spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Bits & pieces: Pandora, Happily Ever After, Music of Pixar-Live, deals

Some Disney News!

Confession: I have never seen Avatar. So when Disney announced a few years ago that they would be recreating the world of Pandora: World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World, I was all, “meh.”  Now that the work is mostly completed, and they are airing TV spots, and the opening is slated for Memorial Day Weekend 2017, I’m all, “…still meh.”  However, a few things that might make me change my tune: Read the rest of this entry »

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Guest post: DH’s reflections on Disney

Editor’s note: These thoughts are DH’s!  My comments are in RED.

I’ve been putting this blog post off for a few months now. My DW, your host, asked me to talk about my half of the “kid-split” day at Disney this October. She also asked that I recount how she “Disney-fied” me. That’s the part that made this difficult. You see, I am old. (LOL, true) When I was a kid, along with Disney’s terrific TV show, wonderful cartoon features, and nature documentaries, there was also Walt Disney’s ever-increasing right-wing backlash against all thing counter-culture. And I was nothing if not one of the most enthusiastic inheritors of the counter-culture. I say inheritors because as a teen in the early 70s I was one of the millions who watched and learned from the first wave of Boomers who made glorious music, love, not war, etc. And Old Walt (not to be confused with the Genius Walt who invented Mickey, Fantasia and theme parks) was one of the captains of Reaction with a capital R, against all that thrilled me about the 60s. Right up there with John Wayne. It didn’t help that in the late 60s and the 70s Disney products were unfortunately milquetoast and out of touch not only with the times, but with what had made Disney great until then… leaving aside the racism in many Disney films, the jingoistic nationalism, etc. that had always been there.

So I had no love for Disney (sob) and had never set foot in a Disney park (despite having lived in both Florida AND California!), until I met and married a crazed Disney fanatic. I say crazed, but only in the sense that her personality demonstrated real and phenomenal changes when under the influence of Disney culture. Happiness! What a concept. (Readers: my husband makes me very happy, but I don’t jump for joy on a daily basis when at home). As a cynical child of the Nixon era, I was more than suspicious, until she came into my life and began to share that bizarre notion (of complete and utter joy for a capitalist enterprise) with me. From the Katzenberg era on, Disney features had become not only the height of excellence, but even allowed for an adult point of view, within their childlike joy. So I was open to persuasion. Plus, the presence of the 3-year-old DD helped enormously to allow me to experience Disney Magic differently (awww).

We went to Walt Disney World in 2008. For 14 days!!!! I was frightened of staying that long, but the super planner we all know and love set up an itinerary that made it pass so quickly I was anxious to stay longer, not raring to leave. When DD caught the jewel in Mickey’s PhilHarMagic, that was the last straw. I was crying. And haven’t stopped since. This magical fortnight was followed in 2013 by the awesome Disney Cruise to Alaska, where our little DS, just 2, completed the picture. And as DW has written here, the last night at IllumiNations on our recent visit, where we group-hugged, made the full Disney-fication complete. On to the next trip, ASAP!

dark side

Haha.

 

And now, on to my recounting of my half of “kid-split” day:

The morning was Dad and Daughter time. DD had no idea where we were headed. Getting there was an adventure. We had to go to the Magic Kingdom first, then get a van to the Tri-Circle D Ranch, where horses awaited us. I think, after the initial joyous awakening to our destination, that her first reaction was to the gross/wonderful smell of “horse hockey” (in the immortal words of Sherman Potter on M*A*S*H).

ranch

Fun trivia: Andy can be seen wearing a Tri-Circle-D Ranch shirt in Toy Story.

 

We were fitted with helmets, sized up, and, with a half dozen others, led to the mounting platform. DD loved her horse, though it will never receive the affection of her favorite horse ever at Gunstock Ranch on Oahu. My horse was more massive, but very tranquil. We were led onto the trail and into the woods of central Florida, through the Live Oaks and conifers, Spanish Moss and tall reeds. There was a hint of a stream nearby, and I had hopes we might run into a gator (Go Gators!), but no such luck. We did hear, but missed seeing, some deer. And I caught sight of one opossum, though DD missed it. The ride was beautiful, but was over way too quickly. I had hoped for one gallop, but we never got above a trot (which I hate, because even though I rode a lot as a kid, I never mastered avoiding the unfortunate “down-bounce”). After a quick pit stop for a wash and some water, we went back to Magic Kingdom, caught the monorail toward the Grand Floridian and found ourselves stuck mid-route. Turned out DW and DS were on the monorail in front and also waiting. I honestly can’t remember why this happened, but I’m sure our Editor will insert comment. (They were adjusting something on the track).

Once we arrived it was all about finding DW and DS, which happened within two minutes. DS waited with me, while DD and DW changed into their lovely High Tea clothing. We kissed goodbye, and DS and I set forth by way of a boat ride to the Swan Resort for Fantasia Gardens mini-golf. We chose the traditional mini-golf themed to Fantasia (the other course is a putting only version of a real golf course). I decided we’d have more fun with the old-school course and boy was I right!

fgardens

The holes were in 5 groups based on five scenes from Fantasia. DS put his ball down on this first hole and promptly got a hole-in-one! We were off to a great start. DS befriended the English couple playing just ahead of us, who then became his rooting section as he went on to shoot another two holes-in-one and several birdies. I did alright, even had one ace myself, but the kid was the champ of the day. After drinking some sodas, we walked back across the road to the Swan, got the boat across to Magic Kingdom for a few rides, and then headed home to the Art of Animation.

This wonderful day only helped cement my above-mentioned Disney-fication, for which I will be eternally grateful to our faithful blogger and super-vacation-planner. (Woooooooo!  Thanks for writing this, honey!)

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Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 11: Final Thoughts

Oh, boy.  This is it. IT.  There’s nothing else to do as far as post-trip activities than finish this last post.  Everything else is done:

  • unpack the suitcases
  • find places in the house/closet/fridge for new souvenirs
  • reconcile the budget/accounts with the trip receipts (My estimate was off by $8, guys.  $8!!!  I pegged it almost exactly.  This gave me an unreasonable amount of pride)
  • have everyone complete my “Post-Disney Trip” questionnaire, the last Trip Tradition.  Just 4 questions: what was your favorite part of the pre-trip preparations, name your 3 favorite rides/attractions from this trip, describe the funniest thing that happened on the trip haha I think we all know what that was: Pool-tastrophe 2015, and your opinion on the new things that you tried on this trip)
  • sort through the PhotoPass pictures, organize and name
  • sort through the personal pictures (from my iPod Touch that I used as my main camera, my phone, my husband’s iPod Touch/camera, his phone, my daughter’s phone, and her videocamera), organize and name
  • print said pictures
  • fill 2015 albums with said pictures, and stick an envelope in back of the photo albums with flat souvenirs like our MNSSHP bracelets, and the resort maps with our room locations circled on them
  • force the family to look at the pretty albums
  • suffer from Post-Disney depression.. sniffle.
  • do the Trip Report!

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Bits & Pieces: IllumiNations live stream & Marriott/SPG merger

  • !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Disney Parks Blog is having another live stream event TODAY!  IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the evening finale at Epcot, will be watchable on the Blog starting at 8:50p EST, or 2:50p HST.  As I have stated repeatedly, this is my favorite fireworks show at Disney World, so I will definitely be tuning in.
  • In travel-related news: Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) and Marriott were all set to merge later this year, merrily making plans for Marriott to take over the program, while SPG cardholders like me had started to worry that our points might be devalued sometime next year.  Last weekend, a Chinese hotel company upset the apple cart and came in with a higher buyout bid, which SPG had to consider.  They had only a certain amount of time to accept the higher bid.  Then Marriott came back this past weekend with a hugely improved offer.  Now SPG must reconsider both, and the Chinese company can even counter again if it chooses.  A bit of drama going on here.  For more business-sy details, see this article on Forbes.com.
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Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 10: See ya real soon!

I woke up on Monday, October 12th, and realized that it was our last (half) day at Disney before we started the long journey home.  So bittersweet, because of course I didn’t want to leave my happy place, but I was also looking forward to the traveling ahead of us.

I savored the last early morning view of the Savanna from our room.  It’s really just beautiful.  I took an extra moment to appreciate it, because it’ll be a long time before we stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge again.  Now that all of my little family group has stayed there on their 1st trip to Disney, it’s time to branch out to other Deluxe resorts for future split stays and get more Resorts checked off my list.  Based on experiences on this trip, I’m leaning toward PO-FQ and the Grand Floridian for our next trip in 2021.  Of course, availability and price will guide the final decision. Read the rest of this entry »

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Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 9: AK and MK

Last full day at Disney.  Boo!  I was determined to “squeeze the juice” out of the day, to use a Latin expression (‘sacar el jugo’).  Let us commence to squeezing!

We started out by sleeping in just a bit.  Had I known the transportation rigamarole we were about go through, I might have gotten up earlier.  But I didn’t, so I blissfully slept like a corpse in that dead-comfy bed (see what I did there?) at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  When I woke up, I headed straight to the balcony to check out our Savanna View in the daylight.  Oooooooh, looky here!

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Bits & Pieces: Disney, etc.

  • The Disney Parks Blog has another live-stream from the Parks for tomorrow!  Mickey’s Soundsational Parade will be streamed LIVE from Disneyland tomorrow, 2/24 at 2:20pm HST.  I guess their live-stream of Fantasmic! was a big success, so they are doing this one and have others planned for the next few months.
  • Did you guys catch “The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60?” celebration on ABC Sunday night?  It was very nice.  I can’t stand Derek Hough, or his annoying sister, but I must admit that this dance clip with a surprisingly spry guest at the end was awesome.  This was the end of a longer montage that also included “Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid and “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin.
  • We’ve put the deposit down on the banquet hall for DD’s Quinceañera in November.  So exciting to have that checked off the list.  Now that the date is completely secured, one of my Ecuadorian cousins has already purchased her flight to attend the party!  Of course, we already have our flights.  Moving down on my To-Do Timeline, time to really nail down the theme colors, which will help us choose the dress, linens, etc.

As Tigger says, TTFN!*

*Ta-ta for now 🙂

 

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Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 8: DHS & MK

We’re approaching the end of the trip report 😦  2 full days plus the travel day is all that is left.  But let us not be prematurely sad, for there is still Disney fun to be had!  Hey, that rhymed!  I’ll see myself out…

OK, another early morning today.  We had finished our packing the night before, so we could drop our bags at the Art of Animation Bell Desk for the Cast Members to transfer them over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Naturally, I also wanted to make Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios, which began at 8am.  Like I said: early.

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Bits & Pieces: Virgin America, American Airlines, Fantasmic!

  • Virgin America announced daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL) beginning in May, with an introductory rate of $169 (one way, plus taxes/fees).  Also on offer, LAX-Kahului (OGG), beginning in June, same introductory rate.  Details here, press release here.
  • American Airlines is bringing back free snacks in Economy on transcontinental flights in February, and will expand that to all domestic flights by April.  Of particular interest to us:

Starting in May, complimentary meal service will be available in the Main Cabin on all flights between Hawaii and Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

  • The Disney Parks Blog is live-streaming Fantasmic! from Disney’s Hollywood Studios in WDW today at 6:50p EST, that’s 1:50p HST.  Go the blog for the link, and enjoy!
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Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 7B: Afternoon with DD

When we last left off, I had just spent a challenging but fulfilling morning with DS.  It was now DD’s turn to get some “mami time,” and we started things off right at the Grand Floridian Resort where we had met up to do our Parent Switch.

My sister started this Trip Tradition with us.  The Garden View Tea Room does Afternoon Tea from 2-5p, with all those lace doily/tea cozy/sugar cube-y things you associate with high society and ladies who lunch.  Perfect for some mother-daughter time.  We checked in for our 2pm ADR, with plans to have some tea and snacks, then monorail over to the Magic Kingdom to catch the 3p Festival of Fantasy parade.  I had a particular parade viewing spot in mind, and the parade wouldn’t reach there until at least 3:15p, so we had a good amount of time.

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