Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
In this week's Tip Tuesday, I'll share a new tip I discovered during my December 2008 trip to Walt Disney World (see my trip report posts that are still ongoing about this trip).
If you're like me when you're at WDW, you're usually the one carrying all the tickets (or Key to the World Cards in my case), FastPasses, PhotoPasses, receipts, etc. while in the parks. I've seen many guests put their tickets in a lanyard-style holder. While this does keep the passes safe, I'm not a fan of showing the world where your tickets are. Many of those lanyard have break-away points, for safety reasons. The bad news is that someone could give your lanyard a good hard tug and it likely will come free - and there go your tickets and anything else that might be in there (like credit cards, licenses, etc.).
A better option, in my opinion, is to use a small credit-card or business card wallet. This is a very small wallet-like item in which there are some pockets to hold a few cards. This is not a full-size wallet. I've included a link to something similar I used during the Dec. 2008 trip.
Here's the benefit to using a business card wallet: It fits easily in a front pocket and can be quickly pulled out when needed. Best of all, it's much more secure than a lanyard. With the different pockets, you can easily keep the tickets separate from passes to make it easier to grab when you need them.
For those of you who use the Disney Dining Plan, this wallet also helps you keep easy track of your dining credits. Each day I would put the receipts from each restaurant in the holder. At the end of the day, back at my resort room, I would pull out the receipts and see what we had left. The next day, the previous day's receipt would go into a master envelope and I'd start the process all over again.
So the next time you're going to WDW (or any Disney park) give this tip a try, I think you'll find this much easier.
Monday, December 29, 2008
The second Narnia movie, "Prince Caspian," apparently didn't do as well as the studios hoped. The report says "Caspian" cost about $200 million to produce and it grossed $420 million globally. This is significantly smaller than the $745 million the first Narnia film, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," made.
I'm no economist, but making $220 million isn't shabby. The movie made a decent profit, why not produce the final film featuring the Pevensie family? Besides, "Dawn Treader" is a story that is made for action, while "Caspian's" story didn't lend itself to as much action (without major changes to the storyline).
Personally, I think Disney has made a bad call here. I understand the economy isn't doing well, but why give up on the while project? I could understand putting the film off a year or two until things do better, but to give up entirely? I hope another studio will work with Walden Media to produce "Dawn Treader," and watch it do much better.
Disney, there's more out there than Pixar. While Pixar does make some great movies, they aren't the only game in town. Stick with the plan - produce the third film.
Also online: a second CNBC.com article.
Be sure to check out the show #99. You can download the show in iTunes, or go to the WDW Radio Show site.
For more information about pressed pennies, be sure to check out my two Tip Tuesday posts on the subject.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
After a pretty short wait on Soarin', we hustled over to Test Track to jump in the standby line before Epcot opened to the main crowd. This would be my daughter's first ride on Test Track. She was nervous and was a little startled by the high speed bank-turn, but she made it through (oh, she's not done with Test Track -- just wait).
Later that night, we were going to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, so we took the monorails back to the Grand Floridian in order to change for the party and let the kids (and us!) rest a bit. We were in the Sago Cay building at the Grand Floridian, so we had views like what you see above from our balcony. Just to the right of this vantage point is the outside patio for Gasparilla Grill and Games. This is a great place to sit and watch the evening fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.
The kids were getting pretty tired, so my wife took them back to the resort while I stayed to see the second parade. Expecting a big crowd, I staked out a prime standing spot about 30 minutes ahead of time. I had a tripod, so I was back from the curb a few paces so others could sit in front of me and, for the most part, I had a great view. There was one person who kept trying to step in front of my lens. I guess rude people are everywhere, even at WDW. I do have to say this is the best nighttime parade I have ever seen. I am a big Spectromagic Fan, but this parade was fantastic. I also was amazed with how LONG it was! It ran for more than 20 minutes!
Probably the best part of of MVMCP was being in the castle forecourt with no one around you. It was just me and the castle as the party came to an end. I joined the last part of the throng leaving the park and found a new tip for getting back to a Magic Kingdom resort -- look for that on an upcoming Tip Tuesday.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It is with that in mind that I ask you to consider the spirit of giving.
Many Disney fans know a friend of mine, Lou Mongello. He has a project called the Dream Team in which he helps the Make a Wish Foundation send seriously ill kids to Walt Disney World. The Dream Team has a goal to raise $45,000 by the 100th episode of the WDW Radio Show, which is in a few weeks.
As of this post, they've raised a little more than $43,000. Please consider helping to send a seriously ill child experience the magic of Walt Disney World. For many of these kids, it can make an enormous difference in their life. I hope you will consider supporting this program.
You can make a donation at this Web site: http://www.firstgiving.com/dwtdreamteam
Thank you and may you have a very happy and safe holiday!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
My first grade daughter won't set foot inside Space Mountain (aside from the TTA), while my 3rd and 5th grade boys will melt the pavement trying to get there as fast as possible. In a similar manner, my two boys may die of embarrassment if they get caught inside the Voyage of the Little Mermaid.
This difference of interests is a common problem for big families (and groups for that matter).
The easy solution is to split up. In our case, myself and the boys will go off for a few hours to do "boy stuff" while my daughter and wife will go do "girlie things." We set a time and place to meet back and then go our separate ways within that park (we have even split among two parks before -- if you can handle it - go for it).
One extra tip from Mickey: Have two photopass cards. You never know when you might run into a great photo opportunity. By the time we finished our Dec. 2008 trip, we had four photopass cards. They all go to the same place later so there's no problem with multiple cards.
So the next time you have a larger family or group and are planning a visit to Walt Disney World, don't be afraid to divide and conquer. You'll be surprised how much more you will get to do!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
We then walked over to Pixar Place, which was quite crowded (no surprise there). We still had some time until our Fastpasses were up so we stood in line at the new Toy Story picture spot called "Woody's Picture Corral". This was pretty interesting. While you're waiting to see Buzz and Woody, there are cutout picture opportunities all through the queue.
Friday, December 19, 2008
After a nice character breakfast at 1900 Park Fare, we hopped a bus from the Grand Floridian to Animal Kingdom. I have to say up front this is not my family's favorite park, so they went here at my request and with some grumblings (at first).
My goals for this part of the day were pretty limited: ride on the safari, see Rafiki's Planet Watch and see the Jingle Jungle Parade. I didn't have much interest in Everest - I rode that in March and I wanted to do new things.
We first went over to Camp Minnie Mickey and walked right into a showing of the Festival of the Lion King. We were in the elephant section (insert elephant noise here). I had not seen this show before and I was quite impressed. The monkeys were very good!
Afterward, we went over to the Kilimanjaro Safaris and grabbed a pack of Fastpasses for a slot about an hour later. We went up to Rafiki's Planet Watch while we waited for our time slot. I managed to catch a quick shot with one of my favorite characters and I found a hidden mickey I really wanted to see in person (see below).
When our Fastpass time arrived, we returned to the safaris and waited in a relatively short line for our ride vehicle to pull up. I had not been on the safaris and was pleasantly surprised. The lions weren't out, but other then that, there were animals everywhere. It was a photographer's dream - shots everywhere!
After the safari, we walked along the Pangani Trail. My kids found the gorillas pretty interesting, though my daughter said as her nose wrinkled, "They smell."
The time was coming to stake out a spot for the parade. We sat near the entrance to the It's Tough to Be a Bug and waited for the parade to come down the path. I have to say the Jingle Jungle Parade has to be the best daytime parade of any at WDW.
After the parade, we booked out of the park and hustled over to Hollywood Studios to catch the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Here I was totally BLOWN away! I thought I did a decent job of outdoor lights -- I'm not worthy!!! There were so many lights, there was no way to really take it all in! This lived up to all the hype I had heard - it really is amazing. Any pictures and/or video you may see can't do it justice. You have to see this in person to really get the experience.
After a bus ride to the TTC and a monorail to the GF, we were back in our room and off to bed to rest for another busy day tomorrow.
Stay tuned for day 3!!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Enter your information and you will get a video like the one you see here (click the play arrow to watch).
Just go to http://www.sun7news.com/ to get started.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Who did we see getting ready to tape her performance by Miley Cyrus herself! My daugher flipped! Granted we were nearly at the partners statue, but she could still see Miley. It was interesting to watch the performance stop and start as crews taped different segments.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Case in point is my son who has a mild form of autism. He is very unwilling to try new foods - because he is very uncertain about new things. While I may push him to try new things at home, Walt Disney World is not the place to try new foods and risk a tough night.
Here's the problem: the folks at WDW are jumping more and more onto the "healthy" bandwagon. While I don't have a problem with offering healthy options, I don't want that choice made FOR me. The end result is that many of my son's favorite foods (chicken nuggets being the top of the list) are slowing going away in favor of baked chicken, which he is less then enthusaistic about.
Here's the tip: If you have a picky eater - it's a good idea to check out restaurant menus ahead of time to plan where you want to eat, especially if you're on the Disney Dining Plan and need to make those ADR's. I have used these sites for my past three trips and, for the most part, I've been pretty successful.
Here are a couple of sites to check out restaurant menus:
Take these menus with a grain of salt - Disney changes their menus without notice. These two sites do a good job of trying to keep up with the changes. A great example of this would be at the Cape May Cafe. Both sites listed chicken strips on the dinner menu as of October -- yet when I was there last week, the chicken strips were gone and baked chicken leg was there in it's place.
So parents, do your homework ahead of time and you stand a good chance of a good dining experience.
Monday, December 15, 2008
"Are you kidding?!?!?" I said, "I would love to!"
So here's the sitch about the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. Each country will have their own separate set of missions. I happened to test out the Great Britain missions. The entire experience took about 30 minutes and was a real blast. I won't go into detail about what the missions were except to say the Imagineers hit this one out of the park, over the parking lot and into the next county. It was A LOT of fun! You have to interact with all sorts of things all across the pavilion, including cast members who were "in" on the game.
One important part to note for those not interested in this -- you don't see Kim Possible all over the place. If you don't have the "Kimmunicator," you won't even notice anything is going on unless you happen to watch someone else who is on an adventure. Each interaction is quite secluded.
The Imagineers put a lot of thought into making this a "secret" world - and you never know who or what you may interact with.
Based on this one-country test of the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure, I would say Disney has another knock-out hit on their hands. One possible suggestion -- keep the number of "Kimmunicators" out in the field at one time limited so there isn't a big line of people standing to interact with the various hotspots -- that would kill the undercover nature of the adventure.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Then there's the fun part of pins: Pin Trading.
Now in my opinion, there are two kinds of pin trading, serious trading and family fun trading.
Serious pin trading is akin to trading baseball cards -- two collectors looking to find that super rare pin or score a deal. It's a lot like buying a car, there's haggling, multi-pin offers and all that mess. Personally, I don't like to trade with a serious collector. I always get the feeling they're trying to rip me off, kind of like me trading away a Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle for some obscure card. I don't pay attention to the values of pins, so I really don't know what's a good deal and what's not.
Many of these pins were acquired by pin trading with cast members.
I much prefer the family fun trading. How does this work, you ask? Family fun trading takes place with Disney cast members only. Nearly every cast member walks around with a lanyard full of pins. You can approach any cast member and offer to trade any pin of yours with one of theirs. It's as simple as that. This also is a great chance to talk with some of the cast members - they are wonderful people who work hard to make your time at Disney as magical as it can be.
My kids love this kind of pin trading. They especially like it because my wife and I collect pins and our kids get a real kick out of showing us new pins they've traded for. This makes our pin collection priceless, not because the pins have some incredible value of their own, but because each pin has a meaning and a memory associated with it. Pin trading is another great way for families to enjoy Disney.
So what's the tip in all this? In order to trade with a cast member, you have to have pins, or "pin fodder," as I call it. You could go to a shop and purchase a few pins (at anywhere from about $6 to $15 each) OR try this little trick I'm trying out next week.
I went onto Ebay and searched for "Disney pin lot." There are some folks out there who have access to TONS of pins and they sell them in lots. They are usually basic mass-produced pins. The trick is to find a group of pins for less than $2 a pin. I won a bid for 40 pins for less than $70. Of those, we decided to keep about five or six. The rest are on lanyards and ready for trading. We did get a few duplicates, which is no big deal since I'm trading them away.
Like anything with Ebay, you have to be careful what you bid on. You want authentic Disney pins that come from cast members. No off-quality pins (like sedesmas or European pins).
If you do some careful shopping ahead of your trip, you should be able to get a good stock of "pin fodder" at a far less cost than what you would pay in a Disney Store or in a park shop.
Happy pin trading everyone!
P.S.: There won't be a Tip Tuesday next week as I will be at WDW. I hope to bring material for LOTS of posts, so stay tuned!!!
Monday, December 1, 2008
If you think you go all out for the holidays, you probably are nothing compared to what some of these resorts go to (unless you happen to be another Osborne family, but we won't go there).
So let's take a quick tour of some of the deluxe Disney resorts to see how they deck the halls for the holidays.
Any WDW resort tour has to start with the grandaddy of them all -- the Grand Floridian.
The resort lobby, stylized after the Victorian era, already is a spectacular sight anytime of the year. Add in the holiday decorations and it truly is a sight I can't wait to see. As the photo above shows, each year the Imagineers manage to construct a near life-size gingerbread house in the middle of the Grand Floridian lobby. Yes, folks, that's REAL gingerbread there - so please don't eat the house, even if looks delicious. A cast member can be found selling gingerbread cookies inside. It takes the Imagineers more than two months to make this gingerbread house, complete with more than 5,000 gingerbread "shingles." For more on the Grand Floridian gingerbread house, check out a post on the Orlando Attractions Magazine blog.
Next up, we travel across the Seven Seas Lagoon and into Bay Lake to view the tree at the Wilderness Lodge.
Like the Grand Floridian, the Wilderness Lodge is beautiful anytime of the year. At the holidays, it gets even better. As soon as you enter your eye goes right to the enormous tree right in the middle of the lobby. With more than 60,000 lights adorning the 60 foot tree, it's worth taking a trip just to see the rustic holiday decorations.
Alright, we're taking the boat back to the Magic Kingdom, then the monorail to the TTC and the the monorail again to Epcot. After a quick walk through the park enjoying some of the decorations there (see my previous post about the holidays at Epcot), we walk through the international gateway and over to the Yacht and Beach Clubs.
(Image copyright Disney, all rights reserved)
At the Beach Club Resort, we find another gingerbread creation. This time the Imagineers are thinking more of an attraction (these are folks that know how to make good rides after all), so why not a gingerbread carousel? How in the world they create these things, I may never know. While the photo may not show it, this thing really does move. And somewhere on there is a full-body 3-D hidden Mickey. It's in a different place each year. I know my kids can't wait to see this one. Anyone going to Mousefest will be sure to stop and check this out as the Mega Mouse meet takes place at the Beach Club on Dec. 13.
While we're at the Beach Club, let's take a quick walk over to the Yacht Club. There we'll find another holiday sight.
(Image copyright Disney, all rights reserved)
Here we'll find a winter wonderland train model. I don't know much about this particular holiday decoration, but I found the picture and had to add it. It looks cool, so I'll be seeking this out as well.
Our final stop requires a quick bus ride to the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
(Image copyright Disney, all rights reserved)
Another resort with an amazing lobby throughout the year, the tree here towers over you just like at the Wilderness Lodge. Unless you happen to be staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, it's a bit out of the way to see this resort, but I have a feeling it is well worth the effort. I'm going to really try to find the time to bring the family to the AK Lodge to see these decorations. Like I said, this is another one of those hotels you just have to see in person.
Also worth checking out, (though I don't have photos) are the Contemporary, Polynesian and Boardwalk resorts. The moderate and value resorts also have some holiday decorations, so be sure to appreciate the work Disney puts into decking the halls no matter where you happen to stay.
Well that's going to do it for my preview of the holidays at WDW. I hope you've enjoyed my forward look at what I'm looking forward to seeing in a few days.
I will be at Mousefest for the Mega Mouse Meet. I don't have a booth, I'll just be walking around. Be sure to stop me and say hi!