What Happens When a Disney Ride Breaks Down

In my many years going to Disney parks, we’d never been on a ride when it broke down. Sure, we’d be in line when it broke down, but not actually on the ride. How did we get so lucky on this trip? Not only did we experience five ride breakdowns, but we were evacuated from Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure. Do you get your FastPass back if you’re stuck on a ride? If you’re in line but it closes? If you’re evacuated? Read on for answers below (this is part of a series on Disney/Disneyland):

The day our stranding on Grizzly River Run, we spent the day at Disneyland. For periods ranging from 1-10 minutes, we got stuck on Astro Blasters, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean (Indiana Jones broke down while we were in the FastPass line, though fortunately cleared before we left).

I totally beat my sister.
I totally beat my sister.

On the Pirates ride, we were surprised to play bumper boats as we approached the waterfall with Blackbeard talking. He talked, and talked and talked until we could repeat his conversation by heart. Fortunately after about 10 minutes, we moved on. Continue reading “What Happens When a Disney Ride Breaks Down”

Disneyland Primer

I grew up in Arizona and later moved to California. Disneyland has always been my park. After moving to New Jersey I felt I had to check out Disney World – after all, it’s in the same time zone and everyone in New Jersey has been to Disney World! Yet, most of my East Coast friends have NOT been to Disneyland and always ask me what that park is like.

Disneyland's castle. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

So here’s a primer. (This is part of a Disney series – most posts to come) Continue reading “Disneyland Primer”

Hidden Mickeys on the Disney Cruise

This is 3rd in a series of 3 posts about the Disney Wonder Cruise to the Mexican Riviera. Part 1 is an overview of the Disney cruise. Part 2 is a very in depth review of all aspects of Disney cruise ship life (kids’ clubs, food, pools, spa, staterooms, etc.)

While on board the Disney Wonder, we had fun trying to find Hidden Mickeys. I didn’t even look to see if there was any mention online until writing this post. Turns out there are a few Hidden Mickeys on the Disney Wonder (we even found 2 official ones, and one posted here – the stained glass). If you’re not familiar with Hidden Mickeys, they’re mouse shaped ears hidden in the design of things at Disney parks. If nothing else, it kept us entertained as we walked around.

The gingerbread house up for the holidays was teeming with them.

Lots of Mickeys on the gingerbread house. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

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Review: Disney Wonder Mexican Riviera Cruise – the Details – Part 2

As mentioned in yesterday’s post this part 2 in a 3-part series on the Disney Cruise. Read on for very extensive details about the cruise. Part 1 was an overview. Part 3 is special Hidden Mickey photos. Here I break the cruise into categories. If you’ve taken a Disney Cruise, please post about your experiences!

Glad we didn’t need one of these. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Continue reading “Review: Disney Wonder Mexican Riviera Cruise – the Details – Part 2”

Review: Disney Wonder Cruise to Mexican Riviera – part 1

When we returned from our Disney Cruise, our friends had a lot of questions, the main one being, “should we book one too?” The answer to that question is of course, individual. In this 3-part series on the Disney Cruise, I’ll give an overview (here), then go into specifics about the cruise (activities, food, kids’ club, entertainment, etc.). Part 3 is special Hidden Mickey photos.

The Disney Wonder – copyright deborah abrams kaplan

We had a fabulous time on our Disney cruise, and went with an extended family group on the Disney Wonder. Our 7 night cruise was the Mexican Riviera itinerary, going into and out of Los Angeles, with port calls in Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta (the Mazatlan stop was cancelled ahead of time due to violence there). Disney will add New York City as a starting/ending port, in 2012, which is the talk of everyone at school. They have will Canada and New England coast trips, as well as visiting the Bahamas and going to Disney World in Florida. This was our second cruise (the first was an Alaskan cruise when my daughter was a toddler, and Disney didn’t do Alaska then). Continue reading “Review: Disney Wonder Cruise to Mexican Riviera – part 1”

Disney’s Animal Kingdom with Kids

We really loved Animal Kingdom and wished we spent more than a few hours there (we split the day with Hollywood Studios). We got there before park opening, in enough time that we were actually first on a ride. That has NEVER happened for us at an amusement park! And to show how geeky we are, as we finished the ride, we asked the ride operators if we could stay on for a second spin, and they let us. I’m sure they could have gotten fired for that, but given that we were still the only people there…

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Kids

This is part of a series about Disney World with kids.

Since we initially weren’t going to buy park hopper passes, and only had three days, we were trying to decide between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Some said they spent two days in Hollywood Studios on each trip, and others said Animal Kingdom was their all-time favorite. We were stumped. In the end, we got the park hopper passes (long story) and didn’t have to decide. We split the day between the two parks.

The result? While we liked many individual things about Hollywood Studios, we did not love the park. We can sum it up with this: not enough rides, too many shows. After a few hours, the kids actually said “can we stop seeing shows? We want to go on rides.” But there weren’t more rides for them to go on. Next time: we’ll plan the whole day for Animal Kingdom and skip Hollywood Studios.

Continue reading “Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Kids”

Disney’s EPCOT with Kids

This is part of a series about taking the family to Disney World.


Following advice to get the Soarin’ Fastpass early (then hightail it to other rides), we waited with the crowd by the rope drop, to follow the cast members to the ride. This made us feel like cows being led to slaughter. Or as my husband put it, “this is what Black Friday must be like.” I left the family behind while I martyred myself in the name of a Fastpass.

However, while almost everyone got in line for Soarin’, I got in the much smaller line for Fastpasses (as recommended by the Unofficial Guide to Disney World) and we then went to Test Track. Which had NO line. And then to Mission Space. Which also had NO line. We snagged Fastpasses at Test Track for later. We went back to Soarin’ around 11:30 a.m. to get an additional Fastpass, but they were gone. By 11:30 a.m. on a non-peak day (it was Jersey Week, but…). For a primer on how to maximize your Fastpass use, click here.

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Disney World Tips with Kids – the Post Mortem

I promised an update after we went to Disney World, so here it is. I will put highlights from each park in a separate post so they don’t get too long. And I put general tips in here. (For my tips on planning for DisneyWorld, click here).


We stayed at All Star Music – one of the three All Star Hotels (this is in the “value” category). Disney allows you to check in online before you arrive, which we did. Theoretically that means a very short wait at the registration desk, and they basically hand you a folder with keys and maps. Of course we got behind someone who had 20 minutes worth of questions, and it took awhile for another employee (er, cast member) to come to the desk to help us. Once she was there, she handed us our folder and we were done in a minute. Fortunately there was a television playing Disney movies in the lobby, with comfy seating. The kids didn’t care how long we waited in line. Continue reading “Disney World Tips with Kids – the Post Mortem”

15 Things I Learned at Disneyworld

1. Disneyworld’s Speedway is much more exciting if you let go of the wheel and don’t steer. But you may need an Advil after.



2. The Disney Magical Express bus from the airport is neither magical, nor express. But it is free.

3. There’s a reason there’s no line for Splash Mountain when it’s 10 a.m. and 60 degrees.

4. If you tell your husband to pack the ponchos for Splash Mountain, make sure he actually does it.

Continue reading “15 Things I Learned at Disneyworld”