Saturday, October 31, 2015

10 Best Things About Tower of Terror

Once again, Lisa Green shares a wonderful article just in time to celebrate Halloween from her Living a Disney Life Blog. - Nick

It’s October and I’m feeling Halloween-ish.  Last week, I listed my favorite things about Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion.  This week, I feel it’s only fair to do the same for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  As it is most certainly one of my top three favorite attractions, I have plenty of love for every dark, spooky, incredible detail.  Where to begin?  That’s easy!  The Tower of Terror’s draw begins long before guests step into the queue.  Stroll down Sunset Boulevard and you’ll see (and hear) what I mean.  The Tower’s exterior, complete with screaming faces in the upstairs window, is sure to capture your attention.

Tower of Terror – 10 Best Things

  1. The Grounds – This is one of the best, most detailed attraction exteriors ever created.  Disney Imagineering at its very best.  There’s mist, age, decay, overgrown landscaping – the story begins long before that first step inside the Hollywood Tower Hotel.
  2. The Lobby – If you could escape from a Doom-Buggy in Haunted Mansion, it might be a lot like exploring the Tower of Terror.  Clearly, this was once a finely appointed, upscale establishment.  It’s almost sad to see it in such a rundown state.  Creepy yet lovely with a sense of foreboding.  Exactly the right atmosphere for what happens next.RM-Tower-of-Terror-Lobby-Desk
  3. The Bellhops – Seriously some of the best and most fun Cast Members in the World!  They’re solemn (but still fun) and have awesome costumes.
  4. The Library – So much to see! Incredible details are everywhere even before the TV comes alive and Rod Serling (voiced by Mark Silverman) sets exactly the right mood!  This attraction layers the buildup like none other – carefully crafting the story while maximizing anticipation and a bit of fear (in a good way).  Watch carefully – the hidden details are part of the charm!RM-Rod-Serling-Tower-of-Terror
  5. The Sounds – The classic Twilight Zone theme song, the televised back story, the use of sound (and silence) from the library to the end of the ride…genius!  “It’s raining it’s pouring…”RM-Tower-of-Terror-TV
  6. The Basement – Amazingly detailed (like the grounds outside), the winding path between the library and the elevator takes guests into the dark, dingy hotel basement.  Giant boilers, pipes, equipment, and Hidden Mickeys are all there to be explored.
  7. The Service Elevator – Could a ride vehicle look more daunting?  I don’t think so.  The elevator on the outside looks ramshackle and uninviting – once the doors open?  It takes some serious bravery to step inside knowing that once those doors close, there’s no turning back.RM-Tower-of-Terror-Elevator-Doors
  8. The Anticipation – First-timers worry about what’s going to happen next.  Repeat guests DO know what’s in store and still…well, I know how hard my heart is pounding at this point and I’ve ridden dozens of times. That’s part of what keeps me coming back!RM-Tower-of-Terror-Elevator
  9. The Thrill – As you can tell from outside this attraction, the Tower of Terror tends to make people scream.  Me?  Not so much – this ride makes me laugh hysterically.  I can’t explain it, but the surprises on this ride seriously crack me up.RM-Tower-of-Terror-Queue
  10. The Pictures – Even before our Memory Maker package included video for the Tower of Terror and even with many strangers in every picture, I still count the ride photos among my most favorite.  I guess it’s all the different expressions captured and the different way each person reacts to the ride’s random movements…makes me smile every time I see our pictures.Tower of Terror Ride Photo
What about YOU?  How do you feel about the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?  Do you love it?  What’s your favorite detail about this attraction?

Lisa can be found on Facebook at and on Twitter at

And not only is Lisa my favorite blogger, but she co-hosts The Disney Exchange Podcast along with me and David Hodges!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Disney Park Starz Vinylmation Haunted Mansion Bride

By: Nick

A few years ago Barbie and I took a short trip to Walt Disney World with another couple, staying in a Fort Wilderness Cabin.

While visiting the Magic Kingdom’s Emporium, I showed my friends the new form of Vinylmation, the Park Starz line. I stated that before the trip was through, I would have to buy one, in the hopes of getting one of the few figures I was interested in.

That evening, they went to the Magic Kingdom for evening Extra Magic Hours, while we stayed at the cabin. Imagine my surprise when I awoke the next morning to find that they had bought me a Park Starz figure! I couldn’t wait till everyone woke up to open it, as I am like a kid on Christmas morning when it comes to opening gifts, so I took it out onto the deck to see what “Santa” had brought me.

The packaging is terrific. I love the graphics. The box itself is a work of art.

What can it be? Is it one I want?! It feels roundish, is it the Yeti. I wouldn’t mind the Yeti, but it isn’t my first choice. I hope it isn’t Big Al, as my wife really dislikes the Country Bears.

I open the foil to find the figure I actually wanted the most! The Haunted Mansion Bride!
She even comes with an ax!

They even thought to paint in her shoes on the bottom!

It gives me chills just looking at it.

Included is a little fold out pamphlet with a name of each figure, and the year of it’s creation at each of the parks it may be in or have been in.
For instance, the Robot Butler, Horizons, Epcot, 1983-1999.

A fantastic collectible. A big thank you to my friends!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

TBT: Walt Disney World November 2011, Part 1

By Nick

Back before I blogged, I participated regularly in the DVC News Forums where I would post trip reports, such as this one from November of 2011. Any current commentary will be in italics.

PART 1 : 11/11/11
Me, my wife, Barbie, and our friend's Josh and Jill.
The Cabin's at Fort Wilderness.

Friday, November 11th:

We flew into Orlando from Philly, and took Magical Express to Fort Wilderness, checked in, and proceeded to our cabin.

We were in cabin 2768, which is very close to the main road, and one of the many bus stops throughout the grounds.
It is also a fairly short walk to the Outpost Depot, which is where you get a bus to Downtown Disney and all the parks except the Magic Kingdom, which is reached by boat.

Our cabin:

You walk into the kitchen area straight ahead.

To the right is the living room. There is a Murphy bed, which is where my wife and I slept.

This is very comfortable, perhaps more comfortable than other resorts beds. It is a double however, so some may find it a little small.
The hallway.

The bathroom. I felt the water pressure was also better than some resorts.

The bedroom.

A couple of things of note. I think this may have been one of the cleanest and most well kept of the rooms we've stayed in! Mouse Keeping was exceptional.

Also, one of the things I got the most feedback about, was the bus service. Many suggested we rent a car, but our friends decided that wasn't necessary. The bus service was the best of any other resort we've stayed at, with the exception of one late evening, after returning via boat from the Magic Kingdom, when we had to wait about 20 minutes for a bus. Even the internal bus service was often arriving just as we would approach both our local bus stop or the main Outpost stop. On only a couple of occasions was a bus not at the ready, and we opted to simply walk either to the main depot, or our cabin.

The pools, we did not try, but our friends enjoyed the heated quiet pool and hot tub.

Me, my wife, and our friends all agree, we would absolutely stay at the cabins again.

A big thank you to Jill for getting the interior pics for us after we left, mine didn't come out very well.

We dropped off our bags, and headed right to Epcot for some Food and Wine.
Josh, my wife Barbie, and Jill.

The weather was absolutely perfect. The Christmas decorations were already appearing, and the Christmas loops were playing.

Loved the Lamp Chop from Australia.

2 other great choices were the Steak Taco and Flan from Mexico.

Just so-so were the ravioli's from Italy.

We got our pics with Beauty and the Beast. I'd never even seen the Beast there before! We didn't get one picture where we were all looking at the same camera, as the PhotoPass person, Josh and Jill were all taking pics at the same time. 
I did a post about this, which can be found here.

A Torontopolitan from a cart in front of Canada.

Having made our way around World Showcase, we headed for Future World, and rode Imagination and the Seas With Nemo, and explored the Seas.
By now, it was almost time to head back to World Showcase. We were attending the 3D Dessert party, which was at 8PM.
On the way there, we ran into a co-worker of my wife, Mary! From New Jersey! And this wouldn't be the only time!!
The Dessert party:

We lined up about 730, and were admitted not to soon afterwards. We waited in front of a curtain, which was parted at 8, and all rushed for tables, which really wasn't necessary, as there were plenty.
I picked out a table, and next to our table was Barbie's co-worker, Mary! What are the odds?!

The room was beautiful.

There was an excellent live band playing songs such as "Sweet Caroline", "Sweet Child of Mine", "Sweet Home Alabama", you get the picture.

There was a lot of drink choices, coffees, teas, and many adult beverages, wine, punches, etc., and our favorite, the DeKuyper liquors.

There was also a savory station of dried meats and cheeses, as well as fruit.

Sadly the most disappointing thing about the dessert party were the desserts.

The best thing, and almost worth the price of admission alone, was the Flambeed Cinnamon Doughnuts with Red Stag Infused Sundried Cherries served with Red Stag Ice Cream.

Most of the rest of the desserts were fairly pedestrian. We all agreed the dessert trio from the Food and Wine Dessert and Champagne Booth was far superior.

At about 930, there was an announcement that we would be going to the Illuminations viewing area, located between the 2 shops at the entrance of World Showcase. On the way out, we were each handed a gift bag with a Merci Chocolate assortment, as well as some other goodies. We were also provide special glasses that made small Mickey heads out of the fireworks.

All in all, it was absolutely worth experiencing once, but we agreed we wouldn't do it again.
Please stop back next Thursday for Part 2!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Disney Pixar Poseable Toys at Target

By Nick

A couple of weeks ago I spotted these Disney Paxar toys at the local Target.

They are not cheap, but as my favorite Pixar movie is WALL-E, I had to get him and EVE.

They are very nicely detailed, but I have to say, EVE is very unwieldy and hard to balance just right on her base, and the weaponized arm does not change out easily.

And the bulb is tricky to balance just right as well!

The eye changing feature is really cool though, and no batteries required, simply push down on the top of the head.

WALL-E is much more stable, and has a neat trash compact feature making this much more kid friendly in my opinion.