Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Living Seas

What did we do before we found Nemo?  I guess we explored the Living Seas.

The Living Seas presented by United Technologies. 

The Living Seas opened in 1986.  At the time, it housed the largest saltwater tank in the world.  The attraction took guests under the ocean to "Sea Base Alpha", where they viewed a short movie about the formation of the oceans, followed by an elevator ride (on a Hydrolator) to the ocean floor.  Guests then boarded "Seacabs" and traveled along an underwater tunnel through the aquarium.  From there, guests rode around Sea Base Alpha and got an up-close view of the aquarium.   After the ride, guests disembarked into an exhibit area where they could interact with various displays.

In 2007, Disney opened a re-themed The Living Seas pavilion based on the film Finding Nemo.  

In the photo above you can see the original attraction sign.  At the time, I thought the waves crashing behind the sign was such a cool effect.  I must have been an easily impressed teenager!  My brother and I waited and waited for the right time to get that picture.  

Do you remember The Living Seas without Nemo?  

(Shhh....don't tell anyone...even though I'm a die-hard old school EPCOT fan, I have to admit, I love "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" attraction that took over The Living Seas.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Keeping Cool at Disney

Keeping Cool at Disney

Welcome to those of you joining me from A World View and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the Final stop on our Magical Blogorail.  Enjoy the ride as we share with you our favorite ways to keep cool during the hot summer months in Disney.

"It's not the heat, it's the humidity!"  Truer words have never been said for Disney World in the summer months.  Sweltering heating dominates the southern states from June through August, and the heat index becomes all too important.  I grew up in the southern states and am used to the heat and humidity, although, as I get older my tolerance for it has increased.  And tolerance is the issue -- we all can handle heat and humidity to a point; but I don't think people realize how much they are out in it during vacations at Disney World.  Factors such age and health also decrease a person's tolerance.  Babies and seniors are more so affected by the heat than healthy adults.  But, there are ways to mitigate some of heat risk involved in a summer vacation at The World.  Here are a few suggestions I have to keep cool during those hot summer months.

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Can't stress this enough.  Nothing zaps your energy faster than dehydration, and, despite the humidity, you can get dehydrated quicker than you think.  This is one reason I adore Disney's policy of allowing outside food and drinks (no alcohol or glass containers please) into the park.  You shouldn't have to pay to keep yourself hydrated.  Bring a refillable water bottle.  Refill at the fountains, or better yet, ask for a cup of ice water (free at all counter service locations).  If you don't like Florida tap water (it is a little funky), bring instant water flavoring packets available everywhere now days.  
  • Take a break mid-day.  Go back to your resort, go to a shady spot, or get inside.  Anything to cool down.  If your hotel or resort has pool, take advantage of it!  The pool is a welcome respite from the hot summer sun.
Take a break to enjoy the pool!
  • Wait for a passing shower.  It's Florida and it's summer, there will inevitably be a passing shower.  These storms are typically quick moving, although sometime severe, and bring lower temperatures for a little while.  Don't forget a rain poncho.  If the storms aren't violent, touring the parks in the rain is great.  That is, if you don't mind being a little wet.  Less crowds and cool temperatures.  I've ridden Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the rain.  SO MUCH FUN!
  • Take a lesson in evaporative cooling - a process in which the heat is removed from an object by the evaporation of a liquid coolant.  I found a product many years ago called an Aqua Towel (it's labeled many things -- Frogg Toggs, Aqua Towel, Cool Towel, etc.) that is a lifesaver in the heat.  It's basically a reusable chamois that when wet is cool due to evaporative cooling.  Dip in water, ring out and lay on the back of the neck, on the face, on the shoulders, or behind the knees (my favorite spot).  It's welcome relief from the heat.  Plus, it's made with extremely absorbent material so it doesn't drip and cause a big mess.
My scarf is not a fashion statement.  It's
my Aqua Towel!
  • If you have young ones, utilize the Baby Care Centers.  Every park has one and it's marked on the park guide map.  These are traditionally design as a place to feed, change and nurse little ones in privacy, but are also a great place to get the little ones out of the heat for a while.  
  • Put a lid on it.  Caps are a great way to provide shade to head and face.  
  • Take advantage of indoor attractions, gift shops, and rides.  There's no shortage of air-condition at Disney World.  Sometimes it's cool enough inside the attractions that I light jacket is needed.  I always pack one, just in case.
  • Don't forget the sunscreen even in the non-summer months.  Although sunscreen isn't going to keep you cool, it definitely goes hand-in-hand with the heat.  Sunburns are no joke and sneak up on you quicker than you think.  Bring your sunscreen with you else be forced to pay $15 for a bottle that would cost $8 at Walgreens.  Live and learn!  
Watch out for over-exposure
in the sun.
  • And finally, know you and your family's tolerances.  This is a huge suggestion.  No one wants to experience heat stress, much less heat stress on a vacation.  If you need to leave the park before your Fast Pass time because one member of your party is feeling light-headed from the heat, then do it.  Better that than have someone fall out in the middle of a queue.  Disney World medical personnel are great, but they would rather not have to come and peel you off the floor.
    When little ones get red in
    the face, it's time to take a

    These are just a few of my personnel suggestions.  Do you have any?  I'd love to hear them.  I will be heading to the World in July this year.  I've done June and August several times, but never July.  I plan to be prepared!

    Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Red this month. We will be back Friday, June 21st 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:

    1st Stop ~ My Dreams Of Disney
    2nd Stop ~ Disney Donna Kay
    3rd Stop ~ Colorado Mountain Mom
    4th Stop ~ A World View
    Final Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    What to do Outside the Parks

    What To Do Outside the Parks?

    Welcome to those of you joining me from Manda’s Disney Blog and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the Final stop on our Magical Blogorail.  Enjoy the ride as we share our favorite things to do outside of the parks.

    While I'm at Disney World, one of my favorite activities is resort hopping.  There is a wealth of surprises waiting to be found at the various resorts around the Walt Disney World complex.  If you ever have a chance to venture away from your resort to visit some of the other resorts, you’ll see what I mean.  The d├ęcor and ambiance of each resort is unique.  Imagine you are in the South Pacific at the Polynesian or deep in the heart of the savannah of Africa at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  

    Take a look at a highlight from each destination!  Most of these activities are free; check with your resort concierge for times, locations, and directions.

    Contemporary Resort – View the Electrical Water Pageant from the beach on the Bay Lake side of the resort.

    Polynesian Resort – Experience the torch lighting ceremony featuring a Polynesian dancer who does a traditional fire-knife dance and lights the torches leading to the Great Ceremonial House.  

    Wilderness Lodge – View the Geyser.  Located between the pool and the beach, this 120' Geyser spouts every hour on the hour from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm.  While the geyser does look real, surrounded by hot springs that create “steam”, the water is not hot.  On occasion you can find ducks swimming in the “hot springs”.  

    Animal Kingdom Lodge – Nightly African storytelling next to Ogun's Firepit outside the Lodge.

    Grand Floridian – Listen to the soothing sounds of the piano player in the lobby from around 3 p.m.; alternating with the orchestra until 9:45 p.m.

    Fort Wilderness – Chip and Dale sing-a-long, campfire, and movie.  This campfire program is free open to all WDW resort guests. It is held near the Meadow Trading Post in the campfire area. The program begins with a sing-along and a marshmallow roast around two campfire rings. You may bring your own marshmallows or buy them at the Chuck Wagon.  While this is going on, Chip and Dale make an appearance to visit with guests and sign autographs. Afterwards a Disney animated feature is shown on a large outdoor screen. 

    Yacht & Beach Club – These two resorts also offer a campfire program and Disney movie on the beach.  Stay around long enough and you can view the high fireworks from Epcot’s  Illuminations.

    Boardwalk – Reminiscent of the early 20th century East Coast beachside resorts, the Boardwalk itself is a big draw, but I really enjoy the ambiance of the hotel's lobby.  Look around for the carousel chandelier, roller coaster model, and antique novelty machines.  Step outside and you are taken to a bygone era on the Boardwalk.  Relax "beachside" with a drink and sit in the comfy rocking chairs.

    The following resorts are listed in the Moderate and Value categories and, as such, are slightly more difficult to get to if you don’t have a car.  Never-the-less, they are filled with theming and hidden gems equal to those at the other resorts.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend making a special trip to see them, but if you happen to be dining in the vicinity or have an afternoon the kill, these are great places to check out. 

    Port Orleans Riverside – Take a leisurely and scenic boat ride to Downtown Disney along the Sassagoula River.

    Port Orleans French Quarter – Enjoy live entertainment at the Scat Cat Lounge in the evenings.

    Caribbean Beach - The centerpiece of this resort is its 45-acre lake, Barefoot Bay, surrounded by a 1.4-mile promenade which connects to winding paths leading to guest rooms and common areas.  In the center of the lake is Caribbean Cay, an island with a picnic area and beautiful foliage. Caribbean Cay is connected to each side by a footbridge. 

    Coronado Springs – Explore the grounds of this resort via a 0.9 mile Esplanade as it winds its way through the wooded areas of the grounds.  Check out the partially buried large Mayan head statue in the middle of the Explorer’s Playground. 

    All-Star Music, Movies and Sports – Check out the larger-than-life icons in and around each of the All-Star Resorts.

    POP Century – Nostalgia overload reins king at this resort!  In the lobby, you will find numerous wall-mounted shadow boxes full of fads, fashions, music, toys and other trinkets from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  You can’t help not to smile when you these.

    Art of Animation - Disney has really outdone themselves with their newest resort.  Art of Animation features four of Disney's popular character themes: Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. The resort brings each of these movies to life with giant scale statues, unique landscaping and colorful decor throughout.  The feature pool a the resort, called The Big Blue, is the largest pool currently on property.

    I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg for what you’ll find at the various resorts around the complex and did not even get into the Disney Vacation Club Resorts.  

    What’s your favorite resort hopping activity? 

    Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Black this month. We will be back in June with an all new theme.  Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney news, 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:

    1st Stop ~ The Disney Point
    2nd stop ~ The Disney Chick
    3rd Stop ~ Manda’s Disney Blog
    Final Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad   <--you are here

    Thursday, May 2, 2013

    Cigar Store Indian

    Ever notice the Cigar Store Indian on Main Street?   Today, he can be found in front on the Crystal Arts shop, on the northeast corner of Main and Center Street.  But he wasn’t always located there.
    When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, the park featured a shop called “The Tobacconist”.  That shop was located on the west side of the street, between the House of Magic and the Refreshment Corner (now Casey’s corner).  It was approximately where the northern entrance to the Hall of Champions is today.  The shop sold tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, hand carved pipes, and loose leaf tobacco.  In the late 80’s the shop was closed, but tobacco products could still be purchased across the street at the Market House.  The Cigar Store Indian was moved to reflect the change.  Since 2000, tobacco products are no longer sold in the parks, but the Cigar Store Indian remains, providing an ever vigilant watch over Main Street, USA and providing a glimpse of Disney World’s past. 
    While this statue helps tell the story of small town USA and fits in with the character and charm of the town in the early 20th century, the symbolism he represents seems to be lost on a younger generation.  Traditionally known as a “Cigar Store Indian” or “Wooden Indian”, statues such as these were used as an advertising figure made to represent tobacconists, much like barber poles advertise barber shops or three gold balls advertise pawn shops.  These figures were three-dimensional sculptures several feet tall, up to life-sized.  But, how did an Indian come to represent tobacco products?  Because of the general illiteracy of the population at the time, store owners would use descriptive emblems to advertise their wares.  American Indians were associated with tobacco since they had introduced the product to Europeans.  The Indian statue would also serve as a visual magnet, drawing the attention of passersby to the store.  
    You can find the twin to the Main Street Cigar Store Indian in Frontierland.  That one can be found on the porch in front of Prairie Outpost & Supply.  At one time, this location also sold tobacco products.