Voices of Disney – Remembering Eleanor Audley (1905-1991)

IMG_2518Two of the most wicked, scariest Disney villains of all time have got to be Lady Tremaine and Maleficent.  These two were just perfectly evil!  Devious?  Check.  Arrogant?  Check.  Self-serving, power-hungry schemers?  Double-check!  Long before it was fashionable to be a snarky baddie with comedic one-liners (Scar, Ursula and Hades, for example) – the classic Disney villains were just plain rotten.

How wonderfully perfect that both Lady Tremaine and Maleficent were both voiced by Eleanor Audley.  It says a lot, I think, about what a fantastic job Mrs. Audley did in Cinderella that she got the job voicing a second, dare I say scarier, Disney villain nine years later.  Lady Tremaine and Maleficent have a lot in common, but were completely different in the skills they used to pursue their own agendas.  Both characters inspired such dislike in viewers, their influence and fame live on today in more places than the original films.

Personally, I’m excited to see Maleficent (the movie) in May – I’ll be curious to see how true to the original character this version portrays Sleeping Beauty’s nemesis.  I’m also excited to see, also in May, Lady Tremaine and her darling daughters, Anastasia and Drizella  at 1900 Park Fare’s character dining experience (at Disney’s Grand Floridian).  These memorable (if not beloved) characters would not be so famous and so Maleficent on Sleeping Beauty movie coverpresent today had Eleanor Audley not done such a tremendous job on their first appearances.  The facial features of both villains were based on Mrs. Audley as drawn by Marc Davis.

So, we know that Eleanor Audley did sinister really well – she even voiced Madam Leota (originally) for the Haunted Mansions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but did you know she also appeared in many well-known TV shows of the 50’s and 60’s?  I won’t bore you with an exhaustive list, but the number of different shows for which Mrs. Audley appeared as a recurring (or one-time) character is mind-blowing!  Here are the ones that surprised me the most:

  • Father Knows Best (1956) – bit parts in several episodes
  • I Love Lucy (1957) – two episodes, different characters
  • The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1956-1958) – Four appearances as different characters
  • Dennis the Menace (1960) – One episode
  • Perry Mason (1958-1960) – Two episodes
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1963) – Bit part, one episode, Mrs. Billings in three episodes.
  • The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1964) – Three episodes as Mrs. Millicent Schuyler-Potts
  • The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1965) – One episode
  • Hazel (1961-1965) – Different characters in four episodes
  • Green Acres (1965-1969) – Played Mother Douglas in 14 episodes – Isn’t this GREAT?!!! Awesome!
  • My Three Sons (1969-1970) – Mrs. Vincent in 9 episodes

Well, there you go!  If you grew up on reruns of these shows like I did, isn’t it unbelievable that the lady who voiced Lady Tremaine and Maleficent appeared in so many of these programs?  Did Eleanor Audley’s appearance in any of these surprise you?


First Time Using MyMagic+ / FastPass+ Walt Disney World Plans

Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World at NightThe results of this week’s Disney Plan-a-Palooza?  Pretty successful!  I thought I’d go ahead and share our plans as an example for you if you’re planning a trip and haven’t yet used Magic Bands or FastPass+.  This will be our first time to use the new system and I’d love to hear some honest feedback.  Do you think this plan is solid?  Bear in mind, we are (have always been) diehard, commando-style Walt Disney World vacationers – but I still feel this plan has enough free time built into it for us to stop and enjoy the Disney magic.  Post dinner hours are unplanned so we can decide last-minute if we want to try to take in a show (Fantasmic, Wishes, or Illuminations).  For sure we will see Wishes and the Main Street Electrical Parade at the Magic Kingdom at least twice.

We arrive on Sunday, leave on Saturday.  We’re staying at Old Key West – we’ve never stayed there before, but it’s an extremely economical use of our DVC points.  Most of our points are being used at Bay Lake Tower for our (Raymond and I) 25th Anniversary trip in October for Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.  Note:  In these plans, FastPasses (FP+) are listed by start time only, we have an hour once the start time begins to use them.WDW Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Here’s the plan:

Sunday afternoon:  Magic Kingdom – Lunch / Snack on the run. FP+’s:

  • Space Mountain (1:50 pm)
  • Journey of the Little Mermaid (2:50 pm)
  • Big Thunder Mountain (4:50 pm).

Then we’ll walk around and enjoy being in the Magic Kingdom until we have to leave for dinner.  Dinner is at 7:30 in Downtown Disney at Raglan Road.

Monday Morning:  Extra Magic Hour (EMH) – Animal Kingdom at 8:00 am.  Planning to ride Expedition Everest, then the Kilimanjaro Safari, then take it easy and play it by ear until after lunch (counter service). Eat a fairly early lunch and park hop!

Toy Story Midway ManiaMonday Afternoon:  Disney’s Hollywood Studios – FP+’s:

  • Toy Story Midway Mania (1:30 pm)
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (3:13 pm)
  • Star Tours (4:15 pm).

Dinner is at 7:30 on the Boardwalk at the Flying Fish Cafe.

Tuesday Morning:  Extra Magic Hour (EMH) – Epcot at 8:00 am.  Planning to ride Soarin’ then leisurely enjoy the morning doing whatever appeals to us until enjoying an early lunch (counter service).

Tuesday Afternoon: Back to Animal Kingdom!  FP+’s:

  • Kali River Rapids (12:30 pm)Expedition Everest's Forbidden Mountain
  • Expedition Everest (2:10 pm)
  • DINOSAUR (3:15 pm).

A quick bus ride away, we’ll enjoy dinner at Boma in the Animal Kingdom Lodge (7:00 pm).  Pre-dinner animal viewing on the savannah overlook is a must!

Wednesday Morning:  EMH – Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 8:00 am.  Planning to ride Toy Story Midway Mania and Rock’n’ Roller Coaster first then relax and see what the wait times are for MuppetVision 3D, The Great Movie Ride, Tower of Terror and more.  It’s Raymond’s birthday, so we’ll defer to his picks – he LOVES Rock’n’ Roller Coaster – it’s his most favorite ride in the World.  Won’t surprise me if we ride it more than once if the standby line wait time is not too terrible.

The Seas With Nemo and FriendsWednesday Afternoon:  Epcot – FP+’s:

  • The Seas With Nemo & Friends (2:45 pm)
  • Soarin’ (3:55 pm)
  • Spaceship Earth (5:00 pm).

Dinner in Epcot’s World Showcase at Tutto Italia (7:15 pm).  After Spaceship Earth we can pick up a cold beverage to enjoy as we may your way to the Italy Pavilion.

Thursday Morning:  EMH – Magic Kingdom at 8:00 am.  Our plans are to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train first.  It should be open by then and if I can score a FastPass for it on Sunday or Friday afternoon, I’ll do that for sure.  After the Dwarfs, we’ll be free to do what we please – Haunted Mansion, Pirates, and Jungle Cruise are must-do attractions for us, so we’ll be trying to fit those in.  This is where the longer-than-ever-before standby lines will cause us the most pain.

Thursday Afternoon: Epcot – FP+’s – Don’t laugh.  We only really needed/wanted one FastPass Crush the Sea Turtlethis day, but felt obligated to select three so…

  • Journey into Imagination with Figment(2:00 pm) – I KNOW!  You don’t have to say it.
  • Test Track (3:00 pm)
  • Turtle Talk with Crush (4:20 pm).  I don’t care if it’s supposed to be for little kids…I LOVE it.

After that we’ll scoot on back to our resort so we can relax before getting cleaned up for our 7:45 ADR at 1900 Park Fare.  I want to get some great pictures at this character meal (Cinderella, the Prince, Lady Tremaine and the Step Sisters) and would prefer The Fam look a little less park-worn for the evening.

Friday Morning: Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 8:00 am.  It’s Star Wars Weekend!  This will be our day to do as we please while enjoying the festive party atmosphere that Star Wars Weekends always bring.  Of course we’ll dash for either Toy Story Midway Mania or Rock’n’ Roller Coaster first thing, but after that, we’ll be taking it easy and soaking up the sights…that is until we enjoy our noon ADR at Hollywood Brown Derby for lunch.  Then we hop!

Friday Afternoon:  Magic Kingdom – FP+’s are for…

  • Splash Mountain (3:15)
  • Space Mountain (4:15)
  • Big Thunder Mountain (8:00)

Being our last day, we’ll be trying to make the most of it.  Counter Service for dinner will allow us more time to walk around and say farewell until next time.

So, if you were taking this trip, what would you change?  If you’ve got any pointers or tips to share about Old Key West, I’d love to hear them – especially pertaining to which bus stops are the best!


5 Things to Do While Waiting for Disney’s Fantasmic to Start

DSCN2620Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is an incredible evening show.  We think it’s a “must do” attraction and so do thousands of other people.  This show is very popular.  For good reason!  Characters galore, very special effects – lights, water, music, villains – it’s just super.  Might be a tad scary for little ones, but it’s unlike anything else at Walt Disney World and is worth the wait.  And wait you will!  The only real options now to avoid the 60 – 90 minutes usually required to arrive early enough to secure a seat are:

  • Book a Fantasmic Dinner Package – eat at select table service restaurant (Mama Melrose, Hollywood Brown Derby or the buffet at Hollywood and Vine) for lunch or dinner and receive a VIP pass for reserved seating at Fantasmic.  We’ve done this at Mama Melrose and were offered food choices from a special (abbreviated) menu.  You still need to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to show time.
  • Book a FastPass for Fantasmic.  A FastPass will get you into reserved seating like the dinner package will, but you’ll be using not just one of your three FastPasses of the day, but you’ll be using one of the “Tier 1” FastPasses.  Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot have tiered FastPass systems which allow you to choose only ONE headline attraction with your FastPass choices at that park for the day.  At the Studios, if you burn your Tier 1 FastPass on Fantasmic Wait 1Fantasmic, you will be giving up a FastPass for one of these:  Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock’n’ Roller Coaster, or Beauty and the Beast – Live On Stage.  No WAY would we forfeit either Toy Story or Rock’n’ Roller Coaster for Fantasmic when we don’t much mind waiting in the theater for the show to start.

Can’t decide what to do?  Here are FIVE things to do while waiting for Fantasmic to start:

1.  Snack – Pick up some treats on your way to the theater (best choice) or hit the concession stand near the back of the theater (long lines).  I’ve read posts on message boards about people who make a festive picnic out of their wait-time in the Fantasmic Theater.  Our favorite counter service places in the Studios are not far from the theater down Sunset Blvd.

2.  Play games, look at pictures – Bring some small puzzle books or coloring books and a few crayons.  Play some games on your smartphone.  Review the pictures you took on your digital camera that day and share with the group.

3.  Bring along some glow accessories to share.  You know, like those glow sticks, necklaces, Fantasmic Wait 2and bracelets you can buy at the dollar store?  Buy up a few packages specifically for this purpose.  While waiting for the show to start, break those babies out, tell the people around you that you brought the glow-jewelry just for this purpose and start passing them out all around.  Makes your little corner of the World a little brighter AND you’re sharing and making new friends.  What could possibly be a better use for some spare time than that? (We’ve also done this with bubbles on our Disney Cruises for the Sail Away party – small party bubbles are really easy to pack and SO much fun to share!).  For $25 you can purchase a “Glow With the Show” earhat to wear, but that won’t give you anything to share with your new friends.

4.  People watch – check out the cool Disney shirts and pin-filled lanyards on your fellow Fantasmic Theater-mates.  You can also watch the people who DID spend $25 on a Glow With the Show earhat and see what all the hubbub’s about.  DSCN2615

5.  Our favorite…..Take the SAME picture of your family every time you’re waiting for Fantasmic to start!  Yep – we are the weird family with the strange Disney traditions (like the hat tradition in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion) and this one is just another in a long list.  So, why not.  You too can pick a pose and get busy with the photography – just repeat for every visit.

What’s your favorite way to kill time waiting for Fantasmic to start?

Today’s the Day! Disney Plan-a-Palooza!

Parkhopper PassWow!  It’s like the perfect storm of Disney vacation planning.  Today (a bit later than this post will run) we’ll be making some critical, major, life and death (okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration) decisions that will have a major impact on our Disney-ness for the next year!

Today’s the day our 60 day FastPass+ booking window opens – not gonna lie, it’s stressing me out a bit, but I’ll be okay.  My plan is to hit morning Extra Magic Hours each day they’re available (I know!  Some of you guys swear they’re not worth the trouble of getting up early, but we’re still doing it) then hop to a second park later in the day when the standby lines are too long at the original park, using our precious (measly) three FastPasses at the second park.  I will let you know tomorrow how this FastPass selection scheme works for me and if I score the exact FastPasses I’m after.

The real kicker is that TODAY is also the day we can book the Summer 2015 Disney cruise we Disney Cruise Line Siteintend to take.  Finally after years and years, we’ve reached the GOLD level of Castaway Club (Disney’s “frequent sailing” rewards program) so we can book a day ahead of the general public.  Since Disney Cruise Line just announced YESTERDAY their 2015 summer cruise itineraries, I’ve scrambled around, texting The Fam, combing the internet and trying to figure out exactly what we want.  I believe, unless the sale of a kidney will be involved to finance the trip, we’ve decided on one of the Norwegian Fjord cruises sailing from Copenhagen, Denmark in June.  The Baltic cruises were initially what we thought we wanted, but now we’re nervous about booking a vacation with Russia on the itinerary.  What do you think?

Last bit before I go get busy with the bookings – A cautionary tale for you if you’ve got an upcoming trip to Walt Disney World.  We thought we had it all under control with downloading the My Disney Experience app and linking The Fam – we had no problem whatsoever making our Exchange Certificate for Disney Annual PassADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) at the 180 day mark.  The problems started when we bought tickets.  Raymond ordered two annual passes (the two of us are going back to the World in October, AP’s were the most economical choice for us) and 6-day park-hopper passes for Megan and Joseph.  Easy-peasy, right?  Yeah….no.  Due to the daily purchase limit on a debit card, Raymond knew to order the tickets in two separate purchases on two different days.  No problems with that.  Mail comes Saturday and Raymond’s AP is there (in the form of a card called an “Exchange Certificate”).  We try to link it to Raymond’s Disney account and……nope.  Already linked to someone else (which is actually also Raymond, but he can’t access the ticket).  So, I spent an hour on Sunday morning with the Disney IT support line getting it all straightened out.  Or did I?

Monday in the mail – my “Exchange Certificate” and Megan’s park-hopper arrive…what?  IMG_2531Joseph’s ticket is no where to be found.  It required two more calls to the IT line and one call to the ticket line to resolve the situation.  That’s 4 calls in 3 days in case you lost count.  Especially weird was that on Sunday after I got off the phone with IT support, Raymond’s ticket was clearly attached to his account, but by Monday had disappeared again.  Now, every single person we spoke with was delightful and mostly quite helpful (except for Raymond’s vanishing ticket) – our confidence in the “system” is now a tad tarnished and I think understandably so.

Okay then, off I go!  FastPass selecting and cruise booking!  Keep your fingers crossed, please.  Tomorrow I’ll share the grand plan for May’s trip, so get your critique hat out and dusted off – I’ll be wanting your feedback!  I’ll let you know if the Fjords of Norway are in our future as well.  Wish me luck!