Featured Post

Things I Wish I'd Known For My First Walt Disney World Visit

  The first visit to Walt Disney World is stressful, confusing, and a dream come true. I am not the first on...

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Review of Finding Dory


There is always skepticism when it comes to movie sequels, especially that of Disney movie sequels. Walt himself never believed in making sequels, so there were never any produced during his time. And people realized he was right after Disney Animation Studios released The Rescuers Down Under in 1990. The Rescuers was the most successful movie produced after Disney's death in the 60s, so it was a likely candidate for a sequel. However, the sequel ended up being the worst preforming Disney movie of the 1990s. From then on out, all sequels were produced and released by Disney Toon Studios. They had low budgets, and most were released straight to DVD.

Pixar even received bad reviews on one of its sequels, Cars 2. So a lot of moviegoers were skeptical when it came to Finding Dory. But Pixar also made some really great sequels, such as Monsters University, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 (you're lying if you say you didn't cry at TS3). Finding Nemo is also one of Pixar's best preforming movies of all time. It has a nearly perfect score of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.

So with the combined knowledge of Disney notoriously bad sequels and the success of the OG Finding Nemo, I really didn't know what to expect with Finding Dory. 

I was blown away.

Finding Dory included stellar animation, distinct characters, comedic moments, a captivating plot and tear-jerking moments. I cried twice during the movie. Once during Dory's reunion with her parents, and once because I was laughing so hard at the slow-mo truck dumping all of the fish back into the ocean. That is my personal criteria of a good movie; I cry at an emotional scene and I cry laughing at a funny scene.

This sequel had a perfect blend of old characters and new characters. We see appearances from Mr. Ray, Crush and Squirt, and the seagulls. And we got introduced to more memorable characters such as Hank, Becky, and of course, the sea lions (GERALD!). Their "Off! Off! Off!" was an alternative to the seagulls' "Mine! Mine! Mine!" My favorites were Destiny and Bailey.

Destiny and Bailey are a prime example of opposites coming together, just like Marlin and Dory. Destiny and Bailey bicker in the beginning, but they end up helping each other out. Destiny teaches Bailey how to use his echo-location, and then Bailey uses his echo-location to help the near-sighted Destiny in return. These two are another iconic duo to add to Pixar's list that includes Woody and Buzz, Wall-E and Eve and Mike and Sulley.

I was absolutely captivated by the overall theme of the movie. Dory is told all her life that she is incapable of doing things normally because of her disability. Her short-term memory always gets in the way. Sometimes other fish just laugh at her, sometimes she ends up accidentally hurting others. But Dory always has the best intentions, and she always keeps optimistic about life. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming... Throughout her life, Dory needs help. Her parents had to keep a close eye on her when she was a baby, and without Marlin she'd still be lost. She needs the help of Crush, Hank, the hermit crabs, and the other Blue Tanks. And even then she doesn't find her parents. It isn't until she is dumped back into the ocean, all alone and the memories escaping her that she slowly finds her parents...all by herself. For years, people have been complaining that Disney should make a Princess that is bald for the girls who have cancer or a Princess that is blind or missing a limb or in a wheelchair. But now there's Dory. She was able to accomplish what she wanted to do despite her disability.

What I liked best about the plot was how difficult it was for Dory to find her parents. Every time you think she's close, you find out that there's one more place Dory has to go. Pixar definitely had fun playing on the audience's emotions in this aspect, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Quick Tips for First Time Visitors at WDW

Are you planning your first trip to Walt Disney World? Much like life, planning a trip to this magical destination is a trail-and-error process. Lots of people make mistakes or have regrets planning their first visit. Here are some tips to avoid rookie mistakes. 

1. Understand that you can't do EVERYTHING.
WDW is HUGE. It's the size of San Francisco and there are hundred of things you can do. Attractions, shows, games, dining, characters, pictures, tours, activities, movies, festivals, shopping, fishing, biking, spa treatments, sports... the list goes on and on. Having spent the better half of 7 months in the parks, even I haven't experienced everything the Walt Disney World Resort has to offer.  When making a schedule, it is important to know that you shouldn't try to fit in too much, because there's no way you can do it all in one visit. Do not make a jam-packed schedule with things planned down to the exact minute. That's just setting yourself up for disappointment and unnecessary stress.

Instead, try going through the list of attractions and shows provided on the website and My Disney Experience App and pick a handful of ones that are top priorities for everyone you are traveling with. Build the rest of your schedule around those few activities.

Adventure is out there! 

2. Pay attention to the times of your reservations.
Have a fastpass for Space Mountain in Tommorrowland at 6:45 and a dinner reservation at Skipper Canteen in Adventureland at 7:00? Not gonna happen. Try to schedule your fastpass times and dinning reservations so that you are not running all over the park trying to make it in time. For example, say you want to start your day in Tommorrowland and end it in Adventureland. You could make a fastpass for Space Mountain at 10:00 am, a lunch reservation at Be Our Guest at 11:30 am, a fastpass for Dumbo at 1:30 pm, and a fastpass for the Jungle Cruise at 7:30 pm. This will allow you to travel around the park in one pathway, you will have plenty of travel time, and you even have time to hit up other attractions in-between. 

3. Don't be afraid to ask Cast Members for help or advice!
Want to know the best place to watch the parade? Where you can get an ice cream cone? If another gift shop carries this same Mickey Mouse mug? Ask the nearest Cast Member! It is their job to answer your questions the best they can. 

4. Take into account travel time
Travel time to and from the parks can be consuming. Make sure to figure in enough travel time to your schedule.

 If you take a bus from your resort to a park, you will have to wait on a bus to show up and then you will have driving time. Buses stop at the resorts about every 20 minutes and travel time to a park can take between 15-30 minutes. 

If you are taking a monorail, know that you might not get on the first monorail that pulls into the station, depending on the lines. Monorails only carry so many, and it can take 5-15 minutes for another one to show up. 

If you are driving, you will have to consider time to find a parking spot and then waiting time to board a tram to take you to the park entrance. Trams come about every 5-20 minutes, depending on how busy the park is. 

Don't forget that you will also need a few minutes to actually walk to the front of the park and go through bag check lines. 

5. Look at the park maps beforehand
You can look at the My Disney Experience App or search online for park maps. Refer to these while making your schedule and try to memorize them before you are physically in the parks. This way, you will not waste time getting lost and trying to figure out where to go. Check out the My Disney Experience App.

A map of Studios attractions on My Disney Experience App

6. Take time to wander
WDW is so special because of all the detail the imagineers put into the theming of the parks. WDW is designed to make you feel as if you have left the outside world behind and are transported to places of fantasy. Take some time out of your day just to appreciate the small details. Walk slower and look around. Go exploring down a different path. Take pictures of anything that captivates you. It can be easy to be swept away by the chaos of all the people and the stress of trying to make it to your next fastpass reservation. But don't overlook or take the details for granted. You may discover something really cool! 

I wouldn't have found my absolute favorite spot in all of WDW if I hadn't have done some exploring!

7. Drink water and apply sunscreen!
This is especially important. You'll need to be in good health in order to enjoy your time at WDW. Make sure that you're drinking plenty of water. Drink water with your meals and snacks instead of soda or milk.  You are aloud to bring your own water bottle to the parks. If you don't want to carry a water bottle around all day, you can just ask for a courtesy water. Most quick service food stands will offer free cups of water. And remember to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, especially if you're visiting in summer. This makes the list because many who aren't used to the Florida humidity will forget these basic hot-weather tips! Don't forget to also take breaks.

8. Be happy!
WDW is hot, humid, and crowded. You will be sweaty. You will become tired and hungry. You will lose patience waiting in long lines. You may become annoyed with your kids. Not everything is going to go exactly the way you pictured. But try not to let the stress get to you. You are in the happiest place on earth, after all! You do not want to get mad and yell at others. That will put a damper on your trip more than anything else. If you encounter any stress on your trip, just pull an Elsa and let it go! 
Mickey wants you to smile!

For more Disney Darling Quick Tips, check out Quick Tips to Save Money.