Top Five Things About Being a 50 Year Old Disney Fan

Med Cruise 2013 Camera 003It’s good to be me.  Born in 1964, I share a birthday with some of Walt Disney’s best productions.  It’s a Small World and Carousel of Progress ring a bell? We are the same age.  Old?  Heck no, we’re classics!  So, here we are in 2014…on November 16th, it’ll be official – I’ll have reached the half-century mark.  Clearly I’m comfortable with that (I’m freely admitting it right here for you to read) and it’s true what they say, you know, you’re only as old as you feel.  I feel great.  Gravity’s effects excluded, the original parts are holding up pretty well and I’m pretty low maintenance.  I exercise regularly and try to eat right.  In the marriage arena, I’m a winner!  We will reach a marital milestone this year, too – 25th anniversary’s coming up on September 9th.

So, those of you who are in your twenties or thirties who are reading this and thinking – She’sDisney Fans at 50 and 60 clearly delusional – that chick is OLD!  Go right ahead, you young whippersnappers – Believe what you will.  Sure, I have a few gray hairs and a couple of crows’ feet, but I’ve earned them!  I don’t mind being “old” – I’m seasoned, well informed, wise even.  I KNOW things now in a way I could only dream about way back when.  We’ve raised our kids (who we love more than they’ll ever know) and we did a great job with that!  They’re delightful, happy productive members of society and they love all things Disney!  What more could we ask for?

For those of you who haven’t yet reached this incredibly special and rewarding phase of life and may be concerned about what it will be like, I give you…

The Top 5 Things About Being a 50-Year-Old Disney Fan:

The Day My Disney Life Began

1. Back to Pre-Kid Status, but Smarter! We’re DINKs again (Dual Income No Kids), but now we can spend money on Disney vacations in a more sensible, guilt-free way.  The first time around we were in the super lean years – we did much more dreaming than doing (wouldn’t change a thing about that) and enjoyed Disney mostly in the form of movies, videos, toys and games.  Visits to Walt Disney World were such a treat – and difficult to manage.  Now we’ve earned our “money management” badges and make better choices day to day – resulting in better Disney vacations year to year.

2. The Many Forms of Disney Vacations!  We’ve learned to appreciate all kinds of Disney trips.  We love Disney Cruise Line and have enjoyed many different cruises of various lengths.  We’ve experienced Walt Disney World at Value, Moderate, and Deluxe- resorts, and as DVC Members.  We enjoyed every nanosecond of every Disney Walt Disney World, 1996vacation – I’ll be honest, at one time, we were seriously broke!  Staying on-property at all was a BIG DEAL!  A special, hard earned luxury.  I guess that’s why we still feel that way.  Now, though, we can slow down more and appreciate those little Disney details…incredible.

3. ‘Ohana Means Family – Having “adult” (I still picture them as little) children means we can occasionally vacation without them and they’ll house-sit and dog-sit (our beloved dog, Junior, doesn’t fare well at a kennel).  We LOVE taking The Fam with us on trips, but now that we no longer have our vacations dictated by school schedules, Raymond and I can get away for some alone time.  We deserve it.

Family at Walt Disney World, 20124. The Standby Lines are GREAT!  When you remove the potential for childhood melt-downs, diaper changes, and whining – and you enjoy time alone with your family away from the stresses of everyday life, the standby lines are FUN!  We enjoy each other’s company – time stands still and we can talk…really TALK…reminisce about past happy times at Walt Disney World, contemplate the meaning of specific aspects of various Disney Imagineering marvels, have some serious Hidden-Mickey-spotting competitions – you name it.  If you love the company you’re keeping, the standby lines go by much faster and actually become happy memories in and of themselves.

5. SO Much to Look Forward To!  Okay, I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss the fun Disney things you can do with little kids.  Character meals, princess meet and greets, parades, hanging out by the pool – we DO look forward to the future when we may be fortunate enough to be blessed with grandchildren (some day…not too soon, though).  Thinking about the potential of having a child to love as your own but being able to spoil them rotten…well, that would just be about the very best thing imaginable.  Especially at Walt Disney World!!!

So, I’ll tell you again…it’s good to be me!  I’m about to be 50 and I’m proud to say it.  If you’ve been worried about being old like me, put those fears aside – I can’t find a downside here.  I’m a Disney fan who grew up with ALL the best Disney things and I still have plenty of time to experience the next 50 years of… Living a Disney Life.

Leave a comment – what will you do when YOU are a 50 year old Disney fan?



16 Best Things About Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom's Tree of LifeSweet 16!  Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom is celebrating its anniversary this week and in honor of such a special occasion, I thought I’d share some thoughts on what I love about this oh-so-much-more-than-a-half-day park.

16 BEST Things (both great and small) about Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

1. Tracks! Take an occasional look down while you’re walking around and you’ll see animal tracks and leaf prints in the pavement.  This tiny detail adds to the feeling that you’re in the wilds of Asia and Africa and it’s just pretty darned cool!IMG_1116

2. Naked Mole Rats (g’head and say nekkid if you like, I do) – They’re really pretty disgusting, but SO interesting!  Find these gross yes undeniably riveting critters on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail (Africa).

3. Kilimanjaro Safari – My love for this attraction can be found here.  It’s just awesome! That is all.

4. Foliage – The trees and plants in Animal Kingdom are cultivated to perfection!  Lush, exotic Animal Kingdom Foliageand perfectly overgrown to add to each area’s theme in a way that is pretty much taken for granted and underappreciated – it’s SO good, you just don’t really think about it.  A lot of work goes into perfecting the live backdrops for each area and attraction. Pay more attention next time you’re there, okay?

5. DiVine – Speaking of greenery!  DiVine details can be found here.  Please don’t miss her next time you find yourself following my advice (see #4).

6. Gorillas – The highlight of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail (Africa section), this exhibit (two troops of lowland gorillas) is absolutely amazing.  Patience during crowded times pays off – I Gorilla at Disney's Animal Kingdomcalmly and quietly wait for an opportunity to zoom in and get some incredible pictures.  In the morning, when the gorillas are most active, it’s just fun to watch them go about their day.

7. Festival of the Lion KingCurrently closed for relocation to a new theater and scheduled to reopen later this year. This show is a must-do for our family.  Wonderful songs, super costumes and tumble monkeys!  Who could ask for more? Go see it and you’ll understand it’s greatness.

8. Tigers – Just as the gorillas are my favorite animals along the Pangani Forest trail, tigers are, to me, the best part of the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Animal Kingdom’s Asia section.  The tigers are gorgeous and appear close enough to touch!  Great photo ops abound in this beautiful area.

9. Perfect Theming – In every area, every building, every ancient ruin – there’s just no Boat on the Water in Animal Kingdombetter overall perfection in theming than you will find in Animal Kingdom.  It’s nothing short of genius!

10. Conservation – Disney’s commitment to animal conservation is apparent throughout the park, but is particularly prominent at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.  Lots of folks skip this area of the park, but it’s well worth the time and effort to make a visit (take the Wildlife Express Train to get there).  This one area of the park can take 1-2 hours or more to give it the attention it deserves. No, there are no thrill rides or shows here, but you can see veterinarians in action taking care of injured animals or just performing routine medical exams.  It’s the “backstage” area for the park’s animal care Expedition Everest - the Queueactivities.  If stuff like that interests you, you’ll like it.

11. The Queue for Expedition Everest – It’s not only my favorite thrill ride in the world, it’s my favorite standby line.  I’ve been through it literally dozens of times and can still spot something new every time.  No FastPass? It’s all good.  Go standby on this one and take it all in.

12. The Music – No matter where you go in the park, the music is just wonderful.  If you get the chance to catch a live performance, even better!

13. The Tree of Life – 14 stories tall, this is an absolute marvel!  The joy of walking around the tree to study all the animal figures that make up the trunk, roots, and branches is indescribable.

14. Dinos in Dinoland – This may not be my favorite section of the park, but I’m still thrilled byDinoland Dino the replicas of dinosaur skeletons on display.  I remember how exciting it was when Sue was discovered in 1990 – the most complete T-Rex skeleton ever found – replicated for your viewing pleasure right there in Dinoland.

15. The Cast Members – Yes, they’re top notch at all the parks, but particularly so at Animal Kingdom.  Throughout the day (and especially at the front of the park when it first opens), you’ll find interesting and passionate Cast Members – each holding a small animal – ready to let you take a look while they fill you in on anything you’d like to know about the little creature in their care.

16. Expansion!  Even if you’re still not sure about the whole Avatar thing, if you’re an Animal Kingdom fan, you’ve got to believe that expansion is good!  Think about all the cool stuff that could happen when the park stays open later – the nighttime safari, shows, and c’mon – deep down inside you’re curious about how Pandora will turn out.  Personally, I can’t wait!

You’ll notice I didn’t mention any food!  I do think Animal Kingdom offers a wide variety of delicious food, I just couldn’t settle on any particular items to make it onto the list.  Go ahead and shout out some food love in a comment!

If you’re a big fan of Animal Kingdom (like ME!), be sure to check out the Radio Harambe Podcast!

An entertaining and informative Animal Kingdom fan site is Jambo Everyone check them out if you have a minute.

What are your favorite things in Animal Kingdom?  Were any on the list? 





Walt Disney World – Tips for Going Bagless

Waiting for Toy Story Midway ManiaThink how much time you’d save if you could avoid the bag check lines at Walt Disney World park entrances!  Be among the first to ride Toy Story Midway Mania before the standby line is more than 60 minutes long!  I often spend a day or two traveling light – footloose and bag-free – on my vacation and, unless you’re still in the diaper bag phase of life, with a little careful planning and the right wardrobe choices, you too can waltz right on in and bypass those nice folks at the bag-check tables.

You will need pockets for this to work.  I divvy up all the items we need to carry among everyone in our group – Cargo shorts, skorts, capris – whatever you like – the more pockets the Travel Sunscreenbetter!

TEN Small Things (to help you tour bag-free):

1 & 2) Mini sunscreen and lip balm – these two are absolute necessities.  Applying the first coat of sunscreen liberally before leaving your room in the morning is a must.  After lunch, a quick touch-up helps ensure you remain burn-free.  Lip balm with a high (at least 30) SPF or a clear zinc stick for lips and face is a great investment!

3) Small camera, no case – Just carry it around by the strap and snap away!

Small Digital Camera4) Pins for trading – Love Disney pin trading?  It’s not comfortable to always have a pin-filled lanyard around your neck all day – especially on days without breaks or super-hot, humid ones.  On a bag-free day, pin a few pins on a cap or visor or just pocket a couple for emergency trading purposes.

5 & 6) Cap and sunglasses – When the summer sun is beating down, I must have at least a visor and some shades.  Added bonus with the cap – no need to worry about carrying any hair styling tools – nobody’s going to see your hair!

7 & 8) Cell phone (and portable charger) – If you plan on frequenting your My Disney Experience mobile app to keep up with, book, or change your FastPass+ selections and ADRs, you will want a portable charger (around $40) or be tied to a charging station for a period of time.  The chargers are usually about the same size as a cell phone – easy to carry and use on the fly.Travel Bandages

9) $2.50 – more figurative than literal, this item refers to the fact that being bag-free comes with a price…in this case, the price of a bottle of water.  I like bottled water versus any other beverage on a hot day.  When I’ve opted not to bring any drinks or snacks into the park with me, I’ve got to suck it up and pay for them.  I’m okay with that.  Sometimes you spend a little money to save a little time.

10) Bag of first aid/medical necessities.  We have a small plastic container that works well, but we’ve also used a mini-ziplock bag to hold an assortment of “in case of emergency” items – travel packs of ibuprofen, antacid, bandages, blister relief etc.  This tiny first aid kit fits easily into a pocket (and has come in handy many times).

Believe it or not, we’ve also carefully (and aggressively!) folded rain ponchos to fit into cargo pocketsCargo Pocket as well!  I still take a small backpack on many days to carry water, snacks, and character autograph items and pens, but from time to time, I just want to get a jump on the day.  Sometimes, no matter how light the bag is, it just feels like a burden and I need a break!  Whatever your reasons for wanting to be bag-free, I hope you found some useful tips here today.

What are your best suggestions for leaving a bag behind?





It’s a Small World, Carousel of Progress, and Me

1964 World's Fair PlateI’m proud to say that It’s a Small World, the Carousel of Progress and I all made our debuts in 1964.  While, technically speaking, I did not attend the New York World’s Fair – my mom took me there (sort of, I was due to arrive later in the year) along with my dad, brother, and two sisters.  I’m sure the wonder and excitement of the fair exhibits helped distract my folks from the (shocking?) fact that they’d soon be starting over, welcoming a fourth child into the family when their three other children were 9, 10, and 13 – but I digress.

The fair made a big impression on my family.  My mom talked about it from time to time often over the years and my sister still has a gorgeous souvenir plate and clearly remembers experiencing It’s a Small World at the fair.  Walt Disney’s influence was huge!  Four of the fair’s exhibits had a tremendous impact on the future of Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  Today’s Disney vacations would not be the same had Walt Disney’s Imagineering wonders not had the sponsorship and presence in New York in 1964.

 “Pepsi Presents Walt Disney’s ‘It’s a Small World'” – a Salute to UNICEF and the World’s Dolls from It's a Small WorldChildren” – This boat ride around the world to the Sherman Brothers’ famous tune delighted visitors.  All the dolls had the same face and they played and sang as they promoted international unity.

In a ride design that would later become the People Mover, Ford’s Magic Skyway was designed by WED Imagineering.  Motorless Ford convertibles moved along a track and took visitors past displays depicting animatronic dinosaurs and cavemen.  So much of this exhibit would become future attractions!

The future Hall of Presidents was started with the World’s Fair’s “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” in the Illinois pavilion.  Royal Dano provided the voice for Honest Abe as he recited Mr. Lincoln’s famous speeches.

“There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” – also by the Sherman Brothers, was the theme song for General Electric’s Progressland.  Inside the Carousel of Progress, visitors followed along as the progress of electricity in the family home was demonstrated by animatronic figures.

The marvelous wonders on display at the fair had staying power!  Clearly Walt Disney thought a great deal about what he had seen and learned from the experience – Epcot Center was originally built to showcase much of the same types of attractions and exhibits as the World’s Fair, which focused on the future of technology in daily life.  The fair also had a “World Showcase” of sorts featuring many countries including Spain, Vatican City, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Pakistan, Thailand, Philippines, Austria, Greece, Japan, Mexico and more! The fair’s “Unisphere” looks very much like the globe we see in “Illuminations, Reflections of Earth”.

Recently, the New York Times published a great look back.  Fifty Years After the New York World’s Fair, Recalling a Vision of the Future.

Did you or your family attend the 1964 New York World’s Fair?  What memories or souvenirs do you (or they) have?