Saturday, May 31, 2014

Maleficent Merchandise at the Disney Store

By Nick

My wife and I stopped by our local Disney Store a couple of days ago to see what was new and to say hi to some of the wonderful Cast Members we've made friends with there.
As expected, we found merchandise for Maleficent, which was released by Disney yesterday.

Mugs are $12.95, there's a journal for $16.95, t-shirts and a tunic range in price from $12.95-$39.95.  There's also a Lithograph Set which is a limited edition of 3000 for $29.95.

The hottest sellers, however, are the dolls, which are $34.95.


Maleficent was sold out, this was on hold for another guest.

Maleficent merchandise can also be found at the

Friday, May 30, 2014

Dinner in Four Part Harmony at Epcot

by Gaylin

On my recent trip to Walt Disney World, I decided to have dinner 'around the world' at Epcot. And what does any good dinner start with . . . dessert!

I started at the France Pavilion at the L'Artisan des Glaces. This is a fairly new ice cream shop and is worth the stop. They have 16 flavours of ice cream or gelato and they are all made in house. I found the cast members to be really friendly and when I asked for my Cafe GlacĂ© with only a little whipped cream – they tried to talk me into having lots. Nope, a little was good for me. This is an iced coffee drink with a scoop of ice cream in it, I chose Caramel Fleur de Sel (Salted Caramel) and loved it. There are not a lot of tables in this area but people have a tendency to eat and run so getting a table was pretty easy. I did end up sharing it with a nice family since I was on my own. One of the cool things about traveling alone is how many people I get to talk to. Ice cream as an appetizer works for me!

I meandered around the showcase for awhile until I found the Florida Fresh booth. I had done my research before I went on the trip and knew which of the kiosks would have food that was safe for me to eat, allergies are a pain. My choice at Florida Fresh was Shrimp and Grits. Creamy, perfectly cooked grits, with a bit of spiced oil on top, andouille sausage bits, sweet corn and cillantro. And of course on top, 3 wonderfully spiced shrimp. This was a marvellous choice. I ate slowly to savour every bite.

After some more wandering, I ended up at the Mexico pavilion and their kiosk Jardin de Fiestas to try their Tacos al Pastor. Another great choice! This was a pork taco with achiote and pineapple. The serving was a bit small but so very tasty. I would have liked more pineapple pieces, they were lightly roasted and a slightly sticky sweet counterpoint to the spicy pork. There was no place to sit so I ended up finding a place in the shade to drop my daypack so I could eat with my hands. Yum.

And finally for dessert, I stopped at the Pineapple Promenade and had a Pineapple Soft Serve. Everyone said it was just Dole Whip but I didn't find it as sweet as the Dole Whip from the Magic Kingdom or maybe it was because I had just had 2 spicy entrees, it didn't seem as sweet. I did appreciate that it wasn't a huge serving, starting with ice cream and ending with soft serve . . . enough sweet for me!

And to prove that I did something at Epcot that day, other than eating, here is a photo of the panda topiary at the China pavilion!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Walt Disney World Tradition: Story Behind the Photo

By: Nick

This photo was taken on the first trip Barbie and I took together there in September of 2006. I hadn't been to WDW in 10 years, and to say I was excited to be there with Barbie is an understatement. I have the distinct memory of Barbie telling the Cast Member taking this photo that she has to hold me down or I'll float away, which made me burst out laughing, which is the moment captured here.

Every single time we get our photo in front of the castle, I'm reminded of this moment.
Getting a photo in front of Cinderella Castle is probably a tradition that most families have, and one that brings fond memories of magical moments.

I can honestly say every trip with Barbie is better than the last, and she still has to hold me down so I don't float away.

Happy 15th Wedding Anniversary to the woman I love!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

T-Rex in Downtown Disney

By: Jacqueline aka Jersey Diva 

While planning our Disney trip last year, we knew we wanted to go to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party one night.  Knowing we would be having a late night we decided we would spend the morning/afternoon in Downtown Disney.  While making our dining reservations, I wanted to be sure to include something for my nephew, having already planned on a Princess meal for my daughters and niece.  T-Rex it is!

Upon entering, we were greeted by a dinosaur.  My nephew was in heaven!  

Jersey Nephew with his new friend

The entire restaurant is like something out of history. Everything was beautifully well done.

This jelly fish would move up and down like it was real.

On to the food.  The food was out of this world amazing!  The menu goes right along with the theme of the restaurant. There are appetizers like Brachiosaurus Bruschette, Ptersaur Wings, Megalosaurus Mozzerella among other yummy choices.  For the herbivores out there, T-Rex offers salads such as the Jurassic Salad, Omnivore's Delight, Pteradactyl Salad and more!  I ordered the Cretaceous Chicken Fried Steak and it was beyond delicious!  The waffle fries are out of this world!  The other adults in my group all ordered the Boneyard Buffet which included Fire Roasted Rotisserie Chicken and Ribs. These are only two of the items listed on this menu. Diners have a choice of chicken, ribs, steak, hamburgers and seafood.  Jersey Sister and Jersey Mom each ordered a specialty drink, Prehistoric Sunset, which came in a souvenir glass.

You don't have to take our word for it but based on atmosphere, food and overall experience we give T-Rex 20 thumbs up!  We all enjoyed the entire experience and will be sure to go back on our next trip. 
Happy eating!!

This article was originally posted on the Tips From the Disney Divas and Devos Blog, where Jersey Diva is a contributing writer.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America! (Originally Posted 5/27/13)

By Barbie

A Happy Memorial Day to all of you, and a heartfelt thanks to all the veterans out there who have helped fight for the freedoms our wonderful country holds so dear. Your sacrifices and those of your families do not go unnoticed! Truly they don't.

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself engaged in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Arriving at Walt Disney World

By: Nick

With our next trip to Walt Disney World several months away, I'm getting "home sick" and really wish I was seeing this sight:

This is entering Walt Disney World property via Disney's Magical Express. What's NOT to love?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Walt Disney World: Getting There!

by Gaylin

Getting there after the weeks or months of planning a Walt Disney World vacation. I started planning this trip last October and my travel date was May 6-15, 2014.

It seemed like a long way away when I first booked it but I have a countdown widget and would check it every single day. Travel day arrives and after 2 flights and many hours, I am finally there!

First step in feeling like the vacation has started is the Magical Express. How lovely is it to walk through the airport, get in my first line-up with less than a 5 minute wait and about 10 minutes sitting watching cartoons before the bus pulled away. The trip to Disney's Pop Century takes about 1/2 hour and the video is fun enough that I forget to look outside when I am riding the bus.

One thing I always do is take a photo of my door number! It may seem like a silly thing but after a 14 hour theme park day, remembering that number can be difficult. I was very fortunate, with the help of a friend, I got upgraded to a room in the 1960's section of Disney's Pop Century Resort, which means a much shorter walk to and from the bus stop in the morning and evening. Again, after many hours in a park, that last little walk being shorter is wonderful.

I also got upgraded to a king-bed room. That little bit extra floor space is lovely to have and having a whole king bed to myself is decadent. I was also impressed that I remembered to take this photo before I unpacked and made a mess.

My room was on the third floor overlooking the hippie dippy pool! While it was a bit noisy in my room when the pool deck movie was playing from 9 to 10:30 p.m., it quieted down as soon as the movie was over and the pool closes at 11 p.m.

And this was my staircase of choice, I love the 4 storey high yoyo's, their only purpose is to cover the stairwells and they do a great job of it.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Disneyland Passes

By D'land Diva

Well, another year of being an annual pass holder at Disneyland has passed and what should happen? They raise the prices of annual passes AGAIN. Now, I'm not talking a few bucks here, like they do for the other admission tickets. Nope. Annual passes, all of them, go up between $20-$30 each year. Parking, which must be added onto every pass except the premium pass has also increased by that amount. This year, the powers that be also decided to do away with the favorite Southern California pass that allowed Disney lovers to attend the parks on weekends (the other So Cal pass blocks out holiday times and weekends, and the Deluxe and Premium passes are significantly more money and not as popular).

Should I renew? Do I just keep agreeing to pay the increase in prices because in the end it is worth it to me?

Let me start at the beginning.

I bought my first Disneyland Annual Pass in the year 1999.

There was A PASS at that time. I paid less than $200 for the pass (I don't remember the exact price, but it was higher than $150 and less than $200). Daily ticket prices were around $35. People were complaining about the expenses then!
Over the years the cost and complexity of the annual passes at Disneyland have changed. There became two pass options, then four. The lowest price pass started somewhere in the $100 range and severely limited attendance days (no holidays or weekends) and the highest price pass had no blackout days and free parking. I have always opted for the highest priced pass or the next highest price pass. I was a teacher for many years, and weekends and holidays were when I could go to the park so the other passes did me no good!

So I have been an annual pass holder at Disneyland for fifteen years. Disneyland is my go to place. It holds so many memories for me and my family- from some of my first dates with my husband, to the intense morning sickness I had with my son and sitting on Main Street moaning, to waddling into California Adventure nine months pregnant with my daughter trying desperately to be one of the first people to ride the new Little Mermaid Attraction. For goodness sakes, my husband proposed to me at Disneyland. It's like an old friend, I don't know if I could live without it! Over the years, we have kind of looked at our annual passes as a necessary expense- like car insurance.

But...this year my youngest has reached the age where we need to buy a pass for her. With the increases in price for the passes, each member of our family would pay $700 for this year's pass. That is $2,800 for our family to have passes. Sure, we could go down to the cheaper pass, but my husband is a teacher and we need the extra weekend days to visit. We would be able to visit the parks on Sundays, but not Saturdays. Christmas vacation would essentially be blocked out, as would much of Thanksgiving break. Now that the other pass has been done away with, the only other option for us would be the lowest price pass which is a weekday only pass. With two little ones in school, it's not reasonable and we wouldn't use it all that much.

I truly do understand where Disney is coming from with this one, too. There are a million plus annual pass holders. Park attendance is...sometimes downright miserable. We have learned to get to the parks early in the morning on Saturdays, when most of the passes are blocked out in order to get on a decent number of rides without having to wait an hour for something like Autopia. From Disney's point of view, visitors to the parks are getting the raw end of the deal- and when it comes down to it, the visitors are where the parks make the most money. If I were taking my vacation and had to wait two hours to ride on Splash Mountain and another hour to ride Dumbo and an hour and a half to ride on Star Tours due to annual pass holders, I might be a little bitter. But, is raising the prices really the way to go here? Clearly the price increases in the past didn't lower attendance. Maybe getting rid of the So Cal pass will help? I think the better option to reduce the number of pass holders would be eliminate the monthly payment plans for passes. It is a drastic approach for sure, but I believe it would get the job done.

But I digress...

Sure, it's a first world problem, the cost of a Disneyland annual pass. But I suspect in the end, my family will once again cave and maybe eat top ramen dinners once a week to pay for our passes. The 60th anniversary of Disneyland is coming up in 2015. We cannot miss it!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Disnyeland 1972 Ticket Book

By: Nick

My wife's wonderful Aunt Sandy found a little treasure trove of Disneyana from several trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World through the years. She sent them to us with a nice note saying she thought of me and my wife when she found them. Did I mention she's wonderful?

The first piece I'd like to share is a ticket book. Ticket books were used from July 18, 1955, the official opening day to the public, when there was a Main Gate admission price and each ride or attraction cost between 10¢ and 35¢ in cash. Disney introduced lettered tickets in October 1955, because people felt they were being "nickeled and dimed!"

The "D" tickets were added in 1956, and the famous "E" ticket was introduced in June 1959 after the opening of the Matterhorn, Monorail, and Submarine attractions. Lettered tickets were phased out in the early 80's in favor of the all inclusive admission pricing we have today.

It appears Aunt Sandy used all her "E" tickets.

It's interesting to see what value Disney deemed a ride to be, and to see the attractions that are no longer there.

Not many attractions were given the "B" status. The "A"s have also been used, but I can't really imagine what is below "Swiss Family Tree House" for excitement.


A checklist for all the attractions!

I'm not sure what general admission was, but $5.95 for 15 Adventures seems pretty reasonable to me!
Adjusting for inflation, that would be approximately $32 today.

We'll look at more Disneyana from Aunt Sandy in the future.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Disney Weenies

"What you need is a weenie, which says to people ‘come this way.’ People won’t go down a long corridor unless there’s something promising at the end. You have to have something the beckons them to ‘walk this way.'" - Walt Disney