Monday, December 9, 2013

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

 We had a chance to visit one of our favorite holiday experiences at WDW last night, The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  This is an amazing display of Christmas lights and decorations located at an area of the park known as The Streets of America. This should not be missed if you are visiting during the Holiday Season.
 The history of the display is very interesting.  A business man from Arkansas, Jennings Osborne,  had his daughter ask him one year if he would decorate their house with lights for Christmas.  What started out as 1000 lights over the years turned into a display of 3 million.  Eventually neighbors complained and a law suite was brought going all the way to the Arkansas State Supreme Court who ordered the lights be removed.  This is were Disney stepped and in 1995 brought the display to WDW eventually adding more lights and more effects.
Today the display is known as the "Dancing Lights" as they are choreographed to "dance" when a song is played.  After the performance the lights remain steady for about 6-7 minutes before "dancing" again.
Some of the songs the lights "dance" to include: Jingle Bells by Barbra Streisand, Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano and Parade of the Wooden Soldiers by the Boston Pops Orchestra.  Adding to an already magical display are "snow" machines on top of the roofs of the buildings which bring flurries to the heart of Central Florida.  If you are planning on catching The Osborne Lights we suggest arriving about an hour before Sundown (the show starts around 6:30) and finding a spot towards the middle of The Streets of America so you can experience all the lights.  Enjoy and Merry Christmas!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving at Walt Disney World Resort

With Thanksgiving only a few days away we thought we would list our five favorite places on Disney Property to experience Thanksgiving Dinner.

5.  Mickey's Backyard Thanksgiving Feast at Mickey's Backyard BBQ Show located at the Fort Wilderness Pavilion.  There will be four show times:  noon, 2, 4 and 6pm.  Traditional Thanksgiving food is offered including Turkey, Ham, Cornbread Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes and Pumpkin Pie for dessert.  This is a great, casual (outside dinning, plastic plates) dinning experience for the whole family.

4.  Le Cellier Steakhouse (Canada Pavilion Epcot):  Many of the World Showcase restaurants at Epcot will be serving Thanksgiving dinner.  Our favorite is Le Cellier Steakhouse, modeled after a wine cellar the restaurant has no windows but the ambient lighting, stone arches and beam ceilings create an intimate atmosphere.  This is one of the most romantic restaurants at Epcot.

3.  50's Primetime Cafe (Disney's Hollywood Studios):  for an old fashioned Thanksgiving we recommend the 50's Primetime Cafe where you will be served traditional Thanksgiving fare in the comfort of a kitschy 50's kitchen.  The menu is a la carte and includes, carved roasted turkey, cornbread stuffing, seasonal vegetables,  and a pumpkin torte for dessert.

2.  Fulton's Crab House (Downtown Disney):  this award winning restaurant set in a replica of an old fashioned riverboat with nautical themed rooms is one of our favorite places to eat in all of WDW.  With its beautiful decor and great service Fulton's is an exceptional experience for Thanksgiving.  Some of the offerings include: herb roasted turkey breast, brown butter mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and for dessert classic pumpkin pie.

1.  Liberty Tree Tavern (Magic Kingdom):  What better way to spend Thanksgiving Day with your family than at the Magic Kingdom.  Our suggestion (priority seating arrangements are highly suggested) is Liberty Tree Tavern located in Frontierland.  With its wood paneling, brick fireplaces and candelabra chandeliers the Liberty Tree Tavern has the perfect atmosphere for Thanksgiving lunch or dinner.  Each of the 6 rooms commemorates an important figure in the history of our country including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross.  Expect traditional Thanksgiving offerings.

Thanksgiving is a very busy day at Walt Disney World some suggestions would be to arrive at the parks early, check opening hours as they do change, if you are planning on eating Thanksgiving Dinner make a priority seating arrangement in advance, eat at off hours as they tend to be less busy, and take advantage of the Fast Pass system to minimize wait times for attractions.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Magical Moments: Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party

Once you’ve witnessed a fireworks display at Disney, all else somehow pales in comparison.  Maybe it’s the fireworks themselves.  Or perhaps it’s the synchronization of spectacular visual effects with the audio stylings of timeless Disney characters and songs such as “Wishes” as to relay an emotionally engaging story.  Either way, it is difficult to imagine a way to make one of these shows more amazing or awe inspiring; unless you are a chocoholic!
The Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party allows you to watch Wishes while treating yourself to a wide assortment of delectable sweets such as pastries, cookies, chocolate covered strawberries, and tarts.  Imagine mouthwatering taste of chocolate covered strawberries exploding in concert with those fireworks just behind Cinderella Castle.  All enjoyed with an unobstructed view of Cinderella Castle as you sit in the covered patio.  To be honest, since the “party” begins about an hour before the fireworks, you may be too full to move from the seat once the fireworks spectacular begins; so the unobstructed view is a definite bonus as you comfortably rest in your prime viewing area.
Sound simply amazing?  You can enjoy it for an approximate cost of $22-$26 for guests over 10 years of age, and $12-$14 for guests ages 3 – 9, depending on time of year.  Please note this is above the cost of park admission; and completely worth it!  And, be sure to book at least 180 days in advance, or your best bet will be to stand on Main Street while eating Mickey Ears. 
Have you attended this event?  If so, we would like to hear your impressions of the experience in the comments below!   

Monday, September 30, 2013

Magical Moments: Dapper Dans

For many people, the name “Dapper Dan” might conjure memories of George Clooney speaking about his hair tonic of choice in Oh Brother Where Art Thou?  But for the true Disney fanatic, the Dapper Dans offer a refreshing melodic detour from the normally hectic pace many adopt in the Magic Kingdom.  Their performance features a nice mix of 4-part harmonies, humor, and the Deagan Organ Chimes which highlights Disney’s penchant for nostalgia, and detail.
If you would like to see them live, you’ll have your chance nine times daily on Main Street USA.  The best, and perhaps most memorable locations and times would be near the Harmony Barber Shop , or at 5:00 in the evening when they accompany the Magic Kingdom Color Guard for the Flag Retreat Ceremony.  Or, you could catch them here – at least until you can make it to Main Street USA.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Attractions: Walt Disney World Railroad

I’ve always been somewhat fascinated with the thought of Walt’s 1/8-scale, steam powered train known as the Carolwood Pacific Railroad.  I can’t fully grasp how completely neat it would be to have such an attraction in my own backyard.  Now, consider the images that appear in the mind of the conductor as he steams ahead through the detailed, backyard scenery.  What stories were being conjured up for his own amusement?  Or perhaps what stories would he tell his daughters and grandchildren later?  Remember, above all, Walt was a master storyteller. 
So, instead of providing a review of the Walt Disney World Railroad – which may be all too reminiscent of any other review you may find on the web, complete with details of the steam engine, facts about the track length, and a recounting of how this was intended to serve as a “Coming Attractions” for the park-as-movie scenario – I would like to use this as a journey into the youthful, storytelling mind of Walt himself.
Let’s not forget that Walt had a penchant for nostalgia.  His positive outlook shed a fond light on memories and interpretations of his childhood home, boyhood hero, family, and even trains.  This is obvious as we stroll down Main Street USA, view Carousel of Progress or Hall of Presidents, explore Tom Sawyer Island, and even as we take passage on the Walt Disney World Railroad.  I believe this sense of nostalgia continued to permeate the Disney culture decades after Walt’s passing.  This sense of nostalgia, coupled with the same adventurous spirit which lead Walt himself to join the Red Cross, move to California, and travel extensively through his life, are not only present, but tangible as we travel on the railway.  In fact, I argue that the Walt Disney Railroad is the epitome of Disney Magic – because it may be the one thing in WDW that allows us to connect directly to Walt; and perhaps travel through his mind as he formulated stories while journeying on the Carolwood Pacific.
Through the thickness of the trees, from reality into fantasy; you’ll steam ahead from present to past.  You’ll make your way past the Gold Dust Saloon.  The Dry Goods store a recent victim of flash floods from one nearby mountain, and nearly missed by runaway mine cars from another. 
Deeper still into the wilderness, a gentle calm as a settler looks out at the float from the end of his fishing pole, slowly bob up and down in the easy river.  The lazy drag on his pipe, almost as long as the afternoon.  Could this be an elder Tom Sawyer gazing just across the water to a memory of his boyhood adventures?
Perhaps thinking fondly on his old friend Huck Finn and their run-in with Injun Joe.  And what of Injun Joe and his heritage?  Moving into lands little before explored, we find Native American settlements.  Peaceful and prosperous.

Suddenly, time and age speeds along.  We find ourselves at a station where we can disembark to explore the fancy of a circus – we hear it features a flying elephant, and the Great Goofini.  Is this a sign of the future? 
A place where vehicles rush along a speedway, or a world where space flight is common?  Perhaps.  A glimpse into this future lasts only a moment before the thick braches suggest that it is alas time to move from fantasy back to reality.  And we pull into a glorious station overlooking a simple, bustling all-American street; but just over the horizon from fantasy.
So, next time you enter the gates of the Magic Kingdom, don’t be in such a hurry to get to the high profile attractions like Space Mountain that you fail to experience a real magical moment.  Instead, take a 1.5 mile journey through the stories and imagine its genesis on the rails of the Carolwood Pacific. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Magical Moments: Scenic Interludes (EPCOT)

     Details.  If you’ve read past posts on this site, you know this is one of the top reasons we love Disney so much.  Sure, those details can be found in attractions, queues, resorts, and restaurants, but it is also found in the backdrop to the parks themselves.  This is one reason why making your way from one attraction to the next is almost (yep, I said it) as enjoyable as the attractions themselves.  Take a moment and think about it.  The scenic backdrop in each park does more to set the atmosphere and shape the tone than we realize, and certainly more than any other amusement park or theme park around.  Thus, the magic found in the notion that "everything speaks".  So, with that in mind, we would like to take a moment and celebrate some of Disney’s Scenic Interludes.  This week's focus - EPCOT.

Canada Pavilion

France Pavilion

A Look into Future World

World Showcase