Disney In The Details: The Dino’s Highway

Share Button

Chester & Hester's Dino-RamaOne of the most energetic and fun areas in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Dinoland, particularly near Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama. The area is made to look like a road stop along a highway, and there are street signs marking just what road you are traveling on.

Look for road signs which read “498 Highway.” While this may just appear to be a sign made at random, it was carefully chosen by Imagineers to honor the opening day of the park. The Animal Kingdom opened on Earth Day, April 22, 1998 and the street sign pays homage to April of that year as a tribute to the first month of operation for the park.

This is a great example of how even random things in the parks can actually be hidden details paying tribute to or standing for something. So always keep your eyes peeled and keep finding small details!

Share Button

Five For Fridays: Best Background Music Loops

Share Button

Nothing gets me through those in between Disney vacations times like listening to a little music from the Parks. While there are some pieces of music that almost everyone can identify, there are dozens of subtle ones throughout the Parks that are amazing as well. Let’s take a look at five of the best background music loops and pretend to be in WDW.

1. Universe of Energy – Understated, but so catchy.

2. Tomorrowland – Listen for the part highlighting the theme from Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.

3. Adventureland – Nothing gets better than a little Adventureland drum action.

4. Tower of Terror – This queue is eerie enough on its own, but this mournful jazz takes it to a whole new level.

5. Splash Mountain – Upbeat and entertaining while you wait.

I hope you enjoyed these awesome clips of Disney background music. Be sure to let me know what your favorite background loop is by leaving a comment below!

Share Button

Disney From The Twenty-Something: Best Attraction Queues

Share Button

Haunted MansionIf you have read any of my articles in the past, you will know that I love searching out small details which come together to form incredible attractions. Whether it is a detail adding to the theme, a nod previous history, or even a Hidden Mickey, details shape the way I see attractions and truly immerse me in their environments. Usually the best places to search for these details are in the queues of the attractions. There you spend the most time soaking in your surroundings and getting a picture of the adventure that is to come. Thus, some of the time I end up enjoying the experience of a queue just as much as the attraction itself. So I put together a list of what I think are the best queues in all of Walt Disney World. Most of them are merited on details, some on other things, but they all have one thing in common- they are fantastic in telling their stories. So come with me and let’s check out some of my favorite Walt Disney World queues!

Jungle Cruise- The Jungle Cruise’s queue is ripe with detail, both visual and audio. As you walk through the winding hemp-rope enclosed walkways, there are artifacts from expeditions, crates containing exotic goods, information notices, adventure schedules, and even some creepy crawlers. Essentially everywhere you look there are details to be found, and most of them have some form of that Jungle Cruise dry humor involved. If you listen closely too, there are notices every so often that interrupt the jungle themed music announcing some pretty humorous events and occurrences. Two of my favorite details are a sign advertising meals for the week (chicken anyone?) and a reference to Bill Evans, an Imagineering horticulturist who was greatly responsible for creating all of the exotic landscapes and greeneries you are about to experience on your journey through the rivers of the world.

Haunted Mansion- No surprise that this one makes the list as it is also full of details. The original queue holds a special place in my heart as those tombstones rhymes were some of my favorite things to check out as a child when visiting the Magic Kingdom. (Best one? Master Gracey of course- “Master Gracey laid to rest, no mourning please at his request.”) While I adore the original queue, more details and effects have been added over the years to contribute to its appeal. The Madame Leota tombstone that now opens her eyes from regions beyond and surveys all those that pass by adds a new level of eeriness and is one of my favorite touches. I am also a fan of the new interactive queue, which places Master Gracey prominently and highlights some of the other 999 happy haunts that we had never met before. Now that the Fastpass+ lines has been added, if you are waiting on the stand-by queue you will be forced to pass through the new interactive graveyard, so be sure to check out all of the new residents as you pass through!

Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid- This new queue makes my list due to sheer volume of detail. The Imagineers really outdid themselves on this one, and as soon as you step past the mast featuring Ariel and enter the line you become a part of her world (heh heh heh). From treasure scattered throughout Ariel’s collection, to flowing waterfalls, nautical touches, and a fantastic audio-animatronic Scuttle who interacts with guests, this line is completely immersive. Trust me that despite long waits, you won’t mind spending time waiting on this queue just to be able to look around.

Living With The LandLiving with the Land- While this queue is relatively small and somewhat plain in comparison to some others on this list it has one shining set of details which made it a member of this list. The quotes lining the walls of the queue are a great way to introduce the principle of sustaining the land we love and taking care of Mother Earth. What I like best about these quotes is that they come from a wide range of individuals including children, politicians, and poets. Even if there is no wait to board the attraction, take a few minutes and read some of the quotes- you’ll be glad you did.

American Adventure- I love this queue for two different reasons, the first being that I am a big history buff and there are some pretty cool paintings and things to check out while waiting for your show to start. The second reason is the Voices of Liberty who are a truly phenomenal a capella group dressed in traditional colonial garb and singing songs of the era. With the acoustics created in the lobby filled with their voices as well as the patriotic memorabilia, you are truly in the spirit by the time you enter into the show itself.

Muppet*Vision 3D- This queue is dripping in visual sight gags and details from the second you approach the building to the moment you exit it. I dedicated an entire post to this attraction last week and touched on many of the great details there, so go check it out!

Tower of TerrorTower of Terror- Of all the queues on this list, this one if my favorite. From the foggy gardens with mournful wailing jazz music in the background, to the dried up and cracking fountain, to the desolate lobby, you immediately know something went wrong here. The lobby itself features so many great small details including an abandoned game of mahjong, mail still waiting in slots to be delivered to guest rooms, and cups of tea left midway through. Fans of the show The Twilight Zone will recognize many small details paying homage to particular episodes throughout the lobby and the library. Just don’t get too caught up or you may find yourself in…the twilight zone.

Rock n’ Roller Coaster- While this queue has some great details which really make you feel as though you are in the middle of a fully functioning recording studio, it is something else entirely that makes this one of my favorite queues. Once you exit into that back alley and hear those tires screeching you immediately are drawn to watching the stretch limes before you take off at full speed. This builds such anticipation and excitement for your own ride and solidifies this coasters spot on the list.

Expedition Everest- This queue takes you through small prayer temples, a museum, and a base camp all while reminding you that you are in the yeti’s territory. What makes this queue so fantastic to me is the yeti museum featuring many original artifacts and art works while also adding in a little foreboding of your trip to come by showcasing what happened to a ‘lost’ expedition before you. I love looking at the intricate woodwork and carvings throughout the cue and always find that by the end of it I truly feel as though I was exploring the land around the Himalayans. Through detail and immersion, this queue is definitely one of the best on this list.

So there you have my favorite queues in all of Walt Disney World! Whether by detail, immersion, or other touches each of these attractions has a phenomenal queue which perfectly introduces the experiences to come. It was honestly really hard to cut this list down to only the few I featured here, and some really close runners were Splash Mountain, Test Track, and Kali River Rapids. But alas, I had to cut it someplace. But, I would love to hear what your favorite queue is and why, so be sure to leave it in the comments below!

Share Button

Disney In The Details: China’s Evil Prince

Share Button

ChinaEach country in Epcot’s World Showcase is home to endless details and symbols of the cultures and customs represented. A unique detail found in the China Pavilion demonstrates how Imagineers were able to tie historical details into the design making it educational as well as entertaining.

On the roof of Nine Dragons Restaurant, look for a figure of a man riding a chicken. This is Prince Min of the State of Qi who was hung from a temple’s roof in 238 BC for his crimes. Chinese tradition calls for a statue of him to be placed on a roof to protect the building from evil spirits. Located behind Prince Min are also numerous animal statues which provide additional protection as they guard him.

So next time you are in China, be sure to look up and check out Prince Min- another great detail giving insight into China’s history!

Share Button

Five For Fridays: Best Hidden Mickeys in the Animal Kingdom

Share Button

Tree of LifeFor this week’s Five For Fridays, let’s take a look at some of the bets Hidden Mickey’s throughout the Animal Kingdom. I’m not going to include any pictures to accompany the descriptions of where to find these Hidden Mickeys since hunting for them is half the fun! See how many you can find!

1. Tree of Life – On the back of the Tree of Life, start by looking for the head of a hippo. Once you have found the hippo look for a classic silhouette of an upside down Hidden Mickey. This one can best be seen from the lookouts on the pathway between Africa and Asia.

2. Conservation Station – Upon first entering into the Conservation Station, be sure to spend some time just taking in the massive and beautiful mural of animals that greets you. If you look closely near an owl, you might just find a class Hidden Mickey as well.

3. Kilimanjaro Safaris – This is the second largest Hidden Mickey in all of Walt Disney World and it can be found near the flamingos. Try to think out of the box for this one and you will find it.

4. Expedition Everest – This is the largest Hidden Mickey that exists and can’t actually be seen from the Animal Kingdom. Pull up Google Maps and focus on the mountain itself. See if you can figure out this massive Hidden Mickey.

5. DINOSAUR – After passing through the seat belt check and turning the corner to start heading towards the time travel passageway, look for a dry erase board on the left hand side of your ride vehicle. It is covered in notes and doodles left by the students at the Dino Institute and if you look closely enough you might just find a Hidden Mickey somewhere in the mess.

Happy hunting!

 

Share Button

Muppet*Vision 3D

Share Button

Muppet Vision 3DNestled in the Backlot area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios lies an attraction sure to tickle any funny bone, whether with small jokes or over the top visual gags. Muppet*Vision 3D is a wonderful display of the merging of Jim Henson’s humor and the Imagineer’s magic touch, and is sure to draw guests back again and again.

In 1990, a stage show titled Here Come the Muppets was added to Hollywood Studios (then MGM…ahh who doesn’t still refer to it as MGM sometimes?) in order to promote the coming attraction which was finally added in May of 1991. The attraction added a new immersive way for guests to experience the Muppet’s world through the use of 3D technology. To this day, Muppet*Vision 3D is the only 3D attraction on property that refers to its glasses simply as 3D glasses. (It’s Tough to be a Bug refers to them as Honorary Bug Glasses, Star Tours refers to them as Flight Glasses, and Philharmagic refers to them as Opera Glasses.) The world of 3D is a perfect fit for the Muppets as it allows a new way to present those classic, corny gags that the group is famous for.

Back when the attraction first opened, the queue was always extensive and wound around the side of the building into an area to the right of the entrance. Since there is rarely a wait time over twenty minutes now a days, that section of the queue is often overlooked by guests who beeline right to the entrance of the theater. If it is not roped off, be sure to walk around the extended queue and take in the first of many gags to come. There you will find posters advertising some pretty famous films, but with a Muppet twist. My favorite is the Star Wars poster…or Star Chores as it is known here. Despite this section of queue being around since the opening of the attraction, the posters are regularly updated and now include a nod to Pirates of the Caribbean and even High School Musical.

Muppet Vision 3DBefore you enter into the actual attraction, be sure to look everywhere (and I mean everywhere) around you in the courtyard for some great visual gags including an ice cream sundae, and a Hidden Mickey in the fountain. As you enter into the building, take pause at a counter of the Muppet’s security desk on the right hand side. See that sign indicating that they’ll be back in five minutes and that the key is under the mat? Go on, you know what to do!! That small attention to detail combined with the Muppet humor is what makes this attraction so loveable to me. Stop and take a few minutes to read the directory board too, you might end up wanting to order some alphabet soup! Perhaps my favorite small detail of the entire attraction lies above you on an arch way into the preshow room. Look for where a Muppet has made his mark and set the standard for guests to follow him and enter into the theater.

In the case of Muppet*Vision 3D, the preshow is just as entertaining as the actual show and is definitely not to be missed. It is twelve minutes long, but it is worth every minute as it is both charming and hilarious. Set up to span three different television monitors, the Muppets have some fun bouncing from one screen to the other as they frantically try and get ready for the show. The tap dancing Gonzo’s are a great part of this preshow, but it is Sam Eagle’s introduction of “Mickey Mouse” aka Rizzo the Rat that steals the show. “Rat schmat, they’re tourists!” As the preshow is running, be sure to also walk around and take in the details around you as this room is dripping in puns. A great visual tribute lies above you- look for a net full of jello…now say that quickly. Sounds like Annette Funicello, right? This is a cleverly placed tribute to the late Funicello who was an original Mouseketeer selected by Walt Disney himself. There are also plays on famous artists and their works, movie posters, and even musicians (can you find the 2D Frutties crate?) Many of the crates scattered around also feature some great nods to the characters waiting for you in the theater…although they have ordered some pretty strange things. Honestly, you can go through this preshow dozens of times and probably find a new joke on each visit, so enjoy walking around and take in as much as you can.

Muppet Vision 3DWhen it is finally time to enter the theater and take your seats, be sure to remember that stopping in the middle of a row is distinctly unpatriotic! Check out the projector before the lights go down and notice that it’s made by Yell and Howl, a clever play on the projector company Bell and Howell. As the orchestra of penguins tunes up, check out the sheet music near them which portrays “The Rainbow Connection” of classic Muppet history. Once the show starts, you are treated to a tour of the Muppet labs and get to see dozens of your favorite funny friends. Fozzie is there with his usual mishaps and jokes, Miss Piggy is as over the top and dramatic as always, and Sam Eagle delivers the patriotism by the buckets.

However it is the glorious finale (“a tribute to all nations but mostly America” as Sam Eagle says) which steals the show. In Muppet tradition, things definitely don’t go according to plan and create some hilarious mishaps along the way. Throughout the finale, look for some familiar characters from It’s A Small World and listen closely for a few lines of their usual song. It is mayhem and fun all wrapped up into one scene. A special treat comes in the form of a classic Mickey balloon spotted in the background as Kermit ends the show. And of course, Waldorf and Statler get the last word!

Muppet*Vision 3D will definitely leave you laughing and wanting to return again and again. For me it is a must do on each visit to Hollywood Studios and I love all of the attention to detail and gags. I left out mention of my favorite visual gag, let’s see if someone can guess where it is – there is a blue pipe and some clever chalk work that creates a likeliness of Gonzo with his 3D glasses. Anyone know where it is?

Share Button

Disney In The Deatils: Sitting On Sunshine

Share Button

Spaceship EarthEpcot’s Future World East is home to attractions such as Test Track, Mission:SPACE, and Ellen’s Energy Adventure so it should come as no surprise that the main focus behind this section is technical advances in our world. From mechanical inventions for vehicles to the developments enabling travel into space, to renewable energy sources, Future World East is all about technology utilized to create a better tomorrow.

A great feature that can be found in Future World East near Test Track is a unique bench. During the day, it seemingly fits in with the surrounding decor, but has one pretty special feature. The top of the bench has a solar panel which collects that Florida sunshine throughout the day and powers a light attached above the bench at night. Many guests might not even notice the solar panel or the light, but if they have a seat there they are literally sitting on sunshine!

Just another great little detail to be found in Epcot!

Share Button

Five For Fridays: The Best Pixar Movies

Share Button

Pixar PlaceSince the partnership of Disney and Pixar, there have been some amazing feature films released beginning with 1995′s beloved Toy Story. From memorable characters to plot lines that make us laugh, cry, and hold our breathe, let’s see some of the best movies Pixar has created.

1. Up – In 2009, this movie debuted to immediate success. It centers around elderly Carl who has recently lost his beloved wide Ellie as well as his home. He sets off for the adventure he always dreamed of and finds himself surrounded by danger, beauty, and talking dogs. The best moment of the entire film comes in the flashback telling of Carl and Ellie’s relationship- good luck not crying.

2. Toy Story – This is where it all started in 1995 with John Lasseter’s imagined toy world. Since it’s debut, there have been two sequels as well as countless new characters who have joined Woody and Buzz on adventures all over the neighborhood and beyond. This original film introduced Toy Story’s world to guests, and they are still asking for more.

3. Finding Nemo – Taking guests deep into the big blue world in 2003, this film introduced such lovable characters such as Nemo, Dory, and Crush. It tells a story of adventure and devotion and ultimately the lesson that family is all important. Just try not to get too close to the seagulls when you have food…mine!

4. Monster’s Inc. – In 2001 viewers were introduced to the town of Monstropolis which utilizes the screams of humans to power the city. Mike and Sully quickly captured hearts as they work to return toddler Boo safely to her home. Ultimately, we learn that laughter is key and that monsters really aren’t so scary after all.

5. Toy Story 3 – In 2010, everyone’s favorite toys were back and dealing with a rather emotional plot- Andy leaving for college. Through some adventure, the toys end up in a local day care where they must deal with a maniacal bear and find their way home. The ultimate tearjerker comes in the ending where Andy decides to part with his toys and leave them as gifts for another little girl. Once again, good luck not crying.

These are my favorite five Pixar movies, but there are so many others to love including Brave, Cars, The Incredibles, and Wall-E. Each one is an amazing demonstration of loveable characters and beautiful story telling and deserves to be watched if you have never seen it before. So get watching!

What is your favorite Pixar movie? Can you make it through those scenes in Up and Toy Story 3 without crying? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Share Button

Living With The Land

Share Button

Living With The LandOne of my favorite attractions in Epcot is one that is often overlooked by most guests who tend to beeline straight for Soarin’ when they enter into The Land. Living with the Land if a fantastic tour through several different areas all aiming to promote news ways in which to sustain and produce various foods in eco- friendly ways. From the greenhouses to close encounters with small alligators, Living with the Land offers both an educational but fun insight into the future of agriculture at Epcot.

When the attraction first opened in 1982, it was called Listen to the Land and had a very catchy theme song of the same title (now that it’s stuck in your head, you’re welcome). In 1993 the attraction was updated and renamed Living with the Land. One of my favorite ways to experience this attraction is to combine it with other activities within The Land. I often find myself headed to the pavilion first thing in the morning and getting a FastPass for Soarin’. I then hop on the stand-by line for Soarin’ since it usually has a very short wait. I then come out and enjoy breakfast at Sunshine Seasons, which in my opinion is the best quick service dining location in Walt Disney World. After eating breakfast, I head over to Living with the Land.

Living With The LandOne of the first things you notice featured as part of the attraction are the quotes scattered on the walls throughout the queue. It is worth taking your time and reading all of them as they really are inspirational and moving. Featuring famous authors, politicians, and environmentalists alongside children, the quotes all focus on the maintenance and preservation of Earth. My favorite quote is by ten year old Jessica Lee from Hong Kong: “The Earth is like my mother. You get punished if you make a mess. Why do you think this planet’s called Mother Earth?”

After working your way through the queue, you will board the attraction’s boats and set off on your journey. You first encounter scenes which show you all of the different environments that exist and how plant life and agriculture are supported there. As you pass through the rainforest scene, look up for a glimpse into the Garden Grill Restaurant. Once you enter into the desert scene, take notice of the buffalo and prairie dog audio-animatronics. They were originally created for a proposed area of the Magic Kingdom which never came to be. The expansion was called the Western River Expedition and was centered on the Wild West. However the project was replaced by the construction of Pirates of the Caribbean and the animatronics were stored until their use in Living with the Land.

Living With The LandAfter moving through the various agricultural environments, you move into the greenhouses. There you will see countless fruits, vegetables, and herbs all being grown utilizing various eco-friendly technologies many of which were developed in The Land. These greenhouses produce such a vast amount of food that chances are you will consume some of it if dining anywhere throughout WDW. You also get a glimpse into some of the labs and tanks being used for various forms of growing food. You will see examples of hydroponic drip irrigation, soil-free farming, and growth opportunities used in difficult areas such as the desert and arctic. If you are lucky, you might even see a Hidden Mickey in a suspended tube holding water on the left side of your boat. Depending on the time of year, you might also see certain vegetables including pumpkins being grown into a certain lovable mouse’s shape.

While many guests may find this attraction to be boring, I adore it. Not only is it interesting, but you are afforded glimpses into beautiful plants and various foods as they are growing. This is especially true during the afternoons when the greenhouses are flooded with that bright Florida sunshine. This attraction also makes a great opportunity to sit down for a few minutes, cool off, and rest your feet after a long day wandering through the parks. For those who are interested in a more in depth look into the greenhouses, there is also the Behind the Seeds tour which is an hour in duration and further immerses you in the experience. I’ve wanted to take this tour for several years now and will finally get the chance when I am in WDW this September!

Regardless of whether you are interested in agriculture and gardening, Living with the Land is a great attraction to experience when you are in Epcot. You’ll see wonderful things being grown, get a chance to rest for a few minutes, and might even learn something along the way.

Do you love Living with the Land? Have the old theme song stuck in your head now like I do? Ever done the Behind the Seeds tour? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Share Button

Disney In The Details: Main Street’s Realtor

Share Button

Cinderella CastleHave you ever noticed the businesses and names being advertised on the windows of Main Street in the Magic Kingdom? Well, each one of those windows is actually a tribute to a part of Walt Disney World’s history. Many feature the name of a previous Imagineer along with a tie in to a hobby of theirs. However there is one window which focuses instead on a company with a rather unique background.

Look to the right side of Main street while headed towards Cinderella Castle for a window which advertises “M.T. Lott Real Estate Investments.” If you say the name quickly, you’ll find that it is a play on empty lots, an ideal real estate buy. What most guests don’t realize is that M.T. Lott was a dummy company name used when Walt Disney was purchasing the land in Central Florida to build Walt Disney World. Disney used dummy names in order to pay normal prices per acre for the land. In fact, when it was found out that it was Disney purchasing the acres, prices skyrocketed overnight.

Leave it to Disney to come up with a creative and humorous name for a dummy company! Next time you are strolling down Main Street, be sure to find this window and take in a little piece of WDW history.

Have you ever spotted this window before? Do you have another favorite window on Main Street? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Share Button