Short Short Tips: Bag of Necessity

Short, Short Tips: Bag of Necessity

httpv://youtu.be/INkin94KhAs

Continuing in our new series of videos on our YouTube Channel called Short, Short Tips, I thought that I would share with you a little think I like to call my ‘Bag of Necessity’.

My ‘Bag of Necessity’ is just my fun name for the bag of things that I like to keep with me when I’m carrying a smaller bag in the park that has all the things that make me more comfortable having on hand just in case.

I feel like Mary Poppins, because I keep a lot of things in the bag. I like the Lesportsac Rectangular Cosmetic Bag, because it is lightweight and holds a lot of stuff!

In my ‘Bag of Necessity’ I keep the following things:

  • gum and mints
  • bandaids (preferably ones with Disney characters)
  • Tylenol
  • Mending Kit
  • Pen and Sharpie
  • Small Comb
  • Solid Lotion Stick
  • Lip Balm
  • Purse Atomizer
  • Extra Hair Accessories
  • Nail File
  • Ziplock Bags
  • Business Cards and Buttons

Do you have a Bag of Necessity? What do you like to carry with you in the parks? Do you have a short, short tip you’d like to share?

We’d love to hear what you think!!!

DISCLAIMER: The links I have put in are not affiliate links…I just really love these products and wanted to share!!!

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Pick Six: Favorite Disney Movie Songs

Last night as we were watching Idina Menzel perform ‘Let it Go’ during last night’s Academy Awards, Congratulations to Frozen for two Oscars and to Robert Lopez for being the youngest EGOT, a few of us got into a discussion about what our favorite songs were from Disney Movies.

I thought I would take a break from the theme parks to share with you a personal post on my Pick Six of favorite Disney Songs.

Favorite Disney Movie Songs

Pick Six: Favorite Disney Movie Songs (In no particular order)

1. A Dream Is A Wish – Cinderella

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H_1PiRg2H4

I will tell you in all fairness that Cinderella is both my favorite Disney Movie and Princess, so I fully admit to bias here! I adore this song with all of my heart! It’s haunting melody, beautiful message, and I feel the same way every morning when I hear my alarm. Also, I really wish I had birds that would help be make my bed!

2. Jolly Holiday – Mary Poppins

httpv://youtu.be/kw4gpy1BweM

When I was growing up, during the summer my brother and I were each able to pick out a VHS to rent from the local video store to watch for the week (I am REALLY showing my age here…), and while we would often choose different movies we always agreed on Mary Poppins when it was available. We would watch it over and over again, my Mom warned us we would break both the rewind button and the tape, and we sing and dance around our den like we were penguins or chimney sweeps.

Jolly Holiday was always our favorite, because it was just so fun and whimsical that you couldn’t help but sing a little louder or dance a little crazier. We would always get in trouble, but it was soooooo worth it!!!

3. Part of Your World – The Little Mermaid

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2TT7sN5iKU&feature=share&list=PL-muvh_380IZ0sptF1gJve_HVC95y3PJd&index=4

Little Mermaid came out when I was in Middle School, and we are all awkward and looking for our place in the world so Part of Your World really spoke to me.

I will also admit that I cannot help myself, and no matter where I am or what I am doing I will ALWAYS sing this song at the top of my lungs. It’s really involuntary, and I apologize in advance if you ever have to witness this!

4.  I Wanna Be Like You – The Jungle Book

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKnQoWWySm8&feature=share&list=PL-muvh_380IZFvEqlrEjQuuO2pou730Os

My husband, Dave, loves The Jungle Book, and as a result it has become a family favorite and go-to movie. There is nothing quite like watching your husband and you daughter dance around the house as they sing ‘I Wanna Be Like You’! The giggles, the shaking, the funny conversations about ‘What is he saying, Daddy?’…nope…It will never ever stop making me smile.

5. Reflection – Mulan

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgWiMm_Nffc&feature=share&list=PL-muvh_380IafMMO3fC55frFmfTG0tiyX&index=5

I seriously cannot see, sing, watch, or think about ‘Reflection’ from Mulan without welling up with tears.

We all struggle with finding our place in this world, balancing family and their expectations of us, and accepting & embracing that we are the way we are, and this song beautifully sums up these battles in a way that makes you feel like you are not alone. The no one is really who you think they are, because we all have our issues and insecurities.

It’s just perfect!

6. Whistle While You Work – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Disney’s On The Record Version)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm-BILfr5js&list=PL71E8503E3E194BD9&feature=share&index=1

If you haven’t given Disney’s On The Record a listen, you are doing yourself a disservice! It is a glorious and wonderful arrangement of Disney songs from movies, shorts, attractions, and more. Seriously, GO LISTEN!

The Whistle While You Work mash-up featured is incredibly infectious, and I dare you not to move to the beat!

I’d love to hear what you think of my Favorite Disney Movie Song choices and what your favorites are!!!

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Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” – John F. Kennedy

 

On Memorial Day, we pause our lives for a day to honor, remember, and celebrate the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our freedom.

We should never forget these sacrifices, and hope that they don’t have to be made again by future generations.

Thank you seems like such a small gift to give to those who have served our country, but I give it with all of my heart.

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A Heartfelt Thank You

thank you

Today is the one year Blogiversary of the re-launch of On the Go in MCO, and I just wanted to take a moment for a few thank yous!

First off, I want to thank my husband David. Thank you for your unwavering support, your movie reviews that show how much you love being a wonderful Dad, and most of all your love. I wouldn’t have the confidence or the ability to do all that I do without you.

I especially want to thank the writers who make this site so awesome who continue to amaze me with their hard work and creativity!!!

Todd or should I say THE TODDDDDDDDDD!!!!!! You are my technical whiz, movie guru, sounding board, and most of all one of my dearest friends. I couldn’t have done this without your knowledge, patience, and drive!

Aurora, thank you for being you! Your spark and motivation know no bounds, and you are an amazing partner for all the varied events we get the wonderful opportunity to attend.

Beth, thank you for being a voice of calmness and strength on this sometimes crazy ride! You’re always there in a pinch with a great idea ready to do whatever needs to be done.

Betsy, my Mingo! You are always there with a joke, perspective, bad influence, and most of all your love and passion for sharing all that you can about Walt Disney World. I wish I knew half of what you did about the resorts…

Thank you so much Cheryl for all of your conspiracy theories, DVC knowledge, Google-fu, and most of all for being a kind voice. I can only hope to one day ‘think like you’!

Kelly you’re the new girl on the go, but it feels like you’ve been here for a long time…in a good way!!! Your videos and pictures have really helped move us in a great new direction, and I promise to let you post the bloopers! Maybe one day you’ll review a restaurant…

Also, I cannot forget to thank Shalon & Megan who are no longer with us on the site for their contributions!

It has been an amazing year, and I want to thank YOU most of all from the bottom of my heart for letting us share our crazy adventures, fun pictures, and general wackiness with you!

We have a lot of great new projects and additions coming to On the Go in MCO later this year, and I can’t wait to share all the news with you!

If this is our beginning, I can only imagine how much more fun there is to be had!

As always…

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EPCOT30 – Happy 30th Birthday EPCOT CENTER!

EPCOT30 – Happy 30th Birthday EPCOT CENTER!

EPCOT 30 is really here, and I thought that I would take another look back at my first trip to EPCOT Center!

In 1986 my life changed forever, I was introduced to a place called EPCOT Center. I know that may sound a bit dramatic, but the happenings of this trip seem to have influenced and affected me for quite some time.

My family was by no means well off, and when it came time to make our family trip to Walt Disney World my parents were serious about making sure we made the most of our time here.

My parents have always been huge fans of Walt Disney World, and since they had already been to the Magic Kingdom they decided that our first park to visit would be the new EPCOT Center.

I had never been to a theme park, so armed with my Fisher Price camera (I was a bit of a rebel. No flash photography…I didn’t hear that…sorry) I was ready to make the most of my time here! I wish I could have found all of the pictures, but I am glad that I found these!!!

But pictures or no pictures, I wanted to share a few of my favorite and cherished moments.

In World of Motion, my brother’s favorite ride, my fondest memories are frantically pointing to all of the scenes and trying to find all of the funny details. The screens were full of fun background images, while the animatronics depicted scenes that were easy to identify with and fun to deconstruct.

In Horizons, I remember the optimism that we all felt for the future. I know that everyone who got the opportunity to experience Horizons has a fond memory of the smell of oranges. And while the orange smell on Soarin’ is a nice nod to this extinct attraction, it just isn’t the same to me. Here is my EPCOT30 confession, I was once meditating during a Yoga class, and we were encouraged to think of a happy memory and before the image could fully form I was hit by the Horizons orange smell and it instantly made me happy.

Journey into Imagination was the only ride, according got my Mom, where I was silent and in complete awe of what was surrounding me. Plus this one and only one ride cemented my life-long love of the Royal Purple Pigment Figment! Our trip was also right before Captain EO opened, and I remember begging to stay until we could see it unsuccessfully, So when EO returned to Epcot, I was absolutely beside myself because I was going to have the opportunity to see the movie I couldn’t see before. And as I was sitting in the theater before the movie started with Zoe, I couldn’t help but wiggle with the excitement and dance out at the end with her. I know it’s cheesy, but getting the chance to relive these memories with Zoe make me giddy!

As we walked around World Showcase on this first trip, we spent a lot of time in Mexico since it was my Dad’s favorite pavilion. I remember how badly we all wanted to eat ‘inside the pyramid’, as I called it, but my Dad protested saying it was too expensive. However in 2008, we were fortunate enough to take Mom and Dad to Walt Disney World with us for Zoe’s first trip to Walt Disney World and much like my family’s first trip Epcot was our first stop. But on this trip we skipped running to ride attractions, to go directly to Mexico to have our first meal of the trip at the San Angel Inn. The wait staff must have thought I was crazy, because as I sat down I started crying realizing I was making a 12 year old wish come true!

The newest pavilion at EPCOT Center was The Living Seas, and it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Our trip to Sea Base Alpha was the most moving and wonderful thing that I had ever done! The Hydrolators, our seacab journey, the interactive displays, and marine life were almost too much to take in. I kept asking if it was real!

And finally, there is my beloved Spaceship Earth. We all have that one attraction that speaks to us, and for me that attraction was Spaceship Earth. I loved, and still do, this slow moving journey through time. Communication is something we all do, and the history of communication fascinated me. Coming off of our first ride I must have asked a million questions prompting us to ride it 2 more times. Spaceship Earth will always be my most favorite ride, and I often think of how inspired I was as I walked off that first time and how much I am always searching for that same feeling of inspiration and curiosity in my life.

I hope that you enjoyed my reminiscing about my first trip to EPCOT Center on EPCOT30. What were your first memories about EPCOT Center?

 

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How We Like To Beat The Heat – The Latest On The Go Roundtable

  1.  What is your favorite way to take a break on a hot day while you are at the parks?

Aurora– It depends on which park you are at.  Epcot seems to have the most places that you can chill! Weather it is Club Cool or The Land or Ellen’s Energy Adventure! MGM it is always a safe bet to watch an American Idol Show. Animal Kingdom we always head to Festival of The Lion King and at Magic Kingdom, my personal Favorite: Carousel of Progress!!

Betsy– You may also occasionally find me in La Cava del Tequila, Rose and Crown or Tutto Gusto in Epcot for a cool adult beverage.

Cheryl– I like to go visit a resort or get a snack at an indoor counter service.

Megan– Going back to my room, especially when I’m staying at a DVC resort. I can relax in the room or at the pool. If heading back to the room isn’t an option, I try to visit any of the indoor movies or attractions, like the movies in Epcot’s World Showcase.

Shalon– I really enjoy scheduling a long table service lunch on hot days. It’s a great way to get out of the heat and off your feet.

Shelley– I like to hang out in Innoventions and play the games, and then pop over every so often to Club Cool for some Kinley!

2.     If you could go to any resort pool for the afternoon, which one would you choose and why?

Betsy– The best pool is Stormalong Bay, which is shared between Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club resorts. It is amazing with different sections with sandy bottom an an awesome water slide out of a shipwreck! My second favorite pool is the Nanea Volcano pool at the Polynesian. It has the best view of the Magic Kingdom hands down.

Cheryl– I’d choose Saratoga Springs new pool at the Paddock.  It’s the newest DVC pool.

Megan– I would choose Kidani Village. In the afternoon you are more likely to see the animals in the savannah. Take a dip in the pool then head over to see who is outside.

Shalon– I would like to go to the pool at Port Orleans Riverside. It’s so well themed and quite most of the time. There are also a lot of large trees around which provide plenty of shade for relaxing.

Shelley– I really love the pool at Port Orleans French Quarter, because it’s a good size, you can watch the boats on the Sassagoula River, and most importantly you are close to beignets.

Aurora– Art of Animation! That pool is so lovely. There is a ton of space around both the Big Blue Pool and the Carsland Pool. And Mr. Ray even talks to you in the Big Blue Pool! And you have so much to look at while in the pool! Plus, they have a PRIMO pool bar! The Drop Off is awesome!!

3.     When it is hot outside, what is your favorite treat to eat to cool you down?

Cheryl– Fruit or tofutti

Megan– A Dole Whip without a doubt. When it’s hot I don’t want ice cream but I definitely want something cold.

Shalon– I love the classic Mickey bar although it can be quiet the challenge to eat it on a hot day without wearing some of it!

Shelley– My answer is always the same…when all else fails, pink cotton candy and a frozen coke!!!

Aurora– I would go for a Strawberry Bar! They don’t melt right away and there isn’t a lot of sugar so you don’t feel dehydrated! Perfect snack on a hot day!!!

Betsy– This is a tossup for me between a frozen coke, Mickey bar and a dole whip. I’d say my go to is probably the frozen coke since it can get kind of warm and ice cream isn’t always the best thing in the heat and humidity.

4.     What is your favorite attraction to cool off in?

Megan– I love the Carousel of Progress. I can go in there almost any time, but when it’s hot, it is especially nice since it usually has a short line.

Shalon– I love ducking into The American Adventure on hot days. It’s such an incredible show and is lengthy enough to relax and cool down.

Shelley– Ellen’s Energy Adventure at Epcot is my favorite, because it is the world’s longest attraction!!! LOL!!!

Aurora– Philharmagic!!!! They squirt water at you 😉

Betsy– At the Magic Kingdom my go to spots to cool off are a ride on the Peoplemover or shows like Mickey’s Philharmagic, Hall of Presidents or Country Bears Jamboree. At Epcot my favorite is Impressions de France, followed closely by American Adventure.  Disney’s Hollywood Studios provides great places to enjoy air conditioning like at the Animation Academy, One Man’s Dream, Voyage of the Little Mermaid and the Great Movie Ride. At Animal Kingdom I prefer Festival of the Lion King, but Finding Nemo is a slightly longer show

Cheryl– Innoventions is my favorite!!!

5.     Give us your best tip for staying cool during a day in the Parks.

Shalon– My go to for hot days in parks is a small handheld fan. You can get them at many drug stores for a dollar and they run on 2 AA batteries. Many of them come with clips so they are very easy to tote along in the parks.

Shelley– Don’t overdo it! Take your time! You can duck into a store along the way to cool off, linger in a post-show area, and take another moment to talk about your day after you finish your meal!

Aurora– LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of water! You can always get those free cups of ice water at any quick service place, so make sure you keep yourself hydrated. Also you can keep the sun off your face by wearing a hat, carry a wash cloth to dampen to blot your skin, and especially take advantage of indoor attractions and save things that have little to no covering in the queue or ride for early evening late afternoon

Betsy– Definitely stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and try to alternate indoor and outdoor attractions so you don’t get overheated. Hat or visors and sunglasses can also help to keep you cool.

Cheryl– Take breaks inside the Air conditioning

Megan– You should try to drink lots of water and stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Cups of ice water are free at any location that has fountain beverages.

6.      What is your favorite beverage to help quench your thirst on a hot afternoon?

Shelley– After lots of water, I like to have a frozen coke! They are magical!!!

Aurora– A Peach Tea Snap from China is my MOST favorite thirst quenching cool down treat/drink!!!!!

Betsy– Water is best, but if I am in Epcot it is hard to beat a refreshing avocado margarita or a snakebite and black.

Cheryl– I enjoy the new guava fruit drinks at Animal Kingdom!

Megan– Beverly! (Just kidding) Water always works for me. Sometimes grabbing a Powerade is necessary though. Or maybe even a Grand Marnier slushie.

Shalon– Love getting a frozen Coke or other flavor!!

 

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Brittany Viola’s Patriotic Send Off Hosted By Planet Hollywood Orlando

On July 7th, I got to do something I had only dreamed about…I got to meet a real Olympian and I have to say it was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had!

Can you tell I was totally geeking out to meet her???

I was lucky enough to be invited to Brittany Viola’s Olympic Send Off Party hosted by Planet Hollywood Orlando, located in Downtown Disney’s West Side. Brittany leaves this Thursday to be a part of the USA Diving National Team, and a member of USA Diving’s Olympic Performance Squad, pursuing a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic games to be held in London.

Brittany Viola waving from the balcony of Planet Hollywood Orlando.

Surrounded by young divers from YCF Diving and above a restaurant full of American flags waving, Brittany was welcomed into Planet Hollywood to celebrate her amazing accomplishment among her family, friends, and children that aspire to one day be in her position!

Brittany had a lot of friends and family in attendance as she celebrated her accomplishments before leaving for London.

In the few minutes that I was able to spend with Brittany, I told her about we all watched the diving competition, I am fascinated by diving since I have never been able to do anything other than a cannon ball off of a pool board, and how we would all be cheering her on as she goes for the gold. She said that the first thing she wanted to do was go to the Olympic Village and take it all in since she had worked so hard to get there (London).

It was really an honor to spend time talking with Brittany!

Brittany Ann Viola (born in Minnesota in 1987) grew up in Orlando, FL and attended Lake Highland Preparatory School.

 

“It’s been a hard journey, but I had a lot of love and support around me to help me persevere and get where I am right now.” Said Viola

 

Brittany is the daughter of Frank and Kathy Viola. Frank was the 1987 World Series MVP for the Minnesota Twins, the 1988 American League Cy Young Award winner and a three-time All-Star.

 

In addition, she is working for Athletes in Action as Part-Time Field Staff at the University of Miami. Her goals are to teach, encourage, and support the student-athletes through their collegiate experiences.

 

She graduated in May of 2011, from the University of Miami, double majoring in Electronic Media and Sport Administration.

 

Brittany began diving in 2000, but missed the 2010 season while recovering from two foot surgeries.

For more information about Brittany’s Career, visit her website at www.brittanyviola.com.

Thank you so much to Planet Hollywood Orlando for hosting this great event, and I am really looking forward to bringing you more information about this restaurant in the future!!!

 

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Minion Mayhem Premiers at Universal Studios Orlando And You Won’t Want To Miss It!

Fans of the hit movie Despicable Mewill want to run to Universal Studios Orlando to become a minion on Minion Mayhem!

Minion Mayhem is a motion simulator ride which allows you to join Gru, Agnes, Edith, Margo, Dr. Nefario, and of course the minions as they get ready to celebrate a big day! With the voice talent from Despicable Mebringing their characters to life on the ride, Steve Carrel, Miranda Cosgrove, Elsie Fisher, & Dana Gaier to name a few, this is the only opportunity to see these characters until the sequel hits the theaters in 2013!

Universal Orlando’s Creative team worked closely with producer Chris Meledandri, the founder of Illumination Entertainment, to create all-new animation for an all-new “Despicable Me” adventure that places guests right in the center of the action. This brand-new ride combines the humor and memorable characters of Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s blockbuster film Despicable Me, with an all-new storyline, incredible new animation and the latest 3-D technology to create a fun and unique theme park experience.

Families are transformed into minions, laugh together as they train to join Gru’s minion army and boogie down during the world’s-first minion-inspired dance party. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem is super fun and a really complete journey into the world of Despicable Me that you aren’t going to want to leave.

Riders must be over 40”to ride the motion simulator, 48” to ride unaccompanied, and there are stationary platforms available for smaller riders or those that prefer not to move. There is also no Express Pass for this attraction.

 

And this is where the spoilers begin…so don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!

 

Ready…Then let’s go!!!

 

Upon entering Gru’s house from the streets of Universal Studios Orlando, the fun begins as you pass the banana trees to enter into the main queue when you watch a 15 minute video that plays continuously on several monitors and prepares you for the ride…How you’ll become a minion.  The video is full of footage from the movie, and includes minion quizzes, and vital information about the various characters you will encounter (Gru, Agnes, Edith, Margo, and Dr. Nefario), and lots and lots and lots and lots of minions.  In this part of the queue you will also find fun posters and vignettes inspired by the movie that entertain you while you wait.

Then you get to enter the main, and most exciting part of the queue…you enter Gru’s house.  As soon as you walk through the door make sure you take a look at everything!  While this is the area where you will pick up your 3D glasses (the glasses are the same as they use at The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man and Star Tours), don’t let that be your main focus.  There are lots of fun details from the movie like the portrait of Dr. Nefario, the piranha over the fireplace, and the special minion entrance just to name a few.  Also, don’t forget to take a look up for a big bang.  In this room you will also be able to view another shorter video preparing you for what you will encounter ahead.

And now it’s time for the transformation to begin. You’ll be able to see what it’s like to be screened and become a minion in the Minionization Prep Room. It is definitely a fun experience! This is also where you find out that Agnes is trying to give Gru a present for the celebration of their adoption anniversary, but Gru is too busy making plans with Dr. Nefario and the minions to pay attention. Take a peek at the transformation video…minus the smell of bananas…

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYgOjGJ452Q

 

Once you have been Minionized, you enter the Minion Transformation Pods to watch another pre-pre-pre-pre ride video with instructions and warning for the rides before the lap bars are lowered and you put on your goggles to before you are minionized by Gru’s gun to begin the crazy minion journey!  I have to say that while the motion simulators are extremely smooth, there is a lot of “swinging” movements that can be a little disorienting and there is a lot of violence towards the minions which could be a little scary to younger minions.

At first you are put through various minion obstacles and tasks by the girls, including Edith taunting you with a banana, before you enter into Gru’s workshop by accident. But when you are in the workshop, Agnes loses her present for Gru which leads to a huge chase to recover the gift.

Once you’ve recovered the gift by working together with Gru, Edith, Margo, Agnes, and the minions you enter a HUGE party full of fun rides to celebrate the anniversary of their adoption! While you are enjoying the party, there is a mishap you are unfortunately turned back into humans and are quickly led out of the party and new minions are sent in to replace you.

Upon exiting the ride you get to enter into your own dance party with minions and human minions. Under the shiny disco ball, you’ll definitely catch “Boogie Fever” and get caught up in the fun for a few minutes. The lighting in here is difficult for pictures, but you are going to want to do your best since this is a great opportunity to catch some silly memories!

After the dance party, you’ll exit into the gift shop that is full of minion mementos and SO FLUFFY unicorns!!! The store is themed really well, and is a great way to adjust your eyes to the bright light since you have been in dark spaces for awhile by this point.

While the use of the motion simulator itself isn’t ground breaking, the projections are amazingly clear and the story line is well formed and extremely enjoyable. The dance party is a great way to extend the ride experience into the ‘real world’. It’s a great ride that was thoughtfully created for fans that I would ride again and again…and I have a feeling that is exactly what Zoe is going to make me do after she rides it for the first time!

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Join Us On The Amway Center Fan Tour!

As most people know I am a Twitter fiend, says the girl with 103,880 tweets! Twitter is my drug of choice! I am forever tweeting about lots of things that usually aren’t important but a lot of time those silly things have paid off!

The Amway Center here in Orlando is home to the Orlando Magic, The Orlando Predators and my person favorite the Orlando Solar Bears. They are a huge concert and sporting venue. Beautiful new facility that replaced the old Amway Arena a few years ago. They were running a Twitter and Facebook ReTweet/RePost contest for all their followers for a chance at a behind the scenes tour of the facility! Well, I was one of the lucky ten winners!!! So this past Wednesday me and my favorite +1  Shelley Caran took a trip to see this beautiful facility!

Do you see that 46 foot Jumbo tron???? Yeah Buddy! It is the Biggest in the USA!!!! We learned so much about the facility and what goes into making it from a basketball court, to a hockey arena, into a concert venue and into a Circus Tent!!!! We also learned that the Amway Center is the FIRST NBA facility to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design new construction certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The arena uses 20% less energy and 40% less water than arenas of similar size.

Amway Center “green” features include:

  • Preferred parking for hybrids and other energy-efficient vehicles
  • High-efficiency heating and cooling systems
  • Ultra-low-flow toilets
  • A reflective and insulated roof that reduces cooling costs
  • High-tech monitoring systems that shut off the lights when a room is empty
  • Bicycle racks, showers and changing rooms for workers who bike to work
  • Systems to treat storm runoff before it can pollute nearby lakes
  • Recycling bins for fans and concertgoers
  • Additionally, many of the points toward LEED certification for the Amway Center were earned during construction. For example, of the facility’s building materials, 15 percent are recycled and 20 percent come from local sources. About 83 percent of the wood, concrete and steel construction waste has been recycled rather than sent to a landfill.
This is ONE beautiful facility! They took us on a tour of everything, we got to meet Stuff (Orlando Magic Mascot) and Shades (Orlando Hockey Mascot), we got treated to an amazing dessert spread and they even did a few giveaways and of course, me being Princess Luck won a Orlando Magic Jersey! We also got a swag bag at the end that included tickets to an Orlando Predators game and an Orlando Predators shirt to wear! They treated us like royalty! Big Huge Shout out to Jen at the Amway Center who was the young lady who set up our tour and is the face behind their twitter account! I can not wait to go to a Preds game and I am SO SO SO SO SO SO SO Excited for the upcoming Hockey Season! See you all on the glass!!

 

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It was the best of trips, it was the worst of trips

Family picture

Have you ever had one of those trips that you planned, but nothing seemed to go the way you had hoped? This couldn’t have been a bigger understatement to describe my family trip in December of 2007. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Let me set the stage a bit. I have a background in hospitality management and used to work for one of the better known and respected hotel chains in the country. One of the greatest things about working for a national chain like that is you are typically entitled to discounts at the same brand and affiliates under the parent company’s umbrella of hotels. This afforded me the opportunity to travel to Orlando (again I live in Bradenton, about 100 miles away from WDW), once or twice a month since I was able to procure rates of $29 a night at hotels where it would usually cost well over $100 at rack rate. Because of this, I only stayed on property once in 1998 at Caribbean Beach Resort, and then a handful of times at the value resorts from 2000 – 2006. It was not until the end of 2007 that I was able to revisit property and stay at another one of the moderate resorts, and subsequently my favorite, Port Orleans French Quarter.

On this particular trip, I was accompanied by my mom, who was going to share a room with me to cut down costs, since this was the week of Christmas, and my brother, Andrew, was getting a room to himself. Andrew had just returned from 18 months of serving in Iraq with the Army and was looking forward to unwinding at the parks. We were just going for the weekend and returning Monday since it was Christmas Eve. I wish we were able to stay longer since I was off four days in a row, but we had family commitments at home for Christmas.

Hurricanes

We started off the trip by checking in to French Quarter, unpacking, and then decided we would head to Universal’s City Walk to have dinner and visit Pat O’Brien’s. Due to lack of planning, and partly due to my affinity for the music, we ended up having dinner at Bob Marley’s Tribute to Freedom. The food was good and we enjoyed a couple adult beverages between dinner and listening to the dueling pianos at Pat O’s.

We returned to Disney property to catch the midnight showing of National Treasure 2. Now the movie really isn’t an important detail of the story, but in my mind it is inextricably linked with this trip. I still can’t watch it to this day without being reminded of this night. During the climax of the movie, my brother got sick. We didn’t see the end of the movie, needless to say, and were on our way back to French Quarter, now at about 2:30am.

Beignets

The next day was at a snail’s pace around Epcot due to dealing with Andrew who was still not feeling well. He couldn’t even stand to be around food yet, so we snuck down and grabbed some beignets before leaving the resort mid morning. Eventually we convinced him he should eat and had a nice late lunch at Les Chefs de France. Kindly Andrew bought me a new WDW hoodie and even renewed my mom’s and my pass as a Christmas present (and out of guilt I think). We hopped over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to enjoy the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights for our first time. We were planning on dinner at 50’s Prime Time Cafe, but had canceled our ADR when we realized it wasn’t worth it. By the time dinner rolled around Andrew seemed mostly human again and wanted to eat so we ended up get a walk up and eating in the Tune In Lounge.

 

Osborne Lights

Sunday was the last day of our trip, as we were scheduled to be in church Monday evening for Christmas Eve with family. We checked out of French Quarter and spent our last day in the Magic Kingdom. For the first time we saw Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, which has a totally different feel during the day as opposed to at night during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The day was enjoyable, but rather uneventful compared to the two previous days. Dinner was going to be at Citrico’s at the Grand Floridian at 8pm, so we left MK shortly after seven to give us time to admire the decorations at the resort. As soon as we stepped off the monorail and into the second floor of the hotel, Andrew asked why we hadn’t stayed there. I reminded him it was two days before Christmas and the most expensive pricing of the year and he had wanted his own room, so the $250/night at French Quarter was rich enough for our blood. At this point, none of us had stayed at a deluxe resort, so it is understandable that he was impressed.

Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade

As always, Citrico’s was fabulous and beyond satiating. While splitting our dessert, Andrew and I declared we didn’t want to leave. He wanted to stay another night, and I wasn’t really relishing the thought of the almost two hour drive home after dinner and a full day in the parks. My mom asked our server if they knew if there was any availability for the night and he insisted they were completely sold out. Coming back to that hospitality background, I know there are often reservations that are canceled last minute and dates are occasionally changed, so my mom went down to the front desk to investigate. After we paid the bill Andrew and I joined our mom in the lobby as she had found that there were actually two rooms available after she had been speaking to the front desk cast member, Christina, for a bit about my brother’s return from Iraq. We were given the option of a standard room in the outer building with a garden view or an outer building room that was club level. As we had just eaten dinner and were going to leave in the morning, we opted for the standard room as it was still $500+ for the one night (again this was two days before Christmas and we were thankful for the room).

 

We completed the check in process and were told by Christina that the manager, Stephan, would be escorting us to our room. We found this especially puzzling since we were staying in an outer building and it was almost 11pm. Stephan emerged from the front desk, greeted us and led us across the lobby to the elevator for guest rooms in the main building. Following unquestioningly, we stood behind Stephan as he allowed a couple to enter the elevator before us. We said hello and he had a brief conversation with the couple as they apparently knew each other. After letting the other guests get off, Stephan asked us if we knew who they were. We were clueless and he informed us that we had just met Mr. and Mrs. Jennings Osborne, as in the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights we had enjoyed the night before at the Studios. I never would have guessed! The guy was a millionaire many times over and was relaxing in cargo shorts and a Hawaiian print shirt. Still fazed by that, Stephan led us off the elevator on the fifth floor and to the other side of the landing. He stopped before a set of double doors and we stood there still confused.

Stephan turned and faced my brother and said that it was his honor to thank Andrew for his service to our country and this was Disney’s way of giving just a little back to him. He opened the door and we were stunned as we were shown into our two bedroom suite. It was like something out of a dream. I was pretty sure it was one of the suites Samantha Brown had shown in her visit of the Grand Floridian on her show Great Hotels. I tried to play it cool until Stephan left, but we were awestruck. To go from a standard room in French Quarter to the third largest suite in the flagship resort for our first stay club level, or even at a deluxe resort for that matter, was incredible. I about lost it as soon as Stephan left. The room was by far the nicest hotel room I had ever stayed in and I think that probably stands to this day.

My mom and I eventually realized my car was still parked at the Magic Kingdom parking lot with our stuff, so as Andrew decided to sleep, we went to fetch our luggage and to move the car. After swinging by the front desk to profusely thank Christina and Stephan for their generous upgrade (the suite goes for over $2,500/night), we returned to the room with new found energy. Andrew was exhausted, so we let him sleep as we opted to return to MK for Extra Magic Hours until 4am. We got back in the park around 2am and walked on to every ride we wanted to at that hour. The CMs were even asking us if we wanted to ride again since the parks were almost completely empty, but we kept moving. The euphoria and bewilderment still didn’t wear off after we got into bed around 5am.

We didn’t sleep a whole lot that night. We woke up around 9am and ordered private dining (Disney’s fancy name for room service) and then packed up and headed home to get ready for church. The day was kind of a daze, but like nothing we could have ever dreamt of in a million years. The trip that had started off so beyond horribly had done a complete 180 and made us so appreciative of the annoyances we had gone through to get there. I guess it all works out in the end. It really was the best of trips and the worst of trips all rolled in to one, but thankfully in the opposite order.

 

Master bedroom
Master bathroom
View from master balcony
Living room
Bar area in living room
Christmas tree and living room balcony
Looking from living room to half bath
Looking from foyer into second bedroom
Another bar area between second bedroom and bath
Second full bathroom
Desk and vanity in second bedroom
Second bedroom
Looking from balcony into second bedroom
View from second bedroom balcony
Partners and castle pic during EMH circa 4am
Sun rising over Seven Seas Lagoon and yes we slept with the door open
View of the Polynesian and Wedding Pavilion
Grand Floridian beach
Private dining
Enjoying breakfast
Mickey waffle with strawberries
I could see Epcot from bed 🙂
Grand Floridian lobby from the fifth floor
Gingerbread house

My mom and I stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge the following summer and ran into Stephan working as a manager there and he remembered us immediately. We spent quite some time revisiting that night in conversation with him. The next year, Andrew, my mom and I were staying at the Boardwalk Villas and ran into Christina from the front desk working recreation and she remembered us, even telling us that was still one of her favorite magical moments she was able to share as a CM. She was moving to transportation at the Magic Kingdom the following day and we ran into her on the docks working the ferryboat. Stephan is now a manager at the Yacht Club and I occasionally stop in and visit him there. It was really nice to be able to share the experience with my family, but I’d rather not have a repeat of the first half of the trip. Things like this are why I keep supporting the Disney brand. Making magical moments for guests is something that Cast Members enjoy and makes me appreciate every last bit of magic I come across.

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Jake and The Never Land Pirates First Music Soundtrack and DVD

You may notice that Daddy has been taking some time off from the movie reviews (silly work), so it’s Mommy’s turn again to have some movie time with Princess Zoe!

Now that you know why you are suffering with my review…Let’s get to the fun stuff!!!

A new soundtrack and DVD inspired by Disney Junior’s #1 series Jake and the Never Land Pirates, are planned to set sail this September with Walt Disney Records’ album release of eighteen hook-filled songs from the series and The Walt Disney Studios Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Yo Ho, Mateys Away! DVD release featuring seven episodes from the series

Zoe is a HUGE fan of the show, and she was STOKED when the DVD/Soundtrack came in the mail!!!

If you haven’t seen the show, you are definitely missing something! Jake, Izzy (armed with pixie dust), Cubby, and their parrot Skully set sail in their ship, Bucky, in search of treasures and adventures. However, Captain Hook and the every faithful Mr. Smee are always around causing trouble for the foursome. The episodes are filled with lessons about friendship, problem solving, and tons of fun pirate rock. I really think that Sharky and Bones, of the Never Land Pirate Band, are her favorites! When the songs come on at the end of each episode, she is up and off of the couch in .08 seconds!

The DVD bonus features were fun, and Zoe really got a kick out of the Pirate Party with Pirate-oke, where she got to sing along with her favorite pirate band, and Yo, Ho, You Want To Be A Pirate?, where Jake taught her how to talk like a REAL pirate!

The 7-track CD sampler and pirate eye patch were a total bonus!!! I don’t think that the CD is coming out of the car anytime soon!!!

Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Yo Ho, Mateys Away! is a new favorite in our house!!!

 


 

Jake and the Never Land Pirates is cable’s #1 series among Boys 2-5 and is on track to be Disney Channel’s #1 preschool series ever. It is the most co-viewed series among all Disney Junior and Nickelodeon series, with 47% of Moms watching with their preschooler. A music-filled interactive treasure hunt, the series introduces a crew of kid pirates – leader Jake and pals Izzy and Cubby – and follows their Never Land adventures as they work to outwit two infamous characters, the one and only Captain Hook and Smee, from Disney’s classic “Peter Pan.” Every episode features the animated Sharky and Bones characters as they pop up throughout to perform original pirate ditties, and each episode concludes with a live action music video featuring The Never Land Pirate Band.

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Written and performed by Loren Hoskins and Kevin Hendrickson, a.k.a. Sharky and Bones of The Never Land Pirate Band, the album features 18 swashbuckling tracks sure to thrill any young pirate. Also included are downloadable activities and games to plan the perfect pirate party, a Sing-Along version of the show’s theme song and a bonus track from a future episode. The deluxe edition includes a pirate bandana. The album arrives at stores and online retailers September 20.

The album features a variety of songs that kids and parents can enjoy together. Songs include the kooky, comical “Hot Lava,” “Aw Coconuts,” “Pirate Password,” and the arrrghhh-rated “Talk Like a Pirate.” Some songs refer to popular characters in the show, such as “What’s Cookin’ Smee,” “Captain Hook (Is A Cranky Crook),” “Tick Tock Croc” and “Bucky’s Shanty.” Others capture the island spirit of Never Land, such as “Castaway on Pirate Island,” “Shipwreck Shuffle” and “Never Sky,” as well as the “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” theme song. All songs can be heard in episodes of the show.

Portland, Oregon-based Hoskins and Hendrickson have been creating pirate rock music for kids of all ages for more than a decade. The duo produced four previous children’s albums and even led their own pirate band. The pirate rockers also provide the musical score for “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.”

The Jake and the Never Land Pirates soundtrack will be available wherever music is sold on September 20. For more information on Walt Disney Records’ releases, please visit www.Disney.com/music , become a fan at www.Facebook.com/disneymusic and follow at www.Twitter.com/disneymusic .

 

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Are you ready? Because I am!!!

I just wanted to take a moment to say how stoked I am to get back to blogging after taking some time off to finish getting Zoe ready for Kindergarten!!!

Everything went really really well with her starting school, so now it is time to get back down to business!!!

I’ll be back and ready to share my adventures, thoughts, and reviews tomorrow!

I hope that you’re ready, cause I am!!!!!

See you tomorrow!!!!

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My MCO Resolutions…

So being new to Orlando, I decided that maybe I should make some resolutions to try in 2011…so here goes…

1. To figure out where in the world I am!!!

Sure we have been coming to Walt Disney World for years, but not Orlando. So as a result I need to learn how to get around this place!!! There is so much that this city has to offer, and it has been a lot of fun finding my way around.

2. Say yes to “Fluff”!!!

I always lamented “If I only had more time…”, but guess what? I have it now and I need to use it. I plan on going to Disney Quest, watching shows, and doing anything else that was deemed to be “fluff” for past trips. I’m always looking for more fluff…so if you have some suggestions I would love to hear them!

3. Run, Shelley…Run!!!

I have signed up to do the 5K during Princess Marathon weekend, and I am totally stoked!!! I never realized just how many races were offered at Walt Disney World, but now that I do I have another reason for keeping up with my resolution to get in shape!!!

4. Let it Go!

I always find that in a new situation, I used to hang back in the wings and let things happen. Not so much now. I have let go of being nervous, and have decided that I would rather look silly but take a step towards making my dreams come true than stand still and let opportunity pass.

5. Meet More Friends!!!

When we moved down here, I knew one person here who is gone for a large majority of the year. So now whenever I see there is a meet up or if I someone I talk to on Twitter is saying they’ll be in town I am doing my best to be there. It has been so absolutely amazing meeting and making new friends! I am overwhelmed with the generosity, friendliness, and overall awesomeness of everyone I have met!

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About this time last year…

So as I am sitting here panicking about the fact that Christmas is two days away and I am NO WHERE near ready (yes, we are a Menorah and Tree family), my thoughts flashed to where I was a year ago.

We were in Virginia, it was cold, and I felt like there was something that was missing from my life.

While a lot of my friends have given me a lot of crud about moving to “Disney World”, what they don’t realize is that I moved for something more than Mickey…I moved to follow a dream.

Now I know it may sound Hokie (after all I am a proud Hokie! Go Tech!), but what was missing was a quality of life. While Richmond was nice, safe, and full of friends and family I had known most of my life, I never felt the happiness that I did while I was in the sun in Florida. Long gone are the days of “What do you want to do?” meh, because we are always meeting new friends and finding our way in a new town.

It hasn’t been a smooth move, but it is one that I wouldn’t trade for all of the world!!!!!

As some dear friends have reached the 5 month point before their move (You can read all about the Petermann Family at the www.therelocatedtourist.com), I can only hope that if it really is your dream to be here that you find the courage to make it happen…and when you do I’ll be here to share a ride or laugh with you!!!

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