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About Those $649 Cabanas in Tomorrowland

Right now they’re big, white, and generic-looking.  Disney World’s newest pricey specialty offering has a lot of tongues wagging.RM-Tomorrowland-Walkway

About Those $649 Cabanas in Tomorrowland

If you missed this latest Disney news tidbit, Magic Kingdom guests may now rent a “cabana” for the day near Space Mountain in Tomorrowland.  The amenities and details included in the $649 price can be found here.  The cabanas are, for now, actually large, windowed tents like the ones people rent for outdoor events.  Inside, guests will find some tables and seating along with the charging station and lockable storage trunk.  At face value, critics see yet another money grab at an exorbitant price for wealthy vacationers (even if it does include customized Earhats).

I can see a different side to this…

I feel certain this is the first of several tests and, if successful, will result in actual cabana-like structures in keeping with the Tomorrowland (or other) surroundings and they’ll come with air conditioning.  If you’ve listened to the latest episode (#116) of The Unofficial Guide’s Disney Dish with Jim Hill, you’ll find that these test cabanas may be the tip of the iceberg for in-park getaways.  If Jim and Len are right, cabanas will be in several (if not all) parks and may be elevated to allow guests unobstructed, prime viewing for parades and fireworks.RM-Tomorrowland-Skyline

I see a certain appeal for this concept with a particular sub-set of Disney vacationers.  And it may not be such a bad or outrageous idea.  Imagine for a minute that your vacation includes multi-generations.  You may be headed to Magic Kingdom with grandparents or infants or both!  Suppose you’re staying off property and want everyone to get a full day of park touring, plus have a place to rest, nurse a baby, take a nap, or take turns babysitting or simply hanging out.

There would always be a shaded, cool, private spot at your disposal.  No need to pack up and leave for nap time or meltdowns.  You’d have a secluded place, all your own, to regroup, relax, and recharge (literally and figuratively) without having to waste time returning to your resort.  Grandma and Grandpa could comfortably enjoy the Festival of Fantasy parade without sitting on a curb in the burning sun.  Mom and Dad could tend to the needs of little ones away from public view and know that nap time will be in a cool and comfortable place.

While I’m not in a stage of my life where I could justify forking over $649 for the luxury of a Disney park cabana, I’ll never say never.  I can easily imagine a time when having the convenience and amenities that come with booking a little personal space in Walt Disney World could be a worthwhile and time-saving investment.

Your turn!  Are these cabanas an extravagant ripoff or a legitimate in-park convenience?

Epcot in Summer

Thoughts on Epcot’s Future

This morning in my way to work I was listening to Episode 98 of Radio Harambe.  This is an excellent podcast and one of my favorites, especially since it’s mostly focused on Animal Kingdom and you know how I feel about that park.  Anyway, Mike and Dave, the hosts, were discussing the recent Disney announcement about the future of Epcot and what that might mean for Epcot fans.  Mike and Dave and I don’t always agree on stuff and today was no exception…I was interjecting my opposition to their opinions out loud on my commute (as if they could hear me) and the discussion was inspirational for this post.Epcot View

Thoughts on Epcot’s Future

Epcot’s changed a lot since I first visited the park in 1990 and not always in a good way.  Lots of attractions have closed, sponsorships ended, and Future World has been mostly left to stagnate and generally decline.  What was once a thought-provoking center for amusing edu-tainment has become a mere shadow of its former self.  Updates are badly needed and if Disney must incorporate some of its popular entertainment franchises to do it, so be it.RM-Living-With-The-Land-Greenhouse

If visitors to Future World were to once again find themselves inspired by technological innovations, the original purpose of Epcot lives on.  If said inspiration were to be derived from familiar movie characters, what’s the harm?  It’s a fact, Disney sells more merchandise with well-known fan favorites than they would with newly launched concepts and sales are what keeps stockholders happy.  I want to see Epcot revitalized and am willing to be open-minded about it.

A few thoughts on what I would consider moving in the right direction…

Inside Out has been the movie most discussed among Disney fans as a perfect fit for Future World.  A new attraction related to how and why changes occur in our brains as we grow up would be perfect!  Every young person should know that an immature frontal cortex will inhibit sound decision-making long past their 18th birthday and this is why they should listen to their mom!

Perhaps, in the same building, The Incredibles (and my favorite character, Edna Mode) could entertain us while helping us understand the relationship between nutrition and the optimum performance of both brain and brawn?  Personally, I think The Incredibles are woefully underrepresented in Disney parks!  This would be a win-win for me.RM-Universe-of-Energy-Exterior

Guardians of the Galaxy has been rumored to be the theme of a new attraction to replace the outdated Ellen’s Energy Adventure.  What if Rocket, who is an engineering genius, were to host an attraction based on how creativity and technology come together to solve problems with things like clean energy, transportation, space exploration, or waste disposal?

While I’ve heard that Wreck-It Ralph may be slated for Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom, I could see wonderful potential with this franchise for an Epcot attraction as well.  How about an interactive attraction that allowed guests to see what goes on during the invention of arcade/video games.  By helping visitors see how imagination becomes virtual reality through technology, young future-programmers might be encouraged while the rest of us just have fun!SSE Lecture Dude

Education combined with entertainment is great, but the final, Epcot-worthy result needs to be inspiration.  When guests leave feeling like they can make a difference in their own lives as well as the world around them, then Epcot’s mission has been accomplished.  If, in the course of visiting Walt Disney World, some small fraction of young guests discover a new interest in science, technology, engineering, or math…just by having fun on vacation, then Epcot’s bigger meaning is realized.  And isn’t that as Walt Disney intended it to be?  Just my two cents.

What are your thoughts on Epcot’s future?

 

 

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Memory Maker – Nailed It!

Finally!  After several tries (other reviews here and here), we figured out how to best utilize Memory Maker.  The results of our group effort on our last Disney World vacation were our best yet!  We came home with a huge number of pictures and the vast majority of them were great.img_0679

Memory Maker – Nailed It!

I believe it was the combination of learning from prior mistakes, Disney photographer improvement, and teamwork that resulted in our success.  We came home with well over 150 good photos (many of them excellent).

I’ve summarized our tips for best results…

Have a plan – As a group of seven, we wanted to get lots of pictures without wasting precious vacation time.  Teamwork helped!  We worked together to find photo ops with short lines that would result in pictures that were both fun and quintessentially Disney.img_0676

Maximize character meet & greet opportunities – Schedule at least one character meet up with a FastPass, if possible.  We highly recommend the Character Spot in Epcot.  You won’t know which characters will be there, but no matter what (or who), there will be excellent photo ops.  Throughout your vacation, watch for characters and get in line if the wait will be fairly short.  Don’t forget about the Star Wars Launch Bay in Disney’s Hollywood Studios for pictures with Chewbacca and Kylo Ren.img_0674

Link Magic Bands, then ask for help – It may look like you’re all linked correctly in My Disney Experience, but we found that not to be the case.  Megan and I were the ones who had our Magic Bands scanned by the photographers most of the time and several of her band’s pictures were missing from my photos.  We took advantage of a Photo Pass kiosk to get help while we were at Disney World, then I still had to call for more help after we got home.  This is inconvenient, but worth the effort! (The Cast Member who helped is at the kiosk admitted that this is a well-known, common problem.)img_0667

Learn where and when ride photos will be taken – If you’re experiencing an attraction for the first time, it’s hard to know where pics will be snapped.  Ask a Cast Member before you board or check out the pictures from your first ride and use subsequent rides to strike a pose, smile and wave, or be clever in your own way.img_0668img_0675

Stop early and often – Just say YES when you see a photographer with a short or no line, no matter where they are.  Early in the day when you’re still fresh and looking good is a great time to stop for just a few seconds.  Photographers will be in lots of places other than in front of each park’s icon, so keep an eye out.  Some of our favorite pictures from this trip were taken just as we were exiting Kilimanjaro Safaris.img_0671

Ask about Magic Shots – Photographers won’t always tell you when they can add a little extra magic to your pictures and it never hurts to ask.  Maybe it’s our imagination, but the abundance of Magic Shots seems to be ever increasing.  Personally, I loved meeting Sebastian in Fantasyland this time.img_0673img_0669

img_0677Ham it up!  Have fun, be silly, let your inner child out to play.  You’re at Walt Disney World!  Don’t ruin family photos by being the stuffy one who is merely suffering through.  There’s no better place to have a great time – be sure to let it show!  Maybe you wouldn’t want your work friends back home to see you acting foolish with a Disney princess, I get that, but your family will cherish the memories and will love looking back through pictures even more if you relax and embrace the unique type of fun a Disney vacation offers.  If you’re anti-Disney, I can’t help you, but you could at least try not to ruin pictures with your crabbiness.img_0672img_0680

Overall, we’ve seen a big improvement in the quality of pictures taken by Disney photographers.  They snap more candid shots than they used to and have gotten really good at lining a group up and taking several clever shots quickly.  If you’re on the fence about investing in Memory Maker, hopefully these tips will help you decide. Oh, and the videos that are included with rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Tower of Terror are wonderful!

Have you had success with Memory Maker?  Where were your favorite pictures taken?

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Disney Hallmark Ornaments – Ready, Set, Snow!

Disney Hallmark Ornaments – Ready, Set, Snow!

By Nick

Last week I shared the first 2 ornaments released in the “Ready! Set! Snow!” ornament set, which featured Mickey Mouse and Pluto.

This Donald Duck Hallmark ornament, entitled “Cool Duck Donald”, was released on September 8th, 2012.

From the box:

Cool Duck Donald

Ready! Set! Snow!

 

Donald thought that sledding
would be sweet, and he’s in luck-
gliding fast across the snow,
he looks like one cool duck!

This ornament can be connected to others in the “Ready! Set! Snow!” collection. Collect them all to create a delightful holiday display!

Nello Williams
Cullen Brown
Hallmark Keepsake Artist

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This ornament has a notch to connect other ornaments in the set.

“Snow Stylin’ Goofy”, was released on October 6th, 2012, is part of a set of 5 ornaments, featuring the Fab Five, titled “Ready! Set! Snow!”.

 

Snow Stylin’ Goofy

Ready! Set! Snow!

Goofy’s got some crazy moves
as he rides on the sled.
Or maybe he’s just making sure
his hat stays on his head!

The Minnie Mouse Hallmark ornament, titled “Merry Mittens Minnie”, was released on November 2nd, 2012, and is the final piece in the set.

From the box:

Merry Mittens Minnie

Ready! Set! Snow!

Minnie’s always ready
for a sled ride in the snow.
She warms her hands with cozy mittens-
red to match her bow!

And here is the whole set together!

You can follow Nick, his wife Barbie, and all their friends on their many Disney adventures:  Disney Musings Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, On Instagram, On Pinterest.  You can listen to Nick, our friend Dave and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about all things Disney.