Checking in on those Disney New Year’s (non) Resolutions

We’re a bit past the midway mark of 2017 already!  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  Goodness, how this year is flying by!  I don’t know about you and your family, but we have been crazy busy this year and there’s no slowing down in sight.  I took a quick peak back to my New Year’s post to see how I was keeping up with my plans…

Checking in on those Disney New Year’s (non) Resolutions

The SOUP!  I’m really not sure why I fall in love with soups in Disney restaurants more than any other type of food.  Last Christmas at Jiko I was crazy about the Curried Butternut Squash Bisque and tried my best (fairly successfully) to reproduce it at home sans duck confit and quince marmalade.  I’ve made it twice so far and it was very tasty both times and close, but not exactly right.  I’m waiting for the weather to cool off a bit before I give it another go and I’m still committed to trying to record an actual recipe to share.  I tend to produce my most successful creations by throwing a bunch of ingredients together without measuring anything.

The Dark Side CHALLENGE!  Joseph’s first runDisney events and my first ones not having to run alone.  Star Wars 10K and half marathon…check!  A good time was had by all.  Happy, happy memories.The MOVIES!  There’s just one movie left on my short list of must-sees this year…Star Wars: The Last Jedi (December 15th).  I thought Beauty and the Beast was good and Spider-Man: Homecoming was solidly entertaining (even with all the teen angst).  Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 was by far the best movie I’ve seen this year.  I’m a huge Guardians fan and spent a fair amount of time worrying about the sequel not living up to the original movie.  HA!  Worried for nothing.  Volume 2 was everything I’d hoped for.

Scuba School!  Joseph and I, then later, Megan and Lyndsey (Joe’s girlfriend) have all completed our PADI open water scuba certifications.  We’re now working on our advanced open water and rescue diver certifications as well.  Who knew this would be so much fun?!?!  We’ve got some diving in Florida coming up to practice our new skills.  One downside…I either had to buy new swimwear or continue on with the single, well-worn Target suit I’d purchased several years ago.  I waited until all the swimsuits at Dillard’s were 1/2-off and forced myself to go shopping.  It was just as horrible as I expected, but I now have two new suits for vacation.  And they’ll be covered up most of the time by my wetsuit.

Booking a Disney Cruise was on the list.  That one was so easy, we’ve got not one, but two cruises in our future.  This fall we’ll be sailing on the Fantasy’s 7-Night Eastern Caribbean itinerary.  Next fall, we’ll be on the Wonder’s 4-night repositioning cruise from Vancouver to San Diego.  Does this mean we will finally get to Disneyland?  I’m sure working on it and will keep you posted.

Last Item:  Disney Undersea Adventure.  On our upcoming Caribbean cruise, Raymond and I will be visiting Tortola, St. Thomas/St. John, and Castaway Cay.  We were able to book two scuba diving excursions through Disney Cruise Line.  In Tortola our adventure is the Certified Scuba Wreck & Reef Dive.  In St. Thomas we’re signed up for the rather boringly named St. Thomas Certified Scuba excursion.  Both adventures include two dives – one to view coral and wildlife, one to explore a shipwreck.  We’re super excited!  On this cruise we’ll also be celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary!

Did you make any Disney (non) Resolutions for 2017?  How are you doing with your list?

Have you done any of the scuba excursions on a Disney cruise?  Got any tips or feedback to share?

Thoughts on Beauty and the Beast

I wouldn’t consider this a review. My comments are far from impartial and I feel certain I cannot be as fair and balanced as I usually strive to be.  Belle has always been my favorite princess and the animated Beauty and the Beast has been my favorite Disney animated movie since I first saw it in the theater in 1991.  Everything good thing I heard and saw about the live action remake seemed exactly right, so The Fam and I planned way in advance to catch the film during opening weekend.

I bought the tickets in advance and made sure we’d arrive at the theater with plenty of time to get excellent seats and grab some snacks. Megan had seen the movie on opening day and sat next to me promising not to give anything away.  This proved to be an excellent arrangement!  She was there to hold my hand during all the (slightly) scary and emotional parts (there were several) and didn’t make fun of me for crying (which Joseph certainly would have done).

Thoughts on Beauty and the Beast

To say the movie surpassed everything I’d hoped for is probably the best praise I can give it.  Stunningly beautiful in every detail, each scene brought me completely into the story.  I can’t recall a 2+ hour movie going by so quickly before. The original storyline was front and center with exactly the right amount of “more” added to hold my undivided attention.

For me, the best part of the movie was this:  Every character was richly developed in sometimes surprising ways that added more depth and meaning to an already excellent story.  Maurice was not a simple absent-minded inventor and Belle was not just a selfless bookworm waiting for her life to begin.  We learned many of the characters’ backstories and the knowledge made the movie ever more enjoyable with each new insight.  If you thought Belle was wonderful (and an awesome role model) in the animated version, you’ll absolutely adore her in this adaptation.

Finally, if you’ve heard controversial statements about this film’s suitability for the entire family, all I can say is that our family found it to be a clever, endearing, immensely entertaining movie.  Had our children been little, I’m certain the “controversial” parts would have completely gone unnoticed.  If I hadn’t heard about them, I honestly wouldn’t have noticed them myself.

By far Beauty and the Beast is Disney’s best live action remake to date and sets the bar high for future films.  Have you seen it yet?  What did you think?

 

 

All The 2017 Disney (Non) Resolutions

Happy New Year!  I’m not gonna lie. I was kinda glad to see the last of 2016. It was a year of ups and downs in the way that riding a roller coaster over and over makes you want to finally get off.  Now here we are – fresh year, new opportunities and all that. If you’ve been here for the arrival of the past three years, then you know I’m not a fan of resolutions.  I absolutely believe in making a commitment to change, but only when you’re ready and you really mean it. Me, I make Disney plans for the beginning of each year and it’s time to line them out.

All The 2017 Disney (Non) Resolutions

It’s not without a bit of anxiety that I tell you what’s on tap for 2017…there are few solid trip plans which is so not like me. I love planning Disney vacations and usually have 24-months-worth all sewn up at any given time. That’s not the case at the moment, but as you’ll soon see, I’ve got good ideas!  Here’s what’s definitely in the future…

Make Disney Soup (again)!

Last time it was the spinach, sausage, and gnocchi soup from The Wave.  I’ve made it several times since I figured out how.  This time, I’m going for the Curried Butternut Squash Bisque from Jiko.  I’m probably going to have to forego the garnishes of duck confit and quince marmalade, but the velvety smooth deliciousness of this incredibly tasty soup can hold its own without the fancy add-ins. I’ve already practiced once this week and came super close!  Sadly, I didn’t measure anything. Next time I’ll make sure I know exactly what’s going in and how much of each ingredient is used so I can share the final recipe with you.

Run the Dark Side Challenge

I’ve been talking about it enough that you probably already know about this one.  What makes this short Disney World visit in April so special is that I’ll be running both races with Joseph (my favorite son) and both Nick and Dave (my co-hosts on The Disney Exchange) will be at Disney World then too!  Might be possible for us to finally have a podcast meet-up!  Based on our past luck with that, though, I won’t hold my breath.

See These Movies

There are a bunch of Disney movies coming out in 2017 that I’d like to see in a theater, but these are the ones I’m absolutely not going to miss and plan on seeing them as soon as they come out:

  • Beauty and the Beast (March 17th)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (May 5th)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7th)
  • Star Wars Ep. VIII (December 15th)

Obtain My Scuba Certification

This was a Christmas gift from Raymond who’s already certified and knows I love adventure, learning new things, and the ocean.  We’d arranged this as a gift for Joseph, who’s studying biology and loves tropical fish.  I was beyond excited when I opened the same present for me!  Now we’ll start studying our books and DVD ahead of the classes which should begin in late February.  Someday we’ll be able to search for both Nemo and Dory!

Book a Disney CruiseDisney Cruise Line

We’ve got a placeholder burning a hole in our pocket! On last February’s cruise on the Disney Dream, we put a down payment on a future cruise to take advantage of the onboard booking specials. Now we need to make a decision on when and where we’ll go.  I’d kind of like to try the Fantasy, which is the only Disney ship we haven’t yet sailed on.

Go on a Disney (under sea) Adventure

What good will that scuba certification be without putting it to good use on a Disney vacation?  Our first choice is to book a visit to Aulani with a stop at Disneyland on the way.  I know there are amazing diving opportunities in Hawaii.  The only thing holding us back right now is working out the timing and budget…keeping my fingers crossed!

Have you made your Disney plans for 2017?  What’s on your list?

Thoughts on Jungle Book-Live Action Version

Jungle Book Ticket StubRaymond and I had a double date on Saturday afternoon for a movie and late lunch with Joseph and his girlfriend, Lyndsey.  I’d been looking forward to seeing the new live-action Jungle Book for what seems like YEARS – having been captivated by the trailers.  Star-studded, action packed, amazingly detailed CGI effects…all of those things put this movie on my must-see list.  Luckily, the rest of the group was agreeable, so we hit the first 3D matinee of the day and settled down with our popcorn, sodas and 3D glasses.

Thoughts on Jungle Book-Live Action Version

This is NOT a spoiler-free post, so if you’ve not yet seen this movie and don’t want to know what makes this version of Jungle Book unique, stop reading – go see the movie – come back and share your thoughts later.  If you have seen Jungle Book (or don’t care about spoilers), please read on then share your thoughts about the movie.Jungle Book - Joseph & Lyndsey

I understand there’s a pretty big group of Disney fans who do not like these live-action remakes of popular movie classics.  The thing is, they’re doing well in theaters and while I’ve yet to see one I liked as much as say, Zootopia, I did enjoy seeing characters like Maleficent and Cinderella come to life with gorgeous cinematography and pretty good CGI effects.

This movie had plenty of familiar moments to keep an old Jungle Book fan like me happy.  What really makes this new version stand out is the incredible CGI characters.  From Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) to the wolf pack, to Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), Baloo (Bill Murray), and King Louie (Christopher Walken) – I couldn’t stop marveling at the precision of the minute details – hair, skin, eyes, movements…I was in awe.  The single character that stood out to me as less spectacular than the others was Shere Khan (Idris Elba).  At times it felt to me as if his face was less clearly detailed than the faces of the other animals and his movements were less natural.  Anybody else notice this?

Mowgli (Neel Sethi) could not have been better in this role.  This mancub was perfect for the part and did not disappoint.  The jungle animals, so accepting of Mowgli as one of their own (except for Shere Khan, of course), realize that his use of “tricks” would make him more human than animal and this seems to some a curse and others a great fortune.  I thought this one element of the story was the most important in setting this Jungle Book apart from its animated predecessor.  Mowgli alone must choose to remain safely with the animals by abiding by their rules and rejecting what would make him human or embracing the part of him he’d been taught to deny in order to save himself and others.  Lots of lessons here, if you’re looking.

This is not a movie for very young children.  Because we were at the Saturday matinee, the theater was packed with families.  It became clear that children younger than 7 or 8 did not care for the dark, scary scenes at all.  The little boy in front of us demanded to know (in a frightened voice), “Is this ACTUAL??!?!”  It was clearly difficult for the younger kids to determine real from make-believe in this movie.  There is death, although delicately handled (think Lion King), and no shortage of frightening moments.

All in all, this film is visually stunning, suspenseful, action packed, and recreates enough of the animated Jungle Book’s lovable moments to please most fans.  It has a lot of heart and a happy ending.  It also has the most interesting treatment of the credits at the end – worth staying to watch.  Finally, if you (like me) hear the name Christopher Walken and immediately think about this sketch from SNL, there’s a little something in Jungle Book just for us.

Have you seen Jungle Book yet?  What did you think?