Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Magic of Disney Animation Closing

I was sad to hear that Disney has announced that it is closing the Magic of Disney Animation at Hollywood Studios on July 12. While I know that this closing will make space for additional new attractions (fingers crossed for more Pixar or Star Wars!), I will miss the Animation Academy.

I have only stopped in to learn to draw characters a few times, but it's always packed and well worth the wait. While rumors abound about what will take the place of the building, nothing has been announced about whether or not the Animation Academy will move to a new location or simply be ended. I hope Disney reopens it in a new, larger location with better seating, but only time will tell. Perhaps we'll learn more during the D23 convention in August.

In the meantime,  there are quite a few videos on the Disney Parks youtube channel that will teach you how to draw Disney characters. Here's a video to help you learn to draw Joy from Inside Out.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Harambe Market

I was very excited to eat at the Harambe Market on my most recent trip to Animal Kingdom. The Market, which is located in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom, opened on May 23. Featuring entirely new dishes inspired by African cuisine, the Market has four separate windows for ordering. The Kitamu Grill has chicken skewers and beef kabobs. Famous Sausages has a unique take on the corndog: curried batter around a boerewors sausage. Chef Mwanga's Rib Shop specializes in spice rubbed Karubi ribs. Finally, Wanjohi Refreshments serves a wide variety of beverages, both nonalcoholic and alcoholic. While each window features a limited menu, you can actually order all of the food from any window except Wanjohi Refreshments. (Be sure you ask a cast member for a menu so you know what is available.) I was really glad that you could order everything together because we were considering items from all three areas. Each window has a different kids meal; each includes two sides: carrots, apples, broccoli, or a cookie, and either low-fat milk or water. Beverages are also available at the food windows, and include Gold Peak Tea, Bottled Water, Hot Cocoa, and a variety if Coke products, including Bibo and Sparberry, which are popular in Africa, but have previously only been available in EPCOT's Club Cool. Bibo is fruity and Sparberry is a raspberry cream soda. Several African wines and beers are also available, as well as a specialty cocktail called the Starr of Harambe at Wanjohi Refreshments. And don't forget dessert: the African Milk Tart features a chocolate tart shell sprinkled with sugar and five spice powder, topped with coconut custard and dark chocolate ganache drizzle.

In the end, we ordered the All Natural Grilled Chicken Skewer with Roasted Broccoli & Tomato Salad, the kid's Grilled Chicken Skewer, and the kid's Corndog. We also tried the African Milk Tart. 

My dad really enjoyed the Chicken Skewer and salad, which he taught was well seasoned. 

I had the kid's Chicken Skewer, both because it came with barbecue sauce instead of spices and because I could choose my side's, and I thought it was very good. 

Bean had the kid's Corndog, which she really liked, even without her usual ketchup. (I tried a little of the Corndog and loved the curried batter. It really adds a lot to an otherwise simple dish.) My dad and I both liked the African Milk Tart, which isn't overly sweet, but very flavorful.

There is quite a bit of outdoor seating in the area, much of which is under covers or umbrellas, but it can get crowded, so we shared our table with another family. In all, I really enjoyed this new location, and with my usual favorite Flame Tree Barbecue closed for refurbishment, I was glad that the food at Harambe Market more than made up for it. And the prices are very reasonable: $9 - $13 for adult meals and $5.50 - $7.50 for kids. I will definitely plan a visit to Harambe Market during my next trip, and you should, too.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Photo of the Week

I finally found these at Wal-Mart the other night and couldn't resist.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Great Movie Ride

The Great Movie Ride is one ride I try never to miss at Hollywood Studios. The ride is located inside a reproduction of the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Hand-prints and signatures of some of Hollywood's most famous stars can be found in the courtyard. Costumes and props from films, both classic and modern, can be found in the queue. After passing through the lobby area, you wind back and forth through the queue to the boarding area.

Disney recently updated the Great Movie Ride in partnership with Turner Classic Movies. I had a chance to ride it 2 days after they'd added the new voice-over, and I must say, I love the changes. Beginning with the pre-show you can watch in the queue, Robert Osborne, the host of TCM, shares a bit of the history of the movies, with clips of several classic films. After boarding your touring tram, which has bench seats and no restraints, you begin your wonderful journey through the history of the movies. The new voice-over, again by Robert Osborne, takes you deeper into each genre you pass through. You begin with the early musicals, then move into classics like Singing in the Rain. From there, you move into mob movies. There are two different skits that the cast members perform that remain unchanged. The first begins in the mobster scene. The second starts in the next scene, which represents classic westerns. (If you haven't seen both of them, be sure to ask a cast member if you can be seated in a specific show. They usually don't mind requests unless there is a problem with a particular skit that day.) Next up, you move into a scene from Alien, which no longer seems hokey thanks to Osborne's voiceover about the Sci-Fi genre. 

From there you move through an Indiana Jones scene and into the classic horror genre, where the cast members' skit continues. 

Next, you journey through adventure movies and into a scene from Casablanca, complete with dialogue from the "Here's looking at you, kid" speech. After a brief glimpse of Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, you head into the final scene. This is a full room recreation of Munchkinland from the Wizard of Oz, complete with the Wicked Witch of the West. The ride ends with a montage tribute to the movies in general. It has been updated to include additional films, such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Frozen. It's fun to see how many of the films you can name. (I can name most of them, although I'm not sure what that says about the number of movies I've seen.) A new photo spot has also been added near the exit. Now you can act the star and have your photo taken while pressing your hands into the (dry) cement.

The Great Movie Ride is an 18 minute journey through the history of the movies. I highly recommend it. Not only is it a fun and interesting ride, but it's a great chance to get out of the heat. If you want to skip the lines, FastPass+ is available. There are no height restrictions, but the scenes from Alien and the classic horror movies may be frightening for young children. Guests may remain in a wheelchair on the ride.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Disney Infinity 3.0 Trailer

Bean and I are so excited to see the new Disney Infinity 3.0. We love Star Wars and we can't wait to play as our favorite characters.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hotel Transylvania 2 Trailer

I loved the first movie, and this one looks SO cute!
Hotel Transylvania 2 arrives in theaters on September 25th.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Where's Olaf - Canada Pavilion

This week Olaf was hiding in one of my favorite photo spots in the Canada Pavilion in EPCOT: the totem wall.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Where's Olaf?

It's time for another round of Where's Olaf. Where do you think he's hiding this time?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Lightsaber Ice Pops

Which side will you choose? 
I found these at Target last night and couldn't resist. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Avengers Builds at Lowes

This summer, Lowes Build and Grow is featuring the Avengers. The kits were inspired by the Marvel's Avengers Assemble animated series on DisneyXD. There will be six workshops, one every 2 weeks, where kids can build one of the Avengers' vehicles.

This kicks off today with Iron Man's Avenjet.

On June 27th, kids can build Captain America's Motorcycle.

July 11th will be Black Widow's Skycycle.

On July 25th, it's Hawkeye's Quinjet.
August 8th will be the Hulk's Tank. The final build, Thor's Chariot, will occur on August 22nd.

Registration usually starts about 12 days before each event at Lowe's Build and Grow website. Each registered child will receive a kit, an apron, goggles, and a patch. This time, instead of a regular patch, kids will receive one of 6 wedge shaped pieces that when put together form a larger patch.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Frozen Ever After

Recently, Disney shared  first glimpse of the new Frozen themed ride at EPCOT. Called Frozen Ever After, the ride will take visitors through Arendelle during the Winter in Summer Celebration created by Queen Elsa. Guests will be transported in boats past Elsa's Ice Palace and the icy world of the North Mountain before returning to the Bay of Arendelle. The ride will include all of your favorite Frozen characters, including the Snowgies from Frozen Fever. They are also expanding the Norway Pavilion to include a Royal Sommerhus that reflects the cultural arts of Norway and provides a new location to meet Anna and Elsa. Frozen Ever After and the Royal Summerhus won't open until 2016, but it sounds like there's a lot to look forward to.

In the meantime, be sure to check out all the Frozen Summer Fun at Hollywood Studios. From the Royal Welcome in the morning to special Frozen Fireworks at night, every day promises to be filled with Frozen fun. And now they've added an extra Frozen treat. Every day, starting at 10am, you'll be able to watch Frozen Fever, the animated short that debuted with Cinderella. Played twice each hour at the ABC Sound Studio, the short will also include a sneak peak behind the scenes at the making of the film. Frozen Summer Fun runs from June 17 to September 7, 2015.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Where's Olaf - King Triton Statue

This week, Olaf was hanging out with King Triton. The statue of Triton is located opposite the Ariel's Undersea Adventure in the new Fantasyland.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wheres Olaf

It's time for another game of Where's Olaf.  Can you guess where he's hiding this week?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cinderella and Frozen Fever

I finally had the chance to see Cinderella and Frozen Fever last night. They were both so good! I loved the Frozen short. The story, although brief, is a great addition to the original story, and the Snowgies are so cute! Elsa is preparing to celebrate Anna's birthday, but an unexpected cold puts a kink in her plans. As you can probably guess, laughter ensues.

Cinderella was also fantastic, and truly a beautiful production. (Caution, major spoiler alert, although if you know the tale of Cinderella, none of this will come as a surprise.) They did a wonderful job of retelling this classic tale, while staying true to the original story. Lily James is amazing as Cinderella. The story begins as you'd expect with Ella being the center of her parents world. Although this could have caused her to be conceited or proud, Ella grows up humble and kind to human and animal alike. When her mother falls ill, she gives Ella the best advice she can, "Have courage and be kind." Young Ella takes these words to heart, even when her father died unexpectedly and she is left to live with her wicked stepmother and two vain stepsisters. Although they treat her horribly, Ella decides to stay in her family home, to honor her parents memory. However, one day she fears that she can take no more abuse, and rides off alone toward the woods. There she meets a handsome stranger named Kit, and impresses him with her kindness and wisdom. She decides to return home, and soon after discovers that the King has decided to throw a ball to find his son a bride, and the Prince has insisted that every eligible maiden is invited. With a bit of help from her Fairy Godmother, the amazing Helena Bonham Carter, Cinderella is able to go to the ball. It's at the ball that she meets Kit again, and realizes that he is the Prince.

They begin to fall in love, but Cinderella must flee when the clock strikes midnight. Fortunately for the Prince, she loses a shoe on the steps. In a slight twist to the story, the King dies soon after the ball, but not before telling his son that he should marry for love and not political advantage. This leads the Prince to search for his mysterious Princess, whoever she may be, highborn or low. Unfortunately for Cinderella, her stepmother has discovered her remaining glass slipper and attempts to blackmail Cinderella into promoting her after she marries the Prince. This time, however, she's gone too far; Cinderella refuses to allow her stepmother to harm either the Prince or the Kingdom. Cinderella's household is the final stop in the Kingdom for eligible maidens try on the glass slipper. Her stepsisters' feet are too large, so the Prince's men are preparing to give up the search and leave, when they hear Cinderella singing. The Prince, who has hidden among his soldiers, insists that they find this girl and allow her to try on the slipper. When Cinderella enters the room, he recognizes her immediately, and they promise to accept each other as they are, just as soon as the shoe fits. Of course, the wicked stepmother and stepsisters get their just desserts, and Cinderella receives what she deserves: her own happily ever after.

I loved the message throughout the film that kindness and courage are both important and powerful qualities. I also loved the way Ella embraced who she was, although she saw the world not as it was, but as it could be. This world would be a happier place if we could all embrace such qualities and make them a part of our everyday lives. I also loved the way the Prince fell in love with her not just for her physical beauty, but for the beauty of her kindness and wisdom. Finally, I adored the costumes! While Cinderella's dress was the same for much of the film, it was beautiful and deceptively complex for such a simple gown, and her ballgown was simply stunning. If you have the chance, be sure to watch this latest version of Cinderella. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Walt Disney Animation Shorts Collection

Have you seen the preview for the Walt Disney Animation Shorts Collection? It's a collection of 12 of Disney's best short films, from John Henry to the never before released Frozen Fever. The shirts include three Oscar nominees and two winners. Here's a list of the titles you can expect to see: Frozen Fever, Feast, Get a Horse, Paperman, Tangled Ever After, The Ballad of Nessie, Prep and Landing - Operation: Secret Santa, Tick Tock Tale, How to Hook Up Your Home Theater, The Little Match Girl, Lorenzo, and John Henry. The collection will be available on both DVD and Blu-Ray on August 18, 2015. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Disney World Trip

I just got back from another trip to Disney World. I had a chance to visit all four parks and discovered a lot of new things to share with you. I finally had a chance to eat at Be Our Guest. The food was pretty good, but it has a few odd quirks which I'll be sharing with you soon. I also had a chance to try the new Harambe Market in Animal Kingdom. I really enjoyed the food, as well as the atmosphere. It's a wonderful new addition to the rather limited dining options at Animal Kingdom, especially with Flame Tree Barbecue closed for refurbishment. Finally, I ate at the Rebel Hangar Lounge. I loved the atmosphere! The food was surprisingly ample for small plates, and the number of characters we saw was astounding, especially considering we were there during the week and not over Star Wars Weekends.

I learned a bit more about the best way to use your magic bands and the my Disney experience app. I had the chance to see a preview of Inside Out, and made another trip through the Emotions Garden, which remains after the Flower and Garden Festival is gone for the year. I went to the Frozen Sing Along, which Bean and I enjoyed immensely. It really is a fantastic experience to sing Frozen songs with a few hundred of your fellow Disney fans. We only stayed once to watch fireworks. On Sunday night, we saw the Symphony in the Stars Fireworks, the finale to each night of Star Wars Weekends. They were beautiful and incredible, and I loved the way they were set to John Williams' music.

Unfortunately, I also paid a visit to Downtown Disney. What a mess! They've finished one parking garage, however, all of the other parking lots are torn up, as well as the road to the parking garage. We had to park behind the gas station in the former employee parking and get shuttled over in a van. Once there, I noticed that the changes from Downtown Disney to Disney Springs are moving along quite quickly. There is a lot of construction going on, but a lot of new shops as well. Bean and I especially enjoyed the new Super Hero Headquarters. It's filled with Agents of Shield, Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise. (Surprisingly, especially with regard to the restrictions on how Disney can use their Marvel characters, Youse Guys Moychindice in Hollywood Studios is now an Avengers store too. I was quite surprised to see so much Marvel merchandise inside the parks, but I hope this means we might see the characters there someday soon as well.)

Speaking of merchandise, the Character Warehouse at the Prime Outlet Mall in Orlando is preparing to remodel the store. As a result, everything was 50 percent off the lowest price. There were some fantastic deals. Hats and ears for $6.50 or less, pins for $2, scarves were under $10, and much more. However, I discovered my favorite deal at the register: Limited Edition Frozen Olaf Christmas Magic Bands for $8.50 each. You could only purchase two per person, but it was a fantastic deal. And they're so cute that I couldn't resist.

In all, we had a great trip. I look forward to sharing everything with you in greater detail in the coming weeks.