Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Changes to the Haunted Mansion

I know I haven't blogged since approximately the beginning of time, but I watched this video today and I am so excited, that I had to share!  Enjoy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fun trivia

I know I haven't blogged in almost a month. Life has been crazy! I decided to just do a fun post today of fun facts about the park.

Fun Facts about WDW

The land owned by the Walt Disney Company and known as the Walt Disney World Resort is about the size of the city of San Francisco or is about twice the size of Manhattan Island.

The fire station on Main Street is Station No. 71 (Magic Kingdom opened in 1971)

The US has a law that American flags must come down a sundown.  However, at WDW, only the "main" flag in Town Square in MK is taken down at sundown. In fact, there is a special ceremony daily for the Town Square flag.  The other similar flags are not true U.S. flags; they are missing stripes or stars; thereby avoiding having to be taken down daily.

Following an accident in mid-2009 where a monorail driver was killed, guests are no longer permitted to ride up front with the driver. Earlier, one monorail train was assigned to each resort on the monorail line where guests of that resort had priority to ride up front.

The Liberty Tree in Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom is a Southern Live Oak well over 100 years old. It is the proud parent to over 500 younger oaks, raised from its acorns.

When Abraham Lincoln, in the original Hall of Presidents display at the New York Worlds Fair, debuted, a malfunction occurred and red hydraulic fluid leaked into his clothing.  Investors and critics thought that Lincoln's assassination was being recreated.  From that time on, clear hydraulic fluid was substituted.

The entrance to Spaceship Earth in Epcot actually created a wind tunnel where at one time guests were swept off of their feet.  The Imagineers had to make adjustments after it was built.  But, it does still get extremely windy down there.

The golf ball (Spaceship Earth) weighs 16 million pounds!

Spaceship Earth is actually two spheres. The inner sphere is 2 feet inside away from the outer sphere. The outer "skin" of Spaceship Earth is made up of 11,324 aluminum and plastic-alloy triangular panels.

The Garden Grill is a revolving restaurant in the Living with the Land pavilion in Epcot.  Because Disney wants you to experience an entire revolution during the meal, the restaurant rotates faster at lunch than at dinner because most people eat lunch quickly.

The World Showcase lagoon is 185 acres in size and is larger than Disneyland in California!  The walkway around the World Showcase is 1-1/2 Miles.

When you board the elevator on the Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, on the left side, outside of the elevator itself, is an inspection certificate that's dated Oct. 31, 1939, and signed by "Cadwallader."  Cadwallader was a character in the sixth Twilight Zone episode, "Escape Clause" who actually turned out to be the Devil himself.

The exterior of the Tower of Terror was designed to match the buildings in the Morocco pavilion at Epcot because the Tower of Terror is visible from a certain angle in World Showcase and Imagineers wanted to make it look like Tower "fit in" with the landscape of Morocco.

The Earffel Tower, Disney’s Hollywood Studios' water tower landmark, would wear a hat size of 342 3/4.

Disney's Animal Kingdom encompasses 500 acres, the company's biggest theme park. The centerpiece is the Tree of Life, 14 stories high and 50 feet wide at its trunk.

In 1997 Michael Eisner invited Jane Goodall to come see construction of Disney's Animal Kingdom, in particular the Tree of Life. He asked Goodall what she thought about all the animals being carved in the tree and asked. "Where is the chimpanzee going?"  After conferring with Zsolt Hormay (chief sculptor) it was discovered much to Eisner's embarrassment that one was not included in the approximately 320 animals.  Eisner told Miss Goodall to pick a a place on the tree and one would be sculpted.  She chose the entrance outside of It's Tough To Be A Bug so everyone would be able to see David Greybeard; the first chimp she ever observed.  You will notice the chimp is more detailed than the other animals; and there is a plaque next to his image describing him.

The Tree of Life is constructed from an old oil rig.  It was the only thing strong enough to hold its shape.

Disney employs more than 54,000 cast members and is the largest single city employer in the U.S.

Disney is the largest "consumer" of fireworks in the world.

"Spare" or "backup" trees matching many of those in the parks are cultivated and kept on hand so in case a tree in a park is damaged, it can be replaced quickly.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rides for older audiences

Big thank you to Amanda McCartney Gierman for being my first non-family member "fan" to come up and talk to me about the blog.  That made my day!

Like I said earlier, the first attraction you will encounter when you walk into Epcot is Spaceship Earth.  My suggestion is to walk past this and come back to it later in the day.  If you enter the park before 11:00 AM, there are 5 attractions that you need to choose from to head to first.  These are the attractions I am going to talk about today; they are the busiest rides at Epcot.

The outside of The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Having so much fun, we felt like dancing!

            The first of these is a great family ride: The Seas with Nemo and Friends.  This is another dark ride: you board your clamobile and are moved into position to be able to view the tanks (with live fish) and the screens projecting over the tanks (incorporating the Nemo-gang).  This is a fun ride for kids of all ages, but it is very popular.  You definitely want to make it one of the first rides of the day; if you get here too late, you will be waiting.  Also, fun fact: as you’re getting near the end of the ride, pay attention to the starfish, she is hilarious.  She is begging you to take her with you because she has to hear the song over and over again.

            When the ride is over, you will be let out inside a building that contains exhibits with facts about the ocean.  Picture opportunities abound; they have a large model of Bruce the shark and your kids can get inside of him.  If you head upstairs, you can take part in another ocean attraction: Turtle Talk with Crush.  This is similar to the Monsters, Inc. attraction at Magic Kingdom which is a movie theater style setting, with a show.  Crush interacts with the crowd, answering questions about turtles and the sea.

            Ugh, I hate admitting this to you, dear readers, but these next three attractions I have never been on.  Here’s my problem, I have a young child and these are not rides for young children.  Yes, WDW has a child swap, which is a great tool to use if you are traveling with a young child.  The whole family gets in line and each parent gets to take a turn going on the ride, while the other waits with the child.  However, hubby and I like to ride the rides together, so we never use the child swap.  So, I will tell you all of the research I have heard, but I have no personal experience.  I suck, I’m sorry…

            First off, is Test Track.  This ride has the dubious fame of being broke down more times than any other ride.  However, when it is working, it is apparently one of the most thrilling rides at WDW.  The idea is: YOU are a crash-test dummy.  Not only will you be subjected to extreme hot and cold (to test how the car will do, of course), you will also be subjected to 50-degree banked curves, all while going 60 mph.  This one has a FASTPASS, so grab one and come back.

            Mission: SPACE is a fairly new attraction, but has already had to undergo modifications.  The Imagineers worked hand-in-hand with astronauts from NASA and, apparently, made the attraction a little too lifelike.  There are now 2 versions to the ride: orange or green team.  The Orange team is a more intense experience, including forces on your body of 2.4G.  The Green team does not experience the pressure, so it is a better option for those prone to motion sickness.  You and your crew are going on a space flight to Mars, including take-off.  Each team member has a job: Navigator, Pilot, Commander or Engineer.  Each job actually entails work during the ride, to ensure a successful mission.  This ride also has FASTPASS, so take advantage!

            The last attraction is Soarin’ (which also has FASTPASS, yay!), a free-flying hang glider.  You will be lifted 40 feet in the air to soar over an IMAX projection screen that wraps 180 degrees around you.  The attraction even makes you feel sensory items: smell evergreens as you go over trees, feel the wind and smell sea breeze as you go past the Golden Gate Bridge, etc.  However, it is again not for small children.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This isn't Neverland, trust me...

Emily in Epcot on a very cold day in December.  Paddington Bear was her souvenir.


            I am so excited about this next park.  Magic Kingdom is a lot of fun and it is the epitome of Disney World.  But Epcot is grow-up land.  They serve alcohol there (did I mention there is no alcohol in Magic Kingdom?).  In fact they serve many different types of alcohol from different places of the world.  Hence, why I believe this is the favorite area of every beleaguered parent who has already spent a whole day at Magic Kingdom with their kids.  And since I am always trying to give you the truth, my dear readers, children may get a little bored in this area, especially younger ones (more about this later).
            Epcot is supposed to resemble Walt Disney’s original ideas for a self-containing community.  And there are some very interesting attractions based on these ideas.  But, in all honesty, Epcot is really just a daily world fair.  There are two sections to the park: Future World and World Showcase.  Future World is all about science: energy, space, the seas, agriculture, etc.  The World Showcase brings to life 11 separate countries (plus an African outpost), featuring their exotic cuisines, customs, music, etc.
            If you’re visiting WDW for the rides, then you will enjoy Future World more than World Showcase.  Only two of the countries in the World Showcase feature a ride, the rest all have shows or movies.  However, if you are really trying to get a well-rounded vacation, then Epcot is definitely worth 1 to 2 days of your time.  Hubby and I love the fun and excitement of M.K., but one of our favorite parts of the vacation is walking through the World Showcase and trying foods from other countries.  I will warn my big-bellied fans, though: Epcot is huge.  The Word Showcase surrounds a very large lagoon and you will spend a lot of your day tracking the miles at Epcot.  Fear not, the food’s worth it!
            In every Disney park, there is one very large attraction that represents the park.  At Magic Kingdom, it is the castle.  In Epcot, it’s the large golf ball.  As soon as you turn into the Epcot parking lot, you will see it.  And it is the first attraction you will encounter once you get past the front gate turnstiles.  Inside of the ball is an awesome ride that will take you up into the sphere, called Spaceship Earth.  However, here is a tip: come back to this ride later!  Everyone gets in line for this ride as soon as they get in the park because it is literally in your line of vision.  By about in the afternoon, however, there is no longer a line for it, so you can ride it multiple times in a row with no problems.  Why wait in line if you don’t have to?
            By the way, here is an interesting fact about the geometric designs on the ball: those shapes actually serve a purpose.  Whenever it rains in Florida (which, if you remember, I told you this will probably happen daily), the triangles direct the rainwater to holes in between the shapes.  That water is then routed back to the lagoon, which the World Showcase surrounds.  Self-containing community, remember?

Close-up of the entrance to get insde of the Golf Ball

Close-up of the triangles.  Note the holes in between the triangles: they direct the water to the lagoon.

Next time, I will work on some parts of Future World.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tomorrow! I love ya, Tomorrow!

Yeah, I channeled Annie there for a minute...  I'm a child of the 80s, I can't help myself, I grew up on that movie.

Mass exodus from Tomorrowland during the fireworks...

M.K. - Tomorrowland

            Yay!  Besides Toontown Fair (which is being renovated, so I’m not talking about it yet), this is the last area of Magic Kingdom.  I left this area for last on purpose because this is the last area my husband and I usually visit.  As the day goes on, the crowds begin to thin in the park.  And once the fireworks begin, there are very few people left in any of the land areas because they usually move over to the central hub to get a better view.  My husband and I try to spend 2 days at Magic Kingdom, whenever we visit: one day to make sure we see the fireworks and the second day to ride some very popular attractions during the fireworks.  And then we ride them again because there is no wait time during fireworks.  The best area to do this in is Tomorrowland because it has a lot of attractions in a fairly small area.  Less walk time, more ride time = win-win!
            Let me give you an example: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Range Spin.  This ride is a lot of fun, especially if you have a competitive streak (which I do).  Basically, your vehicle takes you around to a few different scenes and you shoot at bulls-eyes with your lasers.  The vehicle keeps score for you.  The bigger the target, the higher the points.  This ride is, typically, around a 45 minute wait time.  We rode it 4 times in a row during the fireworks the last time we visited.  And my husband’s score was still better than mine, the jerk…
            Right next to Buzz, in the same building, is Monsters Inc, Laugh Floor.  This is a really cute show that is supposed to take place AFTER the Monsters, Inc movie.  The monsters on the screen are trying to make us laugh, to fill their canisters with energy.  The interesting part of this show is that the monsters on the screen interact with the crowd, so it is never the same show twice.  They often pick audience members to pick on or to get information from.  It’s a cute, funny show.  The other nice part about it: you won’t wait longer than the show in front of you usually.  So at most, you’re looking at about a 20 minute wait.  And it’s seated with AC or heat!  I cannot tell you how much you will come to appreciate this.  After waiting in line multiple times at Magic Kingdom, all you will want to do is sit down for a few minutes and relax. 
            Right across the walkway from Buzz and Monsters, Inc. is Stitch’s Great Escape.  I have failed you again, dear readers.  My daughter is too short to go on this ride, so I have never been on it.  Please don’t be mad at me!  I can say this, however.  Disney put this attraction in to take place of a very similar attraction, Extra TERRORestrial.  Extra TERRORestrial was a scary attraction with an alien getting loose, who breathes on your neck and drops saliva on your head.  I was 17 when I went on it, and it scared the bejeezus out of me.  They replaced the unknown alien with Stitch, to make it more Disney friendly.  Unfortunately, from what I have read in my research, they did not change enough and the attraction is still very scary for kids.  Hence, the height requirement.  Disney is trying to keep young children out.  In fact, they have raised the height requirement 3-4 times since the opening of this attraction because too many children were getting the wits scared out of them.  Chances are very good that this attraction will either be re-designed or re-imagined altogether in the not-too-distant future.

I will finish up Tomorrowland on another day.  For now, I will leave you with a joke I heard at the Monster, Inc. Laugh floor: How does Lady Gaga like her meat?  Raw, raw, raw, raw, raw!

Me and Em, sweating profusely in August, watching the fireworks from a bench in Tomorrowland.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


...AKA, the place that you sleep at and not much else!

I decided to take a minute and talk about hotels in the Orlando/Kissimmee/Celebration area.  I will be completely honest; I have never stayed on the resort.  I would love to; however, I don't have the money to throw down for an expensive hotel (I'd rather spend the money on souvenirs).  So, while I have read lot's of research about the resort hotels, I have no first-hand experience.  I'm sorry, I have failed you...
However, if you’re looking for a decent hotel, not too far from Disney, for fairly cheap, than I am the person to talk to.  I have stayed in a few hotels in the area and I have spent hours looking at prices and accommodations.  For my family, cheap is important.  And the resort taxes in Florida do not make cheap easy.  The resort tax is going to add about 12% on to your bill (yikes!).  And, all of the hotels stay competitive by listing one price, but adding a “resort fee” on to your final bill.
For instance, we originally stayed at a Ramada in Kissimmee on W. Irlo Bronson Dr (the main road in Kissimmee).  It was the cheapest place I found with an indoor pool on Travelocity, listed at $35 a night.  When we got there, we found out that there was also a $10/night resort fee to add on.  On top of this, the indoor pool was supposed to be heated and it was freezing!  To be fair to the hotel, we stayed at this same Ramada a second time.  And we still had the same problems with the pool!  We also found two roaches in our room, and the staff was rude.  We will never stay there again!
So, we left the Ramada and stayed at a different hotel for a few nights; the Champion World Resort, also on W. Irlo Bronson in Kissimmee.  And we loved it.  No indoor pool, but 2 out of the 3 pools were heated, including a kiddie pool that my 1 year old loved.  Travelocity listed the hotel as $35.  Unfortunately, they still have a $2/night resort fee, but the hotel lists it on Travelocity’s website.  You can also pay it up front (could not do this with the Ramada), so you have no surprise bills at the end of your trip (when you spent all of your money).  The rooms are your typical rooms, nothing fancy but since you won’t spend much time in the room (other than sleeping), it’s not a big deal.
To give you an idea of how cheap this place is, the Value resorts (the cheapest hotels) on Disney property have smaller rooms for double the price.  Yes, there are some amenities to staying in the resort (we will get into them at a later time), but if you don’t have the cash, its no big deal to stay away from the House of Mouse Hotels.

The hotel I really want to stay in!  Yes, there is a room inside and I will never, ever get to stay in it...

Monday, March 21, 2011

You guys deserve a larger post...

I know, I have been terribly lazy, lately, writing only enough to be able to post something.  This is a longer entry, I promise!

M.K. – Fantasyland Final Part

No, this is not in Disney World.  It is just a super cute pic of my family I took this week.  Aren't they beautiful?

            Well, we finally made it to the end of the Fantasyland attractions.  We only have three more rides to talk about (the rest of the attractions in this area are character greeting spots, which change all of the time).
            First up is another dark ride: Snow White’s Scary Adventures.  Snow White is one of my daughter’s favorite movies and this ride’s line is typically only about 20 minutes long, so we have ridden this one a few times.  To me, this dark ride isn’t as good as some of the others (Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, etc).  It, originally, was more about the story of the Queen than Snow White.  The Imagineers redeveloped it and added more “good guys”, but Snow White is still not actually in the ride that many times.  I have heard a lot of accounts of kids getting scared in this one.  My daughter was fine, but she has only ridden on it at younger than 2 years of age.  I’m not sure she understood all of it and she really likes the movie of Snow White (plus she laughs at the scary scene in the movie, where Snow White is running through the forest, so you can’t trust my kid).  All I am saying is: be cautious.  On a plus note, the carts have three separate rows of seats, which means the carts are large enough for 6-9 people, (depending on how big-bellied you are), so its one of the rare rides that large families can go on together.
            Next up is the iconic Mad Tea Party.  I loved this ride as a kid, but, truth be told, I haven’t been on it in ten years.  I can’t give you a good idea of how it is for big-bellied people because I was worried my daughter wouldn’t like it, so we didn’t ride it.  I will say this, though: if you get motion sickness, do not go on this ride with a teenager.  The ride spins lightly by itself, but there is a wheel in the middle to make it spin faster.  It is a teenager’s job to try and make their parents lose their lunch…
            Last, but certainly not least, Dumbo the Flying Elephant!  I will admit a soft spot here, my daughter’s lullaby has always been Baby Mine, and so I love Dumbo.  The ride is just like Aladdin’s Carpets in Adventureland: Dumbo lifts you up in the air and you go around in circles.  My daughter and I had a blast on this one and it was purely accidental that we got to ride it.  Dumbo is so iconic, that it has one of the longest wait times in the park.  However, if you’re lucky enough to encounter a Florida rain shower (and believe me, they happen almost every day, so you will be “lucky” enough to encounter one), Dumbo will shut down until the rain has ceased.  Stick around Dumbo during one of these showers and as soon as the rain lets up, get in line.  Emily and I only had to wait 10 minutes.  For my big-bellied fans: this ride has a seat belt that will stretch across you and your partner rider.  If the two of you do not fit together, they will bring you an extension.  Emily and I fit together just fine without it, but a bigger partner would have definitely have made one necessary.

Some people we don't know on the Dumbo ride.  Yes, there are pics of me and Em on the ride.  No, I have not posted them because they look horrible, it was dark and Hubby took them with his cell phone.

            And there it is: the end of Fantasyland in its current condition.  However, as I have said before, Fantasyland is under construction, so it will be bigger and better in the future.  We will definitely be revisiting.  Alas, now we have a problem.  The next area I was going to write about is Mickey’s Toontown Fair, but it is closed currently for the Fantasyland extension and I have no idea what is going to change in the meantime.  What would my readers like?  Should I talk about the Fair, or skip it?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

So exciting!

My little blog that could is beginning to get quite a bit of traffic over the past two days and I couldn't be more excited!  Part of this is because I have been commenting at other blogs and leaving my blog address behnd.  So I would like to take this opportunity to thank the few blogs I read and maybe generate some more business for them!

And if I could afford it, I would treat them all to a trip to Disney World.  But that's only because I want to go again myself...  However, I cannot afford it, so let me just say instead, thanks for letting me advertise on your comments pages!

And now, in honor of the St Patty's Day Gods:

My St. Patrick's Day baby looks like an Italian mafioso in her Adidas pants.  And she looks like she's flipping me the bird...  I love her!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The one with a horse...

...By the way, special kudos points if you can figure out the joke behind the title to this post...

M.K. – Fantasyland Part III

            After reading about my husband’s devotion to Pecos Bill, you are never going to believe this next part: we actually got to try a different restaurant on our last trip to the World.  I know, calm yourselves, my big-bellied peers.  It will probably never happen again…
            But, yes, we got to try a restaurant in Fantasyland: the Pinocchio Village Haus.  It was really cute, my daughter loved the theme and the fact that I kept singing “Figaro and Cleo” to her, but the food stunk.  Beautiful to look at, not very tasty…  It’s back to Pecos Bill for us again.
            Interesting note about this area, it holds the oldest ride in the whole park.  Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel was actually built in 1917 and has had a few relocations before the Disney Imagineers rescued it and brought it to the World.  And if you’re looking to ride the horse that has been designated as Cinderella’s, pick the one with the gold bow on the tail, second one in.  My daughter did not get to ride this horse (not that she cares, she’s not even 2), but my husband took a random picture of it and the girl who was riding it, stalker-style.
            Outside of the carrousel is the Sword in the Stone.  Of course, my husband had to pose with it (I love him, but he really is a nerd).  By the way, look down at the stones surrounding the large rock.  The cement below is shaped like 2 large swords.  It’s the little twists that can turn your trip from great to extraordinary, seeing all of the details the Imagineers include.  Or you could just make a huge spectacle of yourself by pointing out all of these secret treasures to random people like I do…  I’m pretty sure Disney has my picture up and all cast members are to stop me from entering ever again.  Not to mention my stalker husband.

I told you, Stalker-style...  Someone call Dateline...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A change of pace...

I decided to go a little off topic today to give some hints that I have picked up through research and visiting the World myself.  No need to thank me, you haven't read the hints yet (hehehe)...

The Emily-baby sleeping in 40 degree weather with a Beatles cover band right behind her...  She's a great traveller...

1.  Sell your child and get an Emily-baby.  An Emily-baby is so-called because my daughter is named Emily and she is the best travelling baby I have ever seen.  She eats, sleeps, draws and watches movies.  Get one of these kids!  They make the trip worth it.  (I'm kidding, of course, don't sell your child.  Give the child to a family with reproductive issues.  Everyone deserves a home...)

2.  A little seriousness - Use FASTPASS!  I have talked about FASTPASS before, but haven't really explained it, so I will endeavor to do so now.  FASTPASS is kind of like Disney giving you permission to cut in line.  You take your park ticket to a designated area and swipe it through the machine.  The machine gives you a magical ticket with a time on it, telling you when to get come back to the attraction, to be able to cut in front of the commoners who have been waiting to get in since approximately the dawn of time.  In all seriousness, though, to be able to do everything you want to do at the World, the FASTPASS is a blessing.  It's only available for the attractions with the longest wait lines, but while you are waiting for the time on your card to come up, you can spend that time taking in other attractions with smaller lines.  One word of caution, however, you can only get one FASTPASS per hour, so you can't go around to every attraction in the morning and grab one for all of them.

3.  Pick the line farthest away from you!  There are certain attractions that you will have to get in one line, but will eventually split in to two.  Pick the farther line.  Let me give you an example: It's a Small World has two lines when you get to the bridge.  There is a right line, closest to the entrance, and a left line, against the wall.  Take the left line.  My husband and I took this line and passed up approximately 30 people standing in the right line.  The ride had a 15 minute wait time and we were on in (no joke) 3 minutes, simply because most people choose the line closest to them.

4. A correction from yesterday's post - you do not smell strawberries at the Philharmagic, you smell jasmine and apple pie.  Smelled like strawberries to me, though.  And an addendum for the Liberty Square post - I found out from the Disney Company, that they have gotten rid of the turnstiles at Haunted Mansion.  So for all of my fellow big-bellied fans, you need only worry about the bar on your lap in this attraction now.

TTFN Disney fans!  Ta Ta for now!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mickey's Philharmagic Rocks my World!

I'm very sorry avid readers, this whole blog is on ONE attraction.  I just can't get enough of it, I would talk about it for days if I could.  Forgive me (but, please, keep reading!)...

As much as I like this attraction, you'd think I would have a picture of it.  Alas, I do not...

M.K. - Fantasyland Part II
            I’m really excited to talk about this next attraction in Fantasyland: Mickey’s Philharmagic.  My husband and I originally avoided it, because we had no idea what it was.  But the last trip we took to Disney, we gave it a try and we loved it!  First off, before you go to it, get a FASTPASS for another ride (Peter Pan is perfect because it always has a long line.  If you want to ride it, you NEED the FASTPASS).  I suggest taking this time to get one because A.) some of the FASTPASS booths are conveniently installed in front of the Philharmagic and B.) the Philharmagic is 20 minutes long, usually a nice distraction when waiting for your FASTPASS times…
            Now, why do I like the Philharmagic so much?  One, there is little to no wait time.  It is a 3D movie in a theater and the theater holds a lot of people.  The only long wait you may encounter (20 minutes) is if you get to the theater right after a show starts.  Otherwise, 5-10 minutes, tops.
            Two, it is near the center of Fantasyland.  Most of the attractions at Fantasyland run high wait times; this is nice attraction to catch along the way.  Which brings me to number three, it’s indoors, people!  That means seating and either air conditioning or heating (depending on the season you visit).
            But, the main reason I suggest the Philharmagic, its just plain cute and funny!  As far as 3D movies at Disney World go, I used to be a diehard Muppets fan.  And I hate to say it, but the Philharmagic puts Muppets to shame (Muppets needs some updating, badly!).  In the Philharmagic, you will get splashed with water, smell some strawberries in the air and watch Donald get shot out of a tuba cannon and into the wall behind you.  Too cute!  And for all of my big-bellied readers, this is one of the most comfortable theaters in the whole park.  So you will sit in comfort!

Friday, March 11, 2011


I'm under construction!

Sorry, y'all!  I know I haven't blogged in about a thousand years, but I have been having internet issues.  I hope to be back to my awesome big-bellied blogging by tomorrow...  Sunday, by the latest...  I haven't forgotten about my avid (8) readers!

In the meantime, some information I found out from the Disney company:

The new Fantasyland expansion should be completed by 2012.  In the meantime, Toontown Fair is closed.  The castle is also currently being renovated on the Fantasyland side.

Haunted Mansion and the bridge to Adventureland are also experiencing changes.  That's all I know, I will be back tomorrow or Sunday with some information on some new parts of Fantasyland!

Monday, February 28, 2011

2nd star to the left and straight on until morning!

...Or, around the Seven Seas Lagoon and behind Cindy's Castle is: Fantasyland!

M.K. – Fantasyland

Emily on a gondola...  Just kidding!  Its a creepy doll from It's a Small World!

Sorry its a little blurry, but this is Em captivated by the dolls in It's a Small World.

            Fantasyland, every little girl’s favorite area in the whole Disney World Resort.  Fantasyland represents every story of a white knight, saving the damsel in distress that we have ever heard (especially the stories that Disney converted into animated films!).  Okay, so I kind of rushed talking about Cindy’s Castle in an earlier post.  Technically, I was supposed to talk about it here.  However, you can see the castle from everywhere in the park and there is a lot to do in Fantasyland…  Alright, I’m sorry for confusing you.  You (7) guys take this blog so seriously!
            Not counting Cindy’s Castle, there are TEN attractions in Fantasyland.  Not to mention the numerous shops outside the door of EVERY attraction and the 5 restaurants (not counting the one inside the Castle).  There are also numerous places to meet characters in Fantasyland.  I repeat, there is a lot to do in this area.
            First, on the list, is my daughter’s favorite ride in the whole park: It’s a Small World.  Yes, the song is annoying.  Yes, the dolls can be a little creepy at times.  But it’s iconic, Disneyania at its finest.  Everyone knows about this ride and everyone is humming the song, once they exit the boats.  And the animatronics of the dolls are very spectacular.  Young kids love this attraction, so if you brought some toddlers, plan on a stop.
            Peter Pan’s Flight has one of the longest wait times in the park.  Again, with this ride, it’s all about the fact that it is an iconic piece of Disney World.  The ride itself is very similar to other rides in the park.  It’s what Disney calls a “dark ride,” meaning you get in a vehicle that takes you around through the dark, lit up only by scenes from the movie.  In this ride, the vehicle is Captain Hook’s ship.  It is fun, but if it’s got a long line, it won’t kill you to miss it.  By the way, if you are a fan of Tinkerbell, head for the gift shop Tinkerbell’s Treasures as soon as the park opens.  The first person to enter the shop gets to awaken Tinkerbell by releasing her from the wooden box next to the cashier.
            Which brings me to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  It is a very similar ride to Peter Pan’s Flight: a “dark ride” through scenes of Winnie the Pooh.  It also has an extremely long wait time.  However, a funny fact in the ride is a must-see, if you decide to wait out the line.  The site of this ride use to be where Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was stationed.  It upset a lot of Disney fans when Winnie the Pooh replaced Mr. Toad.  In a nod to the fans, the Imagineers put an homage to Mr. Toad in the new Winnie the Pooh ride.  When you get to Owl’s house, turn around.  There is a picture of Mr. Toad giving the deed to his house to Owl.

Okay, I will write some more on Fantasyland another day.  There is still so much work left to be done!

I TOLD you little girls love Fantasyland!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Walt was a stickler for authenticity...

...and Liberty Square is the best example of this.

M.K. - Liberty Square

The Haunted Mansion

            I love Disney World (I've mentioned that, right?), but this used to be my least favorite area in Magic Kingdom.  However, there are many interesting hidden secrets in this area that many people don’t realize, which really add interest to Walt’s vision.  For instance, have you ever noticed that the doors all have two-digit numbers posted on them in this area?  If you add an “18” to the front of that number, you are suddenly given a date, corresponding to when this style of house would have been popular.
            Another weird, but interesting fact about this area: there are no restrooms in this area, except in the restaurants where it is required by law.  Because there were no indoor toilets in colonial times, Walt Disney’s desire was for this area to be authentic.
Of course I like the Haunted Mansion (we’ll get back to this in a minute), but I think the Hall of Presidents is boring.  Yes, the animatronics are amazing in the Hall of Presidents and the show itself is classic Disney-nostalgia.  But, unless you need a twenty minute break from the heat and sun, I try to avoid the Hall, unless my husband makes me go in (although, I have seen ladies use this attraction as a remote place to breastfeed babies, so its got that going for it).  *Note: Remember the numbers on the door?  The number on the Hall’s door corresponds to when the United States Constitution was ratified.
The Liberty Square Riverboat takes you around the lake in between Frontierland and Liberty Square, going past Tom Sawyer’s Island.  But the real attraction in this area is, of course, the Haunted Mansion.  999 ghosts live here and they have no problem making that number a nice even 1,000 with the addition of you!  In fact, when you enter the graveyard section of the ride, note the Caretaker’s face.  He’s looking directly at you and he is scared because you have become the 1,000th ghost.
For all of my Big-Bellied fans, the Riverboat and Haunted Mansion both have turnstiles.  Also, the Doom Buggy bar has to click in place inside of the Haunted Mansion, so you may have to suck that belly in!
As for shopping in this area, it is limited.  There is a small cart outside of the Haunted Mansion selling Nightmare before Christmas paraphernalia, but the only store is the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe.  As you can imagine, it sells Christmas items.  It’s a fun store to stop in, but it is one of the pricier souvenir locations.  Outside of the Shoppe is another cart, selling parasols for little girls (or big girls, if its particularly sunny!).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Taking my 5 followers to Frontierland

Welcome back, readers!  If you step this way, we will enter the world of Frontierland...

M.K. – Frontierland

Pic of Em eating at Pecos Bill

An even better pic of Em eating in Pecos Bills, a few days later on the SAME vacation.  Yes, my husband likes this restaurant that much...  If you notice, however, she is giving the camera the Evil Eye.  Too much Pecos Bill's?  You be the judge.

            This is my husband’s favorite area.  Not because of the rides, although Splash Mountain and Big Mountain Thunder Railroad are two of the biggest rides at M.K.  It’s because of Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and CafĂ©.  My husband loves this restaurant.  He literally doesn’t think his trip to M.K. was worth it unless he gets to eat here for lunch.  And it is delicious: barbecue burgers, taco salads, chicken wraps.  Its also one of the rare “counter” service restaurants with indoor sitting, so it’s a wonderful stop for a hot August day.  Good food and air conditioning…
            As I stated above, the two main rides in this area are Splash Mountain and Big Mountain Thunder Railroad.  Splash Mountain is a fun ride in a log through Brer Rabbit’s Laughing Place (“Killing parents with the song about laughing places since 1946”).  What is so amazing about Disney World is the ambience.  The Imagineers invest themselves in the storyline, adding wonderment before the huge 5 story drop.  As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am terrified of heights and I hate roller coasters.  But I have been on almost every Disney thrill ride.  The reason for this is because of the storylines that are drawn out for each ride.
            For those people who do dare to get on the ride, they will have to endure watching people go down the hill over and over again.  Part of the experience of the ride is the anticipation of going down the hill and the ride plays it up.  And those crafty Imagineers will still get you to pay attention to this ride, even if you don’t go on it.  If you stand on the bridge across from Splash Mountain to wait for your friends, bring a change of clothes.  Every few logs that come down the hill will trigger a water cannon hiding in the grass to shoot the people on the bridge.
            Big Mountain Thunder Railroad is a ride on a runaway mine cart.  The premise is "there be gold in them hills," but it has already been mined out and the town has been abandoned after a series of flash floods.  However, the carts still work, so of course you’re going to get into one, right?  Needless to say, chaos ensues and you’re in for a wild ride!
            Also in this area is the Country Bear Jamboree (blah for adults, but kids might like it and it’s very nostalgic), an entrance to the WDW Railroad, and Tom Sawyer Island.  An insider secret that I read is to get to Tom Sawyer Island early.  There are white paintbrushes hidden around the island and if you find one and give it to one of the cast members, you will get a prize (usually a FASTPASS to one of the main rides).

Friday, February 18, 2011

A little on the short side...

Hola, my adoring fans!

But where has all the rum gone?

M.K. – Adventureland

            That’s right.  Adventureland.  I’m the one writing, so we’re going around M.K. like my family does.  In fact, I read somewhere that most people head toward Tomorrowland and Fantasyland when they first get to the park.  However, as a Big-Bellied Beauty, I am here to tell you that some of the best rides for bigger people are in Adventureland.
            The first attraction you will pass is the Treehouse of the Family Swiss.  I’ll be honest, I haven’t gone up the treehouse in a long time because my daughter is too heavy to carry all the way up (don’t worry, she’s a toddler, so it’s not weird that I have to carry her still…).  The attraction is completely based off of the movie and it’s a lot of fun for young kids to climb up.  If your party is Adults Only, don’t feel bad if you miss this.
            Continuing on the path you will come up to Aladdin’s flying carpets.  Another honesty moment, here.  The flying carpets confuse me.  I thought there was only one flying carpet and Al already has custody of it?  Anyways, this ride is basically the Dumbo ride with a Morroccan feel.  Funny side note, as you enter the ride, watch out for the camel.  He spits.
            The Tiki Room is a show with birds.  Blah.  But on the left are two fun staples of Magic Kingdom: The Jungle Cruise (which is a little lame, but very relaxing) and the Pirates of the Caribbean.  The Jungle Cruise is a trek on a boat (go figure) through many “major” rivers.  Your tour guide’s job is to tell the story and steer the boat, so the story hasn’t changed (ever), but still a lot of fun.  And quite comfortable for the big-bellied.
            Pirates, after a much needed update, is still the fun boat ride around to look at all the pirates, but now also has a mini-hill in the dark.  It is a great ride for everyone of all shapes and sizes.  I love this ride, it is the one thing we make sure we hit every time we go to Magic Kingdom.  And now that they have added Captain Jack Sparrow’s likeness to the ride, we ladies are much happier!  He’s yummy…
            And after the ride is over, spend some time in the Pirates-themed gift shop.  You know you want to spend more money…

Sorry its a little short, but that is all there is in Adventureland.  I know my (3) adoring fans are tired of waiting patiently, but please!  I am but one person!  Next time, we'll take a look at Frontierland...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

And I have 3 followers!

...of course, its my husband, my sister-in-law and a dear friend, but who's counting, right?

View of some dude's head and Cindy's Castle

M.K. – Main Street, U.S.A.

            All I can say is “Eeeek!  Shopping!”  If you, like me, are a souvenir connoisseur, then the Emporium is screaming your name.  Actually that might be your credit card screaming for help in your purse.  Whatever, nuances.  Main Street’s whole job is to start you toward the path of eternal Disney bliss.  Thus, it has tons of stores, tons of food, and tons of hidden gems of Imagineering.  Want a Mickey Mouse-shaped Rice Krispie (I mean, MARSHMALLOW) treat?  Look no further than Main Street.  Handy, that they put a shopping Mecca at the only entrance and exit of the entire park.  And all of these stores typically close an hour after all of the other attractions, so even if you sum up the willpower to ignore the call of commercialism now, it may get you later!
            I’m not going to tell you what to buy (Mickey ears, damnit!), but I will let you know you can get everything here with that two-eared icon.  My husband and I decided to make a trip to Florida during December.  Since we are Yanks, we assumed it would be balmy spring weather the whole time we were visiting.  Our first day to the parks, we wore sandals.  BIG mistake.  We happened to visit during one of those weather periods when it is as cold in Florida as it is in the Arctic.  We got to the parks at 11 and by 4, could no longer feel our toesies.  We entered the Emporium and bought the thickest (and cutest!) socks, which made the day that much easier.  Yes, it’s a dumb story.  Yes, you will be getting more of these as time goes on.  I apologize now…
            After your wallet has given up all of the lint it has to offer, the path directs you to the center hub, where Cindy’s Castle is stationed.  I should apologize; I am being a horrible tour guide.  I just read in a travel guide that the official name of the castle is Cinderella Castle, not the possessive Cinderella’s Castle.  There, now that I have imparted some official wisdom, I just want to add this: I would give my right arm to live in this castle.
            There it is.  The real reason I love Disney World.  I have a romantic streak a million times long and Cindy’s castle plays into it.  As you enter the castle, you are treated to some awesome mosaics of the story of Cinderella.  Her evil step-sisters are the two brats in green (for envy) and red (for rage).  If you happen to be one of the lucky few with an Advanced Reservation (very repetitive name), then you can dine in the castle with Cindy and some of her princess friends.  This, however, is basically the smallest restaurant in all of Disney World, so while it means great quality time with the princesses, it also means bookings go fast and space is tight for us big-bellied beauties.  There is also another (you guessed it!) gift shop inside the castle, the Bippiddi-Boppiddi Boutique (I have no idea how to spell that and I am too lazy to look it up).  Princesses-in-training can get a princess make-over for exorbitant sums of cash.  Isn’t Disney great?  And by great, I mean expensive…

            I hope I'm not boring anyone, I have no idea how to go about writing a blog, so I'm more writing as if this was a travel guide...  Ack, get over it.  None of you care anyway.  And if you did, you're all too polite to say anything.  Right?

My 1st Blog Entry...

...Otherwise entitled: Good luck to me!

If you look real close, Em and I are in this picture...

Besides my family, my two favorite things are eating and Disney World.  I’m not going to lie to you.  I am an overweight, overworked, and overstressed momma.  In the short-term, I like to de-stress with food.  If I need some long-term de-stressing, Walt Disney works wonders for me.
            Disney World is the most magical place on earth, at least in my eyes.  There’s something for everyone: from the food, to the rides, to the shows, to the jaw-dropping views of Cindy’s Castle.  Disney is the absolute pinnacle of over-the-top entertainment and, I believe, it is the one place where you can be treated completely like the kid that you really are.
            Yes, there are a million Disney guides out there.  No, I am not an insider.  Heck, I’m not even a travel writer.  I’m just a fan with a weight problem, just like most of the rest of the nation, who would like to share my experiences with everyone.  But I am going to repeat in large letters: I AM NOT A TRAVEL EXPERT.  I hope everyone enjoys my ramblings, but don’t take my word as gospel.  Go see a professional, that’s what they are there for.

Magic Kingdom

            I don’t know about you, but Magic Kingdom sums up the Disney World experience to me.  There’s nothing like that first view of Cindy’s castle that just makes you blink your eyes in wonderment.  And then you get off the monorail system and you realize, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Oz anymore.”
            After stepping off the monorail or ferry, your first experience with M.K. is the penultimate glamorous destination of the baggage check (“Keeping terrorists out of Disney World by checking your diaper bags since 1971!”).  Yes, it seems like a waste of time, but give those boys in blue the time of day.  They’re keeping all of the other loonies out.  You will need to open every bag that your expedition is carrying, including purses and diaper bags.  Some of the men will let you leave the bags attached to your stroller, but the official rule is all bags have to be opened and put on the table for ease of access.
            After your pat-down (just kidding!), you will give up your ticket, go through the gates, and actually enter the park.  That’s right you have been on Disney property for a half an hour between parking, the monorail (or ferry), and baggage claim and you have only now entered the park, but, I promise you, it’s worth the wait.
            So where should the big-bellied’s swollen feet take us?  As you enter the park, you have to go around the Walt Disney World Railroad, either to the left or the right.  Both sides converge together, to take you “…right down the middle of Main Street U.S.A…” as you will hear (shortly) during the (daily) parades.  That’s right, folks, you have entered turn-of-the-century Main Street, U.S.A.!

Come back (tomorrow?) for exploration of Main Street, U.S.A.