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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...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lost Children

Tips for Parents:

Stay Calm
I know, losing your child in such a crowded, big, unfamiliar place is terrifying. But please try to remain calm. I once encountered a woman who lost her child in the Magic Kingdom. She was hysterically crying and screaming. Guests and Cast Members were trying to help her out, but she just kept screaming at them. This is helping no one. Crying and screaming will not help you find your child. So take a deep breath. Cast Members are specially trained to handle this exact situation. They know exactly what to do and will help you out. You will find your child.

Find the Nearest CM
Go into the nearest gift shop and find a Cast Member. I suggest gift shops because usually gift shops have phones behind the registers. Cast Members can easily contact one another to faster track down your child. 

Take a Picture
At the start of each day, take a picture of your children and what they are wearing. This way if you do lose your kids, you can easily pull up the picture on your phone and show the Cast Members. This will help them recognize your kids. 

Set Rules
A lot of parents have a rule along the lines of "I have to be in your sight at all times". If a child runs ahead to the point they cannot see their parents anymore, they are too far away. If you both stay in each other's sights, you will be less likely to be separated. 

Tips for Children:
**If your children are too young to understand this, they might be too young to take to Walt Disney World

Point out a CM
At the very beginning of your visit, take a minute to point out a Cast Member. Explain to your kids that Cast Members wear white name tags. Explain to your kids that if they ever get lost, they should find the nearest Cast Member with a white name tag. As stated before, Cast Members know how to handle this situation. There is a Lost Child station at every single park, including the water parks. It is a safe, secure place where lost children are watched until their parents pick them up. Cast Members here will calm down the kids and play games with them or provide coloring sheets. 

Have your kids memorize your cell phone number! If they get lost, they can have a Cast Member call your cell phone. They can tell you exactly where you child is and let you know that they are safe. This is an important survival tip not just for Walt Disney World, but for any situation. 

As a Cast Member, I have experienced a Lost Child situation twice. In both cases, the children were not very far away from their families. It only took a couple of minutes to reunite the child to their parents. In one situation, the child was the one who came up to me. She explained that she was lost, and she told me where she last saw her parents. She stayed right next to me while I tried to call my managers. And she wasn't more than 5 years old! I was very impressed with how quickly and maturely this little girl reacted. If you parent your children and properly prepare them for these kinds of situations, they will be fine!  

Eating Healthy at WDW

Grab a snack at a produce stand
There is at least one produce stand in every park. Here you will find fresh fruits, granola bars, juice, carrot sticks, sweet potato chips among other healthy options. 

Anaheim Produce - Sunset Boulevard, near the Tower of Terror
Harambe Fruit Market - in Africa, near Kilimanjaro Safaris
Liberty Square Market - by the Hall of Presidents
Prince Eric's Village Market - across from Ariel's castle
The Land Cart - between the Land Pavilion and the Imagination Pavilion

Substitute water for soda
You should be doing this anyways at Walt Disney World to avoid dehydration from the Florida humidity. Soda will dehydrate you. And water is cheaper than soda.  It's a win-win-win.

Visit the allergy kiosk at DAK
If you have an allergy, this needs to be your first stop in the park. Not only are there gluten-free and dairy-free treats, but there is also information on all of the restaurants in Animal Kingdom. Stop here to learn which restaurants will be the best place for you to eat at.

Check menus before visiting
The My Disney Experience App and Walt Disney World's website have menus to all the restaurants and food stands on property. Use this technology to inform yourself on what places serves what food. Make decisions where to eat based on which ones serve the right food for your diet.

Bring your own snacks
This can also save money! Pack fruit, veggies granola bars, crackers...whatever you like.

Substitute fries with veggies or fruit
In a lot of restaurants you have alternatives for sides. For example, at Cosmic Ray's you can order apples or green beans. At Columbia Harbor House you can have steamed broccoli.

Go nuts over bananas
After walking around in the Florida humidity for a while, you'll probably crave some ice cream. Instead of grabbing a Mickey ice cream sandwich, try a frozen banana. It is covered in chocolate and nuts so you'll get a little sweetness with not as much fat.

Allow yourself to try some treats exclusive to Disney
There are some foods you just can't have anywhere else. Why deprive yourself of them? So go ahead and try a Dole Whip or a turkey leg or the grey stuff...it's delicious! And as long as you usually eat healthy, you don't need to feel guilty for treating yourself every once in a while.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Disney Parks Adventure List

This is a list of all the things I wish to do at the Disney Parks around the world.

Walt Disney World
Animal Kingdom
  • Ride Kali River Rapids
  • See DAK at night
  • Ride the sunset safari
  • Watch Rivers of Light
  • Watch Awakens
  • Eat at Yak and Yeti Full Service
  • Eat at Tusker House
  • Explore Pandora
  • Try an alcoholic Dole Whip
  • Ride the new Soarin' Around the World
  • Experience Turtle Talk with Crush
  • Ride Journey Into Imagination
  • Eat at Coral Reef
  • Explore Innoventions
  • Drink around the world
  • Experience Flower and Garden Festival
  • Eat at San Angel Full Service
  • Ride the new Frozen Ever After Ride
  • Meet Anna and Elsa
  • Meet Aladdin and Jasmine
  • Meet Baymax
  • Ride Test Track with my boyfriend
  • Eat at Le Cellier Steakhouse (again)
  • Eat at Rose and Crown Pub
Hollywood Studios
  • Explore Toy Story Land
  • Explore Star Wars Land
  • See Fantasmic as much as possible
  • See Beauty and the Beast Live
  • Ride Toy Story Midway Mania with my dad
  • See the Indiana Jones show
  • Eat at Sci-Fi diner
  • See Studio's Fourth of July's Fireworks
  • Meet Olaf 
  • Meet Moana
Magic Kingdom
  • Ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with my boyfriend
  • Eat at the Plaza Inn
  • Eat at Cinderella's Royal Table
  • Eat at the new Skipper Canteen
  • Finish Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
  • Earn the title of Space Ace on Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
  • Explore Tom Sawyer Island
  • See the new fireworks show 
  • Eat at Scat Cat's at Port Orleans
  • Stay in a Princess Room at Port Orleans
  • Stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Eat at the Wave at the Contemporary
  • Watch a movie at a resort
  • Find all the Christmas tress at all the resorts
  • Stay at the Polynesian
  • Become a DVC member
  • Ride bikes at Fort Wilderness
  • Dance on the Boardwalk
  • Collect pins
  • Visit during the 50th anniversary (2021)
  • Visit during the 75th anniversary (2046)
  • Visit during the 100th anniversary (2071)
  • Take surfing lessons at Typhoon Lagoon
  • Golf at Winter Summerland
  • Become a DVC member

Disneyland Park
  • Ride Haunted Mansion Holiday
  • Ride the attractions unique to Disneyland (Snow White's Scary Adventures, Alice in Wonderland, Casey Jr., Storybook Boats, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, Matterhorn bobsleds, submarines, Indiana Jones, Disney Gallery)
  • Brave It's A Small World (for Mary Blair)
  • Ride the attractions that are also in WDW (Big Thunder Mountain, Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Carribeeans, Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, the Enchanted Tiki Room, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo, Mad tea Party)
  • Do the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
  • Grab a treat at the Jolly Holiday Bakery
  • Explore Tom Sawyer Island
  • Eat at the Blue Bayou
  • Meet Aurora (preferably in front of her castle)
  • Meet Eeyore
  • Eat a Mickey Beignet
  • Drink a mint julep
  • Take a picture of Disney's apartment
  • Take a picture of Jimberly
  • Find the names of Elias, Walt, Alice Davis, Marc Davis and the Sherman Brothers on Main Street
  • Eat at Carnation Cafe
  • Find Mark Twain's boating license
  • Explore Star Wars Land
  • Watch Fantasmic
  • Watch Fantasy in the Sky
  • Meet Tinkerbell in Pixie Hollow 
  • Find the noose in Hungry Bears
California Adventure
  • Ride Mickey's Fun Wheel
  • Ride California Screamin'
  • Explore Cars Land
  • Try a chocolate milkshake from Flo's
  • Ride the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride
  • See the Sorcerer's Workshop
  • Watch World of Color
  • Ride Grizzly River Run
  • Ride Monsters, Inc.
  • Visit during the 75th anniversary (2030)
  • Visit in 2035, when a time capsule will be opened from 1995 (the year I was born)
  • Visit during the 100th anniversary/ my 60th birthday (2055)
  • Visit during Halloween (September/October)
  • Visit during Christmas (November/ December)
  • Collect Pins
  • Visit with my DCP friends
  • Visit with my boyfriend 
  • Attend Disneyland's Dapper Day
Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Park
  • Explore the castle
  • Wander through Alice's Labyrinth
  • Explore Discoveryland
  • Explore the pirate theming in Adventureland
  • Meet Belle, Aurora and Cinderella (French Princesses)
  • Ride BTM
  • Ride the carousel
  • Ride Phantom Manor
  • Ride Space Moutnain Mission 2
  • Eat at Walt's
  • Shop at Lillian's
  • See the Old Mill
  • Walk through Le Passage Enchante d'Aladdin
  • Ride Indiana Jones
  • See Disney Dreams firework show
  • See Disney Magic on Parade
  • Eat at Blue Lagoon
Walt Disney Studios

  • Ride Crush's Coaster
  • Ride Ratatouille
  • Studio Tram Tour
  • See Art of Disney Animation
  • Explore Toy Story Playland
  • CineMagique
  • Eat at Bistrot Chez Remy

  • Visit during the 50th anniversary (2042)
  • Visit during Christmas (November/December)
  • Collect Pins
  • Eat at Earl of Sandwhich 
  • Visit during the spring 
  • Attend Disneyland Paris' Dapper Day
Disney Cruise Line
  • Go to Castaway Cay
  • Do a Mediterranean Cruise  
  • Decorate my door

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ranking of Starbucks

Please note that this is not to knock Starbucks or Walt Disney World or the Cast Members that work in the Starbucks. All of these locations are wonderful. This is just an opinion piece, and is meant in light hearted nature.

6. Marketplace - Disney Springs

This is meant as a "grab and go" place, so I will not be taking off points for no seating. The Starbucks is in a good location as it is right next to the stage where music and games are played. However, lines can build rather quickly and it is a bit of a walk from both the parking garage and the bus drop-off.  It is located between World of Disney, the biggest shop on property so this location can become very crowded. There is no themeing to this location - it just looks like a regular Starbucks kiosk. 

5. Fountain View - EPCOT

EPCOT's Starbucks location is ranked low mostly because of theming. It's a gray and white colors are less futuristic and more boring. There is some seating outside, but it is very limited and fills up quickly. And thus you are forced to take your Starbucks either with you as you walk around the World Showcase or across the fountain to sit at the Electric Umbrella. The line faces away from the fountain, so you do not actually have a view of the fountain shows as you are waiting to order. 

4. Main Street Bakery - Magic Kingdom

This one is pretty cool. Main Street is one of my favorite themed lands, and this Starbucks fits in very well. It is only ranked at number four as it is so crowded all the time. I know, crowded is to be expected at the Magic Kingdom. But the placement of this Starbucks on the tiny Main Street sidewalks can cause traffic jams. It is especially difficult to get into and out of Starbucks and hour before parades or Wishes. There is no seating anywhere nearby. Points added for the Cast Member's costumes, though. 

3.West Side - Disney Springs

This one may look and feel more like your typical Starbucks rather than a Disney restaurant, but this Starbucks is still unique. For one, it offers wine. Yes, wine. And a wide selection of wine. You can get caffeinated AND tipsy.  And as a just turned 21 year old, this is very exciting to me. There is also plenty of seating in an environment that is quieter than the other Disney Starbucks. It is very easy to block out all of the craziness of Disney Springs inside this Starbucks. A fireplace and warm colors can make any guest feel cozy. There is also a live-stream camera where you can see the guests in the Disneyland Downtown Disney, and the Disneyland guests can see the Disney World guests!

2. Creature Comforts - Animal Kingdom

Okay, so I am a little biased when it comes to my home park of DAK. But Creature Comforts is really great! This is the only Starbucks on WDW property that takes donations for the Disney Conservation Fund, so you can give back to your planet while enjoying a tasty treat. The animal themed cupcakes are too cute and will satisfy any sweet tooth. There is plenty of seating right outside with tables and along benches. And right across from Creature Comforts is the cotton top tamarin exhibit! My favorite thing to do was to sip on my latte while watching these energetic little balls of fluff jump and swing from rope to rope. So why is this only number 2 and not 1? The location. Creature Comforts is about halfway back into the park, near the bridge to Africa. It is a little walk before getting your morning caffeine. 

1. Trolley Car Cafe - Hollywood Studios

This is my favorite Starbucks location in the entire WDW resort area. The theming is the best. The Starbucks is inside an old train car (hence the name). I did not know it was a Starbucks at first because it blends in so well with the streets of 1930's Hollywood. The inside has pictures, pipes and switchboards to make it seem like you are the conductor of the train. The Cast Members have some of the cutest costumes. This location can get crowded, but the Cast Members are very good and usually get through the line quickly. This Starbucks is located near the entrance, but unlike Main Street, foot traffic is not a big obstacle. It is also close to favorite attractions such as Toy Story Midway Mania and the Tower of Terror so you do not have to spend so much time walking to and from Starbucks. And for Star Wars fans, you can get a Darth Vader cupcake here. There isn't a lot of seating, but there is a bench and fountain near by that a lot of people like to sit on while they drink their coffee. Some of my favorite memories of my time at WDW was grabbing a peppermint mocha at the Trolley Car Cafe, plopping down on a curb and taking in the Osbourne Lights. 

What do you think? What is your favorite Starbucks location in WDW?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

In Defense of Song of the South

The average Disney fan has not seen Song of the South. Some haven't even heard of it. Disney has locked this movie tightly in the vault and the only reminiscences of it are on the Splash Mountain attractions and it's award winning Zip A Dee Do Da song.

So why is this movie ket out of the public eye? One word: racism. The word "racism" has caused a huge uprise in America, especially in recent times. Some historians will even argue that there is not a single moment in American history that did not involve racism. The NAACP was up in arms over the release of this movie. And they're the reason it's still not released on DVD in America today, despite much fan demand. The movie is also sold in Europe and Asia. 

Yet many people who watch the movie are confused as to how it is racist. When they watch the movie, all they see is a black Uncle Remus getting along with and being admired by the white plantation owners. How is it racist if they are treating each other as equals? Uncle Remus is the wisest, and kindest character in the entire movie. If the movie was really racist, wouldn't they make Uncle Remus out to be stupid or the bad guy? 

I am writing this to say that Song of the South is NOT racist. If anything, it's historically inaccurate. But so what? Disney isn't known for its historical accuracy. Pocahontas? Hercules? Mulan? Mary Poppins? All historically inaccurate. And all still enjoyed by millions all over the world. Song of the South is inaccurate because it shows white plantation owners and blacks getting along in the heart of Georgia shortly after the Civil War, when we all know this was far from the truth. Furthermore, depicting the black workers as happy could have added to the argument made by racists that backs should have a low position in society because they are happy with it.

Despite whether you believe the actual movie itself is racist, it actually was a huge contribution to the Civil Rights Movement. James Basket, who played Uncle Remus, was one of the first black actors in Hollywood to have a starring role that did not depict blacks in a foolish way. Basket was also the first African American male to win an Academy Award. The movie was a big milestone in working towards equality. All of this would not have been possible without Walt Disney. Many people say Walt was racist, but that is far from the truth. 

Walt Disney himself did everything he could to be sensitive towards blacks while making this movie. He had the script viewed by many different people of different political beliefs to make sure it didn't come off as Uncle Tomish. Walt Disney said that James Basket was one of the best actors out there, black or white. In fact, it was Walt who discovered Basket. Song of the South premiered in Atlanta. Georgia was in the thick of Jim Crowe during the 1940's, and no hotel would let a black man in. With no place to stay, Basket could not attend his own movie priemer. When Walt heard this, he left the premier early out of respect for Basket. Walt even petitioned for Basket to receive his Academy Award. 

Song of the South, while not historically accurate, IS historically important. The tales of Bre'r Rabbit descend from Africa and were a very important part of slave history as the stories were passed down from generation to generation. By burying the movie, these cultural stories are also being buried. 

I believe that whether or not you think Song of the South is racist depends entirely on your own perspective. If you watch the movie looking for racism, you might just find it. But if you watch it looking for a charming story, you're going to be charmed. As long as you are not so ignorant as to base your thoughts of history around a Disney movie or put it into context for children, you'll be fine. 

Song of the South is a heart-warming movie typical of any other Disney movie. The kids are adorably funny and the setting is beautiful and its characters teach important moral lessons. Thankfully, a lot of bootlegged editions are out there and you can also stream the movie from the internet. I highly suggest that you watch the movie and form your own opinions on it for yourself. 

"And just because these here tales is about critters like Br'er Rabbit an' Br'er Fox, that don't mean they ain't the same like can happen to folks! So them who can't learn from a tale about critters, just ain't got the ears tuned for listening."
- Uncle Remus, Song of the South

A Review of TInkerbell

One day my friends decided to Disney Bound as the fairies. They asked me which one I wanted to be and I had no clue. I had never seen a Tinkerbell / Fairies movie despite that the franchise was already 8 years old. But after a brief description of the fairies from my friends, I decided to go as Silvermist, the water fairy. 

That was a year ago. Just recently I decided it was about time for me to check out this franchise. So I sat down and watched 2008's Tinkerbell. It was not as bad as I anticipated. Sure, there were some cheesy moments and the animation was crude. The movie's strong point was the voice acting of all the different characters. Tinkerbell has an all star cast with Kristen Chenoweth, Lucy Lui, Raven Simone and Jesse McCartney. Tinkerbell is voiced by none other than Mae Whitman. I am a big fan of Mae and she did not disappoint. I also really liked all the different characters, each with their unique talents and personalities. I think little girls could easily find a fairy that they identify with or want to emulate. I liked the overall theme, even though it was not subtle. I did not like how much the creators departed from the original Peter Pan tales. In the 1953 movie, Tink is sassy, easily angered, jealous and a bit of a brat. This Tinkerbell is much nicer in order to gain sympathy from the audience.However, branching away from the original Peter Pan allowed writers to be more creative with this movie, and I appreciate that.