Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mickey ♥'s the Earth

It's April 22...happy Earth day!  Maybe you didn't know it was Earth day.  Maybe you've never really stopped to think about what it all means.  Now, I am not a granola eating, tree hugging, anti plastic girl at all.  I love the planet that God has given us and I do think that we are responsible for taking care of this wonderful place.  I love animals, water, plants, and by default...I am an Earth lover!  Today I am taking a look at what Disney World does to make EVERY DAY Earth day!  Let's get started!  Let's find out why the EARTH is at the heart of Disney World!

Disney does their best to Explore new and more sustainable agricultural advances.  If you have ever taken a ride on EPCOT's Living with the Land  then you know what I am talking about.  As you snake your way through this ride you'll hear the history of agriculture from the dawn of man to present day.  This ride presents a case for thinking green in agriculture.  The boat eventually takes you through a green house that looks like something out of the future.  The scientists at EPCOT grow everything from banana's to jack fruit in new and interesting ways.  There are huge lemons, aquaculture (fish farming), tomato trees, new ideas for fighting diseases and pests, and even gardens that require no soil.  All of the growing and farming techniques are carefully thought out.  The produce and even some fish from this greenhouse are sent out into the restaurants of Epcot.  

Here are a few pictures...

Here is a video from undercovertourist's Youtube channel!  

Disney has done an awesome job at adopting green choices!  For example in the Animal Kingdom there are no plastic cup lids or straws.  Enjoy your drink uncovered with a paper straw and enjoy in some Earth friendly choices!

I love that recycling is promoted throughout the park!  With tons of waste going out of the park daily, the least we can do is recycle plastic bottles!  

I also love that Mickey (well at least back when they had Mickey's Toontown Fair... :(  ....)  promoted recycling too!  See...cans, bottles, old gloves. Ha!

Okay, so we already talked about Living with the Land.  I feel like I learn something new and interesting each time I ride!  Now let's talk about another EPCOT attraction, Lion King Circle of Life.  This video attraction features Simba, Timon, and Pumba and teaches you all about conservation efforts for this thing we call the circle of life!  Who said you can't learn anything from Disney World!  

Check out this Youtube video of the video (I know, that sounds a bit redundant.  Anyway, there is a part 2 as well but, I thought I would just give you a preview since it is sort of long!)
from century3horizons's Youtube channel

There is a lot to be learned from Epcot's the Seas with Nemo and Friends.  I love that many of the animals are nursed back to health.  For example just about a Month ago we got to learn all about some manatee's rescued off the coast of Florida.  These manatees are going to be nursed back to health and released back into the ocean.   Other marine life is studied and cared for as my favorite animal...the sea turtle!  

I love the conservation efforts that run through Disney.  I am even conservation HERO!  You see, I bought one of the conservation buttons to help with Disney's worldwide conservation efforts.  Disney offers guests these buttons for a $1 donation!  Just can be a hero too!  This is a link of the picture from Flickr because I can't seem to find my picture...

Happy Earth day my dear Disney friends.  I hope you'll do like Disney and make every day Earth day!  We're all a part of this beautiful planet!  Let's do our part!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fastpass Effectiveness em or leave em?  I am not a huge Fastpass user.  I will occasionally get them for the big ticket rides (like Toy Story Midway Mania, Peter Pan's Flight, and Soarin').  But for the most part, I haven't had a huge need for this service (when I go to Disney, the park crowds aren't bad and we decent wait times).  In case you don't know, Disney offers complimentary Fastpasses to allow guests to get a ticket (Fastpass) to return to a ride with a shortened wait.  This way, you can go enjoy other attractions and come back at your printed time slot.  So, do I find Fastpasses useful?  Yeah!  I do.  They free me up to enjoy the day rather than spend my precious park time in line.  Am I in favor of Fastpasses?  Sure!  But, I do think that using Fastpasses, the right way, requires a bit of planning and "know how".  Today we are going to talk Fastpass effectiveness so that you can utilize the system to its fullest!

Plan Your Passes
Having a plan for your Fastpasses helps to save you time!  So, what exactly do I mean by a plan?  Well, I think it helps to know three things:
1. What rides have Fastpasses?

This question is helpful in planning your day because you'll know which rides to hit up early for a good fastpass and which rides will leave you on standby wait.  This also helps me plan my course of action.  For example, I know at rope drop I'll be making the mad dash for Midway Mania (or whatever your fastpass pleasure).

2. What is the current standby line wait like?

I've actually seen rides with fastpasses with low wait times.  Once I booked it through Epcot to Soarin' to get a fastpass and I was pleasantly surprised by the 20 minute wait.  We decided to get the fastpasses anyway so that we could enjoy our favorite ride twice! Next time you have your mind set that this is a Fastpass only ride, check out the standby time.  Maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised too!

3. What is the return time?

This is an important question because often Fastpass return times are for later in the day...and for big rides we are talking way later.  I always check out this time and think:  Am I still planning on being in this park at that time?  Do I have dining reservations at that time?  Is there something else I would rather do at that time?

These three thoughts get my mind out of the dream that I sometimes fall into in the parks and helps me use my Fastpasses effectively.  Let's be real, you don't want to waste time going for Fastpasses that you aren't going to use!

Get Together
Once you decided on Fastpasses you might need someone to play the role of keeper of the passes.  In my family we select one person to get the Fastpasses from Fastpass distribution.  This means that person is a keeper of the tickets (Key to the World tickets) and use those tickets at Fastpass distribution to collect a Fastpass for each ticket.  I like it this way because we are all sure to get a Fastpass, all Fastpasses are kept handy for return times, and we don't clog up the Fastpass lines.  

Choose Wisely
I write this because there are some restrictions for Fastpasses.  The picture above isn't really a good representation of this stipulation because I won those passes by finding a hidden paintbrush on Tom Sawyer Island.   Here is a better representation...

Here's the deal,  Fastpasses have a time printed on them for when you are free to get another pass.  This means that you can't get another Fastpass until that time.  That means you can't just go around making a collection of Fastpasses (but that would be nice).  For this reason, I say, know your choices and choose wisely.  I've even forgotten this little stipulation and we decided to abandon Epcot for the Magic Kingdom.  When we got in the Magic Kingdom I wanted a Fastpass for Splash Mountain and wouldn't you know it...I couldn't get one when I wanted it.  So, if you are planning on doing the same thing...use those passes wisely and don't get caught in a stinky spot!

Timing is Key!

Did you hear the one about strict Fastpass return time enforcement.  It is true!  The Fastpass police are out in full force!  I saw my fair share of people getting turned away because they were "too early" or "late" for the return time printed on their Fastpasses.  Look at your return time and appoint someone to be the time keeper.  There's an hour time frame for you to cash in your Fastpass for a shortened wait time (so don't get too busy and miss it). On the flip side, the time is there for a reason so don't be that guy that gets a Fastpass and tries to go through the Fastpass hours before you time.  Be fair!  
I have a couple of tips to utilize the time between getting your Fastpass and your return time:
- Don't go too far.  
-If you are close to your return time, don't try to get in crazy lines or long attractions/rides.  It is helpful to know how long you'll be waiting and enjoying.  For example, did you know the Ellen's Energy Adventure is 45 minutes long? 45 LONG one place...I'm not a fan by the way!
-Use the Tip Boards (one at each park- MK:  On Main Street USA, Epcot, one between InnoventionsFastpass availability.  

I hope these tips and suggestions help you to wrap your head around Fastpasses.  Maybe you'll go in as a novice Fastpasser and come out a Jedi!  Maybe I missed a point that you know of.  Use the comment section below to participate in this post!  I don't know if I say it enough, but I really do love each and every one of you!  Thank you for taking the time to read, respond, and share the Disney: Done Right love!  :D  You make me smile!  


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Country Cheese: Of the Jamboree Persuasion

I was 11 when went to Disney World the first time.  We stayed at the best camping spot ever, Fort Wilderness Campground.  You can imagine the wonder that filled our minds as we snaked our way from our camper to the bus stop.  I can distinctly remember hearing the call of whippoorwill and counting rabbits jump across our path.  I love those memories!  For some reason those memories are the ones that stick with me the most.  In fact, those memories have molded my thoughts on the Magic Kingdom because, even to this day when I think Magic Kingdom the first thing that comes to mind is Frontierland.  I'm not sure if we were just sticking with an outdoorsy theme or if Western fun was "in".  I do know that we tore up some Splash Mountain and my brother loved the "little train" aka Big Thunder Mountain.  But, we were all devoted to the attraction that crosses all age spans...The Country Bear Jamboree.  The name give it away, this really is a large, noisy, FUN gathering of some of the best bear musicians ever!  Come on and sit a are all invited to this Jamboree!  

The Country Bear Jamboree is a classic park favorite (yeah, it might seem a little cheesy but at Disney that is ok!).  A little history on this attraction:  This attraction made it's debut at Disney World October 1, 1971 (FYI Disney World opened its doors October 1, 1971 so this is an original through and through).  This attraction was one of the last attractions that Walt Disney (the man) helped to develop!  It was originally slated to be part of a ski lodge and when that didn't happen it was put in at Disney World.  The love for the Country Bears eventually spread to Disneyland and even to Tokyo Disneyland.  

This attraction features audio-animatronic bears (they move and sing).  There are 20 characters in all!  That sounds like a jamboree to me!  The bears provide you with real old country rhythm!  The country bears sing songs like Pianjo, The Bear Band Serenade, Fractured Folk Song, My Woman Ain't Pretty (But She Don't Swear None), Mama Don't Whip Little Buford, Tears Will Be The Chaser For Your Wine, Pretty Little Devilish Mary, How Long Will My Baby Be Gone?, All The Guys That Turn Me On Turn Me Down, If Ya Can't Bite- Don't Growl, Heart- We Did All That We Could, Blood on the Saddle, The Ballad Of Davy Crockett, Ole Slew-Foot, and Come Again (Come On In) who can't resist these bears?  I've always thought it was neat to know that many of the songs the country bears sing are actual country western songs.  I'm not an old western/country kind of gal but, I've heard  real versions of the country bear favorites Jean Shephard's "Heart, We Did All That We Could", Tex Ritter's "Blood On The Saddle", and Wanda Jackson's "Tears Will Be the Chaser" on Sirius.  It's like a Jamboree in my car!  

To say this attraction  is a classic is an understatement!  You've got to participate in the jamboree at  least once per trip.  I've hear negative reviews of this attraction.  I've heard people say it is boring and predictable but I would like to offer a few suggestions to make this more than just a sit and watch attraction.  

1.  The Country Bear Jamboree is named Jamboree for a reason.  The dictionary defines jamboree as "A large celebration or party, typically a lavish and boisterous one".  If you sit cross armed and straight face, apparently you didn't read the sign.  Make the most of the show and clap your hands and stomp your feet and try to keep right with 'em.

2. Refrain from hibernating.  Our bear host Henry tells us this from the get go.  I'm not sure how you could but, if you find that you aren't awake for the fun, go get some caffeine and head back for another try at the jamboree!

3. LAUGH.  Let down your guard and feel the freedom that Disney World provides.  I love it when baby Oscar (he appears with the 5 Bear Rugs) squeezes his teddy bear at the end of each of their numbers!  AND I always laugh at Big Al with his Blood on the Saddle number! 

4. Think about this next time you are sitting in the audience.  This attraction has been open since the Disney World opened.  Walt Disney helped develop this attraction.  That is enough for me to get excited about it! 

5. Take out your camera for the finale.  You are free to take all the flash photos you want!  Here are some shots that I've taken during that final scene!

6. Don't be discouraged if you see a long line or big crowd.  Look on the Times Guides or app of your choice and head on over.  Chances are, once the doors open you'll have plenty of room to see the show.  If not, hit the next one. 

7.  This attraction is for everyone!  There's singing, group participation,  seating, and even accommodations for guests with special needs!  And a huge plus - AC for the hot Florida weather!  

8.  Enjoy this through the eyes of your children!  My nephew is still talking about the big bears and even about the animal heads (the stuffed Buffalo. Moose, and deer).  He kept a sharp eye on them throughout the should too...I never noticed the funny expressions until I took a look at what my nephew was cracking up at!  

Awesome video from hansende's Youtube channel

Want to know more history?   I did a lot of research for this post here are some of the awesome sites that helped me get the story straight!

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Dozen Eggcellent Treats Hidden in Disney World

Happy Easter! I hope you are all having a great Monday!  Perhaps you are enjoying spring break like me! I am thinking about all things Disney as usual and I wanted to bring you something a bit different for an Easter basket goodie!  Today we are taking a look at a dozen hidden treats throughout the Disney World parks.  So here is the deal, this blog has a wide readership; with Disney first timers seeking what to do to get a Fastpass to Disney Fans craving one more thing Disney.  So, I've decided to do a post dedicated to hidden things.  Maybe you are a newbie and you don't know anything about Disney World or maybe you'll go through the list and be able to finish my sentences.  Either way, I hope you enjoy this hidden treats in the parks list.  There are too many to name them all so, let's take a look at my personal favorites!  

Lady and the Tramp were here...
I love this sweet sentiment! To find Lady and the Tramp's paws in the cement look no further than the Magic Kingdom's Tony's Town Square (I know, how appropriate).

Paper, paper, get your paper...straw?...
Okay, so I don't have a photograph to go with this one.  You should just Google "paper straws at Disney's Animal Kingdom".  The word in the plains is that there are no plastic drink tops or plastic straws at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  This is in an effort to help our fine animal friends the world over.  I think the paper straws are cool!  Who cares if they get soggy after a while!  I love 'em!
Tom Sawyer lost his paintbrush can you find it...
I love looking for paintbrushes on Tom Sawyer island!  This is such a fun and little known gem of Disney World.  So, what's the deal?  Just take a raft ride over to this Frontierland  favorite and search for 1 of the 5 brushes.  Find one and trade it in for a fastpass!  If you didn't know before, now you know why all those people were looking frantically behind bushes and between rocks!  Give this hidden gem a try!

Club Cool a cool club...
I love Club cool and I frequent it every time (many times) when I visit Epcot.  You can imagine my surprise when I am talking Disney with someone and they've never heard of Club Cool.  This refreshing spot is a hidden attraction that many often by-pass as just another gift shop.  You can try soft drinks from around the world. Swing by next time you are in Epcot!
Singin' in the Rain even on a sunny day...
I love fun photos!  This photo spot serves two purposes 1.) an awesome shot of you in movie action 2.) water to cool you down (if needed) on a hot day!.  I love that this spot puts me in the action of one of my favorite movies, Singing in the Rain.  What a fun memory to capture!

One of these horses is not like the others...
Don't you love it when see something that wasn't there?  I love that feeling!  I am pretty sure that's why I love Disney World; each time I visit with different eyes or different ears hoping to have a new and wonderful experience.  If you are on automatic mode you might just miss a little this wonderful golden ribbon!  Story is that this is Cinderella's favorite steed and she waltzed out of her castle one day to adorn it properly with its own golden bow!  Try and score a ride on her favorite horse next time you take a spin on Prince Charming's Regal Carousel in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland.  

It may seem small but, free in the world of Disney is a good thing!  Most quick service restaurants do not offer refills on drinks but, there are a few quick service spots that have self serve drink stations.  Here are some free refill spots in the parks:
Animal Kingdom:  Restaurantosaurus  
Hollywood Studios: Backlot Express
Epcot: Sunshine Seasons and the Electric Umbrella

Bow to the Princess...
Another Disney detail worthy of a try!  This beautiful sculpture is a great spot for sitting and an excellent photo spot but, perhaps children see its true beauty.  From a child's perspective you see Cinderella's destiny- notice this photo is shot from a lower angle to capture the princess crowned in all her glory!  Squat down next time you are there...I give you permission to pretend to pick up something...but while you are down there take a look at Princess Cinderella!
Up in the Rafters...

Look for Cinderella's side kicks Jacques and Gus waiting in the rafters as you pose with the princess herself before entering Cinderella's Royal Table.  I love that they are hidden there making me feel like I am part of that story!
Light up the night...
I love the parks at night!  From the lights along Main Street USA to the lasers used in Illuminations I love them all.  I especially love the twinkling lights along the sidewalk path near Spaceship Earth at Epcot!  I always felt like they were put there just for me to dance on.  Who knows, maybe there were?  

N'SYNC left a legacy...
Oh my gosh, I love N'SYNC...still!  So, of course I had to find them on the Leave a Legacy Walls at the entrance to Epcot.  If you are a fan, stop by and relive your fanatic days!  (Oh, and by the way, I needed some help to find them I used Andy Johnson of Discover Epcot help from Four Square here is the link).
Those plants are moving...
No, you are not crazy.  Those plants did just move.  In fact, they just walked and struck a pose.  And those aren't just's DeVineDeVine herself!

Ok, so how about plus one extra, you know, a baker's dozen.  Just in case one should break or something!
Write a wish...

Pinocchio's Village Haus not only has yummy quick service food and a great view It's a Small World.  What more could you ask for?  A book to leave your wishes!  The Blue Fairy will answer them herself!  Don't miss this special treat next time you are in Fantasyland. 

I hope you liked all of these hidden goodies.  If you are at Disney World right now, you should go on an egg hunt of sorts.  Happy Easter!