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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tip Tuesday: Finding Divine

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

This week, we're heading to Disney Animal Kingdom (Captains - this is for you!) to talk about one of my favorite hidden treasures - Divine!

If you've never seen Divine, and she can be easy to miss, you're missing out on one of the best examples of live character entertainment in all of Animal Kingdom.  As you can see from the photo above, Divine is a cast member on stilts dressed all in leaves and other foliage.  Her gangly shape is barely humanoid in form, so, I suspect that's why some people pass her by.

She often can be found along the pathway between Africa and Asia.  This photo was taken of Divine near the Africa side of this pathway.  She tends to hide in areas with a lot of foliage, so it's easier for her to blend in.  Her "appearances" often are listed in the Animal Kingdom times guides, so be sure to check that out so you know when to keep an eye out.  Don't think you're going to get a photo with Divine, she's not that kind of character and, obviously, she doesn't do autographs.

If you do run across Divine, be sure to stay and people watch for a bit.  You'll be surprised how many people will pass right by.  Also be sure to pay attention to how she moves.  The cast member really does go fully into character, making slow, vine-like movements.  You could almost imagine this really is a creature made of vines.

On your next visit to Animal Kingdom, take a few minutes and appreciate the incredible performance of Divine - she's one more example of how Disney takes the theme park experience to a whole new level.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tip Tuesday - dealing with changes at WDW

You are not the first to pass this way... but soon, you could be the last...

On this week's Tip Tuesday, I'm opening Pandora's Box.  Yep, I'm going to talk about the changes coming to Epcot.  There have been a lot of strong opinions about the recently announced Frozen attraction that will replace Malestrom in Epcot along with the new slate of live entertainment coming to World Showcase (replacing very popular attractions like Off Kilter).

So here's the deal:  Walt Disney World is always changing.  That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, just look at all the changes that came to the Magic Kingdom with the expansion of Fantasyland (with great fanfare, I might add).  So why is there so much backlash about changes to Epcot and is that ire justified? 

Before you get your hackles up, hear me out.  Let me start by asking myself a few questions.

Me:  Are you in favor of the changes to the live entertainment acts in World Showcase?
Me:  I'm not sure yet.  I want to see what Disney brings in before I decide.
Me:  Are you in favor of the changes to Malestrom?
Me:  I'm not sure yet.  I want to see what Disney does before I decide.
Me:  Well do you think Magic Bands are a good idea?
Me:  I'm not sure yet.  I want to have more time to try them out before I decide.

Do you sense a theme here?  The point is that before we go and bash some of the new ideas proposed by Disney, I think we need to give things a chance.  To put it simply, I trust Disney to do what is best to make the parks as successful as they can be.  Remember, Disney is in the business to make money along with making guests happy.  Sometimes those two goals work hand in hand and sometimes they work against each other.

So while I may have some reservations about some of the proposed changes coming to Epcot, and I'll share them in a second, I also trust Disney to make sure that changes have the same level of quality and guest appeal as that which is being replaced.

So what are my reservations about these changes? 

Well, I'm fine with changing Malestrom to a Frozen attraction.  The Snow Queen story (Frozen is based on the Hans Christian Anderson story of the Snow Queen) has it's origins in Scandinavian culture, so it makes sense that the Norway pavilion would be home to a Frozen attraction.  I'm not as fine with the entire Norway pavilion being changed to become the city of Arendelle.  The Norway pavilion should, in my opinion, still tell the story of Norway.  I trust that Disney will keep the "spirit of Norway" alive in the pavilion.  As I said above, I want to see what Disney does before I decide if this is a good change or not.

As for the entertainment changes coming to World Showcase, I am cautiously optimistic that the new acts will be at least as good as the ones departing, especially Off Kilter.  I think the reason so many hardcore fans are upset about this change is that these acts have been in World Showcase for so long that people have developed a deep loyalty for these acts.  I can understand that there are plenty of reasons for acts to leave and new ones to come in.  To be honest, there is a time where it's time for fresh content.  How many of you are starting to say it's time for Wishes to end and a new fireworks show to come to the Magic Kingdom?  Same thing applies here.  New isn't always bad.  Yes, I had the same reaction many of you did when I read that Off Kilter is being replaced by some sort of "lumberjack" show.  Many of you immediately thought of the "I'm a Lumberjack and that's OK" song from Monty Python.  It's ok to admit it - I did.  I trust that Disney will ensure that the new shows will be just as high quality. 

So when the next announcement comes from Disney, and I expect some whoppers at the D23 Expo in August, let's all take a deep breath and give these new ideas a chance before we rush to judgement.

Alright, I've had my say -- I'm sure some of you are dying to throw in your comments so now's the time -- go for it!  Post your comments below!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tip Tuesday: The "intimate" details of race planning

Click for larger view.
Welcome back to another Tip Tuesday. 

This week I'm continuing my series of tips about the pre-race area during RunDisney events at Walt Disney World.

Ok, so it's time to get intimate - and I do mean intimate.  We're going to talk about pee, poop and private parts, so if you'd rather not go there, now's your time to move to another page.

I won't mind.


It's ok.

If you're reading this, then you're probably ok with this week's topics, so off we go!

One of the most important things to do at the pre-race area is to make sure you use a bathroom (porta-pottie in most cases) before you get into your corral.  Now here's a really big tip for you.  DON'T bother lining up for the first porta-potties that you see once you pass through the runners only zone.  Take a look at the map above.  Those areas in red generally are where Disney places porta-potties.  Notice that there is a big group just after you enter the runners only area.  This is where most runners will line up (I've seen 20 people or more in a line for a single porta-pottie).  There is a smaller second area as you turn to the left and head down the path toward the corrals.  These porta-potties are usually far less crowded.  So skip the first set and venture on a bit. 

Speaking of pee and poop -- you'll probably need to do so while you're out on the course, especially for the longer races.  While there are porta-potties along the race, it's much less stressful to have access to a real bathroom.  There are a few opportunities during the race, usually in the parks, where runners can go off the course briefly to hit a regular bathroom.  There are three good places to do so in the Magic Kingdom.  The first is as you're passing Mickey's Star Traders - there is a bathroom within steps of the course.  The second is as you're passing through Frontierland, there is a bathroom located in one of the two corridors that connect Frontierland and Adventureland.  The third is just before heading out of Frontierland.  Take the back path from Frontierland to the restrooms located at Pirates of the Caribbean - it's not far away. 

In Animal Kingdom, there are two opportunities - the first is as you pass Kali River Rapids and the second is as you pass Finding Nemo:  The Musical.  In Hollywood Studios, there is a bathroom as you pass behind what was the American Idol Experience.  A second easy-to-reach bathroom is located to the left as you get to the Crossroads before exiting the park.

By the time you get to Epcot, you're very near the end, but the good news is that you're running along World Showcase from the UK pavilion all the way around to the entrance, so there are a bunch of restrooms along the way - just about one in each pavilion.

One last note about pee.  During those pit stops, do be sure to keep an eye on the color of your pee.  I know this sounds gross, but it is important.  If your urine is gold or even light orange in color, you are getting seriously dehydrated and you need to drink a lot right away.  Dehydration is no fun at all - ask Len Testa sometime.

Ok, enough with the bathroom stuff.  Now it's time to talk about your private parts (see, I said we were getting intimate).  The fact is, running is a sport where parts of your body are moving all the time.  Webster defines "chafing" as "to cause soreness or damage by rubbing against something."  When you're running, your skin is rubbing against things like clothes and other parts of your skin.  So it's very important to guard against severe chafing, which can bleed (trust me on this one).

It's important to use some sort of anti-chafing product, such as Glide.  Men and women should use this on the butt crack, on the chest/breasts and nipples and on the underarms and perhaps inside each thigh (if not wearing running tights).  Women also should use Glide on the cleavage area, especially for women with larger breasts.  I have heard of some people actually taping down their nipples and/or using bandages to avoid severe chafing.  Use whatever works for you.

So why am I discussing this in a post about the pre-race area? These are some of the things you may need to do while you're in the pre-race area and don't be surprised to see people lubing up before the race.

Well, I think that just about covers everything for the pre-race area.  I'll talk more about some tips during the start and during the race in future posts.  Until then, keep up the training!

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