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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tip Tuesday: Disney dining magic at home

Rice Cream 

Greetings fellow Disney fans!  It's time again for another Tip Tuesday, and since I'm getting hungry, I'm going to pull a page from Lou Mongello's book and talk about food.

Actually I'm literally going to talk about a book about food - Disney cookbooks!

Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs I have several Disney cookbooks on my bookshelf including Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs, by Pam Brandon.  This is a book that's available at the parks and can be found on retailers. I also have the follow up book, Chef Mickey:  Treasures from the Vault & Delicious New Favorites, also by Pam Brandon.  Both of these books feature different recipes found in the parks and also at the resort hotels.

Looking for the recipe for the famous cheddar cheese soup from Le Cellier?  It's in the Cooking... book.  Want to try your hand at making rice cream (pictured above) from the Kringala Bakery in Epcot's Norway pavilion?  You can find it in these books.  Between the two books there are hundreds of recipes to try out from Disney restaurants east and west.

I've tried quite a few recipes from both books and while I'm not too bad in the kitchen, what I came up with pales in comparison to the real thing at Disney, though the rice cream wasn't all that bad.

Actually all this writing about food is making me hungry again.  Maybe I'll try a new recipe.  Let's see... how about some sticky toffee pudding from Epcot's Rose & Crown restaurant (page 166 in Chef Mickey).  Hmmm... looks really good.  May have to try to make this soon.

If you really enjoy some of those signature dishes at any of the Disney parks and/or resorts, give either Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs or Chef Mickey:  Treasures from the Vault & Delicious new Favorites a try.  There is some duplication between the two books, so if you get both, don't be surprised to see some recipes in both books.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Photo Friday: "Retro" Epcot

Epcot in 2007 

Time again for another Photo Friday!

This week, let's again borrow Mongello's Wayback Machine and travel to the summer of 2007 and this photo from Epcot.  It may seem like a long time ago, but it's only been about five years since the often maligned hand and wand came down from Spaceship Earth in 2008.

So enjoy this look back at the Spaceship Earth of (the not-so-long-ago) yesteryear!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tip Tuesday - some of the Hidden Mickeys of Tomorrowland

Hidden Mickey at Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin 

Time again for another Tip Tuesday!

This week, I'm starting a series of tips about hidden Mickeys at Walt Disney World.  If you're not sure what a hidden Mickey is, check out my post from May 2009 explaining what hidden Mickeys are.

I'm going to go from land to land throughout the parks, starting with the Magic Kingdom to showcase some of my favorite places to find hidden Mickeys.  I won't share photos of every single one, because I want you to find them for yourself and, to be honest, some are very hard to capture.

But let's start with an easy one (seen above).  As you're walking through the queue of Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, you'll come across this obvious side profile hidden Mickey depicted in an image of the planet Pollost Prime.  There are a couple of instances of this hidden Mickey.  But Pollost Prime isn't the only planet featuring a hidden Mickey, see if you can find the other one.

Coming out of Buzz, see if you can spot a hidden Stitch and another hidden Mickey.

Hidden Mickey on the TTA 

Another great place to find hidden Mickeys is on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.  During one of the interior show scenes, you'll come across this woman in a beauty parlor.  Pay close attention to her belt and you'll see a rather familiar black icon.  This one's very hard to shoot, so be ready!

While you're on the TTA, you'll pass through the upper portion of the shop, Mickey's Star Traders.  Look quickly because you may catch several hidden Mickey's embedded in the mural above the main floor.  If you didn't see them, don't worry, just go into the shop and look around as much as you'd like.  There are a LOT of hidden Mickeys, so see how many you can find!

Finally, head over to the Carousel of Progress to see a classic Walt Disney World attraction.  See if you can find our friend Mickey Mouse in the final scene (the Christmas scene).  Here's a hint:  check under the tree.

There are many more hidden Mickeys in Walt Disney World, so take your time, look carefully and you'll find Mickey all over the place!!

Enjoy the hunt!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Photo Friday: Nemo's vibrant colors

Finding Nemo the Musical 

Time again for another Photo Friday!

This week, I let fans of the DisneyDaddy Facebook page choose from which park this week's Photo Friday would come and it is... Animal Kingdom!

I'm such a big fan of Finding Nemo the Musical that I thought I'd share a shot from one of the many excellent scenes in this production.  This is the first scene in which we meet the characters from the fish tank at Dr. Sherman's office. 

One aspect of this show that appeals to me is the vibrant color scheme.  Much of Animal Kingdom has muted colors (with the exception of Dinoland USA, but we're not going there), so to see the rich colors in this show is a welcome change.

If you haven't seen this show -- you really need to.  It's one of my must do's at Animal Kingdom.

In the meantime -- just keep swimming!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Making in-room dining magic

White Chocolate Mickey 

Time again for another Tip Tuesday!

This week, I wanted to share a tip about making magic for others, whether you're at Walt Disney World or not.  First, I want to thank my very good friend Beci Mahnken at MouseFanTravel for helping me with this tip because I used this tip myself just last week.

Many guests know about in-room dining (also known as room service), of course.  But what guests don't know is that in-room dining goes beyond breakfast, lunch and dinner options.  Disney in-room dining also can create and deliver amazing celebration plates that can be delivered to a room, even if you're not there in person to order it.  This also can be a great way to leave a little surprise for your friends or family during your visit.

Here's how it works.  First, you need to think ahead.  Most of these options require at least 24 hours advance notice so you need to make sure you give yourself enough lead time to make this happen.

If you're not at WDW, call the resort where the guest is staying and ask for in-room dining.  If you are, just call in-room dining from your in-room phone.  Depending on where your guest is staying, you have a number of options to choose from such as chocolate characters (shown above) to chocolate covered strawberries to fruit and cheese baskets.

Prices range anywhere from about $20-$30 for a chocolate character to around $35 for chocolate covered strawberries to about $50 for a wine and cheese basket.  These prices do not include tax or delivery charge, so be sure to factor those costs in when deciding to do an in-room dining surprise.

Now in-room dining isn't the only way to make a little in-room magic.  Be sure to see a post from this time last year about the Disney Florist.

I'd also like to take this moment to say a heartfelt congratulations to all those who ran in the Family Fun Run 5K, the half and full marathon and those amazing Goofy runners!  I especially want to send along my congrats to my fellow WDW Running Team members!  Way to go!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tip Tuesday: Marathon weekend tidbits

As the runners get ready for the half-marathon, full-marathon and Goofy Race and a Half Challenge, I thought I'd take a few moments and share a few more tips about Marathon Weekend - one tip for spectators and one for runners.

First, for spectators:
Be sure to read my November 2011 post about good spectator locations to cheer on runners.  I talk about some of the good spots to try to cheer on runners that won't require some special CheerSquad package.  Keep in mind the marathon course is a bit different this year because it's the 20th anniversary, but many of the locations are still good spots.

Also, if you're cheering on specific runners, you can keep tabs on where they are on the course through runner tracking.  Just to to this site: create an account and search for your runner(s).  You can get live updates sent to you in up to four different ways:  text message, email, Facebook post or tweet.  It's very helpful to know where your runner is on the course and how they're doing.  It will help you be ready to cheer when he or she is coming down the road.  As a two-time RunDisney participant (2010 half, 2012 full), I know how hugely important it is for the runners to have friends and family cheering them on.

Speaking of the course, if you need maps, here they are:

Now for the runners:
Be sure to check out last week's Tip Tuesday post about some important pre-race considerations.  Now I want to talk about post-race.  You may have heard it mentioned before elsewhere, but I'm here to tell you it works -- ice baths (thanks Marie -- you know who you are!!).  A very good friend strongly urged me to take an ice bath as soon as I could after the marathon to help with recovery.  I thought she was crazy.  Take a bath in freezing cold water AND pour a few buckets of ice in as well??  I'm here to tell you that within 36 hours after that 8 minute ice bath, my legs were not nearly as sore as they were after some of my training runs.  I could actually walk and move around.  Now I follow any really long run with an ice bath of some sort.  It really works.

For those of you who aren't sure what I'm talking about, and ice bath is where you draw about a half a tub full of cold water and pour in a few buckets of ice to make the water extremely cold.  You sit in this cold water for several minutes and then get out and warm back up.  As I understand it, the cold helps jump start the recovery process.

Please be sure to check out these important dos and don'ts from

To all you runners out there, especially those on the WDW Radio Running Team and Team AllEars - I wish you the best of luck and DON'T break a leg!!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Photo Friday - Images of the 2010 half

Half marathon 2010 

It's time for another Photo Friday and in honor of the upcoming RunDisney events next week, I'm giving you a special two-fer today!  These shots come from the 2010 half marathon.  Above, I was running through the Magic Kingdom.  Just down on the far left side of the spectators (can't see in this shot) is Lou Mongello and the WDW Radio Running Team cheering section, unless Lou happens to be on one of his many side trips to get coffee, as he was this morning.

half marathon 2010 

Likewise this shot is later on in the event, less than a mile from the finish line, showing how the runners come into Future World by the Seas with Nemo pavilion, run down toward the entrance to World Showcase, turn around and head back past Spaceship Earth again and head out toward the far eastern parking lot area and the finish line. 

Now let me lay a bit of the scene for those of you not familiar with the 2010 half and full marathons.  First off, it was FREEZING.  I mean that literally.  The water stations were freezing up.  At the start of the half marathon it was actually lightly snowing.  Yes, you read correctly, snow in Florida.  A few hours later the light snow became a light sleet then a light and cold rain.  It might not have been the best running conditions, but we all still had a great time (right Lori and Mitch!!).  I can say this, it was one Disney experience I will never forget.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tip Tuesday: The morning of the race...

Marathon start line 

It's time for another Tip Tuesday!

Well the holidays are behind us, which means it's nearly time for Marathon Weekend!  I've had the distinct pleasure of attending two RunDisney events (the 2010 half and 2012 full), and this week, I'll share a few thoughts about some ways to make your pre-race go a bit more smoothly.

First, and most importantly, is to get to the pre-race area on time.  Depending on where you're staying, you'll need to probably get up around 2 a.m. in order to have enough time to get to Epcot by 3:30 to 4 a.m.

If you're staying on-property (which I recommend), you'll most likely be taking a bus from your resort to Epcot and then walking to the pre-race area which is located in the far eastern parking lot area.  In years past the bus service has been dubious, so I strongly recommend being at the bus stop by 3:30 a.m., no later than 4 a.m.  Sometimes buses go to multiple resorts, so don't be surprised if a bus isn't there waiting for you.  The later buses tend to get very crowded and can fill up, which means you could be forced to wait for another bus, putting you at risk of arriving late and having to hustle to the starting area.

Also, it's possible, even likely, that the bus stop will not be in the same location as where you would catch buses to the parks, so it's a very good idea to check ahead of time so you know where you're going early in the morning.  Do not think you can sleep in a bit and catch a last-minute bus at 4:30. - you might miss the start.  Runners are required to be in their assigned corral by 5 a.m. and it's about a 15-20 minute walk from the pre-race area to the start line.  It's not worth missing the start just for a few extra minutes of sleep.  Be on those early buses and you'll be fine. 

Those runners staying at a monorail resort will need to take a monorail from their resort to the TTC and then another monorail to Epcot.  Monorails start running at 3 a.m.  Much like buses, it's a good idea to be on those first few monorails to make sure you get to the pre-race area with plenty of time to take care of things, especially if you plan to check a bag.

Either way, if you're staying on property - take Disney transportation.  Don't try to drive yourself.  It's not worth the hassle.

Those staying off-property need to plan to arrive at Epcot by 3:30 a.m. and no later than 4 a.m.  Road closures start to go into effect starting at 3:30 a.m., which means you could run into significant delays getting to the parking lot if you're arriving late.

OK, now that you've made it to the pre-race area, it's time to get situated.  For my two events, I met up with the WDW Radio Running Team and enjoyed meeting old and new friends while starting to warm up for the race.  This is a good time to stretch.  You won't need to do much walking or running yet - you've got a walk ahead of you to get to the race start.  Make sure you've got some glide or other substance to help lubricate certain areas (feet, chest, etc.) that tend to chafe and rub into blisters. 

Be sure to listen to the announcers, they will tell you when you need to start making your way to the corrals.  As you leave the pre-race area, you will want to make a pit-stop by the porta potties.  Here's a BIG tip -- DON'T stand in line for those porta potties just in front of you as you start heading to the start line.  Hundreds of runners will be standing in line and it will take forever to get through the line -- trust me on this one.  Instead, go on down to the left.  You will see some to the left of the path a few hundred feet away that will likely have far shorter lines.  If those lines are still too long, there are several sections of porta potties further along your way to the start line, so there are still opportunities to use the restroom before you start running.

Once you get to your assigned corral, enjoy some of the pre-race banter with the commentators, Mickey Mouse and the gang.  Before you know it, the gun will go off and you'll be on your way toward that coveted finishers medal!!!

To all the runners -- good luck and a big shout out to Team WDW Radio!!!

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