Saturday, November 30, 2013

We Make an Appearance at The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

By: Nick

Back in November of 2011 while at Walt Disney World, I got a Facebook PM from a friend with a YouTube Video attached. We had never met personally, but he had seen plenty of pictures of me on Facebook. Imagine my surprise when he asked "Is this you at The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights?"

I had indeed JUST been at Hollywood Studios seeing this wonderful holiday show a couple of nights previously with Barbie and our friends, Josh and Jill.

I clicked on the link, and sure enough, there we all were on someone's YouTube video!

I walk into the picture at about the 1:34 mark, and start jumping up and down like a child on Christmas morning. Then I look over at Josh and Jill to my right, and my wife enters and comes around to my left.

That's me in the center above.

Anyway, enjoy the VIDEO!

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights Desktops

 The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights started on November 8, 2013 and runs through January 5, 2014 at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World.

If you haven't seen them, they are fabulous and festive. Devote at least 30 minutes to walk around and see all the little hidden touches.

We spent well over an hour walking around here back in November of 2011, and, somehow, we wound up on someone's YouTube video! For that story and video, please stop back tomorrow!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Brown Derby at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers in the United States! I thought we'd celebrate today by talking about our favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World.

My wife and I have eaten at the Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney's Hollywood Studios several times through the years. It's a bit expensive, indeed! However, it's the only Signature Restaurant at the Studios and is 2 Table Service credits on the Disney Dining Plan. Regardless, we feel it is well worth the price!
Let's head over and I'll tell you why!

The original Brown Derby was opened at 3427 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, in 1926.

The Brown Derby began a licensing program with the Walt Disney Company in 1987.

If you aren't sure if there will be anything you'd like to eat, or to decide if it might be a bit too pricey, check out the menu before you enter.

The Cast Members here are very friendly and seasoned. Some have been here since the Studios opened in 1989!

The interior transports you back to the golden age of Hollywood, with portraits and caricatures of movie stars adorning the walls.

Despite the upscale feel, there is no dress code. Shorts and t-shirts are fine.

My wife and friends, Kandi and John.

But enough of all that, what about the food?!
Now, I could come up with a multitude of complimentary adjectives for each item I'm about to present, which were sampled by my wife and friends, but I'm going to just say right now, everything is delicious. I will, however, point out some highlights.

Lets start with the starters, also known as the appetizers.

First there is the Portsmouth Lobster Bisque, with Tarragon oil, and a Brentwood sweet corn-lobster relish.

Next we have Blue Lump Crab Spring Rolls, snow crab claw and an Asian slaw with spicy miso aioli.

And finally, my favorite of the 3, Feuilles de Brick Napoleon of Blue Affine, with wild mushroom duxelle, grilled portobello, golden chanterelles, and a fig reduction.

This next item can be an appetizer or an entree, it is so large. I've had it for both.
It is also a signature dish at this signature restaurant.

Our Famous Brown Derby Cobb Salad is made with finely chopped greens, turkey breast, egg, bacon, tomatoes, crumbled bleu cheese, avocado, chives and Cobb dressing.

Your server will even ask if you'd like to have it mixed for you.

On to the entrees.

Sterling Silver Pork-seared Tenderloin, with herb and four-cheese spaetzle with applewood smoked bacon, shallots, sweet peppers, braised red cabbage and an apple cider jus.

Spit-Roasted Leg of Lamb, with lyonnaise potatoes, garlic buttered hericot verts and a red zinfandel sauce.

Duck Two Ways, which is Crispy duck Magret and Duck confit, with apple-rosemary stuffing over a butternut squash, mascarpone anolini and maple brown butter.

On our last 3 visits, I've gotten what I consider to be the BEST pork chop I've ever eaten, the Sterling Silver Pork Chop, with smoked gouda and heirloom apple slaw served over potato hash with bacon, Napa cabbage, sweet peppers and a cider jus for $33.00.

A unique item is the Grapefruit Cake for dessert. Light Layers of Yellow Cake with fresh Grapefruit-Cream Cheese Icing, and a slice of dried grapefruit.

The menu changes frequently, so not every dish I featured here will be on the menu when you visit, but if you visit I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Portions of this article were originally posted on the Tips From the Disney Divas and Devos Blog, where Nick is a contributing writer.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas Pictures at the Disneyland Resort

Guest Writer Wednesday

Christmas Pictures at the Disneyland Resort

By: Matthew Bassett

Christmas is approaching fast and families are starting to think about their yearly Christmas cards. Like many Disney obsessed families, we spend a vast amount of time at the parks every year. When thinking about those pictures you want to include in your Christmas card we ALWAYS want to include pictures from the parks.

The biggest question for us becomes where in the resort do we find the best Christmas themed family pictures. Here are some traditional suggestions:

1) Take a picture by the Christmas tree on Main Street. The tree is so tall that you will either have a distorted view of the tree with the family in front or you will only see the six feet of tree so you can see the family. An alternative idea is to take the family on top of the Main Street railroad platform and take a picture overlooking the tree from across Main Street. Another alternative would be to take a picture at the DCA tree as it isn’t nearly as crowded as it’s Disneyland counterpart.

2) Take a family picture by the castle. The castle has been dressed up with snow for the last few years. The trick to get the best family shot is to avoid standing in front of the castle. Move to one of the sides and get a picture avoiding your favorite people who you will never see again.

3) We love to get pictures with the characters. During the holiday season you can usually catch the characters in their Christmas best. Some of the best suggestions are to find Santa Goofy in the Big Thunder Ranch are or the Winnie the Pooh characters in Critter Country. We have also found luck in finding other characters in the Big Thunder Ranch area over the last few years. The shortest lines are typically those in Big Thunder Ranch and Toontown. If your really have to get a picture in another location you might want to talk with a Disney photographer to get some tips to save you some time.

4) We have to take a family picture with Santa. Santa can be found in the Big Thunder Ranch but the lines are usually really long unless you line up before he officially starts to greet guests. I recommend going to DCA and visiting with Santa at the Elias and Company store. In the past, DCA’s Santa was dressed out in his surfer best but with the relaunch of the park he has changed his attire for his traditional best! The best part is that the lines is about 10 times shorter than Disneyland.

What do you do if you want to get a “non-traditional” picture? Here are a few suggestions.

1) Head to Bug’s Land in DCA and take a picture next to the gigantic ornaments. Stack one of the kids on Dad’s shoulders to get the scale of the ornaments as you’ve been shrunk down to the size of an ant. I have a great family picture of my one year old son on my shoulders that I jokingly took.

2) Some of our favorite Christmas pictures were the silliest pictures we took. Head into one of the shops and try on the different hats. Get one of the Cast Members to take a picture of the family. Make sure you all try on the best Christmas ears or the stocking hats. Have fun! This picture doesn’t require you purchase the hats as long as you put them back when you're done.

3) Head to the hotels and Downtown Disney! All three Disney hotels and Downtown Disney get decked out in Christmas gear. You can get some time away from the crowds and explore the rest of the resort. Find a Christmas tree or some other decorations to take your family picture with.

4) Take the family to It’s a Small World at night. Bring a tripod and take pictures with all of the lights. This is one of the best places to take pictures at night in the park. The tripod will help reduce the fuzzy pictures. You can also utilize lenses that use image stabilizer technology.

5) Don’t forget to take a picture in front of your favorite attraction. Some of the attractions, like Splash Mountain, will get some Christmas theming that will add to your family picture. Regardless, taking a picture with the family in front of your favorite attraction will be a great story to share with your friends and family.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gaston's Tavern in the Magic Kingdom

By: Nick

Let me set the scene.
It's just about exactly one year ago.
I'm in Epcot with my wife.
I overhear someone say that the new Little Mermaid ride is open in the Magic Kingdom.
I say to my wife, "We're going to the Magic Kingdom. RIGHT NOW!"
On our way to the monorail, I get a call from a friend who asks where I am.
I tell him I'm heading to the Magic Kingdom, to which he replies, "Oh, I heard the New Fantasyland was open today!"

The monorail never moved more slowly. I was literally jumping up and down with excitement. Could it be true?!

Upon entering the Magic Kingdom, I walked, not ran, as that's a no-no, but I walked very quickly, stopping every now and again to see how far back I'd left my wife.

Finally, we got to Fantasyland where I was greeted by this sign...


...and a friendly Cast Member waving people in asking if we'd like to see the New Fantasyland. Would I?! 
I was like a kid in a candy store!
We'd had the great fortune to see "Enchanted Tales with Belle" earlier in the week, so went by that reluctantly, and made our way up the lane.

The Be Our Guest Restaurant unopened at that time, but I stopped briefly to snap some pictures.

We walked on into a little town, a quite village...

... which today was not so quiet!

Gaston's statue. A tribute to Gaston. From Gaston.

This in front of his tavern. Gaston's Tavern, of course.

Let's go inside.
The menus.

 A LeFou's Brew,  which is "no-sugar added frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow, topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam". It wasn't bad, a bit too sweet for my wife.

There are 2 dining areas, one to the left...

...and a larger, more elaborate one to the right, which features the fireplace, and antler chandelier. Gaston uses antlers in all of his decorating.

There was no seating available inside, so I headed outside, to enjoy my pork shank.
It is as big as, and much better tasting than a turkey leg, and a couple dollars cheaper to boot!

This shank is huge, more like half a pig, because that's how Gaston rolls!

Portions of this article were originally posted on the Tips From the Disney Diva Blog, where Nick is a contributing writer.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sophia the First: The Floating Palace App Reveiw

 By: Barbie

Sophia the First: The Floating Palace App is designed for the iPhone and iPad and little girls who love mermaids!
Join Sophia and find out how she can swim with the mermaids underwater! Everyone's favorite mermaid, Arial, even makes a cameo appearance!

Read along with Sophia from her book. Then make movies with her and her mermaid friends using different backdrops. You'll be able to move the characters around to make your own movie which you can record to play over and over, or make new ones.

Sophia and her friends are adorable, the book illustrations are lovingly drawn and the voice over work is done so sweetly. I'm sure all little girls will find this app to be such fun. How could you not want to play mermaid under the sea with Sophia?

We'd like to thank Disney Publishing for providing this App for review.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Figment Ornaments

I bought this Figment ornament from the Disney Store Online back in August for $16.95.

It joins a couple others I've had for a long time.

I bought this one at Epcot in 1996.

I have no idea where I picked up this terrific little ceramic Figment.

It's dated 1982, Disney.

I'll be sharing many more ornaments over the next few weeks.