Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Good and the Bad at Walt Disney World for 2010

Once again, it's been a decently busy year for the Walt Disney World Parks this year. A lot of new things happened, both that took a positive direction for the company and a certain thing that well, simply didn't exactly cut the mustard.  

So, let's take a look back and see which category things fell into...Win, Fail, or Meh.  (Totally stealing this ranking system from my buddies over at Betamouse, one of the best new podcasts that came out this year....hope you guys don't mind.  You know I love you guys!)


  • Via Napoli:  this one is my big winner of the whole year.  The pizza here is outstanding.  It's seriously some of the best pizza I've had in a long time.  And my suggestion is to get the Quatro Formaggi.  It's this delectable four cheese party in your mouth.  Now, yes, the pricing here is kind of costly, but in my eyes, if you can take in an experience, enjoy it immensely and think that it was totally worth the cost afterwards, it's worth it and that's how I feel about this restaurant.  It's totally worth the experience and I am totally going back again.  Via Napoli has become one of my top 3 restaurants in all of Epcot and dare I say, quite possibly one of my Top 5 over all of WDW.  (If not Top 5, definitely it's in the Top 10!)
  • Karamelle-Kuche:  This one was also a HUGE win with me.  I got to visit this new Germany Werther's caramel shop in October on the day it opened and let me tell you, the smell in here is intoxicating.  My favorite thing they sell is just the plain and simple caramel corn.  It's made there in the shop and it is outstanding.  Taking the Glass and Porcelain shop (which while I'm sure was lovely) and replacing it with a delicious sweet shop that I'm sure WAY more people will experience, that is most definitely a win and I'm sure Disney is reaping the rewards.  (They probably will just from me alone!)
  • New Downtown Disney Shops and Restaurants:  I know they new Hyperion Wharf area isn't set to be done for a few years, but that didn't stop Disney from starting the process of building Downtown Disney up a bit more.  I'm sure many of you would think I would put this in the Fail category because I'm still bitter about what they did to Pleasure Island (which I am still bitter give me back my Adventurer's Club in the Hyperion Wharf area and all will be forgiven...please....)  But really, Downtown Disney overall needed a complete overhaul and this year really saw a lot of great changes.  Things added this year included Pollo Campero, Fresh Appeal and Babycakes Bakery, which can only be a win over McDonalds, and the menu here sounds delicious.  We saw the new addition of the new shop D-Street.  Ridemakerz took over a section of the defunct Virgin Megastore and we saw a few additions to some existing stores, such as the Tea and Spice Shop and a new Video Game area.  These are all things that are going to help Downtown Disney continue to grow in the future and make it a much more enjoyable experience all around, rather than just walking through empty building after empty building like it used to be.
  • Best Friends Pet Care:  I think this is such a plus.  Sure Disney had Kennels before, but before you had to go to the specific kennel at a specific park.  Now, with the "doggie daycare" facility being open in a single location, I really think that's a real positive.  And this place is nice too!  Almost too nice...I think they have better amenities here than they do at some of the Value hotels!  But despite that, I think it's definitely a good thing to have on property because even our fur babies need a vacation too.  
  • Summer Nightastic:  I think this is a fabulous event and I really hope they bring it back each year.  So many people complain because WDW won't do things like holiday overlays on attractions...but this event right here is great because it changes things up just enough for those who get to come multiple times a year, but doesn't impact too terribly many attractions found in the parks to a large degree.  So the way I see it, everyone wins!  And I can only hope next year, we see even bigger enhancements for the summer months in all 4 parks! 
  • Captain EO:  In sort of conjunction with Summer Nightastic, but also separate in it's own right was bringing back Captain EO.  At first when I heard of this news, I thought it would be a fail.  I had seen the video on YouTube and thought, you can't be serious!  You want to bring this hot mess back?!  But after finally getting to experience it in the actual theater, I have to say, I'm so glad they brought it back.  Granted, I still want to see something new brought to that theater in a few years, but Disney took an EXTREMELY tired attraction in Honey I Shrunk The Audience and replaced it with something that was much more fun and something that had just the right amount of kitch and nostalgia to make it work.  And boy did it ever work!
  • Announcement of Art of Disney Animation:  For so long, those of us in the Disney community have wondered, when are they going to do something with that eyesore known as Pop Century, Legendary Years.  Well, this year, we got our answer with the announcement of the Art of Disney Animation Resort.  From what I can tell from the concept art that was recently released, this place is going to look FABULOUS!!  And add on top of that that they are making the resort mainly family suites, which is so great because it was a demographic the resort as a whole was severely missing...I think when this place opens in 2012, we're gonna wonder, what took them so long?!  
  • Muppet-Vision 3D enhancements:  This year, the beloved Muppets got a good spit and polish and boy did it need it!  You didn't realize it until you compared the film from before with the new enhance version of the film.  Wow!  I can see things so much clearer now!  I can see things I didn't know even existed.  And of course, they fixed up the theater too, so all effects are working at top notch quality.  I love when things get spruced up in the parks and this looks amazing. 


  • La Cantina and La Hacienda de San Angel:  Yes, this restaurant was a new addition too, but for some reason, it just doesn't do a whole lot for me personally.  Which means that at this moment, I must place it in the Meh category.  It's not a fail because I've heard the reviews are now coming back a little more glowing.  And looking at the menu, I see some things on there that I would certainly like to try. But, the menu items are sort of high on the price side and intial reviews weren't great, so at this point in the game, I'm not ready to make a definitive win or fail decision yet.  
  • Give a Day, Get a Disney Day:  To me, this campaign has multiple layers.  At first, it's was a major win.  I thought the idea was great...people get to volunteer and help their community and get to go the the parks too!  That sounds like such a win for everyone involved!  However, when the campaign ended just 3 months in, I was kind of disappointed, so it fell a bit more into meh category. To me, it seemed like there were so many people who were shut out of getting their chance to help others.  Whether it was because they couldn't find a charity that appealed to them or they couldn't find something that they could do with their kids or they wanted to wait until later in the year when they would have had more personal time to complete the charity work or some of the various other problems that occurred with this being wrapped up so quickly.  So, in my eyes, while it was a great idea in theory and it seemed quite successful because of the rapidness of it being ended, I'm gonna have to put it in the meh category.  It just didn't have the punch like I had hoped.  (Or maybe it had too much punch...I don't know.)  
  • A few new additions came in the way of updating attractions.  The first was changing the Storytime With  Belle area at the Magic Kingdom into a Tangled Greet and Play area.  The second was taking the High School Musical 3 show out and replacing it with Disney Channel Rocks.  I'm meh on this because neither one were really upgrades...they were like lateral moves.  Take two shows and change them out for 2 new shows that are close to the same type of experience.  Nothing really all that new to see.  Meh.  

  • Duffy:  Oh the bear that was conceived expressly for marketing purposes.  This equals major fail for me.  Yes, Duffy is cute and cuddly, but was it really necessary to create a whole brand new "fake" character just to sell plush that you can change the outfits on?  Why couldn't we have introduced this changing outfits concept for Mickey or Figment or something if Disney wanted to have a "Build a Bear" type experience with their characters?  That would have been something I could have gotten more behind.  At least those are legitimate characters...created by actual Imagineers or Animators.  I am not a big fan, and I know that many others in the Disney community are not big fans of this either.  

For a year that was semi quiet with not a lot of MAJOR things going on, there was still quite a bit to talk about and quite a bit of it was super.  I look forward to what next year is to bring us, including a new parade in Disney's Hollywood Studios called the Pixar Pals Parade, the new Wild Africa Trek experience, the Let the Memories Begin campaign, and of course, the thing that I'm looking forward to the most, Star Tours II.  And while right now it seems that 2011 is going to be a quiet year too, I'm sure Disney has some stuff up their sleeves that they just haven't announced yet.  And I look forward to all the changes coming for 2011!

And with that, I wish you all a Very Happy New Year!!!!  See you all in 2011!

Monday, December 27, 2010

News and Rumors 12/20/10 - 12/26/10

I can't believe it!  We're already past Christmas and almost into another New Year!  Where the heck does the time fly? 

This week has been really quiet...guess Disney is celebrating the Holidays too. 


Magic Kingdom

  • The Railroad finally has a new spiel.  The previous one had been around since the mid 90s. 


  • During this busy time period, Via Napoli is selling their Margherita pizza by the slice at a pick up podium at the restaurant for $6.50.  Guests may also purchase beverages and select desserts at this location as well. 
  • Here is the tentative list of the 2011 International Flower and Garden Festival's Flower Power Concert Performers:  March 4 - 6: Jose Feliciano (Light My Fire)
    March 11 - 13: The Guess Who (These Eyes)
    March 18 - 20: Chubby Checker & The Wildcats (The Twist)
    March 25 - 27: Melissa Manchester (Don’t Cry Out Loud)
    April 1 - 3: Starship Starring Mickey Thomas (We Built This City)
    April 8 - 10: Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. (You Don’t Have to Be a Star)
    April 15 - 17: Juice Newton (Playing with the Queen of Hearts)
    April 22 - 24: The Nelsons (Love and Affection)
    April 29 - May 1: Paul Revere and the Raiders (I'm Not Your Stepping Stone)
    May 6 - 8: Davy Jones (Daydream Believer)
    May 13 - 15: Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone (Henry the 8th)

General WDW News

  • For New Year's Eve this year, you can party at the Atlantic Dance Hall!  Guests 21 and older can ring in the New Year for $35, which includes access to the main dance floor, party favors, and a champagne toast at Midnight.  For those who want to indulge a bit, for $75, you can purchase a VIP ticket which will allow you to a private upstairs area with seating, a limited viewing for Epcot fireworks with guaranteed seating and coffee, tea or hot chocolate with dessert bar and a premium bar.
  • For those who were waiting to visit the new Disney's Art of Animation Resort, you'll be able to starting in May 2012.  The first half of the resort will open at that time with the second half opening by the end of the year.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Ah, the Christmas letter...a time honored tradition...

Since I haven't sent out Christmas Cards yet, (I may be running out of time here...), I thought I would send out this letter through the internet, instead of through the post office.   (It doesn't help that I don't have addresses!) 

So, it's that time of year when I reflect back on all the great things that have happened this past year here at the blog.  We've seen a lot of changes, including me finding even more of a passion to write here.  (Though sometimes it may not look like it!)  I've finally found a voice I'm comfortable with and I feel that I keep evolving my voice with each article.  I really hope you all are enjoying the direction that I'm taking.  I'm trying my hardest to make it more and more personal, trying to inject more of myself into my blog posts, instead of being like a lot of other bloggers out there, who just report the facts.

Another big change for me and the blog this year was the fact that I FINALLY got my own domain!  Yay for not having to type out  (and say) .blogspot anymore!  I also redesigned the site a bit, and I'll probably be making some more changes in the design sometime next year. 

I'm so proud that the blog continues to grow and grow and that more people are finding out about it!  It's because of you spreading the word!  So thanks for that!  (And please, keep it up!  :)  )  

With the Christmas season literally at our doorstep, I just wanted to send my sincerest thank you to all of you who care enough to stop by here to read what I have to say.  I love getting to read your comments and interact with you on Twitter and Facebook!  (Make sure to keep that up too!)  I LOVE being able to make it a two way conversation, instead of just writing at you guys.

Next year looks to be even more action packed than this past year, so make sure to stay tuned!  And if there is anything that you all want to see for next year, make sure to let me know and I'll try my hardest to accomplish it!

So thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart!  

And may you all have a very Happy Holiday season! 

Monday, December 20, 2010

News and Rumors 11/29/10 - 12/19/10

Um....holy it's been a GOOD LONG while since we've had a news and rumors post, hasn't it?!  Yikes!!! That's what December trips will do to you.  Put you behind on everything!  (Actually, that's just the month of December that will do that to you!)

With all that being said, we're gonna dive right into the Disney fun and find out what's been going on these past few weeks! (For those who may have missed some stuff).  There is a LOT to talk about!


Magic Kingdom
  • Mickey's Toontown Fair will officially be closed starting Feb. 12th to make way for the new Fantasyland Expansion.  Guests will be able to find Mickey, Minnie and the Disney princesses on Main Street USA in the Town Square Exposition Hall starting in the Spring of 2011.  Until then, they will be found in various other areas around the Kingdom.  Also, the railroad station in Toontown will be closed, however the train will still be in operation. 
  • Information is coming out about the 2011 International Flower and Garden Festival.  The Toy Story 3 characters are going to take the front entrance flower bed.  Buzz, Woody, and Lotso are going to make their topiary debut!  Other new topiaries this year will include a Cars 2 display and a Winnie the Pooh one as well.  The festival will run from March 2 through May 15, 2011.
  • The Dragon Legend Acrobats will be leaving in early 2011.  The group has been there since 1986!  New entertainment offerings are expected in Feb. 2011.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Thanks to Toontown Fair being closed in Feb, Tinkerbell will end up being moved here.  (Rumor has it she will be possibly be meeting guests where the Journey Into Narnia section is currently.)  The other fairies will be moved to Epcot, presumably during the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.
  • The refurb of the Backlot Tour and Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playset has been postponed, with it possibly happening in Sept now.
  • An Italian Food Stand has opened up for the busy holiday season.  The new booth called Restaurante Italiano will serve food made from the kitchen of Mama Melrose.  Menu items include Penne Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Meatballs, Penne Pasta with Tomato Sauce, and Minnestrone Soup.  If the booth proves popular, it may remain after the first of the year.
  • During the Holiday Season, Mickey's Christmas Carol and other Holiday Shorts will be shown at the Premiere Theater from 12 pm - 10 pm.

Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • Primeval Whirl's refurb has been extended a bit to last until April 17th. 

General WDW News
  • The parks are now selling Disney branded chips, instead of a branded version now.  The come in original potato chip, bbq potato chip, cheese curl, and tortilla chip varieties.
  • For anyone going to the parks in the next two weeks, make sure to check out the calendar...things have been shifted around (meaning hours have been added).  
  • In Downtown Disney, Pooh's Corner, Summer Sands, and Mickey's Mart will be closing to make way for LittleMissMatched to open up an expanded location.  These shops are expected to close Jan. 15th.  LittleMissMatched is expected to open in their new location in Spring 2011.  For those guests who enjoyed shopping at Mickey's Mart, have no fear, it will reopen in another part of the building in March 2011. 
  • Another addition to the Kouzzina refurb is the addition of a Chef's Table.  The restaurant has recently opened up from a brief refurbishment.
  • There are quite a few Pool related refurbishments that will be going on in the next few months.  Some may have been mentioned before, but it's always nice to have a reminder.  The Magnolia Bend quiet pool at Port Orleans Riverside will be closed from Feb. 8th - April 2nd.  The Cabanas quiet pool at Coronado Springs will be closed Feb. 8th - April 2nd.  The Paddock quiet pool at Saratoga Springs will now reopen on July 1st.  And the slide at Stormalong Bay will reopen on Feb. 7th. 
  • Fulton's Crab House has just seen a refurb of it's lobby and dining room.
  • Disney  is offering another new experience for New Year's Eve.  In place of celebrating in the parks, guests can celebrate the New Year at DisneyQuest.  The party will start at 8 pm and last until 1 am.  Guests will get the opportunity to play all the games and attractions, plus there will be a DJ present with a DJ dance party and countdown at midnight, party favors, and a coupon for a personal pizza and soda.  Tickets cost $39 per person ahead of time or $45 day of.  Guests may visit here to purchase tickets online.
  • Some new changes have taken place for booking online ADRs.  You can now book up to 14 guests at a time for one dining reservation.  Guests can also now book prepaid dinner shows and Cinderella's Royal Table.  Also, guests can now book reservations at Victoria and Albert's.  Finally, Disney's Online ADR system has now expanded to offer guests to make reservations for specific dining experiences.  These include
    • Chef’s Tasting Wine Dinner at the Flying Fish CafĂ© 
    • Fantasmic! Dinner Package 
    • Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party 
    • Candlelight Dinner Package 
    • Dine With an Imagineer 
  • Some new concept art has come out in regards to the New Disney's Art of Animation Resort.  Also, check out for actual pictures of what the rooms are going to look like.


  • Phineas and Ferb may finally be coming to the parks!!!  The are rumored to be getting their own area next to the Cars area at DHS possibly in the spring.  
  • Lotso will more than likely be leaving in the spring to bring in the Winnie the Pooh characters to tie in their new movie in 2011. 
  • Jessie and Woody should be getting a new backdrop in Frontierland.
  • There are some rumors going around about a potential timetable for some of the New Fantasyland expansion.  Dumbo is expected to close by the end of 2011.  The new Dueling Dumbos are expected reopen by Summer 2012.  Also, I've heard that the idea of tents in this area may be staying.  (Not the particular tents that are there already though.)
  • It's rumored that the next attractions to be getting Next-Gen Queues will likely be Splash, Big Thunder, and possibly Country Bear Jamboree.  
  • Lots of rumors have been floating around the internets as of lately in regards to lots of changes that may potentially be coming to WDW.  Of course, there has been the rumor that Australia may finally be coming to a Disney theme park, Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Also, rumors are still sort of floating that we may be seeing a DVC resort built where River Country was.  Finally, we may finally be seeing a refurb for the Imagination Pavilion, as soon as Disney can find a replacement sponsor, since Kodak is now gone.
  • I'm hearing guests may no longer be able to make specific room requests.  It's being said the room assignments are now all computerized.  You can still book location requests (ie: near the pool or food court) however you may not be able to make specific requests until you check in.  
  • Recently, I read that if the new round of Pirates movies takes off, we may be seeing an Adventureland makeover...mostly by changing the names of certain things and re-decoration of existing facilities, though we may see one new attraction.   
  • I've also seen that any plans to build anything related to Tron in the theme parks has been halted.  
News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.   

    Friday, December 17, 2010

    Special Blog Post: Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade

    One of my favorite things to do on Christmas morning is to watch the Disney Christmas Parade.  It's been a tradtion for me since I was a little girl.  (Although technically, I remember the Easter Parade WAY more than the Christmas one.  I still have tapes with the Easter parade...though not as many as I used to have...there was a time when I wasn't as big of a Disney fan as I am now and I *gasp* taped over the parade tapes thinking "when am I gonna want to watch this again?") 

    With the new parade coming up this Christmas Day with lots of new excitement for our viewing enjoyment, Disney has been doing something a little extra to ramp up the energy for this year's parade.

    The countdown to the 2010 “Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade” on ABC-TV has begun!   Disney Online launched today a dedicated online destination on ( for the annual holiday special, featuring behind-the-scenes and performance videos of Selena Gomez and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, as well as interviews with Debby Ryan, Mariah Carey, Nick Cannon and Ryan Seacrest.  The site also includes television tune-in information, the parade telecast schedule, a Disney-themed holiday gift guide and great ideas for holiday recipes and crafts the whole family can enjoy.

    Site Features:
    ·         Behind-the-scene video segments with Selena Gomez and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
    ·         Video interview with Debby Ryan and Santa Paws, Mariah Carey and an exclusive with Ryan Seacrest on Dec. 21!
    ·         Performance video of Selena Gomez
    ·         Performance video of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, singing a song from their holiday album, “Phineas & Ferb: Holiday Favorites”
    ·         Photos of Talent with Disney characters
    ·         Special Disney movie trailers
    ·         Holiday gift guide featuring the hottest Disney movies, music, video games, books, toys, and more!
    ·         Recipes, crafts and activities from Disney

    The 27th annual holiday special, “Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade” airs on Dec. 25, on ABC-TV and is filled with festive musical performances from Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California.  Local broadcast times and details on the parade telecast will be featured at  

    I know I'll be excited to see the exclusive interview with Ryan Seacrest!  (The man is my idol...literally...not like in the American Idol kind of way...).  I also really enjoyed the parade photo gallery!  There are some really great pics there! 

    And for those who are curious about what time they need to be sitting down in front of the TV (or to set the DVR at least)
    Eastern Central Mountain Pacific*
    12 - 2 PM 11AM - 1PM 10AM - 12PM 5 - 7PM

    *LA Market (KABC) is airing the parade from 9 - 11AM PST

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Baby It's Cold Outside

    I really can't stay
    (But baby it's cold outside)
    I've got to go away
    (But baby it's cold outside)...
    It's absolutely FRIGID outside!  The temperatures have dipped quite low all over the country for the past couple of weeks.  I mean, here I am, curled up in multiple blankets with it sleeting outside and it got me to thinking...what should you really do when going to the parks in the wintry season.  

    I've been down in the state of Florida for two of the coldest times of recent record, once this past week where I was in Key West,which saw temperatures in the 50s and 60s, which is quite cold for them down there, and one this past January, when it got so chilly that it actually snowed for a brief time period.  So yes....the heater does occasionally get turned off down in the Sunshine State.

    And trust me, it can be quite difficult to navigate the parks when it's this chilly out.

    My first piece of advice is the most obvious...bundle up in layers...especially if you aren't going to be returning back to your hotel before night sets in.  The layers will keep you warmer and if you do end up getting too warm at any point, you can just take a layer off and put it in a bag.  Then when it does get cold again to you, you can quickly remedy it.  Me personally, I'm a big fan of wearing a hoodie on top of my many layers.  That way I don't need to wear a big, bulky coat, but I am still mostly protected from the cold. 

    I also strongly suggest bringing scarves and gloves.  (And maybe a hat too, if you are so inclined).  Trust me on this one!  Having these items with you is so crucial because there is nothing worse than being down there and realizing you really do want those items and then having to pay Disney prices for something that you already have.  (Unless, of course, you want to bring those items back as a souvenir too!)

    Something else I like to suggest, if you can, is to try to bring those hand warmers that you shake up and then can wear in your gloves or other places.  These things are amazing!  I think they are the best invention ever!  These helped me on a particularly cold Wishes Fireworks cruise a few years back.  They were such lifesavers!!!

    Also, for those of you with kids, especially of the younger set, try to bring a little fleece blanket with you to keep them warm.  You can bundle them up when they are in a stroller and keep them content.  Also, this way they (or even you) can try to cuddle up in it while you're waiting for a parade or a fireworks show.  Or you can buy one of the new Disney Snuggies they are selling in the parks!

    The best thing about the parks when it's biting out there is that you can really manage most aspects without being forced into the elements for too terribly long.  As many of you know, the parks are a good place to go when it's raining because there are quite a few things to do that are indoor activities. The same thing can be said when the cooler temperatures reign, since many people opt to stay away from the parks.  So it's your opportunity to experience the parks with minimal crowds. 

    The worst thing though when it's this cold out is when night fall sets.  During the day, things can be more bearable because the sun is usually beating down on you, warming your body.  But once night falls and that sun disappears, the temps drop rapidly, so it can be hard to stay motivated to remain in the parks.  (Last January, I actually did leave the parks early one night because I couldn't take the cold!  It was hard to do, but I was so miserable.)

    One tip is to make an later evening table service dining reservation for you to take advantage of.  This is a nice option because you are still in the parks, but you aren't outside winding your way through the nippy atmosphere.  Plus, since sitting down for a meal takes up at least an hour or so, it will keep you inside for a good portion of the evening when the temps dip lower. 

    My last tip is if you just can't stand being outside in the elements when it's this cold, I suggest heading over to the Wilderness Lodge and sitting by the big fireplace, just soaking up the atmosphere.  This resort just screams a homey feeling and there is nothing better than sitting in this spot in the arctic temps. 

    So what are you winter weather survival tips down at WDW?  What thing did I miss that is so absolutely obvious that would help others out as they navigate the frosty conditions?  Make sure to let me know in the comments section.

    No matter where you are though, make sure to stay warm with these freezing temps.  Try your best to stay bundled up and if you can, sit by a nice roaring fire with some hot cocoa. Oh and if you can't be in WDW, at least dream that you're there.  Because, let's face it...a cold day in WDW is still better than a cold day at home!

    If you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word!  Share it on Twitter or the photos on Pinterest, hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here!  Also, make sure to LIKE our Facebook page and find me on Twitter, I'm @RikkiNibs!

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Christmas in the Parks: Disney's Animal Kingdom Edition

    Poor Disney's Animal Kingdom.  It gets left out of so much during the Holiday Season.  Unfortunately, there just isn't a whole lot of merriment to be had here. 

    Part of the reason why I think this is the case is because the park often closes at 5:00 in the winter/off season, so there's no reason to have light displays and a lot of festivities going on. 

    The one thing I do enjoy is the Tree that they have at the Animal Kingdom.  Now as I've mentioned each tree at the different parks, is themed to fit that park's overall nature. 

    And at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Nature is where it's at.  The trees and decor here are straight out of the jungle!  

    The main activity that takes place here for the holidays is Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade.  Now, while I've not seen this parade in person (I'm just not a parade lover) this is a little parade that features the whimsy and uniqueness that you can find in the Mickey's Jammin Jungle Parade, the main difference being that the floats now have a Christmas theme to them. (And a fun Holiday parade tune.)  Make sure not to miss Minnie's smells like hot chocolate!

    Since there are no "lighted" offerings at this park, seeing as how it's rarely open in the evening, my suggestion is to go to one of the other parks in the evening after visiting the Animal Kingdom to experience that particular portion of the Holidays.

    While the Animal Kingdom isn't one of my favorite parks to go to experience specific Holiday festivities, (although, technically, it isn't one of my favorite parks any time of the year) it is still nice to see the park decked out in the festiveness that it does offer for the season. 

    My best advice is to try make sure to make a stop at this park during the Season, even if it is for a short while, to see how WILD they get about their decor.  It really is a jungle out there! 

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Christmas in the Parks: Disney's Hollywood Studios Edition

    Holy Cow!!!  It's December already?  How did this happen?!

    So, with that being said, it's time to get back to things to do to celebrate the Holidays at WDW and this time we're going to the park that's literally known as Tinsel Town this time of year, Disney's Hollywood Studios. The decorations around here are geared towards kitsch which is the best part about it.

    I love all the tinsel decorations they use around this park.  It's such a great tie in that most people don't even get.  (Get it, the use of tinsel, Tinsel Town...I was hoping I made that obvious, but hey, you never know!)

    To me though, the main draw for visiting DHS during the Holidays is the incredible light display known as the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  Let me tell you, this thing is fabulous!

    For those who don't know the story, The Osborne Lights came about because of a man named Jennings Osborne who put up a huge display every year, at the insistence of his daughter.  As the years went by, the display got bigger and big in fact that he ran out of room and bought the two houses next to his, just so he could continue decorating.  It grew so big that people complained, it then was ruled that it was public nuisance and Jennings Osborne had to desist.  However, Disney caught wind of his story and they decided it would be the perfect fit for their park.  And I have to say, it really is a splendid match.

    Currently the lights can be seen on the Streets of America, Although the lights didn't always take place there.  Prior to their current location, the lights were once held on Residential Street, (where you could see the house from the Golden Girls) which is now where Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show currently sits. 

    So for those who haven't seen them, what are the lights like?

    Take Clark Griswold's house (please tell me you've seen National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation...if you haven' must stop reading now, find a DVD of it and watch it's my absolute favorite Christmas movie) and magnify it times like a thousand and you'll kind of get a tiny feel of what the Osborne lights are all about.  It is a sight to behold!

    And there is nothing like walking down the Streets just in awe.  The lights really do surround you.  You really feel like you are just walking a colorful wonderland.

    My first favorite time to visit is right as the lights come on.  It's so astounding to see how the area changes in just a manor of seconds.  It truly takes your breath away when the switch gets flipped.

    My other favorite time to visit is just as the park is about to close.  A lot of people are leaving the parks at that time but the lights stay lit the whole time.  So you'll get to see the wonder of the lights, all without waiting in a HUGE crowd.  (More than likely, of course.) 

    Then, at certain times throughout the night the lights will dance to a choreographed musical number. This is such a neat thing to behold. 

    The other really cool thing is that like on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, it does snow on the streets here as well. 

    This year there are actually a few additions to the festivities.  First is the addition of Phineas and Ferb audio snippets.  Second is the addition of these windows (actually LCD screens) where it snows of the screen.  It's a really neat effect.

    Of course this experience needs to be seen to be believed...and while I have some photos to show you, this is something that needs to be seen in person.  You can't miss it.

    And my favorite photo I've ever taken here...

    Seeing the Osborne Lights remind me of those times as a kid when my family would pile in the car and drive around town looking at all the lights on all the houses, except these lights are on a much more gargantuan sized scale.

    Because of that, The Studios are one of my favorite places in the entire world to experience holiday decorations.  And I'm sure that if you ever get to experience it, you'll feel the same way too.

    As a side note...the blog will be going on a little hiatus as I will be going on vacation...unfortunately not at WDW this time.  However, I will still be in the state of Florida...the very most southern part of Florida...I'll be visiting Key West!

    I'll still have the weekly article for you, however, the News and Rumors postings will be taking a couple of weeks off.  (Watch, Disney will announce something major while I'm gone. It never fails!)

    So, have a great week everyone!  And I'll see you all real soon!

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    News and Rumors 11/22/10 - 11/29/10


    Magic Kingdom

    • The Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party for Dec. 19th is officially sold out.
    • The refurbishment of Astro Orbiter that was supposed to take place Dec. 5th - Dec. 9th has been canceled. 
    • Information has been released on the New Year's Eve Wishes Dessert Parties.  First there will be the traditional Dessert Parties which will take place on Dec. 30th at 7:30 pm  and 10:50 pm. and 31st at 10:30 pm.  The cost will be $39.99 for Adults (10 and up) and $21.99 for children (ages 3-9).  In addition, there will be a Dinner and Dessert Party available only on Dec. 31st and 6:15 pm. which includes artisan breads, fruit, cheeses, sushi, salads, seared tuna, beef short-ribs and carved pork. Dinner is followed by a wide range of desserts.  Cost for the meal and desserts will be $155.99 for Adults and $76.99 for kids. 
    • Speaking of being in the Magic Kingdom for the New Year's Holidays, we know what fireworks spectaculars will be shown.  On Dec. 31st, Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season will take place at 8:30 pm.  In addition, at 11:50 pm, Fantasy in the Sky will be the fireworks grand finale for the evening. 

    Disney's Hollywood Studios

    • ESPN the Weekend dates are now official.  They are March 3rd - March 6th.  
    • It's official!  The new name for the new parade coming is going to be called the Pixar Pals Countdown To Fun!  This new parade is said to feature characters from A Bugs Life, The Incredibles, Toy Story, Ratatouille, Up, and Monster's Inc.  The new parade debuts Jan. 16th. 

    General WDW News

    • A new section of the Mickey's Pantry store has opened, specializing in tea and spices.  The new section is called The Spice and Tea Exchange. 
    • During Kouzzina's refurb that will take place starting Nov. 29th and last through Dec. 14th, enhancements that will take place will include exterior themed signage and a new outdoor seating area, a Cat Cora merchandise area, and a functioning olive oil display. 


    • The new Tangled Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience at the Magic Kingdom has been delayed.  No additional information is known.  
    • Some additional rumors about some of the new enhancements to the new Hyperion Wharf area include five fountains that will have motion, a potential trolley line that may or may not eventually connect to Old Key West and Saratoga Springs, and a backyard BBQ themed around Orange County Choppers (which may move into the potentially vacated House Of Blues). 
    News and Rumors are gathered from various different websites. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.   

      Wednesday, November 24, 2010

      The Mouse-standing List: Best Holiday Meals

      It's been a while since we've done one of these and with the Holidays upon us, now is the perfect time to take a look at what meals make the best options for all the merriment and festivities. 

      All too often people wonder, just where should I eat for Thanksgiving or Christmas and it sometimes is a hard choice, because of the fact that for the most part, the Disney restaurants don't change their menu offerings to fit in with the Holiday Season. 

      Therefore, I'm going to take a look at the best options in each park that I think will help make the Holidays bright.

      Animal Kingdom

      I figured I'd start with the hardest one first.  This park already has limited options as it is, but I think if I had to choose, I would pick Tusker House.  This buffet is a great option because there are lots of choices available on the menu.  Granted, quite a few items have a tiny bit of an African flair to them, but I think there is enough on the menu that is traditional enough to make for a satisfying Holiday meal. Items here include:

      Spiced Tandoori Tofu
      Carved Beef Top Sirloin Roast and Rotisserie Pork Loin
      Horseradish, hot and sweet mustard, Au Jus
      Spiced Rubbed Rotisserie Chicken
      Cape Malay Curry Chicken
      Peri-Peri Marinated Salmon Filet
      Seafood Stew with Tamarind BBQ sauce

      Cold cuts platter: Turkey, ham, cheese
      Saffron-infused vegetables and cabbage
      Green bean, mushroom and carrot medley
      Marrakesh Couscous with Roasted Vegetables
      Vegetable Samosa
      Oven-roasted Yukon Gold Potato Wedges
      Mashed Potatoes
      Orzo Pasta
      Jollaf Rice
      Pearl Couscous laced with Sweet Basil Essence
      Basmati rice with Toasted almond slivers

      Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches - choice of whole wheat or white bread
      Corn dog nuggets
      Corn medley
      Chicken drumsticks
      Green beans
      Macaroni and cheese
      Mashed potatoes

      Warm Banana-Cinnamon Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce
      Assorted Pastries and Cakes
      Cookies and Brownies
      Whole Fruit


      Next I thought we'd head over to Epcot.  Now, while Epcot has a lot of great restaurant choices, it's options for a more traditional meal for the Holidays is quite narrowed down.  (I mean, nothing say Thanksgiving like Japanese food, right?!)  However, there is one restaurant that I think is perfect for this time of year and that's the Garden Grill.  While this restaurant doesn't get much praise for it's food, it most certainly is the best option if you want a festive spread.  Items include:   

      Warm Breads with Maple Butter
      Harvest-inspired Farmer's Salad
      Char-grilled Beef Strip Loin with Herb Sea Salt
      Roasted All Natural Turkey Breast with Cranberry-Orange Relish
      Sustainable Fish of the Day with a Florida Citrus Crumb
      Garden Fresh Vegetables
      Smashed Potatoes
      Turkey Dressing
      Freshly Baked Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp with Hand-Whipped Vanilla Bean Cream

      Oh...and totally random, but why doesn't the American Adventure Pavilion have something that serves up a traditional Holiday meal from America?  It would seem like a no-brainer to haver Turkey, Ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, green bean casserole, gravy, and rolls here in a sit down restaurant format.  I think a restaurant like this would do really well in this pavilion.  However, maybe Disney hasn't done something like this here because it's too close to the meal I'm going to discuss later that can be found at the Magic Kingdom. 

      Disney's Hollywood Studios

      As for DHS, there was really only one restaurant that I thought of when I thought of the Holidays.  What better way to spend Christmas or Thanksgiving than with the family...yes...your mom, aunt, uncle, and cousins.  I'm talking about taking a trip to 50s Prime Time Cafe.  Now granted, this isn't going to be a "traditional" Holiday meal, meaning you certainly aren't going to find turkey or stuffing, but what you will find is good old home-cooking, which really is what this time of year is all about!  If you're thinking about eating here, you can look forward to eating:  

      Grilled Boneless Pork Loin - glazed with peppered mushroom gravy with mashed potatoes and green beans
      Char-grilled Butcher Tender Steak - with red wine sauce, sauteed mushrooms, cheddar scalloped potatoes, and green beans
      Uncle Dana's Artichoke and Ricotta Agnolotti - Pearl Pasta with Roasted Zucchini and Crookneck Squash with spicy Tomato Broth
      Aunt Liz's Golden Fried Chicken - served with mashed potatoes, chicken gravy and southern greens
      Cousin Barry's Olive Oil Poached Salmon - served with sweet peas, brown rice pilaf, and a dill cream sauce
      Uncle Charlie's Grilled Tuna Casserole- classic creamy casserole with egg noodles, peppers, mushrooms, onions, carrots, and celery topped with grilled tuna steak and crunchy bread crumbs
      Dad's Traditional Meatloaf - a blend of beef and pork topped with tomato glaze, mashed potatoes, and green beans
      Mom's Old Fashioned Pot Roast - Slow cooked 'til fork tender, served with mashed potatoes, carrots, celery and onions

      Dad's Brownie Sundae - Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream, Hot Fudge, and Caramel topping
      No Sugar Added Cheesecake - topped with fresh whipped cream and strawberry sauce
      Seasonal Cobbler
      50's Boston Cream Cupcake - White Cake filled with Pastry Cream and covered with a Chocolate Glaze
      Ice Cream Sundaes
      Magic Kingdom

      Of course, the easiest restaurant of them all to choose for the Holidays is the meal you'll get at Liberty Tree Tavern.  This one screams Thanksgiving as it is all about eating a traditional American meal.  This is one of my favorite restaurants to eat in anytime of the year because I really feel like the menu has a lot to offer.  (And by the way, that Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing on the salad is AMAZING!!!) 

      DECLARATION SALAD - Tossed Mixed Greens, served with our special Tavern Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing

      PATRIOT'S PLATTER - Roasted turkey breast, carved beef, and smoked pork loin, with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, herb bread stuffing, and Macaroni and Cheese.

      Rolls and gravy also included.

      DESSERTS -Fruit crisp with vanilla ice cream included. 
      Now while the resorts have a lot of options in the way of restaurants, they really don't have many that are great options for traditional Holiday meals.  However, to me, the best option here would be Chef Mickey's.  Once again, this restaurant, like Tusker House, will have a lot of choices for everyone to make each family member have their own Holiday meal, just the way they want it.  Options here include: 

      Items like Spiced-rubbed carved beef and Oven-roasted turkey will be featured
      Oven Roasted Chicken with Bourbon BBQ Sauce
      Mango BBQ Pork Ribs
      Baked Salmon Fillet with mango wasabi coulis and rice
      Orecchiette Pasta with vegetables, garlic oil, and goat cheese

      Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
      Mickey Cheese Ravioli and Marinara Sauce
      Chorizo Red Beans and white rice
      Green Beans with a mushroom cream Sauce
      Broccoli with Cheese Sauce

      Chef Mickey's Macaroni and Cheese
      Goofy's Cheese Pizza
      Chicken Breast Tenders
      Pluto's Chicken

      Rice Krispy Treats
      Peach Cobbler
      Warm Bread Pudding
      Seasonal Melon
      Fresh Fruit Display
      Of course, one thing to keep in mind with many of the restaurants that have been discussed is that Disney does like to charge a Holiday surcharge during these busy times of the year.   So often these meals will cost a premium, but if you really are looking for tradition, the extra charge may be worth it for you.  

      So that's my list for the best of the best for your Disney Holiday festivities, but I want to know what you think.  What meals would you pick if you wanted to celebrate this time of year down in WDW.  (Or, if you've already done it before, where have you eaten previously?)  

      Finally, to you all, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!  I am quite thankful that I have you all in my life!  Even if I've never met you yet, I can't express how blessed I truly am.  

      So, enjoy your football and your time with your family....and of course, enjoy the meal...and I'll see you all on Sunday for this week's news and rumors!   

      (PS:  Big thanks to for having all the menus available online, as that is where the menu offerings came from.) 

      Monday, November 22, 2010

      News and Rumors 11/15/10 - 11/21/10


      Magic Kingdom
      • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has reopened with a brand new interactive queue.  Many interactive exhibits are still to come, but some include a honey wall and a door where if you knock on it, Piglet will respond.  
      • Tomorrowland Terrace will be open Thanksgiving week (November 21 -27) from 11am- 10pm.  Food options will include Angus Burger, Pasta Primavera with Shrimp, a Lobster Roll, Beef and Bleu Cheese Salad, Cirtrus Shrimp Salad, Chicken Sandwich and Chicken Breast Nuggets.
      • In addition, El Pirata Y el Perico will be open this Thanksgiving week from 11 am - 3 pm.  
      • Finally, The Diamond Horseshoe will be open as a counter service from 11 am - 3 pm and for dinner from 5 pm - 9 pm.  (Dinner will only be served Nov. 24th - Nov. 27th.)

      • The JOYFUL! Gospel Celebration of the Season performances will be back again this year.  Performances will take place at the Fountain Stage from Nov. 26th - Dec. 26th at 1:15 pm, 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm, and 4:15 pm.
      Disney's Animal Kingdom
      • The Good Times Gathering Spot has returned for this week from 10 am - 3 pm.  Guests may meet and greet characters, have storytime with Pocahontas, and a DJ will be playing music. 
      General Disney News
      • As mentioned in this week's blog post, Pleasure Island is going to be rethemed to Hyperion Wharf.  See here for more info. 
      • Disney has joined forces with location social network Gowalla.  For more info, click here.
      • Some additional rumored changes may be happening to Downtown Disney.  In the West Side, the House of Blues may leave property to an off-site location and in it's place the Harley Davidson shop would move.  Also, the Virgin Megastore area is expected to be sectioned off into smaller stores.  Finally Cirque du Soleil may be getting a whole new updated show in 2013. 

      Friday, November 19, 2010

      Goodbye Pleasure Island....Hello Hyperion Wharf

      It's been over 2 years since Disney officially closed down Pleasure Island.  Two years ago, we lost the clubs and party atmosphere that completed this parcel of land.

      For two years....Pleasure Island has sat, like a shell of  it's former self...sure you could see glimpses on the outside about what this unique area was all about, but it was all a tease as you couldn't actually go inside.

      Oh...and two years ago, Disney promised us that they would reveal a "Bold New Vision."

      After what seemed to have taken forever to come up with a "vision" (I'm sure hampered greatly by the economic downturn) Disney finally announced yesterday, plans for the area that now formerly will be called Pleasure Island.

      The whole idea of Pleasure Island has officially died in exchange for a new idea called Hyperion Wharf.

      Hyperion Wharf is going to be a 120 acre complex with new dining, shopping, and entertainment mixed together to create one vibrant district.  According to The Disney Parks Blog, by day, stylish boutiques and innovative restaurants will draw you in and by night, thousands of lights will transform the area into an electric wonderland.

      Other aspects of this updated area will include an expanded LEGO store with a larger footprint and new LEGO models of Disney Movies and the AMC Theater will get updated with a Concession Stand of the Future and a Fork and Screen Theater, plus various other updates to the whole Downtown Disney area. 

      As a former Pleasure Island fan (and more specifically Adventurer's Club fan), I was saddened when this whole area closed down.  But I was also realistic in realizing that the area simply wasn't as grand as it once was when it first open.  The majority of the clubs were empty a lot of the time...and even when it was announced Disney was closing them for good...many weren't too disappointed, minus those of us who were Adventurer's Club fans.  (It was still a popular and entertaining place to go.  And it is still quite beloved.)

      However, if you remove the sting of the knowledge that the Island that I once loved really is going to be changing, the area does look really nice.  Of course, I'm sure that it will just mean that Disney will be outsourcing everything...which isn't one of my favorite things that they do...but it looks like it will be lively once again.  Certainly a good step in the right direction.

      And from the concept art, I will probably like the feel of the area.  It seems like it will be quite open and inviting.  It will be interesting to see what they do with Hyperion Wharf at night, since they are calling it an electric wonderland.  That sounds quite intriguing. 

      And as I've reported previously, it looks like we may know one of the tenants to the new Hyperion Wharf area.  A restaurant by the name of Mahogany Bay, a nautical themed restaurant (which fits in with the new theme of the Hyperion Wharf area quite well) is apparently slated to be included in the mix.

      Of course, Disney has been slowly making changes to the whole Downtown Disney area for the past 2 years with the additions of Little Miss Matched, T-Rex Cafe, RideMakerz, D-Street, Characters in Flight, Paradiso 37, and the newest to open Pollo Campero. So, it was plain to see that change was probably coming and coming soon for Pleasure Island.  

      The new Hyperion Wharf area is expected to open completely in 2013.  Stay tuned here for more info on what's to come to this new entertainment/shopping/dining district.

      Monday, November 15, 2010

      News and Rumors 11/8/10 - 11/14/10

      Hi everyone!  Well, sorry about the delay, but been a bit under the weather.  (Ok...a lot under the weather, but I'm starting to feel human again today, so that's good.)  Not a whole heck of a lot going on this week...relatively quiet lately.  Too quiet...


      Magic Kingdom
      • Mrs. Potts Cupboard in Fantasyland will now be known as Storybook Treats.

      Disney's Hollywood Studios
      • Playhouse Disney is indeed being redone during it's refurb early next year to be rebranded as Disney Junior.  A new addition will include Jake and the Never Land Pirates a new show that will premiere on Disney Junior (the TV channel) in February.
      • Phineas and Ferb have been added to the audio for the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  The are not included throughout the whole thing, just brief snippets here and there.
      General WDW News
      • Pollo Campero at Downtown Disney is now open.  The new restaurant serves Latin chicken dishes.  In addition, Babycakes NYC also opened inside serving vegan pastries.
      • The quiet pool at the Polynesian will be closed Jan. 10th and reopens on Feb. 19th.  
      • Also the Cabanas pool at Coronado Springs Resort will be closed Jan. 3rd - Jan 29th.

      Friday, November 12, 2010

      Review: Tangled

      Last night, I was lucky enough to get the chance to catch a preview of the movie Tangled.

      A week or so ago, I got an email letting me know that they were doing previews in our area in and if I signed up (and did it fast enough) I'd get the chance to see it.  Well, I was psyched!  So, I signed up and actually did it fast enough to get in!  (These previews go QUICK!)

      After rushing like a mad woman to get to the theater on time, I manged to make it with only minutes to spare.

      As I went in, I was surprised when they handed me 3D glasses and then I remembered, Oh yeah!  This movie is in 3D!  That was such a great surprise and quite unexpected!

      So, I know you didn't come here to see me ramble on about my experience with the process of getting to see the want to know what the movie's like...

      So, in a nutshell....

      I LOVED IT!!!

      But I bet you're going to want more than 3 little words, so here is a (more than likely) spoiler free review of the movie.  (I promise I'm not revealing things that are giving away big details of the story.  But if you don't want to know ANYTHING really from the film, then, I guess maybe you shouldn't read this...although if you don't want to know ANYTHING from the film, well, I guess you wouldn't be reading a review about the movie Tangled, now would you?) 

      If you look on IMDB, the storyline is labeled as "The long-haired Princess Rapunzel has spent her entire life in a tower, but when she falls in love with a bandit who was passing by she must venture into the outside world for the first time to find him."   Which truthfully, going into the movie is what I was thinking it would be like.  

      This actually is so not what this movie is about.  This outline is completely wrong.  To not share too much, story-wise it is more about Rapunzel following her dreams than falling all googly eyes in love.  (Of course, this is a Disney movie, so I hope I'm not sharing too much by saying that there is some romance thrown into the mix.)

      As the film goes, I really thought that it had a great story line.  Of course, for those who don't know, the underlying story is all focused towards Rapunzel.  Now, I don't know if it's just because I'm not really super familiar with the original story or because Disney did a great job of fleshing the story out, but I thought the plot was way better than I originally thought it would be.  I felt like it was more than just your average Disney Princess movie and it wasn't a movie that was overly fluffy.  It really did feel more action-adventure with a few minor princess touches underneath. 

      Part of what made this story so different from it's previous Disney predecessors was the fact that they not only told things from Rapunzel's point of view, but Flynn had large chunks that were focused solely on him. This was a nice touch and added so much to the movie.

      Also in regards to the plot, it wasn't as transparent as you necessarily thought it would be.  There were things that definitely surprised me.  While watching, I didn't really see where the story was going to take me, but I liked where it went.  

      And, get was actually funny!  Now, I was in a room filled with a good number of children, but there were quite a few jokes that the adults laughed at as well.  I know I chuckled quite a few times.  (Let's put it this way, I don't think there was one fart joke in the whole movie...which was a big plus, considering I think a lot of animated films lately have revolved around that kind of crude humor to make people laugh.)    

      As for the characters in this film, I thought the character development was great...much better than you'd expect with an animated film.  There seemed to be more behind the 3 main characters than you'd originally expect there to be.  (The main 3 are Rapunzel, Flynn, and Mother Gothel.)  

      Speaking of Mother Gothel, she is a FABULOUS villain.  She's truly evil in her ways and her evilness has multiple layers to it for sure. 

      Another thing that really stood out to me about this film is how absolutely visually stunning it truly is.  The effects are simply amazing!  I don't want to give too much away but the best scene in regards to this has to do with lanterns...and that's all I will say about that.  But you need to watch Rapunzel's hair too.  And there are some amazing water effects that happen in the movie as well.  Really, I can't say enough about the movie visually.  Disney did a knock out job with the visuals.  I'd go see the movie alone based off this!  

      Now, of course, I did see the movie in 3D and I definitely think it was worth seeing it in 3D.  I think the 3Dness enhance some of the stunning visual effects immensely.  However, I don't think it is 100% necessary to see it in 3D...though I do strongly suggest seeing it that way if you can.  

      There was one thing that I found to be a bit lacking...the songs.  This movie has some musical undertones to it, which is something that's not been highly publicized.  Maybe I can see why, because it's been a day later and there's not one song that's gotten stuck in my head from this movie.  I did enjoy the song that took place in the bar though, which was probably one of the best ones.  Nothing had the pop and pizazz of Under the Sea, Beauty and the Beast, or I Just Can't Wait To Be King.  The songs on the whole, were enjoyable, but not outstanding.  

      Something a lot of people worry about when movie trailers come out is that it will completely ruin the film for them.  I can tell you with certainty that any clips that have been shown on the internet or trailers that can be seen in theaters or on television are things that are not "crucial" to the plot line at all.  The trailers thankfully do not give too much away.  Although, unfortunately, because of this, the trailers also do a poorish job explaining what the movie is actually about...something that may hurt Disney in the long run.

      The one bonus for me was that there's more funny portions to the film than what you see in the previews too, which is a common problems with trailers as well. 

      Because I brought my husband, I did ask him what he thought.  Now, he is a man who is not the biggest Disney film guy and also, let's face it, wouldn't go to a movie like this on his own accord, but he actually really liked it and to him, it didn't feel too princess-ey at all!

      So, final call on the movie...where would I place it in the Disney Legacy.  I think it is a solidly good movie.  Definitely a step in the right direction for Disney animation.  Is it as great as the movies from the early 90s?  No...but I do think it's 100% worth seeing.  And it is for sure a movie that has something for everyone. 

      Tangled is rated PG for some mild violence and stars Mandy Moore as Rapunzel and Zachary Levi as Flynn Ryder.  The movie gets released nationwide Nov. 24th. 

      Thursday, November 11, 2010

      Christmas at WDW: Epcot Edition

      Jingle Bells....Jingle Bells...

      As I mentioned on last week's blog, we're taking a look at all the great festive cheer that the WDW Parks employ to help celebrate the upcoming holiday season.  Disney is one of the best places to go to get into the Holiday Spirit because they truly go all out with the merriment and festivities.  

      Last week, we took a look at what the Magic Kingdom does to celebrate...and this week, I thought we'd move on to Epcot.  

      What makes Epcot different and special to me with the holidays is that most everything that is celebrated here, has some sort of realism to it.  It's not as fanciful or whimsical as some of the other parks are...instead this park really takes the reason for the season and magnifies it for all to see.  It's not just snowflakes and Christmas Trees here (though they do have a lovely one, as each park has, which celebrates it's own park's uniqueness.)  

      First and foremost and one of the more "secret" aspects (I only say it's secret because most of your average guests wouldn't know it existed unless they walked up on it) is the Holiday Storytellers which appear around World Showcase.  Many of the countries have their own versions of what Christmas is like and how they celebrate the Holidays and at Epcot, you get to learn about what makes this holiday similar and different around the World when compared to us here in America.  It is truly amazing to see how a commonly celebrated holiday (more or less) can be so different, but also how it can bring us together as one.

      Speaking of bringing us together as of the other more "secret" aspects of Epcot's Holiday Celebrations is the Holiday Tag that is played at the end of Illuminations.  (Though I am including a link, it is definitely one of those things that needs to be seen in person to feel the magnitude of how great this tag really is.)  It is simply absolutely beautiful, there is no other explanation.  To hear all the countries come together underscored by a hauntingly beautiful track just don't get any better than that.  And the fireworks that are included are absolutely breathtaking!  It honestly sends chills up and down my body...that's how amazing this "little" tag is. 

      Finally, one of the more popular aspects of Epcot's Holiday celebrations is the Candlelight Processional.  Now for those who don't know, the Candlelight Processional is the telling of the Christmas Story by a celebrity narrator punctuated by an amazing choir.  This is definitely one of those things where if you have not stopped by to see a performance, you MUST do so on your next Holiday trip to the World.  Showtimes are 5:00 pm, 6:45 pm and 8:15 p.m.  You can see this spectacle a few ways.  

      One is to book the Candlelight Dinner Package, which you can book for either lunch or dinner, depending on what time you want to see the show (and lunch is cheaper).  Booking the dinner package will guarantee you a seat for the show, so long as you arrive at least 15 minutes before showtime at the American Gardens Theater.  You may book the dinner package by calling 1-407-WDW-DINE.  

      Another way you can see it is by standing in line.  Now, this could potentially take a while, as this is a popular event.  I suggest getting in line early and know this, you may have to wait through a show or two before you get the chance to actually get a seat in the theater.  I suggest trying to see the first show, as most people will be at dinner during the first showing, but you will still need to get in line at the very least, 45 minutes before showtime.  

      The final way you can catch a performance of the Candlelight Processional is to simply walk by.  If you don't necessarily care about "seeing" the show, you can still hear it from the American Adventure Pavilion.   Also, if you get there early enough (so super early), there is a little bit of standing room at the very back (at the fence line) where you can possibly be able to see the performance.  

      One final note...last year, we saw the discontinuation of the Lights of Winter, a trellis covered with lights that danced to music.  The Lights of Winter were located in the walkway between Future World and World Showcase.  It is truly sad that this has once again been removed from the offerings at Epcot.  While it was a relatively small thing that Disney put up each year, it was quite significant to many who celebrated the Holidays at the Disney parks each year.   It is a shame that Disney could not figure out a way to bring it back once again.  I had hoped that due to the huge outcry that happened last year that Disney would realize the error of their ways and find a way to bring it back in some form or fashion.  

      The holidays at Epcot are truly spectacular.  They show real world aspects of the holiday season, which is wonderful to get to see, especially being someone here in the Midwest who doesn't get to see a whole lot of culture differences surrounding the Holidays.  So, as the Illuminations Holiday Tag says...peace on earth and goodwill towards men...