Wednesday, November 30, 2011

(Guess Who's Coming On Board?!)

wanted to share some amazing news with you today! As if we weren't excited enough for the new Disney Fantasy ship to make its debut, now we are doubly excited! It was announced on the Disney Parks Blog that the Muppets will be hosting an interactive adventure onboard the ship. Hosted by J's favorite prawn Pepe, guests are charged with finding the stolen props for the big show! The name of the game is "The Case of the Stolen Show," and makes use of the interactive art aboard the ship (that you may be familiar with from the Disney Dream). Muppet fever is in the air - sign me up!

Happy Cruising!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

(It's Time to Meet the Muppets)

I love Jason Segel. He's hilarious both in writing and acting, stars in my current favorite television show, and clearly knows a thing or two about puppets. But what is the funnyman, who doesn't shy away from full-frontal nudity, doing with the family-friendly muppets? The answer: giving our friends a glorious comeback that has been long overdue.

I had been silently counting down the days until the Muppet movie release ever since I heard that it was in the works. I wasn't sure what to expect but was willing to bet that Segel's love and respect for the gang would ensure plenty of laughter, great tunes (a la the Dracula musical), and of course plenty of guest stars. I was far from disappointed.

Early on we learn that brothers Gary (Jason Segel) and Walter have a close relationship despite their differences; Segel's Gary is an ever-growing human, while poor Walter (who looks suspiciously muppet-like) remains the same height throughout the opening montage. Walter soon discovers the Muppet Show and falls in love, longing to find his place among the gang. Fast forward to the grown-up years where Gary plans to take his girlfriend of ten years, Mary (played by the very-appropriately cast Amy Adams) to Hollywood for their anniversary. Gary invites Walter to tag along (much to Mary's chagrin), and the trip quickly becomes a quest to visit the old Muppet Studios. When Walter learns that evil oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) plans to destroy the landmark to drill for oil, he sets out on a quest to stop him. In order to do that, he must get the whole Gang back together to raise $10 million to buy the studios. The problem is, the gang has been split up for years and scattered all over the world. The always-glamorous Miss Piggy is living her dream as the plus-size editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in an anger management facility with Jack Black, Fozzy is in Reno performing his act with the Moopets, and Gonzo is running Gonzo's Royal Flush, a highly successful plumbing company. I won't give away any spoilers, but I will say that the plot unfolds beautifully and viewers will not be able to get enough of the Muppet antics right up until the end. 

The movie is filled with great music and hilarious moments - one song in particular, called Man or Muppet is the standout favorite for me. Featuring great lyrics and hilarious surprises (like a cameo from Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons), this is really the turning point when Gary and Walter must decide what is really important to them in life. I guarantee you'll laugh through this one. Another standout is a beautiful rendition of an old classic, The Rainbow Connection

It is my understanding that there was a bit of controversy surrounding the return of the Muppets. There were those who believed that their resurrection would prove fruitless - like original Muppet heavyweight Frank Oz who passed on the opportunity to be a part of the project, claiming that he didn't believe the characters would be respected. The resulting film couldn't be further from that description. If anything is evident from this movie, it's the blatant love and respect that Segel has for these characters. He handles them with charm and grace, and brings us a new story that I hope all generations can enjoy. If you love the Muppets, there is no doubt that you will love this. Do yourself a favor this holiday season and take your whole family to experience The Muppets!

Happy Viewing!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

(Happy Thanksgiving)

Today, we embark on our trip home to New York to spend time with family for the Thanksgiving holiday. The drive is sure to be stressful as millions of Americans make their way along the crowded highways to be with their families, too. I see a few arguments in my future, as the inevitable traffic jams coupled with the long-as-it-is drive prove difficult for J and I to keep our cool. But through all of the stress and pressure, not just for today's drive but in every day life, we must remember that we are rich with blessings. While the holiday may be just a prelude to Christmas for many, it truly is a day to take the time and think about what we are thankful for. Times are difficult for many (unemployment, among other travesties), but remember that no matter how bad you think you have it, someone is always worse off than you. So take the time to tell your family that you love them, kiss your husbands and wives no matter how they drive you crazy, and give your pets a special treat (turkey, perhaps?). Take a break from the daily stresses and warm yourself in the company of loved ones (and hopefully lots of food and wine). And please, don't be that guy who goes to Target at 10pm Thanksgiving night. Don't even get me started on that one.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,

Monday, November 21, 2011

(Can't Live Without: Dinosaur!)

Dinosaur, 2010.

Do you have a Disney attraction or show that you just can't live without? I have a few myself, but my absolute can't-do-without is Dinosaur in Disney's Animal Kingdom.


Formerly Countdown to Extinction, Dinosaur is loud, turbulent, and one heck of a fun ride. You are being sent back in time to the Cretaceous period to procure an Iguanadon and bring it back for research. Of course something goes wrong, because it's the end of the Cretaceous period and a major meteor storm is on its way, waiting to destroy all life as we (or really, the dinos) know it.


If you are a regular reader, I'm sure you're aware of my fondness for dinosaurs (see: my T-Rex love story). It may be the reason why I just can't get enough of this attraction. I love the loud noises, the crazy turbulence of the ride vehicle (evasive maneuver! right! left!), and the larger-than-life Carnotaurus that ultimately has me screaming my shorts off every time. It's the kind of ride that I like to experience again and again. On one of the less crowded park days in March of 2006, there were little-to-no lines at Dinosaur and the cast member just let us stay on for 3 rounds. Best. Day. Ever.


I would recommend this ride to anyone and everyone, but steer clear if you have back or neck issues, because it does tend to get rough. Also, those who can't handle loud noises best skip this one - I swear there are some days that they just crank up the volume, and other days that aren't quite as intense. Lines are rarely long here. If you do notice a line out the door, don't let it scare you away - they move really quickly. The typical lack of a queue actually makes me a tad nervous, and I hope that my beloved Dinosaur is here to stay!


What's your Disney obsession? I would love to hear about the one thing that you can't live without, whether it's a ride, a show or even a snack!

Happy Obsessing!

Friday, November 18, 2011

(Rompin' Around the Animal Kingdom)

Rapscallion by Samantha Pleet for Urban Outfitters Romper | DVF Lanai Knot Flip Flop | Marc Jacobs Script Sunglasses | XOXO Skinny Headband

Rompers are one of the best articles of clothing money can buy for your visit to Walt Disney World. I love the ease of slipping them on plus the no-fuss factor for your day in the sun. I wore a strapless romper for my day in Animal Kingdom, and did find myself pulling up the top every now and then - maybe get something with straps to be safe. In any case, this is one of my favorite photos from one of our many trips.

Do you have a favorite one-piece that you wore or plan to wear to Disney World? Send me your photos!

Happy Romping!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

(Holiday Gifts for the Disney Fashionista)

Thanksgiving hasn't quite passed yet, but the shop windows are decked out in their holiday finest, and everywhere you look there are signs of Christmas. There's no trying to stop it - the time for holiday shopping is definitely upon us. Thankfully, there are a lot of fantastic options out there (I have my eye on a very specific pair of shoes, hint hint), and retailers are making our shopping very easy this year. If you have a Disney fashionista in your family, you're in luck. There are numerous on-trend ways to show your Disney pride - we have brands like Disney Couture and Swarovski to thank for that! Take a look at my picks for your Disney Fashionista, and you're sure to make this a Christmas she'll never forget!

1. Disney Couture Minnie Bow Ring | 2. It's a Small World Powder Room Case | 3. Crop Sublimation Mickey Tee | 4. Disney by Patterson J Kincaid Sweatshirt | 5. Disney Couture Minnie Hair Pin | 6. It's a Small World FEED Tote | 7. Pixie Dust Body Mist | 8. Disney by Patterson J Kincaid Snow White Tank | 9. Disney Couture Swarovski Ears Necklace | 10. Cinderella Castle iPhone4 Cover | 11. Bow Icon Minnie Mouse Tee | 12. Disney Couture Wonderland Through the Keyhole Necklace | 13. Silver Initial Mickey Mouse Necklace | 14. Swarovski Minnie Heart Pierced Earrings | 15. Dooney & Bourke Disney Sketch Crossbody Bag | 16. Mickey & Minnie Hipster Panty | 17. Disney by Patterson J Kincaid Mickey Pullover | 18. Alice in Wonderland Cheshire Cat Watch | 19. Disney Villain Fashion Tee | 20. Disney Couture Minnie Bead Necklace | 21. Disney Couture Heart Stone Earrings

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

(Why Can't Stitch Catch A Break?)

A larger-than-life Stitch at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, 2007.
I recently was reading my AllEars newsletter (something I look forward to weekly), and in passing, the writer expressed her distaste for Stitch's Great Escape (an opinion I vehemently share). That really got me thinking about the little blue alien. Ah, Stitch. You are, without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite Disney characters. Your movie is fantastic, your hometown is enviable, and we both share a deep love of The King. And yet, we just can't seem to find a place for you, can we? Let's review the planet-sized failures (and perhaps some victories) of Experiment 626.

First and foremost, there is Stitch's Great Escape! What is pretty much a fail on its own is made even worse by the fact that it replaced one of the most beloved attractions in the Magic Kingdom. The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter was terrifying, and definitely not for children. But it was one of the best experiences the Magic Kingdom ever had and will ever have. I do understand the need to scrap it, because perhaps the Magic Kingdom really isn't the best place for blood-curdling screams and human-eating aliens to inhabit. Still, I lament the loss and wish that somehow the attraction could have been moved to Hollywood Studios, where it certainly would have been much more at home (and put that alien in the Great Movie Ride to shame). Instead, what replaced the terror, along with my dear friend Skippy, is one of the greatest disappointments in all of Disney's history.

Downtown Disney, 2005.

It started out rather cute. On my visit in the early spring of 2005, Stitch was on the loose in Downtown Disney. He crashed a van into a tree and left the evidence behind. NOTHING TO SEE HERE the signs around the crime scene said, with Wanted posters scattered around the area. It was a fantastic tie-in, in my opinion, to the new attraction in the Magic Kingdom. It showcased Stitch as we all know him, a mischievous little devil, wreaking havoc throughout the resort. I was impressed with the playfulness of it all. Moving into the Magic Kingdom however, is where the issue really begins. I think what Disney really did wrong was not scrapping the entire Alien Encounter attraction. Stitch may have had a better chance of obtaining his due popularity in his own right if the Imagineers had started over and built something just for him. You can't replace one of the greatest attractions in Disney history with something mediocre yet so similar and expect it to work, though it did seem to make sense at the time. Even the Cast Members working there aren't feeling it. Still, Stitch's Great Escape! remains. I'm not sure that it's high on the list of priorities right now, especially with the attraction across the way being so popular (The Laugh Floor Comedy Club is counted among my new favorites). We will just have to wait and see what Stitch's fate in the Magic Kingdom will be - I know I am not the only one who has made my distaste for this attraction apparent, and the lack of wait times tend to say it all.

Stitch's Supersonic Celebration, May 2009.

In the Spring of 2009, Stitch struck again in the Magic Kingdom, and unfortunately his luck wasn't any better. Stitch's Supersonic Celebration was a high-energy dance party featuring technology used in the uber-popular Turtle Talk with Crush over in the Animal Kingdom. The technology has been very successful, also being used in the Laugh Floor Comedy Club and entertaining guests young and old. So why didn't this show work? I'm not sure exactly. For one, this particular area of the Magic Kingdom doesn't seem to be all that high-traffic (like say, the stage in front of the castle). Also, perhaps many of our Disney kids don't like to listen to Elvis (crazy, I know). Perhaps the downfall of it all is that the show was 25 minutes long, which tends to be fairly lengthy when there are no seats and space is extremely limited. Whatever the reason, it just didn't work and Stitch's time dressing in Elvis attire was over soon after it began.

photo courtesy of Flickr

Now here is a place that Stitch can really call home. The 'Ohana restaurant, nestled in the Luxurious Polynesian resort, holds a Best Friends Breakfast every morning featuring Lilo & Stitch. What better place to host a meal than one reflecting your native Hawaii? I have not been to the breakfast myself, but have been told good things - this is a highly successful dining option for the Polynesian. Score one for the Stitchmeister.

Animal Kingdom, May 2010.

Another sunny moment for Stitch are his character outings. People love to see Lilo & Stitch while they are wandering around the parks, and lines to meet them are frequently long. In the above photo, J and I are posing with our friends in the Animal Kingdom. My question is this - what do Lilo & Stitch have to do with the Animal Kingdom? This one puzzles me. Nonetheless, squealing park visitors were delighted to see the duo out and about. Another high note for Stitch.

Downtown Disney, 2010.

Downtown Disney is quite possibly my favorite place for Stitch, and one of the most delightful. Sure, he's not "in the flesh" here, but he's up to his same old tricks. Stitch sits atop one of the entrances to the enormous World of Disney, daring anyone to try and avoid getting wet as they move forward! I have seen many park guests just standing outside, waiting to get a little dose of alien spit in the hot Florida sun. It's fun, it's colorful, and it really plays up to Stitch's character. I mean you wouldn't see Cinderella spitting on guests, now would you? 626 scores again!

So, I guess when you think about it, Stitch doesn't fare well with his own attraction. Maybe he'll land one some day, but I sort of doubt it (I hope to come back here in 5 years and have to correct myself). This doesn't mean that the little alien doesn't have love. He delights park guests in many ways day in and day out. Headlining just isn't his thing, at least for now.

Where do YOU think Stitch's place is in the Disney parks? Do you miss the Alien Encounter as much as I do? Tell me all about it!

Happy Mischief-Making!

Monday, November 14, 2011

(Photo Favorite: Main Street, USA)

The above photo, taken in 2009, is one of my all-time favorites. It's nowhere near perfect and certainly lacks a professional quality, but for me, it's about the feeling that this photo evokes. This is the Fantasyland Woodwind Society, and on this particular morning in the Magic Kingdom they were serenading guests with their saxophones on Main Street, USA. Notice the placement of Mickey Mouse on the back of their overalls - to me it says that you can never be too old to experience the magic. These guys certainly seemed to enjoy entertaining us!

Do you have a favorite photo, old or new? I'd love to see some vintage Disney photos. Send them on!

Happy Memories!

Friday, November 11, 2011

(Underrated and Under-visited: Living with the Land)

March 2006. We look so young! 
You know the deal. You rush into the Land Pavilion to grab your fastpasses to the most in-demand attraction in Epcot: Soarin'. Not that I blame you, that is one amazing ride. It's far too easy though, to miss everything else that the Land has to offer. I'm guilty as well - many times I have walked through the Land Pavilion with only Soarin' in mind, surpassing that boat ride that rarely had a line. In 2009, we decided to finally give it a try. There was a bit of a line and we had some time to kill before Soarin', so we figured a nice, relaxing boat ride would be just the ticket.

Man are we glad we took that ride. Living with the Land is a slow moving boat ride through Epcot's experimental growing areas. You see larger than life lemons, pumpkins shaped like Mickey's head, fruits you've never heard of (Jackfruit, anyone?), and so much more.

You're thinking, "I'm on vacation, I don't want to learn anything." Well, that's what Epcot does best. There's so much to see and absorb on this 14-minute ride. There's even an aquacell (we saw baby alligators!) where you can see fish crops like catfish and eel.

So please, don't surpass this one. Even if you experience it just once and never go back, I really think you may learn a thing or two, and you'll have fun while you do it. This is where they grow a lot of the food that you're eating on your vacation!

While you're in the Land Pavilion, stop for lunch at Sunshine Seasons. There are five stations to choose from including Rotisserie, Soup & Salad, Asian Wok, Sandwich Shop and Bakery. On a week long vacation where a lot of lunches consist of chicken fingers and french fries, the fresh food is a welcome change. We tried a Turkey & Monterey Jack on Focaccia, and it was good! The bread is a bit thick but the flavor is so fresh it just felt like a really clean lunch.

When you visit the Land Pavilion, I ask you to just linger a little longer than it takes for you to ride Soarin'. It may not be for everyone especially if you only have a few days in Disney World, but if you have the time, I think you'll enjoy your experience there. It certainly did not disappoint for us.

What has your experience been with The Land? Have you eaten at Sunshine Seasons, or perhaps Garden Grill? Better yet, have you taken the Behind the Seeds Tour? I'd love to hear about your time there!

Happy Learning!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

(For the Flower-Loving Females and Green-Thumb Girls)


As Epcot's annual Food & Wine Festival comes to a close, they are already making plans for another big event: Epcot's International Flower & Garden Festival. A sign that spring has sprung, the festival began in 1993.

Tic Toc, 2010

The festival is positively ripe with topiaries and flowers of all shapes and sizes. 2011's festival featured over 30 million blooms and half a million plants.

Stitch, 2009

Pirate-Stitch, 2007

With each year brings a new theme to the festival. This year, Epcot was decked out with characters from the well-loved Disney-Pixar films including Toy Story 3 and Cars 2. Past themes have included the great outdoors, Disney romance, pirates, princesses, a tropical vacation, and much more.

Pirate Mickey & Minnie, 2007

Recently Disney has partnered with HGTV for the festival, so many well-known television stars are on hand to help with the celebration. Avid gardeners can learn new techniques to make their gardens vibrant and successful. There is also a butterfly garden, and some great little pop-up shops for all of your flower and garden accessories.

Sorcerer Mickey, 2009

With the flowers come some amazing concerts! I had the privilege of seeing The Guess Who at one of the Flower Power concerts in 2007, and was not disappointed! There really is a lot to take advantage of during the event - and most of the great things going on around the park are included with your regular park admission!

Aladdin in Morocco, 2009

One of the best parts of the Flower & Garden Festival is without a doubt the topiaries. So many characters come alive through the gorgeous art of horticulture.

The Lion King, 2009

The centerpiece of the festival is the entrance to Epcot, without a doubt. Upon entering the park, prepare to have your breath taken away. The amount of hard work is clearly present each year in the amazing displays that greet guests at the entrance.

Princesses, 2009

Pirates, 2007

The gorgeousness doesn't stop there - take a walk around the World Showcase and find topiaries unique to each country's pavilion.

The 2012 International Flower & Garden Festival will take place from March 7 - May 20! No word yet on what the theme will be.

Have you visited Epcot during the Flower & Garden Festival? Send me your photos and tell me all about your experiences!

Until next time!

Happy Gardening!