Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dear Tampa Bay Locals: Let's Give Blood to Meet Mickey

Over the years, many charities and advertising agents have urged us to donate blood - from celebrity advocacy spots to witty superhero cartoons PSAs from the Ad Council (including one when the superhero has toilet paper sticking out of his butt), but we have our own excuses, including the fears of needles and being dizzy and weak afterward. Hopefully, this is about to change when Florida Blood Services, my local blood bank, is one of the first organizations to participate in the Give A Day, Get A Disney Day campaign.

I know what you're thinking, worried parents - your children may be too young for that. Luckily, if they weigh less than 110 pounds and are under 16, they will be offered to help the donors with food and other things other than the actual donation. All you have to do is to sign up at the official Disney Parks site (make sure you search for Florida Blood Services and sign up for that), schedule your appointment via phone, participate on the day of your appointment, and print (via email) your verified confirmation voucher to be presented at the Will Calls. Have a multi-day ticket or pass? Either donate the voucher granting free admission through December 15, 2010, to a charity designated by Disney or get a Special FASTPASS. (I'll take the FASTPASS any day, mate!) As the Mouse states, there's only room for 1 million free admission vouchers, so this offer is at a first-come, first-serve basis.

For all you Tampa Bay denizens like me: if you like slower seasons and Disney magic, why not give a pint of your blood or your time, talent, and treasure to your participating donation locations.

http://www.fbsblood.org/html/promos/Disney.aspx

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Dream of Volunteerism!


Sure, I volunteered before - in National Honor Society, in Tampa General near home, and at church, but not in my dream, although I was asked to thanks to a disciplinary action I heeded.

So why did I got in trouble at school in my dream and was forced to volunteer as a punitive measure, even though I was out of high school since a year-point-five ago? I was heading home and I encountered an extracurricular jazz dance class (I was unsure whether it complemented an elective pertaining to it.) in a dance studio without any observation windows, I watched the dancers stretch once inside, and I retreated just outside the dance studio to see the dancers warm up. The real dilemma came when the dance instructor asked the class what a "zoo pose" was. A boy did a half-moon pose (a yogic pose) and I disputed that with another yogic pose, bird-dog, and they were not zoo poses! I had points added on my records a negative way, for a dispute with the instructor, trespassing school grounds without consent, and bringing my friends in! My aunt noticed this when she drove home , telling me that I had to volunteer for misconduct. I asked my cousin where to volunteer, but she told me that I can send an apology via email, and I woke up after that.

That dream did not foretold trespassing in a dance studio, but it portended the year-long campaign for Disney Parks starting next month (January 1, 2010) - Give A Day, Get A Disney Day. You don't have to gain conduct cuts and have community service as a punishment - just sign up to the designated volunteering activity, volunteer, and get your free voucher for your free admission to do Disney for a day. If you are a Passholder like me (already renewed my SP), you can get a spacial Fastpass for your fave attractions or some other reward.

Disneyphiles in North America, don't be afraid to help your community and get a free visit to the Mouse House - it's doubly as fun to give than to receive!

Triond Article: Disney Dreams of Volunteerism
www.DisneyParks.com

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How to Tame Tantrums at Disney

Like the rest of the theme park domain called Central Florida, tantrums are a regular at Walt Disney World, just like Florida residents, the attraction illiterate, and turismos. I have recently written a Triond article about the whys and whats of them at the Vacation Kingdom, and it also includes my personal incident when I was celebrating Independence Day at Epcot. Personally, other kids' tantrums are annoying when I visit Disney, so I decided to give the parents pieces of my advice so that many people can enjoy their Mouse rendezvous without wishing for buldet-slapping.

Tantrum-taming at Walt Disney World 101

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Four Sundays of Turismos - Finale 2009!

On behalf of the Whiz Kid Forte and the turismos that either delight or annoy you - we wish everyone of you a feliz Navidad and a feliz Natal!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Four Sundays of Turismos - (Character) Breakfast with the BTG!

Catholics and other Christians embracing Advent know what the third Sunday is - it's Gaudete Sunday - and I'm starting my own tradition by featuring the famous turismo each designated Sunday of the year, Lagetur! If you Disneyphiles ever crossed paths with the herd from Sao Paulo, you have noticed their all-yellow (shirts, sweats, spanx, and board shorts) uniformity roaming about in the parks. Haven't seen them before? Here's a video of the popular-as-turismos Mickey Mouse and a little boy dancing with a couple of the all-yellow members of this epitome of the (in)famous Brazilian tour group, filmed on location during Donald's Breakfastsaurus in the Tusker House Restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom! 

Watch and be entertained!



(Note to my British pen pal Ade, your nearby city's now a twin town with the resort - too cool!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Does Disney Have An Age Minimum?

Even posthumously, Walt Disney conceived places where children and adults can have fun together, but despite your offspring's frequent viewings of moving image media, readings of books, or any crafts or activities pertaining to or made by the magic of his company, you (and of course many adults and travel experts) raise the eternal question: how young is too young for Walt Disney World?

I borrowed an exceptional book, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, recently, and even with Universal Orlando and other Central Florida flotsam thrown in it, it's a joy to read as it is to cite! They have a special section dedicated to the youngest members of your party on a Disney vacation. Most parents were offset and upset that the only thing appealing to their kids are their hotels, resorts, condos, and vacation homes' pools or that open space where they can play freely. The Unofficial Guide recommends that children reach the age of at least 7 to fully immerse themselves in the great-temp waters of the Disney pond, but most parents complain that many still start Disney young. My parents did - Muetti and the late Vatti had took me and did Disney and I didn't appreciate it as much as them, due to cloudy memories and my age (2, to be exact). I fully underwent the first real budding stages of becoming a Disneyphile on my next vacation at five. I met more characters, was able to ride most rides, and fully appreciated it. It was that age of five that I truly became a Disneyphile.

In my own opinion, the age of five is ideal for starting to appreciate the Mouse, but I agree with The Unofficial Guide that 7 is the ideal age for full pleasure - that's the age when I got a knack out of riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Tower of Terror, respectively in the MK and DHS (then named Disney-MGM Studios at the time), for the first time. If you do have children before that age, let me give you a great piece of advice - vacations are all about the planning!  

  • The Unofficial Guide recommends that four to six weeks before your dream vacay with Mickey you do daily family walks - as a member of a health club, I cannot stress that enough. Walking is a do-anywhere exercise, and with an hour per day of family walks, you and your child(ren)'s stamina would more than suffice to cover at least a half day at Epcot.
  • Choose age-appropriate rides - there are plenty of rides to choose from in the World, and it is best for you to forgo rides that look intimidating on the exterior or have intimidating names, like Expedition Everest and Splash Mountain, unless they meet or transcend above height requirements and find it fun at first sight. 
  • Although some parents advise them to skip character meets because they malign touring plans, I beg to differ with this piece of advice. If your children are into characters, I recommend sticking your children to solely face characters. I was not really bugged or intimidated by fur characters as a kid - I liked them as much as the face ones. (I will further explain character types in a future post.) 
  • Prepare for tantrums and meltdowns. Many children want this or want that in the shops or just cannot bear the long lines for their favorite rides or characters. (My fellow Triond writer has tips on the tantrum-taming.) Simply yelling at them or spanking them silly on their, er, buldets just wouldn't do, and that leads to the next tip.
  • Take a breather - do a park half-a-day and return back to your hotel, resort, condo, or vacation home to stretch out and nap before another half-day of walking. I can't agree enough with those travel agents and Disney vacay experts who stress the importance of this tip! This is so especially true with autistics, since the parks are overstimulating venues - just add in the turismos who chant profusely into the usual noise and other sensory overload and it will be the meltdown perfect storm.
  • Finally, speaking about turismos, please pick a cooler, less crowded time to hit the parks. Ask your child(ren)'s school administrators if they have a flexible school calendar. (I recommend November, especially for you New Jersey people!) You can learn more on annual and monthly crowds in my Hubpage, The Many Months of Disney Crowds.
With the right planning and how you do it, your children will get the kick out of Disney as much as you do - happy planning and touring, all you Disneyphiles!

Walt Disney World has a page on infant and toddler travel - visit it at http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/planning-guides/in-depth-advice/traveling-with-little-ones




Monday, December 7, 2009

Avoiding the Crowd Clobber - Especially During The Holidays



I agree with a multitude of Disney/Orlando/Central Florida travel experts regarding theme parks: avoid peak times of the year. Well, beck in 1996, I had faced the worst crowds ever - and to make matters worse, I did Disney dead on Christmas Day, that's right, on the day proper.

On that fateful day, my ex-cousin, Muetti, and Vatti all decided to go to the Magic Kingdom to see the cake version of Cinderella's Castle (It was WDW's silver jubilee at that time - remember?), and little did we know that we were bracing for the worst crowd-wise. The park was packed to the brim - we tried virtually every ride (with the exception of Splash Mountain, which was unsuited for cold weather of the time), and had no luck save for Snow White's Scary Adventures and "it's a small world" to boot. Anyway, we had shows, two parades, character greets with princesses, and such (like arguing the validity of the cake-castle) to pass away the time. Even with that castle cake and all, it was pure crowd horror!


(with courtesy of the YouTuber who posted his experiences pertaining to the evils of Christmas Day capacity crowds at the MK)

Even the planning guide for the Mouse, the Dad (I asked him a question about turismos a while ago), had his share of high-capacity crowds too - on Chrismtas Day 2007, his family wanted another spin on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (which had a three-hour wait), but they had an hour to spare before they flew home. He experienced another set of them on New Years Day - he and his family were on Soarin' at Epcot, their last ride, and they waited 120 minutes for that ride! I wholeheartedly agree with him - no ride is really worth a 2-hour wait!

Even those visiting foreign theme parks (Disney ones, of course) must have been feeling the pain each New Year's holiday. A few months after Hong Kong Disneyland opened, the park promoted their tickets that were discounted for mostly mainland visitors, and that caused them trouble - big trouble. Along came Lunar New Year 2006, and the evil faces of the discounts manifested themselves in that peak season, causing capacity in the park. Even if the would-have-beens purchased their tickets on time, many had to be detoured away from the park, causing tears for their children. The holidays are what the park dubs them as "special days," or their terms for peak seasons, and the tickets can be used for six months with the exception of them. The Lunar New Year of 2006 came as a surprise for them, as well as a curse.







And that's the lesson learned from those horror stories - avoid the most crowded times of the year. Recently, I have published the whens of going on Hubpages, The Many Months of Disney Crowds, and I found the TouringPlans.com's calendar on crowd levels uber-useful and a slice of nirvana. (Make that two, Mickey!) Oh, and didn't I mention that breaks and the all-important Fastpass are essentials?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Four Sundays of Turismos - Everybody CRAB DANCE!!!

Marching band or drum and bugle corps members or instructors who know their terms know what a crab step is - a horizontal walk. In Brazil, there's the crab dance (Port. dança do siri), which is as popular in the nation as waxes and sambas! Well, the turismos of the nation flocked to Disney in recent times and brought the dance to either enchant, amuse, or (for those who loathe them) annoy the heck out of Guests! Here's one video of them doing their national dance craze and bringing it here in the grand old USA!!! 



That's it for the posting - I'm trekking onward to the Magic Kingdom to check out Space Mountain!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Celebrate This Year, If There's Some Cake Left!!!

If you haven't entered for free admission on your b-day for the World (one of the theme park quartet members, that is), you're out of luck for most of you! If your birthdays fall on that month, work fast - the "What Will You Celebrate" campaign ends this year, on December 31! There's a lot of great treats for you folks out there, like cakes! I'm laughing at the idea, because I am a subscriber to my fellow Blogspot blogger Jen Yates's blog, Cake Wrecks! (She's a former Cast Member there - a Jungle Cruise Skipper, to be exact!) One of my favorite cakes relevant to the company and the final days of the celebration is what Yates calls, "The Disney Princess Explosion!"

The pastry chefs down at Disney wouldn't do that - use garish airbrushing, pipe rosebuds the wrong way, and pipe greenery up a waterfall - that would be against Uncle Walt's vision! (I'm featuring it just in time for the remainder of the campaign, folks!) If that Cake Wreck were a specialty cake made in the Mouse House bakery, I'd wish that I would have a My Mini Surprise Cake in the same motif instead - it's merely decorated with white buttercream and sprinkles, but it's worth the relief from sore eyes. The same is true with the Spaceship Earth cake - which offends me a bit since Epcot is my favorite Walt Disney World park!

Don't forget to register for your b-day free admission, folks - and don't forget to order yourself some cake! As Corbin Bleu says, "In everything you do, celebrate you," but make sure Disney does it right!

Cake Ordering:
http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/celebrations/customizations

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Week of Glenn Scoby's Scholars!

You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I'm telling you why...

No, Virginia - Santa Claus isn't the only person to be prominent this Christmas season; throngs of cheer and dance teams and football players in their youth flock to the World for their big events - the Super Bowls and dance and cheer competitions. Those herds of kids, without a doubt, are the Scholars, hailing from their respective Pop Warner teams, and each early December, they rule the World.

Yes, that time of their prominence is ideal for the vacationer, providing that crowds are fairly light, but I have read many discussion boards (I'm a member of many of them!) detailing fellow Guests' horror stories pertaining to this period. Many stayed at either one of the All-Star resorts and had to endure them, loudness and all. On a lighter note, their season is shorter than the turismos', if you ask me, and at least they rarely, if not, never have those pendant flags held by guides!

For frugal travelers who want quiet, try Pop Century, but if the Scholars are booked, stay at a moderate resort with fewer legions of them (Ask if there's a room further away from them!) if you want some peace while staying in the middle of the Disney magic. If you want to go the extra mile and have some extra R&R, stay offsite - I did it several times in the past. The last time I stayed offsite was at the Vacation Village at Parkway, which is just five minutes from the World and just down I-192 from it (cue the late Paul Manz's God of Grace), and I recommend it for the nocturnal peacekeepers and those Disneyphiliac RCI timeshare holders! Also, consider renting a vacation home - they're more spacious and there's less chance of hearing those sprouts running up and down the halls at night! (AllEars, a Disney planning site, highly recommends All-Star Vacation Homes, their partner, and you can read more at http://allears.net/acc/vhomes.htm.)

Pop Warners do not have to be a pain in the rear by a little planning to earn your peace of mind. My next vlog will include them, as well as the new Space Mountain and maybe the first few turismos!

See ya real soon, folks!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Presenting - The First Annual Four Sundays of Turismos!

As Christmas comes in full circle in the World (and as school ends in most of South America in a matter of days), I give you a weekly video of what's in store there - the first few weeks of a new turismo season!

You heard me, in those four Sundays of Advent, I'll be showcasing a video or a photo of interest of a feature turismo at WDW, and I'll be using footage of the fun (yet annoying to many) activities that the Brazilian tour groups (the most noted turismo, in my opinion) do in the World and elsewhere! Yes, they may be annoying, but they are fascinating for me to blog on!

I now present you, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the Four Sundays of Turismos

Our first video features one of the guides of this turismo dancing in World Showcase at Epcot, as their yellow-shirted participants chanted (Warning! Chanting Brazilian tour group alert!) as he shakes his groove thing against the backdrop of the World Showcase lagoon! As long as it is not demeaning to the South Americans, feel free to comment or rant over them!

Friday, November 27, 2009

ASD + WDW = WAT?




Walt Disney World has something for everyone, well increasingly, for those with developmental disorders.

Take autism, for example - I have it (hate to admit), as do 1 in 100 children, and I noted increases on articles and blogs on trips to Disney with those on that said spectrum. The main reason why is not just the increase of the disorder, but the resort harbors a plethora of sensory hurdles and flotsam - plenty enough to induce a meltdown. Add in the dance teams, Scholars (from Pop Warner), and the turismos (especially the all-too-familiar Brazilian tour groups a lot of us love to loathe), and you've created a tantrum entree!

A fellow Blogspot blogger wrote her trip report for her second Disney trip for January 2008, when turismos were on full force, and I had a blast reading it! She and her autistic son was less than enjoying it - with the latter being scared of most of the characters, becoming frightened of the villains part of Dream Along With Mickey, and tantruming as they wait for the monorail. As funny as it seems, it's a bit on the poor planning side, but what the peas - I enjoyed reading her report! (See her full story at http://asdqueenbee.blogspot.com/2008/02/not-so-magical-disney-trip.html .)

On the flip side, the Texan couple, Ray and Rachel Pilgrim, who have an autistic son named Josh and a neuro-typical daughter named Becca, conceived a website for families doing Disney with their children on their former child's side, speaking of the developmental disorder. As one section shows, adults are not the only ones involved in the touring and vacation planning - children on the spectrum participate too, as the authors provide social stories and picture schedules to prepare them. As with all families, whether their children are neuro-typical or autistic, the best advice is to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks.

For the website, Disney For Families with Autism Spectrum Disorder, please visit http://www.wdwautism.com

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

3 Months of Youth Chaos - BRING THEM ON!!!

We heard all the promotions, got the emails, and grabbed the offers among our bills - we, if we are Florida residents, get 15 months for the price of 12 when they purchase or renew an Annual, Premium Annual, or Seasonal Pass! (See what I mean at http://bookwdw.reservations.disney.go.com/ibcwdw/en_US/specialOfferDetails?name=Promo&promotionCode=flres15for12&market=flres15for12&int_CMP=WDW_Homepage_FLRes15for12APTktOfferTile.) In my case, I'm doing so after Turkey Day, and I know what this offer means to me - more Disney magic, more ride experiences, more vlogs, and last but not least, more youth group chaos!




I know what you're thinking - besides the fiscal year of 12/09-12/10, I can do Disney on 1/11-3/11. That means that I can end the tenure by the season when cheer and dance teams virtually rule the park, as do the stentorian, flag-shepherded, summer-holidaymaking turismos! For the latter, that is another high season for them, despite the fact that January-March is pretty low for crowds! Who the Tetris cares anyway - I developed a naturally-acquired immunity of those uniform shirt/baggage 15-year-olds!

My third vlog by the way will not only cover Epcot's Holidays Around the World and The Sum of All Thrills in Innoventions, but I will be covering the turismos - so keep an eye out for it!

Happy Thanksgiving, and see ya real soon, for now!

PS - if you wanna see my montage of the turismos again, here it is! 

The Flexible Disney Vlog: Part 1

I just came back from DHS and decided to share my 2 cents on the day in general, as well as riding this indoor, former kryptonite of a dark ride known as Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. I also met those who lifted my spirits Up, no pun intended, in The Magic of Disney Animation! I also had succeeded in another challenge - scoring over 100,000 points (121,000) in Toy Story Midway Mania!

My 2 cents are realized in video form, as recorded by yours truly, the Whiz Kid Forte! I hope you enjoy prima parte!



Saturday, November 21, 2009

5K = Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Challenge

Today, I did my usual walking/running intervals, for 5K (that's 3.1 miles, give or take), in under an hour. I think it's one of my most glorious victories for me, and I got myself a goodie bag for that. It includes a pedometer, power bar, a packet of tuna, and other healthful things. I ate the bar, but that alone is just the prelude to my greatest reward for completing my first five kilometers -


starting a day at Disney's Hollywood Studios with Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.

So why reward myself with a ride with more than a mere one inversion for an exercise challenge? Well, besides the fact that an epicurean reward backfires due to over-consumption of calories (Feeling scientific? Read the related study on that at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0004515.), I reward a challenge with another non-exercise, non-food challenge. Of course, I have many thrill-ride milestones on my roster. I rode my first coaster with an inversion, the Scorpion at Busch Gardens, in 1995, then, I rode my first woodie in Morey's Pier, the Great White, in 1999. I proceeded to ride the first installment of Mission: Space in Epcot during my 8th grade field trip, before devoting to the merely-simulated (non-spinning) "green team" version. I rode Sheikra for the first three times in Busch Gardens last August, once in one day, twice in another. The latter experience and the 5K are impetuses in the thrill ride challenge for the weekend.

So that's what I'm doing in the few days before Thanksgiving - riding Rock 'n' Roller Coaster first thing at DHS (unless Muetti decides to start off with Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage, if that mentally prepares me) but first, a party should be attended!

As Tigger puts it, TTFN - ta-ta for now!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Things of Disney Past 1 - Remembering 'Twas



Over a week ago, the Magic Kingdom kicked off its annual Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, and it first debuted its novel seasonal stage show, A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas, which featured the likes of Stitch, Buzz Lightyear, and Mike Wazowski. I for one have yet to see the show, but like many who missed the feel-good shows of old that featured a live band with saxes and horns galore (Kids of the Kingdom, anyone?), I know all too well that it is taking place this season where the old Galaxy Palace Theater used to be.

Well, back in 1996, I saw this gem of a show when I, my parents, and ex-cousin spent the day at the MK on a Christmas Day (bad idea, regarding out-of-towners and predominantly Brazilian turismos), and we used it to pass the time when virtually all the rides were ridiculously inaccessible in crowding terms. Despite it being the only time I saw it in full, it was really thrilling, with the choreography and all that. In the last two years of the show's run, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Chip, and Dale sported articulated faces to add to the live music-accompanied fun. If you miss the good old days, watch this multiparter of an entertainment relic.





Monday, November 16, 2009

Why Grand Floridian Started to Smell Like Gingerbread

Today's the day - for the opening of a huge-ape gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa!

I don't mind much Christmas creep and all (merely 11 days 'fore Turkey Feasting Thursday), but nothing's more lucrative and magical than a golden quarter at Disney, and the 21-year-old Victorian-themed gem adjacent to the Magic Kingdom boasts a seasonal, architectural, historic wonder comprised of 800 pounds of flour, 600 pounds of sugar, 1,050 pounds of honey (Winnie the Pooh would be more than proud) , and a cement-mixer full of Disney magic! Speaking of gingerbread, here's a recipe for the holiday baker!

Friday, November 13, 2009

That's (Disney) News to Me - I

Hey there, hi there, ho there - you're as welcome as can be - again!

I just read and signed on to the Disney Parks Blog - and it's 100% official! (Yes, official!) It just started 2 months ago and I happened to stumble upon it by chance and I gave it a shot. The very first post I read about was about the refurbished Space Mountain - which I last rode last Christmas season in the Magic Kingdom, when I saw the Brazilian tour group Lagetur! It's will be different from the original, and the ride is just the crust of the planet. The best upcoming features include brand spanking new lighting schemes, interactive games in the stand-by queues, and best of all, a ride photo system so I can see myself screaming as if I'm a member of the choir, The Sixteen (or see my face obscured by a someone who is defying Thorpe Park's "Say NO to BO" rule)! I predict that the new Space Mountain will be awesome, but I'd go for DAK first (weather pending temperaturewise) this month.

Oh, and the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade, airing on 25 December on ABC, is now The Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade - and I dig that name for it goes beyond Walt Disney World - it's broadcast there as well as Disneyland in Anaheim (and perhaps other Disney parks worldwide, in rare cases)! If we have energy to go to the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, I'd roll with it!

With a new TV parade name and a blog, that's what I'm celebrating!

See ya real soon, you Disney-crazed peeps!



Oh, and the official Disney Parks Blog is here:
http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Let's See What December Brings...

Sorry if it's too early, but what does one think of December at Disney?

To me, that means everything - from the seasonal facades (think icicle-cloaked Cinderella Castle and the Osbourne display) to the characters wearing red and green scarfs, jackets, and Santa suits. Also, it means crowds, from large ones spawning the 20th of the month all the way to the 4th of January to lighter ones from between that and the day after Thanksgiving break. Of all the reasons why December is so intriguing at Disney, not counting all the Christmas galore, this month is an interesting one because of swells of groups elementary to high.

Yes, I tout early December as a great time to go, but alas, the groups one should keep an eye on are the Pop Warner Little Scholars. With its football playoffs and cheer and dance championships slated to go on respectively between the 5th and the 12th and between the 7th and 11th, those groups would keep many a vacationer wishing that they'll be the last of their worries. Seasoned and first-time visitors usually note time and time again that they are raucous, especially with the cheerleaders. Some of the Scholars (what I call the Pop Warner participants) are conversely polite, supervised by their chaperones. In any case, they should be watched.

Also, December is a summer month in South America, and when numerous schools close down for the season, the turismos (split into the Argentinean youth herds and most infamously, the Brazilian tour groups) come in full circle in the parks. When Santa Season comes, brace yourself with a barrage of flags, matching bags and tops, chanting, and line-cutting. Oh, and I have written a Hub (I write for Hubpages) dedicated to the madness of the Latin American teens of doom (see link below). Again, just be aware of the turismos and you'll have a great Christmas vacation in a pinch.

So Merry Christmas Creep, everyone!!!

Turismos: Tour Groups of Central Florida

Epcot's World Food Carnival Moves out Sunday!

If you haven't have the chance to check out Epcot's Food and Wine Festival, you're really missing out - it's moving out tomorrow! (Oh well...) By the way, Muetti and I had a lot of fun there - and nothing beats tired feet after two days on a fine Columbus Day weekend (Well, one measly Brazilian tour group, whose appearance is too early for that month, didn't spoil that excursion.) going around World Showcase and consuming excessive calories! (Ha ha!) I went there twice in one weekend - a full day at Epcot on Saturday, and after a day at Disney's Hollywood Studios (Yes, I headed to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror first!) on Columbus Day. Our Seasonal Passes seem to have the Park Hopper mechanisms, which enabled us to hop aboard one of the Friendship boats and sail our butts off to enlarge them with treats and dishes from around the world! I for one loved the tenderloin from South Africa, and it tasted like fall!

Well, here are some highlights from our weekend so far!




That's Spaceship Earth, not a snow cone!



I call this the "nostalgia fountain," a step up from the "snake fountain" I used to saturate myself, perhaps?



The soda fountain of free soda


 
Those guys like to flip with me! (Note the position of my hat.)



Epcot typo - ha ha!


 
 Do I see a Christmas creep - on Columbus Day?


 
 Product placement - on queue


 
 How would you like your taters - plain or pommes emcee?



Toto, I have a feeling that we're not in Milnrow anymore...



 
 More Christmas creep!


As you may know, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is on November 10, on a Tuesday (if you don't mind the Christmas creep and the fact that it's going to take place 17 days before Thanksgiving). Frugal? Head on down to Disney's Hollywood Studios for the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights for a free light display - it'll debut the same night!

So Merry Christmas, er - creep!




 

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Keep Your Arm(pit)s Inside the Car at All Times!



We Disneyphiles who go to Walt Disney World (and/or Disneyland) and elsewhere heard the same spiel over and over again - one about keeping our hands feet, legs, and arms inside the vehicle at all times to prevent affiliated injury. For Thorpe Park in Surrey, England, as they referred to the latter body part that should remain inside the vehicle, they birthed an additional item of note that should be added (or maybe not for most thrill ride enthusiasts) to the safety spiels - olfactory and hygienic etiquette to fellow riders.



That's right, the theme park chalked up another reason for riders to keep their arms inside the vehicle at all times - last month, they have to face crowds in the 29-Celsius (84-Fahrenheit) heat and they think that the basic staple of theme park ride safety would do the trick. Because the anticipation of queuing up for a really scary ride makes unsuspecting riders sweat due to the sympathetic nervous system (it's not just the heat), the odor would offset fellow riders. To help riders be considerate, they devised a scheme and implanted it in the park's rides - "Say No to BO!"

I don't think the rule is too plausible, at least to me because I usually hold on to the handlebars on almost every thrill ride at Disney and whatever park I go to whenever I can and I also follow the safety spiels and posted signage. As I queue up for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom, I see other riders put up their arms like the people on TV or other media. That's a bit OK here in the States, but bend it like the runaway train ride on Stealth or Saw at Thorpe without heeding the warnings, and you'll be escorted off the ride. Do it repeatedly and you'll be expelled from the park without refund.

I think it's a bit fine for riders to put their arms up as they ride thrill rides, but I prefer mine, as well as many thrillseekers', just as the spiel says, inside the vehicle at all times, and the body odor issue is not the reason why, if you ask me.

Despite Buyout, WDW stays WDW - For Now...

When I heard about Disney's buyout of Marvel, I predicted a series of worst case scenario, particularly in the theme park world. I live not only near WDW, but near its rival theme park resort, Universal Orlando. The park in question and under threat at the time of my prediction was Islands of Adventure, where its Marvel Super Hero Island teems with the likes of Storm and Spider-Man. There are "what ifs" and fears in the buyout as I predicted earlier:

  • the implantation of the few popular of all the 5,000-odd Marvel characters in the parks in the likes of rides and meetable characters
  • the Islands of Adventure outsourcing Hulk coaster, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, and other rides to Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Marvel merchandise in the shops at the aforementioned park and elsewhere
  • appearances of Marvel characters in parades and shows, possibly in Fantasmic!

I was then too afraid to go to WDW, feeling that those formerly soon-to-be former Universal Orlando characters would be out of place. It did not then seem right to me, as I was not interested in the Marvel franchise that much. (I used to own the Spider-Man Cartoon Maker software when I acquired my first PC back in 1995.) I'm pretty OK with the likes of Chewbacca and Miss Piggy in Disney's Hollywood Studios (as someone who experiences Star Tours and Muppet-Vision 3D, respectively), as well as the Power Rangers, American Idol, and even Indiana Jones in that park. I'm really not a Disney purist, but I want to leave for England so I won't have to fuss over Spidey playing games with Chip and Dale.

When I read an article over the Orlando Sentinel, I breathed a huge sigh of relief - Universal Orlando has a contract stating that it would continue using those characters in the parks and that Islands of Adventure will be the sole park east of the Mississippi to utilize them in advertising and the like. I think of that as a benediction for Central Florida, where locals like me frequent it for outings, out-of-state visitors vacation, and the likes of Argentinian or Brazilian tour groups see the world north of their nations. (For the latter, they usually do Universal Orlando and Sea World and its sister park here in Tampa Bay, Busch Gardens, as well as WDW, in their itineraries.)

As for the rest of the Disney parks, Disneyland included, I'm staying here in Florida - bring on the heat, humidity, Brazilians, Argentinians, and anoles!

Then again, at WDW, I as a Disneyphile would take the news as a wait and see approach - maybe 20 years from now, when the pact expires, Spidey would shake hands with Goofy.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

WDW Sans Kids

Call us immature, but Muetti I frequent Walt Disney World - we are Disneyphiles, we live an hour from there and near I-4, and we both have digital cameras. I came across a site named Walt Disney World (WDW) for Grownups, and found it interesting. It has tips on planning and enjoying adult WDW frequenters' vacations and has a forum so that vacationers and visitors alike can have a say. If you are a Disneyphile and a WDW visitor who goes there with no kids, check the site out - I signed up as forum member there!

http://www.wdwforgrownups.com

Best. MNSSHP. Costume. Idea. EVAR.

Unlike the hated Christmas creep, when many stores promote the likes of St.
Nicholas of Myra and the Holy Infant before Thanksgiving here in my native USA, Halloween creep is a good thing. If I have a million dollars or more, I would try out the ongoing hard-ticket (separate event admission) event in the Magic Kingdom: Mickey's Not-so-Scary-Halloween-Party!

I have been to the other hard-ticket event, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, back in 2005 with my aunts, uncles, ex-cousins, and cousins, but not that event. We have Busch Gardens (I have the Fun Card) to worry about, but maybe in 2010, I'll go there if I have the chance and money.

As you have heard, for the Disney literate, there's Mickey's Boo-to-You Parade, Happy HalloWishes, Villains' Mix and Mingle, and of coourse, trick-or-treating. Guests are encouraged to come in costume, and the cajoling to come in a guise gives me an idea.

Time and time again, I have seen a lion's share of school groups, Pop Warner, and herds of South American teens or college students in matching backpacks (as in the Argentinian tour groups) or tops (as in the Brazilian tour groups). We know the latter all too well - the chanting, cutting in line, and all that, and that annoys me a little bit, since they add to the crowds. I wrote two articles on Triond about the groups, one about just the Brazilian ones, and another with my anecdotes with the said groups plus those of Argentina at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

So, after a series of day-trips to the parks this year (as well as in the past), I found my inspiration - gather a few friends, have them wear matching T-shirts, have me hold a flag, and voila! I created an instant South American tour group, ready to roam the parks and annoy the heck out of other visitors!

Another reason I want the group who is coming to the event (next year, I hope), even if it's just me and muetti is because we are getting more frugal with costumes - budget-stretching experts remind us to buy costumes from the thrift store or make our own, and the recession is helping me with my idea!

I will be going to the costume ball at the Magic Kingdom next year, but this year, let me consider dressing up as that wacko who freaked out in response to his mother's cancellation of his World of Warcraft account...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One More Day 'Till Validity!

Ahhh - the summer hiatus of the Walt Disney World Seasonal Pass (invalid dates from the 4th of June to this day) is coming to an end. The period was a big downer for Disneyphiles who live an hour from the resort like me and Muetti, but we got our Disney fixes at T-Rex, the swankiest new restaurant in Downtown Disney, where I had my birthday supper, and at the mall, at the Disney Store. In the meantime, we went to local venue Busch Gardens Tampa Bay four times that summer - two day-trips with my Seattle cousins (in two consecutive days on a hot July weekend, where turismos, more Argentinian youth herds than the most-maligned-by-many Brazilian tour groups, dominated there as well as at the resort), and twice with just Muetti and me, with the latter riding formerly-maligned SheiKra for the very first three times. As we departed the Disney high-inducing vendor, I heard the strains of Corbin Bleu's "Celebrate You," signifying that I'll soon return to the theme parks this fall, after a proposed weekend in Fort Lauderdale.

Should I return to WDW after the Fort Lauderdale mini-vacay, I'll start off with Disney's Animal Kingdom, then follow it with Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Magic Kingdom, and honored favorite, Epcot. I use Random.org's sequence generator to plan which parks to access to make my mind up.

Oh and speaking of July, I made a photo/video montage of tour groups prevalent in many Central Florida theme parks at that time, and this was taken during that July weekend at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay when my cousins visited me and Muetti.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I Have to Break from the Blog - for Serious News



Most of you have heard about the expulsion of Alex Barton from his kindergarten class nearly a year ago (If you haven't, see this article.), and I wrote a letter to the St. Lucie Schools superintendent, Michael Lannon, suggesting that Honk! should be performed by at least one high school in the 2009-2010 school year. This is the transcript of the letter:

Dear Mr. Lannon,

I read several articles regarding the sad tale of formerly 5-year-old Alex Barton’s expulsion from his kindergarten class by a margin of 14-2 from the student body that formerly learned skills from their teacher, Wendy Portillo, to whom you had the board suspended almost last month. I am very satisfied with what you have done because little did she realize that he has Aspberger syndrome, which is a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder. I have a low-to-moderate disorder at that spectrum, and I am outraged at her and her class’s actions. Autism was a bit on the rare side in my childhood in the 1990’s, but 1 in 150 children would be diagnosed with the same disorder in general that I’m now living with. Barton is now homeschooled, and his self-esteem eventually suffered from this Survivor-type incident.

A lot of you have had Hans Christian Andersen’s (who was presumably autistic) fairy tale, “The Ugly Duckling,” read before you were tucked into bed in childhood, during story time in your school days, or to your own children. I want to emphasize that the ugly duckling in real life, in the context of your school district, is Barton, because so many people don’t understand his condition. I want people to listen to more than just an oral and visual recitation of “The Ugly Duckling,” and there’s a musical out of Britain, which is now playing at Christian Youth Theaters and other amateur productions nationwide.

In 1993, the musical theater team of Alain Boubil and Claude-Michal Schoenberg offered Anthony Drewe, a British lyricist and librettist for musicals, to co-write two musicals based on “The Red Shoes” and “Thumbelina,” but they were canned. He bought an anthology of Andersen’s tales and decided to adapt a musical from “The Ugly Duckling.” He neither contributed the input to Schoenberg nor Boubil, but his mutual friend and composer, George Stiles, placed his words to music. (The year before writing the show, they co-founded the Mercury Workshop, now Mercury Musical Developments, which is an organization of people who share their occupations in theater – writers and composers.) Later that year, The Ugly Duckling, or The Aesthetically-Challenged Farmyard Fowl, premiered at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, under the direction of Steven Dexter.

Four years later, the famous West End director, Julia McKenzie offered Sir Alan Ayckbourn to have it premiered at the St. Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, and that show was rebranded Honk! It became so successful that Trevor Nunn ushered it to the West End in 1999 – at the Royal National Theatre, and it garnered an Olivier, the British Tony facsimile, for Best New Musical, when the public expected either ABBA jukebox hit Mamma Mia! or Disney newbie The Lion King to win.

I haven’t watched the musical in person, although it’s one of my favorites. I can relate Barton to Ugly, Portillo to Drake (his father), and the 14 who voted him out to his siblings, Beaky, Billy, Fluff, and Downy. If the Survivor-like scene when the class voted Barton under the direction of Portillo were a musical, it would resemble the musical number, “Look At Him.” The reason why I’m conjuring the comparisons is because the classmates had a say about the numerous dislikes about him (from eating his homework, humming, and throwing mucous), just as Ugly’s own siblings squawk about the ways they loathe their own brother. As I read various articles regarding this, I thought about that show.

Mr. Lannon, because on the outrage of the expulsion of an autistic child by student vote in the past year, I request that a high school in the district would perform Honk! as their spring musical in the 2009-2010 school year. I even went as far as contacting the writers, Stiles and Drewe, about writing this letter and sending the link to the article of Portillo’s suspension. The show is more than just a personal favorite – it’s a musical theater work designed to foster compassion towards diversity, especially when it comes to incrementing numbers of autistic individuals like me. I may be a Hillsborough County former student who lives near Brandon, near Tampa.

Thank you for reading this letter and considering my recommendation. My heart and prayers go towards the Barton family.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Conception of Flexible Disney

Last Christmas was especially special, since Muetti gave me the gift of a Seasonal Pass - which supplemented my days of being online for college and exercise. In response to that gift, I'll be posting all things Walt Disney World. It's pretty much like the Annual Passes, but the blackout dates are not too much of an obstacle, since a majority of them fall on peak seasons, like Christmas and Easter. I proudly dedicated to all WDW addicts young and old and dedicated Disneyphiles like me!

I hope this site would be magical!

The Whiz Kid Forte