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Apr 14 14

Podcast Episode 16 – Top Favorite Attractions in WDW – Part 2!

by Rod Wheaton

Disney Resorts

Like I always say: “If You’re a Disney Geek, You’re Among Friends Here!”

In this week’s show, we continue our discussion about our top favorite attractions in WDW, and having too good a time to stay on a single track, we veer park to park and ride to ride naming the things we like best.  Joining me once again is my good friend Scott Parker from the website, so join us and have a good time as we name our top favorite “must-do’s”!


See Ya Real Soon!! – Rod Wheaton

Subscribe to the Show in iTunes HERE!

Links from this week’s show:

Tour the Wall (Adventureland Jungle Cruise):



Apr 8 14

WDW Partners with “Take Me Fishing” to get guests “Hooked” on Fishing!

by Rod Wheaton


WDW and the group “Take Me Fishing” are trying to help families connect in the outdoors by fishing and boating in the resort’s extensive waters.  Using their educational catch and release  program, WDW is offering families the opportunity to make memories  at 3 locations with the “Take Me Fishing” branded experiences in addition to dockside fishing at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.  ”With the popularity of fishing and boating on the rise with women and children in the U.S., collaborating with the Walt Disney World Resort is helping us get even more families engaged in these sports,” said Frank Peterson, president and CEO of RBFF. “Our collective dedication to conservation and family activity make this relationship ideal to showcasing the magic of fishing and boating.”

Guests who are so inclined can also try their hand at cane pole fishing at the Port Orleans Resort.

For more info, follow this link:

Apr 7 14

Podcast Episode 15 – Favorite Attractions and Must-Do’s in WDW

by Rod Wheaton

Tower of Terror

In this week’s show, Florida blogger Scott Parker joins Jake and I for a list of our favorite attractions and must-do’s in WDW…and veer back and forth laughing and having a great time all the way.  I talk about my personal favorite, The Hollywood Tower of Terror, and give insights into the history and storylines created for the attraction along with hidden Easter eggs that refer back to the original TV show of the 50′s.  We’ll talk Expedition Everest, Belle’s new attraction and and give some love for the Pirates of the Carribean!  So now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the show, because if you’re a Disney Geek, you’re among friends here!

Show link mentioned:

Tour the Wall –

Pirates of the Caribbean










Apr 3 14

Iconic “It’s a Small World” turning 50 -The Story Behind the Icon

by Rod Wheaton


English: Thai Dancers in "it's a small wo...

English: Thai Dancers in “it’s a small world” in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando Florida, U.S.A. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




It’s been called the best.  It’s been called the worst.  It’s theme song has been maligned as the ballad you just cant get out of your head.  Others say it’s a beautiful song all about the wish for a happier future.  Some Disney faithful haven’t ridden it in years, others wouldn’t miss it for anything every time they come.


Love it or not, the attraction “It’s a Small World” is an icon.  And a monumental one at that.  It’s one of the few attractions with a direct link to Walt himself, and for the most part is far more beloved than not.  Being one of those aforementioned who wouldn’t go to the Magic Kingdom without riding it at least once, I felt it was time to give it some love here on the blog.  The history alone is fascinating to any Disney Geek…


“It’s a Small World” got it’s start when Walt and the Imagineers were tasked with creating a pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair.  Pepsi was working with UNICEF at the time and wanted something that would evoke children’s welfare and a “salute to the world’s children”.  One of the Pepsi board members suggested that with Disney’s connection with children, they would be the ideal creator.  Ironically, that board member was none other than actress Joan “Mommy Dearest” Crawford.


The idea of an attraction focusing on the children of the world appealed to Walt, and it was Walt himself who decided to pursue the idea of creating the experience as a boat ride.  Imagineer Bob Gurr had already been working on concepts for a boat ride attraction, and here was the opportunity to develop the ideas in real application.  Walt also had it in mind early on he wanted all the children of the world to be singing.


Surprisingly, Pepsi didn’t like the early concepts, but again it was none other than Joan Crawford who insisted to the executives that they were going to go with Disney’s concept.


Disney legends Rolly Crump, Mary Blair, Alice and Marc Davis and many others would be involved in bringing about the attraction that would become known around the world, as well as becoming one of Disney’s most enduring and beloved.  Once the concept of the children of the world was established, Walt set about deciding on the music.  Originally he intended to have the different nation’s children singing their own national anthems, but the conflicting music, singing, and tempos destroyed the harmonious theme Walt was striving for.   Walt brought in his musical equivalent of the big guns: the Sherman brothers (who were currently working on “Mary Poppins”.  Walt described what he wanted; a song that could be sung over and over in a loop that conveyed a message of harmony.  It is  said he used the phrase “a small world after all” in the conversation, sparking the brother’s creative imaginations.  After working on the song only a short time, they came up with the lyrics and the tune, but it was first written as a much slower ballad.  Walt, wanting to keep it up-tempo, sped up the tune, and the result was the song so often jokingly referred to as both the most beloved, yet most dreaded song in the parks.  Those who knew Walt at that time say he himself was very fond of it.


After the World’s fair, Small World found it’s home in Disneyland and in 1971 it became a part of Walt Disney World.  The attraction has remained much the same other than some costume changes and some adjustments of a relatively minor nature.  Even what changes have been made were made with a desire to keep the spirit of Walt’s original.  In a tribute to the fact that Walt had an uncanny knack for what people would like, it is still one of Fantasyland’s most popular attractions even now, 50 years later.


And who would have believed that “the children of the world” would owe some thanks to Joan Crawford?


Until next time; See Ya Real Soon!


–Rod W




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Mar 31 14

Saving Money for and On Your WDW Trip

by Rod Wheaton



By Kim White, MMP Travel


You’ve decided to take your family to Walt Disney World, and everyone is excited.  You pick the time of year, put in for vacation at work, and then your first thought is, ‘How am I ever going to pay for this?’  Well you can save money on your Disney World vacation and I’m here to tell you how.

Let me say going to Walt Disney World does not have to break your bank.  Yes, it can be expensive, but in my experience, we can find something that will fit your budget and you do not have to skimp on fun.  There are a few simple ways to curb your spending and some are easier than you think.  Let me go through just a few.

1. Put your trip on layaway.  Yes, you can do this.  Disney requires on $200 deposit to secure your Magic Your Way vacation package.  This is typical the hotel and tickets and sometimes dining plan for families.  Your full payment is due 45 days before you check in, but you can pay along the way.   Then the final payment may not seem so overwhelming when it comes due.

2.  Fly into Orlando International (MCO) if possible.  Sure you may find flying into Orlando Sanford is ‘cheaper’, but have you heard of Disney’s Magical Express bus system?  These huge, luxury vacation buses are designated by hotel and will pick you up at MCO and take you to your hotel for no extra charge.  There are even magical bag handlers that will grab your luggage (if you choose) at baggage claim and deliver it to your resort a few hours later.  This saves you time and gets you to the Happiest Place On Earth’ even faster.  This will save you on transportation costs to/from your Disney resort.

 Pop Century





3. Stay at a Disney Value Resort.    These resorts are fun, whimsical, clean and have wonderful pools.  Check out my post on  Choosing A Value Resort to help you decide.  These are very affordable and you will often pay just as little as staying off Disney property.  Sometimes even less. You do not compromise on the magic.  This is probably my favorite way to save money at Disney World.

4. Take advantage of one of the Disney dining plans.  They are designed not just for convenience, but to also save you money.  You have to eat right?   Here’s a great post on how you will save using the Plus Dining (middle plan).

5. Put aside a jar, account or some way to save along the way for souvenirs.  Have your kids make a Disney chore list and pay them accordingly for spending money they can use in the parks.  Maybe even sell something on Ebay.  We recently sold my daughters Nintendo DS she never used anymore and that went right into our spending money account.

6.  Take snacks and water bottles.  We usually throw in a few boxes of granola bars, goldfish, and even empty water bottles to fill. We grab the single drink mixes and instantly have lemonade.  If you need ice, just ask at one of the quick service counters.

7.  This one may surprise you, but stay a few extra days.  Most often there is an offer that will save you money by staying longer.  You are already spending money on airfare and if you can stay 6 days instead of 4, the difference in ticket prices will be minimal.  Right now there is a  Summer offer where the difference for an average family of four is $8.50 for 6 days instead of 5.  Seems like an easy decision for me!

8. Travel during least crowded times during the year.  This isn’t hard to figure out.  Disney will typically lower their resort prices and call it ‘Value Season’ during times when people are less likely to travel.  When is this?  Late Summer or early Fall when school is starting up again. Then you can choose the first few weeks in December (after Thanksgiving and before Christmas break).  There are a few other times scattered throughout the year, but I think those are the best times. By going during these times, you will save money at Disney World, by just choosing the right time of year!

9. One more important way, book with a  qualified travel agent who charges NOTHING for her services and will give you all the information you need to make the most of your time. After all you time is valuable.  Make the most of it!


Do you have a way you love to save money at Disney World?  Let me know!  I’d love to hear about other ideas and share them.   Contact me at or 515-720-5220 to book your next Disney World vacation!

Mar 30 14

Episode 14 – WDW Mousenger Podcast

by Rod Wheaton

Figment-Dreamfinder-CoverHi Everybody!  Welcome to this week’s podcast episode of the WDW Mousenger!   For the past several weeks, there have been so many announcements relating to everything from new movies like Cars 3 and The Incredibles 2, to new events, races, DVC, construction in WDW and more.  This week on the show we’ll talk about all the amazing things happening in the Disney Universe and why it’s such a great time to be a Disney Geek!  Have you heard about the new Disney/Marvel mashup that is going to produce a comic book series starring a SteamPunk version of Figment and The Dreamfinder set in 1910 London, England?  We’ll talk about that along with upcoming events like Star Wars Weekends, Destination D23 and the return of the Adventurer’s Club, and a lot of other great Disney news and events on the horizon.  So now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the show, because if you’re a Disney Geek, you’re among friends here!


Mar 27 14

May the Forks Be with You…Always

by Rod Wheaton


If you’re a fan of Star Wars and WDW, this was an exciting week.  Right behind announcing that for the first time ever, Mark Hamill AKA Luke Skywalker, will be coming to Star Wars weekends in Walt Disney World this year Disney announced that they will be adding two Star Wars themed character meals!  One will be themed as Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars dine and will be held at the Hollywood and Vine.  It will feature characters Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, Storm Trooper Donald and Darth Goofy.  The other will be called the Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast and will feature Greedo, Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, and Boba Fett.  According to initial plans, they will also show Star Wars clips on the screen instead of Sci-Fi clips!  This year’s Star Wars Weekends is starting to look as fun as an Ewok dance party  on Endor’s moon!  (Sorry, just couldn’t resist a geeky Star Wars reference!).

See Ya Real Soon,

Rod W

Mar 16 14

WDW Mousenger Podcast Episode #13

by Rod Wheaton

Animal Kigdom


Hi Everybody!  On this week’s show, I’m joined by blogger and Celebrations Magazine writer Jamie Hecker as we discuss the history and hidden gems of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  While many consider it to be a half-day park, we discuss why we think it is one of the best things to come out of the Disney Decade.  It is a park designed to be enjoyed for it’s beauty and creative uses of natural design!  We’ll also discuss how the park almost didn’t off the drawing board until a very creative executive pulled an unorthodox stunt that convinced  Disney management that this park needed to be built.  So now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the show, because if you’re a Disney Geek, here you’re among friends!

Mar 9 14

Podcast Episode #12 – Top 5 Things to Do in WDW When it Rains!

by Rod Wheaton

Mickey in the rain

We’ve all had it happen…we spend months planning and saving for our trip to Walt Disney World.  We’re looking forward to it and count down the days, and we want everything to be perfect!  Then Murphy’s law applies itself and we find ourselves in the Sunshine State with no sunshine!  But not all is lost!  Join me as I talk with Florida blogger Scott Parker of “” as we go over our top 5 list of things you can do it Walt Disney World when it rains!

What is your favorite thing to do when it rains at WDW?  Leave a comment below and let me know!

Mar 9 14

Via Napoli Restaurant- Guest Blogger Kim White’s Review

by Rod Wheaton




This WDW restaurant review comes from guest blogger Kim White, huge Disney fan and Travel Specialist with Magical Mouse Plans Travel.


Via Napoli Entrance
During our recent family vacation to Walt Disney World, we decided to try a few restaurants
we’ve never been to.  We have never used the dining plan, and because this time we were on
the club level at The Polynesian we decided any of the Disney dining plan options would be too
much food.
We are like most families that LOVE pizza and Italian food so this time we decided to head over
to Via Napoli in Epcot.  Located in the Italian Pavilion in World Showcase, this open and busy
restaurant offers authentic Italian cuisine, wood­fired pizzas and pasta.

We had reservations and were seated within 10 minutes of our reserved time.  We sat back by
the kitchen.  This wasn’t a problem really as you can see the brick ovens where the pizzas go in
and out. But it was noisy and there is a lot going on.  The staff is constantly walking by and the
restrooms were on our side, so there were a lot of people walking by for that as well.Via Napoli offers three
different sizes of pizza: individual, large (serves 2­3), and mezzo metro (serves 3­5).  We
settled on the Mezzo Metro pizza.  My husband ordered pasta (Candele ­ candle stick pasta,
sausage ragu, polpettine meatballs, mozzarella, ricotta) and we couldn’t wait to eat.  I had
heard wonderful things about the pizza and the crust.  The water they use to make the pizza
crust is actually imported to match the water from Naples.  We used to live in Chicago so
we’ve had our share of fabulous pizza.When our pizza arrived we were a little overwhelmed by how large it was. However, my kids
can eat so I knew we’d finish it one way or another.  We were not going to waste it, and we
weren’t going to walk around Epcot with leftovers.

Via Napoli Pizza
OK, now I will try not to be too harsh, but honestly, I was disappointed.  The pizza actually
‘underwhelmed’ me.  The crust was good where it wasn’t a little burnt.  I know in wood­fired
pizzas that can happen.  A little burned crispiness is expected, but this had a but too much and
my kids were picking it off.  The outside pieces you could pick up but all of the inside pieces were
super floppy and the crust may have been underdone.  We were rolling it up and folding it over
just so we could eat it.  The sauce, although good, was splattering all over because the crust
couldn’t hold the pizza.  The toppings fell off and we were sort of fighting with our food.  The
flavor was good, but not great.  I think the size of the pizza was the cause of this.  If we had each
got individual pizzas maybe it would have held up better.  But we were trying to save a bit of
money and the kids would have all ordered the same thing anyway.  My husband did like his
Candele pasta and it was more than enough.  We usually don’t order desert, but this time we
did.  We got the Zeppole di Caterina ­ Ricotta cheese fritters, served with whipped cream and
chocolate sauce. These were amazing!  I think I was so happy when I took a bite, I forgot to take
a picture.  Trust me, they are something I would order again.

Via Napoli Dessert
Overall, our experience here was good.  It was not great.  We would probably choose another
place next time.  I’m glad we tried it and we did get plenty to eat!  That’s always a good thing
when you are doing a lot of walking.
Via Napoli is offered on the Disney Dining plan as 1 table service credit.  Reservations are
highly recommended.  Making your dining reservations is a free service I take care of for all of my
guests who book vacations with me.

Contact me to make sure you are getting the best deal on your next magical Disney vacation!

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