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Meeting Disney Characters!

It was sometime back in the 1980s, but I have a clear memory of spotting Snow White out of the corner of my eye and racing over to her (along with a bunch of other kids)  – hoping that I’d be able to get her autograph. We hadn’t been looking for her – we were just walking down a path in the Magic Kingdom – and when she signed my book it was like magic!

These days you aren’t likely to just run into a character walking down a path – there are schedules and meeting spots and fastpasses to think about – but I will tell you – it’s still magical!

There are many places you can meet characters in Walt Disney World – and if you check your My Disney Experience App, you will find a list of every character who will be out and about that day – what times – and where to find them.  For some characters in the Magic Kingdom, like Gaston or Woody and Jessie, you go to their meeting spot and wait in line, for others, like the princesses who meet in Princess Fairytale Hall and Talking Mickey in the Town Square Theater, you can either wait in line, or select meeting them as one of your Fastpass+ choices for the day.

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If spending time waiting for a character meet  is not something you want to spend your time doing, another option is to book a character meal!  My family loves to do this – that way we can meet 4 or 5 characters while we’re enjoying some delicious food.  You are seated at your table, and the characters rotate and come to you!  Some character meals we have enjoyed in the past are Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet at the Contemporary hotel, Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare at The Grand Floridian, and both the Disney Junior Play and Dine and Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood and Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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But are your kids ready to meet characters up close and personal?… I thought for sure that mine would be dying to meet their favorite Disney friends – they BEGGED for me to list meet after meet in our touring plan. Then when we got face to face (or face to mask in some instances) – they freaked.  Now we prepare by watching youtube videos of character meets to prepare – and we also usually stay more calm around “face characters” (characters where you see their actual human face).  On our last trip though – my older children did give a few characters hugs and high fives, so I think we may add a few meet and greets back into our rotation.

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I’ve found that having a plan for meeting the characters helps.  If you have autograph books you can practice with your child what they will say to ask for the autograph.  Sometimes we purposely wear clothes that have that character’s image on it so we can point it out them.  My kids have started coming up with fun questions to ask the characters.  Even the ones who don’t talk back have found ways to answer!  My son asked Sorcerer Mickey at Hollywood Studios if he could turn him into a frog.  After thinking about it for a moment – he led my son over to his spell book and “searched” for a spell – we LOVED it!

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Let’s say your children aren’t ready to get too close to their favorite characters – don’t worry – there are SO many shows and parades happening all day long where you get close, but not too close to your favorite Disney friends.

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What characters are you hoping to meet?  Do you have any great character stories to share?  We’d love to hear about it all – leave a comment here or on Sprinkling Pixie Dust’s Facebook page! And…be on the look out every Friday, when I’ll post some of my favorite “Disney Friend” pictures!

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Behind the Seeds Tour!

One of my FAVORITE attractions at Epcot is the Living with the Land Ride!

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I’ve always loved taking this boat ride through the Land Pavillion and how they show humans’  relationship with the Earth and how we need to care for it because we need it to provide for us.  The best part for me is when the boat leaves the storytelling part of the attraction and enters the beautiful Sustainable Agriculture Production & Research Center.

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So when I heard there was a backstage tour of this attraction I knew it was something my family needed to try on our trip to The Walt Disney World Resort during Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival!

First my family and I rode the ride to refresh our memory of it.  Then we went to the tour check in desk which is located by the Soarin’ attraction, also in the Land Pavilion at Epcot. I had made reservations for this tour (which runs every 45minutes from 10:30am-4:30pm daily) 180 days before our trip, so they were ready for us with our nametags when we arrived about 15 minutes before the start of our tour.  Soon after we checked in, our tour guide, Stephen, came out and introduced himself to our group.  I would say there was about 15 of us all together – my family of 5 and 10 other guests.

Stephen worked there in their pest management program, which also happens to be the first stop on the tour!

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We entered the “bug” room and learned about the different ways that Disney manages farming pest problems. They don’t use chemicals as a first course of action.  One thing they do is use “good bugs” to help eliminate the “bad bugs”.

Here you can see the effects of a bug infestation of a leaf.
Here you can see the effects of a bug infestation of a leaf.

We had signed up for this tour because I thought it would be fun to go behind the scenes and learn a few things along the way – but the rest of our group must have been serious gardeners because they all had very serious and specific questions, which Stephen was TOTALLY able to answer.

Next we moved on and got to peek in the window of their Biotech Lab, where they use clippings to grow more plants.  We weren’t allowed in the room as it is a very controlled lab and they don’t want anything introduced into its atmosphere that could change the genetic make up of the plants.

IMG_8682Next we went into the areas where the boat ride passes through, so we did get to feel like VIPs for awhile.  We saw how through the use of hydroponics they’ve created vertical farms which use land space much better and produce many more crops than a traditional garden.  We also were able to take a taste of a fresh cucumber grown in the greenhouse.  A lot of the food grown here is served at Epcot! (We got to eat even more of it after the tour as we had a reservation at The Garden Grill upstairs!)

Nice use of space!...and hello boat passengers!
Nice use of space!…and hello boat passengers!
Do you see the size of these tomato plants...they keep wrapping around!
Do you see the size of these tomato plants…they keep wrapping around!

Stephen did a great job of giving useful information to the interested adults and fun facts and experiences for the kids.

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Next we explored the aquaculture area and saw alligators and fish farming!  We were invited to feed the fish as well.

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I really enjoyed this walking tour (yes it’s about an hour of walking so wear comfy shoes – it is also wheelchair accessible).  It’s great for people who want to learn both a little or A LOT more about hydroponics.  My 5 year olds enjoyed seeing everything and interacting with the plants, but my 2 year old, as I knew would be the case, had a little bit of a hard time with the length of the tour.  I definitely plan on doing this tour again in a few years – it will be interesting to see if anything changes and also interesting to see the different takeaway my kids will have from it at an older age.

The Behind the Seeds Tour runs every 45 minutes daily from 10:30am – 4:30pm.  Reservations are available (call 407-WDW-TOUR), but I’m told that there is usually availability on the day of.  The tour lasts about an hour and costs $20/adult and $16/children ages 3-9 (plus valid park admission).  I recommend this tour, however if this is your first time visiting Epcot and you only have one day, I would say you should plan to spend your day touring the park and pass on this.  If you have been to Epcot before and want to try something new – this is definitely for you!  I suggest doing these 3 things in a row to make it all come full circle…

1. Ride Living with the Land

2. Take the Behind the Seeds Tour

3. Enjoy a character filled meal at The Garden Grill (which is a revolving restaurant in the Land Pavilion that takes you back through part of the Living with the Land attraction) and taste some of the goodness you saw growing!

As always, please check Disney’s Official Site for the most up to date information.

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How to Plan a Trip to Disney World – A Beginner’s Quick Guide

I go to Disney World more than once a year (4 times this year) – that seems like a lot to some people considering I live in the North East – but I love it there!  I start planning  my next trip in my head before I’ve even left the vacation I’m currently on!  When friends ask me to help them plan their Walt Disney World Resort vacations I always have to keep in mind that they don’t have 3D maps of everything in their mind, schedules running like film in their brains, and ideas for new magical memories to make – they literally want to know what to do to get there and make sense of it all. So I think I’ve finally come up with a few steps to give them a basic outline of what to do without overwhelming them…then I can help them sprinkle some pixie dust along the way.

I’m happy to share these steps with you!…and as this blog grows, I’ll link to future posts that will explain things even more!

First thing’s first, if you haven’t already, sign up for a My Disney Experience Account:   click here
 and then download the My Disney Experience App to your phone.
Second, of course is deciding when to go!  Take out those calendars and see what’s a good fit for you.
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If you have flexibility you should take into consideration crowd levels (a quick Google search can help you see when schools are on break which usually leads to high crowds).  Every season at Disney has its pros and cons, but…the cons are negligible because YOU’RE AT DISNEY and with good planning you’ll be sure that nothing hinders your fun!

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