Confessions from Nick at Disney Musings

operaPlease welcome today’s guest, Nick! Nick’s got a great Disney blog with awesome photographs over at Disney Musings – be sure to check it out!

The Most Emotional Hour I Ever Spent at a Disney Park

I’m going to share a secret with you. I’m an emotional guy. When I encounter something that touches me, I lose it. A movie. A song. A bench. What type of bench would make me break down? I’ve actually talked about this very topic in my review of the Walt Disney Family Museum. I sat down on one of the benches from Griffith Park, where Walt would sit and watch his daughters on the carousel. It was on these benches that Walt envisioned a park that families could enjoy together. The act of sitting on a bench that Walt himself likely sat on made me burst into tears. But I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let me take you back to a trip I took to Disneyland back in late September of 2010 with my wife and friends, Todd, Meghan, and our Godson, Flynn. On the last hot afternoon of our 3 day stay at the Grand Californian, the group went back to the  rooms to escape the heat and take a nap. I stayed behind and decided to visit attractions we hadn’t gotten to yet, including Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, located at the Opera House at the front of Disneyland.

Upon entering, I saw this:Bench

The plaque reads: The Actual park bench from the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round in Los Angeles, where Walt Disney first dreamed of Disneyland. Yes, I started to cry. On another plaque nearby, under a picture of the carousel:


Walt Disney’s Dream “It came about when my daughters were very young and Saturday was always Daddy’s day…So we’d start out and try to go someplace…I’d take them to the merry-go-round and I took them different places and as I’d sit while they rode the merry-go-round – sit on a bench, you know, eating peanuts – I felt that there should be something built, some kind of amusement enterprise, where the parents and the children could have fun together. So that’s how Disneyland started.” Walt Disney I started to sob. As there was still 15 minutes until the next Lincoln show, I stepped outside to get air, just as the Flag Retreat Ceremony was starting! This is so patriotic and moving, my crying just intensified.


I finally got it together, somewhat, and entered the theater to see Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Due to knowing that this was an attraction Walt was personally involved with, the patriotic nature of the show, and the moving “2 Brothers” Civil War Segment that people who have visited the American Pavilion in Epcot will be familiar with, I broke into tears once again. I was thankful that my family and friends were not present to see what an emotional wreck I’d become! Happy Anniversary to Disneyland, which opened on this day in 1955, and thank you Walt! -sniff-

For more great Disney stories, reviews, history and more, be sure to follow Nick in all these places:



While I’m at Walt Disney World

Living a Disney LifeIt’s a poor practice to go away and leave things unattended.  There’s risk – it’s not safe.  I care enough about this little Living a Disney Life blog to try to look out for it.  I wouldn’t dream of leaving without making sure the place will be taken care of – Plus, I really care about you guys and I wouldn’t want you to go away empty handed should you happen to stop by while I’m out – you are a great bunch of people – you deserve top shelf reading material!

Keeping all that in mind as The Fam and I pack our bags, fasten on our Magic Bands, and mosey on down to Walt Disney World, I want you to know I’ve invited some friends over to take care of the place while we’re gone – and these are some pretty special friends, too!  While I’m off enjoying a Dole Whip and some churros, riding Expedition Everest and Rock’n’ Roller Coaster, feasting on dinners at Flying Fish and Tutto Italia – I will be leaving your Disney-blog-reading enjoyment in the very capable hands of the following Disney experts:Nick and Barbie - Disney Musings

Nick from Disney Musings Nick and his wife, Barbie are (like most of us) huge fans of all things Disney.  On the Disney Musings blog, Nick, Barbie, and a variety of guests share their Disney travel experiences, tips, reviews and magical memories.  Some of my favorite Disney Musings’ posts are ones where Nick and Barbie let us into their home for glimpses of their amazing collection of Disneyana.  And if it weren’t for Nick, I never would have found Beers and Ears!  Nick is also a contributing writer for Tips from the Disney Diva and Devos.

Heather from Disney for Five+ – One of the things I like most about Heather is that she’s nearly as old as I am and tends to really understand me and all my Disney-ness.  Heather’s blog focuses on tips for taking Disney vacations with large families.  She knows all the best places to stay, eat, and play at Walt Disney World – she posts not only helpful hints and reviews, but also tells great stories.  Speaking of which, Heather also writes books!  You can check out her Amazon author page here.

Rebecca from Disney with Me – Rebecca’s got a sense of humor that just won’t quit and is one of the hardest working people I know.  Like me, Rebecca loves Disney podcasts and is a fellow Muppet fan.  Blog posts on Disney With Me range from podcast reviews to Disney travel advice, reviews of other Disney blogs and more.  Rebecca’s a Disney travel specialist and would be happy (overjoyed, even) to help you plan your next Disney getaway – (see: Fairytale Journeys by Rebecca Kelly on Facebook).

Curtis and Lindsay - Geekin' on WDWCurtis from Geekin’ on WDW Curt and his Daughter, Lindsay, may be the new kids on the Disney Podcast block, but they are seasoned Disney travelers (and DVC members) who love Walt Disney World vacations.  The Geekin’ on WDW Podcast strives to give listeners a way to keep the Disney magic alive between vacations.  Curt and Lindsay share their family’s vacation stories, favorite rides and attractions, most loved restaurants and characters – all wrapped up in charming father/daughter conversations.

See?  I wasn’t kidding, was I.  Besides you, I’ve made some fantastic friends in the Disney community and am over-the-moon excited to have them as guests here while I’m gone.  I’m just sorry I’m going to miss all the fun.  Oh, wait!  I’ll be having a pretty good time myself, won’t I – what’s more fun than a trip to Walt Disney World?  Talk to you when I get back!


Walt Disney World – Must Ride, Will Ride, Once & Done

Peter Pan's FlightI’m completely serious when I say I’m honestly not trying to rub it in.  You know….how I keep reminding you that I’ll be at Walt Disney World all week next week?  I’m not doing it to be mean.  I’m just so rediculously excited!  I keep picturing myself (and The Fam) riding rides, watching shows, eating favorite Disney foods, and so on.  Which gave me a scathingly brilliant idea (as Hayley Mills once said)….

I’ve divided Walt Disney World attractions into three groups:

  • Must Ride – Wouldn’t be a trip to Disney without doing this attraction! * = will ride multiple times if at all possible.
  • Will Ride – Probably not on every trip, but will re-visit the attraction as time allows.
  • Once and Done – Been there, done that and may never feel the urge to do it again.

Toy Story Midway ManiaYour mission should you choose to accept it:  Jump in with comments and tell me how your lists would be different from mine.  I’d be especially interested in knowing WHY you feel the way you do about a particular attraction.  If you think one of my must do’s is a stupid choice, tell me.  If you think one of my once-and-done attractions is a big mistake, speak up!

Here we go:

Must Ride:

Magic KingdomSpaceship Earth

  • Space Mountain*
  • Splash Mountain*
  • Big Thunder Mountain*
  • Haunted Mansion*
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • It’s a Small World
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor


  • Soarin’*
  • Test Track
  • MaelstromIMG_1903
  • Spaceship Earth
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Toy Story Midway Mania*
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror*
  • Rock’n’ Roller Coaster*
  • Star Tours
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • SHaunted Mansion Signtudio Backlot Tour
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular

Animal Kingdom

  • Expedition Everest
  • Kilimanjaro Safari
  • Dinosaur
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Pangani Forrest Exploration Trail
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek

Will Ride:

Magic KingdomBUZZ! Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

  • Dumbo
  • Carousel of Progress
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Prince Charming Regal Carousel
  • Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Hall of Presidents
  • Walt Disney World Railroad


  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
  • O Canada
  • Reflections of China
  • Impressions de FranceMexico Pavilion
  • Living with the Land
  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure
  • The American Adventure
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream
  • The Magic of Disney Animation
  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Beauty and the Beast- Live on Stage

Animal Kingdom

  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Primeval Whirl
  • Flights of Wonder

Once and DoneMad Tea Party

Magic Kingdom

  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • The Barnstormer
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Stitch’s Great Escape
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Liberty Square Riverboat
  • Tom Sawyer Island
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • Swiss Family Tree House


  • Mission: Space
  • Innoventions (East and West)
  • Captain EO
  • The Circle of Life

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • The American Idol Experience (actually have never even been, no desire to go)
  • Lights, Motors, Action – Extreme Stunt Show
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Animal Kingdom

  • TriceraTop Spin
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Affection Section
  • Wildlife Express Train
  • Finding Nemo – The Musical

NOTE:  Three new attractions aren’t ranked yet –

  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

What do your lists look like?  What changes on your ranking.  What did I rank in the “Once and Done” category that I need to revisit?  What’s in your “Once and Done” that I ranked higher?








Walt Disney World for Adults – Choosing a Bag

Medium Backpack for WDWI felt I needed to add a qualifier to this post’s title.  If you’ve got little one’s (especially of the diaper-wearing variety), this article won’t be very helpful – in the end, you’re going to need a bigger bag than any of the ones I’m about to recommend.  I’m also not recommending a specific brand – the three bags featured today ranged from cheap (discount store) to not-so-cheap (upscale outlet mall) to pretty-darned-expensive (major department store).  You can find the perfect bag or bags for your next Walt Disney World vacation at a multitude of stores – brand doesn’t matter.

When choosing a bag for a day of park touring, I take a few things into consideration:

  • What size camera will I be carrying?Wristlet for WDW
  • Will I be going back to the resort mid-day or to dress for dinner or not at all?
  • Will I be toting anything for gathering character autographs?

Once I know the answers to those questions, I can choose from among the three bags I bring along.  They are: the small backpack, the smaller hipster, and the teeny, tiny wristlet.  I know what you’re thinking:  THREE bags?  This chick is bonkers!

All I can say is that after a dozen trips to Walt Disney World, I know what I like.  I like choices!  I don’t carry the same stuff everyday and I don’t want to tote around a larger bag than absolutely necessary.  WDW Park Touring NecessitiesAlso – I want my bag to always fit in the “stuff holder” provided on many rides and attractions.  If I’m not going to be collecting autographs, I don’t want to carry those supplies.  If I’m carrying my super-small camera, I don’t need a big bag.  If I’m not going back to the resort before dinner, I may need supplies for a little hair or make-up refresher.  I like to travel as light as possible and still have everything I need.  See how that works?  You don’t have to have multiple bags, one or two of the perfect size will do.

In EVERY bag, I need to carry:

  • Travel-sized sunscreen
  • Emergency medical supplies (ibuprofen, antacid, band-aids)
  • Smartphone and portable charger
  • Camera

Optional things I may WANT to carry:Small Hipster Bag for WDW

  • Extra pins for trading
  • Photo mats / ornaments / pens (for autographs)
  • Visor and/or hair utensils (I refer to as hairaphernalia, ’cause I’m clever that way)
  • Touch-up supplies like lipstick, oil blotting papers, pressed powder, etc.
  • Rain jacket or poncho (folded tightly)

When packing, I put the unused bags inside each other and they don’t take up much room or weight in my suitcase.  For touring without a bag, see my tips here.

What’s your favorite bag like?  Do you bring multiple options with you?  Do you have any tips to share that I haven’t mentioned?