Monday, October 28, 2013

30 Magical Moments: #7 Ride Dinosaur with My Eyes OPEN

Magical Moment #7 was more of a challenge than anything else.  The first time I visited Disney's Animal Kingdom, I tried to ride Dinosaur.  I say "tried to" because about one minute into the ride I was huddled on my sister's shoulder, whimpering into her ear, with my eyes tightly shut!  Every attempt after that I have never been able to keep my eyes open the entire ride.  There's something about a countdown to a meteor shower coupled with the dark and dinosaurs lunging at me that makes this ride panic-inducing for me. But trip after trip I have ridden it hoping I could get over my fears!

I am proud to say that this trip I not only faced my fears, but we rode Dinosaur a few times and even hammed it up for the photos each time!  This photo is the first time I made it through with my eyes open!  Yay for hitting 30 and overcoming my fear (of fake dinosaurs)!

After that we got in the fairly short line for Primeval Whirl:

As short as it was, it wasn't short enough. Lots of awkward memories took place in this queue.  For starters, there was a child behind us in line.  He was maybe 6 years old and riding alone.  I don't know if I smiled at him or just looked friendly, but he stuck to me like glue... uncomfortably close to my rear end glue. Then a cuddling couple noticed my birthday button, so the woman quietly and very slowly sang "happy birthday to you..." We thought she'd stop there, but her boyfriend joined in, and while making eye contact with us, they sang the entire song to me. However she'd started off so slowly, that it was more like a funeral dirge: quiet, somber, slow, and creepy. By the end of it LaRae and I were smiling awkwardly, and we all avoided eye contact after that.  Note to my readers: singing a song to a person in a queue with you is fun when it's not a dirge and when you don't have to stand by them for 15 more minutes! LOL!

Tried to be brave and hold my iPhone for a pic.
Chickened out before I got a good shot!

Remember how I said in the last post that the park was emptying out as we entered?  Well it only got emptier as the night went on!  I guess most guests were making their way to fireworks shows and evening parades.  I find that the Animal Kingdom paths are darker and more windy than those in other parks.  As LaRae and I made our way to Expedition Everest, we were fairly alone until a bunny jumped into our path. Poor thing couldn't get away and hopped along in front of us for quite a while before it could find a way off the path!  We seriously thought we were about to witness the wee bunny have a heart attack and die. Thank goodness he made his was around us.

The queue for Expedition Everest was also nonexistent, so we rode 2 or 3 times! This is another attraction that's totally different and more amazing at night. As your car climbs the mountain you gain a great view of the park and surrounding areas.  Then the lights flashing by as you fly through the ride add another level of excitement! Knowing the Yeti is coming when it's so dark makes him a bit more ominous too!

After our evening of thrills, we went back to Pop Century to relax and sleep.  The next day we wanted to get to Disney's Hollywood Studios early!  Now that you've read about my Magical Moments in Animal Kingdom, what Magical Moments would be on your list for this park?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

30 Magical Moments: #6 Devour a White Chocolate Elephant Cupcake

We're back with the 30 Magical Moments series! When we left off LaRae and I had just given up on a super chilly swim at Pop Century.  After warm showers and some rest time, we hopped on a bus to Disney's Animal Kingdom.  We got to Animal Kingdom right as the parade was ending, so the crowds were clearing out. Let me tell you, if you want to walk on to everything at Animal Kingdom during peak level crowds, get there after the parade and spend the evening there until closing time!

As we entered, we felt like the park was closing as that many people were leaving.  Here you can see the masses heading out of the park: 

Just keep swimming... just keep swimming...

For some reason I thought I needed to take an awkward Tree of Life selfie.  That's my sister in the left side of this photo.  She's either oblivious to or ignoring me turning & walking backwards trying to capture this picture. I mean, sure, I could have asked her to take my picture, but this is high quality photography! ;-)

The Kilimanjaro Safari was going to close soon, so we went straight there.  We walked right on the ride.  The walk to the front of the queue was what made the wait "long."  Usually when I ride the Safari I take photos nonstop.  This time I just enjoyed the animals, and I wasn't disappointed!  These are the only two photos I snapped!

The entrance to the Safari is right by the Kusafari Bakery.  As we got off of the Safari, we went straight  to grab Magical Moment #6: enjoying a White Elephant Cupcake!  This is my favorite Walt Disney World cupcake.  It's chocolate cake with a huge mound of white icing. The icing has a glob of German chocolate icing in the center and is coated in toasted coconut.  This version of a German chocolate cupcake is to die for!   LaRae got a treat as well, and we found a seat by the water to devour our treats. Yuuuuuuummmmmmyyy!  My mouth is watering just looking at this photo!

Did I mention it's topped with a white chocolate elephant lollipop??

The next Magical Moment on the list happened shortly after this, so I'll finish this post now.  A quick hint: the next moment has me facing my fears! Do you know where we're going next? 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hollywood Week with American Tourister!

While you're waiting for the next of the 30 Magical Moments, I have a new contest to tell you about! American Tourister, the official luggage of Walt Disney World and Disneyland, has arrived at Disney's Hollywood Studios. To share their excitement, American Tourister is giving away the gorgeous D23 Mickey & Minnie Luggage Sets.  The lucky winners will be able to pick the Mickey or Minnie set!

American Tourister at Hollywood Studios!
Photo Credit: Disney on Wheels

Entering is easy!  During this week (10/21-10/25) American Tourister will be asking daily questions on their Facebook page.  Your response in the comments will count as your entry to win the adorable D23 luggage set.  Five winners will be randomly chosen. See the official rules here.

Another perfectly themed ad at DHS. This luggage is amazing!
Photo Credit: Disney on Wheels

What are you waiting for? Head on over to American Tourister's Facebook page to enter. If you win, where will you take your new luggage first?  (Sounds like a perfectly good reason to plan another Disney trip if you ask me!)

Monday, October 07, 2013

30 Magical Moments: #5 Get a FREE Disney Visa Meet & Greet Photo

Tonight my best friend came over and helped me pack up the closets and desk area of my apartment.  We also took down the curtains.  I swear she saved me 2 hours of packing time since I didn't have to keep climbing up and down the stepladder to pull things off of the shelves.  It's amazing how much easier things are with a second set of hands!  After running to WalMart for more boxes (how can I possibly need more already?!) I've decided to stop for the night to blog.  Moving on to Magical Moment #5!

Disney Visa Cardholders have a special photo opportunity in Epcot.  Daily from 1pm to 7pm, cardholders can go to Innoventions West to a special location to have a meet and greet with Disney characters.  Sometimes this spot is hard to find, but if you ask a Cast Member, they can two-finger point you in the right direction. If you're familiar with Innoventions, the location is right beside the video games across from where the Segway rides used to be.  There's no sign telling you which characters are meeting & greeting, and usually the cast member stays mum on who is inside as well.  We've found that   members of the Fab Five are usually back there though.  We've met Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto.  Usually there are only 2 characters, but once when we had a large group, three characters met us.  Kenny the Pirate has a great write up on this character spot here.  When you step behind the curtain, the characters greet you and a PhotoPass Photographer takes plenty of photos for you.  I like this meet and greet because it never really feels too rushed.  The best part?  As a cardholder, you get one complimentary 5x7 print per Visa card of the photo of your choice!  You can get a photo once a day which means on a long trip, you can get plenty of free 5x7 character photos!

My family has utilized this location numerous times in the past, but LaRae and I decided this trip it was a must do.  After spending some time in the World Showcase, we darted over to Innoventions to snap a quick photo.  Minnie and Goofy met us, and we spent some time in Future World before we went to get our photos printed.

One of my favorite rides! I thank the Phoenicians, but I
always thank the Greeks for math as well!
I rarely get time to "play" at the end of Spaceship Earth, so
LaRae kindly gave me some time to do so. Love this game!

The pick up spot for the photos is the photo shop under Spaceship Earth.  It only takes a few minutes to look through the photos and get one printed.  You can add boarders if you like.  LaRae and I each got a print. It's a nice way to have a professional photo to commemorate the trip!  We were all dolled up, and the photo turned out so cute!  Besides, doesn't it look like I'm wearing a Goofy hat?  Incidentally we went back a day or two later and did the meet and greet again and got individual prints!  The cast member in the photo shop laughed at us saying we knew how to do it right. ;-)
Magical Moment #5

On the way out of the park I snapped some photos of the Flower and Garden Festival topiaries at the entrance.  Aren't they wonderful?
It's like Goofy made me a birthday cake (and took 10 years off of my age)! What a sweetheart!

When we got back to our room to go swimming, we found this "towel animal" in the window.  What in the world is that?!  I mean, I know what I think it looks like... what do you think??  We left it in the window the entire trip and giggled over it every time we walked in.

Oh wait, I mentioned swimming.  We were at Disney in March, and we really thought that it would be warm enough for an afternoon swim.  Oh boy were we mistaken!  There were kids joyfully splashing in the pool as we walked off.  The breeze was a bit brisk as we took off our coverups, but we thought the pool would be warm enough.  We gingerly inched our way into the icy waters and tried to keep moving to get warm.  The wind was just strong enough that if you raised up out of the water too much, it felt like an arctic breeze. After struggling to get warm and relax in the pool, we came to the realization that there was no need to torture ourselves any longer!  We scurried over to our towels eliciting the quiet laughter of the adults around the pool who were smarter than us and hadn't gotten in the water, and we went back to the room for hot showers.  It's one thing to go swimming and tough it out because the kiddos want to swim.  It's another thing to decide as adults that it's not worth the runny nose!  We still laugh about it, so it all worked out and added another funny memory to our trip.

After our "swim" we rested and then went to Disney's Animal Kingdom.  What are your must-dos at Animal Kingdom?  

Friday, October 04, 2013

30 Magical Moments: #4 Try a Pastry in Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie

Today's Magical Moment is post #300 on the Amazing Technicolor Interwebs! I've been blogging on Blogspot since April 25, 2006.  (I blogged in a few other places before then since the late 90's.)  I just reread my first post on here, and I realize how far my blog has come and how much it's changed, and I smile. So thank you to all of my readers new and old! Can't wait to share more with you all!

As I write this post my apartment is in total disarray.  I'm moving to a new, larger apartment in a couple of weeks, and I started packing tonight. While I absolutely despise packing, it was fun to find some things I had forgotten.  My favorite find so far was that on the bottom of all of my Willow Tree figures I had written who gave them to me.  One holding a glittery star was from a friend as a thank you for her baby shower. Another holding a cat was from a couple as a thank you for watching their cats. Some were from my parents and others were from my sister or women from back home. I was touched to find one that was from a childhood best friend and another I'd written "from me after losing Pewter" on the bottom of. It was a girl hugging a grey cat like my late cat. Each figure holds meaning and memories for me, and as I packed each one I smiled quietly as I walked down memory lane.

Soooo that was a total sidetrack from Disney, but my point in all of that was there might be some Monday, Wednesday, or Friday in the next few weeks where I don't make it to blogging. Sorry in advance if that happens! :)

On to Magical Moment #4! One of my absolute must-dos every single Disney trip is to go savor a Napoleon in France in Epcot. The Boulangerie Patisserie is full of amazing pastries and treats, and everyone I visit with knows this is a stop we will make. During one trip to Disney with my friend Kyle I was sick to my stomach most of the trip. One afternoon I was feeling better, and when he realized it, he insisted we go straight to France and get me some Napoleon while I could enjoy it! It's that important to me. 

For this trip we'd heard that the Boulangerie Patisserie was going to be moved and remodeled. I was scared this would bring a menu change that would omit the Napoleon, but my fears were unfounded. When the new menu was posted, many old favorites made it on it!  Magical Moment #4 was to try a pastry in the Boulangerie Patisserie in the newly remodeled Les Halles.

I like to think this photo shows the heavens shining down
on this amazing venue! 
Now the line to the pastries is inside!
The Chocolate Tart was tempting!
Magical Moment #4!!! 
LaRae got the Chocolate Tart. It was tasty! The Napoleon
has changed a bit. It's a tad smaller but still huge. The
messy topping of powdered sugar has been replaced too
but that makes it easier to eat outdoors. 

After our amazing lunch in Italy and our fabulous desserts in France, we reapplied our red lipstick and took off for Future World again. Our next Magical Moment is only for Disney VISA holders.  Do you know where we were going next?

The Flower & Garden Festival had a gorgeous Oz display. I can't get over the magic that Disney can create with living plants during this festival! While strolling around the park it feels joyful and Spring-y from all of the flowers and splashes of color. My favorite path is where the Oz display was where you can literally stop and smell the roses. The roses were fragrant and in full bloom for our visit. Their perfume caused me to slow down and breath deeply (kinda like a crazy woman, but they smelled soooo good)!
LaRae going to Oz 
The Wizard's Balloon
Simply amazing, isn't it? (There are the roses I mentioned above!)

What's your favorite treat in the World Showcase? Do you have a shop you stop in every trip?

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

30 Magical Moments: #3 Enjoy a Wine Flight in Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar

LaRae and I struggled to make sure that all 30 Magical Moments didn't revolve around food and drink. We always joke that I snack my way around the World Showcase, and I could have had all 30 Magical Moments there!  This trip LaRae suggested that we try a new quick service: Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in Italy. See a more in depth review of Tutto Gusto on the Disney Food Blog here

I have to be honest, when we walked into Tutto Gusto, I was in a crummy mood.  We'd waited too long to eat, and I was grumpy.  LaRae smiled through my whininess and reminded me that trying a wine flight was Magical Moment #3, and everyone feels better with wine.  We share the "All Bubble All the Time" wine flight which was delightful!  I found all three wines to be fairly sweet and perfectly nice when paired with our paninis, as seen in the background below.  The sandwiches were a tad small but surprisingly filling, and I left bubbly and happy that we'd stopped in a new dining location!

Magical Moment #3

I loved the seating in Tutto Gusto. LaRae and I sat on a couch, and our table was a coffee table.  A woman nearby read a book in the corner as she dined alone, and this was a great spot to get away from the crowds to do that. The atmosphere was quiet, calm, dark, cool, and relaxing.
Disney wine cellars have great chandeliers!

There was an abundance of food and desserts in the cases, and while we were tempted by them all, we refrained.  Magical Moment #4 would take us to my favorite dessert location.  Can you guess where we were heading next?

This one was the most tempting for me!

My favorite part of the World Showcase is shopping!  Not only do you get to see amazing products from each country, but the shops also have beautiful details like this door handle leading into Il Bel Cristallo in Italy:

Even the display of Italian perfumes is gorgeous!

On the way to our next Magical Moment, we stopped in Germany for a Magical Moment for LaRae.  If you didn't guess who she was Disney Bounding as, there should be no doubt now!  Did you know that you can ask a character to teach you one of their signature poses?  LaRae asked Snow White to teach her how to pose like a princess.

Our trip happened to coincide with the Flower and Garden Festival.  I love all of the topiaries of the characters!
Every evening I identified with this character!

 Since we'd been to Walt Disney World in November, and I'd shopped WAY too much, I was mostly window shopping this trip.  However, in World Showcase (in China I believe), I found this adorable earbud plug that I couldn't resist!  I drive a Buddy Scooter, similar to a Vespa, around town, and some of my friends call me Scoot. I couldn't believe it when I saw this tiny scooter!

Friday will take us to Magical Moment #4 which is also in the World Showcase and also involves food.  I bet longtime readers of my blog know exactly where we went next!