Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Now It's Time to Say Good-Bye :(

The last few days of the trip flew by SO fast! We arrived safely home last night. Below is a recap of those last few days we had at WDW before we had to say good-bye :(


We started our day attending mass at Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine. Mary, Queen of the Universe National Shrine is located in Orlando, FL at 8300 Vineland Avenue. It was built to service the large number of Catholic tourists who visit the attractions in the Greater Orlando area. After the grand opening of Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, FL, the Diocese of Orlando determined that the thousands of Catholics visiting from around the world needed a place for Mass. The Diocese arranged for Masses at several area hotels to handle the unique "tourist ministry", originally named Orlando's Holy Family Parish. Bishop Thomas Grady named Father F. Joseph Harte to be the first pastor.

With projections predicting over 30 million annual visitors to Greater Orlando in the 1970s, Fr. Harte and Bishop Grady worked to establish a permanent location. In 1979, work was completed on the new facility, named under the patronage of the Virgin Mary.
While it is a 2,000 seat church and parish of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando and provides mass for the faithful, it has also become a regional tourist attraction.
The Shrine consists of the main church, the Rosary Garden, the Mother & Child Outdoor Chapel, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the Shrine Museum, and a gift shop.

After mass, we returned to our resort to meet Terry (BK) for a day at Disney's Hollywood Studio™. We spent a few hours here on Monday to check out Toy Story Mania but this was our first fully day in this park. We checked to see if Toy Story Mania was still in previews and fortunate for us it was but sadly was having technical difficulties. The castmember told us to keep checking back. Immediately got on the Batphone to let George and Michelle know, as they were hoping to check it out before heading home.

We headed to lunch at Sci-Fi (I'm sure you've realized by now, eating is as just as much part of the experience of being at WDW for us as visiting the parks. Some serious dieting now that we're home .. LOL!). Had a great lunch as always and a great opportunity to ham it up in the cars while waiting for lunch to arrive. By early afternoon, Toy Story Mania was back up and running and was able to ride five (5) more times before the end of the day. This was Terry's first opportunity to check it out and Michelle and George made it over and were able to ride as well. We all agree, this ride ROCKS! The official Grand Opening has been announced .. May 31, 2008!

In addition to the usual rides, this was our first time seeing the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show which is located in the New York Street backlot area. It is patterned after a show that is currently running at Disneyland Paris™. Herbie, the loveable car star from several Disney films, also makes a special cameo appearance. Enjoyed the show very much and glad we were finally able to see it.

After Lights, Motors, Action! we walked around the New York Street area checking out the Cars merchandise :) and I spotted a Radiator Springs sketch near Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! and asked a castmember what that was for. She said that Mater and Lightning McQueen will appear in that area. I was there!! As those who know me and those with me on this trip, am a HUGE Cars fan and had seen Mater last year so was pretty stoked in getting to see him again (more photo ops) along with Lightning McQueen.

We closed the evening at Disney Hollywood Studios™ seeing Fantasmic. We did the dinner package, choosing Mama Melrose since Mary & Amanda had never eaten there. We normally do the Brown Derby Fantasmic package. I was a bit reluctant, since I had eaten there last year and had a terrible experience in both the food and service. Happy to report, as with the rest of the trip, had a wonderful meal and great server. What a difference a server can make. For those who never ate at Mama Melrose, be prepared, they give you entirely too much food! We were unable to eat everything and I'm one who can normally lick my platter clean .. LOL!

After Fantasmic, we headed over the Magic Kingdom™ to meet up with George and Michelle and take advantage of extra magic hours. I really enjoy extra magic hours, the park isn't nearly as crowded and as the evening progresses, begins to thin out. We were able to get in a lot of rides we hadn't had the chance to ride yet. We planned on returning to the Magic Kingdom™ on Monday, so still needed for Amanda and I to have our annual ride on Dumbo plus get my Dole Pineapple Whip :)


After a late night in the park, was a little hard getting up early on Monday. We were meeting George & Michelle for breakfast at the Whispering Canyon located at The Wilderness Lodge. We took a bus from our resort to the Magic Kingdom™, then the boat to The Wilderness Lodge. We truly enjoy using the boats for transportation.

Breakfast at the Whispering Canyon was a hoot as always. Our server was Wendy who we've seen there before on past visits. After breakfast, Michelle and George headed over to Epcot™ and we returned to the Magic Kingdom™. The weather began to get humid starting on Friday and seemed to increase over each passing day. We rode a few of our favorites, did a little shopping and decided to return to the resort to rest a bit before dinner that night.

My friend Mindy from work and her husband Chris arrived at WDW on Sunday and were spending a few days in the parks before taking a cruise, so we planned on meeting them for dinner at the Kona Cafe at the Polynesian Resort. The Kona Cafe has become a favorite of ours since we first dined there in 2006. My personal favorite items on the menu is starting with the Lump Crab Cakes (with Asian tartar and pineapple relish) and for my entree, the Coconut Crusted Chicken. As I mentioned, we've become quite fond of this resort. After a great dinner, they headed to Downtown Disney™, we returned to the Magic Kingdom™ and planned to meet back up at Old Key West later, since they were staying there as well.

We got to Magic Kingdom™ just as Spectromagic was starting. Amanda and I focused on getting over to Fantasyland and riding Dumbo. We have a picture of Amanda and I in the Dumbo car every trip since her first visit there, so was determined to not miss out this trip. Mission accomplished (Amanda chose yellow this time), we headed off to Adventureland so I could get my Pineapple Whip. As we watched Wishes for the last time (a personal favorite of Mary's), I enjoyed my pineapple whip to the last drop :) We met up with George and Michelle after Wishes at Casey's and hung out a bit before each heading to our resorts. We got back to Old Key West, got the limoncello from the freezer with some glasses and headed to the pool area to meet Mindy and Chris. It was too bad our trips didn't overlap more days. Was a great way to end our last full day before heading home :)


We had done the majority of packing on Monday before dinner, so finished up the last of our packing, shut down the computer and had our luggage moved to the holding area until we boarded Magical Express at 4:50pm to head to the airport. As with each trip, we had our last breakfast at Olivia's, located at the Old Key West resort. Whenever at WDW and you can fit in your schedule, check out Olivia's. Great food and the servers are all so nice and friendly. After breakfast, mailed that last postcard, we headed to Downtown Disney™ to meet George and Michelle and do some last minute shopping.

We spent a great deal of time in the Art of Disney looking at 2D. George may have convinced me I need the Donald Duck 2D from Donald's Better Self. The one thing we noticed checking out WDCC throughout the week and specifically our last 2 days, product was moving. The shelves weren't as full by the end of the trip as when we first arrived.

After our final shopping was done, we had a final lunch together at the Earl of Sandwich, then walked over to Pleasure Island. We bid good-by at the bridge, Michelle & George went to board their bus back to The Wilderness Lodge and we took the boat back to Old Key West.

What an awesome trip this was. We had the most awesome weather (in spite of the humidity the last few days), being there for 10 days we had no pressure to pack it in at the parks so was very relaxing, tried a lot of new restaurants (thanks Jimi and Michelle for the recommendations) and made some awesome memories with great friends! To Anthony and the Staff at Old Key West, you were amazing!

We got to say good-bye to George and Michelle once again, as we connected again at the airport after check-in. Fortunately for us, our flight was on time and their flight was delayed not once but twice :( I did get a text from Michelle when we landed that they were able to depart earlier than the last schedule change.

We already have our next trip plans underway. Can't wait to return! I hope everyone enjoyed the blog entries. Our family and friends enjoyed keeping up with what we're doing and hoping it also helped those planning future trips in regards to the parks and dining experience. Off today, time to unpack and get ready to return to work tomorrow :(

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Day To Chill & An Evening With Great Friends!

After two days in the parks, we decided to take another chill day and sleep in and hit the pool again. Old Key West Resort has 4 pools .. the main pool, the village pool and two quiet pools. We spent Wednesday at the quiet pool and opted for the village pool on Saturday. Like the main pool, music is piped in and there is a snack bar if you need refreshments. We really took advantage of the pools this trip vs. packing in long days/hours in the parks.

My good friend Janeene (from Sparkling Rose Collectibles) and her husband Randy drove up to join us for dinner and play miniature golf after. They met us at our resort, we hung out a bit catching up before joining Michelle and George over at Spoodles, located at the Boardwalk Resorts. Janeene brought Michelle and I an advanced copy of the upcoming Sketches magazine. I glanced it over and thought it would make for good reading on the flight back home on Tuesday.

Michelle recommended Spoodles after dining there this past September with her brother and niece. Eating at Spoodles is like taking a trip around the Mediterranean Sea with an eclectic menu featuring coastal cuisine favorites from such locales as Greece, Italy, Spain and North Africa. This "cuisine of the sun" concept is inspired by the abundant flavors of the southern European coast — noted for a creative use of spices, cheeses and other fresh ingredients. Enjoy favorites like oak-fired flatbread, authentic dips, pasta and seafood specialties. Our group chose such items as lemon-garlic shrimp linguine, pan roasted fillet of red snapper, rigatoni and pan-fried chicken cutlet. Not only was the meal out of this world, so was the bread, dessert (mascarpone cheesecake and baklava) and our waitress Lynne was a hoot! If George doesn't make that plane on Tuesday, all bets are he hooked up with Lynne .. LOL! Excellent choice Babs!

After dinner, we walked from the Boardwalk to Fantasia Gardens where you play miniature golf as hippos dance, fountains leap and broomsticks march, and enjoy interactive obstacles inspired by memorable scenes from Disney's classic animated feature film "Fantasia." Miniature golf is a staple during our visits at Walt Disney Walt World. We haven't played this course since 2003, opting for Disney's Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course, so was nice to revisit this course.

We had a fun time, a lot of laughs and ended up being a very close game with Janeene and Randy tieing for first place. You still have it Queenie .. lol! After golf, we walked back to the Boardwalk and grabbed some ice cream and/or something to drink before calling a night. Good Times! Good Times!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

An Awesome Evening!!

We got settled in our room, got ready and headed over to the Contemporary Resort for dinner at the California Grill. This was our first time to eat here, as was for Terry and what an amazing experience it was! I've always heard a lot about this restaurant from the amazing food to the breathtaking views from their observation decks but the evening surpassed what I imagined.

For starters, we had the best server on property! We've had amazing servers on this trip but none can compare to Jenny O! She was totally in a league of her own .. flawless. I thought, even if a bad meal, it was still going to be an amazing evening. For starters we had a brick oven-fired flatbread with sun-dried tomatoes and basil pesto.

I think I could become a vegetarian easily, finding my favorite meals on this trip was the gnocchi at Tony's and spinach ravioli at California Grill (maybe it's the Italian in me .. LOL!). The marriage of the rustic tomato ragu and asparagus with the spinach and parmesan cheese inside the ravioli was out of this world! I can't recall how I actually described during dinner but I know I had Terry banging his head .. LOL!

I was glad the portions aren't too large, left plenty of room for dessert :) Dessert was a tough decision. Probably the biggest decision I had to make on this trip .. LOL! Do I go for the Year of a Millions Dream cake (which contained pineapple) or the decadent chocolate cake with apricot ice cream. After finally deciding (with a little help from new friend Jenny O), went for the Year of a Million Dreams cake. As we finished dessert, Jenny came over with a dish of apricot ice cream for me with a big smile .. truly a sweetheart! Told her next trip, we wanted in her section again and she said, 'you got it!'

After dinner we walked out on both decks. Both had amazing views and a lot of great photo opportunities. We then walked Terry back to his car, as he headed off to visit friends in the Orlando area and walked over to Magic Kingdom
for the Pirate and Princess Party.

We were glad our trip coincided with one of the evenings they were having the Pirate & Princess Party. You entered the Magic Kingdomtunnel to Main Street, U.S.A on a red carpet, entering Main Street through a mist of fog and smoke. The lighting was done in a lot of different shades of pink and blue on the Main Street buildings while Pirate and Princess themed songs were playing.

The party started at 7:00pm but we didn't get there till right before the parade started. There were a lot of little girls (dressed as their favorite princess) and little boys (dressed as pirates .. Aye Mateys!) running around. We seen many a sword fight while waiting for the parade to make it's way down Main Street.

We really enjoyed the parade. The parade starts out with floats featuring the Princessess (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Ariel, Belle and Jasmine) followed by the Pirates. The first floats featured characters from the film, Captain Barbossa, Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth and Will, followed by Captain Hook's Ship featuring the characters from Peter Pan. Tinker Bell had her own float, where she was sitting a top a chest of treasure. The girl portraying Tinker Bell had her actions down to a T! The parade ended with the final float featuring the Fab Five and Chip 'n Dale in Pirate and Princess attire.

The idea of the party, your given a treasure map and the idea is to find treasures. There were designated spots (X marks the spot) throughout the park where you received beads or jewels. Cute for the kids. The highlight for us was the parade and fireworks show .. a good vs. evil fireworks spectacular! As we were leaving, spotted Donald and Goofy and couldn't pass the opportunity to get my photo taken with them :)

In spite of the move and getting resettled, ended up being another great day. Tomorrow is a relaxing day at the pool and then meeting up with friends later for dinner and mini-golf. Hope everyone had a Magical Day!

Day Six: Return to the Magic Kingdom

Today we switched over from a one-bedroom to studio to maximize our DVC points and make for a longer trip. Took care of all that first thing and while waiting for our new room to be ready, we headed over to Magic Kingdom for a few hours. Michelle and George opted for Disney's Animal Kingdomtoday, as Michelle needed to purchase her Pirate on the Archway Bridge. Aye Mateys!

Our good friend Terry (aka BK) came up from Clearwater to spend the day with us. You went beyond the call of duty my friend and remember, what happens at WDW, stays at WDW :) We decided on lunch at the Liberty Tree Tavern. We've done dinner here many times but this was our first time to do lunch. You're probably thinking, is this all you guys do is eat? :) As I look at the pictures each night, I need to do more walking during the day .. LOL! Lunch was very good (had the Pilgrim's Feast of course) and actually preferred lunch over dinner. We've tired of the character breakfasts/dinners, so can see doing lunch vs. dinner here now. I finally got my Liberty Tree Tavern mug! I've been wanting to pick one of these up for the past view visits but didn't want to drag around the park. I have my Headless Horseman set displayed in my china cabinet and always thought this mug would look cool displayed with it.

Today was probably one of the hottest days since we've been here (no complaints though), so after lunch decided to take a ride on the Liberty Belle. I think I've only ridden this attraction once in all the years coming to WDW and it was a perfect choice on a day like today. As hot as it was, you felt a nice breeze as you went up and down the river. For photo buffs like myself, you see some unique angles of Thunder Mountain and the Haunted Mansion that you normally don't see when walking in the parks. I spent most of the time taking pictures, so need to revisit the attraction to actually relax and enjoy as I think it was actually intended :)

During lunch, we got a call our room was ready so decided to head back to the resort and get settled. On our way out, we caught the Main Street Family Fun Day Parade.

During Disney's Year of a Million Dreams, guests at Disney's Magic Kingdom theme park can participate in this fun event. The patriotic theme is divided into seven segments. Those who take part will be placed in one of these areas and then joined by Disney characters. After parading down Main Street in this red, white and blue celebration, everyone gathers around Town Square for a rousing, flag waving finale.

The parade is led off by Pluto who is joined by Clarabelle Cow, Chip 'n Dale, Daisy Duck and Horace Horsecollar. For me, it was great to see Clarabelle and Horace! After the parade, we headed back to the resort and unwind a little. After being in the heat, a cool glass of limoncello really hit the spot! :) before getting ready for tonight, dinner at the California Grill and attending the Pirates and Princess Party.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day Five: Epcot

After a day or relaxing and enjoying the pool, was time to return to the parks. Today we spent the full day at Epcot™. Epcot™ (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow) is one of those parks that took me a few trips to fully appreciate. Was always a fan of World Showcase™ but took awhile to truly get into Future World™. Soarin' which is part of The Land™ is my favorite part of Future World™.

We hung out in Future Worlduntil it was time to meet my good friend Chris O from Disney. It's always a great pleasure to meet up with Chris during our visits and catch up. I met Chris through collecting the Walt Disney Classics Collection and ironically, he originally hailed from the Pittsburgh area where I'm from. We chose Le Cellier in Canada for lunch, which has became a favorite of mine in World Showcase, followed by the Yorkshire County Fish Shop. We met up with Michelle and George, who joined us for lunch. We've only done dinner at Le Cellier but lunch was every bit as good. The Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup was as awesome as always! George, as promised, what happens at WDW stays in WDW ;)

After lunch, Mary, Amanda and I headed over to The Land and Michelle and George headed over to Disney's Hollywood Studios
to see if they still were doing soft openings for Toy Story Mania.

Sadly, no soft openings yesterday for Toy Story Mania :( Michelle and George joined Mary and Amanda to see Davy Jones, who was performing as part of The Epcot International Flower and Garden Show. I opted to walk around World Showcase™ and practice taking photos with my zoom lens. We met up after the show and since we were all still so full from Canada, we decided to getting something light for dinner. Amanda opted for Italy, George in Germany, Mary in Norway and Michelle and I in Mexico. We met up in Norway, finished eating and got an awesome spot for Illuminations right near where we were eating. For me, can't think of a better way to end your day at Epcot
than watching Illuminations.

After Illuminations, we got on the monorail and headed over to Magic Kingdom
to catch Wishes before calling it a day. Michelle got the most awesome photo of a little boy sitting on his father's shoulders with the Castle in the foreground with fireworks going off all around it. After Wishes was over, we approached the couple to show them. They were so thrilled with the photo. They exchanged email addresses and Michelle is going to send off once home.

Hard to believe the trip is already half over. Time is going SO fast. I guess a good sign of having an awesome time!

Until the next entry ......

Goofy Games: Summer Premiere Event

The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, will be celebrated this summer at the Beijing National Stadium in Beijing, People's Republic of China. This years Summer Premiere Event featured sculpture is a perfect tie-in to the upcoming Olympics. At left is a preview of the event postcard that will be mailing soon.

The 2008 Summer Premiere Event Sculpture will feature Goofy from The Olympic Champ (1942). Torchbearer, a Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) of 2,008, sculpted by Patrick Romandy-Simmons will be available through Authorized Walt Disney Classics Collection Dealers and the Walt Disney Theme Parks, June 20-22, 2008.

As was common for shorts starring Disney's clumsy anthropomorphic dog, Goofy remains silent as a calm narrator provides contrast to the pratfalls on screen. In ancient Greece nearly 3000 years ago, a solo Goof illustrates different techniques of foot racing as well as hurdling, pole-vaulting, hammer-throwing and the decathlon, all events in the early days of the Olympics. Needless to say, visual gags are in high supply, from a finger-burning Olympic torch to a hammer throw which ends with a potent discovery of oil.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Day to Chill :)

After two days in the park, planned a day to just chill. We made reservations at Kona Cafe and headed over there first thing this morning. Took the bus from OKW over to Magic Kingdom™ and then took the boat from Magic Kingdom™ to the Polynesian Resort. The weather has been on our side, another gorgeous day! Felt so good being out on the water.

We arrived at the Polynesian early, so spent some time at the pool and took advantage of the hammocks on the beach and relaxed for a bit before breakfast. Had to have the Tonga Toast. It's been a few years since I've had it and was every bit as good as I remembered. After breakfast, spent more time in the pool area and then took the monorail over to the Contemporary Resort to check on the construction of the proposed new DVC unit.

We then headed back to OKW to take in some pool time and catch a few rays before meeting Michelle and George for dinner at Narcoose's over at the Grand Floridian. Another group of dear friends who were to join us had to cancel their trip unexpectedly due to an illness in the family. Going through that myself a few weeks ago, knew exactly what they were going through. We very sorry they couldn't join us and want them to know our thoughts and prayers are with this at this time.

We met Michelle and George for dinner at 5:30pm and had another awesome dinner. Highly recommend the Crab Crusted Tile Fish and the Almond Crusted Cheesecake (inspired by The Year of a Million Dreams). Was a fun time and came back to OKW for some Limoncelo :) Another great day and hard to believe we've already been here 4 days. The time is going TOO, TOO fast!

Contemporary Resort Construction

I mentioned in my earlier blog entry that we took the monorail over to the Contemporary Resort to get a closer view of the construction. We got off the monorail and stopped in the shops and I walked over to the window to get a closer view. I never paid attention in the past, nor realized there was an observation deck off that floor, so ventured outside onto it. The picture above (and those below) were taken from that observation deck and you can see how the walkway will connect the new construction to the main building.

After the photos were taken, we got back on the monorail and headed back to the Polynesian Resort and stopped and chatted with the DVC castmember at the booth in the Polynesian lobby. He didn't have any more information other than what we've been hearing. He said he keeps hoping each day to find an email with details regarding the construction but nothing as of right now. For those who have been following the construction, thought you would be interested in these latest photos.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day Three: Animal Kingdom

After another leisurely breakfast on the patio, we headed to Disney's Animal Kingdom. We visited this park in November, 1999 for the first time right after it opened and wasn't until December 2005, that we visited again. Each trip, we would plan a day at Disney's Animal Kingdom but then decide to do something else. That was of course before Expedition Everest :)

The weather continues to be awesome. Warm, sunny with a breeze and no humidity. Parks had a decent crowd, not overcrowded which was nice. First thing (after checking Disney Outfitters of course) was head over to Asia and get a fast pass for Expedition Everest. With Fast Pass in hand, we headed over to Finding Nemo-The Musical. Sadly, the show was having technical difficulties, so ended up being down for the day.

Mary isn't a roller coaster person, so Amanda and I were left on our own to tackle Everest and the Yeti! We've been lucky with each trip and been able to get the front car. As we were waiting for the rest of the car to load, anticipation was building and once everyone was securely in their seats, we were off! We LOVE this ride and I decided to try and get some photos. Got some great shots and thought the photo at left came out awesome! For those who haven't braved Everest yet, it's the moment in the ride where you have no where to go but in reverse! We couldn't convince Mary to ride it again with us but one of these days we will :)

For lunch we decided to try Yak & Yeti's. We've been following the construction of this restaurant and was looking forward to having a sit down restaurant inside the park. Reviews I read at AllEars.net weren't very encouraging but we thought we would give a shot anyways. Glad we didn't listen to the reviews, the restaurant was awesome! We had not only a great meal but great server as well. For appetizer, we had the wok-fried green beans (battered green beans with a sweet Thai chili dipping sauce that had just the right kick to it) and the Berry Cherry Limeade (Limeade with cherry sauce and sprite), very refreshing! Our meals were awesome and filling. Amanda and I had the Sweet & Sour Chicken and Mary had the Mandarin Chicken Salad. I was the only one who still had room for dessert :), so tried the Mango Pie. OMG! This was one of the best desserts I ever had on property. Highly recommend Yak & Yeti's to everyone, the next time at Disney's Animal Kingdom™.

We spent the rest of day taking the Kilimanjare Safari in Africa, rode Dinosaur in Dinoland, the Festival of the Lion King in Camp Minnie-Mickey, caught Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade and did some shopping :) Was a full fun day and really have come to appreciate this park over the past couple years. Happy 10th Anniversay Disney's Animal Kingdom™!

We returned to our resort, rested up and then headed for dinner at Olivia's. We had a great meal as always at Olivia's and been truly blessed with awesome servers throughout our trip so far. I had the Key Lime-Mojo Roasted Chicken Breast with cilantro pesto (can you tell dining is just as important as being in the parks? LOL!). With our meal, they served a pina colada bread as a starter, made with fresh pineapple and coconut -- out of this world! Our server Cari brought us a 2nd loaf with dinner and boxed what we didn't eat to take back to the room plus added a freshly baked loaf -- talk about a great midnight snack :)

After dinner, we took the boat down to Downtown Disney to stroll around and do a little shopping before heading back to the resort, having a limoncello on the patio (sorry Michelle, couldn't wait) and calling a night.

Until the next entry ...

Monday, May 12, 2008

First Day in the Parks: Magic Kingdom

Normally we don't seem to get to Magic Kingdom™ until a few days into our trip but this year, decided to hit Magic Kingdom™ on our first day in the parks. So after a leisurely morning that began with a walk around the resort, then having breakfast on the patio enjoying the view from our room, we headed for the bus. We always rented a vehicle but last year decided to try Disney Transportation after being satisfied with Magical Express. Was a decision we didn't regret, so went that route again this year.

Arrived at Magic Kingdom™ and was nice that the park wasn't as crowded as what we were normally used too. We did some browsing along Main Street and wanted to check out the new Art of Disney store. In addition to what we saw the night before at Downtown Disney™, they had the Pirate on Bridge. I know some were waiting for WDW to get in stock. No signs yet of the Three Little Pigs or the Sleeping Beauty Jewel Box :(

We killed time shopping until time for lunch. We had priority seating at the Plaza Restaurant. We hadn't eaten there in years. The first and only time was Amanda's first trip to WDW and she was so young, she didn't recall going there, so we thought time to check it out again. We had an awesome lunch and highly recommend the Chicken Strawberry Salad tossed in a white zinfandel vinaigrette dressing .. filling but not heavy.

After lunch, we headed over to Disney Hollywood Studios™ for Toy Story Mania! We decided to take the monorail to the Ticket/Transportation Center, then the monorail to Epcot™ and then take the Friendship Boat from Epcot™ to Disney Hollywood Studios™. It was another awesome day weatherwise, so was a great day to be out on the boat. Once we docked, headed straight to Toy Story Mania!!

After Toy Story Mania, we returned to Magic Kingdom™. The park had gotten a lot more crowded since we were there earlier in the day. Still overall, we didn't wait too long for rides. We stuck to Fantasyland, Adventureland and Frontierland today. Loved the redo to the Haunted Mansion! After Mickey's Philharmagic, we stopped in the gift shop and found the coolest set of coasters -- ceramic tiles (with cork backing) featuring the 3 Caballeros! It was a 4-tile set, each of the Caballeros were featured on a tile and the 4th tile was all 3 together -- so stoked when I came across these!!

We had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Tony's. We had looked over the menu on Deb Will's site and glad some of our favorites were still listed and then arrived to find they changed the menu a couple days ago .. yikes! Not only that, they no longer serve the dried tomato pesto with bread! Our waiter told us they weren't happy that was taken away but would check in the back if he could find some and brought us some out. Hopefully it will be returned full-time before we head back down and special thanks to Jaimie for being one of the best waiters we've ever had! I ended up trying the Spinach Rigotta Gnocchi Primavera -- Oh My God! It was out of this world .. highly recommend if you like gnochi, as well as artichokes, roasted red peppers, broccoli and mushrooms. Topped it of with Cappucino Cheesecake with an Oreo Crust. I'll definitely be up walking tomorrow .. LOL!

The day ended with watching Spectromagic and Wishes. Spectromagic Tip: If you want a great seat to view Spectromagic, head over towards Liberty Square and grab a table outside Sleepy Hollow Refreshments. The parade crosses the bridge from Main Street into Frontierland and its the perfect viewing spot.

Tomorrow we head to Animal Kingdom™. I need my Expedition Everest fix :) We'll return to the Magic Kingdom™ on Friday and will be attending the Pirate and Princess Party that evening.

Next up, pictures from Toy Story Mania and my thoughts on this awesome new ride!

Toy Story Mania Rocks!

Toy Story Mania Rocks! We LOVED this ride, the latest addition to Disney Hollywood Studios™. As mentioned in my earlier blog entry, we headed straight over to the Pixar Studios area (located in the former soundstages used for the park's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire-Play It! attraction on Mickey Avenue) as soon as we docked. The facade, as well as the surrounding area, resembles Pixar Animation Studios' campus in Emeryville, California.

There was an Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Preview on Saturday, May 10th thru Monday, May 12th from 9:00am to 7:00pm. To be admitted, you needed to present your valid Walt Disney World Annual Pass or DVC Card and photo ID at the attraction's entrance.

Once inside, you walked through the queing area which was done really well. You passed Crayola Crayons, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys and was greeted by an interactive Mr. Potato Head. You then ascended a set of stairs and then descended down stairs to the loading area. The cars were a 4-seater with 2 people on one side of the car and 2 people on the other. The ride was amazing! A definite great addition to the Disney Hollywood Studios theme park. I personally preferred much better to the Buzz Lightyear attraction located in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom™.

As we left the ride, a castmember was on hand getting feedback on our thoughts on the ride. She said an actual date hasn't been confirmed for it's official opening but was posted on Mouseplanet they were going to be doing soft openings until the ride opens on May 30th. Earlier reports had the ride opening on May 20th.

Below are photos I took today of the outside of the attraction and a couple photos taken inside. Enjoy!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Greetings from WDW!

Hi All -- Greetings from WDW! Our trip is off to an awesome start. We did have a delay in getting our room but was so worth the wait -- we're right on the waterway from Old Key West to Downtown Disney, an awesome view!

WDW really made all Mothers feel special yesterday. We had lunch at Olivia's and every Mom received a carnation, a very nice touch. As each server passed a table, they wished the Mom a Happy's Mothers Day.

We chose Boatwright's for dinner, since we never have spent time over that way. We took the boat from OKW to Downtown, then took the boat from DD to Port Orleans. Was a beautiful evening for a night on the boat. We had a great boat captain, Grant. We really enjoyed the boat ride to the Port Orleans area and seeing those resorts (French Quarter and Riverside) for the first time from that view. The Riverside Resort (formally Dixie Landings) buildings are beautiful! The facade had a very Gone With the Wind look to them.

We docked and headed to Boatwright's for dinner. Impeccable service and a great meal. As like at Olivia's, each Mom was presented with a carnation as well plus a cup of corn chowder made especially for Mom by their Chef. Mary said she couldn't have asked for a more special day.

We headed down to DD after dinner. I was able to see Frollo for the first time in person. Much larger than I anticipated and very detailed. Patrick did an awesome job. Will definitely be adding this one to my Festival of Fools Scene. Found some really cool Cars items at the World of Toys that were a must have .. LOL! My only disappointment, not seeing the Mickey Pretzels. Hoping these haven't been discontinued. Our chex mix will never be the same :( Will be keeping an eye out for them today.

After we docked, took a nice leisurely walk back to room. What a perfect start to our trip!

Heading off to Magic Kingdom tomorrow and then over to Disney Hollywood Studios after lunch to check out Toy Story Mania .. can't wait!

Until my next update ....

Off to WDW!!

It's that time of year to head down to Walt Disney World!

Timing couldn't have been more perfect. We arrive just in time to check out Toy Story Mania at Disney Hollywood Studios™! Scheduled for late May 2008 (possibly May 20th), Toy Story Mania is currently in cast member previews, with Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club (DVC) previews set for May 10 - May 12 (from 9:ooam-7:00pm). You can guess where I'll be heading once checked in :)

Bags are packed, car is loaded and heading out the door for the airport. Looking forward to spending time with my family, meeting up with friends who will be joining us later in the week, trying new restaurants and of course checking out WDCC product :) This trip I will have my laptop with me, so will be able to check in from time to time.

We're Off!

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms who visit either the Blog, Cafe and/or Website today.

The Walt Disney Classics Collection has released some significant sculptures over the year's depicting that special moment of a mother and child.

My favorite is Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo ("Baby Mine"), the 2001 Walt Disney Collectors Society Animator Choice, honoring veteran animator Vladimir "Bill" Tytla sculpted by Patrick Romandy-Simmons.

Also released were Bambi and Mother ("My Little Bambi"), the 2001 Spring Event sculpture, sculpted by Patrick Romandy-Simmons and Perdita with Patch and Puppy ("Patient Perdita") a 1996 Open Edition release sculpted by Chris Peterson.

A very touching mother and child sculpture was added last year with the Silly Symphony Series release of the Ugly Duckling and his Mother ("A Loving Embrace") sculpted by Jacqueline Perreault Gonzales.

Below is a montage of clips from Dumbo to the tune Baby Mine courtesy of YouTube.com:

Dumbo is ©Disney

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Corpse Child: New Images Added!

Part of the 3rd Quarter announcements was a new scene from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. In that initial group of images made available, the image of the Corpse Child was a bit blurry/grainy. A couple new angles have been reshot and recently added to the Image Gallery of the website for your viewing pleasure.

The scene depicted is from the beginning of the film when Jack enters as the Pumpkin King made of wicker on top of his wicker horse being pulled by the Behemoth. Jack jumps into the fountain and emerges as the Jack Skellington we are most familiar with. The denizens of Halloweentown surround Jack in the town square. The Corpse Child is the son of the Corpse Mom and Corpse Dad. He is friends with the Mummy Boy and the Winged Demon.

The new scene consisted of the following releases: Jack Skellington: "Accolades for All" (8-5/8"), Corpse Child: "Ghoulish Glee" (3-1/4") and the Fountain: "Frightful Fountain" (13") are all Open Edition releases. The Werewolf: "Howling Horror" (5-3/4") was Limited to Production Year 2007 (Please check with Authorized Dealers for availability).

All four pieces were sculpted by Patrick Romandy-Simmons.

I'm Back!

I'm Back! Over the past few weeks had computer problems first at work, then at home. Thrown in the mix, had a family emergency come up.

Some alien life form invaded both computers but after many hours (and a lot of research) am back up and running! It was a great learning experience but not something I'd wish on anyone, even my worst enemy :)

Thankfully not a lot happening newswise, so the timing was perfect. Finally back into a normal routine. Later today will have an update on the Corpse Child from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Some new additional angles will be added.

Thanks everyone for your emails, calls and support. You Rock!