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Archive for July, 2010

Picture, if you will, a family on vacation.  They’re having a lovely time touring along Sunset Boulevard when they happen across a towering hotel at the end of the street.  They can see lush gardens behind a towering gate with a bellhop waiting at the entrance.  Soft music beckons the children closer, but their parents are hesitating.  There’s something not right about that place they think.  They refuse to go any further.  Their children insist, what could happen in a place like this, they ask.  Still the parents are unsure.  After a few minutes of discussion, the children and their father decide to go into the hotel.  The mother waits at the gates, worrying at the fate of her children and beloved husband.  Before long, she hears what she believes are elevator doors, and terror grasps her heart as she’s sure she hears her family screaming in the distance.  Avoiding the stare of the sinister looking bellhop beckoning more unsuspecting guests through the gardens to the hotel, the mother can do nothing but wait, hoping for the safe return of her children and husband. 

 The wait is fast becoming unbearable, and just as she’s about to go off in search of her family, she hears something that makes her pause.  Could it be?  Yes, thank the Lord, our mother hears the laughter of her children, the welcoming sound of her husband’s voice calling her name, returning to her from another part of the hotel.  They run to her with smiles on their faces and strange stories of a haunted elevator, a gift shop, and a request to do it all over again.  Only this time, she should come along. 

 Yes my friends, that was my family’s first encounter with the Tower of Terror (if only slightly exaggerated).  It took us a long time to convince her to go.  To my mother’s credit, she was fairly afraid of heights, but did eventually go on.  Also to her credit, once we got her on, it was hard to get her to do anything else, she loved it so much (as we knew she would)!

 I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve ridden the Tower of Terror.  I know that I’ve ridden it 11 times in a row when I worked at WDW.  We only stopped because the park closed.  I’ve also tested how well the cast members pay attention when working the ride, leaving various items in the pre-show room to see how quickly they pick them up again.  I wonder if they ever kept my Doug Live! lunchbox…

 Tower is a ride that I never tire of and I’m so excited to “drop by” the Hollywood Tower Hotel again!

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Ah, the wildest ride in the wilderness.

Though this roller coaster is pretty tame in the grand scale of amusement park rides, it is one of my favorites. The wait area has a lot of shade and even a few water fountains. It’s fun during the day and even better at night when everything is lit up and you can see Cinderella’s castle as you make your way up one of the climbs. Parts are fast enough for a short thrill, but tame enough to be a family ride. Plus, being small like me, the lap bars don’t go down near far enough, so there is a lot of sliding around during the ride (especially if you’re with my dad who will slide into you on purpose, even when you’re not in a turn).

Most of all, this ride brings back so many happy memories of all my trips to Walt Disney World, its a definite must do!

Big Thunder at night

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Day 60: PUSH

Either you know PUSH or you don’t.

The first time I ran into him I was vacationing with my parents.  My sisters and I had just gotten off Space Mountain, and my Dad directed us over toward the gift shops across from the Tomorrowland Speedway.  There was a small moving crowd in the middle of the walkway surrounding… a trash can.  Then we realized the trash can was talking.  Not only was it talking, but it was talking to people!  Answering questions, asking names, telling jokes, following people who he thought may have trash.  It was awesome.  It was just another one of those stories you get from Walt Disney World.  “Hey, remember when we saw that talking trash can?”

I hope it get to see him this time.  If you’ve never had the occasion to meet him, you can spy on his antics here

TTFN

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Please stand clear of the doors. Por favor mantengase ale jado de las puertas.

That is a phrase that is said often in my household, both growing up and now with my husband.  It is scattered into my everyday life, and one of the only things I know how to say in Spanish.  Yes it’s a time honored tradition of riding the monorail on any part of Walt Disney World where you’ll hear Jack Wagner asking for your safety when the doors to the monorail open and close. 

 As riding the monorail is one of my favorite things to do during any Disney trip, it doesn’t take very long to have it memorized.  I’ve also taken to repeating “please watch your headnstep” (what’s a headnstep?) as spoken by Joe Hursh.  (No one finds it as funny as I do.) 

 Staying at a “Monorail Resort” I’m pretty sure I’ll get to hear this every day, several times a day.  I may also get this song stuck in my head. 

 If you want to experience this beloved tradition, here is a sample for you.  Otherwise you can search “WDW Monorail” on youtube and get many different versions.  The radio station I listen to (MouseWorld Radio) occasionally plays the spiels from the Resort line, but I couldn’t find a sample to post here.  You can however listen to this podcast which interviews Joe Hursh, who is known as the voice of Walt Disney World, or this one which discusses the many forms of transportation available at Walt Disney World.

TTFN!

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As I’ve searched out for more information to bide my time until my trip from the Disney online fan community, I’ve discovered that I am very different in my thoughts and opinions on Walt Disney World and all that it encompasses. All the websites, podcasts, discussion boards, and blogs that I’ve come across have very set viewpoints that everyone seems to agree on. Except me, of course.

One of those viewpoints is that it seems to be a Disney fan faux pas to enjoy staying at the Grand Floridian. It is never recommended, never appreciated, and never worth the money if you took the Disney fan community’s advice.

So I’m writing this in defense of the Grand Floridian. I’ll get my disclaimers out of the way first. This will be my second time staying at the resort. The last time I was there I got engaged on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon, at sunset, with a view of Cinderella’s castle in the distance. My (now husband) and I picked that resort to stay at because I had a 50% cast member discount and it’s where he stayed for most of his trips to Walt Disney World. His mom is a travel agent, so when they travel, they get the best deals at some of the nicest hotels. So we’ll just say, he’s used to staying at nice hotels, and I much prefer them to the types of hotels I grew up staying in. (Not that they weren’t nice, it’s just that there’s a different experience between a Howard Johnson and the Grand Californian Hotel.)

Now that’s out of the way, I’ll tell you about why I’m staying at the Grand Floridian Hotel (GFlo) and why I would recommend it to others.

First, this is a trip with my husband’s family. They have stayed at the GFlo many times before, and it’s their favorite resort on property. It was my mother-in-law’s choice where we were staying, and I’m very happy with it. We’ll be on the monorail line, so we’ll have fast service to the Magic Kingdom, monorail access to Epcot, and we’ll probably be the first stop for Disney’s Magical Express (our free transportation to and from the airport) since this is WDW’s flagship resort.

Second, it’s beautiful. I hear many complaints that the theme of the hotel is weak and that it’s lost on most of the guests. I am not one of those people. The beautiful exterior was modeled, in part, after the Hotel Del Coronado, which I have been to during my stay in San Diego. (Comparison photos below.)  The interior of the lobby has the quiet elegance of the Victorian era, with modern comforts. I haven’t seen the newly renovated rooms, but the previous rooms had adequate space and comfortable beds, a beautiful bathroom, and decorations with subtle Disney touches. The rooms I stayed in were quiet, and though they were farthest from the main building, were still a reasonably short walk to the monorail or other Disney transportation.

The Hotel Del Coronado

The Grand Floridian Resort

Third, the experience I’ve had while staying there was wonderful. I hear other’s stories about less than helpful concierges, rude or bored service desk employees, or other families’ discourteous actions that destroy any semblance of a good time. I have to say that I’ve had none of those experiences at this hotel, and if I have, I’ve quickly forgotten about them in the grand scheme of “I’m just happy to be here”. Even the best hotel employees can have a bad day (yes, even at Disney), and you can’t control how other people decide to raise their children (even the 45 year-old children).

Those are the big three reasons I am looking forward to staying at this hotel. There are others, such as being able to see the Electrical Water Pageant or even Wishes if I’m at the hotel at that time of night for some reason. I also love the live musicians in the lobby, all the various Disney and non-Disney gift shops, all the lights on the buildings at night, being able to walk to the Polynesian Resort for our various dinner reservations (Ohana and Spirit of Aloha luao), the turn down service at our rooms, the list goes on and on.

So say what you will about what you get for the money, or however you like to spend your down time between the parks, but I’m very excited to have the opportunity to stay that the GFlo, and I would suggest everyone stay there at least once in their lives.

TTFN (ta ta for now)!

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OK, I’ll admit it.  I’m a 4-year-old in a 27 year old’s body.  I love riding carrousels!  The simplicity of the music, the horses, the slight breeze as you sit atop your chosen animal and watch the world pass by around you.  They make me nostalgic for a time I never knew, when the world was a simpler place and music was more beautiful. 

I don’t know when this trend started, but I do enjoy riding what was formerly Cinderella’s Royal Carrousel.  The classic Disney tunes are turned into simple organ tunes.  Every horse is a white horse.  There are seats for those with disabilities or parents who are prone to motion sickness.  Plus you get a great view of the castle as you spin by.

Did you know that the carrousel at Walt Disney World is almost 100 years old?  It has a pretty incredible history, and if you have an hour when you can listen to something, I would suggest the WDW Radio podcast, show # 176 which focuses entirely on the carrousel.  You hear about the ride’s history and the reasoning behind the name change.  It’s truly fascinating and makes me even more excited to ride it when I get there!

TTFN (Ta Ta For Now)!

Photo from WDWLive.com

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Alright, I have 65 more days until I’m taking off on a dream vacation to Walt Disney World.  So I’m going to try and post the 50 things I am most excited for during this trip.  It may be a ride, or just something that I enjoy about Disney or this trip in particular, but I’ll tell you the object and why I’m excited or enjoy it.  Some explanations will be longer than others, but I hope I can make it through them all before I head to the Sunshine State. 

 These posts will all be based off a list and are in no particular order.  So, without further adu: 

 Day 65: Spectro Magic 

 I never used to enjoy the parades at Disney.  I either found they got in my way while I was trying to sprint across the park or they were a good distraction to other guests while I took advantage of temporary shorter lines.  

Then I was hired as a Character Performer, and my park experience changed.  After being in the parades and mingling with the guests on such an intense level, it’s hard not to be drawn to anything with those big furry characters in it.  

I’m looking forward to Spectro Magic for many reasons.  It’s a nighttime parade, which is awesome.  It has very Disney-esque music along with a lot of very cool characters all covered in lights.  I think I love Spectro Magic the most though, because that was the parade I performed in the most when I was a cast member, in many various parts.  It’s one of the few things that hasn’t changed since I worked there, a very rare thing indeed. 

UPDATE: As posted here from the Disney Parks blog, the Main Street Electrical Parade will be extended indefinitely.  I’m not sure what this means for my Spectro viewing as they may have both parades running on different nights.  I guess I’ll find out when I get there. 

Photo from WDWLive.com

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