Tuesday, December 30, 2014

10K Race Prep

Oh, did you think I meant my actual race prep? Trust me, that's a bit grueling, a bit boring, and extremely repetitive. This is more fun. I'll be heading out for my first 10K in just a few days. Here's a sneak peek at what'll be transformed into my running costume for the runDisney Marathon Weekend 10K...

I bet at least a few of you can figure this one out pretty quickly! How about you? Are you heading to WDW for Marathon Weekend? What races are on your docket? Tell us about it in the comments...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


This makes me happy.

Follow this link to check out more  fun and festive Disney Parks Blog wallpaper!  

I love seeing these new designs. It's great to have these high quality images to use and share, and they're always a fun way to brighten up a background or add a little magic to my screens. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lenticular Magic at Memento Mori...

Earlier this year, the old Yankee Trader gift shop in Liberty Square underwent a makeover, changing into a Haunted Mansion- themed shop. Memento Mori is a Latin phrase, roughly translated to "remember death", or more to the meaning- "remember you are mortal", or "remember you will die". The shop is filled with lots of cool Haunted Mansion-related merchandise, including these excellent new placemats...

My favorite thing in the shop, however, is behind a curtain when you first enter from the walkway between Fantasyland and Liberty Square. 

Spirit Photography is a a photographic technique dating back to the 1800s, in which photographers try to capture "spirits" in photographs with living subjects. Memento Mori houses its own version of Spirit Photography. You can purchase (for approximately $20) a well-crafted lenticular photograph of yourself, unlike any you've ever seen before! After a short photo session behind the curtain, in a room where you'll see the best wallpaper on property...

 ...you'll wait outside near this portrait of Madame Leota...

...for a photo that comes in this sharp portfolio...

                                                front                                                    back

and receive a photograph that changes ever so creepily, depending on the angle from which you're viewing...


Have you visited Memento Mori? What do you think of Spirit Photography?
Tell us about it in the comments....

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Food Love


Happy Thanksgiving!

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 by clicking below, 

and remember to share some comment love...

Focused on the Magic

Friday, November 7, 2014

Even More Disney Firsts

As I've written about here and here, I like to make sure I experience some Disney Firsts every time I visit.

Here are the firsts I have on tap for my upcoming trip in early November:

Splash Mountain- Can you believe I've never done this attraction? For several years, I was scared of the drop. I decided to get past that. Then it became a series of bad timing problems- a few trips happened during rehab down times, a few were during cold/wet spells, and then there were some random ride closures thrown in for good measure. Plus...I'll be honest- I've never really been drawn to the theming. It just doesn't sit comfortably with me (much like Port Orleans Riverside... but that's a post for another time). After hearing so many people declare this as one of the best attractions ever, I know I have to do it! This is the time. I have a FP+ booked, and I'm finally taking the plunge. I hope I'm pleasantly surprised.

Restaurants- I try to visit at least one new-to-me restaurant on each visit. This time, I have two- Captain's Grille and Todd English's bluezoo. I have high hopes for both!

Osborne Lights- I'm rarely visiting WDW during the holiday season, and I'm pretty much never at Hollywood Studios at night. This time, though, I'm making a point of it, just to see the lights. I fear they will be going away soon, and I'd hate to have missed them forever.

Yacht Club- I'm looking forward to this stay. I've stayed at Beach Club a few times, but this will be the first time at the sister resort. The location is still ideal, and there's a giant globe in the lobby. A GIANT GLOBE. I collect globes, and have a longstanding love for them. I think I'm going to dig this resort. Time will tell...

I think that's it for my firsts this time- a short visit!


And by special request, an update on how things turned out from my last visit's planned firsts:

UnDISCOVERED Epcot Tour- Loved it! Recap coming soon...

Sailing on the Disney Dream: I'm a cruise convert. I hope to sail again soon.

Tropical Running: The Castaway Cay 5K is no joke! Hot. H-O-T. HUMID. brutal. So glad I did it!

The Wave- had to cancel. A spur-of-the-moment decision to visit Sanaa early in the trip derailed my food budget. Something had to go, and it was The Wave. Maybe next time...

What Disney Firsts are you looking forward to on your next visit?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Expedition Everest Challenge, 2014

A race repcap, six months later? Why not? Better late than never. Plus, registration for the 2015 Expedition Everest Challenge opens in just a few short weeks! I'll try my best to hit the highlights, because this race was unique, exciting, and F-U-N...

Expedition Everest Challenge is a combination 5K, with obstacles along the route, immediately followed by a scavenger hunt through Disney's Animal Kingdom. Here's the course map:

The course map

The Everest-themed race bib, one of the items we received at packet pick-up...

On the evening of the race, the forecast called for damp, chilly temps. That turned out to be an understatement. It was cold and very wet. Standing around pre-race, especially after entering corrals, was quite awful at times. Corrals are crowded enough, but there was so much rain, mixed with uneven parking lot ground, that some corrals were half flooded. People had to keep moving over and keep squeezing in to smaller and smaller spaces, all the while, shivering and soaked to the bone. I couldn't wait to start running, just so I could warm up a bit. The race began at 10:00pm. Corral release was staggered, and since I was way in the back (corral G, I believe), it seemed to take forever. Finally, after spending almost an hour waiting- we were off! 

The whole first mile of this race is through the parking lot. About a half mile in, we came to the first obstacle: hay bales! A long line of bales was set up, and we had to hurdle over several sets. Pretty straightforward. Several people bypassed the hay bails, and just walked or ran past them- but most people hurdled them as they were supposed to. Pretty soon, we were entering the park! It's always exciting to cross through that park entrance. The run up the hill toward the Tree of Life was a challenge for me- I'm used to running on flat ground. We raced throughout the park, and before I knew it, we were running out through a Cast Member only gate. The next mile was all backstage. 

You've heard of "the backside of water"? How about the backside of Expedition Everest?!
(This shot was taken during a different race, as it was very dark here during the Everest Challenge...)

Our next obstacle was out beyond the park gates, close to the back of  Expedition Everest. This was a classic tire run. At this point in the run, I was a bit nervous about twisting an ankle, since everything was slick and I was starting to feel fatigued. The tires were big, and I had to really take my time. The race continued backstage, until we reached the final obstacle, shortly before the finish- a cargo net crawl. This was a tough one, due mostly to the artificial turf under the cargo net. Murder on the knees! The finish line was in sight! Despite the rain and the obstacles, I had my fastest 5K time to date. (I later heard rumblings about this course possibly being a bit short...which could explain my PR despite rain and obstacles...)

Immediately after crossing the finish line, we were given these beauties....

...and then we were handed our first clue for the scavenger hunt, along with a small marker/flashlight. Time to head back into the park!

(Details on the clues can be found after the jump, for those who don't want spoilers...) 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Swiss Family Treehouse

Swiss Family Treehouse is a walk-through attraction based on the 1960 Disney movie Swiss Family Robinson (which itself was based on the 1812 Johann David Wyss book by the same name). The enormous treehouse, situated near the entrance to Adventureland, recreates the arboreal home that the fictional Robinson family built following their shipwreck in the East Indies. 

photo via disneyworld.disney.go.com

I'll admit, Swiss Family Treehouse is not an attraction that's on my Must-Do list for every visit. I'm not really sure why, but it's often a matter of timing for me. If I pass by earlier in my visit, perhaps I think it'll take too long, or that the excitement level won't quite be what I'm looking for. If it's later in the day, the thought of climbing those steps might turn me off. After my recent visit, I knew I had to send out these words of encouragement- make time for it, people! I had forgotten what a really special attraction this is. It's an opening day classic that harkens back to a simpler time. It's quaint, and it's nostalgic. It's definitely worth a visit if you've never been, and if it's been a while since you've done it- put it on your list for next time. It's a unique attraction, and gives an interesting perspective of the park that we don't really get from any other place. I experienced this attraction as a child, and then- I'll be honest- I don't think I did it again until 2014! Has it been a while for you too? Read Disney's description of the attraction below, and take a look at some of the photos I captured during my last visit...

From the Walt Disney World official website:

Embark on a breezy walk-though tour of the Robinson’s famous home nestled high inside a towering tree.

Cross a bridge at the foot of a large leafy tree and climb handcrafted wooden stairs as you explore the famed living quarters of the Swiss Family Robinson and learn of their island adventure.

Discover open-air rooms—brimming with a bevy of 19th-century articles salvaged from the famous shipwreck—including:

• The Living Room
Mahogany furniture, dishware and an organ mingle alongside the large wheel from the shipwrecked Swallow ship.

• The Kitchen and Dining Room
A clamshell sink, a volcanic stone hearth and oven, and a table with benches are just some of the more modern conveniences you’ll see.

• The Crow’s Nest
See the living quarters of sons Fritz, Ernst and Francis, complete with hammocks, a ragged chest and strewn clothing.

• Study/Library
Home to antique books, a desk, a handmade bamboo chair and a lantern, this is where the Robinsons came to feed their minds and their souls.

• Jungle Lookout
Boasting panoramic views from the top of the tree, this perch provided the Robinsons with serenity during their stay on the island.

At the base of the tree, a large wooden wheel gathers water from a stream and carries it up to the various rooms inside the treehouse.

View at the Top
Those who reach the summit of the treehouse will enjoy 360-degree views of Adventureland and Magic Kingdom park, particularly the river on which the Jungle Cruise boats sail. At over 6 stories high, it’s a spectacular sight to see!

Photos from a 2014 visit:

Space Mountain peeks out above the trees...

A unique view of the castle...

...and the castle and Space Mountain, from high atop the treehouse.

A treehouse library? Sign me up.

Makes me want to sit down and break bread...

Take your time and stroll at a leisurely pace through this attraction; it's worth it. This never used to be a busy attraction, but with the way things have been going lately, you never know when you might run into a unexpected crowd. This is not one where you want to have other people right in front of you or right behind. If there's a crowd, I advise returning at another time. 

Oh, and an added bonus? If all that climbing around leaves you in need of refreshment, the exit will deposit you in the perfect place to grab a Dole Whip!


When is the last time you visited the Swiss Family Treehouse? 
Tell us about it in the comments...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Where in the World...

Where in Walt Disney World would you find this? Venture a guess in the comments...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Disney Birthdays Abound!

October 1- a significant Disney day, for sure! A bevy of birthdays abound...

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971. Happy 43rd birthday, Magic Kingdom!

photo via Disney Parks Blog

My beloved Epcot- or EPCOT Center, as it was originally known- debuted on October 1, 1982. Happy 32nd birthday, Epcot! I'll be toasting in your honor later today.

Festivities on opening day included the official dedication ceremony for Spaceship Earth...

photo via Disney Parks Blog

And another birthday? Let's not forget Julie Andrews! Everyone's favorite magical nanny is a beautiful and graceful 79 years old today. I have always loved the Mary Poppins character, and Julie Andrews is forever connected to her.

photo via blogs.disney.com

A piece called This Day in History on the Disney Parks Blog shared some other special events that happened on this date. October 1 is the birthday of  Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort (1988) and Disney's Boardwalk (1996), and it's also the date that Euro Disney officially became Disneyland Paris! 

Caribbean Beach Resort is 26 today. I'll admit, Caribbean Beach has never really been on my list of must-visit resorts... but this pool does look like a lot of fun. Have you ever visited?
photo via disneyworld.disney.go.com

The Boardwalk...one of my very favorite places. I think strolling around this area behind Epcot is one of the very best ways to spend an evening. Happy 18th birthday, Boardwalk!
photo via disneyworld.disney.go.com

 How will you be celebrating this day? 
Tell us in the comments...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kill Refurb Marry- Disney Parks Transportation

It's time for another round of Kill~Refurb~Marry with Mouse on the Mind and This Happy Place Blog! If you're not familiar with this game, it's the one where you choose three related things within a given theme: one you have no use for (Kill), one you'd like to revamp a bit (Refurb), and one you love (Marry). This month's theme is Disney Parks Transportation!

Here we go.....

Kill: OK, I'm going to have to start right off with cheating. I can't really kill anything in this category- but if I could, I'd kill the feeling I get when I'm on the Tragical Express. Yes, the dreaded Tragical Express, the saddest ride on in the world, the YOUR VACATION'S OVER version of the Magical Express. Few things are more depressing than that ride back to the airport. Sure, they make it as palatable as possible, with interesting video segments, old animation clips, and low key tidbits of information... but when it comes right down to it, the feelings that come along on this ride are the worst.

This should have a sad face for the way back to the airport...

Refurb:  It has to be the Monorail. Monorail, I love you- but you've seen better days. You're down quite often, you're showing some wear and tear, and you've started sometimes wearing wraps. Please stop that.

Marry:  Friendship Boats. The Epcot area resorts are my favorite, and I love cruising around on Crescent Lake. Sure, it's not the quickest way to get between Epcot and Hollywood Studios- for that, I walk. But a relaxing Friendship Boat journey is a perfect way for me to sit back, take a few deep breaths, listen to the water, and think about what lies ahead. Plus, I love watching the Friendship Boat Cast Members, in their nautical uniforms. They have a particular way of working those controls and navigating the waters, and they always seem to be loving their jobs.

There you have it! Make sure to check out all these Kill~ Refurb~ Marry entries from around the blogosphere!