happily ever after

At the end of a full week, it was fun to sit back in my chair at my desk and be whisked off to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and watch the premiere of Disney's new fireworks show. This show replaces Wishes, which will always be my favorite nighttime fireworks display.

 


Magic in 2012

I'm heading back to the Magic in 2012.

My first Disney cruise was aboard the Disney Magic.

In 2012, Disney is repositioning the Magic to New York City. That is where we will be boarding the Disney Magic and then heading up along the eastern seaboard with two stops in Canada on a 5-day cruise.

 


No Disney Vacation

Yeah, that’s right.  I’m guessing there won’t be a Disney vacation this year.  I was just there in Waltwalking December and already I’m having “withdrawals”, but I’m thinking it’s time to take a break from the Happiest Place on Earth.  There will be some construction happening at the Magic Kingdom, and rather than go and find that something is closed or being refurbished, I’m thinking this year will be a time for a little bit of a change.

I still have my driving tour of the Southwest I’d like to take. The plan is to fly out to Arizona, get a rental car, and take four to five days to drive from AZ to CO and then to fly home.  It’s basically an “Adventure By Disney” vacation only instead of staying in one and two star hotels and being guided by Disney travel specialists/cast members, I’ll be hitting the Motel Sixes and Holiday Inn’s along the way, finding local attractions by myself, and just enjoying the freedom of the open road.

If I decide to do it, I can add AZ, NM, UT, and CO to the states in which I’ve already travelled:

·         WV, VA, PA, NY, NJ, DE, CT, MA, NH, VT, ME when I was in college (1976-1980)

·         NC, SC, GA, AL, KY, TN, MS, AR, TX, MI, IL, MO, OK when I was in seminary (1985-1989)

·         OH, FL, NV, CA after seminary (1990-2008)

With those four this summer, I’d be well on my way to visiting ALL of the United States.

The American Southwest is one of those areas that I’ve longed to see but have just never taken the time to go and enjoy.  I’ve flown OVER the Grand Canyon on two trips to California, but have never stood on the edge of the Canyon to witness its awe and grandeur first hand.  I’ve never seen the desert in spring. I’ve never seen the expanse that was the Wild West at one point.  I once had a small taste of spring in the West. When I was at Dallas Seminary, on my first spring there I friends drove me out to some of the surrounding areas of the Dallas/Ft. Worth areas. I remember cresting a hill on one of the Texas interstate highways and having to catch my breath.  In front of me for as far as the eye could see, there were vast areas of bluebells which made it appear as though there was a sky blue sea in the distance.  I was so impressed with the colors and the extraordinary beauty of those wide open spaces that I have never been able to forget that image. So I’m thinking I’ll take the spring to zig-zag my way from AZ to CO.

In the fall, my sister and I have thought about driving to Niagara Falls to take in both the fall foliage as well as to see the Falls. The last time I saw the Falls were a few months after my dad died.  Trying to recover from losing him, and dealing with the rejection I had encountered from my home church, I took the time to drive up to Niagara and find my way around – just to try and put some of the pieces of life back together.  Driving there with my sis and seeing the beauty of a fall in the North would be a nice change of pace.

So, yes --- I do go to places other than to Walt Disney World.  I’m fully aware that there are destinations other than Main Street, USA or EPCOT.  I realize there are places other to fly to than Orlando, FL.  I am aware of places without castles, and characters, and manicured topiaries.  This spring, I hope to see wide open spaces of such splendid beauty that my eyes will ache from the glorious goodness of purple mountain majesties and the promise of fruited plain abundance.  I hope to look up into night skies painted with the twinkling diamond dust of millions of stars.  I will look into the depths of water-hewn canyons and marvel at the colors of sand and rock revealed only by thousands of years of sculpting by water and wind.


Fireworks at Disneyland

My favorite Disney travel person, Tina, sent me a link to the fireworks at Disneyland this year. I've seen the regular fireworks numerous times at Disneyland as well as the Magic Kingdom, but the only "special" firework presentations I've seen have been at Halloween and Christmas at the Magic Kingdom. In celebration of our nation's birth, fireworks, fireworks, and more fireworks -- as only Disney can do them.

Listen carefully to the beginning of the video, just as the first fireworks begin, and listen to the conversation from two kids as the "wishing star" firework shoots across the Castle. Very funny...

(NOTE: The audio isn't very good; if you have a base setting or knob for your speakers, you might want to increase that to reduce the high tones to the audio...)


If I Win The Lottery...

Not that I ever will, but if I do, I will immediately go looking for this company, and put in my bid for one of these...

_________________________

KB HOME TEAMING WITH DISNEY DIVISION
KB Home Teaming With Disney Consumer Products to Provide Disney Home Products to Customers

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - KB Home and Disney Consumer Products, a unit of Walt Disney Co., said Wednesday they are teaming to provide Disney Home products to KB's homebuyers.

The Disney Home products will be offered at KB Home Studios in 2008. The studios are design centers where KB homebuyers pick which options they would like in their new home.

Disney Home products will include flooring, window coverings and lighting, with designs featuring many Disney characters.

_________________________

Continue reading "If I Win The Lottery..." »


Ratatouille

This evening, I treated myself to a sneak preview of Pixar's newest gem. 

I think it's their best animation work so far. The movie has a look that easily beats all other animated movies out lately. The characters are believable and their motion is almost flawless. There are scenes Ratatouillein the movie where the light seems to to literally glow on the screen. The action is frenetic and non-stop. The story is one of Pixar's best - it moves and inspires in one entertaining sweep. Ratatouille is the story of Remy, whose dream is to become a great chef. Even against his family's wishes, he secretly pursues his dream. Only one problem. Remy is a rat. Oh yeah - by the time this movie is finished, you WILL believe a rat can cook.

Pixar has succeeded at taking movie-goers to some pretty mundane places - a child's toy box, an ant hill, the world on the other side of a child's closet, the ocean, comic book heroes, car racing - and have made them all become magical places. Now they step inside of a French restaurant's kitchen and wave their animated wand and have once again created a visual masterpiece. They can capture details like no other animation company and with jaw-dropping effect. The only thing missing is the smell of the simmering soup, the chopped vegetables, the meat, and the pastries and desserts.

But seeing it from the viewpoint of a rat is as amazing as it is humorous. From a French countryside to the busy City of Lights, "Ratatouille" is absolutely a visual banquet. So much flies by in 90 minutes that I can't wait to go back to see it all again. One warning:  take snacks!! I guarantee you that if you haven't eaten before going into the movie you will definitely WANT to find something to eat AFTER the credits have rolled by. And stay for the credits. I didn't even notice the credits with the added bits of animation that keep going after the last scene of the actual movie ends.

My favorite scenes? Ah -- I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but the kiss towards the latter half of the film is a perfected moment of animated action as well as comedy. The others are so intimately acquainted with the action of the film that I don't want to say too much without giving away the wonderful resolution of the story. But when Anton Ego takes his bite of what Remy has cooked - well it's one of those moments in life to which we can all relate. I smiled so deeply inside myself that I can still feel the feeling the character felt. It's shear movie magic!

One thing I like about Pixar is that they seem to find voices which fit the character - and don't just pick the current big name celebrity to use their voice for billing purposes. Pixar seems to have captured the old Disney magic of fitting voice to character. Comic Patton Oswalt is the voice of Remy. His voice is perfect as the rat with a dream. Ian Holm (yes, Bilbo from "The Lord of the Rings") is the sous chef, Skinner and is totally unrecognizable. In fact there were only two voices I recognized but even a movie lover like me had a difficult time picking out Peter O'Toole. He is only featured briefly, but when he does speak it is only when he has to deliver a lengthy segment of dialogue that one can actually hear the famous actor's accent. The other voice was Brad Garrett as Auguste Gasteau, the chef who declares, "Anyone Can Cook"; it wasn't too difficult to hear his deep base voice especially since his first voice work was one of my favorite Pixar characters - the loveable "Bloat" in "Finding Nemo".

And, as in the past, Pixar has a neat little appetizer before the movie begins. "Lifted" is a sci-fi giggler paying homage to one of life's rites of passage - the driving test.

 


Golden Trip One - Magic Kingdom

Mk_cinderellacastle_1 Although I love the beauty of EPCOT, my favorite park at Walt Disney World is the Magic Kingdom. It is the first park I ever visited when I first travelled to Walt Disney World in the 80's. It remains my favorite.

On my night visit to the Magic Kingdom, I enjoyed seeing the fireworks show called "Wishes" again. I still haven't figured out camera settings in order to take some really neat fireworks pictures, but I did manage to get a few. I'll have other chances to get it right as the year goes on.

You can enter the Magic Kingdom from a number of different paths. On both visits to this park on this trip, I arrived using the Ferryboat. On the trip over, I got wonderful views of all three of Disney's world class resort hotels: The Grand Floridian, The Polynesian, and The Contemporary.

As the ferry docked at the Magic Kingdom, I had to smile when I saw the ducks along the shore. I thought it was interesting how even the ducks all line up at Walt DisneyMk_disneyducks_1 World.

On my day visit, I decided to take in a couple of things I had never done at the Magic Kingdom before. This is the first time I rode the Walt Disney World railroad. It's not a secret that Walt and many of his friends loved trains and it's prominence at the park is easily seen. It's a fun jaunt and you can get from the front of the park to the back of the park fairly quickly.

I got off the train at the back of the park at Mickey's Toontown Fair. Mickey's and Minnie's houses are there and I took some time to walk around the place that is constructed with little ones in mind. I had never visited this part of the park, but I have to say it's lots of fun to look at all of the details they've put in all of the buildings.

I spent the rest of the day walking from area to area and just had fun taking in all of the sights, sounds, smells that make the Magic Kingdom "the Happiest Place on Earth". As I exited the park, I turned and captured one of the Main Street clocks with Cinderella's Castle in the background, smiled, and thought, "I'll be back in a little while..."


Golden Trip One - EPCOT

I began and ended Golden Trip One at EPCOT.

After checking in at Pop Century, I was early enough to head over to EPCOT to validate my annual member pass and stick around for the evening showing of "Illuminations:Reflections of Earth", my favorite Disney fireworks show.

My final day at Walt Disney World, I returned to EPCOT and walked around the entire park taking photos of all of the pavilions and some of the attractions. I'm looking forward to visiting EPCOT during the International Flower and Garden Show in May where EPCOT displays all sorts of beautiful flower and shrub arrangements.

If you hang around long enough to see the last photograph in this slide show, you'll see the last picture I took on this trip. I was sitting waiting for the Pop Century bus to take me from EPCOT back to the Pop Century resort. I happened to look up into the early evening sky and see the New Moon and the Evening Star.


Golden Trip One - Pop Century

My first trip to Walt Disney World during this my "Year of Golden Memories".

I stayed in the 50's area of Pop Century; I thought it was appropriate to stay there. Fifties music plays all day long; the pool is in the shape of a bowling pin; a huge jukebox overshadows the pool and Lady and the Tramp keep an ever watchful eye on the guests.

I was greeted at Room 2108 by a small washcloth creature. Disney staff are famous for making sure their guests receive excellent service, even at something like a "value-priced" resort like Pop Century. The room was bright and colorful and appropriately themed. I was just a short walk to the Main Hall, the shopping area, and the food court. The pool was heated and I remember walking out early one morning to see steam rising from the pool during the cool of the morning.

I shall be staying at Pop Century again in March. I'm hoping to be put into a different area than the 50's - perhaps the 70's. Alot happened to me in the 70's. I started and finished high school and most of my college days were spent in the last half of the 70's It will bring back alot of wonderful memories to stay in that area on my next trip.

The Pop Century resort is centrally located to the rest of the areas of Walt Disney World. Rides aren't long on the WDW buses. I may not enjoy all the services that other resorts offer, but my trips are short, and I don't plan on spending much time in a room. As long as I have a nice bed in which to sleep each evening, all will be well.