Disneyland Diamond Celebration Paint the Night Parade!

I was able to attend the Paint the Night Parade this last May shortly after the Diamond Celebration started. If you go when the park is crowded you will need to find a place HOURS before the parade. So bring a blanket or towel to lay on the ground and have a seat. All ages will find this presentation delightful, even my 10 month old granddaughter was bouncing along with the music. Here is a video of the beginning to give you a taste of this spectacular parade.

I absolutely love all the lighting effects that are utilized. The colors are vibrant and beautiful and you will still be singing the music to yourself long after.

Mike - from Monsters, Inc.
Mike – from Monsters, Inc.

There are Pixar characters, including Monsters Inc,  Cars and Toy Story:

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The Disney princesses are included, Elsa and Anna are on a float of the Ice Castle:

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Belle has a beautiful float with her rose. There are petal shaped screens behind her that change with the music.

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Ariel has her float which is preceded by performers who are illuminated and resemble sea fans:

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All the performers do an amazing job and the lighting is gorgeous. If you plan on going to Disneyland during the celebration, make plans to include this in your schedule as this is a MUST DO parade!

 

 

Spring 2014 – Walt Disney World (part two)

Our second day was spent relaxing for the better part of the day. After checking out of the Port Orleans, we left our bags with bell services to be transferred to the Wilderness Lodge and then went to Senses Spa at the Grand Floridian Resort for a massage. Just bring a change of clothes and you’re all set, there are lockers for your belongings, shampoo, conditioner, hair dryers, hair brushes, razors, deodorant(spray), etc. for freshening up before you leave.  There is a nice quiet room with a sofa and huge recliners where you wait for your massage and/or relax after.  There was a selection of hot teas available, along with some zucchini muffins and an iced container of cucumber water. I had a wonderful hot stone massage and I’ve already decided I will do that again on my next trip.  As you would assume I do not have any pictures out of courtesy for the other guests in the spa.

When we had relaxed all we could (not really but this is Disney World, places to go, things to do) we boarded the monorail and went to each resort on the monorail loop and explored the shops.  Sometimes you can find unique resort specific items that are not available in other shops. We try to do the loop at least once a trip.

After shopping it was time for tea! This was the first time we made time for afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian in the Garden View Tea Room.  There are a large selection of international teas available on the menu, in addition to seasonal selections. We both selected the Buckingham tea service which consisted of a pot of tea and three courses.

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The first included a plate of chilled finger sandwiches with an onion tart,  the second course had a scone and strawberry tart with accompaniments of jam, butter and clotted cream.

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The third course you could chose from strawberries with cream, an English Trifle or a selection from the pastry tray. We both went with the Trifle:

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Everything was delicious, but The trifle was amazing!!!

After all that eating we needed to go walk some of it off and spent a little time at the Magic Kingdom before heading over to the Wilderness Lodge to change for dinner at the California Grill.  We arrived at our table just before sunset. There’s such a great view from here.

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We decided to share some appetizers as our meal since we were not that hungry.  So we ordered a flatbread and some rolls.

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We decided to have dessert too! I ordered the Vanilla Creme Brulee and my daughter ordered a special dessert that included a grapefruit cupcake! I also ordered a Grand Marnier flight which you can also see in the photo.

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After dessert it was time for the Wishes fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.  The California Grill is a great place to watch the fireworks. Did you know you don’t need to time your dinner to end at the time of the fireworks? If your dinner was earlier in the evening you can return to watch the fireworks.

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The Magic Kingdom was open until midnight that night so we returned to ride a few more rides and walk off our meals.  We decided not to close the park that night since we had an early start on the next day.

 

Spring 2014 – Walt Disney World (Part One)

DME bus 3/14
DME bus 3/14
DME queue
DME queue

We managed to get an early non-stop flight and landed in Orlando around 10am. As usual we made a  beeline for Disney’s Magical Express, this, for those of you not familiar with Walt Disney World, is their included transportation from the Orlando airport to the Disney resorts.  This service is great, they take care of getting your luggage to your hotel too, unless you have a flight that lands after 10pm.   So you go down to the level where the rental cars and buses are and way down on the end is the Magical Express area. You walk up to one of the friendly Disney castmembers and they scan your MagicBand(more on that later) and you are guided into the queue for the bus that will take you to your resort.  Some buses make stops and more than one resort.  Once on your bus, sit back and relax, your vacation has begun! The monitors will provide some information and entertainment for the ride. Our first night we stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter, designed to look like the New Orleans French Quarter. We dropped our carryon luggage at our room and headed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

POFQ walkway
POFQ walkway
POFQ
POFQ

We decided to start our trip with something different this time and scheduled the Wild Africa Trek for the afternoon.  Our arrival day was a Saturday and since the crowds are heavy on a spring weekend we wanted an activity that would take us away from the lines and crowds. The Wild Africa Trek is a 3 hour guided tour safari, part walking/hiking and then a ride in a safari vehicle.   This tour is purchased in addition to admission to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  You go behind the scenes and are closer to the animals. On the Trek you will encounter hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, rhinos and other savanna animals. The guides take photos during your tour for you, (it is included in the price), since you leave your belongings in a locker at the beginning. You are fitted with a safety harness to wear for part of the journey.

Wild Africa Trek - hippo!
Wild Africa Trek – hippo!

There is a tether on the back of the harness that attaches to a track, so we don’t fall in by the hippo! We observed while one of the animal researchers fed the hippo some lettuce. Further down the trail we crossed a wood and rope bridge over the crocodiles, makes you think of Indiana Jones!!

Rope bridge
Rope bridge

Shortly after we finished our time with the crocodiles we were able to have the harness removed for the rest of the  tour.  We boarded a safari vehicle to go around the savannah and observed the grazing animals. Our vehicle brought us to a pavilion area for our lunch/snack which consisted of items with an African flair.  They also served a delicious juice with the meal that was quite refreshing after the walk.  We relaxed and watched the animals for a little bit then loaded back on the vehicle to complete our tour of the savannah.  We had to sit tight at one point as there was a Giraffic jam, and all you can do is wait for the animals to mosey out of the path.  We thoroughly enjoyed this tour. I definitely would recommend it.

More to come in Part 2

Weekly Photo Challenge (Object) The Glow Cube

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The Glow Cube – Blue Bayou Restaurant – Disneyland

   I was with my daughter and grandson at Disneyland this December, having a late lunch at the Blue Bayou Restaurant and my grandson was fascinated with the glow cube from his mom’s drink, a Louisiana Lemonade! This object kept him occupied for quite a while which made our lunch more pleasant. The cube slowly changes colors, another factor that contributed to his being completely occupied by it.  This was my first time eating there as an adult. My parents brought us to Disneyland a few times when I was young and one of my memories from there was looking at the “fireflies” that were in the trees.  You can even here the chirping crickets and the croaking frogs.  I’m glad there are no buzzing mosquitos like you find here in Louisiana!  I don’t know how the menu compares now to how it was in the late 60’s. I do believe they have always offered the Monte Cristo sandwich. The Blue Bayou Restaurant is located in New Orleans Square.  The atmosphere is very romantic, the tables are located next to a bayou at twilight and you watch the boats from the Pirates of the Caribbean float by. This restaurant is very popular and usually advance reservations are needed.  We were lucky enough to get a same day reservation that morning!

 

Back to the Blog

Well, Zero to Hero is over.  I didn’t get all the assignments done, not only did I begin the challenge late but then I came down with shingles and I haven’t felt well enough to keep up. So even though it’s over I will try to complete some more of the tasks in the next couple weeks.  I’ve learned so much in the short amount of time I have been on here and I look forward to the next month.

Thanks for having the Zero to Hero challenge.  It did help me to get my blog started. I’m ready for February!

Today is the Day!!!

  My daughter and I have been looking forward to today for weeks.  It’s the day we get to make our fastpass+ selections for our upcoming trip to Walt Disney World. 🙂 What are fastpass+ selections? Well, the attractions that are the most popular have an option to get a fastpass.  This is a time that is given to the rider to return to the ride and be able to pass up the regular line.  Near the ride is a fastpass distribution area where you use your park ticket, put it in the fastpass ticket dispenser and out comes a slip with a time on it for you to return to the ride and enter the separate fastpass line.  This allows the guest to enjoy other areas of the park while they wait for their time to return. This is one my daughter had left over from her trip to Disneyland this summer.  Disney has updated their system and started the MyDisneyExperience website where you manage all your reservations, fastpass+ times, etc.  Image

So this morning we were like two little kids deciding which parks we would go to on what days and which rides we wanted for our fastpass+ selections.  They limit you to three selections per day. For Epcot they divide the selections into two groups where you are able to pick one from the first group and two from the second.  There is even an app for your phone which will (supposedly) allow you to change the time of your fastpass+ selection if your plans change. Disney has a video on youtube to demonstrate this:http://youtu.be/KHgJLAM4CNo  One feature of the system we do not like is that it limits you to selections in one park only.  We usually park hop so we are not fans of being limited to one park for fastpass+, but hopefully we will be able to obtain a fastpass at the second park on the day we are there.  To use your selections you are issued a MagicBand wristband to wear that is your park ticket, room key, fastpass+ and link to other plans and reservations. 

    This trip is just for my daughter (22 yrs)  and I to enjoy some time together. We have scheduled  a visit to the spa at the Grand Floridian and also an afternoon tea.  Some of the restaurants we have reservations at are the Be Our Guest Restaurant located in the Magic Kingdom, Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian and the California Grill on top the Contemporary Hotel to watch the fireworks while we eat.

   We will also be able to enjoy the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival which takes place from March 5 to May 18.  We have been to this event before but that was in May, right near the end of the festival and after a couple of months the topiaries and displays are not quite as lush as they were in March.  There will be plenty of photo opportunities!

  Our plans are set and we are so excited, we have selections made for every day we are there! Whew! Now………..we wait………

Weekend view

Weekend view

This Weekend’s View

Orange Beach, Alabama – This morning it was 31 degrees, rather chilly but it warmed up quickly. The water was calm this morning so we were able to watch a few school of dolphins feeding. This was taken at sunset on Thursday but we have been so busy cleaning this is the first chance I have had to post, so posting a photo fit better for me today. 🙂 Enjoy!

My New Element

   Kona Cafe is located at the Polynesian Hotel at Walt Disney World as indicated by this Google Map.  This was one of our usual stops among the restaurants we favor, but last year they changed their menu and removed the Tuna Oscar. That was a sad day, a very sad day indeed! One trip we actually ate there twice because we couldn’t get enough of it.  We not only go to Disney World to enjoy the theme parks but to also enjoy the culinary experiences.

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Banana-Chocolate Crème Brûlée
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Kilauea Torte

 These are two of our usual desserts, the Kilauea Torte and the Banana Chocolate Creme Brulee. Both are delicious and I recommend ordering the vanilla ice cream to accompany the Torte as the chocolate is very rich and the ice cream will complement it. I will post a photo of the Tuna Oscar in a day or so when I locate the photo. These two photos were taken in January 2009. Even the bread there is wonderful and served with macadamia nut butter, Yum!  I’m sure one day we will eat there again, if just for bread, butter and dessert!!!

 

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