Disney’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Again

RM-7DMT-RocksAbout six months ago, I visited the Magic Kingdom’s newly expanded Fantasyland to ride the much touted and highly anticipated Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  During that first experience I was admittedly underwhelmed.  I’m 100% certain is was due all the build up and hoopla leading up (for a couple of years) to the ride’s opening and the subsequent realization that it is, in spite of all that hype, still a kiddie coaster.

I like to believe I’m a fair person and am pretty self-aware.  I knew I’d had my expectations too high for those poor Dwarfs and their train – the ride is literally two minutes long.  How much pizazz was I expecting in 120 seconds?  I rode it once and, boom! just like that, it was over.  I had to give the attraction a second chance.  A do-over.  A mulligan, if you will.  The second time, I’d know the ride’s length and what to expect so I could pay much closer attention to each and every detail.

While first impressions may make or break a relationship – not so with Disney attractions, I’m happy to report!  Attitude adjustment and FastPass+ firmly in hand, we made our way into the Seven Dwarf’s queue – it was a hot day and a couple of Cast Members were handing out cups of ice water to guests as they entered the attraction (nice touch!).  Remembering the somewhat tricky lap bar (be careful not to pull it down too far – it’s easy to do because it “glides” into place and stays there).  We climbed into our train car and waited for clearance to go.SevenDwarfsLoading

On the first ride, I was disappointed by how “firm” the cars were.  Rather than freely swinging from side to side as I’d expected, they felt stiff and barely moved.  By the second try, I noticed right away there was a lot more movement adding just the right amount of extra action to what is an amazingly smooth and quiet ride.RM-7DMT-Train1

When the train slowed down to enter the mine, I was ready!  I took in many more of the details the second time around.  This part of the ride is just fantastic!  The change from outdoor coaster, riding through the trees and hills, to a slow trip past the Dwarfs as they work is what makes this attraction so unique.  If you’ve not ridden this coaster before, be sure to pay close attention to this part!RM-7DMT-Train2

I still didn’t get a good look into the Dwarf’s cottage at the end of the ride, but did notice a few more details that I’d missed before.  I guess I’ll just have to ride it again next time I visit the Magic Kingdom.  Since we’d purchased Memory Maker, we got the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train video as a souvenir and it’s very adorable.

Have you ridden Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? What did you think of it?


My Disney Best of 2014

Memory Maker Photo in Disney's Hollywood StudiosWhat a great year this has been!  I’d been looking forward to 2014 and it did not disappoint.  I can hardly believe it’s almost over!  Two trips to Walt Disney World – one of them a second honeymoon – and a full year of blogging about my love for all things Disney made for a great big bunch of fun!  Just in the last few weeks, even more exciting things have happened.  I could gush about the blessings of 2014 forever, but I want you guys to hang in with me all the way to the end of the list, so I’ll narrow my happy moments down to ten of the very best!

My Disney Best of 2014

10. Best Disney Recipe at Home – I had trying a couple of recipes on this year’s Disney New Year’s Resolutions list.  Hands down, those Maui Potatoes (formerly of ‘Ohana fame) were the most delicious Disney delicacy produced in my kitchen with my own little hands.'Ohana Cheesy Potatoes in Process 1

9. Most Popular Reviews – I wrote blog posts about a wide variety of topics, but by far the most popular of all those posts were the reviews of Disney’s Memory Maker.  We totally blew it on the first go (review here), but gave it another chance after we learned some important lessons and totally got our money’s worth on the second try.Character Meet-and-Greet with Sully

8. Most Relaxing Disney Moment – It was a tremendous, extravagant splurge, but worth every penny – the massage for two in the Senses Spa at the Grand Floridian.RM-Grand-Floridian-Senses-Sign

7. Best Disney Meal – This is TOUGH!  Raymond and I enjoyed Citricos (Grand Floridian) more than I can say, but because Megan and Joseph were with us for this incredible dining experience, I’m going to have to say the Flying Fish (Boardwalk) takes the top spot in this category.  The atmosphere, the food, and the service (Bob!) were all impeccable.  We couldn’t have had a better time anywhere on or off Disney property.Flying Fish Cafe Artisanal Cheeses

6. Best Disney Purchases – I bought some limited edition t-shirts and some great new pins and they were all pretty darn special, but my best Disney purchases this year were the new Christmas ornaments Raymond and I picked out together at Disney’s Days of Christmas in Downtown Disney.  We had a great time choosing just the right mementos of our vacation then enjoyed the memories those ornaments brought to mind as we decorated our tree.Haunted Mansion Mickey Ornament

5. Best Disney Snack – I’m only making this a category because I threw myself into Disney snack consumption this year with gusto!  I’m still reeling over the number of snacks I purchased and consumed in the name of research.  It’s no wonder I gained a few extra pounds!  The winner has to be the Croissant Donut (a.k.a. Cronut) from Epcot’s Refreshment Port.  It’s the perfect snack food…but not for sharing.IMG_3812

4. Best New Disney Endeavor: Hosting a New Podcast – If you haven’t heard, The Disney Exchange is a brand new Disney podcast.  Episodes 1 and 2 are available from all your favorite podcast sources.  Listen to me.  Really, go download an episode and listen to me and my buddies Nick and Dave while we debate, argue, laugh, and joke our way through discussions of our favorite Disney topics.  With over 80 years of combined Disney travel experience between the three of us, sooner or later we’re bound to say something useful to someone somewhere.  In the mean time, I am having a blast!TheDisneyExchangeLogo

3. Priceless Family Vacation Moments – It’s pretty challenging to coordinate schedules and get the four of us on vacation together, but we pulled it off in 2014 (and will do it one more time in 2015).  Those of you with small children will wonder if Disney vacations lose their magic when your kids grow up and I’m happy to tell you that in our family at least, Disney vacations have just gotten more fun.  I savored every moment of our May vacation, but enjoyed the evening meals we shared together the most.  Being together in the place where we’ve had so much fun through the years and created so many happy memories – looking across the table at our children and seeing the fun, happy, productive, well-adjusted adults they’ve become was indescribably special.Meg and Joe at Disney's Hollywood Studios

2. Best Disney-Induced Euphoria – Feeling Like a Kid Again – Even though I was about to turn 50 and Raymond had just turned 60, when the two of us were at Disney World in October, we were kids again.  We didn’t have to be anything to anyone, we just were.  Relaxed, go-with-the-flow, joking around, trying new things, meeting new people, doing what we wanted, when we wanted, soaking up the Disney magic and the joy of each other’s company.  It’s good to be married to your best friend – especially one who loves Disney as much as you do!Magic Shot at MNSSHP

1. Best Disney Gift – New Friends – I’ve said it many times this year in many different ways, but the Disney fan community is just amazing.  I’ve met some of the nicest, funniest, most caring people you could possibly imagine.  If I could change anything about this year, I would have used pixie dust to bring us all together at Disney World so I could meet everyone face to face!  I was lucky enough to meet Nick and Barbie (Disney Musings) and Jane and Heather (fellow Disney Divas) and a couple of dozen other fantastic folks, but there are scores of friends yet to meet!  Hello 2015!!!RM-Barbie-Nick-Lisa

What’s on your list?  What were your best Disney moments of 2014?

Disney’s Into the Woods – My Review

RM-Into-the-Woods-StubsInto the Woods…I got lost. Somehow, after being really excited to see Disney’s film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical, I was left wondering, “What happened?” A couple of years ago, Megan had watched a video of the musical in its original form (for a school paper) and I remember her talking about what an impression it had made – she thought it was fantastic! Long before the movie’s Christmas Day release, she’d talked it up and made sure our plans included an excursion to see Into the Woods. After the movie was over – before we even left the theater, Megan was kind enough to explain what caused my confusion – there’s a disconnect between the first and second acts of the film that does not exist in the stage version.

I didn’t dislike the film. There were many terrific parts – some dramatic, some hilarious, a lot dark as the story does not soften the occasionally brutal aspects of the original fairy tales from which the plot is constructed. In particular, the song “Agony”, a duet by the story’s two princes, is exceptionally well done. The casting is top notch and every character’s performance is rock solid. I confess I wasn’t expecting some of the darker plot twists…maybe that’s what threw me. Having not seen or read anything about the storyline, I was left dismayed a time or two wondering just where we were going and how much longer it was going to take.

I’m a huge fan of musicals.  I actually once saw Yul Brynner himself in The King and I and it stands out as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Having grown up attending St. Louis’s Muny Opera as often as possible, I count musical theater as one of my most favorite forms of entertainment. Into the Woods did not disappoint musically.  It was Christmas, I was tired – maybe that made me less accepting of the story’s life lessons and stark illustration of what living happily ever after may really mean.  I cannot fault the music or the actors’ performances, or even the storyline, so the fault with not enjoying Into the Woods as much as I’d hoped must lie with me alone.  I wanted more lighthearted entertainment for Christmas.

Have you seen Into the Woods?  What did you think about the movie? Would I have enjoyed it more if I’d seen the stage version first?

Disney Attraction Review: Rock’n’ Roller Coaster

Today’s installment of “Saturday’s With Nick” offers a terrific review of one of my favorite rides.  I always loving hearing a different perspective on Disney attractions, don’t you?  Enjoy!

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by: Nick

I never considered myself a big Aerosmith fan. Sure, I liked some of their early hits, like Sweet Emotion, Walk This Way, Dream On and Back in the Saddle, but never bought one of their albums, tapes, or CDs. And I really wasn’t a fan of their newer stuff.
But all that changed within the last few years.
I blame age.
My musical tastes have evolved, (though I’m still not a ballads guy).
With age has also come motion sickness.
What does any of this have to do with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you may ask?
Well, because of my lack of interest in Aerosmith, and because of motion sickness, I avoided riding this roller coaster for years.
What prompted me to get on?
Curiosity. I wanted to see if I could handle it. And you know what? I could!
But enough of all this! Let’s go on the ride!

After walking through the queue, guests enter the offices and recording studios of record label G-Force Records. The lobby is decorated with posters, rock memorabilia, and vintage recording equipment.

You then enter a room looking into the recording studio, where the five members of Aerosmith are shown working on a recording.
The group’s manager then comes in and tells the the band that they’re late for their own concert.

Lead singer Steven Tyler insists that all us fans get backstage passes to the show. The band then departs by limousine, and the manager calls for a “super stretch” to get us to the concert.

We then walk through an alley into a parking garage, owned by “Lock ‘n’ Roll Parking Systems” where we board a waiting 24 seat stretch limo for the trip across town to the event.

After loading passengers, the “limo” stops at the entrance to a tunnel.

Music is playing and an overhead sign displays a series of several different messages before a countdown. After the countdown, the car is then shot into the tunnel at 60 miles per hour.

The roller coaster goes through a series of inversions, passing signs that represent various Los Angeles Area Freeways like Interstate 5 and U.S. Route 101.
Different Aerosmith songs play, depending on which limo you get.

The ride ends when the limo arrives at the backstage of the concert venue.

I really enjoy this ride, it is very smooth, which is why I believe it doesn’t get me motion sick, and I can now enjoy Aerosmith songs in a way I couldn’t before, because they’re songs bring happy thoughts of a thrill ride I can actually go on!
I still haven’t bought any of their recordings, and for that I apologize to the members of the band who are doubtless fans of this blog!