Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December '14 Walt Disney World Trip Report: Part 7

By Nick

Friday, December 12th 

Last day.
We brought our luggage to bag check and headed for the Magic Kingdom early, as we had an 810am Advanced Dining Reservation at the Crystal Palace.

On the way up Main Street we stopped for several PhotoPass photographers, as we were determined to get the most out of Memory Maker.

Jill, Josh, Tinker Bell, me, and Barbie

As we approached the hub, I saw a young man getting up from a kneel. He had just proposed! I had heard of many people doing and seeing this, but this was a first. All the people paying attention applauded and shouted congratulations. It was an awesome start to the day!

Note in the background, there was filming going on for the Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration. I asked a cast member who was on stage, and they said they thought it was Ariana Grande. Interestingly, I watched the show on Christmas Day, and didn't notice this stage setup at all.

Breakfast at the Crystal Palace was not only delicious, but it is with the gang from the Hundred Acre Wood!

As I mentioned in Part 4, Jill really likes Tigger.

We made our way back down Main Street to the Town Square Theater to visit with Mickey Mouse.

We were a bit early, and the line for Tinker Bell was only a few minutes, so we were shrunk down to Tink size and brought to Pixie Hollow.

We then used our FastPass+ for Mickey, who asked if we were familiar with the Haunted Mansion and the Hitchhiking Ghosts, which we of course said we were. He then asked if we'd like to pose like them!

We spent the rest of the morning riding rides, and heading for Pirates through Liberty Square when we saw a queue for the Haunted Mansion! As the Mansion was supposed to be down for refurb during our entire stay, this was a very pleasant surprise, so we got in the reasonable 15 minute line.

Next, Pirates, followed by a Dole Whip Swirl.

This was my first try of a Dole Whip Swirl. I'd got Pineapple mixed with Vanilla at Barbie's request, as she thinks the straight up Dole Whip is too sweet. The swirl WAS better, and I'll only eat it that way going forward!

We decided to head back to the Wilderness Lodge for lunch at Roaring Forks, their counter service restaurant, and relax for a couple of hours before Magical Express was scheduled to take us to the airport.

We all dozed on and off by the fire. Finally it was time to say goodbye to the beautiful lodge.

Thank you for following along, and have a safe and Happy New Year!

If you missed past parts: 
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4- Part 5 - Part 6

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Epcot Center Commemorative Pre-Opening Guides

By: Nick

Before going to Walt Disney World for the first time in 1992, the place I was most excited to visit, even more than the Magic Kingdom, was Epcot. Upon arrival, the first attraction I went on was Spaceship Earth. The park fascinated me and upon my return home, I hunted down as much as I could; including the brochures featured here, a more extensive guide that I've featured in the past, and 2 very in depth books.

These 2 guides are among my favorite collectibles.

This pamphlet from 1981 is all concept paintings and a description of the coming attractions for Future World and World Showcase. The artwork for Epcot is absolutely beautiful.

This Commemorative Pre-Opening Guide to Epcot Center, from 1982 has mostly construction photos with a few concept paintings from the pamphlet mixed in.

In a future post, I'll share the guide book.

Monday, December 29, 2014

December '14 Walt Disney World Trip Report: Part 6

By Nick

Thursday, December 11th

Off to Disney's Hollywood Studios for rope drop, but instead of rushing off to a ride, we went directly to Starring Rolls Cafe for breakfast, specifically, in Barbie's and my case, cupcakes.

Breakfast of champions.

Next up, a trip into The Twilight Zone, our friend Jill's first!

Front row, left, me, Barbie, Jill clutching Josh tightly with eyes shut.

Once was enough for Jill, but Barbie, Josh and I went on again, before heading to Toy Story Midway Mania followed by a visit with the Muppets.

We headed for lunch at Mama Melrose's.

Everything was very good, especially the appetizers.

We worked some of the very filling meal off by walking to the Boardwalk to see the holiday display.

We walked over to the Yacht and Beach club to check out their decorations as well.

The train display at the Yacht club:

Gingerbread carousel at The Beach Club:

We then took walk through the International Gateway to Epcot, and over to France for a snack at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, followed by a nap in Impressions de France.

It's a lovely film, and we see it almost every trip, but I was out almost immediately after sitting down.

We took a boat back to Disney's Hollywood Studios, and took a ride on the Great Movie Ride.

I took a Yuletide Cheer break before a really good, and fun dinner at 50's Prime Time Cafe.

The Einstok Doppelbock, while not as good as their white ale, was pretty tasty.

The Christmas decorations at 50s Prime Time:

We got very lucky in getting a great server named Nick. And I LOVE their Fried Chicken.
I'll have a full review of both lunch at Mama Melrose's and dinner at 50s Prime Time Cafe in the future.

For other parts of the Trip Report : Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Disney Exchange -Episode 002 Show Notes

by Nick

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

-We start the show by giving shout outs to friends in the Disney Fan Community, including Curt Stone from the Geekin' on WDW podcast, and we discuss his Pooh to Tigger Challenge.

-We also give a shout out to Heather Brainerd, a very supportive friend who writes a series of books with her brother, so check her page out on Amazon.

-Dave introduced our main topic, Disney Transportation.

-We talk about how we all get to Walt Disney World, and Dave brags talks about being close enough to always drive.

-Lisa shares why she isn't a fan of renting a vehicle on property, and I talk about experiences with friends who rented vehicles.

-Dave asks us to compare the difference in transportation between a value resort and deluxe resorts.

-Lisa starts squeaking, and blames it on her dog Junior.

-Lisa relates her least favorite bus experience at Old Key West and "The Little Stop of Horrors."

-She goes on to tell about a horrible experience her children had while staying at Old Key West, and an emotionally compromised bus driver.

-Dave points out how crowded the buses often are and how there is always room for one more.

-Lisa tells about the "Bay Lake Tower Incident", as it's come to be known.

-Dave and I complain that there are 500 bus stops between Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter.

-I tell why Saratoga Springs is my wife's least favorite resort. Please address all hate mail to Lisa Green.

-Lisa apparently didn't like that she wasn't on mic for a minute, so stops paying attention, but comes back strong with strategies to get to Downtown Disney.

-Parking is now $180 a day! Please Note - It is NOT- it is $17.

-Dave gives a helpful tip: If you are staying at either POP Century or Art of Animation, they are within a fairly easy walking distance from each other, and if one resort's bus isn't crowded, you can hop on that bus to get back much quicker. I go on to say that we have had no transportation issues with either of these resorts. Dave is surprised to learn that my wife, on occasion, agrees with me.

-We lose Lisa to an attack from Junior, and my internet connection drops, but we both return to discuss our opinion of buses, driving distances from our homes to Walt Disney World, and Lisa talks about driving to far flung airports, such as, say, Juneau, Alaska, for good airfaires.

-Downtown Disney and the ordeal to get there and or back is discussed.

-Dave doesn't like the bus system, and describes his strategy of getting the earliest bus to the Magic Kingdom to avoid crowds, and I show my age again by explaining why we don't stay until park close.
Lisa is busy taking down Christmas decorations. 

-I bring up a classic Simpsons episode and am stunned that nobody gets it. MONORAIL!

-We compare the Monorail versus boats from the Monorail Loop resorts.

-Folks, you cannot get a boat from Downtown Disney to the Magic Kingdom. 

-Walking versus the Friendship Boats between Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot, and why we love the Boardwalk.

-Lisa tells me to try the Duval Burger at Olivia's at Old Key West, because it has shrimp and I'm allergic. Thanks Lisa!

-There is indeed a bus to the Magic Kingdom from the Wilderness Lodge.

-We tell transportation strategies each of us has. Know your schedule and the bus/boat schedule, and be nice to your bus drivers!

-I ask what happens if you are VERY late for an ADR.

-Pin Trading Tip- Ask your bus driver to see their pins, and janitors have great pins as well!

-We look forward to 2015 and discuss travel plans.

-Please leave comments and feedback, ask questions, or if you met, or meet your significant other on Disney Transportation, please contact us on:
Twitter: @DisneyExchange

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Walt Disney World's Nighttime Shows

by Lisa Green


Visitors to Disney World have wonderful opportunities to experience amazing, truly magical nighttime shows in three of the four parks.  (RUMOR:  Animal Kingdom may be getting a nighttime show of its own in the next couple of years.)  Most people, after seeing them all, tend to have a favorite and may argue strenuously over which is the best – but everyone will agree on one thing:  These shows are spectacular and for Disney fans, remarkably touching – the embodiment of all that we love about Disney World.
If you’re headed to Disney World for the first time, please make sure to see at least one (if not all) of these major events included with the price of your park admission.  TIP:  If your child is frightened by loud noises it would be worth the effort to try to work through that prior to attending a show with fireworks at Disney World.  Disney goes all out – spares nothing for the sake of amazing and thrilling visitors.  Unfortunately, this means some very loud BOOMs sprinkled throughout the displays.

Epcot’s Illuminations: Reflections of Earth -  While this one is my least favorite (don’t judge – it can be your favorite and I won’t think less of you), it is unique (sorry, I don’t have a picture of the action).  Disney’s description is “Behold the past, present and future of Earth at this stunning fireworks show that celebrates the spirit of humanity.”  That’s pretty deep for the young ‘uns among us – so, here’s my take:  The show is actually in the middle of the World Showcase Lagoon, so position yourself strategically well ahead of show-time.  Guard your spot zealously or a family with small children will infiltrate your camp by squeezing their smallest members between you and the fence – the parents will eventually follow and block your view completely – beware!   Officially, the show is divided into three parts.  Part 1:  The Earth is Born.  Part 2:  The Triumph of Life.  Part 3:  Hope for the Future. – all played out on and around a 350,000 lb. Earth Globe – the “world’s first spherical video display system”.  You kinda do need to see it at least once to understand how this all works – it’s worth the effort and while small children my not understand the deeper meaning, they’ll enjoy the special effects.  The show is narrated by Jim Cummings (voice of Pooh, Tigger, and more).


Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – This show uses a multitude of special effects in the most creative, unbelievable way and incorporates live and projected (on water) characters to enchant and thrill spectators. Oh, you’ll hear whining here and there from people who don’t like the fact that this show is so popular, you’ve got to arrive for a seat at least 90 minutes before show-time.  Those whiners are also complaining that the show is tired, the same-old-thing and needs a re-fresh.  I say Oh, puh-leeeze.  If you think this Studios sensation has lost any of its shine, just take someone with you who’s never seen it before.


Magic Kingdom’s Wishes:  My personal favorite!  The voice of Jiminy Cricket over the park’s speakers kick this show off (cue goose bumps).  Then, weather permitting, Tinker Bell will actually fly down from atop Cinderella Castle before the most amazingly beautiful fireworks show begins.  Get a spot down Main Street toward the front of the park (not too close to the Castle) and prepare to be amazed, astounded, and awed – you will say “ahhhhh”!  Sentimental sorts, prepare to be teary-eyed – this show gets me every time.  Watch carefully as the pyrotechnics will be unlike any you have ever seen (sappy me – getting choked up while I’m typing this – I’m not even there!).  You go see Wishes and tell me you are not profoundly touched…the only thing that will ruin it for you is the guy blocking your view by filming the show on his Smartphone/mini-cam/iPad (devices vary) – which he holds up, right in the way, the entire time.  Move away from that guy.  Give him the stink-eye as you go.


TIP:  If your little one just can’t stand loud noises – the fireworks are still enjoyable from afar.  Some restaurants at resorts on Bay Lake/Seven Seas Lagoon often offer Wishes-viewing-while-dining options.

There is actually one more show I need to mention, but you can only see it if you’re staying at a Magic Kingdom resort (Contemporary, Polynesian, or Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness).  It’s the Electrical Water Pageant.  This little light-parade-on-water makes its way around Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon.  It’s like a bed-time story – a little something special at the end of the day to say good-night and wish you sweet dreams.  Starts around 9pm (visible at the Poly) and goes to around 10:20pm (passes the Contemporary last) – viewing depends on where you are.  Note the cheerfully snappy musical accompaniment!

Time to weigh in – which nighttime show at Disney World is your favorite?

This article was originally posted on the Living a Disney Life Blog