Friday, December 31, 2010

It's A Peak Season, It's A Peak Season, It's A Peak Season - ZIP-IT-A-DOO-DAH!

Recently at the Magic Kingdom's California sister park Disneyland the Original, crowds reached something similar to a Phase 4 closing, where all Guests couldn't see Mickey because it was so darn crowded! They stopped selling tickets to new visitors and redirected them to Disney's California Adventure, where it had the same problem.

As for the Floridian sister, it closed to Phrase 3, meaning that Annual and Premium Passholders those staying at hotels in Downtown Disney, Shades of Green, and all onsite hotels who use complementary transportation were the only ones allowed in.

I think it's just the same story each year because it's a flutin' peak season! What were those Guests thinking if they knew that Disneyland would be busy during that that time of year? At least the dilemma was better than Chinese New Year 2006 at Hong Kong Disneyland!

Lesson learned: it's better to have a house party than to come to Disney World when the kiddos are out of school. Save the holiday fun between the Monday after Thanksgiving break and the week before Christmas Day, mmkay?

Friday, October 29, 2010

When New Jerseyans Make Disney Parks as Congested as their Home Turnpike (Oops, Sorry to Offend You!)

I have been touting the benefits of trekking the World in the fall, but I have a few exceptions: Thanksgiving and tail end of the first or second week of November.

You may be thinking, why avoid the first week of November - it's still a good week for doing Disney. I'm talking about the four day weekend when schools close for a teachers' convention in my birth state. Some of those families vacationing use those days, while others take the absentee risk and high-tail it to the Vacation Kingdom. They travel by car from their home turnpike to my home turnpike. They also fly from their airports in the chilly air to MCO in Orlando. But they have one purpose: to meet the Mouse.

The state in question is New Jersey, and the week is Jersey Week.

I neither mean to show New Jersey hatred nor bashing, but having been born and bred there myself (before moving in 1999), I went out of that state a couple of times for that said reason. I flew on an airplane from EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport) to MCO (Orlando International Airport) many times. Heck, I even survived a car trip with involved driving hundreds of miles on Interstate 95, former home state turnpike included. Although I had been to the World several times while living in New Jersey, I had never set foot there in the first few weeks of November.

But the painful part of Jersey Week is the actual convention dates and the weekend. Some visitors who visited at those times, New Jerseyans or not, reported moderate to even high (but not-so 4th of July, Christmas, or Easter high) crowds. Remember, huge crowds equal long lines for your favorite attractions! Gulp!

Some people convince you to take the week with a grain of salt, but I for one have better ideas:

  • Plan to go on a Monday-Wednesday of the week. There will be some New Jerseyans visiting the parks, but I mostly guarantee that they won't be as bad crowdwise as the four-day weekend.
  • Head to the parks at least a half-hour before opening, or a few hours before closing. 
  • Use the darn single-rider line wherever possible! It can mean Cast Members ripping up your group one by one, but you'll reunite after riding - I promise!
  • Head to the older attractions first. 
  • Stagger time between rides with shows. Whether it's a lame song-and-dance, Broadway-style revue or a stunt show you want to see, this will help your feet a lot!
  • Remember: FASTPASS is your friend! Go to the kiosks ahead of time, claim it, and return to your ride at the posted time.
  • If you have the money (if you are not staying in the middle of the magic via onsite resort hotels), take a darn break! Have lunch in your room (or hotel restaurant, if money allows), swim, or kick back watching some soap opera. In the afternoon, head back to the parks.
  • Ride at mealtimes. It would do your sanity (and your stomach) good if you do the attractions when people are packing the restaurants, especially with thrill rides.
  • If your party doesn't really mind, skip the parades and nighttime shows, if riding is an option.
  • If you want to watch a parade, head at least an hour to your desired viewing spot.
  • Oh, and if you are caught in a long line that resembles a human rush hour on the human version of the New Jersey Turnpike, deal with it. Better yet, find something to entertain yourself, preferably beforehand.
Sometimes, Jersey Week can be a crowdwise delight, but other times it's a real pain in the apples. By following my advice, I'm sure you'll survive the week when New Jersey folk go on Disney vacations.

Friday, October 15, 2010

New DHS Disney Character Duds

Its official - 7/8ths of the Excellent Eight (Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, Daisy, Chip, and Dale) are now sporting new looks for meet and greets in front of the Sorcerer's Hat at DHS with stars in the background! Their looks are reminiscent of 1930's-1950's Hollywood (or so it seems). They will be co-appearing with Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and Stitch in their mundane duds.

I love the change of pace from their normal garb at the media-infused park, but I miss the times when they (save for Daisy and alongside Mickey and Roger Rabbit) wore them starter jackets over their communal clothes from its opening in 1989 to about 1997. The move is good for the most part, although their attire can improve a tad bit. If you want to meet the missing eighth of the Excellent Eight, get thee to The Magic of Disney Animation. He's in his trademark sorcerer's suit.

Oh, and I'm working on my new photo album of MNSSHP (Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party), but here's a preview:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Need A Quickie MNSSHP Costume Idea?

MNSSHP (for me) is coming up tomorrow night, and I have my costume ready! (Again, it's a grunge/90's outfit!) Speaking of which, there are probably many of you who invited your friends by handing your purchased tickets the day before (or a few hours before, even) the valid date. But they are without costumes and they panic. They know that store-bought ones are expensive, and sewing is something most of them scoff at.

Here's my advice to them: don't panic! I have a list of handy, quick, and simple costumes you can really make for the Magic Kingdom Halloween hard-ticketed hoopla!

How to Make Last-Minute Halloween Costumes for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My First MNSSHP IS Comming Up!

After tomorrow, I'm going to my first Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the MK! Oh, and I'm going in costume: flannel plaid dress shirt, jeans, Disney T-shirt, Lion King hat, and sneaks.

It may not look like any costume to you, but this is "grunge" wear. It was very popular on the final years when the old logo of WDW (with the Mickey Globe inside the "D") was everywhere! Of course, I'm remixing all my photos of the event!

Album will be up soon!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Let(ting) the Memories Begin

It's official - next year, Walt Disney World will put its campaign, "Let the Memories Begin," into full force by displaying nightly projections of pictures of Guests and Cast Members alike on the facade of Cinderella Castle in the MK! Speaking of images, they will be displayed at a nighttime spectacular. (Kinda embarrassing to some, but both should be pretty cool to watch.)

Don't have time to view them all at the MK? There's are bunches of sites owned by Disney Parks where you can post pictures, videos, and/or stories of your trips!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Craziest Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Costume Ideas - Ever!

Are you going to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party anytime in your life? Do you need a unique costume for you, your kids, your group, or you and your loved one? Do you think that the costumes in stores are too expensive for your budget?

Let me help you pick out (and make) not only the perfect costumes, but the most unique ones to wear at this hard-ticket event in the Magic Kingdom!  They are all family-friendly, non-obstructive, and mostly desirable for you to ride select attractions - even fast-as-heck Space Mountain!

As for me, I'm stuck between Disney Character Identity Crisis and Turismo.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Autistic Children and Family Vacations at the Walt Disney World Resort Can Coexist!

If you are a parent of an autistic child or more and you are new to doing Disney (or have done this before you had kids), you might be thinking that doing so is a pain in the apples. Here are reasons why you think the whole resort complex (especially all four parks, two water parks, and whatever) makes you want to reconsider going there:

  • Crowds, Crowds, and More Flutin' Crowds
    I'm not just talking about any crowds, like the out-of-state people (I know a lot of you well) who go during the summer. In a lot of fan groups relating to the resort, the cheerleaders and the turismos (Yes, those are the misbehaving, chant-happy Argentinean youth herds, otros, and Brazilian tour groups I'm talking about!) add to the crowd levels. Also, they create another hazard for your autistic child (thanks to his usually short attention span) - long lines!
  • All The Noise!
    Believe me, Walt Disney World is a noisy place. Turismo chanting aside, huge crowds create hustle and bustle in noise, setting the stage for an F-5 meltdown. Just imagine that your child is with you at all times in a hot July or a fairly less-crowded January. You see a huge Brazilian tour group in highlighter-yellow T shirts walking the opposite way of you, and they chant out loud. Your child flaps his arms while making loud squeals, convincing you that the noise from the group is bothering him. See what I mean?
  • Lights and Colors
    Almost everywhere at the resort is painted in super-bright colors and cloaked in hyper-bright florescent lights. (For the latter, they are great thing to use for environmental concerns, but they are bad news for most autistics.) The heart of the loud color sensory-overload cocktail is the Magic Kingdom, where a lot of the area is paved with bright paint.
  • The "T" Word!
    There's something that sets off many autistic children - the transition! Without prior planning, they melt down because you disturb their routines by dragging them place to place!
But there is no need to skip that dream Disney trip you have a huge hankering for - it's all in the preparation and planning:

  • Book A Quieter Room
    If you have the money, I suggest that you book a room at the deluxe resorts or buy a timeshare from any Disney Vacation Club resort if you are staying onsite (a good thing, because some shuttles going in and out of the offsite hotels have fees). If you can only afford any All-Star Resort or Pop Century, by all means do it. Call ahead for a quiet room.
  • Do It in the Slow Season
    Making a Disney vacation with less problems is a matter of merely planning ahead. Just compare July to September weekdays, for instance. The former month carries out waves of overstimulation thanks to long lines, the heat, the thunderstorms that close attractions, and of course, the chanting turismos. September is a different story - it's less rainy and crowds are light. 
  • Prepare Your Children
    Again, transitions peeve autistic kids, so prepare them as you book your trip. I watched a lot of Disney moving media (movies, cartoons, etc.) and vacation planning guides and looked at pictures as a kid - and they prepared me for what's to come in my subsequent vacations. (I still do that!) Do the same with them and offer social stories and those so-called "visual schedules" for them to follow and learn.
  • Obtain a Guest Assistance Card
    The Guest Assistance Card is a pass in which you bypass the oft-crowded stand-by lines and either use the handicapped entrance or even the FASTPASS queue. (I'm autistic, and I still use the stand-by lines providing they are at most 30 minutes long and the single-rider line and I use FASTPASS just in case. the ride's line is too long.)
  • Follow the Conventional Rules of Theme Park Visits
    Arrive at the park at least 30 minutes before opening to have them see most of their favorite rides. Oh, and take midday breaks from the parks by returning to your resort (preferably by car, if staying onsite - you won't pay a dime for parking, cross my heart) and taking a nap or playing whatever video game is out there.
Doing Disney does not have to be a pain in the apples in terms of doing it with a special needs child. It's all in the planning, folks.

Autistic Children and Family Vacations at the Walt Disney World Resort Can Coexist!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

School Days, School Days - Missing Out on Mouse Days...

Oh yes - the summer is almost ending and kids are going back to school in a couple of weeks. That means they leave the Vacation Kingdom for their hometowns whose tress will change color in a month or two...

*imagines kids their crying eyes out because they will miss Mickey and his pals*

...and their parents buy the dreaded bags of school supplies to better themselves in the cabin fever of their classrooms.

But there are positive spots starting from September (after Labor Day, of course) through the second day of November. Autumn, with the exception of Columbus Day weekend, is a wonderful time to do Disney. It's not too crowded and it's not too rainy. Also, this season has two events in the World: Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (in the MK) and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. In the former, feel free to dress in any costume you like, as long as it shows your face. (Wear something not too baggy to avoid ruining your guise - select rides are open in that event.) Enjoy a parade with your favorite characters, go trick-or-treating, and watch some spooky fireworks. Save your money, though - this event requires a separate ticket.

 Here another thing that's not so-scary - family memories! (Courtesy of the Theme Park Mom herself!)

If religion prevents you from going to the Halloween hoopla or if it's too expensive, come on down to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, where you can sample wines and foods from a variety of countries. (Tip: make sure you have a designated driver on hand or use Disney transportation if you will sample the wines. Oh, and sample the foods after riding Mission: SPACE, Test Track, The Sum of All Thrills, and Soarin'.)

September 14, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30; October 1, 3, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29, 31; November 1

October 1, 2010 — November 14, 2010

Oh, and for more fall events in Central FL for those who want to expand their horizons or are not in the mood for the Mouse, see "Autumn Events Fun at Central Florida's Theme Parks."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thank Goodness High Crowd Season is (Almost) Over!

Courtesy of talfonsoflickr

People who just loath the swarms of teens with the same bags and/or tops guided with flags known as turismos, you can breathe now.

Walt Disney World was crowd Purgatory on earth that season, where people had to stand in line for at least an hour for their favorite rides, sought shade, and faced thunderstorms that close certain attractions! Oh, and didn't I mention that they endured the chanting and line-cutting of certain Brazilian tour groups, Argentinean youth herds, and otros as well? (At least you watched the Main Street Electrical Parade at the MK, rode the enhanced Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at DHS, and took the time to watch Captain EO at Epcot.) But crowd levels as of very recent times are dwindling down, and I expect them to get lower as those kids buy their last-minute supplies for S-C-H-O-O-L, ending their summers.

I took another break from doing Disney (again) thanks to block-out dates - and I took the liberty to check out the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at UIOA. It was worth dodging the Samba and Tango Muggles and waiting in line for the signature ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I waited on the single-rider line for that attraction (twice) and found out that it was about the wait for the one in Test Track down in Epcot on a medium to medium-high-crowd day.

So did you do Disney this summer? Let me hear your trip reports!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Pains of Fur Characters

Note: please keep this post away from small children.

No Walt Disney World theme park visit or character meal is complete with some of the well-known and favored members of the magical community - the Disney characters. To me (and many Disneyphiles who frequently get their Disney fixes), merely seeing those characters are just too important because they add to that magical atmosphere. Some of them can sign with pen or marker, some can just stamp, while others just pose with no autograph.

There are two types of meetable characters at the resort - face and fur, and the latter has their pains and perks.

So what are fur characters? They involve Cast Members covering themselves from head to toe as the characters they portray. Because of the name, a majority of them are workers in animal suits - and the animals I'm referring to in terms of Disney are those who can either talk, wear clothing, or both. Examples of the obvious type are the Sensational Six (namely Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, and Daisy), Brer Bear, Pooh, Piglet, Chip, Clarice, and Dale. Not all of them are just talking animals (or in the case of Stitch, talking aliens) - a handful of human characters of animated Disney movies, like the Queen of Hearts and Woody, are in their fur counterparts to keep their cartoonish features.

Sadly, for many a Cast Member who has to act as fur character, there are a few advantages. One of them is not fussing around with makeup like those face characters do to look their best - fur characters use masks or helmets to conceal their human heads. Like them, they appear during select mealtimes, parades, stage shows, and designated meeting spots where people pose for pictures.

But then again, playing roles as fur characters is tough - they wear more fur, fabric, and padding than face types, who tolerate the Florida-hot sun and sauna-like humidity slightly better. Also, they are heavier, causing Cast Members to skillfully maneuver their movements like getting around a portion of a park (or restaurant, as character meals go) and signing an autograph for collectors like me. Speaking of getting around, they have limited vision once their heads are covered, making peripheral vision difficult. Their injury rates are higher not only due to weight, but because rowdy children and teenagers target them as someone that they can harass.  Because they look larger than their actual film and television counterparts, they are more intimidating to children than face characters with light makeup.

Worst of all, fur characters have to keep their heads or mask in place unless backstage and out of sight from Guests. Unless they work at a cheap knockoff of, say. the Magic Kingdom, they have to keep everything covered or else they will ruin the magic. Accidents do happen, but even if they trip and lose their head or mask in a spot visible to Guests (especially young children who are doing Disney for their first times), they already cause emotional trauma - readily proving that they are really make-believe. (Of course they are, but Walt Disney World is keeping the illusion that everything is real.)

I have to admit that fur characters are my favorite types of Disney Characters because I can associate Walt Disney World with them easily. As for you, fellow Guest, please give them respect - they work hard to keep the magic going.

"This post is part of the Disney Blog
. Head over there to see more great Disney-related posts and

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Not to Wear at the Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks!

Anything goes at the good old Walt Disney World Resort - well, almost anything goes, in terms of dress. Having been there several times, I have seen various types of clothing people wear, from more conservative burqas (even under the hot Florida sunshine) to the scanty short shorts and tank tops. If you think that you can wear just about anything in any of their theme parks, think again - it has a dress code. Here's some things you shouldn't bother wearing while you're meeting Mickey and the gang or riding something like Splash Mountain at their theme parks.

  1. First and foremost - save your Disney Princess gown for a costume party outside of Walt Disney World. I understand that it's a place where you can be a princess and you see girls (with 9 being the maximum age they can wear it) in their said dresses, but dressing up as one can confuse other guests for face-type Disney characters and they may ask you to sign their autograph books and pose for pictures. (The same thing holds true if you're a man wanting to do Disney dressed as a pirate!) What's more, your costume might get torn or soiled and you'll risk it especially at rides like Kali River Rapids. Please dress in more mundane, casual clothing - you don't want to be escorted for wearing Cinderella's gown just like one woman who did just that at Disneyland Paris, do you?
  2. Wear shirts that are clean - not only in appearance but in image. Walt Disney World prides in family-friendly fun, so what's the use of wearing a shirt that says "(expletive) you" or with pictures of unclothed girls there? If you want to look all cool in a family resort, at least wear a T-shirt with an image of Mickey wearing sunglasses. Same thing with tattoos - at least show off one with Pooh on it.
  3. Please wear whole clothing with clean hems. In other words, wear something that does not have a lot of holes, rips, or tears. Frayed jeans are OK, but for the love of modesty at Disney hemmed jeans are much, much better. Plus, they don't get caught in the gears of the ride as much as their counterparts with holes or exposed fringes of threads.
  4. If you are a woman, watch what you wear. I have seen women taking off their casual tops, revealing their halter or bandeau bikini tops on Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids - to make things worse, they strip their casual clothing to ride them in full-blown bikinis. (The main and obvious reason why is because they fall under the "water ride" category.) As many theme parks at Walt Disney World and elsewhere remind you, shirts and shoes are supposed to be on at all times. I understand that there are times when the weather is Florida hot, but at least wear a camisole and shorts during those times - the parks are not Blizzard Beaches or Typhoon Lagoons! Also, wear something that doesn't show too much skin - I suggest that you choose a top that covers your chest area (covering most of the cleavage) and wear shorts that are fingertip-length. I prefer that you wear Bermuda shorts, even at outdoors-y park Disney Animal Kingdom - I love the way that they are hemmed at the knee and they are modest. Oh, and ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, please keep your flutin' shirts on!
Walt Disney World allows everyone to dress comfortably, but they dictate on what to wear and what to avoid. When planning to do Disney - a day trip or a vacation - please keep in mind that the resort is not a fashion show or a character convention. Keep those guidelines in mind when meeting Mickey. (Just don't dress like him!)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

How to Clobber Crowds and Cut Lines at WDW

 Select attractions, like Expedition Everest, offer single-rider lines to minimize the wait.

A lot of us love Walt Disney World, but there are setbacks to it - there's less vacation time for that, it's too expensive, and of course, there are always long lines to attractions. For the latter, long waits waste your time and you won't get to experience much of the magic if you stand behind many people for hours on end! Well, there's help for those of you who are suffering from long-line-impatience, and if you take it to heart, you'll get more of the Disney magic than ever before!

Know When to Go
The secret of visiting any given Walt Disney World park is knowing when is the right time to go in terms of crowds. Obviously, the three major crowd-drawing holidays are Christmas, Easter, and Independence Day, mainly because a lot of families out-of-state flock to the park and because the kids are out of school. Summer not only draws the mentioned types of people, but it draws those legions of South American teens guided by adults holding flags known as turismos (Argentinean youth herds and Brazilian tour groups). Some of the best times to do Disney are in the fall after Labor Day and before Thanksgiving, Monday after Thanksgiving and a week before Christmas, and between Spring Break and Gay Days. (If you want details on how months affect crowds, read my guide, "The Many Months of Disney Crowds.")

Arrive at the Parks Before Opening
Whether you're going in the turismo-filled, hot summer or in the fall, head to the parks at least a half hour before opening. You'll save yourself a lot of grief than going to, say, Epcot, an hour after.

Head to the Less Crowded Areas First
Many people want to go the big rides, and they do it first. That's fine, but if you want shorter wait times, head to the less dense (in crowds) area first. I neither care if you really hate stage shows because your family member drags you to one because you have a daughter who loves the Disney Princesses nor if you don't like a ride that is considered "kiddie" because your wife forces you to ride with your little son, but that's how to kill time by avoiding the larger crowds on one side. It also works when the season is right for a huge turismo turnout, because the flags that stick out of the crowd make it easier for you to go the other way.

Use FASTPASS Effectively
The best way to cut wait times in half is to use the FASTPASS system, which is complementary with your ticket. Simply insert it in the slot (only once) in the kiosk, and claim it. Then, return to the designated line for that (Keep it on hand at all times!) between the hour noted - it's as simple as heck! Oh, and because there's always large families who come to the parks any time of year and turismos that do so likewise twice a year who take advantage of it, grab your FASTPASSES as early as you can.

Go During the Parades and Nighttime Shows
If you think that the parade is too cheesy or you think that the nighttime spectacles are not too spectacular enough, take the opportunity to catch them while lines are shorter! For example, you can ride Astro Orbiter in the Magic Kingdom during the fireworks and get a good view of them on-ride!

 Now who would want to wait that long for Soarin'?

Take Advantage of Single Rider Lines
With the exception of the Magic Kingdom, the parks offer at least one attraction that enables single riders to lessen the wait. Epcot has one on Test Track, Disney's Hollywood Studios has one on Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, and Disney's Animal Kingdom has one on Expedition Everest. If you're doing Disney solo, do the single rider lines so that you won't have to face many a large family cutting you.

Take A Breather and Arrive at A Later Time
Crowds usually peak at midday or early afternoon, so it's a good idea to return to the nearby place you're staying at (the hotel or friend's condo) and do something there, like edit your theme park pictures, take a nap, or cozy up to a good Disney film - you can always do the parks at a later time. That's especially true if you're staying on the resort's hotels (even the campgrounds), because you'll take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (the evening ones) that will enable you to get back to the park as the general public crowds thin out.

A lot of you hate the long lines Walt Disney World is so famous for - large families and/or turismos cut lines for rides and other attractions to rejoin their parties, ruining your days. But by planning ahead and following my advice, you can let go of the crowd hassle and enjoy Walt Disney World without much grief.

Related: Don’t Mix Ride Long Lines and Amusement Parks!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How to Enjoy Walt Disney World's Parks - in Adulthood

Some adults (and older children) equate Walt Disney World strictly with children. They complain that none of the rides are catered to their age group, the theme parks are too childish, and they would rather prefer to spend four days at rival Universal Orlando Resort (which has two parks), which has more adult appeal (that's perfectly fine with me as long as they keep it to themselves). If you're an adult who is skeptical of vacationing there, take note of Walt Disney's words:

You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.

Walt Disney World is not only meant for little kids willing to meet Mickey Mouse - it's designed to cater to all ages. The meddling turismos (teenage and adult South American tourist groups like the Argentinean youth herds and Brazilian tour groups) can enjoy the carousel as much as the little kids do, and they enjoy watching the parades just like about anyone else. Don't think of the resort as a Juvenilepolis - think of it as a shrine for the young at heart and the Disneyphile.

The Magic Kingdom
Many people think the Magic Kingdom is just a neo-Kidieland - bright happy colors and juvenile rides. I hope that you get over that misconception because there's an ample amount of thrill rides to offer. If you are a big coaster fan, check out Space Mountain (recently updated) in Tomorrowland and then ride a runaway train on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland. Water ride lovers can enjoy the Southern charm and rustic flavor of Splash Mountain. If you're single and at least 52 inches tall, ride the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway and race against your friends in separate cars. Not into thrill rides? I dare you to take a breather at "it's a small world" - those who love riding it can marvel at all the happy dolls, but most of you will get a taste of heck thanks to this repetitive song. If you love taking pictures, grab a seat for the parades and snap photos of interesting dancers and your favorite Disney Characters. Oh, and catch the fireworks show if you can - if you want a time and place for a kiss, it's the perfect moment for that.

Believe me, Epcot has been my favorite park for years - adult-oriented, school-friendly, and updated. Future World boasts three great thrill rides - the flying stimulator Soarin', the spinning and non-spinning versions of the stimulator space-flight ride Mission: SPACE, and the automobile test in a ride form Test Track. (You get to see the latest GM models after riding the latter, if you love cars and SUVs!) Comedy fans can experience and get a laugh out of Ellen's Energy Adventure and those who love gardening for food can sail on a boat on Living with the Land. Don't forget to experience World Showcase - the sundries from the shops in the countries and the varied cuisines will tempt you. One of the best attractions there for adults is the Maelstrom - think of it as Pirates of the Caribbean that teaches about the history and folklore of Norway. At night, marvel at the laser/water/firework spectacular Illuminations!

Disney's Hollywood Studios
The most dynamic park for teens and adults alike, Disney's Hollywood Studios offers thrills and fun. Roller Coaster fanatics will dig Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, in which they'll launch from 0 to 60 MPH in just a bit short of 3 seconds (2.8, to be exact). Drop 13 stories tall some random times on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. If you're a fan of Pixar, go head-to-head with friends in Toy Story Mania. On select nights, watch Mickey Mouse defend his dream against the Disney Villains in Fantasmic! - cameramen should watch for Steamboat Willie near the end with all the characters waving streamers (sorry to spoil you).

Disney's Animal Kingdom
Fans of the great outdoors or animals in general should add Disney's Animal Kingdom to their itineraries. Dinosaur lovers can either experience dark-ride dynamics as they rescue an Iguanodon and themselves from a destructive meteor shower and a hungry Carnotaurus in DINOSAUR or travel back in time in a spinning wild-mouse coaster on Primeval Whirl. Brave the heights as you encounter the Yeti on Expedition Everest (another roller coaster) or encounter rainforest destruction on Kali River Rapids. If you want to take pictures onride, check out Kilimanjaro Safaris - you may want to snap photos of an elephant doing a deuce. (Oops - sorry to gross you out!) When you need a breather from all the rides but don't want to leave, explore the animal exhibits - The Oasis Exhibits, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, and Maharajah Jungle Trek.

Who says that doing Disney is just kids' stuff? The parks have a lot to offer for every age in the range - from gentle rides to thrilling coasters. Forget those who believe that you should bring your young'uns to Walt Disney World; you can enjoy it even without them!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tantrum-Taming at Walt Disney World 101

Walt Disney World and children go together just like peanut butter and jelly. Kids love riding Dumbo, enjoy the Character parades, and marvel at the fireworks. They love seeing Mickey Mouse and all the princesses they can think of (Mulan included). They are a match made in heaven - well, add in the infamous tantrums and it's a match made in purgatory for you.

I have to admit that my least favorite park is the Magic Kingdom. Sure - it has a lot of places you can meet and see your favorite Disney Characters, watch your neighborhood high school bands play before the big parade, and marvel misty-eyed at the beautiful fireworks, but the screaming children densely populate it than anywhere else (in terms of theme parks) in the resort. But are Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom free of banshees? Of course not - you can hear them flail near Kali River Rapids, cajole their parents near Tower of Terror, and whine near Innoventions.

Parenting experts say that the culprits of tantrums are often hunger and tiredness. If a child is hungry and wants to have a Mickey bar when you refuse to buy it, he kicks and screams over it. Crankiness is another factor in a tantrum - there's so much to see and do at Walt Disney World. The over-stimulation - the heat, bright colors, bustle, and chanting turismos - can wear him out, and if he's autistic, he can melt down in a heartbeat. At the whole resort, there's more to the gists of many tantrums. Rides that seem or sound scary can cause them, since you're forcing a child to try something he doesn't like. The same is true with Characters, especially all fur Characters in general (because their faces are hidden by a mask or a helmet, like Eeyore) and face ones who wear too much makeup.

What's a parent to do when a tantrum starts? Don't spank your child in front of a place that is notable - doing so in front of Cinderella Castle just ruins the magic that Walt Disney World is meant for. (If you still want to spank him, take him to the bathroom, in the stall, and do it.) If on a line for some ride, distract him by playing a game about the surroundings or have him play a handheld video game console. If they have a long day, take them out of the park and return to your hotel to have them settle down before going there again. If he has a long string of tantrums for one day, take away privileges, such as a viewing of a show, for example.

The best way to lessen the screaming children is to have parents prepare ahead of time. Before going on vacation to strictly do Disney (or do Disney and visit other Orlando-area locations), plan your trip with the kids. Booking one is important, but kids need to get the idea of what the resort looks like. Have them go online to look at pictures and/or videos, order the Vacation Planning DVD, and borrow Disney cartoons or movies - it's especially true with autistic children, who can't handle most transitions easily.

Once at the resort, arrive 30 minutes prior to opening. Grab FASTPASSES early because there are many large families and turismos using them too. To ease your children's hunger while saving money, pack healthful snacks filled with fiber and protein with discretion. If they want something from the store, set a budget for them and convince them to spend within their ranges.

I don't hate kids, but I love them if they are well-behaved. It isn't fair to ban all of them out of Walt Disney World because it wouldn't have the same magical touch it's known for. By preventing and easing tantrums, parents and childless adults alike can enjoy the joys of the resort.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Running 5 for Autism Campaign!

On Monday, I'll be taking a mystery vacation - you'll have to find out sometime after the week from this coming Saturday to find out!

After the mystery vacation, I'll be running a race in the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon. No, my fellow Disneyphiles, it's neither the actual marathon nor the half-marathon - it's the Disney Family Fun 5K Race at Epcot. The reason why I'm training for it is not to become an athlete, but to raise money for an educational institution for kids with autism in the Tampa Bay area, Sydney's Schoolhouse. To me, the race is like an autistic helping other autistics, thus I created the campaign, Running 5 for Autism.

You can visit the page for the Road to the Walt Disney World Marathon Fund, where you can donate for this cause. In that case, I'm raising at least $9000 for the education center, so be an angel for Bay Area children today!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cheerleaders - ALREADY!?

It's that time of year when people have to deal with hordes of rude teenagers! No, the turismos - legions of traveling teens categorized in Argentinean youth herds and Brazilian tour groups - don't fly to the MCO until June! The teens in question are the contenders of the 2010 International Cheer Union World Championships, which is on this weekend. According to the official blog for Disney Parks, over 2000 cheerleaders representing about 150 teams from about 45 nations compete in the Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.

Of course, not all misbehave and nick Guests' day-trips to, say, the Magic Kingdom, but I have read in various discussion boards that most of them are way too overzealous that those writing of their experiences can't just stand them. Over at one from, most of them have bad run-ins with them. One member who did Disney on days when cheerleaders did so likewise, she hated the way that they screamed at virtually everything - at the pool, in the parks, and on the phone! There's a wealth of "cheerleaders annoy me to death" threads" all over the WDW boards, and the ICU World Championships aren't the only times where we Guests have days (with them) like that. Those groups flock to the resort during National High School Cheerleading Championships, Contests of Champions, and the Pop Warner National Championships. If you are staying on-property, at least in the Value and a few Moderate Resorts, you'll have to use some noise-canceling headphones at night whilst sleeping. Also, the "cheerleading intervals" can cause some trouble to those sensitive to noise - especially some autistics, who has to muster through the excessive auditory sensory overload when some troupes cheer and yell throughout the park.

If I were you, I'd stay in a Deluxe Resort, own a Disney Vacation Club timeshare, or go camping in Fort Wilderness. If money doesn't allow you to stay on-property, try staying in an off-site timeshare or (even better) a vacation home. For the latter, the only occupants you have to cope with are yourself and your family. Either way, you'll less likely have to spend sleepless nights with misbehaving cheer teams. If going to the parks, arrive early, snag Fastpasses, and deal with the overzealous girls, mmkay?

(Not Just Another) Beach Party at Walt Disney World

Note: this is actually my photo from my flickr account of Blizzard Beach's lazy river, Cross Country Creek.

Howdy, all you Disneyphiles! I'm back from my day at Disney's Animal Kingdom, with a newly-published item from Trifter. This item is a review of one of the videos of the Disney's Sing-Along Songs. If you grew up in the 90's like me, some of you grew up watching Mickey's Fun Songs (before being consolidated in the parent sing-along series), the three videos where kids dance and do fun frolics with the (costumed, Fur) Disney Characters in various venues, from Walt Disney World to the arena where they watch the Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus.

The vidéo du jour is Beach Party at Walt Disney World, and I have to admit that all of the Mickey's Fun Songs tapes, this is my absolute favorite. It not just because the all-new (to me, until hitting it last fall) Blizzard Beach, all the Character action, and the fact that some kids starred in the old PBS TV series and Together Again home video series Kidsongs entice me - it's because of the one song: "Pearly Shells." Ask me what I think when I hear the song via tape or live performance and I'll tell you that it reminded me of the video. I even remember dancing to it with my cousins on my youngest cousin's christening after-party - in a bikini top and a grass skirt. It was pure fun indeed!

Another great element of the video is the wardrobe! Bright, halcyon colors that screams "90's" in your face makes it worth watching. (Heck, it was filmed in 1995, when Blizzard Beach opened!) What I really like about the Characters is the fact that some of them wear the famous Disney-MGM Studios starter jackets in the beginning and end. (If you have discerning eyes, you may find that a few scenes were actually filmed inside two of the then-three major theme parks: Epcot in the "A Pirate's Life" segment and Disney's Hollywood Studios in the "Celebration" segment.) Oh, and let's not forget that Aladdin and Jasmine front a rock band. How nostalgic is that?

If you have seen the DVD - and I mean in its entirety - please leave a comment!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Perking Up Your Ears Of Experience!

As you may have heard, we're in the middle of Autism Awareness Month, dedicated to those living in the spectrum, like me, the author! Alas, Spring Break is in the air and the toils of a hot Florida summer is around the corner - with the anticipation of high crowds, stormy weather, and turismos who loudly chant in either Spanish or Portuguese.

OK, I get it now - most of you readers, as parents with autistic kids, are imagining those kinds of whatever that make doing Disney akin to going to a torture chamber the size of San Fransisco. Heck, I mentioned in my post on autism and Walt Disney World that the chanting and noise (aside from the colors, bright lights, and Spectromagic) can induce a meltdown! Sensory overload is what makes the (Disney) World go 'round, but a vacation agency is trying to help you and your child(ren) manage a rendezvous with Mickey Mouse.

The agency in question is Ears of Experience, which specializes in magical WDW vacays (as well as Disney Cruise Line and Disneyland) - and if you want a virgin Disney trip (no SeaWorld, BGTB, UO, or other malarkey), this is for you! Included in their package are visual itineraries and a booklet of the resort. But the site also offers tips for you and the autistic(s) on less-stress days. One of my favorites is using an MP3 player, iPod, noise-canceling headphones, or ear plugs to block the noise and racket. (It's useful this coming July, with all the Argentinean youth herds and Brazilian tour groups about to descend on Central Florida turf and carry on chanting like soccer fanatics!) My absolute favorite hint is to show the affected individuals pictures and videos on YouTube, but what they didn't mention is that social stories also aid them in mental planning.

If you haven't checked out Ears Of Experience, take a gander!

Monday, March 15, 2010

About Last Wednesday...

Last Wednesday, Disney reached its 1 million participants cap, meaning that those who yearn for free admission to do Disney by volunteering are out of luck. I know, it's less than 10 weeks since that whole shindig started, but you know that there's a limit and I understand your disappointment.

On the brighter side, my fellow Disneyphiles who did that, I thank you for your efforts and I wrote an article on just thanking you to ease some disappointment!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Here Comes Peter Cottontail - and Crazy Crowds!

This time of year is around the corner, my fellow Disneyphiles - and it's not Christmas! It's Spring Break, and most of the time, Easter falls on the period when college student and kiddos alike come out of their school campuses and flock to the World! That can mean only one thing - crowds, crowds, and more crowds.

I'm fortunate to have not done Disney dead on Easter - otherwise, it would be a pain to navigate through crowds, have to end up with fast food instead of that luncheon with Pooh, and face what is my pet peeve: long lines. Fortunately, you may or not may see some instances of turismos, particularly Brazilian tour groups, during that time. Then there are Phases of capacity:

1. Only all Passholders, re-entering Guests, and onsite Guests are permitted.
2. Only Annual and Premium Annual Passholders, re-entering Guests, and onsite Guests, are permitted.
3. Only Annual and Premium Annual Passholders and select onsite Guests are permitted.
4. No admittance to all Guests.

If I were those disgruntled people who have done Disney on Easter at least one time, I'd avoid it just as July (including our nation's independence day), Christmas, and New Years. If you really miss the Disney magic when vacationing this Easter, conceive a plan. Get to the parks early (an hour before opening is gold standard) and snag FASTPASSES ASAP (You heard me - get them before the kiosks run out!) Grab a parade or fireworks viewing seat an hour or two prior to arrival of commencement, and don't forget to be assertive to the folks who want to block your view. Dining in the World? Make reservations in advance - that goes for all Character meals and table service. Staying onsite? I recommend the morning Extra Magic Hours in Epcot - it's roomier, and the lines are not as horrid.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Types of Guests

We see various Guests at Disney - from large groups (think Pop Warner and turismos) to whiners, from Disneyphiles (like me) to those who'd think Universal Orlando trumps Walt Disney World.

If you want to find out what visitor archetype are you, take my quiz on how your personality matches a particular Guest type.! Oh, and it's just for fun, anyways.

What WDW Visitor Archetype Are You?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Showing Scorn (and Disrespect) at Disney

There are some folks who prefer Universal Orlando (or whatever Central Florida park may be) over Walt Disney World, but a few of them actually abhor Walt Disney World. For example 1, there's a guy named Bobby Service, who tells those who are doing Disney  to "get a life." He criticizes the food (which to him looks "worse than poo-poo"), the advertising, the attractions (including Rock 'n' Roller Coaster), and whatever. He made a video about what he hates about the resort in the style of Disney's Sing Along Songs! (Guests must be 18 or older and be a YouTube member to view this.) Here's a note to Mr. Service: keep in mind that even teens and adults get the Disney knack, too!

Another Disney vacation-wrecker is Debbie Downer, who is with her family during the Magical Gatherings campaign. In their Saturday Night Live skit, they are having what a typical family vacationing at and around Disney has: a good old-fashioned Disney Character breakfast. Debbie Downer is displeased with the idea - she talks about mad cow disease, the train explosion in North Korea, and other taboo subjects. She even turns off Pluto about his work at Walt Disney World too, because she thinks that his job as meetable character is to fear terrorist attacks and that he's going to suffer heatstroke in his costume. Of course, my male cousin (let's say he's one of the people who has the Universal-over-Disney attitude) never acted like that when I took him to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, and even Eeyore would think her pessimism is too over the top. I wouldn't encounter her at Disney, even on queue for a ride - she ruins the magic for me.

Oh, and today is "Spread the Word to End the Word," and if I hear that word "retard" one more time...

Monday, March 1, 2010

What Will We Celebrate in March?

It's that time of year again, and it's Music In Our Schools Month, and it's 25 years old this year! Oh, and there's another music education-related bric-a-brac that also turned 25 this year - Disney's Magic Music Days!

Since 1985, the program has long enabled many high school bands to march right down the middle of Main Street USA before the *ahem* 3 o'clock parade in the Magic Kingdom and elsewhere where schools can entertain Guests from around the World. So let us applaud out kids who have done or are doing Disney and making their boosters proud this month!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Grumpy Old Fool's Take on the 15 Years Parade

"15 years - we're having a party..."

I was born before that celebratory theme song, when performers and characters grooved to the synth and horns, played throughout the 15 Years of Magic Parade in the MK. The year was 1987, and months ago, Walt Disney World reveled its 15th anniversary. Sadly, I didn't see that parade; the first Disney trip was in 1991, nearly another 5 years later. Grumpy Old Fool, a fellow blogger on Walt Disney World, describes the parade with his own eyes and experience. (Note to the GOF: I laughed at the "Port-A-John" remark!)

I had not seen that parade, but it was a marvel for those who watched it.

Oh, and if you want to see the full parade, here's the footage found on YouTube.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Taking A Break From Disney Theme Park-Wise...Again!

For the record, I'm taking a break from doing Disney - sure, I'm a Disneyphile who treats Walt Disney World like an addictive drug, but I have been branching out to other Central Florida theme parks as well. I did it last year, and to pass away the summer block-out time period, I went to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay with some distant relatives and Muetti. It was worth the long lines, out of state folks (So what, my relatives are too - mainly from Washington the state!), and turismos (more Argentinean youth herds than Brazilian tour groups, I believe).

This year, I alternate the Walt Disney World quartet with its biggest rival - Universal Orlando. That resort has half the amount of theme parks of its four-park counterpart, and UO's are Universal's Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida proper, in which I will be heading to tomorrow. If you think the Big U is better than the Big D, that's fine, but please keep the hating on the latter to yourselves. I go to UO and al other Central Florida smarm, but I am passionate about WDW.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Even Florida Residents Should Plan, Too

I have been doing Disney for nearly two decades, but there's one Florida resident (a Bay Area dweller like me) who doesn't immerse in the magic too much. She went on staycation to the World to see her niece's chorus perform. The first day started off with one bad day at the Magic Kingdom, where she critizices the rides and underwent malfunctions in entry (namely the turnstile). The only times she saw the actual Characters were on the Celebrate A Dream Come True and Spectromagic parades. She only enjoyed Wishes, the fireworks display. She went to Epcot and enjoyed it much more than the Magic Kingdom, and she stopped at Downtown Disney to see the chorus perform.

Wow - that woman must have been more accustomed to Universal Orlando than the World, but being a reader of the resort and frequenter, I'm here to give that woman some advice on where to find the Characters in the Magic Kingdom. She should have headed down to Mickey's Toontown Fair (which will be closing in the not-too-distant future, to make way for New Fantasyland) and headed to the Toontown Hall of Fame. If she were to meet Ariel, she should have gone to Ariel's Grotto in Fantasyland. Finding the characters at the Magic Kingdom is just as simple as grabbing a Guidemap (with character greetings marked by a pointing Mickey glove) and Times Guide. Oh, and the actual city of the World is Lake Buena Vista - it's all in the planning.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jackets Were Required

How many of you went to Disney's Hollywood Studios?
(everybody raises hands)
All right, how many of you went when it was named Disney-MGM Studios?
(few hands come down)
OK, how many of you went there before the Sorcerer's Hat was erected?
(few hands come down)
How many of you have seen the Disney Characters in bomber jackets at that time?
(crowd is confused)

That's how it was back in the day - when Disney's Hollywood Studios (ahem - Disney-MGM Studios) was when those Characters were hip, cool, and integrable to the overall atmosphere of the park. The menagerie wore starter jackets - satiny, bright, and totally 90's - and the way they don the hippest frocks there dates back to 1989, the first operating year of the premises. Of course, not all Characters wore the outerwear that defines the identity of Disney-MGM Studios. Only Mickey (in his blue and gold jacket), Minnie (in her gold, pink and blue jacket over her signature polka-dot dress with either her bow or blue and pink baseball cap), Goofy (in a gold and green jacket and a baseball cap), Chip and Dale (both in red and green jackets and baseball caps), Pluto (in a blue and magenta jacket and baseball cap), Donald (in a blue and green jacket and baseball cap), and Roger Rabbit (in a red and purple jacket and baseball cap) practiced the nostalgic custom of the costume. In this video, towards the end, the latter greets Guests in his Studios-friendly raiment (noting it was the summer of 1990, a feel good time)

Having been to Walt Disney World numerous times since 1991, I had my fill of seeing Mickey and his dolled-up-for-the-90's friends, and the last time I've seen them was during spring break 1997. Some of the characters mentioned were out and about greeting Guests at the Animation Courtyard, namely Minnie, Donald, and Pluto. Little did I know that they were wearing those frocks that made me feel good inside. Those memories comprise some pure Disney nostalgia to me. I think that year was the last time they wore them historically (or even 1998 if I'm happy). Take the 1997 picture with Dale, a male, and Goofy, for example.

Well, with Roger Rabbit already phased out of the Disney Character roster years ago (will hopefully be back sometime in the future, when Roger Rabbit 2 comes out), the Sorcerer's Hat present, and the characters now greeting in their daily generic (no, classic) garb, I think of the Hollywood that never was (without the hip in the sporty, loud jackets) and never will be.

Kid Fail

On one of my previous posts, I posted that excerpt from Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage! when Adam the Beast himself shows the effects of wearing his pants two sizes too large. (Hey, I even wrote an article on that, too!) That video comes from the blog site of errors and unexpected surprises: FailBlog.

Of course, very few home movies taped during the ritual family vacation at Walt Disney World make it to FailBlog, but there's one video in particular in which a kid falls off a model fire truck at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2001. That video in particular is Kid Fail,  and it's really close to a million views.

To me, regarding the date of the vid, that sounds a lot like Disney MGM Studios WIN.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent at Disney not Much of A PITA

Observing Lent at Disney? No problem - there are a lot of good eateries around the parks that offer seafood or vegetarian offerings! Veggie burgers at Pecos Bill's Cafe, fish at Coral Reef Restaurant, and many more. Oh, and all the character meals have meatless or seafood menu items, so that you too (as a Catholic or really observant Christian) can enjoy dining with your Disney friends without having to worry about meat on the plate. I wrote an article about how to survive your Friday at Disney when Lent rolls around.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Year of the Tig(g)er

Yessiree - today is the Lunar New Year, and guess what Disney Character is represented!

That's right - today marks the start of the Year of the Tiger - or should I say, Tigger. That lovable Hundred Acre Wood feline is getting attention today (except for his kickboxing instructor skills practice on a teen over 3 years ago)! There he is, greeting a family in 1994, possibly in what used to be Mickey's Starland in the MK.

Oh, and today is also Valentine's Day - so let's celebrate a day of love by watching an excerpt of a tale as old as time and pants as big as Connor McCreaddie's!

Happy V-Day, everybody!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Hey, Disneyphiles! Remember the old Main Street Electrical Parade you watched as kiddos at the Magic Kingdom? No? If you haven't, bring the kids this summer only (I know that it's hokey thanks to the Brazilian tour groups, Argentinean youth herds, storms, out-of-towners, and what not, but it's worth it!) to have them share your pre-Spectromagic pastime with you! According the the Mouse's official blog, the parade will have a limited engagement as part of its Summer Nightastic! event going on. (There will also be new lighting for the Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios, but that's another story.)

If you are a MSEP fanatic or someone who have not seen it, check it out - just go to MK just to see the procession and snag a spot an hour before parade time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Guess Who's Going to Disney World!

Last night's Super Bowl was a big one - the New Orleans Saints clobbered the Indianapolis Colts 31-17! For its MVP, Drew Brees, that can mean one thing -


You heard it - he uttered the iconic phrase just like 41 others since the conception of the "What's Next" campaign rolled out by Disney Parks in 1987. He's in for a real treat - a ticker-tape parade at the Magic Kingdom, with Disney Characters and cheering tourists. To top it all off, the World is just 3 hours from Miami! When someone posts the vid on YouTube, I'll put it up later.

Feeling happy, Princess Tiana?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Seems Like A Slow Season for Turismos

The Disney Hollywood Studios foray I had last week was pretty calm - just an hour wait at Toy Story Midway Mania and almost walk-ons with the rest of the attractions. Muetti went for the car later in my day-trip, so I went alone to have my pics with the Playhouse Disney menagerie. (Call me immature, but although I don't care for the kiddie show block on the Disney Channel, I feel like meeting the Characters.) Contrary to seasonal prediction, I saw just one Argentinean youth herd - no loud, rowdy, obnoxious-to-many Brazilian tour group or such to see. I checked the dates of various turismo sites and found they were doing Disney much later, increasing the likelihood of more turismo activity.

I am fantasizing on another day-trip between now and the 16th of this month, when Carnival is in full swing. Maybe then I'll see (and possibly hear) more turismos!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gang Violence No Disney Deterrent

Tomorrow is another day to do Disney (Blame cabin fever from the cold, work schedules, and the occasional race training for the delay!) this month, and it's going to be very certain that it's turismo-laden! I checked the weather reports and it will boast showers on the AM, but will clear up by the afternoon, with a high of 69 degrees. It's just like I dreamed about - last night of course.

Yes, I dreamed of where I was heading tomorrow - Disney's Hollywood Studios - and the dream opened with me riding an indoor soapbox derby/dark-ride hybrid based on a fictitious cartoon series Beanz. I headed out of the door and saw a turismo and saw a couple more as I walked to Muetti (they were all Brazilian tour groups). I told her that I'm heading to Toy Story Midway Mania and headed off, dodging the flagged groups.

That Disney dream turned into a real-life nightmare as I walked to a construction site adjacent to the attractions. I saw a couple of young men in bandannas and tanks talking trash, and I knew it was a gang. I eavesdropped on them as one of them dropped a sandbag. People walked by them, but they grabbed them and dragged them to their hangout. One of them slit a senior citizen's forehead and bored a wound on her head because of her mindless answers to his questions. Blood streamed all over her as she wept in vain. Other members of the gang did so likewise to five more people, and all six bloody victims bawled and placed their heads down as other people (few clutching balloons) watched the scene in disbelief.

Scenes like that happen in real life, but very rarely (close to zero) at Walt Disney World. Whether I'm victimized by that nightmare or not, I'm still doing Disney. Tomorrow will see the turismos, but there will be no brutal street gangs with knives that slit innocent people.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Disney Too, Has A Part in Tonight's Telethon

As you probably know, the Hope For Haiti Telethon is tonight at 8 PM ET. Well, that opens the playing field for the Walt Disney World, and as the Disney VoluntEARS, its Cast Members opened a donation center at the Disney Reservations Center in Orlando. If you are watching tonight's telethon, feel free to donate by phone or online during that time and support those who are lost in the ruins of one of the poorest nations, when most family members, co-workers, and know people of many who work on the Vacation Kingdom live.

If you had seen the telethon, feel free to give me your opinion on it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Ahhhh, River Country - it was one of the oldest water parks here in America (not to mention a part of the Fort Wilderness Resort), but sadly since 2001, the river there was all but swampy and overgrown. Even sadder, I never had the chance to see what the ol' swimmin' hole looked like back in my childhood in the 90's, the final years of the place. Since 1976, when rustic themes created laid-back atmospheres in many homes and when we were 200 years old, the country-style recreation center had entertained many who passed its gates and tried the T-bar swings or the rock slides. In moving pictures, it became a staple feature in resort information channels, vacation videos, and Mickey's Fun Songs (yes, Mickey's Fun Songs, when Mickey, his peeps, and the camping children have fun at that park as they sing "By the Beautiful Sea").

So why did it close permanently? According to Walt Dated World, River Country was the stepping stone in the conception of two current water parks - Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Because most of the water was unheated, it was a seasonally operating park, and the rising admissions and the newer water parks were to blame. Also, another nail in the coffin was the Mournful Morning (September 11, 2001), which resulted in waning attendance. Because the main swimming hole had water from Bay Lake, the alleged contamination from bacteria also shut it down for good. River Country became an abandoned Disney attraction, with weeds and vegetation growing all over the place.

If you want a bit of a compare and contrast of the water park at present, please take a gander of the 2-part entry of the Imagineering Disney Blog (see link below). Pull out a Kleenex, see the post, and weep - those photos are much sadder than a funeral.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Why the Bandeira and Not the Mouse Ears?

I know, I know - the typical Disneyphile or former Cast Member would put images that are clearly Disney on his or her own blog, but apart from copyright infringement fears, it's very banal to my liking. Deb, of AllEars.Net, has its logo depict a plane leaving a trail of blue pixie dust over a cruise ship (depicting Disney Cruise Line), yet the site is very popular. That was my secondary inspiration of branding this blog.

But what about the first? Well, when I think of Walt Disney World, I think of turismos winding their way through the parks in chant - with their matching luggage and/or shirts and adults with flags - and the flags that describe them helped me decide on my logo, seen on the header and as a logo for my Blog Carnival. The sidebar background graphics have a hint of Disney, too, because the muted prints are in pastel shades of lagoon blue, seafoam green, pumpkin orange, and lavender (they're the official colors of Walt Disney World). I'm pretty content with the design of the blog - very Disney without it being too blatantly Disney.

For more on why I designed this blog, see my article, Branding a Disneyphile’s Blog.

The Flexible Disney Carnival

Well, as a lot of us try to lose weight for the upcoming swimsuit (or in Disneyphile perspective, Mickey) season, I created The Flexible Disney Carnival, courtesy of Blog Carnival! Before you submit to the carnival, there are some rules here - keep it family-friendly and only mention the other Central Florida theme parks in accommodation transportation, comparisons of attractions and entertainment, or vacation that include them as well as (I'm boldfacing it for emphasis here, Disneyphiles!) at least one of the quartet of Disney Parks at the Vacation Kingdom.

Of course, there's two upcoming Blog Carnival editions I created - the one where those who volunteered during the Give A Day, Get A Disney Day campaign can blog on how they spent their free ticket (with donation as an exception) at the parks and how those who did Disney, several times or the very first time, spent summer there! The summer memories carnival will be hosted on February 14 through July 4 and the Free Voucher carnival will be hosted Wednesday through December 25. That leaves plenty of time to ruminate on those Disney memories! Oh, and be sure to check out my Blog Carnival widget on the sidebar!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sorry for the Break in the Blog

I recently wrote this touching quatrain from a Haitian's eyes when she witnessed the 7.0 earthquake in her homeland, and of course, the event that occurred in the poem actually happened two days ago. My poem from a Catholic's point of view is named, "Impoverished Again," and the title tells us that the temblor, besides raising fears of an over 100,000 death toll, had made the homeland's residents even poorer in material and worth. Yes, they may be hungry, but they put their faith in God and intercede the Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the poem.

Disney is no stranger to humanitarian aid - they donated $100,000 dollars to the Red Cross. You too, fellow Disneyphiles, can do the same - allocate your money and prayers to the herd of needy in Haiti through your charity of choice. For you, my Catholic peeps, you can donate through Catholic Relief Services either online at, mail, or your parish special collections.

This is the Whiz Kid Forte, and my thoughts and prayers go out to those who have weathered and are struggling and who have perished in Haiti.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Carnival! Carnival!

Yessiree! It's Carnival season, and people are scrambling for costumes to wear at their masquerades, booking trips to Rio, or buying high-caloric king cakes (either for a party or because they claimed the trinkets embedded in their slices). What better way to celebrate the season than providing you fellow Disneyphiles with a relic of the past?

This was my first non-seasonal Disney parade I had seen at age 2, back in the family vacation during Winter Break 1991. Needless to say, that was my first trip to the Vacation Kingdom. Everything was good back then - the snazzy 70's Walt Disney World logo (with that Mickey globe - pure genius), the time before Disney's Animal Kingdom was built, character revues that have semi-live music, and of course, the presence of Roger Rabbit (yes, Roger Rabbit) in the roster of characters, just to name a few that I've missed. To make things more juiced up, the Vacation Kingdom celebrated its 20th anniversary, and the daily parade echoes the pre-Lenten revels celebrated worldwide - that samba-flavored Rio carnivals in Brazil, the Junkanoos of the Caribbean, the Carnivals of Venice (masks and fancy dresses included), and of course, Mardi Gras in the Southeast, particularly around New Orleans and the Mississippi River Delta region. It also sports falloons (the floats with cold-air balloons attached to them) in the likes of the Disney Characters in crazy costumes - Mickey (in his Venetian king rainment), Goofy (in his Hawaiian shirt and blue pants with a purple banana leaf pattern), Pluto (with maracas), Donald (with a samba blouse and a conga drum), Minnie (in a Carmen Miranda-esque costume), and the aforementioned Roger Rabbit (in a jester hat). Most of those floats are reminiscent of the parade's forerunner at Disneyland, used in its 35th anniversary a year before its debut, Party Gras (not to confuse you with that video with Samuel Wright's concert under that same name), because as Jim Hill noted, the Vacation Kingdom spent a large money on the now-playing (albeit with the Genie of the Lamp from Aladdin as conductor) Spectromagic, causing them to rehab them to create a new daytime parade (and purchase a new falloon as well). With rehabbed floats, new music, and a carnival atmosphere, the resort birthed the Surprise Celebration Parade.

Of course, it had ended its run in June 1994, but that memory of seeing it even in toddler stage is ingrained in my mind. I bring you the video footage of a childhood memory (albeit a rainy day version, sans the stilts and the chants of "stamp those feet" as the walkers danced), filmed by a Disneyphile back in 1992. May the spirit of Carnival live!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Frigid for Fantasy? Good News Ahead!

I for one don't do Disney in >59-degree weather, and right now, it's too darn chilly to see Eeyore! I'm glad that you survived doing it at this time and in the past few days (especially for those of you who ran in the WDW marathon events this past weekend and spectated it) - taking advantage of the indoor attractions, drinking warm fluids, and so on. According to, which has a forecast for the Walt Disney World Resort (Huzzah!), the temperatures will reach the 70's over the weekend. That makes it for great Disney weather, but I'm not doing Magic Kingdom on those days. I'm starting off at Disney's Hollywood Studios, deeming that it's too darn cold to ride Splash Mountain (Thankfully it's in refurbishment until the 27th next month!) in the other park mentioned and many rides are indoors! Oh, and I will be catching up with my frenemies, the turismos this weekend! Sure, they may be antagonists because they chant and make headaches, but I just developed a natural acquired immunity to them. Bring on the chanting and carrying on, Brazilian tour groups and Argentinean youth herds - here comes the Whiz Kid Forte!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Play It Again, Bastos and Tix to UO

As you have probably heard, fellow Disneyphiles, the Brazilian running superstar Adriano Bastos won his seventh title despite a very nippy Walt Disney World Marathon yesterday. He was more than merely 30 seconds ahead of fellow Brazilian Fredison Costa, making one of the narrowest victories in the history of the most prominent Disney race. This year's marathon was a gauntlet the size of Walt Disney World itself, and the frigid temperatures are the brunt of it. Japanese Disney race queen Lisa Mitzuani was ahead of all the female participants in the race.

Recently, Muetti and I bought our Power Passes to Universal Orlando (comprising Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure), the rival of Walt Disney World. I know what you're thinking - I'm bashing Disney. Take this to heart, you guys! I went to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay last year, SeaWorld years ago, and Universal Studios Florida (for its Halloween Horror Nights) in '08 and I still do Disney! Sheesh, give me a smacking break, guys!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

In the Snow-Ho-Ho OH NO!!!

You heard me, fellow Disneyphiles - it will be snowing (flurries) at Walt Disney World tomorrow! What's more, the annual WDW Marathon will be right smack-dab in the wintry weather to come! For those who are heading out to the four theme parks, either go to one where indoor rides comprise huge areas of clusters (Epcot is the best park to visit in nippy weather, followed closely by Disney's Hollywood Studios.) or hunker down at home (or hotel or resort, if traveling or vacationing to or at Walt Disney World) and be prepared for cabin fever. For me, I'm doing Option B.

Let me remind you again, everyone who does Disney in the cold - layers are the thing and you should take this to heart and bundle up!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

To Freeze at Disney

Florida, which is famous for warm-to-hot days, is no stranger to cold weather, and Walt Disney World is an example of places where you can freeze your buldets. I read an article by Robert Niles on Theme Park Insider, in which I am a member, on how cold weather affects certain rides, and told me and other fellow members of the hassles of working at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at the Magic Kingdom in 1990, when a cold snap gripped the park, causing a technical shutdown. I'm lucky (and a bit disappointed) that I didn't get to do Walt Disney World at that time, but that spares my sanity from my frenemies, the turismos (aka Argentinean youth herds and Brazilian tour groups).

The cold weather, mostly with freezing lows, is going to affect the ongoing Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend soirees and festivities, and the race director makes it clear to all participants (that includes a few of you, give or take) - dress warmly in layers, bring gloves and hats, and warm up properly. The layers, gloves and hats apply also to those heading to Walt Disney World during the weekend. I would suggest that Guests take advantage of dry, indoor attractions (I will be likely at Disney's Hollywood Studios or even Epcot, where a bulk of the attractions are indoors.) and grab a hot drink.

So, do you still do Disney in spite of chilly weather? If you are doing so, how do you prepare yourself? If you did, how did you experience and/or manage your day?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Epiphany of Volunteerism

I provide you with a double feature for all you Disneyphiles - my long-overdue slideshow of my day in the middle of that Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade filming at the Magic Kingdom, which was very hectic! When I came home from Mass the day it went on, I didn't see myself, sparing me from whatever embarassment arose.

Oh, and here's a message, from the famous Muppets, for those of you who resolve to help others this year!

Happy Epiphany, everyone!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Planning Another Disney Day

I will be likely doing Disney this month. I know what you're thinking - it's a less crowded one but there's bound to be oodles of turismos. Maybe during the weekend, I'll likely be at Disney's Hollywood Studios, business as usual, because the Magic Kingdom will be just as hokey as the day I went there when ABC taped that blasted Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade. Here's another reason why the most visited Disney park will be busy - the annual Walt Disney World Marathon will make things worse crowdwise.

So what's a Disneyphile going to do when he or she is not a participant? Follow your touring plans, arrive at the parks early, take frequent breaks, and use FASTPASS. If you're doing parks outside the Magic Kingdom, take advantage of the single rider queues.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Disney Characters 101

Foolin Around

To me, a day at Disney without seeing their world-class Atmosphere Characters representative of movies, cartoon shorts, and other media of their respective company is like forgoing the Eucharist in a Sunday Mass. At one trip to Disney's Hollywood Studios, I saw four characters and they are from Pixar films to boot. No stand-by queue experience on Toy Story Midway Mania is complete without seeing another building with a window showing the action figures Buzz Lightyear and Woody, only they are much bigger and more mobile and animated. That's what I like seeing in those childhood figures being brought to life by Disney magic.

There are two types of Characters - face and fur. Face characters bear less burdens and are forgiving; they have their own faces dolled up in just makeup and wear less restricting (but hot in some cases) garments. Examples of them include the girls' fan favorite Disney Princesses, like Mulan and the more recent Tiana. Fur Characters are Disney's beasts of burden - they wear costumes mostly weighing 25 pounds or more, wear a mask or helmet fashioned after the Character portrayed, and suffer the Florida heat longer. As personal experience has it, not all fur Characters are anthropomorphic animals (like Piglet) - while Woody, Buzz, and Russell are humanoid in a cartoonish way by Pixar, they are still classified as such since they have to depict themselves in character by wearing helmets fashioned after their noggins. Unlike face characters, they tend to intimidate young children at first sight, and the video shows how overwhelming a child's first glance at them can be.

Child: Hi, Eeyore!
(Child in stool screams)

So, where are the Disney Characters located? They can be seen in scheduled greeting spots, in places designated specifically for them on set locations, select meals (reservations strongly suggested), parades, stage shows, and somewhere unexpected in the Parks and Resorts not marked by the glove signs. Characters relevant to the attraction (or in Epcot's case, World Showcase pavillion) can be seen in nearby areas, like the area adjacent to Pooh's Playful Spot across from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, where Pooh himself meets. If you want to see a member of the newer crowd or somebody long not seen, check out Guest Relations and a Cast Member would pinpoint the character's whereabouts for you.

When they are in full force, remove the caps from the pens, open the autograph books and turn the cameras on! Better yet, be nice to them - I heard from some news sources that fur characters suffer more injuries than their face counterparts. (The incident when Tigger practiced his cross-jab on a teen is a great example.) With my insights about Characters all said and done, I wish you a happy hunting for your favorite Disney peeps!