Thursday, June 30, 2011

333...Disney Pixar's Brave

Here is a quick look at Disney Pixar's new movie 'Brave' coming in the summer 2012.  The trailer doesn't show much but I have come to trust Pixar.

Synopsis from Apple's website...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

334...Wordless Wednesday...My First

My first Wordless Wednesday Post.  I know I have already used this picture in a post before but it is one of my favorites.  It is of course, the backside of water as seen on the Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom.

Monday, June 27, 2011

336...Arrival Day

We live 16 hours away from the World.  We have driven there twice and will drive again in the summer of 2012.  So the question is what to do on arrival day especially after being on the road for that long?

In the summer 2006, we split our trip up by staying in Atlanta with my brother in-law.  We then got up early the next day and drove the rest of the way to Orlando.  A LONG 7 to 8 hour drive.  We ended up checking in around 4 and were so excited to be there we had to head to the Magic Kingdom.  It was a great first day there.  I still remember the the look on my wife's face as she held our baby girl.  Priceless!  We ended up staying at the park until about 1 in the morning.  Needless to say, we were wore out.  We slept until almost 1pm the next day making it another half day at the park.

Our first picture in the park.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

338...Things I'm Planning on Eating at the World

We are now only 338 days away from our Disney trip.  I'm not calling this a bucket list but there are a lot of things, mostly food, that we have not experienced yet.  Here is my list so far...

Specific Food
Dole Whip and/or  a Citrus Swirl in the Magic Kingdom
Tonga Toast and Coffee at Kona Cafe at the Polynesian

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Let's say you get done planning your WDW vacation and you find that you still have a few dollars left in the bank.  (Probably not going to happen but let's pretend) Would you like a few ideas where you could spend that left over money?  If you like collecting things, has Mickey got a deal for you!

Pin collecting and trading.  I don't do it but I love the idea.  Basically you get a starter set of four or five pins and a lanyard.  As you go through the parks you look for other vacationers or cast members to trade with.  Pretty easy and a great way to interact with other people in the parks.  Here is the official source of information about pin trading.

Pirates Starter Set from the Disney Store

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Meeting Characters at WDW - Part 3 of 3

(the following is a guest blog)

This blog will conclude the 3-part series on meeting and greeting characters. As stated in part 2, this blog will focus mainly on the Pixar characters.

Nothing says Pixar quite like Toy Story. Toy Story characters are in even more demand now with the release of Toy Story 3. But the amazing story of the three movies and the years that have passed since the first one has garnered many fans of all ages. Because of all of this, expect to wait in lines for Buzz, Woody and Jessie.

Buzz and Woody can be found across the street from Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios. The earlier in the day you go, the better off you probably will be. You get Buzz and Woody at the same time. Disney has done a great job of placing various “sets” for photo opportunities leading up to meeting this dynamic duo, so the time passes fairly quickly.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

344...One More Point About Character Meet and Greets

First, a big shout out to IzzyTru for his guest posts.  Thanks and looking forward to the last in his three part series about meeting the characters.

I wanted to add just one thing about how parents/adults interact with the characters.  I am reading a book by Jeff Kurtti entitled Since the World Began.  It is a great book and looks at the first 25 years of Walt Disney World.  In one section he pulls out a quote from the WDW employee handbook...

"Imagine yourself as a guest, bringing your family to vist Walt Disney World.  You walk down Main Street, pass through Cinderella Castle, and suddenly you come upon a Disney character at a table, chatting with a supervisor over a cup of coffee and a cigarette.  Doesn't sound like Disney, does it?  And if you were that guest, you wouldn't be very happy with our show, would you?  Remember that regardless of where you work or what your role is, anytime you are in a public area, you are 'onstage.'  Your attitude and performance are direct reflections on the quality of our Walt Disney World show."

Walt Disney World does an amazing job creating a World that is truly magical.  You won't see cast members from Frontierland walking in Tomorrowland.  They will not place the same character at two

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Meeting Characters at WDW - Part 2 of 3

(the following is a guest blog)

I’ll try to quickly go through some of the other characters that you might find at the parks, where exactly to find them, and any tips I might have. Continue to keep in mind some of the general tips I mentioned in the last blog. All Ears has a great list of things to keep in mind as well.

Minnie, Donald and Goofy are probably three that are at the top of many lists after Mickey. These three can usually be found in the same spots, or at least close to the spots, that Mickey is. At Animal Kingdom, these three are also in Camp Minnie-Mickey. As I stated with Mickey, it’s best to stand in line for these three while a Lion King show has just started. They can also be found at the town hall square at Magic Kingdom. Expect a line there. The Character Spot at Epcot is a great place to get them as well as is Chef Mickey’s (but make sure you have an ADR there). Our kids got Goofy and Pluto at Dino Land at Animal Kingdom as well. Pluto is often in many of these same locations.

Daisy isn’t as easy to find as these others, but she’s easy to get as you just pass the gates at Epcot. We waited in line about 10 minutes. She’s also in the town hall square at Magic Kingdom.

If you have a princess of your own, you’ll need to get pictures with the various princesses located throughout the parks. Town Hall Theater now has Cinderella, Belle and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) all

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Meeting Characters at WDW - Meet the Mouse

(the following is a guest blog)

One of the more magical happenings at WDW is meeting characters that are at each of the four parks. But do you really want to stand in line for an hour, or more in some cases? Neither do I.

One common theme on this blog will be planning. You must plan what you will do at each park and when to do them. Some will think of planning simply as it applies to rides. Some will also factor in meals as well. But if you don’t factor in some time and plan on how to best execute how to get pictures/autographs with your favorite characters, you will lose valuable time.

The itinerary located at the entrance of each park will give you times and locations for scheduled character meets. These are very helpful, but you still need to have an idea in advance of what plan to do.

There are various websites that have linked to where you can find different characters. I will link to some of them in the final installment of these blogs.

Friday, June 10, 2011

353...Branson, the Orlando of the MidWest

Well I am taking off for a week.  The fam is headed to Branson, MO, the Orlando of the MidWest.  Although it isn't WDW I am excited to spend a couple days at Silver Dollar City.

The last time I was there I was probably 9 or 10.  I have some great memories from that place and I look forward to sharing that with my family.  I am also very interested to see if my kids are willing to ride some of the roller coasters.  Right now they are talking a good game but let's see what happens when they are face-to-face with the PowderKeg, Thunderation and the Giant Swing!  Personally, I am pretty excited about the pool, some fattening food and hanging out with my family.

That is it for now.  I will return in a week.  There is a chance I will have a guest blogger during the week but we will have to see.  Talk with you soon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

354...The Five Best Attractions at Magic Kingdom

As you begin your WDW planning I would highly recommend discussing what attractions are most important to the members of your family or group.  It is unrealistic to think that you are going to see and do everything that the World has to offer in one trip.  With that in mind, this post will look at the five attractions at the Magic Kingdom that I think are not to be missed.

5.  Peter Pan's Flight - This ride is a classic.  My favorite moment is flying over London and seeing the cars and town below.  It is a very short ride with a usually long wait but to me there is just something magical about flying through the movie.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Disney Dining Plan - A Different View

(the following is a guest blog)

I have now been to Disney World twice, and my views are starting to shift on the dining plans. I have done the dining plan both times where we received one snack, one quick-service meal and one table-service meal each day for each person. On the surface, that doesn’t seem like it would even cover the three meals a day most people require (or, rather, want). That gets to my basic point: There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the dining plan. Every family and every situation is unique.

For my family (myself, my wife, my 9-year old daughter and my 5-year old son), breakfast is never high on our list. For that reason alone, this plan seemed ideal. Two meals per day plus a snack. Seems just about right, at least for us. For our last trip, which we just got back from on Sunday, we didn’t eat breakfast one time.

The DisneyMacAddict is right. There’s a lot of food for each meal. Even the quick-service meals contain a lot of food. I’m not a big dessert person either, and I never order it at a restaurant. And if you’re going when it’s hot, if you’re like me, you don’t eat as much when your in the hot, Florida sun 10 hours a day. So is it really justifiable?

355...The Crystal Palace Strategy

I'm pretty sure I got this from WDWToday or the Unofficial Guide but I have used it for so long now that it is mine!

The Crystal Palace is located in the heart of the Magic Kingdom at the end of Main St.

The goal of this strategy is simple.  You want to schedule your ADR (Advance Dining Reservation) for the earliest time slot they have available, usually 8:05am.  The Magic Kingdom will open at 9.  You want to eat and have a lovely breakfast with Winnie the Pooh and friends.  You should finish right around 9 when the park is officially opened.  At that time you are already halfway into the MK and if you head to Adventureland or Frontierland  you will beat the crowds and be able to ride Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain without any wait.  You can also grab a FastPass for one of those rides, go ride Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion and come back and ride Splash or Big Thunder with your Fastpass.  You should be able to get most of that side of the park done before the crowds get too big.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

356...Our Plans

Today I just wanted to give some updates on the planning for our WDW trip 2012.

*We have moved the departure date up by about a week.  So we are now just 356 days away from once again seeing the house that Mickey built.

*I contacted a travel agent at MEI and Mouse Fan Travel.  Still not sure if I want to work with a travel agent but I am interested in seeing what the no obligation quote looks like.  She did tell me that they will not have the 2012 resort rates available until August

*The hotels I am currently interested in are the Port Orleans Riverside...

the Dolphin ...

Monday, June 6, 2011

364...Disney Dining Plan

To do, or not to do the Disney Dining Plan: that is the question.  I've heard it said that dining at WDW is like an attraction in and of itself.  From the Mickey Mouse ice cream bars to the steaks at Le Cellier, food is to be experienced there.  BUT does the dining plan offer the best ROI (Return on Investment) for my family?  I've never done the Dining Plan but for this next trip I am weighing the pros and cons.

There are so many restaurants I would like to try but I just don't know if I can justify the money.  The cost of the Basic Dining Plan during the summer would be $47.99 for adult and $12.99 per child.  For my family that would be $134.95 per day.  At that price you get a snack, one quick-service dining option and one table-service dining option per person.  The meals include entree, dessert and beverage.  That is a lot of food.

If you would like to see the official information from Disney click HERE.

Here are the articles I have been looking at about the Disney Dining Plan...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

365...Disney Depression

I have several friends who are on the road after their Disney vacation.  How can the same road that brought you to Walt Disney World feel so different a week later?  On the trip down we are playing Disney music, watching classic Disney films and discussing our plans for the Magic Kingdom.  The trip home seems so, so quiet and melancholy.  I use to not even want to talk about WDW for several weeks after a trip.  I would give up reading the Unofficial Guide and stop listening to my favorite Disney podcasts.  It felt like when Christmas was over and I was just waiting for Spring.  So how do I handle the Disney Depression now?

One solution is for everyone on your trip to become violently ill!  That is what we did on our last trip to the World.  Honestly, I was glad to get home.  That is not probably the greatest advice but I did learn from that trip.  As I got home and returned to normal I began to realize that I could block out the negative things that happened on that trip by planning our next trip.  Sure our next trip was two years away but I needed to plan.  (Little did I know that our next trip to WDW would actually be four years away)  I replaced the void by constantly being in Disney planning mode.  It worked.  I don't know if it is healthy and it may drive my wife nuts, but I seem happier.

How do you handle the Disney Depression?

Friday, June 3, 2011

366...Random Pictures from Around the World

I'm not a photographer.  I wish I had a great eye for composition, lighting and all that good stuff but I don't.  So please don't view these pictures with a critic's eye.  Just enjoy them as pictures from the World.  Thanks.

After a 16 hour car ride this sign looks SO good.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

367...First Question

So when is the perfect time to go to Walt Disney World?  Well, that kind of depends on your situation.  My wife and I are both in education so we are pretty much locked into going during school holidays and summer vacation.  Since we are also pretty cheap and prefer to drive, that really only leaves the summer.  If you have a flexible schedule then the World is wide open to you.

The WDW resort hotels recognize several different "seasons."  There is the value, regular, summer, fall, peak and holiday season.  Although the theme park ticket prices do not fluctuate, the resort hotel prices move a great deal.  Here are two good sources to look at to see room rates and season dates.  MouseSavers and  (The MouseSavers page will give you a good breakdown on the rates and seasons.  The AllEars page will give you a fact sheet about the hotel and all the rate information)  As you can see, deciding when to go will have a direct impact on your budget.

367...It Was All Started By A Mouse

"I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse."
                                                                   -Walt Disney

I recently read the book Walt Disney: An American Original.  One of the things that I enjoyed doing after reading about a certain animated short or film was to look it up on YouTube.  It was very interesting to read about the hardships, ideas and process that the animators went through and then to watch the end product.  So I wanted to take a short break from my usual blogging to simply show you the classic, Steamboat Willie.  Unfortunately, trying to embed the link into this page didn't work.  So if you just click on the title below I will redirect you to YouTube.  Sorry.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Age-Old Question

One question I forgot to list in the previous post was, "What's a good age to take your kids to Disney?"  There is a theory out there that says you should wait until your kids can remember the trip.  To which I say, you aren't going to remember half the trip when you get back either!  That is why you take pictures.  Also, they aren't paying for the trip so why does it matter if they remember it?  It's what you remember that counts. (and the pictures you take)

I think that three is a great age to begin taking your kids.  The magic is very real to them at three.  They believe that is Cinderella's castle.  They believe they are meeting the actual characters of their favorite shows.  There is something powerful about being in the presence of believers at the Magic Kingdom.

Below are a few pictures of my daughter at the age of three getting ready to meet the characters.  Can you see the joy on her face?

Meeting the characters from Little Einsteins.