{Pretty, funny, happy, real}

round button chicken

 

 

{Pretty}

IMG_2220 If you’ve never been inside Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World, you need to, because these are inside. There are a bunch of these, telling the story of Cinderella in gorgeous mosaics, but this one is my favorite, partially because of this detail:

{Funny}

IMG_2225It’s so perfectly their faces from the animation. I just love it. Also notice how Drizella is green. 🙂

 {happy}IMG_1214Yeah, I’m pretty happy outside Belle’s house in Fantasyland. 🙂

{Real}IMG_2152ducks in the pool post storm at the Yacht Club. These guys are totally non people averse, and will steal your food!

In case you missed it….DISNEY!

Here are all my Disney World posts. There are going to be more, but these are the first wave of them, with deets about vacation. 🙂

Day 1-2

Day 3

Day 4 (Magic Kingdom)

Day 5

Day 6 (Epcot 1)

 

 

WDW 2014 Day 7-8: “See you real soon!”

Sadly, we had to leave…..at some point….

which makes me sad.

BUT–that’s OK, because then you can start thinking about coming back!

So on the last day, we had lunch at Beaches and Cream and I made one last pin trade, and we headed back to Columbus via Florida Turnpike and I-75 N. We stayed overnight in Chattanooga, TN, and got home yesterday around 3 PM.

Here are some of the other shots from our trip–I took almost 300, and I don’t want to bombard you too much. So just a sampling. 🙂

Heigh ho!

Heigh ho!

Pooh's large jar of "Hunny"

Pooh’s large jar of “Hunny”

Ceiling of the World of Disney store

Ceiling of the World of Disney store

 

Frozen merch :)

Frozen merch 🙂

IMG_1184

 

my T-shirt from Design-A-Tee

my T-shirt from Design-A-Tee (It says “Great at magic, not birthday cakes.” )

Tiki room "pre show"

Tiki room “pre show”

Rapunzel's tower over Fantasyland

Rapunzel’s tower over Fantasyland

Cinderella Fountain (one of my favorite MK things)

Cinderella Fountain (one of my favorite MK things)

Me and my side kick :)

Me and my side kick 🙂

Posters in France

Posters in France

Moroccan fountain

Moroccan fountain

Looking up at the castle from Fantastyland.

Looking up at the castle from Fantastyland.

 

WDW 2014 Day 5: EPCOT part I

My dad loves EPCOT, so the chance to spend two days there was a great thing, and part of the reason we tacked an extra day onto the trip this year. Thursday morning was dad’s last day at the conference, so we met for lunch at Beaches and Cream and headed to EPCOT at 2, per our tickets. 🙂

IMG_2398

 

Now, EPCOT Day was much warmer than MK day had been–in the low 90s, and humid. That made for a little bit less of get up and go for us, but we still go quite a bit done. Our hotel entrance led us right into the World Showcase, which is my favorite part anyway. 🙂  After scanning our Magic Bands, we headed toward the UK pavilion, where we were also planning on eating dinner that night, at the Rose and Crown.

*This was a bit of a change in plan. Originally, we were going to eat at Le Cellier, in the Canadian pavilion. However, I checked the menu before we left for the park, and found that the prices were crazy high (even by Disney Park standards), and there was little on the menu that sounded good. The menus change seasonally at some of the restaurants, and this one had changed a lot in the six months since I’d booked. So, I changed us to Rose and Crown and cancelled our Le Cellier reservation at the concierge desk. It just didn’t seem worth going to when my dad isn’t a big steak guy, and the only seafood dish is Flounder, which he’ll eat, but I didn’t want us to spend a TON of money on food we only sort of liked. *

In the UK pavilion there were street performers, who were really funny, as well as Alice and Mary Poppins making appearances.

Alice

Alice

 

In the UK Pavilion

In the UK Pavilion

 

There was also….Mary Poppins’ Penguin.

This is a dedicated cast member, for sure.

This is a dedicated cast member, for sure.

From the UK, we went to Canada, where there was some Canadian/Celtic Rock, totem polls, and beautiful gardens.

 

 

Dad

Dad

O Canada!

O Canada!

Then we headed to France, to take in our favorite EPCOT movie, Impressions de France.

French fountains

French fountains

Vive La France!

Vive La France!

"How to love wine." Tres Francais.

“How to love wine.” Tres Francais.

After seeing the movie (and this guy)

IMG_2382

We headed to the Rose and Crown for dinner.

 

When is it not a good day for fish and chips?

When is it not a good day for fish and chips?

 

Our waiter was a Welshman named William Charles Edward (he was from Cardiff) and I made him very happy by ordering a Scotch egg as my appetizer (a Scotch egg is a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage and either deep fried or baked) and Bakewell Tart for dessert. 🙂 He also told us he approved of the Fish and Chips; he had been worried about what recipe they’d use “in the States”, but considered this one authentic. Good to know!

After dinner, we headed to Future World to ride Spaceship Earth and The Seas With Nemo and Friends.

IMG_2394

loved this ride (much more than my Dad did, that’s OK) because I love the movie. 🙂 Also, you’re seeing a real aquarium while Nemo and friends are projected onto the glass. Amazing.

After Nemo, we were about done for the day, so we headed back to the pool for some swimming and found out it’s a great place to watch the EPCOT fireworks–no crowds! 🙂

 

 

 

WDW 2014 Day 4: The Magic Kingdom!

 

IMG_2216

 

 “This is a very big day, Pascal!”

 

So on Tuesday, it was time for the Magic Kingdom. I don’t care how old you are, being in the Magic Kingdom puts goofy smiles on a lot of faces, including mine. The whole walk up Main Street USA for me is just one big grin.

Part of the perks of having a conference at Disney is that you get discounted park tickets. They’re not full day tickets; they start at 2 PM and 4 PM, respectively, and since I had a 4:40 reservation at Be Our Guest, we decided to go for the 2 PM ticket. (We had 2 PM tickets for every park visit, it turned out.) This meant that I had my morning swim, lunch, and then I couldn’t handle it anymore and got on the bus to the Magic Kingdom. 🙂

I got there around 1:30, which meant I had to wait right outside the entrances (but past the bag check) for it to be about 5 to 2–the Magic Band would let you in a few minutes early, but not thirty. When you pressed the Mickey face of the band against the Mickey faced readers, it would turn one of three colors: White, green, or blue. Blue meant you had a ticket (or Fast Pass), but were too early; green meant you were good to go; white meant it was searching. At park admission, it will turn a sort of yellow-gold, and then you put your finger in the biometric scanner (this is so if you lose your card or band, no one can steal it and try to use your admission tickets. There’s also a PIN number required to make any charges to the band, as the same sort of safeguard.). Once that’s done, you’re in.

My Magic Band

My Magic Band

The weather on this day was great–about 80 degrees, with a breeze, almost no humidity, and partly cloudy. Basically perfect Magic Kingdom touring weather. I don’t know if that was the reason why, but I saw tons of characters out and about during the day, which made me happy, because they definitely add to “the magic.” The first ones I saw were Marie (from The Aristocats) and Pluto, followed by Princess Aurora and Prince Philip, Snow White and Prince Charming, Mickey and Minnie, and Cinderella and her prince performing on the castle stage. (later, I would see Lady Tremaine (Cinderella’s step mother), Gaston, the Beast, and Tiana and Naveen.)

 

Marie and Pluto

 

Disney castle show

 

With that, it was time for Adventureland and some rides. Last year I went straight to Fantasyland, since the new expansion had opened, but this year I decided to be more democratic in my MK tour. 🙂 Also, Extra Magic Hours (meaning the park would be open later, and resort guests could ride the rides until it closed) went from 10-Midnight that night, so I felt very expansive with my time.

Adventureland entrance

 

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First stop: The Enchanted Tiki Room. This was my fourth trip to the Magic Kingdom but I’d never experienced this show. (It’s not a ride–you don’t go anywhere–it’s a show). I knew the song, of course, but wanted to experience the “experience”? 🙂 So this was my first “ride.” I was pleasantly surprised at how cute and clever it was, and even though those birds have done a lot of shows, they were still in good condition and didn’t seem dated (at least not to me).

I wanted to ride Jungle Cruise, but I didn’t have a Fast Pass for that, and the wait was 65 minutes, so….onward!

I made my way through Frontierland pretty quickly, since they were setting up for the 3:00 Parade, and I didn’t want to get stuck somewhere, and went through Liberty Square to Fantasyland. Here, I rode the Carousel and Mickey’s Philharmagic (one of my favorites from last year) before I headed for a quick walk-about of the entire area. I wanted to see the line for the Seven Dwarves’ Mine Ride, and saw it was over an hour. The only Fast Pass time I’d seen the night before was at 11:00 PM, so I hadn’t gotten one. The ride looked fun, however. Ariel’s ride was inexplicably closed, so I missed riding that, but I did have a quick pick-me-up snack in Gaston’s Tavern (LeFou’s brew and chocolate croissant, bien sur!)

Gaston's

After a bit more wandering (and Carousel riding), it was time for dinner at Be Our Guest. I do love this place. Dad had a fancy dinner so it was just me, but that was fine. This year I had the French Onion Soup and the Shrimp and Scallops in puff pastry. The entree seemed a bit salty to me but you really can’t be the atmosphere of Be Our Guest, and there was, of course, grey stuff.

The ballroom at Be Our Guest

The ballroom at Be Our Guest

New Grey Stuff. (It's still delicious)

New Grey Stuff. (It’s still delicious)

 

After dinner, it was time for….the Princess Meet and Greet.

Princess Fairy Tale Hall

Princess Fairy Tale Hall

Yeah Fast Pass

Yeah Fast Pass

The “standby” (that’s what they call it now, instead of “regular line”) line was many hours long. It was like people were camping out for Black Friday deals. Fortunately I had to wait about 20 minutes, and I was by no means, the oldest person in line. I was behind two high school girls, but in front of me was a woman in her 40s, and behind me was a family with a boy and a girl, and the boy was wearing an Olaf shirt, so I’m guessing he was pretty excited.

The way this works is that you get time for a brief chat, a photo, and (if you want) an autograph. My conversation with Anna and Elsa centered around their outfits and chocolate; with Princess Aurora is was about the blue versus pink dress. (She was wearing the pink.)

The detailing in this place is incredible. I didn’t have time to take photos, but the Internet has one, thank goodness:

Bookends from Cinderella

Bookends from Cinderella

 

They’re sort of hard to see here, but trust me: they are the EXACT SAME bookends from the scene with the King and the Duke, when the King is saying, “Just a boy meeting a girl under the right conditions….so, we arrange the conditions.” My Disney geek side was GEEKING OUT. (The girl is by the vase of flowers)

After meeting Anna, Elsa, and Aurora, I decided to ride Small World and The Haunted Mansion (I love the Haunted Mansion). There were some freaked out kids in the queue for Haunted Mansion (once we got inside the “stretch rooms” and the house proper–no one was freaking out in the outside queue).

spooky music in the Haunted Mansion Line

spooky music in the Haunted Mansion Line

Bubbles from a "Grave"

Bubbles from a “Grave”

 

Generally, I don’t approve of “forcing” kids to go on a ride they don’t want to go on, especially when they’re little, and there were some toddlers who were clearly being forced to ride. Parents, not the best idea, y’all.

After this, it was time for more pin trading in Frontierland. By this time, it was getting toward twilight, and my feet were talking. While I love the Magic Kingdom, it’s still a lot of walking–I’m guessing I did about six miles that day–and I didn’t think I’d make it until midnight. So I decided to ride Peter Pan’s Flight, which I love, and then head out before the parade started (I’d seen the Main Street Electrical Parade several times).

Tangled theming

Tangled theming

This photo is probably my favorite of the trip. I took it while in line for Peter Pan’s Flight, so it’s blurrier than I’d like, but I love how the lanterns are glowing in the twilight, just like in the movie. 🙂 Little Disney magic, here.

Prince Charming's Regal Carousel at night

Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel at night

 

Tiana and Naveen from The  Princess and the Frog.

Tiana and Naveen from The Princess and the Frog.

 

I made my way out the park and was on the bus back to the Yacht Club around nine, so I was back in my room at 9:30. It was a “most gratifying day”, indeed!

WDW 2014 Day 3: Relaxing by the pool, Magic Bands, pin trading, and Fast Passes

So, one of the biggest innovations at WDW this year was the idea of the Magic Bands. At first I was a bit skeptical about this, but as the trip went on, both Dad and I agreed they made life pretty awesome for us, and a lot easier.

When we arrived at the Yacht Club, we received our magic bands in a box, already engraved with our names, and activated. The default color is gray (which we got), but they sell Magic Band “bling” to personalize yours. I chose Cinderella’s coach and a Princess Minnie icon.

The Magic Band is a lot of things–it’s your room key, your park admissions, your FastPass+, and you can charge things to it, which made life pretty awesome for us, since it meant we didn’t have to carry cash with us when we went to the parks, or really, anywhere (we did carry some, however, we didn’t just us the Magic Bands. Danger Will Robinson, that.). We didn’t have to worry about losing our room key or our park passes or even getting Fast Passes printed out; it also made Fast Passes easier to get, since we could reserve them ahead of time and they were saved to our bands. The bands are waterproof (I never took it off when I was swimming), they are adjustable  and feel basically like wearing a plastic watch. They weren’t heavy and even on very humid days, they weren’t sticky or annoying on our wrists.

So on Monday, I started out by relaxing at the pool, having lunch at Hurricane Hannah’s (the pool restaurant at Stormalong Bay), and then heard to Downtown Disney for some shopping and pin trading

Downtown Disney Marketplace entrance

Downtown Disney Marketplace entrance

 

Pin trading shop at Downtown Disney

Pin trading shop at Downtown Disney

(There will be more on pin trading later. It deserves its own post.)

So Downtown Disney is three parts: The Marketplace, the West Side, and what used to be called “Pleasure Island”, but is now part of the “Disney Springs” renovation project (well, really, the whole thing is being renovated, but this is where you notice it). Cirque du Soleil has a permanent show here, and there’s a pub, the Earl of Sandwich, a Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe, a carousel, bandstand, the largest Disney Character store in the world, and lots of other shops. There’s also Disney Quest, which is supposedly some sort of virtual reality playground, which I don’t really understand, and haven’t visited. The entire Downtown Disney area is accessible either by private car, taxi, or Disney Transportation (bus line) if you’re staying at the resorts. I took the bus.

So I hit the pin trading store, Disney Design-a-Tee, where I made a shirt with the Three Fairies from Sleeping Beauty, Once Upon A Toy, and The World of Disney.

World of DisneyI wasn’t hugely impressed with World of Disney–the one in NYC is much bigger, I thought, and had a much better selection. However, there was some Frozen merchandise here, which made it a big hit with about everyone, and there were limits to how much you could buy. There weren’t any costumes, but there were plenty of DVDs/Blu-Rays and CDs (everywhere. Really, everywhere, this stuff was there), iPhone covers, books, and the Barbie-ish dolls (not the Toddler ones or specialty dolls). It was fun to look around but I thought Once Upon a Toy, where you could make your own Disney Potato Head, or a personalized light saber, was a lot more fun. (I mean, I had a lot more fun there, and the kids looked like they were too) There was also a Duffy the Disney Bear activity happening which seemed like fun.

Around 3:30 I headed back to the Yacht Club also via the bus, which took a lot longer for some reason–the bus for the Yacht, Beach, Boardwalk, Swan and Dolphin came maybe every 20 minutes. So the stop at Downtown Disney could get pretty crowded. But it wasn’t like I had other things to do. 🙂

That night, Dad and I wanted to have dinner at Beaches and Cream, but we found out that now you needed reservations to do this, so we couldn’t get in, and went tot he Yacht Club’s Captain’s Grille instead, which was good (I had crab cakes and dad had a pasta dish). It’s listed as “casual”, but it’s a pretty upscale environment, and in a t-shirt and a skirt I felt sort of under-dressed in there.

After dinner, we bought my theme park tickets for the week–I was doing the Magic Kingdom the next day–and we made more reservations for Beaches and Cream. Back in the room, I was able to make my Fast Pass + selections. Basically, if you have a Magic Band and are staying on Disney property, you can make Fast Pass + selections early. I was able to get them for Peter Pan’s Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, and–amazingly–a Meet and Greet with Anna, Elsa, and Aurora at Princess Fairy Tale Hall. Since I’d heard insane things about the wait for this, I had no idea how I got one, but I seized it.

And with that, I was prepared for the Magic Kingdom on Tuesday….

 

 

WDW 2014 Days 1-2: Columbus to the Yacht Club

Since we drive to WDW, it takes us about two days to get there, and we usually stop overnight in Georgia. This year was no exception. WE left early Friday morning and drove through Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee before stopping in Marietta, GA at a Drury Inn (The reason I know about Marietta is because of the musical Parade, which I was in in 2009 [I was Essie, one of the factory girls.]. Who says you can’t learn anything from theater?) . We had dinner at a Ruby Tuesday’s next door, watch the Pirates play the Dodgers, and went to bed.

The next morning we got up around 7:30, had breakfast, and prepared to go through Atlanta. Neither of us really like driving through Atlanta, since Georgia’s Department of Transportation seemed to want to make the city as complicated as possible to navigate. We were a lot happier once we had gotten through it.

Around 2:30 on Sunday, we reached WDW Property.

entering WDW

 

A few minutes later, we reached the Yacht Club itself.

Yacht Club front

 

(Thankfully, Sunday was the only day it rained when we were there, unlike last year, when we became very familiar with our WDW ponchos and umbrellas).

Our room was all prepared for us

Yacht Club room

Yacht Club balcony

 

I was desperate to go swimming, and Dad had to register for the conference, so we split up. Sadly, swimming was temporarily interrupted by a downpour, so we had dinner at Beaches and Cream a bit early. We love Beaches and Cream. It’s where I converted Dad to the wonders of Diet Chocolate Coke. (Trust me. It’s awesome.)

Dad at BC

That is a chocolate coke I'm holding. It is delicious.

That is a chocolate coke I’m holding. It is delicious.

So, we were sort of wet, but we were happy. We had our room, our Magic Bands (more on those in the next post), and we had Chocolate Cokes. 🙂