Monday, February 20, 2012

Movies to Watch - World Showcase

Continuing my series for movies that can enhance your experiences in the parks, as well as preparing for my trip to Epcot this summer, here are some movies that are, in some way, related to the World Showcase

Working clockwise around the lagoon starting with Mexico:
Saludos Amigos
The Three Caballeros
Walt and El Grupo (This one is a documentary on the trip to Latin America that spawned the above two films.)
The Emperor's New Groove



Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Cars 2 (This movie can work for multiple countries - i.e. the U.K. and Japan)

The American Adventure:
National Treasure (1 & 2)
Captain America

Any of the Studio Ghibli (Ponyo, Tales from Earthsea, The Secret World of Arrietty, etc..)


Beauty and the Beast
The Aristocats

The United Kingdom:
101 Dalmations
Mary Poppins
The Great Mouse Detective
Peter Pan
The Sword and the Stone
The Chronicles of Narnia
Alice in Wonderland
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh

Are there any movies that you would add?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Retro Videos - "Raiders of the Lost Temple of Doom"

In 2010, Disney celebrated both Celebration V and the Last Tour to Endor by doing a crossover event with their Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and Star Wars. This video is the end result. Enjoy...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Characters Welcome

For everyone who brings their kids to Disney (and for some of those who don’t) getting photos and/or autographs from your favorite Disney characters is a must. There are so many ways to meet these guys that it can get overwhelming or you end up spending your entire afternoon standing in line for one character.

I’m here to help.

A character meal is a more intimate way of meeting the characters. The characters make sure to spend quality time with each table so you don’t feel rushed. The downside is the expense. Meals at Disney aren’t cheap to begin with and you will pay even more than that to eat it with a princess or a mouse.

I won’t give you a list of the many character meal options here (instead I’ll give you a link) but I will tell you my suggestion would be to check out the meals outside of the parks as they will probably be less crowded (again, this is Disney so “less crowded” is a relative concept).

Another fun way to meet characters is to go to one of the meet and greet areas. More and more, Disney is just using a space for a meet and greet, but creating a meet and greet area. Meeting Buzz and Woody in Pixar Place at the Studios is a good example of this. The Town Square Theater where you can meet Mickey and Minnie is another example. A less extravagant example is the Phineas and Ferb meet and greet area at the Studios.

The Studios is also a great place to meet characters from the latest Disney movies. The Magic of Disney Animation has an area especially for new characters. On our honeymoon, my wife and I went to see Up in theaters on opening night. The next day at Hollywood Studios we stumbled upon this area and were able to get pictures with Carl and Dug.

There is also a great place to meet Mickey in this place too. Also, because this is kind of out of the way and because The Magic of Disney Animation isn’t a gate buster attraction, the lines don’t get too long, even the one for Mickey.

The last piece of advice is to not underestimate Epcot as a great place to meet your favorite characters. Innoventions West is home to the Epcot Character Spot is a great place to meet the Fab Five plus a few more classic characters like Chip N’ Dale. World Showcase is another hidden gem when searching for characters. On our honeymoon, we stumbled upon Pooh and his friends in a back room in the UK.

What stories do you have in your searching for various characters? Where have you seen that one that you couldn’t wait to meet?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Movie Review - Meet the Robinsons

"Meet the Robinsons" came out during the era when Disney erroneously thought that computer-generated movies were the way of the future. They concluded, based on Pixar's growing popularity and Disney's 2-D ventures losing numbers, that audiences didn't want tradition 2-D animation anymore (in reality, audiences didn't want bad stories and "cheap-quels" anymore, but that's a rant for another post).

Disney's CG movies didn't fair much better than their previous 2-D brethren. None of them are bad, but there are no classic movies from that era.

What does this have to do with Disney Parks? I'm glad you asked.

While is doesn't hold a candle to movies like "Aladdin" or "The Lion King", "Meet the Robinsons" is one of the better movies that Disney came out with during this time. And, as an added bonus, it almost perfectly reflects the theme and feel of Tomorrowland. I almost expected to hear "There's A Great, Big, Beautiful Tomorrow" somewhere in the movie.

The whimsical and hopeful side of looking toward the future is present in both the movie and the land (Also, the overt reference to Tomorrowland only increases my thoughts on this).

The movie had wonderful characters and a twist ending that leaves you with that aforementioned hopeful feeling for the future.

Integrating this story into Tomorrowland should have been a no-brainer, but I guess, lack of response from the audience killed any hope for seeing these two entities merge together.

What do you think? Did you like “Meet the Robinsons”? Do you agree with my connection to Tomorrowland? How could the movie and the characters have been integrated into the land?

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's All In The Details - Cinderella's Fountain

There is a magical moment in Fantasyland that can be easily missed.

As you pass through the castle from Main St. and emerge into Fantasyland you will see a water fountain right in front of a statue of Cinderella.

It's a hot day in Florida so go on over and refresh yourself. As you meander over, notice the decorations on the wall behind Cindy. Do you see the crown floating over her head?

As you are bending over ("bowing down" in front of the princess) to get your drink, look up again. The crown is now on Cinderella's head!

*Fun Fact* - It may be hard to get your kids to see this trick as they are already on the level to see the crowned princess. They don't need to "bow down" because, of course, children don't have to bow down to royalty.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Movies to Watch - Future World

The trip with my friends in the fall will actually be the second trip to Disney that my wife and I have planned. The first trip is this summer with my parents and brother.

We are planning on spending some time at Epcot so I figured that I would take some time to make a list of the movies that relate (both directly and indirectly) to the park.

First up: Future World

Animated Movies -
Finding Nemo (This is fairly obvious since there is a pavilion called "The Seas with Nemo and Friends")

Live Action Movies -
Iron Man
Iron Man 2
Captain America (These movies, especially the second two, make reference to "Stark Expo" which is a clear reference to the World's Fair, of which Future World takes its inspiration from as well.)*

The Cat From Outer Space (My wife suggested this one because of its Sci-Fi nature and because it was one of her favorites as a kid)
Tron: Legacy (Again, no direct correlation to Future World except for its Sci-Fi nature. However, *Fun Fact* - There were plans for a Flynn's Arcade to open in Future World at one point)

*(The Avengers movies aren't technically Disney in that they weren't made by Disney, but they are technically Disney in that Marvel Studios is owned by Disney)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Disney without Debt - Sharing Rooms

Some friends and I are in the beginning stages of planning a trip to Disney World in the fall. We're all recent college graduates which means that money isn't something that have piled up in a bin that we use for swimming.

To that end, we are trying to find ways to make our trip as affordable as possible.

One of the ideas that my wife and one of our friends came up with involves the rooming situation. Our group consists of a few married couples as well as some single friends. Instead of getting rooms for each party, they came up with the idea of having a guy's room and a girl's room. Instead of paying for five or six rooms, we're only going to pay for two.

Quick math lesson:

If we found a place to stay for $50 per night - for three nights, that's $150 my wife and I would have to pay to have our own room.
But if we split the cost of two rooms ($300 for three nights) with seven other people, we only pay $67 ($33.33 for each of us).

We have effectively cut our room cost more than half.

The downside, of course, is that I won't be sharing a bed with my wife for three days. The upside, of course, is that we'll be in Disney World. It's not a perfect situation, but since our financial situation is also not perfect, we can make it work.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Book Review: The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World

I said in my last book review that Mousejunkies was last on my list to own. This book, however, was on the top of that list. I’ve been to the parks enough times now that just going and riding the rides isn’t enough anymore. Like a true addict, I need more to get my fix and I thought that this book would help add to my experiences in the parks effectively feeding my addiction in the process. I must say, it doesn’t disappoint.

The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World is filled with little known facts and secrets that can enhance your experience in the parks.

For example, my family is planning a trip to Epcot this summer and a quick glance through the Epcot section gives me quite a bit to look for when we go, for example:

- Looking at Morocco from Mexico, you can see the top of the Tower of Terror

- Many of the water fountains and trash cans seem to have people living in them

- Test Track is not only a great ride, it is home to numerous sight gags

- There are references to both Beauty and the Beast and Ratatouille in the France Paviliion

Just to name a few.

Also, Susan Veness, the author, has bolded certain key words, which allows you to do a quick search of what you are looking for instead of having to read large portions of text. This is especially helpful when you are physically in the parks because, let’s be honest, you don’t have time to spend more than a minute or two finding what you are looking for in the book – there are rides to be ridden!

My one criticism is that there are some typos and a few factual errors (for example, she erroneously calls the main rodent in Ratatouille, “Ratatouille,” instead of his actual name “Remy”).

Those criticisms aside, this is a wonderful book and I am glad that it is part of my collection.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hump Day Games - Hidden Mickey

The last Hidden Mickey was a little easy, but I think this one is a bit tougher.
Where can you find this one in the parks?