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Friday, May 31, 2013

Photo Friday: "To honor America"

Main Street Electrical Parade 

Welcome to another Photo Friday!  With Memorial Day just a few days ago, I thought I'd post a photo from the Main Street Electrical Parade to honor our and remember our veterans who have sacrificed for our country. 

To our veterans - thank you!

How a single final frame of a animated feature is made

In the latest exclusive from Disney Insider, Disney•Pixar fans have a chance to get a behind the scenes look at the making of Monsters University. Using an animated GIF, Disney Insider is giving fans an inside look at Pixar’s six-step progressive animation process, showing one scene from the film as it is transformed from an initial sketch into the final frame that will appear on the big screen.

Here are all the images compiled in a video:

Images are copyright Disney-Pixar.  All rights reserved.

Ever since college-bound Mike Wazowski (voice of Billy Crystal) was a little monster, he has dreamed of becoming a Scarer—and he knows better than anyone that the best Scarers come from Monsters University (MU). But during his first semester at MU, Mike’s plans are derailed when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, “Sulley” (voice of John Goodman), a natural-born Scarer.  The pair’s out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University’s elite Scare Program. To make matters worse, they realize they will have to work together, along with an odd bunch of misfit monsters, if they ever hope to make things right. Screaming with laughter and oozing with heart, Disney•Pixar’s “Monsters University” is directed by Dan Scanlon (“Cars,” “Mater and the Ghostlight,” “Tracy”), produced by Kori Rae (“Up,” “The Incredibles,” “Monsters, Inc.”) and features music from future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and award-winning composer Randy Newman (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Toy Story 3”). Check out, like us at, and follow us on Rated G by the MPAA, the film opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2013, and will be shown in 3D in select theaters.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tip Tuesday: Saving time while park hopping

Greetings again!

As many of you know from reading this blog, I'm a fan of what's called "park hopping," meaning I like to visit more than one park in a day.  That's that the "Park Hopper" pass is for - it is an add-on to the base ticket that allows guests to visit as many parks as they want in a single day.

That being said, park hopping can be time-intensive.  Sometimes it may seem like there's no easy way to get from park to park using Disney transportation.  With a bit of planning and a little luck, you'll be able to do some quick park hopping without burning a lot of time.

So let's go from park to park with some of my tips for how to get to other parks as quickly as you can.

Magic Kingdom to Epcot
Without a doubt the fastest way to get from the Magic Kingdom to Epcot is the monorail.  Here's the hitch, though; the monorail isn't always running, especially later in the evenings and occasionally during the day.  So what do you do when the entire monorail system is offline?  There are a couple of options.  Disney will offer a direct bus to Epcot, but that bus can get overwhelmed quickly.  So here's what you do.  As you approach the bus terminals, look at the line for the Epcot bus.  If it looks like it's pretty long (like there are people completely filling the queue area), you may want to think about an alternate bus, say to the Boardwalk or Yacht/Beach Club, especially if a bus is already there and waiting.  It's possible you can catch a bus to either of these resorts and walk into Epcot through the International Gateway faster than waiting for an Epcot bus that will take you to the front of the park.

Magic Kingdom to Hollywood Studios
If the monorail is running, you've got a few more options aside from the direct bus at the MK bus station.  You could take the ferry or monorail to the TTC and catch a DHS bus from there, or take a bus to any of the Epcot area resorts noted above and then walk or take a Friendship boat to DHS.  I'd say the TTC-based option is the one I'd least recommend, but it is an option.

Magic Kingdom to Animal Kingdom
Here you're pretty much stuck.  There's simply no other means to get to AK from any park aside from a direct bus.  If those buses are supremely packed, you could consider waking to the Contemporary and getting a bus to AK from there, but keep in mind that it's a 10-minute walk to get to the Contemporary and you're totally at the mercy of the bus schedule there.  Of course you can take the "scenic route" by taking the ferry to the TTC or a boat launch from the MK to the Polynesian and then walking over to the TTC to catch a bus to AK, but that also will probably take much longer than just waiting it out back at the MK bus station.

Epcot to Magic Kingdom
Again, by far the fastest way to get from Epcot to the MK is by monorail.  But if the monorail is down for some reason, you're facing a similar situation as I described above, only in reverse.  You can take the dedicated Magic Kingdom bus or a bus to the Contemporary (where you can then walk over to the MK entrance).   It just depends on what the lines for each bus option look like.  Whichever bus you think will arrive next might be your best option.  I wouldn't recommend a bus to the Poly or Grand Floridian if the monorail is down because you'll then have to take a boat launch to the MK entrance.

Epcot to Hollywood Studios
Hoof it!  That right.  Walk.  There's a walkway connecting Hollywood Studios to the Epcot resorts area from which you can then enter Epcot through the International Gateway.  This is the easiest way to get in between both parks.  Yes it's a good sized walk -- upwards of 20 minutes depending on your walking speed -- but you are completely in control of when you arrive.  Otherwise, you can wait for a Friendship boat, but those lines can get tremendously long, especially toward park closing and those boats don't run as often as I'd prefer.  I can't count the times I've "outwalked" the boat from Epcot (especially since the boat stops at the Boardwalk, Yacht/Beach and Swan/Dolphon before going to DHS).  If you're not in a hurry, it's a nice boat ride, especially if you can sit in the very back in the open air.  But if you're trying to save some time, you'd best give those walking shoes a workout.

Epcot to Animal Kingdom
Take the AK bus.  As Princess Leia says, it's your only hope.

Hollywood Studios to Magic Kingdom
Here's where bus line monitoring can really pay off.  Yes, you can take the dedicated Magic Kingdom bus, if the lines aren't too bad.  Or, you can take a bus to any of the Magic Kingdom area resorts (Contemporary, Grand Floridian or Polynesian) or a bus to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC).  From any of these destinations, you can then hop on a monorail (or walk in the case of the Contemporary) to get to the MK main entrance.  It really just depends on which bus you can catch the soonest.  First bus to arrive wins!  If everything is nuts, you can walk to Epcot, then through the park and catch a monorail to the MK.  That's a really scenic route (and will take a long time), but it is an option.  Of course, if you know the monorail is down, then forget about buses to the TTC, Poly or GF.

Hollywood Studios to Epcot
Same story as Epcot to Hollywood Studios.  Hoof it or wait for a boat.  I'd say start walking.

Hollywood Studios to Animal Kingdom
Same sad story.  Bus is your only option.

Animal Kingdom to Magic Kingdom
My advice is similar as Hollywood Studios to Magic Kingdom -- look for the first bus that can get you to the general Magic Kingdom area and then take a monorail or walk depending on where you end up at.

Animal Kingdom to Epcot or Hollywood Studios
Much like AK to MK, there's always the direct bus to either park, but you also can get a bus to any of the Epcot area resorts (Boardwalk or Yacht/Beach preferred) and enter Epcot through the International Gateway (for Epcot) or take a boat to DHS, or just walk to DHS from the Epcot area resorts.

So there you go -- a complete set of marching orders to help you hop from point A to point B.  What do you think -- do you have some different alternate routes?  Post a comment! 

Good luck and hop along now!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Photo Friday - Worlds combine

Characters in Flight 

Time again for another Photo Friday!

This is a shot from November 2009.  We were staying on an upper floor of the Dolphin Resort and I happened to look out the window and see this interesting collision of worlds.  Here in one shot are the Eiffel Tower from the France Pavilion in Epcot with Characters in Flight from Downtown Disney and the top of the Cirque du Soleil theatre.

Thanks to a good zoom lens, the different elements are compressed together to make it look like they're much closer together than they really are.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tip Tuesday: Manners and respect

Ok, so this week's "tip," if you can call it at tip, is very simple.  BEHAVE and DO WHAT'S RIGHT!!!
(sorry for the shouting)

As many of you probably have read, there's apparently a few businesses out there that are hiring handicapped individuals to serve as tour guides to then use the handicapped entrances to attractions and bypassing standby lines.

If you haven't read the story yet, check it out here:

While the outrage is understandable and totally warranted, I do want to take this opportunity to share a few words of calm.  First and foremost, please DO NOT think that all special needs guests are out to game the system.  Disney goes above and beyond to be as accommodating as they can for special needs guests.  That's why they put in special entrances and give special access to guests with disabilities.  I want to see guests using these services -- that's why they're there.

What a don't want are guests ABUSING these opportunities.  There's a big difference between the two and, sadly, it's pretty tough to tell the difference.

So, as I said, when you see guests using the privileges for handicapped guests, please don't assume that someone's out to take advantage of the system.  The vast majority of guests are doing the right thing and acting in an honest manner.

So how can we as guests try to stop this sort of behavior?  Well the easiest way is to stop using these kinds of "tour guides"!!  There's really no way that Disney can police this kind of behavior, nor should Disney waste a bunch of effort trying to do so because of the potential negative impacts on disabled guests who are simply doing the right thing and using the services available to them. 

Sure, Disney could cut down on the number of able-bodied guests who can accompany a disabled guest, but consider the impact of such action.  You want to experience an attraction with your family - how would you like it if you had to break up.  One group gets to use the FastPass line, while the other has to go through the standby queue.

Nor can Disney ask for a bunch of medical documentation - HIPPA privacy laws forbid it.   Also, there's no real way Disney could require the accompanies guests to be "family."  These days families have so many different last names that it would be impossible to verify the relations.

No, the way to stop this is to not use these services ourselves and discourage anyone else from using them. 

I promise I'll get back to more magical posts next week, but this got under my skin and I needed to share my thoughts.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tip Tuesday: Some of the Hidden Mickey of Liberty Square

Liberty Square Hidden Mickey 

Hello again for another Tip Tuesday!

This week, we're moseying out of Frontierland and going next door into Liberty Square.  There are quite a few Hidden Mickeys to be found in this area of the Magic Kingdom, even though it's fairly small in comparison to the other lands.

The first Hidden Mickey I want to feature is shown above and it's perhaps my most favorite Hidden Mickey in the Magic Kingdom, if not in all of Walt Disney World.  This little gem can be found in plain sight on the ground in the walkway between the Columbia Harbor House and the entrance to the Haunted Mansion.  I especially like how the hoof prints have been carefully placed in coordination with the water cover to form our favorite mouse icon.

Speaking of the Haunted Mansion, there are a few Hidden Mickey's I want to show you, but before I do, don't forget about The Columbia Harbor House and the Hall of Presidents.  There are a few Hidden Mickeys you can discover.  Here's a hint for one in the Hall of Presidents preshow lobby. 
Our first President must have been a fan of the mouse - Mickey kept giving him a tip.

Liberty Square Hidden Mickey

Now there's another very popular and well-known Hidden Mickey to be found inside the Haunted Mansion.  It seems Mickey is a popular dinner guest in the ballroom scene.  He can be found created by some carefully placed plates on the large dining table.  But that's not the only place where you can find a Hidden Mickey formed by plates.  The other is close by, but you'll need to keep a sharp eye out...

Here's a Hidden Mickey I found a few years ago.  As you enter the loading area for the Doom Buggies, look at the light fixtures mounted on the walls.  On each end is a small Hidden Mickey.  These are on each light, so there are a few opportunities to find this one!  This might be a DisneyDaddy exclusive!  I haven't heard anyone else talk about this one.

There are a few more Hidden Mickeys to be found among the living... and the dead... here in the Haunted Mansion, so as our ghost host would say, "look alive," and see how many you can find!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tip Tuesday: Some of the Hidden Mickeys of Frontierland

I'm back!!!  It's been way too long since I had a post, but that was then and this is now.  So, without further adieu, let's continue our series highlighting some of the hidden Mickeys in the Magic Kingdom.

This week, let's mosey over to Frontierland for some great hidden Mickeys, both in attractions and beyond.

Let's start over at Splash Mountain where there are two (among many hidden Mickeys) that I'd like to share.

Splash Mountain hidden Mickey

The first can be found while making an outside loop around the backside of Splash Mountain.  You'll see this still of Muskrat Moonshine on the right side.  Look above the "S" in Muskrat to see a small painted classic Mickey.  There's no doubt about this one!

Splash Mountain Hidden Mickey

Next, we plunge down the main drop and again return inside the mountain for the final scenes.  You'll see a riverboat with several characters (which were from an extinct attraction called America Sings, but I digress).  To the right of the boat, you'll see a cloud formation that looks like Mickey laying down with his snout pointing straight up.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Hidden Mickey

Heading outside Splash Mountain, we next venture over to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Like Splash Mountain, there are several Hidden Mickeys to be found both in the queue and on the attraction.  Here's one that you'll see on the right side just before you return to the load/unload area.

possible Hidden Mickey

Now this is a possible hidden Mickey.  See those "feathers" on the rooster?  They're circular in shape and some of them come together to form what looks like a classic Mickey.  What do you think?  Hidden Mickey?  Yes or no?

possible hidden Mickey

Same story with our friend Mr. Pig here.  See that white area on his body?  It reminds me of the side-profile Hidden Mickey in Adventureland that I featured in a previous post.  Is this another Hidden Mickey?  You be the judge!

So there you go -- just a few of the many Hidden Mickeys to be found in the rough-and-tumble Frontierland.  See how many you can find?  Yee Haw!!!

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