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January 1, 2012

Where in the World #210

Where in the World by Erin Blackwell

You probably can guess what I am going to say first. To Lucas, Lauren And Ana Marlett, Jamee Smith, Claire Gregory - the official Where in the World agent, seeker of Troll names!, Diane Furtado, Lily-pierre Couet, Ashley P., Kerry A, Danielle Ciotti Harsley, Pam Tees, Christopher Hall, Patti, Kerry, and Jeremy Mccaffrey, Caroline Burmester, and all of you, my friends and the Players of Where in the World:

Smiley from millan.net

If you haven't seen it already or if you want to see it again (because it's that good), here is the holiday video from the AllEars Team who could be at December to Remember. That includes me! I'm the one in the red (Club 33 - that's right, I had to say it!) polo shirt in the beginning: Laura Gilbreath and I called it the Brady Bunch pose, which makes me Jan and makes Steve Barrett Cindy. I pointed that out to him. :)

The AllEars 2011 Holiday Video

Kelly, thanks for my wonderful holiday note from Mexico! Deseo que Los Tres Reyes darte todo lo que quieres esta Navidad en seis dias y Prospero Ano Nuevo!

The Patterson Family is in Disney World right now: I hope they remembered to tell Mickey I miss him. :) Wendy Barney, I know you are leaving soon; enjoy because like you said, it goes too fast! The same to you, Patti and Kerry Mccaffrey! Feel bad for me: I won't be going back until December at best. (I would say "Woe is me", but I know a lot of you are saying I haven't been there in years! :) )

Congratulations to Kyler S. who is moving to the Town of the Mouse in one month! Just like Deb Wills: a new Floridian!

Colleen and Monica Hatch (and your daughter, Monica), thank YOU for the great note!

Jeremy Mccaffrey, I am so glad you are here playing Where in the World and sending me notes!

And Shannon Thomas, you made it. : )

Here was last week's Challenge:
 Where in the World #209

And here's the answer:

Copyright © 2011 Erin Blackwell Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS, 4mm, 1/20s shutter, f/2.7, ISO 800

Say hello to Eeyore at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom! Yep, we were there for the breakfast buffet. :) He is holding a little Eeyore that belongs to my friend Carol Jayne. Later in the trip, I found a pair of mouse ears for him. Wanna see?

Little Eeyore with mouse ears

Charlie Scheer, I bet Eeyore says hello back to you. :) In fact, R Engel, could you ask Eeyore that when you have breakfast there this week? In case he forgets (because it could easily happen in the excitement - the parade, seeing the Castle out the windows), could you ask, Chris Kelly, in a couple weeks? Thanks!

Oh! And could you bring me back a Mickey Waffle, cheesy hash browns, and apple crisp? Because Jamee Smith, Clay Anthony, and Kelly Mager put me in the mood for them and where can I get them here? (I should have asked Santa for a Mickey Waffle maker.) Karen Smith just mentioned the cheese danish; could you bring me one of those too? If I could go right now, Jeremy Reichelt, you'd find me in the kids' buffet station! And we're not the only ones; they have good stuff there!

Yes, Ed Elder, I did take it this year when we were just there! At the breakfast buffet, Caroline Burmester. ;)

Mike Timmer wins a breakfast of thistles for the best Eeyore impression! "Looks like Eeyore at the Crystal Palace. Not that anyone would notice." HA!

Jennifer Harmon says she's not sure about going to Crystal Palace. Well, Jennifer, you can ask Brenda, The Peabody Family, Jamee Smith, Susie Howard, Betsy Silvestri, Kim Meyer, Danielle Ciotti Harsley, Becky Norman, Mary Jo Gallion, Angela Johnson, Lorraine Burmester, plus Danielle Quatrella, Lily-pierre Couet, Kelli Sangston, Clint Curfman, and Carol J (who also named Eeyore as their favorite character too), who listed Crystal Palace as a favorite spot. Carol Gamill even was there for Christmas morning in 2007! Like Danielle Sauthoff said, the architecture is beautiful and I love going there before the park opens: it means Main Street and the Castle all for you with hardly anyone there! Great time for pictures! And you can see the Castle from the restaurant as a great view.

Jared Orth points out that it is "right next to a parent's idea of heaven, (the baby changing and nursing center)." LOL!!

Plus, they sang Happy Birthday to Agnes Ciotti and gave her an autographed photo, so they can't be bad. Right? : )

Amy Schweizer, I felt bad when you said how much you missed your favorite dish at the Crystal Palace dinner buffet. So, to help ease the pain, I got you this - spaghetti and meatballs:

I hope that helps. :)

And Alan Mize rocks the entire month of December! Booyah!

The Kahle Family was the first to send in the correct answer for the challenge! Congratulations to The Kahles and to all the readers who got the answer right: Ed Elder, Jamie K, Frances Phebus, Christine Holzman, Barbara Ajak, Larissa Huda, Evanna Huda, Louise Barton, Lee Anastasi, Mike O'brien, Angie Young, Michael Haeberle, Dylan Weidner, Ken Maikowski, Brenda, Abigail Grasso, Kevin Miller, Audra Miller, Danielle Ford, David Tarbet, Mike Malampy, Laurie Walker, Michael Malampy, Lucas, Lauren And Ana Marlett, Tom Buck, Danielle Quatrella, Paul Knott, Kelly M., Doug Reichl, Peter Strukel, Ed Suscreba, Beth Mcmeekin, Jorge Caso, James Greene, Rebecca Keenan, Tim Jeltes, Ken Jackson, Maumy Wams, Chloe Mayhew, Bridgette Gallagher, Janet Thorn, Andrea Kruszewski, The Peabody Family, Lauren Sullivan, Jamee Smith, Sharon Pierce, Charlie Scheer, Dawn Bach, Paul Dickson, The O'meara Family, Claire Gregory, Jimi Mac, Freya Schmidt, Craig, Lorine Landon, Dawn Burns, Maryann Eckenrode, Jeffrey Dunne, Karen Robertson , Cindy Dore, Hoekzema Family, Brianne, Julie Wickware, Chris Masse, Christine Twomey , Roxanne Kliebert, R Engel, Jonathan Ward, Chris Kelly, Kyler S., Caryn Schill, Diane Furtado, Shannon Milair, Penny Urell, Sam Fritz, Michelle Sunde, Brian Miller, Megan Krainski, Kaitlyn,teresa, Carla C, Isabel Johansen, Katie Bray, Robin Fitts, Donna Hood, Clay Anthony, Wayne Chadourne, Troy Parker, Chris Masse, Lily-pierre Couet, Stephanie Hardhouse, K.l. Beasley, Tracy Henkel, Bonnie Jenkins, Scott Otis, H, Karen Ramirez, Debra Kuklinski, Kathryn Perkins, Ronni, Eric Streebel, Sarah Smee , Mike Haven, Matt Holley, Stephanie Newell, Brian Sheets, Jodi Cook, Colleen, Debra H, Dan Johnston, Linda College, Kris Nixon, Linda Allen, Diana Fitzgerald, Leigh Mertz, Pat Morin, Dee Dee Kenney, Susie Howard, Ashley P., Sharon Dale, Mary, Ken, Diane Ramos, Al Desimone, Kye Layton, Heather Young, Heidi Goodhue, Linda Johnson, Steve Knapp, Monica Hatch, Debbie Desimone, Susie Howard, Cara Richards, Chris And Alison, Stefanie Vandiver, Karen Hughes, Kelly Mager, Jennifer Harmon, Tom Donnelly, Betsy Silvestri, Annette Nuenke, Christopher Bourassa, Kim Meyer, Shaun Leake, Emily Hudson, Kerry A, Anastasia Macneil, Scott Greenbaum, Rob Blundin, Josh Weiss, Nicole Shuler, Maureen Handy, Dayna Guay, Matthew Jadro, Mike Walter, Michelle Thompson, Erica Sipich, Walter Fletcher, The Hicks Family, Becky Hosinger, Wendy T Faler, Carol Gamill, Evelyn Wilson, Mike Hill, Lisa Laskowski, Diane Tredore, Bob Hendrix, Michelle Wilinski, Lynn Lofton, Derek Brown , Spencer Hart, Ansley, Gretchen Barnes, Kerry Fox, Jen Cerce, Paul Zerba, Jennifer Horst, Lori Rienhardt, Kim Mobley, Derek Carty, Danielle Sauthoff, Amanda Campbell, Kurt Knappman, Danielle Ciotti Harsley, Sue Trefry, Linda Scrivano, Melody O'donnell, Trina, Johan Rigby, Jason Skow, Schuyler Stewart, Adrienne Clark-bogle, Susan Higginbotham, Vanessa Gordon, Pam Tees, Becky Norman, Kelli Sangston, Kenny, Diane Jones, Jared Orth, Stephanie Canales, Clint Curfman, Jennifer Rupert, Jennifer Mccurry, Sarah Holodick, Kirsten Stark, Tommy Montgomery, Mary Jane Keeble, Susan Stanley, Kristyn Scibienski, Kathy Love, Russ Morgan, Maja Kodani, Karen Schlumpf, George Mundy Jr, Cameron Lange, Brian Grabowski, Len Beebe, Dan Hawkins, Marcy, Christopher Hall, Melissa Degroat, Jullie Pudem, Melesia Love, Mike M., Matt And Danielle Murgia, Kate Fischer, Chris Bauman, Mark Franklin, Bob Henriksen, Allison Daubert, Hillary Waldroop, Doug Olson, Herb Miller, Liz Huffman, Amy Schweizer, Sharon Lee, Amy Schweizer, Kathleen Rosenwinkel, Ashley Elizabeth, Charles Wright, Dave Wang, Bill Moquin, Mark Cullison, Monica Butler, Phil Thach, Jim Riley, Tracy Discher, Mildred Popp, Alison Rosenberger, Stephanie Linares, Dwayne Fontenot, Andrew Weed, John Arena Jr, Mike Uffman, Theresa Rucando, Melanie Dunlap, Brian Yesutis, Suzanne Kennedy, Rob Speed, Wendy Barney, Adam Grun, Jeff Finger, Patty Newton, Jennifer Mercier, Patti Mccaffrey, Jennifer Bourg, David U, Karen Smith, Deb Ragno, Terry, Carri Marotto, Elyssa H, Jessica Gruhlke, Amy Miller, Mike Cerce, Erin Hammer, Susan Doucette, Les Whitten, Sharon Leitgeb, Joanne, Lori Locke, Joseph M Zafia, Robert Anderson, Nancy Watkinson, Sheila Saey, Maureen Hanlon, Jennifer Newman, Suzanne Denham, Angela And David Blevins, Maryann Daly, John Sheridan, Sandy Miller, Carolyn Guigliano, James And Kathy Berry, Bruce Jones, Donna Hood, Patti Deluca, Paula L. Kertes, Heather Hynes, Tom Higbee, Christy Schor, John Leach, Amanda Perkins, Lisa Cash, Melissa Littman, Kerry Mccaffrey, Stacy Patterson, Adam Solomon, Christine Dagney, Jane Johnson, Anne Verville, Carol Coker, Roye Ann Morris, Walter N. Clark, Liz Moreau, Robert P. Flaherty, Julie Johnson, The Patterson Family, Elaine Tomko-deluca, Debbie Poole, Tom Koval, Patti Higgins, Anne Hainsworth, Karen Hotchkiss, Les Stewart, Kathryn Hughes, Sheryl Monnier, Caroline Burmester, Mary Jo Gallion, Kristen Carde, Rosanne Mangiaracino, Becky Fields, Angela Johnson, Lorraine Burmester, Melissa Kirk, Lisa Forsythe-kane, Jeremy Reichelt, Tom & Susan Linder, Tricia Petty, Kara Costello, Timothy Hutchinson, Robert Mccoy, Erin Loring, Zachary Goodwin, Jamie Poynton, Jennifer Tremley, Bill Gallagher, Alan Mize, Bambi Eckelbarger, Tammy Helvey, Bill Mckim, Mike Timmer, Tracy Cegielski, Peg Fliegel, Janet Romeo, Kellie Harpel, Jeremy Mccaffrey, Michael Pyle, Vicki Edwards, Lori Netti, Virginia Pierce, Brittany &Jesse Siminitz, Becky Terjung, Amber Slifer, Lindsay Clayton, Kevin Geiger, Bill Monahan, Denise C Steil, Jean Ehlert, Carol J, Jodi Johnson, Kelley H, Sherri Pell, Tina Santillo, Sandra Ednie, Kevin Morgan, Paula Massarelli, Victoria Finnegan, Karen Adamakis, Chris B, Shannon Murray, Agnes Ciotti, Chris Haid, Gerard Eovaldi, Chuck Sands, Andy Hickey, Shannon Thomas, and Cathy Schill. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.

We have one more thing to do in 2011: announce the December winner!

That honor goes to: Diana Fitzgerald, you wrap up the year by being the final AllEars® Where in the World monthly winner of 2011!!!

Challenge #210: Where in the world is this?

It's the first Challenge of the new year! So of course, it has to be special. I bring you one of my favorite things from a Walt Disney World theme park!

 Where in the World #210

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, January 5th, by clicking on the blue box below. Please do not post answers using the Feedback Form link at the bottom of this post. Remember to be specific with your answer - just naming a park will not get you into the drawing.

See you next week, Players!

Click Here to Submit Your Answer

Everyone who sends in a correct answer to a Where in the World Challenge this month will be entered in a drawing at the end of the month for some special AllEars® goodies!

January 3, 2012

Disney Pic of the Week - Germany

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Germany in Epcot's World Showcase is a feast for the eyes and the stomach. Here you can eat and drink as every day is Oktoberfest in the Biergarten restaurant. Beer steins, wine, cuckoo clocks, dolls, pottery and hand-painted eggs by German artisans can be found in the shoppes outside the restaurant.

While most guests leave Epcot after Illuminations, I stayed one night and photographed the Germany pavillion using a tripod.

Germany pavillion after Illuminations in Ecpot's World Showcase, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Late night in Epcot's Germany pavillion.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 10s, f/16, ISO 200, EV -0.7, 18mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Barrie and Lisa will be here on Thursday and Saturday to share Germany photos for their Disney Pic of Week.

January 4, 2012

Solo Trip to Orlando - Transportation Mishigas

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

Just getting there was half the battle.

I stayed an extra 45 minutes at work, off the clock, because the bus station to the airport is practically up the street.

I arrived at the station 25 minutes before the bus' departure time of 6:30pm and awaited for my mom and her friend Judy to arrive. My mom would take my car home. Inside the station I bought my bus ticket. The attendee didn't say anything. Remember this for later.

The bus came in around 6:10pm and let passengers off. My mom arrived with Judy and at 6:17 I handed my larger carry-on to the driver, turned and walked into the station to use the ladies room. When I returned 2 or 3 minutes later, the bus was gone.

Apparently, right after I walked into the building and the driver put another bag in stow, he hopped inside and drove off. I was livid. We talked to the guys selling tickets who could not have cared less. They handed me a phone to speak with a surpervisor who berated me for not stepping on the bus and adamantly denied that the bus left early. You can imagine how aggrivated I was that he basically called me a liar and so I informed him the station had quite a few people inside who witnessed the bus leaving at 6:19 and not 6:30. The ticket sellers said it was the 6:00 bus running late, a fact they should have told people they sold tickets to.

I got absolutely nowhere with this man other than him saying my bag would be dropped off with the state police somewhere after the last terminal. We hung up and the 6:30 bus arrived maybe 10 or 15 minutes later, also running late. Again, no announcements were made. I told the driver what happened and asked if he could take me to the state police. He had me call the supervisor again. I got nowhere fast with him but the driver did agree to take me. That being said, I'd have to find my own way to the terminal building for my flight and hope I'd make it on time.

En route to the station, I overheard all that was said over the CB radio. Someone must have realized they screwed up because word came out that the bus driver with my bag was to stay nearby and meet us at my terminal to give me the bag. He arrived seconds after we pulled up and I asked him, did you make an announcement that you were leaving? He said no.

Believe me, Massport is going to get a long letter relaying everything that happened along with names and times.

At the airport everything was fine. The line at security was short, I cringed inside the Naked Scanner, as I call it, and plopped down at my gate with plenty of time to spare.

Before we left, the pilot informed us that it would be a mostly bumpy ride due to weather along the coast. He was right but at least we knew ahead of time and he kept us updated.

Recently, I watched all of the Harry Potter movies, in order of course, for the first time. I found it funny and freaky that one of the flight attendants could pass for Severus Snape's younger American brother.

HarryPotter_Snape.jpg ©Warner Bros.
Snape on a plane.

Now, whatever you do, don't repeat this to my co-workers because one in particular was fuh-reaking out that I went on vacation by myself. The guy who sat next to me was very chatty which is fine but he asked me where I was going, where I was staying and who I was with. I lied to him. I'm not one for lying but in this instance it was the proper thing to do. He also got too friendly. He didn't do anything that warranted calling Snape over to cast him to the wing but he did hold my wrist and move my hand when I was trying to find the draft coming from above. I lost him in the airport after we deplaned.

Next up was the car rental. My bids weren't accepted but an offer came in from for a few bucks more which was still far below the regular asking price for a compact car. Write this down. I paid $21 when the regular asking price was $54 a day. That's insanity.

The line built up because they only had 2 agents and one was tied up with a group of 5 who were at the counter for a good 30 minutes if not longer. When my turn came I thought I'd save the fella some time by saying I'd fill the tank myself, pass on their insurance, GPS and toll pass. I had come prepared. He was not thrilled with me and began arguing about insurance. I passed.

Everything else was fine. I picked a white Ford station wagon because I am wicked cool and because the other cars were icky. My ride to the hotel was a new route to me thanks to my handy dandy GPS. It was like Route 1 light, if you're from Massachusetts or US Dixie Highway light for the Miami dwellers.

Soon enough I checked into the Best Western Plus Orlando Gateway Hotel (is the name long enough?) and found my room. It was after 1am and I was exhausted. Once in bed, I turned off the lights and relaxed. After a couple of minutes I started feeling something weird by my legs. It left like someone was rolling a ball on either side from my feet to my knees. I knew I was alone and that there weren't any critters. I turned onto my side and most of the weird sensation went away. I decided that if the TV turned itself on I was going to run out screaming. Thankfully, I fell asleep.

Keep up with my freelance writing and photography via my Facebook page.

January 5, 2012

Hummel Bell Ringers

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

I know people who collect Hummel figurines, a series that originates in Germany. As is with many collectors, they want every piece of a series or in my case everything having to do with the movie Grease. Unfortunately, you can't always get what you want and Hummel collectors can't get their hands on these two.


If you come across a gigantic clock with Sandy and Danny figures, do me a favor and climb up there, rescue them, and give me a call.

Disney Pic of the Week - Germany

Keep up with my freelance writing and photography via my Facebook page.

January 6, 2012

Photographing on the Wild Africa Trek, Part I

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Last year Jeanine Yamanaka did a detailed review of the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom. I am not going to duplicate her excellent review here and will concentrate on telling you what I felt of it from a photographer's point of view.

Initially when this tour was announced Disney said nothing could be taken on it including cameras. That certainly put a damper on my excitement. It must have done the same for lots of other people as Disney soon changed their mind. I thought I would have to find a way to tether my camera to the safety vest everyone must wear during the first part of the tour. I was delighted to find out as long as the camera has a neck or wrist strap, no tethering would be necessary. After taking the tour, I totally agree with this assessment as I never felt my camera was in any danger.

My group heads out on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
My group heads out on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Copyright Disney 2011. Used by permission.

Africa Trek Guide Eleanor
After checking in, signing the waiver, getting my safety vest on and successfully walking over the test bridges to assure the tour guides I would not fall or trip. I waited for my eleven fellow adventurers by enjoying a steel cup of Jungle Juice from Boma. A very pleasant surprise as I love that stuff.

A quick note on the equipment I used. Because you must store anything you would carry in your pockets in a locker before you start the tour, I went with my Nikon D700 camera body and Nikon 28-300mm VR super zoom lens with image stabilization (VR). This is a very compact and useful combination for any Disney park. I attached a Nikon SB-600 Speedlight flash for fill light a fellow Disney photographer friend of mine said he wished he had done. I put an extra camera battery and memory card in a zippered pocket of the safety vest. One should always carry such backups as you would not want to miss any photo opportunities due to a dead battery or full memory card.

Soon, we were heading out into the park and down the start of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail until we got to the Meerkats. There we headed off into the woods on an overland trail to the Hippopotamus pools. Here we meet up with a Hippo researcher who took our questions and explained the behavior of the hippos below us. Did you know, the males on in the right hand Hippo pool while the females are on the left side? If you are riding the Kilimanjaro Safari in the future, look just above the male Hippo pool on the right side and you might see a group of adventurers on the Trek. This is where the price of the Wild Africa Trek for a photographer pays off. At each location we stopped at, we were given time to enjoy watching and photographing the animals. Did not have to wish for a safari driver to stop!

A female hippopotamus walks towards the water after sunning itself seen on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
A female hippopotamus seen on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 1000, EV +0.3, 300mm focal length.

After the Hippo pools we walked over to a platform leading to the first of two long and high rope bridges. Your vest is securely attached to a steel cable above the bridge but with enough slack to have complete freedom when walking across the bridges. Here I am crossing the first bridge and the photos I took from it.

Walking over a rope bridge during the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Scott walking over a rope bridge during the Wild Africa Trek.
Copyright Disney 2011. Used by permission.
A female hippopotamus submerged as seen from a rope bridge on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
A female hippopotamus submerged seen from a rope bridge on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 900, EV -0.3, 150mm focal length.
A Kilimanjaro Safari jeep full of guests seen from a rope bridge on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
A Kilimanjaro Safari jeep full of guests seen from a rope brige on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 900, EV -0.3, 28mm focal length.

Below you see me photographing from the second bridge. I made sure my camera was using a fast shutter speed as the rope bridges bounce and sway some. Not to mention the large gaps between some of the planks. I had to spread my legs to get as stable a shot as I could.

Photographing from a rope bridge during the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Scott photographing from a rope bridge during the Wild Africa Trek.
Copyright Disney 2011. Used by permission.

I sure did not want to slip as these guys were below me...

Large Nile Crcodile males photographed from a rope bridge on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Large Nile Crcodile males photographed from a rope brige on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/11, ISO 200, EV -0.7, 178mm focal length, fill flash.

All the Nile Crocodiles you see in Disney's Animal Kingdom are males. They range in age from 10 to 15 years and up to 20 feet long.

Once we all got to the other side of the two bridges, we attached ourselves to another safety cable and could get right out on the edge of an overlook about 10 feet above where the Nile Crocodiles where sunning themselves. It was quite a thrill to see them so close and without glass or bars between them and us.

After about 15 minutes, we headed back on the trail to our next destination on the Wild Africa Trek which I will talk about in Part 2 next week.

If you've already done the Wild Africa Trek, post about your experience in our Review Area.

January 7, 2012

German Wine Selection in Epcot

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

Germany's Wine Selection
Copyright © 2009 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D300, 18-200mm VR, 1/8s shutter, f4.5, ISO 400

The Weinkeller shop in Epcot's Germany carries assorted German wines and accessories. The wine tasting is a good way to sample some of Germany's different wines. The cost of the tasting includes a souvenir wine glass.

January 8, 2012

Where in the World #211

Where in the World by Erin Blackwell

Barb Parra, I can't believe it! So good to hear from you! Disneyland was too long ago, wasn't it? I miss it. I'm glad you like Eeyore's mouse ears! They even made Eeyore smile. :)

Happy Anniversary, Beth Mcmeekin! I hope you and your husband have a wonderful trip, and to your kids: get them Celebration buttons!

Claire Gregory will be in Walt Disney World for the One Extra Disney Day celebration! I'm playing the sweepstakes, so maybe I'll be there too. :)

Danielle Ciotti Harsley, James And Kathy Berry, Tiffany Gibb, Jason And Melinda Lenz, Les Stewart, and Ashley Pizzino thanks to each of you for such wonderful notes!

Patti Mccaffrey, don't you lecture me about getting back to reality after holiday magic; you're packing to leave for Disney in a couple weeks! Dull old reality, my foot. :-)

Luis Rodriguez, thanks for your note on my Spanish message last week (and on Walt!). I asked a friend to translate what I wanted to say, and meant to go back to put in the tilde. I sadly don't remember much of my high school Spanish class; my teacher told me then I should keep up with it in college, but I was a foolish young thing that rejected the idea of extra classes. I have regretted it ever since; if I had listened to hear, I could talk with my friend Maria in Spain in her own language. So this is a lesson to the younger generation of World players: don't miss out on the chance to learn! Especially something fun like another language. It's a small world, after all. (I studied sign language too and should have stayed with those lessons. I can still remember how to say turtle. :)

Steve Jordan, AllEars might be doing something in March, especially since the Flower and Garden Festival. We're always there at some point. :) Keep an eye on our Team Appearances page.

Melissa Kirk, I know what you mean. I'm missing the World too. Come over here and we'll sigh together. Sigh smiley from millan.net

Here was last week's Challenge:
 Where in the World #210

And here's the answer:
AllEars Where in the World

Copyright © 2011 Erin Blackwell Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS, 22mm, 1/200s shutter, f/5.9, ISO 640

Before I give the answer: Gabriella, I need your son to come closer. Matthieu, you were right! Which means your mom was wrong: now be a good sport about winning. ;)

What a wonderful sight! One of Walt's windows! This window is above the Plaza Restaurant and faces the castle. It reads, "Walter E. Disney, Graduate School of Design & Master Planning". I've been told a number of reasons why this window was put in this location. 1) The Main Street windows serve as "movie credits" and Roy O. is in the spot of producer while Walt's is in the director's spot. 2) By putting Walt above the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, his spirit got all the latest news by "getting the scoop" from below. ;) 3) my favorite and the one that makes the most sense to me: Roy picked this spot so his baby brother had the best view in the park. This view:

Cinderella Castle, photo by Barrie Brewer

Because, as Clay Anthony said, it's the ONLY window that is not facing the street but is pointing towards the Castle.

Like Caroline Burmester said, it's a great start to a new year. And as she also said, here's to her boyfriend Shaun who got her the answer! You're not alone, Shaun. Mike Hill gave credit to his wife Susan for getting the answer. So kudos to the partners!

We saw his first window in Challenge #189, the window at the train station. He has a "pseudo-window" on Main Street which was Challenge #177.

Wendy Barney, this means you're fully right so you get an Extra Honorable mention! :)

Like Brian Gallant said, don't forget to look up as you walk around a Disney park. You'll be amazed at what you learn. And Mickey Eckert as reminds us, remember to listen at the Main Street windows (and those at Dawa Bar at Tusker House); you'll hear some of the inhabitants going about their lives!

Louise Barton was the first to send in the correct answer for the challenge! Congratulations to Louise and to all the readers who got the answer right: Chris Masse, Liz Driscoll, Paul Dickson, Peter Strukel, Mary Beth Tarbet, Bill Mckim, Linda Scrivano, Seth Penwell, Robin Fitts, Dylan Weidner, Brian Miller, Beth Mcmeekin, Wendy Barney, Nick Smathers, Larissa Huda, Evanna Huda, Diane Furtado, Frances Phebus, Sharon Pierce, Karen Ramirez, Danielle Ciotti Harsley, James And Kathy Berry, Belicia Cullen, Scott Cullen, Betsy Silvestri, Sharon Dale, Tiffany Gibb, Clay Anthony, Claire Gregory, Chloe C, Annette Nuenke, Tim Johansen, Jamie K, Pollyanna Buff, Jonah Rigby, Susan Higginbotham, Steve Jordan, Dawn Burns, Linda College, Tom Buck, M'shel Bowen, Jason &Melinda Lenz, Brian Gallant, Julie Wickware, Gabriella And Matthieu, Dan Johnston, Mickey Eckert, Katie Bray, Mike Haeberle, Shannon Milair, Jennifer Harmon, Dale Knight, Matt Degrandis, Mary Greger, Blevins Family, Angela And David, Mike Hill but REALLY Susan Hill - LOL!, Caryn Schill, Patti Mccaffrey, Kerry Mccaffrey, Elisa Dillon, Jeremy Mccaffrey, Diane Ramos, Kerry A., Scott Otis, Kerrie Hogan, Kathryn Chinetti, Rob Blundin, Cara Richards, Jeremy Reichelt, Jennifer Tremley, Kate Fischer, Carri Marotto, Stephanie Linares, Elyssa H., Jerry Weldon, William Sharp, Danny Wags, Joann Albrecht, Donna Young, Mario Grasso Iii, Luis Rodriguez, Christopher Hall, Tom Higbee, Rebecca Keenan, Kristen Carde, The Hicks Family, Kristin Dormuth, Les Stewart, Shelly Borella, Melissa Kirk, Tricia Petty, Hillary Waldroop, Vicki Edwards, Ashley Pizzino, Caroline Burmester with BIG help from Shaun - ;), and Dana Schirnhofer. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.

Challenge #211: Where in the world is this?

Moving on to a different park this week. Hmm, where would find this?

 Where in the World #211

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, January 12th, by clicking on the blue box below. Please do not post answers using the Feedback Form link at the bottom of this post. Remember to be specific with your answer - just naming a park will not get you into the drawing.

See you next week, Players!

Click Here to Submit Your Answer

Everyone who sends in a correct answer to a Where in the World Challenge this month will be entered in a drawing at the end of the month for some special AllEars® goodies!

January 10, 2012

Disney Pic of the Week - Character Meals

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

There's a secret among parents to make their children eat, especially while vacationing. What is this exclusive bit of info? They say, Do you want to make (insert character's name here) sad? He/she made your breakfast/lunch/dinner. You don't want to made him/her sad, do you?

You might wonder how this "trick" works if you're dining at the All-Star Sports food court. In truth, it might not pan out at most dining locations but it does work* at character meals, especially Chef Mickey's (Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World). He's THE chef which means Mickey made everything. Over at Chef Goofy's (Disneyland Hotel, Disneyland), Goofy is THE chef and he made everything there which explains the peanut butter and jelly pizza.

In addition to guilting little Robby and Angela (non-Disney reference) into eating broccoli, families get hugs, pose for photos and get autographs from several characters in one location rather than standing in multiple lines out in the sweltering heat.

For info on character dining at Walt Disney World and to learn about Disneyland options, visit our informative pages.


Barrie Brewer, a fellow AllEars.Net teamster, got snuggly with Winnie the Pooh at 1900 Park Fair over breakfast a few years back. She actually ate her food without a temper tantrum. The current characters are Mary Poppins, Alice, and the Mad Hatter.

Join Scott and Barrie on Thursday and Saturday for more character dining memories.

*I make no promises. You might have to resort back to flying airplanes stacked with cauliflower.

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January 11, 2012

Solo Trip to Orlando - Food Forraging & Finding Lost Items

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

The alarm clock on my cell phone had the audacity to wake me up 7am. Getting up after 5 1/2 hours sleep didn't come easy. I need at least 7 hours to function at 80%. An hour or so later, I headed for my car despite my previous plan to use the free shuttle service to Universal Studios :gasp:. This way if I became exhausted I could head back to my room for a nap and try again later.

The Best Western Plus Orlando Gateway (still too long of a name) is just a mile or so up (or down) the road from Universal Studios :gasp:. Even I couldn't get lost or at least I'd like to think that. In a matter of minutes I parked my bitchin' white station wagon on Spiderman's level in row 1...150?...155?... eh, it doesn't matter now. I found the car. If you've never parked in their garage, it is a major schlep just to reach a park. There are escalators, (occasionally) moving sidewalks, many steps through Universal City Walk, and a bridge to cross before reaching your destination.

Finally, I made it to Islands of Adventure. Within minutes I found my first lost item. Walking thru Port of Entry, I saw a man pull cash from his pocket to buy something at a drink cart. Presumably he was thirsty. He didn't know a $5 bill floated to the ground. Before I could get the words out to tell him, a boy of about 7 or 8 saw it fall, picked it up, turned to his mother and said, "I found it on the ground." I gave him a stern look and stated, "It belongs to that man. It fell out of his hand." I pointed and told him to give it back. The boy gave the money back to the guy but had I not stepped in, the little thief would have pocketed Abraham Lincoln. And I thought pros hid among tourists. Sheesh.

The mental plan was to hit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter first if it wasn't packed or at mid-afternoon if it was. I approached an employee and asked. The wait for Harry Potter' and the Forbidden Journey was already 90 minutes. I turned left and dove into Marvel Super Hero Island where I discovered Storm Force Accelatron, a tea cup-like ride I never knew existed. Why? It's pushed far back from the street behind The Incredible Hulk Coaster tracks. Had I not been shooting the coaster from various angles, I would have missed it again. I went for a spin, literally.

In my sleepwalking mode I fell off the curb yet remained vertical in front of Doctor Doom's Freefall. Apparently his evil attacks aren't limited to those who volunteer for his gravity project.

Bewildered and yawning, I plunked down in a cafe that was open (door) but not open (for business) and ate the Cheerios I brought along. Ahh, the idea of peace and quiet vanished by way of the cafe blaring songs songs about heroes. Billy Don't be a Hero. We Don't Need Another Hero. Zero to Hero. I kid, I kid. Universal Studios wants everyone to know they're not affiliated with Disney. They REALLY want to make sure people are informed. Stick with me throughout my journey. :wink:

Then I encountered a timeshare sales rep who was friendly so I listened to his offer and signed up for a tour on Saturday. That is until he asked me for a $30 deposit. Uh, no. I have been dragged on many timeshare tours by my parents and even on my own accord and no one has asked us for money. I took the form he filled in with all of my personal info, stuffed it into my backpack and left. While the salesman didn't work for Universal, he was on their property and it reflects upon them. Universal Studios isn't Disney.

I love The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman. I loved that it was a walk on even more. After escaping the villains, the dad on the end asked the employee if we could go again (my idea). We were denied. Did I mention this section of the park was empty? Okay just making sure.

Next up was Toon Lagoon which is inspired by comic strips and water. All three attractions will have you soaking wet before exiting. I hung back and watched people gurgle. For kicks I explored Me Ship, the Olive, a boat owned by Popeye. His crew consisted of 2 tall and skinny boys in their late teens/early twenties. With plenty of time on my hands I decided to entertain myself by kidding around with them. One juggled, the other wore an ID tag that said, Trainer. I told the trainer to show his trainee how to juggle more balls. It was a sad demonstration of misleading title. That was fun! They had a good time. Toot, toot.

Mickey's Toontown & Donald's Boat opened in Disneyland in 1993. Donald's Boat opened in the Magic Kingdom in 1996. Universal's Islands of Adventure opened in 1999. Hmmm.

Do you know what's sad? Not being allowed to ride Pteranodon Flyers because I don't have a kid between 91 cm and 142 cm. I took the spanish language map. Sitting there looking pathetic, I asked out loud, Does anyone have a small child for rent? No such luck.

Protected by my clear Mickey Mouse poncho just like everyone else at Universal's Islands of Adventure, I boarded the Jurassic Park River Adventure rafty thing. With me was a large family who enjoyed getting wet and posing for the ride photo. Had I known where the camera was, I could have also modeled. Dinosaurs behaved disgracefully everywhere I looked. Word about town is they are miffed about the new TV show Terra Nova, calling it a pirated copy of Jurassic Park with non-union dinos.


Enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter if you can get in. The place was jammed. I made it inside and just sort of meandered about town. Believe it or not, there were lines to get into gift shops. Standing by the steam engine train, I saw a ticket on the ground. It was a 3-day pass for both of Universal's parks in the name of Peter. My ticket had my full name on it, this one did not. The entrance to Dragon Challenge, a roller coaster I would never ride in a million years was just steps away. I presented it to the 3 "students" working there and watched to make sure it was put in a safe place. I also advised they have it scanned to identify the owner. Normally I don't tell people how to do their jobs but they seemed nonchalant regarding the pricey loss.

Amazingly we all survived the screaming Mandrake in the window. Muggles cannot purchase Mandrakes which okay because TSA regulations prevent transporting them.

Having looked up food options online at home, I knew my best bet for real food (ie: not pizza, burgers or hot dogs) was Mythos or Three Broomsticks. The chef at Three Broomsticks was adorable. ADORABLE! He went over ingredients with me and we came up with a vegetable plate including fresh-husked corn, and a baked potato. However, since all of their baked potatoes are pre-seasoned with black pepper, my number one enemy, it was going to take a few hours to find a plain one and bake it. We agreed I'd come back in a few hours.

The fact was my hunger wouldn't hold that long so I tried to find a grilled cheese sandwich. Mythos had one on the kiddie menu but had a 45 minute wait and won't do take out. When I crossed from The Lost Continent into Seuss Landing, I came across two suits. Perhaps I had a look on my face because they asked if I needed anything. I relayed my story and they sent me to Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous saying if a grilled cheese isn't on the menu, the chefs could make one for me. Great!

Wrong! I asked the girl at the counter who then asked a chef who told the girl I should go to Casper's Ghost by the park entrance. What? Where? Casper belongs to Paramount Pictures. I was annoyed but as I turned around I saw 2 chefs coming to work. I asked them about making me a grilled cheese and they told me they couldn't. Perplexed, I reminded them they have American cheese (for cheeseburgers), bread and whatever surface they cook burgers on. Why couldn't they make my grilled cheese? They still told me no and that's when I had enough and blurted out those words Universal hates to hear. "I don't have these problems at Walt Disney World" The chef wasn't pleased. He gave me some long story about not being legally allowed to package food to go (Hi. Counter service is to go.) because they follow theme park laws and he didn't have the equipment to make a grilled cheese. He sent me to Green Eggs and Ham.

Guess what? No grilled cheese there either. I checked Confisco Grille because phoenetically it was the closest to Casper's Ghost. Nope. In a shop I talked to employees who sparked an idea. The Croissant Moon Bakery had baked goods including a plain croissant. I bought one along with cut up honey dew. Then I made a sandwich with the packet of tuna that I had with me. Finally, lunch! Oh and by the way, they were cheaper than my grocery store.

With several more hours to play before my date with the chef, I spent some quality time in Seuss Landing. While waiting in the queue for The Cat in the Hat ride, I saw a white baseball cap perched on the railing. After asking those nearby if it was theirs and swarms of people passing by it, I picked it up and handed to the girl seating people in the cars once I made it to the front of the line.

In my car were some funny people who questioned the empty seat beside me in the front. To prevent them from worrying about my solo travels, I let them in on a little secret. My good ole invisible pal Fred was with me. They felt better and said hello to Fred. He just waved.

Coming out of the gift shop I saw a small crowd in a semi-circle all down on bended knee. Curious, I approached to find a Who from Whoville napping. She was resting up before the big show, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Who could it be sleeping on my floor? Go away, she'll only wake and roar.

This was the strangest place and path to a show I've ever experienced. We walked out behind Seuss Landing, through a parking lot, passing construction, and around the corner into an actual studio with stadium-like seating. The whole way I kept mumbling "This is ghetto" to myself. The show was cute. I like the Grinch(es) and how he/they tried to sound like Jim Carrey.

There's more to this day so I'm going to stop here. The next installment will be Solo Trip to Orlando - Harry Potter & My Equilibrium. Until then, cheerio.

Yes, I'm on Facebook.

January 12, 2012

Lisa Berton/Tigger Rumors Confirmed!

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

Tigger and Lisa
Copyright © 2007 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D300, 18-200mm VR, 1/10s shutter, f3.5, ISO 800

Paparazzi were on hand to capture the illustrious Lisa Berton and her close, personal friend, Tigger, at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian. Also in attendance at the grand affair were Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter, Pooh and Eeyore. Rumor has it that Lisa and Tigger have also been seen frequenting the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom. Our crack photographers have been hiding out in the United Kingdom in Epcot in hopes of finding them bouncing around there as well.

Remember, you heard it here first!

February 2012 Disney Calendar

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. It's been a very busy month around my house. I'm finally getting caught up with everything that got set aside for all the celebrating and traveling of this past six weeks. Phew! That means your February calendar is ready! No doubt, you recognize the Main Street Train Station from the Magic Kingdom.

You will need to have Adobe Reader on your computer to download the calendar(s). Just click on the photo to download the calendar you want. When printing CD Jewel Case size, make sure "Page Scaling" in your print dialogue box is set to "None" to ensure that the calendar prints out at the correct size.

This one prints out at 8.5" x 11". It's handy if you need a calendar that you can write on.

February 2012 8.5x11 Calendar

This one prints out at 4.75" x 4.75", the perfect size for a CD Jewel Case frame.

February 2012 Jewel Case Calendar

And finally, this desktop wallpaper is for your monitor screen.

1024 x 768
1280 x 800
1280 x 1024
1440 x 900
1600 x 1200

January 13, 2012

Photographing on the Wild Africa Trek, Part II

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When I left you last week, I was still wearing the safety vest (see below). After visiting with the sunbathing Nile Crocodiles, my Wild Africa Trek group headed overland until we were across from the place where the Safari jeeps first enter the savannah part of the Harambe Reserve. For those who have been on the safari, this is the location drivers stop to point out the large baobab tree.

Here's Scott all decked out in his Wild Africa Trek safety vest in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Here's Scott all decked out in his Wild Africa Trek safety vest.
Copyright Disney 2011. Used by permission.

Africa Trek Guide Lauren
Here you can see I had my camera secured via a neck strap and that I had on my flash which I used to fill in shadows during the first part of the Wild Africa Trek. You will also notice the black cord above and behind me which was attached to an overhead cable. They make sure you can not fall too far if you do slip. The vest itself had room for small objects in the zippered pockets like an extra camera battery and memory card.

Here we all took off our vests and climbed aboard a pickup-like truck with bench seating in the back with a canopy overhead. The tour guides switched places at this time. The photographer became the guide and visa versa. The bad news about these trucks is they bounce worse than the safari jeeps making photography very difficult when moving. The goods news is they stop for long periods of time when the guide asks the driver to pull over. This is how I got this photograph of the two young African elephants playing near the water. The truck pulled over and we all photographed them. We also stopped for antelopes, gazelles, kudus, giraffes, wildebeest and the Mandrill baboons.

Young African elephants photographed on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Young African elephants photographed on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 280, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

After the elephants, the truck pulled off the safari road and up to a viewing platform which overlooks the savannah and the flamingo pool. We were treated to an African snack made specifically for the tour by Boma's staff and more Jungle Juice. There are restrooms here which were needed by several of us. I can imagine this place being very hot in the summer months. In early December, it was very pleasant.

Viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 280, EV 0, 32mm focal length.

The animals came close but not up to the viewing platform. Here is a photo of a Thomson's gazelle which was grazing about 20 feet from the platform. I watched and photographed him for a long time. Finally, he lifted his head and I was able to get a very nice portrait.

Thomson's gazelle from the viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Thomson's gazelle from the viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

This reticulated giraffe played hide and seek with me for most of the time I was watching him. There was some tall palm trees nearby he was ducking his head and neck in and out of. He finally decided to cross over the maintenance road to see if there was better eating on the other side. Notice how his left and right side legs stay together and is called pacing. This is rare. Most animals, including us, have a diagonal gait.

A reticulated giraffe walking near the viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Reticulated giraffe walking near the viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 200, EV 0, 100mm focal length.

All to soon it was time to leave as another tour was getting close. In all, we spent about 45 minutes eating, enjoying each others company and watching and photographing the animals. We all gasped in unison a short time later after resuming our ride down the safari road as we saw two cheetahs lying out in the sunlight with another one walking slowing towards them. The guides quickly told the driver to pull over. As this is not a normal stopping area for the Wild Africa Trek, the driver had to be a bit creative as he pulled into the brush directly across from the cheetahs. There was no way I could have gotten this photo of cheetahs together on the regular ride.

Cheetahs rubbing heads in greeting photographed on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Cheetahs rubbing heads in greeting photographed on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO 200, EV 0, 210mm focal length.

The group of 12 trekkers were a buzz about this encounter for the rest of the tour as we continued down the safari road. We did not stop for the warthogs but did slow down enough for me to get this photo.

Warthog photographed on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Warthog photographed on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 450, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

The lions where being their usual cat-selves. Snoozing through the mid-day and not being very photogenic. The tour guide told me it is best to go on the safari around 4 in the afternoon when they are more likely to be active.

The driver dropped us off at one of the safari terminals. We all gave him an ovation for his expert driving and finding a place to stop when the cheetahs presented themselves. We hiked back to the Wild Africa Trek starting location behind Tusker House to pickup our stuff from the lockers and get one last group photo with our guides kneeling in front; Lauren on the left and Eleanor on the right. This photo proves we started out with 12 and ended with 12. As you can see the group consisted of young and old, fit and not so fit individuals.

Scott and his fellow adventures and guides from the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Myself and fellow adventures and guides from the Wild Africa Trek.
Copyright Disney 2011. Used by permission.

For me, as an avid animal photographer and conservationist, I felt the price of the Wild Africa Trek was in line with what I got out of the tour. The photo opportunities can not be compared to the regular safari experience as I believe the photos I have shared with you over the last two weeks have shown. Everyone who goes on the tour gets a stainless steel water bottle with the Wild Africa Trek logo on it and a photo CD. The CD contains not only photos of yourself and fellow trekkers but photos of the animals taken by the guides. So, if you do not take a camera on the tour or only a small camera, you will still get good photos of the animals encountered on the trek.

The guides were great. They answered mine and everyone's questions, were pleasant, courteous and understanding of everyone's ability to handle the Wild Africa Trek's trails, bridges and bouncy truck. If you go on the tour and get either Eleanor or Lauren, you'll be well taken care of.

If you've already done the Wild Africa Trek, post about your experience in our Review Area.

January 14, 2012

Pluto at Chef Mickey's

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Chef Pluto visits my daughter during dinner at Chef Mickey's in Disney's Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Chef Pluto visits my daughter during dinner at Chef Mickey's.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5, ISO 320, EV 0, 28mm focal length, bounced flash at -1.0 power.

While enjoying dinner at Chef Mickey's buffet restaurant in Disney's Contemporary Resort, Chef Pluto stopped by and posed with my daughter right at our table. Makes for my Disney Pic of the Week on Character Meals. Click Here for great tips and more information about character meals at Walt Disney World.

January 15, 2012

Where in the World #212

Where in the World by Erin Blackwell

We have a birthday boy amongst us! Happy 8th Birthday, Noah Schweizer!

Hey, look! The Patterson Family is back from Walt Disney World! How did the surprise announcement go at Christmas?!

Patty Carty and her family just got back too and they met Team AllEars! And very nicely told them about playing Where in the World! THANK YOU!

Did the team tell you they raised over $67,000 for Deb's Breast Cancer Fund? Booyah!

Jennifer Harmon and Gabriella & Matthieu, you all wrote such wonderful notes and made my day a Disney one. Thank you SO much!

Diane Ramos, good luck to your daughter! I have friends who have worked in the College Program and I can tell you: she will work hard, but it will be a fantastic experience she will treasure! I know you're proud: she is about to be one of the Magic makers!

Mike Venere, don't you jinx the SJ weather! Because I'm already demanding Spring get here! :)

Here was last week's Challenge:
 Where in the World #211

And here's the answer:

Copyright © 2011 Erin Blackwell Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS, 4mm, 1/500s shutter, f8, ISO 400

It's the Coca-Cola Cool Set at Disney's Hollywood Studios! The refreshment kiosk with the large 6 pack of bottles and, as Curtis Bille said, the "single bottle where the cap flips up and you can get a nice Cool Spray on a hot day"! You can see the cloudy weather in this case, so I didn't go through the mist, unlike Amy Schweizer's son who would have ran through no matter what! Because they are what, Jeremy Reichelt? "SWEET SWEET RELIEF!" :)

Glug Glug to you too, Danielle Ciotti Harsley! ;)

I love me some Coca-Cola too, Laurie Walker. Not Beverly though, bleah! Am I right? Betsy Moquin and Shannon Thomas agree with me: yuck! But AllEars' Mike Scopa would say no; he beat a bunch of us at an AllEars meet in a Beverly drinking contest. He had 21 cups! I stopped at one. LOL!

James And Kathy Berry reminded me to think of a Coke float, so now I am. And craving one. Mmmmmm, Coca-Cola float.....! You know what I mean, right Patti Mccaffrey? You and your Coca-Cola Christmas tree and your dad who worked there for 30 years? Believe me, lots of players like me would love for your dad to hook us up! (Hey, have you started packing yet?)

Mary Beth Tarbet was the first to send in the correct answer for the challenge! Congratulations to Mary Beth and to all the readers who got the answer right: Danielle Ciotti Harsley, Leigh Mertz, Peter Strukel, Ed Elder, Ed Aleszczyk, Agnes Ciotti, Dawn Igo, Victor Gonzalez, Kellie Harpel, Julie Wickware, Clint Curfman, Travis Grim, Laurie Nicholson, Emma Poprock, Gabriella And Matthieu, Caroline Burmester, The Kahle Family, Diane Furtado, Spring Smith, Erin Hammer, Curtis Bille, Craig, Annette Nuenke, Claire Gregory, Harrison Grasso, Tricia Petty, Leach Family, Maureen Handy, SUSAN (and Mike) Hill - LOL!, Troy Parker, Erin Dagney, Joann Albrecht, Mickey Eckert, Bill Mckim, Robin Fitts, Jonathan Ward, Nick Bentz, Laurie Walker, Pollyanna Buff, Ron Harper, Angie Young, Heather Young, Belicia Cullen, Hannah Couture, Scott Cullen, Jamie K, Luis Rodriguez, Pam Tees, Elizabeth Macgregor &Andrew, Danielle Suscreba, Amy Schweizer, Paul Knott, Carol Cox, Jodi Cook, The Moore Family, Emily Hudson, Dawn Bach, Chris Masse, Sharon Pierce, Jonah Rigby, Matt And Danielle Murgia, Kelly Zanauskas, Jason And Melinda Lenz, Karen Ramirez, Betsy Silvestri, Jimi Mac Ii, Deb Ragno, Gabriella Rizzo, Mike Malampy, Derek Carty, Katie Bray, Billy Wills, Mackenzie D., Linda College, Kenny, Amanda Campbell, Dusty Cheatham, Beth Mcmeekin, Mike Walter, Les Stewart, Kerri Coggins, Mike Haeberle, Becky Fonseca, Vicki And Elizabeth Edwards, Jeff Schoeling , Patty Carty, Doug Olson, Kelly Mager, Patti Mccaffrey, Louise Barton, Brian Gallant, Mary Greger, Hillary Waldroop, Cassandra Newton, Wendy T Faler, Tom Buck, Tracy Henkel, Maureen Hanlon, Karen Hughes, Jennifer Horst, Kerry Mccaffrey, Linda Scrivano, Jeremy Mccaffrey, Ronni Selzer, Michael Gainey, Joel Toates, Mike O,brien, Vicki Vaught, Michael Mclucas, Megan Krainski, Kerry A., Becky Norman, Noah Schweizer, Jeanette, Rob Blundin, Paul Dickson, Jennifer Mccurry, Clay Anthony, Sandy Miller, Scott Greenbaum, Jonathan Thomas, Lauren Thomas, Tommy Montgomery, Amanda Perkins, Brian Miller, Denise Cayz , Jennifer Harmon, Christie Condit, Linda Mac, Hayden Pronto-hussey, Carrie Henderson, Cara Richards, April Haddock, Bob Patterson, Emma Marrow, Sam Fritz, Ken, Josh Dean, Teresa Murray, Christopher Hall, Diane Ramos, Kerrie Hogan, Alison Rosenberger, Jeffrey Beauchamp, Kristen Carde, Beth Pagel, Kristyn Scibienski, Christine Twomey, Sharon Dale, Karrie Duffey, Charles Krupinski, Nicole Duddy, Kelly Smith, Karen Schlumpf, Jeremy Reichelt, AKA... As I sometimes like to refer to them: SWEET SWEET RELIEF!, Patrick Broaddus, Kim Mobley, Cynthia Barry, Jennifer Tremley, Elyssa H., Carri Marotto, Mike Cerce, Andrea Kruszewski, Al Desimone, Lonnie Williams, Brian Grabowski, Wade Anderson, Chris And Alison, Antoinette Leblanc, Paula B, Will Gates, Derek Moore, Marc Lorenzo, The Hicks Family, Kevin Weidenweber, Karen Smith, Mike Gillardi, Martha Tischler, Darlene Harmon, Betsy Moquin, The Kertes Family, Matt Degrandis, Angela And David, Joyce Matta, Doug Reichl, The O'meara Family, Kathryn Perkins, Sarah Holodick, Vanessa Gordon, Dee Dee Kenney, Emma Ramsey, Walter N. Clark, Brian, Ashley Deitchler, Bill Gallagher, Dwayne Fontenot, Mark Franklin, Alan Mize, Cortney, Josh Carney, Timothy Hutchinson, Lori Rienhardt, Carol Donoghue, Kristina Barsoum, Karen Kenney, Mike Pennington, Margie Larmon, Brian Skinner, Kevin Miller, Carol J, Lee Anastasi, Heidi Goodhue, Joanna, Patti Deluca, Ashley Pizzino, Bob Burge, Joseph M Zafia, Vickie Scioneaux, Bev Carson, Sheila Saey, Judy Cook, Judy Cook, Eileen Miller, Jennifer Mills, Eileen Miller, Edmund Donofrio, Debbie Poole, Tina Horlick, Barclay Bakkum, Tom Higbee, Lorraine Burmester, Rosemarie Missmer, Jamie Poynton, M'shel Bowen, Brian Mcwithey, Robert P. Flaherty, James And Kathy Berry, Wayne Witherspoon, Roye Ann Morris, Sherri Pell, Larissa Huda, The Patterson Family, Chrissie Smith, Melissa Tortorici, Jeff Blank, Lynn Little, Dan Mangini, Melissa Kirk, Kristin Dormuth, Josh Weiss, Colin Buchanan, Jodi Fletcher, John Pasqueralli, Mike Hitzel, Bill Daniel, George Mundy Jr, Shelly Borella, Eric Lyda, and Kelli Sangston. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.
_____________________________________________________ _____________________

Challenge #212: Where in the world is this?

OOOOO, what could this be? Maybe you know!! (If you do, please tell me. :)

 Where in the World #212

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, January 12th, by clicking on the blue box below. Please do not post answers using the Feedback Form link at the bottom of this post. Remember to be specific with your answer - just naming a park will not get you into the drawing.
See you next week, Players!

Click Here to Submit Your Answer

Everyone who sends in a correct answer to a Where in the World Challenge this month will be entered in a drawing at the end of the month for some special AllEars® goodies!

January 17, 2012

Disney Pic of the Week - Tomorrowland

Focus on Disney World by Barrie Brewer

Tomorrowland is a photographer's dream. There are fabulous colors and shapes everywhere you look. This week we'll share a few of our favorites from the future that might have been!

Tomorrowland at Dusk
Copyright © 2007 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D50, 18-200mm VR, 10/16s shutter, f5.6,

Dusk is a particularly nice time to capture the architecture and palette of Tomorrowland.

January 18, 2012

Solo Trip to Orlando - Harry Potter & My Equilibrium

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

Previous installments:
Solo Trip to Orlando - Transportation Mishigas
Solo Trip to Orlando - Forraging for Food & Find Lost Items

I made my way out of Seuss Landing by way of gift shops and quick photo opportunities of Dr. Seuss characters. I did not buy a Thing 1 or Thing 2. I did not buy a shirt or shoe. I did not hand over my cash. I did not say suffering succotash.

Thing, Thing's girlfriend, Thing 1, Cat in the Hat, and Thing 2

Time was still aplenty before my appointment at Three Broomsticks for a late lunch/early pre-dinner. Attractions in The Lost Continent don't appeal to me. Actually the entire section doesn't do a darn thing for me. It feels like I stumbled into a traveling gypsy circus surrounded by ancient remains.

I heard the call for final seating to a magic show knowing it was an attempt to sell magic tricks but I thought, why not. The guy was good and after his demonstration of what's for sale, I told him he should try getting work doing voice overs. He appreciated my compliment.

Back to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter I walked. It was still busy but the lines to get into stores, with the exception of Ollivander's, had shrunk. This was around 3pm.

Personally, and this is where I realized I should have done more research, I found myself lost and confused in the Wizarding World. The area is shaped like and upside down backwards L. When I first entered in the late morning/early afternoon, I came from Jurassic Park and turned right which in my recollection was how they ushered us in. When I returned, I came from The Lost Continent so I entered from the opposite end of the village.

I made my way into shops, knowing I wanted to buy something for the future guest room in my future house but I didn't know what. Once inside Dervish and Banges, I considered a few items but they didn't grab me. Turning into a smaller room, Owl Post, I think it was called, I looked around a bit and was drawn over to the wand section. There an employee/student asked for my birthdate and found the appropriate wand. Mine was pretty and I gave it some thought but decided to stick my budget for the guest room because it will be filled with (here's the huge draw for my friends to visit when I eventually own my own home) crap you would never buy on vacation. But sometimes I find nicer things and this was one of those monumental shopping experiences. I found a pretty blue pillow that was stiched in white. One side reads The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The other side says Hedwig with an owl soaring. It's sophisticated yet touristy. Perfect! However, I didn't want to carry it around so I planned to return later.

Fried brooms, pan seared brooms, BBQ brooms, boiled brooms, sauteed brooms...

Further up, I found a crowd of people watching the Frog Choir. I caught just a few minutes of the show before it ended. While it's listed on the map, there's no mention of what time the shows are. I couldn't find a sign either. This explains why every so often I saw people sitting around waiting...and waiting...and waiting because the Triwizard Spirit Rally took place in the same spot.

Eventually I caved and the frog won our staring contest.

Time to eat! I went to The Three Broomsticks restaurant and was told my adorable chef was on break. Dude, we had a date! After nudging the young girl, she went to find out when he'd be back and returned with another chef who knew exactly what my order was and took care of me. My plate was a veggie mix, corn on the cob, baked potatoes (he gave me 2 since they were done special), and the infamous Butterbeer which does not contain beer.

When you pick up your food, a hostess-like person takes you to a table. I asked for a view of the beach which completely confused the poor dear. She sat me in the middle of the room. Every once in a while I'd catch shadows dancing across the walls. If you go, look up.

This is a bar not a deli.

After dining, I finally found the rides. First I braved the Flight of the Hippogriff, a coaster I rode years ago under a different theme. Last time it was a unicorn or pegasus, I think. It might look fairly harmless but I got tossed about and slid back and forth all while attempting to take photos.

Hagrid wasn't home. I wouldn't be either if they built a roller coaster next to me

Then it was time for the main attraction, the ladies room. The men will have to let us know if this happens to them but in the girls room, Myrtle can be heard. I couldn't always decipher what she said but on at least one occasion she welcomed me back. Weiiiiird.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a big, huge, colossal deal so I went to check it out. You enter the castle at ground level and turn right to store items in a locker. It's free but the amount of time it's free depends on the average wait. Once my bag was stowed, I went up a flight of stairs to the single rider entrance. Along the way I passed walls filled with paintings, some which conversed among themselves.

The black or empty frames are camera shy.

While waiting to board, the magical talking hat went over safety precautions. Here's how the ride went, you get on the moving sidewalk when told to, speed up your step, sit down in an individual seat that's in a box of 4. The Hogwarts student pulls down a huge safety harness like on loop-dee-loo roller coasters and checks to make sure you're locked in. Then you soar through various scenes. Sometimes you are watching a video and other times you're surrounded by very large moving figures. All the while you turn every which way except completely upside down. When the movie shows you flying straight down, you're turned downwards. It is not for anyone with motion sickness, closterphobia, a fear of heights, or just doesn't like too much motion.

The first time I thought it was very cool. Disney doesn't have anything that comes remotely close to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Score one for Universal Studios.

You leave through a gift shop (shocking), Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods. Here you'll find lots of clothing, hats, plush, maps, and it is where you'd buy the ride photo. It connects to the lockers as well. I got my bag and wandered around some more. I caught part of another Rally, saw the line for Ollivander's was still very long, filled out my postcards, had them stamped with a special Owl Post rubber stamp, mailed them, and then went back to ride again.

This time, about 1/3 of the way through the adventure my equilibrium told me I was an idiot for trying a second time. Not only that but I also felt queasy. I closed my eyes and hung on. When it was over, the fresh air felt good but I had to sit and relax.

Wanted: Teacher who will not turn psycho on the students.

Since I had not taken my camera on the attraction, I went back once more but not to ride but to go on the walking tour. Yes, you can walk through the castle and the regular queue without lining up to ride. This way you can take photos, linger, and watch as Dumbledor, Harry, Ronald, and Hermione offer advice to Muggles.

What words of wisdom did Dumbledore share? I don't recall that's why I'm asking you.

Pooped out and tired from a long day, I made my way back to Dervish and Banges to buy the pillow. Slowly, very slowly, I made my way out of the park, through Universal City Walk, up the escalator, walked then used the moving sidewalks that functioned, down the escalators and to my car.

My package included a $25 voucher to the hotel's restaurant so I got a free dinner, a huge piece of the worst cake I've ever had along with bland (and this is coming from a bland eater) ice cream, and a soda to take back to my room. Surprisingly, the voucher included the tip and tax. In the end I owed like $2 and change.

Bedtime was the big test. Would some weird feeling come back to my legs again? With the lights and TV on, I climbed into bed, waited a few minutes and sure enough that odd sensation came back. Thankfully I realized it was the throbbing of my feet that sent out the pulse to the sheet causing it to vibrate. I'm special.

Keep up with my freelance writing and photography via my Facebook page.

January 19, 2012

Tomorrowland Robot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Robot in Tomorrowland's Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Boxobot in Tomorrowland's Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/60s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV -0.3, 15mm focal length.

In the first room of the Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin found in Tomorrowland you will come face to face with a Boxobot robot. You want to aim for the inside Z target on the robot's hand which you see here. You will thank me later and is my Disney Pic of the Week about Tomorrowland.

January 20, 2012

"Smile and Say Jambo!" Photowalk in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

It was a chilly Florida morning which greeted the attendees of the AllEars.net December to Remember photowalk event dubbed "Smile and Say Jambo!" at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Barrie, Erin and I were thrilled with the turnout. I handed out photography tips for the animal trails and Kilimanjaro Safari ride. Erin laid out a lot of AllEars.net swag which was well received as most of it was gone before we started the photowalk. After introductions and a short discussion as to what the event was about, we pulled raffle tickets for prizes. Items given away included prints from both Barrie and myself, one of Barrie's popular Disney calendars and a prize pack donated by Deb Wills, founder of AllEars.net, which included a rare Disney's Animal Kingdom opening day t-shirt. Then, John Hayes, known to many as the Town Crier, lead us in a hearty Hip, Hip, Hooray! to 15 years of AllEars.net and Deb Wills. You can see John in the photo collage.

Below is most of the group posing before entering the park. The rest are photos I took during the walk on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and safari trip.

AllEars December to Remember Photowalk in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
"Smile and Say Jambo!" Photowalk in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Here's the Bird Spotting Guide you can use while on the trail.

I hope all who attended had a great time. I enjoyed meeting you all. Until next time, Kwaheri!

January 21, 2012

The End of Star Tours

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

While I'm only somewhat versed in the culture that is Star Wars, I do enjoy a nice visit to Endor every once in a while. Yes, this photo was taken before Star Tours got its makeover so if they don't go to Endor anymore...well, I'm just not cool enough to know.

Please accept this photo as a token of my sincere wish for good to always triumph over evil regardless of which cookies the Stormtroopers offer.


"Like" me on Facebook and all your dreams will come true*.

Disney Pic of the Week - Tomorrowland

*I lied.

January 22, 2012

Where in the World #213

Where in the World by Erin Blackwell

Players, Mary Beth Tarbet has been sick all week. Let's send her some pixie dust to get better. In fact, Lily-pierre Couet, Chris Kelly, you are all doing the single digit dance and will be in Disney within a week: send her extra magical pixie dust from the parks, okay?

I have to share this story: The Patterson Family surprised the kids on Christmas by announcing they were going to Disney World (in a week, do I remember that right?). Mom and Dad - here, let me let them tell it: "My kids (6 & 3) opened a refrigerator sized box and out popped six red & green Mickey head balloons. They were vibrating with excitement!" EXCELLENT and creative way to spring the surprise!

Jason And Melinda Lenz, it's been a month since my last Disney vacation too. Isn't it sad? Sigh... (you know that people who haven't been there in years don't feel bad for us at all, right?) ;)

Elyssa H., I hope you do get to Disneyland and very soon! You'll love it!

And now, here was last week's Challenge:
 Where in the World #212

And here's the answer:

Copyright © 2011 Erin Blackwell Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS, 11mm, 1/640s shutter, f5, ISO 200

It's the Emporium in the Magic Kingdom! From a different view: the 2nd floor sign where they expanded the store through the courtyard that held the Flower Shop and the original location for the Harmony Barbershop. Some of you, like Paul Knott & Elizabeth, William, Thomas And Vicki Edwards, even knew the street address: 119 Main Street. That's impressive!

James And Kathy Berry, I do LOVE their window displays! Besides the different holidays, I remember growing up and you'd see the latest movie turned into window displays. Those windows are such a wonderful touch!

I'm going to tell you the truth, Players. I took this photo in December and just love how it came out. So I used it for last week. :) Forgive my selfishness, but happy sigh... I want to put it in the AllEars Desktop Wallpaper section soon.

Kerry points out that she and her sister Patti will be shopping here in a couple of weeks. Bring back something for Jeremy and the other kids! (Jeremy, what do you want?) By the way, Mccaffrey family, did you all gather around the computer together this week? Because I got each of you, Patti, Jeremy, and Kerry, in a row which was SO much fun to see! :)
Speaking of the Emporium and shopping, apparently I'm not the only one who can lose myself in here for quite awhile! My husband says I look at the Emporium (MouseGears, AK shops, and World of Disney) as attractions. :) Heather Hynes is with me, right Heather? And I know we're not alone because Clay Anthony, George Mundy Jr, and Luis Rodriguez all said their better halves ;) are right there with us! And before you think of making jokes or preventing us, let me quote Rudyard Kipling: the Female of the Species is more deadly than the Male. LOL!

And you don't mess with Donnie, because if you take something off the favorites list like the Flower Shop, Donnie goes to the Mayor! :-)

Timothy Hutchinson, no one got this one wrong! Way to go, Players, because we have 158 winners - including the new christened Team Hill (Mike, that was nice of Susan to go for a group name instead of just putting her name first. ;) ) ! And those winners are....

(drum roll)

Russ Morgan was the first to send in the correct answer for the challenge! Congratulations to Russ and to all the readers who got the answer right: Mark Diba, Matt Holley, Sharon Pierce, Leigh Mertz, Brian Miller, Linda College, Ed Elder, Craig, Wendy T Faler, Bruce Jones, Jen Cerce, Griffin Harpel, Bridgette Gallagher, Paula Massarelli, Kelli Sangston, Alan P, Emily Hudson, Amy Schweizer, Jonathan Thomas, Belicia Cullen, Scott Cullen, Donnie, Kye Layton, Susie Howard, Clint Curfman, Paul Dickson, Jason And Melinda Lenz, Theresa Rucando, Les Stewart, Annette Nuenke, Michael Mclucas And Jackie Mclucas, Linda Kasych, Maureen Handy, Mike Hill, Lorine Landon, Halo G., Betsy Silvestri, Carla C, Nancy Skooglund, Robin Fitts, Danielle Ciotti Harsley, Angie Young, Dale Knight, Barbara Ajak, Kris Nixon, Nicole Ruzinski, Lauren Thomas, Scott Otis, Chris Masse, Tom Buck, Erin Hammer, Christopher Barnes, Tim Johansen, Beth Mcmeekin, Paul Knott, Kelly Zanauskas, Tina Horlick, Bill Mckim, James And Kathy Berry, Elizabeth, William, Thomas And Vicki Edwards, Jared Orth, Matthew Waga, Dee Dee Kenney, Cathy Skiba, Lily-pierre Couet, Larissa Huda, Evanna Huda, Kenny, Patti Mccaffrey , Jeremy Mccaffrey, Kerry Mccaffrey, Elizabeth Macgregor, Leach Family, Chris Kelly, Matt And Danielle Murgia, Melina Anne Hillis, Stefanie Vandiver, Kerri Coggins, Jamie K, Stephanie Hardhouse, Jon &Jeanne Cohen, Mckenzie Donald, Jeremy Hardy, Rob Blundin, Pollyanna Buff, Amber Slifer, Jonah Rigby, Michael Campe, Christopher Hall, Joe Pfrangle, Will Gates, Steve Jordan, Sharon Dale, Jennifer Tremley, Chloe Mayhew, Matthew Jadro, Jeremy Reichelt, Timothy Hutchinson, Mike Pennington, Double Family, Bob Henriksen, Dennis Blackburn, Mary Beth Tarbet, Brian Gallant, Clay Anthony, Elyssa H., Stuart Hale, Diane Ramos, Mike M., Josh Dean, Kevin Miller, Trina Noggle, Karen Adamakis, Abigail Grasso, Tricia York, Joy Johnston, Nick Bentz, Gabriella &Matthieu, Kelsi B., Vera Williams, Brian Grabowski, George Mundy Jr, Rebecca Keenan, Heather Hynes, Bill Gallagher, Carri Marotto, William Sharp, Rachel Hoover, Kristen Carde, Alan Mize, Kristen Mccoy, Jim Heffner, Claire Gregory, Matt Degrandis, Sarah Holodick, Luis Rodriguez, Carol J, Kelly Mager, Patti Deluca, Freya Schmidt, Jennifer Bogdan, Walter N. Clark, Barclay Bakkum, The Patterson Family, Amanda Houston, Veronica Monteiro, Sarah Haas, Emily Harper, Brian Skinner, Jamie Poynton, Caroline Williams, Caroline Burmester, John Pasqueralli, Robert Schwartz, Susan Higginbotham, Agnes Ciotti, and Kim Steiner. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.
_____________________________________________________ _____________________
Challenge #213: Where in the world is this?

We're still in the parks, but.... I've done easy-to-moderate the last few weeks. Let's get a little tougher - or at least, I think it's tougher. Want a hint? No? Okay. I LOVE the confidence!

 Where in the World #213

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, January 26th, by clicking on the blue box below. Please do not post answers using the Feedback Form link at the bottom of this post. Remember to be specific with your answer - just naming a park will not get you into the drawing.

See you next week, Players!

Click Here to Submit Your Answer

Everyone who sends in a correct answer to a Where in the World Challenge this month will be entered in a drawing at the end of the month for some special AllEars® goodies!

January 24, 2012

Disney Pic of the Week: Monorails

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Monorails at Walt Disney World are not ride vehicles. They are an example of what public transportation could be. I remember growing up and reading the city I lived near was considering monorails and how excited I got. Sadly, the cost of a monorail system for even a small city is very high. That is too bad as riding the monorails in Walt Disney World is a future which people back in the 1950's, Walt Disney included, thought would be a staple of modern cities in the 21st Century. Basically, monorails are just plain cool! Especially orange ones quietly moving overhead through Epcot's Future World.

Monorail Orange in Epcot's Future World, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Monorail Orange in Epcot's Future World.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/8, ISO 3600, EV +0.3, 62mm focal length.

Barrie and Lisa will be here on Thursday and Saturday with their Disney Pic of the Week photos of Monorails in the Disney parks.

January 25, 2012

Solo Trip to Orlando - Universal Studios

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

That darn alarm clock woke me up again. After dealing with sore tootsies and long walks not on a beach, I decided to use the hotel's free shuttle service. With several departure times to choose from, I selected the second which would give me lots of time to walk slowly to the main gate.

The driver was full of energy and made sure we all knew which bus we were on and where he would pick us up. Thumbs up for Bob. At least I think that's his name. Slow and steady, I made it to Universal Studios' entrance with so much time to spare that I ate my Corn Pops while waiting for the park to open. Once the family of the day did their thing sans any characters, they let us in. Well, they let other people in. The guy at the front of our line had trouble with his ticket and finger scanner. Eventually I made it to the turnstyle where I too was rejected. The woman working there gave me grief saying the problem was my finger. Lady, even Abby's hippo Bert could have told you my print was a match.

While everyone went straight towards Shrek 4D, Revenge of the Mummy, and Hollywood Rip Ride rockit, I veered right where I was stopped by staffers. There was an imaginary rope to drop. No, I'm lying. After 5-10 minutes the call came thru to the walkie talkie that all of the attractions were open. Still taking my sweet time, lots of people walked, jogged, skipped, sashayed, and even rolled by me. Eventually I made it to my first ride of the day, The Simpsons (sing it).

Up the incline queue, into the building, and stopped in the main waiting room for what seemed like forever. Then into a smaller room where we watched instructions and then into the vehicle. I was climbing into the front seat when a guy asked if I'd sit in the back so e could be with his girlfriend. Sure, no problem. Uh, wait. There was a problem. I was now buckled in beside a screaming non-English speaking foreigner with a shrill voice. I gave this woman a look that said, Do you REALLY have to shriek at everything? She didn't get it. And so I left The Simpsons Ride with an echo in my ears and a headache. TV trivia for 3 points! Which sitcom star voices Sideshow Bob?

With barely a soul in sight, I continued moving forward and put my belongings in a locker beside Men in Black. Universal doesn't allow bags on certain rides and provides free locker rentals for an allotted amount of time. What I didn't know was it changes from attraction to attraction and increases or decreases depending on the expected wait time.

It was a complete walk-on, you know the type where walking through the entire queue seems silly because there's no wait whatsoever. After my first defense against aliens I asked to ride again. The gentleman told me to go upstairs, across the platform and back down again. Okay. When I got to the bottom the 2 guys asked me why I went all the way around. They were so cute and friendly. They told me next time, I should let their co-worker know they said I could walk right thru the curtain which is all that separates loading and unloading. :clap, clap:

After my second spin, I did just that and within a nano second I was back fighting creepy crawlers. That third ride was enough for me because the ride vehicle does some quick spins and as you learned previously, my equilibrium is not what it used to be. Gone are the days of loving the Round Up at carnivals. Heck, some parking garages put off my balance.

I picked up some postcards in the gift shop and went to retrieve my bag. The system said I owed money. What?! No way! I called over the attendant who explained the whole locker rental time change thing. See, I was timing myself at an hour based on my 1 hour and 15 minutes of rental time the day before with Harry Potter. He overrode the program so I could retrieve my stuff free of charge. Whoo!

This section of my trip report needs a photo.

The Jaws attraction was scheduled to close permanently so I just had to go for one last cruise. I expected a decent wait but it wasn't bad, maybe 20 minutes or so and I got there within 5 minutes of it opening (an hour after park opening). The captain was awesome! Good acting skills with just a hint of cheese for flavor. As photography was prohibited, I didn't get his photo or his arch nemesis. Movie trivia time for 6 points. Why is the animatronic shark used in the Jaws movie named Bruce?

Disaster! No, no, no, nothing went wrong. Disaster was the thing I did next. This was my longest wait. The posted time was 20 minutes and I had I made the cut-off for the next show (missed it by about 7 people), I would have slid in in less time. I waited a good 40 minutes leaning on a trash can and guard rails in various seductive poses. If you love Christopher Walken then you must experience Disaster. I don't love him... I do enjoy his work...uh, not enough to send him Christmas cards :shrug: or call on his birthday :tilt head, turn hand palm up: but...well, you get the idea.

After the labyrinth I trudged thru at Islands of Adventure, I decided to plunk down some money at a real restaurant for lunch. It was my first time eating at Finnegan's Bar and Grill and it was A-OK. The chef and I went over my dietary restrictions and came up with chicken, boiled potatoes, cabbage, and other vegetables. They serve a nice soda bread before the meal on a wood shamrock-shaped cutting board. With my AAA card, I saved 10%. Actually, I tried to grab the attention of a family sitting near me to tell them about the discount but they didn't notice.

The mummy hunks as I like to call them were just outside Finnegan's. No visit to Universal Studios is complete without seeing these classically-trained stilt-walking specimens. I wasn't going to get any closer to Revenge of the Mummy. Come to think of it, I've never even looked to see if there's a gift shop for it. Do they sell mummy hunks?
Bonus trivia! The Mummy trilogy stars Brendan Fraser. Name my favorite Brendan Fraser movie.

Beef on a stick. :giggle:

Following lunch I wandered around, took photos of "New York," saw Doc Brown (not to be confused with Dr. Brown's which is delicious), and breezed through the Twister gift shop (thank you, I'll be here all night). In truth I was just killing time before the next Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue, another item to knock off my list of "new" experiences.

Honey, I can't find Pirates of the Caribbean anywhere on this gosh-darn map.

Why had I never seen this show before? Seriously. I kept asking myself that question. Perhaps I saw a Beetlejuice show at Universal Hollywood and didn't like it. No idea but I LOVED Orlando's version. I even considered seeing a second show but never made it back. Why I enjoyed the show so much was the music is mostly from the 80's, the monsters can sing (Bride of Frankenstein belongs on a record label), it's kitchy, and I kept visualizing Sergio from Menudo as the Wolfman. Oh, and the warm up guy was a hoot. If anyone recalls the older gentleman who kept folks entertained at Disneyland before Fantasmic!, this guy was his devlish brother.

It's not easy being married to someone who's green.

Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue sponsored by MAC.

Over to the Hollywood side I walked and watched the Horror Make-up Show. I was one of the last ones seated which meant the show started soon after. I got an end seat in the 4th or 5th row beside a well-behaved little boy. I don't remember seeing this show before or perhaps not this version. It was entertaining and I had hoped to learn the process of applying monster make-up but that wasn't in the script. Movie trivia for 3 points. What did Alfred Hitcock use for blood in the film Psycho?

When I entered the park in the morning many, many attractions were closed so I shuffled on back to knock them off my list. I watched Animal Actors on Location which is comprised of parrots, a pig ho wants to work, dogs, amoebas, ducks, cats, centaurs, and other -legged friends. Continuing into Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone I saw Fievel's Playland which is adorable and oversized so you feel like the size of a mouse. Now, I know who Fievel is but does this generation of toddlers? E.T. was calling my name so we went for a bike ride together which turned into a escape from the cops and an interplanetary flight to E.T.'s home planet. That was exhausting. Thank goodness we exited into a gift shop so I could buy something to remember him by. "Could buy" being the operative words becaue I didn't see anything I needed.

Just as I headed to a snack cart to buy anything that looked bad for me, terrible noises and flashing lights came from beyond. A deep voice wouldn't stop pounding in my eardrums. I fell to my knees to beg for mercy. When I lifted my head, I saw the cause of my pain. A Day in the Park with Barney and his store. Agh! The horror! Bonus trivia question. For 8 points, what childrens show (no longer in production) scares me more than Barney?

In order to regain my sanity, I headed to the Kwik-E Mart. There I chatted up some fella working the register and picked up some yummy fruit snacks and a wash cloth featuring The Simpsons for my future guests in the future guest bathroom in my future house. Yes, I am awesome.

Someone said the parade was starting and so off I went to see Macy's Holiday Parade. For some reason, I thought they were re-running Thanksgiving. I was wrong, it was a Christmas-themed parade. They had lots of balloons but the characters like Grover, Curious George, and Scooby Doo were out in the park. In the parade there was Uncle Sam, a football, Macy's stars, and so on.

I get it. He's trapped in a box.

Do NOT try to braid the strings, ladies!

Universal is obsessed with stilt walkers so a few of those were tosed in the mix along with characters on various modes of transportation (The Simpsons in an RV) or on a float. It was a nice parade but my favorite was at the end when a nice Jewish boy escorting Santa's float walked by wearing a menorah hat. And thus my people were represented.

The last stop at the park was Shrek 4D. I fibbed my way into the dungeon so as not to wait for the next show. The fella working the doors asked if I was with the family reunion ahead of me. I said yes. And under my breath I said I was the adopted white girl. My "cousins" sat on either side of me and I had to use my favorite non-thrill ride prank. It goes a little something like this:

Me: Hi. Have you been on this ride/show/attraction before?
Victim: No, it's my first time.
Me: Well, then make sure to put on your seatbelt.
Victim: Thanks. (looks around for seatbelt)
Me: (laughing) I'm just kidding. This thing doesn't move/barely moves.
Victim: Oh! You got me! (laughing)

After riding around with Donkey, we were deposited into a...gift shop! I didn't buy anything there either. After an easier walk thanks to the other pair of sneakers I brought, I made an early bus back to my hotel. I popped into the deli-type shop and bought a croissant. With my handy dandy microwave, I reheated the extra baked potato from the day before (my room had a fridge). The croissant met the package of tuna and they were immediately married and then devoured. I was so pleased with my culinary skills.

A nice rest and a full tummy meant I was ready for more action but not any old sort of fun, I went to Disney World! (the crowd goes wild) Set to knock even more off the list of Things I Have Not Yet Done Even Thought I've Been to Walt Disney World Almost Thirty Times - Seriously What is Wrong with Me? I aimed for Atlantic Dance Hall. Buuuut before I got there, I came across a free Boardwalk show. Woohoo!!

Magician/comedian Brian Staron entertained the crowd of kids, adults, and quiet hecklers.

Atlantic Dance Hall was empty. The only people there were the DJ, a few bartenders, 2 custodians, a greeter, and me. P-a-r-t-y!! If you've never been, they play music videos on humungous screens overlooking a dance floor. I was told it's always quiet leading up to Christmas. Since no one was around I asked the DJ to play Ricky Martin. The response? "I haven't played him in like 10 years." Uh, dude. I thought DJs kept up with music.

Pink hair is so Lady Marmalade 2001.

One more item came off my list, Jellyrolls, the dueling piano bar. I sat at the bar in the back of the room and asked the waitress for a menu. They don't have food there as it turned out, just popcorn. I don't drink but she brought me a glass of water and a basket of popcorn. The show okay. I liked 2 of the 4 performers. One duo kept singing songs I had never heard or strongly disliked. The other duo I kept up with most of the time. After an hour and a half I called it a night and left.

Keep up with my shenanigans on Facebook.

January 26, 2012

Monorail Futuristic

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

Everyone loves a free ride. Hop aboard Walt Disney World's monorail from the Polynesian, Grand Floridian or Contemporary resorts and enjoy the view.


Adobe Photoshop is fun!

Disney Pic of the Week - Monorails

Keep up with my freelance writing and photography via my Facebook page.

January 27, 2012

Lighting up a Monorail in Epcot

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I have seen other photographers sharing photos of Walt Disney World Monorails at night in Epcot using a single flash unit to illuminate the moving vehicle. Without a flash, one could only get a blurred monorail late at night. You know me by now, I had to see if I could light up a monorail using my trusty Nikon SB-600 Speedlight flash unit.

I set up a tripod near the Universe of Energy so I could use Spaceship Earth for a backdrop when a monorail came by. Another reason for this location is the monorails slow down when they enter Epcot allowing me to use slower shutter speeds. The Universe of Energy is closed at night even if Epcot has an EMH night making it quiet enough to hear when a monorail was approaching. When a monorail appeared I tried to wait for it to get to the T in the track (see photos). I got better with each monorail.

I set my camera to use Rear-sync flash (sometimes called second curtain) where the flash is fired at the end of the exposure. This freezes most everything being photographed even if it is moving. Bright lights, like a monorail's headlight, will still show a streak. The flash's power was set to full power (+/- 0).

I put my camera in Manual mode and set the aperture to f/5 and ISO to 3200. I used my zoom lens on the scene until I found 82mm gave me a good composition. Used auto-focus to set focus and turned it off. By doing so, the focus will not change unless I moved the camera or hit the tripod. I used a remote shutter release to eliminate touching the camera. The flash was in the hot shoe on the camera.

The first monorail was orange and I took it at 1/30th of a second. I was a little quick on the shutter and the flash did not cover as much of the monorail as I had hoped. I liked how Spaceship Earth looked.

Monorail Orange passing Spaceship Earth at night in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Monorail Orange passing Spaceship Earth at night.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/30s, f/5, ISO 3200, EV 0, 82mm focal length, rear-sync flash at full power, tripod.

Monorail Green was the second one to enter Epcot. I changed the shutter speed to 1/15th of a second. Notice how the headlight has become elongated in this photo. Spaceship Earth is better exposed and more of the monorail has been lighted. I hit my mark, too.

Monorail Green passing Spaceship Earth at night in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Monorail Green passing Spaceship Earth at night.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/15s, f/5, ISO 3200, EV 0, 82mm focal length, rear-sync flash at full power, tripod.

Monorail Blue was the next one and has an even longer headlight streak from the longer exposure at 1/4th of a second. The monorail is well lighted and Spaceship Earth looks great behind it. The mark is a bit late but I liked it better. I cropped it to a 4x5 (8x10) ratio.

Monorail Blue passing Spaceship Earth at night in Epcot, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Monorail Blue passing Spaceship Earth at night.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/4s, f/5, ISO 3200, EV 0, 82mm focal length, rear-sync flash, tripod at full power, cropped.

I now know it can be done. I will try it again with a whole monorail as it crosses the World Showcase walkway from Future World. Others have done it with off-camera flash. Something I want to try at Walt Disney World in the future.

January 29, 2012

Where in the World #214

Where in the World by Erin Blackwell

Happy Belated Birthday, Lauren Thomas! I hope it was magical!

I'm glad you're finally feeling better, Mary Beth Tarbet. Good job on sending that healing pixie dust, players!

Mike Venere, we had snow (your fault), then Spring, and apparently are headed back into Winter. Here's a shocker: I got a cold. ;-)

Here was last week's Challenge:
 Where in the World #213

And here's the answer:

Copyright © 2011 Erin Blackwell Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS, 6mm, 1/60s shutter, f3.5, ISO 200

Here's something I never noticed until this past December: The old Coca-Cola truck at the African Coolpost (formerly Refreshment Outpost) - next to the African Outpost - in Epcot's World Showcase. I stumbled upon this when my little 18-month old nephew played on the drums nearby.

Way to go, Tiffany Gibb! Let the hubby know he was wrong - nicely. :)

Larissa Huda was the first to send in the correct answer for the challenge! Congratulations to Larissa and to all the readers who got the answer right: Matthew Herman, Mary Beth Tarbet, William, Thomas Elizabeth, Gordon And Vicki Edwards, Peter Strukel, Betsy Silvestri, Tiffany Gibb, Julie Wickware, The O'meara Family, Craig, Karen Ramirez, Dee Dee Kenney, Patti Mccaffrey, Kerry Mccaffrey, Brian Miller, Paul Dickson, Margie Larmon, Karrie Duffey, Evanna Huda, Andrew Schumacher, Jeremy Mccaffrey, Susan Doucette, Sharon Dale, Linda Mac, Scott Price, Ruth Cookson, Emily Hudson, Danny Wags, Tim Schneider, Harry Wilson, Christopher Barnes, and Rob Blundin. Each of you are entered in this month's winners' drawing.
_____________________________________________________ _____________________

Challenge #214: Where in the world is this?

Another one from the parks. (I need to get one from outside the parks for next week...) Anyway!
 Where in the World #214

Do you know? Do you have a guess? Please send in your answer, before the end of the day on Thursday, February 2nd, by clicking on the blue box below. Please do not post answers using the Feedback Form link at the bottom of this post. Remember to be specific with your answer - just naming a park will not get you into the drawing.

See you next week, Players!

Click Here to Submit Your Answer

Everyone who sends in a correct answer to a Where in the World Challenge this month will be entered in a drawing at the end of the month for some special AllEars® goodies!

January 31, 2012

Disney Pic of the Week - Resort Wish List

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

Hotel rooms come in various sizes with a wide assortment of amenities. Overnight stays range in price to fit your budget or blow your budget out the door. The view from your room might be of a theme park or a parking lot. The one thing they all have in common is that extra touch that only Disney can deliver.

This week my fellow photobloggers and I dish on our resort wish list. No doubt, your wishes will match ours and then some.

My Wish List for Disney Resorts:

1. Cut back the prices on all rooms. Don't make it a sale or a temporary throwback just lower the cost. About 10 years ago I paid $79 for a room at Paradise Pier Hotel with an Annual Pass discount. Today, the very same room is $169.00. That's more than a 100% increase. I don't know about anyone else but I'm not making double what I earned in 2001.

2. I would like to stay in every Disneyland and Walt Disney World resort/hotel. Two down and one to go at Disneyland. I've stayed at 8 locations in Walt Disney World.

3. Stop outsourcing. The biggest problems guests face in terms of service come from dealing with employees who were not hired directly by Disney.

I'm still delighted at my surprise upgrade to a one bedroom suite at Paradise Pier a few years back. This was a birthday trip. My up-coming birthday trip won't include staying on property. Wah.

Barrie and Scott will post their desires on Thursday and Saturday.

What's your wish list?

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About January 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Picture This! in January 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2011 is the previous archive.

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