Thursday, February 28, 2013

DDW Pic 548. Illuminations - Boardwalk View

Illuminations - Boardwalk View
I snapped this shot at the Boardwalk Resort last week. You can see the boat dock, ESPN Club and Kouzzina right below the fireworks. Although Epcot's Illuminations takes place a short distance from this location, you can only see the highest fireworks in the sky. It is an interesting vantage point, however, and this is certainly a far less crowded spot than World Showcase.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

DDW Pic 547. Goofy Statue

Goofy Statue
Most guests notice the famous "Partners" statue in the middle of the Magic Kingdom hub. It was installed back in 1995 and features Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. However, there are eight smaller statues that encircle the hub that are often overlooked. They include Minnie, Pluto, Donald, Chip and Dale, Brer Rabbit, Dumbo, Pinocchio, and this guy. I snapped this picture of Goofy while giving a tour of the Magic Kingdom last week.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

DDW Pic 546. Contemporary Resort - Panorama

Contemporary Resort - Panorama
I took this photo on Saturday, standing on the bridge between the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower. You can see the south facing side of Bay Lake Tower on the left edge of the shot. The Contemporary marina is in the center with Bay Lake behind it. On the right edge is the Contemporary itself. This is definitely one of my favorite resorts. There are several nice pools, great water activities, and incredible views. However, the best part may be that it is only a short walk over to the Magic Kingdom.

Monday, February 25, 2013

DDW Pic 545. LeFou's Brew

LeFou's Brew
The end of last week was very warm in Walt Disney World, with temperatures nearing record highs for this time of year. On Thursday night, while my tour guests were enjoying dinner in the Be Our Guest restaurant, I thought I'd indulge in a cold one. Ok, while they are now serving alcohol in the Magic Kingdom, this particular drink doesn't fall into that category. This is LeFou's Brew which is served at Gaston's Tavern. It is actually made of frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow, topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam.  I briefly mentioned this drink in a post back in November, but now you can see what this delicious treat looks like.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

DDW Pic 544. Hollywood Studios Sunset

Hollywood Studios Sunset
I snapped this shot on Friday night after finishing a tour of Hollywood Studios. I was walking to the Boardwalk Resort on the path adjacent to the waterway that connects Hollywood Studios with Epcot. In addition to the Boardwalk and Epcot, guests can also get to the Swan, Dolphin, Yacht Club, and Beach Club resorts via this walkway or waterway. I like the way that Tower of Terror has a silhouette look in this picture.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

DDW Pic 543. Hollywood Brown Derby - Panorama

Hollywood Brown Derby - Panorama
Thanks to the generosity of great friends I had the chance to eat at the Hollywood Brown Derby tonight. This is Hollywood Studios premier restaurant and it was a great dining experience. I had the charred filet of beef and it was delicious. I also had to try the famous Cobb salad and grapefruit cake for dessert, and they were both excellent as well. I recommend trying the Brown Derby if you get the chance.

Friday, February 22, 2013

DDW Pic 542. Animation Courtyard - Panorama

Animation Courtyard - Panorama
I took this shot today, while giving a tour at Hollywood Studios. The Animation Courtyard is the "hub" for three attractions. On the left, you can see the building that houses the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. At the center is the Magic of Disney Animation. On the right, you will find Disney Jr. - Live On Stage. This section of the park has changed over the years, but still remains a popular area of Hollywood Studios.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

DDW Pic 541. Pirates League

Pirates League
I toured with 5 and 8 year old boys who joined the Pirates League today. This is a fun experience where guests get a full makeover into a pirate. They choose several different options for face makeup and they can add many different accessories. They take the pirate's oath and are even given a pirate name. The Pirates League is adjacent to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and this picture shows the actual "makeover" room.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

DDW Pic 540. Kouzzina

I had the pleasure of being treated to dinner tonight by some good friends. It was special because it was my first time eating at Kouzzina at the Boardwalk Resort. I've wanted to experience this restaurant since it opened in 2009. I am happy to say that it was worth the wait. Kouzzina is chef Cat Cora's (of TV's Iron Chef fame) signature restaurant. The food and service were excellent and I certainly recommend this spot to anyone who enjoys Mediterranean-style cuisine.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

DDW Pic 539. Jungle Cruise

Jungle Cruise
The Jungle Cruise is a popular attraction that typically has fairly long lines.  However, you can see that it was pretty quiet on this February morning.  If you are a fan of this ride, you can almost always enjoy it in the first hour of the day without waiting at all.  This opening day attraction is certainly a classic.  Three famous skippers at the Disneyland version included Kevin Costner, John Lassiter, and Robin Williams.  I can only imagine how fun it must have been to hear a young Robin Williams improvise on his spiel!

Monday, February 18, 2013

DDW Pic 538. Polynesian Beach - Panorama

Polynesian Beach - Panorama
One of my favorite spots in all of Walt Disney World is the Polynesian Resort beach. First off, there are amazing views of both the Contemporary and Grand Floridian resorts. It is also one of the best spots (outside of the Magic Kingdom) to see Wishes. Besides the views, it is a very relaxing place to hang out. There are several hammocks on this beach that provide a great spot to relax. I took this picture early in the morning, a few weeks ago. Even if you aren't staying at the Polynesian, I suggest visiting this beach when you have the chance.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

DDW Pic 537. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster - Gift Shop

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster - Gift Shop
Exactly 15 years ago today, construction began on Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Disney MGM Studios. When it actually opened, on July 30th, 1999, it became the first (and still the only) Walt Disney World attraction to take guests "upside down." This picture of my little guy was taken a few years ago in the gift shop at the end of the ride. Apparently, this hat was still a little too big for him!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

DDW Pic 536. Contemporary Resort

Contemporary Resort
Along with the Polynesian, the Contemporary Resort was one of the first two resorts to open at Walt Disney World. Although it is over 40 years old, it still is a favorite of many guests. With its interesting shape and monorail passing through it, it is certainly a unique hotel. I took this "dusk" shot from the boat dock on Bay Lake, shortly after finishing a tour of the Magic Kingdom last week.

Friday, February 15, 2013

DDW Pic 535. Cinderella

Today we say happy 63rd birthday to Cinderella. This animated classic was released on February 15th, 1950. Cinderella is certainly one of the more popular princesses in Disney history. After all, the Magic Kingdom's iconic castle is her home. In addition to the castle, there is another interesting tie between the park and the movie. The voice of Lady Tremaine in Cinderella is Eleanor Audley. She is also the voice of Madame Leota for the Haunted Mansion attraction. I took this princess picture during an afternoon parade last summer.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

DDW Pic 534. Ghirardelli Soda Fountain

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain
Today is the 15th anniversary of the opening of Ghirardelli at Downtown Disney. This popular spot opened on Valentines Day in 1998. There is almost always a large line waiting to get ice cream sundaes, floats, shakes, and the amazing chocolate that Ghirardelli is famous for. If you haven't had the chance to experience this place, I highly recommend indulging on your next trip to Downtown Disney.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

DDW Pic 533. Wishes

It has been a while since I've posted a fireworks picture. I had the chance to catch Wishes from Main Street in the Magic Kingdom a few weeks ago. Although the show can be seen from anywhere in the Magic Kingdom, this is the best angle to enjoy them centered over Cinderella Castle. The volume of the music is also best in this area.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

DDW Pic 532. Streets of America - Panorama

Streets of America - Panorama
I took this shot of the Streets of America at Hollywood Studios while giving a tour this past Friday. This wide angle view gives you a good idea of how the buildings are just "fake fronts" with steel frames behind them. When you are standing in the middle of the street, the structures look very realistic.  However, since indoor movie scenes are shot on "sound stages," there is no reason to waste the budget on completing these buildings. The cameras can't see what is behind the exterior facades anyway.

Monday, February 11, 2013

DDW Pic 531. Mickey's Toontown Fair

Mickey's Toontown Fair
Today is the anniversary of the closing of Mickey's Toontown Fair. Back on February 11th, 2011, this land of the Magic Kingdom was closed to make way for the construction of New Fantasyland. A little over one year later, on March 12th, 2012, the first phase of this new land opened as Storybook Circus. This picture shows Mickey's house, which used to be the entry to the Mickey "meet and greet." This house was demolished and Mickey now meets guests on Main Street U.S.A. in the Town Square Theater.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

DDW Pic 530. Shades of Green

Shades of Green
I had the chance to visit the Shades of Green Resort this past week. Originally known as the Golf Resort, it was purchased by the U.S. Government in 1996, and only active and retired military personnel (and their families) can stay there. It is located across from the Grand Floridian Resort adjacent to the Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses. This picture is of the main (lobby) building of the resort.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

DDW Pic 529. Liberty Square - Panorama

Liberty Square - Panorama
I shot this panorama of Liberty Square while giving a tour of the Magic Kingdom today. At the center of the photo is The Hall of Presidents. The Heritage House is to the right and the Liberty Square Market to the left. On the right edge of the picture, you can see the Liberty Tree. I was actually standing fairly close to the Liberty Tree Tavern when I snapped this shot.

Friday, February 8, 2013

DDW Pic 528. Titanic Life Boat

Titanic Life Boat
At the end of the Backlot Tour at Hollywood Studios, you will find the American Film Institute exhibit. This showcases actual movie memorabilia such as costumes, props, and scripts. For a while, this area featured the villains of the movies. However, there has been a recent change and they are now displaying things from the 100 "greatest films" in history. This lifeboat, used in the movie Titanic, is the largest piece currently residing in the exhibit. I took this shot while my guests were enjoying the tram portion of the Backlot Tour.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

DDW Pic 527. Epcot - Panorama

Epcot - Panorama
I took this picture yesterday while giving a tour of Epcot. This is one of the more popular photo spots in all of Walt Disney World. With the backdrop of the Fountain of Nations and Spaceship Earth, it is hard to walk thru this area without snapping a few shots. This space is also used for special holiday events, such as the gospel choir that performs during the Christmas season.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

DDW 526. JAMMitors

Whenever I am at Epcot, I enjoy catching a performance by the JAMMitors. I took this shot today while giving a tour to a great family from Texas. These guys are talented percussionists who wander out into Future World looking like part of the sanitation crew. Before you know it, there is a crowd around them as they drum on their garbage cans and buckets. I can appreciate their talent as I was once a percussion instructor. I certainly recommend checking out the JAMMitors on your next visit to Epcot!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

DDW Pic 525. Polynesian Resort - Panorama

Polynesian Resort - Panorama
I was at the Polynesian Resort this morning, prior to touring at Animal Kingdom. This is one of the two original Walt Disney resorts, and it has always been a favorite if mine. The South Pacific theming is great and it definitely has an island feel to it. When guests arrive, they are greeted by this impressive lobby with a lush, tropical center filled with trees, plants and even a waterfall.

Monday, February 4, 2013

DDW Pic 524. Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster

Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster is scheduled to open in about a year. Once it is finished, Fantasyland will finally be complete. This shot may lead you to believe that I jumped a fence or was given some sort of magical access to this construction site. Actually, Disney recently installed very small "peek thru" windows in some of their construction walls. I snapped this picture on Friday while giving a tour of the Magic Kingdom.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

DDW Pic 523. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
While giving a tour on Friday, this view of Thunder Mountain at sunset grabbed my attention. I took several pictures of this attraction, but this one stood out. I like the way the palm trees frame the center of the mountain, and the light pink clouds provided some nice contrast for this shot. In addition to being a very scenic attraction for photography, it is also one of the best to get a picture of my guests on a ride. If you stand near the "upper" exit and look toward the mountain, you get a great view of the runaway train as it passes by.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

DDW Pic 522. Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club

Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club
This was the site of one of my favorite spots in Walt Disney World.......during my college years. This picture of the closed Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club was taken back in 2010, shortly before the building was demolished. For more than 15 years, this was a popular spot on Pleasure Island, the amazing night club complex where I spent many fun nights with friends in the early 1990's. Today marks the 5th anniversary of the club's closing. On this day, February 2nd, 2008, the Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club closed its door's forever. Although the building is gone, I have some great memories of this place.

Friday, February 1, 2013

DDW Pic 521. Tomorrowland Speedway

Tomorrowland Speedway
Today, I saw an interesting "procedure" that I hadn't seen in all of my years coming to the Magic Kingdom. I was waiting for my guests, who were enjoying the Tomorrowland Speedway, when I snapped this shot. Cast members were adding cars to the tracks from the "pit" area. I was never quite sure how they did this, but I finally saw how it worked today. A cast member pushed a button and a good sized section of the "center rail" of each track just receded into the ground. This allowed other cast members to simply drive the cars onto their respective tracks. It was fun seeing how this was done.