Saturday, November 8, 2014

October Trip Report - Day 2

October 14, 2014

Day two sees us at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

As usual, we have breakfast in our room - having purchased food from the Pop Century food court. An early start is not on the schedule, as all of our Fast Passes have been scheduled after noon. In fact, as it turns out, we will only use two of our three today.

A bus arrives just as we get to the bus stop and soon we are off on our way to the Studios.

When we arrive, my wife used to spend a few moments in Sid Cuheunga's shop, but that is no longer the movie memorabilia store it used to be, so we walk towards her second favorite place to browse, the pin station under the (soon to be leaving) Sorcerer's Hat.

When she is finished there, we decide - after seeing how long the line is at The Great Movie Ride - that we will come back later when the line is shorter. Our destination now is the Animation Building to attend a class at the Animation Academy.

We head to the Animation Academy through the gift shop and pass through the gallery. I always love admiring the Oscars that have been earned by Disney Animation. Sadly, so many of these award winning cartoons have largely been forgotten by the general public.

We get on line for the next class, but when we realize that will will actually get in, but will be the last two admitted, we actually pass our turn to the next two in the queue, as we prefer to have a desk with a lighted surface rather than lap pads. So we wait the additional half hour - no need to rush for us any more.

It's always fun to draw a character for the first time, and after much indecision by the gathered animation students ... we settle on Carl from Up.

Once our class is completed, it is lunch time. As usual, we haven't made any reservations, so we decide to see if Sci-Fi Dine In is taking walk-ups. The park is unusually crowded today, which we had not expected since the long Columbus Day weekend was now behind us, and as we approach Sci-Fi, there is a large crowd still waiting to be seated. I feel our chances are small, but as we have almost always been accommodated for walk-ups (I can only remember one time when we couldn't be) I give it a shot. I tell the CM that we would be perfectly fine if we had to sit at a table in the back rather than a car if that helps. Surprisingly we are told that we can be accommodated and that it should be about 20 minutes. That works for us, and in only 10 minutes, our beeper goes off and we are on our way to lunch ... in a car.

Our first Fast Pass will be for Star Tours, but when lunch is finished, it is still too early. Since we are right in the area, we hang out a bit at Buy The Book, waiting until our Fast Pass window opens. While we are in the store, the skies open up with a very heavy downpour. This was not unexpected, today was supposed to be a rainy day, and we wait it out.

When it finally stops, we approach the Fast Pass entrance to Star Tours, and find an extremely long line that goes almost all the way to Indiana Jones Stunt Show. It's still raining a bit, so we decide to skip this attraction for today, and go instead to get on line for Muppets 3-D. There is a line here as well, but this attraction holds a large amount of people, and the outdoor part of the queue is under cover so we get on line.

After Muppets 3-D (and a trip through the Muppets store), we walk back by the Frozen Sing Along theater and our timing is good, so we get on the stand-by queue and soon are in the theater. Whenever my grandsons are in my car, they ask me to play Frozen while they sing along. They know all the words (and sound effects) and I can't help but think how much they would enjoy this.

After the Frozen Sing Along, we continue on to our next Fast Pass which is Toy Story: Midway Mania. Always a fun ride, and as usual, the stand-by line is over 2 hours.

Our next Fast Pass is for The Voyage of the Little Mermaid but we still have some time and the line at The Great Movie Ride is much shorter, so that is our next attraction. When we get out it is almost time for The Little Mermaid, so we walk over there and at the appropriate time, enter.

When we get out, the skies are threatening again - so far we have managed to be inside every time the rains came - so we decide to call it a night and head back to Pop Century. Once back, we have dinner at the food court and then while we are going back to the room, once again the skies open up, but this time we get caught and get soaked. While managing to keep dry all day, we lose the battle as we head back to the room. Okay, I can live with that.

Tomorrow - Animal Kingdom.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Trip Report - Day 1

October 13, 2014

Where would one start a trip to WDW for the International Food and Wine Festival, except in EPCOT? So naturally, that is where we will spend our first day.

Before we arrive at EPCOT, I get a message from a friend from high school who tells me that her son - who is on the WDW College Program - is at the entrance and I should say hi to him. However, as we go through the entrance, I look but he is not to be seen.

We arrive about 10:00 AM - we don't get to parks very early anymore - and will be meeting our daughter here at 11:00 so she can partake of some of the offerings at Food and Wine before she needs to be at work this afternoon. When we arrive, my wife does what she always does when we get into the park, and heads into The Art of Disney. I, on the other hand, stay outside to take some photos, including the one of Spaceship Earth which you see above.

When she is done we follow our (her) usual routine and stop at the pin station where she always finds a pin or two to purchase. From there we head towards - where else - Mouse Gears. As we arrive there, I get another message from my friend that her son - who had been on a break - was now back at the entrance, so I tell my wife to take her time in the store and I will meet her when she comes out. I go back to the entrance area where I do find the young man this time. I introduce myself to him (he was expecting me) and we have a nice chat. He is doing his second CP semester with the hope that when it is over he can get a full time position (he had been offered PT in the past) and get himself a place to live down here ... somewhat similar to what my own daughter had done.

Back to Mouse Gears where I gather my wife and head over to The Land where we will meet our daughter, and then use our FastPass+'s for Soarin' before heading off to World Showcase for our first taste of this year's Food and Wine Festival.

Although it is supposed to cool down a bit later in the week, today is another of those very hot Central Florida days, you know, a typical day at Walt Disney World.

We start with a short journey to the booths to the right before starting our counter-clockwise journey. Between the heat and my daughter's work schedule, it's around 1:00 when we decide to head back into World Showcase. We still have a few FastPasses to use, so we say goodbye to our daughter while we head to Test Track, our next FastPass on the schedule.

Once that is done, we have a bit of a wait until our Spaceship Earth FastPass is due, but since my wife is using a scooter, we decided to just go ahead and go through the wheelchair procedure, and not wait until our FastPass window.

That done, we head back to the bus and Pop Century, where we have some dinner at the food court before heading back to our nicely air conditioned room to relax and prepare for the next day which we will be spending at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October Trip Report - Prelude

Since the International Food and Wine Festival has been taking place in EPCOT, I have only missed it one year, and this year was not to be a second. Plans were made, as usual, taking into consideration when my grandson's birthday occurs ... and off we go!

October 10, 2014

The car is packed, and as soon as rush hour is over, we are on our way.

Everything is smooth sailing until we get close to Washington, DC - but that is always expected so we give it no thought. Traffic continues to be stop and go as we pass into Virginia, but once again, that is not very unusual and we thing nothing of it ... until it continues longer than it usually does. In fact, the traffic is so bad that we lose between 2 and 3 hours in stop and go conditions until it finally opens up. A combination of rain, construction, and accidents appear to have accounted for the logjam.

We end our day just over the border into North Carolina and stop for the night. Since bot my wife and myself are retired and have no time pressure due to a finite vacation period, I have given us an extra day of traveling more than we actually need so that we can stop early and make it an easy 1100 mile drive.

October 11, 2014

Back on the road, and today we leave the rain behind early in the day, and have a nice, sunny, traffic-free day of driving.

We arrive in Florida and decide to get to about St. Augustine before we stop for the night. Our reservations at Pop Century start tomorrow and we don't really want to get too close to Disney World today. At Palm Coast, we pull off Interstate 95 and look to get a room, but all of the rooms at the Holiday Inn Express are filled ... it seems that there is a soccer tournament in the area which has taken most of the available rooms ... but there is one suite left at the Microtel just down the block, so that is where we spend the night.

October 12, 2014

This is the day our reservation at Pop Century begins, and the plan is to meet our daughter in the lobby at 1:00 PM and check in. We also make arrangements to meet the representative from Randy's Mobility who will be providing us with an electric scooter for this visit. Both my wife and I have been having some major issues with a foot recently, and while I am going to try to walk as much as possible this trip, but my wife still needs to use a scooter.

Since we are only about 2 hours from WDW, we stick around until the 11:00 check-out time and make the last part of the trip. We arrive just before 1:00 and both Randy's Mobility and our daughter follow shortly. We check into our room in the Fifties section of the hotel.

As evening approaches, my son-in-law ... who was working today ... meets us and we head over to the Beach Club Resort where we have reservations for Cape May Café for dinner.

Back in the room my wife and I get some sleep - ready to head over to EPCOT tomorrow to start our week with a visit to the International Food and Wine Festival.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


It's been a while since I have made any entry on this blog ... and I usually don't do movie reviews, but here we go anyway. (Warning ... if you haven't seen the movie there are spoilers below.)

Maleficent is based on the 1959 Disney Classic, Sleeping Beauty and the character is one of the iconic Disney villains ... or is she?

At first, I was a bit skeptical having heard a bit about the direction that this movie was going to go, as I hate inconsistencies. Right off the bat you can see that Angelina Jolie does not sport the green complexion of the original, although there is one scene in which you do get a chance to see what she would look like if she had.

To be honest - excluding the storyline itself, the inconsistencies really weren't as numerous as I had expected. In fact, other than the one above, only a few really stuck in my craw.

The first was the naming of the three fairies who were to raise Aurora. In the animated feature they are named Flora, Fauna and Merriweather. In this version they are Thistletwit, Flittle and Knotgrass. I know that this is a small thing and I can even understand why they were named this way here, but I think it would have been a nice shout out to the original Disney creations to use the original Disney names.

Yet, having said that, Maleficent carries her well known iconic name right from the beginning. Of course, you say, but at the beginning of this movie she is a kind hearted, happy and friendly fairy ... a far cry form the malicious creature we have all come to know. Malicious .... Maleficent ... see what I mean? The very name means evil, so why was this sweet young fairy given that name which denotes everything she wasn't ... yet? Perhaps it was a name she could have adopted later?

But those are the inconsistencies that could have been eliminated without affecting what the movie was trying to accomplish. The rest of the departures from what Disney set down in 1959 were needed for this new view of what happened, and as long as you don't insist on complete adherence to canon, you can accept the revised facts.

From the above comments, however, you may have decided that I didn't like the movie. On the contrary, I surprised myself by liking it more than I had expected. It was hard not to ... Angelina Jolie was such a magnificent Maleficent! The movie did contain the necessary iconic characters from the animated feature ... the three fairies, the raven (with a much expanded role) and the dragon, so you won't get cheated there.

Maleficent will continue to be a classic Disney villain and her section won't soon be moved to the Disney Heroes side of the Magic Kingdom's parking lot - but this isn't your grandparent's Maleficent.

Go see it!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Where in WDW? - Challenge 71 (Reveal)

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

You will find this fellow above the Sunshine Tree Terrace next to the exit of the Enchanted Tiki Room in The Magic Kingdom.

Well, it's time for us to escape the snow of the north for the palm trees of Florida. Where in WDW? will return in March.

See you real soon!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Where in WDW? Challenge 71

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

You will find this piece of firefighting equipment on the platform of the Frontierland railroad station.

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.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Where in WDW? Challenge 70

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

This is the waterfall by the water lily pond in Living with the land. (That's a Goofy hat on the right of the picture.)

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.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Where in WDW? Challenge 69

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

As many guessed, this is from the Great Movie Ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios, in the scene from Casablanca.

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.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Where in WDW? - Challenge 68

Welcome to 2014! I hope this is a wonderful year for everyone.

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

Like the gas pumps in the last challenge, this sign can be found in Animal Kingdom - at the meet and greet area next to Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama. (See the second reveal photo below - which is the full frame version of the last challenge's reveal.)

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.