Saturday, November 29, 2014

DDW Pic 1186. Kilimanjaro Safaris

Kilimanjaro Safaris
This morning, I enjoyed one of the best safaris I can remember at Animal Kingdom. The weather was beautiful and a majority of the animals were visible. We had some amazing close-up views of a bunch of animals including giraffes and zebras. This particular giraffe decided to stop in front of our safari vehicle for a short time, giving us an opportunity to take some fun pictures.

DDW Pic 1185. The Great Movie Ride

The Great Movie Ride
There are many attractions that provide guests with very different views, depending where they are sitting. The Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios is one good example. Last night, I rode the attraction from the far left edge of the ride vehicle, and took some pictures that I haven't had a clear shot of in the past. This is Jane riding on an elephant from the 1932 movie, Tarzan the Ape Man.

Friday, November 28, 2014

DDW Pic 1184. Chocolate Santa

Chocolate Santa
It has become a Thanksgiving tradition that we head to the Boardwalk area resorts to check out the Christmas decorations. Each of the 5 hotels does a nice job of transforming their lobbies into showcases for interesting holiday displays. Several of them involve gingerbread and one is based entirely on chocolate. This Santa is part of a display, at the Swan resort, that uses nearly 1,800 pounds of chocolate. The entire display is edible and contains over 5 million calories!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

DDW Pic 1183. Haunted Mansion

Haunted Mansion
While enjoying the Haunted Mansion today, our Doom Buggy stopped shortly after we boarded. We sat for a short time in the hallway that contains some interesting portraits. When the lightning flashes, you can see the scarier, "less alive" versions of these characters. We were stopped right in front of the horseman and I couldn't resist snapping this shot.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

DDW Pic 1182. Kali River Rapids

Kali River Rapids
In my opinion, Animal Kingdom has the best "natural" theming of all the parks. Everything just seems like it has been there forever, even though it was all created under 20 years ago. This example, from Kali River Rapids, shows ancient ruins from an Asian village. I snapped this shot yesterday, just before sunset.

Monday, November 24, 2014

DDW Pic 1180. Africa

While giving a tour of Animal Kingdom today, I found myself in the area of the new Festival of the Lion King theater in Africa. I was sitting close to the restrooms when I looked up and saw this view. This is one of the reasons that I'm such a huge fan of Animal Kingdom. It is hard to tell that this was taken at a major "theme park." It could easily be a photo from a real African village on the edge of a river.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

DDW Pic 1181. China

This is the view from the Lotus Blossom Cafe. There are so many fun details in the World Showcase pavilions and China is no exception. This half-scale replica of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest houses an audio secret that most people don't know about. If you stand in the center of the room you can "hear yourself talk," since the circular building is acoustically perfect. I enjoyed giving my tour guests this fun little experience today. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

DDW Pic 1179. Space Mountain

Space Mountain
This morning I found myself on the Astro Orbiter platform in Tomorrowland taking photos of my tour guests. There are some great views to be had from up there, so I took this shot of Space Mountain. It isn't a perspective that is seen everyday, unless you are a cast member working at Astro Orbiter. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

DDW Pic 1178. Hollywood Studios Christmas

Hollywood Studios Christmas
The Christmas season at Hollywood Studios is highlighted by the Osborne Lights. Along with the lights, there are many additional decorations and holiday props all around the Streets of America. This "101 Dalmations" display is located toward the end of the San Francisco street. I like the hidden Mickey near the tail of the standing dog! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

DDW Pic 1177. Flying Fish Cafe

Flying Fish Cafe
I've wanted to eat at the Flying Fish Cafe for a long time, and I finally had the opportunity last night. This "signature restaurant," located at the Boardwalk Resort, specializes in seafood, but they have several other choices as well. I had the steak and snapper combo, which was delicious. The service and atmosphere were also excellent and I look forward to returning to this spot in the future. I am very grateful to some special tour guests for treating my family and I to this wonderful dining experience.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

DDW Pic 1176. Madame Wardrobe

Madame Wardrobe
The "New Fantasyland" area of the Magic Kingdom has some of the best audio-animatronics figures at Walt Disney World. Madame Wardrobe in Enchanted Tales with Belle is a good example. Her lip movements and expressions are amazing. I snapped this shot while accompanying my tour guests yesterday. My 6 year old guest was chosen to play the part of Mrs. Potts.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DDW Pic 1175. Prince Eric's Castle

Prince Eric's Castle
Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid is a fun "dark ride" in the Magic Kingdom. However, the part of the attraction that stands out to me is the exterior of the building. It is one of the most detailed structures to be found in all of Walt Disney World. The rock work that makes up Prince Eric's Castle is really amazing. I took these pictures this afternoon while my tour guests were meeting Ariel in her grotto. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

DDW Pic 1174. Motor Cruiser

Motor Cruiser
There are many different style boats that carry guests around the water ways of Walt Disney World. This "motor cruiser" is used for the route between the Magic Kingdom, Fort Wilderness, and Wilderness Lodge. The Castaways, pictured here, is one of three motor cruisers used by Disney. I was sitting on a smaller "motor launch," about to set sail for the Grand Floridian, when I snapped this shot at the Magic Kingdom dock a few days ago.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

DDW Pic 1173. Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6
Disney's latest movie, Big Hero 6, has been out for two weekends and seems to be doing well. The main characters from the film, Hiro and Baymax, are now greeting guests at Hollywood Studios, in the Animation pavilion. I visited this spot today, and it was very popular. The line was long and there appeared to be a wait of at least an hour. I decided to post a split shot today, so both BayMax and the "set" could be seen.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

DDW Pic 1172. Magic Kingdom Balloons

Magic Kingdom Balloons
As I was walking through Town Square this morning, I spotted this balloon vendor who just came onto the street from backstage. She was carrying a full load, which appeared to be around 40 or 50 balloons. At that moment, I couldn't help but think of the movie, Up, and wonder why she wasn't floating away. Then, my brain shifted into math mode and I realized she probably had about $600 worth of balloons in her hand. Finally, I just took the picture and moved on.

Friday, November 14, 2014

DDW Pic 1171. The Great Movie Ride

The Great Movie Ride
I have taken many pictures of the Wicked Witch in The Great Movie Ride over the years. However, I was in the perfect spot for another one last week. This animatronic is one of the most advanced and highly detailed in all of Walt Disney World. Her fluid movements make it hard to believe that she is a robotic figure. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

DDW Pic 1170. Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe

Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe
Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square is open all year, but it certainly gets busier during November and December. While on a family visit to the Magic Kingdom on Tuesday, we walked through this crowded store. I noticed this great little sign on a door leading to a storage area. There are now 42 days until Christmas, and there are few places in the country that already feel this festive in the middle of November!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

DDW Pic 1169. Animation Courtyard

Animation Courtyard
The Animation Courtyard is s very busy area of Hollywood Studios for most of the day. It contains Disney Jr. Live on Stage, the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and the Animation pavilion. With all of these attractions, this area of pavement is typically filled with hundreds of strollers. I took this shot a few nights ago, just prior to park closing time. It is rare to see such an empty, stroller free courtyard.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

DDW Pic 1168. Haunted Mansion

Haunted Mansion
My favorite attraction has always been Haunted Mansion. However, due to the inherent darkness of the ride, it has been difficult to get good pictures inside this famous "home." Since the light levels are so low and you are in a moving doom buggy, most photos come out with a slight blur. Today, I got lucky, as the ride temporarily stopped as we were right in front of the singing busts. I was finally able to get a decent interior mansion shot without being that obnoxious guest using a flash on a dark ride.

Monday, November 10, 2014

DDW Pic 1167. Osborne Lights

Osborne Lights
It is early November, so it is is time for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios. This amazing light show takes place in the Streets of America every night through the holiday season. There are over 5 million lights that are choreographed to classic and modern Christmas music. I took this shot over the weekend while enjoying the "show" with family for the first time this year.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

DDW Pic 1166. Festival of Fantasy

Festival of Fantasy
The Festival of Fantasy parade has many great floats, but the best has to be Dragon Maleficent. This amazing "beast" is huge, and it actually breathes fire as it makes its way through the Magic Kingdom. I was able to get this shot yesterday, while enjoying the parade in the area in front of the Harmony Barber Shop.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

DDW Pic 1165. Morocco

In continuing with yesterday's "country" theme, I moved clockwise around the World Showcase to another highly detailed pavilion. When walking toward the back of Morocco at Epcot, you feel like you've been transported to this Northern Africa nation. You no longer feel like you're in a theme park. If you listen carefully, you can even hear the sounds of people "living" in apartments above the marketplace. I took this shot yesterday, while enjoying the last weekend of the Food and Wine Festival.

Friday, November 7, 2014

DDW Pic 1164. Italy

Today, I spent some time at Epcot's Italy pavilion with family. Like all of the nations in this park, there are many authentic details to be found here. Whenever I am in the World Showcase, I look for opportunities to take pictures that appear like they come directly from whatever country I'm standing in. This alley between the shops and restaurants struck me as one of those spots.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

DDW Pic 1163. Liberty Tree

Liberty Tree
One of the overlooked landmarks in the Magic Kingdom is the Liberty Tree. A symbol of America's freedom, this 135 year old southern live oak contains 13 lanterns representing the original colonies. In the late 60s, this 35 ton tree was transplanted from a different location on property to Liberty Square, where it still proudly stands today. I took this shot yesterday, while giving a tour of the Magic Kingdom. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

DDW Pic 1162. A Frozen Holiday Wish

A Frozen Holiday Wish
Tonight, Disney debuted a brand new "castle lighting" show at the Magic Kingdom. It features Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf, and it is called "A Frozen Holiday Wish." For many years, the Fairy Godmother had the honor of lighting Cinderella Castle during the holiday season. When they announced the major change for this year, many of us in the Disney fan community were skeptical. However, Disney did a great job with the show, and it seemed very well received on opening night. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

DDW Pic 1161. Epcot

On this election night, I thought this shot at the Epcot entrance would be appropriate. I took this photo a few days ago, and the breeze was blowing nicely. The large American flag looked great flying in front of Spaceship Earth.

Monday, November 3, 2014

DDW Pic 1160. Adrian & Edith's Head to Toe

Adrian and Edith's Head to Toe
There are so many fun things that I continue to discover about Walt Disney World, even though I've been visiting for almost 40 years. The other day I was in Adrian & Edith's Head to Toe at Hollywood Studios. This small shop on Hollywood Boulevard features emboidered items that guests can have personalized. Although I've been in this location in the past, I can't remember ever looking up. When I gazed toward the ceiling, I was amazed to see how tall this part of the building was. It extended up several stories in a tower like structure. There were even vintage movie posters hanging high up on the walls. I enjoyed discovering these previously missed details.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

DDW Pic 1159. Baymax

Today, my son and I had the opportunity to see a special preview of the new Disney movie, Big Hero 6. It was an event hosted by the Disney Parks Blog at Downtown Disney. One of the main characters in the movie is a robot named Baymax. This giant, 40 foot tall, inflated version of Baymax was set up right near the House of Blues. It was quite a site to see as guests walked into Downtown Disney from the parking lot.

DDW Pic 1158. Karamell-Kuche

After enjoying the 38 Special concert at Epcot tonight, we decided to stop by Karamell-Kuche in Germany for some of their delicious popcorn. While standing in line, our son Chris exclaimed, "Look's a hidden Mickey!" Sure enough, there was a classic Mickey in the vine on this wall. It is in the line, just before you get to the popcorn making area. I had never seen this one, and apparently it was just discovered last year. Chris definitely has the makings of a future tour guide!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

DDW Pic 1157. HalloWishes

Halloween is such a fun time at Walt Disney World and we love to spend it at Fort Wilderness with friends. They have great decorations, amazingly decorated golf carts, and a fantastic view of HalloWishes, the special Magic Kingdom fireworks show. We stood on the beach near the marina, and we were able to enjoy the display from there. This shot is from the finale, which included the "perimeter" fireworks that only come out during special events.