Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: The Letter M

Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop...

This week's theme: The Letter M

Don't miss the details in the MuppetVision queue!

(And if you're a Muppet fan- make sure to visit
for Muppet Mondays!)

Thanks to Deb @ Focused on the Magic  for hosting 
the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop! 

If you hopped over, I invite you to check out my other posts, and please consider joining the blog or following on twitter.

Check out all the other Wordless Wednesday links, and remember to share some comment love...

Focused on the Magic

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks is the much-anticipated movie telling the back story of how Disney's classic film Mary Poppins came to be. Saving Mr. Banks depicts author P.L. Travers and her visit to Los Angeles, as she's persuaded by Walt Disney in his attempts to secure the screen rights to her novel. The movie is due out in December.

Emma Thompson plays Travers, and Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney. This film marks the first time Walt is portrayed by an actor on screen. How do you think Tom Hanks will do in the role?

The official poster for Saving Mr. Banks was released this week. Check out the great shadow play...

The Official ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ Poster

Have you seen the trailer? Let us know what you think in the comments...

Trailer: Saving Mr. Banks on Disney Video

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Disney in the Details

Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop...

This week's theme: Disney in the Details

The Hollywood Tower Hotel- one of the most detailed queues in WDW...


Thanks to Deb @ Focused on the Magic  for hosting 
the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop! 

If you hopped over, I invite you to check out my other posts, and please consider joining the blog or following on twitter.

Check out all the other Wordless Wednesday links, and remember to share some comment love...

Focused on the Magic

Monday, July 22, 2013

Attention to Detail: Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opened 19 years ago today.

There's a lot to love about this attraction.

I love the winding outdoor queue...

I love the hotel backdrop, and the Hollywood glam setting...

 I love the Twilight Zone theme...

I love the elaborate backstory, and the keen attention to detail...

I love the creepy imagery...

But...I hate big drops.

I knew I had to do Tower of Terror at least once; I mean, how could I not, right? I did manage to put it off for a long time, until my most recent visit. But then I did it. I finally did it.

I loved every inch of the attraction...up until that first drop.

I'm glad I experienced it- but if I go in again, I will likely be using the chicken exit.

(Did you know there's a chicken exit? Just about every attraction has one...)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Favorites on Friday: Vegetarian Fare at Bradley Falls, Disney's Animal Kingdom

Almost all of my visits to Walt Disney World have been as a vegetarian. WDW is a great place to be a veg, with options at practically every restaurant and eatery throughout the parks and resorts. Some places, however, have more to offer than others. I always felt Animal Kingdom was lacking in the kind of food I wanted to eat. Sure, there are a few offerings to be found here and there, but most places never seemed to have the kind of thing I was looking for. There was one notable exception, though: the eggroll stand, now known as Bradley Falls kiosk.

photo courtesy of

Found on the walkway between Asia and Africa, this little stand featured my favorite veggie eggroll snack (or meal, if I doubled my order).

Farewell old friend...

When I heard they were changing their menu last year, I was worried. Would they still have my favorite veggie treat? It turns, the answer to that was no. However, I was thrilled to discover that while my veggie eggroll was gone, in its place was a whole new menu, completely vegetarian!

The Summer Rolls are tasty and light, filled with fresh veggies, rice noodles, and accompanied by a peanut dipping sauce. The sauce is a bit different than your typical peanut sauce- a little thicker, and with a flavor I couldn't quite put my finger on. Actually, my favorite use for the sauce was mixing it into the Asian Noodle Salad (a salad so delicious, it was 3/4 gone before I remembered I hadn't yet snapped a photo).

I did not sample the edamame, but I've heard good reviews. We rounded out the meal with a fruit salad- fresh, ripe, and not a soft grape or squishy blueberry to be found! Expensive for a fruit salad? Sure. But it was 50 cents cheaper than the weak one I saw at the airport a few days later, and the airport one was definitely not served in a pineapple...

Where to relax with your food? There happens to be a perfect seating area close by. It's nestled in across the path, next to the river, with an amazing view of the Tree of Life.

Are you interested in reading more about Bradley Falls kiosk? For a different take on this food stand, including shots of the noodle dish and the fantastic seating area, visit's post here.

Look for this trash can  in the seating area.

Have you ever been to the Bradley Falls kiosk? What's your favorite vegetarian fare at Animal Kingdom? Tell us in the comments...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Social Media Disney Memories

This week's theme on the 
Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop:

Social Media Disney Memories

OK, this post isn't "wordless"- but my Instagrams usually are (except for hashtags, of course)! One of my favorite ways to use Instagram is to participate in Disney photo-a-day challenges, posted monthly by Disney fans. A hashtagged word or phrase is selected for each day, and fans post pictures to go along with that day's hashtag. It's a fun way to share Disney memories, and it's a great way to connect with other fans. The two I usually participate in are the #disaday challenge from @mainstgazette, and the #whimsicaldisneygram challenge from @sparklynicole and @zannaland. Can you recommend any others? 


Thanks to Deb @ Focused on the Magic  for hosting 
the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop! 

If you hopped over, I invite you to check out my other posts, and please consider joining the blog or following on twitter.

Check out all the other Wordless Wednesday links, and remember to share some comment love...

Focused on the Magic

Monday, July 15, 2013

Top 5 Things I Can't Wait to Do With My Daughter at WDW....

Plus the Magic welcomes Guest Contributor Rebecca Kelly, sharing plans for her next visit...

Well, it's been a long time coming, but in October I'm taking a mother/daughter trip to Disney World with my 7-year-old daughter. I started planning this trip while we were on our way home from our last trip, in February 2011...  It was originally going to be late September 2012, but Things Happened, and here we are. :)

My daughter has been my Disney Buddy for as long as she can remember, and we had a fantastic time on our first family trip, but even then there were just so many things we didn't get to do. We just couldn't fit them in with the family as a whole.  But since our upcoming trip is a quickie - only 3 nights, one park per day - there will, by necessity, be a lot we don't we don't manage to do this time either.  So it's about stripping down to the bare bones and figuring out what is most important to her, most important to me, and most important to us together.  Like many Disney fiends, I am a compulsive planner - I love to know in advance what I'm doing and just what I'll have time to fit in, but this time I'm deliberately trying to step back from that and focus on the most important things, while letting the smaller ones happen as they do.

That said, I do have to have my big things picked out.  Which is why, at KJ's invitation, I provide to you now:

The Top 5 things I can't wait to do with my daughter at WDW:

5: Club Cool/Beverly

photo courtesy of thejcgerm, via flickr
Honestly, I really can't wait to do this, because I am that sadistic. :)  In case you aren't aware, at Epcot there is a small Coca-Cola shop called Club Cool, located near Innoventions West and across from the Fountain of Nations.  In addition to piles of Coke memorabilia, there is a beverage dispenser in the middle of the room where you can get free samples of various Coca-Cola products from other countries that are unique to that country.  No cola here - instead we've got watermelon soda from China, Lychee Mello from China, Mezzo Mix from Germany... and then there's Beverly.  Beverly is a bitter aperitif from Italy that is used to cleanse the palate, and it's a favourite thing for repeat visitors to trick their friends and loved ones into drinking it.  She will never trust me again.  I'll make it up to her by telling her she can give some to her younger brother on our next family trip.  All will be forgiven. :)

4: Dole Whip

photo via the amazing Tom Bricker,
If the promise of evil tricks on her brother doesn't buy my daughter's forgiveness, then that of special ice cream probably will.  Actually, funny story about Dole Whips: I've only had one, and it was underwhelming.  I had it in 2008 on my one and only solo visit.  Maybe that was why I didn't really care?  It was in no way bad, mind you.  Just... not amazing.  I guess I expected amazing.  Anyway, I have been told to get a citrus swirl instead and try again, and I'm going to do that.  And while I'm at it I'm going to get one or the other for my daughter and see how she likes them, with no hype at all in advance.  In this case, it's really less about "Everyone says this is so great!" and a lot more about having and sharing a new experience that we can only get at WDW.

3: The New Test Track

photo via
If there was one attraction that she would not stop talking about afterwards, yeah, it was Test Track.  I didn't expect that.  I had in mind other ones she would probably like best, but nope: fast car.  (She is also convinced, with the passage of 2 1/2 years since our trip, that we steered the car ourselves.)  She talks all the time about going on Test Track again and we've looked over the ride-thru on YouTube of the new version.  I think she'll like it - I hope she will anyway - but either way, we get to do it together.  When we have a place like Disney World, where I've been way more times than she has and I research it constantly, it's nice to get to experience things for the first time with someone else doing the same.

2: Camping, just the two of us

Campsite with trees screening one side and a picnic table and tent on the grounds
photo via
We've been camping as a family twice, though not Disney camping.  I've been Disney camping on a solo trip, back in '08 when my daughter was just 2.  (That was my first time; it was practice, I was such a noob. :D)  But other than the bugs, D is quite a fan of camping; she loves the outdoors, she is not addicted to technology yet, and she loves the excitement of nature.  She also loves cuddling in a tent.  This is a blessing and a curse, because I am a light sleeper and she is a flailer who has a tendency to sit up in the middle of the night and then throw herself onto the other end of the bed.  (One time on our last trip to WDW, I had a dream where I couldn't move my legs. I awoke in horror to discover that it was TRUE.  In a panic I came to and realized it was because 5-year-old D, who was sharing my bed, was sleeping perpendicular over my lower body.)  But I try to focus more on the blessing, because how much longer am I going to have an affectionate little girl who enjoys hugging her Mom at night?  As long as I can, I hope.  I also love tents.  They're like having your own little cave, where you're outside but you're safe from strangers.

1: Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween party

photo via
Well, this is the biggie. I first heard about this back in 2004, quite by accident - my husband and I were at the Magic Kingdom on a night when they closed early for a party.  Whoops.  Since then, the more I found out, the more I thought I might like to go.  Enter D, who loves Halloween almost as much as me; who has a crush on Jack Skellington; who thinks of candy like rain from heaven.  From within a week of our last trip to WDW, back in early 2011, I was planning this camping trip.  Camping, D and me, and staying up to do the Halloween party if I could afford it.  To be doing it?  MAN am I excited!  The only downside is I don't have a costume.  At all.  No ideas.  D is going to be a butterfly.  The only thing I really want to be is a Ghostbuster, and I'm not sure I can pull that one together cheaply in time for the party. ;)

Overall, I do keep having to remind myself that the most important thing is to go and have a good time doing what we want to do while we're there; go with the flow and enjoy spending time together in our favourite place, and it doesn't really matter what we do.  Because I want to do SO MUCH with her that it's easy to get overwhelmed.  When you can only get there every few years, you tend to want to do everything and feel like you're missing out if you don't... but I know we'll remember more if we slow down and do less.  Since D has trouble slowing down and taking things a bit at a time, I guess this is a lesson for both of us.  Here's hoping...! :)


Rebecca Kelly blogs with many a Top 5 (plus whatever else strikes her fancy) at Disney With Me; in addition to being a parent, wife, and publishing assistant, she is also a full-service travel agent with Fairytale Journeys, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, and loves all her jobs. Follow Fairytale Journeys by Rebecca Kelly on Facebook for travel tips & general Disney fun, or @rkellyWDW on Twitter for her personal account.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Disney Storytelling

This week's theme on the Wordless Wednesday Disney Blog Hop is

Disney Storytelling

Books: My favorite type of Disney Storytelling...

My bookshelves (and iPad) are full of behind-the-scenes tales, park history, theory, touring guides, fiction titles...and the list goes on! 


Thanks to Deb @ Focused on the Magic  for hosting 
the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop! 

If you hopped over, I invite you to check out my other posts, and please consider joining the blog or following on twitter.

Check out all the other Wordless Wednesday links, and remember to share some comment love...

Focused on the Magic

Friday, July 5, 2013

Maelstrom Celebrates 25 Years at Epcot

Oh, Maelstrom. How I love you.

Maelstrom- the "High Seas Adventure" found in Epcot's Norway Pavilion - opened 25 years ago today.

I can't exactly put my finger on why, but this attraction has always been one of my absolute favorites in all of Walt Disney World. Let's see...

Is it the quaint entranceway? The maps overlooking the queue? The epic mural (including a favorite Hidden Mickey) in the loading area?

Could it be the excitement of climbing that first hill, bound for "adventure and peril", seeing the eye, and hearing "You are not the first to pass this way..."?

Perhaps it's the ancient Vikings...or the trolls...or the polar bears? How about that open precipice- that you approach backwards- visible through the outdoor rock face, just before Epcot's only flume drop?

Maybe it's the slightly bizarre notion of dropping down the falls and being deposited next to an oil rig. Yup- a theme park attraction that features an oil rig. Where else can you find yourself in a replica Viking ship, floating in a stormy sea, in the midst of an oil field? I'm guessing this is the only place.

We've heard rumblings about a possible refurb coming to Norway, which could spell the end for the oil rig scene. Rumor has it that the oil rigs no longer send the desired message. I really hope they stay. They add to the quirky charm for me.

After the oil rig, we disembark into a quiet Norwegian fishing village, which leads into... the movie.

(Side note: Does anyone remember when they used to hold you captive in the fishing village, until the movie cycled around to its next start? So glad they stopped that practice...)

Many people glide right through the movie room, not stopping to view this cinematic offering.

I actually like the Norway movie. There, I've said it.

Sure, the movie is a bit old and outdated. But...all of the Epcot movies eventually feel old and outdated- it's the nature of this type of attraction. It's short, and it grabs my attention right from the start. I like the child peacefully looking at Viking relics, interspersed with loud, quick cutaways to intense Viking days of yore. It catches you off guard (the first time, anyway), and I think it's exciting. Did I mention it was short?

Of course, it's not just one or two of these things that makes Maelstrom so special- it's a classic case of the sum being greater than its parts.

Disney Parks Blog featured a post today, highlighting Maelstrom's 25 Years of Sending Guests "Back, Over the Falls". It includes some fun facts about the attraction. Did you know the yellow-eyed river troll is called a "Nokken"? I didn't- but I'm going to try to remember that for my next visit.

Happy Birthday, Maelstrom.

Have you ridden Maelstrom? How do you feel about it? How about that movie? Let us know in the comments...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: July Calendar Shot

This week's theme on the Wordless Wednesday Disney Blog Hop:

July Calendar Shot


Thanks to Deb @ Focused on the Magic  for hosting 
the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop! 

If you hopped over, I invite you to check out my other posts, and please consider joining the blog or following on twitter.

Check out all the other Wordless Wednesday links, and remember to share some comment love...

Focused on the Magic

Monday, July 1, 2013

A "Questionable" Hidden Mickey in Disney's Magic Kingdom

Hidden Mickey: a representation of Mickey Mouse that has been subtly inserted into the design of a ride, attraction, or other location in a Disney park, resort, or property. 

Imagineers and cast members have found ways to plus the magic by hiding Mickey in all sorts of unexpected places, and in a variety of shapes and designs, throughout Disney properties.

I first wrote about searching for Hidden Mickeys in one of my earlier blog posts. Some are obvious Hidden Mickeys- but others? Not so much. If you think you may have spotted a Hidden Mickey, how do you figure out if you're right? How do you know if it really is a true Hidden Mickey? Or better yet- what if you think you might be one of the first people to identify a particular Hidden Mickey?! You go to Steve Barrett, The Hidden Mickey Guy. His book and website are incredible resources for exploring the world of Hidden Mickeys.

I thought for sure I had found a new Hidden Mickey when I first visited  Enchanted Tales with Belle, one of the long-awaited attractions in New Fantasyland. I glanced up while in Maurice's workshop, the second room in the attraction, and I saw a Hidden Mickey in the gears on the ceiling. I emailed my photo and description to Steve Barrett. He thanked me for the submission and said he would put it up on the "questionable" section of his website, leaving it up to public to decide. 

A upside-down Hidden Mickey in the gears on Maurice's ceiling?

That was almost three months ago, April 2013. 

Alas, my ceiling gears are not doing well; at the time of this writing, the popular vote was 38 thumbs up to 62 thumbs down. I'm still not giving up hope on it, though! Maybe a better photo? A different angle? You can find it on the questionable list here... so feel free to take a look and give it a thumbs up if you think it qualifies as a Hidden Mickey!

A few years back, I was pretty certain I had found a very out-of-the-way Hidden Mickey during my last visit to Disney's Coronado Springs. I wasn't able to snap a photo at the time, and I never made it back to that spot to capture it. I've searched for it in the guide book and on websites, and I have yet to see it listed or mentioned anywhere. I heard there's been some construction in the area, and I'm hoping my discovery isn't gone. Where is it, you might be asking? I'll keep that as my secret for now- just in case it truly is an as-yet-undiscovered Hidden Mickey! I will make it back to that resort one day, and I can't wait to resume my search.

Do you hunt for Hidden Mickeys? Have you ever found one that you thought was questionable? What do you think about Maurice's ceiling gears? Share your thoughts in the comments...