Sunday, November 15, 2009

"I Didn't Even Know That Was There!"

Everyone is familiar with the iconic things in Walt Disney World. We know the "weenies": Cinderella's Castle, SpaceShip Earth, The Tree of Life and The Sorcerer's Hat. We are familiar with the huge attractions: Soarin, Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safari, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania. We all know the huge shows: Wishes, Fantasmic!, Illuminations.

But there are also many attractions that fly under the radar that are definitely worth trying - at least once. Some are attractions that you may not consider doing because of some preconceived notion. Some you simply may not have given a second thought. Some you may not even have known were there.

Well, these are the kinds of attractions that fill out your trip to The Mouse and make it a complete experience. Below are some of our favorite "underrated" or "under appreciated" attractions that we'd be remiss if we didn't recommend them.

One Man's Dream, Hollywood Studios
Yes, it was all started by a mouse, but that mouse exists because of Walter Elias Disney. I've always thought that for anyone who visits Walt Disney World, visiting One Man's Dream should be a requirement before doing anything else (I'm kidding...?). The exhibit is fascinating. It runs chronologically spanning Walt's life from birth to his death and highlights all his major achievements in between. It houses many authentic artifacts from his life and career and is pleasantly detail oriented. It's too bad that it's sort of tucked away in limbo without much fanfare in Hollywood Studios - because it's a very worthy tribute to one of the greatest and most influential individuals of the 20th century and should be considered a can't miss.
Brian: 5 Mouse Ears
Katie: 5 Mouse Ears
Chance: 4 Mouse Ears
Hope: 5 Mouse Ears

Conservation Station, Animal Kingdom
Talk about being tucked away in limbo. The biggest problem with Conservation Station is its location - it's WAY out of the way at Animal Kingdom over past Africa. You have to take a train to reach it. But it is worth it...especially to the kids (as you can see by Katie and Chance's ratings for this attraction). It's very much educational - CM zoologists and animal handlers give presentations of live animals - and usually allow the kids to pet the animal featured in the show (usually a rabbit or small rodent of some kind). Speaking of petting - the outdoor goat petting zoo is always popular with the young ones. As is the vet and research facility. And if you come early enough, you may get to see them working on a tiger, snake or bongo that needs some measure of medical attention.
Brian: 3 Mouse Ears
Katie: 5 Mouse Ears
Chance: 5 Mouse Ears
Hope: 4 Mouse Ears

Behind The Seeds Tour, The Land Pavilion, Epcot
Ok, so this is a tour that isn't included in the price of admission (last I saw, $12 for AP holders, $15 for regular price). But it's a great value for what it is. Basically, it takes you "backstage" of the Living With The Land attraction...but goes into much, much greater depth. And you get to sample fresh hydroponic cucumbers. It's a fascinating look into the inner workings of Epcot - for example they talk about how their greenhouse vegetables supply most of the restaurants in Epcot with the fresh veggies they serve to the guests every single day. We won't rate this one since it's an extra cost above and beyond admission. I'll just say it's definitely worth trying if your looking for something different than the norm.

Turtle Talk With Crush, The Seas Pavilion, Epcot
Crush is a popular attraction, but it can definitely be overlooked. First, it's sort of hidden away in the Seas pavilion...which is sort of tucked away out of sight/out of mind to begin with. Second, the first attraction everyone sees at the Seas is Nemo. So if people have limited time, it's a good chance they'll pick the first thing they see: Nemo. Third, even if you make it inside and have some extra time, Crush is a show that lasts about 20 minutes so it's not a fast-loading attraction with high many times people just blow it off when they see the mass of people waiting. To do that would be a mistake; it's a showcase of some fantastic imagineering technology. Crush "sees" the kids sitting in front of his tank and converses with them. They ask questions, he answers; he asks questions, they answer. And the kids greatly enjoy it. And I greatly enjoy the technology.
Brian: 3 Mickey Ears
Katie: 4 Mickey Ears
Chance: 4 Mickey Ears
Hope: 4 Mickey Ears

Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure
This is a difficult one to rate because there are several different KP Adventures and each vary in quality: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Japan, France and the UK. Not that any are far inferior, but some seem to get a bigger reaction from participants than others. For our kids, they LOVED China. That's because they get a very small gift during the adventure. And the effects in China are the best of the bunch, in my opinion. But they are all very much worth trying as they allow you the opportunity to explore the nooks and crannies of World Showcase that you might not have ever even noticed before - and it's definitely worth noticing.
Brian: 3
Katie: 5
Chance: 4
Hope: 5 (This is a 5 because it is a gift to parents. It's a great bargaining chip to get more time in the World Showcase - kids love this so they stay busy as the parents get to look around longer!)

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