Walt Disney World: A Pictorial Souvenir

Photo Jul 16, 10 53 58 PMThe other day I came across this book from my childhood, Walt Disney World: A Pictorial Souvenir. The book is from 1986 and has some fantastic pictures from the Disney parks. At that time, the World was much smaller. We only had two theme parks, one water park, four resorts, and not much more. This is a far cry from the four parks, two water parks, 29 resorts and so much more that we have today. So, I thought I’d take a few moments to share some of the pictures and reflect back on how the World used to be.

The book starts with an introduction to Walt Disney World and then breaks it down into subsections. Starting with the Magic Kingdom, the six different lands (this was before Mickey’s Birthdayland/Starland/Toontown) each get their own focus. Several pages with pictures and a brief overview of each land are featured. Walt Disney World has changed quite a bit in the past almost 30 years since the book was released, but it is still cool to see how some attractions are almost exactly the same.

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After the Magic Kingdom came EPCOT CENTER. Instead of being broken down into Future World and World Showcase, most all Future World attractions/pavilions get their own section. Likewise, each of the ten countries (prior to Norway’s arrival in 1988) gets their own spread. Most definitely, Future World is where the most notable changes are visible. Attractions of the past like Horizons, World of Motion, Communicore and the Living Seas are neat to see. I didn’t have my first trip to Epcot until April of 1993, so I enjoy that I can look back on some of those things I didn’t get to experience.

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Next up is the resort and recreation section of the book, which shows the original and now renamed Polynesian Village, the Contemporary Resort, Discovery Island, River Country, Fort Wilderness, the Disney Inn (now Shades of Green), Walt Disney World Lake Buena Vista, and Walt Disney World Village. The Polynesian, Contemporary and Fort Wilderness each get a two page spread, with the others getting a single page of combined pictures and text.

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If you want a copy of the Walt Disney World: A Pictorial Souvenir, I’ve seen a few for sale on Amazon and eBay, but just make sure to pay attention to the year of publication. The pictures and information are great to see for anyone who is nostalgic or someone who wants to see what they weren’t able to themselves.

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Be Our Guest Dining Review

be our guestOne of the most sought after dining reservations at Walt Disney World is the Be Our Guest restaurant at the Magic Kingdom. I was lucky enough to be able to attend a Disney Parks Blog meet up before Be Our Guest officially opened, which you can read about here. It has been over a year and a half since I had dinner at the restaurant, but I have had lunch there a few times over the past couple of years. Fortunately, I was able to snag a last minute reservation less than a week before the holiday weekend, so I was very excited to enjoy a nice meal with a friend at the park.

Our reservation was for 7:45pm, but we arrived at the Magic Kingdom a bit earlier than we expected, so we headed back to see if we could get in to Be Our Guest a bit early. The host said that since we were a party of two it looked like they could squeeze us in. The magic was definitely in our favor that night! We were instructed to wait for our pager to light up and then check in with the cast member at the gates to the Beast’s castle.

Once the pager illuminated, we were escorted into the castle and given a brief tour, eventually being led into the ballroom where we would be eating. Shelley and I had eaten there before for lunch, but never for dinner since Be Our Guest officially opened in late 2012. I don’t know if you are aware or not, but it can be a bit challenging to get a reservation at this very popular restaurant. 😉

Melissa was our server, who I actually remembered from the Parks Blog Meet Up as our server then, so it is nice to see the cast members sticking around from opening still. Since we have some allergies, the chef was called to come and review the menus with us to make sure we didn’t have any issues. This gave us an opportunity to just soak in the environment of the magnificent ballroom setting of Be Our Guest. I am still blown away by how gorgeous the details are, especially the ceiling chandeliers, and how much the restaurant reflects the beauty of Beauty and the Beast.

For the first time, I enjoyed a nice glass of wine with my meal in the Magic Kingdom. I think this was a nice addition to a French-inspired meal. Several French and California wines and select beers are available to be served with your meal at Be Our Guest. For our first course, I ordered the potato leek soup, which I have had several times before and enjoy quite a bit. The taste is fantastic, but this time the consistency seemed a bit off, like the soup needed to go through a strain or puree a bit more. I would still order this again every time. The entree I have heard the most about from friends and other guests is the sauteed shrimp and scallops with seasonal vegetables and mushrooms served in puff pastry with a creamy lobster sauce. Despite having had shrimp and scallops earlier in the week, I could not resist ordering this dish.

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Even though Be Our Guest is not considered a character meal, the Beast is often known to parade through the castle waving at guests to welcome them to his home. He also frequently will meet with guests to pose for a picture with them in his library before they depart. We had a great time, the food was enjoyable and I’d definitely order what I had again. I also am anxious to go back and try the salmon I had before to see if it holds up to what I recall from before. The experience is so fun and the food is some of the best in the Magic Kingdom.

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As we left the restaurant, we stopped on the bridge on the way out to get a few pictures of the gorgeous sky after the storms cleared for a bit. Have you been to the Be Our Guest restaurant recently? What were your thoughts? Did you order one of the desserts? We skipped out this time since we were full from our meal, but we’ve tried them all before.

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California Grill- finally my first visit!

California Grill

 

I have been wanting to dine at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for so long now, and I am always asked if I would recommend it. Of course, from what I hear I absolutely recommend it, but I had never actually been there myself. So it was my wedding anniversary this month, and we decided it was the perfect reason to go to California Grill as we had heard it was a very romantic restaurant. Plus it has recently been re-imagined with a new design inspired by mid-century modern California, featuring a new seasonal ingredients menu. The sushi bar was also extended and now features a 12-course omakase menu.

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We found out that the Wishes fireworks at Magic Kingdom were going off that night at 10pm, so we booked our meal for 9:40pm knowing that would give us time to sit, peruse the menu, order some drinks and possibly appetizers right by the time we should be thinking about going out on the balcony to watch them. One of the highlights of California Grill is the amazing view over Magic Kingdom to watch the fireworks.

 

So we checked in at the California Grill desk on the second floor in the Contemporary, and were told to take the elevator upstairs to the restaurant. Upon getting out of the elevator, there’s a secondary check in desk in front of a very impressive wine selection of 1,600 bottles housed in a climate controlled showcase. It has been reported that they have about 250 wine selections, 80 by the glass!

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While you wait for your table to be ready, you are invited to sit in the lounge area, where tables are a first come first serve basis. Some people without reservations actually dine here as the entire California Grill menu is available to order from the lounge also. We had only just been given our menus when our buzzer was already going off, so the wait was very short. The nice thing about when they take you to your table is that they walk you by the open kitchen, so you can see all the chefs and what dishes they are coming up with. The person who seated us actually pointed some items out that we were looking at, which later on helped me decide on which dessert I was going to order!

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We ended up being seated in a quieter room toward the side of the California Grill. I want to say she called it the Monorail Room, but as there was no view of the monorail I must have misheard her. From what I gather this used to be the old wine room, but it was very intimate as the ceiling is lower here, and there are only around 10 tables inside. The view was very relaxing as although you couldn’t see Magic Kingdom, you could see the lake and the electrical water pageant very well.

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I was told the drinks are wonderful at California Grill, so of course we had to try them out. Our favorite was the Sake Martini recommended by a friend, it was so delicious! The Cucumber Fizz was my second favorite, but I don’t doubt that had I tried more, that they would have all quickly become my new favorites!

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By this point they had announced that in 5 minutes Wishes fireworks were going to be starting, so they give you time to get outside on to the balcony to find your spot. Of course, you don’t have to go outside, if you remain inside California Grill they dim the lights and play the music inside the restaurant for you. As we couldn’t see them from our room, we decided to head outside for them. We got a great spot, and they have speakers out there playing the same songs and sound effects as the ones in the park.

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Despite living close by, there’s nothing like watching them from high up, going off over Cinderella Castle! Feels quite romantic too if you tune out the rest of the people around you and just face forward. This was truly a highlight of the meal at California Grill, and I’m sure it looked and felt just as beautiful from inside the restaurant if you had a lovely view.

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We got back to our table and the server brought out our appetizers immediately, they must have been holding them ready for when you return from the fireworks. For our starters, my husband had sushi which he loved as it was such a generous portion for an appetizer! I had the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli, which was nice but I wasn’t expecting it to just be one piece, at least I wasn’t too full for my main course.

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For our main course, Simon had the grilled pork tenderloin, and he said it was so delicious and cooked perfectly to his liking! I chose something that wasn’t on the California Grill menu, I chose to go with the Vegetarian Unplugged, a dish that is always different. Basically you never know what you are going to get, as the chefs pass a dish around the kitchen and they put a part of whatever vegetarian side dish they are creating at that time. So you end up with something different each time you go, they also do a Vegan Unplugged dish too with the same idea.

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My server wasn’t quite sure what my items were but they were pretty easy to figure out. The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that there didn’t seem to be much to each plate, so it wasn’t very filling and had a lot of similar tastes, which was a shame as it had sounded so promising. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my dishes at California Grill.

 

I would say the best part of the meal at California Grill was the dessert! Simon ordered the Seasonal Tasting featuring Peach themed desserts, and I ordered the Sundae Sampler. My favorite being the Reverse Root Beer Float, which featured root beer ice cream with a little tiny cute glass bottle of vanilla soda to pour on top! Very cute!

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Overall we did really enjoy our food at California Grill, but for me, as a vegetarian I wasn’t that impressed with the dish I had. I was also a bit disappointed no one acknowledged that we were on our anniversary despite letting them know at the podium and telling our server. I’m not sure if they just don’t do anything special here, but a simple “Happy Anniversary” would have been lovely. I might not be rushing back to dine here, but now I can recommend it to others and I will certainly encourage them to try the Sake Martini and Reverse Root Beer Float!

 

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Lunching at The Wave…of American Flavors

One of my favorite “under the radar” restaurants at Walt Disney World is The Wave…of American Flavors (The Wave for short) at the Contemporary Resort.

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The menu here features American cuisine and many of the ingredients are sourced locally. I’ve always felt that the food I’ve eaten here has been fresh and prepared so that these fresh ingredients, especially produce, can shine.

The restaurant is located in the back corner of the lobby, just past the check-in desks. The entrance is definitely one of the coolest on property!

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Various elements of the décor also bring out the “wave” theme. It also features close up photographs of produce, like an ear of corn.

Picture from Disney
Picture from Disney. Interior.

I’ve eaten at the Wave several times now of the past few years, at least once for every meal. Recently, it’s become a tradition for my mom and I to eat Easter brunch there after church service. They always have a fantastic breakfast buffet there (sweet potato pancakes anyone??), but for Easter they add a few extras, like carving and omelet stations.

Today though, I’m going to focus on lunch at the Wave. I’ve eaten lunch there a couple of times now. I love that you can usually always get in without a reservation there and that is especially true at lunch. It’s very quiet and I think could be a great break from a busy (and hot) theme park day. Plus, it’s an easy walk from the Magic Kingdom!

Now onto the food…I will warm you that I’m not the greatest when it comes to food reviews. They usually consist of varying degrees of yumminess! But I’ll try to be a bit more descriptive this time!

Most of the time, I like to keep it light at lunch with a salad and maybe an appetizer. My first lunch there, I fell in love with the Wave’s version of the Cobb salad.

From the menu: MacGregor Farms Greens, Naturally Raised Eggs, Bacon, Florida Avocados, Chile-Lime Vinaigrette, and Midnight Moon Cheese
From the menu: MacGregor Farms Greens, Naturally Raised Eggs, Bacon, Florida Avocados, Chile-Lime Vinaigrette, and Midnight Moon Cheese

Most Disney fans know of Brown Derby’s version, which is great, but I give the Wave’s a bit of an edge because of the bigger pieces of the ingredients. With the Brown Derby’s I feel like it all sort of mushes together. I’m also a bit obsessed with the bacon on this salad. It’s thick-cut and has a bit of sweetness to it. It goes great with the tangy vinaigrette. I know there are people who aren’t fans of the traditional bleu cheese found on most Cobb salads. You will be happy to hear that the cheese on this version is much more mild and has a parmesan-like texture.

You can choose to add chicken or steak to the salad to make it more of an entrée. Instead, I decided to go with the soup of the day, which was a Zellwood corn and chicken chowder. The restaurant happened to be a bit chilly that afternoon so sop actually sounded fantastic. And it was! Zellwood corn is known for being sweet. The chicken was shredded and there was some spice with red peppers in the base. This was also paired with a jalapeño corn bread muffin, which also added a bit of heat, but nothing overwhelming. Our server made sure to warn us.

Season Soup - corn chowder
Season Soup – corn chowder

I will definitely be back to The Wave…for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Lunch is definitely a treat and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a break from the parks for an hour or two. The only complaint I have is I’ve had some inconsistent service there. The servers have always been very nice, it’s just some have been more on top of everything than others.

Have you been to The Wave? What would you recommend for my next visit?

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Million Dollar Arm: A Baseball Fan’s View

million dollar armThe crack of the bat, the sweet aroma of freshly mowed grass, the crisp baselines. These are just a few of the things that make me absolutely love our nation’s pastime, baseball. When I heard Disney was going to be releasing another baseball movie, Million Dollar Arm, but this one with Jon Hamm, I was more than a little excited. The combination of my favorite sport and one of my favorites actors set my sights on this May release. From the first time I saw the previews, I was hooked.

For those who aren’t familiar with the story, Million Dollar Arm tells the story of sports agent J.B. Bernstein and his quest to find a baseball player from the untapped market in India. With the help of an investor to back the contest, J.B. (played by Jon Hamm) travels to India to ideally find cricket players to become the next pitchers in Major League Baseball. The movie is one that explores the idea of family, what is most important in life, and do the ends justify the means. While that may sound rather heavy for a Disney film about baseball, Million Dollar Arm addresses them all in a humorous, but poignant manner.

I like the way in which J.B. bonds with the two boys he brings over from India, Rinku and Dinesh, and their translator and wannabe coach, Amit. After a few mishaps due to cultural differences, J.B. ends up taking them in. The game of baseball is the vehicle through which the story develops of the boys and their relationship with J.B. As Dinesh and Rinku have never played baseball before, don’t speak English when they arrive in America, and come from a very different lifestyle in India, you can imagine that it is not an easy journey for these young men.

Million Dollar Arm is a welcome addition to the canon of baseball films in my collection. I like the correlations to other sports related movies like Jerry Maguire, Rudy, Hoosiers, Remember the Titans and The Rookie. It isn’t so much about the destination with this movie, as most know, or at least can predict what happens, but it is more about the journey. Even my mom, who isn’t the biggest baseball fan loved this film. It is heartfelt, funny, and has a good amount of baseball references. In the end, the journey is as much J.B.’s as it is that of the boys he brought to this country. Million Dollar Arm hits all the right notes for an enjoyable family film for the baseball fan.

Have you seen Million Dollar Arm yet? Where does it fit in your ranking of baseball films? This one falls in the upper half for me. It isn’t quite up there with The Pride of the Yankees, Bull Durham, The Sandlot, Field of Dreams or A League of Their Own. I like it much better than the already likable The Rookie, one of Disney’s other forays into the baseball world. Check out this film if you’re a fan of baseball, Jon Hamm or Bollywood.

 

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X-Men: Days of Future Past Movie Review

X-men-magneto-prisonerAs I’ve mentioned before in some of my posts, I love the X-Men. Wolverine is one of my favorite characters in Marvel movies, but he hasn’t always had the best screen time, especially of late. I am not a comic book fan, but adore the X-Men movies. I have seen them all and own all except the two Wolverine movies oddly enough.

What I like best is when the X-Men are working together as a team. This might be why I don’t find the two Wolverine films as compelling as the ensemble ones (excluding The Last Stand). The new film, X-Men: Days of Future Past came out this past week and was set up with a cut scene at the end of the last Wolverine film. The premise is that there is a war in the near future that will take place and effectively eliminate all mutants, imprison humans who help them, and even humans who will eventually have mutant children or grandchildren.

Without getting into too much of the plot so I don’t completely spoil the movie for you, it falls upon Logan/Wolverine to go back in time through his subconscious and prevent the war from happening. In order to do this, Wolverine must unite Charles Xavier/Professor X and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto in a quest to find Raven/Mystique as she plays a key role in the development.

If one recalls, at the end of X-Men: First Class, Charles and Erik were not exactly the best buddies they had previously been. After Erik accidentally paralyzed Charles with a bullet he deflected, he also ran off with Mystique, who Charles loved like a sister. I really liked incorporating the First Class actors, especially Michael Fassbender as Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique in with Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Patrick Stewart as Professor X and Ian McKellan as Magneto from the original films. The way they handled the “time travel” was cool and I liked the new and old group of X-Men.

All in all I was happy with the movie. It left me asking questions, but in a good way, like where do they go from here. I got everything out of it that I wanted without knowing that’s what I wanted. I even shed a tear towards the end. Nothing had really been spoiled other than what happened (not how) to one character, but it didn’t ruin the story for me at all. I will definitely buy this when it comes out on blu ray and may even catch it again in the theater. It didn’t hurt that Hugh Jackman was in almost every scene either.

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As far as where I would rank this movie in with the other X-Men films, I would put it in the middle. I go back and forth between the first and second films as my favorite, then First Class, then the Wolverine, Last Stand and Origins. I would put this either 3rd or 4th behind either X2 or First Class. For those who have seen it, what did you think of X-Men: Days of Future Past? Where does it rank for you? Where would you like the series to go from here with all that happened in this movie? Let me know in the comments.

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Day of the Shirt Mobile App Review

Some of you may have noticed my *slight* t-shirt problem. Or, you may have noticed us tweet out some of our favorite shirts occasionally. Most of these are due in thanks to a great website and mobile app called Day of the Shirt. This app is available for iphone only at this time, but they also have a great website, facebook and twitter account.

The premise of the app and the Day of the Shirt website is that there are quite a few t-shirt sites out there and it is hard to keep track of them all. The app updates on a daily or weekly basis with feeds from dozens of different shirt sites. This way, instead of having to go to a bunch of websites each day, you can get one push notification daily with all the updates. Most of these sites offer shirts at affordable prices for a very limited period of time, ranging from 24 hour to a week. Some of the sites start as low as $6 for their shirts and average around $10-12, with shipping ranging from free to around $3.

I find this app to be a great addition to help me keep track of the latest and greatest shirt designs. Most of the sites feature what’s hot in pop culture or may run a theme of a classic movie/tv/game. Today’s shirts include things like Dr. Who, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Star Wars, Sleeping Beauty, Captain America, Indiana Jones, Monty Python, Pac-Man, He-Man, Stitch, Super Mario Bros, Zelda, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Harry Potter, Frozen and even more that I don’t get without looking them up.

When you click on the picture of a particular shirt, a window pops up and shows a close up of the shirt with a link to the site selling the shirt and the price. There are options to click to go to the site or to share the shirt right from the app. The settings for the push notifications are pretty straightforward with the option to sort by normal order or newest shirts first. You can also set push notifications on or off and what time you want them sent.

The sites I’ve ordered most frequently from are TeeFury (which their shirts often run small), Pop-Up Tees, Ript, Unamee and Woot! Each site usually shows their individual sizing charts, so be sure to consult these before ordering. And if, like me, your cat happens to jump on you and change your shirt size while you are checking out, maybe email the company right away explaining what happened and they may fix it for you. The good news is, often if you miss out on the time window for one of your favorite shirts, they offer them at higher prices from the vault at like $18 instead of $10.

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App shows as Today’s Shirts
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Some of the shirts on sale today
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Link from the app to seller’s site

Shout out to our friend Scarlett for introducing me to this site. I figured it was about time I shared the love. I have a love/hate relationship with this app. I love the awesome shirts that I have now because of it, but hate how much money it makes me part with. Have you used it before? Will you now you know about it? Good luck and happy shopping!

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Disney Vacation Club – Membership Magic – Me Time Magic

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As one of the new features of Disney Vacation Club membership magic was added earlier this year.  One of the new events was to feature the Spa discount and came with some extra benefits on certain nights.   A few months ago, I decided to try the spa.  I called member services to make my appointment, and then checked in at Saratoga on my appointment day.

 

One of the features for Facials was: Facial Enhancements with a choice of one of the following,

  • Bright Eyes – Reduce fine lines, relieve puffy and stressed eyes, and target dark circles and signs of fatigue as you re-energize the eye area.
  • Hydrating Lip Treatment – Gently erase dryness and fine lines during a hydrating and plumping experience sure to leave your lips looking voluptuous and youthful.
  • Hand Brightener – Turn back the hands of time with this lightening, brightening hand treatment as you naturally say goodbye to hyper pigmentation and darks spots.
  • Facial Boost – Customize your facial for specific areas of concern with one of 4 Facial Boosters, including: Firming Booster (eases the signs of aging), Anti-Blemish Booster (eases the signs of acne), Anti-Redness Booster (especially for Rosacea) and Lightening Booster (lightens pigmentation).

I chose a Facial Boost, the Anti-Blemish Booster.

It had been a long time since I had visited the Spa at Saratoga Springs,  so I noticed that initially when you arrive it reminds you of the spa from Disney Cruise line.  I was greeted and given a tour of the facility.

 

After changing I went into their relaxation room, which is a quiet serene area with chairs, muffins and water.
I got comfortable and then was called in by the Esthetician.

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We walked around the hall to the treatment room.  The Esthetician left while i changed and went into the treatment bed. Once I was ready she asked me which boost I wanted and started the facial.  Before she started the facial she used a Clarisonic to clean my face and then she did almost 3 times worth of masks and treatments. The red rose facial was my favorite since it was featured and it smelled wonderful!

 

After I was done, I was escorted back to the relaxation room but I couldn’t stay since Todd was waiting for me.  I went back and changed and then back to the lobby.  When I checked out I learned that you can come early for your appointment and enjoy the whirlpool and sauna and relaxation room.  I also learned that there is a day pass for about $20 for the spa so that you can go for just some relaxation.

I paid and was given a card that had a thank you since tip was already added and had product recommendations.

The only weird thing was the Red Rose products were not recommended, since they were featured I expected them to be.  I also was asked to take an additional survey for the Disney Vacation Club event.  The cast were very excited about this. After my survey I left to meet Todd and my relaxation time was over.

Overall while the cost is slightly higher than other places, I found the facial to be worth it since there were so many amenities and its a great way to take some time to relax.  The cost was $150 for the facial plus 20% tip, but as a Disney Vacation Club member I received a 15% discount and the facial boost that was complementary was valued at $25.  

I hope Disney Vacation Club will continue these events, they are a great perks to membership.

 

 

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A Non-Spoilery Look At Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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When it comes to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there are two types of people who will be watching over the coming months.  Those that are comic book fans and those that are not.  This is an important point, because what many believe to be the big reveal is, in fact, not the big reveal for many who will watch it.  Either way, that reveal is to me, an avid (rabid?) comic book fan, is about the fourth most important thing you should have picked up from watching this movie.  My point being this, when you’re watching keep an eye out for some of the smaller things because in a movie about subterfuge, subtlety is often key.

As I mentioned in Disney Film Project’s 2014 Preview Episode, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a movie drawing on a number of key things.  To start with you have to remember that S.H.I.E.L.D. is a spy agency, and in modern culture due to certain events, such things aren’t looked at favorably or heroically.  So it became necessary for the creators of the film to roll with that in order to create a story that will, I promise, lead to a better, stronger, and more heroic organization then what you’ve already seen.  To be more specific would be spoiling this movie and a bit of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Winter Soldier was a character introduced to comics in 2005 by Ed Brubaker as part of what was considered to be another revival of Captain America himself.  Pretty much right off fans were excited despite that they knew the “big secret”, because the journey was about Cap discovering it for himself and then working to track down The Winter Soldier and help him to regain his self and sanity by regaining his memories.  In comic books, this involves a Cosmic Cube (movie fans will call this the Tesseract), and is going to be the basis for Captain America 3: The Hunt For The Red Skull (okay I made that title up, but that’s what I want it to be).  By the time you get up from your seat, you’ll know what related device will be the Chekhov’s Gun for that film when it happens.

Also in 2005, as part of the Ultimate Universe from which much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe derives, came a story called Ultimate Nightmare created by Warren Ellis.  In it Nick Fury pulls together a strike team including himself and three superheroes: Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon.  Sound familiar? It should, this is the same team that was picked for this movie.  This team is one of my absolute favorites to come from the Ultimate Universe, and it made me extremely excited to know they would be at the core of this movie.  Seeing them on screen, the buildup of absolute trust that they accrue toward each other throughout, and watching their character growth in this movie is one of the major reasons this movie is enjoyable.

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Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falon, is done fantastically in the film.  He’s always been a hard character to present well, but also since 2005 he’s really come into his own as a solid character who no longer feels like a tag along / second fiddle.  He is after all the second most important Captain America partner (the term “sidekick” doesn’t fit him. Keep in mind too that in comic books he’s not only teamed with Cap, he’s actually put on the uniform and been Captain America, and is actually an Avenger.  He also got awesome mechanical wings and guns which make for some of the best action moments in this film.

After you get up from the film you’ll probably want to look up these names as they most likely play into future Captain America movies based on the way things are going (hint: you’ll already have seen 3 of them):

This movie is just extremely solid for the first part of a storyline that took more than 5 years to tell in comic books.  It is designed in the same magical way that Marvel has created all their movies from Iron Man forward: appealing to movie fans, and appeasing the comic book fan at the same time.  It’s a mix that other movie and comic companies simply haven’t yet, and may never, figure out how to deliver on.  Will everyone like this movie? No, overall a lot of Avengers fans didn’t like Captain America: The First Avenger.  But plenty will love this movie and it is going to rock a lot of socks, and the box office.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6k0kkSHiiPE

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Disney Movies Anywhere App Review

Disney Movies AnywhereThis week Disney released a new app for Apple iOS and a website called Disney Movies Anywhere. The app and website work in conjunction with iTunes to give you access to any Disney, Pixar or Marvel movies you own with digital copies.Photo Feb 25, 9 03 32 AM

In addition to giving you the ability to download the movies to your phone, tablet or computer, you can stream the movies over wifi or cellular signal. The movies are just the tip of the iceberg as far as content goes. Many films have numerous extras such as you would find as bonuses on DVDs or blu rays. There are also clips and shorts available like Mickey’s classics “The Band Concert” and “Mickey and the Beanstalk” in their entirety.

The app and website are broken down into sections. The first is called Featured, where you will find the latest and greatest new releases and upcoming releases. Browse/Movies is next. It is called Browse on the site and Movies on the app, but does the same thing allowing you to find movies by all movies listed (of which there are more than 400), or by a category like Muppets Mayhem or Sports. Up next is My Collection. This is where you will see all of your unlocked digital movies and any content you have favorited on a separate tab, which works saving favorites between the app and the site. Discover is where you can find exclusive content videos as well as the classic shorts that I previously mentioned. Rewards/More are where you can link your Disney Movie Rewards account and enter points for purchases. On the app, this is also where your settings are found along with More Magic, which lists other Disney apps available to download or buy.

My Collection
My Collection

Being brand new, there are a few bugs to still work out. The one I encountered most frequently was app crashing and being logged out of my account. I found it relatively easy and straightforward to link my iTunes account and Disney Movie Rewards accounts. Both of these helped to import the Disney movies that I had already attached to digital copies.

I love how the app works almost seamlessly with iTunes allowing in app purchases and rentals. Organization through categories makes content easy to find as well as browsing and search features. For a limited time, you can receive a free digital copy of the Incredibles to add to your collection after you’ve registered and linked your iTunes account. I also got a bonus 100 Disney Movie Rewards points for linking that account as a bonus.

 

httpv://youtu.be/PHIPSmRupUE

 

I think this is a great addition to the Disney family of apps. It makes accessing my Disney movies a little easier and I love all the bonus videos. I can’t wait to see how they keep it up to date with new clips and videos being released to promote upcoming movies being released in iTunes and on DVD and Blu Ray. If you get a chance, definitely check out this new app if you have any Disney, Pixar or Marvel movies that you have digital copies of already or if you’re looking to expand your horizons by just renting the movies for now. Have you tried the Disney Movies Anywhere app or website yet? What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments.

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WWE App Review

WWE App

Are you a huge WWE fan and can’t stand to spend a minute away from all the action? Look no further than the WWE App. Available for both iOS and Android platforms, this app puts you the fan in charge. With breaking news, highlights from Raw, Smackdown, WWE PPV’s and the soon to come WWE Network you’ll never miss a beat of the action.

One of the coolest things in my opinion about the WWE App itself is that when any of the WWE televised events go to commercial break, you can continue to watch the match going on live when you switch over to the app. No longer do you have to worry about missing when your TV screen fades to black. Best of all, the WWE App let’s you in on exclusive backstage content that you won’t be able to see anywhere else.

Another great thing about the WWE app is the superstar profiles. Each of your favorite WWE Superstars from present and past are located on the app and on each of their bio pages their entrance music as well as tons of photo and video content from some of their greatest matches. It’s truly unbelievable how expansive the WWE library is. You can even relive classic matches like Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan, all at your fingertips.

 

Superstars

 Arguably one of the best things about the app is the fact that the WWE has now given power back to its fans the WWE Universe. Often times during shows such as Raw and Smackdown, fans will be given the change to vote on the matches they want to see, making the show very interactive. For me as a lifelong fan, there’s truly nothing better than getting to influence a match because you know it’s what you and millions of other wrestling fans out there want to see.

 

My Universe Orlando

 

All in all, the WWE app is a must have for any wrestling fan whether you’re a lifelong fan or just getting into wrestling for the first time. Be sure to download the WWE App in the App Store of your iOS device or the apps section of Google Play on your Android device. Also be sure to check out the brand new WWE Network, WWE’s new 24/7 HD programming network available for purchase through the WWE App on 2/24/14 for $9.99 a month.

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The Pharmacy Review

Been to The Pharmacy lately?

No matter how many pharmacies you’ve been to in the past, this one is a bit different.

Have you realized I’m talking about a restaurant yet? If not, I am. It’s not a well known place because it’s set up like a speakeasy.

Do what?

I know. I understand. That was my same reaction when I found out about it.

The Pharmacy opened in early 2013. They serve local, organic food and tinctures/drinks are hand-crafted, as well as the sodas. It’s located at 8060 Via Dellagio Way in Dr. Phillips.

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, I guarantee you’ll miss it. It looks like a nondescript elevator.

IMG_1101That button on the right side is how you get the door to open.

If you listen close enough when you’re near it, you’ll think you’re close by an elevator where people aren’t standing around in an awkward silence 😉

All the food that we’ve had has been really good. This is just a little selection of what we’ve tried.

IMG_1095The fries (appetizer) are amazing, along with the homemade ketchup and mayo.

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Hanger steak

IMG_1098
Paella

IMG_1099Wagyu Burger, small but SO good

My biggest selling point for going are the drinks. They are amazing!

IMG_1094Sidecar (I tried this the first time we went, it’s my favorite and I haven’t seen it since!)

They are a bit on the pricey side, but one drink is like you’re drinking at least two. More than likely, you’ve never seen a drink list like theirs before!

Besides the somewhat high prices, the service is what makes us weary about going back. It’s been so hit or miss.

We’ve gone a few times (mainly for special occasions), while this isn’t out “go to” restaurant anymore, it’s still definitely a great place to go and experience!

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Week In Review And News – January 3, 2014

With the start of a new year and with so much going on after the holidays, I thought it would be a great time to restart our Week in Review and play a little catch up on this week’s highlights and news from the Orlando and Central Florida Attractions and Venues!

Week in Review – December 30, 2013 to January 3, 2014

Walt Disney World Resort

The Disney Parks Blog announced a new contest where you can win a 5-day/4-night vacation for four to either the Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort.

We’ve just launched disney.com/resolutions where Disney celebrities are sharing how they plan to resolve to spend more time with family in 2014. A new video will be uploaded everyday in January.

 

On disney.com/resolutions, we are also awarding a vacation-a-day from December 31, 2013 through January 31, 2014! So enter every day for your chance to win because this is the year to spend more quality time with the people you love most. Good luck!

 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Open only to individuals, who are, as of Entry, legal residents of, and physically located within, the 50 U.S., D.C., Puerto Rico or Canada (excluding Quebec) and who are not Minors. Sweepstakes starts 12:01 AM (EST) on 12/31/13 and ends 11:59:59 PM (EST) on 1/31/14. Click here for Official Rules.

runDisney

With Walt Disney World Marathon weekend right around the corner, runDisney was everywhere when they released details about the Limited Edition runDisney 2014 New Balance shoes!

httpv://youtu.be/C8YXAZu9kCE

You can find out more about these shoes here.

Universal Orlando Resort

Harry Potter Diagon Alley Week in Review

With construction on Diagon Alley ramping up, A Celebration of Harry Potter drawing close, Cabana Bay opening reservations being taken, and CityWalk undergoing a HUGE transformation, the Universal Orlando Resort is buzzing with energy!

Diagon Alley Construction on December 29, 2013. Week in Review
Diagon Alley Construction on December 29, 2013.

Antojitos Update Week in Review

I don’t know about you, but I am so excited for everything that is coming to the Universal Orlando Resort!!!

SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando

January is Passholder appreciation month at SeaWorld Orlando, and they are offering some great deals!

Bring a friend for FREE! SeaWorld® Orlando Pass Members receive a friend for free ticket*. Online registration is required. Valid for one single-day admission by January 31, 2014. Register Now.

Double Your Discount**

  • Save 20% on dining in all of our cafeteria-style restaurants
  • Save 20% on merchandise in our gift shops

*Pass Member must be present for guest to gain admittance. Free ticket offer valid for active SeaWorld Orlando 1-Year, 2-Year and FL Platinum Pass Members. Not valid for Fun Cards, Teacher’s Study Passes or Friends & Family Passes. Free ticket is non-transferable, not for resale and may be revoked for misuse.

**Offer only valid between Jan. 1-31, 2014. Must present active SeaWorld Orlando 1-Year, 2-Year, or FL Platinum Pass to receive savings. Not valid with any other discounts or offers. Not valid on All-Day Dining offers. Merchandise offer valid for in-park purchases only.

Amway Center

The Circus is coming to town!

Ringling

Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus LEGENDS is coming to the Amway Center January 9-12, but Monday the circus train rolls into Orlando.  Fantastic photo opportunities will be available as the Ringling Bros. pachyderm performers parade to the Amway Center. 

The Ringling Bros. animal performers will unload at 8:00 p.m. and walk beginning at 8:30 p.m. Animals will unload at railroad tracks near 1035 W. Amelia,  then travel east on Amelia, south on North Hughey Ave., then west on West South St. and enter the GEICO Garage behind Amway Center. (Note: route and time are subject to change without notice.)

Tickets are still available and start at $16. Ticketmaster service charges and facility fees not included.  All seats are reserved. Tickets are available atwww.ringling.com or www.ticketmaster.com, at any Ticketmaster outlet, by calling 800-745-3000, or at the Amway Center box office (phone:407-440-7900).  For group ticket sales and information, call 866-248-8740.

LEGOLAND Florida

If your house is anything like mine, you have watched the trailer for ‘The LEGO Movie’ four times daily and I was excited to see that they are going to be having a weekend of activities in February!

httpv://youtu.be/fZ_JOBCLF-I

LEGOclubweekend [3]

February 8 & 9, 2014 Enjoy fun for all with activities to celebrate “The LEGO Movie”, the first-ever, full-length theatrical LEGO adventure featuring an all-star cast and set to open in theaters February 7. Guests will enjoy a special movie-themed building activity, movie-themed scavenger hunt in Miniland USA and meet and greet sessions with costume characters Emmet and Wyldstyle, who play leading roles in this epic movie.

Busch Gardens Tampa

BG Bring a friend for free Week in Review

January is also Passholder appreciation month at Busch Gardens Tampa!

Double the Fun – Bring a Friend for FREE

During January, Pass Members can bring a friend for free! Online registration required. Limit one free ticket per active Pass Member. Offer valid between January 1-31, 2014. Other Restrictions Apply. Log in now to register your friend’s ticket and learn more about this limited time offer.

Triple the Savings – 30% off merchandise, food, and beverages

All month long, Pass Members get 30% off merchandise, food and beverages when you visit the park! Offer valid between January 1-31, 2014. Other Restrictions Apply.

Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex

A Falcon 9 rocket is targeted to lift-off during a dramatic SpaceX launch scheduled for January 3, launch time is subject to change but the launch window of 5:05 p.m. to 7:17 p.m. EST. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex guests may view the launch from the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the closest possible public viewing area, or special areas at the Visitor Complex.

Launch viewing from the Apollo/Saturn V Center, located in Kennedy Space Center, includes live mission control commentary and is available for Visitor Complex guests for $20 plus the cost of admission. Admission to the Visitor Complex is $50 plus tax for adults and $40 plus tax for children 3-11. Bus boarding for the Apollo/Saturn V Center begins at 3:15 p.m.

Launch viewing, featuring live mission control commentary, also is available from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and is included in regular admission.

Week in Review- Posts from On the Go in MCO

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Staycation

New Year’s Eve at the Walt Disney World Resort

Wordless Wednesday – Happy New Year

Merchandise Spotlight – Walt Disney World Resort

Thanks for joining us for this Week in Review, and if this is indication of how jam packed 2014 is going to be I am really excited!

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On the Go Gift Guide – Oakley Reducer Tank

Oakley Reducer Tank Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt Disney Eye Found It LeSportsac Celebrate Minnie Doc McStuffins All Better Game

If you are anything like me you have two things on your mind as Christmas is less than a week away, how am I going to find the best gift for everyone left on my shopping list and how am I going to work off all these cookies!

Today for our On the Go Gift Guide we look at a product that helps answer both of those questions, the Oakley Reducer Tank.

I know that I feel awkward going to the gym or out on a run when I don’t feel comfortable and confident in what I am wearing, and the Oakley Reducer Tank is designed with a little extra room to help you focus on your workout.

Oakley Reducer Tank

The O-form fabric is comfortable to wear, because it stretches four ways for complete mobility. The tank maintains its shape and is supportive for every step, bend, and jump without riding up or shifting. It was so great to have a tank that I wasn’t constantly tugging at!

The Oakley Reducer Tank also has a generous built in bra and crossback design that is flattering to any shape.

All of these great details combined with super reflective logo details, UV protection built into the tank’s fabric, a mesh overlay for ventilation, anti-bacterial action fabric, and more make the Oakley Reducer Tank my new go-to workout favorite!

If you are looking for a great last minute gift, you can order the Oakley Reducer Tank online or you can head to their store to pick one up!

If you are headed to the Florida Mall Oakley Store, which is my favorite, you are in luck because they have some great deals for last minute gifts for your list or for yourself to help kick off your New Year’s resolutions!

Oakley Reducer Tank
Oakley Reducer Tank in Georgia Peach
  • O–Form fabric maintains your shape and stretches four ways for superb mobility
  • Built–in bra with molded cups supports and controls bounce
  • Mesh overlay in back provides excellent ventilation
  • O Hydrolix fabric reduces the effects of sweat
  • Anti–bacterial action reduces odor–causing microbes
  • Reflective features stand out during early morning and night regimens
  • 86% Nylon, 14% Lycra

Oakley Reducer Tank

Disclosure: I received a Oakley Reducer Tank courtesy of the Oakley Store at the Florida Mall. All opinions, thoughts, and enthusiasm are my own. 

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On the Go Gift Guide: Jake And The Neverland Pirates Game

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt Disney Eye Found It LeSportsac Celebrate Minnie Doc McStuffins All Better Game

And closing out the selection of Disney games for our On the Go Gift Guide is Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt from Wonder Forge!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt is a really interactive and fun game that takes your normal ‘matching’ game to the next level!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

Yo ho, let’s go! Captain Hook has buried pirate booty all over Shipwreck Beach. Flip over the gold doubloons and use Jake’s spyglass to decode the secret clues. When you get a match, get up and go! Snag the correct treasure with the foam sword and hurry back to score!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt At A Glance

Players:
  • 2 or more players ages 3+
Promotes:
  • Matching
  • Memory
  • Physical Dexterity

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

Product Contents
  • 5 Treasures
  • 5 Treasure Bases
  • 12 Doubloons
  • 1 Treasure Map Storage Bag
  • 1 Foam Sword
  • 1 Spyglass Decoder
  • 1 Sand Timer
  • 1 Game Rules Manual

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

A really cool feature of Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt is that the game board is actually the bag where you store all of the pieces for the game!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

Zoe really loved using the Spyglass decoder to help her make pairs! It was such a fun twist on matching that kept her involved in the game.

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

We found that the timer included with the game provides more than enough time to pick up the treasures of Shipwreck Beach!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

As a family, we really enjoyed playing Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt and Zoe can’t wait to play with her friends over their holiday break!

Disclosure: Through a partnership with Wonder Forge Games, I have received a promotional item in exchange for this post. All opinions and thoughts are my own!

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