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Archive for August, 2008

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Hello friends,

Sorry for the missing post!  I was supposed to post on Countdown to Disney – 4 weeks, but with family in town, a wedding, and the Cold of Death, I have fallen behind.  I will post on Thursday with 3 weeks until Disney.  Sorry again to anyone who was actually looking forward to yet another post about Disney.  I’ll try and make it up to you some how. 

 

~Pxy Shan

 

P.S. Big thank you to Susan for pointing out that my rage against the wand on Spaceship Earth was completely uncalled for, in that it has already been taken down.  That’s what I get for not doing my research.

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Countdown to Disney – 5 weeks

Yes, one week closer to Disney World.  I can almost smell the artificial scents being sprayed into the air.  Alright my friends, onto Countdown to Disney: week five – Epcot!

 

This park was almost known as the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, but as no one could ever remember that (and why would those that did want say the whole thing every time?), it was referred to as EPCOT Center.  In 1994 it was renamed Epcot ’94, and then in 1995 it was Epcot ’95.  Thankfully in 1996 they changed it again to just Epcot and left it at that.  Good thing too.  Can you imagine how much money it would cost to change merchandise EVERY year?  I shudder at the thought. 

 

Of course any good cast member would know the full original name of Epcot, plus a few other acronyms that aren’t too nice for Disney’s reputation.  Since these are so well know by now, I don’t feel bad posting some of the nicer ones here:

Every Person Comes Out Tired

Every Paycheck Comes On Thursday

As I said, there are more, but I like Disney and those are still true acronyms.  Plus I’m pretty sure I signed something when I worked there saying that I couldn’t say anything bad about Disney ever again or else they would kill my first born child in punishment for my sins.  Maybe I’m confusing that with the tenth plague.  Either way…

 

So, everyone knows Epcot by the “big golf ball” otherwise known as Spaceship Earth or the geosphere.  Every time I think of it an image from a 1980’s commercial with Mickey Mouse waving from its top pops into my mind.  That was of course back when it was just the geosphere and didn’t have all that other crap sitting on the top and side of it.  Grah.  It was cool when they put the wand with the “2000” on for the millennium celebration, but after that they should have taken it off, not changed it to “Epcot”.  I think it looks tacky and the worst part about it?  They have to put a red blinking light on top of it now for airplanes. 

 

Why is a red blinking light such a big deal to me, you may ask.  Because it ruins the magic.  All of the Disney Parks icons are built to specific heights so that they don’t have to have that blinking reminder that you are so very close to the real world.  Cinderella’s castle is 189 feet tall, Tower of Terror is 199feet, even Expedition Everest, the tallest attraction at Disney, is 199.5 feet tall.  The original geosphere was 180 feet tall, a perfectly respectable height.  Now?  Now it’s 257 feet with that stinking wand and its stupid sparkles.  Take it off, Disney!  You make enough money to be able to throw something away every once and a while. 

 

Moving on. 

 

Spaceship Earth is one of my favorite rides at Epcot.  Why?  It’s the closest ride to a park entrance, so you don’t have to wait for the magic to begin.  It gives the history of communication with old-school animatronics.  It’s voiced by Jeremy Irons.  It has scads of details of inside jokes and historical accuracy.  It’s suitable for the entire family.  It’s air conditioned.  The list goes on and on but in short, it’s one of those uniquely Disney rides that I never tire of.  No matter how much the rest of Epcot changes, it’s still there and pretty darn close to how it was when Epcot opened in 1982. 

 

Before I get into the other aspects of Epcot I’m looking forward to, let me give you a general overview on Epcot and its layout. 

 

Epcot is divided into two areas:  Future World and the World Showcase.  Future world is at the main entrance to the park and hosts the geosphere and most of the rides.  The World Showcase is at the “back” of the park and has pavilions around the World Showcase Lagoon representing 11 different countries.  (Canada, United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, The American Adventure, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, and Mexico). 

 

Most people don’t know this, but Epcot has two ways to get into the park.  Besides the main entrance, there is a small entry between France and United Kingdom.  I’ve used this way to walk to the park when I’m staying at the Boardwalk hotels.  It also has a boat dock for the boats that run around the Boardwalk area and to and from Hollywood Studios.  If you plan on using this “secret” entrance keep in mind that World showcase doesn’t open until 11, so the “back” entrance won’t either. 

 

Now let’s get to the heart of this post:  why I like Epcot.  I think the first reason is that, like Magic Kingdom, many of my happy childhood memories from my family vacations growing up involve Epcot. 

 

We always seemed to have an extra day to go to one park twice on our vacations, and most of the time we would go to Epcot.  I think my parents liked it because it was more educational that the other parks.  I think my brother liked it because it was the most grown-up of the parks (and as the oldest child, and the only boy of the siblings, I think that’s valid).  I’m not sure why my sisters liked it, but maybe it was just enough that we were still going somewhere at Disney than going home.  Whatever the reasons, that’s where we went and that’s where we had fun.  (Which is not a very hard thing to do with my family – one of my favorite memories is when we all got delayed at a tiny airport for 6 and ½ hours.  Try making that a good experience with any other family.) 

 

But I like Epcot for more than just the memories.  I love Test Track and Mission: SPACE.  Soarin’ Over California is one of the coolest family rides that are out there.  How can you not love Figment from Imagination!?  A few of the sidewalks glow at night, the drinking fountains talk to you, and the main fountain puts on a show to thrilling music.  And that’s just Future World. 

 

The World Showcase is defiantly intended for an older audience; however, it has plenty of activities that will keep the kids entertained.  Every “country” has a kid’s spot where they can make crafts and learn about the pavilion’s culture.  Most countries have live entertainers (Off Kilter, Living Statues, MoRockin, Matsuriza, Voices of Liberty, Alpine Trio, Drums of Congo, Dragon Legend Acrobats, Blamann, and Huitzilin, for example) and Norway and Mexico even have rides.  If nothing else, you have 11 countries cuisine to choose from and even the quick service food is delicious if you don’t want to fork out a lot of cash for the ritzy sit-down places.  Did I mention most countries have character meet and greet spots too?  Oh, well, they do.  Plus, you have the DCOH (Disney Characters On Holiday) bus cruising around the park at various times too.  (Little known secret: a few of the hard-to-find Disney characters may make an appearance by the hard-to-find bathrooms at the Imagination! pavilion.  Don’t camp out there though – it’s more of a lucky chance if you happen to be around for it.)

 

Alright, this is all great, but let me get to my favorite part of Epcot.  Are you ready for it?

 

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

 

If I just explained it as a fireworks and laser show, that wouldn’t be telling you the half of it.  Like Wishes, it’s difficult to explain what makes the show so spectacular.  Yes, the fireworks are cool.  The Earth Globe is beautiful.  The lasers, the fire, the special effects that surround you are exciting.  But there is something in the air that makes it bring a tear to your eye just thinking about it.  Maybe it’s just a part of the Disney theme parks experience, where you’re so tired and emotionally overwhelmed that anything seems significant.  Maybe it’s the overall theme of loving your fellow man and that dreams can come true.  Whatever it may be, its breath taking and it gets me every time.  I can’t wait!

 

So that, my friends, is Epcot.  I’ll be back next week with the next installment of Countdown to Disney.

 

See ya’ll real soon!

 

 

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After two years, my husband and I are finally heading back to Walt Disney World for a vacation.  He has a conference for work at the Marriott World Center, which just happens to be 1.5 miles away from WDW, so we’re going down early to get our Disney fix.  The last time we were down there, we got engaged.  A lot has happened since then, and I am really looking forward to heading back to my home away from home. 

 

In preparation for our (short) visit I’m going to post each week on various aspects of Walt Disney World up to our trip, then a review after I get home. 

 

Without further ado, I give you

Countdown to Disney: (6 weeks)

Magic Kingdom

 

Yes, I start with the most well known park in WDW.  Many people refer to it as just Disney World.  It is what people think of when they picture the 30,000 acre resort area that spans two counties in Florida.  The Magic Kingdom is based on Walt’s Magic Kingdom aka Disneyland, but is much larger that it’s Anaheim brother.  One of the best features of the park is the one most people don’t consider when they picture it. 

 

I’m speaking of the Transportation and Ticket Center that takes guests from the parking lot to the gates of the Magic Kingdom.  Most people don’t realize that the extra travel time every guest takes to get to the park is very intentional.  When Walt Disney was designing Magic Kingdom, he wanted guests to have time to forget the real world and leave their troubles behind in anticipation of getting into the park and seeing the beautiful castle.  That’s why you have to take either the monorail or ferryboat to get to the gates. 

 

A little known fact: if you are on some of the first ferryboat loads of the day into the park, you may have Chip and Dale or Pluto hitching a ride with you.  They are usually on the top deck. 

 

Now, I’m not going to bore you with step by step details and facts of the park that a lot of people already know.  No, I’m going to bore you with what makes this park my favorite out of them all at WDW. 

 

Reason 1: Unexpected Entertainment

Besides being the only way to get to the castle and all the other areas of the park, Main Street USA has some fun you may not notice if you only run through the street to get to the Space Mountain FastPass first.  Take a stroll, you may get to hop on the fire truck or horse drawn trolley that will take you to the other end of the street.  Or you could catch a show from some dancers on the trolley or sit on a bench and you may hear the Dapper Dans quartet.  Don’t forget to watch out for some of Main Street’s local residents, Scoop Sanderson (reporter), Tabatha Quidnunk (town gossip), Hildegard Olivia Harding (socialite), or Mayor Weaver.  On top of all that, you could get a haircut at the barber shop, shop to your hearts content, or meet a pretty good selection of characters in the town square area with smaller lines than many of the other areas of the parks.  And this is all before you even get to the Castle!

 

But Main Street USA isn’t the only place to find unexpected entertainment.  Tomorrowland has its own band and talking (maybe even moving) trashcan (affectionately known as PUSH).  Adventureland hosts pirate lessons for kids, I mean, swashbucklers of all ages.  Frontierland has the “Notorious Banjo Brothers and Bob” and a Hoedown.  Even Fantasyland has a sax quartet and story time with Belle.  And if you’re leaving the park at closing time, turn around after you walk under the railroad tracks – Mickey will be there saying goodbye to you and sending kisses!  All of this plus all the regular character meet and greet spots, how can you not feel the magic of Disney?

 

Ok, ok, so you’ve come for the rides?  Magic Kingdom’s got them too. 

 

Reason 2: Rides

You got the mountains; Space, Splash, and Big Thunder.  All of them bring back the nostalgia of my childhood, but my favorite is most defiantly Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Not only is this a fun tummy tickler with a significant shaded wait area (including water fountains!); it has a flawless theme and is a very different thrill at night (keep an eye out for a spectacular view of the castle and the multi-hued springs next to the dino bones).  What I enjoy most about the ride is that it reminds me of sitting next to my silly Dad who would exaggerate the twists and turns by squishing me into the side or pulling me tight next to him.  Throw in his Goofy scream (Yaaahhaahahhhoooeeeyyy!) and you wouldn’t know it from us that the roller coaster was only classified as mild.  It puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.  Oh, and don’t forget: “Hang onto your hats and glasses, folks, cause this here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!”

 

Of course there are more than just the mountains at Magic Kingdom.  You have Pirates of the Caribbean, Dumbo, Peter Pan’s flight, Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Jungle Cruise, and so many more that most everyone has heard of in some way or another. 

 

Yes, the rides at WDW are lots of fun, but they are only just a fraction of why so many come back again and again.  Magic Kingdom is all about being a kid and experiencing magic.  Which brings me to:

 

Reason 3: Everything Else

There is just so much that can be done and seen while you’re in the Magic Kingdom.  You like parades?  They have at least one, if not two or three everyday.  (SpectroMagic is my favorite and should be checked out.)  While you’re waiting for them, cast members come out and entertain you with games.  You like shopping?  You can buy crystal and fine art, watches, clothes, stuffed animals, shoes, rain gear, almost anything.  Have a family picture taken in front of the castle.  Learn your genealogy and get a plaque with your family’s personal history on it.  Stop for a game of checkers or an ice cream cone.  Ride the train.    Ride the riverboat.  There is just so much to do!

 

So what is my favorite thing to do of them all?  Watch the nightly fireworks show, Wishes.  There is no way for me to describe this show to you.  I could try to explain that it’s beautiful and funny and sad and inspiring, but it’s something you have to experience on your own.  It means so very much to me for so many different reasons and it makes me cry every time I see it.  I think it’s what I’m most looking forward to when my husband and I go down in six weeks. 

 

And in true Disney fashion, this is where I leave you.  As the fireworks signal the end of the night, so this brings this Countdown to Disney (six weeks) to a close. 

 

See ya’ll real soon!

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Chapter 5 – 18

 

Oh goodness.  Here we are, months after Edward has left and we have ALL-CAPS-BELLA looking for a way to give this entire book a point.  Or something like that.  This brings us to Jacob Black. 

 

Jacob is the exact opposite of Edward in every literary way you can imagine.  He has dark skin, black hair, runs a fever, acts very young, and always smiles.  Oh, and he’s totally cool with Bella endangering her life.  I can’t think of a better way to keep Edward off your mind then finding a way to hallucinate his voice yelling at you as you ride to your death on a motorcycle.  Have I mentioned Bella seems younger in this book?

 

Now, as inept as Bella thinks she is at flirting, she does an awful lot of it with Jacob.  You don’t need to be sexy and alluring to flirt.  All it takes is smiling and giving the guy the knowledge that they’re really important to you.  Poor Jacob for hoping that he can actually have something more with Bella.  Poor Jacob for not seeing how heartless Bella really is.  Kind of literally at this point.  You really gotta learn Jacob, don’t date the crazies!  Why?  Because they’re crazy!

 

At this point everything is going well and Jake and Bella are making all sorts of promises at each other.  (I’ll love and wait for you forever, I don’t like you that way, I don’t care, good luck with that, ext.)  Then <gasp!> Jake disappears like a fart in the wind, breaking all the promises he’s ever made at Bella.  We, the reader, now get:

 

 FREAKED-OUT-ALL-CAPS-BELLA

 

Not as zombie like as the original, but much more twitchy.  Show her a bad vampire and watch her vibrate in fear off your table!

 

Lucky for us, it only takes 53 pages (and a little spat between our new lovebirds) until Jake turns up and tries to make Bella understand what’s going on.  “Look Bella, you have another supernatural protector who is madly in love with you!  Let’s make more promises we can break!”

 

Let me pause here for my tangent on promises.  Promises can be viewed in two ways.  They are either a binding contract that results in years of hardship and heartache when broken or… they’re no big deal.  The thing that bothers me most about them is any promise can be viewed in one of these two ways or both.  I promise to love and cherish you all the days of my life.  I promise I won’t laugh.  I promise never to hurt you.  Blah, blah, blah.  What bothers me about the Twilight series is the lack of consistency.  Either make all promises a big deal or don’t.  As an author I feel you have that power.  This is Sci-fi for crying out loud.  I understand that promises in the real world maintain two different significances, but for me they don’t.  Promises to me are a very big deal and my husband and I promise very little to each other because of that.  (well, except for marriage vows and such.  I’d say that’s a big one.)  The point being that you can’t guarantee what will happen in the future, so the more promises you make, the less likely you will be to fulfill all of them.  Perhaps that’s a negative way to look that it all, but I still find it annoying.  Ok, tangent done. 

 

So Jake is back and Bella is being looked after again, and all is well.  Bella thinks she is really ready to start moving on and make Jake happy as his love.  However, this is a book about a vampire romance, so we know that can’t really last for long.  So:

 

Viola!  Alice shows up to make sure Charlie is ok after Bella’s supposed death.  Or to make sure Bella is really dead?  You know, I’m not really sure I believe that Alice would come back for either of those reasons after being threatened by Edward to never again make contact.  However, I guess this is Sci-fi and we do need to find a way for our main couple to get back together. 

 

Hence Alice’s presence and Rosalie’s big mouth.  Edward is going to kill himself?  Who’s being melodramatic now?  I’ll dive into that next time.

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It’s August 1!  Eleven hours from now, I should be purchasing my copy of Breaking Dawn.  Time seems to be dragging at the moment.  It’s very quiet at work, but I can’t read the end of Eclipse until I leave this evening.  At least that should make the time pass faster once I get home.  I’m going to the midnight release party at the Barnes & Noble near my house, and I plan to take some pictures.  I’ll write about it this weekend (after I’m done reading)!

However, I still need to wrap up my observations of Twilight.  So let’s get started:

  • How does a baseball bat (even an aluminum bat) not break when a vampire hits a ball?  Surely the impact would damage the bat in some way, right?
  • When Laurent, Victoria, and James emerged from the woods, I was immediately creeped out.  One of the scarier facts about them is that none of them were wearing shoes.  Imagine a deadly predator that can move amazingly fast.  Now imagine that there’s no chance you can hear them at all.  I think that’s terrifying.
  • If Bella didn’t seem like a teenager before, she certainly does when she’s getting her things from Charlie’s in order to leave.  There’s the screaming, crying, door slamming, and utter confusion in this scene.  It’s no wonder Charlie is astounded. 
  • I can’t believe that Charlie lets Bella leave.  Sure, Bella quoting her mother is playing dirty.  However I can’t imagine that Charlie would just let Bella run out of the house and drive away while she was so emotional.  If nothing else, he’s a sheriff and he would be concerned about Bella’s safety.
  • What would it feel like to have Jasper alter your emotions?  It would be great to feel calmer when you’re in a very stressful situation.  If you were aware of it, though, I think it could be distressing.  How strange would it be to have thoughts of panic but not have the emotional reaction?
  • How ironic is it that Bella goes to confront James at the dance studio?  Clumsy Bella walks into a building where gracefulness is taught in order to face an amazingly graceful and cunning opponent. 
  • I am very interested to see the fight scene between James and Edward when the movie comes out.  In my mind, I see it as being nearly lyrical.  It will also be great to see because Bella only remembers bits and pieces of what happened in the book. 
  • She fell down two flights of stairs and through a window?  Who thinks this is a plausible cover story?  I know that Bella is clumsy, but that is really over the top.  Alice must have done a damn good job of faking the accident scene.  I guess it was good that Carlisle was there as well.  The “fell down the stairs” story may not have gone down well with doctors who might have assumed Bella was abused had he not been there.

It’s been very interesting for me to re-read Twilight.  I’ve noticed many things that I didn’t before.  I think that’s the mark of a good book: if you read it several times, and you’re still getting something out of it, it must be at least interesting.  I’ve also learned some things during this experiment.  I’ll never break a book into such large parts again.  I also should have taken better notes.

But that’s not important now.  What is?  Getting home to read before I go get my copy of Breaking Dawn!

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