Aug 13

A Tribute to Robin Williams

The loss of life is always so sad but to know the loss was due to suicide is tragic.  If you are depressed, get help.  There is always a better way, suicide is not the alternative.  Whitney is back and this time she shares her love for Robin Williams and why he will always be remembered.

I know that there have been countless pieces written about Robin Williams in the few days since his passing, but I felt that I had to contribute my two-cents as well. This man was a comedy legend who could bring us to tears with laughter as well as his dramatic roles, but he was also a Disney legend. The first movie I can remember seeing in the theater is Aladdin. There was just something about that big crazy blue guy with the heart of gold that drew me in instantly. I cannot think of another person in the entire world who could have brought Genie to life as he did. This movie, and more specifically, the character of Genie, only helped to solidify my love for Disney. I could go years without watching Aladdin, but could still remember the exact inflection of each of Genie’s lines. He had something so special, that he could make the simplest lines become either so hilarious or heart wrenching that they would jump right off the screen and touch people to their core. Watching his interviews always intrigued me as much as watching any of his movies, because he was just so genuinely funny and always kept everyone on their toes. You never knew if he was going to bust out in song or the slow drawl of his John Wayne impression. Even though I never had the privilege of meeting Mr. Williams, I feel like I have known him my whole life. From his roles in Popeye, Hook, Aladdin, Flubber, Jumanji, Patch Adams, Jack, Awakenings, Dead Poets Society, to the unforgettable Mrs. Doubtfire (and the list goes on and on), I don’t think there is one time period of my life that hasn’t been touched by Robin Williams in some way. It feels like he has always been a presence in my life in one way or another. Maybe that is why his passing has hit me harder than any other celebrity’s. Of course it is a tragedy when any life is lost, but there is something about his passing that has hit me especially hard. I think this is the first time I have just sat and cried over losing someone I have never met. He had a way about him that just made everyone feel comfortable; like they knew him. It feels like we have all lost a lifelong friend, and to some extent that is true. I have seen people write things that say the world will never be the same because he is gone, and in some ways, I would totally agree. However, I like to think that the world will never be the same simply because he was here. He was a unique source of light, love, and lots of hyperactive randomness. He was truly one of a kind. There never has been, and never will be another like him. I hope he knew even in the slightest, how much light and life he brought to the world. I hope he never lost sight in the midst of everything he was going through, that he had millions of people who adored him, and the world was a much better place because he was in it.

Aug 13

Review of “Creativity, Inc.”

I have some amazing writers here.  And we have a new writer to welcome!  Whitney loves to read and LOVES Pixar.  She read the new book by Ed Catmull and shares her review of the book. Thanks Whitney and welcome to “Mouse”cation.

 

creativity incAnyone who knows me knows the depths of my love for Pixar. It is my dream to one day work in its story department. No, really. I’ve read several books about Pixar and its movies, so when I heard that Ed Catmull, Co-Founder and President of Pixar Animation and President of Disney Animation, had written a book, I could not wait to read it. The book is called Creativity, Inc.:  Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration. I know that the book was written primarily as a resource for, especially in areas where originality and creativity is key. I am not the manager of a company, but I knew that in order to pass on the leadership wisdom he has gained, some great stories were bound to surface. I am a bit ashamed to say that I began reading this book assuming that loads of really valuable managerial information would be totally lost on me, and sprinkled thinly throughout would be stories about the animation studio I so admire. I am pleased to say that I was wrong. I almost expected the format of a self-help book. You know, the type that gives you “10 Simple Steps” to doing whatever it is you want.  What I found instead was a detailed chronological account of how Pixar began, chock full of the stories I’d been hoping for, the lessons learned through those experiences, and how those lessons shaped the way the studio is run. What I found was that this book was not only for managers of companies (and Pixar fanatics), but also has valuable information for leaders of families, especially on the topic of failure.

Failure is generally assumed to be negative. Most people, myself included, spend extra time and effort in the hopes of avoiding failure. Yes, making mistakes is part of life, but normally, it is not a welcomed part of life. I learned that the same is not true at Pixar. To those at Pixar, failure is not seen as simply something they are required to deal with and work through. In fact, it is seen as a welcomed and positive part of their process. It might seem strange that a studio that has consistently produced hit after hit would be so openly accepting of failure, but I think that is exactly why they are so successful. A quote that is seen throughout the book is one from Andrew Stanton, director of Finding Nemo and part of the Pixar Braintrust.  Andrew has said to “fail early and fail fast,” and “be wrong as fast as you can”. This shows not to submit to failure, but accept it as a stepping stone to something better, and the faster you fail, the faster you can rule out what doesn’t work and move on toward what does. Thinking this way not only takes the stigma off of failure, but actually helps view it as a necessary part of learning. By not allowing themselves to be paralyzed by fear of making mistakes, they are able to chase ideas that might seem crazy, but end up as amazing successes (like maybe an elderly gentleman flying his home across the world by helium balloons).  I think this can be an important thing to remember, especially as a parent. When we (or our kids) are not so worried about the possibility of failing, we tend to be more open to trying new things and when that happens, the possibilities for the future truly are limitless.

This book has taught me to think differently about failure and how it can be a force for positivity in my life and for my family. I hope that because of what I have learned in this book, I can be a model of this to my kids. I hope they see me deal with failure as an opportunity to keep trying. Most importantly, I hope they learn not to let fear of mistakes hold them hostage from trying new things. I never expected to have such a strong reaction to what was meant as a resource for managers, but what this book has shown me is invaluable.

 

 

Aug 11

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – Laurie’s Complaints

I grew up with the Pike, San Diego Zoo, and amusement parks with my first documented visit on October 24, 1960. I have ridden many roller coasters except the newfangled ones. I cut my teeth on the bobsleds in Disneyland. I was excited to see a new roller coaster at Walt Disney World that I could ride.

IMG_6030There were issues from the beginning. I was in line at night so I did not appreciate the fans blowing full force on me. The lines are dark at night so it was hard to see where I was going. The interactive area was fun but the line was moving fast. There were kids running around trying to get back to their family as well as a few lost adults. I loved the spinning barrels where the characters come onto the ceiling.

Disabled guests stay in line like everyone else until it is time to board. The trains must wait for them to load even if it takes a while. I prefer side boarding like at Toy Story Mania but that would not work here. OUCH OUCH OUCH!!! I am 60 – 64 inches tall and about 280 pounds. I was in pain from having the lap bar squish my legs together. Mine trainThe whole ride was me with my knees pressed together even though the lap bar had plenty of room for my girth. The seat back was something molded that did not fit my back. It seems that the seats were designed for dwarfs not linebackers.

Overall this is a great ride with too much hype. I did not notice the cars moving until we entered the mine and were slowing down. This is very close to, but not quite as thrilling, as Big Thunder Railroad. The trains zip along on the smooth steel rails then STOP to check out the dwarfs in their mine. Splash Mountain has that same big drop then lull as you float along until the next drop. You do not get nonstop heart pounding thrills instead you get two short bursts. At the end comes the cottage where the dwarfs and Snow White are dancing while in the other half of the house are animals. That is not how it was in the movie, was it? Look hard right to see the Hag at the door with her apples. It is a great ride not to be missed, but the poorly designed seats will have me heading to the Wilderness for the Wildest Ride.

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Jul 19

My Favorite Food and Drinks under $20

What if your dear friend offers you anything your heart desires that is up to $20. What would you choose? Laurie is listing some of her favorites and hoping she can run into some friends to share these yummy epicurean delights.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

1. Chicken tenders, potato chips, and Diet Coke
2. Dad’s Brownie at the Tune-In Lounge with iced tea
3. Wedge Salad at the Tune-In Lounge with a chocolate milkshake
4. Popcorn, Mickey Bar, and Diet Coke while watching fireworks and singing LET IT GO!
5. Dessert Sampler or Cobb Salad at Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge, though for $16 there is the sliders that are awesome

Magic Kingdom

1. Hot dog, chips, and Diet Coke at Casey’s Refreshment Corner.
2. Club sandwich with iced tea at the Plaza Restaurant
3. I bring plastic bags for this one. Roasted corn and baked potato from Liberty Market, cheeseburger or chicken nuggets with Diet coke from Pecos Bill’s for a gourmet meal as I watch the Electrical Parade.
4. Rib dinner with mashed taters, cucumber salad, and Diet Coke at Cosmic Ray’s.
5. Dill Pickle, yup, just a pickle as those remind me of my mother who had to have one every trip.

Animal Kingdom

1. Babycakes at the kiosk near Flame Tree.
2. Miniature Mr. Goodbars and other loose candy in the shop at Dinoland.
3. Pizza at Pizzafari with a Diet Coke
4. Rocky Mountain caramel corn from the kiosk near Flame Tree
5. Popcorn and a Diet Coke

Epcot

1. Pork chop with beans, rice, and ice tea, substitute fish or chicken as all are awesome at Sunshine Seasons
2. Kaki Gori in Japan Pavilion
3. Ginger Caramel ice cream at Joy of Tea
4. The best ice cream in WDW, for me, is at Crepes des Chefs de France
5. Covered Bridge chips in the store in Canada pavilion, love them!

Downtown Disney

1. Raglan road for ice tea and onion rings or shrimp
2. Sports Beans by Jelly Belly at Fit 2 Run!!
3. Butter Chicken from Namaste Cafe food truck with Diet Coke.
4. Candy Cauldron, turn me loose!
5. World of Disney snack attack!

Elsewhere

1. Hess gas stations have everything I couid desire in snacking.
2. Beaches and Cream for a cheeseburger and chocolate shake.  (Tabitha’s favorite here is No Way Jose Sundae).
3. Typhoon Lagoon for chicken strips, chips, and mug full of Diet Coke.
4. Pop Century to be spoiled by Fred. He makes me huge sandwiches with chips or roasted taters and bottle of water for under $12 so add a hot fudge sundae to my order.
5. Art of Animation is the same way, FOOD!!

Jul 19

Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival – Start Planning Now

Laurie tells us how she enjoys the Food and Wine Festival and gives you tips on making the most of your time there.  See what she has to say.

IMG_3531Each group and individual tackles the Festival in their own way so I am presenting you with a checklist of things you need to do. It is up to you on whether you want to spend the day eating, doing attractions, or watching seminars. Assign one person to get a Festival guide, park guide, and a times guide so that there are fewer people getting guides and less congestion. Get 2 if you like souvenirs or write on guides as I do. In the park will be areas with passports to have stamped. Many times there is a person to stamp your passport without you waiting in line.

How much time are you going to spend at the Festival Center? The Festival Center is located next to Mission: Space. There are free samples of Ghiradelli Chocolate, shops, and a snack bar. Noon to 8 pm there are bottle signings, seminars, and pay to participate seminars. Are you going to stay there 8 hours or skip it?

What, if any, events and seminars do you plan to do? Pay to participate seminars have a nosh or tasting included but you can stand at the back for free without the food and drinks. There are events such as Sweet Sunday that take several hours and lots of cash that you sign up for in advance. People tend to forget that getting to the Festival Center, waiting for the seminar to run its course, and exiting the Festival Center takes time that some folks rather use on attractions and eating at the Festival. You need to be realistic on your schedule.

What to eat? There will be previews and reviews as well as item descriptions online. It costs over $500 to try every bit of food and there is no way you can do them all. You can print out the Festival map and circle the ones you want to see and add labels of dishes you want to see. I watched people milling around in a daze with so much being offered. There will be crowds that make it hard to decide what to choose so plan ahead.

Finally there is Eat to the Beat. I skip most of the concerts because of my taste in music. There is the Chase Lounge to check out if you are a cardholder. There is too much to see and do in one day let alone a week. I have the guide from last year so here is what happened on November 1, 2013. Wine/Beverage seminars from noon to 5 pm; 10 am was Robert Irvine in a two hour pay to view session, I stood in the back for that one for free; 3 book signings, half hour seminar on butter; half hour with Nimola; 1 – 8 pm were culinary demonstrations; and a 45 minute mixology seminar at 6:45 pm. Premier offerings were a Mexican tequilla lunch at noon and a French lunch with champagne at noon. As you see there was more than one thing going on at any time. The Festival can be daunting but with planning you can get the most out of the Festival.

 

Jul 18

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Good News for Frozen Fans

Laurie has more tidbits for everyone.  I was also there to check out Oaken’s Trading Post and the Sing-along.  It was great!  Be sure to get over there and see all they have to offer.

I was not able to check out the Premiere Theatre lines on my last trip but rumor is that the lines are not as bad as opening day.

Oaken’s Trading Post: There are two lines and you have to make sure you are in the right one. Left goes to Funland where there are cupcakes, cookies, yummy treats, and beverages as well as a snow play area, photopass photographer for fun photos, photo ops, and the skating rink. photo 1 (3)The right side sends you to the store. People get mad when they cannot get a cupcake from the store or merchandise from Funland. Lines range from walking right in to 20 minute waits.

The ice skating rink is cleared to use the Zamboni machine. There are staff members from the owner of the ice rink to assist guests. In the far corner from the door is the area to enter the rink, cubbyholes to store items, and benches for changing into skates. It is best to not try to go past the skating rental area as it is a dead end. You can watch from other locations without people blocking your way. As you enter you see the photo area, snacks, skate rental and benches. Ahead of you is a line to play in the snow. THAT IS IT!! Kids love playing in the snow, most of them that is. There are performers on the ice from time to time.

Not all locations will have merchandise that you want in stock. Not all locations will have all the drinks and cupcakes you want. The stage has lots of room except during the parade and the finale. The stage has a path down front so guests can go from one side to the other. photo (9)The premium dessert party is to the left. It is best to get there at 8:30 if you want a good view of the stage as fireworks go off. You can get a great view of the fireworks from either side of the stage but must see the live portion on a big screen.

photo 2 (5)There are Olaf cupcakes and candied apples, frosted snowflake cookies, chocolate covered Sven cookies, brownie and cake pops, blue Mickey head shaped rice treat on a stick, and a decorated snowball rice treat. For those preferring a warm treat there are Mickey pretzels and churros. I am not sure what brand of hot cocoa they use but usually it is the stuff in an envelope.

Throughout the park you will find cookies and rice treats with a picture of the sisters or Olaf. Arendell Punch can be found at snack carts and at 4 pm the more expensive Let It Glow with magic cube. It is a very nice punch as is the Olaf slushie that comes in a souvenir cup. Adults can enjoy a Summer Berry Margarita and a Blue Dream cocktail. Hollywood Scoops on Sunset Blvd. offers a snowflake cookie sandwich in your choice of ice cream, be warned it is a lot of ice cream and will not look like the photo.

Overall the crowds are back to normal and the only things to worry about for Frozen is a good spot at the parade, stage show, and fireworks. Grab a ticket early as you can then hit Toy Story Mania on a fastpass or go camp out a spot for the parade. I put out a list of closures at Studios to guide you and it still stands as published.

Jul 18

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Refurbishments

Exciting news for Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort!  This resort was in need of an update and new beds.
Most rooms are getting new beds except those with king sized beds and the pirate themed rooms. They will have two queen sized beds and one of those small fold out beds as seen at Port Orleans Resort. That will allow 4 adults and a short person or child to sleep in the room. Keep an eye out for work schedules while the islands are getting refurbished. Ask for a queen sized bed to make sure you get an updated room and ask about what areas will be worked on so you do not end up sleeping in a construction zone. Stop by Shutters for seafood corn dogs and see their updated menu.

An excellent unofficial source for information on the Caribbean Beach Resort is at http://www.disneycaribbeanbeach.com/.

If you get one of the newly refurbished rooms, let us know what you thought.

Jul 17

Best Eats at Downtown Disney

It is my pleasure to welcome Anaiis Lopez.  She will be writing for me from time to time too!  See what she has to say about the best places to eat at Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon or evening at Disney-great for the day you arrive, or whenever you have a rest day while visiting the parks. I am going to be listing the best/most popular restaurants, from fan favorites to new arrivals.

#13: The smokehouse at House Of Blues –  this Quick Service stand is fairly new, serving tasty barbecue.

#12: Wetzel’s Pretzels – This place serves pretty good pretzels, ranging from basic salted, to pretzel dogs and more. They recently moved from lakefront near World of Disney to DisneyQuest, directly across from LaNouba. Awesome, but skip and get a Mickey pretzel instead.

#11: Starbucks – basically like your ordinary Starbucks. The West side location has a specialty coffee bar, and the offerings are pretty good. Good for those who need their SB fix- or those who dislike NesCafe.

IMG_5830#10: Goofy’s Candy Co –  Amazing! I love GCC. They have awesome Disney snacks, candy, and a Goofy’s Glaciers area. My favorite snack here is the build your own Marshmallow/apple/Pretzel. Most of the snacks here are a snack credit on the dining plan!

#9: AMC Dine in theaters – The concept is pretty cool- you go into a theater, pick your seat and a server comes and takes your order, gets you popcorn refills, etc, but a bit on the pricey side. The food here is pretty upscale-ranging from pizza, to sushi and steak.

#8: Bongos/Bongos Express  – Bongos is one of the best restaurants in Downtown Disney. The menu has a Latin twist to it and great food, and the atmosphere is lively, with live music often playing and a 2nd story balcony where you can people watch.

#7: Rainforest Cafe/Lava Bar  – Rainforest Cafe is a animal themed chain restaurant with great theming, good food and interesting scenery. A bit on the pricey side, but you are sure to have a “wild” time! Ask to be seated next to a fish tank. It is a bit noisy inside, so I wouldn’t recommend it for really little kids, or those who get startled by loud noises and thundering.

The Lava Bar is the outside addition to RC, it has a beautiful view of the lake and a pretty good menu. A solid alternative if you can’t get RC. The menus in the Lava Bar have a cool “jel” embedded in the menus to make it seem like “lava”.

#6: Planet Hollywood – Superb theming, too pricey and “meh” food. Skip unless you have a big movie fan in your group.

#5: Paradiso 37- Great for adults and teens/Tweens, the menu might be a big “adventurous” for kids. South American style menu. Lively atmosphere and great views.

#4: Ghiraedelli – If there is one place you MUST stop at here in Downtown Disney, it’s Ghirardelli. sundaeThe ice cream is heavenly and the best part is the…. FREE SAMPLES! Often they hand out seasonal/limited edition flavors, or just chocolate with caramel. Either is fine by me! At the 2014 Flower and Garden festival, they even had a exhibit and had samples at the end!

1#3: Raglan Road/Cookes Of Dublin Raglan Road is an Irish Pub themed restaurant, with Irish dancers and musicians performing nightly. The food is delicious! Raglan Road is also very well known for being very accommodating to those with food allergies- the gluten free/dairy free fish n’ chips are amazing! Cookes of Dublin is the quick service equivalent on RR.

 

#2: Disney Food Trucks – The Disney Food Trucks are a new concept by Disney, awesome foods served in moving food trucks that often relocate around Downtown Disney. My favorite is Fantasy Fare. They have the Disneyland Corndogs- superb! The house made chips are also delicious.

#1: Earl Of Sandwich – Oh my goodness. The sandwiches here are simply devine! While a bit on the pricey side, the sandwiches are truly worth it here. The soups are also great, as is dessert! They also have amazing brownies and brownie sandwiches. If you join the Upper Crust club, you get a free brownie just for signing up, and a free sandwich on your birthday!

A bit about me:  I am a teen who loves disney! I am an Orlando resident, and a Annual Passholder! My favorite park is Epcot, and I hope to be visiting Disneyland soon!

Jul 06

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Early Closures and Frustrations

Laurie was there to see all of the new additions to Hollywood Studios (the “Frozen” additions).  She gives us an update on what is closing early and what you need to look out for.

The following are closing early: 

Starring Rolls – 4 PM; Studio Catering – 5:30 PM; Min and Bill’s – 6 PM; Backlot Express – 8 PM; ABC Commissary – 8:30 PM; and Pizza Planet – 8:30 PM.

Fireworks are causing the early closure of some of those restaurants. Studio Catering is by the Backlot Tour and High Octane refreshment stand is next to Studio Catering. Tune-In Lounge and Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge are open to 9:30 PM and Rosie’s on Sunset Blvd. is open until park closure.
By 9 pm all of Pixar Place Mickey Avenue, and Commissary Lane are closed. At 7 pm the Backlot Tour and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area close; The Great Movie Ride closes at 8 pm; and at 8:30 pm Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream and Toy Story Mania close. Any guest in line for Toy Story Mania at 8:15 pm will get to ride. Wandering Oaken closes at 8 pm and had a 2 hour wait.Oaken

Plan ahead if you want to shop in those areas. Unless the park is open until 11 pm or later they will not reopen those areas. All of the food kiosks around the hat were closed at about 8:30 pm, with most reopening after the fireworks. There was a long line for the temporary drink stand, so be prepared. The area behind the stage and to either side will remain closed until the Fire Marshall says they may reopen. Laurie watched someone with a flashlight walking around in circles as he looked for embers. The firemen and Cast Members take this very seriously.

Frozen stuff is awesome, but does cause congestion and early closures of 3 streets. This is monsoon season so be prepared for high winds and rain. The park still is easy to get around and the line at Rosie’s was about 7 minutes. Cast Members are making sure that traffic keeps moving. They had arrows made of tape on Sunset Blvd.

Jun 30

New iPhone App That Keeps Track of Your Spending on Your Magic Bands

I am excited to try this new app that comes out today!  I have played around with it and I really like it and can’t wait till our next trip.  I hate getting the bill at the end of our trip to see what I have “charged” to my room only to be shocked that I spent that much.  This new app will help you keep track of what you spend and not go into shock, along with some other cool features.  Be sure to check it out.  Here is the official press release.

Disnsny  Magic AppiPhone App launches to save Disney guests money while using Magic Bands.

Charlotte, NC- For release on July 1, 2014. -If you have ever used a Magic Band wristband at Disney, you know that feeling in your stomach when your account bill arrives; dread. Magic Band Budget app is designed to keep the fun in your Disney vacation!

Magic Band Budget is the first iPhone app of its kind dedicated to help Disney guests save money while at Disney World or Disneyland. This innovative budgeting app helps you track your spending, keeps you aware and in control of your Magic Band account balance, and also includes many other helpful features for guests.

Disney’s Magic Band technology is great, it offers the convenience of paying for purchases with a wristband; however spending can get out of control quickly because it’s so easy and fun to use. Track and budget your Magic Band account with Magic Band Budget app, so you know the exact total you owe at the end of your trip. You will also be able to double check you bill for accuracy, because mistakes do happen.

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Magic Band Budget app features:

• Keep track of spending with our easy expense tracker. Create custom categories and either enter a quick costs or detailed descriptions including dates and pictures of receipts.

• Create a personalized budget with helpful graphs to show you how much money you have left to spend.

• Countdown clock with customizable text and Facebook integration to get you excited about how much time is left until your Disney trip!

• Adjustable animated monorails; choose from 12 Disney World Mark VI monorail colors or 3 Disneyland Mark VII colors.

• Over 45 money saving tips and tricks to use before and while you are at the park.

• Helpful vacation savings tracker with goal and graph to help you keep an eye on your Disney vacation fund.
Magic Band Budget works independently from your cell network so you will always have access; even when not connected to the internet.

To celebrate our grand launch, we are hosting a giveaway! A $25 Disney store gift card, Disney Parks Magic Band Bandits – Set of 4 Park Charms, and a free download of Magic Band Budget App for iPhone IOS are up for grabs! For more information, head over to http://www.magicbandbudget.com/contest/.

 If you’d like to personally test out the app for free, please contact us for a promo code. We welcome your review and feedback.

iPhone app, Magic Band Budget, will be released July 1st, 2014 and can be purchased via the iTunes store for use with iPhone and iPod touch for $2.99 https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/magic-band-budget-my-disney/id887423935?ls=1&mt=8.
For more information please visit www.MagicBandBudget.com or by email at Support@MagicBandBudget.com.

Jun 29

Frozen – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

From July 5th through September 1, 2014 the movie Frozen takes over the studios. This will be like the past events such as the Studios anniversary event. At 11 am Queen Elsa and Princess Anna arrive in a horse drawn sleigh on Hollywood Boulevard where they proceed to the Sorcerer’s Hat. They will be accompanied by a procession by skaters, ice cutters, skiiers, and Kristoff. As with past events the ladies and their entourage will briefly appear on stage to greet the residents of Hollywoodland.
Olaf will be on Twitter tweeting away to his friends @FrozenOlaf and you can send photos to him at ‪#‎OlafSummerVacation‬ . There is a Take-Along Olaf that you can pick up in the parks but no details on what that is.

There will be the usual dance party at 5:30 pm at the Scorcerer’s Hat stage with a DJ and possibly characters mingling with guests. At 9:45 pm there will be fireworks with a Frozen theme. Star Wars fans will know where Soundstage One is located as it is being turned into Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Frozen Funland, Frozen merchandise, food and beverages will be there as will be ice skating demonstrations, play area, photo opportunities, and kid friendly activities. Disney promises to turn up the temperature for the Ewoks once the Frozen event is over.

Look for the gray colored Premiere Theater that is located at the far end of the park, across the courtyard from the Stars of Cars meeting spot and Phineas & Ferb meeting spot. I hope you now know what building I am talking about. The royal ladies will join the Royal Historians of Arendelle in the telling of the history of their kingdom. There will be sing along celebrations as part of the storytelling. Check online for times.

Jun 28

Christian Nights in the Parks

Do you like Christian Music?  Do you like having fun and riding rides?  Well, why not combine the two and hit one or both of these upcoming events!

album-art-thrive_0Every year Christians come to WDW and Universal Studios Orlando to be with other Christians for a family night that features renown Christian Rock artists and bands. It is up to you to decide which park to choose and which line up of entertainment is more to your liking. I like the idea of 3 day no park hopping – both nights at the event over at USO, but also like the more kid friendly and lower cost WDW event tickets.

 

Joy of Night

September 05 – September 06, 2014 at the Magic Kingdom from 7:30 PM to 1:00 AM with admission starting at 4 pm. Cost is $59 per person age 3 and up for one night, $108 for both nights if purchased in advance. Groups get one admission per 10 purchased, advance cost of $54 for one night, free admission to a water park or DisneyQuest with 2 night ticket purchase, Youth Leader Lounge, group leader gets a wristband for front of line privileges, and discounts on hotels and park admissions. Gather up friends to make a group of 11 people which would cost $540 instead of $649. Group ticket purchases must be turned in by August 22, 2014 as there is 2 weeks required for various things. Rides and attractions will be open.

Rock the Universe

Universal Studios Orlando claims to be the biggest Christian Music Festival in Florida. September 05 – September 06, 2014 from 4:00 PM to 1:00 AM, and yes same days at WDW. Youth Leaders receive front of the line Express, online tool kit to help them and their kids, free 5 part bible curriculum to go with the music (download), Q & A sessions with the rock stars, and the lounge with free snacks and drinks. Sunday worship services will be held on September 7 at 8:30 am, 9:45 am & 10:45 am at the Fear Factor Live stage inside Universal Studios. It is free with an event ticket but reservations must be made in advance. They even are offering free drop off for buses. Many of the thrill rides will be open that night and paying guests leave at 6 pm.

Individual tickets are $54.99 for one night of the event; $95.99 for two event nights; $120.99 for both nights of the event and 3 one day admission to either USO park (no park hopping); $160.99 for both nights of the event and 3 days of both USO parks including park hopping. Front of the line Express Passes are available. For one night, Rosen Inn and one event ticket it is $99 per person and restrictions do apply and additional fees may be incurred. Groups of 10 or more get one free with 10 purchased with prices about 15% less. Annual Passholders can get both nights for $88.99 and one night at $52.99.

Jun 23

Walt Disney World 4th of July Events

Laurie gives us the events that we can expect for the upcoming 4th of July holiday!

IMG_3843Magic Kingdom: A 14 minute fireworks extravaganza will be “Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky,” July 3 and 4 at Magic Kingdom. Hours are 8 am to 1 am on the 3rd, then 1 am to 3 am EMH, and 8 am to 1 am on the 4th. Guests with EMH can start at 8 am, take a 4 hour break, and return to have 35 hours in the parks and those who wait for the sweep might stay 36 hours, are you up to the challenge?

MK Characters: Anna and Elsa, Ariel, Tinker Bell, Mickey Mouse, Cinderella and Rapunzel, and Ariel will be open 8:00 AM to 12:30 AM, with the rest of the week being park opening to half an hour before park closure. Buzz Lightyear and friends, Alice and friends, Aladdin and friends, Pooh and friends, Toy Story friends, Chip, Dale, Fairy Godmother, Merida, Tiana, and Gaston. Pete’s Silly Sideshow runs 9 am to 11 pm. The Incredibles have a dance show from 2:30 to 9 pm.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios: as with recent event there will be a party at the Sorcerer’s Hat stage from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on July 4 with live entertainment from “The Hollywood Rockers” and a special rock n’ roll fireworks extravaganza at 10:15 p.m. Park is open 9 am to midnight on the 4th and 10 am to 9 pm on the 3rd.

Studios Characters: Buzz Lightyear and Woody at Pixar Place from 9 am to park closing, Disney Pals at the Scorcerer Hat from 9 am – 3 pm*, Stars of Cars in Streets of America from 9 am – 8 pm, Jedi Knight Training from 9:20 – 8 pm, Phineas and Ferb from 9:30 am – 2 pm, Stars of Disney Junior from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm, Mike and Sulley from 10 am – 6 pm*, Magic of Disney Animation greets are 10 am – 7:30 pm*,and Wreck it Ralph and Vanellope are 10:30 am – 6pm*. Check your schedules as those marked * are down part of the day.

Epcot: IllumiNations will end with a salute to America while Voices of Liberty and the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps will be entertaining guests at the American Pavilion. The park is open 9 am -9 pm on the IMG_18453rd and 9 am -10 pm on the 4th. Characters will be appearing in patriotic costumes. The American Gardens Theater will have Don’t Look Back – Boston Tribute Band at 6: 45 and 8 pm on the 3rd. On the 4th they will have three shows at 6:30, 7:45, and 9 pm.

Epcot Characters: The character spot will be open 9 am – 9 pm on the 3rd. They will open from 9 am – 10 pm then take a break. Around 11 pm they will be back for about 45 minutes. Check the schedules, as street performers are out as late as 7 pm, while characters go to bed between 5 and 7 pm.

Animal Kingdom: open from 9 am to 8 pm with no announced holiday events. Adventurers Outpost, Character Landing, and Discovery Trails have characters 10 am – 7:30 pm. Upcountry Landing has characters 10 am – 5:30 pm. Rafiki’s Planet Watch has characters from 10:15 am – 5:45 pm. Dinoland has characters from 10 am – 7:30 pm.

TIPS: This is a 3 or 4 day weekend for many folks. Expect packed parks, long lines, rude people, monsoons, blistering heat, packed buses, waits for transportation, waits for food, waits for everything, and the worst possible thing imaginable. Now, that you are full of doom and gloom you will be so happy when you get right onto a ride or meet nice people who share with you a spot for a parade. You will be in line before you are famished. You planned for a monsoon and are so happy one did not hit. However, if you did not prepare for a monsoon then your day would be cut short and your day ruined. If the monsoon hits and you are prepared you will be splashing in puddles as you do rides while others run for cover.

Have back up plans for everything.  Watch the weather the day before you go. Teach your kids to go to a cast member if lost and how to show someone their ID such as magic band, tag in their shirt, temporary tattoo, or tag on their shoelaces. Each day in the park, try to interact cast members so that your child will be comfortable to share information if they get lost.

Have designated meeting spots such as at the flag pole on Main Street across from City Hall. “Meet me at the exit” is not something to say. Meet the person at a designated point as some rides, stores, and shows have 2 or more exits. Enjoy the day, be prepared, and roll with the bad times. With the right apps, right planning, and right attitude you can turn the bad times in happy times.

My name is Laurie Smith and I have lived in Kissimmee, FL since March, 2012, so that I could learn about WDW and help people enjoy WDW.  I have been going to Disney parks since 1960.

Jun 23

Disney AGAIN?!?

I am pleased to welcome Jen to “Mouse”cation!  She will be writing for us from time to time too.  Thank you Jen  – I get this question ALL THE TIME!

“Don’t you know there are other places to go on vacation?”

Brave

Jen’s daughters learning about Celtic heritage and customs. And why not to transform your mother into a bear.

Those of us who are Disney addicts (or wanna-be addicts) have probably heard this a time or two. When I recently told my mother that we were planning a trip to Walt Disney World in November she exclaimed “You just went there last year! Why don’t you go somewhere else?!”
Hmmm… why don’t we?

1. We like Disney. To my family (the husband included) Disney is still magical. There is just something about seeing Cinderella’s castle that makes me tear up. My kids are still excited to see characters. Even my almost-7-year old loves to hug Mickey. Given a choice of where to vacation, every member of my family will choose Disney.

2. It’s fun. Roller coaster, shows, rides, water parks, a zoo, characters, shopping… There is such a vast amount of options in a relatively small area. We have so many more family friendly options for entertainment at Disney than if we just went to the beach or a large city.

3. We like food. This is vacation therefore I don’t cook. Disney makes that easy since there is food EVERYWHERE. The options are endless: steaks, Italian, Asian, eating with dinosaurs or princesses. Seriously, whatever you want to eat, you can find at Disney. And if you get the dining plan (which we love), almost all of it is included in your package.

4. Speaking of that dining plan: We love packages! Everything is paid before you go. Disney makes vacation easy. Hotel, tickets, food… it’s all paid for. Just take money for tips and souvenirs and you’re all set. Granted, you do have to pay for it before you leave, but while you’re there you don’t really have to think about every nickel and dime.

5. I’m a planner. That is probably my favorite aspect of a Disney vacation, I love knowing where we’re eating, what we’re doing and where we will be. Yes, I’m slightly weird, but I think it makes vacation EASY! I don’t like waking up trying to figure out what we’ll do that day. I want to know that we’re having breakfast with Pooh, riding the Mine Train at 10:00 and visiting Anna & Elsa at noon. We’ll fill in the blanks with some spontaneity, but for the most part, our fun is prescheduled.

6. Disney fits us. We are middle-class, mid-West people. We don’t like super “fancy” but we’re not rough-it-camping-in-the-woods types. We take 1 vacation each year (well, except last year when I snuck in a cruise, but that is a story for another time). We want to get the most value/enjoyment for each dollar we’re spending. And at this point, Disney is the best fit for us. Maybe when the kids are older we’ll do an “educational” trip, but for now they can learn about France by eating crepes and meeting Marie in Epcot. I’m okay with that, crepes are about all I got out of high school French class anyway, so they’re 10 years ahead of me!

 

I’m Jen, a working mom of 2 girls (ages 6 & 4). Our family of 4 loves to travel to Walt Disney World. We’ve stayed both on property and at Shades of Green and are slowly eating our way through every restaurant. Let me know what you would like to read about and I’m happy to share my opinions/research.

Jun 23

Food Truck Rally Review

It is with great pleasure that I welcome Melissa as a new blogger here on “Mouse”cation.  She joins Laurie and myself (since I am also a travel agent, I am usually busy with that aspect so I don’t blog much).  I will be adding a couple more bloggers to my site soon too.  Looking forward to their blogs.  Thanks Melissa!

Food truck rally was held on Saturday 6/21/14 with over 14 vendors including some of Disney’s hits from food and wine festival, including beef sliders, cupcakes, Philly cheese steaks and some awesome food from Germany! Epcot really made a hit with their truck but with 14 trucks and a lot of choices it was hard to pick! I ended up getting some beef sliders with chips from Germany. And let me tell you how excited I am for food and wine to begin LOL.

As with all this good food came the crowds of people trying to get in to downtown Disney last night which was a gridlock near the entrance by House of Blues and DisneyQuest, to no parking spaces available at all! Even cast parking was overflowed…now coming in we decided our best option was VIP parking which cost $20, but right away we got out and got to enjoy it with no hassle…and with that being said when Disney has events like this it’s best to pay for VIP to just relax or take Disney shuttle to avoid the nightmare that comes with it.

The only downfall of the event yesterday came by the tour groups that Disney is known to dislike….with chanting inside Starbucks to being almost everywhere…we are in the season of these groups to start appearing.

Here are a few tips to avoid nightmares at downtown Disney

** to avoid parking nightmares use VIP parking to go about your time or take Disney transportation

**don’t forget to bring rain gear as you never know with nasty weather (this is summer for downpours)

**take your time going through construction areas (aka walls up/small areas) around downtown Disney for the expansion of Disney Springs.
Enjoy and have a magical week!

Hey my name is Melissa I am 27 and an avid Disney fan and I have a premium pass! I stay on Disney property every month and it never gets old.  I love Disney and everything that comes with it.