Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day 1247: The Off Days

It's hard even for me to believe that the past 1246 days have been so filled with Disney that I'm able to write a daily blog about it all. I mean, think about it. We're all busy people. We have our own lives, adventures, classes, jobs, worries, fears, hopes, and dreams. We watch different TV shows, love different movies, listen to different music, and visit different places. For me, much of my life is spent working on homework and studying or going to class, and really only a small part of it is spent actively "working on" my obsession with Disney. And in reality, if it weren't for Everyday Disney and my YouTube videos, I'm fairly certain that there wouldn't be as much Disney in my life as there is now.

That doesn't mean there aren't off days though, when I find myself sitting in front of a blank computer screen searching for what to write about because in all regards that day was a particularly boring one. Maybe I went to class, and where there's usually something to connect back to Disney, there wasn't. And then I could have gone to practice, an activity that usually goes by without much else to think about. Meetings usually are relatively Disney free, and if there wasn't much Disney going on in class there probably isn't much in the homework either.

What that leaves me with is the responsibility to fill that empty space with something Disney all on my own, and trust me, you can only blog about Disney mugs, Tsum Tsums, and waiting for your next trip to the Disney Parks for so long. As much as we all love the Disney movies, you don't always have time to watch an entire film, at least not if you want to actually find time to sleep at night. TV shows are on once a week, and visits to the parks only occur every so often.

So what's a Disney fan to do? Honestly there's very little you can do, because some days are just really normal days. You can follow every Disney blog on the internet, go through every picture on your computer, go to every store in town, watch every movie in your collection and still feel like the day wasn't especially filled with Disney Magic. There are even days you spend in the parks that feel almost empty, and while thankfully they don't occur very often, they do happen.

But that's okay, because if our lives were so filled with Disney all the time, we'd never be able to truly appreciate the really magical moments that pop up and surprise us out of the blue. Moments like receiving a Mickey Mouse shaped gift from your friends, seeing your new favorite Disney movie for the first time, or maybe revisiting an old favorite you forgot about. Maybe it's taking in every second of your favorite attraction for the 100th (or 200th) time, successfully learning how to make Disney-inspired macarons, or putting together the pieces of history by relating them to something you learned in The American Adventure. It's watching video footage from your first time to Disney, one that you couldn't possibly remember on your own, and discovering that the things you love now started to develop all the way back then, fulfilling your dreams on Main Street U.S.A, and taking your best friends home to Disney World for the first (second, and third) time.

Maybe not every day can be as magical as the day you first saw Cinderella Castle, but that doesn't mean we're without magic entirely, even when it may feel like it. We just have to remember that for every off day, there's a simply spectacular one right around the corner, and that when it does arrive, it'll be all the more worth it.

Have a magical day!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Day 1246: An American Flag

One of the best parts about being an Alumni of a High School Band is the opportunity you're given to continue to help serve the community on important days like today: Memorial Day. For the past two years I helped by carrying the banner, and while that was my intent today as well, unfortunately a bad ankle kept me from marching. Instead I helped out by filming the entire event, per usual, and attended the ceremony complete in my red marching polo to match the group. 

However, as I stood across the room from hundreds in my town, I couldn't help but feel sort of bothered. The stands weren't full, not by a long shot, and certainly not like at basketball games. Many of those there were parents of band members or those who are family members to those that have served or are serving.

I know for a fact that my town is much large enough to fill that entire room, and then some, but where was everyone? Here I was, supporting the band, which was supporting our country in the best way I know how, and the large majority of my town was skipping out on the day, sleeping in or heading up North or, in all honesty, just doing nothing. 

So I ask of you, my blog readers, what did you do this Memorial Day? 

Have a magical day! 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Day 1245: Saratoga or OKW

With so many various DVC Resorts out there now, I know just how hard it can be to choose the right one for your vacation. But when it comes down to distinctly DVC Resorts, there's some debate going on: which is better? 

I'll start out by saying that Saratoga Springs and Old Key West are drastically different resorts...in some ways more than others. We'll start with what they have in common though. Both Resorts are usually open even closer to your vacation date, although that may be due to the higher number of DVC Member rooms available compared to other resorts. They both have decent rooms and are split up between various buildings over a large "campus" that includes multiple bus stops rather than just one for the whole resort. In addition, they both are near Disney Springs and provide boat transportation, have quick service and table service restaurants, and are rather lightly themed in comparison to some of the other hotels on property. 

Saratoga Springs is themed on the real Saratoga Springs, bringing the Victorian, horse racing style to Central Florida right from New York. The resort is split into five sections: The Grandstand, The Paddock, The Carousel, Congress Park, and The Springs. The downfall here is that the 18 very large buildings that house the rooms can get to be quite the distance from the main building, and while a major benefit of staying at Saratoga is the walkway that takes you directly to Disney Springs, such a walk can take over a half hour depending on where you are at the resort. On our last trip we even stayed in the middle of the resort, near the Carousel bus stop, and the hike took about 30 minutes. When we stayed at the Grandstand before that, it was nearing 45 minutes. Meanwhile, you can take a bus (if it comes immediately) and be there within 10 minutes. Still, the rooms are all a decent size, although they are a bit smaller than rooms at similar resorts. 

Meanwhile, the rooms at Old Key West, which takes the gingerbread architecture of the conch republic to the Walt Disney World Resort, are the largest on property. As the original DVC Resort, you'll consistently meet fellow visitors who travel to WDW time and time again, which almost gives it an extra homey feel. Like Saratoga, the resort is split into five sections: The Hospitality House, Peninsular Road, Old Turtle Pond, South Point, and Millers Road. While still spread out into over 50 different buildings, the entirety of Old Key West is easily within walking distance, as it's only a short walk from the furthest South Point buildings back up to the Hospitality House. 

All in all, the comparisons really come down to room size and amenities. Old Key West's large, spacious rooms easily beat out Saratoga's, especially now that they've been refurbished. However, the food selection at Saratoga greatly beats out Old Key West with the Turf Club, although Olivia's provides a nice middle option that's not available at Saratoga. In addition, if you're looking at swimming, the pools at Saratoga are themed well and are much larger than the few scattered at Old Key West. 

Still, and maybe it's because I'm bias, I'd much rather stay at Old Key West. Despite the fact that it's not connected to Disney Springs, the entire resort seems much more convenient. If necessary, you can walk to the front within minutes, and since the rooms are much larger, you have an incredible amount of space to spread out. The rooms at Saratoga, in comparison, feel cramped. 

Which resort do you prefer? 

Have a magical day!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Day 1244: DCOM

With the DCOM marathon a huge part of pretty much every Disney's fans life right about now, it's probably time to share with you some of my favorite DCOMs! With so many to choose from, honestly it was really hard narrowing it down, but I'm so excited to see so many of these in the next few days that there aren't even words! 

Of course, when talking about the best DCOMs, you HAVE to mention Zenon. I heard a rumor that this could have been a TV show and honestly, I don't know why not. It would have made a spectacular show and we definitely would have all watched it.

And then there's Smart House, which is one of those films that I just remember watching all the time. Seriously. Anytime Smart House was on, we were watching it, even if it is almost creepy.

I almost forgot about Horse Sense for a while, but for some reason the story of this city slicker turned ranch hand is super entertaining. It's a popular enough storyline, but this one is just different enough to be perfect. And there are horses. Who doesn't love horses?

The upset of the marathon is the lack of Luck of the Irish, which I actually haven't seen in quite some time. I definitely noticed it was missing from the lineup immediately though and will 100% be watching it on my free time since I'm also not staying up until 2 in the morning to watch it in June.

Double Teamed is sort of like Smart House. I remember it super well because I watched it all the time. But it's also like Horse Sense in the fact that I almost forgot it existed.

And then there's Quints. Who doesn't remember Quints?

We all loved Cadet Kelly when I was a kid. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've watched this as sleepovers in elementary and middle school. It was a whole thing back then.

Motorcrossed is another fan favorite, and it's certainly a movie that we all just really love. So it has to be here: because it's awesome.

But my all time personal favorite has to be Eddie's Million Dollar Cook-Off. I actually own this one because I love it so much. I actually wrote a whole blog post about it a while ago, but long story short, it makes me want to cook and it taught me how to crack an egg with one hand. 

If you'll notice, High School Musical isn't even on here, and while it's a great film and officially a DCOM, I really wanted to highlight some of the less talked about films. You know, the ones that were really a part of our childhoods, and less a part of our preteen phase. 

Let me know which DCOMs are your favorites in the comments below! 

Have a magical day!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Day 1243: Through the Looking Glass

It's been a few years since the last Alice in Wonderland movie premiered and left many of us slightly confused as to what in the world was going on. Johnny Depp's performance was great, per usual, but all I remember about it was leaving the theater more confused than when I went in...which, perhaps, is exactly what an Alice in Wonderland film should be. The sequel seemed about the same to me: an enjoyable film that I'll probably never watch again.

Like usual, I headed to the theaters soon after release to see Alice Through the Looking Glass, and while there were very few people in the theater, those that were there all seemed to enjoy it. I really enjoyed Time as a character for reasons that I can't quite pin down, and while The Hatter almost got irritating at times, I loved Alice in this film. In the original I felt like her character was very one sided and flat, but here she just came alive, producing a definite highlight of the film for me.

All in all, this film just felt more colorful and upbeat than the first one, which really seems more in-tune with Wonderland. The backstory for the Hatter was interesting, and definitely kept me intent throughout the movie, but in the end I think that this also provided it's greatest flaw: the main character. The title is Alice Through the Looking Glass, but it seemed to me that the main character wasn't Alice at all. In fact, she was more of a side player who happened to save the main character: The Hatter. Considering the fact that Johnny Depp was really the stand-out star of the previous film, this isn't surprising, but at the same time it felt a bit off.

Plus, as an English major who's read Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass both multiple times, I'm not entirely sure how accurate this all was to the original novel...

Truth be told, Alice Through the Looking Glass was indeed a good film, and I still recommend seeing it if you haven't already...although you could probably wait until it appears on Netflix someday just as easily.

Have a magical day!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Day 1242: Disney After Hours

Extra Magic Hours has been a part of Walt Disney World for almost as long as I can remember. There's something really magical about being in the parks when the crowds (and wait times) are low, and really, there are few things in this world I enjoy more than walking through an empty Magic Kingdom or deserted Epcot.

When they announced the Disney After Hours event at Magic Kingdom a while back, I was pretty skeptical. After all, this is literally just a paid version of Extra Magic Hours, which I could enjoy basically any other night at no expense, and so I wrote it off as something hardly worth my while. Of course, my mom realized that the final night scheduled for the event happened to be while we were in Florida, and with a discount, we managed to get our tickets at half price.

Overall, there were both pros and cons of the event. The largest, and really only disadvantage really, was the price, although I do believe it was noted that you don't need a ticket purchased prior to gain entry to the park. Since you could get in earlier in the day (7 I believe, although it may have been earlier), you could enjoy the park before closing as well. I headed over around 9 myself and spent some time in Tomorrowland enjoying the Peoplemover and the Carousel of Progress, which was a nice, easy way to start things off despite the larger crowds before park closing. Plus, both attractions weren't part of the After Hours Event, and I still wanted to make sure I hit them both.

After the fireworks, however, the park seemed to empty quickly, and within maybe a half hour, we were able to walk right onto Splash Mountain and Big Thunder, as well as Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise, all attractions that usually have relatively long wait times. From there, we hit most of the park, slowly working our way from Adventureland all the way back to Tomorrowland. Personally, I was able to head on a good number of additional attractions: Peter Pan's Flight (which I went on twice with no wait), it's a small world, The Mad Tea Party, Haunted Mansion and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. There may have been a few more attractions, but I was running back and forth so much it's sort of a blur. I do know that I also made a visit to Princess Fairytale Hall to meet Cinderella, Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa, all with minimal wait!

The overall concept of Disney After Hours is sort of a narrowed down Extra Magic Hours, but you pay for it. For somewhere around $150 I believe, you can be one of no more than 3000 people in all of Magic Kingdom and experience some of the top attractions at little to absolutely no wait. In addition, the Princesses meet in Fairytale Hall, and you can enjoy complimentary ice cream treats and bottled beverages throughout the night from stands around the park.

As I'm sure we can all figure out, that's not worth $150, although it was quite the enjoyable night having no one around and walking right onto Peter Pan's Flight more than once. The trouble here is that if Disney charges much less, they'll be losing money on this endeavor. They could fix that by selling more tickets, but then you loose some of the emptiness and overall aspect of the event itself: a VIP sort of experience where you (and 3000 of your closest friends) roam Magic Kingdom without everyone else.

Then again, I don't think we'll need to be worrying much about this anymore. It sounds like tickets for the event trials didn't sell well, and I have the feeling that I attended the last ever Disney After Hours event. Still, I don't regret going, and I'm really glad I got to. I mean, after all, if for nothing else, it gave me a chance to spend some extra time in the parks when I love them most.

Would you pay to go to Disney After Hours? Let me know in the comments below!

Have a magical day!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Day 1241: Club Villain

After my mom experienced Club Villain back in January, she knew that she had to take me when we went this May. Really I wasn't sure what to expect, but overall I loved the experience, the atmosphere, the characters, the food, and honestly, pretty much everything! 

Since it's a highlight, we'll start with the food. There was a good selection of New Orleans inspired main dishes, my favorite of which was something with pork. I don't 100% remember, but I do know there was some really delicious gravy, and I love gravy. Then, for dessert there were two selections from each of the four villains: Cruella de Vil, The Evil Queen, Maleficent, and the Queen of Hearts. Honestly the Queen of Hearts won out for dessert in my book with a red heart shaped macaron and a red velvet cupcake, but the others were all just as delicious! And while I couldn't drink them, there were also select themed beverages for each of the villains as well. 

Now, onto the show, which definitely kept you entertained the entire night. There was a DJ between main performances, but Dr. Facilier and his right hand man were the real stars of the show. Special performances that included singing and dancing occurred throughout the night and I cannot wait to share some of these in upcoming vlogs! I can't even try to describe to you how amazing these were! 

And of course, the night wouldn't be complete without a visit to your favorite villain. On your special invitation you were given times that sort of acted like fastpasses for when to visit with the villains, and they'd take pictures and chat with you in their special areas. Personally I loved Cruella and the Queen of Hearts, because they're just so entertaining. 

I would definitely go back to Club Villain again...if we hadn't gone on the last night. I mean, I can definitely see the appeal of themed events like this, and I think that with the right selection of characters and themes, they could keep them going all year long and people could continuously come back. If you came in hungry and wanted a couple of drinks it was definitely worth the money, and I highly recommend it if they do bring it back! I mean, almost the entertainment alone is worth a good portion of the price, and with the delicious food to top it off, you're golden. Plus, when else will you get to meet The Queen Hearts? 

Have a magical day!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Day 1240: Pressed Pennies

I know I've said this before, but I actually have the best friends in the entire world.

While, recently, they've come with me on several Disney trips, I have to leave them at home often enough, and despite the fact that I might be across the country, they're usually still at my house, trying to find lighters or planning some secret mission that I don't know about. They also bought textbooks once, but that's beside the point.

This time, however, they finally completed something they've been working on for a long while, or at least I've been told. Turns out they actually started the above project over a year and a half ago, collecting pressed pennies from across the Walt Disney Resort to create a Mickey Mouse shape in the shadowbox.

The funny part is this though. If you've seen Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas, you might remember the short where Mickey and Minnie are trying to get one another the perfect Christmas gifts, but in order to afford the presents for one another, they end up selling the exact things that go with what they're buying, if that makes sense. So, I believe, Mickey gets a harmonica case from Minnie, but has sold his harmonica. You get the idea. The same kind of thing happened here, as while at The Contemporary in January 2015, I bought Frank and Shovell each a pressed penny book since I knew they'd been stopping at the various kiosks throughout the parks. I didn't however, at the time, know what they were planning and that many of the pressed pennies would end up back in my own hands.

How they come up with these things I'm not entirely sure, but I really am loving all of these Mickey Mouses that are appearing in my apartment. This one in particular is just really unique, with coins from all around World Showcase, as well as one that has Captain Hook on it as well. Pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

They also did this giant door decoration thing, which my cat has eagerly taken down, but it was awesome while it lasted! Each of the Mickeys on the door have a different Disney quote on them, from the movies to the parks. My personal favorites were some of the Parks Attractions ones though.

So thanks Frank and Shovell, for continuously making my home a little more tolerable when I get back. We all know how hard that Disney depression hits when we get home from a Disney trip. 

Have a magical day! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Day 1239: No So Dizzy

There are some attractions that I rarely visit. It's nothing personal, and I definitely have nothing against the attractions, but rather, my motion sickness tends to put a damper on the fun. Pretty much any sort of spinning gets me more than a little dizzy, so for years attractions such as The Carrousel, Dumbo, and The Mad Tea Party have been off limits for me. It's just easier if I avoid them, because that means avoiding feeling sick, and that's just good for everyone.

However, when I was challenged by one of my followers to sing I'm a Little Teapot on the Teacups, it was too clever a suggestion to turn down, and so, against my better judgement, I went for my first spin in the cups in what I figure has been about 10 years. Being by myself, and while too distracted by singing a children's song, I didn't actually spin all that much, which probably contributed to the fact that I ended up visiting the Teacups a second time...although it may have been mostly because I forgot the words to I'm a Little Teapot the first time...

What lesson have we learned here today? Sometimes old attractions that we haven't visited in a while can become new favorites, and I suppose the opposite can be true as well (The Great Movie Ride, for instance, is now much lower on my favorites list than it used to be), but we'll never discover these things unless we make a point to stop and try them out again. I get questioned a lot about whether or not Disney gets boring, and since it's literally impossible to do everything in one trip (unless you stay for a month or two, I suppose), the answer is no. Just because I rode the teacups years ago doesn't mean I remembered them clearly, and that means that even an old attraction that maybe you wrote off can become new and exciting again. And no, it's not always about discovering the "new" things either. It's about exploring everything the Disney Parks have to offer, and I'm fairly certain that alone would take a lifetime. 

Or at least a few more spins on the teacups. 

Have a magical day! 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Day 1238: Slowing Down

Disney trips can seem overly tiring. And they probably are. In comparison to traveling other places, where you might spend time sleeping in or slowly strolling around a city, a Disney trip forces you to keep moving most of the time, especially if it's your first time or you don't visit often. For years, it's been about seeing all the main sights within a short amount of time. After all, if you only have a few days once a year to hit your favorite attractions, sometimes more than once, you probably don't want to waste your time. So, as my best friends became quickly aware of, there is no rest at Disney World.

This past trip, however, I found myself slowing down a bit. I didn't feel the need to see all the major attractions, although there were definitely a few that are always Must Dos for me (Spaceship Earth, Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story Midway Mania, and so on and so forth). I didn't really want to run back and forth the whole trip (although I definitely did some running regardless).

Instead, I found myself seeking out some of the calmer attractions, many of which are perfect for the hot summer days that Florida is so well known for. My personal favorite, of course, is the PeopleMover, which I probably ride almost as often as Spaceship Earth. It's a calming attraction, and while the lines have steadily been growing longer over the past couple of years, the breeze is nice and you do get to sit down for the entire attraction. Perfect for hot days when everything else at Magic Kingdom has a 45 minute wait.

At Epcot, I spent a lot of time walking around World Showcase, which usually ends with a lot of standing, but if you really take your time and do it right, you can try a lot of food, see a lot of sights, relish in a lot of air conditioning, and even sit down. The films in Canada and China aren't particularly popular, and while you do have to stand there, there are rather comfortable seats in the French film as well as in The American Adventure. Speaking of which, The American Adventure pavilion is perfect for hot days, since you can cool off in the waiting area to listen to the Voices of Liberty before even going into the half hour show. And then there's music groups that perform on the stage outside too, so really you could spend an hour or more there alone.

Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom are harder with all the construction, but I'm positive that as the new additions to each park open that will change. Meanwhile, Disney Springs is now a spectacular spot to spend an entire evening or, as it continues to develop, an entire day. It's free to visit, which makes it even better, and there's so much to explore without constantly running here, there, and everywhere.

I guess I've realized over the past couple of trips that there's much more to Walt Disney World than meets the eye, and relaxing throughout the entire resort can be just as much fun as hitting all the E-Ticket attractions. I mean, just because Ellen's Energy Adventure is outdated and sort of long doesn't mean it's not a great place to hang out when the air gets too hot and you want a break! Sometimes a 45 minute attraction in air conditioning where you get to sit the whole time is exactly what you want!

Have a magical day!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Day 1237: A Little of This and That

It's once again time to share some of my favorite pictures from my latest Disney trip! Now, aside from those put on Instagram, none of these are edited in anyway, I just liked how they look! I'd go on to explain more, but I think I'll just let you enjoy:

Have a magical day!