“I always dreamt of visiting Disneyland in Florida, then I watched this video…” -noob

Hello all you travel fans out there!  It’s Morgan from the Very unOfficial Travel Guides, and it’s time to take a break from all the cruise related content I’ve been posting lately in order reawaken my Disney Side.  (Cruise people, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this is the Very unOfficial Travel Guides and not the Very unOfficial Exclusively Cruise Ship Related Guides, and I’ve been giving away so much cruise stuff lately that I just wanted to switch it up).  In the video above and the article below, I’m going to do a Disneyland vs. Disneyworld Smackdown.  I think there’s a lot of people who don’t understand how different the two destinations are, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to educate you on the similarities, differences, and common misconceptions.  Let’s get started

The castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida is much much bigger and more majestic than it's miniature sister in California!

The castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida is much much bigger and more majestic than it’s miniature sister in California!

Location
Well, I guess it’s kind of obvious, but just to clear things up.  Disneyland is in Anaheim, CA, and Walt Disney World is in Orlando, FL.  If you ever want to get in trouble with a Disney Fanboy or Girl, say something like, “We went to Florida for Spring Break and took the kids to Disneyland”.  That’s kind of like saying, “I went to Burger King and got the best Bic Mac.”  Disneyland is in CA, Disneyworld is in FL.  Don’t make me tell you again!
Size
This is probably the biggest obvious difference between the two and something important to know about when planning which one you want to visit and how long you want to stay, so listen up.
Disneyland has 2 theme parks, (Disneyland and Disney California Adventure), a shopping and dining area called Downtown Disney, 3 official resort hotels, and a large group of partner hotels close by.  If you really want to see everything the Disneyland Resort has to offer, you’re going to need at least 2 and a half days, three days.  On the other hand, if you’re planning to stay for a week… you’re probably going to end up taking some field trips to non-Disney destinations.
The iconic Spaceship Earth at the entrance to EPCOT in Florida.

The iconic Spaceship Earth at the entrance to EPCOT in Florida.

WDW has 4 theme parks, (Magic Kingdom which is the park with the castle in the middle that everyone refers to as Disneyworld, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom), 2 waterparks, a shopping and entertainment area Disney Springs, 2 official mini golf courses, like 20 different official resorts with amazing restaurants, and also a hand full of partner hotels directly on or adjacent to Disney property.  WDW in Florida is basically it’s own city.  It has it’s own fire department and it’s own internal transportation system of busses, boats, and monorails, and if you stay on Disney property, you really feel like you are in a different, magical world, separated from reality. If you want to see everything that Disneyworld has to offer, you’re going to need at least a week, and I think 10 days wouldn’t get boring either, (but I’m kind of obsessed).  I’m not saying if you can’t go for a week, then don’t go at all, because you can definitely have a blast spending one day at one park, but if you’re really doing a dedicated Disney getaway, you’re going to need at least a week.
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Muppet Vision 3D is a cleverly hilarious movie attraction available both in California and in Florida.

But let’s narrow it down to the two most famous parks: Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom at Disneyworld, (which most people picture when they hear the word Disneyworld).  The parks are laid out very similar and from a lot of angles look almost identical, yet there are some major differences between the two that you should know about.
Disney Originals:
As you may or may not have known, Walt Disney never actually set foot in the Magic Kingdom in Florida because he died before major construction on Walt Disney World began.  #tragic #sadface  So, if you are really obsessed with all things relating to the actual MAN, then you might want to consider a visit to the original Disneyland in CA.  There, you can walk the same paths, see the same sites, and experience some of the actual attractions that Walt Disney himself helped design, develop, and test.  These are some Disneyland highlights that might still have some traces of Disney DNA on the seats:
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
The Original Jungle Cruise
Storybook Land Canal Boats
Matterhorn Bobsleds
The Original It’s a Small World
and the original Pirates of the Caribbean, which was the last attraction built under the supervision of Walt Disney himself.  And I know, you kind find most of those at other Disney Parks, too, but most fans will tell you the the original versions in California are definitely the better ones.
That being said, with it’s 4 parks in Florida, there are a ton of things you can experience there that you can’t in California.  I’m talking about major attractions like the Expedition Everest Roller Coaster at Animal Kingdom, Test Track and Mission:Space at EPCOT,  Rock’n Rollercoaster and the Lights Motors Action Stunt Show at Hollywood Studios, and with the new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, Florida now has another big hit that California doesn’t with the Seven Dwarves Mine Train Coaster.
But to be fair, let me list a few California originals that you won’t find in Florida.
I guess the two most popular would be the California Screamin coaster and Radiator Springs Racers over at California Adventure, and let’s not forget the first modern steel tracked roller coaster in the worrrld, Disneyland’s Matterhorn Bobsled ride, which is so brutal it’s funny. Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin is a fan favorite you won’t find in Florida, and another world class West Coast exclusive is the Indiana Jones Adventure, in fact you probably won’t find a better themed attraction anywhere in the universe, (other than, perhaps, the clone of the ride at Tokyo Disneyland).
Disneyland's single biggest investment: Carsland and Radiator Springs Racers.

Disneyland’s single biggest investment: Carsland and Radiator Springs Racers.

Listen, I could talk for hours about this subject because I love Disney Parks so much.  We could talk about Floridas Disney Dining Plan and how it can help you save hundreds of dollars on food, and it doesn’t work like that in California.  We could talk about how the two Space Mountains are actually totally different than each other, or about how the two Splash Mountains are basically the same but have totally different boats, or about why Fantasmic in California is like a hundred times better than in Florida.  But I want to hear from you!  What do you think they need to build in Florida that is only in California at the moment?  And the other way around?  What Disneyland classic do you think needs to be re-born in Florida? Let’s talk about all that in the comments, or @mrmorganobrien on twitter/insta, and at http://www.facebook.com/morgansveryunofficialtravelguides!
See you soon!
Me getting my spine adjusted on Disneyland's historical Matterhorn Bobsled Ride.

Me getting my spine adjusted on Disneyland’s historical Matterhorn Bobsled Ride.

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This picture of a huge cruise ship was not taken from an airplane…

When we booked our 7 night cruise on the Royal Caribbean “Legend of the Seas”, we weren’t necessarily excited about the destinations.  We just thought, “Wow, a Royal Caribbean ship is coming to our home town: let’s book it!”.  In fact, we had done little to no research on the destinations before we left because we were both so busy with work and this was kind of a last minute getaway.  When I told friends we would be going to Geiranger, those in the know all said the same thing: “That will be the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen in your life.”  They mentioned the waterfalls and the cliffs, but I mean, “I’ve been around and I’ve seen tons of waterfalls and cliffs, so how special could it be?”, I thought.

Boy was I wrong!

Watching a video of the journey into Geiranger brings a new meaning to the phrase, “Pictures just don’t do it justice.”  You have to imagine walls of rock on both sides of you that literally are so tall they disappear into the clouds at times.  Waterfalls that are so huge they dwarf tiny tourist boats trying to get a closer look.  I tried to make a good video of our day, but the only way to truly appreciate what it’s like is to GO THERE YOURSELF!

Geiranger is a popular cruise destination during the summer months, frequented by Norwegian Cruise Lines, MSC, AIDA, Cunard, and several others.  If you need help planning or deciding which cruise line is right for you, get in touch and I’ll help you out!

Here are some helpful links:

http://www.geiranger.no

http://www.geirangerfjord.no

http://www.visitalesund-geiranger.com/en/brochuresmaps/hiking-routes-in-geiranger/

Is Disney ruining the traditional theme park experience?

Let’s imagine we’re planning a beach vacation, like Miami or Cancun.  What if, in order to get a good place on the beach, you had to reserve that place a few months before you leave?  Now, imagine if you also had to reserve a time to play frisbee in advance.  Would you do it?  What if you also had to reserve your swimming time in advance?  Meaning, before you even leave for the airport, every day of your entire vacation is blocked with a strict schedule that you have to follow in order to enjoy all the things you want.  Sound like fun?  Well, read on…

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If you’ve seen my channel on Youtube, you know I am a huge fan of Disney Parks.  After all, it was my “Very unOfficial Guide to Walt Disney World” videos that got me started as a Youtube Partner and ultimately led to the amount of success I have now.  Like millions of others, I go to Disney to escape the “real world” and lose myself in Fantasyland, the Animal Kingdom, or the Future Showcase.  I enjoy riding the rides, seeing the shows, eating at the amazing restaurants, and exploring the fantastically themed resorts.  Basically, I want to FORGET about what my life is really like for a week and pretend that everything is magical and amazing.  When I’m there, I wake up in the morning and think, “What kind of adventure do I want to go on today?”  Should I journey to the heart of Africa and ride a raft down the Kali River Rapids?  Should I go see what the Muppets are up to in their 3-D Lab?  Will I pass the test for astronaut training program on Mission: Space?  So many fantastic possibilities, and every morning I can spontaneously decide what I want to discover that day…

At least that’s how it used to be.

Back in 1999, Disney premiered it’s revolutionary Fastpass system, which let riders scan their park passes at the entrance to certain attractions to receive a reserved “riding time” for later in the day.  That meant you could get a Fastpass for Space Mountain, go ride the TTA People Mover a few times, wait in line for Buzz Lightyear, and when you were done with all that, you could go and hop on Space Mountain once during your reserved time without having to wait in the “normal” line.  It was great!  The amount of Fastpasses for each attraction was limited and everyone had access to the same privileges.  The system proved so amazingly popular that just about every other park in the universe has copied it in someway by now, and some charge an inexcusable price for the privilege, (while it remains free at Disney).

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Fast forward to 2013 and the “dreaded” Magic Bands and Fastpass+

In 2013 and early 2014, a lot of changes and “upgrades” were made.  With the addition of the, (I admit pretty cool and tech-fun), Magic Bands, Disney eliminated the idea of paper tickets, and nowadays vacationers at the resort in Florida receive a bracelet with their name and several customizable features.  In addition, you can now reserve your ride times before you even get to the park.  Like, months before.  Simply download the App for Android or iOS and plan your whole vacation before you even leave!  Plan which park you will visit on which day, pick which rides you want to ride when, and create an entire schedule for your family to follow while on… vacation.  Of course, you can still be spontaneous and change your ride times while in the park, simply take out your smartphone, start the App, and look for available times.  All the parks offer free wireless now.  Of course, while you have your phone out, you might as well check your emails.  And your Facebook.  And Twitter.  And the news. And remind yourself of everything you want to forget while on vacation!?!

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And just last week, Time.com reported that Disney is now testing a RESERVATION ONLY system for certain attractions, meaning; basically, if you don’t plan ahead and make a reservation, you might not be able to experience certain attractions because the option to simply wait in line will be removed.

https://time.com/money/3478186/disney-toy-story-ride-reservations-lines/

Does it seem strange to you that this article is posted in the “MONEY” section?  It shouldn’t.  Ultimately, Disney is trying to keep it’s guests out of lines.  Why?  Because you can’t spend money if you are waiting in line!  It makes perfect sense and is, in fact, pretty genius.  By reducing or eliminating lines, guests will have more time to shop and eat and spend.  I’m pretty sure that is the main motivation behind this system: making more money.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for not having to wait in lines.  But, that was basically already taken care of with the first Fastpass system and weren’t guests happy with that one?  Now, I’m worried that if I want to enjoy the benefits of Fastpass+, I am going to have to plan out my entire Disney trip in advance, and that makes me sick to my stomach.  That is almost exactly the opposite of how I like to enjoy my vacation.

You might be saying, “Well, then just don’t use the system.”, which is of course an option, but what if the idea of “reservation only” attractions becomes a reality?  Then “not using the system” is no longer an option if you want to ride everything!

What do you think about this system?  Would you be willing to plan your entire trip in advance if it meant you could ride all the major rides and not have to wait in line?  Let me know in the comments below!

Good thing I brought some tissues with to this amusement park in Holland…

To say that Efteling Theme Park in Holland is a little bit… different… is an understatement.  It is one of Europe’s most popular theme park destinations, as well as one of the oldest.  Efteling has a great mix of medium sized rides, which vary from well themed indoor dark rides, (like Droomvlucht and Carnaval Festival), to great coasters, (like Joris en de Draak and Vogel Rok).  One thing that really sets this park apart from other theme parks is the amount of detail spent on gardens and “exhibits” for kids.  I seriously could go back to the park and do an entire video just about the dioramas, fairytale gardens, playgrounds, and princess castles.  You wouldn’t have to twist my arm to go back again, that’s for sure!

New Blog for the Very unOfficial Travel Guides on WordPress

Hello fans of the Very unOfficial Travel Guides on Youtube!  It’s Morgan here, and since I had a three day weekend I’ve been spending time “upgrading” my web presence to include an Instagram account and now this Blog.  I can’t promise I’m going to keep up with either of them, but I’ve had so many people request I start doing something like this that I thought I’d at least give it a try!  Please bear with me as I learn the best way to do it all, and let me know if I’m getting annoying or what you want to see more or less of!

Here is a link to my Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas Ship Tour as a test!