« September 2011 | Main | November 2011 »

October 2011 Archives

October 4, 2011

DisneyanaMania: Something For Everybody

jeaninebanner.jpg

So if the official Disney conventions turn out to not fit either your schedule or your budget, another very good alternative is the annual, fan-organized, DisneyanaMania convention which took place this year on July 12-16.

P1020217.JPG

I was able to attend last year, and even though this year the convention attendance was slightly smaller, the programming was no less full of impressive speakers and content. It started off Tuesday night with a welcome dinner, celebrating this year's 45th anniversary of "it's a small world," with honored guests Alice Davis and Maggie Richardson, niece to Mary Blair.

P1020219.JPG

The next day's panels started in the afternoon, following their annual fundraising brunch for Ryman Arts (a non-profit organization providing free art education to talented aspirants.) The Dueling Jims Hill and Korkis started it off with "WDW I Can Do It Better Than You," a good-natured competition of anecdotes.

Disneyana%202011.JPG

Roger LaRoque and Nick Farago followed with a talk on "Historical Postcards."

P1020234.JPG

And the day ended with a panel and autograph session featuring four Disney-related authors: Don Peri, who wrote "Working With Disney," a series of interviews with people who worked directly with Walt; Professor Andi Stern, who wrote "Why We Love Disney," a scholarly work on the history and appeal of the Disney Company; Nancy Temple Rodrigue, who wrote the Hidden Mickey series--fictional novels that begin with a lost diary detailing clues and a trail Walt left throughout Disneyland; and of course, Jim Korkis, with his recent book "The Vault of Walt."

P1020236.JPG

The next morning, Kevin Kidney gave a great presentation on the behind-the-scenes process of putting together the new Soundsational parade and some of the new products he and Jody Daily have created for WDW's 40th anniversary this year.

P1020242.JPG

("Where does he get those wonderful toys?")

P1020256.JPG

"Tasty Crunchies and Munchies and Novelties too," presented by Karlos Siqueros, Manager of Food and Beverage Concept Design for the Disneyland Resort, showed us a preview of some of their promotional merchandise, edible and otherwise, in the works for the upcoming holidays and spotlighting some of their recent attractions.

P1020259.JPG

P1020265.JPG

Ron Miziker, past Director of Entertainment and Show Development for Disney, shared some of his stories about planning and producing all the programs for the opening of WDW.

P1020271.JPG

A World Symphony Orchestra with members from 85 countries was assembled for the occasion, with other performers such as Bob Hope involved in the three day celebration. Miziker went on to produce many more Disney shows, including the opening day broadcast for EPCOT Center, which apparently involved many colorful contretemps with Dick Nunis and Danny Kaye.

A voice panel was up next, with character voices Bill Farmer (Goofy,) Tony Anselmo (Donald,) Bret Iwan (Mickey,) and Creative Director Ben Hoppe. After a brief discussion on how they got into the business of Disney voiceover, they gave a demonstration on dialogue looping with a short cartoon segment.

P1020276.JPG

Jerry Beck and Charles Solomon then closed out the afternoon with an Animation Critics Panel, discussing some of the history behind Disney animation.

P1020277.JPG

But the evening was still young! That night was the Celebration Banquet, with special guest Susan Egan (of Broadway's Beauty and the Beast and the animated classic Hercules.)

P1020281.JPG

After relating some of the high (and low) points of getting and creating the role of Belle on Broadway, she sang some of her characters' signatures songs and was then presented with the Disneyana Fan Club Legend Award.

The next day, which was the last one for presentations, started off with Bob Garner, writer, director, and producer of many documentaries and specials on both Disneyland and WDW. He showed us clips from some of them, including some nostalgic commercials he did for the Matterhorn, and related some of his memories working with Walt and with Nunis.

P1020287.JPG

Mark Henn, the "Ladies Man" of Disney Animation (6/10 Official Disney Princesses to his name) discussed various topics of his career with Disney throughout the resurgence of Animation in the Ashman/Menken era, and present projects, such as the latest Winnie the Pooh movie.

P1020294.JPG

The final formal presentation of the weekend was by Eddie Sotto, former Imagineer, who talked a little about how he started out in Imagineering and some of his work developing Main Street for Disneyland Paris. This is him now...

P1020296.JPG

...and this is him then.

P1020300.JPG

He was a phenomenally entertaining speaker, and I highly recommend taking any opportunity you get to hear him. Of course, one place you can always hear him is in Disneyland, where (to name a few,) he does various voices on the party line phones and upstairs offices on Main Street, and in Adventureland as Shrunken Ned and the Genie machines.

One of the highlights of every Disneyana Convention is the annual Legends Luncheon, in which Legends awards are presented to a few deserving Disney dignitaries. After a video honoring some of the recently lost Legends, awards were given to Animator Eric Goldberg and Imagineer Kevin Rafferty.

P1020313.JPG

Rafferty was also recently featured by California Tourism in one of several promotional videos they did of prominent California residents.

P1020324.JPG

In all, it was an entertaining and informative collection of presentations and presenters topped off with their annual All Disneyana Show and Sale where a number of the speakers were present signing books and Mickey's of Glendale were selling company-exclusive items. Virtually any type of souvenir you could think of was up for purchase.

P1020326.JPG

While this was definitely the smallest convention I attended this summer, it definitely had a competitive amount of programming and the advantage of having no lines whatsoever for seating. If one of your primary interests is getting to meet Disney personalities, this was certainly your best bet as virtually every speaker had either a signing or a short meet-and-greet following their talk.

If you're interested in finding out more about the convention, the club has put together a video sampler of the weekend:

You can also get more information from their website, http://disneyanafanclub.org/

October 11, 2011

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us this photos from his trip to the parks on Saturday, 10/8/11.

The Annual CHOC Walk in the Park fundraiser for Children's Hospital of Orange County is next weekend and there are banners up around Downtown Disney for the event

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The ticket booth posters/ads have been swapped out. Annual Passes have returned and Aulani retired

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The Emporium project is complete.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A look around the newly-finished Emporium interior

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

No visible process on the camera shop work

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

In Frontierland the re-planking and other projects are done

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Pirates is moving along, now the exterior around the front and Dream Suite are covered up

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The character Meet and Greet area in Critter Country has been redone and recently reopened

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The Adventureland restrooms are still closed as work continues there.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

From the hub you can just barely make out the top of the Carthay in the distance. Also noticed that the Cadillac Range does not block out the Hilton from this point of view (loop to the left of the train station).

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Over at DCA most of the merchandise carts are now this new type throughout the park

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A check in at the Cars Land work from the Fun Wheel

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Flo's is moving along slowly. Notice the worker inside.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The entrance arch from the Wharf looks to have the majority of the concrete work done, painting should start soon. On the right you can see the mesh for the rock face that faces the Pier.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update
More trees have been moved in around Maters so getting good shots of the area is a real challenge now. You can barely make out a couple of workers in behind the trees
Disneyland Resort Photo Update

No visible progress on the Cozy Cones

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The building behind the cones is really taking shape and behind that you can see the frame for what looks to be a backstage gate

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The Carthay Circle Theater is looking great

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The exterior of the courthouse is ready for its covering

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The repainting of California Screamin' looks to be done - it is scheduled to re-open on Friday, October 15.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

This is taken from the Wharf and shows how the rock will turn the corner, curious how the transition will look

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

From the Blue Sky Cellar area there are so many trees now pictures are tough to come by from this height

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The steel is up for the shops on the West side of Buena Vista street, hard to get a good picture

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Here you can see the new footprint is larger than the original

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Lamp posts, parade light stands, signage, a wigwag and more have been installed around the pump house

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The walls are down on the Backlot (and ElecTRONica has returned in the evenings)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Another of the new merchandise kiosks, the Turkey Leg stand did not return to this corner

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Back to the pump house. Notice the canopy, it says Information, so wonder if a line board will be there or just CMs like the old DCA info booth

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The Halloween cups

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Some pumpkins from the Halloween Round-up

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update


Calling All Drummers is performed four times a day starting at noon

Random Toontown shot

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A long wait for Minnie

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Captain Hook reporting for his shift at the Villains Meet and Greet along the small world mall.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The Oktoberfest area in Downtown Disney.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Time to check out the Disneyland Hotel progress. The walls out front have been shifted around. Only the columns and fountain area area are behind them now.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

When you walk in the front door there is a water station and Disneyland Painting now

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The portion of the lobby against the front window is walled off

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

So the check in area is really narrow right now (notice the character out interacting with guests)

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

An interesting shot of the new and old, they have just the center elevator area to finish, both sides are done

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A not-so-hidden Mickey

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Wonder if the old photos will return, I really enjoyed seeing the old celebrity and Walt shots.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Looking through a window in the wall you can see the pool deck has been poured

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Work is slowly moving along here

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A wider view of the area as the work enters its final stages

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Mickey and Minnie out performing on Main Street with the Straw Hatters

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

And Chip and Dale were with the Hook and Ladder Company

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Main Street was alive with activity

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Jack Skellington was out in New Orleans Square

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A real cat along the Rivers of America

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The Cadillac Range at dusk

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Here you can just barely make out the foundation work for Sarge's going on

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

The new trees get in the way of the panoramic shot I usually take from near the
Blue Sky Cellar

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

A band at Oktoberfest

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

On the stage near ESPN was a group called Paint in Motion. Here are some shots of the artwork, can you name the two rock celebrities

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update


A random shot of the pumpkin on Main Street

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

To close with a couple of random World of Color shots. I had a Fastpass for Blue but showed up 5 minutes before show time so was in the back of the section, which was not bad except for all the kids on shoulders in the way.

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update

Disneyland Resort Photo Update


Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com


October 12, 2011

Halloween time Returns to Disneyland

jeaninebanner.jpg

Halloween is back at the Disneyland Resort, along with all its assorted and sundry decorations and overlays.

IMG_0135.JPG

The Big Thunder Ranch has once again morphed into the Halloween Roundup...

P1030101.JPG

With a plethora of pumpkins prominently on parade.

P1030103.JPG

Inside, the decor continues unabated...

P1030105.JPG

Although the occupants seem more interested in games of chance than home decorating.

P1030104.JPG

Should you be interested in doing a little home decorating yourself, Dave Caranci, Manager of Resort Enhancement for the Disneyland Resort, was kind enough to tape a little demonstration for us.

Of course, some folks don't really have to work too hard to give their house that Aura of Forboding.

P1030111.JPG

Seasonal eats are available at the French Market, such as the cadaverously presented Muffaletta, complete with its own coffin.

P1030107.JPG

For those culinarily inclined, Moises Carranza, Disneyland Chef de Cuisine at the Blue Bayou, showed us how the muffaletta is constructed.

Although, many are likely to be satisfied with just observing the handiwork of the Disneyland chefs, in the enormous gingerbread house which is the centerpiece of the Haunted Mansion Nightmare Before Christmas overlay.

P1030132.JPG

Disneyland's promotional theme for this year is "Making Memories," and whether you're doing arts and crafts, cooking together with your family, or enjoying the Halloween Party at Disneyland, the likelihood is, you'll be doing exactly that.

P1030140.JPG

October 13, 2011

The Hotels of Disneyland - Paradise Pier

Guest blogger Becky Breiland of the Mousetalgia podcast (www.mousetalgia.com) relates some of her thoughts on staying in the Disney resorts at Disneyland.

I really enjoy staying on property when we go to Disneyland. It's not an all-the-time thing for our family, but if there is a good rate or a special occasion we will make the effort to immerse ourselves fully in the Disney magic. I've always loved the uniqueness and special touches that the hotels put into their rooms. Plus, I really enjoy a good waterslide.

At our recent stay at the Paradise Pier, I was surprised to learn that the rooms had been "refurbished." According to the cast member at the desk, the rooms were redone in May and June of 2011. Somehow I had missed this information and was pleased to see some love put into the Paradise Pier. I think that this was somewhat badly needed as I had noticed previously that many of the comforters were pilling and this gave a bit of a dingy feel to the room.

Paradise Pier décor has now fallen in line with the other Disneyland hotels, switching to white linens, with a themed sash across the bed. They've added their own cute touches, most noticeably a beach ball pillow to give it a little "beachy" feel. While you cannot tell from the picture below, there are white-on-white Mickey silhouettes on the top layer of the beds, which are also a fun touch.

bb_paradise-pier1.jpg

I think it is very interesting that the Disneyland Resort Hotels have started to go this route. Now all three of the Disneyland Resort hotel beds have a more uniform feel to them.


Disneyland Hotel room.

bb_dlh.jpg

Grand Californian Hotel room.

bb_grand-cal.jpg

At first, I was really bummed out by this move. I thought it made the rooms feel so much more generic and maybe took away a bit of the resorts' identities. The more I think about it though, I've decided that the hotels are now more "Disney" than ever before. It has become the small details that make each room so special. While it's not immediately obvious, it's things like the Mickeys on the comforter, or the different pillows and the various shower curtains that make it more than just an ordinary hotel room and give it that Disney touch. While I long for the old bedspreads at the Disneyland Hotel with all the attractions on it (I have 3 yards of this fabric from ebay), I also really appreciate the clean, crisp feel that the white linens give. To me, the white linens make each of the hotels seem more modern and also more clean. I love climbing into bed between the crisp white sheets after a long day at the parks. It seems so immediately relaxing.

While characters play a large and important role in the parks, they aren't what make New Orleans Square feel like New Orleans (just as an example). Instead it's the sails from the ships that you can see in the background, and the architecture of the buildings and the balconies. The same is now true for all three of the Disneyland Resort Hotels. The architecture of the bed frames, accent pillows and art in the rooms helps the visitor to be transported to an entirely different place. As with most things Disney, the devil is in the details.


About the author: Becky Breiland has been traveling to Walt Disney World and Disneyland since she was three. One of her fondest memories is getting Mickey Waffles for breakfast on those early Disney trips. Becky, her husband, and two friends comprise the Mousetalgia.com podcasting team. Mousetalgia is a show dedicated to the exploration of Disney's past, present and future, emphasizing the theme park culture and the people who have imagined Walt's happy place into existence. Go "Carpe Kingdom!"



October 14, 2011

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

jeaninebanner.jpg laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com and "All Things Disney" blogger Jeanine Yamanaka attended the special Mickey's Soundsational Parade event for Disneyland Annual Passholders on Wednesday, October 12. They team up in this blog, which features Jason's photos and captions, and some of Jeanine's comments on the event - including some things to know if you will be attending the second of these, on Monday, October 17.

The park was open to invited passholders from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. There was an exclusive nighttime performance of Mickey's Soundsational Parade, a panel discussion with some of the parade's creators, and the opportunity to get a close-up view of the floats. In addition, attractions, shops, and restaurants were open in Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Main Street U.S.A.

Overall I thought it was a great event. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, the cast members included. Seeing the parade under the lights was great, especially with a minimal crowd so you could move around a bit and try for more interesting pictures. The photos of the floats up close with the parade performers seemed to be a big hit also.

Jeanine: To give you an idea of the schedule, the event formally started at 8pm when the park closed to regular guests. You were advised to park only in the Mickey and Friends structure, as they were not going to be running shuttles to any of the other lots after 9pm. Entrance into Adventureland and Frontierland were blocked off by CMs with most of the rides in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland open. The parade started from It's A Small World at 9:30pm, and by 10:30pm the bulk of the floats were parked around Main St. for photos with the characters. To encourage the use of Photopass, each AP holder was given a promotional code to purchase up to 5 photo downloads for $1.99 each.

It ended up as a really nice event--the volume of people were controlled enough so that virtually everything was a walk-on by the end of the night. All the panel participants were nice enough to hang out around the Mary Poppins float to greet people and take photos, and the floats were even more impressive up close, where you could appreciate all the detailing Kevin and Jody put into them. Everyone I spoke with thought it was a terrific thing to offer the Annual Passholders and had great hopes for more AP nights in the future.

On to the photos...

Four dining locations featured special menu items

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Coke Corner had bacon mac and cheese hotdogs

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Tomorrowland Terrace had a free cupcake with meal purchase. I did not make it to the other two.

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Jeanine: I was there too! The other two locations were the Blue Ribbon Bakery, which was offering a pumpkin muffin, and Redd Rockett's Pizza Port, which had a Buffalo Chicken Pizza specialty. While I didn't try either of them, I did hear some people mention they were unimpressed with the pizza. The schedule you get when you enter lists the locations but not the special offers, so the best thing, if you're going to the next night on Oct. 17th, is to find a knowledgeable CM to tell you what all the items are, saving yourself a run around the park.

Some shots of the special showing of the parade for the event

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Tomorrowland Terrace Hosted a panel discussion and Q&A session with some of the creative team: Art Directors Jody Daily and Kevin Kidney, and Senior Show Producer John Addis.

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Jeanine: The panel was great and something of a surprise, as it wasn't listed on the schedule at all, and none of the CMs seemed to know anything about it. I only caught it by sheer luck, as I happened to be walking towards Tomorrowland Terrace when they made an overhead announcement about it. As it was, the announcement was barely audible where I was, and was totally missed by anyone who had gotten onto a ride at that point.

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Jeanine: For Monday's reference, the panel took place around 10:15pm, and in addition to the guys on our panel, Steve Davison, Vice President for Parades and Spectaculars, should be back from Paris and speaking as well.

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Jeanine: Some interesting factoids from the talk:
--Look closely at Princess and the Frog float, and you'll find Evinrude, the dragonfly from The Rescuers.
--The Aladdin float has a coin motif that is carried out in the "Coin Girl," who is dressed all in gold and preceeds it.
--If you look under the carousel on the Mary Poppins float, you see a representation of Burt's "one-man band" with the self-beating drum.

Main Street had several floats and their performers out for pictures

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Queues for a closer view of the floats had an entrance sign and were marked off on the street with tape

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event


The Princess and the Frog float and performers

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

A look at the line of people waiting

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Since the floats were stopped and the parade lights on you could get some nice close up shots

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event


The Aladdin crew

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

The Mary Poppins Unit

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Some of the creative team out for pictures and to interact with guests

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event


The Three Caballeros unit

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

A look up Main Street

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Last up the Peter Pan unit

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

Mickey's Soundsational Parade Annual Passholder Event

For additional photos, including some construction shots from DCA, Disneyland, and the Disneyland Hotel from earlier in the afternoon, check out the full Disneyland Update Jason posted on his site, http://disneygeek.com


October 18, 2011

Disney Dream - October 2011, Part 1

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg


Lee and I are back in Florida again for a four-night Bahamas cruise on the Disney Dream, and then a couple of days at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival. This will be his first time on the Dream, since he wasn't on the Christening Cruise. And I'm looking forward to having more than 40 hours on the ship this time - the Christening Cruise was quite a whirlwind trip for us. There was so much more to see and do than we had time for!

We arrived on Saturday evening - we had all carryon luggage so went straight to Disney's Magical Express and were soon on our way to Saratoga Springs. It was all pretty efficient - we landed about about 4:45 and we IN our room at Saratoga Springs by 6:30.

We were in a studio - seems a little smaller than the studios we are used to at Boardwalk Villas - there's very little space between the one side of the queen bed and the wall, since there's no nightstand.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 1

One nice thing: apparently as of Friday, all of the Deluxe resorts, DVC resorts, and Coronado Springs have converted to free wireless internet access for all guests! It's so nice not to hassle with the network cable and "signing in" and all of that. It seems faster to me than the wired access was, also.

For those of you familiar with Saratoga Springs, our room was alllll the way in The Carousel, on the far corner of that buidling - basically as far away as you can get from anything. We're walkers so it's not really so bad, though I wouldn't want to do it on a hot and humid day.

We decided to walk over to Downtown Disney for dinner - trying to figure out how to do that was a challenge, because all of the directory maps are oriented awkwardly, and the path is really not well marked. We found one sign that indicated it was the path to Downtown Disney...but then we came to another intersection that wasn't marked. We eventually figure it out. It's a pretty good walk from where we were - about 1.2 miles. We saw a beautiful sunset!

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 1

Earl of Sandwich sounded good for dinner - it was very busy, though, and the line was long. I had their seasonal Holiday Sandwich, which was turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and gravy. It was very tasty, though it needed more cranberry sauce. Lee had the All-American, which is also turkey and cranberry sauce, but it has lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese. We shared, and had half of each sandwich. :-)

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 1

Downtown Disney was incredibly busy, as it always seems to be. Why isn't everybody in the theme parks like they should be? :-)

For dessert we went over to babycakes NYC, located inside what used to be McDonald's, and is now the bakery, Pollo Campero, and Fresh A'Peel. This is a vegan and gluten-free bakery, and is also dairy-free, soy-free, and egg-free. Lee wondered how a place that didn't use any of those ingredients could possibly be anything other than "taste-free", but a bite of his cinnamon doughnut quickly convinced him otherwise - he said it was as good as any cake doughnut he'd ever had! We also got some of the chocolate chip cookies, which taste a lot like the "breakfast cookies" that his grandmother used to make - only they aren't full of butter like hers were.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 1

But we also stopped by Ghirardelli and bought a selection of their "Intense Dark" squares. Yum. :-)

On the walk back (and continuing on since then) we've had a "discussion" about Saratoga Springs. My opinion is that it's a nice-enough resort, but it doesn't have any appeal of its own like most of the rest of the DVC resorts do - nothing about the resort itself (location, theme, or amenities) that makes you want to stay there specifically. Most of the people who own here don't STAY here, and since it's such a large resort, it means a huge bunch of people are staying in the other "preferred" DVC resorts. So if you don't make your DVC reservations at least 6 months in advance you almost invariably get stuck at Saratoga Springs. I find that frustrating. Lee likes the resort and I think he's about to start a "Give Saratoga Springs Some Love" campaign. :-)

So, today (Sunday) we slept in - though 8:57 a.m. here means 5:57 a.m. in California... It was too late to think about going to a theme park, since we had to be back at Saratoga Springs to catch our bus by noon.

So we had breakfast at Artists Palette, packed and eventually schlepped our bags over to the Carriage House (got everything in two carry-on bags). The bus stopped at two other resorts after Saratoga, so it was 1:00 by the time we really got on the road, and 2:00 by the time we made it to the port. (This photo is the lights inside Artists Palette.)

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 1

It was nice to see the Dream again. Check-in and boarding were a breeze - quite UNLIKE our last Disney Cruise check-in experience in San Pedro, where they were having computer problems and we stood in line for 90 minutes to check in.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 1

We were able to go straight to our stateroom - we are on deck 8 forward, starboard side. Maybe one of these days we'll get a cabin on the port side - six cruises, and I've always been on the starboard side! :-) One thing that is different this time - the head of our bed is on the forward side of the cabin and not the aft side.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 1

After lunch at Cabanas we did some exploring until the lifeboat drill, since Lee hasn't been on the Dream before. He was fascinated by the automatic doors into the Cove Cafe.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 1

We were unpacking during the Sailaway Party, so we missed that - we did get to the Golden Mickeys show, though. It's a little different than the version we've seen on the Magic and the Wonder. We both really like the new Rapunzel number (I See the Light).
The staging and musical numbers are great, but I could do without the whole Ensign Benson sub-plot (yes, I know I've said that before).

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 1

Before the show the Captain came out and introduced himself and his staff. He was more personable than the other captains I've seen - he told us that we didn't have to worry about who was in charge when we saw him elsewhere on the ship because there are several other captains on board...Captain Mickey, Captain Jack, and Captain Hook...

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 1

Our stateroom host is Omar, and he's been great so far. Tonight's first towel creation is a seal, and in the tradition of many previous towel creations, it's wearing my sunglasses.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 1

Dinner tonight was at Enchanted Garden - that's the first time I've had dinner there, since we didn't eat there on the two-night Christening Cruise. I'll have lots more on the food in a separate food blog. I will say I was very impressed that for a change everything came out hot - too often on the Wonder and the Magic the food has been only lukewarm by the time it's delivered to the table, especially the soups.

Nassau tomorrow - seems like a good reason to just stay on the ship...



October 19, 2011

Disney Dream - October 2011, Part 2

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Day 2 - we docked in Nassau a little before 9:00 in the morning. All aboard isn't until 2:00 am! It's a pretty short trip to Castaway Cay from here, though. It's been mostly cloudy today - there's been some sun, but also a few rain showers this afternoon. Here's a picture of the Dream in its home port of Nassau.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

We had no excursions and nothing planned for the day, so it's been a nice relaxing day for us. After we finally got up we went to breakfast at Royal Palace - the menu looks amazingly like the one for Lumiere's on the Magic - except without the character names from Beauty and the Beast. The restaurant is very pretty - since it was daytime and not too busy I was able to take a lot of photos.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

There's all kinds of "Princess" touches - one thing Lee noticed that I had missed is that all of the chairs have a symbol of one of the princesses carved on the back, like an apple, a slipper, or a rose.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

After breakfast I joined the Midship Detective Agency to solve a case about stolen paintings. I thought the paintings were very clever - they were Disney renditions of famous "mousterpieces" like Duck with a Pearl Earring, The Blue Duck, Goofy Crossing the Delaware, Minnie Rising From the Ocean, the Goofy Cavalier...One of the clues was in the piece of "Minnie Lisa" enchanted art hanging in the Vista Gallery.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

It's a great way to learn your way around the ship - the Detective Casebook contains a map of the locations of the 13 pieces of enchanted art that are part of the game - so you might have to visit just about every deck from 2-10. The detective badge card has a code on the other side that the artwork can "read", and then you use it to interact with the art - moving it side to side or forward and back, depending on whether you are trying to unscrew something or pop balloons, or sweep away dust, etc. Those types of actions often reveal a clue that gives you more information on who the identity of the perpetrator might be.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

I had a lot of fun with it, and in the picture below you can see the suspect that I identified. There are currently two different cases to solve - I will probably try the other one later in the cruise.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

Lee and I both went to a couple of sessions about the Disney Dream itself. The first one was "Making of a Dream", where Alyson, one of the cruise staff, talked about the history of the Disney Cruise Line, some of the differences between the Dream and the Magic/Wonder, and showed some videos of the construction. I didn't take any notes, but a few things I remember:

1. The Dream is 150 feet longer than the Magic/Wonder, and three decks higher.

2. Maximum passenger capacity is about 4100, as opposed to ~2000 on the Magic and Wonder.

3. There are 1500 crew members (representing 62 countries) on the Dream, and about 900 on the Magic/Wonder.

4. It takes one million dollars' worth of fuel to fill the fuel tanks.

5. The atrium area has hidden lights and speakers (behind the white panels under the Disney art friezes) so they can use the Atrium as an indoor stage for events like the Sailaway Party and Pirate Party that can't be held in the main pool area due to bad weather.

6. The Disney Magic and the Disney Dream are Art Deco in style, while the Disney Wonder and the upcoming Disney Fantasy are Art Nouveau.

7. People have asked about "behind-the-scenes" tours of the galleys, bridge, or engine room. They can't do those for security reason, but there are videos available of those areas on your stateroom TV: Push the MENU button, then Ship Tips, and you'll see the Bridge Tour, Engine Tour, and Behind the Scenes Galley Tour. They are each about three minutes long.

The second session was "Art of the Theme Ship", which was actually a tour around various areas of the Dream. It started in Meridian, which is the lounge between Palo and Remy on Deck 12 - and it's a challenge to get there if you don't know the ship pretty well. You must get there from the aft elevator or stairwell - there's no external access to it from deck 12. Sarah was our tour guide, and told us all kinds of fascinating things about the ship and pointed out lots of little details that you may or may not see, or know what they mean. For example, the little note clips outside each stateroom are shaped like either fish or seahorses - fish are on the port side, because "fish" has four letters like "port" does. For the other side, both "seahorse" and "starboard" begin with the same letter. In the elevator lobbies you can tell where you are by the main color of the carpet - gold for aft, blue for midship, and red for forward. In the hallway carpets, there are starfish, and their top point points forward. The maps in the carpet are also oriented forward.

She took us into Palo, which is even prettier on the Dream than on the other two ships.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

And in Remy, Sarah pointed out that there are a number of "hidden Remys", like these on the back of the chairs.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

It's a very elegant-looking restaurant.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

Next we went down to Deck 5, where we found that the ceilings are lower there - that's because it's where all the kids' clubs are, and making the space a little smaller makes the kids feel a little more secure. That area is also the center of the ship and is the most stable with the least movement.

On Deck 4 went into "The District" to several of the clubs. In 687 she asked if we knew the significance of that name (I did, but I don't think anyone else knew). It was the hull number of the ship in the Meyer-Werft shipyard. It's considered bad luck to refer to a ship by its name before it's completed, so they call it by the hull number. When the keel was laid a coin was placed there, and a replica of the coin is in a case in 687.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

She asked about the highest guest space on the ship - I thought this was the Aquaduck, which I think technically is "deck 15" at the top, but she said it's the Outlook on Deck 14. I went up there afterwards to take a look at it - it's intended for private events, apparently. The only way to get there is via the mid-ship elevator, and only one of the elevators goes up to deck 14. Really a nice comfortable space, though.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

Tonight's show was Villains Tonight, which we saw on the Med cruise last year. This version was a little different - I think it's been polished a bit from what we saw before. It stars Hades, and in addition to Hades it features some of the less-well-known villains, like Yzma and Scar. But really, most of our favorites are in there - the Evil Queen, Maleficient,Ursula, Captain Hook, Jafar, and Cruella de Vil. The Hades character, like the Genie in Aladdin at DCA, seems to have lot more leeway for topical improvisational comedy, and he had some pretty funny lines. Though my favorite line was actually from Pain (or maybe it was Panic) - who in passing made mention of the font they use in the Underworld - Helvetica. (That slipped by a lot of people.) I think the show is a lot of fun, and we both enjoyed it.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

After the show we went to Pink - the champagne bar. Since it was our first time there we HAD to try the Taittinger pink champagne that is made exclusively for the Dream. It came with a "verrine", which was a small dessert, kind of like a panna cotta, with a top layer of chocolate, mango or passion fruit (we had a choice and both got chocolate). It was tasty with the champagne, and the champagne itself was very nice - bubbly and dry, but not alcohol-y. They have a lot of interesting-looking champagne cocktails as well - we'll have to try some of those later. We really enjoyed talking to Steven, the bartender, too.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

Dinner tonight was at Royal Palace. It was also Optional Dress Up night. We didn't bring formal clothes on this cruise, but brought something a little nicer to wear to Royal Palace, so it was good that those nights coincided! Dinner was pretty good - I'll have more on that in the food blog.

Tonight's towel animal is one I don't think we've had before - Tigger, meet Kermit. :-)

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 2

Castaway Cay tomorrow!



October 20, 2011

Disney Dream - October 2011, Part 3

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Day 3 - This is our lazy day on Castaway Cay. We both slept in - and I have to admit that I stayed in bed after Lee got up to get breakfast - it was really nice. He was doing the Castaway Cay 5K run, so he left the ship not long after they announced passengers could go ashore.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

I decided to try Enchanted Garden for breakfast - it's a buffet in the mornings. Pretty standard breakfast fare, but I was really only interested in yogurt, granola and fruit - too much rich food lately. The lighting is different in Enchanted Garden in the morning - the flower lights are blue and not pink.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

As I wandered through the Atrium I was able to get this photo of Cinderella in between guests.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

Up on Deck 12 I saw a completely empty Mickey Pool - and not because it was closed!

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

Lee wasn't back (but he told me he was probably going to stay on the island after the run), so I grabbed my Castaway Club bag and book,camera, sunscreen, and water and headed onto the island. It was another mostly overcast day - I was hoping for some blue sky for some nicer photo opportunities. The clouds started to break up a little bit, but then it clouded over again. And the breeze really started coming up around 10:30, which was good because it made the temperature a lot more comfortable, but it meant that some of the excursions (e.g. parasailing) were canceled.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

I walked instead of taking the tram and found a lounge chair under an umbrella at the first family beach - left my stuff there and went a ways further taking photos - I even got this one of Captain Jack as he went to his next scheduled Meet-and-Greet.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

There's lots of bright colors and interesting things to look at. Alyson told us yesterday that the island was very heavily damaged by Hurricane Irene in August, but you'd never know it - it looks wonderful. She said they had to dredge 10' of sand out of the channel after the hurricane so that it would be deep enough for the ships (particularly the Dream) to get in and out.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3


After a while I went back to my lounge chair and read my book for while, and got lunch at Cookie's BBQ, but by 12:45 I started making my way back to the ship. I know that a lot of people really love Castaway Cay, and it's their favorite thing about a Disney cruise, but I'm not really a beach and water person, so it doesn't do that much for me. I went back to the ship and rode the AquaDuck a couple of times, since the line was very short - 5-10 minutes.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

Our stateroom host Omar is even better than a message system. :-) When I came back to the room he saw me and said that Lee was looking for me a little earlier, and had gone up to the AquaDuck (I'd told Omar earlier that's where I was going). He went to the AquaDuck but didn't see me (took a quick ride because the line was short, though), and then he came down a different stairwell than the one I went up, so Omar told him he'd just seen me, and Lee found me on Deck 11. :-) He had a good 5K run - they even gave them Castaway Cay 5K bib numbers, even though it wasn't a "race". He also went snorkeling a couple of times.

BTW, Lee is pretty claustrophobic, but he didn't have any problems riding the AquaDuck.

I did another case with the Midship Detective Agency - it takes less time when you have some idea of where the enchanted art is located. :-) I looked for the stolen dalmatian puppies this time - I didn't find 101 of them, but I found enough to crack the case. (And no, the guilty party wasn't Cruella de Vil.)

One thing I noticed today - there are two pieces of enchanted art in the forward elevator lobby on deck 8 - and today I found that they are different depending on the time of DAY. They depict Disney Cruise line destinations. I'm used to seeing them in the morning when they are Nassau and Castaway Cay, but in the afternoon they were Mexican Riviera and Alaska, and in the evening, Russia and romance aboard the ship.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

Tonight is Pirate Night, and we brought our pirate costumes. so we dressed up. Arrrr.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

We were sophisticated pirates, though, so instead of rum and grog, before dinner we went back to Pink to have champagne cocktails. :-) The red one is the Elderbubble, which has elderflower liqueur (and raspberry puree - and vodka), and the orange one is the Tropicale, with mango puree. They were both very good.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

Our dinner was in Animator's Palate, and I was really happy to see that they were using the displays around the room to show concept art from lots of Disney pirate things - the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and movies, and Peter Pan. It's a great restaurant to be in on Pirate Night - probably the best of the three in terms of the theming.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

About 10:15 we went up to Deck 12 to see the fireworks, which started at 10:30. Lee got us into what was really a great spot - just in front of the forward funnel on the starboard side.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

It was also a really good spot because they had the deck between the funnel and the area above the pool blocked off, so after the fireworks when they opened the area we had a chance to get right on the rail above the stage on deck 12 and see the Club Pirate show with Jack Sparrow.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

After the show I went to check out the Pirate Buffet in Cabanas. The food lines near the entrance were long, but if you bypassed those and went to the far end where the desserts and crepes were (they were making fresh crepes - yum) then those lines weren't bad at all. The crepes were good but I was disappointed in the selection they had for fillings - the chocolate was just Hershey's syrup, and instead of fresh strawberries they had a syrupy strawberry compote.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

Tonight's towel animal ain't nothing but a hound dog. :-)

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 3

At Sea day tomorrow.


October 21, 2011

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Wednesday - At Sea

Not a very pretty day for our At Sea day, unfortunately. The skies are overcast and it is VERY windy - the sustained speed has been at least 24 mph all day, with gusts regularly 30-35, and I've seen it as high as 47 mph when I've been watching the "Bridge Report" channel. There's also lots of whitecaps and swells of 4-8'. Remarkably the ship is very stable and doesn't seem to move as much as I would have expected. But the AquaDuck has been closed all day, and they stopped letting people go all the way forward on deck 13 this afternoon.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

Lee and I took a walk around deck 4 this morning after breakfast - the weather was very different on the starboard side of the ship as opposed to the port side! On the port side it was sunny. dry, and quite balmy, but on the starboard side the wind was howling, it was shaded, and it was wet from all the sea spray.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4


On the sunny side we did something we'd never done before, and played shuffleboard. Neither of us was very good at it, but we had fun - even if Lee did knock my 8 pointer out of the box (no matter, I won anyway. :-) )

We stopped at Shutters to look at photos - we had quite a few taken during Pirate Night last night. They have changed how they do the photos, and I think it's a much better system. Instead of placing the photos somewhat randomly on racks, now they are organized into folders - each party/stateroom has their own folder. You use your Key to the World card to find out which folder has been assigned to you. You can also still view your photos on the photo kiosks, like you can on the other ships.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

Just before lunch we didn't something else we hadn't done before - went to Goofy's Sports Deck on deck 13 aft and played mini golf. There were a fair number of people up there but we didn't really have to wait. It was a fun little course. (Technically I won, but there was a weird lip around the next-to-last hole that Lee's golf ball jumped over three times without going in, so we called it a tie.)

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

We had lunch at Royal Palace - it had a much different lunch menu than I've seen before - it was more like a dinner menu (Lee called it a "bonus dinner"). And for a change we had excellent service - generally we've been less than impressed by the service we've gotten in the table service restaurants other than from our dining team, but all the servers we had for lunch were great, and the food was also really good - we would have been happy having any of those items on a dinner menu. Royal Palace has a couple of private rooms - I had a chance to go into the "Tiana" room and take photos.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

And we did something else we'd never done - we saw a movie in the Buena Vista Theater! Cars 2 in 3D. I think it was more crowded than usual because the weather wasn't very nice outside - it had started raining in addition to being windy. We hadn't really heard a lot of good reviews about the movie but we really enjoyed it - except for the family behind us. The parents spent most of the movie explaining it to their kids who didn't speak English, and the kids were on their laps and kept kicking the backs of both of our seats. Very annoying and inconsiderate. The 3D aspects worked nicely - added to the depth of the movie, but without any "cheap 3D tricks", as Kermit the Frog puts it. :-)

After the movie we checked out conditions on deck - it had stopped raining, but it was still very windy. Up on deck 12, we found this little water show that one of the drains was putting on. :-) No idea where the pressure was coming from to make it splash like that, but it was one happy, cheerful little drain.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

My mystery enchanted art on deck 8 forward had yet different artwork this evening (It had been the usual Nassau and Castaway Cay art all morning and afternoon). Two different romantic experience while cruising, featuring Mickey and Minnie, and Donald and Daisy.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4


We saw the show - Disney's Believe. I'd seen it back in January and enjoyed it, but this was Lee's first time. He thought it started off a little slowly but overall he liked it. I really liked seeing scenes from Mary Poppins, Pocahontas, and The Princess and the Frog.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4


On our final night we HAD to go back to Pink, of course. We tried two different champagne cocktails - I had the Blue Angel and Lee had the Pomegranate Passion.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

Bartender Steven and server Abie both took good care of us on our three visits to Pink. We were surprised that it was never very busy - but that was nice for us.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

Abie pointed out the "hidden Dumbos" in the pink bubbles on the walls - very cute. And he also showed us an interesting effect that you can apparently only see on the display screen of a digital camera - but even with a digital camera it doesn't photograph. There are little bubbles projected on the walls and on the bar and they rise like the would in a champagne glass! It was really neat.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4


Our final night dinner was the "show" dinner at Animator's Palate. We had a good table, right against the wall with one of the big display screens. Since we didn't have kids at our table Crush didn't spend much time with us, though. :-( He did come over and pose for a picture - this is his "camera" pose.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

At the end of dinner the displays become static - we ended up with Bruce the shark above our table - scary!

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

One final night in our stateroom - we had a hip towel swan this time. :-) Since we had carry-on luggage we didn't have to worry about packing and getting our luggage out into the hallway by 10:30, so that was nice. We did get most of our packing done, though.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 4

The cruise has gone very quickly, though four nights was a decent length of time to be on board - three nights would have been way too short. And we had most of three days onboard the ship since we didn't go into Nassau and didn't spend a lot of time on Castaway Cay. So I feel like I really was able to see and experience the ship a lot more on this trip.

It was also very nice for us to have the opportunity to relax and enjoy what the ship has to offer a lot more on this cruise - like going to Pink and Skyline (Lee also spent some time in Evolution). Plus seeing a movie and playing shuffleboard and mini golf. And don't forget the AquaDuck! But neither of us made it to the gym at all, though Lee ran on deck once.

The ship was almost full - they said there were about 3800 passengers on board. With the poor weather yesterday I was concerned that it might seem really crowded since most people were inside instead of being at the pool, but it really wasn't bad at all.



October 22, 2011

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Our last moments aboard the Disney Dream this morning...the final morning of a cruise I always find to be a let-down - everyone is in such a rush to get us off the ship by 9:00.

It was a beautiful morning in Port Canaveral - but chilly!!! Only 57, and it was only supposed to get up to 71-72 today...that was NOT the forecast when I left home (they were saying low 80s). I'm glad I brought a light jacket!

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

At about 7:30 we were in our cabin finishing our packing when suddenly the voice of the duty officer came on overhead - like right OVER Lee's head. I think he jumped a foot off the ground, and I was very startled, too. I don't think they intended that, because she just got a couple of sentences into the spiel about the Disney Dream being cleared by customs, and then it stopped. But if we weren't awake before, we were awake then. Yikes.

On our other cruises breakfast on the last morning has been pretty quiet, with a LOT of empty tables, but the dining room was pretty busy at 8:00 this morning. Only four of us at our 8-person table, though. Even our servers seemed a little subdued. They were great, and we will miss them.

We're used to just walking right off the ship after breakfast, but this time the Atrium was packed and people were lined up and waiting to get out. We twice heard the "everybody has to get off the ship" announcement before we were finally able to get off. It was not very pleasant, especially compared to our other experiences. But I guess that made it a relief to get off?

It didn't take too long to clear Customs and get out of the terminal and onto a bus headed back to WDW. We were the third stop, and the only passengers to get off at the Boardwalk. It was about 11:30 by then, and our room was actually ready!!! That was a very nice surprise.

I don't remember if we've been in a Studio since they changed the decor - I don't care much for the yellow and pink color scheme it has now.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Our room has one of the malevolent swans glaring down into it...though we are somewhat hidden by a big bush.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

BTW, we have free wireless internet service here, too, just like we did at Saratoga Springs. It's really very nice! I understand that for now this is a trial service - I sure hope they keep it. It works very well and has been very responsive, too.

We love staying at the Boardwalk - it's a pretty short walk to Epcot - the operative term being that you CAN walk - no need to hassle with waiting for a bus (or driving and parking). And since it was Food and Wine Festival time and we were ready for lunch...off to Epcot we went.

Lee's pass didn't work at the turnstile - it's a Premier pass that he renewed at Disneyland in May, and we'd both forgotten that he hadn't been to WDW since then, so they needed to activate it at Guest Relations. Fortunately that didn't take too long - though we wondered why he even had to do that. (The answer, apparently, is that they are two different ticketing systems. The Premier card stock comes from Disneyland, so it is pre-activated for Disneyland if you buy it at WDW, but if you buy it at Disneyland you have to have it activated at WDW before you can enter a park for the first time here. Though I don't remember having that problem with my Disneyland-purchased Premier pass last year.) So the Premier Pass thing continues to be somewhat frustrating - it's a great concept, but in practice it doesn't all work nearly as well as I think it should.

But we finally got into Epcot. It was really a beautiful day - totally clear skies. But a little bit cool (not even 70 at noon) and breezy - if I got into the shade I was chilly, even with a jacket. Not what I expect at this time of year - but it beats 95 degrees and 95% humidity!

The park was a little more crowded than I expected for a Thursday afternoon in late October, and there were short lines at most of the food booths, but not bad - and they got shorter as the afternoon went on. I'm going to have to do a separate blog on everything we tried, otherwise I won't get this one done in time to post tomorrow.

A shout-out to AllEars readers Katie and Dan from Seattle, who recognized us and came over to say hello and tell us how much they enjoy the web site and the newsletter. Thank you!

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Today's standouts: Shrimp Cake from Singapore (Laura), and Beef with Smashed Sweet Potatoes from South Africa (Lee). Biggest surprise - Poland, where both the pork stuffed cabbage roll and the kielbasa and potato pierogi were very good. Best dessert: the Pastel from Portugal (a flaky pastry cup filled with egg custard). We would never have tried it but the ladies at the New Zealand booth told us how wonderful it was. (The Shrimp Cake is pictured below.)

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

After one circle around World Showcase lagoon we took a break and went back to our room for a nap. We ARE on vacation, after all! And went back to the park around 5:30.

At the Desserts and Champagne booth I had a glass of the Moet and Chandon Nectar Imperial. It wasn't quite like having Steven serve me a champagne cocktail in Pink, but it was very good.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

We saw the cranberry bog they have set up in the area between Future World and World Showcase (what is that area called, anyway?). Talked to the guy in the bog about cranberries and how they are harvested. We didn't realize that Craisins were actually developed to make use of what remained of the cranberry after the juice was extracted. And that cranberries are grown from seed - it takes 3-5 years after a bog is planted until it can be harvested...but after that, they keep producing - there are some cranberry bogs that are 130 years old!

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

We wandered down to the Festival Center (former Wonders of Life pavilion), but there wasn't anything going on that late (it was almost 7:00). Continuing our tour of Epcot (have to work off all of those calories somehow!) we went to the front of the park - pretty at night.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Since we had dined with Crush the night before, it seemed only fitting that we visit the Nemo and Friends pavilion.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

We saw one of the tanks that had a number of seahorses in it. (Seahorse means starboard! ;-) )

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

It was around 8:00 by the time we went back to World Showcase, and there were hardly any lines at the food booths. The park was fairly empty since the evening was a little bit chilly. We tried a few more food items, and then watched Illuminations before heading back to our room for the night. We started the day on the Disney Dream, and finished the day at Epcot - not too bad!



October 23, 2011

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Friday, October 21 - another beautiful but chilly morning in Orlando! We decided to take a trip to Animal Kingdom - our second favorite WDW park (after Epcot). We had just missed a bus, but caught one less than 20 minutes later, and there were only 5 of us on it! Too early for the Blizzard Beach stop, so we went straight to Animal Kingdom.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

It was still Extra Magic Hour, so we needed to show our room key to get into the park. There were a fair number of resort guests there! We did our usual drill - get Fastpass for the Safari, and then have breakfast. We miss getting breakfast at Tusker House now that they have turned it into a character meal (grumble, grumble). Pizzafari is the only counter service breakfast option, and I was very happy to see that they have expanded the breakfast menu since I was last here.

Lee got the Bounty Platter, which included scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuit, potatoes and two sticks of French toast. He said it was very good, but it was on the expensive side - $8.29.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

I had what I think is one of the best bargains at Disney - the oatmeal with apples, raisins and brown sugar, for $2.79. At that price I was expecting a pretty small cup, but it was a large cup, and covered with chunks of fresh apple, golden raisins, and Craisins. They didn't overdo the brown sugar, either. It was really yummy, and very filling - I'd ordered a fruit cup along with it, but I really didn't need that.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

We stopped to have a look at the otters before going back to our safari - there were two of them chirping and running around and playing in the water. Otters are SO cute - if they don't put a smile on your face there's something wrong with you! They were moving too fast for me to get a good photo, though.

It was still a cool morning, so we didn't see as many animals on our safari as we sometimes do, but some of the views that we did get were outstanding. Our driver actually stopped the vehicle several times which allowed us to get much better photos. We saw more giraffes than I have ever seen before - there were six, of two different species.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

And we saw an entire family of mandrills, including mama carrying a baby. (On the bottom on the far left - there was another young one, too, that you see in the center.)

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

Another baby that we saw was a baby elephant and his mother - our driver said he is about a year old.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

There were three cheetahs - one of them was up and moving, but the other two were sitting in the center of their enclosure with their heads raised so that we could see them! That was the best view I think I've ever had of them.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

At the Flights of Wonder show we saw a different "Guano Joe" than we have seen before - he was very good. We have to laugh at how they talk about "exotic birds" and then have chickens running around on stage. :-) But they do have a lot of interesting birds, though we didn't see my favorite, Sluggo the lizard-smashing sureiama, this time. Poe the raven came out twice - first he stole Joe's flag, and then he returned and took the stick, too! ;-)

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

The Maharajah Jungle Trek was disappointing - despite the promise of the sign we didn't see the "dragon" (too cold) or the bats (too cold), and only two of the tigers (probably not too cold for them - they were just lazy that morning).

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

We just missed a bus back to the Epcot Resorts (literally - we watched it pull away) and then had to wait 15-20 minutes for another one. I'm still not sure why they have only one bus stop for all five Epcot resorts, but whatever. This was one time that I missed not having a car - we almost always drive to Animal Kingdom.

We'd hoped to meet up with some of our friends from the RADP (rec.arts.disney.parks) newsgroup at Epcot, but only a couple of them were able to make it - but we had fun wandering around with them and trying some more foods.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

I don't think I mentioned this before - something new that they are doing this year is a Food and Wine "passport" (since this year's theme is "Passport to a World of Flavor") - it's a small pamphlet and inside is the menu for each food booth and a space for the custom stamp from each booth. And it's FREE! No purchase necessary at the booths, either - they were happy to stamp them at the registers, and I saw a fair number of kids who were just collecting the stamps. They had them available at most of the food booths, so you could start anywhere. I was having fun getting them - by the end of the day on Friday we had visited (and purchased from) 24 of the 29 food booths. (We won't talk about how much money we put onto the F&W gift card to do that...)

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

We took a short late afternoon break back at our room to get off our feet and change clothes before the 3D Dessert Discovery event that night. Back in Epcot we met a couple of friends for "The Orchestra" concert - featuring "former members of the Electric Light Orchestra". Really, that's how they introduced them! We found that very funny. It was an ok concert, but I was surprised at how short it was - it started right at 5:15 and ended promptly at 5:45.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

It was Friday night and the crowds had really picked up at Epcot - lots of locals coming in for the evening, I guess. It was a very nice evening - not as chilly as the previous night. Before eating a bunch of dessert we wanted some food, so we revisited a couple of our favorites - the lamb slider from New Zealand and the chipotle chicken sausage with polenta from Canada.

The 3D Dessert Discovery event was held in the World Showplace (which will always be Mil Vil, aka the Millennium Village, to us), and ran from 7:00 until 8:30, though it also included a reserved viewing area for Illuminations afterward. It was $55/person. I'll have a full review on the AllEars web site later, but in brief, it featured a number of stations with different desserts, as well as cheese, fruit, bread, and even some "savory" items like a ham and prosciutto platter, cranberry polenta, and a chocolate chile muffin. There was quite a selection of dessert beverages like port, late harvest wines, sweet sparkling wines, and liqueurs available as well.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

It wasn't overly crowded, and we found several empty "standing" tables, and there were unused places at some of the regular tables, too.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

At 8:30 they started walking us over to our viewing location for Illuminations, which was World Showcase Plaza between the two gift shops. We think that's the best viewing location for the show, since you can see all of the country pavilions from there and you're fairly close to the flame barge and the globe.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

They had given us cardboard 3D type glasses when we walked into the dessert event - but they were really "Mickey" glasses, which turn a light source into Mickey heads. People were wearing them for the fireworks and really giggling and cheering about it - it really did look pretty cool. I took a photo through the glasses, so you get some idea of what it looked like.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

It was a very nice evening and we had a good time. I was disappointed that there wasn't more chocolate, but we enjoyed the desserts and the wines.


Saturday, October 22

It figures, just as we've adjusted to this time zone, it's time to go home. Another beautiful day in Orlando, but still only 53 at 8:00 in the morning! It wasn't as windy today, though, and it warmed up a lot faster.

We got everything packed, left our bags with Bell Services, and went over to the Dolphin, where we met Deb Koma and her husband and Jack Marshall and his daughter for breakfast at Fresh. They don't seem to have quite the food selection that they did the last time I ate here several years ago, but it was still good - the roasted potatoes were especially tasty. The line for made-to-order omelets was rather long, but most of us did that anyway. Lee enjoyed the Mickey pancakes, too.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

We said goodbye to everyone (though we'll see them again in December at the December to Remember events), and went into Epcot, even though we knew it was going to be very busy. I still had six more stamps to get in my passport! Since we were at the back of the park moving forward the lines were still short/non-existent at the places I needed, China, which was the last one, and closest to the front, had the longest line. Of the last six stamps we only got food/beverage at three of them, but we had just come from breakfast so we weren't that hungry. (Note what the cast member is doing behind Lee. :-) )

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

We hadn't been to the Food and Wine Festival in a couple of years, and there were some things we noticed this year that seemed to be helping to improve the flow of people.

A lot of the booths that expected long lines had queues set up to try to keep people a little more organized.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

A few of the very popular booths, like Australia, Canada, and Craft Beers actually had lines on two sides. We found that the line on the end closest to Future World was the most crowded, and if you went to the other side it was a lot shorter.

Today, when it was so busy, they had a cast member at the front of many of the lines that directed guests to the next available register.

Something that I understand is new this year are these utensil kiosks - press a lever and it dispenses a fork, spoon, or knife. I think they hold a lot more utensils, and certainly seem to be a lot more efficient than the bins of utensils they have had in the past.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

We went back to the Festival Welcome Center where I got the final "completion" stamp in my passport. There was nothing extra, though.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

I needed to renew my Premier passport, and the only place that you can do that is at Guest Relations at one of the theme parks (or Downtown Disney in Florida). There was a long line at Guest Relations, but fortunately they had people working the lines and directing people who could go to a regular ticket booth, or to Guest Relations inside the park (which had more people working) and that helped...but still, we were in line for 20 minutes. It took a while, but I finally got a new Premier passport, with an expiration date a year from when my old one was going to expire, instead of a year from today. The Premier passports are a great concept, but even after almost two years they still have some problems - I still don't understand why we can't renew them by mail or on-line like we can with the other annual passes. And I have commented many times on how they don't scan at the registers for their discounts. It will be interesting to see if mine works at Disneyland the next time I visit - and whether or not they still have a photo on file for me, or if I will have to get a new one taken.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

When we went back into the park Epcot was still very busy. We wandered through Innoventions east and west, and saw the Fountain of Nations shooting water high into the air.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

It was getting to be time to head back to the Boardwalk for our pickup by Magical Express, so we left. World Showcase was VERY crowded, and lines at the food booths were very long. Lee said that for a change it was actually a relief to be leaving Epcot! We had time to stop along the Boardwalk for chocolate milkshakes and a slice of pizza.

The bus, or MOTORCOACH, as the driver informed us, picked us up promptly - actually a little bit early. We were the last stop, so went straight to the airport. We had a very entertaining motorcoach driver, so that made the trip go quickly. Once we arrived at the airport it wasn't very crowded, and getting through Security didn't take long at all.

We had a really good trip - it would have been nice to have another day at Walt Disney World, but we had time to do just about everything we wanted at the Food and Wine Festival.

Thanks for following along - I'll have a couple of food blogs coming - one on the Dream, and one on the Food and Wine Festival.


October 28, 2011

Mickey's Halloween Party - Disneyland 2011

Kristen Nowicki of the Mousetalgia podcast (www.mousetalgia.com) attended one of this year's Mickey's Halloween Parties at Disneyland and shares her experience in this guest blog.

It's been over 20 years since I last went trick or treating. This all changed last Friday night as my boyfriend and I attended Mickey's Halloween Party in Disneyland. It was my first time at what has recently become an annual event in Anaheim and was the perfect way to kick off the Halloween season.

A $59 ticket purchased five hours of Halloween themed entertainment and decor, lots of treats and luckily no tricks - this is Disneyland after all! The party ran from 7pm to midnight, and while I had anticipated a two-hour tour (how much could a 34-year-old, childless adult have to do at Halloween party, right?) we practically shut down the park, arriving shortly before 7:00 and leaving a few minutes before midnight.

While Disneyland is always beautiful, especially after dark, the extra Halloween plussing really made the evening magical. From the moment we stepped through the front gates, we were immersed in Disney Halloween goodness. Versions of Grim Grinning Ghosts, covers from the Nightmare Before Christmas and other original Disney Halloween tunes played throughout the evening and were accompanied by corresponding projections on the buildings down Main Street.

Throughout the park, Disney brought out special spooky décor just for the party. Our favorite was the Golden Horseshoe, which just earlier that day had been its usual charming frontier self, but transformed into a Halloween fan's delight for the evening. There were pumpkins throughout the main floor and even a special spooky guest musician at the player piano.

The Halloween décor wasn't limited to just the interiors, but outside as well including the sparkling Bradbury Halloween tree, a bevy of carved pumpkins at the Big Thunder Ranch with Mickey and Minnie nearby at a special Halloween photo-op. (Other characters including Jack Skellington, Winnie the Pooh, Phineas and Ferb and Storm Troopers were stationed at elaborate backgrounds throughout the park for photos.)

In addition to the special Halloween décor, there were a number of other events exclusive to the party including the Halloween Screams fireworks display, Mickey's Costume Party Cavalcade and two dance parties - Piratepalooza and Buzz Lightyear's Intergalactic Space Jam. The dance parties seemed targeted at a younger audience, with Goofy, Donald, Buzz and the Green Army Men actually getting down on the dance floor with costumed kids of all ages. While we chose to sit this one out, the kids who were there seemed thrilled to dance the night away with some of their favorite characters. These events were also less crowded than other areas of the park, though it did seem to be a little odd having a mix of the Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls and other 90's pop artists blaring throughout Walt's park.

The biggest crowd pleaser of the night was the Halloween Screams fireworks show. The hub was filled with costumed attendees of all ages, screaming with delight at the spectacular of orange and yellow fireworks. We had seen this show in previous years when it was available to regular park goers and this year's show was the same as years prior. The inclusion of villains and a heavy emphasis on Nightmare Before Christmas characters was nice, but the cheesy soundtrack puts this show at the bottom of my list. Just 30 minutes prior to the show, it was easy to get a coveted spot in front of the Castle, which did help ease the pain of the canned, calypso beat soundtrack. Not quite as flashy as some of the other firework shows, there were a number of interesting projections on the front of the Castle, and the inclusion of a flying Zero made for an extra Halloween treat.

Mickey's Costume Party Cavalcade was a bit short, but overall very entertaining. The Country Bears made a rare appearance, and on the back of the last float sat a somewhat jerky, audio-animatronic Miss Piggy. We caught the first and second showings of the parade (the second by accident as we were trapped, trying to get to the Pixie Hollow Candy Trail) and both viewings, one from Main Street and the other from the entrance to Tomorrowland, were equally enjoyable.

Amid the decked out décor and special entertainment were a number of Candy Trails, each consisting of anywhere from two to five trick or treat stations. We were given a medium sized bag upon entering the park, and an hour into the party, both of our bags were overflowing with a variety of chocolate candies, suckers and healthier treats like raisins, Craisins and apple slices. Our favorite Candy Trails were near the Matterhorn and the Innoventions Queue - both had five candy stations and short lines.

Speaking of lines, if you hate queuing up, Mickey's Halloween Party is not for you. While the numbers of attendees versus a regular day was significantly lower, the lines for the photo-ops and Candy Trails were quite long. Every photo queue had an average of 45 people and the Candy Trail starting next to Pirates of the Caribbean, wrapped all the way back to the Big Thunder Railroad. Halloween themed attractions like the Haunted Mansion and Ghost Galaxy (Space Mountain) also had really long lines. Most of the park attractions were open, and the average wait for non-Halloween themed rides was reasonable, but those attractions weren't the reason we came. We came for candy, characters and photo-ops and paid the price dearly by standing in a number of lengthy queues.

One of our favorite parts of the evening was being dressed up as Alice and the Mad Hatter. While this did prove to be somewhat awkward as we walked through the parking garage with the masses of un-costumed teens headed to DCA, as soon as we entered the gates of Disneyland, we were right at home. Themeing our costumes in a Disney way proved to be especially fun as we took photo after photo in the wonderful Wonderland setting of Fantasyland.

Mickey's Halloween Party not only gave us an excuse to dress up as our favorite characters, but to go back in time and celebrate a child's holiday as adults in the Happiest Place on Earth. Our first trip definitely won't be our last and if you're looking for a Halloween event for the whole family, childless-couple or even single adult, Mickey's Halloween Party is a place for anyone and everyone who loves Disney and Halloween.


About the author: Kristen Nowicki first visited Disneyland at the age of six and has been a regular park attendee and annual pass holder ever since. Drawn to the history and nostalgia of Disneyland, Kristen and her three friends, Jeff, Dave and Becky, host a Disneyland podcast, Mousetalgia. Mousetalgia is a show dedicated to the exploration of Disney's past, present and future, emphasizing the theme park culture and the people who have imagined Walt's happy place into existence. Check out their weekly podcast at www.mousetalgia.com. Let's go "Carpe Kingdom!"



Return to Blog Central

About October 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in October 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

September 2011 is the previous archive.

November 2011 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.