Saturday, June 24, 2017

Where in WDW? Challenge 96

Last time you were challenged to identify Where in WDW you would find this ...

This clock can be seen in the Magic Kingdom in front of the Haunted Mansion ...

Didn't get it? Well, here is another one for you - Where in WDW? would you see this?

As usual, make your guess in the COMMENTS section below and then stop back next time to see if you were correct.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Where in WDW? Challenge 95

Last time you were challenged to identify Where in WDW you would find this ...

This sign leads you to the entrance to the Coral Reef restaurant in The Seas with Nemo and Friends ...

Didn't get it? Well, here is another one for you - Where in WDW? would you see this?

As usual, make your guess in the COMMENTS section below and then stop back next time to see if you were correct.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Where in WDW? Challenge 94

Last time you were challenged to identify Where in WDW you would find this ...

This washboard can be seen during the Hoop de Doo dinner show at Ft. Wilderness ...

Didn't get it? Well, here is another one for you - Where in WDW? would you see this? (Yes, something a bit different - the lettering has been removed.)

As usual, make your guess in the COMMENTS section below and then stop back next time to see if you were correct.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - June Calendar Page

Focused on the Magic
This week's Wordless Wednesday's theme is June Calendar Page.

Thanks Deb of Focused on the Magic for hosting this blog hop.

Why don't you stop by and join in?


Friday, June 2, 2017

Where in WDW? Challenge 93

Last time you were challenged to identify Where in WDW you would find this ...

This luggage can be seen in Pioneer Hall in Ft. Wilderness at the start of the Hoop De Doo Revue ...

Didn't get it? Well, here is another one for you - Where in WDW? would you see this?

As usual, make your guess in the COMMENTS section below and then stop back next time to see if you were correct.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Disney Details

Focused on the Magic
This week's Wordless Wednesday's theme is Disney Details.

Thanks Deb of Focused on the Magic for hosting this blog hop.

Why don't you stop by and join in?


There are quite a few details in all of the Disney parks that are there but ignored. This is one of them. It was Fall of 1999 - my son was working at the Haunted Mansion in Disney World, my daughter had not yet started her Disney career. Blocks of marble had been placed at the entrance of EPCOT on which metallic etched portraits would be placed. It was new then, and we decided to take part. To this day you can find our 1999 faces right up front as you enter the park. That's me (with the beard) and my wife - and to our left (as you look at this) is my son and daughter.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Where in WDW? Challenge 92

Last time you were challenged to identify Where in WDW you would find this ...

This clock can be seen in the Magic Kingdom above the billboard for Country Bear Jamboree ...

Didn't get it? Well, here is another one for you - Where in WDW? would you see this?

As usual, make your guess in the COMMENTS section below and then stop back next time to see if you were correct.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Goofy Day

Focused on the Magic
This week's Wordless Wednesday's theme is Goofy Day.

Thanks Deb for hosting this blog hop.

Why don't you stop by and join in?


How many times have you heard someone tell you their son-in-law is goofy (or words to that effect)?

Seems I have the pictures to prove it!!

This is my son-in-law with his mom

This is my son-in-law playing a round of golf with his friend - my daughter's boss!

His time as a friend of Goofy was before he met and married my daughter, so that day was anything but Goofy ...

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Where in WDW? Challenge 91

Last time you were challenged to identify Where in WDW you would find this ...

This butterfly can be seen in EPCOT in The Land pavilion on one of the overhead "balloons"  ...

Didn't get it? Well, here is another one for you - Where in WDW? would you see this?

As usual, make your guess in the COMMENTS section below and then stop back next time to see if you were correct.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop | Wayback Machine

Focused on the Magic
It's been a long time since I last participated in this blog hop from Focused on the Magic, so it's good to start getting back into the swing of things. This week's Wordless Wednesday's theme is Wayback Machine.

Thanks Deb for hosting this blog hop - why don't you stop by and join in.

(I know this week's isn't so "wordless" but it's a post which appeared on Thoughts From The Dark Side, my other blog, a while ago which has never been on this blog - and should have been. Note: All Disneyland photos appearing here were taken by me in 1968.)


Like most kids my age - in the US at least - I grew up knowing that my Sunday nights would mean watching Walt Disney and Ed Sullivan. Naturally I was more interested in Walt than Ed, though I did enjoy Topo Gigio. But of course it was a different mouse that I looked forward to seeing, and that was Mickey. Over the years Walt Disney's presence on Sunday night was legendary. Although the name of the show changed many times, my favorite segments were always those that showed Walt's little park, Disneyland. I loved watching all of the rides and attractions, and the people enjoying them. The only problem was that Disneyland was on the totally opposite side of the country, so while I enjoyed watching the shows about Disneyland, I never seriously thought I would be there. People really weren't in the habit of flying for vacations yet. And this being the fifties and the sixties, there was only one Disney park.

I watched with great excitement as Walt talked about four new projects though. He told us that a lifelike Lincoln who would stand up and speak was being developed. And how about that ride where you would drive a car through history, from the dinosaurs to the caveman to the present and the future? Or that other history ride where you would sit in a theater which moved from scene to scene from the beginning of the twentieth century to the very modern present of 1964!! And finally he told us about a boat ride through the countries of the world - with little children singing a wonderful Sherman brothers' song. (Shhhh ... I heard that!)

What made this so exciting for me was the fact that I would actually be able to experience all of these attractions! They were being prepared for the State of Illinois, Ford Motor Company, General Electric and Pepsi/UNICEF. They were going to be at the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair, and since I lived in New York City I knew I would see each of them a number of times. And I did.

And then, before school was out for the summer of 1968, my parents (teachers by profession) informed me and my brother and sister that we would spend our summer vacation driving cross country. You know what that meant? We would be in California ... and Disneyland was in California. (Oh yeah, a few other things as well, but ... Disneyland!!!)

The end of June came ... school was out for the summer ... and we were on the road! Yes indeed we saw some great things on the way out there, but Disneyland was the "wienie" as Walt would have put it. And then, on July 26th, 1968 the day came that I finally got to go to Disneyland. (I just realized for the first time that 10 years to the day later, my daughter - the current Walt Disney World Cast Member - would be born.) I remember the excitement as we saw the Disneyland sign from the highway ... the highway which had no signs about the park. How exciting it was to finally be in the parking lot, about to have my parents buy that booklet with the ABCDE tickets in it? The wonderful things I saw on my black and white television (we wouldn't have color TV until late in 1969) now appeared before me (as they would say on TV) in living color ... ready to capture with the same Ansco Cadet camera that I had used at the NY World's Fair!

As we walked into the park and underneath the Disneyland Railroad, Main Street and the castle (The Castle) appeared before us.

I couldn't wait to walk down the street and look into all the stores which I had seen on Walt Disney's Sunday night television shows.

How many times had I seen an animated Tinkerbell (who I still insist is a jealous/murderous sprite ... a strange choice as a corporate spokesfairy) splash the front of the castle in an array of color to start another Sunday night Disney show? To me it looked so large and amazing standing there at the end of Main Street - the famous "wienie" Walt wanted in the center of the park.

But of course, the most exciting things were the attractions. I wanted to ride the Jungle Cruise, which I had seen so much of on TV. I had to experience something that was still unique to Disneyland back then - the steel rollercoaster type ride that was the Matterhorn. I couldn't wait to ride the traditional dark rides which were not super scary as they were back home in Brooklyn (at Coney Island), but much more family friendly with Disney characters. And what about Walt's fleet of submarines - or the skyride ... or the monorail ... and the other rides and attractions that I had seen for so long?  I had to do it all. But I think the attraction that I wanted to see the most, was the newest. I watched it take shape over the years on the Sunday night tv program, and now I would get to see it in person ... The Pirates of the Caribbean! And I wasn't disappointed. (The Haunted Mansion, which became my all time favorite - and still is - wouldn't be open until my 1969 visit. My son would be working in the Walt Disney World version at the moment 1999 became 2000.)

I also had to see the four World's Fair attractions which I had experienced just a few years earlier back at home; Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (Illinois), The Grand Canyon Diorama on the train trip around the park (Ford), Carousel of Progress (General Electric) and It's a Small World (Pepsi/UNICEF).

It was exciting finding out which type of ticket each attraction required, then ripping the appropriate one out of the booklet for admission. And as always ... the day ended much too soon. I would be back the next summer, and again a few times since I have been married, but nothing can match the excitement of that first time.

Today, as a snowbird/local visitor to Walt Disney World, I get a completely different feeling upon walking in to a park - whichever it is - from the excitement of my first time in Disneyland. Today is more of a comfortable "I'm home again" feeling.

But that first time in Disneyland .... ahhh ... that was something special!

How about your first trip to a Disney Park?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Where in WDW? Challenge 90

Last time you were challenged to identify Where in WDW you would find this ...

This clock can be seen in Disney's Animal Kingdom on Primeval Whirl ...

Didn't get it? Well, here is another one for you - Where in WDW? would you see this?

As usual, make your guess in the COMMENTS section below and then stop back next time to see if you were correct.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Where in WDW? Challenge 89

Last time you were challenged to identify Where in WDW you would find this ...

This artistic Mickey Mouse can be seen in EPCOT at the Art of Disney store.

Didn't get it? Well, here is another one for you - Where in WDW? would you see this?

As usual, make your guess in the COMMENTS section below and then stop back next time to see if you were correct.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend - The Race

(Trip report begins here)

Just because I got into bed at 8:30 PM doesn't mean I fell asleep then ... or at all! Well, I do think I got some sleep, maybe about 20 minutes around 1:30 AM. By 2:30 I was already considering getting up and starting to get ready. By 2:45 there was no reason to wait for the wake up call or my phone alarm, so I got out of bed, cancelled the wake up call, and turned off my phone alarm. First step is a shower ... partially to wake me up and partially ... well, for the usual reason.

After the shower (and the usual morning routine) it's time for a 3:15 AM snack - otherwise known as breakfast. My stomach is confused and wants to know what's happening, but grudgingly accepts the nutrition. I grab a Powerade to take with me to get the bus to the starting line in the EPCOT parking lot. Transportation begins at 4:00 and a bus is waiting there when I arrive at the pick-up location. There is already a significant line waiting to get on. I get on line and start chatting with the folks in front of me. One thing that I have noticed is the sense of community among those participating, and this morning is no exception. Just before 4 AM we board the bus and at the stroke of 4 the bus pulls out ... we are on our way.

I should take a moment here to mention that Wednesday night at Disney Springs, another RADPer, Kim Fajerski, contacted me to tell me that she had a colleague/friend who was also running her first 5K and wanted to know if I had any advice for her. I passed along the advice that I had received and told Kim that her friend, Tara, could text me directly, and perhaps we could meet and support each other. After texting for a while the previous night, we made up to meet before getting into Corral F. Once on the bus I heard from Tara that she was on the way herself.

The bus arrived in the EPCOT parking lot and I walked to the area where the characters were available for photos and quickly found Tara on line to have a picture taken with Darth Vader. We introduced ourselves and then had our pictures taken. This would be the only character picture I would take this morning as the lines grew large rapidly.

Looking around we saw the crowd grow and watched/listen to the DJ and MC keep us entertained as we waited until it was time to move into the corrals - somewhere after 5 AM. Tara and I head for Corral F along with our fellow first time 5Kers and the not so fleet afoot. Now it's time to do last minute stretching, meditating, visualization and/or other techniques that the people around us are using to calm themselves and ready themselves for their moment to cross the starting line.

At 6:00 AM, the first waves of Corral A start crossing the start line at 2 minute intervals. It will still be about 45 minutes until Coral F makes our way to the chute. I watch the runners in Corral A take off on their run, remembering Jenny's advice not to be intimidated by them. I knew what I would be seeing and knew I wouldn't be doing anything like it, so it wasn't too intimidating. I know my current limitations.

We stand there and watch Corrals A, B, C, D and E all head out onto the course, and then Coral F starts to move. We were towards the front, so possibly the third or fourth wave to be allowed to get started. I did remember to start my Garmin activity tracker watch so I could make sure I knew my pace and didn't start out too fast as I had been doing recently. While I would have liked to be able to do the race faster, I knew if I didn't control myself I wouldn't have the strength to stay at even a reasonable pace through the race. (And when I say reasonable, that still is slower than I had hoped to be by now. I could blame the month-long layoff but it wouldn't make a difference.) Shortly after we got started, I looked at my watch and saw that I was moving faster than I had ever clocked myself in training. I liked the look of it, but I knew it wasn't a good thing at this point.

The first mile or mile and a quarter was through the parking lot and through rather unremarkable backstage areas. Under normal circumstances this would be as boring as the route that I condition on at home, but this being the actual race, it all seemed like the most interesting run I had been on. This is where we pass the 1 mile marker ... still close to a quarter mile until we get into World Showcase. Finally we approach a nondescript building from behind. When we get to the side it starts to show a familiar pattern which instantly identifies it as the Mexico pyramid. We enter World Showcase between Mexico and Norway, take a left and come upon a water station. I grab my cup and continue past Norway towards China. Cast members from each country are outside and cheering us all on.

On familiar ground now, we continue on past each country in its turn. So far the course has been virtually flat, but now as we pass France on our way to the International Gateway, we go up over the bridge. This is the first time I feel a strain on my legs and my breathing ... but I know that this will be the only challenge of this sort this morning and I put it out of my mind and get to the top, after which I know there will be an equal downhill section during which I can catch my breath a bit. After the race I discover that the change in elevation here is exactly the same as the stretch of road I use back at home. The difference is that there it happens over the space of a mile - not a few yards.

We are out of the park once again, at least for a little while, while we go around the International Gateway where we pass the 2 mile marker. This excursion out of the park is brief and we are shortly back in World Showcase and quickly on the path into Future World. Past Club Cool and at the fountain we encounter Storm Troopers. Spaceship Earth is almost within reach when the route takes a typical Disney move. At the breezeway we take a left turn towards The Land and follow along towards Imagination, then back past the land towards The Seas with Nemo and Friends before taking the turn back towards the breezeway and back past Spaceship Earth towards the park exit. Shortly after exiting the park itself we come across the mile 3 marker. The finish line is so close now and you can feel the emotion of the other runners change knowing that. 0.1 miles left to go ... then we make a turn into the parking lot and off in the distance ... there it is ... the finish line!

Suddenly the adrenaline kicks in again as it did at the beginning of the race ... the legs don't feel as heavy, the breathing is easier and all I can think of is running across that finish line. I had always hoped to have enough left in the tank to have one more run left in me - most of the race had been a walk with the occasional run mixed in - and now that it was here, I found that I did indeed have that final sprint left in me. I crossed the line and wasn't nearly as tired as I was at the end of 3.1 miles at home. Still not as fast as I wanted - will have a lot of work still ahead of me for future races, but for now I accomplished something that only 6 months ago I would have told you was impossible for me to do. And while it wasn't nearly as fast as the goal I had set for myself, it was still the fastest 3.1 miles I had ever covered, according to my Garmin when I checked it later. For now I was happy ... I finished the course and was still on my feet. Good thing too as there was still a lot of walking to be done.

After crossing the finish line I got my medal and continued on to pick up my water and snacks. Then off to get my post race picture taken.

Later, the GPS tracker function of my activity tracker showed me this map of the route I had just covered.

After getting my post race photo taken, I touch base with Tara who is getting some more character pix taken and then head to the bus to go back to the hotel. I am meeting my daughter and granddaughter around noon (it's now just around 8 AM) and hope to get a bit of a nap before they show up. As it turns out, sleep doesn't come this morning any more than it did when I tried last night.

I spent the next few days in the Magic Kingdom and then Animal Kingdom with them and then it was time to make the drive home.

So, now with the 5K in my rear view mirror, what are my thoughts? I enjoyed the experience to the fullest. I didn't accomplish all I wanted to, but I have another 5K already scheduled for the November Wine and Dine race weekend. And true to her word, Jenny will be running it with me. I hope to accomplish the increase in speed that I had hoped to reach this weekend, and will also be conditioning towards running a 10K during the January Marathon Weekend. So still a lot of work to do.

On a personal fitness level, I haven't felt this good in many years. I have lost close to 40 pounds since I started back in October, and I hope that I will continue to lose as I continue to condition for the next races. 

All in all I had an amazing experience over the last 6 months, and look to enjoy the continuing journey. I want to thank Jenny from the bottom of my heart for starting me on this path as well as all of her support - and kicking me in the butt when necessary - along the way. Even today she was still cracking the whip keeping me on track for a 10K. Thank you Jenny!

Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend - Before the Race

(Trip report starts here)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 came with a mixture of excitement and quite a few nerves - this was the day that I check in to All Star Sports which will be my home throughout race weekend. It meant that all of the preparation was just about done and for better or worse, race day was almost here. Was I fully where I wanted to be? No. Did I feel that I was prepared for finishing my first ever 5K? Yes.

Ordinarily, packing and leaving for a few days at Disney World, especially from my house in Florida, is a quick process, and if I forget something, it's no big deal, but this time I had so many things that were not on my usual list of things to bring. My printed waivers (yes, I know they can be printed there), my race clothes, my running shoes, food for breakfast the day of the race, and the list goes on and on. When it came time to leave I kept going over what I needed in my head again and again. It was almost as if I didn't really want to leave the house since that would mean it was time to do this thing.

Finally, the car gets packed and we make the hour long drive to WDW. Along the way I get a text from my daughter with our room number, so we can go directly to the room since we already have magic bands. However, not fully unexpectedly, my magic band does not open the door but my wife's does. (I say not fully unexpectedly since this is almost always the case.) Once I get the car unloaded I walk over to the front desk to get the situation fixed. 

Next we head to Disney Springs where I have made a reservation at The Boathouse for an early dinner so I can get to bed early, with the hopes that it might help me when I try to go to sleep even earlier on  the evening before having to get up at stupid o'clock on race day.

We walk around Disney Springs for a while before it is time to have dinner. I have eaten here before and this meal did not disappoint. I will admit that I splurged a bit with the lobster bisque followed by the crab stuffed lobster, but I was completely vindicated as it was one of the best meals I have had in a very long time. Everything was done perfectly!

Next I continued to walk around the marketplace to walk off that dinner. When we came to the shop where you can make custom tee shirts, I decided, since I always wanted to try it, to make a shirt for my granddaughter. Since we are taking a cruise on the Disney Fantasy at the end of June, I made her a shirt with her favorite Disney TV character, Doc McStuffins, that said ... Ready to sail/Brooke/Disney Fantasy/June 2017. A half hour later and it was ready. I have to say that it was really cute and will most likely be the shirt she wears on the day of the cruise for the embarkation photo.

After a bit more walking around it was time to get the bus back to the hotel. Being that we are staying at the All Star resort, even the walk to our bus location is a walk in itself. We get back to the hotel and while I am just chilling out a bit and trying to wind down ... not to mention dealing with an increasing series of nerves ... I get a phone call from Jenny. Her days are very hectic at the moment so she called now as she might not have had a chance before the race itself. We talked about if I felt I was ready (as ready as I was likely to get) and some things about race day itself. She gave me some advice about going to the health and fitness expo the next day - where I would pick up my race bib and probably spend more money than I should on "stuff" - and of course just general advice about race morning. Before we ended the call, she requested a I take a particular photo when I was at the expo the next day. (Here it is!) When we ended the phone call, most of the nerves had (at least temporarily) been replaced with a sense of calm. I would be able to do this!

I got to sleep earlier than usual, and managed to get to sleep right away. 

Thursday, April 20, 2107

Today is the day that I have to pick up my race bib ... another solid reminder that I am actually doing this. I have been to the last two health and fitness expos during the last two race weekends as a volunteer. This will be the first time I am on the other side of the counter. Having been told by Jenny not to be there at opening - a piece of advice that I found out was right on the money - I got on the bus about an hour after it was scheduled to open. The bus was filled by the time we left the All Stars and arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. I headed to the field house as I had done before, but instead of signing in as a volunteer, I went to the booth which listed the range of bib numbers that included mine. There was only one person in front of me and before I knew it I had in my hand that piece of coated paper that was my entrance into the race. While it wasn't necessary - since I knew I would be placed in Corral F ... the last corral - since I had never run a race before, I did check to see the "F" on the bib. 

My next stop would be to pick up the official shirt and gEAR bag. This was the strangest part of this morning since this was the location I had been as a volunteer. This time I was the "runner" on the other side. With bib and shirt now in the bag, I headed to the J Center (I guess Josten dropped their sponsorship and Disney simply kept the "J") to see what was going to suck in my money. I stopped and checked out a few booths, and then spotted Jeff Galloway, the Olympic marathoner who literally wrote the book on running (one of which Jenny gave me for my birthday) and is runDisney's official training guru. I stopped to have a picture taken with him and to have him sign my bib. Would it be good luck? I could use all I could get!

Continuing along, I was (mostly) pretty good in keeping my credit card in my pocket. As I passed the section for the official Disney Dark Side race items, the line was so long that I decided to pass it by. I did - but who was I kidding? I came back and stood in line. Happily the line was moving rather quickly and soon I was able to get into the area and look around. 5K shirts ... of course I had to have ... two of them as it turned out. A 5K hat ... of course! A generic runDisney shirt ... have to have one of those as well. (Though at this point I still felt like an imposter here who would soon be discovered! Buying a shirt which said "I Did It!" seemed like the ultimate sacrilege. What if I <gulp> didn't?) The final item was a pin which was a mini version of the 5K finisher medal. (Did you hear that ... FINISHER!!) Then on another long line for the privilege of paying for all of this! One of the things that Jenny did inform me of that I might have passed over on my own, was that at this location (and this location only) I would get a passholder discount as well as being able to charge it on my magic band. The discount did take a bit of the sting out of checking out but ... the discount was more than I usually spend on souvenirs in the parks! (Okay, I don't often buy souvenirs any more but I needed a good simile ... got it?)

Before I finished my stroll through the expo, I got a chance to see the finisher medal in person for the first time. Yes - it IS about the bling! 

Finally, making it through with my bank account somewhat intact, I headed back to the bus back to my room.

Since I would be waking up at 3:00 Friday morning, I had made an early dinner reservation at Trattoria al Forno at The Boardwalk. I had eaten there twice before (and it was where Jenny had given me the Jeff Galloway book) and I wanted a good meal the night before the race. They did not disappoint. I left the restaurant with a definite need to walk the lake once to help my food digest - and get the last bit of walking in before it became real!

Back at the room, I got all my stuff ready for the morning, though you should have seen how pathetic I looked pinning the bib to my shirt - trying to center it, get it straight. (I guess all that stems from my first career in the fashion industry!) I left a wake up call for 3:00 AM and set my watch for the same. My body must have thought I was crazy when it realized what time it was that I crawled into bed and tried to go to sleep!

(to be continued!)