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?



Who Would Love Enchanted Tales With Belle?

Sometimes (shout out if you’re with me here) when you’re making FastPass+ selections, something comes up that had never been on your radar before.  A ride or attraction that you’d never considered shows up as a suggestion along with two others that you are excited about.  If you, like me, have multiple visits to that park planned on vacation – this new, untried attraction causes you to stop and think…what the heck?  Why not!  Let’s give it a whirl.  Such was the case with us a few months back when Raymond and I were at Walt Disney World and I booked a FastPass for a most unlikely choice…Enchanted Tales With Belle Selfie

Who Would Love Enchanted Tales With Belle?

Yes, two mature (a.k.a middle-aged) adults visited this marginally popular Fantasyland attraction in Magic Kingdom.  While we were soaking it all in, we decided that this attraction has definite appeal for a certain subset of Disney fans.Enchanted Tales With Belle Cottage

Pre-school through about age 8 – This is a kid-friendly attraction!  Little ones who like Beauty and the Beast and love story-time will be happy with this attraction.  It’s not scary and includes familiar elements of the story while encouraging audience participation.  Shy people or folks like us who just want to see what’s going on without becoming part of the action are also completely welcome and made to feel at ease.Enchanted Tales With Belle - Wardrobe

Diehard Belle fans – Sure, there are plenty of familiar characters involved, but Belle is the star of this attraction and she’s everything you hope she’ll be.  Gracious, humble, and in her gorgeous gold ball gown.  What more could fans want?  You can get up close for a picture even.Enchanted Tales Wtih Belle - Lumiere

Anyone who loves Disney’s magical special effects – Belle’s the star here, but the “enchanted” part really adds to the experience.  This is Disney at its best – if you love Disney details large and small, Disney magic at its finest, you’ve got to experience this attraction at least once.  While we’ve only been the one time, I want to go back just in case I missed something the first time.  The technology in Enchanted Tales With Belle is excellent and should be part of all future Disney attractions!Enchanted Tales With Belle Special Effect

Are you a fan of Enchanted Tales With Belle?  What do you love about it?  If you’ve never experienced it before, I encourage you to give it a try!Enchanted Tales With Bell- Wall Art

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Flashback – Four for a Dollar

Four for a Dollar at DHSOnce upon a time….there were Four for a Dollar…

Do you remember the incredibly entertaining a cappella quartet that used to open for the Beauty and the Beast show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?  These guys were fantastic!  If you happened to get to the theater early and were just enjoying the shade and a chance to rest your feet, you would be treated to one of those particularly magical Disney surprises that makes your visit to any Disney park extra special.

So, a guy would walk on stage and the audience members who hadn’t seen the act before were completely surprised by what happened next.  The Four for a Dollar performers would trick the audience into believing they were stage techs setting up and testing the sound system.  Dressed in a uniform of black shorts and shirts, they were funny, cute, and remarkably talented.  They made you laugh and drew you in…then blew you away with their singing!  Visitors of all ages adored Four for a Dollar and our family was no exception – we were absolutely Four for a Dollardelighted.  Unfortunately, the act was discontinued a few years ago (2008) after an outstanding 14-year run and, like many changes that Disney makes, this one has been a sore spot for many, many fans.  A Facebook page was active for a while (until last year) called “Bring Four 4 a Dollar Back to Walt Disney World”.  To this day, once I’m seated for Beauty and the Beast, this missing pre-show seems a big, glaring mistake.

Post Studios, the group continued to appear in the Orlando area by their non-Disney name, Return 2 Zero.  They performed once more at Walt Disney World last spring (as Return 2 Zero) at the American Adventure in Epcot.  I would have loved the opportunity to see them again.

About the Group:  Members Andrew White, Sammy Pawlak, Marshall Webb and Doug Teel began performing together in the early 1990’s and it’s was no surprise for me to read on their website that they’d won honors in the group and arrangement categories of national a cappella competitions.

Catch Four for a Dollar on YouTube here.

Visit the Return 2 Zero website here.

Did you ever get to see Four for a Dollar?  Did you love them as much as we did?