Missing the Magic...

Wont be back for a few months so I suppose looking through my pictures will have to suffice! Enjoy!


1900 Park Fare: A Photographic Recap

A highlight of our trip that I think we can all agree upon was our visit to the 1900 Park Fare restaurant located in the Grand Floridian Hotel. While the restaurant itself gets hit or miss ratings we were all very pleased with our food, service, and of course the characters! We arrived for a later dinner with Cinderella, Prince Charming and the step family. Danny will do a more in-depth review of the food later on, but I couldn’t wait to share this great story!

 Upon arrival to the Grand Floridian we were treated to a picture in from of the castle. This seems to be the only group shot we managed all trip! We were seated in the main dining area directly adjacent to the buffet area and in full view of most of the restaurant. It was nice getting to see the characters interacting with other guests, dancing with the small children and being able to determine when they would be at our table.

Our first visitor was Prince Charming who gave Michael and Brice a little lesson on royal posture. He was nice, but a little dull. As Michael pointed out – how much personality can he really have given that he has about 10 minutes of screen time in Cinderella? Touché.  As you can see from the nice man accidentally photo-bombing on the right, we were quite close to the buffet area.

Next came Cinderella's step mother, Lady Tremaine, who was spot on! She made small talk with Danny about his shirt featuring Maleficent. She was very snarky and true to her character. It is very refreshing to get to interact with the characters that can speak back and not just pantomime.

Following her mother, as usual, came Drizella who was instantly smitten with a certain someone. Not only did she insist on extra pictures but kept making eyes at Jed all night from across the room! No further explanation necessary! Just enjoy the awkward.

 Not too long after, we got a visit from Anastasia who was in for a surprise! Danny decided the time was right to once again awkwardly present someone with a ring. Not me. It was nice getting to watch this little moment as he used very similar rings. Her reaction came with screaming, jumping and frantically calling her mother over to witness, unlike my quite awkwardness.

 Anastasia of course said yes and seemed quite delighted! Like any true lady would, she gave Danny back his ring to be sized before the big day. She even left an extra sweet little note in Danny's autograph book stating that she was his true love. How sweet. The otherwise perfect moment was only marred by the poor Drizella who felt scorned by her sweetheart. Being the gentleman that he is, Jed promptly went over to make things right and explained that he would have asked but still needs to get a ring.


Do you see pouty Drizella in the background? Looks like someone needs to make an apology.

Last but not least came Cinderella herself. It was unanimously decided that the sweet characters are nowhere as fun as the naughty ones! We took a few pictures with Cindy and called it a night.
If you are debating going to the 1900 Park Fare, I say, do it! The hotel is stunning and worth a visit in itself but the food was surprisingly good and the interactions we had were hysterical! 


Mmm - the best cupcake ever!

They say you eat with your eyes first so please take a moment to feast upon this delectable little cupcake display. How adorable are these pumpkin cupcakes with maple frosting, candied pecans and little white chocolate pumpkin Mickeys!
Drooling yet?

The fact that I was able to taste this little piece of heaven happens to be a happy accident. You see, when I went to the famed Starring Rolls Bakery for lunch I could not decide between this beautiful, seasonal pumpkin cupcake and the long-loved but new-to-me Butterfinger Cupcake. Ultimately, I foolishly chose the Butterfinger. Now, don’t get me wrong. It was a yummy cupcake. The cake itself was moist and had a fudge-like filling. The top had a marshmallow like frosting caked in Butterfinger crumbs. It was good, but it was nowhere close to being as good as the pumpkin one!


You may be asking yourself what the happy accident was that resulted in that cupcake being in my belly. Well, you see, as Danny and I went to Starring Rolls for sandwiches for lunch the rest of the group headed to Pizza Planet for lunch. My mission was primarily cupcake focused and had I know that I could get a great cupcake at Pizza Planet I may have changed my plans. After a filling salad and individual pizza our friend Jed decided he could not quite take on his pumpkin cupcake, so he got a box and sent it back to the resort with Gen who happened to being going back. Fast forward a few days and the cupcake was still in our resort room, not Jed’s. After a hectic last morning, bag checking, park going and lunch we never made the hand-off to get that cupcake to its rightful owner.

As you can imagine this little guy had quite a journey from Hollywood Studios, to All Star Music, to bag check, through the airport and all the way to Denver. By the end of the journey it was not such a treat to the eyes.

 But then… I tasted it. Straight out of the fridge the frosting was dense like a cream cheese frosting, but after letting it come to room temperature it turned into a light, airy, almost whipped cream consistency. I couldn’t quite place the flavor but once I looked back and saw it was a maple whipped cream I got it. There was a nice hint of warm spice like nutmeg and cinnamon in addition to the sweetness of the maple. The cake itself, despite being several days old at this point, was so moist and neither too airy nor too dense. It took a lot of will power to resist eating the whole thing but I did manage to save about half for Danny who agreed that it was spectacular.

When not at Disney we frequent a local cupcake shop that usually satisfies our cravings. Shout out to Buttercream Cupcakery for all your yummy flavors! http://www.buttercreamcupcakery.com/ And my only complaint about the pumpkin (or any Disney) cupcake is that I cannot get it in mini-sized like I do at the Cupcakery. After this treat I don’t know if I will ever be able to look at a pumpkin cupcake the same again. A bar has certainly been set!

To Jed and Colleen: I’m sorry I ate your cupcake. I’m sorry that I am not really sorry. It was so good! I regret nothing. I am sorry that you didn’t get to try it though… Maybe next year?



5 For 5: Trip Anticipation

Happy November 5th! The MountainEars are just 4 days away from their next trip to the World and we are so excited!
We will be staying at All Star Music Resort and will be joined by Danny’s mom, Gen, a WDW veteran and four of our friends. Jed, Colleen and Brice have all been before but this will be Michael’s first time. I think it is safe to say that we are all very excited. Our trip will include the Food & Wine Fest, the Jingle Jungle 5K for Jed, Jaime and Danny, the F&W Half Marathon for Michael and Brice, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!
The theme of this month’s 5 For 5 is what we are most looking forward to:
1.       Spending time with our crazy friends/family - I am very excited to vacation and share my Disney Parks love with my partner Jaime; but I am also excited to share this with our close friends and my family (mom)!  This will be both an exciting scarey adventure and hilarious riot!
2.       Epcot Food & Wine Festival - Uh hello...  Delicious food and eligant wine, where can this picture go wrong?!  Give me a try (that is a shout out to AJ over at the DFB Podcast)!
3.       Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - This is just so cute and so exciting, and I cannot wait to re-experience it, and share it with our great friends and family!
4.       Running Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K - We'll be working on our fitness, while working on our Epcot Food and Wine!  This means we can over indulge, right?!
5.       (Maybe...) Getting to see New Fantasyland - New Fantasyland is just upon the horizons and I am hoping not only Jaime and I get to see it, by being Premier Annual Passport holders, but also our friends and family may get to see it!
6.       Signing up for the Princess 1/2 Marathon - Don't tell Jaime, but I really wanna do this lady run, in support of all the ladies!
1.       Going to the Food & Wine Festival. I may not be a big drinker, but I do love food and appreciate that the smaller portions means I can try more things. Yum!
2.       Getting to try some new restaurants, specifically the Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom and lunch at the Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom. I have heard such good things and am so excited!
3.       Christmas time! We will be attending the first Christmas party of the season and will be there in time to see all the ornate holiday décor. From the ice on the castle to the towering Christmas trees in each hotel, I am excited to get a better look at all the little things Disney does for the holidays. My first trip to WDW was in December 2010 and I am hoping to feel a little of that first time magic again, too!
4.       Spending time with loved ones! I find vacations to be much more satisfying when you can share the experience with people who are important to you. I know there will be times we go our own way and enjoy things in smaller groups but I also look forward to the silly shenanigans that accompany a party of 7 in a theme park.
5.       Running the Jingle Jungle 5K! Danny and I are signed up to run the Tinkerbell Half at Disneyland but I have not had any motivation to get my legs moving (eek!) but I know I will be able to do the 5K just fine and hope it will be a nice kick in the butt to get me really into gear for our January race.


runDisney – Expedition Everest Challenge and Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K

Jaime and I are getting ready to run our second ever runDisney race this Saturday November 10, 2012.  This will not be the headline race (the Wine and Dine ½ Marathon) but the family fun run 5K – Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K.  Our first ever runDisney event was the Expedition Everest Challenge in 2012.  It’s the only 5K headline event sponsored by runDisney.  With that said, this blog post will focus on what we are expecting and what our past race was like.

runDisney sponsors many ½ Marathon and Marathon events at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  All events, except for the Expedition Everest Challenge and Tower of Terror 10 Miler, are at the minimum ½ marathon events.  All ½ Marathon and Marathon events include a family fun run, which includes a 5K and kids runs.  These events are meant to target people who want to participate in the event weekend itself, but whom aren’t ready to dive into a minimum 13 mile run.  I also like to think they are there to get people excited about fitness and wellness, but yet again, not be intimidated by a minimum 13 mile run. 

Our first race was the Expedition Everest Challenge and this was a blast!  So many people were there in the most creative and elaborate costumes EVER seen.  Yes costumes.  runDisney is, I’m pretty sure, the only race where you can dress in a full body suite and be complimented for it.  People dress up like classic Disney characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Disney Princesses like Aurora and Ariel or even Disney quirks such as Yeti A and B mode (if you are a Disney’s Animal Kingdom fan you’ll get this), Earl from Up and Figment.  The people there are a huge perk. Also you get to see characters and take pictures with them during the run if you want, how fun!

The course itself was both good and bad.  The first mile of our 5K was completed in the parking lot, which is both intimidating and exciting all at once.  If felt like we were running in the parking lot forever. Once you entered the park the raceway became very narrow. With nearly 5,000 people on the run there was a huge mix of people who were taking the race very seriously and those just there for a fun challenge. What made this race unique though are the obstacles that must be completed. It was a fun change of pace to stop and run through tires or hop over hale bales but at the same time it slowed down the overall pace of the race. In addition to the obstacles, once the race portion was over came the scavenger hunt that was also factored into your overall time. We were not anticipating how confusing this would be, but luckily Jaime is good at puzzles!  There were a lot of people so if you are not ready for running in huge crowds a runDisney event may not be for you. The Expedition Everest race is one of the smaller runDisney events compared to something like the WDW Marathon that hosts over 20,000 people.

For the Expedition Everest Challenge all participants received real medals and post race party tickets with their registration fee, in addition to the standard race shirts and refreshments. Some may feel that the entry fee (around $100) was too expensive for a 5K race but we didn’t mind since the post race party was like an extra day in the park. The party went from the time you finished the race and scavenger hunt until 3am. Many rides were open including the Primevil Whirl, Dinosaur and of course, Expedition Everest! Some snack carts and beverage stations were also open. A fun quirk about the medals is that they are a compass, which embodies the expedition theme. One thing to note, however, is that the face of the compass is incorrect with some of the directions in the wrong places. Nonetheless, they are pretty great and it was cool to see all the proud finishers wearing their medal around the parks!

Overall the race was neat because we got to run through a park that is rarely open past sundown. The participants seem to take the event seriously but not so much so that if you are stuck on a clue during the scavenger hunt they wouldn’t help you. We were warned before the race began and again around mile 2 to be very quiet for a certain stretch of the race as we were running in a backstage area near were some of the animals sleep overnight. How cool is that?! The post race party was tons of fun, but since only some of the rides were open we did experience some long lines. Riding the signature attraction of the Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest, in the dark was an unforgettable experience that we partook in several times that night.
We look forward to this next race, the Jingle Jungle 5K, because it will be an early morning run through the Animal Kingdom. From the look of the map it seems that the race route has been changed, which is exciting. Maybe we will have less running through a paring lot and more through the park itself?