Monday, February 13, 2012

WDW Trip Report - Day 1 Dining - Let's Just Walk Over There!

If you recall from our pre-trip report, Kyle and I ended up with some very odd meal times.  Day 1 of our trip we had both been awake since around 4 or 5 am (at least), and dinner was at 8:30 pm!  We were both exhausted, so we decided to take a leisurely Monorail ride over to the Contemporary Resort.  I went to Walt Disney World for Thanksgiving in 2010, and all of the Christmas decorations were up, but I did not take time to go see other resorts, so I was ecstatic when Kyle said we could go see some of them this time!

If I had to choose a Deluxe Resort to stay at, I would most likely pick the Contemporary.  The clean lines and upscale, modern decor speak to me.  The Monorail running through the resort?  Well, that just adds a whole other layer of awesome on top!

Blurry but neat! This giant wreath was on the outside of the resort.
 The Contemporary is just outside of the Magic Kingdom.  Instead of doing a gingerbread house, the do a gingerbread tree.

Gingerbread Tree
 I don't know about every year's theme, but this year, at least, the gingerbread tree and its surroundings paid homage to Mary Blair's art from the it's a small world attraction in Magic Kingdom.  The Blair designed mosaic mural was just around the corner from this fabulous Christmas tree! Her style is so recognizable and sweet.

It's a Small World kiddos
 We took a quick trip over to the gift shop for some Christmas presents, and then we decided it was time to head to Magic Kingdom to catch the boat to Fort Wilderness to eat at the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue.

A little background: I put on a brand new pair of Crocs before I got on the plane that morning, and my little toe on one of my feet felt like it was about to fall off.  I was mostly quietly limping along, but I was about to die.  I also had a really painful blister showing up on the ball of the other foot. Obviously those were NOT the shoes to wear, but what could I do at that point?

Kyle suggested that instead of waiting for the Monorail, we just walk to Magic Kingdom to catch the boat.  I hesitantly agreed and off we trudged across the parking lot.  About 20 yards out, I wanted to die. Kyle kept having to fall back and wait on me, and I was sure my feet would fall off before I'd make it to the boat.  Next time anyone suggests we "just walk over there" instead of take the Monorail, I'm waving goodbye as they walk away!

Fast forward to Fort Wilderness. We got there with plenty of time to spare, checked out yet another gift shop, and sat down to watch some kids play with hoola-hoops and check our 3DS systems. Yes, we had handheld gaming systems in our pockets the whole time which were a blast and a half when we got StreetPass hits on them!

I think the worst part of the trip happened this night (for me at least).  You all know that Kyle and I are just travel buddies and besties, right? Well, they make you take a photo before the dinner and show, and some photographers like to assume that any man and woman that are together are a couple.  Talk about awkward poses and forced smiles! Needless to say, we did NOT buy those photots!

Awkwardness aside, when we walked into the Hoop Dee Doo Revue, I was blown away by the inside of the hall! It was tastefully decked out for Christmas and enormous! We were seated right next to the pianist and banjo player. We could have seriously had a conversation with them if we wanted to.

The bison kept staring at me. It was a bit unnerving!

Kyle debating playing a pre-dinner tune for us!

My phone was ONLY out for pictures, promise!

I really wanted to pick up the phone!
  The food came out family style, but instead of giving us ridiculously large buckets (although ours were large), they had 2-person sized pails which were pretty neat.  Dinner was cornbread, a yummy salad, baked beans, corn, mashed potatoes, and fried chicken.  My "don't get sick again" plan was simply this: taste everything until you start to not feel hungry and then immediately stop eating, so I ate like a bird most of the trip, but what I ate was soooooo good!  The chicken was moist but crispy.  The salad was fresh, and the sides were delicious!  Don't even get me started on the strawberry shortcake!  A dessert that comes out to the tune of its very own song?  I can definitely get behind that!  I could have eaten this meal again and again!

I want to serve food in these pails at home!

 The performance was wonderful!  The actors were hilarious, and the Davy Crockett skit that they performed was by far my favorite.  Kyle had talked this up as a ton of fun, and he was spot on.  It was a great night both from the food and entertainment!  Did I mention that that the Sangria came with the meal and with refills?  By the end of the night we were both a bit giggly, but what's more fun that laughing with a good friend?

I let Kyle play the washboard at the end of the night. :) 
 When we finally made it back "home", we were both about ready to pass out.  After unpacking a bit, I had one more surprise for Kyle before we went to bed. Those of you whole follow us on Twitter might have noticed that Kyle was a little bummed that the room he rents didn't have space for a Christmas tree.  I, however, have two Christmas trees: one for my apartment and a small one for my classroom, so I packed one for him to get to decorate. Sadly the only ornaments I had were diamonds and disco balls, but I think he had fun decorating his surprise nonetheless!

Didn't he do a good job? We turned it on whenever
we were in the room. :)
 After the tree was up and trimmed, we started our nightly ritual: heads hitting the pillows and passing out until morning! There was no chatting until wee hours, we were exhausted! It's a good feeling to hit the pillow at night knowing you've played hard and had an awesome day.

Next post you'll get to join us in Magic Kingdom and then Epcot as we head over to eat at Teppan Edo and to see Neil Patrick Harris at the Candlelight Processional.  Lots of surprises happen in Day 2 that make it memorable to say the least!

Friday, February 10, 2012

WDW Trip Report - Day 1 - Do You Think Those Rocks are for Fantasmic?

I know, dear reader, I know! I've been promising an epic trip report for almost two months now, and I've not delivered on that promise, but all that is about to change! Ever wish the Christmas season would extend into February? Ever get sick of all the hearts and Valentines Day hoopla? Ever wish there was a place you could go to get away from the glitter and cupids and hearts and pink?! 

Fear not! I am here to save you from it all! Well, wait... sorry, I can't save you from the glitter and the pink because let's be honest, that kinda comes with me where ever I am, but I can promise that the trip report is commencing... wait for it... wait for it...

NOW! :)

Before I really get started, I want to explain something. We went to Disney World planning to tweet A LOT from the parks. I tweeted TONS of photos and fun tidbits, and Kyle did the same. It was a blast to bring our twitter peeps along with us on our trip. Because of that all of my photos are from my iPhone. Not a single one is from my fancy Sony camera. All videos were from my Sony video camera though. So the photos you'll see in this trip report are truly motivated by social media: what would people back home like to see? What will pull people in to our trip with us?

OK... where to begin? How about at the Orlando Airport? You all know me by now. You know I get lost easier than the average gal, and so Kyle's and my trip began with me getting off the plane and texting him to ask where we were meeting. He texted me back saying that we were in completely opposite ends of the airport and to head toward baggage claim, and he would be standing by the Christmas tree. Awesome except for one thing: I looked up from that text to see a GIANT Christmas tree but no Kyle. *sigh* I somehow made it to another Christmas tree only to see not be able to find him until he walked right up to me and had to wave in my face to get me to notice him. This might have been the point where Kyle began to wonder why he agreed to go to Walt Disney World with me again. ;-)

Quite possibly my favorite bus!
 Me getting lost aside, we quickly made our way to the bus to Pop Century, got checked-in to our room (two beds, folks!), and jumped in line to catch the bus to Epcot. (Oh, I also took a minute to shed my sweatshirt. It was crazy warm for December!)

Katsura Grill, Japan, Epcot
 We were both starving by the time we got to the World Showcase, and Kyle really wanted to try the newly open Katsura Grill in Japan. I was skeptical especially when the line stretched out of the door!

Seriously, these people were in danger of becoming
my lunch if they didn't order quickly!
 The line, thankfully, moved quickly, and lunch was quite enjoyable. The restaurant has plenty of seating indoor and out.  We found a seat across from a teenage couple at a large community table in the middle of the restaurant. I enjoyed a steamed rice and chicken bowl. It had lots of veggies, and it was filling without feeling heavy. Kyle will have to fill you in on what he ate. We were both so hungry that we forgot to take a photo! 

From there, we made good on our promise to you, my lovely readers, and checked the poll to see what attraction you chose for us to ride first:

Maelstrom pulled ahead while we were on our flights! 

Off we went to Norway to ride Maelstom! Join us in the video below as we look out for trolls! There's a special message from us to you at the very end of the clip.

Hurray for Vikings!

After Maelstrom we headed to Mexico to sing along with the Three Caballeros (oh, and sing I did)!  We ran into a couple of Twitter friends, but sadly, my camera decided to not work, so the video of them didn't make it home with me.  

**Pretend there's a cool video here.**

Remember how I was so sick for our June trip?  Remember how I didn't get to have my favorite snack, the Napoleon from France, then?  This time we didn't want to chance it.  I was feeling good, dinner wasn't until 8:30 that night, and we were getting snacky, so Kyle suggested that we go over to France for a pastry.  I readily agreed, so off we went.  Kyle opted for some crepes while I got my beloved Napoleon.  It really is one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth!  I was so glad he suggested we go there because I would have really been bummed if I missed that treat again.

This trip had an even more laid-back feel than June.  We focused on taking our time and just enjoying our surroundings.  We watched the acrobats in France since I'd never seen them.  We stopped and watched Off Kilter for a while, and then we headed back to get another fun song stuck in our heads: Imagination!

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I told you in June how I pointed out some ducks that turned out to be tree stumps, so why not tell you this?  Hehehe.  As we were leaving the World Showcase, I said something that left Kyle completely speechless.  It's a wonder he didn't run away screaming and never return.  In fact, I'm amazed that it didn't ruin our friendship.  I can't believe I'm telling you this.  It's one of the worst things I've said in my life.  *deep breath to sum up the courage to tell you this* I, Joanna, the Disney loving chick that I am, pointed to a huge rock and asked, "do you think those rocks hide stuff for Fantasmic??"

I knew the second that I said it that it was wrong.  I knew from the look on Kyle's face that I was wrong.  I wished immediately that I could take it back, but it was out there, and there was no going back.  *face palm* Yes, those rocks hide something, but not stuff for a show in another park!  See, this is why Kyle keeps me around: I say the most absurd things.

After Kyle got over his shock and dismay at my total lack of knowledge of our favorite park, we made it to another attraction that I could sing through:


And then we, of course, had to go live with The Land!  (Y'all are so lucky!  This day has THREE videos!)  We thought we could maybe get some FastPasses for Soarin'.

A Cast Member standing nearby laughed at us as we filmed that little bit.  We decided that if FastPasses were not to be had, we could still have some fun...

Did you know they don't play "Listen to the Land" on the
"Living with the Land" attraction anymore? I was so sad!
 We had enough time before our late dinner reservation to thanks the Phoenicians on Spaceship Earth.  You know me, I had to thank the Greeks for inventing mathematics while we were there, and Kyle always likes to give a nod to the unknown inventor in the garage.  Computers are his business after all!

Good night, Epcot!
 I cannot believe how long this post is getting, so come back in a couple of days, and we'll head over to the Contemporary Resort to see their Christmas decorations and then over to Fort Wilderness to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

You Have to Look Past the Popcorn

I have to start this post with a bit of a confession.  When I got an email asking me to share the most romantic thing I've experienced or witnessed at Disney, I was a bit disappointed.  I thought, "well shoot! I haven't HAD any romantic moments because I haven't been lucky enough to go with a significant other, and I haven't even witnessed a proposal! What in the world am I going to write about?"  Thankfully, in the midst of my lament, I remembered one little moment that happened on the bridge from Tomorrowland to the Hub in Magic Kingdom back in December.

You must know (especially after reading that I'd like to date like a Disney princess) that I am a true romantic at heart. I believe in the magic and joy of love.  For me, there's significance in the simple things: holding hands, sharing shy smiles, and just enjoying life's moments together. I'd wax on & continue to get more and more sappy here, but I'll save you from that for now and cut straight to the story.

On one particular sunny day during our December trip, Kyle and I were weaving through the crowds on the Tomorrowland bridge. At one point, I just about stopped walking, grabbed Kyle's arm to get him to pause, nodded my head to some people to the side of the bridge, and quietly said, "I want that."  He looked at me quizzically and asked, "...Popcorn? Ok we can stop for that... Isn't lunch soon??"  (Keep in mind, I was so sick in June that me wanting food in December at all was always a pleasant surprise for him.)  I looked at him with an equally befuddled expression complete with confused head-tilt, and said (excuse my lack of eloquence here), "huh???"  Apparently there was popcorn nearby... someone was eating it, there was a cart, I don't recall. "No no no! That!" and I pointed a bit more obviously.

An older couple was sitting on a bench off to the side of the walkway. They weren't saying a word, but they were holding hands, smiling, and people watching together.  That's what I look forward to some day: quiet, sweet romance.  It was subtle and peaceful in the midst of the chaos that is any theme park. 

Don't get me wrong, Disney proposals are always amazing. A kiss in front of the Castle during Wishes is the epitome of magical. A nighttime Jungle Cruise or trip around the TTA is sure to be special too. I would love to experience all of those things, but that couple's moment is what I want to experience one day.  I want to go to Disney World with the love of my life and share some peaceful time of just being there together. 

What about you?  What's the most romantic moment you have experienced or observed at Disney?

Friday, February 03, 2012

Because Sometimes Life Happens... That's Why!

Y'all... what can I say? I've been MIA here for about a month now, and I feel just awful about it. All I can tell you as an excuse is that life has been happening, and it has been crazy busy. Right after Disney World we headed into Christmas Break, then finals week,  followed by the start of a new semester with new classes and new students to teach. On top of that I've started evening workouts again, and I've added dating a pretty awesome guy to that mix. Needless to say that affords me much less time for blogging (but a heck of a lot more fun)!

The bad news is that I was also struggling with some writer's block. The GREAT news is that I started writing and video editing again tonight, and the next post will show up right here in this very spot on Tuesday at 6 AM CT! Oh yes, I know you are all setting your alarms now to be up and one of the first to read my new post. (No? *Sigh* Fine. It can wait until your first coffee break on Tuesday.)

So, that's right! Joanna is back! We'll kick off on Tuesday with some talk of romance* (oooh-la-la) and then head right into the December Trip Report and videos I've been promising for two months now.

*Disclaimer: Don't get your panties in a wad; this blog is still devoted to Disney. Find random funny stuff as well as personal life deets over on my other blog.  Don't know the address?  Ask me.  I prefer to not post that address publicly very often.