Thursday, July 31, 2014

Frozen. Time for a Thaw?

By Beth Skarp

I recently returned from a trip to the World. Everywhere I turned, I was inundated with scenes or images from the ever popular movie Frozen. From the images of Olaf on t-shirts with friends being flakes, to little girls sporting the looks of Elsa or Anna, Frozen is everywhere. If you are at Disney, there is literally no way you could not be exposed to Frozen in one way or another. 

Having said this, I wanted to share my less than magical experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

I arrived at MCO fairly early after leaving Philadelphia. Once I checked in at my resort, my first stop was Magic Kingdom. I had a later afternoon dining reservation at Be Our Guest. I was early, so decided to ride the rides that had a fairly short stand-by line and put my Memory Maker to work by getting pictures. The first photographer I encountered had great “magical shots”....of Olaf on Summer vacation. OK, not a big deal, I would pose anyway and just keep going. 

After Magic Kingdom, I rode the monorail to Epcot. I meandered my way through World Showcase, with the intent of getting to the International Gateway. I stopped for pictures along the way, taking along my trusted stuffed Jiminy Cricket. When a photo opportunity presented itself, we stopped and took advantage of it. When we got to Norway, we were once again inundated with Frozen. But it didn't stop there.

Just outside the International Gateway entrance, Jiminy and I boarded the boats that took us to Hollywood Studios. It was a lovely boat ride. We left Epcot around 6PM, plenty of time to enjoy our trip to Hollywood Studios and make our 9PM dinner reservations at Mama Melrose. You know what they say when you make your reservations, to allow ample travel time to make your reservations. We got this.

Once we finally arrived at the boat dock for Hollywood Studios, our captain asked if we were here to enjoy the dance party. Dance party?! I had not a clue what she was referring to.

When we got to the main gates for Hollywood Studios—just before we entered—we came across a huge sand sculpture. What a great photo opportunity, the sculptures are well done and so artistic. What was the sculpture you ask...a larger than life Olaf on summer vacation. 20 minutes Jiminy and I waited in line for this.

A paper lithograph cutout of Olaf was shoved into my hands. On the backside were the signatures of the various characters of Frozen. While I really wasn't interested in this Olaf, I have to admit that it made an excellent hand fan on this hot and humid day. I used my Olaf several times over for just this very purpose.

Jiminy was getting into the swing of taking photographs, so we paused for a quick picture of the hours for Hollywood Studios for the day.

Finally, we made it through the main gates. 7PM...still plenty of time to make our dinner reservations at Mama Melrose. Oy Vey! The thousands of people! What in the World was going on?

When you use a walker to get around, walking can be a bit difficult. Add in several people lining the streets, each vying for the perfect spot to view what was in front of us. Well, it made getting around challenging but not impossible. I figured I would put to good use the trick of walking through the various stores in order to progress down Main Street. Bad idea. The first shop I went into, I came upon a literal wall of people. What was going on? Frozen merchandise had just been restocked on the shelves, so a shopping frenzy was happening. I had to giggle, as one guest, a man, asked me where I got my “shopping cart”. Shopping cart? It was my walker for crying out loud.

Backing out of the shop in order not to get run over, I finally made my way towards the Sorcerer’s hat. My intent was to bear right, heading towards Rockin' Roller Coaster. I had a FP+ for 7:05 to 8:05 that I wanted to use. I got to Rockin' around 7:35. Still plenty of time to get to Mama Melrose and not be late.

What is this Jiminy and I see...a 5 minute wait for Tower of Terror? Let me get this done so Jiminy and I can make dinner in plenty of time and knock this off our to-ride list. I mean really, how often do you see this and just literally walk on the rides?

After we got off Tower of Terror, it was around 8:25 or so. Again, plenty of time to get back to Mama Melrose. My mouth is watering for some Seafood Arrabbitta and a cold Italian Surfer, my favorite food and drink from there.

As I maneuver my walker down Main Street yet again, I made my way towards the Sorcerer’s hat with the intent of turning left and heading towards Mama Melrose. Instead, I found wooden barriers up and several cast members along with security preventing guests from going any further towards the back of the park.

When I asked about getting through to make my reservations at Mama Melrose, I was told it was impossible. I asked how I was supposed to get back and get to my reservation—one I made three weeks ago. I was told repeatedly "Well, you simply can't. The parade is coming, followed by the fireworks then a sing-along.” allowed me to make a reservation three weeks ago and never bothered to tell me that I would not be able to make my reservation!? OK, calm down and don't let it get you bothered.

I asked what I was supposed to do. Cast members repeatedly told me "Well, we just assume you will be at the back of the park so you can make the reservation on time." I mean really, does everyone stay in the area for their reservations for hours on end?!   

As I told you earlier, I had a FP+ for Rockin' Roller Coasterthen went on Tower of Terror. I had plenty of time to make my reservation at Mama Melrose, even taking my time and maneuvering my walker through the throngs of people. I was just not allowed to get to the back portion of the park to make this reservation. I was more than annoyed, to say the least.

OK, so I can't get to Mama Melrose. I still need to eat. Let's do alternate Plan B. My plan was to eat at ABC Commissary. Well guess what—this is closed as well. A sandwich board is placed up around 6:30 PM or so to alert park guests that it will close at 8PM prior to the parade. Lot of good that did me—I wasn't in the Park then and no mention was made of the back portion of the Park being closed early on the hours posted at the front of the Park. Also, nothing was mentioned in the times guide or park map. 

Starring Rolls was also closed, which is actually what I expected. Starring Rolls closes around 3PM or so—when they run out of sandwiches and goodies, they close. No way did I feel like fighting any more crowds to get back to Backlot Express, the only other place that was open at this time.

My temper kicked in at this point, I am sorry to say. With a less than pleasant attitude I asked "Where in this Park am I supposed to eat?" The Cast Members never missed a beat, but simply replied, "Well, you could get a tub of popcorn and join the dance party and sing along."

Sorry, not my cup of tea. It has been 6 hours since I last ate and I needed a decent meal, not filler, thank you very much. Don't even get me started on missing out on my Italian Surfer.

After stopping at Guest Relations at the front of Hollywood Studios to let them know how displeased I was with missing my reservation AND to make sure that I would not incur a no-show fee for not making this reservation, I headed back to the bus stations and to our resort. Guest Relations did give me a $25 gift card for my trouble, but this still left a rather sour taste in my mouth.

What did I finally get for dinner? Chicken nuggets back at the resort around 9:45 PM. What were my choices for dessert to go with my dinner? Frozen Cupcakes and Frozen Rice Krispie Treats. You are freaking kidding me...right?! Grrrrrr.  

On Saturday, I met up with some good friends at Port Orleans Riverside at the River Roost Lounge. We were all meeting up to hear Yee Haw Bob. Guess what one of the songs was that the group sang. Yep...”Let It Go.” 

Even at Animal Kingdom, you can't seem to get away from Frozen, no matter what you try. From magical shots to offerings for drinks or desserts, Frozen is everywhere.

I know that many enjoy the movie, the song or songs and the various characters. But really, must Disney incorporate Frozen into EVERY THING is does? Each theme park, every venue of entertainment, every restaurant, the merchandise, the photographers, even the television shows have a bit of Frozen in it someplace.

I for one really and truly believe we need to take a bit of a thaw. It's time to well....LET IT GO!

Excuse me as I run for cover...


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Dumbo at Walt Disney World

Photos by Barbie

Please check out other great Blogs participating in the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop by clicking on the link below!

Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where in the “World” is Jiminy - Part 2

By Beth Skarp

Beth and her sister recently visited Walt Disney World, and took a friend along. She invites you to guess where in Walt Disney World Jiminy Cricket is posing for photos. 

Part one of Where in the "World" is Jiminy can be found here. - Nick

 The side of a cart in Animal Kingdom by the Maharajah Jungle Trek.

Wait...this isn't the Dumbo ride. This is in DinoLand!

I've gone waaaaayyyyy back in time. 
 I wonder if I can be purchased here. 
 This is the courtyard of the gift shop in DinoLand.

At Adventurer's Outpost in Animal Kingdom, where you can meet Mickey and Minnie!

A small cart, located in Africa at Animal Kingdom. Yes, the bananas are real.

Okay, they were all at Disney's Animal Kingdom, now we are going to jump around the World a bit!

Outside Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe, in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom.

 A statue of poet Patrick Kavanagh outside Raglan Road, Downtown Disney.

 NO!! not the dreaded claw!
This is at the photo opportunity spot across from Toy Story Mania, at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

No, sadly Jiminy was not at the opening ceremonies of Walt Disney World. 
The cast member of One Man's Dream placed Jiminy here and asked me to quickly take a shot.

Mmmmmm, what grand place is this? Disney's Grand Floridian Resort!

  Bonus round. Can you guess where in Walt Disney World these photos are from?

 Pop Century waiting area for Magic Express (inside the lobby area).

Thanks for playing! How many did you guess right?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Planning for the 2014 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

By Nick

The dates for the 2014 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival this year are September 19th- November 10th.

I usually check out what the Disney Parks Blog, the Disney Food Blog, the Food Festival Blog, and The Tips From the Disney Divas and Devos, where I am a contributing writer, have posted for the latest information and tips for planning.

There are several tastings, seminars, and special events, many of which require reservations. The phone lines to book these experiences opened for Annual Passholders, DVC Members and Golden Oak residents on Friday July 25th.
Chase Disney Visa card holders can start booking tomorrow, July 29th, at 7am.
Booking for the general public starts 7am July 31st, so check ahead as to what you would like to attend, and be prepared! Premium events may be reserved by phone at 407-WDW-FEST (407-939-3378).

This year, our Food and Wine visit time will be very short, so planning will be extra important. We are only going to be in Walt Disney World one day before going on a 4 day cruise on the Dream, and then we are staying one evening when we return from the cruise.

But on a year when we visit for a week, my plan of attack goes like this:

First I check out park hours during my visit. I'm a morning person, so the plan is to go to one of the other parks with early Extra Magic Hours, have lunch at that park, and take an afternoon break. We'll then visit Epcot during the evening. If possible, we avoid the weekends. That's when a lot of locals go and it gets VERY crowded.
On 2 days, usually Friday and whichever day Epcot has early EMHs, we'll hit the food booths early, and visit another park in the evening.

Also, as soon as the menus come out for the booths, we'll go through it and decide what interests us.
I make a copy of this paired down list, and pair it down even further by highlighting the must haves.
Pacing yourself is key, for a variety of reasons, which is why I pick those must haves

Financially, this is an expensive event if you plan to try a bit of everything. Sure, on the surface, $3-$7 for a sample may not seem like much, but this adds up quickly!
As for paying at the booths, we get gift cards. It's quicker than cash, and an easier way to keep track of what you are spending. Barbie has very generous family members who usually give us gift cards for birthdays and holidays, and we save them for this event.

Then there is the alcohol, which can add up even faster than the food.
I have tried the suggested food and wine pairings in years past, and then had a beer or 2, and then a mixed drink. This is a bad idea. Trust me!

I hope you enjoy the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival as much as we do every year!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Flea Market Finds–Donald Duck Matchbox Car

By Barbie

This little Flea Market find is marked Matchbox Disney Series No 2 (c) Walt Disney Productions made in Hong Kong 1979, Lesney Prod & Co Ltd. It is a small die cast 2 1/2" long 1 1/2" wide 2 1/2" high car, but Donald is the real reason I bought this piece. Look at his adorable little face!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Where in the “World” is Jiminy

By Beth Skarp

If you have been following along on this blog, you will know that my sister and I recently traveled to the World with Jiminy Cricket. Our goal was to let Jiminy not only have adventures, but to show things that we, who are much taller than Jiminy, would tend to overlook. We took several pictures of things that no doubt the average guest to the World would  also overlook. So, where in the World is Jiminy in these shots? 

Sometimes, Jiminy was just too small or the object too tall for Jiminy to reach. 

Can you guess where these pictures were taken?

No peeking at the answers which are directly below the photo!-Nick

 This is the clock at Enchanted Tales with Belle. 
The basket lowers partway for the quarter hour and reaches its full extension at the half hour. 
At a quarter of, it begins to raise back up and at the hour, it is right underneath the clock. 
Who pays attention to this? 
I never did.

 This is the stage where Big Al comes out to sing at Country Bear Jamboree.

This is the stone wall, just outside of the gift shop from Star Tours.

This is a backdrop located along the walkways in Hollywood Studios. 
How often do you walk past and not admire the opportunities to stop for a candid shot?

 Waiting in line at Disney's Hollywood Studios Backlot Tour.

Do you think they may have a room for me? This is on the Streets of America at DHS.

 How about this hotel, or wait, where am I again? Oh yeah....Muppet Vision 3D!

 Wait, who is that...

 It's DiVine at Animal Kingdom! Sorry this picture is so blurry, I got jostled just as I took the shot.

I hope you had as much fun looking at the pictures as I had taking them.  

Please stop back soon for more Where in the "World" is Jiminy!-Nick