Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My WDW Bucket List

Heidi's DD Quote this week is that famous quote of Walt's to keep moving forward.  In the spirit of moving forward, I present my post on my WDW bucket list which I just moved forward this month (item 6)!  I also recommend checking out my "to do" lists for both WDW and Disneyland!

We all have them don't we?  The "Things I Must Do Before I Die" list.  My real world Bucket List includes trips to Prague and Australia, but my Disney World Bucket List is by far the more expansive one.  Let's take a look.  Have you done any of these?

1) Although this list is not in any kind of order, this is the TOP PRIORITY.  I desperately desperately want to stay overnight in Cinderella Castle.  I would move mountains for the chance to sleep in the castle suite one night.  Sigh.

2) See the opening ceremonies at all 4 parks.  This one is much more achievable than #1 no?  Although I am a lifetime WDW veteran, my sister is a sleeper-inner so we almost never get to the parks early enough to catch the morning show.  I convinced her to wake up early on our Studios day because I knew she'd LOVE Toy Story Mania (she did).  But the rest of the opening ceremonies I'll have to catch on one of my solo trips.

Morning Show at Studios

3) Catch the WHOLE Kiss Goodnight.  First, I didn't know about it.  Then, I wasn't exactly sure what it was.  So I hung around Main Street and heard the audio.  But I didn't know that the castle apparently has a little light show or something?  Anyway, I want to see the whole shebang at one point.

4) Trips to the other Disney Parks.  I've been in Disneyland briefly but didn't get a really immersive experience.  Fortunately, I'm trying to make that happen by the end of the year.  I've gone to Disneyland Paris but I was a teenager and we only went for 1 day (not even an overnight) so I'd like to go again.  Most importantly, I've never stepped foot in the Asian parks so I really would like to do each of those.

5) A meal at the chef's table at Victoria & Albert's.  I would do it if I could find someone to do it with me!

6) Try to finish a whole Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream.  I've done the No Way Jose and the Milky Way Sundae (the MWS wins hands down, the NWJ ice cream tasted flavorless and low-fat-ish), but I haven't been able to sway any of my usual travel companions to attempt the Sink with me! <-- COMPLETED OCTOBER 2012!!

What's in YOUR Bucket List?  Post in the comments!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nearly Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!

How about some breakfast this morning?   Ton-ga! Ton-ga!

Hop on to the next stop!

Focused on the Magic

Monday, June 27, 2011

Magic Kingdom, My Way

Have you ever wished you could "revise" a Disney Park?  Just take a red pen to it and mark it all up to make it the way YOU want it?  Well that's what we're going to do here, in the first installment of Disney Parks, My Way.  Episode II: Magic Kingdom.

The rules of the game are that I am limited to choosing either what is in the park presently OR what has been there in the past.  I am not making up new things to switch in....yet ;)

Main Street

First, I am bringing all of the shops on Main Street back to their original intent (i.e. not one mammoth shop inside).  I am also undoing the recent refurb of the Confectionery.  I just don't like the new look - it doesn't really blend in and looks too new and too fake (yes I know they are ALL fake, but this new "skin" has no artifice - it's not even pretending to be real (much like Kathy on the Real Housewives of New Jersey (who? exactly.)).  Everything else can stay as is.


The Tiki Room returns to its original state (soon in real life too!).  I am also removing the Magic Carpets of Aladdin in their entirety.  They make the land too crowded and cluttered and, in my opinion, they don't really fit the rest of the decor in the land.  Pirates can stay as is, provided that the newest Blackbeard installation is not permanent. 

I'm also bringing back the Orange Bird just 'cuz I can.


I think I might keep Frontierland as is, in its entirety.

Liberty Square

I haven't tried out the newest version Haunted Mansion yet so I will keep it for now, however I reserve the right to change my mind after my next trip.  :)   (Please see my post about the first-ever discussion of a certain feature in the new queue though.  I'm pretty sure I was the first to discuss it!)

The rest of Lib. Square can stay as is.  Man I am not changing very much am I?  Is this a positive comment on the current state of the parks?


First I am bringing back the Skyway.  Second I am removing Fast Pass from Peter Pan's Flight - this is a prime example of a ride where Fast Pass hurts way more than it helps.  I am also preemptively keeping Snow White's Scary Adventure.  I am also reinstalling the submarines (but the Winnie the Pooh ride can stay where it is).

The rest can stay the same, including the "loss" of Toontown.  I reserve the right to change my mind on any or all of these items once Fantasyland 2.0 opens though!


Okay, first I am removing the Speedway without replacing it with anything.  I know the kids love it but 1) move it to the Test Track pavilion at Epcot, 2) it doesn't match the Tomorrowland theme in ANY way, and 3) it takes up a LOT of space that could be used more effectively.

I am of COURSE removing Stitch's Great Escape.  Although I didn't LOVE its Alien Encounter predecessor (too scary for me!), it could take a little of the crowd pressure off Space Mountain.  Oh, by the way, I'm taking the "interactive" games out of Space Mountain (it slows up the line too much), reinstalling the chocolate chip cookie, and bringing back the TVs that hung in the queue. 

Carousel of Progress can stay but I'm taking out that dated 1990's final scene in favor of the original version (if you're going to have a dated attraction, why not own it's dated-ness and make it retro).

Finally, I am totally bringing back E-ticket nights.  Do you guys remember those?  How AWESOME were they?!  Some of the best nights of my entire life!

What would YOU change?  Post in the comments!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Don't Tell Him Carlos!

Where in the World could this be?

Post your answers in the comments. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Field Trip! The Disney Store in Times Square

Although I've been meaning to get to it for quite a while, I just finally managed to visit the Disney Store in Times Square.  I had read other reviews of the new "interactive" store and desperately wanted to check out some of the features.

First, and I know this is weird to say about a store in Times Square, it was smaller than I expected.  It wasn't small by any means, but I guess the other reviews had me thinking it was this big WOW bright and shiny TA-DA! moment.  It blended in fine with the other Times Square stores - it didn't stand out.  Nevertheless, it was still sparkly:

When you first walk in, you are confronted with a bunch of displays. The merchandise didn't seem much different than the products you can get at any other Disney Store or in the parks, but then I'm not really a merchandise girl (unless it is vintage).  The displays, however, are kind of cool.  One had mannequins of children and characters like Minnie and Tigger sitting in swings that rotated around on top (kind of like a much slower, much smaller Silly Symphony Swings)

Here's a view of the swings from the escalator:

There's also some cut out trees and a model of some of New York's landmark sky scrapers with pretty lights:

The side wall by the escalator portrays a night scene.  Occasionally, a pair of sneaky-looking eyes will be projected on to the black shadowy bushes (they jump from place to place).  You hear some audio like "Pssst!" and the eyes look back and forth.  I tried to capture it on camera but they were just too quick for me!

When you head up the escalators, there is of course more merchandise and displays.  To your right is a large gazebo in which kids can sit and watch Disney stuff on TV.  When I was there, they were playing the Cars 2 movie trailer.  Not sure if they ever play full movies or non-commercial-y things.  Parents also seemed to be watching.  :)

But the best part was the princess castle.  It is a floor-to-ceiling castle where all the princess stuff is displayed.

A clock tower displays some products.  Tragically, I saw NO pink, sparkly Sleeping Beauty dresses.  Um, what?

The beautiful, sparkly chandelier (I like sparkly things.  Preferably pink and sparkly!):

The most interactive thing I saw was this magic mirror:

When you waved the bar code of one of the packaged princess dolls over the gems on top, the mirror would come alive.  My mirror was acting very finicky and I couldn't get it to work, but another patron waived her Sleeping Beauty doll and here's some stills of what we saw:

I need to go back and get video (and help figuring out the skills it takes to enliven the mirror).  Here's one last shot - from the Little Mermaid doll/mirror:

And Mickey and Minnie are there to thank you for coming as you head back down the escalator! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Epcot, My Way

Have you ever wished you could "revise" a Disney Park?  Just take a red pen to it and mark it all up to make it the way YOU want it?  Well that's what we're going to do here, in the first installment of Disney Parks, My Way.  Episode I: Epcot.

The rules of the game are that I am limited to choosing either what is in the park presently OR what has been there in the past.  I am not making up new things to switch in....yet ;)

Future World West

First and foremost, I would raze JII 3.0 and reinstall JII, original flavor in it's full glory.  I would also completely reinstall the original ImageWorks.  As much as I love Captain Eo, I also might switch in Magic Journeys, just for sentimental value.  Perhaps I would alternate the movies.  It shouldn't be too hard to do that right?

In the Land pavilion, I would keep Soarin and Living with the Land, but I would clear out Circle of Life and put Kitchen Kabaret back in there.  The restaurants could stay.

I think I would keep the Seas mostly the same. 

Spaceship Earth would go back to the Jeremy Irons version (although I'd be amenable to the Walker Cronkite version - I don't remember it so I'd have to ride it to compare).

Future World East

Ellen's Energy Adventure could stay, but Mission Space HAS TO GO.  Naturally, Horizons would return.  Even though I don't really remember Horizons, it has to be better than MS no? 

Test Track is a toughie, I do enjoy it but is it better than World of Motion which I don't remember?  Hard to say.  I think we'll keep Test Track but only if they promise to fix the in-car screens and keep them functioning.

Wonders of Life comes back in it's entirety.  Including Body Wars and (squee!) Cranium Command (Where do you think you are? Disney World?) and that quick service area that served delicious low fat cheesecake.  Mmmmmmm.....

World Showcase

So there hasn't be nearly as much change in World Showcase.  I think this will be quick:

Going counterclockwise, I'd remove the obstruction that is La Hacienda de San Angel.  I'm sure it's very nice but it clogs up the walkway and blocks the view for Illuminations.  We can keep if it we make it smaller and open air so it doesn't interrupt the flow.  Also, take the three caballeros out of the Gran Fiesta Tour (although I don't feel super strongly about this and could be convinced to keep them).  But keep La Cava.

Norway should stay exactly as it is now.  China....feh, whatever.  Keep it all.

Germany - remove the stench of sauerkraut, keep the rest (also make the pretzel bread sticks not rock hard, and add more cheese to the spaetzle.  Thanks!)

Italy, the American Adventure, Japan, Morocco and France can all stay the same, but I reserve the right to change my mind at a later date.

The U.K. should bring back the British Invasion and Canada should return to Le Cellier's old menu.

That's it for now.  What would YOU bring back from the past or keep?

Podcast Review: Be Our Guest Podcast

If WDW Radio is the meat and potatoes, the BOGP is your warm cookies and milk.  They are seriously the nicest people I have ever heard.  Maybe it's just because I am used to New Yorkers (city, not state) and New Jerseyans - they tend to be an unfriendly, cranky, angry group - but I have never come across such a friendly, kind, welcoming and warm group of people.  Ever.  I almost don't believe how nice they are.  I think I'd feel better about my witch-tastic moods if I knew that Mike got cranky on occasion!  But, no, they are really that positive.  All. The. Time. 

I won't say I always agree with the hosts, but then, I can't think of a podcast that hasn't caused me to yell at my ipod at least once.  And Mike, Rikki, Deb and Pam are just a delight to listen to.  Plus, they are parks-focused, which is my preference, and I like that they post fairly regularly. 

If I HAD to pick a beef (other than that they are so nice I feel bad for being grumpy), I would say that their shows are too short.  My commute is around an hour on average and their shows are around 40 minutes on average so they're juuuuust short enough where it makes more sense for me to listen to another podcast with a longer episode unless I have a couple BOGP episodes banked up.  I don't like to delay my episodes listening (I find it more interesting to listen to episodes about Star Tours soft-opening before Star Wars Weekend).

They also host forums full of members just as lovely as the hosts AND a monthly live show that includes a chat on  It's like all the nicest people in the world decided to congregate in one internet "home".  I bet they serve warm cookies and milk there too.  :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Don't Tell Him Carlos!

Where in the World could this be?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Podcast Review: WDW Radio

Happy Monday everyone and welcome to Episode 1 of NPAATR's Podcast Reviews!  For a brief background, check this out.

WDW Radio is the meat and potatoes of any Disney podcast listener's diet.  The host, the ubiquitous Lou Mongello, is the BMOC of Disney podcasters.  In his inveterate polo shirt, Lou oozes with professionalism in every episode.  His information is some of the most reliable news available (outside of official Disney Company statements).   Due to his BMOC status, he knows a LOT of interesting, informed, and important Disney people and gets access to some great events and cutting-edge information for the podcast.  Plus, I very much enjoy that his podcasts are most often "evergreen" which means when I have exhausted all of my new podcast episodes, I can always download older WDW Radio episodes without worrying that they will be outdated.

The downside?  There is very little criticism.  He is always complimentary (often to the point of obvious hyperbole) and almost never points out the negative aspects of whatever he is talking about.  It makes me distrust his opinions on a lot of things because his reviews don't ever seem very balanced.  The exaggerated compliments feel insincere to me - he's saying it because he has to say it (see BMOC status above) and not because he really means it.

Also - and this is purely a personal thing - I don't enjoy when his cadence gets grandiose (which happens most often when he is summing things up).  It makes me think he's trying to sound inaccessible or superior or something and it bugs me.    Also, the way he speaks indicates to me that he's not a very good writer - he's much too wordy to the point where his speech doesn't make grammatical sense (e.g. "You have very much a blank slate here." Um, what?).  It's more about what sounds good than saying/writing something that means something.   I don't care for surface over substance when it comes to writing and speaking.   I admit this is solely a gut thing and that Lou is really very nice and smart and friendly

It also drives me nuts when Lou does his top 10 lists (often with his guest host Tim Foster).  Not because I don't enjoy top 10 lists, I do, but because he never follows the rules he sets out for himself!  Call me a rule-stickler (I am), but if you say it's going to be a top 10 list, you should not be trying to squeeze 23 items in there.  You should have 10, and I will even allow one or two honorable mentions, but no more.  It destroys the integrity and the point of the list.  More importantly, it drives me nuts!  And don't try to make something into something it's not and excuse it with a "go with me here people"; a streamer hanging from the ceiling in the Amazon scene of Small World is NOT a water feature.  Creative? Sure.  But instead of trying to be funny by stretching your own rules, how about just changing the rules?  Makese more sense to me.  [End of rant].

ANYWAY, because he never criticizes things, it's obvious that Disney loves him because they give him great access to events, opportunities and connected, knowledgeable interview subjects that other less-established, less-predictable podcasters do not always get.   Plus, I mean, this podcast is just Disney-phile basics!  It's a white-button down shirt in your closet.  It's meat and potatoes, people!  You can't possibly have a well-rounded Disney podcast playlist without WDW Radio.   If you haven't already, go immediately to iTunes and subscribe!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Flashback Friday / Magical Memories: Toy Story Maniaaa!!!!

Dear Readers,
    Please see below pictures of my first time at Toy Story Mania.
"But V, they are all so blurry!  Why did you not take the time to focus your photos at this prime Disney attraction?" you are probably exclaiming.  Well, the reason is this: I was the VERY FIRST RIDER on TSM that day!  I couldn't stop to take photos or all the guests behind me would have overtaken me!  But let's start from the beginning.

This was my first WDW trip since TSM had opened, so I had never ridden it before.  With all my blog-reading and podcast-listening, however, I was well aware that we'd have to get up early in the morning to get there before the wait became unforgivably long.  I was traveling with my friend J and her husband, her husband's friend and his girlfriend (why, yes, I was a 5th wheel).  Although I had emphasized my strong desire to ride TSM (having heard the legends of its intense awesomeness) we got a slow start due to injuries and not-morning people and not-Disney-commando people.  By the time we got to the ride (around 11 am), the Fast Passes were long gone and the wait was 85 minutes.  I do not do waits longer than 20-25 minutes, so we headed toward Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and I pledged to wake up early and ride TSM another day.

Three days later, I woke up early as promised and took the bus to the Studios.  I waited in line and finally got to see the opening ceremonies!  The fam was never an early-morning group so we'd usually roll into the parks around 10ish.  No, I've never seen the opening of Magic Kingdom (it is on my bucket list, don't worry) or any of the other parks.  Anyway, DHS opening ceremonies are kind of adorable.  Although I wasn't at the forefront of the crowds, I eventually found myself following the Cast Member in charge of preventing human-trampling. 

Thankfully, I was blessed by having no children and no companion to drag around.  I could walk as quickly as I wanted (and allowed by the CMs) and skirted past parents parking strollers and groups of guests trying desperately to stay together.  I bypassed the Fast Pass line and was the very first person to enter the queue.  Wait time: 0 minutes.  I took some quick pics of the queue as I was walking through it but I knew I could not surrender the honorific of being the first guest of the day on TSM.  I grabbed my glasses, got to the CM loading the vehicles, told him "party of 1", and rode a truly awesome first ride ever on TSM.  Traveling solo has never felt so good.  

And here are the suckers who weren't as fast as me (about 10 minutes after I first entered the queue - note the posted wait time) HAHAHAHAHA!

Focused on the Magic

Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!

This is my first attempt at participating in the WWBH.  Hope it works and that you enjoy!

Hop on to the next stop!

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