Tag Archives | walt disney world

Exotic Driving Experience at Disney World

If you are visiting the Central Florida area and want to try something new, you need to check out the “Exotic Driving Experience.” This new Orlando theme park attraction at Disney World allows guests to drive their dream car. It is fast, fun and oh so exotic!

The new Exotic Driving Experience offers some of the world’s finest automobiles, including a Ferrari 458 Italia ($389), Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 ($339), Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 ($299), Audi R8 ($269) and the Porsche 997 S ($199). If you’d like to save a little money and have a professional do the driving, you can ride-along for $99. Some of these cars cost more than a house!

Ferrari at Exotic Driving Experience

The new exotics course track is specifically designed for drivers to safely experience the cars’ powerful acceleration, speed and handling. The one-mile layout includes an interior road course-style section designed specifically for Exotic Driving Experience featuring a series of quick, challenging right and left-hand turns, known as “switch backs.” The course also covers  the tri-oval’s backstretch and turn two where you can really experience the speed and handling of your dream car. Guests are able to take six laps around the course.

Guests must be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license to participate in the driving experience and they must be at least 14 years old to participate in the ride-along. There’s a $35 Driver Release Fee plus photos and videos of each guest’s experience available for purchase. Petty Holdings is the owner and operator of both the new Exotic Driving Experience and the Richard Petty Driving Experience, which is also available at the Speedway. However, the Exotic Driving Experience is only available at Walt Disney World. For more information, visit exoticdriving.com.

Gay days are here again

Gay days are here again, and I don’t mean gay as in ‘happy’, although the tourism industry will be very happy to have over 100,000 gay and lesbian guests from around the world.  This event started 20 years ago as a 1-day trip to Walt Disney World in 1991.  Since then, it has evolved into a week-long party throughout Orlando.  This year, it runs now thru June 6th.

Some of our gay-friendly destinations around town include Mr. Sisters, the Parliament House, Banana’s Modern American Diner, Revolution Nightclub and Hamburger Mary’s.  And, of course, the unofficial destination that started the whole event, Walt Disney World.   I have to say ‘unofficial’ because Disney does not officially sponsor the event, or have any special shows.  It is just one of those things that are known:  Saturday (June 4th) is THE day to visit the Magic Kingdom.  The other parks have designated days also, according to gaydays.com: Animal Kingdom on Thursday the 2nd; Hollywood Studios on Friday the 3rd, and Epcot on Sunday, the 5th.

The Parliament House claims to be the world’s largest all gay resort complex, and features a hotel, pool, restaurant, theater events, and several themed bars on the property.  They have events going on all week, which include a laser light show, live entertainment, a foam party, and much more.

Hamburger Mary’s is the first national chain that has marketed specifically to the gay community.  Their motto is “Eat, drink, and be Mary”.  They’re a beer and burger joint, located on Church Street near the Amway Center, and will have special events planned for this week.

Mr. Sisters restaurant and nightclub has a late-night menu and a 6,000 square-foot patio deck with a great view of Lake Barton.  For gay days, they’re expanding into the parking lot with food vendors and a large stage for live entertainment.

Revolution Nightclub features a dance club with outside patio, multiple bars and lounge space.  They will be having specials for this week including drag shows and a “Men at Play” party.

In the past, Gay Days has met some protests and resistance, however, most straight people are tolerant, or simply avoid the theme parks on scheduled Gay Days.

Star Tours – Coming to a galaxy near you

Star Wars was set in a galaxy far, far away, but Star Tours is coming right here to Orlando at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.  In conjunction with the grand re-opening of the Star Tours attraction, Disney will be hosting the annual sci-fi fan-fest Star Wars Weekends. Star Wars Weekends will feature meet-and-greet opportunities with several of the characters including Anthony Daniels, who portrayed the droid C-3PO, and Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  There will also be some appearances from the behind-the-scenes creative geniuses, as well as other droids, Sith Lords, and alien creatures.  There will also be special presentations, the Jedi Training Academy, memorabilia, trivia contests, parades, and the popular “Hyperspace Hoopla” dance party.  The Star Wars Weekends will run every Friday thru Sunday from May 20th thru June 12th, and the event activities are included with your theme park admission.

The much-anticipated Star Tours attraction will open this Friday after having  undergone a 9-month renovation that promises to thrill everyone, from die-hard Star Wars fans to just the casual movie-goer.  The new attraction features state-of-the-art technology, digital 3D video, Audio Animatronics characters, and flight-motions simulator vehicles.  The 3-D film is divided into several segments featuring different planets with 54 combinations.  The cool thing about this is the second you walk in the door, you will be immersed in the Star Wars universe and with the multiple storyline combinations, you’ll travel to different planets and see different characters so you can go on the ride many times and have a different experience each time!  For example, you may experience pod races on the planet Tatooine during one ride and see a 3-D Darth Vader during another; that is awesome!  In the old ride, Darth Vader wasn’t even part of the tour, which is strange.  But, in the new one, you’ll see many of your favorite Star Wars characters, such as Jedi Master Yoda, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, and Admiral Ackbar, and C-3PO will still be your guide.  The new ride is sure to be a blast, may the force be with you!

Orlando Tourist Tips:

  • Disney does offer the FASTPASS service for this attraction, take advantage of this to avoid the lengthy lines there are sure to be for this ride.
  • When picking your seat, pick a seat along the edge if you want to experience the most movement, or a seat in the middle for a more moderate experience.

Disney Character Dining Options

There are plenty of fun places to eat in Orlando, including options to meet your favorite Disney characters for a meal. Chef Mickey’s, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and The Crystal Palace are just a few of Walt Disney World’s character dining options. You can call 407-WDW-DINE up to 180 days prior to arrival to make your Advanced Dining Reservations. I would definitely recommend reservations because these restaurants are so popular.

Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort has a fantastic breakfast or dinner buffet, with lively environment. The character interaction is great, and includes Mickey, Goofy, Chip & Dale, Pluto, and sometimes Donald. There is also a “Make Your Own Ice Cream Sundae” station that everyone loves. Cinderella fans shouldn’t miss lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table. They do a fun chanting ceremony where each section has their own little chant and they do the wishing ceremony. All kids are given a light-up wishing star for the wishing ceremony. The boys are also given a knight’s sword and girls a magic wand. The characters interaction is great. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Fairy God Mother, Belle, and Snow White all come to your table for pictures and chat. For Winnie the Pooh fans, Crystal Palace is a great buffet to enjoy. Located on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, Crystal Palace features Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eyeore for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All of these restaurants are a fabulous addition to your visit to the Magic Kingdom!

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a beautiful place to visit, and features both the Garden View Tea Room and 1900 Park Fare restaurants. 1900 Park Fare is very amusing and features different characters at their breakfast and lunch buffets. Breakfast includes Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter (a hoot!), Pooh, Tigger, and during “high season” Pinocchio & Geppetto. Dinner features Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, and the silly Step-sisters. Garden View Tea Room serves afternoon tea in grand British tradition during My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party. Your hostess will entertain the princesses with storytelling and songs and Princess Aurora will join in all the fun. Your little Prince or Princess will also enjoy a keepsake gift.

The Epcot Park features Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at the Norway Pavilion and the Garden Grill Restaurant at The Land Pavilion. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall serves American and Norwegian buffet favorites, providing a Disney Princess Storybook Dining experience in a medieval castle-themed restaurant. The Disney Princesses and friends visit the tables for autographs and photo opps. The Garden Grill Restaurant is a rotating restaurant that lets you enjoy the Living with the Land attraction, and even uses food from the Land greenhouse. Enjoy family-style dinners with Mickey, Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale characters.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios offers a family buffet dinner at Hollywood & Vine, the “Cafeteria to the Stars”. The breakfast and lunch buffets both feature characters Handy Manny, June, and Leo. Best for younger kids.

Animal Kingdom features Tusker House Restaurant, a fabulous, African-themed restaurant which only includes characters at the breakfast buffet. They include Donald and Daisy Duck, as well as Goofy and Mickey.

There are also character dining opportunities at the Disney’s Beach Club Resort’s Cape May Café and Garden Grove at WDW Swan Resort. Disney’s Polynesian Resort has ‘Ohana, with Lilo and Stitch and a Polynesian influence.

Of course, these are great to visit while you’re a guest in WDW parks, but, even if you aren’t visiting the parks, you can still dine in any of the enchanting Disney Resort restaurants (the theme parks require park admission).

Disney’s new show- on Cinderella’s Castle

As part of Walt Disney World’s 2011 “Let the Memories Begin” promotional campaign, Disney has begun the nightly photo-projection display on the Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle.

Using high-power projection systems and digital mapping techniques and utilizing a crack team of artists, animators, and computer whizzes the castle will be transformed through animation, photography and technical ingenuity.   Using guests’ photographs and videos as a starting point, and a wonderful musical score, Let The Memories Begin will be a fanciful, imaginative, heart-warming and FUN look at the magical memories associated with a visit to this Orlando attraction in Disney Parks.

The effects color the castle like a kindergartener’s crayon picture, crumble the castle’s walls in a pixelated dissolve and shoot fireworks streaming across the castle, which then continue as real pyrotechnics blast off in the sky behind the castle.  I have no idea how they did this, only that this is a spectacular addition to an already awesome fireworks show.  Let the Memories Begin!!

Here’s a video clip, from Disney:

Disney video clip