Heidi is hosting the Destination Disney carnival on her Reviews by Heidi blog. This week the theme is “starstruck” photos. Be sure to check out the participating blogs that are linked to her carnival.
Each trip my family and I meet lots of Disney Characters while fluttering around Walt Disney World. We especially love to meet with them while relaxing at our Character Meals. For some reason, the pictures I have of my kids from these Character Meals always seem to come out the best. This could be because it’s relaxing to be seated together with family and friends in a fabulously themed and air conditioned restaurant. Good times are had during these meals because it’s easy to chat away while taking a break to enjoy good food, drink, and company. During the meal we especially enjoy when the Disney Characters stop and visit as they make their rounds around the restaurant. We often choose to have a late morning character breakfast as lunch because our family likes to wake up early and head straight to a park. I bring a granola bar for each of us to eat on our way to a park in the morning for our real breakfast. Later, once we have conquered several of the attractions on our family’s must-do list, we like to sit down for a Character Meal. This break also gives our family a chance to decide together whether or not we want to hop to another park, return to our hotel room for a swim and a rest, or continue touring the same park after we finish our meal and Character greetings.
Here are a couple of photos of my daughters who are still always starstruck around their beloved Disney Characters.
To see more adorable “starstruck” pictures and even be “starstruck” by some famous stars, hop on over to Heidi’s Destination Disney Carnival and have a great day!
–Look out! Gertie is going to eat your hair! 😉
Hooray for Hollywood! That is the feeling I get after entering Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) as I’m walking down the palm-lined Hollywood Boulevard of the 1930s and 1940s toward the central hub which sits under a 122-foot-tall replica of Sorcerer Mickey’s hat. But, when I hit the corner where Sunset Boulevard heads off to the right I change our course and we head toward Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror to try and beat the crowds for a quick big-kid indulgence. (These rides have height requirements of 48” and 40”, respectively.) My husband and I take advantage of Disney’s Rider Switch Pass, where we take turns riding the ride and watching our girls. The benefit is that one of us waits in the regular line and receives a Rider Switch Pass from a Cast Member, which is then later redeemed by the other one for minimal waiting time. We do this first thing in the morning before the regular queues fill, so we can check them off of our must-do list and move on to the rest of the park’s attractions that we will all experience as a family. (Note: DHS’s exception to this is Star Tours which also has a height requirement of 40”. We work this one in later using Fast Pass.)
While walking around DHS, our family loves to encounter this park’s unique characters and interact with them. We have found film people and old fashioned police officers who are great fun to converse with. If you see someone whose clothes are too over-the-top to be a guest, consider approaching and starting a conversation with them. It is so much fun to get carried away with these folks—no need to be shy; they always encourage our curiosity.
Our girls have their own must-do lists for this park. Their favorites are Beauty and the Beast, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and Muppet-Vision 3D, however, I am sure Toy Story Mania! will be joining this list on our next visit! Both of my girls enjoy dancing at Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!, but this is especially a DHS highlight for my youngest daughter. A visit to DHS wouldn’t be complete without stopping by to see Gertie the dinosaur over near Echo Lake for some “ice cream of extinction”.
We all love to take the Magic of Disney Animation Tour. Every visit we attend the optional Animation Academy which is found at the end of this tour. I definitely do my best drawing here—which is certainly a credit to the Animation Academy’s instructing animators. They teach guests how to break down the process of drawing a Disney character into simple doable tasks. It is so much fun to follow the Animator’s directions and I love seeing my creation at the end of the lesson. It usually even resembles a Disney character. (OK, my Tigger—maybe not so much!) My oldest daughter has a real passion—and resulting talent—for drawing Disney characters. At home, she has spent countless hours drawing the characters she finds in her Disney Learn to Draw books and Disney Drawing kits that she has collected over the years. While lots of moms come to me for Disney advice, lots of kids from my daughter’s school ask my daughter to draw them a Disney character. Mickey and Minnie are the characters she receives the most requests for.
After our must-dos are done, we start to put some icing on the cake, if you will, with the rest of Disney’s Hollywood Studios fabulous attractions. We pass through the re-creation of Hollywood’s Chinese Theater to experience The Great Movie Ride. Here, there are audio-animatronic versions of stars from some of the most famous scenes in film making and actors who jump from the sets right into the audience’s moving vehicle. The Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure is an elaborate “backyard” playground and a great place for the kids to play while waiting for a Fast-Pass window to open or a show time to roll around. The Backlot Tour gives a behind the scenes look at how some special-effects in film are produced by bringing the audience right into the action. There are also opportunities to watch how some new props, costumes and sets are made. From several points different points of view, the action of expertly driven cars that are driving through specially planned courses is filmed at the Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show. There are lots of stunts and exciting action sequences to see. In between stunt sets the filmed video is replayed, so you can understand how the special effects are made. The force is strong over at Star Tours, it always manages to pull the big-kids (40 plus inches tall) of my family in for a nonstop ST-45 flight to the moon of Endor with rookie pilot Rex. Be sure navigator R2-D2 is on board because he may be needed! Toward the end of the day we like to attend the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular which is an exciting movie-stunt demonstration with the stars acting out and showing us how they do the tricks from some of their action-packed Indiana Jones scenes. Drew Carey is always ready to make us laugh and teach us about how sounds are used to add drama to movies and TV shows at his Sounds Dangerous attraction.
With all of this fun to be had it’s nice to know that this park has five great sit-down options for dinner. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it’s easy to have a nice and relaxing sit-dinner before heading over to Fantasmic! (Check the Calendar to see if the Fantasmic! is scheduled. If scheduled, performances are weather-permitting.) For a fun and hilarious dinner, that can almost be considered a show in and of itself, make an Advanced Dining Reservation (1-407-WDW-DINE) for the 50’s Prime Time Cafe where the food is always good and the atmosphere is always “family-style”.
Did anyone ever tell you that you ought to be in pictures? Well I just did! Now all you have to do is head on over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Ready? Lights! Camera! Action!
Heidi from, Reviews by Heidi, is hosting the Destination Disney Carnival and this week the theme is “cool” pictures.
Do you remember the Disney commercial from the mid-nineties that had the cute child that ran up to Mickey for a big hug? The one where the child hugging Mickey said, “I have been waiting my whole life to meet you!” I haven’t seen that commercial in a very long time, but somehow it has stuck with me through the years. I always loved how that magical commercial made me feel. This picture of my oldest daughter with Belle makes my heart smile like that commercial. Since my daughter knew that Belle also loves to read, she was thrilled to have the chance to tell Belle that she had just learned how to read. While my husband and I had certainly told our daughter how proud we were of her new reading skills, our daughter was most excited to share her news with Princess Belle.
Mickey was feeling a bit chilly on this day when he stopped by to see our girls at the former Restaurantasaurus. Mickey thanked my girls for helping him to feel nice and toasty again!
This picture was taken on a chilly night in the Magic Kingdom. We had wrapped up a fun-filled day with a yummy supper with Pooh and his friends at the Crystal Palace. When we were on our way out of the the restaurant to join that evening’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, we spotted Pooh and his gang.
For even more “cool” pictures, visit the Destination Disney Carnival held by Heidi from Reviews by Heidi. TTFN!
This week’s theme for Heidi’s Destination Disney Carnival is Animal Kingdom. Be sure to visit her blog for even more Animal Kingdom tips!
My children love animals, so visiting the themed areas of the Animal Kingdom at Disney World to see some of 300+ species of animals is a real treat for my children! After we pass through the the bag check point at Animal Kingdom and into the Palm Courtyard, our family looks around to see if one of Disney’s “unheralded treasures”, as named by Mike Scopa from All Ears Net, has come out to play with the children. This treasure comes “alive” in the form of a mobile palm tree, named Wes Palm. Conversing with Wes is very entertaining as he loves to surprise guests and give them a good laugh. I hear Wes Palm has a cousin named Pipa, who is a recycling can that may be found at Conservation Station. Pick up a Times Guide when entering the park to see their specific entertainment times or see their entertainment schedule a week or so before your vacation by visiting Steve Soares’s website.
Meandering through the verdant and peaceful Oasis toward Discovery Island sets the tone for our special day. Past the Oasis stands the Tree of Life; be sure to visit this tree up close so you can see the hundreds of animal carvings that make up the bark of this tree. The intricate carvings on this imagineer-made, bonsai-inspired tree are gorgeous!
Our family likes to travel over to the village of Harambe for an open-sided vehicle tour of an African safari, Disney-style. Once seated in the safari vehicle, we look at the animal charts mounted to the vehicle that offer animal pictures with names for easy identification of the animals we may see on this savanna. Our close-up encounters with these exotic animals are amazing! After experiencing this attraction, it is easy to understand why this park is “nahtazu”, which is pronounced—not a zoo. Oh, by the way, be sure to watch out for poachers and help protect Little Red while on the safari!
My husband and I like to visit the Yeti living in the Asia section. To accomplish this we take advantage of Disney’s Rider Switch Pass where we take turns riding Expedition Everest and watching our girls. The benefit we receive is that only one of us is required to wait in the regular line. This person receives the Rider Switch Pass during their regular wait and the other redeems this pass later for minimal waiting time spent prior to their boarding the attraction. Expedition Everest is a smooth runaway train, roller coaster ride, that moves us, Himalayan trekkers, from our base camp forward and backward through Disney’s “forbidden mountain” as we try to reach Mount Everest. While we are in Asia we check our Times Guide to see when to best view the interesting Flights of Wonder avian show held at the Caravan Stage.
We also use the Times Guide to pick a show time to see Finding Nemo – the Musical which has large Dory, Marlin and Nemo puppets that dance and frolic around the animated stage with help from special actors who expertly maneuver them through their scenes. We love this show’s unique music and watching these skilled performers. The eye-popping colorful sights and the performance of the Cast Members found here are spectacular! Another must-see show we pick a time to see is the Festival of the Lion King. This high-energy show brings huge animatronic animals out to play with talented and beautifully costumed performers, there is so much to see here! Many acrobats with interesting props and visuals entertain us to the music from The Lion King. I notice something new here each time I see the show. We sit toward the front of the bleachers to maximize the chance for our children to be picked by a performer to join the musical micro-parade that occurs toward the end of this show.
In Dinoland U.S.A., we are greeted by the giant and friendly-looking Cementasaurus on our way to TriceraTop Spin. We usually take turns digging around the Boneyard with our girls while my hubby and I use the Rider Swap feature to ride the time traveling Dinosaur attraction. We bring our girls to visit Disney’s oldest “Cast” Member, Dino-Sue, which is a reproduction of a 67 million year old, nearly complete T-rex fossil remains. We walk through Cretaceous Trail admiring the cycad plants and dinosaur sculptures. Primeval Whirl, a unique rotating roller coaster with fun dips and tight curves, is also found near this area.
We take the walking tours offered through the ancient ruins of Anandapur Royal Forest of Southeast Asia’s Maharajah Jungle Trek and through Africa’s Pangani Forest Exploration trail for close-up encounters with lots of animals indigenous to these individual areas. The tigers on the Jungle Trek are especially incredible! After these walks we cool off with a wild raft ride through the wet Kali River Rapids on the Chakranadi River in the Asian rain forest. It is humbling to see the impact of rain forest deforestation here.
Our Disney character-loving daughters wouldn’t dream of leaving this park without visiting the Safari-outfitted characters waiting for them over at Camp Minnie-Mickey. There are several trails you can take to meet up with your children’s best friends. Throughout the day they remain on the lookout for the Kids’ Discovery Club locations which offer them little adventures with Cast Members. They are also searching for the vine girl who is another one of Disney’s unheralded treasures. The first time we saw her we didn’t know she had the lovely name, DiVine, or even that she was human. But, when we realized there was a real girl intertwined with all of that foliage, we were astonished at how well she truly personifies a vine by flowing like a growing vine or being stationary. When walking around Animal Kingdom, if you see some foliage in the path, inspect it closer to see if you can find any human eyes among the leaves. If you can, it is the extremely talented DiVine, and it just became your lucky day! You really have to see her to believe it!
We ride the Wildlife Express Trail to Conservation Station to acquire valuable knowledge from the exhibits about conservation efforts, and possibly meet Rafikki, Jiminy Cricket and Pipa. Children love the Affection Section where they will encounter lots of friendly animals. They can pick up some tips on how to help animals at Habitat! Habit! Conservation Station and their entire visit to this park will help them learn how to take their animal enthusiasm home and make a difference there. Enjoy your next tour of Animal Kingdom, its WILD!
Visit Heidi’s Destination Disney Carnival at her blog for even more Animal Kingdom stories.
Do you love Disney? Do you know Walt Disney World like the back of your hand? Do you love to help people? I do too!! You must have heard about the Walt Disney World Moms Panel? Just in case you have not, I am pasting in some details below. You can follow the above link to visit the site where Walt Disney World will be accepting applications, beginning September 8, 2008, for their 2009 Moms Panel.
Launched in 2008, the Walt Disney World Moms Panel is an online forum that provides first-hand tips and insights for vacationing at the resort from a panel of park-savvy parents. This year, Walt Disney World is looking for a diverse group of moms, dads and grandparents with vast knowledge of the parks and a desire to share their experience with others. And, due to the overwhelming response last year, the 2009 Moms Panel will expand from its inaugural 12 members to 16.
It’s truly been a resource for families everywhere; in fact, the current panelists have fielded nearly 9,000 questions from guests who are trying to plan the perfect Walt Disney World vacation.
If you are reading this and thinking that this opportunity sounds exciting and perfect for you, be sure to apply promptly for a position on the the next Moms Panel, as the first 20,000 applications will be accepted for consideration. Here’s wishing lots of good luck for you—and me too! Please be sure to let me know how it goes! See ya real soon!
This week the Destination Disney theme is Hot.
When we saw Pluto at Chef Mickeys he was panting a lot. He must have been really hot. I think he was so excited to see all of the children at Chef Mickey’s that he forgot to take a break to get a drink. He visited our table right before he went into the kitchen to quench his thirst. The girls offered him some of their juice, but he declined. I think he prefers to drink from his own bowl.
I don’t think hot is the right word to describe this picture, but stick with me folks. Instead of hot, let’s think more along the lines of love at first sight. You know the sweet feeling that I am talking about. See the bigger child who is looking adoringly into Prince Charming’s eyes awaiting her first kiss. That is too cute, isn’t it? Wait, what is the little one doing with that spoon? Is she trying to tell Prince Charming it is her turn now—in her own “charming” way, of course.
Despite the fact that this child was a late talker, you can see she has always had her own special way of making her point. (I promise that no princes were harmed in the taking of this picture.)
For even more hot pictures visit the Destination Disney carnival on Heidi’s blog. See ya real soon!
This week Jennifer’s Destination Disney theme is about pictures that give a “Wow!” feeling. These are a couple of pictures that make me feel this way. The first picture is of strangers that I met one night and the second one is of my daughter at a very special event.
After my family and I enjoyed a fabulous dinner in the former restaurant, L’Original Alfredo di Roma Ristorante, we were walking around the piazza looking at all of the beautiful things when I happened to notice this couple standing all alone on top of “the Rostrum”, which is the circular platform in the middle of the piazza, hugging and almost dancing together. It was so romantic I just had to watch them a little, and then all of a sudden, he went down on one knee and was looking up at her! I just knew he was proposing. I told my family what was happening so we could stop and watch them together. I was so excited to see this happening! I knew she must have accepted as they started kissing and she looked like she was SO excited. Before I knew it, I was walking over to them to ask if they wanted me to take their picture and send it to them so that they could have a picture of this moment. They were so happy with my offer and they immediately posed for a picture. Then, as he reached into a pocket to get a business card for me he remembered that he had brought his own camera with him and he asked me if I would take some more pictures of them with his camera. I was happy to oblige! It was really fun to see the start of their life together and help them preserve their moment. I was really lucky to witness such a beautiful and unplanned event!
This is a “Wow!” for my girls and I. This picture was taken at the “My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party” held at the Grand Floridian. I took my oldest daughter to this very special event. Here she is with the amazing and very entertaining Rose Petal. While I always bring my video camera to Disney World, I usually end up leaving it in our room. However, I did bring it with me to this event, and I was so glad that I did! Both of my girls have watched the video I took at this tea party dozens of times; they both love Rose Petal’s story, singing and silliness. During the show Rose Petal walks around the Garden View Tea Room telling Princess Aurora’s whole story, including how the three good fairies: Flora, Fauna and Merryweather hid her and called her Briar Rose for her protection from the very evil Maleficent. Rose Petal, who has a presence similiar to Julie Andrews, sang and told her story perfectly. She did all of this while somehow managing to keep the many children’s attention by drawing each of them in to her performance as she circulated the room continuously throughout the show. Her music companion, Baron Branch, used his piano to make all of the right sounds at the right times to add a bit of drama to her story. He also played sweet Disney songs to keep things running smoothly during the tea portion of the show. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed the entire performance, she was honored to properly learn how to curtsy with Princess Aurora, and she really liked all of the many trinkets she was given including: the Princess Aurora Doll, a tiara, a silver bracelet, a Rose, some specially themed scrapbooking supplies and certificate. Rose Petal taught the children to sigh and swoon upon hearing mention of Aurora’s dear Prince Phillip; both of my daughters still enjoy the drama of doing this.
Maria Bailey, Co Founder of Newbaby.com, writes of her dream website: “I think we’ve created a cutting edge site for moms that will give us all the ability to capture more of those moments we try to hold on to and share them with friends and family. Newbaby.com offers a lot of great features from learning videos, blogs, community and product reviews but the feature I’m most excited about is the chance to archive video. Just think, now you can record your baby’s first word on your webcam, upload it to your Newbaby Video Gallery and share it with your partner, grandparents or distant family members. Can you imagine recording your 1st grader’s thoughts on the first day of school and having them when he graduates from high school? It’s now possible and you don’t have to transfer tapes to disks or worry that the VCR is plugged in. I hope you will enjoy Newbaby.com and all it has to offer and if you like it, please tell a friend.”
This is a great site which you can use to share your family videos with select family and friends- or the world. This is a great place to store your memories for free. Maybe you have an upcoming Walt Disney World vacation trip planned? Well, why not set up a free account and upload your family’s vacation video while you are still on vacation? Your loved ones could see your baby in action at Walt Disney World with Mickey or Pooh before you even arrive home! Imagine that!
Hop on over to Newbaby.com and start sharing your memories, learn some great tips, and check out all of the other moms out there that are going through the same things that you are. It is a lot of fun, enjoy!
Welcome! This week the theme of the Destination Disney Carnival, held by Jennifer from Snapshot, is all about Walt Disney World’s fireworks shows.
Because Fantasmic!, Disney’s Hollywood Studios’s mixed-media spectacular, is such an amazing and unique show, many people consider seeing this show to be the highlight of their Walt Disney World family vacation. Parts of the show are staged on an island that sits opposite a giant amphitheater; some of it takes place on a waterway that falls in between the island and the amphitheater; and much of it is projected onto a cloud of mist which hangs in the air like a curtain near the waterway. The show, which stars Mickey Mouse who is playing his Sorcerer’s Apprentice role from the classic movie Fantasia, combines lasers, fireworks, lighting effects, and music to create an especially magical and entertaining show. Although the amphitheater holds almost 10,000 people, you should expect to arrive extra-early to secure a spot for your family. While this show is certainly a not-to-be-missed-event, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. If the temperature feels chilly, try to sit or stand in the back two-thirds of the amphitheater to avoid the cool damp mist from the “curtain” which can be blown out into the amphitheater area. Families with small children should take into consideration that many of Disney’s villains make appearances during this show and the villains may frighten some children. The children will see Mickey himself fighting evil. Children who believe in Mickey may take comfort from being let in on the “secret” that Mickey comes here to the amphitheater every day to play this role and that he always wins! Children who choose to make it through seeing the villains during the show, are rewarded with a very special and happy ending including Mickey and dozens of his friends that won’t be forgotten!
IllumiNations is the nightly spectacular which takes place on the World Showcase Lagoon and lights up the sky above Epcot. During the show a massive three-story tall and twenty-eight feet wide Earth Globe, which is covered with video screens, sits in the lagoon. This Earth Globe, which was built by Walt Disney Imagineering, is the world’s first spherical video display system. It has more than 15,000 light-emitting diodes that form the shapes of the continents and it rotates on a 350-ton floating island that moves with the help of an infrared guidance system. As this hopeful story of the world unfolds, the Earth Globe itself actually opens up like a blossoming flower. Thoughts of new life and fresh hope for the future may be on the minds of many viewers. Watching IllumiNations is enhanced when an unobstructed view of the lagoon is chosen. Also, select a location that is not downwind from the lagoon, so as to avoid the smoke created by the show.
When Walt and his sister Ruth were children they once peered through a fence to see a July Fourth fireworks show. I am guessing that while they stood there they were hoping to see and hear something like what the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks spectacular is. When you watch Wishes, don’t be surprised if your inner-child comes out to play and helps you to believe in your wishes. Few people who have experienced Wishes are unaware of the specialness of this nightly fireworks spectacular. Wishes, which is the biggest spectacle ever shown in the Magic Kingdom, replaced Fantasy in the Sky which ran in the Magic Kingdom for twenty-seven years. Whether or not you find yourself believing in your wishes by this show’s end, hakuna matata [no worries], because believers and nonbelievers alike are sure to enjoy viewing this stunningly beautiful nighttime spectacular which uses Cinderella Castle as its centerpiece. If I could choose to forever remember only one memory of an event or an attraction, from one of my Walt Disney World vacations, I would pick Wishes. I would be standing halfway down Main Street, hand in hand with my family, and Cinderella Castle would be centered ahead in my line of sight. However, hopefully I will never have to make this choice, as I would be super-reluctant to lose any of my many other wonderful vacation memories! Anyone who has seen Wishes likely will agree there is truly something extra-magical to be felt. Standing in a sea of people, anticipating the beginning of Wishes, is the perfect ending to a perfect day for me. Seeing the wonder on my children’s faces and feeling the hopefulness of the show always reminds me of the reasons I brought my family to this magical place. Noticing the hundreds of happy faces on the people around me, that have joined with me to focus on the same special thing, feels awesome. I think Wishes can touch almost anyone’s heart. When the Blue Fairy calls out explaining that when stars are born they have the power to make a wish come true, it would be difficult to stop my heart from being swept clean away in the magic. A child’s voice sings the familiar rhyme, Star light, Star bright…, and seems to pull all of the longing hearts together into the magic. As if Jiminy Cricket were reading the minds of any adults who might still be trying to stop their hearts from being swept up in the magic, he tells the guests that he too didn’t always believe that wishes could come true. He continues with his hopeful story about what it was that made him believe. Then, suddenly, Tinkerbell appears on a Castle turret and proceeds to fly across the nighttime sky. When I hear the Wishes music, and the message it sends, it envelops and lifts my heart. The dazzling fireworks are perfectly synchronized to the score and embody the uplifting message of this special music. My favorite fireworks are the star-dusted ones that linger in the air over the Castle like a blanket of pixie dust sent to reach down and touch every guest. Jiminy tells us of the parade of wonderful wishes that have already been granted, almost daring the crowd to let themselves join him in believing in their own wishes. Like every other Disney story, there comes a moment when evil tries to interject itself; however, we already know that whenever things look bad, fate will step in and see us through. Predictably, the day is saved. After which, the Blue Fairy asks that we remember to believe in our wishes and that we all join our hearts together to make a wish come true. Wishes is a powerful thing!
Don’t forget that some holidays bring extra tag-ons to these regular shows, and the hard-ticketed parties in the Magic Kingdom additionally offer their own special twists, if not their own fireworks complete with unique music. Whenever you attend any of these events, it is important to take small children by the hand and to set up a meeting spot for your family in the case you become separated while exiting the area. Enjoy the show!
- Visit my new blog…
- Destination Disney: Starstruck Photos
- Destination Disney: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Destination Disney: Cool pictures
- Destination Disney: Animal Kingdom
- Walt Disney World 2009 Moms Panel Search
- Destination Disney: Hot pictures
- Destination Disney: Wow!
- There are lots of things to love over at Newbaby.com
- Destination Disney: Fireworks Shows
- Character Pictures
- Meme about me