My Disney Mother’s Day Experience

Sometimes, when your kids prove that they’ve been listening and learning the best things in life from you it’s pretty magical.  It’s what we hope for during all of that other stuff…you know…potty training, ballgames, homework, dance lessons, laundry, nagging, emergency room visits, late-night-worrying, and the rest.  Parenting mistakes were made to be sure – some big, some small.  Turns out, in spite of all that, kids can turn out to be very awesome humans in spite of your having had no manual for raising them.  Our children are adults now and on Mother’s Day, they went all out to give me an experience I’ll never forget.Disney Mother's Day Experience

It started Saturday night as Megan, Grant, Joseph, Lyndsey, Raymond and I were out at a party for our nephew’s upcoming wedding.  Joseph and Megan told me that when the party was over, they were both spending the night at our house.  Knowing we were planning to run together in the morning, I thought this was just a fun and happy convenience.  I envisioned staying up watching movies and hanging out.  They had other plans and I was told to go to bed.  Never one to pass up the opportunity for a good night’s rest and only a little disappointed, I did as I was told and wondered what they might be up to.

My Disney Mother’s Day Experience

Sunday morning, everything looked the way it had when I went to bed.  We grabbed some breakfast and hit the road for our weekly long run.  I was still clueless what the rest of the day would hold.  When we got home, I played outside with Junior for a while, took a shower, and was informed at that time to “stay out of the kitchen”.  This was going to be challenging!  The kitchen is very much the heart of our home.  I love to cook and when we’re all together, we tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  Together.  I turned on the TV, found a movie, and settled in to wait.  From time to time, I secretly took pictures of what I could see of the kitchen action (there were some serious game-faces).My Disney Mother's Day Experience

There was a LOT of activity going on in the kitchen.  To keep me out, I was served my favorite Epcot beer, Innis & Gunn, in a Rose & Crown pint glass.  After a while, I was brought a big spread of cheese, crackers, spreads, and prosciutto.  Junior faithfully stayed by my side, but it wasn’t easy.  For either of us.  The WAITING!  The MYSTERY!

Raymond, who’d been working outside for most of the afternoon, came in and set the dining room table.  I asked for someone to bring me a bottle of water and the response from Joseph was, “I can’t right this second, I’m flambéing something.”  Now I was imagining flames shooting everywhere and the potential for catastrophe, because, hey!  It’s what moms do, right?  I stayed right where I was (I should get major points for that) and before long, dinner was served.

The made-from-scratch bread looked familiar and when I found out there was a dipping sauce made from a Guinness reduction, I was on to them!  We were eating food from Raglan Road!!!  This Disney Springs restaurant has been one of our all time favorites for many years.  We have had so many great dinners there!  Those memories are precious to me and clearly Megan and Joseph know it.  I was blown away and very excited to sit down and dig in.  (Clearly, in my excitement I was unable to take a clear picture of the bread.)

My Disney Mother's Day ExperienceAside from Irish Brown Bread, there was an incredible Cashel Blue Cheese Salad with fresh raspberry vinaigrette, Lamb Pasta Ragout (this dish has like 17 different ingredients) and finally, Traditional Bread and Butter Pudding for dessert (incredible!).  Pictures do NOT do this meal justice.  My Disney Mother's Day ExperienceIt was ALL so delicious!!!  Joseph as master chef with Megan as his sous chef spent five hours cooking up this amazing meal…just for me.  After we finished eating, I received The Raglan Road Cookbook as a gift.My Disney Mother's Day Experience

From their earliest childhood, we tried to teach our children to value experiences over things.  It’s a fact: Creating happy memories will mean more in life than accumulating stuff.  I think they learned exactly what we intended and I couldn’t be more proud.  (Thank you Megan and Joseph!  I love you!!!)

 

 

If The Great Movie Ride Has to Go

Nearly three years ago I wrote this article about the rumored demise of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, which so far has remained unscathed.  The newest Studios scuttlebutt predicts the replacement of The Great Movie Ride with something completely different.  I’ve got mixed feelings about this one.  Let’s discuss!

If The Great Movie Ride Has to GoThe Great Movie Ride

Like much of Disney’s Hollywood Studios in recent years, The Great Movie Ride hasn’t received a whole lot of love.  New intro, change in narration, and nothing else.  The scenes are stale, some of the animatronics don’t work, and the scripts on the two versions are exactly the same…every. single. time. The Great Movie Ride

The premise of this attraction makes it perpetually ready for awesome updates and theme/action changes at regular intervals.  So much Hollywood greatness to be showcased, incredible potential for an infinite number of scene changes and movie genres to explore.  None of that has happened and I still ride it on nearly every visit.  Why?  Nostalgia mostly.  I have a love/hate relationship with many of the scenes.  I love the Casablanca scene, hate Tarzan, love John Wayne and Mary Poppins, hate The Public EnemyThe Wizard of Oz is my absolute favorite and so well done!  If other fans are like me, nostalgia alone probably isn’t enough to keep this ride alive.

If the Rumors are True…

According to speculation from August, 2016, The Great Movie Ride may be replaced by The Great Mickey Ride.  Think about the possibilities!  Trackless vehicles moving guests through the history of Mickey in all his lovable forms.  He’s recognized world-wide and has yet to have his very own attraction!  The original spirit of the Studios would live on and new generations of Mickey fans would learn the story of the world’s most famous Mouse.  Makes sense as Mickey will celebrate his 100th birthday in 2028.  With so much to showcase, this could easily be one of those attractions guests would ride again and again to see what they might have missed on previous visits.The Great Movie Ride

With money and resources currently allocated for Star Wars and Toy Story lands, it seems doubtful that anything will happen in the near future.  Goodness knows, the Studios can’t handle anymore closures without new attractions to fill in the gaping holes.  I can see how the long-term survival of The Great Movie Ride in its current form is unlikely though, and I’m prepared for it to go away.  In the meantime, I intend to ride it a few more times and enjoy one of the last vestiges of what Disney’s MGM Studios originally used to be.

How about you?  Are you a fan of The Great Movie Ride?  Are you ready to see it replaced?

 

Who Would Love Disney’s Rivers of Light

Rivers of Light – Fraught with problems and persistent rumors from its earliest pre-production phases, this newest nighttime show in Disney’s Animal Kingdom got mixed reviews from Raymond, Joseph and I when we recently saw it for the first time.

Who Would Love Disney’s Rivers of Light

Originally scheduled to premier in April, 2016, Rivers of Light finally made its long-awaited and much-anticipated debut in February, 2017.  Rumors about the cause of the delay ranged from problems with the floats to mechanical difficulties to dissatisfaction with the music and/or show storyline.  Early reviews have not been favorable, but we’re a family that likes to decide for ourselves where on our attraction popularity scale each new offering falls.  We booked FastPasses so we could arrive at 8:00 pm for the 8:30 show.  The FastPass entrance to the amphitheater (in Asia near Everest) was just opening up as we arrived and we found seats easily.Who Would Love Disney's Rivers of Light?

There’s a pre-show for Rivers of Light that involves lights in the trees, animal noises, shadows and music.  I thought the lights were nice.  When the 15-minute show began, we were captivated by the visual effects.  Animal Kingdom’s first nighttime spectacular predictably focuses on the relationship between nature and all living things.  There are shamans on boats who do a lot of arm waving which creates some cool shadow effects on the boats’ sails.  The combination of lights, lasers, music, boats, lanterns, projections on water screens, and colorful floats sounds like an easy win – and the show itself is not bad, just not what we’ve come to expect from Disney.Who Would Love Disney's Rivers of Light

Great Use of Special Effects

Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot to like.  Joseph thought it was good entertainment and was especially impressed with the visual effects.  Raymond wished it had been a little more “Disney” with familiar (or at least memorable) music or even the inclusion of some appropriate characters (Pocahontas, Jungle Book, Brother Bear, etc.)  I thought the music was pretty terrible, but the water screens, projections, and floats were fantastic.  The storyline (if you can call it that) seemed to be an overly simplistic “we are one” theme.  Based on the kids around us who were asking if the show was over barely five minutes in, I’m guessing Rivers of Light will not be popular with kids up to about age 8 or 9.Disney's Rivers of Light Who Would Love Disney's Rivers of Light Disney's Rivers of Light

I received a survey about Rivers of Light via email after we got home and tried to be as honest as possible about what we did and didn’t like.  Hopefully Disney is planning to make some improvements.  I completely understand the need for Animal Kingdom’s nighttime show to reflect the park’s conservation message, but there’s certainly room for improvement with the music and disjointed scenes.  Go see Rivers of Light for the beautifully illuminated floats and projection effects.  Don’t expect catchy tunes or a soundtrack you’d like to purchase.

Since Megan hasn’t seen Rivers of Light yet, we’ve got FastPasses for the last week in June.  Maybe seeing it for a second time will give me a better appreciation for the music and overall message…we’ll see.

Have you seen Rivers of Light?  What did you think?  If there were children in your party, was it a hit with them?

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Stop for Gorilla Falls Aviary!

My enthusiasm for all things Animal Kingdom knows no bounds, but I have a confession to make:  I tend to rush through the aviaries at the end of Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.  I get excited about seeing all the animals and then when I get to the aviary, I start thinking right away about what I want to do next or when our next FastPass will be.  Birds-shmirds, right?  They’re basically all the same and can be…well…boring, no?  They can also drop “bombs” on unsuspecting passersby and who wants that vacation memory?  Recently though, I decided to try something new.  At the end of the Gorilla Falls trail, when we reached the birds, I took a different attitude.  Here’s what happened…

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Stop for Gorilla Falls Aviary!

We were actually almost to the exit when I started watching this little yellow bird search for something that turned out to be a small red leaf.  It took the leaf, flew to it’s nest and, except for its tail sticking out, disappeared inside the nest.  For a while.  I could see it was busy trying to place the leaf, I suppose, so I waited to see what it would do next.  The little bird popped back out and still had the leaf in its beak!  Which it promptly spit out…leaf rejected!  What the heck kind of bird was this picky thing with the cool looking basket-like nest?

Heaving a pretty big sigh at myself, I quietly called to Raymond and Joseph to wait a minute, I’d be right back.  I knew from doing the Wilderness Explorers adventure there would be a bird spotting guide back by the entrance, so I wove back through the crowd, against traffic, and snagged one.  As I walked back to the guys, I started paying much more attention to the birds.  There are a lot of birds.  Different shapes, sizes and colors  – up above and down below.  If you’ve got a fear of birds (Ornithophobia), you’ll maybe want to skip this area.

The spotting guide’s a must.  The picky little yellow bird?  Taveta Golden Weaver!

Raymond and Joseph, familiar with my ways, waited patiently as I took my first extended tour of the aviary.  I learned some stuff.  The birds seem really happy.  If you’ve been skipping out on this, you should give it a try next time you’re there.

Have you spent time in Animal Kingdom’s aviaries?  Which do you prefer, the one on Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail or on Maharajah Jungle Trek?