiting on Your Ride

So what do you do while you’re waiting for the other group in your party to ride?

Well, “eating” is one answer and always a popular activity, but there are a lot of other options as well. WDWPrepSchool has these suggestions for things to do while you wait on each ride:

 

Magic Kingdom

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train — Carrousel or Mad Tea Party
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad — Walt Disney World Railroad
Splash Mountain — Walt Disney World Railroad
The Barnstormer — Dumbo or Casey Jr. Splash n Soak Station
Space Mountain — WEDWay Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
Tomorrowland Indy Speedway — WEDWay Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

 

Epcot

Test Track — Exit area of ride
Soarin’ — Living with the Land
Mission:Space — Exit area of ride

 

Hollywood Studios

Star Tours — MuppetVision 3D
Tower of Terror — Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage
Rock n Roller Coaster — Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage
Slinky Dog Dash — Toy Story Mania or meeting Toy Story characters
Alien Swirling Saucers — Toy Story Mania or meeting Toy Story characters

 

Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest — Maharajah Jungle Trek
Kali River Rapids — Maharajah Jungle Trek
Dinosaur — Triceratop Spin or The Boneyard
Primeval Whirl — Triceratop Spin or The Boneyard
Flight of Passage — Na’Vi River Journey or exploring Pandora

 

Now it’s your turn.

What has your experience been with Rider Swap? Do you have any tips to share? What rides have been too scary for your kids? How do you determine whether or not a young child should ride something? Let us know below in the comments!

Height Requirement Magic Kingdom Rides, plus how to use Rider Swap

Garden Grill in Epcot: Menu, Prices, and Characters

Garden Grill in Epcot: Menu, Prices, and Characters

The Garden Grill is one of two character meals that you’ll find in Disney World’s Epcot, and is a pretty nifty place for at least three reasons, in my opinion: The restaurant rotates You get to meet Chip and Dale It’s one of the more […]

Rock n Roller Coaster: Speed, G Force, Songs, and More

Rock n Roller Coaster: Speed, G Force, Songs, and More

Rock n Roller Coaster in Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios, a fast roller coaster with loops that blares Aerosmith music through speakers near your head during the ride, is a good prop to illustrate the differences between me and my husband Rob. Rob gets motion […]

Review of the Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom

Review of the Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom

The Crystal Palace is a character dining restaurant in the Magic Kingdom where you get to meet characters from The Hundred Acre Woods (ie, Winnie the Pooh and Friends.)

According to Mickey Wiki, the Crystal Palace is as old as the park itself, but originally was a very different format: cafeteria-style, with no upright-walking bears or donkeys to come along and hug you while you eat. It wasn’t until 1996 that the restaurant changed into the format it is today.

I have fond memories of my mother reading The House at Pooh Corner to me and my brother when I was young, and even as an adult The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is one of my favorite Disney movies. So it’s no surprise that I’m somewhat biased toward Crystal Palace right from the get-go.

Crystal Palace on Main Street
Me and Rebecca with Eeyore!

 

Where is Crystal Palace in Disney World?

The Crystal Palace is located at the end of Main Street, USA, on the left side as you enter the park, on the path toward Adventureland. It is next to/behind Casey’s Corner.

 

Crystal Palace Architecture and Inspiration

According to WDW News Today, the design of the Crystal Palace is San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, which was completed in 1879.

And what was The Conservatory of Flowers inspired by? The Conservatory in Kew Gardens, England, which was built in a late Victorian style.

Here’s a photo of San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers:

 

And here’s Disney’s Crystal Palace:

 

What Characters are at Crystal Palace?

The cast of characters are pretty straightforward and are the same at breakfast, lunch, and dinner: Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, and Winnie the Pooh.

Disney Piglet PlushDisney Piglet PlushDisney Piglet PlushDisney Eeyore PlushDisney Eeyore PlushDisney Eeyore PlushDisney Winnie The Pooh PlushDisney Winnie The Pooh PlushDisney Winnie The Pooh PlushDisney 9-inch Tigger PlushDisney 9-inch Tigger PlushDisney 9-inch Tigger Plush

 

 

Is Crystal Palace a Buffet?

Yes, like most (but not all) character dining, Crystal Palace is a buffet. You do need reservations, and it counts as one Table Service credit on the Disney Dining Plan.

 

Crystal Palace Prices

The prices listed below are from Touring Plans and do not include tax. Lunch begins at 11:30am.

Breakfast Prices

  • $38.00 for adults (ages 10 and up)
  • $23 for kids (ages 3-9)

 

Lunch and Dinner Prices

  • $52.00 for adults (ages 10 and up)
  • $31.00 for kids (ages 3-9)

 

Crystal Palace Menu

Breakfast Menu

This is your basic basic breakfast buffet. There is a scrambled egg and omelette station, which is a nice touch, and things like:

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Fresh fruit
  • Sausage
  • Bacon
  • Biscuits
  • Cereal
  • Pastries
  • Mickey Waffles
  • Puffed French Toast
  • Potato Casserole

When we went, I thought the breakfast food was good, but nothing particularly amazing.

 

Lunch and Dinner Menu

There is a section called “Pooh’s Corner Children’s Buffet” that has things like chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and steamed peas and carrots.

The regular buffet includes things like:

  • Rolls with Butter
  • Various Salads
  • Tomato Basil Soup
  • Roasted Striploin of Beef
  • Roast Peach BBQ Glazed Pork
  • Oak-Grilled Rotisserie Chicken
  • Banger Sausage with Collard Greens
  • “Hunny” Glazed Carrots
  • “Rabbit”-touille
  • Vegan Pesto Pasta
  •  

    Desserts

    The Disney Food Blog lists several desserts, including

    • S’mores Tarts
    • Hunny Mousse Pot
    • Gloomy Blueberry Mousse Dome Cake
    • Pink and Red Velvet Cupcakes
    • Chocolate Chip Cookies

     

    Does the Crystal Palace Serve Alcohol?

    Short answer: Yes.

    Longer answer: Magic Kingdom was “dry” from its opening in 1971 all the way until 2012, when Be Our Guest opened and had alcohol on the menu.

    Apparently Disney must have gotten a lot of positive feedback (and made a lot of money?) with that move, because only six years later, in 2018, every table service in the Magic Kingdom (including Crystal Palace) started serving alcohol (and still do).

    I have to be honest: I’m not sure that I like that. I’m not a teetotaler, but there’s something incongruent to me about dining with Winnie the Pooh and Piglet while drinking a beer. Silly, I know.

    Anyway, regardless of what I think about it, the drink menu includes beer and hard cider, various wines, and mimosa.

     

    Crystal Palace Breakfast Before the Park Opens

    One nice possible perk about breakfast at the Crystal Palace is that you can reservations as early as 8:00am, even though the park doesn’t open 9:00am (if you’re lucky enough to be able to get a reservation, which so far I haven’t been).

    This has a few advantages:
    1) You get to check “Eat breakfast” and “Meet four characters” off your to-do list before the park even opens;
    2) You’re already inside the park the second it opens (although, in the case of Crystal Palace, you are behind the Fantasyland Rope Drop, so it’s not as big an advantage;
    3) You can enter the park as early as 7:45am, wander around a little, and take some photos.

    Note: Some people say that if you get a pre-park opening breakfsat “you get Main Street all to yourself.” However, from what I understand, these people are exaggerating quite a bit. Or, more accurately, that used to be the case, but isn’t anymore.

     

    Crystal Palace Disney characters

     

    Can you See “Happily Ever After” from the Crystal Palace?

    If you’re not familiar, Happily Ever After is the 18-minute “fireworks extravaganza” in the Magic Kingdom. It replaced Wishes in May 2017 and, unlike Wishes, includes a lot of laser projections in addition to pyrotechnics.

    Although having dinner at the Crystal Palace while watching Happily Ever After sounds like a good idea, it doesn’t really work. Because of the projections, you’ll want to get a good view of the Cinderella Castle, and there will probably be people on the porch blocking your view.

    According to Disney blogger Tom Bricker, if you want a good view of Happily Ever After from a restaurant, you’ll be better off at:

    • The California Grill at the Contemporary Resort
    • ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort (specifically, going to Sunset Point after dinner)
    • Narcoossee’s at The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

    • The outdoor terrace outside Chef Mickey’s or Contempo Cafe at the Contemporary Resort

     

    Crystal Palace vs. Similar Restaurants

    When it comes to finalizing your Advance Dining Reservations, people often have it narrowed down to two somewhat similar choices, as in, “I can’t decide whether we should do This or That.”

    Here are a few “thats” that are often considered along with Crystal Palace, with some thoughts on how the two choices compare.

     

    Crystal Palace or Tony’s Town Square

    I think of Tony’s Town Square — also located on Main Street, on the opposite side — as “the forgotten Disney World restaurant.” I never hear anyone talk about it. If you had asked me last week to name 7 restaurants at the Magic Kingdom, I’m sure Tony’s Town Square wouldn’t have to come to my mind.

    We ate there on our very first trip to Disney. We were trying to save money on our trip and made no dining reservations and knew nothing about any of the restaurants. One day at the Magic Kingdom around lunchtime we said, “We’re hungry, what restaurants are nearby?” looked at a map, and just wandered in to Tony’s. That was the only time we ate on Disney property during the entire trip. It was Fine but Forgettable.

    It’s hard to really compare the two, since they have nothing in common other than being sit-down restaurants on Main Street. If you’re looking for good table service at the Magic Kingdom but don’t want a buffet or the noise of a character meal, and you like Italian food, then I would say that Tony’s is a good option choice.

     

    Crystal Palace character buffet in Magic Kingdom

     

    Crystal Palace or Liberty Tree Tavern

    Liberty Tree Tavern, located in Liberty Square is another lunch and dinner option at the Magic Kingdom that isn’t a buffet and doesn’t involve either big furry creatures or princesses. It has a colonial-style theme and “New England style fare.”

    It’s hard for me to compare the food between the two restaurants since I’ve only had breakfast at the Crystal Palace and lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern. So I went searching for others’ opinions.

    Chamonix from the DisBoards says:

    Crystal Palace has better food. At the very least you will have far more variety and more choices at CP which includes pretty much the main things you will get at Liberty Tree Tavern anyway (roasted meats, gravy, mashed potatoes) plus so much more to choose from. The Liberty Tree Tavern dinner menu is very limited. Overall the quality itself isn’t any different, but Crystal Palace wins for variety and choice.

    and Got15 says:

    We love dinner at Crystal Palace! We are not big fans of buffets- but my kiddos love Pooh & crew- its super fun- and has a great selection of fresh items. I can always find a good array of salads and proteins. The deserts at Crystal Palace are meh- better to grab something else in the park.

    Liberty Tree Tavern is nice- but bland. I have given Liberty Tree Tavern a go with our family a few times but its always running behind, im not crazy about a heavy meal, but I love that Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake! If I could do desert at LTT and the food at CP- i would be happy!

     

    Crystal Palace or Be Our Guest

    Be Our Guest is located in Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. It is nota character meal, although you might see the Beast at dinner. Like Crystal Palace, you can get pre-park opening reservations for breakfast.

    I have never eaten at Be Our Guest, and have no plans to any time soon. It seems to get really mixed reviews: some people rave about it, but many others say it’s the most overrated restaurant in Disney World.

    Here are some other opinions I found about which of these two restaurants is best for breakfast:

    SurferStitch on the DisBoards says:

    We’ve done both (Crystal Palace many times), and we would choose Crystal Palace any day over Be Our Guest. We found the breakfast at BOG to be terribly overpriced, and just not good. The pastries were very boring and dry. The main courses were very small, and just not satisfying. We were very disappointed with Be Our Guest.

    Now, we’ve always had great breakfasts at Crystal Palace. The buffet always had fresh, hot choices and very good pastries/sweets. Plus, you get the Pooh characters (Eeyore is my favorite), so that’s a great bonus.

     

    Memma05 says:

    I personally prefer Crystal Palace! I was not a huge fan of the breakfast food at Be Our Guest. However it is quicker to do Be Our Guest if you aren’t looking to sit interact with characters. We generally go in and get our first must do rides out of the way and then head to Crystal Palace for a late brunch:) I book all our Fast Passes for the early afternoon when it tends to be super busy.

     

    NancyG56 says your itinerary should be taken into consideration as well:

    I would make my choice based on where I wanted to begin touring. We have been choosing Be Our Guest and after we are through we head to Peter Pan. I know a lot of people head to the Mine Train, and next time so will we, but we love the standby queue for Peter Pan. That attraction back up quickly, so we like the short wait.

    I also think that if you are not a big breakfast eater, Crystal Palace is an expensive way to get that Main Street picture. I would book Be Our Guest, get to the park early enough to be in front of the line, and order one meal to split. There is enough for two when you consider the pastry plate (which seems to change a bit. One time it is mini pastries that are really lovely, and the next time it is the larger pastries cut in half. Still good but not as good).

     

    And North of Mouse sums it up by saying:

    If you’re going for the food – I’d say Crystal Palace, if for the location to start your touring day – then Be Our Guest.

     

    Disney Baby Girls Winnie The Pooh Cotton Pajama SetDisney Baby Girls Winnie The Pooh Cotton Pajama SetDisney Baby Girls Winnie The Pooh Cotton Pajama SetWinnie The Pooh Baby Girl's Glow-in-The-Dark Halloween Pajama SetWinnie The Pooh Baby Girl’s Glow-in-The-Dark Halloween Pajama SetWinnie The Pooh Baby Girl's Glow-in-The-Dark Halloween Pajama SetWinnie the Pooh Mickey EarsWinnie the Pooh Mickey EarsWinnie the Pooh Mickey EarsWomen's socks -- Women’s socks — “Honey”Women's socks -- Tigger Women's SlippersTigger Women’s SlippersTigger Women's Slippers

     

     

    Crystal palace or 1900 Park Fare

    1900 Park Fare is located at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. I’ll be visiting for my first time (for dinner) on our next trip.

    What made me decide on 1900 Park Fare?
    1) I’ve already been to Crystal Palace and wanted to try something new;
    2) I like the idea of leaving the park and having a more relaxed meal at a resort;
    3) Cinderella’s stepsisters are supposedly hilarious.

    The characters at 1900 Park Fare are different depending on when you go:

    The Supercalifragilistic Breakfast has Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, the Md Hatter, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger.

    Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner has Cinderella and Prince Charming, plus Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella (ie, the evil stepmother and stepsisters).

    If you’re trying to decide between Crystal Palace or 1900 Park Fare for dinner, here are some comments that might help you decide:

    DisneyDanceMom73 on the Disboards says

    Tough call! Food wise, the food is similar giving a slight edge to Crystal Palace. You can’t really go wrong with the characters at either. Lady Tremaine and the stepsisters are worth the price of admission alone at 1900 Park Fare. As others have said, it really just boils down to which set of characters everyone in the party would get the most out of and enjoy more.

     

    MouseFan73 votes against Crystal Palace:

    We found the Crystal Palace just one big mess of little, screaming kids, running about and making messes everywhere. Nothing against kids ( have 2 myself). but I think that by default this place draws families with smaller kids, so almost every table has very young kids, hot and tired by dinner time. . and when you get that many together it’s a mess.

    Reason being:
    1. It is IN magic kingdom ( parents find it too exhausting to schlept strollers and kids outside of MK and then back in)
    2. Winnie Pooh and friends just draws little boy and girls.

     

    But ChicagoDisFan votes for it:

    Okay, I will be the lone cheerleader for Crystal Palace! We have gone there on 6 different trips for dinner and always have a wonderful time!

    I think the food there is great. They had two types of grilled fish on our last trip along with a carving station and wonderfully creative cold salads that I really enjoy. The restaurant is gorgeous and is light and airy. And the character interaction is excellent! We love the characters and we always get the best pictures there because everyone (them and us) is so happy! And the friendship parade that they do around the restaurant is adorable.

    Now that being said, my kids (ages 9 (turned 10 on our trip), 6, and 2) love Pooh and friends. Even the 10 year old loves it. There are a lot of kids but I think that is just part of being a character meal. We did a bunch of character meals on our trip and didn’t find it be nearly as crazy as Minnie’s Dine at Hollywood and Vine and even Tusker House (we love Tusker House too) …

     

    EnchantingOdin thinks the answer rides on two words:

    Umm.. does Crystal Palace have Strawberry Soup? I don’t think so. So it’s gotta a be 1900, I mean OBVI.

    Seriously though, I think it wins on a few things. First, and most important to me, FOOD. It’s a smaller venue and at a resort. In my experience resort restaurants are just generally better in food quality than park ones.

    Second, Character Interaction, unless you have someone in your party who is REALLY into Pooh and the gang, the ‘face’ characters at 1900 offer much more improvised iteration. You can ask them silly questions, and they can joke around with you more. I know Crystal tends to be busier and characters can be rushed. But that can happen anywhere.

    Third, ’cause I feel it needs it’s own reason, Strawberry Soup. You can only get it at 1900. Not sure what kind of crack they put in it (this is a joke of course) – but it’s just a-MAZ-ing.

     

    Crystal Palace or Tusker House

    ahref=”https://threekidsthreecatsandahusband.com/why-we-love-tusker-house-at-animal-kingdom/” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Tusker House in Animal Kingdom is another great character meal, feature Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Donald and Daisy Duck.

    I’ve been to Tusker House for both breakfast and lunch, and there is no contest: the food is much better and more interesting at Tusker House, especially at breakfast. (Sorry, Pooh!)

    I will say, though, that I personally like the atmosphere at Crystal Palace a little bit better. It is brighter and more “fun” than at Tusker House.

     

    Crystal Palace or Chef Mickey

    Chef Mickey in the Contemporary Resort is a character buffet that features the “Fab Five” of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto.

    For myself, if I had to choose between these two for breakfast, it would be the Crystal Palace. The environment is nicer: more interesting and less noisy.

    However, I think breakfast at Chef Mickey could be a better choice for some families. For example, if you’re dining with a 3 or 4 year old boy, they will probably love watching the monorail go by overhead. And most kids just really really (really) want to meet Mickey and the Gang. Also, since Chef Mickey is located in a resort, you can visit on a non-park day.

    What about for lunch and dinner? Well, let’s just say that based on what I’ve read, I will never have lunch or dinner at Chef Mickey.

     

    Video — Chef Mickey’s vs. Crystal Palace

     

    Crystal Palace Recipes

    It’s always fun to try to replicate your Disney dining favorites when you come back home. As usual, I went digging for some copycat versions of some of the food served at the Crystal Palace.

     

    Pooh’s Breakfast Lasagna Recipe

    Exclusively at Crystal Palace, this concoction is made with layers of pancakes, waffles, pound cake and fruit. Mmmm … a bit of overkill, if you ask me, but my younger self would have loved it.

     

    Crystal Palace Potato Casserole

     

    Domestic Geek Girl has a recipe that she calls “stupid easy to whip up.” The ingredients are shredded potatoes, sour cream, heavy cream, cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper. I bet kids would like this, especially my one kid who is a big potato fan. And hey, even though these are called “breakfast potatoes,” I think they would actually work better for dinner.

     

    Genius Kitchen has a copycat recipe that serves 8. It looks very involved (something that you might even want to make over a period of 3 days), but would be very impressive for company or a potluck-style brunch.

     

    This video shows you how to make the French Toast recipe in the Cooking with Mickey Volume Two Cookbook.

    Video — Crystal Palace Puffed French Toast Recipe

     

    Cooking with Mickey, Volume 2Cooking with Mickey, Volume 2Cooking with Mickey, Volume 2Mickey's Gourmet CookbookMickey’s Gourmet CookbookMickey's Gourmet Cookbook

     

     

    Now it’s your turn.

    What has your experience at the Crystal Palace been like? How does it compare to the other restaurants mentioned above? Have you ever gotten a pre-park opening breakfast reservation, and if so, was Main Street empty?
    Let us know below in the comments!

    Where is Crystal Palace in Disney World? Is Crystal Palace a buffet? What characters are at Crystal Palace? Find out everything you need to know in this restaurant review. Includes prices, breakfast and dinner menus, and copycat recipes for Pooh's Breakfast Lasagna and Puffed French Toast

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Flight of Passage is the better and more popular of the two rides in Animal Kingdom’s newest land, Pandora — The World of Avatar. It is, of course, based on the then-popular-now-not-so-much 2009 film Avatar.

Disney began developing Pandora — World of Avatar in 2011 along with movie director James Cameron. Construction on it began in January 2014 (in the area where Camp Minnie-Mickey used to be) and the land opened to the public in May 2017.

Gift shop in Avatar World of Pandora
Me with a little stuffed Pandora buddy

If you, like many of us, are wondering how and why Avatar, of all things, inspired a new land in Disney World, YouTuber Jenny Nicholson has a very interesting video explaining how Avatar — World of Pandora came to be.

It includes the history of Animal Kingdom, including why it originally was intended to include dragons an unicorns — and why it didn’t end up having them. She also gives a full review of Pandora, including the rides, restaurants, and gift shops.

Don’t be put off by the video’s length. You won’t be bored.

(The Flight of Passage review begins at 21:40 in the video, if you want to just skip to that.)

 

Video: An Excruciatingly Deep Dive into the Avatar Theme Park

 

Now, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t really like the movie Avatar (although my daughter Rebecca loved it). I thought it was beautiful, but surprisingly dull, and I didn’t care about the characters at all.

However, I thought Flight of Passage was absolutely amazing. And here’s the kicker: I don’t have the ability to see 3D effects. So I couldn’t even experience the full attraction (sadly) … and yet I still thought it was incredible. I can only imagine how what the ride must be like for everybody else.

In this post I’ll cover the basics about Flight of Passage and address some of the questions and concerns you might have about it:

What kind of ride is Avatar Flight of Passage?

If you haven’t ridden Flight of Passage yet, you might be a little confused about what it even is. Is it a roller coaster? Does it go upside down? It is basically “Soarin’ Over Pandora?”

The answers are no, no, and kinda/sorta/not really.

Put simply, Flight of Passage a 3D flying simulator ride where you ride of the back of a winged banshee over Pandora. Technically, you’re not really riding a banshee, but rather you’re linking to an avatar already in flight. Whatever.

Yes, the basic idea is similar to Soarin’ in Epcot, but to compare the two does Flight a Passage a major injustice. (And I think Soarin’ is great.) Flight of Passage is much more immersive for many reasons, including the wind in your face and the fact that you don’t see other people’s feet hanging in front of you.

Also, the ride vehicle is an individual one that’s sort of like a motorcyle, so it’s a much more individual experience.

Here’s a short video that explains the ride vehicles and how to board them:

 

Video — Closer Look at Avatar Flight of Passage Ride Vehicles

 

Avatar Flight of Passage Height Requirement

The ride’s height requirement is 44 inches, the same as the requirements for both Space Mountain and Expedition Everest. Children under 7 must be accompanied by someone age 14 or older.

 

Does Flight of Passage Have a Single Rider Line?

The short answer to this is “No, but.”

No, there is no separate line for single riders. (The only rides that have this are Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom, Rock n Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios, and Test Track in Epcot.

But …

Once you get to the point where Cast Members split people into different lines for the different theaters, they will ask for single riders to come up ahead to fill in any missing spots. So you will probably get to ride at least a little faster if you’re a single rider.

 

 

Does Flight of Passage Cause Motion Sickness?

As I’ve mentioned before, my hudband Rob is very prone to motion sickness and was sick for several hours after riding Mission:Space (before they offered the “Green” version). I, on the other hand, ride anything and everything and never get sick, much to Rob’s amazement.

So I can’t really answer this question because I never get motion sick, and Rob can’t answer it because he thought it would be best to skip it. (There are signs saying not to ride if you’re prone to motion sickness.)

The general consensus seems to be that, from a motion sickness standpoint, Flight of Passage is fairly mild and comparable to Soarin’. It won’t make you as sick as Star Tours, and it definitely won’t make you as sick as Mission:Space.

Part of the reason it probably won’t make you as sick as those other rides is due to the nature of its motion. Instead of being jerky and frantic, it’s more gentle and gliding.

However, just because you do fine on Soarin’ doesn’t mean that Flight of Passage won’t do you in. Jaiminee Krickit from the DisBoards says:

I made the mistake of not watching a video of the ride before riding it. I wanted to be surprised. I heard multiple times before riding that it was “Soarin’ on speed”. I love Soarin’! I thought it won’t be bad.

I was horribly wrong. I made it about 30 seconds before I started feeling horrible. I tried closing my eyes, but then there was wind in my face. That caused me to hyperventilate a little bit. Then there was mist blowing in my face. I turned my face away from the screen and that helped a little. After it was over I thought for sure my cookies would be tossed. The woman next to me even asked if I was okay. Somehow the long exit queue made me feel better, but I will never ride it again.

To compare – if I do not watch the road in a moving vehicle (any moving vehicle), I get nauseous. I can handle Mission Space Green just fine, but probably couldn’t ride it more than once in one day. I absolutely cannot do Star Tours any more. That one ruined an entire day for me a few years ago. I can’t handle most roller coasters, especially ones that go upside down.
I say, if you’re prone to motion sickness, maybe take Dramamine or something before riding. I won’t risk ruining an entire day at WDW to ride it ever again.

 

Avatar Flight of Passage Queue Walkthrough
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

 

Is Flight of Passage Scary?

This is really hard to answer, especially if your question is really, “Will my kid be scared if they ride it?” It’s hard to predict what will scare kids — or anybody, for that matter.

I will say that I don’t think it’s an objectively scary ride, either “scary” from the ride itself (like the first ten seconds of Rock n Roller Coaster) or “scary” because of the story and action (like at the end of Dinosaur when they try to convince you that you might die any second.)

When Rebecca and I rode it, we did not see any children (or adults) crying as they exited the ride, for whatever that’s worth.

I think motion sickness is the bigger concern over being frightened.

 

Wait Times for Flight of Passage

When our family went to Disney World in fall 2018, I could not get a FastPass for Flight of Passage. Rebecca and I arrived at Animal Kingdom before it officially opened and followed the masses to the ride’s line, where there was already a StandBy wait of 60 minutes.

However, it definitely did not feel like an hour wait. I wasn’t paying attention to the time, so I’m sure if that’s because the estimate was off or just because the queue is so interesting that time went by quickly.

According to Touring Plans, the average peak wait time ranges from 125 minutes (2 hours and 5 minutes) to 250 minutes (4 hours and 10 minutes). And that’s just the average peak time, so it could be even longer.

So what should your game plan be if you don’t want to spend half the day standing in line for one ride?

First, assuming you want to ride Flight of Passage, try your darndest to get a FastPass for it. Start early, and keep trying.

If, like us, you just can’t get a FastPass no matter how hard you try, here are some things you can try:
1) Arrive at the park 30-60 minutes before it opens (this is what we did);
2) Get in the Stand By line about 15-30 minutes before the park closes;
3) Ride during Extra Magic Hours;
4) Keep trying to get a FastPass throughout the day

 

Flight of Passage Queue

Avatar Flight of passage ride

The queue for Flight of Passage is beautiful, and extensively detailed … and long. (Just like the movie.)

How long is it?

According the Disney blogger Tom Bricker, “It will literally take longer to walk through the Flight of Passage queue when it’s empty than it will to walk through Na’vi River Journey’s line, board the boat, do the attraction, and leave.” Wow.

The queue takes you through Pandora’s mountain range, interior caves, and RDA bunkers.

Avatar Flight of Passage Queue Walkthrough
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

 

Flight of Passage Pre-Show

Flight of Passage two pre-shows (or, I guess, one pre-show with two parts, depending on how you want to look at it. I’m guessing it’s set up this way for some logistical reasons, but I have no idea.

In the first video, you and your ride group are matched to your avatars, while the second one is focused on the details of what’s about to happen.

Rebecca and I both thought the pre-shows were a little … weird. Or maybe a better word is “awkward.” There was one point where it felt like they were literally just stalling for time. I mean, maybe they were … but good grief, it shouldn’t obviously feel like it.

And apparently we weren’t the ones who felt that way. Tom Bricker says:

As much as I’m gushing over the ride experience, I was underwhelmed by the pre-shows. Actually, underwhelmed is way too charitable.

The pre-show videos are downright bad. And uh, felt choppy and amateurish in places. And uh, there was too much exposition. And uh, you’re beat over the head with the how and why of connecting to an Avatar (we get it–we’re not actually flying a banshee). And uh, it just really doesn’t set the appropriate tone for what’s otherwise a graceful and downright majestical ride experience.

Quite bluntly, the pre-show needs serious retooling. And uh.

But a couple clunky pre-shows was a small price to pay for an awesome queue and an amazing ride.

 

Flight of Passage and Plus Size Guests

A big concern among some guests is that they might not even be allowed to ride Flight of Passage because they are “Pooh sized” (as some people like to call themselves). If a guest cannot fit in the seat well enough to have the restraints locked by a Cast Member, they will told they have to exit the ride.

This is potentially upsetting for at least two reasons:
1) It would be awful to wait in line for 3-4 hours (or more) only to be told you can’t even go on the ride;
2) It’s embarrassing, to put it mildly, to have a mini-crowd of strangers watch you be unable to “fit” in a seat and then be asked to leave (and have everybody watch you during your Walk of Shame.)

So let’s talk about whether this could present a problem for you or someone in your party, and if so, what you can do about it.

First of all, Disney now has a test seat outside the entrance to the queue, so you can at least can get an idea of how well you fit before you wait on line for hours:

While this definitely helps, it’s still not perfect, because:
1) It’s not exactly private, and some guests may still find that unnecessarily embarrassing to have stranger watching them struggle to fit into a seat;
2) For reasons that don’t really make sense to me, I’ve heard of some people fitting in the test seat but not the actual ride, and vice versa.

Unfortunately (I guess?), there is no magic number for either height or weight that will tell you if the Flight of Passage seats will work for you or not. Two guests might weigh exactly the same, but one can ride and the other can’t because of their body shape and the way their weight is distributed.

The good news is that, to some extent, you can shift your position on the ride vehicle in certain ways that might make it possible to fit better.

DsnyFan246 from the DisBoards shares how they’ve successfully gotten into the ride vehicle multiple times, despite not being to fit in the test seat outside the queue:

At 5’8’’ and 310lbs I have never been able to fit on the FOP test seat. The last time I tried, the CM told me to go through the line anyway and try the actual seat. I quickly found some tips online, and I was able to fit that time and every time since.

Here’s what I do:
1-sit down and move all the way forward;
2-(when the CM says they’re activating the restraints) sit up straight with perfect posture, hold in my stomach, arch my lower back inward, and lean forward;
3-(right after 2) lift my heels off the floor so only my toes are on the floor (flip flops or bendable sandals are best) and then relax my back and feet after the restraints lock;
4-if the CM comes to check my restraints, I repeat steps 2 and 3. Sometimes the CM has to push the restraints manually. Once the restraints are locked, I relax and experience the best ride ever!

My sister (who is larger than me) follows these tips, and she has been able to ride every time. We also do not wear thick or layered clothing on the ride. Hope this helps!

There has been some talk that Disney eventually will — or least should — make some changes to this ride so it can accommodate more guests, but all of that is speculation and opinion.

 

Now it’s your turn.
What did you think of Flight of Passage? Did it make you motion sick? How long did you have to wait, and did you think it was worth it? What did you think of the pre-show? Let us know below in the comments!

 

Avatar Flight of Passage Tips

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