Saturday, August 1, 2015

Voyage of the Little Mermaid in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom



Ariel in Voyage of the Little Mermaid

By Lisa Green 

In Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Fantasyland has always been a favorite place for parents and grandparents to take small children and enjoy some of Disney’s more whimsical, milder rides and attractions.  These are the ones made for every age – low or no height requirements, no rough twists and turns, no scary surprises – The kinds of rides Walt Disney himself had a hand in creating so children and adults could have fun together.

As part of the Magic Kingdom’s new Fantasyland expansion, the Little Mermaid ride (officially:  Under the Sea-Voyage of the Little Mermaid) is an adorable tribute to Ariel’s story – full of all our favorite characters and scenes.  Tucked beneath Prince Eric’s castle, guests board clammobiles for a fun and fanciful journey through familiar scenes – brought to life, straight from the movie!  As you approach the attraction, there’s a great photo op and most likely a Disney photographer will be standing by to snap your picture in front of a ship with Ariel as the figurehead!

Fantasyland Photo Op

The queue is full of clever surprises – so much so that I was actually disappointed that the line moved quickly and I couldn’t look at the details as long as I would have liked.  The queue starts outside where you’ll feel just like you’re at the seaside walking in and out of caverns carved by the ocean’s waves.  Look down and you’ll see a variety of seashells under foot.  Look along the walls and find starfish and barnicles.  Once you go inside, there are interactive parts to this queue involving Ariel’s treasures and some cute and funny little blue crabs.

IMG_3003Queue for Voyage of the Little Mermaid
The indoor part of the queue is cool and dark – as is the ride itself.  Lighting effects make you feel like you are truly going under the sea in your clam shell.  Unlike Epcot’s The Seas With Nemo & Friends which offers a new storyline continuing where Finding Nemo left off, Under the Sea – Voyage of the Little Mermaid (similar to Peter Pan’s Flight) offers only a selection of scenes straight from the movie. This is what divides visitors’ opinions about this attraction – Little kids (and Mermaid fans) love seeing the familiar scenes reproduced in great detail and larger than life.  Big kids and adults are often disappointed by the scenes’ simplicity and how the ride offers nothing new or different – basically just replicates parts of the movie exactly (with low-tech animatronics to boot).

Ride Vehicle for Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Judge for yourself!  This attraction is worth at least one visit for the experience.  The highly detailed, interactive queue is very well done and the ride itself is a great place to sit down and cool off for a bit from the Florida heat.  This is a continuously loading attraction, so you may want to save a FastPass for something else as the line moves pretty quickly.  Personally, I liked the ride okay, but I LOVED the queue!  I have to agree with the folks that would have liked a little something new or different in the Little Mermaids story – there seems to be wasted potential.

Have you ridden the new Little Mermaid ride?  What did you think about it?

Scuttle
WDW Ariel and Eric in Silhouette Ariel Getting Legs Ursula - Voyage of the Little Mermaid WDW Little Mermaid's King Triton

This article was originally posted on Lisa's Living a Disney Life Blog.
She can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LivingaDisLife and on Twitter at

Please be sure to check out Lisa along with me and David Hodges on The Disney Exchange Podcast!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Walt Disney World-May 2009 - Part 1

By Nick

Over the next several Thursday's I'll be sharing this Walt Disney World trip report from May of 2009 that I wrote for the DVC News Forums.  Any commentary I make will be in italics.

Who: My wife, Barbie, my friends Todd and Meghan, and their baby, our Godson, Flynn who was 16 months old, and me.

Monday, May 18th, 2009

We left Philly airport at 7:05AM and arrived in Orlando at 9:45AM.
The weather was overcast. Got our rental SUV, and as we left the airport it started to pour.
There was a common theme throughout the trip. Soggy.

We drove to Downtown Disney and went straight to Guest Services for our APs (annual passes) and TIW (Tables in Wonderland) card.

Had lunch at Earl of Sandwich. They have an excellent selection for a very reasonable price, and fantastic deserts.

It had stopped raining temporarily, so we walked around DD, and Flynn enjoyed splashing in puddles.



We then drove to a Walmart to pick up some stuff for Flynn, and we got a couple of ponchos.
I wanted umbrellas, but they were sold out!

Arrived at POFQ (Port Orleans French Quarter) around 2:15PM. We were happy to find out
our request for adjoining rooms at been filled, and we went to rooms 2309 (us) and 2310 (them).
It has a very nice courtyard view, and is a short walk to the pool. Barbie and I went for a swim while T, M and F took naps.
Got back to the room around 4 and got ready for dinner at Chef Mickey's.
Drove over to the Contemporary, and got to CMs at 5:20PM.



Good buffet, nothing that really knocked my socks off, but a couple things were very good.
The characters were the fab 5. Flynn was a little taken aback when Donald, the 1st character reached us.



We couldn't get him to touch the characters, but he enjoyed watching them at a distance.
After dinner, we put on ponchos and hopped the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.



As it was still raining slightly, it wasn't very crowded. We walked on POTC (Pirates), the only part which sort of frightened Flynn was the drop. After that he actually started to hum along with the music!

They wanted to ride Small World, which, I confess, we have never ridden. Flynn was awe struck.

Amazingly, even with the crowds so light, Peter Pan still had a 55 minute wait!

We then walked right into Haunted Mansion. Flynn really enjoyed it, and started to dance in his seat to Grim Grinning Ghosts.

As we were walking out, Spectro Magic was just beginning, so we walked over, and were only 3 people away from the curb, and had a fine view, Flynn on his dad's shoulders. By this time it was really barely even spitting, and it was very comfortable temperature wise, especially for the end of May. Flynn really enjoyed the parade. The kid really is terrific.
Must get it from is Godparents.

We decided to skip the fireworks and get Flynn back to the room, as it was already 9:45PM.
 

Please stop back next week for part 2.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bobble-less Mickey Mouse

By Gaylin 

A few trips ago, maybe in 2005, I picked up this Mickey Solar Bobble Head:


I love this guy, he sat in my living room quietly bobbling back and forth until this spring. I guess, he bobbled to much and now just sits. Very sad. But still cute!


I think it is rather weird that Mickey has no mouth, who is going to eat that popcorn? The slice in the top of the popcorn is to hold one of two cardboard signs this came with. I couldn’t find the signs when I was taking the photos.


At 4 inches tall and 4 inches wide, he doesn’t take up much room. I bought this at WDW, obviously you could get it at Disneyland as well.


The little red plastic ‘balloon’ is on a spring and wobbles when poked.


Yes, you can see that the solar panel is clean – it just doesn’t work anymore.


Disney trade mark. Made in China.


Somehow I managed to save the packaging it came in. I like how it says never needs batteries, doesn’t say it will always work.



On the bottom you can see the two memo cards it came with, Mickey on the front, space to write on the back.

Have a Disney day everyone!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cutest Magic Band

by Gaylin

Since everyone is probably familiar with Magic Bands already, I won't go into a detailed article on them. Some people may not realize that you can strip the grey part of the band away to make it smaller to fit children.

On my last trip I was in a washroom and spotted this little girl, I asked her mom if it was okay if I took a photo because wearing the magic band this way, on this tiny girl was too cute to not share.

I wish I could have gotten a photo of her parents lifting her up to wave her ankle at the Magic Band reader on a ride!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Disney Exchange- Episode 32- Progressive Dining Around the Epcot Area Resorts

By Nick  

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

-The Disney Exchange is David Hodges, Lisa Green, and me, Nicholas Maglio  

-Main Topic: Progressive Dining Around the Epcot Area Resorts


-We start the show with a talk about how hot Walt Disney World is in the Summer, and Dave gives out a great tip to beat the heat; Don't stand out in the sun. You heard it here first folks, feel free to pass on this knowledge to friends and family.

-A progressive dinner is a group meal where each course is served at a different venue, and we did our first show on this topic back on episode 23, so please check that out as well. And then give episodes 1-22 a listen. And 24-31 too. Thanks!

-There is an argument a disagreement about which resorts should actually be considered Epcot area resorts, and Lisa points out her info is from the actual official Walt Disney World website.
Dave intends on putting in a formal petition to have it changed.

Reader/ listener poll:  Should Caribbean Beach be considered an Epcot Area Resort?

 Photo: David Hodges

-After several hours of arguing discussing we finally get to it, and focus on restaurants at Yacht and Beach Club, Boardwalk, and Swan and Dolphin.


-We each pick a different restaurant for a before dinner cocktail/ snack, an appetizer, Lisa has a soup/ salad course, an entree and a desert.

Me and the No Way Jose

-We describe each selection, and give the prices, adding up the entire meal including tip at the end. Guess who had the most expensive meal.

-We apologize to our box wine drinking listeners.

-Wheel of Distiny topic : The best queue to stand in at Walt Disney World in the heat.

Thank you for listening to The Disney Exchange: Your Scotch Whisky Headquarters.


You can find us on our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/thedisneyexchange
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneyexchange
Or email us at: info@thedisneyexchange 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Walt Disney World's Jungle Cruise

by Lisa Green 

“Only a true connoisseur of puns can appreciate the perfect execution, the art, the comic genius of the Jungle Cruise skipper.” – Lisa Green (yep, me!)


Puns are the most revered form of humor in my family.  I’m not sure what that says about us, but it’s true nonetheless.  Joseph has inherited the pun-appreciating gene and he and my sister, Sandy, are the undisputed family champions.  This love for all things pun-ny has a lot to do with our love for The Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland!  If you consider the Skipper on every boat a comedic artist – The Pun is their medium of choice.  And that is, after all, what makes The Jungle Cruise special and unique – the quality of the entire experience depends solely on the talent of the Skipper and their ability to deliver their pun-intensive dialogue with just the right timing! 

WDW Jungle Cruise Dock

Just a couple of weeks ago, we rode the Jungle Cruise at Walt Disney World and Skipper Jeff (who was excellent) reminded us once again why this ride is charming, classic, and SO darned funny (well, to this family anyway).  I love every single thing about it!

Here are my favorite things about the Jungle Cruise, an Adventureland classic!

1. While waiting in line, guests are treated to both sight gags (on the walls, overhead, on standing crates and cages) and sound gags.  As you get closer to the boarding area, you can watch the boats (they have cute names) come in and go out.

Spider WDW Jungle Cruise Dock

2. The design of the boats was based on the steamer in the movie African Queen (one of my all time favorites!).  While you wait, listen carefully to the announcements!  The dock manager’s notices over the P.A. set the tone for the rest of the experience.
“Any travelers who may need to exchange foreign currency during their voyage needn’t worry. There are banks all along our rivers.” – Jungle Cruise Dock Announcer

Sailing on WDW Jungle Cruise


3. Once you board your boat, you’ll meet your skipper and set off on your journey around the world (along famous rivers).  Here’s where this attraction will capture your heart!  Yes, the jokes are cheesy!  Yes, the animals are fake!  Be ready to embrace the experience in the spirit it was intended – not to impress and delight, but to charm and entertain.  To truly appreciate all the Jungle Cruise has to offer, you must be willing to give both the skipper’s dialogue and your surroundings your complete and undivided attention!

WDW Jungle Cruise Skipper Jeff

4. The scenery is a masterpiece of real plants and totally fabricated situations.  In caves, floating along quiet pools, among ruins, viewing the backside of water!  The Disney details (like the puns) are plentiful!!!  Pay attention to the plane wreck – you’ll see only half the plane.  Why?  Because the other half (the front) is over in the Studios in the Great Movie Ride!  Do you know what scene it’s in?
“We’re in the Amazon in South America, where things grow larger than life, such as the butterflies on our left and on our right. Their wingspans grow from 12 inches to a whopping 1 foot!”  – Jungle Cruise Skipper
“See my jeep? I had a little trouble getting it started this morning, but I don’t know how they got it to turn over… oh well.”  – Jungle Cruise Skipper (The jeep has been turned upside down…get it?!?)

Butterfly on the Jungle Cruise


WDW Jungle Cruise Jeep

5. The jokes just keep coming, the adorable animal animatronics surround you, the skipper guides the boat along the river until you’re back at the dock once more – Friends, this is Disney at its finest!  Some famous people got their start as Jungle Cruise skippers – Kevin Costner and John Lasseter among them. Yes!  Even Weird Al Yankovic sang a song about the Jungle Cruise called “Skipper Dan” – check it out on YouTube here.

WDW Jungle Cruise's Boulder Side
 
The Boulder Side of the Jungle Cruise

We can’t be the only super-fans of the Jungle Cruise – shout out now and leave a comment if you love the Jungle Cruise like we do!

This article was originally posted on Lisa's Living a Disney Life Blog.
She can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LivingaDisLife and on Twitter at

Please be sure to check out Lisa along with me and David Hodges on The Disney Exchange Podcast!



Friday, July 24, 2015

Citricos and Narcoossee's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

By Nick 

On Episode 23 of The Disney Exchange Podcast, we talk about our choices for a progressive dinner, which is a group meal where each course is served at a different venue, around the Walt Disney World Monorail Loop. 2 of my choices were at Narcoossee's and Citricos at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort.

My wife Barbie and I had dinner at both of these venues in January of 2014, and enjoyed both meals, so I thought I'd share what we had as well as a look inside each.
Let's start at Narcoosee's.


Narcoossee's is located on the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon, at the end of the Grand Floridian transportation boat dock.

It has an open "show" kitchen and a wonderful staff. Be sure to say hello!

 
I was impressed with the beer menu, not overwhelming but a nice selection.
 
 

We asked the bartender for a food suggestion, and he said his favorite was the scallops.
As we were being brought to our table, Barbie spotted a man wearing a vest covered in Disney pins. She approached him, and they spoke at length. He came over to introduce himself and his wife. They were locals, and they also suggested the scallops, as well as the calamari.


If you time it right, and have a table facing Cinderella Castle, you can see Wishes at the Magic Kingdom. I made our advanced dining reservation at 180 days out for 8:00 pm, thinking the fireworks would be at either 8:00 or 9:00 pm. They were at 10:00 pm that evening, and while I could have changed our ADR, we both agreed that was rather late for dinner.


The menu is somewhat limited.

 
 
As our bread was being set on the table, we asked our server for an entree suggestion, and weren't really surprised when she said the scallops.
 
The bread was very crunchy with a soft center, almost a sourdough. I love butter with course salt!
 
 
We shared the  Crispy Rhoade Island Calamari with pepperoncini-olive relish and tomato coulis appetizer. In fact, I enjoyed these so much, I chose these as my appetizer course for the progressive dinner on the Podcast episode.
 
 
The calamari was very light and crispy yet tender, not chewy. The relish was just the right kick, and the tomato coulis was the perfect acidic addition. Barbie thought they were the best Calamari she'd ever had! With a salad, this could easily be an economical choice for an entree.
 
For dinner, we both ordered the Pan-seared Georges Bank Day Boat Scallops with Trofie pasta with Sultana raisins, Marcona almonds, young string beans and herb creme with wild mushrooms, lemon-thyme-mustard au jus and arugula.
 
 
We both agreed these were the best scallops we'd ever had. They were perfectly prepared, and as good as they were, the pasta and mushrooms in the lemon-thyme-mustard au jus was even better.
We would have loved dessert, but were too full!

There is no doubt we will return to Narcoossee's in the future, and we will try to choose different food selections, but it won't be easy!
 
Let's go inside Grand Floridian now, and head up to the second floor, which is where you'll find Citricos.
 
 
 

A very nice bar is immediately to the left as you enter.


Like Narcoossees, the kitchen is open and lovely to behold.

 Hidden Mickey?
 
 
The beautiful dining room. While this is a large upscale space, it manages to feel warm and cozy.
 
 
 
We didn't even realize we'd have a terrific view of Wishes, which was at 8pm on that evening!
 
 
On to dinner.For an appetizer, I had the Lamb Albondiga. a lamb meatball cooked in curry tomato sauce over herb polenta with crumble Feta.
 

Unlike some meatballs which can be very dense, this was a light, flavorful start.
For my entree, I had the Berkshire Pork Two Ways, which is Sumac rubbed tenderloin and slow braised belly accompanied by a shishito and and sunchoke hash with natural reduction.
I'm going to admit, I have no idea what shishito and and sunchoke hash is, but I love pork. But I'm sorry to say, I thought this dish was somewhat uneven. I felt the tenderloin was somewhat lacking in flavor, though Barbie thought it was juicy and tasty. As for the pork belly, one piece was a bit dry and chewy, while the other piece was much more tender and savory.


Barbie liked my meal more than mine, which is good, because I preferred her Madeira Braised Short Ribs, Strozzapreti pasta with hand harvested mushroom ragout and Piccante Gorgonzola. This was much more flavorful than my selection, the short ribs moist, and the pasta perfectly cooked, and I would absolutely order this on a future visit. So, we switched meals!
 
 
For dessert Barbie had the Lemon Scented Cheesecake. She would have preferred it to be more lemony, but she loved the overall combination of flavors.
 
 
I had the Warm Chocolate-Banana Torte with vanilla ice cream and hancrafted Belgian couverture chocolate crown.
 
 
Was it as awesome as it looks? Yes!
I love bananas. And, well, love isn't a strong enough word to describe how I feel about chocolate. I would return to Citricos JUST for this.
 
Have you eaten at either of these restaurants, and what was your experience?