Tuesday, April 30, 2013

DDW Pic 609. Sanaa - Panorama

Sanaa - Panorama
I had the chance to eat at Sanaa today for the first time. This restaurant is located at Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village. In addition to the excellent food, there are amazing views of the resort's savanna through giant picture windows. I certainly recommend dining at Sanaa if you have the opportunity.

Monday, April 29, 2013

DDW Pic 608. Port Orleans - Riverside

Port Orleans - Riverside
Port Orleans Riverside Resort has two different themed areas, containing a total of over 2,000 guest rooms. There are the Magnolia Bend buildings and the Alligator Bayou buildings, one of which is pictured here. I have a special affinity for this resort, and especially Alligator Bayou. This is where my wonderful wife Melissa and I honeymooned back in 2000. Of course this resort was called Dixie Landings back then.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

DDW Pic 607. La Nouba - Panorama

La Nouba - Panorama
I finally had the chance to see La Nouba for the first time last night. This amazing show is performed twice-a-night at Downtown Disney by Cirque Du Soleil. It is one if the most unique "circus" type shows that you'll ever see. The stunts are breathtaking and the live music is fantastic. La Nouba is certainly a show that is worth seeing.....at least once.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

DDW Pic 606. Wilderness Trail

Wilderness Trail
Today, I had the opportunity to walk on the exercise trail that connects Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge for the first time. This is a great path for a relaxing walk or a bike ride. It was very peaceful and quiet today, and I nearly forgot that I was only about a mile from the most popular theme park in the world.

Friday, April 26, 2013

DDW Pic 605. Iron Man Monorail

Iron Man Monorail
Using the monorails as movie advertisements has become common at Walt Disney World. There has been the "Tronorail" and the "Avengerail." Now, guests can ride aboard the "Iron Manorail," which is giant, moving billboard for Iron Man 3. This movie comes out next week and the monorail is helping to build the hype.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

DDW Pic 604. Buzz Lightyear - Giant

Buzz Lightyear - Giant
Sticking with yesterday's theme, I decided to post another Buzz picture. I had the chance to walk around the All-Star Movies Resort tonight, and I found myself in the Toy Story section. I have taken pictures here in the past, but never at night. This Buzz is about three stories tall and he stands across from an equally giant (although sitting) Woody.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

DDW Pic 603. Buzz Lightyear - In Flowers

Buzz Lightyear - In Flowers
Here is another shot from the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Buzz Lightyear can be found on the east side of Future World. Appropriately, he is right out in front of Mission Space. His partner, Woody, can be seen over at the American Adventure. I posted a picture of him on Digital Disney World back on March 17th.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

DDW Pic 602. Hollywood Studios - Panorama

Hollywood Studios - Panorama
I took this shot of the entrance to Hollywood Studios a few weeks ago. It was designed to resemble the entrance of the old Pan-Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles. There are many other structures inside this park that are also made to look like California landmarks. These include the Carthay Circle Theater and the Chinese Theater.

Monday, April 22, 2013

DDW Pic 601. Animal Kingdom - Panorama

Animal Kingdom - Panorama
Today we say happy 15th birthday to Disney's Animal Kingdom. This park opened on Earth Day, April 22nd, 1998. It is the largest of the Walt Disney World parks at nearly 500 acres. When it opened, there were 5 attractions, 9 exhibits, 12 live entertainment shows, 8 food locations, and 11 merchandise locations. It cost $800 million to build and there have been many additions over the past 15 years. I took this panorama of Discovery Island back in October. I had to include the park's icon, The Tree of Life, in this 15th birthday tribute!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

DDW Pic 600. Characters in Flight

Characters in Flight
Today we say happy 4th birthday to the Characters in Flight balloon at Downtown Disney. This "attraction" had its official opening ceremony on April 21st, 2009. This tethered helium balloon, which can take as many as 30 guests, rises 400 feet above Walt Disney World. There are amazing views from this altitude. I took this shot in February of 2010, just after taking a ride with my little guy (pictured here staring at the balloon. Disney recently put a new balloon into service with a different paint scheme, but the ride is still the same.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

DDW Pic 599. Phineas and Ferb - Topiaries

Phineas and Ferb - Topiaries
One of the reasons why so many guests enjoy coming to the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is to see what new topiaries are added each year. This year, Phineas and Ferb showed up on the south side of Spaceship Earth. These very popular characters are always a hit, but these versions are very unique as they are made entirely of plants.

Friday, April 19, 2013

DDW Pic 598. Space Mountain

Space Mountain
Today marks the 4th anniversary of Space Mountain shutting down for a major refurbishment. In fact, April 19th, 2009, marked the first time this attraction went down for a major refurb since it opened in 1975. Some of the improvements included a new ceiling and a new enclosure for the ride's queue area. Even after 38 years, Space Mountain remains one of the most unique and popular roller coasters in the world. I took this shot a few months ago from the viewing area of the Tomorrowland Speedway.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

DDW Pic 597. Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama!

Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama!
Today we celebrate the 11th birthday of Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama!  This area of Animal Kingdom opened on April 18th, 2002, as part of Dinoland U.S.A. This roadside carnival themed area features two attractions and a whole bunch of midway style games. The rides that opened on this day were Primeval Whirl (a dizzying roller coaster), and Triceratops Spin (a Dumbo-like ride). I took this photo of the "Concreteasaurus" about a year ago. It is at the back entrance of Dino-Rama.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

DDW Pic 596. Orange Bird

Orange Bird
One year ago, today, the Orange Bird returned to the Sunshine Tree Terrace in the Adventureland section of the Magic Kingdom. The Orange Bird was a walk-around character back in the 1970's. He was developed as the official mascot of the Florida Citrus Growers, and was an interesting part of Adventureland for about a decade. This miniature version of the bird was returned to his perch at the Sunshine Tree Terrace on April 17th, 2012, as part of a special D23 event. I was privileged to be present at this event, which included appearances by several prominent Imagineers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

DDW Pic 595. Animal Kingdom Lodge

Animal Kingdom Lodge
Today we say happy 12th birthday to Animal Kingdom Lodge. This amazing resort opened on April 16th, 2001. I have been lucky enough to stay here on several occasions, and it is certainly one of my favorites. Animal Kingdom Lodge can be considered a destination unto itself. There are several great restaurants, a great pool and incredible wildlife that can be viewed from many different areas of the resort.  I took this shot from the pool area on a family trip last April.

Monday, April 15, 2013

DDW Pic 594. Monorail

Today we say happy 42nd birthday to the Walt Disney World monorail system. The last of 337 concrete beams completed the original 6 miles of track on April 15th, 1971. The first monorail was also lowered onto the beam on that day. The monorail system is almost an attraction unto itself. It carries more than 150,000 passengers to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot each day. I took this picture back in 2011.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

DDW Pic 593. Storybook Circus Giggle Gang

Storybook Circus Giggle Gang
Although Storybook Circus has been open in the Magic Kingdom for over a year, the addition of the "Giggle Gang" is relatively new. Disney realized that a circus would not be complete without clowns, so they recently added this group to entertain guests in the area between New Fantasyland and Storybook Circus. The "gang" is inspired by the traveling circus acts of the late 19th century, along with films like Walt Disney's Dumbo. They perform several times each day.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

DDW Pic 592. World of Disney - Panorama

World of Disney - Panorama
After finishing a three day tour last week, I decided to spend a little time at Downtown Disney. Not only are there unique little shops and great dining here, but you can also find the world's largest Disney Store. The World of Disney requires a "panorama" shot to get both of the main entrances into the same shot. No matter what time of year you visit, this store seems to always be crowded.

Friday, April 12, 2013

DDW Pic 591. Star Tours

Star Tours
This giant AT-AT Walker is right in front of Star Tours over at Hollywood Studios. Just like many of the buildings at this park, the back of the structure is just exposed steel. Now that Disney owns Star Wars, it is fun to anticipate the additions that will surely be coming to Hollywood Studios in the near future. Right behind where I was standing to take this shot is the Backlot Express restaurant. Many fans (including myself) hope that Disney will turn this dining location into the Cantina from Star Wars.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

DDW Pic 590. World Showcase Lagoon

World Showcase Lagoon
At first glance, this looks like a simple photo of World Showcase Lagoon at Epcot. However, it is unique for a couple of reasons. First, I snapped it while riding on a Friendship Boat. Second, I noticed that the two countries in the photo are Germany and Italy, which represent my heritage. Although taking a Friendship Boat across the lagoon won't save you a lot of time, they certainly give your feet a nice rest.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

DDW Pic 589. The Seas - Feeding Time

The Seas - Feeding Time
The Seas with Nemo and Friends is already a great attraction, as it houses the second largest aquarium in the United States. However, if you happen to be walking through the viewing area at feeding time, it is quite a spectacle. First off, you can see a diver in the tank, which doesn't happen that often. When the diver brings out the food, fish (and other marine life) start to dart in from all different angles. My favorite part of this "event" was when the giant sea turtle starts chewing on large lettuce leaves. Feeding time is certainly an interesting perk to enjoy if you happen to be visiting this pavilion at the right time.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

DDW Pic 588. Starring Rolls Cafe

Starring Rolls Cafe
Starring Rolls Cafe is on the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards in Hollywood Studios. It is a great spot to grab a coffee and a pastry in the morning. It also has some very good sandwiches for lunch. I took this picture while doing a "World Tour" last week with a family from Canada. Hollywood Studios was the first stop on a four-park day.

Monday, April 8, 2013

DDW Pic 587. Peter Pan at the U.K.

Peter Pan at the U.K.
As I was waiting for my guests to finish lunch at the Rose and Crown last week, I looked up and saw Peter Pan standing on a building at Epcot's U.K. pavilion. As a topiary, he is completely made out of plants and flowers. Peter is part of the International Flower and Garden Festival being held until May 19th. He is only one of the many Disney characters to be found around the park during this annual springtime event.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

DDW Pic 586. Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest
Today we say happy 7th birthday to Expedition Everest. This amazing and unique roller coaster opened on April 7th, 2006, and it immediately became Florida's tallest peak. At its fastest, Everest reaches 50 mph, and I snapped this picture on the big drop as we rushed toward this top speed. This attraction takes up six acres, which is approximately the size of Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom. Although Animal Kingdom was a great park to begin with, the opening of Expedition Everest in 2006 added a new level of fun!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

DDW Pic 585. Gran Fiesta Tour

Gran Fiesta Tour
Today we say happy 6th birthday to the Gran Fiesta Tour attraction in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot. Although the "boat ride" has been there since opening day in 1982, the ride was enhanced and renamed on April 6th, 2007. Prior to that date, the Gran Fiesta Tour was called El Rio Del Tiempo. It was a journey through various scenes from Mexico's history. After 25 years, Disney decided to make the attraction a little more entertaining by adding the characters from the 1944 film, The Three Caballeros. These characters include Panchito, Jose Carioca, and the world famous Donald Duck.

Friday, April 5, 2013

DDW Pic 584. Downtown Disney - Panorama

Downtown Disney - Panorama
After finishing a Magic Kingdom tour on Thursday, I decided to head over to Downtown Disney to try the new Chili Cone Queso at Marketplace Snacks. This was the view from my table. At the center of the photo is the marina on Village Lake, which sits in front of Cap'n Jack's Restaurant. At the far left of this shot you can see the World of Disney store, and at the far right is LittleMissMatched. Off in the distanced is Fulton's Crab House as well as the Characters in Flight balloon.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

DDW Pic 583. Tigger

While waiting for my guests at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh today, Tigger walked right by me. He was leaving the meet-and-greet area to head "backstage." Since Tigger is my wife's favorite character, I had to snap this shot.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

DDW Pic 582. Spirit of America

Spirit of America
The Spirit of America is the fife and drum corps that performs many times each day in front of the American Adventure at Epcot. The group consists of a snare drum, base drum, two fifes and an American flag. One of the highlights of their performance is when they invite kids to join them in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I snapped this shot today while they were doing just that.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

DDW Pic 581. Fishing at Hollywood Studios

Fishing at Hollywood Studios
As I was waiting for my guests at Hollywood Studios this morning, I took this interesting shot. I know that you can do fishing excursions on many of the waterways around Walt Disney World, but this was the first time I saw one right outside of the Studios. As I walked closer to snap this picture, the boat lined up perfectly with Tower of Terror.

Monday, April 1, 2013

DDW Pic 580. Club 626

Club 626
Each day in the Magic Kingdom, a dance party is held. This "Stitch" themed event can be found toward the back of Tomorrowland and features many characters and a human DJ. I took this shot of Stitch and Dale last week. You can see Space Mountain and the PeopleMover in the background.