Friday, May 31, 2013

DDW Pic 640. Toy Story Midway Mania

Toy Story Midway Mania
Today we say happy 5th birthday to Toy Story Midway Mania at Hollywood Studios. On May 31st, 2008, one of the most popular attractions at Walt Disney World opened for the first time. No matter what time of year, this ride has lines that almost always exceed an hour. Often times, the standby wait can approach three hours with the fastpasses gone by 11:00 am. One of the highlights of Toy Story Midway Mania is the queue. It is amazingly themed to Andy's bedroom. You can see from this picture, taken near the beginning of the queue, that the guests are miniaturized down to the size of toys.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

DDW Pic 639. Liberty Belle

Liberty Belle
The Liberty Square Riverboat attraction has been plying the Rivers of America since October 2nd, 1971. Since it opened on "day 2," it is technically not an opening day attraction. When it originally opened, the first boat was called the Admiral Joe Fowler. A second boat was introduced in 1973 as the Richard F. Irvine. That vessel was renamed the Liberty Belle in 1996, and is the one that guests still enjoy today. I snapped this shot a few months ago, just after she left the dock and headed towards Frontierland.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

DDW Pic 638. Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard
Last week I had the chance to see this year's version of Hyperspace Hoopla at Star Wars Weekends. After the show, I walked up Sunset Boulevard at Hollywood Studios to grab some merchandise at "Darth's Mall." I turned back toward Hollywood Boulevard and snapped this shot. You can see that the entire left side of the street was packed with guests waiting to get into Fantasmic. The Hollywood Hills Amphitheater holds over 8,000 guests, and it looks like this show was certainly going to be full.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

DDW Pic 637. Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge
Today we say happy 19th birthday to Disney's Wilderness Lodge. On May 28th, 1994, one of my favorite resorts at Walt Disney World opened. When visiting here, you really feel like you have been transported to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is also in a great location, only a short boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom. I snapped this shot earlier in the month as I was walking from the boat dock toward the lobby.

Monday, May 27, 2013

DDW Pic 636. Casey's Corner - Panorama

Casey's Corner - Panorama
Today is the 18th birthday for Casey's Corner. This restaurant, located on the northwest corner of Main Street, USA, was actually called the Coca-Cola Refreshment Corner prior to May 27th, 1995. Casey's is a very popular spot that specializes in food you'd find at the "ballpark," such as hot dogs and fries. Most guests take their food outside to enjoy their meal with a view of Cinderella Castle. However, there is a unique seating area inside the restaurant that includes some bleacher style seating and even a large screen showing old time "sports" cartoons.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

DDW Pic 635. The American Adventure

The American Adventure
On this Memorial Day weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to post a patriotic picture. The American Adventure at Epcot is an attraction that highlights the sacrifices that were made throughout the history of our country. Although it may be a little boring for young kids, this show should be seen by all guests at least once. The audio-animatronic technology is enough to make the attraction memorable, but it is the story of the United States that makes it special.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

DDW Pic 634. Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth
Spaceship Earth has gone through several changes since it opened back in 1982. During the past thirty years, there have been four narrators. Twenty seven years ago today marked the last time guests could hear the original narration. It has been widely believed that the first narrator was an actor named Vic Perrin. However, recently it has come out that it was actually Larry Dobkin. There is no question who the second narrator was. On May 26th, 1986, the famous news-caster Walter Cronkite became the narrator of Spaceship Earth. It was was also in this version that the song "Tomorrow's Child" was introduced.

Friday, May 24, 2013

DDW Pic 633. Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Today we say happy 12th birthday to the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. This Magic Kingdom attraction opened on May 24th, 2001 in Adventureland. This marked the introduction of characters from a Disney animated feature into this area of the park. Similar to Dumbo and Astro Orbiter in concept, this ride is unique in that the rear passengers can control the "tilt" of each magic carpet. Also unique is that this attraction typically has far shorter waits than the other two.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

DDW Pic 632. Tomorrowland Speedway

Tomorrowland Speedway
While giving a Magic Kingdom tour last week, I had the chance to "ride" on the Tomorrowland Speedway with a young guest. This attraction is always a hit with young boys. Even though they may need an adult to push the accelerator pedal, they can steer the car themselves. You have to be at least 54" tall to drive by yourself, which is the tallest height requirement in all of Walt Disney World. I snapped this shot at the very end of the race.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

DDW Pic 631. Disney Quest

Disney Quest
Disney Quest is an amazing multi-level arcade at Downtown Disney. In addition to the common video games you'd expect at an arcade, this place has some very unique experiences. Disney Quest unofficially opened to the public exactly 15 years ago, on May 22nd, 1998. It would have its official grand opening in June. I took this shot last month from the outdoor balcony of the Cirque Du Soleil theater, just prior to enjoying La Nouba.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

DDW Pic 630. Enchanted Tales with Belle

Enchanted Tales with Belle
I took this shot of the Enchanted Tales with Belle attraction early on Sunday morning. My tour guests were fortunate to be in the first group of the day to enjoy this unique experience. Since it opened in the new Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom last December, this has been a very popular spot with wait times that are typically close to an hour. You can see from this shot that Disney did a nice job with the landscaping around Maurice's Cottage. As always, they spent a great deal of time on the details when creating this important structure from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Monday, May 20, 2013

DDW Pic 629. Star Wars Weekends

Star Wars Weekends
For four weekends a year, Hollywood Studios becomes the place to be for any and all Star Wars fans. There are special presentations, autograph sessions, a great parade, and a ton of merchandise. However, in recent years the highlight has been the amazing stage "show" called Hyperspace Hoopla. This includes a "dance off" between the good-guys and the bad-guys. There are hysterical performances by most of the popular characters from the Star Wars movies. This year they dance to both classic songs from the 80's and 90's, as well as tunes from today. I had the chance to see the show last night, and I snapped this picture while waiting for Hyperspace Hoopla to start.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

DDW Pic 628. Cinderella

On my way to grab "Meet Mickey" FastPasses for my tour guests today, I found myself in a spot to grab this picture. It was fun to get Prince Charming and Cinderella centered on "her" castle. Sometimes these types of photo opportunities pop up quickly, and it is nice to be able to quickly grab my iPhone and snap a picture like this.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

DDW Pic 627. Festival of the Lion King

Festival of the Lion King
While giving a tour of Animal Kingdom this week, I had the chance to enjoy the Festival of the Lion King show from a very good seat. This is definitely one of the best productions in all of Walt Disney World. The energy of these performers is amazing, and they do it 8 to 10 times per day. Even if your family hasn't seen the Lion King movie, this show should not be missed.

Friday, May 17, 2013

DDW Pic 626. Center Street

Center Street
One of my favorite "out of the way" spots in the Magic Kingdom is Center Street. It can be found about half way up Main Street, USA, on the right. If you walk to the end, there are a few benches and tables set up. Even on busy days, there are rarely any guests sitting in this area. It is so close to the excitement and energy of Main Street, yet it is also somewhat secluded. I took this picture a few days ago. Right above where I was sitting is writing on a window that says "Singing Lessons" and "School of Dance." If you listen closely, you can hear musical instruction coming from that second floor studio. It is obviously a recording, but it certainly adds to the ambiance of the area.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

DDW Pic 625. Blizzard Beach - Panorama

Blizzard Beach - Panorama
Disney World held a special event this afternoon that allowed all annual pass holders to enjoy Blizzard Beach for free. I hadn't been to this water park in a while, so I decided to spend a little time there today.  This is one of the most unique and impressive water parks anywhere. Along with Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach is one of the top two visited water parks in the world, drawing close to 2 million guests per year. This panoramic shot is of Melt-Away Bay, which is a 1-acre sized wave pool.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

DDW Pic 624. Pecos Bill

Pecos Bill
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe is one of the most popular quick service locations in all of Walt Disney World. It has a great theme which fits in perfectly in the Magic Kingdom's Frontierland. There are many "props" around the restaurant that tell the story of Pecos Bill, but this sign is probably my favorite.  I shot this picture today, while waiting for my guests to come out of the Country Bear Jamboree.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

DDW Pic 623. All-Star Music

All-Star Music
I spent some time over at the All-Star Music Resort tonight. Just like the other value resorts at Walt Disney World, All-Star Music features larger-than-life icons that decorate each of the motel style buildings. This giant drum set sits in front of the "Jazz Inn" section of the resort. In addition to the great visual theming, you can also hear Jazz music playing in the background.

Monday, May 13, 2013

DDW Pic 622. Cloudberry Horn

Cloudberry Horn
Ok, so it isn't often that I post a picture of food on the site, but this pastry is worth a mention. I have enjoyed many different "sweets" from the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in the Norway pavilion at Epcot, but the Cloudberry Horn is my new favorite. This delicious snack contains cloudberry jam with whipped cream in a crispy, sugar-coated pastry shell. It is also known as a "Troll Horn." I certainly recommend trying one the next time you find yourself walking past the Norway pavilion!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

DDW Pic 621. Fort Wilderness Beach

Fort Wilderness Beach
I had a little time to walk around the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground a few weeks ago. This is a great place for anyone who loves the outdoors. There are walking trails, pools, and playgrounds. This picture shows the large beach that is on the shore of Bay Lake. It is adjacent to the dock where you can catch a boat to several resorts as well as the Magic Kingdom.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

DDW Pic 620. Beach Club Villas

Beach Club Villas
I took this shot of the Beach Club Villas about two weeks ago. I was sitting in the Solarium just after a thunder storm had passed. This a great place to go if you're looking for a quiet spot to get some work done or just relax. It is not far from the snack bar/gift shop at the Beach Club, and only a short walk from the lobby. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

DDW Pic 619. Pluto

On most days, you can find the "traditional" Disney characters greeting guests in the large courtyard at the center of Hollywood Studios. It appears that Pluto is covering his eyes in this picture. However, if you look close, you can see that he is actually signing a guest's autograph book. I took this shot last week.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

DDW Pic 618. Parade in Liberty Square

Parade in Liberty Square
A few weeks ago, while my guests were enjoying lunch in Cinderella Castle, I found one of my favorite spots in the Magic Kingdom to take a quick break. There are two rocking chairs on a small porch to the right of the entrance of The Hall of Presidents. They usually are in the shade and are in a great place to just relax. I was happy to see that they were both empty on this particular day. Shortly after I sat down, the "Celebrate a Dream Come True" parade came through Liberty Square. I snapped this shot as Mickey and his lady were cruising by.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

DDW Pic 617. Disneyland

Now that I'm home from Disneyland, I figured I'd post one more picture from the trip. I am so happy to have finally visited "the happiest place on earth." As someone who has created a career around Walt Disney World, it was important for me to visit the place where it all started. To walk around the park that Walt built was an amazing experience. I had the privilege of visiting Walt's apartment in Town Square and that was certainly a highlight of the trip. This is the spot where Walt watched the first guests enter his park back in July of 1955. It is said that he had a tear in his eye and a lump in his throat as he realized that his dream had became a reality. Since that day, his theme parks have been making dreams come true for millions of guests each year.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

DDW Pic 616. Haunted Mansion

Haunted Mansion
Here is one more shot from Disneyland that falls under the "same but different" category. This is one of my favorite attractions, and I love both versions. The most obvious difference is how the mansion looks from the outside. While the Magic Kingdom version is a Hudson River Valley mansion, the original Disneyland exterior resembles more of a home you'd see in the deep south. The stretching room in the California mansion is actually an elevator that takes guests down one floor. When the doors open, guests walk through a hall that takes them under the Disneyland Railroad tracks and out to the show building. Once you board the doom buggy, most of the attraction is the same as the Magic Kingdom ride. However, Disneyland has not yet updated the technology during the hitchhiking ghost scene at the end, and there is no interactive queue prior to entering the mansion. I had a little fun in turning this into a black-and-white picture to give it a more "haunted" look.

Monday, May 6, 2013

DDW Pic 615. it's a small world

it's a small world
Since I am still at Disneyland, I'm going to stick with the "similar" attraction theme. 'It's a small world' is quite different from the Magic Kingdom version. As you can see from this picture, the queue area is actually outside. Also, there are many additional dolls, representing modern Disney characters, that were recently added to the Disneyland version. Finally, the boats are smaller in California. However, the same classic song gets stuck in your head for the entire day!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

DDW Pic 614. Tower of Terror

Tower of Terror
Fans of Tower of Terror will notice that something doesn't look right in this picture. It is definitely Tower of Terror, but this is the one at Disney California Adventure. I visited this park (and Disneyland) for the first time today. The Tower was similar to its counterpart in Florida, but there were some major differences. It is one of my favorite attractions, no matter which park it is in.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

DDW Pic 613. Animal Kingdom Pond

Animal Kingdom Pond
This little pond can be found near the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom. It is along the pathway on the west side of Discovery Island as you are walking toward Africa. It is unique in that you can see under water and above water through a large glass window. This is a perspective that you don't get at an aquarium. There are a few other spots like this in Animal Kingdom, including on the Pangani Forest Trail in Africa.

Friday, May 3, 2013

DDW Pic 612. One Man's Dream

One Man's Dream
The Walt Disney - One Man's Dream attraction is a spot that I always try to visit when I'm at Hollywood Studios. There is so much history in this exhibit, and Disney adds memorabilia and attraction artifacts every so often. Last week, I snapped this shot of the "robot butler" from the extinct Horizon's attraction. Horizons was over in Future World at Epcot from 1983 to 1999. It sat in the area that is now home to Mission Space. Although it wasn't very popular at the time of its closing, that attraction will always be one of my all time favorites.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

DDW Pic 611. Dream Along With Mickey

Dream Along With Mickey
I snapped this shot of the Dream Along With Mickey show on Tuesday. It was a crystal clear day (after the forecast called for rain) and Cinderella Castle looked great with the bright blue sky as a backdrop. This was taken during the finale of the show, when all of the characters were back on stage. If you look closely, the only non-Disney part of this picture is the backwards Yankees hat worn by a guy standing in front of me. I guess it is appropriate, since I'm such a huge fan of both Disney and the Yankees!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

DDW Pic 610. Hollywood Studios - Panorama

Hollywood Studios - Panorama
Today we say happy 24th birthday to Hollywood Studios. On May 1st, 1989, this park opened as Disney-MGM Studios. Although it has gone through many changes over the years, Hollywood Studios has always been a great place to spend the day. I snapped this shot of the Echo Lake area a few months ago.