March to the Beat of Your Own Disney Drum

Let’s face it – the Disney fan community is made up of a unique and wonderful assortment of folks from all over the world, all walks of life, and all different Disney passions.  I love swapping stories, learning new tips and tricks about all manner of Disney topics, and reading (or listening to) reviews and recommendations from some of my favorite fellow Disney fans.  With few exceptions, the Disney fan community is extremely tolerant of all points of view and most debates are friendly and good-natured.  Okay – maybe not on certain forums, but that’s a different topic for a different day.Princess-Half-Mary-Poppins

You are welcome to be the Disney fan who will absolutely defend each and everything Disney does as perfectly perfect in every way.  You’re welcome to be the fan that clings to the past and laments the current state of everything from Disney parks to rides and attractions to movies and TV shows.  You can be a Disney travel guru, a Marvel or Star Wars franchise expert, or the Disney character fanatic or passionate pin trader or collector of Disneyana.  Be one, none, or all of these…if you love anything or everything Disney…

March to the Beat of Your Own Disney Drum

Allow me to elaborate.  I’ve spent the past (nearly) two years pouring my Disney love into this very blog while reading dozens of other blogs by other Disney fans.  Like many of you, I’ve spent hundreds of hours listening to my favorite Disney podcast hosts entertain me with their own brand of Disney love.  I’m a Disney parks and resorts fan, a Disney Cruise Line fan, a Disneyana and Disney pin collector, a Disney movie buff.  My Christmas tree is 100% Disney-themed.RM-Christmas-Tree-2014

Do I love every part that makes up the whole?  No, I do not.  I love Disney in my own way.  I don’t like Dole Whips and think Le Cellier is overrated (it’s TRUE and I’m not ashamed!), I didn’t like Inside Out, I thought Ant Man was great, and I adore The Muppets (in every glorious and horrible performance) and Indiana Jones – I love him so much, I named my dog Henry Jones, Junior!  Do I miss the excitement and novelty of Disney’s Hollywood Studios the way the park was just after it opened in 1989?  Absolutely!  Would I put it back today to its original form?  Nope, wouldn’t want to.  I don’t love every change to my favorite vacation destination, but nothing Disney’s done yet would keep me from coming back again…and again.Disney's-Hollywood-Studios

What I’m trying to say is this:  We don’t have to love everything Disney to be true blue Disney fans.  Being a Disney fan is about embracing the parts that make you happiest and passing on the parts that don’t.  If I go on a Disney vacation and something goes wrong, I will complain in hopes that Disney will fix the problem for future guests (including me).  When Disney asks me to complete a survey, I do and with complete honesty.  At the same time, I will also praise what I love most about Disney right here, on The Disney Exchange Podcast and all my social medias.  Not loving everything does not diminish my love for Disney as a whole.  I’ll be a Disney fan in my own way and hope you will too!

Your turn!  What kind of Disney fan are YOU?  What do you love most – the parks, the home décor, the movies, characters, collectibles, or something else altogether?  What makes you most passionate about Disney?  What would you change if you could?

Disney World Rambling and Meandering

Bay-Lake-Tower-SunriseWhen asked, I always recommend my favorite rides and attractions, rope-drop strategies, snacks and restaurants to my Disney-vacation-planning friends.  So much to do and see – I try my best to suggest ways to make each day action-packed and fun-filled.  Probably I should do less of that.  Instead, I should stress the importance of taking a few minutes here and there to break away from the business of crowded park navigation.  I need to make a point of telling people to make time to relax and just soak up the beauty and atmosphere of Walt Disney World by roaming, free-styling, wandering…you get the idea.  Some of my family’s best vacation memories were made during many such expeditions.RM-Grand-Floridian-Exterior

Disney World Rambling and Meandering

Take a stroll on the path between the Polynesian Village Resort and the Grand Floridian.  Catch the monorail from Magic Kingdom to either one of these resorts to begin your exploration.  On a beautiful day, this little excursion is a calm and lovely way to spend a quiet few minutes.  Once you’ve completed your journey, hop back on the monorail and continue your day.RM-Fort-Wilderness-Waterway1

Explore Fort Wilderness.  You just might decide to hang out for a good, long visit.  Take a bus from the parks or a boat from Magic Kingdom or the Contemporary Resort.  Then catch one of the Fort Wilderness-specific busses for a short ride to the Meadow Depot where you can walk around the gorgeous grounds, rent a bicycle, kayak or canoe, take a Segway tour, or shop for souvenirs in the Meadow Trading Post.  You’ll forget you’re at Walt Disney World!  This place is an awesome destination and recreation area on its own.RM-Sunrise-Bay-Lake-Tower

Start your day off right.  No matter where you’re staying, rising with the sun on at least one morning is a wonderful way to begin the day.  Maybe it’s just us, but we think sunrise at Walt Disney World is particularly beautiful…dare I say magical?  Talk a walk with a cup of coffee in the early morning light, listen to the sounds of the resort coming to life – amid the incredible tropical landscape, you can relax a bit as you look forward to the excitement of the day ahead.Firepit on the Animal Kingdom Lodge's savannah overlook

Check out Animal Kingdom Lodge.  If there’s a resort at Walt Disney World I would give up park time for, it’s AKL.  Everything about this place is unique and interesting!  From the soaring, expanse of the Jambo House to the restaurants and lounges, this place is nothing if not exquisitely well-themed.Giraffe on the savanna at Animal Kingdom LodgeBest of all?  Watching animals on the savannah overlook off the back of the Jambo House.  We love it there!  We try to make a dinner reservation at one of the Lodge’s table service restaurants on a day we’ll be at Animal Kingdom (park).  It’s a quick bus ride from park to lodge and a perfect way to keep the day’s theme going in a much more relaxing atmosphere.Ostrich on the savannah at Animal Kingdom Lodge Exterior Rooftops / Animal Kingdom Lodge

These are just a few – my personal favorites – of the many places you can find some outside-the-parks places to take a stroll and soak up not just the Disney magic, but quiet moments that remind you…vacation is supposed to be relaxing!

Where are your favorite places to ramble and meander at Walt Disney World?





‘Round the Campfire With Chip ‘n’ Dale

RM-Fall-Mickey-PumpkinWelcome to the WEEEEKENNNNDDDDD!  What a great time of the year this is!  Fall is in the air and while temperatures here in Louisiana are still above 90-degrees during the day, there’s a certain autumnal feeling to the evenings.  Later this week, fall will officially arrive…on the calendar, at least, if not weather-wise.  Makes me start thinking about seasonal traditions – our family’s include roasting weenies and eating S’mores around our fire pit on a cool evening.  Disney vacation traditions are important, too!  So, in a tradition mash-up, this installment of Saturdays With Nick focuses on one of our most favorite at-home traditions that guests at Walt Disney World can also experience.  Pretty cool, huh?  For all the details about how YOU can enjoy the experience Nick’s about to describe, click here.  Y’all have a GREAT weekend and HAPPY FALL!

‘Round the Campfire With Chip ‘n’ Dale

By Nick

This photo was taken January of 2011, when we were hangin’ out with our buddies, Chip ‘n’ Dale at their Campfire Sing-A-Long at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.

We had arrived early for this terrific event, and were surprised to find these 2 scampering about. They were very excited to see us, and we had our own private photo session.

If you’ve never been, I can’t recommend it highly enough!

You can bring your own marshmallows and sticks, or buy a S’mores kit from the Chuckwagon Snack Bar.

Then, sing along to old-time favorites led by a guitar-playing cowboy, who is joined by the chipmunk duo!

Afterwards, you can watch Disney movies at the Campground Cinema, which we didn’t do that evening, but plan on during a future visit.

Portions of this article originally appeared on the Disney Musings Blog.  Follow all the Disney adventures of Nick, his wife, Barbie, and friends in the following locations:

Disney Musings Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, On Instagram, On Pinterest.

Please listen to Nick, our friend Dave, and I on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we discuss our love of all things Disney and offer travel tips, restaurant and resort reviews, planning advice, and other Disney-related nonsense…while we argue and laugh a LOT.  Follow the Disney Exchange on Facebook and weigh in on our many opinion-solicitations.


5 Best Types of Disney Cast Members

RM-99-Days-to-GoToday is double-digit-dance-day, friends.  I’m not bragging or anything, but I’m officially less than 100 days from my next visit to Walt Disney World.  Somehow this kicks my excitement up a notch and I start imagining myself actually THERE.  Y’know, walking down Main Street, riding a certain sketchy service elevator, heading to LA in my super-stretch, listening to the dulcet tones of Madam Leota calling spirits, taking in the particular smell of Rome burning, chowing down on a churro…the Disney World works!  All the stops will be pulled, Christmas decorations will abound.  Oh, boy!  I cannot WAIT!RM-BLT-Studio-Main-Room

Picturing all my favorite things at Disney World always makes me think about those awesome Disney Cast Members and what an important role they play in my vacation happiness.  There are a few CM’s in particular that are so critical, my vacation just wouldn’t be the same without them!

And so, for this week’s Friday Five, I give you the…

5 Best Types of Disney Cast MembersRM-Contemporary Resort Greeter

  1. The Cast Members of Welcoming – When I step off the Magical Express and see the smiling face of the first on-property Disney Cast Member, I feel officially on vacation.  They may meet me at the bus, in the lobby of our resort hotel, or at the front desk check-in – doesn’t matter to me!  They’re all smiles and that makes me happy.RM-Sanaa Server
  2. The Cast Members Who Bring Us Food – I could try to play it cool and say we mostly go to Disney World for attractions and amenities.  Thrill rides, shows, ambiance, hidden Mickeys…oh, who am I kidding.  We love the FOOD!  I know many of you live in fancy big cities and can drive a block or two to an amazing dining experience anytime you want to.  We live in the wilds of Louisiana…our options are limited.  Dining at places like Citricos, California Grill, Jiko, Flying Fish Café, Il Mulino, and Yachtsman Steakhouse are such a treat for us!  It’s not just the food – it’s the service!!!  There’s no doubt that those amazing Cast Members in these fine dining establishments make our meals extra special!RM-Photographer-DHS
  3. The Cast Members Who Take Our Picture – I’m not just talking about the PhotoPass/Memory Maker photographers.  I’m talking about all the Cast Members who are ready and willing to take pictures with our camera or cell phone to make sure we do not miss capturing all the special moments of our vacation.  They’re helpful and kind and we appreciate them beyond words.RM-Main-Street-CMs
  4. The Cast Members Who Control Crowds – I love these folks!  The Parade Prep People!  Safety may be their main (and most important) concern, but we have always found them to be funny, entertaining, and especially good at keeping guests from being trampled by a parade float while being charming at the same time.IMG_5124
  5. The Cast Member From Home – This is the rarest one of all!  We read name badges.  It’s become a bit of an obsession and has prompted many an interesting conversation.  Disney Cast Members come from all over the world and we know most of them have to be at least a little homesick.  Taking a minute to ask about a CM’s hometown helps us connect for a few minutes and, we like to think, helps return the kindness that the overwhelming majority of Disney Cast Members have shown to us over the past 25+ years.  It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally we find a CM from Louisiana.  One day, back in 2012, we found a CM from our hometown.  You can read about that story here.

What about YOU?  What types of Cast Members are your favorite contributors to Disney vacation happiness?