Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Beach Club Resort review

The Beach and Yacht club resorts are on Crescent lake and located between Epcot and Hollywood studios.  This is a great location as you can either walk or take a boat into the parks.

My husband and I stayed at the Beach Club for the first time in February – we were celebrating our anniversary – and left the children at home!  We arrived late on a Thursday evening and checked in – discovering that our standard room reservation had been upgraded to a water view room.

We walked through seemingly never ending winding hallways to finally find our room.  We had a great balcony with two chairs overlooking a quiet pool and with a view of crescent lake and the Boardwalk.

We had left our bags in the car (my husband would rather schlep the bags in several trips than pay a tip to bell services!) and I decided to head back down to the lobby to see if it might be possible to switch to a room with a king bed.  The front desk was very accommodating and they let me know they could switch us – but just not tonight.  We would just check out in the morning and then check right back in to the room we’d prefer. 

The next morning, Michael went down to the Beachclub marketplace to get some breakfast – and we ate out on our balcony as we waited for bell services to store our bags til our new room was ready.  Poor hubby – would have to tip bell services after all!

We spent our morning and early afternoon at Animal Kingdom and then headed back to the resort to see if our room was ready.  And it was!

Here is our new king room:

We had a view of a garden – but for some reason, I didn’t take a picture.  Our balcony also changed – and it was a very narrow one with no room for chairs.  But the trek to the room was not quite as meandering as our original room.

The skies were rather overcast but today seemed like our only opportunity to check out the Beach Club’s famous pool complex – Stormalong Bay.  I walked around taking pictures while Michael went to check out the slide.  There are several hot tubs, swimming areas, and even a sand bottom beach area for the kids.  There were pool side activities for the kids as well.  Michael and I hung out in the lazy river – with the ducks – before I went to warm up in the hot tub.  Disney does heat their pools year round – but there had been a bit of rain recently so the pool was a bit chilly for my tastes.

I am so glad we got to use Stormalong Bay as the next day was the coldest day of the winter for Florida – with wind chills in the twenties – and yes, we still saw people in the pool.

Also, one night during our stay we ate at the Cape May Clam Bake for dinner.  It’s a delicious seafood buffet with crab legs, mussels, fish, fried calamari or shrimp (depending on the day of the week), BBQ ribs, prime rib, fabulous side dishes – and then the truly amazing dessert of oreo bon-bons.  (I think that a dining review of this restaurant is in order!)

Overall, we had a great stay at the Beach club and I’d highly recommend it!

Location, location, location
Stormalong Bay
Cape May Café
Childcare onsite
Beaches and Cream

No food court (there is a counter service, but they don’t make to order and the selection is very limited)
Winding, seemingly never ending hallways


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Picture of the Week

This picture was taken last April when I surprised my girls with a trip to Sea World during our Spring Break.  We couldn't get that close and not visit Disney, so I let them choose which park we would visit - as we just had a budget for one day - and they both choose to go to Epcot.  This photo was taken in the world showcase - in China - with Germany and Italy across the lagoon.

I can't wait to go back next week for our Spring break this year - just 5 more days til we leave!!

If you'd like to see more Disney photos, please check out Deb's Focused on the Magic site!

Be sure to come back tomorrow - I'll have a review of our stay at the Beach Club resort.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why I love Japan in the World Showcase, part II

After hearing "my kids don't like EPCOT" so many times, I felt the need to spread the word about how wonderful this particular park really is.  It's also my children's favorite park.

My first post was also about Japan - about how you (kids and grown-ups alike!) can try on kimonos in Japan. Today I want to tell you about a show that is NOT to be missed:  Miyuki.

Miyuki is a candy artist - and art form popular in Japan.  These artists would entertain on street corners and folk festivals by creating flowers and animals from soft rice candy (sort of like taffy).  Miyuki was the first and the only woman trained in this amazing art.  And an artist she is.  She can take a “ball” of candy and create the most amazing animals – right before your very eyes. 

The transformation that that "ball" of soft rice candy makes - it's beyond words.  I love when she does winged creatures.  I don’t know how she does it – but it’s amazing to see.

Here is Miyuki making some more candy art (a green dragon and a sea turtle):

When you arrive at EPCOT, be sure to consult your times guide for Miyuki’s show times for the day.  (I believe that she does not do shows at all on Saturdays.)  I would arrive at least 15 minutes early.  She has a cart right at the main entrance to the Mitsukoshi department store – so you’ll want to secure a spot at the rope.  She’ll ask her audience which animals she should make – and if your child is quiet and polite, they will usually get a chance to make a request.

Many years ago, the guest making the request could keep the animal that she made, but due to food safety laws, that element has been removed – but you can still get your picture taken with your requested creation.

 (now the above picture was taken about 5 years ago - back when you could keep the candy art - and that's a purple cat requested by my daughter Madalyn.  You can see her from last fall two pictures up.  And my older daughter's friend - Claire - that's her on the right above - and then in the photo above, that's her last summer with her requested purple unicorn.  Love to see my kids and their friends growing up at Disney!!)

So...what about you?  Have you ever seen a candy artist?  Have you ever tried the candy?


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Expedition Everest - one of my favorite Disney icons

Did you know that the tallest mountain in Florida is Mt Everest?  Well...the Everest that is part of Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park.

Everest is one of my family's favorite rides in all of the park.  And I love it not only because it's a great thrill ride, but because the attention to detail on the ride is just top notch.  Actually it wasn't until late last year that I actually walked through the regular stand-by queue (rather than just using a fast pass) - and I had no idea that I was missing so very much.  You actually walk through a museum of sorts showcasing animals around Everest as well as sightings of the Yeti.

Everest is located in the Asia section of Animal Kingdom - and again, here, the attention to detail is amazing.  There are temple ruins where apes play.

As you approach the ride from Africa, you can see a temple - and see that the shape of the temple actually lines up with the shape of Everest.

(This is also a great place to find a photopass photographer and get yourself a family picture!)

And - on the other side of this temple are steps leading down to the water - which you really can't even see unless you are on the other side of the lake.  Again, it's all in the details!

There are Tibetan prayer flags around the attraction.

And of course, the ride itself.  Which is well loved even as we approach the end of the tracks.  And we love our glimpses of the Yeti.

And to top it all off, the gift shop at the exit of the ride is also a favorite.  We always make a point of doing crazy poses for our pictures.

They have great ride t-shirts.  Books about Everest and the Yeti.  And our favorite souvenir - Yeti hats!

So...what about you?  Have you ridden Expedition Everest?  Do you have a favorite Disney icon?


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Characterpalooza at Hollywood Studios

Do your kids like to meet the characters?  Do YOU like to meet the characters?  One of the best ways is the unadvertised Characterpalooza at Hollywood Studios.

If you go the area by the Animation Academy (inside of the Art of Disney animation building) - at 4:45 - only on nights when Fantasmic! starts later than 7pm - there will be a quick parade of characters - with no to hardly any line.  You never know who you'll see - or how long they'll be out.  And it's over within 30 minutes!

My girls are of an age where they like characters - but they don't want to wait in line to meet them.  So they were THRILLED to see that they could just walk up to them and get some pictures!

Here are the characters we saw in November:

Cool - Pocahontas with Meeko and Stitch!  We headed out because we had some fast passes to use - and we saw the be all end all of characters.  At least it's the be all end all in our house as we LOVE us some villains!

I love how they all posed together!

So...what about you?  Who is your "be all end all" character?


Monday, March 19, 2012

Splash Mountain - A Kid's review

I meant to do this post last week as part of Focus on the Magic's theme of the week - Frontierland.  However, my week got away from me.  But, I didn't want this review to get away from you!  Splash Mountain tells of Joel Chandler Harris' iconic characters - the same ones that can be seen in Disney's "Song of the South" movie.  This is not a ride that I like at all.  Mostly because I don't want to get wet.  But.  My children.  They enjoy a good soaking.  You don't get as wet as you do on Animal Kingdom park's Kali River Rapids - but the possibility is enough to keep me off the ride and enjoying my role as principal photographer.

Here is my 10 year old daughter - Madalyn - thoughts on the ride:

This a ride for kids who like to get wet!  In this ride you go through a briar village, meeting Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, and the evil Brer Fox.  Throughout the ride, you hear Brer Fox's nefarious (can I just say that I love that my 10 year old knows and uses this word?!) plot to eat Brer Rabbit.  Then, Brer Rabbit gets captured and almost eaten.  You will go down a huge hill.  You might get soaked!

In the end, Brer Rabbit escapes and Brer Fox eats something else.

The line to this ride can be pretty long so be sure to either use a fast pass or try to go earlier in the day.  Have fun at "my laughing place!"

Because I don't ride, I do take pictures.  There is a bridge where you can stand and watch for your family.  I have TONS of pictures of other people's families coming down the hill.  But I did manage to actually capture mine (though there are many times when I don't!!) - made much easier due to bright green matching shirts.  

So...what about you?  Do you like water rides?


Thursday, March 8, 2012

A client's review of the Disney Magic

My friend and client, Art Slavin has just returned from a 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Disney Magic - and he has graciously agreed to give y'all a mini review of his trip.  Thanks so much to the Slavin and Wommack families for letting me be a part of their magical trip!

Where else can you escape from the stresses of everyday life, trading them in for all the comfort and and enjoyment you could ever want? Where else can you be so pampered, appreciated, and filled with joy? You can never get tired of being in the midst of a dream world, dedicated to your every wish. Thank you Walt Disney for understanding those of us who love to laugh, play, and dream. Thank you for Disney World, the Disney Cruise Line, and for your commitment to excellence. Your crew has been so well trained in the almost lost art of top quality guest service. You may not believe in Santa Claus, but Disney makes you think twice about that. And thank you Katrina for making it so easy for us to hook up with that wonderful world of enchantment. Here are just a few of the hundreds of photos we took on our magical trip.