Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Favorite Shopping Experience

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Black.  Enjoy the ride as we share with you our favorite shopping experiences in Disney parks. 

Just in time for Christmas shopping, I thought I would talk about a unique shopping experience hidden in one of the Walt Disney World resorts.

Located on the second level of the Grand Floridian Resort, just inside the doors that lead to the monorail station, is a bath and body products shop, Basin White.  Basin White is part of the Basin chain with products sold online and at few select locations in the United States.  There is a Basin shop in the Downtown Disney Marketplace. 

Basin White is a premium version of Basin with its product inventory made with higher quality ingredients, as well as unique items that can’t be found in the other locations. 

The store itself is attractive and inviting.  Styled in black and white tile, with the appearance of an upscale Victorian bathroom, the store fits in well with the Grand Floridian theme.  The layout of the store is long and skinny, and filled with an assortment of bath and body products ranging from lotions, salts/scrubs, soaps, and body bombs.  The store is accessorized with sinks, a claw foot tub, white cabinets, and marble counters. 

Basin White offers a large variety of fresh cut soaps, including the popular Mickey ears soap which is sold only at the WDW locations.  Priced at around $6.99 for a slice of approximately 100 grams, these make for inexpensive, unique and functional gifts.  The assortment of fresh cut soaps is amazing, and interesting.  In addition to milk-based and other specialty soaps, Basin White sells fresh cut glycerin soap with a variety of cute designs processed into the soap, most notably being the mickey ears. 

Another product sold only at the Disney locations is the Mickey-ears Bath Bombs.  A Bath Bomb looks like a hardened scoop of ice cream, which when placed in a bath, bubbles and fizzes adding essential oils and aroma to your tub.  The Mickey themed bath bombs include Mickey-ear confetti throughout the product.  Another cute gift at a moderate price for yourself or your favorite cousin, dog watcher, or house-sitter. 

In addition, Basin White sells a variety of spa accessory products, salts/scrubs, lotions, and body perfumes.  Samples are provided throughout the store to “try” the products.  The body salt scrub will make your hands feel so soft and smell delicious!

All Basin White products are made in the US, with no parabens, alcohol, or mineral oils.  Also, their products are not tested on animals.    

If you are a resort guest, you can have your purchases shipped to your room; however, because Basin is not an Disney affiliated store, it will take longer.  Please be sure to ask the cashier.  If you have a concern about what can be returned home with you in your carry-on vs. checked luggage, be sure to ask.  The staff at Basin White are well versed with the TSA rules governing their products. 

I could spend a lot of time and money in Basin white.  The aroma of the store is amazing and relaxing.  If you want an at-home spa experience, Basin White is the place to go while at the WDW resort.  A great place tucked away in the corner of the Grand Floridian, it is definitely worth checking out during a day of resort-hopping on the monorail. 

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

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

2nd Stop ~ The Disney Chick
4th Stop ~ Mommy Mouseketeer

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Different Way of Touring

Every time we go to Disney World, it is the most wonderful experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I have to admit it’s not a “vacation” in the true sense of the word.  I plan and plan and plan to tour with the least crowds or the shortest walks, but all that walking, all the crowds, the lines, the waits, the getting up for rope drop and staying through the fireworks really doesn’t make for a restful time.

Most dictionaries define vacation as “a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday”.  How many times have we come home from our Disney trips, absolutely exhausted?  Why do we put ourselves through that?  Because we love Disney so much is really the answer, but I wonder, can you make Disney a real vacation experience?  Taking into account all the restrictions that most people have – vacation time, school schedules, airfare prices, climate, crowd levels, etc., what has to be done to make Disney a “vacation”?  I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking some more on the subject and here’s what I’ve come up with.  I’d like feedback on if this is how you travel; or any pros/cons. 
Making Disney a vacation rather than a “touring the parks” experience.  Can it be done?   
When I think of vacation, I think of a week on the beach or poolside sipping fruity umbrella drinks, eating to my heart’s content and sleeping in.  Alas, the later is not possible with young children, so I’ll just have to make do with a pool and plenty of kids activities.  Does Disney World have that?  Yup, check one!  However, what I don’t want on my vacation is a day so full of places to go, things to do that I don’t feel rested.  Does Disney World have that?  Nope…well, maybe…here’s what I was thinking.  Is it possible to go to WDW and stay at a resort and only hit a park once or twice during the visit?  I mean, you’ve traveled all the way out there and spent all that money to be located on-property.  How do you resist the temptation to check out the latest attraction at the EPCOT, or have to ride Rock n Roller coaster once?  What if your entire day was spent at the resort poolside, enjoying the many activities offered during the day, and maybe venturing out in the evening for a dinner at another resort?  Sounds heavenly.  Sounds like the makings for a Disney Vacation Club commercial doesn’t it?  No, I’m not advocating or promoting Disney DVC in any way.  We’re not DVC members and, for our family situation, it really doesn’t work; but I like the concept of using Disney World as a “vacation resort” as oppose to a “touring destination”.
The question in my mind has always been: is spending the extra money to stay on property just to enjoy the resort and not focus on the parks really worth it?  Or doesn’t it make better sense to find a vacation destination closer to home for those vacations you just want to use for rest and relaxation?
Coming back year to year just to enjoy certain aspects of the entire WDW complex really appeals to me because, frankly, you just can’t see everything WDW has to offer on one visit.  Combine trying to squeeze everything in day after day, with crowds, heat, sometimes rain, tired kids, and sore feet, I’ve found it’s just not possible.  Focusing on one park each trip would allow a better chance of delving into those Disney details that I just adore.   So, I think taking a step back and looking at Disney in pieces may be a better option.  Just need to convince my husband of that! 
Have you ever done Disney this way?  How did it work? 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

"Hang onto your hats and glasses, folks, cause this here's the wildest ride in the wilderness!"
Although Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened in September 23, 1980; it's Grand Opening took place on this day in history, November 15, 1980.
I was just 11 when I first experienced Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the summer of '81 and it definitely made an impression on me.  I adored the ride and still do today.  While it's not considered by most to be a high intensity roller coaster, it suits me just fine.  
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, circa early '80s
Located in at the far end of Frontierland, past Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a wonderfully themed coaster.  Guests board ore cars in the headquarters of the Big Thunder Mining Company for a 3 1/2 minute journey through scenery reminiscent of Arizona's Monument Valley.  Throughout the attraction you will see caves, a waterfall, big horned sheep, dinosaur bones, an abandoned mining town, and sulfur pools.  Speeds can read 24-30 miles per hour and if you are sitting in your mine car by yourself, the centrifugal force as you round the turns will pull you from one side to the other.  As an added bonus, if you ride in the late afternoon the ride is supposedly faster because the grease on the track has heated up allowing less friction between the wheels and the rails.  While I can't attest to the speed, I can say the back cars do experience a great deal more whipping action around the turns.  In addition, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is beautiful at night.  Be sure to ride after dark if you have the chance.
Like most Disney attractions, there is a backstory.  The backstories fascinate me and adds an additional layer of theming to the visual and auditory experience.  The story goes that some time in the late 1800s, gold was discovered on Big Thunder Mountain in the American southwest.  Overnight, the small town of Tumbleweed became a booming mining town. Mining was prosperous, and an line of mine trains was set up to transport the ore. Unknown to the settlers, the Mountain was sacred to local Native Americans and was cursed.  Before long, the settlers' desecration of the mountain caused a great flash flood, which destroyed the mines and town, and the town was abandoned. Some time later, the locomotives were found to be racing around the mountain on their own…without engineers or a crew. The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was founded in the old mining camp to allow tourists to take rides on the possessed trains.  
I amazed how realistic the rock structure appears.  Special care was taken by the Imagineers to make it appear that the rocks were there originally, and the track was built around the rocks.  The action of the ride takes place completely in and around the tunnels of the mountain.  The thrills on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are meant to come from the perceived instability of the mine and its threats of collapse. Sound effects of a typical locomotive are piped into the surrounding scenery to add realism to guests, including the steam whistle sounding, even though there is no whistle on the locomotives.
Throughout the attraction you can hear old west songs like Big Rock Candy Mountain, Blue Tail Fly, Red River Valley, Oh My Darling Clementine, among others.  
Interesting facts:
  • The names of the six trains are: U.B. Bold, U.R. Daring, U.R. Courageous, I.M. Brave, I.B. Hearty and I.M. Fearless.
  • During construction, workers used 6,500 tons of steel beams, rods and mesh, 4,675 tons of concrete, 90,000 gallons of water and 4,000 gallons of desert paint
  • There are 20 Audio-animatronics throughout the attraction including chickens, donkeys, possums, a goat, a resident in his long-johns spinning through the flood in a bathtub, and a rainmaker named Professor Cumulus Isobar.
  • Three rusty gears laying on the grass as you enter the station form a Hidden Mickey.
  • The main butte is 197.6 feet above sea level and 100 feet above ground.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, circa early '80s

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, circa early '80s

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Phantom Manor

Welcome to those of you joining me from Delightfully Disney and those of you just hopping aboard.  I am your 4th stop on our Magical Blogorail. 

Our topic this month on the blogorail was chosen by our resident Disneyland Paris expert, Amanda over at Manda’s Disney Blog.  I think this is Amanda’s payback for all the Walt Disney World topics that we, on the Magical Blogorail Black loop, have bombarded her with.  You see, until recently, she had never been to Walt Disney World in Florida.  Thanks, Amanda, for turning the tables on us with a topic on Disneyland Paris!  You go girl! 

Not having been to Disneyland Paris, or France for that matter, writing about the theme parks there is proving to be little bit difficult.  However, the question on the table is “What would you, or do you, look forward to the most if you were to visit Disneyland Paris?”   I should be able to answer the "would" part of that question, right?  I don’t have to go to “plan” a trip in my head. 

So, what would I look forward to on a visit?  Wow, where do I start?  There are so many, that I’ll just pick one. 

I’m going to say I would most look forward to seeing the alternate version of my favorite WDW attraction, The Haunted Mansion.  In Disneyland Paris, it’s called Phantom Manor.  I just watched a youtube video of it, and did a little research on it.  In typical Disney style, it appears amazing; and I love the backstory with its ties to Thunder Mesa and the Western River Expedition.  Thunder Mesa and the Western River Expedition was an original attraction concept developed by Marc Davis, WED artist and former Disney animator who was largely responsible for Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean.  This attraction would have been designed for Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom in Florida but for a variety of reasons, never came to be, so it’s interesting to see that concept brought forward in Disneyland Paris.  

Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris

Phantom Manor is located in the Frontierland section in Disneyland Paris. Sharing a similar theme with the Haunted Mansion attractions at the other Disney parks throughout the world, this version has a different plotline.

The influence for the story of the ride is Leroux's novel, The Phantom of the Opera, as well as many European gothic legends, which have been altered for the Western setting. The architectural style of the house is Victorian Second Empire, and bears a strong resemblance to Bates Manor from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.

The Story of Phantom Manor:
Henry Ravenswood was a Western settler who struck gold in Big Thunder Mountain and founded the Thunder Mesa Mining Company, thus creating the city of Thunder Mesa (and Frontierland as a whole). Ravenswood became rich and built himself a Victorian manor high on Boot Hill overlooking Big Thunder Mountain, where he raised a family and had a daughter, Melanie Ravenswood.  A series of unfortunate events culminated in a great earthquake which destroyed Henry's family and fortune.  

But all is not as it seems.  Henry's daughter may have been planning to marry against her father's wishes. The body we see hanging from the rafters at the beginning of the attraction may, in fact, be the unfortunate groom-to-have-been. And, perhaps, the Phantom of the Manor is Henry Ravenswood himself, driven to madness after losing his fortune and family. Perhaps the Phantom is doing whatever he can to keep his family together... forever.

Creepy, huh?

The ride mechanism is the same as the other versions.  Guests board Doombuggies, each buggy accommodating two adults, that traverse an Omnimover track through the Manor and associated ghostly scenes. 

In the Manor house guests see familiar sights such as a twitching suit of armor, corridor of doors, a demonic grandfather clock spinning backwards, and Madame Leota in her Séance Room.  Here she summons ghost and dark creatures to a mysterious ball: 
  • Goblins and Ghoulies, creatures of fright, we summon you now, to dance through the night!
  • Esprits et fantômes, sur vos fiers destriers, escortez dans la nuit la belle fiancée! (Spirits and Phantoms, on your proud Stallions, escort the beautiful Bride into the night!)
  • Warlocks and Witches, answer this call! Your presence is wanted at this ghostly ball!
  • Des douze coups de minuit aux mâtines sonnantes, nous valserons ensemble, macabre débutante! (As twelve strokes of midnight sound from the bells, we shall waltz together, gruesome debutante!)
  • Join now the Spirits in Nuptial Doom, a ravishing Bride, a vanishing Groom...    
As guest leave the Séance Room, they are taken into the Ballroom where a ghostly wedding party is taking place.  Drunken ghosts swing from the chandelier and elegantly dressed ghostly dancers twirl around the ballroom.  From the Ballroom, guests enter the Bride’s Boudoir where Melanie (now an old lady) weeps in front of a mirror.  Out the window the Doombuggies go (or were they pushed by the Phantom?) and down into a vast graveyard.  The Doombuggies then travel underground, past open coffins and the famous marble busts of four Phantoms singing “Grim Grinning Ghosts”.  Through a hole, the Doombuggies enter Phantom Canyon, a twisted, supernatural version of a post-earthquake Thunder Mesa.  Guests pass the ruined town hall where a mayor (whose dialogue consists of clips from the Haunted Mansion by Paul Frees, the original Ghost Host) stands, inviting guests to be the Manor's 1000th ghost.

The Phantom then leads guests towards the exit of the ride, where Melanie's corpse is pointing to the way out. The vehicles enter a chamber lined with large mirrors in which the ghostly image of the Phantom can be seen above the Doombuggies. Vehicles travel through the wine cellar, where Castmembers help them disembark their Doombuggies.

As guests walk towards daylight, a tiny figure of Melanie stands to the side of the passageway behind bars, telling guests to "hurry back" and to "bring their death certificates". Finally, guests exit into Boot Hill, a Cemetery filled with humorous gravestones.

So, that’s it for my pick of what I would most look forward to on a trip to Disneyland Paris.  Alas, I don’t see a trip to France in my near future, but I can always dream! 

Thank you for joining me today.  Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is The Disney Chick.
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 ~ Manda’s Disney Blog
2nd Stop ~ Mommy Mouseketeer
3rd Stop ~ Delightfully Disney
4th Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad
Final Stop ~ The Disney Chick

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fun Fact - World of Motion

World of Motion’s theme “It’s Fun to Be Free” was written by X. Atencio, writer of Haunted Mansion’s “Grim Grinning Ghosts” and Pirates of the Caribbean's "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)".

I didn't know this fact until last week!  There's something fun about that quirky tune.   I like it so much, I have part of it at the top of my blog.
It's fun to be free
To be on the move
To go anywhere with ever a care to
Do all you've wanted to do
It's fun to be free

It's fun to be free
To be on the move
You go where you please
With comfort and ease to
See all there is to be seen
It's fun to be free

It's fun to be free
To be on the move
To go for a hike
Whenever you like to
Do all there is to be done
It's fun...
To be free!

I remember World of Motion, do you?  The former attraction sponsored by General Motors was located in the current location of Test Track.  World of Motion operated from 1982 to 1996.  It was an opening day attraction at EPCOT Center in '82.  Guests boarded Omnimover vehicles and would be taken through scenes that took a whimsical look at the history and achievements in transportation, from the invention of the wheel to present day transportation and the future.  The end of the attraction attempted to predict future transportation by putting illusions of guests into futuristic vehicles using the Pepper's Ghost illusion technique (similar to the hitchhiking ghosts in the Haunted Mansion).  At the end of the ride, guests disembarked into the TransCenter, an interactive area showcasing new products by GM.  World of Motion closed in 1996 to make way for a new attraction, Test Track.  General Motions continues to be the sponsor of the attraction today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Electrical Water Pageant

Today marks the 40th anniversary of what I consider a true "gem" at the Walt Disney World Resort, The Electrical Water Pageant.  Jennifer Fickley-Bakes, Social Media Manager at Disney Parks Blog, give us the full story: 
Electrical Water Pageant Celebrates 40 years at WDW

The Electrical Water Pageant hasn't changed much over the years and is a constant reminder of simplicity at it's best.  If you've never seen it, you must try at your next visit to the WDW resort!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fort Wilderness Railroad post - update

On last month's Magical Blogorail Black loop, I posted an article about the Fort Wilderness Railroad that operated in the Fort Wilderness campground from the early 70's to 1980.  I got many wonderful comments from readers and one particularly special comment from David Leaphart.  Mr. Leaphart has written a two volume set on the Fort Wilderness Railroad:  Walt Disney World Railroads Part 1 Fort Wilderness Railroad and The Fort Wilderness Railroad Gallery Companion.   He pointed out that several of the "facts" that I had in the article are really mis-information and urban legends that have spread over the years.  I appreciate the comments and I wanted to post an update.  Instead of updating the article in it's entirety, I am going to post his comments here.  The original article can be found here:  Fort Wilderness Railroad.

Comments by Mr. David Leaphart, author of Walt Disney World Railroads Part 1 Fort Wilderness Railroad and The Fort Wilderness Railroad Gallery Companion.

"It's great to see such an interest in the Fort Wilderness Railroad. I too have a great interest in the railroad, so much so that I recently released a two-volume book set on it.

I started with the research in 2007 and spent the time since then digging into the story. I thought it was going to be a matter of gathering the facts from various spots, especially Disney, and create a story/photo compilation. Oh boy, I got an education. A lot of the information on the web is pretty shaky. I was lucky enough to be able to work with the Disney Imagineers who built the trains, opened the railroad, and worked out the kinks. In addition, I was able to work with a number of former cast members who worked the railroad.

I found that a lot of the "facts" floating around were just that...ideas floating around. I was able dispel a lot of these. For instance, the railroad operated from 1973 to February, 1980. It was closed with the primary reason being poorly installed track in the beginning. The other reasons appearing on the web weren't really big factors...it was the track. The trains ran until about 9:30pm from May, 1976 to the Summer of 1977. This was during the River Country period. Otherwise the trains shutdown in the 4:30 - 5:00 pm timeframe, so reports that the trains kept campers awake aren't really accurate. Reports that the trains were 4/5ths scale came from a cast member of the Fort in a 1977 revision of the Disney Maintenance Manual. According to the Imagineers who built the trains, they are full scale, not 4/5ths. With the size of the tank, the trains did fill on every loop. But, cast members were clear that they could easily make two loops on one tank...as long as you watched your steam! The fuel was never an issue. Trains would come on and off the line to care for cleaning and fueling.

Thanks for the article and keeping the news of the railroad alive. It brought (and still does) a lot of enjoyment to a lot of folks."

I remember riding the train in the 70's and it brings back so many fond memories.  Much like the calls from the peacocks that once roamed freely at the Fort,  I can still remember the sound of train whistle.  

Thanks, David, and thank you for keeping me honest! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fort Wilderness Railroad

Welcome to those of you joining me from Unknown Magic Within Walt Disney World and those of you just hopping aboard.  I am the Final stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Our topic for this month is "if you could bring back one former WDW attraction, which one would it be and why?"  I thought, and thought, and thought some more about it.  Went through the list of "lost" attractions, as I like to call them because they are only physically gone but remain in our hearts and memory:  Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, 20,000 League Under the Sea, Horizons, World of Motion, etc.  And while these are all good candidates, I can't say I would want to bring back any of these former attractions in their original incarnation.  Their demise was due to a variety of reasons...cost, sponsorship, maintenance, and simply age.  Their presence in the park today, in their original form, wouldn't make too much sense.  So, I'm focusing in on the "bring back one former WDW attraction" part of the question, and that requires a trip outside the parks and into the resorts.  Fort Wilderness to be exact.  

Do you know there used to be a railroad on Fort Wilderness property?  Yes, there was!  Four 4/5th scale steam locomotives and twenty coaches were used from 1973 to about 1977, after which they were used intermittently until the early 80's when the railroad was closed permanently.  The railroad was meant to be used as an internal source of transportation around the campground and the track operated over three and a half miles.  Several reasons are cited for the termination of the Fort Wilderness Railroad -- noise, pedestrian safety, track maintenance, cost, inexperience staff, and limited water and fuel capacity often causing the train to stranded on the tracks when it ran out of "gas".

The design for the Fort Wilderness Railroad was based on narrow-gauge plantation locomotives that were used in Hawaii to haul sugarcane and pineapples from the fields to the docks. 

The Railroad naturally fit into the theming of Fort Wilderness.   Along the rail, riders traversed diverse forest scenery including magnificent pines and cypress trees.  Riders traveled over canals and through the meadows.  You didn't need a destination, the scenery was worth the ride alone.  It seems to me that a railroad truly belongs in Fort Wilderness with it's rustic theme and frontier genre.  Thirty years later, any of the former obstacles to its operation could easily be overcome by technology.  A Railway between Fort Wilderness and Wilderness lodge would be a beautiful transition between the two resorts, allowing guests to enjoy the amenities of the combined locations.  

You can see artwork like this in the Cabins today

Walt Disney had a great love for railroads which is why you see so much of that reflected in his parks.  At Wilderness Lodge you will find the Carolwood Pacific Room that honors Disney's legacy for model trains.  Bringing that love back to Fort Wilderness would be my vote for "bringing back one former WDW attraction".

Fort Wilderness map showing train route

Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Black this month. We will be back November 8th with an all new theme. Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney info, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

Friday, October 7, 2011

40th Anniversary Expectations

Last weekend Walt Disney World celebrated it’s 40th anniversary, and leading to the anniversary date, the web was all a tither about what the events planned for the day would be.  Disney was very secretive on what they had in store, and die-hard fans like myself were hopeful to see something big and exciting.  Unfortunately, by all reports (I was unable to attend in person) the day fell short of expectations.  Sure, there was parades, speakers, merchandising, anniversary buttons and pins, and special park maps; but it seems like 40th anniversary message was lost somehow.  It almost seemed like the event was an after thought, spurred by the demand to have some sort of celebration.  

For myself, I had high hopes that 2011 would be a big celebration year for Disney World, ripe with promotional campaigns similar to the “Year of a Million Dreams”, and focus on the 40th anniversary throughout Magic Kingdom.  When news of the “Magic, Memories and You” campaign surfaced in 2010, I was ecstatic.  I thought “this is it, this will be a celebration to remember”.  But sadly, no, it didn’t pan out to be what I thought it could have been.  I know I didn’t want to see the castle donned in pink icing like it was in 1996, but outside of the 40th anniversary merchadise (which, by the way, I love!), there will little in the park even mentioning the anniversary year.  I wanted to be overdosed with park nostalgia.  I needed that nostalgia!  Instead, I was greeted with the usual Disney charm, and talk of the Fantasyland expansion more than anything.  Which was fine, but yet lacking somehow. 
Then I got to thinking, why are we so upset with the lack of focus on the 40th anniversary?  I think it has to do with expectations.  For the online Disney blogger community, I’ve noticed that most bloggers are in the 35 - 45 age range.  We are a base of fans that grew up with Walt Disney World.  Many of our childhood memories are engraved with experiences at Disney World.  We all have, at some point, experienced birthdays, family vacations, high school and college graduations, young love trips, weddings and honeymoons, a glimpse of the park through our child’s eyes, happy celebrations, and sad times at the park.  For some of us, like myself, who turned 40 this year it was a milestone year.  Now an adult with adult responsibilities - career, children, aging parents, home ownership, so too is Disney World.  The park is no longer the immature first grader on the block.  People look to the Magic Kingdom to be the wise one, the tone setter, and the responsible parent of the parks.  It’ll always be the first place we want to see when we get there, and the last place we want to see before we leave.  Our lives have paralleled that of the Magic Kingdom and we expected to see some big recognition of that.  But the reality is, it's just the 40th anniversary of the park's opening.  Just that and nothing more.   

So, yes, I’m disappointed, but my disappointment stems from my expectations.  I can’t fault Disney World for that.  Now we have 10 more years to look forward to the 50th anniversary ,which if the 25 year celebration was any indication, should be a blow-out event of epic proportions!  I just wonder if the WDW Radio gang can stay up for 50 hours at that age! 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Walt Disney World!

Today marks the anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World, October 1st, 1971. 

Happy birthday to the "Happiest Place on Earth"!

Events and special happenings at the Magic Kingdom include:  
  • 40th anniversary cupcakes located at the Main Street Bakery
  • 40th anniversary merchandise located at Mickey's Gift Station, Island Supply, Newsstand, Sir Mickey's, Uptown Jewlers and Diamond Horseshoe
  • Artist signings through out the day 
  • 40th anniversary presentation in front of Cinderella's Castle
  • Special "Wishes" fireworks display
  • and according rumor mill, other special surprises await.
The celebration today is expected to be huge.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Family Traditions

Welcome to those of you joining me from the Unknown Magic Within Walt Disney World and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

My family tradition comes from a tradition of my youth, and that is paying homage to the delicious and ever-popular Citrus Swirl/Dole Whip.  If you’ve never experienced this tasty delight, you can find them at the Aloha Island and Sunshine Tree Terrace (seasonally) in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom Park, or at Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian Resort.  The Citrus Swirl is the original soft-served orange sherbet concoction sold in the Magic Kingdom when the sponsor of the Sunshine Tree Terrace was the Florida Citrus Growers.  As the sponsorship changed over the years, Dole took over and added the Dole Whip, a soft-served pineapple sherbet, to it’s menu line-up.

Throughout the 70s and 80s, whenever my family vacation at Disney World, we had to get our Citrus Swirls.  We looked forward to the tasty treat on every trip.  Back then, it was sold at the Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland.  Over the years, getting our Citrus Swirls developed into a tradition.  It was something we all looked forward to.  It also represented a nice break mid-day, to get off our feet and relax in Adventureland.  Before the Magic Carpets of Alladin ride was placed smack dab in the middle of Adventureland, the area in front of Sunshine Tree Terrace and the Enchanted Tiki Room was a scenic, quiet, peaceful space to rest.  Prior to 1991, this area was filled with planters, benches and table seating.  There was scenic terraced pool that fed out of the Tiki Room’s eastern wall that provided a soothing backdrop.  With the incorporation of the Magic Carpet ride in the early 90's, the open seating adjacent to the Sunshine Tree Terrace was removed, and the architecture of the Adventureland Bazaar was transformed into the Agrabah Bazaar.  Now it’s noisy and crowded…I just don’t like the space taken up with that ride.   The atmosphere is lost.

We’d spend time cooling off with our frozen citrus swirls, listening to the tiki drums and the barker bird out front of the Tiki Room.  “Come to the Tiki Room…Fly to the Tiki Room”, he would call out.  If I hear the barker bird on one of the online Disney radio stations, it brings back so many great memories!
I think there's a sugar 
rush coming soon!
Now that I’m older, I gravitate toward the Dole Whip more than the Citrus Swirls because I like pineapples, but I think the tradition is the same.  I introduced my daughter to her first Dole Whip Float in 2009 and she loved it!  Now every time, we are in the Magic Kingdom, stopping by Aloha Island and picking up our Citrus Swirl, Dole Whip or Dole Whip Float is, as Stacy from the Disney resort channel would say, “a Disney must-do” and a family tradition!

Because we love the Cirtus Swirls so much, we managed to photo-document the numerous trips to get the treats.  Why?  I have no idea!
You've got to try this! 

Dad, bring me a Citrus Swirl!
Mom, smile with your Citrus Swirl!
More Citrus Swirls coming up!
Mom, don't trip in that puddle and spill the swirls!
Mom, could you smile just once?  
Bringing home the Citrus Swirls!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is TThe Disney Chick.

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 ~ Mommy Mouseketeer
2nd Stop ~ Unknown Magic Within Walt Disney World
3rd Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad
4th Stop ~ The Disney Chick
Final Stop ~ Manda’s Disney Blog