Monday, April 30, 2012

Stars Fell on Disney Fans from Alabama: Wernher von Braun

I recently read a post on mydisneymania about Walt Disney and Wernher von Braun and immediatly thought I should share as a part of my "Disney Fans From Alabama" series.

Who is Wernher von Braun???  He was a German engineer who came to America after WWII and ended up in Alabama in 1950.  He worked on the deisgn of the V-2 combat rocket, helped build rockets that carried astronauts to the moon and served as the director of Marshall Space Flight Center in north Alabama. If you live in the Huntsville, Alabama area, you are very familiar with the name "von Braun!"  In this city you will find the von Braun Civic Center, the von Braun Astronomical Society and the von Braun Center for Science & Innovation.  He also created the Research Institute at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  
image from

In hopes of gaining public interest in the future of the space program, von Braun began working with Walt Disney and the Disney Studios to provide three television films about space exploration.  Man in Space, was the first to be aired on March 9, 1955 with 42 million viewers and the second highest rated TV show in American history.  The second show was Man and the Moon and the third was Mars and Beyond.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Destination Disney: 5 Favorite Snacks at WDW

Better late than never.... Here's my Top 5 Snacks at WDW with Destination Disney at Heidi's Head.

1. Cupcake(s).  I LOVE cupcakes.  Particularly chocolate cupcakes with white or white butter cream icing.  You can't beat the combination... I've tried.  I've had several different cupcakes at WDW and have a real hard time narrowing down which chocolate cupcake with white icing is my favorite.  For now, I'll go with the Cotton Top Tamarin Cupcake at Animal Kingdom!

2. Mickey Shaped Pretzel.  While the "regular" soft pretzels are very yummy, there is just something about a soft pretzel shaped like Mickey!  On our last trip, I think we had 4 of these things in Frontierland. Yeah, I love em.

3. Mickey Shaped Chocolate Covered Caramel Apple.  I have to get one of these on each trip.  Usually I get it on our last day and bring it home with me.   They are soooo big it's hard for me to finish it in one sitting.  It's also a lot easier to eat if you have a knife to cut it into sections.  Plus, bringing it home means the Disney magic lasts a little bit longer!

4 Main Street Popcorn.  There is something special about the popcorn on Main Street USA.  It tastes, hands down, better than any other popcorn.  It's even better if it comes in a plastic, take me home with you, container paired with an ice cold Diet Coke!

5. Mickey Cookies and Cram Ice Cream Sandwich.  Delish!  On a hot day at Walt Disney World this hits the spot for me.  While others choose the Dole Whip, I'll pass on that and grab some chocolate Mickey shaped ice cream!

This post is joining in the Magical Blogorail Rides again hop on April 29, 2013!  Check out other Favorite Snacks at WDW at the hop!

Focused on the Magic

Friday, April 27, 2012

Magical Blogorail Green: Favorite WDW Character Dining

Welcome to those of you joining me from Adventures of a Disney Princess and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Today we're sharing our favorite character dining experience.  While I've experienced a lot of different character meals, the Tusker House at Animal Kingdom is my favorite!  In September of 2011, my mom, son and I went to Donald's Dining Safari Breakfast for the first time.   We had reservations for 30 minutes prior to the park opening.  This made for awesome photos of the Tree of Life prior to the meal. Nobody was anywhere near us so I got a "people free" shot of the Tree!!

Once we arrived in Africa at Tusker House, we had a PhotoPass picture made with Donald.  This was the only time we saw Donald at the breakfast.  Once seated, we saw Mickie, Minnie, Daisy and Goofy greeting guests at their tables.  The waitress brought us our "jungle juice" and took additional drink orders, then it was on!!  We made our way to the buffet!  Of course I had to get Mickey waffles.  I'll eat almost anything shaped like Mickey and these waffles are no exception!

On the buffet, there were several different options:
cereals/ milk
muffins/ pastries/ cinnamon rolls/ etc
bread pudding with vanilla sauce
biscuits and gravy
scrambled eggs
potato wedges
frittatas- veggie and ham/ cheese
corned beef hash
carved honey glazed ham
and more!
As you can see, there is something for everyone.  My son had plenty he could eat and even vegetarians could find plenty of items to eat.

I think my favorite part of this meal was the characters- surprised?!?  We "met" all of the characters multiple times and they spent a lot of time at each table "talking" and playing with the kids.  C-man was in heaven interacting with his friends!  But, the clincher was the "parade" that Mickey led.  He passed out African inspired percussion instruments to all the kids and had them line up.  Each child played, rang, shook or beat their instrument as they marched around the restaurant following Mickey.  

If you have never experienced Donald's Safari Breakfast, I highly suggest you do!  You can get great food and meet the "best" of the characters in my opinion.  Make your reservations prior to park opening and get a few good photos before your meal too!
Laughing with Mickey.  Posing with Daisy.

Loving KK and Goofy.  Gearing up for the parade!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is The CanaDisney Blog.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:
1st Stop ~ Disney Living

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Wishes from the Poly Beach

"Wishes" from the Polynesian Beach
On our most recent trip to Walt Disney World, we were able to see "Wishes" from three different perspectives: The rooftop of the Contemporary Resort, the beaches of the Polynesian Resort and the Hub in front of Cinderella Castle.

While I love seeing this fireworks show from Main Street USA, the beach from the Poly is a close second.  Before our reservations for dinner at 'Ohana one night, we went to the beach to watch "Wishes."  While it was fabulous, I do have one tip for you...

Bring a towel or a blanket to sit on!  We were planning on sitting on the lounge chairs on the beach and had a very hard time finding one without seagull poop all over it!  Instead of "lounging" on the beach to watch the fireworks, we balanced on the end of the lounge chairs trying to avoid the poop.

So, bring one large blanket for your family/ party to sit on, or bring several towels to lay on the chairs before you recline!

Monday, April 23, 2012

February 15, 2012 WDW Trip Report: Day 4

This morning was spent at Disney's Hollywood Studios, or MGM as we still call it!  We got their just after rope drop, but still managed to get a ride on Toy Story Mania without a long wait and grabbed fast passes for later in the day.  Once we got that "out of the way", the rest of the time at DHS MGM was a very leisurely!  The only other "ride" we went on was Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.   The rest of our time was spent walking around, talking to cast members and finding "hidden treasures!"  

After our Rock 'n' Roller Coaster ride, we were strolling back down Sunset Bouleveard and spotted these two "cops" on the side of the street.  I managed to snap this photo as the one on the left spotted me!  He called me out, so we went over to chat!  They were very nice guys and told us about the World Famous Strawberry Shortcake in Plant City, FL.  The encouraged us to drive about an hour just to eat the Shortcake!  We didn't take them up on it though!  They also gave us some Disney Police badges and stickers for the boys.  

After some "cop talk" and sharing of stories, we said goodbye and made our way to the Sorcerer's Hat where the street performers were just about to get started.  We watched them for about 15 minutes and were "called out" of the crowd since we were celebrating our anniversary!  See where the kid is standing in the green shirt?  That's where Jonathan and I were.  They asked Jonathan some questions about how long we had been married, when our anniversary was and where we got engaged.  He got them all right and they were quite impressed that he knew the answers!  I was secretly hoping for a free fastpass or something for our special occasion, but no such luck.

Next, we walked around some more and found a few "hidden treasures" at DHS MGM.  First we found the "do not pull" rope outside of Indiana Jones.  Yes, we pulled!  Then we found the Toilet Paper Tree on the Streets of America.  Next, we found the umbrella from "Singing in the Rain" near the Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show.  I also finally found one of the survey markers at MGM and took a picture, but I'm not posting it since I already have so many photos!  After we walked around, met Phineas and Ferb, Jake and some others, we made our way to Epcot. 

First we made our way thought MouseGears and headed towards Universe of Energy.  We decided not to ride and do Mission: SPACE instead.  We definitely did the green side since I was 10 weeks pregnant and already susceptible to motion sickness!  I did get dizzy, but nothing like the orange side!  Then we started World Showcase on the Mexico side.  We skipped Mexico and Norway and made our way to China for a bite to eat.  We wanted to eat at Lotus Blossom on a quick service dining credit, but they didn't have what I wanted, so we settled on Nine Dragons.  

We had eaten here before and had a good experience, but this time was definitely so so. Not sure I'll do it again.  I had chicken fried rice and Jonathan had some sort of chicken dish.  We had more fun writing in Chinese than we did eating.  After lunch we continued our way around the Showcase.  I stopped to take several pictures focusing on cast members.  

We saw the Voices of Liberty in America before taking in the American Adventure show.  We stopped for gelato in Italy and had the "pleasure" of hearing Mo'Rockin' for the first time in Morocco.  We eventually made our way all around the Lagoon and went back to the resort for a break. 

Since we were in our own car this time, we had our refillable mugs with us and decided to stop by the food court for a drink.  I fell IN LOVE with the Pomegranate Lemonade!  Back at our building at the French Quarter, we saw a few cast members starting a camp fire.  Yup, it was time for s'mores!  I made a few several before taking a quick nap before our dining reservations!

Our reservations were at 'Ohana at the Polynesian Resort for 7:45.  We arrived at 7:30 and the lady encouraged us to go to the beach to find a spot to watch "Wishes" at 8:00.  I was worried we would lose our reservation time if we watched the fireworks, but she assured me we could come after "Wishes" and we would be seated.  So, that's what we did!  

This was the second time we had seen "Wishes."  The night before we saw it from the rooftop of the Contemporary and honestly, I think I liked this view better.  They had the music piped into the speakers at the beach and they paused the night movie on the beach so that noise wouldn't interfere.  The only thing I wish I had had was a blanket to sit on... and I'll post WHY tomorrow for my "Tuesday's Tip!"

Dinner at 'Ohana was fabulous!  We ate WAAAYYYY too much, danced for our anniversary to the ukelele player and got leis.  It was a perfect night and I can't wait to do this again with our boys!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Flashback Friday: Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To Work We Go!

Focused on the MagicI'll warn you... This is not a pleasant story, but it's pretty funny!  While we were at Walt Disney World in February we were passing through "the hub" during the "Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party."  Everybody was moving in all different directions not really paying attention to anyone else, just trying to get to the next float to meet characters.  That's when I noticed several cast members skipping around singing "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To Work We Go!"  I asked Jonathan what he thought they were doing and all he said was, "Look on the ground."  Yup, there was vomit right in the middle of the hub!  While two janitor type cast members were sprinkling the magic absorbent stuff on the vomit, the Main Street Cast Members were skipping around in a circle around the janitors singing the song!  I don't even think anyone else slowed down to even see what was happening!  Not only did I slow down, I grabbed my camera and snapped this photo.  I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever seen at WDW involving cast members!  I'm sure they didn't think it was too funny though...

I also learned on this trip that cast members don't refer to vomit as a "protein spill" anymore.  I didn't learn what the new word was... but don't think I didn't try!!

Do you know the new "code word" for vomit at Walt Disney World?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Destination Disney: Top 6 Disney Restaurants

For this week's Destination Disney with Heidi's Head, we are sharing our top 6 Disney Restaurants.  After looking at my list, I've decided that the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is lacking in "good restaurants...."  Anyway... on with the list!

#1 Le Cellier  My hands down favorite restaurant is now Le Cellier at the Canada Pavilion in Epcot.  We ate here on our last trip for the first time and will most likely go back on each trip in the future!  To start, the pretzel bread was amazing!  But, the steak was to die for!  It was the best steak I've ever eaten.  I could almost cut it with a fork it was so tender and it melted in my mouth.  In fact, my mouth is watering now just thinking about it!

#2 California Grill  Another new restaurant on our last trip was the California Grill located on the top floor of the Contemporary Resort.  Again, I had the steak.  While it was very good, it was not as good as Le Cellier.  The Plant City Strawberry Salad was very tasty and big!  What I would change about the steak is the barbecue type sauce used on the steak.  The dessert was good too, but the best parts were the view of the WDW resort and watching "Wishes" from the rooftop!

#3 Carnation Cafe  Breakfast at the Carnation Cafe on Main Street, USA in Disneyland is out of this world!  The cast members were extra friendly here and the view of Main Street as the park is opening is so fun.  This is where I had the chance to meet Oscar Martinez in 2010.

#4 'Ohana  Last February when we ate at 'Ohana in the Polynesian Resort at WDW we were lucky to be celebrating our anniversary!  We were asked to dance while Kahula played his ukulele!  It was very romantic in a Disney type of way.  The view of Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom were a nice touch, but the atmosphere inside the restaurant was actually better.  The food was delicious and PLENTY!  The servers were very nice and we look forward to sharing this experience with our boys!

#5 Yak and Yeti  We've only eaten at Yak and Yeti once, but it still stays on the top of our list!  Located in Animal Kingdom, you can order Asian dishes.  Everything we had there was top notch.  I would love to get a reservation around 3:00 and watch the Jammin' Jungle Parade from the window next to our table!

#6 50's Prime Time Cafe  This restaurant has a very unique atmosphere that I've never experienced anywhere else and the food is really good too!  It's set in the 50's with black and white TVs on each table showing reruns of I Love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver, etc.  The servers make you "mind your manners" and aren't afraid to call you out if you don't behave!  I personally would suggest ordering the meatloaf and I've heard the PB&J shake is really good too!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Nature at WDW

Focused on the Magic
Today's Wordless(ish) Wednesday blog hop is all about Nature in honor of Earth Day and Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival.  Since I've never experienced the Festival, I don't have those photos, but I do have a few pictures I like!  Below is the maze in the United Kingdom pavilion at Epcot and flower pots at Port Orleans Riverside.  Both were from February 2012.

Thanks for the hop Deb!  Link up your Disney photos if you have a blog!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to WDW with Preschoolers" Giveaway

My friend, Lisa M. Battista, is the author of the web site Beyond the Attractions and the fantastic book Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers.  Lisa is a contributor to The Disney Moms and Chip & Company along with me.  She has graciously given me a copy of her book and asked me to write a review for my readers!  In return, we will have a giveaway where one of my readers will also receive a copy of her book!

Beyond the Attractions, is the perfect book if you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World with a preschooler.  While there are many awesome planning books for a WDW trip, this is the only one I've seen that deals specifically with preschool age children.  As a mom of a 3 year old and another on the way, this is the perfect book for our family!

I took 2 trips to Walt Disney World when my son was almost 23 months and again at  2 3/4 years.  The one thing I learned on both of these trips is to PLAN!  Both of these trips would have been so much easier had I had Lisa's book to help.  While I wouldn't trade these memories for anything, knowing what I know now after reading her book these trips could have been a lot easier.

The introduction provides some very helpful tips for traveling with preschoolers.  In Chapter 1, she helps you answer the most important question, "Is your child ready for a Disney World vacation?"  Too many parents don't think this through before starting the planning part of a Disney vacation!

Throughout the book she covers the details of a Disney vacation: preparing for a trip, planning the trip, where to stay, how to get there, touring the parks, attractions, activities, dining, recreation, parades, characters, safety and paying for the fun!  The chapter on attractions is my favorite.  It gives height restrictions for attractions along with descriptions of the rides, specifically those that may be too intense or scary for little ones, for all 4 theme parks.

Another plus for me is the resources in the back!  I love lists and this book gives great lists of things you may need while planning your vacation: WDW phone numbers, web site resources, other planning books, and Orlando area medical care and shopping places.  You will also find a list of "Must Do" things for toddlers and preschoolers at WDW, a list of character greeting areas and dining rates.  There is a planning checklist starting 6 months before your vacation and a suggested packing list for your preschooler.

If you are interested in wining this book, you can follow the Rafflecopter instructions below!  Thanks to Lisa for allowing me to review the book and providing the giveaway.  Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

February 2012 WDW Trip Report: Day 3

Day 3 of our February Trip was on Valentine's Day!  I can't think of a better place to celebrate Valentine's Day with my husband!  We decided to spend this day at the Magic Kingdom.  We woke up early and made it in plenty of time for Rope Drop.  We were on the front row, actually!  I had Jonathan video while I took stills.   I can't watch this performance without crying!  I think that's why they've never asked our family to be "the family" to open the park.  They know I'll just stand on the platform and cry the entire time!

Once the park was open, we  spent quite a bit of time on Main Street, USA.  This is my favorite spot on property!  I really think I could spend an entire day walking back and forth taking in the sights and sounds.  There are always entertainers of some sort, parades, shopping, eating, characters and "rides" if you count the trolleys!  We saw the cast members wave to guests, we met the Fire Chief and Tony from Tony's Town Square Restaurant.  We took lots of pictures, ordered our 2 baby Mickey ears and had breakfast at the Main Street Bakery!  Yes, I'll be visiting the bakery on every trip here on out- it was that good!

Most of our day was spent walking around.  Not having "the boys" with us, we weren't rushing from one attraction to the next.  Nobody was tugging our sleeve to get to the next place or run to the next Fast Pass.  We spent the first half of the day just walking and not even "riding", except for my favorite, the Peoplemover! :)  We spent time in Fantasyland, took pictures of the new expansion, met Rapunzel, wandered through Tomorrowland and ended in Frontierland.  It was awesome not rushing around... but I will admit, I missed not having our boys with us!

After a hamburger lunch at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe we did something we've never done before!  We rode the Liberty Square Riverboat!  Yes, I'll admit after 17 trips to Walt Disney World, I had never been on the Riverboat.  I did meet Donald here one year, but the boat was docked and not sailing.  So, I did something new on my 18th trip!   After the Riverboat cruise, we visited the Haunted Mansion (where I filmed my video), the Hall of Presidents and meandered around Liberty Square.  We eventually made our way to Adventureland and took in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Late afternoon, I was ready to rest!  We decided to take the bus back to Port Orleans Riverside and walk around the property for a while.  We eventually took the path to French Quarter and got back to our room.  We rested a while and got ready for our dinner reservations at California Grill!

We decided to drive to the Contemporary for our dinner reservation at 7:25.  I chose this time so we would be "on top" of the Contemporary at 8:00 when Wishes started in the Magic Kingdom.  We ended up getting there early and they sat us at 7:00.  We were able to eat our appetizers and entrees before 8:00.  A few minutes before 8, we made our way to the outside roof to get a view of Cinderella's Castle.  This was one of the best things we did all week!  Watching Wishes from the top of the Contemporary, with the sound piped in to the roof, was so awesome!  It was very romantic and I was very glad we did not have our boys with us at this point!

One thing I would do next time is go outside before eating to find the best place to stand.  Then I would leave 15 minutes before Wishes to claim that spot!  We were at the far end of the roof near the stairwell.  While we had a great view, I would have rather been at a different spot on the rooftop, I think.  Live and learn...