I’ve Got ONE Superpower and it’s Disney-related!

If you take your organizational skills for granted, stop it!  Right now.  Some of us are born with skill-sets completely lacking in anything that remotely resembles orderliness.  I am one of those people.  Organization escapes me.  Not that I can’t do it, it just doesn’t bring me joy or even the tiniest bit of satisfaction.  “A place for everything and everything in its place.” – What does that even mean?  The concept is completely lost on me.  Forget the KonMari Method…I find clutter to be oddly soothing in a way I’ll never be able to explain.I've Got ONE Superpower and it's Disney-related!

I’m not lazy, I simply choose to focus my efforts on things that are rewarding.  Things like cooking, running, reading, random craft projects (hello, countdown calendars and stateroom door decorations), and learning new things.  I don’t mind grocery shopping or vacuuming or giving Junior a bath, but I’d rather visit the dentist than actually tidy anything.  I’m also a terrible procrastinator, but that’s because I really do work better under pressure most of the time.  Now that you know some of my worst character flaws, you’d think it would be difficult for me to pull off a successful Disney vacation, right?  Ha!  Turns out ALL of my normally non-existent organizational ability awakens with laser-like focus when it’s time to make trip plans.I've Got ONE Superpower and it's Disney-related!

I’ve Got ONE Superpower and it’s Disney-related!

I can plan a Disney vacation with military precision.  I often begin the process a year (or more) in advance and no detail is too small to escape consideration.  I make lists and scour the internet for new restaurant and attraction reviews.  I have not a single qualm about booking scores of dining reservations 180 days in advance.  I plan park arrival times, park-hopping options and know exactly what the park hours will be each day.  I even plan to be unplanned for big blocks of time because some of our happiest vacation moments have occurred during those hours.

Honey, where IS my super suit?

I plan food kiosks to try during Epcot’s festivals.  I make notes about what craft beers are available where.  Our FastPasses are booked during the first moments of the 60-day window and I even have a carefully considered strategy for those choices as well.  Packing lists?  You betcha!  It matters not if there are only two of us traveling or more than half-a-dozen, I’m up to the challenge.  The planning brings me nearly as much joy as the actual vacation and this may sound weird, but I’m not bothered in the slightest if after we’ve arrived for our vacation things don’t go precisely as planned.  Hurricane Matthew comes to mind…our plans were completely blown for a day and a half and we still had SO MUCH FUN!I've Got ONE Superpower and it's Disney-related!

Mention the possibility of a Disney getaway to me and I spring out of a virtual phone booth ready to get to work.  I can’t explain how or why these über-organizational tendencies appear only for trip-planning, but as far as superpowers go, I’m not complaining.  I’m busily working right now on three up-coming visits to Walt Disney World and a Disney cruise.  If my family is bothered by any of this, they love me enough to keep it to themselves.

How about you?  Do you have a Disney superpower? 

Magic Kingdom – Festival Of Fantasy Parade’s New Time?

What time is the 3 o’clock parade?  The answer might surprise you on and after August 20, 2017.Festival of Fantasy Parade's New Time

Magic Kingdom – Festival Of Fantasy Parade’s New Time?

I love Disney rumors and gossip – it’s fun to speculate and discuss among my fellow Disney geeks.  When I came across this brief article from WDW News Today, I had to visit Disney’s official website and check out the times info for myself.  Sure enough, the “3 o’clock parade” is moving to 2:00 pm.  Annnnnd I think that’s okay.  Pretty good, in fact.  Here’s why…Festival of Fantasy Parade's New Time

If you’ve never seen Festival of Fantasy, it’s a must-do at least once.  I’ve caught the entire 12 minute spectacle a few times because it’s nothing short of incredible.  Seriously, the floats, costumes, and music are wonderful and as good as Disney gets.  I was not a huge fan of the prior parade (Celebrate a Dream Come True) for a variety of reasons and only watched it in its entirety once because we had VIP seating.  Festival of Fantasy is everything I wanted the previous parade to be and oh, so much more.  3 o’clock can be a tough time of the day to fit in a parade…no matter how fantastic.

Mid-afternoon is the classic post-lunch naptime for legions of littles.  It’s hot, humid, sometimes riddled with pop-up thunderstorms and for lots of families their resort pool is calling.  Sometimes people want to spend a couple of hours before dinner cleaning up and enjoying happy hour (me!).  Sometimes people want to park-hop after knocking off their favorite Magic Kingdom attractions (also me!).  Moving the parade up an hour could really be a huge help for lots of folks.  The Festival of Fantasy Dining Package will also work out better for people who eat at the earliest times available – closing the gap a bit between meal and parade time.Festival Of Fantasy Parade's New Time

I think, if this time change is permanent, The Fam and I will get to enjoy Festival of Fantasy more frequently than we do now.  Our favorite viewing spots are on the Tomorrowland side of the hub and also at the end of Main Street USA across from the flagpole – easy to exit the park from there after Mickey and Minnie go by.Minne Mouse in the Festival of Fantasy Parade

Are you a Festival of Fantasy Fan?  How do you feel about the parade’s new time?Festival Of Fantasy Parade's New Time

 

2017 Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend in Review

Last weekend’s trip to Walt Disney World was brief but packed with fun.  I’ve got so much to tell you, I thought I’d start with this post full of my impressions of the best and not-so-great aspects of our visit.  I’ll follow up with posts on the Star Wars 10K and half marathon and a restaurant review or two.  Here’s the scoop…

2017 Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend in Review

We arrived mid-day Friday.  Our plan was to get to the Grand Floridian (stayed at the DVC Villas), drop off our luggage, grab a bite at the Gasparilla Island Grill (underrated quick-service), then rush over to Wide World Of Sports so Joseph and I could pick up our race packets for the Dark Side Challenge.  This part went off without a hitch.  I was very excited to see Richard (famous greeter at the Grand Floridian) looking well.  If you seen him, say hello and he’ll say, “Welcome to the Grand!”  I love that he’s in his 90’s and still enjoying his job so much.

We wanted to spend a few minutes shopping at the Expo if possible and, thanks to the event buses running often, mission accomplished!  I’d booked Magic Kingdom FastPasses starting at 4:30 (or thereabouts) for Seven Dwarfs, Big Thunder, and Space Mountain and we arrived in plenty of time!  We even managed to squeeze in Pirates and PeopleMover as well.  Dinner was at Narcoossee’s and the 8:30 dining time was my first error of this trip.  WAY too late to eat before having to get up at 3:15 a.m. the next day.

Before dinner, we managed a quick glass of wine in Mizner’s Lounge.  Joseph had never heard the Lobby Society Orchestra play before and they sounded especially great that evening.  We were wishing we’d had more time to relax and enjoy the music.  On the way to Narcoossee’s, we spotted a rather large dark-colored snake on the sidewalk.  As I’ve mentioned before (here), Joseph has an affinity for reptiles.  I wanted to take the snake’s picture, Joseph wanted to pick it up!  Raymond and I, at the exact same time, realized what was about to happen and quietly said, “Don’t do it!” just about the time the snake decided to slither off into the bushes.  I did mention to the hostess that some guests might be alarmed if Mr. Snake decided to move back onto the warmth of the walkway.

Dinner was excellent as was our view of Wishes during our meal.  As we headed to our room to catch what sleep we could, we noticed and Cast Member and a gentleman in a suit holding a flashlight searching for the snake – or at least making sure it stayed off the sidewalk.  Our room (studio #1428) was the biggest disappointment of our stay.  There was no split bathroom, just a plain bathroom with a tub/shower combo.We didn’t even know such a room type existed!  Made getting ready take much longer for the three of us as we are a decidedly anti-bathroom-sharing people.  The room overall was lovely, but felt like a plain hotel room.  If you’ve seen DVC studios at Disney’s Polynesian Village or Bay Lake Tower, you can appreciate how disappointed we were.  There’s a split bathroom at the Poly and Bay Lake Tower’s kitchenette is so large, there’s extra room (with a counter and mirror) for getting ready.

Watch for a full report on the Star Wars 10K in the next few days.  Let me jump straight to our post-race activities…

At 180-days out, I’d booked a reservation for lunch at Beaches & Cream (Beach Club) and then cancelled it the day before we left home.  I should not have done that.  The recently opened Polite Pig in Disney Springs seemed just our type of place and we all wanted to try it.  Arriving at Disney Springs around 10:00 a.m., we had about an hour to shop before the restaurant opened and we were among the first in the door.  The atmosphere is neat and the employees were perfectly polite.  But, in spite of our love for barbecue and smoked meats, we were (all of us) disappointed in our food.  Such unanimous agreement is practically unheard of!  I ended up feeling sorry we didn’t get to try Beaches & Cream.  Next time we visit the Polite Pig, it’ll be for the bar instead of the food – our beers were very delicious and their drink menu is vast.

After lunch we were off to Epcot for the Disney Exchange Podcast Meet-up!  Nick, Dave, and I, (and our families) were excited to see friends of the show and spent an hour visiting and laughing a LOT!  We felt very humbled and special to have listeners willing to interrupt their Disney vacation to spend time with us.  Thanks especially to “Aunt Sandy”, Dave J., Victoria, Olivia, Linda, and Phillip (a.k.a. Duke).  After the meet-up, Raymond, Joseph and I headed off to use our FastPasses.

Frozen was down, so we used our first FastPass for Soarin’ followed by Spaceship Earth (we got stuck for a couple of minutes by the garlic hat guy and it was great!).  Our last FastPass went unused (Nemo) when we realized how nice it would be to go back to our room for a few minutes before dinner at Il Mulino – our now-traditional-pre-half-marathon-go-to restaurant.  If you are not on the Disney Dining Plan, I urge you to give some of the Swan and Dolphin’s restaurants a try!  This was our fourth visit to Il Mulino and our experiences have all been consistently excellent.

Immediately after dinner, we got back to our room as quickly as possible and were out as soon as our heads hit the pillows!

Sunday morning, there was that little matter of the Star Wars Half Marathon.  (Full review soon.)  Raymond was waiting for Joseph and me when we finished the race and the three of us, along with Dave and his wife, Anne, enjoyed a few minutes of the post-race party before getting on with the rest of our day.  Animal Kingdom was on the agenda and by the time we got there, a bad case of “hangry” had struck so we decided to grab some small plates at the Nomad Lounge.And ended up staying for three hours once Nick and Dave (and their wives and friends) found out where we were and joined us.  If you haven’t been to Nomad Lounge, go!  It’s about as perfect a place to relax as exists on Disney property.  The beverage selection is great, the food is yummy, and the atmosphere is tranquil.  Unbelievably, we left Nomad Lounge and spent a few more minutes together at the Dawa Bar.

Eventually we needed to excuse ourselves in favor of FastPasses for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest.  We strolled along the Gorilla Falls Trail between attractions and then caught a bus for Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Kidani Village section for dinner at Sanaa.  We were early and spent time out on the savannah overlook sitting in rocking chairs and enjoying the lovely weather.  Sanaa’s manager was kind enough to find us a table about 30 minutes before our reservation and we were delighted to introduce Joseph to the restaurant’s famous bread service.

To wrap up the day, we met our Disney Exchange friends back at Animal Kingdom for Rivers of Light.  It was our first time to see it and typically, Raymond, Joseph and I had completely differing opinions about this new show (more on that at a later date).  By this time, even with all the rest and relaxation, the trackers on our Fitbits had passed 20 miles for the day.  It was time to turn in so we had enough energy to squeeze in a last little bit of Disney in the morning.

We were awake and busy packing by 6:15 a.m.  We had breakfast scheduled at Kona Café (another tradition) followed by one last FastPass in Magic Kingdom for Space Mountain at 9:20.  Our ride to the airport was scheduled to pick us up at 11:00 a.m.  Dave met us in Magic Kingdom and we had time for a last ride around Tomorrowland on the PeopleMover before blasting off into Space.  It was time to go.  One last bit of pixie dust found us as we went back to our room for our luggage – Cinderella’s horses, carriage and footmen were on the path around our building and we got to see them up close as they passed by.  Then we found ourselves leaving Walt Disney World behind to get home for some much needed rest!

For a very short 72 hours, we had an amazing (exhausting) time!  Joseph completed his first runDisney events.  Nick, Dave and I managed (finally!) to have our first podcast meet-up.  Family, friends, and LOTS of Disney magic all around…we could not have asked for a better time.

Being a Disney World Electrical Water Pageant Fan

From my non-Disney-loving friends, I take some flack for my vacation destination of choice.  From my fellow Disney fans, I get teased about my love for one of the most special, original, and enduring attractions at Walt Disney World…The Electrical Water Pageant.  What’s made me so devoted?  Glad you asked.Disney World Electrical Water Pageant

Disney World’s Electrical Water Pageant

It was 1996 when the Pageant’s current version was launched and that’s the year I first experienced this most amazing of extra magical touches.  Available to guests who happen to be along the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake most evenings, this parade-on-water is a charming treat.  It’s one of those things Disney doesn’t have to do.  People would still flock in droves to the House of Mouse and have fantastic family fun without this one attraction, but it’s been there since late October of 1971 and is still “a thing” treasured by many adoring fans like me.Disney World Electrical Water Pageant

For my family, it’s the whimsical simplicity of parade floats made out of barges with blinking lights.  As the floats go by, animals seem to leap out of the water and dance.  There may only be 14 floats and the entire experience lasts only 15 minutes, but it’s got a special place in our hearts.  If we’re staying at Bay Lake Tower, we can sometimes hear the Electrical Water Pageant’s music as we’re drifting off to sleep – like a perky lullaby even if we’re not watching the show. Disney World's Electrical Water Pageant

The music is snappy and the songs are well-known (mostly…maybe not everyone is familiar with the 1988 Was (Not Was) hit, “Walk the Dinosaur”).  Many of the songs are from The Little Mermaid and there are also tunes from Peter Pan, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and other Disney movies.  Patriotic favorites like “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “America the Beautiful” add a nice touch as well.  I’m telling you – this thing’s adorable!  Quirky, eclectic – there are sea creatures, a dinosaur, and the Stars and Stripes –  there’s a lot to see in a mere quarter of an hour.Disney World Electrical Water Pageant Disney World Electrical Water Pageant

Who would love the Electrical Water Pageant?  Little ones, fans of classic Disney World attractions, folks who want a low key attraction that’s both free and outside the parks, and lovers of Disney music and magic.  Our favorite spot to watch the Pageant is on the boat dock at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, but there are lots of prime viewing locations.  If you’re enjoying a meal at one of the monorail resorts, adding the Pageant to your evening is a great way to end the day.  Evening show times vary and are available in the My Disney Experience app…search for “Electrical Water Pageant”.  Here’s what Disney’s website says…

Recommended viewing locations include:

Please note that all show times are approximate and may vary by several minutes. All entertainment is subject to change and may be cancelled in cases of inclement weather.

Have you watched the Electrical Water Pageant?  How do you feel about it?