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?


Defending Bambi, a Walt Disney Classic

Today’s article begs the question – What’s your favorite Disney movie (from your childhood) and why?  Mine is Mary Poppins and Nick’s is, well, a touchy subject….

Defending Bambi, a Walt Disney Classic

By Nick

Why am I writing an article defending my love of Bambi, a true Disney classic, and one of my favorite animated movies of all time? I’m asking myself that very question to be perfectly honest. I’m only too happy to do so, as it deserves praise, but I’m just shocked I have to.

If you’ve listened to Episode 11 of The Disney Exchange, (If you haven’t, you should, it’s great, but, really, they all are.) then please go ahead and do so, and then come on back here.

Back? Good, then you heard Dave and Lisa criticize my choice for favorite Disney film pre my birth year, Bambi.

Were you as surprised as me to hear it being described as “cheesy?”

I chose Bambi for a few reasons.

It was my first movie, or at least the first movie I remember clearly. I can picture very distinctly Bambi and Thumper’s banter, Bambi’s father telling him “Your mother can’t be with you anymore,”  the forest fire, and Bambi’s standing on a cliff with his father at the end. (Excuse me a moment, I need to compose myself. -sniff-)

Bambi is a very well balanced film of beauty and darkness, with happiness, sadness, laughter, and love.

It’s beautifully animated. In the early 90’s, I had the opportunity to work at an Animation Art Gallery in Philadelphia, Pa. I got to see some of the inspirational art by Tyrus Wong, as well as animation sketches and production work. I am, in fact, the proud owner of an animated sketch of Bambi, from the “twitterpated” sequence, and a Sericel of Thumper.

A lot of Tyrus’ work, along with many works from other animation legends can be found in the excellent book “Walt Disney’s Bambi, The Story and the Film” by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two of Walt’s “Nine Old Men.”

Believe me, if I could afford it, I would have many more animated pieces from this wonderful movie.
I do have many collectibles around the home representing Bambi, however, such as several Walt Disney Classics Collection pieces.

What are your thoughts on Bambi? Please leave a comment telling why you enjoy it, or just tell Lisa and David they are wrong, either is fine.

This article was originally posted on The Disney Exchange, a blog and podcast which write and co-host with Lisa Green and David Hodges.


To read all about Nick’s Disney obsession, visit the Disney Musings Blog and follow him on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest.

Headed to Walt Disney World in 2016? The Disney Exchange Podcast will be having a meet-up in February during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend! Details will be available on The Disney Exchange’s Facebook Page and also on Twitter. We’d love to see you there!!!

These Disney Fans – What’s Next?

For those of us who cannot resist our love for all things Disney, planning what we’ll do next (Disney-wise) tends to absorb much of our free time…or maybe it’s just me.  It might be crafts, Disney holiday decorations, upcoming Disney movies on our to-watch list, whipping up a Disney recipe at home, anxiously awaiting the newest episode of The Muppets or our favorite Disney podcast, booking ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) or FastPass+ attractions for our next Walt Disney World vacation…no matter, we just love the anticipation and the planning!  I’m not going to lie…the planning, for me, is almost half the fun.

So what about our family (a.k.a. The Fam)?  What are we cooking up, planning for, and looking forward to in our Disney lives?  I’ll tell you!

These Disney Fans – What’s Next?RM-Megan-and-Grant-Sci-Fi

Now that Megan and Grant (our daughter and son-in-law) are happily married and back from their Disney honeymoon, we can return to our regularly scheduled Disney planning.  Personally, I’ve got a lot on my mind.  It’s October – one of my most favorite months of the year.  I’m working on our Halloween decorations and Junior’s costume (yes, my friends, in the absence of children at home, I still buy Disney Halloween costumes…for our dog.).  My countdown calendar for our next Disney vacation is dutifully ticking off the days and as the weather gets (slightly) cooler, I’m daydreaming about my Disney future.RM-Junior-Captain-America

  1.  Our annual Thanksgiving Day Disney movie will be postponed this year.  Raymond, Megan, Joseph and I have gone to see a Disney movie on Thanksgiving Day for as long as Megan and Joseph have been alive.  This year, embracing our empty-nest status, Raymond and I will be celebrating Thanksgiving at my sister’s house in Tennessee with my family…without our kids.  Everyone’s okay with this, but the movie thing is bothering me more than eating turkey and dressing apart from my offspring.  Luckily, we’ll make arrangements to see The Good Dinosaur (Pixar; premiers on November 25th) the next weekend.  Star Wars:  The Force Awakens premiers on December 18th – that one we’ll see right before Christmas.  I, for one, am very excited!Christmastime at Walt Disney World
  2. Last Call for Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  Again with the parental independence, we’re leaving the kids behind on December 26th.  Raymond and I are taking a few days at Walt Disney World to relax, take in those awesome Disney holiday decorations, and bid farewell to the Osborne Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Will they appear somewhere else in the future?  Nobody seems to know.  Better safe than sorry, we’ll at least get to see them in their current location one last time.Flying Fish Dinner at the Boardwalk
  3. Disney Food!  We may be weird (okay, I’m pretty sure we ARE weird), but we plan our Disney vacations mostly around our dining reservations.  Does anyone else do this?  I mean, we always book Disney dining reservations at the earliest possible time (180 days in advance) then mostly plan our park days so our restaurant choices won’t be a major inconvenience transportation-wise.  Planning meals so far in advance gives us lots of time to look forward to the deliciousness.  The Flying Fish Cafe / Walt Disney World BoardwalkOur December plans include Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge), 50’s Prime Time Café (Disney’s Hollywood Studios), Todd English’s bluezoo (WDW Dolphin Hotel), Shula’s Steak House (also the Dolphin), Biergarten (World Showcase in Epcot), Flying Fish Café (Disney’s Boardwalk), Whispering Canyon Café (Wilderness Lodge), and Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian).  Don’t ask me what we were thinking booking all of that for a 5-day stay, but we’re going to give it our best shot.  Especially since quite a few of those will be new to us and a couple will be repeats from a LONG time ago.  Check back for reviews – I love doing restaurant reviews!RM-Raglan-Road-Dancers
  4. Disney Springs – I realize that a bunch of Disney fans are sad about the Downtown Disney transformation.  We’re not those folks.  Our favorite things are still there and a number of new shops and restaurants have been added since our last visit (February, 2015).  I’ll be so stoked to see the final form of this corner of the World since it’s been under construction forever! RM-Running-Shoes
  5. The Disney Exchange meet-up and Princess Half-Marathon Weekend, 2016 – Sure, I’ve got to run a bunch of miles between now and then to get ready for the Glass Slipper Challenge, but it’ll totally be worth it!  Nick, Dave and I will spend three days bickering discussing our love for Disney in person!  We’ll be having Disney Exchange meet-ups, posting to Facebook, Tweeting live, sharing Periscope and Blab broadcasts, and creating general mayhem as we do what we always do – argue, debate, give each other a hard time, and laugh hysterically.  I cannot WAIT!

Are you making Disney plans?  What are you most looking forward to?