Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

Not Disney today - sorry.  My family's house had a terrible terrible fire and we lost three of our four beautiful dogs.  I am so so so sad.  I am dedicating this post to them.  It is not enough, but it is all I can do right now.

PS all humans are physically fine.  house is totaled.  I guess this is D for dogs.

Focused on the Magic

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: DCL NYC Weekend Cruise

You know, I hardly notice the ship when it's docked on the Hudson anymore.  So blase!  LOL

Anyway, welcome to another Wordless Wednesday hosted by the lovely Deb.  You can also check out my earlier WW posts on my DCL trip!

So basically, we checked in, boarded (the announcement part is so cheesy), went straight to the Concierge welcome lounge for a snack, dumped our stuff in our room, and my sister and I headed straight to the adults-only pool for a little adults-only beverage. 

I got that raspberry pina colada that's on every Disney drink menu (right).  My sister got a margarita I think (left).  Then we relaxed on some pool chairs.  At one point, a Cast Member was walking around with a tray of another drink (clear, carbonated, juicy) for a charge (of course).  So I got one.  It was poured with a light hand, shall we say?  I kept the glass at least LOL.

Then Mom caught up with us and wanted to tour the ship so we did.  Before long it was time to get ready for dinner.

Focused on the Magic

Monday, August 20, 2012

Solo Trip Recap Part Whatever: the Wizarding World of Harry Pottery Section B

My expedition to WWHP began here.  Now we continue . . .

View from my first queue at WWHP

I knew that even though the lines at the main WWHP ride would get very long, the queue was legendary.  And I knew that Ollivanders has a much lower capacity and the queue is outside and not very special, so Ollivanders came first.  I hopped in line and waited maybe 20 minutes.  At last the Universal Park employee let us in to a small, dark room.

The entire room was lined wall to wall, floor to ceiling, with wand boxes.  And by wall to wall, I mean zig-zaggy, haphazard, looks like it would creak if it could move wall.  Like every other part of WWHP, this room was PERFECT.  There was not one sign that you were NOT in the actual Ollivanders.  Amazing.  And then an older gentleman in a robe and wizard hat appeared.  Mr. Ollivander himself.

Remaining completely in character the entire time, he selected two cute little girls in matching robes.  He presented them each with a wand and told them to do various things with the wand they were given (move the staircase, turn on the lights etc.).  When the attempt failed (GREAT special effects here), he would pick out another one.  After a few tries, they found the right wands and were encouraged to purchase them.  ;) 

Then we were all ushered out into a shop where you could buy an enormous selection of really authentic looking souvenirs.  I didn't buy an souvenirs to take home with me, but let me interject here to say that the stores seemed really spectacular - both in themed decor and in merchandise.  Of course everything is crazy expensive and I'm not a merchandise girl but it seemed pretty great if you're into that kind of thing and it was also fun just to wander through the crowds and check out the wares.

But I didn't linger in this particular store at this time because I knew the line at the Forbidden Journey ride was getting longer with each passing minute.  I weaved my way through the crowds (New Yorker here, I'm great at it) and hopped on to the FJ line. . . .

Friday, August 17, 2012

Good morning

Nothing like taking the ferry to work and glancing out the window, then taking a second glance because you realized you've become so blase about seeing the Disney Magic sitting at port to your left.

[Insert princess-like closing here]


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: DCL Weekend Cruise from NYC Continued

Welcome to another Wordless Wednesday!  Thanks to Deb at Focused on the Magic for hosting!  This week is in honor of Deb's friend, Nolan, who recently passed away.  I don't have any pictures of Wishes right now but here are some more from my June 2012 weekend cruise on the Magic from NYC.

More ship-exploration pics from the first day after we (1) checked in and boarded, (2) ate a delightful snack/lunch at the private concierge reception, (3) dropped our stuff in the room, and (4) grabbed a tropical drink at the adults-only pool:

The lobby

One of the clubs on Beat Street

A Mouse-hole cover? ;)

Now hop on to the next stop!

Focused on the Magic

Monday, August 13, 2012

Solo Trip Recap Part Whatever: the Wizarding World of Harry Pottery Subparagaraph A

To sum up briefly: I went down to Orlando over MLK Jr. weekend this year for 4 days.  Cheated on my beloved Polynesian and stayed at AKL.  Missed the Poly dreadfully.  Had.  some.  amazing.  meals.  And, new information: knew I wanted to check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter despite not having gone to Universal in probably 20 years.

My feelings on Universal are thusly: I'm not into super-scary roller-coasters or other thrill rides.  Rock 'n' Roller Coaster is about as intense as I'll go.  Universal is not as well-themed as Disney nor does it contain the important childhood memories that WDW contains for me.  As a result of these factors, Universal is not compelling enough for me to a) pay for a cab, b) drag my butt over there, c) navigate an unfamiliar park, d) pay for the extra ticket.

HOWEVER, WWHP WAS compelling enough for me to want to go try it once and this trip was the perfect time. 

The AKL cast members assured me that a cab would be available early in the morning when I wanted to leave, and it was so I cabbed it over there (having previously purchased the $90 ticket to get into Islands of Adventure).  The cab dropped me off and I had a long slog through City Walk (this is what Downtown Disney would look like minus the Disney - meh) and finally got to the park.

I was EARLY.  But I was aware of the potential of long lines and didn't want to risk it.  I grabbed a map to study and waited.  The Universal employees at the gates were nice enough but didn't seem nearly as bright or put together as a Disney CM.  Some were missing teeth, some looked like they were possibly missing some chromosomes.  But nice people nonetheless. 

At last the gates opened.  I briskly walked through the entrance, past Seuss land, past the myth-ish land, and into WWHOP.  And so it began . . . .

Thursday, August 9, 2012

BabyCakes Review Part IV

Continuing on my BabyCakes NYC eating extravanganza. To catch up on the background and explain why I have SUCH quantities of vegan, everything-free, baked goods, check out the introductory post (with lots of pics!). And here is Part II and Part III of my review.

Okay, we were closing in on why the cupcakes were tasting weird.  Could it be a lack of sweetness that made certain flavors (that probably needed mellowing) more intense?  I returned to the final four:

Clockwise from top: Maple/Banana; Chocolate/Chocolate; Chocolate/Banana; Vanilla/Carrot.

We (ahem, I) began with the Maple/Banana.  For something supposedly flavored with maple, you would think it would be sweet - it wasn't!  It definitely needed more sweetness.  And I can't remember the maple flavor - possibly it was non-existent.  The whole thing was okay.  There was definitely banana in the cake which was nice.  There were worse . . . .

Maple/Banana close up (above); Chocolate/Banana (below)
And speaking of worse, the Chocolate/Banana was NOT good guys.  I started to realize that BabyCakes doesn't do chocolate very well.  There wasn't enough fat/creaminess OR sugar to bring out the chocolate.  It just tasted bitter and intense and negatively changed the flavor of the chocolate; the banana cake part was also not sweet enough (had it been sweeter it could have helped the chocolate frosting part).  Dislike.


The Chocolate/Chocolate cupcake confirmed my suspicion that BabyCakes needs to work on it's chocolate execution.  And let me tell you, I LOVE chocolate and I pretty open-minded on the quality of food I will eat.  So the fact that I didn't push myself to finish this double chocolate cupcake is VERY telling.

Finally, the Vanilla/Carrot was meh.  The cake was a little tough (this was a mild trend throughout most of the cupcakes I tried).  Pretty shape in the frosting though:

Wasn't the worst (chocolate/banana, chocolate/chocolate, berry/vanilla, berry/carrot, red velvet, weird spice/apple/chocolate donut, wonder bun). Wasn't the best (cinnamon donut, jelly donut, brownie, cookie).

So that wraps up my BabyCakes reviews.  Clearly they need to work on their cupcakes and getting the sweetness level right. It was okay but I'm not in love.  I may make one more trip but other than that, I think I got a really good sampling of their menu.  Although a (non-chocolate) frosting shot from the Downtown Disney location wouldn't be a bad thing . . .

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: DCL NYC weekend

Welcome to another Wordless Wednesday!  Thanks to Deb at Focused on the Magic for hosting!  More pics from the weekend DCL trip from NYC. 

We are grown ups so we didn't spend much time here, but we did check out the kids club on the first day while exploring the ship (we also checked out the nursery - not pictured because it seemed sad and depressing in decor).

Focused on the Magic

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pixar-Themed Alphabet

How many characters can U identify?  ;)

[Insert Princess-like closing here]

Thursday, August 2, 2012

BabyCakes Review Part III

Continuing on my BabyCakes NYC eating extravanganza. To catch up on the background and explain why I have SUCH quantities of vegan, everything-free, baked goods, check out the introductory post (with lots of pics!).  And here is Part II of my review.

Still needing a break from the cupcake weirdness, I went for the chocolate chip cookie, "wonder bun," and corn loaf/toastie next.  The cookie was GREAT.  Thin and chewy and chocolatey.  It fell apart even before I heated it up so it wasn't quite photogenic, but still yum.

The corn loaf wasn't officially labled a "toastie" and I may have to go back to try more of the actual toasties (i.e. slices about the same size and shape as the corn loaf) but it was good.  It was definitely on the savory side which was a nice break from the sweets.  Like good, dense, cornbread.  Could've used butter, but it's vegan, I get it.

The morning bun.  This was where my discovery of the odd cupcake taste started to resolve.  It looks great doesn't it?  It is NOT flaky like a cinnamon roll should be.  It is dense.  It is VERY VERY cinnamony.  There is definitely not nearly enough glaze.  And...

it just needed more sweetness!  The cinnamon was too intense.  Had there been more glaze or sweetener to balance it out it could have been incredible.  As it was, I didn't even bother to finish it.  Could it be that the cupcakes just weren't sweet enough and that made the flavors too intense or something?  Further investigation was clearly required....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Weekend DCL trip from NYC

Welcome to another Wordless Wednesday!  
Thanks to Deb at Focused on the Magic for hosting!

This past June, my family and I went on the very first weekend cruise on the Disney Magic from New York.  We had been on the Magic back in the early 2000s for a longer cruise to Castaway Cay, but this was our first Disney, New York, weekend-long cruise.

Here is what we saw the minute we dropped our stuff off in our room (after a lovely concierge-guests-only reception - we were STARVING) and ran up to the adult pool:

Focused on the Magic