Disney Attractions I Love (More Than I Should)

RM-Country-Bears-HenryYou know I love a Friday Five and today’s no different.  I have, at any given time, about 27 blog post ideas running around in my head vying for attention, but this one was completely off the radar and sprung up out of nowhere!  In my Disney geek-ery, I usually shout from the mountain tops (like Expedition Everest, Space, Splash and Big Thunder Mountains) about those E-Ticket attractions that (most of) you and I find irresistible.  But what about the less popular stuff?  What makes my little heart pitter-patter among the non-headliners?  You KNOW you’ve got at least a couple of favorite rides that you have to fight for – nobody understands the passion, it’s yours and yours alone.

Disney Attractions I Love (More Than I Should)

The Seas With Nemo and Friends (Epcot) – I have no explanation other than I’m crazy about pretty much any and all omnimovers.  Combine that with how much I have always loved Finding Nemo and I’m dragging my family aboard a clam-mobile on every single visit!  There I ride, sitting on the edge of my…what…mollusk-innards?  Soaking up the tiny details and listening to the comments by my favorite Nemo characters as we glide along.  I love this thing!  Don’t try to talk me out of it.  Just get in the clam or get out of my way.RM-The-Seas-Mr-Ray

Primeval Whirl (Animal Kingdom, Dinoland U.S.A.) – About the most ridiculous attraction in all the World, right?  Wrong!  For me, it’s not too fast, not too spin-ny, not too jerky – just a big bunch of weird fun.  The vehicle is like something the Jetsons would own, the queue is akin to waiting in a cartoon.  If I could explain this ride’s magnetic draw, I’d break the spell and avoid the ridicule.  I. Cannot. Resist.RM-Primeval-Whirl-Sign

Country Bear Jamboree (Magic Kingdom, Frontierland)- I blame Curtis Stone (Geekin’ on WDW Podcast) for my semi-newfound addiction to the Bears.  I wouldn’t have made a visit to this ride ever-for-the-rest-of-my-life but for Curt waxing poetic about its allure.  If you avoid over-analysis of certain song lyrics and just enjoy the Wild-West-Saloon style of entertainment, you’re bound to notice the genius of this particular brand of Disney magic.  Seriously, I love the bears…baby Oscar in particular.RM-Country-Bears-Baby-Oscar

Jungle Cruise (Magic Kingdom, Adventureland) – Cheesy, eye-rolling, sheer perfection in pun-delivery.  What’s not to love?  From the queue’s announcements to the names of the boats to the unbelievably adorable animatronics, this attraction’s got a lot going for it.  Add comic artistry in the form of boat captain commentary and this ride is hard to beat!  No, really!  Where else on earth can you experience the backside of water?  Classic Disney fun!RM-Jungle-Cruise-Backside-of-Water

Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros – I’m stealthy about this one.  I act all nonchalant about going into the Mexico pavilion in Epcot.  It’s not a family favorite, but I’m getting on this ride if I can manipulate the situation properly.  I love Donald Duck!  He’s my favorite character (in case you hadn’t heard) and I’m going to check times for possible Fiesta Donald meet-and-greets when we’re in Epcot.  Once we’ve paused at the Mexico pavilion for my moment with Donald, I’ll just casually suggest we take a small detour and hit the Gran Fiesta Tour.  Works every time.  The chances of my family reading this today are slim, so shhhhhh.  Don’t ruin this by telling them.RM-Gran-Fiesta-Tour

Now you go.  Which not-so-popular attractions are your own personal favorites?

My Recent Visit to the Country Bear Jamboree

RM-Country-Bears-Sun-Bonnet-TrioThe jokes are lame, the songs are cheesy and I love every single moment of the Country Bear Jamboree!  From the waiting area in the lobby to the ornate theater to the talking huntin’ trophies, this attraction’s a riot! Even if you’re not a huge fan of the Jamboree’s style, you have to admit its a pretty clever show, especially considering how long the gang’s been around.  If you’re looking for one of the Disney-est Disney World attractions you can find, you can’t beat the Bears.  It does happen to be one of the last attractions Walt Disney himself helped develop.

On one recent picture-perfect October day in the Magic Kingdom, I announced to Raymond in my most cheerful voice, “I really want to see the Country Bears!” What I got in return was a look. This look RM-Country-Bear-Stagespoke volumes. Raymond’s a man of few words to begin with and after 25 years of marriage he communicates with me silently much of the time. At that particular moment Raymond’s look said, “I’d rather not, but if you’re that excited about it, we can go…but only because you’re so cute and lovable.” And just like that, off we went to Frontierland’s Grizzly Hall.

In my mind I think of the Country Bears as old (the show premiered on October 1, 1971) so while I was waiting to enter the theater, I was picturing worn, mangy-looking fur coats and rusty, out of date animatronics. Boy, was I surprised! Those critters are in excellent shape and their movements are fluid and, well, I’d say “realistic” except they’re bears playing musical instruments and singing songs.  I wouldn’t change a single thing about the entire experience.

RM-Country-Bears-Baby-OscarFrom my most favorite bears, like Baby Oscar and Henry, the Master of Ceremonies, to the fancy hat-bearing Sun Bonnet Trio (sorry, can’t help myself), I thought the show was grand. If Animal Planet and Hee Haw got married and had a baby, it would be the Country Bear Jamboree.  What a show!  I completely agree that a hoedown might not be an enjoyable hootenanny for everyone, but the charm of the Country Bear Jamboree lies in its perfect theming for Frontierland, its quaint and sometimes irreverent dancehall humor, and the well-paced and surprising variety of acts.  How can anyone not find Liver Lips McGrowl at least a little bit interesting?

I adored every hair on the Country Bears’….well, everything, I suppose.  I know there are a RM-Country-Bears-Henrylot of haters, but honestly, the Country Bear Jamboree is so iconic, so classically Disney, I hope they’ll be around for many, many years to come.

It’s your turn – Love ’em?  Hate ’em?  Tell me what it is about the Country Bear Jamboree that makes you feel the way you do about it.

RM-Country-Bears-MelvinRM-Country-Bear-PianoRM-Country-Bear-Buff   RM-Country-Bear-Guitar

Disney’s Kali River Rapids – You’ll Get WET (or will you?)

Disney's Animal Kingdom EntranceI’ve mentioned several times before, but it bears repeating – Disney’s Animal Kingdom is NOT a half-day park.  If you think so, you’re not giving Animal Kingdom the time and appreciation it deserves.  You make me mad, you half-day person.  You should go away from here now – we don’t see eye to eye, so kindly remove your eyes from this blog.  Of course, I mean that in the nicest way possible under the circumstances.

Still here?  Love Animal Kingdom as a FULL DAY experience?  Good!  Me too.  Let’s talk about Kali River Rapids, want to?  I like Kali River Rapids in general – well themed, great queue, fun ride (most of the time).  There’s a tiny detail that always gives me pause, though – you may ride it oneView of Kali River time and barely get a drop of water on you…but, ride it again and you may get completely soaked from head to toe!  It’s a risky proposition, that ride.  Lots of times I think I’ll ride it, then chicken out because of the uncertainty.  Still, on our last visit to Animal Kingdom, I was fully committed to riding everything except the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch – if I want to go there, Animal Kingdom becomes more than a full day park for me!

So, back to Kali…

Kali River RapidsI wanted to film our trip down the rapids with my new GoPro camera.  I like the experience of riding in the round raft and I like making friends (or at least trying to) with our fellow passengers.  I don’t like being soaked and especially don’t like wet shoes (which you are NOT allowed to remove for the ride, by the way).  So as we made our way through the ride’s queue (it has some of the best, most beautiful details in all of Animal Kingdom!) I dug our rain ponchos out of my backpack and handed them out all around.  As we approached the boarding platform, we all suited up, so to speak, and took our seats.

There’s a bar around the boat’s middle section you can put your feet on – don’t know if that Animal Kingdom's Kali River Rapidshelps keep them dry or not, but it makes me feel more prepared.  Since I was wearing my poncho over my backpack, I didn’t feel the need to store it in the bin provided in the middle of the boat, but the bin is there if you need it.  GoPro at the ready, we found ourselves in the boat with a couple of other families who were really friendly and nice and gave me permission to film them knowing I’d put the video on YouTube.  I made a joke as we left the dock – you can hear it on the video – I joked that we were the people who were going to stay dry since we were wearing ponchos while everyone else was going to get wet.

Kali River Rapids BoatIn the end, WE were the ones on the side of the boat that got completely drenched.  Thank goodness we were wearing ponchos and had the hoods up!  My shorts were somewhat wet – as was the front of my hair, but in no way was I as completely soaked to the skin as I would have been without proper protection.  SO glad we’d come prepared!  The best part was this frog that hitched a ride during the big splash and ended up jumping right on me which was really funny.

Have you ever ridden Kali River Rapids?  What did you think of the experience?  Which side of the boat were you on?




WDW Adventureland – Jungle Cruise: 5 Great Things

WDW Jungle Cruise“Only a true connoisseur of puns can appreciate the perfect execution, the art, the comic genius of the Jungle Cruise skipper.” – Lisa Green (yep, me!)

Puns are the most revered form of humor in my family.  I’m not sure what that says about us, but it’s true nonetheless.  Joseph has inherited the pun-appreciating gene and he and my sister, Sandy, are the undisputed family champions.  This love for all things pun-ny has a lot to do with our love for The Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland!  If you consider the Skipper on every boat a comedic artist – The Pun is their medium of choice.  And that is, after all, what makes The Jungle WDW Jungle Cruise DockCruise special and unique – the quality of the entire experience depends solely on the talent of the Skipper and their ability to deliver their pun-intensive dialogue with just the right timing!

Just a couple of weeks ago, we rode the Jungle Cruise at Walt Disney World and Skipper Jeff (who was excellent) reminded us once again why this ride is charming, classic, and SO darned funny (well, to this family anyway).  I love every single thing about it!

Here are my favorite things about the Jungle Cruise, an Adventureland classic!

Spider WDW Jungle Cruise Dock1. While waiting in line, guests are treated to both sight gags (on the walls, overhead, on standing crates and cages) and sound gags.  As you get closer to the boarding area, you can watch the boats (they have cute names) come in and go out.

2. The design of the boats was based on the steamer in the movie African Queen (one of my all time favorites!).  While you wait, listen carefully to the announcements!  The dock manager’s notices over the P.A. set the tone for the rest of the experience.

“Any travelers who may need to exchange foreign currency during their voyage needn’t worry. There are banks all along our rivers.” – Jungle Cruise Dock Announcer

Sailing on WDW Jungle Cruise3. Once you board your boat, you’ll meet your skipper and set off on your journey around the world (along famous rivers).  Here’s where this attraction will capture your heart!  Yes, the jokes are cheesy!  Yes, the animals are fake!  Be ready to embrace the experience in the spirit it was intended – not to impress and delight, but to charm and entertain.  To truly appreciate all the Jungle Cruise has to offer, you must be willing to give both the skipper’s dialogue and your surroundings your complete and undivided attention!

4. The scenery is a masterpiece of real plants and totally fabricated situations.  In WDW Jungle Cruise Skipper Jeffcaves, floating along quiet pools, among ruins, viewing the backside of water!  The Disney details (like the puns) are plentiful!!!  Pay attention to the plane wreck – you’ll see only half the plane.  Why?  Because the other half (the front) is over in the Studios in the Great Movie Ride!  Do you know what scene it’s in?
“We’re in the Amazon in South America, where things grow larger than life, such as the butterflies on our left and on our right. Their wingspans grow from 12 inches to a whopping 1 foot!”  – Jungle Cruise Skipper

“See my jeep? I had a little trouble getting it started this morning, but I don’t know how they got it to turn over… oh well.”  – Jungle Cruise Skipper (The jeep has been turned upside down…get it?!?)

Butterfly on the Jungle Cruise5. The jokes just keep coming, the adorable animal animatronics surround you, the skipper guides the boat along the river until you’re back at the dock once more – Friends, this is Disney at its finest!  Some famous people got their start as Jungle Cruise skippers – Kevin Costner and John Lasseter among them. Yes!  Even Weird Al Yankovic sang a song about the Jungle Cruise called “Skipper Dan” – check it out on YouTube here.

We can’t be the only super-fans of the Jungle Cruise – shout out now and leave a comment if you love the Jungle Cruise like we do!WDW Jungle Cruise Jeep



WDW Jungle Cruise's Boulder Side

The Boulder Side of the Jungle Cruise