Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Making Disney T-shirts

Today, I am guest blogging for Kim over at Seven Thirty Three Blog (Kim is the brains behind the design here at Keys to the Magic Travel).  Her blog is all about creativity - which is kind of ironic that she asked for me to guest blog because creativity and I are not friends.  Or even acquaintances.  However, Disney and I - well, I'd say we are besties!

Back to crafting...there is one craft that I know how to do - and that is to make a Mickey spiral t-shirt.  Go check out my post and see all the other cool Disney crafts that Kim is featuring this week.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Epcot's 30th Anniversary - a look back in time to 1986

Today is EPCOT's 30th birthday!  And to celebrate, I was part of a series of blog posts over at DisTherapy as we counted down the 30 years over thirty days.  If you click the icon, you can see all the posts and learn so much about the history of this fantastic park!

30 Days to 30 Years

Below is my story from 1986:

I was born in Winter Park, Florida - a small town just outside of Orlando - and I feel like I grew up at Disney World.  I had lots of family members who worked at the park - including my uncle John who sold popcorn on Main Street.

And that connection to Disney.  Well.  It gave my family some incredible perks.  Like being part of a test run of the Magic Kingdom BEFORE it opened to the public.  Or never having to pay for tickets.

 (The above two photos were taken at the Magic Kingdom in September of 1971 - a few weeks before the official opening!  And that is little ol me with each of my parents.  Gotta love how far the characters have come!)

Then when I was 7, we moved to Atlanta - and our time at Disney greatly diminished.  We might go and visit family in the summer.  And we might spend a day at the Magic Kingdom.  But it wasn't the same.

Then, the summer of 1986 arrived.  I turned 16.  And my family decided to spend a week visiting my grandparents in Winter Parks.  And we'd do 2 days at Disney - one at Magic Kingdom - and we'd get to go to EPCOT for the very first time.

I was so excited to go.  But I was also a teenager.  So I convinced my parents that spending time with them would be much easier if I had a friend.  And that is how I got to bring my best friend Andy with us!

In anticipation of our trip, my mother bought all of us matching t-shirts.  I remember being so mortified that we were all going to ride down to Florida in these Bloom County shirts - but my friend Andy just thought it was the best thing ever.  And somehow, I don't have a picture of our whole gang in those shirts!

Our first day in Orlando was spent at the Magic Kingdom.  We stayed the entire day - and it was well after midnight before we had the last of the fireworks and our drive back to Winter Park.

Our second day was at the brand new (relatively - and certainly new to us!) EPCOT Center.

 (This was taken from the monorail - our view as we approached Epcot)

Our first stop was the "Living Seas."  I vividly remember being "transported" below the sea - but knew we really weren't going anywhere - just that the floor vibrated and there were tons of bubbles in the water around us.  I also remember the divers in the airlock.  Unfortunately, I also recall not being impressed.

 (Who else remembers the black swans at Epcot?!)

Next, we headed over to the Kodak "exhibit" to the ride with Figment.  There was a huge line (well before fast passes!) and while we waited, my younger brother enjoyed dodging the leaping fountains.

 (squint so that you can see the water over his head!)

(Are those still there?!).  We waited out in that sun for more than an hour - and when we got to walk through the doors into the blessed air conditioning, I think we all had a huge sigh of relief!  We all loved the ride.  (And really loved that it was so long and we could cool down and rest our feet!).

Next up?  Captain EO with Michael Jackson. I thought the movie was great - but I had no idea that Michael Jackson's voice was that..ummm...squeaky?

 (Me with my parents and younger brother)

We then headed to the pavilions of the World Showcase - beginning with Canada.  We saw the 360 degree movie - "O Canada" - and wow - having never seen a movie like that before, we just thought it was amazing.  However.  After a full day on my feet at Magic Kingdom.  And walking and standing in line at Epcot - my 16 year old feet were just done and I so wanted to be able to sit down!

We meandered our way through England, France, and Morocco.

 (I swear they were happy to be there!)

And we finally stopped in America where we ate dinner.  I know, crazy?  But at the time, we didn't know any better!  But the highlight of this stop was stopping and taking off our shoes and soaking our feet in the fountain.  I suppose we looked like we were 61 instead of 16!

(Who else remembers the omnibus that took people around the World Showcase?  Actually - I don't remember it at all!  I had to look it up and see what this was in my picture!!)

After our soak, we pressed on.  And then.  It began to rain!  We bought ponchos in Germany - and then the soles of my shoes split in half by the time we reached China.  I loved telling people that my shoes wore out on my long walk from Germany to China!

(A note about the above "trip report" - almost all of the detail was taken from the scrapbook I kept of our trip - not well detailed journaling - but not too shabby for notes of our adventure from my teenage self!)

Even though my feet were dying - we really did have a fabulous time.  It was fun to explore Disney with my friend (and my family) - especially since it would be 10 years before I was able to go again.  And now that I have my own teenagers - we go quite often - and I love that I have instilled the value of growing up at Disney World!  We will be at Epcot's 30th anniversary on October 1st - and I can't wait to take part in the next 30 years!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The American Idol Expereince in Hollywood Studios

A really fun show in Hollywood Studios is the American Idol Experience (located near the hat and the Great Movie Ride).  Even if you are not a fan of the show, you'll have a great time - and find someone to cheer for.  The show takes place several times a day - with the first one usually around noon.  Shows last about 20 minutes.  The winners from each show then compete during the last show of the day with the winner receiving a "dream ticket" which gets them to the front of the line at any American Idol audition across the country.  And actually, (if you are a fan of the show!) this past season of American Idol had 4 of the top 13 that auditioned were dream ticket winners!

So...as an audience member - this is what you can expect:
My kids like to arrive about 30 minutes before the show because they tape messages from the performers' "fans" while you wait.  And my kids are all about getting some screen time. They also like to be there early so they can sit in the front row - as that also gives one the opportunity for more screen time.  Will explain that shortly!

After you are seated, a guy comes out to warm up the crowd (hey - is there a name for that person? I am guessing that "warm-up guy" isn't it!) - gets everyone dancing and moving and then he explains how the voting works. 

And this is the second opportunity for my kids to be on the big screen.  Several times they have been chosen to help with the instructions.

The show itself is a shortened version of American Idol. Complete with Ryan Seacrest like host.  And three judges.  One of which is like Simon Cowell in his snarky remarks to the contestants.  After all the contestants have performed and the judges commented - the audience gets its turn to send the winner to the final show of the day (or if you are at the final show then you are voting on the dream ticket winner). 

So...what about you?  Do you like American Idol?  Have you seen Disney's American Idol experience show?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

England's Red Phone Booths in Epcot's World Showcase

The red phone booth is one of the many iconic images of England - and you can find a set of three of them in Epcot's World Showcase.  It's a must do photo-op!
But those phone booths - they are more than a photo-op - they are an opportunity to spread some Disney magic.  And this is magic that you can spread from home!
All you have to do is call the phone booths and see if someone at Disney answers.  I like to call and wish people a magical day.  Ask them if they have seen any princesses yet.  Or if they have had a chance to grab a beer at the Rose and Crown pub.  
We have these numbers programmed into our cell phones - and it's fun to call while you are there at the parks, too.  Surprise a child playing in the booth with a phone call.
Here are the phone booth numbers:
  • Right Booth: 407 827-9861
  • Left Booth: 407 827-9862
  • Center Booth: 407 827-9863
If you'd like to see more Disney photos around the letter E theme, please check out Deb's Focused on the Magic!

So...what about you?  Have you ever gotten a phone call in the red booth?  Are you going to go and spread some pixie dust?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Ziti Sisters show in EPCOT's Italy

There are some great shows around the world showcase in Epcot.  Like Miyuki in Japan.  Or Serveur Amusant in France.  Or the Dragon acrobats in China.  For my younger daughter, the Ziti Sisters are a can't miss experience.  Because every time we've seen them, she's also managed to become part of the show.

The Ziti sisters are Carmella, Katia, Rosalia, Paulina, and Teresa - and they appear most days for five shows in Epcot's Italy pavillion.  (Be sure to check the times guide as you arrive in the park to get the times for your date.)
 (above photo, © Disney)

Led by the sister on the accordion, the sisters "teach" about high Italian traditions such as music, fashion, dance and art.  And as they teach - they get the entire audience involved.  
Here, they are teaching about music and dance:

And here we have a lesson on art (or as they say - ar-tay!)

The show is great fun - and very funny!  So...what about you?  Do you have a favorite show in Epcot?  Have you ever seen the Ziti sisters?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Liberty Tree Tavern: dining in the Magic Kingdom

The Liberty Tree Tavern is located in Liberty Square - across from the Riverboat and near the Hall of Presidents.  
We visited this restaurant for the first time in May.  And I must admit that in the beginning, I was not that excited about eating here. I had read a few reviews of dinner - and well, as un-American as this might sound, I am not a fan of Thanksgiving type foods.  But.  As I read and researched further, I found that the lunch menu at the Liberty Tree tavern is quite different than the family style Thanksgiving meal at dinner.  There was a menu.  With lots of choices.  And ones that sounded really good.

I really like the theming of this restaurant as well.  It's located in an 18th century colonial style building - and then the dining room is composed of a series of rooms that are patriot themed: Betsy Ross, Paul Revere, John Paul Jones, Benjamin Franklin, George and Martha Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.  
And it's really fun when they call you from the waiting area to your table: "Welcome the Harris family from Georgia!"
We were seated in the John Paul Jones section right by a window.  
Do you see those stairs in the above photo?  If I have any quibble at all with this restaurant, it's the bathroom.  The bathroom is up those stairs (I am not sure how they handle accessible needs) - and it's really, really small.  
When you get your drinks, they are in these cute tavern mugs - and they are also available for purchase.

My mom and I decided to split the New England Pot Roast (the tavern keepers favorite).  And it was delicious.  Normally, I am not a big fan of pot roast.  It seems that almost everything made in my slow cooker tastes the same.  Obviously, the Liberty Tree Tavern did not use my slow cookers!  This was absolutely amazing.  The beef was fork tender and melt in your mouth.  And the potatoes with the gravy - I could eat it again right now.  Because we split a meal, we were each brought a plate with our half portions - so this picture is a half portion.
My girls decided to split the Pilgrim's feast.  They do not join me in my feelings for Thanksgiving food.  They thought it was all quite yummy - and even ate their green beans.  Again - this is a half portion on the plate. 
Our lunch was amazing - but what is going to make me go back is the dessert - the Ooey Gooey toffee cake. I wish we had gotten more than one to share!

To see more posts about Disney food and drinks, be sure to check out the blog hop over at Deb's Focused on the magic!

So...what about you?  Have you tried Liberty Tree Tavern?  Do you like Thanksgiving food?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Characterpalooza at Hollywood Studios part 2

At Hollywood Studios there is an unadvertised character meet and greet - it's sort of an insider's secret.  And I am going to tell you how to get in on the action.  What has become known as "Characterpalooza" takes place at the Animation Studios - near the meet and greet for Sorcerer Mickey and the Animation class.  The timing of the event though, well that is a bit tricky.

Characterpalooza is completely tied to the Fantasmic schedule for the evening.

If Fantasmic starts at 6:30 or 7, there will be no Characterpalooza
If Fantasmic starts at 7:30, it will begin at 4:45 and last for about 20 minutes
If Fantasmic starts at 8:00 or later , it usually begins between 4:45 and 4:55 - and can last from 20 minutes to a little over an hour.  (This scenario also holds true on dates when there is no Fantasmic scheduled.)

As for which characters you might find - it's always a surprise! 

When we were there in the Spring, we met:





Mary Poppins:

Chip and Dale:

The interaction with Chip and Dale was fabulous.  Chip asked my older daughter to marry him - or at least to call him later.

And all of the above characters was in about 30 minutes (total time!!).

Another day, my oldest got to meet:

Pinocchio and Gepetto:

Chip and Dale again (no marriage proposals this time):

And Captain Hook with Mr. Smee:

(The above meetings took about 15 minutes total!).

You can check out my previous characterpalooza post to see some other characters we've met.

So...which character would you like to meet at the Characterpalooza??