Make Disney Pin Trading an Adventure

Orange Bird Pin CollectionWe’ve been collecting and trading Disney pins for about 10 years.  On that one visit to Walt Disney World where we first took notice of all the adults and children wearing pin-filled lanyards and saw all the fun and clever pins for sale – well, we jumped right onboard!  Once we figured out how to make pin trading and collecting into a game – like a scavenger hunt, we became even bigger fans!

Yes, I know what you’re thinking – it’s another Disney trick to get you to part with your money – and you have a point.  If you let it, the cost of buying pins can easily amount to a significant chunk of change.  I’ve been to some pin trading events (at WDW resorts and on Cast Member Lanyard - Orange Bird Pin!Disney Cruise Line) and there are people who have spent thousands of dollars and many, many hours accumulating impressive pin collections (I imagine some of them have similar amounts of Beanie Baby or Pokémon items, as well).  All things in moderation is my motto!

Rather than break the bank, our family likes to make Disney pin trading into more of an adventure than a passion.  We each pick out several pins from our existing collection that we’re willing to part with before we leave for Walt Disney World (so we have some to trade away).  We think about any series of pins we have that may be missing one or two pins to complete the set and decide what we’ll be hunting for.  For example – when we were at WDW a coupFlying Orange Bird Pinle of weeks ago, I was looking for the last Orange Bird pin I needed – the “flying” Orange Bird.  Everyone knew what to look for and, like a scavenger hunt, we all looked for that one pin until it was found (by Raymond on a Cast Member’s lanyard in Animal Kingdom). Raymond and Joseph were looking for Jessica Rabbit pins – old or new, to buy or trade – and they managed to find a couple to add to our collection.  Megan just wanted a Frozen pin – any one would do.  This proved the most difficult challenge of all!  After chasing down several leads – most of which were fruitless, we finally found some Olaf pins early one day in Magic Kingdom (I’m sure they sold out later).

Hunting for a particular pin adds another level of fun to a Disney vacation!  Whether at a Disney Olaf PinDisney park or on a Disney cruise, we all get into the spirit of the hunt and, by doing that, we’re able to keep our pin purchases from eating up our entire souvenir budget.

Do you collect or trade Disney pins?  What are your favorite pins to find?

Just getting started with pin trading?  See this post for tips. 



Disney Dining – Flying Fish Cafe

Flying Fish Cafe Menu CoverI’d heard great things about Disney’s Boardwalk (especially the Flying Fish Cafe) for a long time.  I can’t believe it took me so long to finally get there!  The Boardwalk is fantastic!  And the Flying Fish is on par with (or better than) any signature dining experience we’ve had at Walt Disney World.

We took a bus to the Boardwalk from (I think) Magic Kingdom – Old Key West to Magic Kingdom, Magic Kingdom to Boardwalk.  I know we could have actually taken a bus to Epcot, walked through Epcot, exited through the International Gateway and walked on to the Boardwalk – we wanted to be…uhm….fresher than we would have been had we walked all that way.DSCN3950

We dressed a little nicer for the Flying Fish having heard it was similar to places like Jiko or California Grill.  Arriving early enough to check out the Boardwalk area, we were delighted!  Street performers, shops, refreshment stands – there was a lot to enjoy.  We had time to watch a juggling mime and explore a couple of shops before checking in at Flying Fish.  After inquiring about waiting in the bar, we were directed to another place entirely, ensured our flashing buzzer would work at a distance.  We found the Belle Vue Lounge iDisney's Flying Fish Cafe Interiornside a different entrance at the top of a staircase – laid back, relaxed, cool and comfortable…the perfect place to enjoy a pre-dinner beer.  We had just enough time to order and pay the tab – we took the beers with us back downstairs and down the walkway to the Flying Fish when our buzzer went off.

We were seated by a very friendly hostess who informed us that our server would be Bob.  Bob sounds like such a regular name…he is, however, an extraordinary server.  Bob was fantastic from the first moment he arrived at our table to the moment we left the building…he made our dinner at the Flying Fish into something amazing!

Bob explained that the menu is customized weekly based on the freshest ingredients availableFlying Fish Cafe Artisanal Cheeses he made recommendations and described various options and daily specials in a way that made us certain of one fact:  If an old boot were on the menu, Bob would make you want to order it!  We started with appetizers.  Having heard great things about the Artisanal Cheeses, we ordered that to share.  This consisted of five tasting portions of cheeses and accompaniments – cheeses included “Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk”, “Beehive Cheese Creamery ‘SeaHive'”, “Lamb Chopper”, “Midnight Moon Goat Cheese”, and “Flora Nelle”.  Accompaniments included Fig and Almond Torta, Raisins on the Vine, Honeycomb, and a Spiced Spring Melon, Sweet Onion, Golden Raisin and Mandarinquat Chutney.  If you like cheeses and trying new flavor combinations, we highly recommend this delicious and exotic plate of goodness!  Soups, salads, Flying Fish Cafe Menuand other appetizers like calamari, crab cakes, mussels, and vegetarian sushi were also available.

For entrees, Joseph and I decided the Chef’s Special – Thunder Fish (delicious!).  Raymond ordered the Idaho Potato-wrapped Red Snapper and Megan had the Oak-grilled Maine Sea Scallops.  We are a family of seafood lovers, but if your family is not, there are other (non-seafood) options.  When we were there, the menu included Lamb Chops and New York Strip.  Salmon, tuna, and pasta with shrimp were also on the menu. Flying Fish Dinner at the Boardwalk

Normally, we skip dessert in favor of appetizers (we end up too full!) and occasionally pick up something sweet later in the evening.  We were having such an exceptionally good time at the Flying Fish Café, that we lingered as long as we could.  We ordered hot tea and coffee after our meal and Raymond and I split a dessert called “Sinful Dark Chocolate Delice Creation” which had a description so unique we felt we had to try it – “Amaretto-laced Chocolate Mousse, Brownie Torta, Thai Chili-laced Caramel Sauce, Candied Bacon and Dark Chocolate Sorbet”.  Sounds like a LOT going on there, but the flavors blended SO well together and the bacon, welllll – who doesn’t like bacon?  Megan and Joseph had spotted a shop on the Boardwalk earlier that had a Flying Fish Cafe Chocolate Desserthuge candy selection and opted for something there for dessert.

Waddling happily to catch a bus for the return trip to Old Key West, Raymond and I made plans to visit the Flying Fish again.  Megan and Joseph headed back out to the parks to enjoy some more rides.  It was a GREAT evening.

Have you eaten at the Flying Fish Café?  If a meal there is in your plans – ask for Bob!



Disney’s Snow White and Aurora are Getting the Cold Shoulder

Snow White at Walt Disney WorldWell I am outraged.  Insulted even.  Snow White’s Scary Adventure – closed in 2012 – to make room for the Princess Fairytale Hall…are you with me?  Stay with me now…  SNOW WHITE – the very princess whose attraction was removed to make room for her to have her own beautifully appointed, dedicated meet and greet area – has been evicted.  And she’s not alone, her buddy and fellow classic princess, Aurora, is getting the boot as well.  What is going on with THAT?

Many of you have probably already heard this news.  Initially, I was like, oh, okay – the wait for those new princesses from that super popular icy movie is so ridiculous, the situation probably Disney Cruise Line Princess Auroraneeds some sort of solution.  I totally get that a 300 minute wait in Magic Kingdom for ANYTHING (much less some royal upstarts) is a guest services nightmare.  Then…I sorta let that percolate for a bit.  After I stewed on it, I started to simmer…  The simmer reached the boiling point and, frankly, I’m fired up!  C’mon, really?  Snow and Aurora are being “relocated” to make more room for the newcomers – who, at least in this post, shall be left nameless.

I liked that movie – the one with those new chilly girls and their friends, but Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are legends!  They are the princesses I grew up with – they faced off against real Disney Cruise Line Snow Whiteevil villains, hung in there with unfailingly positive attitudes, won the hearts of their own true loves and lived happily ever after!  What did these two interlopers do that can hold a candle to that, I ask you?  Dealt with sibling and self-image issues while both destroying then fixing their own kingdom.  Sure, they had some laughs along the way, but I’m not sure they’re all good for the long run.  Snow and Aurora?  They’ve got their acts together!

Now, according to this WDW News Today report, two of the most iconic, lovely, wonderful Disney Princesses have been relegated to, well, basically the street corner.  Hmfff.

Don’t leave a comment unless you totally agree with me.  I’m mad and can’t be trusted to be cordial or hospitable.  My sunny, happy self should return soon…at least I hope so.  Don’t say it!  I know what you’re thinking!  I’m sure I will, someday soon, be able to…..


Let it go.

Disney’s Kali River Rapids – You’ll Get WET (or will you?)

Disney's Animal Kingdom EntranceI’ve mentioned several times before, but it bears repeating – Disney’s Animal Kingdom is NOT a half-day park.  If you think so, you’re not giving Animal Kingdom the time and appreciation it deserves.  You make me mad, you half-day person.  You should go away from here now – we don’t see eye to eye, so kindly remove your eyes from this blog.  Of course, I mean that in the nicest way possible under the circumstances.

Still here?  Love Animal Kingdom as a FULL DAY experience?  Good!  Me too.  Let’s talk about Kali River Rapids, want to?  I like Kali River Rapids in general – well themed, great queue, fun ride (most of the time).  There’s a tiny detail that always gives me pause, though – you may ride it oneView of Kali River time and barely get a drop of water on you…but, ride it again and you may get completely soaked from head to toe!  It’s a risky proposition, that ride.  Lots of times I think I’ll ride it, then chicken out because of the uncertainty.  Still, on our last visit to Animal Kingdom, I was fully committed to riding everything except the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch – if I want to go there, Animal Kingdom becomes more than a full day park for me!

So, back to Kali…

Kali River RapidsI wanted to film our trip down the rapids with my new GoPro camera.  I like the experience of riding in the round raft and I like making friends (or at least trying to) with our fellow passengers.  I don’t like being soaked and especially don’t like wet shoes (which you are NOT allowed to remove for the ride, by the way).  So as we made our way through the ride’s queue (it has some of the best, most beautiful details in all of Animal Kingdom!) I dug our rain ponchos out of my backpack and handed them out all around.  As we approached the boarding platform, we all suited up, so to speak, and took our seats.

There’s a bar around the boat’s middle section you can put your feet on – don’t know if that Animal Kingdom's Kali River Rapidshelps keep them dry or not, but it makes me feel more prepared.  Since I was wearing my poncho over my backpack, I didn’t feel the need to store it in the bin provided in the middle of the boat, but the bin is there if you need it.  GoPro at the ready, we found ourselves in the boat with a couple of other families who were really friendly and nice and gave me permission to film them knowing I’d put the video on YouTube.  I made a joke as we left the dock – you can hear it on the video – I joked that we were the people who were going to stay dry since we were wearing ponchos while everyone else was going to get wet.

Kali River Rapids BoatIn the end, WE were the ones on the side of the boat that got completely drenched.  Thank goodness we were wearing ponchos and had the hoods up!  My shorts were somewhat wet – as was the front of my hair, but in no way was I as completely soaked to the skin as I would have been without proper protection.  SO glad we’d come prepared!  The best part was this frog that hitched a ride during the big splash and ended up jumping right on me which was really funny.

Have you ever ridden Kali River Rapids?  What did you think of the experience?  Which side of the boat were you on?