9.11.2013

5 on 5: Dream Meet and Greets

In honor of the 2013 theme of “Limited Time Magic” we dedicate this post to some of our long-lost (or never found) friends who meet and greet in the parks. With LTM rolling out different characters from the past it got us thinking about all the characters that never come out to play. Danny and I decided to come up with our lists of dream characters to meet and or get autographs from. No character was too large, hairy, or complicated for our dream lists!

Jaime’s 5 Meet & Greets
  1.       Genie from Aladdin. Yes, he is around, and performs daily at the Hyperion Theatre in California Adventure, but I think he would be a riot to get to interact with. I think he would be especially great at a character meal!
  2.        Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. You can meet Alice and the Hatter but we rarely see the Cheshire Cat off of a parade float and I think he would make for very curious conversation!
  3.       Dumbo from Dumbo. I love Dumbo and find him to be so sweet. I would really love to see him visiting with folks over in New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom or by his ride in Disneyland.
  4.       Ursula from the Little Mermaid. I think this sea witch has a great cult following and it would be so cool to see her out and about for the Unleash the Villains party on Sept 13th.
  5.       Oswald the Lucky Rabbit! I think many fan boys and girls would go crazy for this one. Judging by the uptick in merchandising they have for Oswald around the parks I think it would be a must-do meet and greet for many autograph collectors out there!




Danny’s 5 Meet & Greets
  1.       Oswald the Lucky Rabbit - Again like Jaime, I would fan boy and girl over meeting Walt's first originally animated, major character!  If you know who I'm talking about, you get why this is number one, if not well...
  2.       Wilbur and Lewis Robinson - Yes you read this correctly, and yes you may have to google who they are, and yes that's fine by me!  Meet The Robinson's was the first Full Length Disney Animated Feature Jaime and I saw together and we loved it and all the quirky characters that came with the film!  To be able to meet Wilbur Louis would be so silly and so fun, just like Jaime and I's relationship and just like the film!
  3.       Lady and the Tramp - I'm pretty sure this meet and greet (like Oswald the Lucky Rabbit) has yet to occur, but if it did, I think the chance to meet some pretty iconic characters from a film that rarely gets recognition in the Disney Parks would be great!
  4.       13 Disney Villains - Yes 13, but all at once, and only at once (to contain the evil forces).  The Villains are so good at being bad, and I love it!  The 13 I would choose would be: The Queen, Peg Leg Pete, Lady Tremaine, The Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook, Malificent, Cruella De Ville, The Horned King, Ursula, Jafar, Hades, The Bowler Hat and Dr. Facilier...  Muhaw haw haw!
  5.       The Entire Cast from Winnie the Pooh - Okay, I may be cheating in picking 13 Villains, Lady and the Tramp, Wilbur and Lewis Robinson...  But with this selection, I don't think I am.  The Winnie the Pooh story is classic.  The characters are timeless.  To meet all of the at once would be great (and yes I mean all of them)!  Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, Owl and Christopher Robin too!  How epic would that picture be?! 

8.21.2013

Alice in Wonderland 10K Pre-Trip Report!

We're getting excited for our upcoming trip and 10K over labor day weekend to the infamous Disneyland Resort! This will be our second trip to the Disneyland Resort this year, and we are throughly looking forward to it, as the Disneyland Resort is our place! 
This is the place where we have the most Disney fun, have the best eats (see our review on the Disneyland Corn Dog Cart here: http://themountainears.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-disneyland-corn-dog.html), and where Danny thinks we truly fell in in love (Jaime doesn't always agree, hahah)! We decided to post what we are looking forward to the most so we can keep ya' up on our adventures! See our list below!
- Traveling with our silly friends! - We are going with a huge group, around 10-12 of us, all from UNC and/or TTU, and we are all running in one of the runDisney Disneyland 1/2 Marathon events and going to enjoy Carthay Circle Resturant together (among many other eats)! We have 2 friends doing the Dumbo Double Dare, a few more doing the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon and we will be doing the Alice in Wonderland 10K! Overall, we are going to have some silly laughs, fun runs and great eats!

- Running in the inaugural Alice in Wonderland 10K - As stated above, all of our friends are participating in one of the many runDisney events this weekend, however we are excited to be participating in an inaugural run, the Alice in Wonderland 10K! As a group we have themed costumes, and lets just say we think they are pretty original, and we CANNN'T wait to share our team spirt with ya'! BUUUT, we don't want to spoil the surprise, so we will hold off for now!

- Limited Time Magic - We don't know whats coming, but the Disneyland Resort has been doing some phenomenal Limited Time Magic Annual Passholder events, and we can't wait for what will be happening when we are there!

- More Corn Dogs! - Well kinda! We are of course going to go to the Disneyland Corn Dog Cart, but we are also going to expand our palette and have a Hot Link Corn Dog and a Cheese Corn Dog... Can we say yum quicker?!

-. Celebrating our Ring-A-Versary - this may not be our 33rd Anniversary of our ring exchange (yes we're those weird hippies that don't want to get married until marriage is equal for all couples, gay and straight), but it is our 1st (read our post on our ring exchange last year here: http://themountainears.blogspot.com/2012/09/it-was-all-started-by-mouse.html) and Danny really wanted to take Jaime out to the Disneyland resort two weeks beforehand to celebrate, but Jaime talked him out of it because of the impracticallity of the trip, seeing as we would be out there again two weeks late... However Danny has a great surprise in store for this 1st Ring-A-Versary thanks to a very nice bunny!

8.05.2013

5 on 5: What we do outside of Disney Parks

Here is how we climb through life outside of the Disney Parks (Dramatic, we know):

Jaime:
1.     Cooking – I love the gratification of being inspired and making something useful so cooking is right up my alley. The product my inspiration is practical and usually pretty tasty. We have tried our hand at Disney recipes (some better than others) and I love to read different blogs for new ideas.


2.     Reading – I really love to curl up with a good book. Being in grad school means I usually have most of my reading prescribed already, but when I get a break from homework I can be found reading fiction (young adult and adult contemporary), autobiographies, non-fiction historical, and even cookbooks.

3.     Camping & Hiking – recently we have taken up camping and hiking. Living in Colorado means that the entire state is one giant, beautiful backyard and we want to explore as much of it as we can. Last month we purchased an annual pass for Rocky Mountain National Park and made it a goal to go at least once a month for hiking, snow shoeing, camping, or other outdoor activity.

4.     Attending UNC events – We try to support our alma mater as often as possible by attending theatre productions, sporting events, and other fun activities. We both graduated from, and still attend, the University of Northern Colorado and live in Greeley where UNC is based so it is pretty easy (and cheap) to support our school. We have an excellent performing arts program, free NCAA DI sporting events, and have brought many wonderful speakers and performers to our campus so we usually attend many events throughout the year.

5.     Secret Shopping – I am an independent contractor for several mystery shopping companies, which usually require that I go someplace and interact with employees. We often do a lot of different dining shops where Danny can come along, too. I love this because it gives me a chance to try new places, learn about new products, or get a ‘free’ lunch during the workweek and get paid for my time. This is a fun way to pocket a little extra cash for the holidays or for our next Disney trip!



Danny!

1.  runDisney Preparation - I have secretly become addicted to runDisney challenges since running the Expedition Everest Challenge with Jaime and Allie.  Since then I have challenged both myself and Jaime to complete a Coast to Coast Challenge, which we will complete this fall at the Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon.  

I also challenged myself to complete (and have completed) runDisney's women's focused events - the Tinker Bell 1/2 Marathon (which Jaime and I completed this past January) and the Princess 1/2 Marathon with a co-worker.  Now I know you're wondering why I wanted to complete runDisney's women's focused events, its because I like to support anything feminist and women's related (as a self identified feminist, this is important to me), and Disney really doesn't have many feminist focused events, but these two event's are women focused, so why not?!  Plus I work in women's healthcare, so why not support women's health related events, right?!

With all that, I stupidly signed up to run the Dopey Challenge, which will take place during the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and will involve running a 5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon and Full Marathon...  Yes I'm Dopey!  Also I'm training which means I am some what not Goofy!

2.  Work - I know it sounds stupid, but I LOVE what I do!  I work in women's healthcare doing patient intake and administrative support, and love it!  Helping women and men in their reproductive and family planning is a joy for me and I wouldn't change it for the world! 

I also work as a part-time instructor in Sociology at Aims Community College and also love it!  Teaching is so fun and learning is so inportant to me, that I cannot help but love to see students learn and aid in that process!

I also want to recognize that I have two jobs that are so completely different from one another and wouldn't change them for the world!  I love love love what I do!

3.  Consume Pop Culture - Lets just say I spend a lot of time on my iPhone, read a lot trashy of celebrity gossip websites and watch a lot of stupid TV...  I owe it girlll!  With that said tweet me dumb worthless info @uheartdanny (PS I'm looking at getting a reservation at Club 33 between August 29 - September 2, send me some love)

4.  Watch my Girls - I LOVE watching The Golden Girls on TV.  Yes I said it.  I grew up watching that show with my Grandma and love every second of those sassy old ladies.  I also love watching Chelsea Lately with Chelsea Handler (I'm SOOO excited Lindsey Lohan is guest hosting tonight)

5.  Spending time with my loves, Jaime and Rocco - Awww...  Aren't I cute, and old lady like?!  It's true though!




7.05.2013

5 on 5: Park Essentials

It seems like everyone has their own special list of things to bring along for a day at the parks. This month we decided to list our Top 5 Park Essentials!

Jaime:

1.      Small Purse
2.      Comfy shoes
3.      Sun glasses
4.      Small snack
5.      Electronics (phone & camera)

I have a special purse that I use just for the parks. It is on the small side – as in, it can pretty much only fit my pass, some cash, debit card, a snack, and my point-and-shoot camera – which stops me from carrying around a whole bunch of stuff I don’t need.

Danny:
1.      Water bottle
2.      Dooney & Burke Messenger bag
3.      iPhone
4.      Water neutralizers (that is what we call Crystal Light/Powdered Gatorade, etc and offset the taste of Orlando water)
5.      Ibuprofen

Danny is the best at always having some Ibuprofen handy and something to wash it down with. Many folks who collect autographs, like Danny, will always have an autograph book and marker handy but that is something that Danny does only in Florida. We try to keep in cool in Cali and not chase down all the “celebrities”!

6.19.2013

Tinkerbell Half Marathon, Part 2

A few months ago I began to tell the tale of the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, but clearly become distracted...

Danny and I went back to our hotel after the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour and relaxed in the hotel for most of the evening. We did go out to dinner with two of Danny’s cousins which was very fun and a nice distraction from worrying about how the race would go the next day.


We woke up early (for us), got ready, and went outside to catch the race shuttle. Being on the shuttle was nice because we were able to scope out some of the other race outfits and start getting mentally ready. The shuttle dropped us off where the Disney busses normally drop folks off for a day at the park, but the race start area was all the way over by Paradise Pier Hotel so despite catching a shuttle we still had a bit of walking to do. The pre-race area was hopping with music, bag checks, and people warming up. We didn’t linger in this area long, but did manage to stop and take a few pictures of people with great costumes!


We then proceeded to the corrals. We hung out in this area wearing our trash bags to stay warm since it was still pretty early in the morning. Before we knew it the race was beginning and we made our way onto the streets on Anaheim. Running up a highway on-ramp was not very fun but I am happy we did it at the beginning of the race and not near the end. Eventually we ran into Disney California Adventure where Danny and I both took advantage of the bathrooms near the Carthay Circle Theater. Next came Disneyland and it was pretty magical to run up Main Street towards the castle! The sun had just started to rise at this point and just in time to go back stage. The backstage area housed the Disneyland Trains, some parade vehicles, and even a few extra parts to classic attractions. It was both disturbing and fascinating to see a hallowed out elephant body from the Jungle Cruise just hanging out. Danny tried to take a few pictures back here but we were in a good running groove – also a cast member was standing there. Oh well! The grounds crew for Disneyland was out in full force and had hung a banner encouraging the runners and cheering us on. This was yet another example of the pixie dust that Disney is known for! After exiting backstage it was time to refuel with Clif Blocks and get a few pictures. First we met Clarabelle Cow in Toon Town then we met the Lost Boys in Fantasyland.

 
After leaving Disneyland we proceeded to run around the city. This was not very enjoyable to me. There was nothing very noteworthy about this portion of the race. I did appreciate the local high school cheer/dance teams and bands but there were many long stretches of houses and businesses that were pretty boring. At Mile 8 I told Danny that I will finish this race and also do the Wine & Dine Half so that we could earn our Coast to Coast medals, but after that I didn’t want to do races greater than a 10k. This was just a little too long for my liking. Maybe if I trained and was able to run more (aka finish sooner) I wouldn’t have been so bored, but the reality is that I am not very fast and don’t think I have the patience to become faster. I like being able to complete my goals and it doesn’t matter how long it takes.

 
Getting back to the parks was the home stretch and we went back into Disney California Adventure where we ran past the Pixar Play Parade, World of Color Fountains, and then out to Downtown Disney. There was a little winding through parking lot action right before the finish line and I was happy to see the end approaching. As Danny and I crossed the finish line I held back a few tears of joy. I couldn’t believe that we did it! Having the medal placed around my neck felt great!
 

We finished the morning with Disney snack boxes, stretching, and end of the race pictures. The snack boxes came with cute little Peter Pan tote bags that Danny and I both use for lunch sacks from time to time. Walking back to our hotel on Katella was by far the worst part. After the adrenaline wore off I was pretty beat and even had to stop and sit down for minute to rub my feet. We also had to go through the park back check area which just seemed cruel to have to wait in line after running 13.1 miles! We both took a quick ice bath and nap after the race and then went to the parks for the rest of the day. The one thing I will never race without is Tiger Balm. Just a little over all our sore joints and muscles and we were mobile again. Our reward for finishing was lunch at the Carthay Circle! It was delicious as always but they did take my beloved pulled pork off the menu, boo!


My goals for the race were to not get picked up by the sweepers and to finish the race. I am proud to say that I was able to do both! Our time was not amazing, being just over three hours, but I feel it was very respectable for our first half marathon, especially since we didn’t train for it. One of my big worries was blisters and chaffing and I was pleased to not have an issue with either. I was really able to listen to my body and not hurt myself in a major or minor way.
 

If you are thinking to yourself – can I do a half marathon? The answer is yes. If you are worried, Disney is the perfect, encouraging environment to do it in, too! We will see how the Wine and Dine goes and if I really will give up half marathons or not. It has been cool to see Disney adding so many 10k races to the race schedule because I feel that is the right distance for me but Danny can do halfs if he wants to and we still get a Disney vacation out of it!

6.12.2013

5 on 5: Pixar Films


Sorry for the delay in posting! Danny turned the ripe old age of 28 on the 5th and shortly after we were in Chicago for a wedding and just didn’t have a chance to get around to the 5on5. For this month we are ranking our favorite Pixar films. While their cannon is relatively small compared to Disney and other studios and would therefore have less to choose from this was quite a challenge. Pixar may only have 13 films out, 14 in a few weeks with the release of Monsters University, but each and every one of them have been examples of classic story telling and innovative animation. Without further ado:

 

Jaime’s 5:

1.       Up – I love the vibrancy of this movie, the story of adventure, and the whimsy that Up embodied. The opening sequence of Carl and Ellie is timeless and almost a film unto itself. The memes on the internet are right: Pixar did more and told a better story in ten minutes with no words than Twilight was able to do over an entire series.

2.       Toy Story 3 – While I love Toy Story for a lot of reasons I love Toy Story 3 just a little bit more. I cannot watch TS3 without a few tears and lots of laughs with my old friends from Andy’s room. There was something so pure in the way that these toys were able to finish their story.

3.       Brave – Pixar was able to break the mold with Merida, the Princess who didn’t need to be rescued and wasn’t looking for love. I really enjoyed the story but was mostly amazed with the animation and soundtrack. I felt as if I was transplanted to Scotland – bravo!

4.       Cars – Not everyone loves Cars, but I do. I love the sense of nostalgia that this movies brings to a current generation. The fact that I can visit Radiator Springs while in Disney California Adventure just makes it that much sweeter.

5.       Wall-E – The message this movie brings is one that everyone should take in regarding sustainability and global accountability. I appreciate that even though the title character has almost no dialogue he is able to communicate his feelings to the audience so clearly. Plus, who doesn’t love robots?

 

Danny’s 5:

1.       Toy Story – since that is where everything started for Pixar.

2.       Monsters Inc. – this movie is just so adorable, simple, and cute!

3.       Incredible – this was an original take on a not so original idea, with unique qualities only Pixar would think of.

4.       Toy Story 3 - *grabs heart* If this was Toy Story’s ending this did the film and franchise so much justice and gave closure to both my childhood and Andy’s.

5.       A Bugs Life – This kept things going for Pixar. If this wasn’t successful I don’t think Pixar could have continued. This isn’t my favorite movie, but I love what this movie was able to do for the Pixar dream. I also use this movie as a teaching aide in my Sociology class.

6.03.2013

Disney Park Ticket Price Increases


As I am sure you are aware, Disney recently announced that they are raising the prices on park admission tickets. For most this comes as no surprise. Each year, around June, an announcement has been made that ticket prices will be going up. These increases are for regular park tickets and for the annual passes.

The Premier Annual Pass that Danny and I have loved so much for the last year – purchased May 2012 for $750, renewed May 2013 for $850 – will now cost nearly $1000 ($979 +tax)! We feel fortunate that we were able to renew our passes this year but know that next year will not be a realistic. On the bright side, this increase may mean an increase in us traveling elsewhere, maybe even saving up to visit one of the international Disney Parks – Paris, anyone?

Something Danny and I have discussed has been hypothetically purchasing several sets of Disneyworld no-expiration, hopper, water parks & more tickets while they still exist. That way when we have kids, and they are old enough to go to the parks we will have locked in some current prices. Since the water parks count as separate admissions we could in theory get 20 days of vacation out of one 10-day PHWP&M pass. After observing how friends with kids tackle their Disney vacations with more leisurely days, days off to spend at the pool, adding in other places to visit (the beach, non-Disney parks, etc), and doing non-park things on travel days like dinner at a different Resort or going to Downtown Disney, I think that this could be a very wise investment in our future family’s future vacation. One trip could use a few park days (3) and a few water park days (2) plus non-park stuff for travel days and you have a full week of vacation but have only used 5 of your 20 days. Using this rate of ticket use we could have one of the primary expenses of a Disney vacation tucked away for several trips.

In theory this all sounds like an amazing plan but since we are not quite in the having kids phase we aren’t sure how many we may need and this would be a huge upfront cost even if we are thinking of a modest family of 4. For now, we plan to just enjoy this second year of our awesome Premier Annual Passes with a trip late Aug/early Sept to Disneyland and two trips to WDW (Nov & Jan) and maybe swing a second trip to DL if we can in the winter or Spring for one last hurrah before the passes get retired.

5.26.2013

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K! A Merry Race & an Even Merrier Introduction to runDisney!


First of all, let me state, I know this post is about 6 months late…  With that said, Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K is a Merry new addition to the runDisney Family 5K runs.  It now leads off the Walt Disney World Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend as the 5K event, as of this past year, as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party begins on the same weekend that the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival ends (convenient, right?!)  It takes runners through a beautiful morning 5K run through Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  When I say beautiful, I mean GORGEOUS! 

Most places are wonderful looking in the morning.  Walt Disney World is no exception; and while Disney’s Animal Kingdom is not necessarily my favorite park of the Disney empire, it is one of Disney’s most astonishing. 
*Note: for those of you whom have ran the Expedition Everest Challenge, Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K hasa very similar race path as the challenge…

The race starts off in the parking lot of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and ventures into the park itself.  While this may not seem that note worthy, it must be noted that almost the entire first mile (or 1/3 of the race) is completed in the parking lot…  WOWSA!  The corrals were simply divided and most people appeared to be there just for a nice morning jog, which was peaceful and relaxing, especially for those of us whom are not hardcore runners.  This race is therefore recommended for those of us whom just want to enjoy running, and not run to win or feel competitive at all! 

After running 1/3 of your race in the parking lot (it’s still crazy to think that, right?!)  runners venture into Disney’s Animal Kingdom heading past the Tree of Life and towards Camp Minnie Mickey!  Runners hit some nice backstage areas and then venture past the Tree of Life again, and towards DinoLand U.S.A. towards more backstage areas and out of the park towards the finish line and medallion reward area!

Overall it’s a cute and fun race if one is just looking to run.  It’s not a good race to get all the runDisney shabang that comes with runDisney events.  Jaime, our friend Jed, and I ran this race and we highly recommend it, at the very least for the morning view (& to run 1 mile in the parking lot)!

Happy running!

5.06.2013

5 on 5: Passholder Anniversary

It's been a year since we have been Premier Annual Passholders, and we are celebrating our top 5 favorite moments!  Our passes were purchased on May 4, 2012 and expired on May 4, 2013, just in time for the 5 on 5! In honor of this anniversary we wanted to chronicle our top 5 memories of this year. Below is our list, enjoy!

Danny!
-Partner ring exchange at the "Storytellers" statue at Disney California Adventure - I felt like we fell in love at Disneyland and, just like Walt Disney's story began in California, I felt like our story began in California...  And since then we've had a blast!
-Running the Tinker Bell 1/2 Marathon - Who would not be proud or happy to have run a 1/2 Marathon?!  Let alone a 1/2 Marathon at Disneyland themed after Tinker Bell?!  Chello!!!
-Visiting Disney's California Adventure 2 months after it's grand re-opening - People say it's like stepping into the movie.  We say it's like stepping into someone's imagination, and getting the chance to visit this place before it was constructed, during its construction and after its construction was a true excitement, thrill and blessing!
-Going to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival - I didn't really know much about this festival, other then they served food from around the world...  What I didn't know was - HOW DELICIOUS IT WAS!!!  If there is one event from each coast I recommend going to at Walt Disney World, it is this one - The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.  IT.  IS.  A.  MUST.  DO.  (The event at Disneyland is any of Mickey's Halloween's Party, hard ticketed events)!
-Running the Expedition Everest Challenge and 5K - This is the event that started it all for Jaime and I, and also got me hooked on runDisney events!  Why not end with the best!  Also it got us more fit!

Here's to a new year!

Jaime:

Commitment to fitness by way of runDinsey - We purchased our PAP's the day before our Expedition Everest 5k knowing that we were going to make runDisney a part of our year and lives. Since then we have also run the Jingle Jungle 5k and Tinkerbell Half Marathon (Danny also completed the Princess Half) and have done other runs at home to keep us going for runDisney. I am so happy to have such an amazing motivator to keep me running!

4 Parks in One Day - This past March I had the opportunity to travel to Orlando for  professional conference and stayed an extra couple of days to enjoy the parks. On my last full day at the parks I visited all four parks. We hit all the major rides, got great food, saw some amazing shows, and had a wonderful time! I wouldn't recommend doing 4 parks in a day every trip but it was a fun exercise to see how much we could do in a day!

Passholder Merch - this isn't an event, per say, but I have really enjoyed getting to see and sometimes buy the passholder merch. This last trip the special vynalmation for passholders was a little Orange Bird, which has special significance for Danny and me. Since we had always collected a pin and vynalmation with each trip we have gone on it was fun to get a different array of stuff to consider.

Walk in Walt's Footsteps Tour - This tour is exclusive to Disneyland and was a great way to experience the park. Not only was it full of fun facts and trivia (my favorite) but we also were given special access to a few rides, got to see inside the lobby of Club 33 and got to go into Walt's apartment! I highly recommend doing this tour and walking in the footsteps of this visionary.

Our ring exchange - Last, but not least, is the memory of Danny giving me a commitment ring in front of the Storytellers statue in Disney California Adventure. Since we have written about it before in other posts and Danny listed it above, I don't feel that I need to elaborate much more, but needless to say, I will cherish this memory for the rest of my life. Love you Danny!

We can't wait to see what this next year as passholders has in store for us!


4.29.2013

Pardon our Dust!

Danny and I apologize for the lack of regular updates as of late! We left off sharing our Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend and all the fun we had. Since then Danny and I have each traveled to Walt Disney World on solo-trips and are just a few days away from a few more days with Mickey in Orlando!

We hope to get back to regular posts about our trips, park-tested recipes, decorating with Disney, and general Disney musings in the next few weeks!

See ya real soon!

4.05.2013

5 on 5: Disney Animated Classics

This months 5 on 5 is dedicated to the Magic of the Walt Disney Animation Studios - Animated Films, and our top 5.  Now while Danny! may really love "Ducktales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp" and Jaime may love "The Brave Little Toaster," they are not Walt Disney Animation Studios.  Those are films created by other animation studios the Walt Disney Company owns.  We're talking legit classics here.  With that said, see our faves below!

Danny!

1. The Little Mermaid - It was the first ever Disney film I ever remember seeing and it was also a film I grew up watching when I grew up in the late 80's early 90's.  This was also the first film in the "Disney Renaissance" and has since become a classic and I feel like I contributed to that a little bit ;)

2. Peter Pan - It's a timeless story with class characters and beautiful artwork. It has also lead to one of my all time favorite attractions in the Disney Parks (P.S. Disneyland's Peter Pan is better, just in case you were wondering :)

3. Sleeping Beauty - I feel like there are many classic "Princess" stories.  Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.  Sleeping Beauty is my favorite because of 2 reasons.  1st - when Princess Aurora is hurt, the whole kingdom goes down with her...  This never happens in any other princess story, and I appreciate that not just the woman suffers in this classic fairy tale...  Hey I'm a feminist and I'll take my kicks where I can get them.  2nd Maleficent.  Need I say more?

4. Beauty and the Beast - Again, this is a film I grew up with.  Now a timeless classic, that I grew up with.   The Walt Disney Animation Studios (and first ever animated film) to ever be nominated for an oscar, that I grew up with.  How AWESOME!  Also I wanted that magic mirror!

5. Meet the Robinsons - Wait, what...?!  Yes I said "Meet the Robinsons!"  Why?  Cause this is what I consider the film Jaime and I saw on our first date, and we LOVED it!  Little armed dinosaurs and Todayland, can it get any better?!  Maybe for you, but it explains our relationship perfect, and I LOVE IT!!!


Jaime's:
 
1. Bambi - First of all, if you have followed this blog at all you will know that I love animals. This movie has a bunch of great animals and is beautifully animated. Yes, the story is sad at times, but it is so charming that I can overlook what that man did. I also love the score that accompanies the film. The music and animation are synced and beautiful, particularly the rain scene. LOVE IT!

2. Beauty and the Beast: I know there are lots of popular memes about forgetting the prince and going for the library, but it really hits home for me. Who doesn't love a slightly rebellious, bookish, brunette princess? I know that there was a lot of personal resonance there. 

3. Little Mermaid: Another princess that is slightly rebellious and less traditional really helped this movie make it onto the 5 today but I also love the classic songs that make this movie what it is... Kiss the Girl, Under the Sea ... who can't sing along when you hear them?

4. Dumbo: I really love the story that Disney did such a great job animating. The love between a mother and a son, the power of self-determination, realizing that being different isn't bad. All great things. There are some aspects I could do without - aka Mrs. Jumbo being locked up for protecting her child - but this will always be a top for me. 


5. Lion King: Yep, another animal movie. With great songs that you can't not sing along to. I love how bright this movie is compared to some of the more muted animations of the past and I love the setting. I don't have much more to justify my love for this movie, but you know what? Hakuna Matata. 

3.05.2013

5 for 5: Night Shows


This month’s 5 for 5 is all about the night shows. We had originally talked about doing a more general ranking of shows but realized that with the variety of “shows” you can find at Disney it might be nice to distinguish between night shows and the rest such as the stage shows and spontaneous/less formal shows.

 

Danny’s 5:

1. Remember Dream's Come True - an EXTREMELY brilliant and well put together firework show that is more than a show, but a tribute to Walt Disney and Disneyland!

2. Halloween Screams - a fun new take on Halloween and Fireworks that embraces Halloween, Disney Villains and new technology (with the flying of Zero over Sleeping Beauty Castle)!

3. World of Color - Another brilliant example embracing technology with the lack of people power (I.E. needing characters to perform, as in Parades, Fantasmic, etc...) or the need to shut down a part of the park (I.E. Fantasyland during the fireworks); while embracing new brilliant story telling on a new medium.  Plus it's SO beautiful!

4. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth - A beautiful firework show that doesn't scream "DISNEY," but tells a beautiful and wonderful story!

5. Main Street Electrical Parade - It's a BRILLIANT, TIMELESS and WONDERFUL classic!


Jaime’s 5:

1.      Halloween Screams: Having only see the Halloween fireworks show at Disneyland I do not have much to say about how it compares to the Halloween show at WDW. With that said, I love that Zero the Ghost Dog from Nightmare Before Christmas does a flyover and that you get to see and celebrate many of the classic villains from Disney’s past!
 
2.      World of Color: I love that this show is unlike any other, pretty much anywhere. While I love fireworks (in a form or location) I really love that this show is special to California Adventure, embraces Walt’s vision for moving forward and innovating, and is simply a visual stunner. The only drawback is the viewing area is not designed for short people (child, or vertically challenged such as myself) so you really have to stand to see the show and after a long day at the parks that can make me grumpy.
 
3.      Fantasmic! I really appreciate the mix of Disney storytelling, characters, music, and pyrotechnics. As per usual I find myself a bigger fan of the Disneyland version than the WDW version but like that at Hollywood Studios there is a large auditorium with plenty of seating. At Disneyland you sometimes need to stake out a spot around the Rivers of America hours in advance and frankly I would rather be on a ride!
 
4.      Illuminations: I like that Illuminations feels true to Epcot, where the show takes place. While there is much to be said about “Disney” and having classic characters and music be a part of pretty much everything I really appreciate that Illuminations doesn’t have that. What it does have is a celebration of people and cultures from around the world and an inspiring message of unity. Another perk: Epcot is huge and there is plenty of great viewing locations where you can sit down and enjoy the show!
 
5.      Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Fireworks at Disney World: I was not sure of the exact name of this show, but we have had the privilege to enjoy two MVMCP celebrations (2010 and 2012) and I have really enjoyed both fireworks shows. Being a Chicago native and transplanted to Colorado I think there might just be something about wearing shorts and a t-shirt, outdoors, in December and being full of holiday magic without being cold? Who knows?

2.16.2013

Walking Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps!


When one thinks about Disney Parks, one usually thinks about the timeless classic attractions such as: Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion or even Flying Dumbo.  One can also think priceless moments such as meeting your favorite character for the first time, eating your first (or in our case thousandth) Mickey Ear’s Ice Cream Bar or watching your favorite firework show.  However when we think of the Disney Parks, we think of our favorite theme park; the classic Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California!  


The time.  The thought.  The imagination, and everything else that was put into this now infamous theme park is almost inconceivable to this day.  But Disneyland is also a wonderful example of a real persons dream come true.  And this person is the infamous Walter Elias Disney.  And his theme park was and is Disneyland.  It’s also the only theme park that he ever stepped foot in, unfortunately.  And while a piece of Walt Disney lives in every park through inspiration, Walt’s absolute vision is truly captured in Disneyland.  Therefore we wanted to explore Disneyland through Walt Disney eyes. 

Therefore on our last trip to Disneyland, we did exactly that!  Specifically we took the “Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps” guided tour.  And it was simply brilliant!  Now we don’t want to give away this tour through spoilers, however we will highlight 5 brilliant aspects of this great tour – since we seem to love the number 5!

First, if you have never been on a guided tour of Disneyland – GO!  It allows you to take in the park in a way you never would.  Even if at the very least, it allows you the opportunity to take in an aspect of the park that you normally wouldn’t by simply slowing down.  In the case of our tour we were shown little details of the park such as where Walt Disney stood in the park during his opening day speech, the amount of detail put into little aspects of Disneyland that make it the Happiest Place on Earth and why certain areas of the park are designed in the ways in which they are.

Second, you learn about the history of Disneyland.  Now while we see ourselves as amateur Disney buffs – we even learned some new things beyond what we thought we knew - which is great!  For example we learned the true meaning behind what makes a weenie in a Disney theme park, and that there are more weenies then you think… 

Third, you get to see Disneyland as from Walt Disney’s viewpoint.  Contrary to popular belief and obvious belief – Disneyland wasn’t as big today as it was on July 17, 1955; which again is obvious.  However – what we believed Disneyland to be on day one, really wasn’t even that.  And as prepared for crowds as Disneyland is today, they defiantly weren’t as prepared as we would like to have thought they were on day one – which is great to hear.  Yes great, because its nice to see that even the best of the best can be underprepared, as it shows that Walt Disney was human – and that real humans dreams can come true!  (maybe elaborate on how small the park was and is here…)

Fourth, the tour really does give you an idea of Walt Disney’s presence in the park.  Understanding the ideas, creativity and vision behind a theme park that set the precedence of the entertainment industry is remarkable.  And arguably yet to be duplicated.  As much of Walt Disney’s magic is in the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and even Disney California Adventure – its, arguably, missing that bit of Walt Disney’s personal touch that can only be seen in Disneyland – such as the detail in New Orleans Square.  Just look up one day when you’re in New Orleans Square and wonder what is up there and could be up there beyond the Disney Dream Suite and Club 33  (or even below the buildings…)!

Fifth, arguably for any one person the best part of this tour is that you get to step into Walt Disney’s private apartment above Main Street U.S.A.  This was where Walt Disney lived during the construction, opening and operation of Disneyland.  He wanted to be as close as possible to his park during its opening days and during its day-to-day operation, and while he had a home in Burbank, California – even back in the 1950’s Los Angeles traffic was crazy and he felt it would be better to be in a home away from home.  There is nothing that we want to say that will give this amazing experience away to anyone who goes into this guaranteed amazing adventure, other then these two random facts…  First, your tour guide for the tour and the docents for Walt Disney’s private apartment will be two different people, which is a nice switch up!  The docents are truly brilliant people that know so very much about Walt Disney’s home away from home and are more then willing to share that information in such a professional brilliant manner!  Take advantage of their time and take in the apartment as much as possible!  Second bring your best camera possible with you into the apartment.  Why?  Because you and your group only get one picture in Walt Disney’s private apartment.  One.  Not one per camera.  One total photo.

Overall this was a great tour and we cannot recommend it enough, if only for the fact that you get to step foot into Walt Disney’s private apartment.  However on top of this you get a name tag button, a SUH-WEET pin, and a meal from the Jolly Holiday Bakery!  Who can deny this amazingness?!

2.05.2013

5 For 5: Sit Down Restaurants


Another 5th of the month means another 5 for 5! This month we are ranking our favorite sit down restaurants! In full disclosure there are lots of amazing places we have yet to try so our list cannot be taken as the ultimate authority of where to dine at Disney. With that said we try to consider not just the food but the overall experience, service, value and ambiance of the restaurants. Without further ado the February 5 for 5!

 

 

Danny:

1.      Carthay Circle: because it’s elegant, delicious and beautiful - all in one lunch! This restaurant is located in Disney California Adventure Park.

 

2.      Kona Cafe: it has a great breakfast and GRRREAT Kona coffee at a great value! You can get pure Kona coffee in a French press while you eat or you can buy a bag of the whole beans ($40 last time we checked) which is less of a value but sure helps curb your Disney withdrawls when you are home brewing a pot! Located in the Polynesian Resort at WDW.

 

3.      1900 Park Fare: the food is great for a buffet (which says a lot) and the dinner characters are hilarious! Remember this? Located at the Grand California Hotel at the Disneyland Resort.

 

4.      Cafe Orleans: it has classic Disneyland Park food down to a tee and it is sure yummy! Located in Disneyland Park.

 

5.      Le Cellier: based on the samplings at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (we have not eaten there yet) this place HAS to be in my top 5!  Yummy beer cheese soup and steak! Located in Epcot at WDW.

 

 

Jaime

 

1.      Kona: I am a sucker for great breakfast food, a theme you will see repeated in this list and Kona is my go-to! There are so many great options whether you want a sweet or a savory breakfast or both – hello Big Kahuna, yum! Kona is located in the Polynesian Resort at WDW.

2.      Sanaa: This restaurant has it all, except breakfast! The menu is exotic without being intimidating to a pickier eater such as myself. The food is surprisingly light and fresh for being heavy on sauces and slow-cooked meats. Sanaa is located at the Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village and situation right on a savannah where you can watch zebras, giraffes and other animals as you eat. Amazing!

3.      Carthay Circle: I consider this one of the best dining options at all of Disneyland Resort. While I normally favor all things Land over World there are just too few outstanding options to really make this cut. Carthay, however, will be a perennial favorite. The flavors of their food are so bright and I can always find multiple things on the menu to make my mouth water. Carthay Circle is in Disney California Adventure Park.

4.      Boma: breakfast wins again! I love a good buffet because I can sample as many things as I want without being tied to one entrĂ©e. Boma is the only buffet to make my list because I know I will always get a great variety of familiar and new foods and sometimes a new take on a familiar favorite (goat cheese and chive scrambled eggs!) in a given meal.  The trek over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House is worth it for Boma!

5.      Liberty Tree Tavern (lunch): Since Danny decided to make his 5th a place he has yet to try but can’t stop thinking about I have opted to do the same. By the time I got to number 5 I was pretty torn. We have been to lots of other places and eaten some great food but nothing that I would say I would need to do again like I have with 1-4. I am really excited to try the Liberty Tree Tavern next time I go to the Magic Kingdom; there is a pot roast with my name on it!

2.01.2013

Tinkerbell Half Marathon Part 1


They say that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. As it turns out the journey of 13.1 miles also begins with a single step! Less than two weeks ago Danny and I found ourselves in Anaheim, California preparing for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon. In all fairness “preparing” may be an overstatement because I can tell you exactly what we did to prepare for the entire half marathon. We:
·         Signed up for the race
·         Downloaded the Jeff Galloway Tinkerbell Half Marathon training plan
·         Completed a 10k to be placed in not the last corral
·         Completed a 5k for fun
·         Bought our running outfits
·         Bought Clif blocks and Clif gels



Yep, that was pretty much it and as you can see we didn’t exactly get many training runs in. I was a little worried to say the least. What if I couldn’t do it? What if I got chaffing in weird places? How many blisters should I expect on my notoriously blister-prone feet? Would I be completely exhausted after? What if I was too sore to walk the next day?

I decided to set my worries aside for a little while and enjoy the parks before my self-imposed torture – did I say that? I meant before the half marathon. We arrive on Thursday afternoon and spent the next two days hopping between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Let’s be honest, the best part about running at Disney is vacationing at Disney.


Carpet leading to the packet pick-up
We arrived at the Expo/packet pickup a few minutes before opening on Friday morning to long lines outside of the Disneyland Hotel and decided to check out the expo first. The expo was a little smaller than expected but it was still nice to see different running products and the race merchandise. As the expo portion began filling with people we realized that most of the crowd that went to packet pick-up was probably finished and making their way into the expo. We headed out of the ballroom area that housed the expo and into the parking garage of the Disneyland Hotel where the pick-up was located. Despite being in a parking garage Disney managed to make it look a little classier with decals and carpeting.


Jeff Galloway
Packet pick-up was super quick taking us each about 5 minutes. We then went back upstairs to the expo to collect our shirts and hear Jeff Galloway speak before heading back to the parks. Of all the things that we did or didn’t do to prepare I think hearing Jeff speak was the most helpful and reassuring. He reminded us to pace ourselves at the beginning and save our energy for later in the race when we will need it more. He also addressed one of my major concerns about what to eat before the race. I followed his advice and had some water before the run but held off on eating anything until I felt like I actually needed something. This advice is certainly not followed by all before a race which I understand but since I had not done any long runs or runs this early I was not sure what would work best. This method seemed to really work for me. Overall, I highly recommend taking in some of the guest speakers that runDisney arranges at the expo. Not only did I receive helpful advice but it also helped replace my nervousness with excitement.


Danny trying to get a picture "with" Jeff
Galloway during the expo
The next day, Saturday, Danny had arranged for us to go on the “Walk in Walt’s Footsteps” Tour through Disneyland which was a 3 hour walking tour around the park. The tour was listed as 3 hours but there was quite a bit of sitting involved including about 30 minutes for lunch and a few rides so the time on our feet was not very intense. I don't want to go too in-depth about the tour as Danny is going to write a recap for the blog and I don't want to give anything away! After the tour we retired to our hotel and took it easy for the rest of the day in preparation for the next morning. As our last official act before becoming half marathoners we got dinner with Danny’s cousins Debbie and Sandy who live in the LA area. It was really great to see them and catch up and have them wish us luck.

Up next: the big race!


1.21.2013

Day 4 recap of our Tinker Bell 1/2 Marathon Weekend

We woke up before the parks did!

We prepared to runDisney!

We had the most "Pier-Fect" view while running!

We flew 13.1 miles to win our Fairy Wings!



And became 1/2 marathoners in the process!

We won our little Rocco a pier prize!

And we saw one of the infamous Disneyland feral cats!