Disney Photos – 5 Great Editing Apps

RM-Army-man-selfieSeems like no matter how many cameras I take on vacation, I end up using the camera on my phone the most.  I think it’s the immediate gratification I get from viewing and sharing pictures right away.  Not to mention how fun a great selfie is now and again.  Sometimes I need to edit a good picture to make it a great one.  Sometimes I just want to add a caption or a frame or make a collage of some related images…luckily, there are apps for that!  I want to share a few of my favorites with you today.  Some are super simple and easy to use, some take a bit of practice, but each app puts great picture-editing tools right at your fingertips.  Best of all, they’re all free for at least the basic versions.

Disney Photos – 5 Great Editing Apps

Instagram – It’s not just a social media/picture-and-video sharing place.  It also has wicked-cool editing tools that are easy and incredibly fun to use.  Instagram also lets you quickly share with your other social media sites, so I can create a masterpiece and tweet about it or post it straight to Facebook!  Here are some examples of my favorite Instagram-edited pictures (see all of them and follow me here):RM-Spaceship-Earth RM-Expedition-Everest RM-Dwarfs RM-Disney's-Hollywood-Studios-Entrance RM-BTMRR RM-Animal-Kingdom-Boat

Snapseed –  This one’s relatively new to me and I’m still practicing.  I do see tremendous potential and love the results I’m getting so far.  What I like about this app is the richness is adds to certain pictures in a way I can’t quite achieve with other apps.  Read the review that convinced me to give Snapseed a try here.  Some of my best efforts with Snapseed so far:RM-Christmas-Junior RM-HalloWishes RM-Maleficent

Typic – If I could use this app to its fullest, I could do some amazing things!  As it is, I fumble with it just enough to produce acceptably cute results.  As with several of these apps, I tend to use photos I’ve already enhanced with Instagram first, then add frames and words in Typic.  I bet some of you with more creativity and better vision could really go crazy with this app.  (See more in this review.)  Clearly, I’m barely scratching the surface, but I very quickly and simply used Typic on these shots:RM-Epcot-Thanksgiving RM-Junior-Hallmark-Fan RM-Kermit-Christmas RM-Bay-Lake-Tower-Sunrise

PhotoGrid – Fun and easy to use, this is my go-to collage making app, but you can also do some creative things with single pictures.  It’s fun and easy to pull a few photos together, plus there are some pretty neat filters available to enhance the finished product. (Detailed app review here.)  RM-Disney-Joe RM-Disney-Pizza-Ornament RM-Donald-Festival-of-Fantasy RM-Singing-Busts-CollageRhonna Designs – The free, basic package included in this app is packed with thousands of ways to enhance your pictures.  While some features are easy to figure out, others are a bit more challenging.  I love the video tutorials available for help!  This one app could keep me busy for hours.  Scrapbook fanatics must think they’ve gone to heaven.  I’ve had this app for a long time and I haven’t used it as much or as well as I should – New Year’s Resolution time!RM-Christmas-Junior RM-Happily-Ever-After RM-Fantasyland RM-Castle-Christmas RM-Believe-Mask RM-Believe-ChalkWhich of these apps are you using?  Have any others to share?  What about your favorite features, tips, and tricks?  I’d love to hear them.



Best Walt Disney World Foods of 2014

Pineapple Dole WhipI did extensive research to come up with this list of food!  See, no sacrifice is too great for you and I’m carrying around a few extra pounds to prove it.  I made the most of the two-weeks-worth of Disney food consumption opportunities I had in 2014 and now organizing my thoughts on my favorite flavors and experiences is more challenging than I thought it would be.  Since we rarely eat out for breakfast (we bring granola bars from home), listing foods by meal is out.  I’m going with four categories:  Quick Service, Table Service, Snacks, and Food & Wine Booth Foods.  This is going to be fun!  Surely I’m not alone in the fact that when I think about Walt Disney World, I think about food first!

Best Walt Disney World Foods of 2014

Quick ServiceRM-Be-Our-Guest-Stained-Glass

Overall Experience:  Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom) – While I was not thrilled with the French Onion Soup or dessert, I was completely happy with the hearty and delicious braised pork (with mashed potatoes and green beans).  Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie and the details in Be Our Guest take you right into the movie in a way only Disney magic can create.  This restaurant offers quick service for lunch and table service for dinner.  After trying both, I highly recommend lunch over dinner.IMG_3779

Runner Up: Gaston’s Tavern (Magic Kingdom) – The roasted pork shank is incredibly delicious.  The décor is pure Gaston!

Table Service

Disney's Flying Fish Cafe InteriorOverall Experience:  Flying Fish Café – the food and service stand out above all the other places we enjoyed this year.  And that’s saying a lot!  We certainly enjoyed our dinners at Sanaa, Citricos, and California Grill, but there was something special about the Flying Fish.  We loved the location (on the Boardwalk), the atmosphere in the dining room, and the top shelf service.  The food was delicious.  From the artisanal cheese appetizer to the decadent chocolate dessert (with bacon on top!), everything was perfect.

Raglan Road RisottoRunner Up:  Raglan Road – a perennial favorite for the food, atmosphere, and entertainment.  This year’s visit was especially outstanding.  Not a place for a quiet meal, it’s a little rowdy and a lot of fun.

Snacks – I consumed a LOT of snacks!  Strictly for research purposes.  It had to be done and I was up to the challenge.  Here are the winners!IMG_3812RM-Epcot-Italy-Gelato-Affogato

Sweet Snack (It’s a TIE!):  Croissant Donut (a.k.a. Cronut) from Epcot’s Refreshment Port and Espresso Gelato “Affogato” from the Italy Pavilion.  I couldn’t choose a favorite between these two.  I loved them both the same.  One’s a warm, flaky, cinnamon-sugar-covered morsel from heaven.  The other’s cold and refreshing with a punch of espresso and cookies on top!  I’ll have to try them both again on my next visit to Epcot and see if that’ll break the tie.

IMG_3355Savory SnackJalapeno Cheese Pretzel:  We enjoyed this surprisingly delicious treat in Animal Kingdom.  The blend of flavors was just right to make it a perfect salty snack.

Food & Wine Booths – We tried as much as we could and loved nearly everything we ate.  There were many more winners than losers in our taste-testing and not a single dish went unfinished.  Picking ONE best dish is very difficult, but if I have to…

RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Crispy-Pork-BellyBrazil’s Crispy Pork Belly – If you read about our experiences at the Food & Wine Festival, you’ll remember how much we loved this treat.  A nice bit of “bacon” served on a bed of black beans.  Simple yet scrumptious.

RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Pepper-Bacon-HashRunner Up:  Pepper Bacon Hash – are you sensing a theme here?  Maybe I’m pork-deprived in my everyday life.  This dish from the Farm Fresh Booth tasted like something you could make at home.  It combined hearty potato and bacon hash with a rich and creamy hollandaise sauce, then topped it all with a few jalapeno slices.  It was rich, a little spicy, and a lot delicious!

Have you tried any of my favorites?  What foods did you like best in 2014?

Vintage Vinyl – Disney’s Christmas Surprises

This week’s installment of “Saturday’s With Nick” details a great Disney holiday album.  As a side note – he may claim he doesn’t know where the album came from, but I know it was a gift to Nick from his wife, Barbie.  (Nick ought to do a better job of remembering important details like that or Santa might just decide to bring him a lump of coal instead of Disney gifts!)

Vintage Vinyl:  Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Christmas Surprises LP Album

By: Nick

I’ve no idea where I picked up this Mickey Mouse Christmas Surprises record album, but it’s in pretty good shape. An “Official Mickey Mouse Club” Disneyland Record from 1958.

If the terrific illustration on the cover isn’t enough to grab your attention, I don’t know what is!
Who knew Bambi could fly?! That’s a surprise.

What are other surprises does this record hold?
Other surprises are how unusual the song selections are on this collection.

Side one:

1. From All Of Us to All of You Jiminy Cricket & Mickey Mouse

This is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Ever. So great start!

2. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, O Little Town of Bethlehem, O Come All Ye FaithfulLudwig Mousensky & The All Mouse Choir

Then it gets weird. This is an odd one. Very Chipmunk, but not as charming or coherent.

3. T’was the Night Before Christmas Jiminy Cricket

Back on track, one of my favorite stories told by one of my favorite characters

4. Fantasyland, Story Book TreeCamarta Chorus & Orchestra

So sweet, your teeth may hurt after listening.

5. Winter Wonderland Instrumental by Ludwig Mousensky & The All Mouse Symphony

Tolerable instrumental

Side 2:

6. Jingle BellsLudwig Mousensky & The All Mouse Choir

Essentially, the Chipmunks singing Jingle Bells. I like it!

7. Adventureland, Jungle TreeCamarta Chorus & Orchestra

If you are familiar with the Enchanted Tiki Room, this seems to be the same group of singers singing about finding the Christmas tree for, or maybe in, Adventureland. Very unusual, and the lyrics are a bit difficult to follow, so I always lose the thread of the story midway through.

8. Jingle BonesWitches 3 and Friends

I’m a fan of Hallowthanksmas, but this Halloween/Christmas mash-up is too much for even me. Just straight up trippy.

9. Kris Kringle Jimmy Cricket

I really enjoy this one. It makes me wish they’d just released a full album of Jiminy Cricket doing Christmas Carols

10. Tomorrowland, Futuristic Christmas TreeCamarta Chorus & Orchestra

A standard that takes a weird and incomprehensible turn in the middle.

This album is a surprisingly bipolar collection of songs, but worth a listen if you come across it for a reasonable price. And if you have a turntable, of course!

Disney’s Studios – So Long Sorcerer’s Hat

DSCN3062Every park at Walt Disney World has a major icon.  Known affectionately as a “weenie” – a term coined by Walt Disney himself – the icon’s purpose is to draw guests forward.  Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom is breathtaking!  Situated as it is on the hub at the far end of Main Street U.S.A., when you enter the park, you’re drawn immediately by the castle’s splendor.  That’s exactly how a well-designed weenie is supposed to work.  Spaceship Earth in Epcot?  Yep, it’s the real deal.  The Tree of Life over at Animal Kingdom?  Without a doubt!  The Sorcerer’s Hat in Disney’s Hollywood Studios?  Well, no!  A pretty epic failure as a weenie on all fronts.  Plus, it didn’t even arrive until the park had been open more than ten years.  Poor Studios!  Weenie-less virtually since day one and nope, the Chinese Theater wasn’t a good weenie either.  More on that later.

Right now, as the Sorcerer’s Hat is about to be removed (good riddance, I say!), let’s talk about WHY the hat was a horrible failure as a Disney park icon.  As usual, here are FIVE good reasons to rejoice as we say, “So Long, Sorcerer’s Hat”! (Feel free to voice your comments and opposing opinions – you know I love a good debate!)

RM-Spaceship-EarthFive ways the Sorcerer’s Hat Failed as a park icon:

1. Thematically Askew – The park’s original design embraced the Golden Age of Hollywood.  The streets, buildings, props, and decorations all reflected that theme.  Along comes the hat.  Plopped down smack dab in front of the Chinese Theater, nothing about its form or fashion embraced the Studio’s personality.

2. Too Short – For a weenie, the hat is just the wrong shape and size.  At 122 feet tall, it’s dwarfed by the other parks’ icons.  Cinderella Castle: 189′ tall.  Spaceship Earth: 180′.  The Tree of Life: 145′.  Even compared to other Studio’s icons, the hat’s shrimpy.  The Tower of Terror is 199′ tall and the Earful Tower is 130′ high.  No other icon is pointy-topped, either – they’re all more attractively proportioned.

3. Not Generic Enough – The hat is too specific to ONE character and ONE movie.  For me, that makes it a very poor choice as a park icon.  Yes, the argument can be made that Cinderella’s RM-Cinderella-CastleCastle is named for a particular movie and character, but the graceful beauty of the structure itself is a basic representation of EVERY fairytale castle.  The hat?  Not so much.

4. Undignified – You can’t argue that it has a very cartoonish appearance.  The while-gloved, oddly attached hand makes it all the more ridiculous.  Neither graceful nor majestic, the hat’s clownishness may be cute, but does not have the right stuff to represent Disney’s Hollywood Studios properly now and certainly not into the park’s much anticipated future.  It hasn’t aged well, either.  Similar in style (and added during the same era) to the hand and wand that marred the perfection of Spaceship Earth, the hat has overstayed its welcome.

IMG_66115. Not Timeless – Isn’t that what a perfect park icon should be?  From inception, a park’s main icon should represent the park’s theme and purpose while remaining classically “Disney” for all time.  Will the Tree of Life grow old?  NO.  It was created to remain a timeless embodiment of Animal Kingdom’s very soul.  With 300+ highly detailed animal carvings and more than 100,000 man-made leaves – the tree will be amazing 100 years from now.

Back to the Chinese Theater.  The idea of creating an exact replica of the original Hollywood icon made the Chinese Theater was a poor choice as a weenie from the very beginning.  One IMG_6903problem is that it had already gone from Grauman’s Chinese Theater (opened in 1927) to Mann’s Chinese Theater (in 1973).  Now it’s TCL Chinese Theater (2013) – who knows how long it will last or by what name and ownership it may be known in the future.  A better choice would have been a generic timeless representation of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

I can think of several possible replacements for the Sorcerer’s Hat.  If the future of Disney’s Hollywood Studios indeed brings changes and additions that would prompt yet another new name for the park (rumored to become Disney’s Hollywood Adventure), I believe an icon representative of Hollywood would be in order.  How about something that reflects both stage and screen?  Literally – a stage topped by a giant, multi-sided screen would be an awesome icon.  Think about it – both the stage and the “frame” for the screen could be fancy and a charmingly old-fashioned tribute to Hollywood glamor, but the screens (3 or 4-sided for optimum viewing) would be the perfect opportunity for Disney World to show off its high-tech capabilities.  Like the jumbo-tron-type screens on the decks of Disney’s cruise ships, an enormous stage and screen display in the Studios would offer unlimited entertainment and promotional opportunities!

What would YOU replace the Sorcerer’s Hat with?  A giant movie camera/film reel statue?  Enormous popcorn box, perhaps?  Are you sad to see the hat go?  What are your thoughts on the matter?