Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
Resorts: I love the parks! I know, that goes without saying, but I really do love them. In fact, my enthusiasm for the parks actually takes away from my ability to fully enjoy the resorts at times. Not so at Christmastime! The resorts offer so many unique visual experiences, traveling to each for a quick tour is actually worth scheduling a full day for. Though traditional Christmas decorations adorn several locations, the really unique experiences are the custom designed gingerbread houses. These massive structures feature all the detail customary of Disney creations.
One other neat experience is found in the Grand Floridian. There is something extra special about gazing at the gingerbread house in the lobby while being serenaded with live Christmas music.
Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights: Normally a name like this would say everything you would need to know. But, I'm not sure that even a word like "spectacle" really captures or expresses this attraction. Thousands of lights blanketing the Streets of America come to life and dance with the musical accompaniment. This amazing display of Christmas illumination - started by Little Rock., Arkansas native Jennings Osbourne (1944-2011) - is definitely worth your time.
Snow on Main Street: Enough said! OK, maybe I can elaborate a little more. Thanks to Imagineering magic, it snows every night on Main Street. Little flakes of Disney snow float to the ground, adding to the beauty of the Christmas decorations that line the street and buildings.
Christmas Parade: This may be my favorite Disney parade. The cast of normal characters celebrate the season in a way which will arouse your mind both audibly and visually. The neatest part of the parade, in my humble opinion, are the marching toy soldiers whose boots click-clack down the street, as they prepare the way for Santa.
Holiday Wishes: As with Cinderella Castle, this fireworks spectacular has a little extra magic during the season. Sleigh bells hearken in the fireworks as the castle lights go dim. Suddenly, the sky erupts with wonderful shapes and colors. Look for the packages exploding around your head. truly amazing! Huh? You want to see a preview? Well, in the spirit of Christmas, allow me to quote Jiminy Cricket, "Can you hear it? Can you feel it? I say there's something magical in the air...It's the spirit of Christmas."
The Secret of Christmas Vacation at WDW: OK, to be honest, I couldn't resist the opportunity to pay homage to my favorite Christmas time movie starring Chevy Chase. But, as you can probably tell from reading above, there is a secret to navigating WDW during this season. First, enjoy the resorts. Your time will be well spent doing so. Second, the crowds are the heaviest during the week before Christmas and through the 28th of December. As noted above, the crowds are the worst on Christmas Day, but start to thin more each subsequent day and usually level out on December 28th. Catch a seat on Main Street for the Christmas parade, or while watching the lighting of Cinderella Castle, or for Holiday Wishes, then, "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"
So, good luck hitting that "Holiday Road" to your Christmas Vacation at Disney. Have a Mickey Christmas!
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Last week was the start of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, we had the pleasure of attending on Friday night. If you have an opportunity to attend than don't miss it. This is one of the best events of the entire year at WDW.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Jennings and Mitzi Osborne lived in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1986 their daughter asked that their house be decorated with lights for Christmas, which Jennings and Mitzi did, stringing 1000 lights on the house. Every year afterwards the display got bigger and bigger eventually encompassing the two surrounding properties which the Osborne's purchased. By 1993 the display became so big and was visited by so many people some neighbors filed a law suit to end the display, complaining that it had become a nuisance. The case went all the way to the Arkansas Supreme Court who ordered the display be taken down permanently in 1995. This is when Disney stepped in and moved the display permanently to Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Originally presented on the "Residential Street" in the backlot section, the display is now seen on the "Streets of America". With over 10 miles of lights it is truly a spectacular sight. The lights turn on and off automatically and are choreographed to the music giving the appearance that the lights are dancing to the music. After each performance the lights remain steady for about 10 minutes before the next performance. Some of the selections that the lights "dance" to are; Jingle Bells (Barbra Streisand), Feliz Navidad (Jose Feliciano) and The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Andy Williams). Along with the lights and music, "snow" falls during the performances.
Sadly Jennings Osborne passed away earlier this year, but it's nice to know that something he loved so much and put so much effort into continues to bring joy to thousands of people each holiday season. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is not to be missed! Keep in mind that Thanksgiving week and the weeks before and after Christmas are some of the busiest all year long, I try to see the display its opening week or the first weeks of December to avoid the crowds.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
If you're heading to the 15th Annual Food & Wine Festival at Epcot this year you may notice the large crowds gathered in the area between Future World and World Showcase. A popular new exhibit has been created this year, a cranberry bog, built in partnership with Ocean Spray. The display celebrates "the taste, health and heritage of the cranberry" and contains more than 1,500 pounds of cranberries.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
The restaurant consists of three dining areas: the Main Dining room, the Queen Victoria Room (a private dining room with space for 8) and the Chef's Table. Entering the foyer you are immediately greeted by the fragrance of fresh cut roses that fill the entrance to the restaurant. We ate in the Main Dining room which consists of 18 tables and seats 60. The room is elegantly decorated with walnut walls and silk drapery that sets the stage for your enchanted evening. Depending on the night entertainment will be provided by a classically trained harpist or vilolin player.
The menu is prepared by Chef Scott Hunnel and changes daily depending on what is fresh in the market place. Featured is seafood, poultry, red meat, veal and lamb. There are also choices of soups, salads and desserts. Our meal consisted of Golden Osetra Caviar, Elk Tenderloin, Grilled Prime Filet, assorted cheeses, and Poached Pear. Dessert was a delicious Kona Chocolate Souffle with a vanilla bean center. All was accompanied by a wine pairing especially selected for the evening. There are over 700 wines on the menu and another 4000 in the wine cellar.
Service is, of course, perfect with a very high ration of cast to guest. All cast memebers at V&A's are incredibly knowledgeable about tastes and ingredients and ask many questions to determine what would be the perfect choice for each guest. At the end of your dining experience you will be presented with a personalized menu with your dinner selection, Ladies will also be presented with a long stem red rose.
A few tips: V&A's does have a dress code, jacets for men and evening attire for women. I would not recommend V&A's for small children, but children under 10 are allowed at the Chef's Table. There are two seatings per evening, 5:45-6:30 and 9:00-9:45, plan on spending at least 2 hours savoring the tastes of this special evening. Victoria and Albert's is consistently rated one of the top restaurants in the country and is perfect for any special celebration you may be planning.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Main Street USA is the opening scene in Walt's vision for a park. It is the destination for a nostalgic journey into the idyllic days of yesteryear. A place where memories of what was and what one might imagine was, are blurred just enough to create magic. Though, technically, it is a themed land, it is also every bit of an attraction.
Stepping onto Main Street USA is a magical experience in a very real sense. Looking around to see buildings representative of early 20th-century America, seeing a horse drawn trolley and hearing the music piped in all around you completely immerses you in another time and place. I can't help but feel like Terrence Mann stepping onto the Field of Dreams, surrounded by players like Shoeless Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver, waving my hand in front of my face as I hear the crunch of the warning track below my feet; reminding Ray Kinsella that the memories will be so thick, people will have to brush them away from their faces.Much like Terrence Mann's speech in Field of Dreams, guests come in droves and they return to a childlike innocence, longing for the past, and dipping themselves in the magic waters offered in a way that only Disney can provide.
As your feet carry you from the past and toward timeless fantasy, don't allow them to move you too quickly. Take a moment to take in the sights, sounds and smells that blanket you on Main Street USA. Allow the sounds of "Goodbye My Coney Island Baby" and the smell of popcorn take you back to eternal childhood. And as you walk, take in the detail of the buildings around you.
The buildings lining either side of the street not only represent those of the early 20th-century, but they model the design magic of Disney Imagineers. Using a technique called forced perspective makes the buildings look taller than they are. This illusion not only gives the impression that the buildings on Main Street are much taller than they are, but as a result makes Cinderella Castle ever the taller. Forced perspective works by making each story shorter than the one below it.
The buildings also hold, quite literally, windows into Disney history. Take time to note the names on the fictitious businesses. These give nods to those cast members and Imagineers whose contributions have made Disney what it is. From those who designed costumes, and attractions, to songwriters, and even Walt himself; each window tells a part of the Disney story and serves as credits to the Walt Disney World movie line.
Not only are the buildings along Main Street USA a wonder to observe, but they house a myriad of shops, bakeries, restaurants, and even a barber shop - where you may truly take part in a magical moment.
Main Street USA holds a different feel throughout various times of the day. Arriving in the morning, as you are among the first to enter, gives the impression of the dawning of a dream. A mid-afternoon parade is like a perpetual 4th of July or Christmas Day celebration. And lastly, standing on the train station platform and looking out over the street at night, as it is all aglow with 60,000 lights, captures a romantic feel that lies in the heart of all timeless memories.
What is your favorite part of Main Street USA? When is your favorite time to visit this area of the Magic Kingdom? What part brings back the most memories; sights, sounds or smells? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
France: Any pastry will do. The cheesecake is my favorite.