Looking Forward Through the Year

I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of the things I am looking forward to this year as it is almost time to spring forward.

This year I am hoping to participate in at least one race per month, and doing more local races too. This weekend I will be walking the 5K for the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World. Next weekend I will probably also walk the Best Damn Race 5K in downtown Orlando near Lake Eola. April I think will be the 5K that goes through Legoland and the rest of the year is up in the air.

Cinderella Royal Family 5K medal

Spring Training is about to shift into high gear. Teams are practicing and I’ve got tickets to see my Braves play the Cardinals at home next month. I hope to catch at least one other spring training game and to make it to Atlanta once this year.

The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is starting in a couple of weeks and this is always a fun special event. Last year I got to meet one of my HGTV personalities, David Bromstad. I look forward to trying to see him again this year and to try out some of the new food offerings.

I would love to get to Busch Gardens as it has been almost a year since I last visited, despite this being the closer theme park to where I live. I need my coaster fix and to feed some kangaroos too.

A first for me this year will be to visit Universal Studios Mardi Gras. I haven’t been to Universal since 1992 other than a few trips to City Walk over the past decade. I am long overdue and hope to finally get to taste butterbeer and maybe one of those giant donuts from the Simpsons.

Summer will bring the return of Summer Nightastic at Busch Gardens and SeaWorld, both of which are a lot of fun. I would like to get back to SeaWorld to see their Viva La Musica celebration.

Coming soon, hopefully, will be the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the Magic Kingdom. This new coaster will be something between the thrill level of the Barnstormer and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but with some dark ride elements I’m hoping similar to Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure.

Late spring into summer brings the return of the beloved Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Last year I missed out on Hyperspace Hoopla in its entirety and I won’t let that happen again this year.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom I am looking forward to the new nighttime spectacular that should be arriving sometime this summer. I also really want Festival of the Lion King to come back soon, but I know it is still a few months off.

July will bring the WWE Raw live in Orlando from the Amway Center. I hope to see this and compare it to my recent experience for WWE Live.

Also in July will be the Destination D event at Walt Disney World for D23. I hope this is as fun if not more so than the event in 2011.

Of course the fall will bring back the International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot that this year is extended to even more of September. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party starts up again in September into October. November and December will see Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom as well.

One of the things that is on the back burner, but I’m still trying to work into my schedule is a trip back to Disneyland sometime in the next few months or so. Also, a cruise, or two, will be happening this year!

 

What events are you looking forward to this year? Did I miss any of your favorites?

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Our Favorite Valentine’s Day Places At Walt Disney World

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We thought that to celebrate the day, we would share some of our ideal places to celebrate at Walt Disney World!

Valentine's Day

Beth

A fun unique way to spend Valentines Day at WDW for me is to take a stroll around the Boardwalk. Grab some dinner & drinks while taking in a view of Illuminations before ending the night at Jellyrolls for a fun sing-a-long. 

Betsy

One of the most romantic things I love to do at Walt Disney World is stroll around with that special someone. I have a few places in particular that I enjoy. One of my favorites is Epcot at night. The parks transforms when the torches are lit before Illuminations and the ambient noise from guests seems the die down. I especially love finding a quiet spot in France by the back gardens or tucked away while everyone else is getting ready for the fireworks and listening to the beautiful French accordion music. Enjoying a toast with an adult beverage or even a snack from the patisserie is a great way to cap off a romantic stroll around World Showcase. 

 

If you are looking for romance outside the parks, also in the evenings I really enjoy walking around the gardens at Port Orleans French Quarter, maybe after enjoying some beignets! After all, the French do seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to l’amour <3!  I also would never turn down a romantic walk around the Polynesian with the palms swaying in the breeze, ukelele and steel guitar music gently wafting through the air, sand beneath my toes, and a view of Wishes fireworks from the beach would make almost anyone swoon. 

 

Dining options around Walt Disney World are prevalent, but it can sometimes be hard to picture a romantic place that is quiet and sans children. Of course if I had the choice, I’d pick dressing up with my man to go to Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian where no children under 12 are admitted and the tones are decidedly hushed. I’d also prefer not to pay that bill ;). Looking for something a bit more affordable, but still with a nice atmosphere, I like Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge or Flying Fish at the Boardwalk. Both are quieter than most other restaurants I’ve found on property and have a nice ambiance, great food and wine to match. 

Gail

There are many restaurants and places to go for Valentines day, depending on how extravagant one is willing to go.

 

For me, if I’m not planning on going to a restaurant or park, one of my favorite things is fireworks. So my recommendation would be to go to The Polynesian, pick up a coffee and a sweet snack and head down to the beach area. If it’s chilly be sure to take a blanket, which can be used to sit on too. 

 

The view from the beach at the Polynesian is special as you don’t need park access, and the view is stunning as you get the reflections off the lake too.  Just be sure to get there around 15/20 minutes before they begin so you can secure a good viewing spot. 

Watching the fireworks with your loved one can be so romantic, especially snuggled up with a hot beverage by the beach! Don’t forget a selfie to capture your night! 

Jillian

I’d love to spend Valentine’s Day with a nice meal at Yachtsman Steakhouse followed by a night time stroll around Crescent Lake or World Showcase. Then cap the evening off with any of the firework spectaculars. 

Kelly Hicks

My ideal Valentine’s Day at WDW would have to be in the World Showcase at Epcot. I especially love wandering around at night when the pavilions are lit up. Maybe grab an ice cream cone at L’Artisan des Glaces in France – my favorite flavor is profiterole! – and do a little window shopping. Of course the night wouldn’t be complete without a viewing of Illuminations!

Kelly Walker

When I think romance (which I hardly ever do in general) around Disney World, I immediately think of Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Not only is it one of our favorite restaurants, but it tends to be quite one-on-one. It’s normally not loud and while it’s “fancy”, it’s got a laid back feel to it as well. And if you’re not looking to spend a bunch of money on dinner, a favorite of mine is to get a good spot on the train station and watch Wishes from there.

Mike

If I could pick somewhere to spend Valentines Day in Walt Disney World it would have to be experiencing a romantic candlelit dinner at the California Grill located within the Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Not only does this location have excellent food and atmosphere, but it also provides for some of the greatest views of the entire Walt Disney World property. Located on the 15th floor, the California Grill provides views of the Magic Kingdom, the Seven Seas Lagoon, Bay Lake and numerous other landmarks on Disney World property. There’s nothing quite like being able to catch a Florida sunset from the top of the Contemporary Resort while enjoying an excellent glass of wine and top notch cuisine. At the end of the night you can head out onto the balcony and top off your romantic evening with a breathtaking view of Wishes, the Magic Kingdom’s night time spectacular. In my opinion the California Grill is one of the most romantic dining options on Walt Disney World property and an excellent way to spend your Valentines Day. 

Shelley

My favorite date night with Dave is a little bit corny, but we love to head to the Magic Kingdom. We have a ‘light’ dinner of appetizer’s at Tony’s Town Square, take a stroll through the park as the sunsets, and then settle into our favorite spot for the rest of the night. We head over to Sleepy Hollow Refreshments to grab a funnel cake and a table near the castle. Sleepy Hollow is an awesome spot, because you can watch the Main Street Electrical Parade and Celebrate the Magic before heading to the castle to watch Wishes! I love our Magic Kingdom nights, because it’s a great chance to slow down and I don’t have to share my treats with Zoe!!!

Wherever you are celebrating today, we hope that your Valentine’s Day is awesome!

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Festival of Fantasy Parade

Festival of Fantasy
All photos and images in this post are provided by Disney

The Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade will debut in March energizing the streets of the Magic Kingdom with an infectious, whimsical, and contemporary spirit, and I can’t wait!

Festival of Fantasy will celebrate the worlds of new and classic Disney and Pixar stories on a scale that is beyond belief, as nearly 100 performers on floats that will soar as tall as three stories bring some of our favorite (and not so favorite) characters to life in a dramatic and artistic way.

“The parade celebrates and pays homage to what the Magic Kingdom is all about,” said Randy Wojcik, senior show director Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Creative Entertainment. “It has the most beautiful floats, enchanting characters, vibrant costumes that come to life; and the choreography is just glorious. Yet, it is also very kinetic, relevant and powerful on a scale never seen before at Walt Disney World.”

Seven unique units comprised of nine spectacular floats of the Festival of Fantasy will travel accompanied by an original soundtrack inspired by Disney film favorites, composed by Mark Hammond (World of Color at Disney California Adventure and Flights of Fantasy parade at Hong Kong Disneyland) to have a distinct voice that is customized by parade float, theme, and mood

Here is the float-by-float Festival of Fantasy line-up!

The Princess Garden – This pageantry of princesses celebrates Disney royalty. Cinderella, Tiana and Belle accompanied by their respective princes, ride in a garden of topiaries with woodland creatures, birds and more. Cinderella’s dress playfully twirls like a turntable, while Swan Court couples lead the 50-foot-long majestic float, capped off with a special appearance by Anna and Elsa from Disney’s hit animated feature, “Frozen.”

Festival of Fantasy
Disney

Tangled – A massive long ship on the high seas showcases Flynn Rider and Rapunzel in search of adventure and another Best. Day. Ever! Rapunzel’s iconic tresses weave throughout this 36-foot-long float decked out with swaying pendulums carrying dastardly thugs.

Festival of Fantasy
Disney

Little Mermaid – Ariel and her friends sit atop a colorfully kinetic seashell music box that boasts an enchanting musical jubilee. There’s no shortage of whimsy on this Under the Sea float with conga dancing fish kicking up their fins and bubbles galore. Shimmering fabrics and intricately designed costumes for the Lion Fish, Coral Fish, Seashell and Sea Horse performers are runway-inspired.

Festival of Fantasy
Disney

Peter Pan – Straight from Never Land come Peter Pan and Wendy soaring high aboard the famous Jolly Roger pirate ship complete with smoke effects and special surprises. A rainbow arch shines over Skull Rock and Tinker Bell nestled among giant flowers, while Captain Hook takes center stage on a swinging anchor. “Newsies-inspired” Lost Boys kick up their heels to high-energy choreography.

Festival of Fantasy
Disney

Brave – Celtic couples and a vessel shaped like an enormous bagpipe announce the arrival of Merida perched high on her majestic crown. Scottish dancers step to melodies of the Great Highlands in celebration of the popular Disney*Pixar film, “Brave.”

Festival of Fantasy
Disney

Sleeping Beauty – The heroic Prince Phillip battles a Steampunk-inspired Dragon as the wicked Maleficent. This float stretches 53 feet in length and 26 feet tall with a prickly spinning wheel dead center of the float. With fiery eyes and glowing effects the spectacular dragon was built on an articulating chassis allowing the float to bend and flex as it moves along the parade route – a first for Disney parades. This float was designed in a partnership with Tony Award-winner Michael Curry. There’s Prince Phillip, thorn-inspired stilt performers, dramatic raven dancers, plus the three good fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather glide along the parade route.

Festival of Fantasy
Disney

Finale and Mickey’s Airship – The parade culminates with a 90-foot-long magical caravan of characters featuring Pinocchio, Dumbo, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Mad Hatter, Pluto and more in a splashy carnival of color. There’s Pegasus horses, dancing hippos and sassy Bubble Girls with cotton-candy-like hair celebrating Storybook Circus in New Fantasyland. Sporting zany new costumes Mickey and Minnie Mouse sit sky high in Mickey’s Airship — a giant hot air balloon that rounds out Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade.

httpv://youtu.be/XP2-rOErUr4

Here is video of the floats arriving at the Magic Kingdom from the Disney Parks Blog.

The costumes for the Festival of Fantasy were constructed with new and innovative technology, and are absolutely mind-blowing! The attention to detail, over-the-top glitz, and sheer size are overwhelming in the best possible ways!

Here are some of my favorite ‘Fun Facts’ about the Festival of Fantasy costumes:

  • Elaborate costumes are being crafted by 10 different costume houses, in eight cities, in two countries — including Creative Costuming facilities in both Florida and California.
  • Some 27 separate custom designed fabrics were designed by Mirena Rada in collaboration with Creative Costuming Graphic Artist Paul Jordan.
  • Counting interfacings and trims, it takes 28 separate fabrics to make up one Swing Thug #1 Costume (Tangled unit).  His vest requires vinyl to be cut into 75 separate diamond shapes and then stitched onto cool max fabric.
  • Some pieces, including the Seashell Girl (Little Mermaid unit) headpiece, were digitally sculpted and then grown to size with a 3D printer.
  • It takes 30 yards of fabric to make one Seashell Girl costume which includes 12 different colors of Nitex Mesh.
  • The coral pieces for the Coral Twins (Little Mermaid unit) were custom designed.  They are being hand poured in three separate colors by the artisans of the Creative Costuming Craft Team and baked and finished for 16 hours each in an oven.
  • The socks worn by the Lost Boys (Peter Pan unit) are custom designs that were knitted to order in Hong Kong.
  • Minnie Mouse’s Dress and Hat (finale unit) uses 95 gold lame dots that are cut out, “blinged out,” and then sewn on.
  • The Bubble Girl (finale unit) headpiece is made from three separate clown wigs that are blended together by the Creative Costuming Millinery Team.
  • Cha Cha Girl (finale unit) – Her wig was designed with 148 yards of horsehair in four colors, that is then rolled, pressed and curled by hand.

I have missed the energy that the afternoon parade brought to the Magic Kingdom, and I truly cannot wait to see the Festival of Fantasy in person! March can’t get here soon enough!!!

 

 

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Theme Parks Reminders

This one goes out to all of the theme park regulars.

Actually, this one is to anyone that goes to theme parks.

theme park

Like many of you, I grew up in theme parks – Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal, Silver Springs (hometown shout out!)

I also have worked for Walt Disney World twice. My first time working for WDW was at Magic Kingdom turnstiles (you know, back in the day…when there were actual arms.) While I loved seeing people coming to Walt Disney World for the first time, it was also where I learned that people are all different. It’s also where I learned a lot of different ways to deal with some of the different types of people.

So…some things to keep in mind while you’re in any theme park.

IMG_3179

Patience
The first thing everyone needs to go to any theme park (or anywhere really) is patience. Everyone is trying to go to the same place. We’re all there for the rides, characters, etc. There is no need to push and shove. Take your time. You will get there, I promise! Getting off the monorail or ferryboat? Waiting in line to get through bag check? Take a deep breath and just wait your turn. You’ll be happier once you get into the park.

Lines/Parades
Lines are there for a reason. Everyone wants to go on rides, meet characters, and see the parades, it’s a given. With that being said, don’t get in line while the rest of your party eats/is in the bathroom/you’re waiting on them. You and your party will avoid getting dirty looks and/or having someone say something. Oh, and don’t stand in front of people during parades. More than likely, they have positioned themselves there for a reason. Having been a parade audience control cast member, I’ve seen people get really angry and there’s just no reason to put yourself in someone else’s view. There’s really no bad spot for a parade. Keep walking a bit and you should be able to find a decent spot.

Tourist groups
Remember, they paid their money just like you did. They are there to have just as much fun (or maybe more!) as you.

Cast members
They are people 🙂 Give them respect and they’ll respect you. And heck, they may even do something magical for you! Just remember that just like you and I, they have bad days as well.

Kids
No matter how happy they are when they walk through the front gate (some are crying before they get in), there is a kid somewhere in your ear shot that is throwing a tantrum. They’ll get over it, hopefully sooner rather than later, but it will dissipate 🙂

Lost people
If someone looks lost/has their map upside down/is talking to their family about the “3:00 parade”, help them out! Use all that knowledge that you have stored in that brain of yours.

Crowds
You know the parks are going to be busy, so take your time. No one is going to win first place for getting everything done first.

Park time
Enjoy it!! We take advantage of the fact that we can go anytime. Stay off your phone and enjoy your time with your family and friends. Social media can wait. And those pictures can be posted later!

These are some of things that I’ve come across recently while in the theme parks. Please keep these things in mind and remember we’re all there for the same reason….

IMG_6971

Have fun!!

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A Magical Evening in the Magic Kingdom

Photo Jan 19, 9 40 39 PMRecently I went to the Magic Kingdom to meet up with my friend Laura from elementary school. She and her family were in town to visit family along with a friend of hers I had met on a previous trip. We didn’t really have any set plans, just to meet up at some point during the weekend. I made my way to the park a little after 4pm, and stumbled on my first bit of magic.

For those of you who know me, I can be a bit of a sap. Show me a commercial with a veteran coming home to surprise their family and I’m a mess. Put me in the Magic Kingdom for flag retreat with a group of active duty soldiers home on leave together, and there is no hiding the tears. My respect for the military and their service to our country runs deep. Both my brother and my dad served, and many generations in our family preceded them.

So, on this particular Saturday, I found myself at Town Square facing the flag retreat unprepared and unknowing what time it was. As the Dapper Dans started singing as the flag was lowered, the tears started flowing freely with pride, awe and respect for the men on the other side of the square. God Bless America just about killed me, but in a good way. As the retreat came to an end, I spotted my friends Kendra and Mark across the way. I composed myself, said hi to them and chatted for a few minutes before heading to meet Laura and company in Liberty Square.Photo Jan 19, 9 37 41 PM

Laura and her family were taking a break in Columbia Harbour House, so we just sat and caught up for an hour or so while they finished resting. As their fastpass window for Space Mountain rolled around, I split off to say goodbye, but couldn’t resist a quick ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. Any evening I can spend on the Peoplemover, especially around sunset, is a magic one.

Photo Jan 19, 9 39 43 PMWhen I finished my ride, I ambled toward Main Street and the front of the park, finding it especially beautifully lit this evening. There’s just something about the simple white lights that line the street that is just gorgeous. Assuming my nice evening was over, I took my time taking in the sights and  sounds around me. To my surprise, one of the most magical things I have ever heard caught me on the way towards the train station. A boy of about eight years old was walking with someone who I assumed was his grandmother. As they walked a few paces ahead of me, the grandmother said to the boy, “you’ve had a nice day at Disney.” The boy replied, “this really is a magic kingdom.” Instantly, my heart melted on the spot. You just don’t expect that, but when you hear it you know he is exactly right.

To top it off, I saw another one of my favorite things, the custodial artists creating magic with water and a broom. These cast members get to make magic by “painting” with water some of our favorite characters on the streets of the Disney parks. This often occurs when guests are waiting for parades, as was the case here. It is just one of those magic moments that is so simple, yet such a perfect way to cap off an evening in the park.

Photo Jan 19, 9 38 00 PM

This is what Disney magic is all about to me: bringing together friends, enjoying a ride or two, the beauty of the parks (especially at night), seeing unexpected moments of magic appear before your eyes. I will never stop believing in magic. Thank you Disney for reminding me of that.

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Wordless Wednesday – Christmas in Orlando

Wordless Wednesday – December 25, 2013

We want to wish everyone celebrating today a very Merry Christmas!

We hope that you all have a day full of family, fun, and love!

Merry Christmas from Orlando!!!

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Tour of Cinderella Castle Suite and Be Our Guest

When the Disney Parks Blog announced that they were going to be doing tours of Be Our Guest restaurant and Cinderella Castle suite, I just knew I had to get my name into the hat! And thankfully I was selected and I enjoyed every single second of being apart of this Limited Time Magic!

Magic Kingdom will always feel like my “home” park – it’s where I started when I became a cast member. And as many times as I’ve seen Cinderella Castle, I never imagined I’d be able to go into the castle suite.

Cinderella castle

My part of the group started in Be Our Guest and one of the imagineers that designed the restaurant gave us a tour of all the rooms.

be our guest orderbe our guest be our guest west wing be our guest west wing be our guest

We learned that the little cherubs on the ceiling *may* have a slight resemblance to the imagineers that worked on the restaurant 🙂

be our guest cherubs

I had the grey stuff for breakfast. Breakfast of champions, right?

be our guest grey stuff

After that treat, it was time to go see the Cinderella castle suite! I have walked by this door more times than I even know and yet I was finally seeing it open!

cinderella castle suite door

We rode the elevator up to the suite level and before the door to the suite opened, I was already amazed.

cinderella castle suite cinderella castle suite floorcinderella castle suite mary blair

And then it was time…

cinderella castle suite cinderella castle suite cinderella castle suite cinderella castle suite bathtub cinderella castle suite bathroomcinderella castle suite bathroom

The details are beyond amazing!

cinderella castle suite

The windows in the living room area tell Cinderella’s story.

Her home, the invitation the the ball, the clock striking midnight.

cinderella castle suite windows

The glass slipper, Gus and Jaq finding the key, and the happy ever after.

cinderella castle suite windows

These little mirror on either side of the fire place have a prince and princess on them. The best part is they were not made for the suite. The imagineers found them and knew they were perfect!

cinderella castle suite

When they picked this chair out, it was purchased for its size – for kids. However, they were told that this little chair is a “slipper chair”, which people would use to put their slippers/house shoes on. How perfect is that?

cinderella castle suite

I’m still in shock that I have been in the suite!

For the full set of pictures, check out the album on Facebook.

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A first timer’s look into Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Castle

Friday was the kick off night for the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! I had always read about this night, and always wanted to go but each year put it off thinking it was maybe just for kids. Well last month we were lucky enough to go to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and you really didnt need kids to enjoy that one, you just may need to BE a big kid! Which was perfect for me! So we figured now was the best time to go to the Christmas Party and see what that one was all about!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Snow on Main Street

As soon as you get your wristband and enter the park, it strikes you how they go all out for Christmas, the decor was just incredible. It might only be November on the calander but in my heart it was already late December! The lights, the wreathes, the music, the smells, everything screams holidays as soon as you enter into the park! I was very excited to see that on Main Street it was even snowing, in Florida, snowing! it was perfect and really got me into the Christmas Spirit!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party hotchoc

The first place we headed was to the free Hot Chocolate and Cookies, you can look these up on the park map and also look out for the giant inflatable candy cane that shows you where they are being served. The hot chocolate place we first went to was by the Pirates Of The Caribbean ride, and was extremely hot. Luckily this made me remove the lid and I noticed marshmallows on the top, which I wish they had stated on the signs as being a vegetarian I cannot eat these. Fortunately everyone else in our party could, so after that I just made sure I requested mine without.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party jingle

Next we headed over to the Jungle Cruise, which, for the first time ever, had been converted into the Jingle Cruise featuring a holiday overlay. The ride was all Christmas themed from the names on the boats to the decorations on the props and the jokes told by the skippers. During the ride there are not many changes to the actual scenes, so guests who have not ridden the Jungle Cruise before would still be able to enjoy this classic ride with only a few Christmas themed jokes thrown in.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party minnie

By this time we thought we should try get a space for Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, as it was a sold out night so we knew it was going to be busy. We ended up not really finding a great place to stand, but luckily we could still see over people enough to enjoy all the floats. It was really fun seeing all the characters in holiday attire, but my favorite part in the whole parade was without a doubt the toy soldiers…

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party toysoldiers

I just loved their little routines, their attire and they seemed to have so much personality and flair! Plus you knew once you saw them that Santa was going to be next as he is featured on the last float.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party santa

Once the parade ended we walked over to the Hub to get in place for the Celebrate The Magic show on Cinderella’s Castle, which I had seen some of this before but I had never stood in the middle for it with such a fantastic view before!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party waltcastle

The show was everything it promised to be..magical! I loved every moment of it, from Tinkerbell flying out, to Walt’s face right there on the castle, the effects were just so beautiful!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party gingercastle

The Christmas part at the end was really cool to see, my favorite part was this photo above, where they made the castle look like a giant gingerbread castle! It looked so real!

After the show we decided to stay in the same spot as it would be a great place for the fireworks! I am lucky enough to see the fireworks every day from home, but I rarely get to see them from right on front of the castle like this, its truly a wonderful experience.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party castlewow

I loved how they mixed the fireworks together with the Celebrate The Magic projections too, especially when it made it look like the fireworks were being set off right in front of the castle, when really it was behind!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party castleworks

A great tip if you want to feel part of the show, is if you purchase the new Glow With The Show ears, the ears actually light up in synch with the fireworks and castle show, as can be seen in this photo above! You simply turn them on and they all coordinate, so it really adds another element to the show to enjoy as you get to participate with it.

httpv://youtu.be/9yN5SligZY0

Once we had enjoyed the fireworks we were all pretty tired so we decided on a loop around on the TTA and another stop for hot chocolate and cookies. I came home pretty exhausted but it was very worth it, this was my first time doing this party and it sure won’t be my last!

Tickets are on sale now and do require separate admission to get in. It is running already on select nights up until December 20th, but start looking now as they do tend to sell out some nights.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party popcorn

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Returns Friday

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party returns this week to the Magic Kingdom on Friday. I am so looking forward to this special event as it is the kickoff for the holiday season in the parks for me. Separate tickets are required for admission to the party. The event takes place select nights in November and December and runs from 7pm to midnight. Advance tickets are available at a discount for most nights with a savings of $5 per ticket, and select dates also offer military, DVC and AP discounts.

I can’t wait to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this Friday night for several reasons. One, the new Jingle Cruise is debuting. We rarely (if ever) get holiday overlays here at Walt Disney World and this is one I am excited about. I really enjoy the Jungle Cruise and its background music from the 1930s/40s is great. I hope they match that era of Christmas music in the queue as it is some of my favorite music. I think it will be especially cool to compare the Jingle Cruise here to the overlay in Disneyland in a few weeks.

My favorite part of the party by far is the Once Upon A Christmastime Parade. It takes place twice during the evening at 8:15 and 10:30pm and starts in Frontierland and ends on Main Street. If you get a chance, I highly recommend watching from Main Street with a view of Cinderella Castle. This makes for awesome pictures with the castle dream lights and the “snow” on Main Street. Seeing the characters all dressed up in their Christmas costumes is fantastic! It really makes it feel like Christmas to me during this parade ending with a certain jolly fellow.

Once Upon A Christmastime Parade
Once Upon A Christmastime Parade
Donald and Daisy
Donald and Daisy
Chip and Dale
Chip and Dale
Soldiers
Soldiers
Mickey, Minnie and Duffy
Mickey, Minnie and Duffy
Santa
Santa

Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season is a special fireworks show at 9:30pm on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party nights. A new enhancement this year will feature the new to Walt Disney World Glow With The Show Ears that will change colors along with the fireworks. I have yet to see the ears here, but saw a small sampling last summer at Disney California Adventure during of World of Color, so I think it should be cool.

Holiday Wishes
Holiday Wishes
Holiday Wishes tree
Holiday Wishes tree
Holiday Wishes fan
Holiday Wishes fan
Lights
Lights
Castle Dream Lights
Castle Dream Lights
Main Street
Main Street

Also new this year will be a Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom card exclusive to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party featuring Huey, Dewey and Louie. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve only played Sorcerer’s once, but I love collecting the cards, so I am looking forward to this special edition card. Of course another favorite aspect of the party is the included hot chocolate and cookies. There are also dance parties, stage shows and most attractions are open during the party.

What is your favorite part of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party? Will you be attending this year? Some of us will be there for the first party of the year on Friday, which is already sold out. If you’ll be there, come say hi!

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Wordless Wednesday: Looking Up At Castle Dream Lights

Wordless Wednesday:

Cinderella Castle Castle Dream Lights 2013

Wordless Wednesday Dream Lights

This week’s Wordless Wednesday takes us to last night’s first lighting of the Cinderella Castle Castle Dream Lights! I get goosebumps every night I see the Castle Dream Lights, but the first night is always extra special!!! I can’t wait to share more pictures as more holiday cheer arrives at the place Where Dreams Come True!

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Wordless Wednesday: HalloWishes For A Happy Halloween

Wordless Wednesday – October 30, 2013

 Wordless Wednesday

This week’s Wordless Wednesday takes us to scene’s from Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World! May all your HalloWishes come true for a fun and safe Halloween!

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Glow With The Show Magic Kingdom Debut With @Disneyworlds

Todd and Cheryl captured some great clips of the Glow with the Show debut at Magic Kingdom during Celebrate the Magic and Wishes! that we shared on our Facebook page, but now John Saccheri of the Big Fat Panda Show www.BigFatPanda.com comes through again with another great guest post and wonderful video of even more during the debut at Magic Kingdom of both of these nighttime shows!

After the amazing GLOW WITH THE SHOW spectacle at Fantasmic! a few nights ago, the premiere of the light up Mickey ears at the Magic Kingdom was less than stellar.

This is not to say I did not enjoy the experience, but expectations had been set and were not met. Unlike the Fantasmic debut, no ears were given out to “seed” the audience. I would say less than 10% of the people had ears on. Another thing against this debut is that Main Street is rather flat compared to the Fantasmic! stadium. So unless you were tall, there was less to see.

But all is not lost – I had a tall friend and a monopod with me and we were able to get up around 10 feet (estimate) to bring you some great shots of what did occur.

Unfortunately, during the last 2 minutes of the Celebrate The Magic Castle Projection show, the ears ceased functioning. I am guessing the signal somehow did not get out to the ears.

httpv://youtu.be/rXXTqaNvYpM

This small glitch was fixed a few minutes later when Wishes! Glow With The Show premiered.

httpv://youtu.be/qAiYi5U9Ppg

I still love the idea and the technology and hope you enjoy what I was able to capture on video!

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Best Bathrooms in Disney

I thought I would take this time to share some of my favorite bathrooms around Walt Disney World and Disneyland. I know this may not be the most glamorous subject, but I thought it would be fun. Hey, maybe you’ll find a new favorite spot. This is certainly subjective, but I am basing my list on a few things. Theming is one parameter, location is another, and size/stall to guest ratio. They don’t all have to meet all criteria and they are not listed in any particular order.

Magic Kingdom Bathrooms

I have to say the Tangled bathrooms in the Magic Kingdom are probably the most themed I’ve ever seen. Rapunzel’s tower is illuminated at night and the surrounding area is beautifully decorated around the village near Rapunzel’s parents’ castle and the Snuggly Duckling. Lanterns are lit up at night and hang above the area to provide a gentle light at night. Outside there are seating clusters even with charging stations. Inside the theming is carried on even further (at least in the ladies room) to reflect many of Rapunzel’s hobbies featured in the opening song of Tangled. Plus, there are tons of stalls and I’ve never had to wait.

Tangled bathroomTangled 2Tangled 3Tangled 4Tangled 5Tangled 6

As a runner up, I’d choose the bathrooms in the Fantasyland train station. They aren’t quite as spacious as the Tangled toilets, but they are very pretty. Honorable mention in the Magic Kingdom goes to the New Fantasyland bathrooms behind Gaston’s Tavern.

Disneyland Bathrooms

Hands down my favorite bathrooms in Disneyland are the Alice in Wonderland bathrooms adjacent to the Alice attraction and the Matterhorn. Friends of mine steered me to these bathrooms to check them out on my first trip and I wasn’t disappointed. While Alice in Wonderland isn’t one of my favorite Disney films, the attraction is my favorite dark ride in Fantasyland. I loved these bathrooms with the cards for the stall doors and the hearts on the light fixtures.

Alice bathroomAlice 2Alice 3Alice 4Alice 5Alice 6

I haven’t seen them in person, but a shoutout to the Club 33 bathrooms must be made. Also, have to give props to the Tiki Room bathrooms as the only bathrooms to my knowledge inside of an attraction.

Epcot Bathrooms

Just recently the new bathrooms opened in the American Adventure pavilion, which might now usurp the position of my favorite bathrooms from the old Millennium Village/now World Showplace bathrooms as my favorite in World Showcase. I have to give the edge to America because the World Showplace bathrooms are often only open for special events or during super crowded times of the year like New Year’s Eve. The new bathrooms are also much prettier with a colonial theme (or as colonial as you can get with Dyson airblade hand dryers).

American Adventure bathroomAmerican Adventure 2American Adventure 3American Adventure 4 American Adventure 5

In Future World, I adore the bathrooms tucked away to the right of the entrance to the Imagination Pavilion. So few people seem to know these exist I have rarely seen more than one or two other people here. Bonus points are definitely awarded for the bright rainbow colors carrying over the theming from the pavilion and the fact I’ve never had to wait in line for these bathrooms.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Bathrooms

My pick here for best bathrooms comes down to a matter of convenience and accessibility. The restrooms outside of the American Idol Experience to the right of the attraction entrance aren’t themed at all. They are purely functional, however they are, from what I’ve found, consistently the least crowded bathrooms anywhere in the park. These bathrooms are also pretty centrally located just off of Hollywood Boulevard to the left of the Sorcerer’s Hat.

Disney California Adventure Bathrooms

On first thinking of this post, my immediate answer was the beautifully themed new bathrooms on Buena Vista Street on the right a little after the park entrance. I loved the colors and how they fit right in with the style of Hollywood in the late 20s and early 30s. When I mentioned this post to Shelley, she added the bathrooms in Carthay Circle as a suggestion. I forgot how great these were as well with pictures of Walt and other celebs from the time of the premiere of Snow White at the Carthay Circle Theatre in the 1930s.

Buena Vista Street bathroomBuena Vista Street 2Buena Vista Street 3Buena Vista Street 4Buena Vista Street 5Carthay 1Carthay 2Carthay 3Carthay 4Carthay 5Carthay 6

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Bathrooms

The best themed bathrooms are tucked away in a corner of Camp Minnie-Mickey just outside the exit to the Festival of the Lion King. These are rarely busy, except right after a show of FotLK lets out. They are representative of the decor with a camp style reminiscent of the woods that currently surround them. I say currently because these bathrooms are probably not long for this world with the relocation of Lion King to Africa. The proposed Avartarland expansion of this section of the park will surely be the end of these bathrooms, at least in their current state. I can’t imagine they’d fit in with the landscape of Pandora.

 

What are some of your favorite bathrooms at Walt Disney World or Disneyland? Did I miss any?

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