Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Worst Attractions Recap Part 1: Magic Kingdom

Okay, it's been almost two full months since my Disney trip and I have yet to post a real, legit post about the boring attractions I said I would attempt on such trip.  I think it's about time I mentioned them no?

The Magic Kingdom seems like the best place to start no?  Let me preface this and all subsequent posts by saying that my sister was unaware of my plan to do the boring attractions and also not really interested in doing them even though we had plenty of time for everything.  Nevertheless, she had to leave the trip early due to work so I had a full three days to do all the attractions she didn't want to do.

Somehow I still managed to miss a bunch.  These are the ones I did not miss:

  • The Liberty Square Riverboat: My god is this boring.  You stand on a giant ferry boat and it drives you around in a circle.  Most of what you see are remnants of the bog that the land on which Disney World now stands once was (read: trees and bushes and vines and stuff).  It's not even landscaped.  The spiel is cute enough I suppose but the visuals are severely lacking.  You see some scenes from Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and whatever but no animatronics.  A cave with sounds coming out of it so you think there's a cheap bar hidden in there.  It's like Tom Sawyer's Island but less interactive, I think.  I barely remember what we saw actually.  The most I remember is that I counted the paddles on the paddle-part of the boat (11) and we kind of got a glimpse of the new Haunted Mansion graveyard (not the queue, but the graveyard that they moved to the back).  I never have to do this one again. 
    • Rating: 1 out of 10 Figments

  • The Railroad: You get the same kind of scenes as on the Riverboat - teepees with Native American mannequins (not AAs, fake-looking unmoving mannequins), statues of deer and some backwoods huts and stuff.  Unimpressive.  The spiel is much better than on the LSR, though, and you get a different view of the park as a whole.  The train still goes around the now-shuttered Toontown and makes a stop at that station with some spiel about the train needing water.  I tried to squint to see through the tarp covering the construction but was basically unsuccessful. 
    • Rating: 2.5/10 Figments

  • Astro Orbiter: It's like Dumbo but high up you say?  Um yes, basically that is correct.  I haven't been on Dumbo in YEARS, but I suspect that AO goes faster too.  Because when I went on AO, going so fast and being so high up, I felt like I was being pushed out (ahhh centrifugal force, you are not my friend!) so I was terrified of falling out.  I tried to talk myself out of the fear.  "Disney would never take that risk if it was really dangerous!"  "Look at that 4 year old having the time of his life in that other AO rocket. He's not scared!"  Alas, it didn't work.  The height + the speed = a 1 and done for me. 
    • Rating: 3 Figments

  • Stitch's Great Escape: The preshow is fine.  Even kind of cute.  The ACTUAL show is....meh.  I don't think it's as HORRIBLE as everyone says, but 1) it's not a classic so less forgivable than, say, the riverboats I guess, and 2) it occupies PRIME real estate that should go to a fantastic ride (SGE seems to make me all caps locky doesn't it?).  Still, I do not enjoy the burp in my face (ew), and if I hadn't known what to expect I would have really hated the "surprises" I think.  I remember being TERRIFIED (capsy again!) at Alien Encounter and really didn't like it, but at least it didn't smell gross and wasn't so saccharine.  It was too cutesy for adults and too scary for little kids.  And I don't love Stitch as a character.  He's alright but I don't understand the people who obsess over him.  He's kind of annoying and not even a classic. 
    • Rating: 3 Figments

Don't Tell Him Carlos!

Where in the World could this be?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Flashback Fridays/Magical Memories: Getting Sick at the World

The next installment in our retro Magical Memories (and Flashback Fridays) series:

When I was little (maybe 7 years old), the fam and I went on a trip to Disney World and stayed (as always) at the Poly.  We were in the Hawaii building so it was easy for my little sister and I to run up to the grassy hill by the beach (now Sunset Point).  We had an absolute BALL just lying on the ground and rolling down the hill for HOURS (this was before they put the stone path up there).  After we got tired, we went back to our room.  Later that day, my mom noticed that I had a red itchy bumps on my skin. 

The parentals called guest services at the Poly and they sent a doctor to our room to check me out.  He was a nice man from what I recall and told us that I got a rash from the fertilizer used on the grass my sister and I were rolling down.  I don't remember whether the doctor prescribed a cream or anything for me.  However, I do remember being very itchy for the rest of the trip, although that did not stop us from finishing our park-touring!

I'm sure we weren't the first kids to roll down that hill and I can't have been the only child with sensitive skin at the Poly.  I wonder if they changed fertilizers after they discovered my rash.....

Focused on the Magic

Coming Attractions: Podcast Reviews

                      During my 1 hour commute to work every morning and my 1 hour commute home every night, I like to pass the time by listening to different Disney podcasts.  Because I can listen to more than 2 hours of podcasts per weekday, I go through a LOT of them. 

                    I have a quite a wide repertoire and, having spent so much time listening to them, I've come to think of these podcasters as kind of one-way friends (I know they're my friend, most of them do not know I am theirs as well).  I've also listened to enough of them to form opinions on most and will be using this space to share some of my opinions. 

Reviews Coming Up:
  • WDW Radio
  • Be Our Guest Podcast
  • WDW Today
  • Disney, Indiana
  • Character Breakfast
  • Inside the Magic
  • The Hub
  • Mousedroppings
  • Mousetimes
  • Five Minute Magic

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Haunted Mansion Queue: A Brand New Theory (updated)

Happy haunts materialize......

There has been much discussion and debate about the new Haunted Mansion interactive queue.  While I haven't experienced it yet and therefore won't dare to venture an opinion, I do have one thought that I'd like to share at this time.  The queue has a lot of cool-looking features: a ghost that asks you to help her write poetry, a gravemarker that plays music at the touch of your hand, etc.  However, some of the features haven't revealed their interactivity yet.  There's been some brief mention of these features, with notes that maybe their secrets will be revealed eventually, but no speculation as to what those secrets might be.  Well, consider this post the first (only?) attempt to solve that riddle.

It is April 15, 2011, and I *think* I am making the first guess ever (at least from the 20 or so blogs and 20 or so podcasts I follow) at what one of the currently "silent" queue features will become (or already is but has gone unnoticed by the masses thus far): a murder mystery that YOU get to solve!

My evidence will focus the busts of members of the family that used to live (and now presumably haunt) the mansion.  What tipped me off to the murder mystery theory were the poems that appear underneath the busts describing the subject's death and the small icons/pictures that appear right above the poems.  Let me walk you through them. 

Cousin Maude:
        Icon: a hammer
       Poem: Our sleeping beauty who never awoke the night her dreams went up in smoke.

The Twins, Wellington and Forsythia:
       Icon: a dead/falling bird
      Poem: Departed for life while in their beds with identical bumps on identical heads.

Aunt Florence:
        Icon: a gun
       Poem: Never did a dishonorable deed, yet found face down in canary seed.

        Icon: poison
       Poem: Avid hunter and expert shot, in the end that's what he got.

And the kicker....
Uncle Jacob:
        Icon: none?
       Poem: Greed was the poison he had swallowed, he went first the others followed, his killer's face he surely knew, now try to discover who killed who.

So OBVIOUSLY, what we have here is a murder mystery, no?  The last line of Uncle Jacob's poem seems to be presenting a challenge to the guest. 

I'm going to solve it here and now, so if you don't want to know, STOP READING NOW. 

Let's go backwards:

    Uncle Jacob was poisoned.  Bertie has poison as the icon on his bust.  So Bertie poisoned Uncle J. 

   Who killed Bertie?  Well the poem says he was shot, and Aunt Florence's icon in the gun so she must have shot him.  Although her poem says she never did a dishonorable deed, I like to imagine she shot Bertie to try to prevent him from killing her husband, Uncle Jacob.  That's pretty honorable, considering, no? 

    Auntie F died in canary seed, so clearly a bird was involved in her death.  Maybe it's a killer bird?  Or toxic seed?  I don't know, but the twins' icon is a bird so I am willing to bet they killed her. 

    And how did the twins die?  With bumps on their head.  From a hammer perhaps?  That would make Cousin Maude their killer. 

     I'm guessing Cousin M's death involved fire (because of the smoke reference in the poem), and I don't see fire anywhere on the icons or in the other clues.  However, Uncle Jacob is the only one left who hasn't killed anyone in this story so by process of elimination, we can say that Uncle Jacob killed his daughter, Maude.   It looks like my friends at Meet the Magic may have a clue about the fire!

And there you have it.  A previously never-discussed (to my knowledge) secret of the new Haunted Mansion queue. 

UPDATE: Main Street Gazette has now covered this idea.  Please note that I did it first ;)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Practically Perfect Opinion: The Contemporary

On my most recent trip to the World, my little sister took the redeye from LA while I flew in from NY.  She was passed out on a couch in the Kamehameha Lounge (that's....another story).  So I decided to take some time to ride the monorail and explore another Magic Kingdom hotel, The Dated.  Oops, I mean, The Contemporary.

On almost all of our prior trips, the most experience I've had with The Dated (gah! it happened again!) The Contemporary was a fleeting view through a monorail window.  We'd grab a glance at the five-legged goat and be on our way to the TTC.  So this time I decided it was time to get to know a little bit better this resort which my parents often described as looking like a federal prison.

My parents are not wrong.  The buildings are ugly.  1970s architecture and interior design almost never stands up to the test of time does it?  They tried, in the 1990s, they really did, to make it more modern and aesthetically pleasing.  But the exterior still looks to me like there should be barbed wire fences surrounding the buildings.  And the way the halls and rooms are set up in the interior - over looking the mess that is the level 2 lobby - remind me of a Vegas hotel.  I feel like there should be slot machines where Fantasia is located.

And speaking of, let's talk about Fantasia.  First of all, can we all admit that 95% of the time, the merchandise offered in ANY store on property can be easily gotten at ANY OTHER store on Disney property?  That rarely do we find on a WDW store's shelves an item that we cannot also get at MouseGear or Boutiki or the Emporium or Everything Pop or.....

So we're on the same page with this?  Ok good.  So while Fantasia's merchandise is nice, it's still more or less generic.  So WHY then does Disney feel the need to destroy the flow of the 4th floor with this store?  Before Fantasia was there, the 4th floor lobby felt cool and open (still weirdly '70s, but breezy and comfortable nonetheless).  Now it feels cluttered and claustrophobic.  All in all, I am not a fan.

And yet, I will still return to the Dated.  Because I still haven't tried Chef Mickey's (although I suspect I won't like that either) and I need to try the cupcakes at Contemporary Grounds (which I will probably love).  And dammit, because I will - every time and always - need to find that five-legged goat.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Practically Perfect Opinion: Greys Anatomy Musical

Here are my thoughts on last night's Greys Anatomy musical episode.  Mainly because I have no where else to share them.  Let's say Grey's is on ABC which is a Disney affiliate and that is how it is tangentially related to this blog that no one reads.   Okay here we go:

Let me start by saying I loved the episode.  I know a lot of people disagreed.  But I think the strong points of the episode far outweighed the negative points. 

Strong point #1: Sara Ramirez

I LOVE Sara Ramirez.  If I was a lesbian, Sara would be my dream girl.  In fact, I am not a lesbian and Sara may still be my dream girl.  Half of that adoration is due to her being just incredibly talented.  Talent is attractive you know.  And she did the bulk of the singing which was a very smart decision.  I like to imagine that the writers/producers were all "Let's make a Callie-centered episode because she has been less than 100% likeable this season and Sara Ramirez is awesome and deserves a chance to showcase her talents."  And the rest of the cast, although being not the best singers, rallied around that idea because, as stated above, Sara Ramirez rocks.  

Joe R., the recapper who wrote a fantastic recap of this episode had this to say, with which I completely agree:

"This is a beyond-talented woman who's so rarely been allowed to show the entire breadth of that talent. If this episode is the show's way of making all this up to Sara Ramirez, I am totally fine with that. . . . And I will say, despite the obnoxiousness of this episode's self-congratulatory credit-taking for having used these songs in the past, it does give things an eerie, ethereal air -- like these songs have been swirling around Seattle Grace for years, unheard by anyone who isn't out-of-bodying it at the moment -- that's pretty effective."

Weak point #1The Singing

The rest of the cast were not the best singers.  Yes, yes, everyone LOOOOOVES to show off how clever they are and what a music expert they are by ragging on singers.  American Idol is a case in point.  The more you criticize others, the better you think you look, I suppose.  And yes, the cast by and large was not great.   But Sara by far sang the most, followed by Kevin McKidd, and the rest of the cast barely sang at all (I think Meredith sang one verse) and/or were helped with autotune and/or were supported by a lot of backup singers.  I mean, I've heard worse.  Much worse.  Did anyone watch Real Housewives?  Did anyone hear Kim Z.'s "songs" or the Countess's "performance" of Money Can't Buy You Class

Weak Point #2: The Cheese-Factor

Okay first, ANY musical tv show is going to be cheesy.  See, e.g., every single episode of Glee.  Second, it's a nightime drama on ABC.  So you have to cut them a little slack.  Desperate Housewives on any given Sunday night is far far worse in terms of cheesiness and they don't even sing. 

Strong Point #2: The Story

If you read this blog, chances are you appreciate Disney in some way or another.  Therefore, you must know that the Story Is King.  And Grey's story last night? Was FANTASTIC.  I wasn't sure whether the writers were going to kill off either or both of Callie and her baby until the very end and it was awesome.  They kept me guessing and it was extremely compelling.  The "Running on Sunshine" number seemed unnecessary and was kind of terrible, but aside from that, I was on the edge of my seat for most of the episode.  Actually, the episode would have been good even without all the music.  The story was good, people.  That that is the most important thing. 

P.S. As an aside, I hate Meredith even more now.  She's supposed to be what, mid-late 30s?  She is JUST LEARNING NOW that life is arbitrary and the universe is a hurtful place?  Sack the fuck up, Meredith.  I've known that fact since I was half your age. You're fucking lucky you spent your life up until this point being ignorant to that fact.  Either you are very lucky (in which case, stop with the crying) or you're really really stupid.