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Friday, September 30, 2011

Photo Friday: Mickey and Main Street

Welcome to another Photo Friday!
(and it's actually on a Friday! How about that!)

This week's photo comes from the Magic Kingdom (like you couldn't tell) during the afternoon parade. This photo is taken from the Main Street Train Station balcony centered nearly perfectly down Main Street. What I like most about this shot is how the flagpole bisects Cinderella Castle with Mickey Mouse in the foreground.

As we celebrate 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World tomorrow, I thought this would be a most appropriate shot.

Happy birthday Walt Disney World!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tip Tuesday: It's all in the feet

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

This week's tip is short and sweet and it's something I hope you're already doing -- wear good shoes when touring the parks.

I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but it's not. Every time I'm in the parks, I see people walking around in sandals, flip-flops or crocs and complaining about how their feet hurt.

Keep in mind that over the course of a single day in the parks, you'll walk quite a bit -- several miles at least!

Wearing the wrong kind of shoes can turn a day of magic and memories into a day full of pain and discomfort - and that's not fun.

So what kind of shoes should you wear? I strongly recommend good walking or running shoes. I actually wear my marathon shoes when I'm at the parks. They provide extra support and cushioning and don't wear my feet out by the end of the day.

So go to a quality shoe store (not some bargain shop) and get properly fitted for a pair of running/walking shoes.

Trust me on this one, you and your feet will be glad you did.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Photo Friday: Tori Gate Ablaze

Welcome to another Photo Friday!

While I was listening to some pre-Illuminations music by Uttara-Kuru, I remembered a series of shots I took from the Mitsukoshi balcony during Illuminations. I really like this spot because it gives a different vantage point of Illuminations.

We go on!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tip Tuesday: To renew or not

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

This week's Tip Tuesday is a work in progress -- in that I'm undecided whether this is a good tip to follow or not.

So here's the "stich:"

It's time to renew the ol' annual passes (a total of five). The problem is my next WDW trip won't be until January, unless I hit the lottery soon. Now if someone's got some sure-fire numbers they could give me.... but I digress.

So if I renew now (at a total cost of about $2550), I'll lose out on at least 3 months of the AP, though I will save around $47 per pass ($235 total savings). I'll still be able to use the APs for Marathon weekend and a summer 2012 trip, though they will expire at the end of Sept. 2012.

If I decide not to renew and purchase all new passes in January 2012 (about $2765 total), I'll spend $235 more total, but I'll have a full 12 months to use the passes, including for Marathon weekend in Jan. 2012, a summer trip and the possibility for a trip in December 2012 with an expiration date in early Jan. 2013.

So here's the tip in all this: Do the math! Just because it's time to renew doesn't mean you should or need to renew just yet. It may be a better over all "value" to not renew and purchase new annual passes so you can best take advantage of the 12-month window.

Some additional elements to consider: If you let your annual pass expire, you're no longer eligible to book AP discounted rooms until you purchase your new AP. This is a big consideration and something you must take into account before deciding to let the annual pass expire. This is one of the major factors I'm keeping in mind as I decide which route to take.

I'd like to hear your thoughts -- post a comment!!

Avatar official news release

Here's the official news release from Disney Parks:

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide is joining forces with visionary filmmaker James Cameron and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the world of AVATAR to life at Disney parks. Through an exclusive agreement announced today by Disney, Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox, Disney will partner with Cameron and producing partner Jon Landau to create themed lands that will give theme park guests the opportunity to explore the mysterious universe of AVATAR first hand. Disney plans to build the first AVATAR themed land at Walt Disney World, within the Animal Kingdom park. With its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, Animal Kingdom is a natural fit for the AVATAR stories, which share the same philosophy. Construction is expected to begin by 2013.

“James Cameron is a groundbreaking filmmaker and gifted storyteller who shares our passion for creativity, technological innovation and delivering the best experience possible,” said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “With this agreement, we have the extraordinary opportunity to combine James’ talent and vision with the imagination and expertise of Disney.”

“AVATAR created a world which audiences can discover again and again and now, through this incredible partnership with Disney, we’ll be able to bring Pandora to life like never before. With two new AVATAR films currently in development, we’ll have even more locations, characters and stories to explore,” said James Cameron. ”I’m chomping at the bit to start work with Disney’s legendary Imagineers to bring our AVATAR universe to life. Our goal is to go beyond current boundaries of technical innovation and experiential storytelling, and give park goers the chance to see, hear, and touch the world of AVATAR with an unprecedented sense of reality.”

The agreement announced today gives The Walt Disney Company exclusive global theme park rights to the AVATAR franchise and provides for additional AVATAR themed lands at other Disney parks. The other locations will be determined by Disney and its international theme park partners. James Cameron, Jon Landau and their Lightstorm Entertainment group will serve as creative consultants on the projects and will partner with Walt Disney Imagineering in the design and development of the AVATAR themed lands.

“This exciting new venture combines the world of AVATAR with the enormous reach of Disney and the incomparable talent of Jim Cameron,” commented Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman. “While Jim is bringing audiences further into Pandora with the next two chapters in the AVATAR motion picture saga, the theme park attraction will likewise bring a new dimension to the amazing universe he created.”

“AVATAR is a uniquely powerful franchise that has global appeal with audiences of all ages. Its spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures, and strong themes of family and loyalty make it a perfect fit for Disney,” said Thomas O. Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We can’t wait to give our guests the ability to journey to Pandora and explore the incredible immersive world of AVATAR in person.”

In addition to setting a global box office record, AVATAR has been hailed as one of the most innovative and visually stunning movies ever produced. With its advanced motion capture and 3-D digital projection technologies developed by James Cameron and his team, moviegoers were able to connect with the world of AVATAR in new and engaging ways.

This new venture complements Walt Disney Parks & Resorts’ strategic efforts to continue to invest in its core theme park businesses around the world while simultaneously expanding into other parts of the family vacation business.

The Smurfs are coming! The Smurfs are coming!

Disney today announced a new partnership with James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment to bring the world of Avatar to Disney's Animal Kingdom. An entirely new Avatar land will begin to take form at Animal Kingdom with construction planned for sometime in 2013.

"We believe Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a great fit for this project because it was created to give guests the opportunity to experience the worlds of animals and nature – real and mythical – in new ways. Disney’s Animal Kingdom also celebrates adventure, living in harmony with nature and environmental stewardship – themes that are deeply rooted in the story of AVATAR," said the official Disney Parks blog.

To read more about this announcement, see the official Disney Parks Blog.

Now for My Take:
I'm having a hard time getting excited about a new land based on "Dances with Smurfs." I wasn't (and still am not) a big fan of the movie - and I'm not the only one. Based on Facebook comments and comments on the Disney Parks blog, not everyone is gung-ho for this.

That being said, I realize a LOT of people went nuts for this film (it did smash all-time box office records) and so it's probably a good thing for a park that really NEEDS additional content. I just hope the whole Avatar theme doesn't overtake the entire park.

I guess I need to go put Avatar in my Netflix list and watch it again. Maybe it's better the second time around. I hope so.

Oh and I'll bet THIS was the big announcement that was supposed to happen at D23. I guess the negotiations didn't get finalized in time for the Expo.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Photo Friday: Good Morning, good morning!

Welcome to another Photo Friday!

This week's photo comes from January 2011. We were staying on the MK side of the Contemporary Tower. I happened to pull out the big zoom lens because I was hoping I could get a shot most people don't see. This is of the Walt Disney World Railroad as it comes into the station for the Welcome show. As you can see, all the stars are on the train. You can see Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Donald and Daisy, Snow White, Aladdin and Jasmine.

I hope you enjoy this shot -- one that only a few people can see!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tip Tuesday: Pull the rope, it's OK

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

This week, I wanted to share a quick tip about the well outside and to the left of main entrance to the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular attraction at Disney Hollywood Studios.

This is a fun bit many people pass by and never pay attention to.

So here's the scene. There's a well with a rope going down into the well. The rope goes through a pulley and is secured right at the fence guests walk by. Next to the well is a sign that reads:


Notice that the "not" is crossed out and in black are the words "do pull rope." So what should you do? You guessed it! Give that rope a good yank!

You'll get to hear a series of audio bits from the explorer who's "down in the well."

This little gag is especially fun to do with kids, so be sure to give this a try!

In a future post, I'll talk about a few more Do's that may seem like Don'ts...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Photo Friday: an electric Tinker Bell

Welcome to another Photo Friday (well... maybe it's not Friday, but anyway).

This week, I wanted to share the first from what will probably be a series of photos from the Main Street Electrical Parade at the Magic Kingdom.  As you can see above, this is a new float added to the classic nighttime attraction featuring Tinker Bell. 

What blows me away about this and all the floats in the MSEP is just how bright they are!  It's always a sight to see and I hope you'll take the time to watch the MSEP on your next trip.

Until next time!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget

Ten years ago this morning, our nation experienced the worst single terrorist attack in our history.

No one across the county will likely ever forget where they were or what they were doing when they heard the news.

As time has passed since the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, some have allowed the remembrance of this day to slip and pass quietly.

We should all remember the sacrifices that were made on 9-11 and the sacrifices that have been made since to keep our country and our citizens safe from those who would stop at nothing to cause harm.

And so, today, we honor and we remember.

We honor and remember the 2,823 people who lost their lives when American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the World Trade Center towers.

We honor and remember the 169 people who lost their lives when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.

We honor and remember the 44 people aboard United Airlines Flight 93 who lost their lives when their plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania while attempting to fight back against terrorists determined to attack the White House.

We honor and remember the American service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan and Iraq while defending our country.

Finally, we honor the American service men and women who, even now, are standing in harm’s way serving our country to protect freedom and liberty.

Never Forget.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tip Tuesday: The Dapper Dans

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

This week, we're heading to Main Street USA to take a listen to one of the true gems of the Magic Kingdom -- the Dapper Dans!

If you've never heard the Dapper Dans before, you're really missing out on a great show! The Dapper Dans are a barbershop quartet that sings acapella (perhaps with a few musical props), often with guest interaction.

The Dapper Dans date all the way back to the early days at Disneyland when they debuted in 1959 and have been a staple at Walt Disney World since opening day in 1971.

At Walt Disney World, the Dapper Dans usually can be found in the horse-drawn trolley in the morning, all along Main Street USA in the afternoon and at Town Square at 5 p.m. daily for the flag retreat ceremony.

It's common to find the Dapper Dans hanging out in the Main Street Barber Shop (appropriately) as well as near Casey's Corner.

If you do happen to catch a Dapper Dans performance, I encourage you to stick around and appreciate the sounds of yesteryear as the Dapper Dans truly bring the turn of the (20th) century to life.

Take a listen for yourself!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Photo Friday: Spaceship Earth's light trails

Welcome to another Photo Friday!

This weeks photo comes from Epcot (obviously). I was playing with the idea of some long-exposure light trail shots and thought I'd give it a shot with Spaceship Earth in the background. I set the camera on a short tripod, zoomed in on Spaceship Earth, set the exposure for about 2 seconds, set the ISO to 100 and set the iris to F/5.6.

Once I began to take the shot, I knew the shutter would stay open for only 2 seconds, so I quickly zoomed all the way out before the shutter closed. I didn't want to go much longer than 2 seconds because I knew I would get even more camera shake than what you see above.

I really haven't messed with this too much since. I think I'll have to play around with some ideas for the next trip -- this technique can create some interesting results.

I hope you enjoy this different take on Spaceship Earth!

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