Friday, September 3, 2010

Who wants to golf when there are theme parks?

During one of my recent trips to Disney World, I booked the reservation for free dining.  The reservations of this time were booked with 5 nights of stay plus the free dining and included a free round of golf at one of the two golf courses, Fantasia or Winter Summerland Golf Course.  I had not done any research on which of these courses was considered better than the other and quickly chose the Winter Summerland Golf Course thinking that the name sounded interesting enough. 

We got there to the counter and got all of the paperwork done to get our free round of golf.  I saw that the prices for our free round of golf should have been $12 for adults and $10 for children ages 3-9.  Children under the age of 3 are free.  The hours for the Course are 10 AM to 11 PM. 

As we headed to our first golf hole, we began to take in the surroundings and decided to take the Winter course (with the other course being the Summer course).  We learned that the story of the Golf Course:  One evening following a hectic Christmas, Santa was flying over Florida back to his home in the North Pole.  When he looked down from his sled he spied snow on the ground in Florida!  He decided to fly down to further inspect the area, the later decided that this would be a great place for his elves to vacation when off-duty.  As a result, Santa created the Winter Summerland Golf Course.  Some of the elves enjoyed the Summer while others enjoyed the Winter, thus the need for two courses to accommodate all of Santa's elves!  And an area created by Santa is obviously going to be fun!

Here is one of the awesome holes and me trying to pose like Minnie Mouse!  I know, she looks cuter, but lest I try:)  We enjoyed every hole, as each one seemed to offer some surprise.  I would give you more details, but I do not want to spoil the fun:) 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and would like to return to this course, as well as visit the Fantasia one.  I believe that if you are visiting the nearby Blizzard Beach for the day, this would be a great way to spend part of that same day.  I was able to visit the course on our day of travel to the Walt Disney World area.  If one is traveling to this course by Disney bus, they would need to travel here from any of the parks or hotels.  The course took us approximately 90 minutes, but could have taken a bit less time if we were not having so much fun taking photos and making sure to see all of the details.  With a bus ride to the course, the entire experience could take around 2 1/2 hours.  Assuming that a guest has already paid for a theme park ticket, 2 1/2 hours is a load of time away from the attractions especially when you consider that you are paying to get in the parks PLUS to also play the round of golf.  My frugal wallet says to definitely experience a round of golf here, but on a day where you do not plan to hit the parks!

Have fun!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pirates of the Caribbean

Today, I was going through all of my Disney World photos in preparation for a project I am working on.  While on a recent visit to the World, I was able to ride the Pirates of the Caribbean during a particularly empty time of day for the ride.  To my delight, the boat was empty in front of and behind me.  The only people in my boat were my mom, son and myself.  I delighted at the opportunity to take lots of photos!  Let me call these "Just Jack" (said with the flare of Jack off of Will and Grace):

Hope you have a wonderful day, arrah.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hoop De Doo

Oh, Hoop de Doop De Doo, I miss you.  I am really missing you now!  (Ok, my son is listening to Scooby Doo beside me on a DVD player!)  But none-the-less, I really miss the Hoop de Doo! 

If you have never seen this show, you really need to invest the cash to do so!  I will admit that I am always looking to save money so I waited to see this show when I had free dining.  The show is located at the Fort Wilderness Campground.  On my first visit to this show, I had not done enough research and was dramatically confused by the transportation.  So, here is the lowdown.  When traveling by Disney bus, guests first take the bus labeled Fort Wilderness Campground from the parks or Downtown Disney to the internal bus stop at the campground.  Next, the guest will take the bus headed to the Settlement Depot to the location of the Hoop de Doo, Pioneer Hall.  This is not really a fast process and guests should allow at least an hour.  NOTE that Disney buses do not travel from one resort to another, but rather parks and Downtown Disney to resorts.  Should the guest be coming from a resort, add the extra time to get to the park, then on to Fort Wilderness Campground.  If the guest is driving their own car, the use of the internal bus is still necessary.

I would also like to say that I have taken the boat from the Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness Campground.  Maybe it was the season of travel (April) or the time of day that I traveled to the Campground, but the travel time was well over 2 hours EACH way!  If the wait and travel time had not been so long on the boat travel, it could have been a good experience because once the boats docks, you are right at the Hoop de Doo with no need to take take an internal bus!

For my first show, I went with my mother and son.  We had a table that was located on the bottom floor in the back of the hall.  The seating was pretty good. 

We had a wonderful server that was both attentive and entertaining. He was even able to sweet-talk my son into sitting in his seat the ENTIRE show. (I say sweet-talk. He told him that he would glue him to the seat if he didn't sit there the entire time. At first, I was a bit flabbergasted at his words. But then when his words worked, I thought he was brilliant!  An entire meal without me pleading for him to stay seated!)

The show was interactive, entertaining and catchy.  I found myself attempting to sing along, but rather looking the fool because I didn't know the words;)  The food was excellent!  And what was funny was that I had read the menu at and was less than enthused. But somehow they make "cowboy beans" or country style baked beans that enter my dreams!  Bring me more beans, bring me more beans...  All of the food is all you can eat so loosen that belt!

This first trip to the Hoop was in September 2009.  Since that time, my son and I returned to see the show in November 2009.  While I had to pay for this show, I did not care one bit to fork over the money.  Better yet, this second show landed my family (son, Mother, Father and sister) on the front row touching the stage!  Being so close to the stage, the cast could not resist choosing my beautiful sister to be the dancing girl for the finale.  Watch my sister here and observe me screaming, "HIGHER"! 
I was not satisfied with her kicking style as she HAD taken many years of dance class including kick-line classes.  She later pointed out that she was inappropriately dressed to kick any higher!  My sister getting on stage was great to everyone, except my jealous son!  He was so upset that she was chosen and that he was not allowed on stage.  He actually cried the majority of her debut. 

In February 2010, I could not resist taking my husband to his first Hoop De Doo experience.  So, my husband, son and myself headed back to the Campground.  Again our table was located right behind the stage.  Quickly I could recognize that my son was on a mission.  He WOULD get on stage this time.  He began by lightly flirting with Dolly, one of the characters at the Doo.  Then when he was not certain that that was effective enough, he began waving to her during the show.  As he continued, she eventually started to wave back!  Yes, he was going to get his way!  So, when the finale selections rolled around Dolly came straight over to my son.  And off he went to get on stage.  Only 3 years old, not a scared or nervous bone to be had!  Here is his debut video.

I must admit that watching him was hard to do.  I felt nervous for him and a bit apprehensive when he disappeared with strangers behind the stage curtains.  Then later it was hard to watch through watery eyes.  Following his debut, we received two photos of him working his magic onstage.  I keep one of those photos beside my chair and often marvel at how great a show it is and wonder when will I return...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Halloween Party Ready!

Last year I decided to travel to Walt Disney World specifically to attend the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.  I had never attended any of the Disney parties and was a bit apprehensive due to the extra costs involved with attending.  I had already purchased an annual pass for the first time that year and had gotten information from Disney about the party in the Mickey Monitor, the circular mailed to all Annual Passholders.  The podcasts and discussion boards had made me interested in attending this party.  Once I realized that annual passholders were given a discount for the party tickets, I decided that this year was the year to attend my first party!

On the day of our party, my son, Mom and I decided that a nap was in order before heading to the park for the late night.  When we got to the party, Main Street was so well decorated a lot of time taking in the decorations and photographing everything.  Since we had arrived late, we decided to go ahead and find our location for the parade.  We situated ourselves right outside of the Fire Hall.  The location was great in that there were not that many people blocking our view.  When the parade began, I quickly saw that I was not standing in the right place... the grand entrance of the Headless Horseman lasted only seconds from our vantage point and was quick to disappear with no decent photos!  Boo. (not the Halloween kind either)  When the actual parade floats got to our location and the music for the Mickey's "Boo-to-you" Halloween Parade began, I quickly forgot about my needed Headless Horseman photo and settled into singing the "Boo-to-you" song.  The parade is phenomenal.  I am definitely not a parade person and I wanted this particular parade to begin again as soon as it ended!  As for that "Boo-to-you" song, I still hum it while I work...

After seeing the parade, we watched the Happy HalloWishes fireworks display.  While I remember enjoying them, nothing about them have "sparked" my memory of anything of any interest.  Not to say that they were not great, I just cannot remember anything that stood out over the Wishes fireworks.

Now that we felt that we had done all of the scheduled entertainment offerings, we headed around the parks to the 13 Trick-or-Treat locations scattered all over the park.  These locations varied from a bucket manned by a cast member with loads of candy to elaborate sites where characters posed with guests and included a candy give away.  The path from Mickey's Toontown Fair to Tomorrowland was our favorite!  You need to travel there to see how cool this was;)

Before heading down this path, we spent some time waiting in a very long line to get our face painted.  During the party, the face painting is FREE!  There were several different designs available fitting for both boys and girls.  I personally chose this design:

My son decided on a pluto face painting.  After being painted, the paint takes a few minutes to dry.  During that few minutes, the paint slightly itches.  My son, being only 3, could no resist touching the paint and itching his face.  The fact that we were visiting the party in late September did not help either as it was still pretty hot.  Needless to say, his pluto look quickly looked like a puddle of colors instead of a playful dog. 

I have fondly remembered this Party and have already purchased the tickets to attend this year.  I am attending the Party this year.  I plan on getting a new spot to watch the fireworks for that wanted shot of the Headless Horseman.  I have been told that in front of the Hall of Presidents is a great location.  We will be going days before Halloween this year, hoping that the temperature will be more "Halloween-like".  Now, I only need to decide if I am going to wear a costume this year.  Any suggestions?!?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Relaxations found in EPCOT

I have always been on a mission. I want to get in the parks, run to my favorite attraction, see it to its fullest and then get to my next favorite attraction on my list. I love touring this way! I get to see so many things in less time. But really, at some point during the day I seem to hit a wall. I lose my stride, so to speak. And when touring EPCOT, this always seems to happen just at the right time, as I enter the Japan pavilion! As I am coming around the World Showcase Lagoon, I grab a latte in Italy at the kiosk, then continue my walk around to Japan (only visiting The American Adventure every now and again).

As I enter Japan, I love to stand and admire the architecture and beauty provided by the lush bamboo, Japanese maples, koi ponds and monkey puzzle trees. The colors used in the architecture make me slow down dramatically and wish I could travel to Japan one day. As I write this and look over the photo of the Pagoda, I realize that my bedroom furnishings are all done in these exact colors. Wow, my love for Disney is sneaking into my psyche!

And if I walk up to Japan at the right time, I see the Matsuriza Taiko drummers. I find this to be a great way to be relaxingly entertained. (Unlike the show in China where the performers make me nervous and anxious!)

The koi pond is absolutely peaceful. And if you look really carefully, you will find a Hidden Mickey there!

Too bad it cannot be seen from this photo! But maybe looking for this will give you an excite to visit EPCOT soon;)

I thoroughly enjoy the Mitsukoshi department store. They have so many items that I have never seen before each time I return. Of course, there are regular favorites from my childhood in their Hello Kitty selection! And do not miss the back of the store! There are all sorts of nice dishware for both suishi lovers and children. I have entire sets of plates and cups from Japan for my son. He loves eating on them and specifically asks for them at mealtime! Oh, and the candy is not to be missed, with a variety that far surpasses other “normal” candy stores! Check it out on your next trip!

After shopping, I head into the Japan Tin Toy Display. While I rarely see many changes or updates to this exhibit, I am always fascinated by these rare toys and wish I could play with them just long enough to understand what each of these antiques “do”. Does that tin toy walk, throw a ball or just look so adorable?!? Check that exhibit out! It really is worth the time! About the time I finish the Tin Toys Display, my latte has properly caffeinated me and I am feeling ready to explore the rest of the World Showcase!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Annual Pass Promotion

As mentioned, I am thinking about going to Disney World in September.  To help me better make up my mind on this notion, I decided to take the time this morning to search room costs.  I have an annual pass (AP) that I renewed over the phone about a month ago.  I was told that I could pick this ticket up at will call in order to save the cost of shipping, $5.  I was also told that I was eligible to receive an extra 3 months on my AP renewal.   I knew my next trip would be in October 2010, and my renewal date was July 2010, so the three months was really a wash. However, I want to purchase my son, age 4, an annual pass too in October and this way our renewal dates will fall in the same month.  Perfect!  (Lord help my wallet!)

So when I went to and signed in the passholder portion of the website I was told that my AP had expired and must add in my new AP number to gain access.  Not having the pass, I decided to call ticketing at 407 566 4985 to see what could be done. I was told that I needed to have the pass in hand to update the passholder portion and gain the access I needed.  Further, she asked if I was aware that my AP needed to be used before August 31 in order to receive the 3 months extension!  I had not been told that when I renewed my AP a month ago, even after telling the cast member that I was excited about the extension and the approximate date of AP pickup!  This new cast member told me I should write to to see if I could be accommodated.  Fingers crossed!  I will let you know how this turns out!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

September visit?

Disney World in September?  I have still not made up my mind if I am going to go there in September.  And when I say September, I mean the 7-11... soon! 

My son and I are already going October 25 - 30 for the Mickey's Not so Scary.  We are so excited to visit the park for the Halloween season again this year.  I hope that this year's parade view will include a much better spot for viewing the parade than we had last year.  My view last year of the Headless Horseman lasted about 3 seconds!  And it was such an awesome display, I hated to only have 3 seconds to have seen it!  This year, I plan on being poised in the best place as I have heard that in front of the Hall of Presidents is that location.  We will see! 
As for the September trip or maybe non-trip, I have the tickets to fly there.  I really want to go on both occasions!  But is that an overkill?