"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Sunday, July 31, 2016

90 Days: Memory Maker: Letting the Dis Help With The Photos

First off, 90 DAYS!!!!!! Woot Woot!!!!!

Ok, got that out of my system.

My favorite Disney photo. Ever.
Today I decided to try to put all the Disney photos I have on a portable hard drive so it will be easier to access them for this blog. Turns out we have over 3000 photos from our trips to Disney since 2006. We like taking photos :-) And Disney World is a great spot, every time we go I see something new, some new angle. But I think for this trip we're going to enlist some Disney help with the photography and buy the Memory Maker.

A Handy Dandy Map of PhotoPass locations in the Magic Kingdom
Both Lisa and I love photography and John is really good at composing and shooting photos as well, so we have great photos of all three of us. The problem is one of us is always behind the camera, so we have very few photos of all three of us together. Disney's PhotoPass to the rescue! Disney stations photographers all over the parks ready to shoot you and your family all together. They are at all the character meet and greets as well as some of the more photogenic and iconic spots, like entrances and in front of the Cinderella Castle. These folks are happy to take photos of anyone, no purchase necessary, and photos are pegged to MagicBands (if you have one) or a special PhotoPass card. You can view your collection of photos at the park or online and decide if you want to purchase any. What Memory Maker does is get you access to all PhotoPass photos as well as ride photos and dining photos in one pre-paid package. For $149, I'm thinking we're going to go for it this trip.

Disney's PhotoPass Service is explained really well here. Page down for maps of all the parks with the PhotoPass spots marked. These maps are also on the My Disney Experience app.

You can find out all about and purchase Memory maker here

Saturday, July 30, 2016

91 Days: Day Drinking and Dole Whips

Our big adventure today was running some errands. This trip took us past our local brew Pub, Check Six Brewing Company, and at the last second (I mean that, I kinda swung in not in the most safe manner) we decided to stop for a beer before hitting our last stop. Lisa isn't hard to talk into a beer stop. I love that woman.

The beer flight even comes on a PROPELLER! get it ?
Anyhow, we get to looking at the beer list and see lots that looks good. Then I saw that they offer a flight of four beers for only $8.50, so how could we not? I'm tickled by having a flight in this place because it is owned by naval aviators and keeps to an aviation theme. Cool place. One of the beers we both got wasn't really beer at all, it was a pineapple cider from Ace Premium Craft Ciders (Check Six keeps a cider in rotation, but doesn't produce its own.) It was delicious. So we got a half gallon growler of the stuff to take home.

(side note--the best beer was a Scottish Ale that at 13.5% abv they don't trust with mere mortals and so won't put in a growler.)

While enjoying my pineapple cider I was reminded of a blog I saw this morning telling how to make a wonderful sounding Dole Whip margarita. I thought to myself, well, actually I thought to Lisa, heck, why can't we get some vanilla ice cream and make floats out of this pineapple cider? That would be kinda Dole Whip-y, right?

Well, let me tell ya, I'm a genius. Talk about a plan coming together. Delicious. And refreshing. It's happy juice, really. And who doesn't need more happy?

Friday, July 29, 2016

92 Days: Superheros on Netflix

We "cut the cable" a couple months back and began a Netflix subscription as part of our replacement. The first show I found and "binged" on was Marvel's Daredevil. I wasn't a huge comic book guy growing up, but I did read my share and Daredevil was always one of my favorites. Also, I'm a huge fan of Marvel's movies and figured a TV show might be good as well. I was right.

Daredevil isn't quite the same as the Marvel movies. It's much darker and lacks much of the humor I enjoy in the films. But it is completely engaging and sucked me in from the first episode. The characters seem real and the whole thing is really easy to accept. There's not nearly as much suspension of disbelief needed as for the movies, which is kind of funny as it takes place in the same world, the same New York actually, that was damaged so severely in The Avengers. Everyone in Daredevil is just as freaked out by the appearance of superbeings in their city as we would be. We never see those "supers," but they are discussed a bit. It is a nice tie-in while keeping the TV Marvel its own little world as well.

I'm just starting the second season of Daredevil, then want to see Jessica Jones before Luke Cage comes out. Have you seen the trailer for Luke Cage, by the way? It's set to Wu-Tang Clan. 'Nuff said, I think :-) An Iron Fist series is also on the way. Then, in 2017, we get Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist together in a Defenders series. Very cool.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

93 Days: Muppets Coming To Liberty Square!!!!

Two Muppet posts in a row? You bet!

Today Disney Parks Blog announced a new live show called "The Muppets Present...Great Moments In American History" for Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom. It debuts in October, just in time for our trip! The Muppets will appear outside the Hall of Presidents to offer their take on the events of America's founding.

Let's just go through how much I love this news. Liberty Square is, in my opinion, highly under-rated. Having a show will bring some well-deserved attention to a really cool area of the park. Both Lisa and I are of the Muppet Generation and love the show and its characters to this day. John is happy because the show features his favorite Muppet, Sam the Eagle. We get to be among the first to experience the show. It's coming at a time I've pretty much lost faith in the sanity of our country. I'm thinking a little American History humor will be just what the doctor ordered the week before the election.

I'm sure there will some Statler and Waldorfing of this show. Bringing Muppets to the Magic Kingdom will make some scream heresy, I'm sure. But Disney properties are valuable and we need to expect they will be used widely. I'm cool with that. I mean Snow White wasn't a Disney character until Walt made her one. I say welcome to Magic Kingdom to Kermit and Miss Piggy and Gonzo and all the rest. I can't wait to see what they bring to the place :-)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

94 Days: Pizzerizzo!

There are lots of changes happening at Hollywood Studios with Star Wars Land and the new Toy Story area on there way. I'm happy about these plans, but in the meantime the park is in a bit of a transitional phase and I gotta admit it's the one I'm least excited about this trip. The announcement of the new Pizzerizzo opening in the old Pizza Planet building has helped, though.

We love the Muppets, especially the lovely and talented Miss Lisa. And we enjoyed Pizza Planet, but the re-imagining as Rizzo the Rat's hang-out sounds like an improvement on an already fun space. We're not looking for a gourmet experience, just eating passable pizza amongst the Muppets will be just fine :-)

I love that logo. It looks like every single pizza box in America. Perfect. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

95 Days: Every Role a Starring Role

Working for Disney. It's a dream for many a Disney Geek, and I am certainly one who shares that dream. Due to the wonders of social media, I've heard all the criticisms of Disney as an employer......they pay too little, value employees not enough, make unreasonable demands. But if I do it, it will be a retirement gig, so I hope to not care much what I'm paid, and after the career I've had, unreasonable demands are a big ho hum. I'm ready, sign me up, put me in coach.

I always figured I could do about anything that didn't require a ton of skill or special knowledge. I'm not above anything, really. I wouldn't turn down a chance to be the barf scooper in Town Square if it meant I got to work....OH MY GOD!!!!....IN Town Square. I have a CDL and good driving record, so I thought maybe a bus driver or a tram driver. Then, on our trip last September, I saw THE DREAM JOB. Amphicar Driver (or captain, I guess). Those things are the coolest. And the driver gets to wear an old timey captain's hat. I am a sucker for a hat. I would be great, too. I would chat up the guests, tell them all about Disney Springs, flirt with old ladies. I was born for that gig. Now, I just have to retire comfortably, move to Florida, and convince Disney Casting I'm their guy.

I would look SO good in that. And the HAT!
If you've ever dreamed of a Disney Job you might want to check out the Every Role A Starring Role video series from Disney Parks Blog. I stumbled across it last night looking for the Live Streams saved on YouTube and got completely sucked in. I haven't watched all 70 videos, but have seen most. They are short and cover the gamut from Show Director for all of Disneyland Parks to the dude who sells balloons. There are resort jobs and park jobs, behind the scenes jobs and on stage jobs. I particularly enjoyed the Stage Tech video about the people who do for Fantasmic what I've done for our local community theatre. The series is limited to Disneyland, so there's no Amphicar Driver segment, but it does feature tram driver, monorail pilot and Mark Twain Riverboat captain.

As expected, it's all unicorns and rainbows from these people, they all say they love their job. The thing is, they really seem to mean it. And these are mostly not actors. They don't all even say the name of the series correctly in their little introduction. Some are comfortable on camera and some less so. I loved it for it's authenticity, taking into account it's Disney PR. It's very well done PR, and I respect that and can relax and enjoy the chance to dream of a DISney job for myself.

Monday, July 25, 2016

96 Days: #DisneyParksLive Streams

Tonight is the last of four live streams of events at Walt Disney Parks. It just so happens that tonight's is the Paint The Night Parade at Disneyland and since it happens at almost midnight my time, I'll miss it. Truth be told I also missed last week's stream of the Galactic Spectacular fireworks show from Disney's Hollywood studios. We were floating in the pool in the back yard and forgot. Oops. But I did see the first two streams and the entire concept is totally cool and looks to have been carried off wonderfully.

The first live stream was on Independence Day and featured the Fourth of July fireworks from Disney World. The town next door hosts the Official North Carolina Fourth of July Festival complete with huge fireworks display. It's fun but also features a huge traffic jam trying to get home. As I get older, I'm happier on my couch, and if I can watch Disney's fireworks from there, so much the better! We managed to hook my laptop up to both our shiny new embarrassingly large tv and our old, but still amazing Bose radio, so it turned out to be a pretty spectacular show right in our living room.

I ended up at home alone for the second live stream as it happened in late afternoon before the family got home. I have more flexibility and got done in time to thoroughly enjoy the performance of the Mickey's Friendship Faire stage show. It has a bit of a renaissance fair flavor, especially in the costumes, and since we are huge ren faire fans, I loved that aspect. I'm not much to watch the stage shows at Disney World normally, but might just need to make time for this one, especially since they've added Louie Gator from Princess and the Frog. Suppose enough time has passed....

So if you can mange to keep your eyelids open until 11:50 pm Eastern, be sure to check out tonight's live stream at the Disney Parks Blogs website!

PS. I tried to find past live streams on the Disney Parks Blog YouTube channel to no avail. I did, however, get completely swept up in a 70 episode series on jobs at Disneyland.......

Sunday, July 24, 2016

97 Days: Return to Coronado Springs

The ceiling of Coronado Springs' Lobby
There's really no question any more of us staying anywhere but on the Walt Disney World property. There are just too many advantages for us and the way we like to vacation. So the question was which resort for our next trip? My original idea was to rent an RV and stay at Fort Wilderness, but even as far ahead as January, all the sites were reserved for Halloween weekend. Lesson learned there. That left us thinking of which resort we'd like to book, and we decided on Coronado Springs.

We are in our hearts moderate resort people. We had a great time last fall at Pop Century, and I'd go back with just Lisa and I, but I didn't want to chance fighting crowds for transportation on this trip. We were wowed by Animal Kingdom Lodge the one night we got to stay there, and all the deluxe resorts we've visited look great, but they are just so much more money than the moderates. We've stayed at all the moderate resorts with the exception of Port Orleans Riverside and actually Lisa and I like Port Orleans French Quarter the best, but John really loved Coronado Springs last time we were there and we've not been in ten years so decided we'd head back this trip.

Coronado Springs gets a bad rep sometimes among the Disney Geek crowd because it's so big. It is really large, but a good bit of it is dedicated to conventions and conventioners, so it really seemed to us not too spread out at all. On our last trip we stayed directly across the lake from the main buildings housing the restaurants and shops and such. There was a bus stop right behind us and a bridge along the lake to take us to El Centro (the restaurants and such).

The night view on the walk to El Centro

And during the day
That bridge, and the walk along it, became one of our favorite things about this resort. The place is absolutely beautiful, especially at night. The lights reflecting in the lake are mesmerizing. And staying a bit of a walk away was nice. It was like we stay "here" and the stuff is "there" and we like that separation. Besides, if walking bothers you, you would probably do best avoiding Walt Disney World in the first place.

The Dig Site Pool water slide
Another plus to Coronado Springs is the pool. It's plenty big enough and features a huge pyramid water slide with a spitting jaguar at the end. It is super cool and I think one of the reasons John was so impressed.

We have such great memories of Coronado Springs we're excited to be going back and making new
I can't wait to find this sign and re-take this photo with 17-year-old John

Saturday, July 23, 2016

98 Days: Disney Food Blog's Guide To The Epcot Food & Wine Festival

The lovely and talented Miss Lisa and I are sitting on the couch torturing ourselves with the DFB Guide to the 2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. It's approaching lunchtime and everything in this e-book looks delicious. The descriptions alone would have done it, but the folks at Disney Food Blog have photographed everything so well we are dying here.

I like to pride myself on being good at researching all things Disney, on planning well even for things we've never attended. I hesitated buying this because I thought why spend money on information I could just as easily track down on my own. But I was interested in the e-book format, in how it would work, and I also love the Disney Food Blog for its photos and well-written reviews, so I went ahead and bought this guide last week. I am so glad I did!

First off, the convenience of an e-book really can't be beat. I was worried it would be a hassle (or impossible) getting the book on several devices, but nothing could have been easier. After purchasing the book via a link on the Disney Food Blog website, we simply used another link sent immediately in an email to download the Guide onto my PC laptop, my wife's iPad Air and a shared Kindle Fire. It comes as a PDF and works well on all three devices. I've found myself actually using the laptop to read it more often because the photos are so great and I like seeing them really big. It's fun looking at it together with Lisa on different devices and shouting out the things we've found to each other, but then we're geeky like that.

The Guide itself covers everything you need or want to know about the Food and Wine Festival. There are schedules of guest chefs and demonstrations and special events along with instructions and advice on booking everything. All the booths are described with info on all menu items and photos of many of them (did I mention how great the photos are?). There are sample itineraries for visiting for one or more days or just an evening or doing the Festival with children. I'm particularly fond of the "crawls" section with everything from a beer crawl to a wine crawl to a sampling of each continent crawl and more. Basically, if you want to know it, you'll find it here along with lots you never even knew you'd want to know.

We will only be at the Food and Wine Festival one day during our trip. We didn't plan on it at all, really. The Festival happening while we are going to be in Disney was a pleasant surprise. But since it's happening I want to get the most out of it and the DFB Guide is going to help.

If you'd like to purchase a Guide for yourself, I'd use the above link to the Disney Food Blog website because they have a code for 20% off up right now. The regular price is only $14.95 and it is worth every penny of that, but hey, a deals a deal, right?

Friday, July 22, 2016

99 Days: We Love The Monorail

One of the first things I saw this morning, checking Twitter before I left for work, was a photo of the monorail. Monorail Yellow, I think it was. It being Friday, and nearing the end of July, I am pretty exhausted and thought how much I'd love to be riding the monorail rather than heading out to work. So I decided to make today's blog post a bit of a tribute to our love of the monorail via links. Easy peasy for a Friday night :-)

Last September Lisa and I took a "just us" anniversary trip to Disney World. We only went for the weekend and never entered a park, but we DID enjoy a Monorail Bar Tour and you can read all about it here.

And here we have A Teen's Eye View of the Monorail Loop, shot by my son John out the window as we, well, rode the monorail loop.

This is a short one, but it's still kinda cool....the Avengers Monorail. I'm hoping they have wrapped a monorail during our trip, maybe Rogue One?

That's all I have in me tonight. Sweet dreams :-)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

100 Blog Posts Til Disney

Today marks 100 days until the Stites Family returns to Walt Disney World! Since I've been terrible about my promise to myself to return to writing on Pooh Sticks regularly, I've decided to issue myself a 100 Blog Posts Til Disney Challenge. I will write something each day until we leave for the Dis. It may not be long or particularly  profound, but I will post something each day. I've read a couple good Disney related books, so there may be some reviews. There has been and will continue to be planning and scheming about what we shall do and when and how and why, so that will find its way in no doubt. Maybe I'll get all nostalgic and write about past trips. I may share cool posts and fun news from other blogs. Some non-Disney stuff may creep in because it's my blog, my rules :-)

Anyhow, follow along if you like as I merrily march toward my happy place!