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Friday, March 30, 2012

Photo Friday: Story Time with Aladdin

AAA story time with Aladdin

Welcome to another Photo Friday!

This week, I wanted to share a photo from an experience that few get to experience.  In 2008, I booked a trip through AAA (now I use and recommend MouseFanTravel).   One of the benefits of booking with AAA is guests can book an exclusive story time opportunity.  In 2008, when this photo was taken, this story time took place in the Exposition Hall in the Magic Kingdom.  Now, with Mickey's meet-and-greet moving to the Town Square, the AAA story time was moved to the Norway pavilion in Epcot.

What made this story time interesting was how intimate it was.  There were only a handful of kids sharing a story with Aladdin, so the kids got to really connect with the character.

Coming soon! The "Aveng-o-rail"

The Disney Parks Blog has announced the newest themed monorail will soon be gracing Walt Disney World's "highway in the sky" - The Avengers!

Much like the Tron-o-rail that helped to promote the release of Tron Legacy, the new Avengers monorail (I've dubbed it the Aveng-o-rail), will be an interesting sight to see.  The Avengers premieres May 4, so I expect this monorail will be running soon, probably within a few weeks.

Here's one question:  will you need SHIELD clearance to ride it?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tip Tuesday: Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial

Jack Sparrow Pirate Tutorial

Ahoy Mateys!  It be time for another Tip Tuesday!
This week, we be sailin' over to Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom to talk about a true scallywag by the name o' Jack Sparrow (that's Captain Jack Sparrow).

Ok, enough with the pirate-speak...

If you're little pirates are itching to meet Captain Jack Sparrow, I've got some possible bad news for you.  The good captain doesn't do meet-and-greets.  Yet there is a way to spend some time with Captain Jack and have a little fun a the same time.

Several times during the late morning and into mid afternoon, Jack and his mate, Mack, hold a special presentation called "Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial."  This takes place on a small stage directly across from Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland.  Several kids usually between the ages of about 6 and 12 are selected to become "Apprentice Pirates," provided they pass muster with Captain Jack himself.

The experience begins as Mack (seen above at the far right) comes out and begins setting different props on the stage.  He'll also set down a large, thick rope (or "line" to all you seamen out there) in a semi-circle on the ground about 8 feet away from the stage behind which guests are to stand or sit.

Here's my first tip -- as soon as you see Mack starting to set up, go ahead and get in place.  Most people won't pay much attention to what's going on until a few minutes later when Mack starts calling out for people to "gather round."  If you're little pirate wants a good chance to be picked to join Jack Sparrow's crew, it's best to be up front.

Once Mack has things ready and in place, he will loudly (he has a hidden microphone) call people in this part of Adventureland to come and see what's going on.  Mack will explain that he's recruting for Jack Sparrow, and then starts to rib Jack while he's (apparently) not there.  Jack, of course, is listening and suprises Mack.

At this point, Jack and Mack have some banter to warm up the crowd and then they begin selecting children to join Jack's crew. 

So here's my second tip -- if your little pirate wants to be selected, he/she needs to be excited!  Don't go way overboard and start jumping down and going crazy, but be energetic -- the cast members are looking for kids who know how to have fun.

If your little pirate is selected, they will line up and will have an opportunity to cross swords with Mack and, maybe, Jack himself!  I won't give away any more details, becacuse this is a fun show to watch, even if your children aren't joining Jack's crew. However, I will say that the kids who are selected to get a fun certificate at the end of the pirate tutorial - and this is the only way you'll get Jack's autograph!

Of course, you also will want to take photos, though a PhotoPass photographer are often on-hand to take photos and will have pre-scanned photopass cards to hand out to all the kids who participated.

You will especially enjoy the cast member playing Jack Sparrow, as he adds all those little details Johnny Depp added to the character.  I was very impressed with how accurately the cast member (seen above) portrayed Jack Sparrow as compared to Johnny Depp.

So are you ready to join Jack's crew?  If so, ye be needin' some training -- ye be needin' to see Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Photo Friday - Morning at the Magic Kingdom - Polynesian View

Morning view of the Seven Seas Lagoon with Cinderella Castle in the background

Welcome to another Photo Friday!

This week, I want to post another photo from a series of shots I call "Morning at the Magic Kingdom."  I shared a previous photo back on July 29, 2011 showing a sunrise monorail.

Like the previous post, I happened to awake early to see this sight and quickly grabbed my camera to capture this image.

I especially like the two seagulls gliding over the surface of the Seven Seas Lagoon as the light mist begins to burn off.

This photo was taken in March 2010 from my Polynesian Resort window.  This is the view you get from the concierge Magic Kingdom view rooms -- pretty nice, eh!

This was taken during the Disney's Biggest Fan contest trip - my thanks to Disney and United Vacations who provided this opportunity.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tip Tuesday: TSMM - the Final Scene

Toy Story Mania final scene

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

I'm wrapping up my series of tips to score big on Toy Story Mania.

After exhausing your arms through the other scenes, you finally stop at this scene with a series of mine carts coming out and falling down.  See the two bats at the top?  Hit those bats for 1000 points each.  Hit a few mine carts while you wait for the bats to re-appear.  They will be worth 5000 points each.  Hit them again and the mine cars will now be worth 5000 points each.

Once the final targets appear, pick ONE and shoot away like mad.  If you can shoot fast enough, you can get the target to advance to 2000 points per shot and really rack up!

So there you go... a few tips to score big on Toy Story Mania!

Good luck shooting there cowboy!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Photo Friday: Ariel at DHS


Welcome to another Photo Friday!

This week, I thought I'd share a photo from the Voyage of the Little Mermaid at Disney Hollywood Studios.  This is one of my daughter's favorite shows at DHS, so I've seen this performance quite a few times. 

What I really appreciate is how the actress playing Ariel manages to communicate a great deal of enthusiasm and wonder even though she can't move around at all.  She can twist and turn and flap her fins, but she is stuck in one place due to the restraints of the costume.

I'm also somewhat reminded of the children's book, Rainbow Fish, every time I see that tail piece.  If you've read the book, you know what I mean.

So enjoy and remember to keep the wonder and magic of being part of our world!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tip Tuesday: Experience Kim Possible while you still can...

Agent P World Showcase Adventure
© Disney.  All rights reserved
Welcome to another Tip Tuesday.

Well the image above really says it it all.  Disney officially announced today that Team Possible is retiring later this summer.  So if you want to take a last adventure with Kim, Ron and Wade to defeat Dr. Drakken and his henchmen (and henchwomen), you'd better get to Epcot soon!

Below is an article I wrote for Celebrations Magazine about the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure that never was published.  It gives a good review of the experience without giving away too much.


A pack of dangerous villains is set on causing chaos and mayhem across the world, or at least Epcot’s World Showcase. The only one to prevent international disaster is … YOU – you and Team Possible. So, what’s the “sitch?”

Welcome to the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure, which opened in early 2009 at seven pavilions along Epcot’s World Showcase (United Kingdom, France, Japan, China, Norway, Mexico and Germany). This is a highly interactive attraction in which guests interact with subtly disguised characters and even live cast members situated throughout each pavilion.

"Disney’s Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure is an exciting new experience that offers fun and excitement for the entire family," said Jim MacPhee, Epcot vice president in a news release. "We are constantly exploring new ways to provide immersive experiences to Epcot guests, and this new offering will add to our dynamic portfolio."

“Today’s emerging generation expects more immersive, personal and interactive experiences in every facet of their lives, including their entertainment choices,” added Bruce Vaughn, chief creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering. “As leaders in family entertainment, Disney theme parks push the envelope by combining state-of-the-art technology with creative storytelling to enhance the overall Disney vacation experience.”

Based on Kim Possible, the popular (now former) Disney Channel cartoon series, guests begin by approaching a special kiosk located at each participating country pavilion and selecting a time period in which they will play the adventure in that particular pavilion, much like the FastPass system. Each of the seven pavilion adventures is independent of each other, so guests can play the different adventures in any order. Guests, however, may only play one adventure at a time. Each adventure consists of several “missions” and is played at a guest’s own pace, though most adventures should take about 30-45 minutes.

At the beginning of the adventure, guests are given a “Kimmunicator,” which is essentially a specially programmed cell phone. The Kimmunicators are tagged with what appears to be a security device, most likely to discourage more “nefarious” individuals from walking off with the device.

The story begins with Wade, the techno-guru from the Kim Possible show, giving guests a quick tutorial of how to use the Kimmunicator and then the real adventure begins. While I won’t go into specifics about what takes place in each adventure so as not to ruin the story for anyone who may play Kim Possible, I will describe in broad terms what kinds of missions guests will encounter.

Throughout your adventure, you will have to figure out different clues and solve different puzzles while exploring one of Epcot’s pavilions, and interacting with several different characters very cleverly disguised to blend into the surroundings. Be sure to look up and around – you never know just what you might see! A particular window outside a shop or a certain item may pop open to trigger the next part of your mission. These elements are so cleverly disguised that guests not involved in the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure would never know it was there. That’s another benefit of this attraction – it doesn’t look like an attraction at all for those who aren’t taking part. For guests just enjoying each pavilion’s sights and sounds, they will likely never know that there is a secret group of people working to save the world. That’s part of the charm of the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure; it truly feels like you are a secret agent.

The technology really helps bring this fantastic experience to life. Through the Kimmunicator, guests not only interact with characters from the Kim Possible show, such as Kim, Ron Stoppable, Wade and a host of villains, but also with live cast members. During one mission guests may have to “speak” with a particular cast member in a particular place. I can only imagine how much fun the cast members have “being in” on the secret. In another mission, guests may have to solve a puzzle in one part of the pavilion, obtain a physical object and take that object to another part of the pavilion to continue the adventure.

In the final mission guests are sent to a particular place where they will secretly turn in their Kimmunicators, ending the adventure. Once a guest completes one adventure, he or she can go to a different pavilion and sign up to play a new adventure. Disney’s Imagineers have done an outstanding job of secretly adding a whole new world into each of the seven pavilions in World Showcase. The Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure is a great avenue for guests to explore a particular pavilion and discover details they had never noticed before. The various missions force guests to slow down, look around and take in everything. Little details can become key moments.

The Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure is perfect for kids as well as adults. Adults will enjoy some of the humor embedded in the different cut scenes while kids enjoy working out the different clues. You might even have to play “secret agent” as you interact with a cast member!

Here are a few tips for anyone thinking about playing The Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure:

  • Set aside plenty of time. While you probably could rush through each mission and complete the entire pavilion adventure in only around 15-20 minutes, you would miss much of what makes it so much fun – interacting with the animatronics and cast members. Allow at least 30-45 minutes so you enjoy your time as a member of Team Possible.
  • Avoid spoilers. While it might be fun to get a few cheat hints to help complete a video game, solving the clues and exploring the pavilions is the best part of the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. It is much more fun if you don’t know what’s coming next.
  • Each interaction offers the opportunity to “do it again.” Sometimes you are given a lot of information during a particular interaction and you might miss something. At the end of the interaction, your Kimmunicator will give you the chance to “do it again.” Go ahead and see what happens. Some of the things the Imagineers have created are worth seeing two and even three times.
  • At the end of your first adventure, you might be given the opportunity to participate in additional adventures in other pavilions. If you’ve got the time, go ahead and save the world – again!
  • Don’t try to experience all seven Kim Possible adventures in one day. Spread them out over the course of your trip, and even save a few for the next trip.
  • Even if you’re experienced an adventure in a certain pavilion, go ahead and try again. Imagineers have added new missions so you just might have a new experience!

    The Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure should be on every Epcot fan’s “must do” list. While many of Disney’s new attractions are basically new things to ride with very little interactivity (with exception to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Toy Story Mania), the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure is loaded with different interactive experiences. Each pavilion has its own story, a story you unfold as you go, and that’s what Disney is all about – telling a great story.
  • Friday, March 9, 2012

    Photo Friday: An aerial view of the Flower and Garden Festival

    Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot

    Welcome to another Photo Friday!

    In honor of the start of the annual Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot, I thought I'd post this photo from the 2010 Festival.  This shot was taken from the monorail as it looped around Future World.

    I especially like this shot as you get a really good idea of the breadth of the floral plantings around the lake -- and this is just half of what's there!

    If you're going to the Flower and Garden Festival -- take the monorail and get a bird's eye view for yourself!

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Tip Tuesday: Scoring big during the Alien Toss at TSMM

    Alien ring toss

    Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

    This week, I want to continue my series of posts about scoring big at Toy Story Mania. 

    Let's head to the Alien Ring Toss game.  This game is pretty straightforward:  toss rings over the aliens to score points. 

    Now for the tip:  See that group of eight aliens in the center?  If you can ring all eight aliens before they come back up, the section will open up and a huge gap will open where you can toss a ton of rings for major points. 

    This is hard, especially for one person.  If you have a partner, the two of you can more easily cover the center portion and get that bonus area.

    In the meantime, don't forget about the higher point total aliens in the top left and right corners.

    If you missed some of my previous tips for scoring big at Toy Story Mania, see this list:

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Photo Friday: Aloha!

    its a small world

    Welcome to another Photo Friday! 

    I was browsing through photos looking for possible Photo Friday shots when I ran across this scene from it's a small world.  It immediately caught my eye because of the great foreground/background combination.  The three dancers are in sharp focus in the foreground while the great sun is visible in the background in soft focus. 

    It sets a nice scene and well represents the spirit and theme of the entire attraction.

    And it's just a great shot.


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