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.