Sunday, November 20, 2011


   Disney has announced the creation of a new "land" at Disney's Animal Kingdom which will be based on the movie Avatar.  The Disney fan community has gone bonkers trying to figure out what it all means and how it will all work out.  So far, everyone is asking the question - "How will Avatarland affect The Animal Kingdom?".  But my question is... "How will being connected to a Disney theme park affect the next Avatar movie?".

  Could there be a "reverse effect" which helps boost the fan base of the Avatar movie series? (there are 2 more already in the works).  I still have not seen the movie.  Now that they are going to create a whole "land" at Walt Disney World based on this movie, I want to see it!

   I realize that the Disney "Kook Base" isn't that large compared to the overall population of the world (the real world), but I'm wondering if someone, somewhere felt that this move could create an increased interest in the coming sequel.

   As far as the more immediate question being posed by Disney fans - "How will this work out at Walt Disney World?"...  I welcome it.  I don't think I've ever seen many of the movies that the Disney attractions are based on, yet I love the attractions, and I have to admit... I've never watched an entire Star Wars movie, yet I love Star Tours.  I mean, there weren't even movies for Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, or Space Mountain when these attractions were created, yet those are 3 of my 5 favorite rides!  I don't know of an Expedition Everest movie (and there may be one, but if so, I've never seen it) yet EE is one of my favorite attractions EVER!  So my answer to the question is... I don't know, but I look forward to what the Disney imagineers create!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First Time Experiences

   Ahhhhh... after a refreshing dip in the waters of my fountain of youth (WDW!), I'm enjoying the glorious afterglow of memories.  We enjoyed the company of 2 dear friends that traveled all the way from Idaho to spend a week at WDW with us, and it was their first time.  I came alive at the thought of showing them some of the wonders to be found there.  I hope they will forgive me if I pushed too hard as their tour guide, but I just can't help myself sometimes... I get caught up in all of the color, technology, and fantasy of the Walt Disney World complex.  I always carry a big yellow satchel with the WDW Today logo on it.  And our friends came up with a new motto for our touring days... "Follow the yellow bag!"

   For them, the entire trip was a first time adventure.  But for Dear Disney Wife and I, there were a few first times for us too.  In no particular order, here are a few of them:

1. The American Idol Experience: (Disney Hollywood Studios)
      I'm not really a fan of this show, in fact, I don't think I've ever watched a complete episode of it.  But, I thought it would be a nice way to spend a little time, and when our friends said that they watch the show, then it became a  must and was added to my touring plan sheet.  It was totally enjoyable!  It was fun and the venue was very comfortable.  This is one that we will be adding to future touring plan itinerary sheets.

2. Night of Joy: (Magic Kingdom)
    We tried to do this one during our Sept. 2009 visit.  But I came down with something, and we decided not to do it.  It was being held at the Disney Hollywood Studios then, but now was moved to the Magic Kingdom.  I wasn't sure what it would be like, but we love contemporary Christian music, and a few of our favorites were performing (Jeremy Camp & Francesca Battistelli).  Our friends also enjoy the music, so we all bought our tickets on-line and attended the Friday night event for our big finale of the trip.  It was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  We went in a little early and enjoyed some attractions before lining up for the concert.  We got hit with a huge rain storm, but hid out on the Carousel of Progress until it slowed down and eventually stopped.  From some of the tales told on various Disney group sites, we thought we might be swallowed up by hordes of mischievous teens, but it was not anything like that!  Other than a group of screaming girls on the Haunted Mansion, It was wonderful (even they added to the fun). The rain cooled things down, and the atmosphere was totally relaxed and fun. The rides had short lines, and the concerts were great.  Even the recorded music that was blasting as we walked around Main Street made me want to sing along (of course I tried to do it quietly so as not to ruin the trip for our friends).  You can be sure that our next Sept. trip that is scheduled around the Night of Joy time will include at least 1 night's ticket for the weekend event.

3. Kali River Rapids: (Disney's Animal Kingdom)
    Yup, that's right, we had never done Kali River Rapids at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  It was a warm day, the line was short, and we hopped in.  It was a blast... so much fun we had to do it again and queued up for a second trip.  The queue area is well themed too, much like Expedition Everest.  Our friends loved it, and so did we.  It's really well themed, and kind of exciting since you don't know who's going to get the wettest each ride.  Everybody gets wet, but some folks get DRENCHED... I was one of those folks.  I guess I asked for it, since I WANTED water from "the fountain of youth"!

4. Sum of all Thrills: (Epcot)
      Having heard so much about this new attraction inside of Innoventions East, I put it on our attractions list.  After leading us to the wrong side of Innoventions, we found it and hopped in line.  It looks a little intimidating as you see the giant robot arm swinging people around with their legs and feet flailing around, and our friends weren't sure they wanted to try it.  But after the cast member explained that you can control the intensity of the ride (that you design yourself!), they hopped in line with us.  It was a hoot.  Mrs. Boxing Guru and I designed a pretty mild ride with just a few big drops and curves, no upside down loops.  It turns out that our friends made a very similar bobsled ride too.  We'll do it again, and will probably design a much wilder ride next time.

5. Town Square Exposition Hall: (Magic Kingdom)
    When we entered the Magic Kingdom for the Night of Joy (our final night), I saw that there was only a 10 minute wait at the new Expo Hall to meet Mickey and Minnie, so we hopped in line and were led almost immediately into the room to meet and take pictures with WDW's star couple.  It was so much fun We didn't feel rushed, in fact we felt very welcomed as one of the cast members noticed our shirts (WDW Radio & WDW Today Podcasts) and commented on them.  It turns out that Josh is a regular contributor to both the WDW News Today and Inside the Magic Podcasts

6. Behind the Seeds Tour:  (Epcot)
      This was our first tour of any kind, and I think that Behind the Seeds is a great way to start.  It was another highlight of the trip for me.  To be taken back into the Living with the Land attraction really makes you feel like a true "V.I.P."  Our tour guide Britney was outstanding.  You could tell that she really loves what she does, and it was so interesting to be learning about things as ride boats glided by us.  Now, every time we take a ride on the Living with the Land boat ride at Epcot, we'll be remembering our tour Behind the Seeds.


A couple of others were not really firsts for us, but were firsts in their new form.  Star Tours - The Adventures Continue (aka- Star Tours 2) was a great ride.  The 3D effects and new and changing story line has spiced up the attraction.  Just as exciting as the original Star Tours, but spiffier. It's a wild ride that we had to do twice.  And The Enchanted Tiki Room has returned in a form much closer to the original that Walt designed.  No more Iago bird screaming at you throughout the show, just those talented singing birds and flowers taking you on a relaxing and colorful experience.  Thank You WDW for bringing them back!

   The beauty of Walt Disney World as a place to vacation, is that there is always something new to experience. We have a long list of things that we plan to do on future visits, but these are a few that were checked off on this last trip.  

   Did our friends get infected by the "Disney Virus"?  That remains to be seen.  But for us it was a great "Booster Shot"!



Sunday, August 7, 2011


   There are lots of reasons for traveling nearly 3000 miles round trip as often as we do, from New Mexico to WDW in Orlando, Florida. The great rides & attractions, the fantastic resort hotels, the parades, nightly fireworks spectaculars, out of this world dining options, and all the rest. But there is one thing that usually happens, and it can't be planned for. The people we meet! It seems that every time we go to Walt Disney World, we make new friends, and meet people who we remember for the rest of our days! I'm not one who likes to break the ice with new people. I'm quiet, and like to keep to myself most of the time. But for some reason, when I get a sip of water from my Disney Fountain of Youth , I become a little friendlier, a little less guarded. Maybe because I'm more relaxed. Maybe it's just the vibe being given off by the other happy people who are full of wonder about what lies ahead on this trip. I don't know exactly what it is, but where as I would hardly make eye contact with strangers back home, here, I am open to meeting new people, and since people come from all over the nation and the world, it can be a fascinating experience each time. We've only become "disney-fied" for a few years now, but we already have a whole list of neat people that made a mark on our disney memory banks. Here are a few of them...

   "Mr. Alfredo":  On our trip in Sept. of 2009, we spent Labor Day at "the town that Disney built" - Celebration, FL. We rented a car from a place in Kissimee, so they sent a shuttle van to pick us up at the Port Orleans Riverside. The driver pulled up and we asked him "are you here for us?" and he said (in a THICK Hispanic accent) "Yes, you are my people, hop in!". On the short drive from WDW to the rental car station, he shared his life story with us! He was originally from Peru, he was a taxi driver in NYC, his kids lived in Chicago, and he loved his job as the shuttle driver for the rental car company. We told him where we were from, and it's like we were life long friends. We talk about "Mr. Alfredo" all the time when something happens that reminds us of him.

   Bruni:  The agent at the rental car center was also very nice, and she was from Germany. Bruni was as friendly as she could be, and we enjoyed talking with her for a while. She gave us directions to Celebration and told us about some of the things in the area that we might enjoy. Such a nice lady. Again, we remember her often.

   The Family from Toronto, Canada:  While waiting for the bus we met a family from Toronto, Canada. They were of Indian or Pakistani decent (I think), and it was their first time at WDW, so they were asking us questions about Walt Disney World. I think that's all the nudge I need from anyone, just ask me about Walt Disney World, and you've stepped in it! I'll open up and share all that I know. When we got off of the bus, we wished them a great trip, and they did the same. A few days later, we were walking by the Rose & Crown in Epcot, and there they were! The parents were resting on a bench while the kids were off exploring. We asked them about their trip, and they said they were having a great time. We didn't even get their names, but we often remember "Our friends from Canada"!

The Wife of the Disney Tech Guy:   In Jan. of 2011, we did a trip with our Daughter, Son-in-Law, and 15 Month old Grand Daughter. We babysat while Mom & Dad went to Downtown Disney. They called and wanted us to meet them there, so we got the baby gear ready and headed out to the bus stop at Kidani Village. While we were waiting for the DTD bus, a lady was waiting with her baby daughter who looked about the same age as our Grandy. We were laughing at the two sleeping babies, and started up a conversation. It turns out that her hubby is some kind of tech specialist with Disney, and while he was working, she got to explore the theme parks and resorts! They are from Seattle (I think), and this was her first time at Walt Disney World. The bus ride to Downtown Disney went by fast as we talked about all things Disney.

   Disney Cast Members can also make a mark on our trips too. Like the woman at the check in desk at Port Orleans Riverside who tried to get through to the rental car company, but just couldn't seem to get through by phone. She told us to go ahead and enjoy our day, and that she would make sure to get through and verify that they were coming to get us (Mr. Alfredo!). When we got back to our room, there was a message on our phone, and she had made contact, and everything was set! She was great. 

  There have been others too. Enthusiastic and cheerful bus drivers, helpful servers at the restaurants, even the luggage handlers while we waited for the Magical Express to come and get us. Really too many to remember. But the people that we meet each trip are a part of the "magic" of our WDW (& Disneyland Resort) visits!

   Of course, not everyone is going to be a positive experience, that's for sure! But, I guarantee, for every one "Grumpy Gus" or "Sour Puss Sally", there's ten wonderful people with cheerful attitudes, and fascinating stories and lives to share! Courteous gestures that can really make your day.

  This is what you get when you water your lawn with water from the Disney Fountain of Youth!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Favorite Disney Websites

Back in April I wrote about my 9 favorite Disney Podcasts.  This time I'd like to share my top 5 Disney Websites.

Some are informational for the Disney commando planners out there, and some are just for fun.  I guess I should do individual blogs for the "Planning" sites, and the "Fun" sites.  Maybe in the future, but since I'm pressed for time... here are my 5 faves right now:

     This is my favorite right now, not because I write a column there (Disney Tale of the Tape), but because it is so unusual from any other disney website I've found.  Editor Bob McLain has a good thing going here, with some great writers, and some actual Disney Legends writing columns here!  Rolly Crump, Tom Nabbe, and Charlie Ridgeway all have columns here, and it's fascinating to hear from the actual imagineers & legends.  There are also other disney insiders including producer/podcaster- Jeff Heimbuch and co-owner of Mouseketrips (Disney only Travel Agency)- Keith Anderson.  There is fascination for everyone here, information, opinion, tips, and so much more.  I'm honored to be among the writers in this group.

     When it comes to planning a Disney World or Disneyland trip, nothing beats the seemingly endless information offered by All Ears!  There is information and descriptions of everything in all of the parks.  Rides, Shows, Resorts, Dining, I mean this site has information on everything.  Sometimes I like to do a "virtual WDW trip" by just browsing the pages of  A great asset to all who love disney.

     I would never dream of trying to plan a trip to Walt Disney World without first consulting  It is the site that works hand in hand with the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (the book), and has all of the planning strategy you will need for a commando raid on Walt Disney World.  Even if you are an experienced veteran who doesn't need the touring plans offered here, the crowd calendar is a valuable weapon in any trip planning arsenal.  It also has some great blogs which offer great tips. Part of the site is free, and for a nominal fee you get "The Whole Enchilada" and believe me... it's worth EVERY PENNY!

     Well, after all, this IS the "Disney Fountain of Youth" blog, so naturally, it's supposed to be aimed at "grownups", so this website is one of my favorites.  It is loaded with tips and articles that adults can really enjoy before heading to The World or in between trips.  Plenty of WDW news that is of interest to all age groups, but especially those of us in the "Fountain of Youth" category!

     This may seem like kind of a strange choice for #5 of all the WDW & Disneyland websites out there, but for anyone who has ever stayed at either of the Port Orleans resorts, or plans to stay there, this is a wonderful website!  It's filled with information about the entire resort, and has some great forums for fans with questions or who just want to express their opinions about the resorts.  Check it out, and I think you'll agree... you'll probably be wanting to stay there on your next visit!

   Those are just 5 of my favorites.  There are plenty more, and I'll probably go with 6-10 in a future posting.  Check these out and let me know what you think!

   Also check out:
                             The Disney Tale of the Tape for some fun "Matchups" of things Disney!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

If I was King of the Imagineers

I guess everyone thinks they would make a great Disney imagineer.  I suppose anyone who has enough creative imagination to appreciate the attractions at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort's theme parks would have some great ideas stored up in their heads that will never be realized.  If sorcerer Mickey would tap me on the head with his wand and give me the power to make changes here are a few things I would try:

1)  A "Dry" version of Kali River Rapids.
   I would install a "Wet" line an "Dry" Line.  Much like Mission Space has the "Orange" and "Green" lines for spinning.  The wet line would be "as is", and you would get SOAKED each time out.  The "Dry" line would feature enclosed ride vehicles which would have a clear top so that you could enjoy the sights and the turbulence of the rapids but the water would just splash on your windows and you would stay dry!

2) A Plussed version of Tomorrowland Speedway.
   The Tomorrowland Speedway would have tunnels which would feature audio animatronic characters.  I just think this would be a great addition.  Drivers would look forward to each tunnel coming up ahead.  The cars would have a spotlight on the passenger side so the passenger could search around in the darkened tunnels.  Bats, Mountain Lions, Vultures would be among the menacing creatures among the rocks in one tunnel, while Fairies, and other characters would appear in other tunnels!

3) A "Chicken" Version of Tower of Terror.
   For people like me, who don't like "drops"... this would be a great addition!  It would take you through the ENTIRE ride with everything except the big drop sequence.  It would probably have very short lines!

Those are just 3 changes I'd make.  I'm sure there will be more to come.  Do you have any ideas?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Disney Podcast Library

There are lots of elements in the water of my Disney fountain of youth. And a big part of the makeup of these nourishing waters is Podcasts. For a guy who was still taking a cassette tape player to work each day with headphones and a box of cassette tapes, being given an iPod nano for my birthday was a little scary, but with the help of my modern Daughter and Son-In-Law, I was able to get it all set up, and start looking for things to load it up with. Of course, some selections from my extensive music library filled a few gigs. The rest is devoted to my favorite Disney podcasts. I look forward to hitting the refresh button at iTunes and seeing the titles of the newest episodes from my line-up of fun and information from these Disney Gurus. I had as many as 16 Disney podcasts lined up for import, but a few shut down, and of those that were still going strong, I found that I just can't listen to them all, so I trimmed my library down to my favorites and that left me with 9 dynamite podcasts. Here's a short review of the 9 podcasts that made the cut:

#9 - WDW FAN BOYS PODCAST:  Tim, Bret and Paul are like a pack of wild disney dogs!  Nothing is sacred with these guys, and anything can happen.  The result is a guaranteed laugh (or at least chuckle) every time out.  This is the podcast that sits in the back of the bus and shoots spit wads at the driver.  These guys get a little out of control every now and then, and that makes me grateful for ear buds (rather than speakers)!

#8 - BETAMOUSE PODCAST: The self proclaimed "Geekiest disney podcast on the planet" is just that.  The technical side of this podcast sometimes goes over this old guys head, but host Henry Work is so cool, and his guest hosts Jeff, Nate, Scott, and Katie add a lot of personality and knowledge to the show.  Even though I don't know what the heck they're talking about 1/3 of the time... it makes me WISH I was a techie!  It's always a fun trip through disney's worlds through the eyes of true techno-geeks.

#7 - THE WDW NEWS TODAY PODCAST:  Tom Corless is the host of this informative podcast and he rules with an iron hand.  His guest hosts better come correct to these proceedings, because "Iron Tom" will call them on anything he doesn't agree with.  It's always fun to hear this group pontificate on the latest agenda.  I see this podcast as "WDW Fan Boys Podcast...all grown up".  All though they get a little rowdy every now and then, it's a lot tamer than the fan boys, but just as much fun and just as informative.

#6 - MAGICAL DEFINITION PODCAST:  Hosts Nathan Rose & Jim Hill really have a good thing going here.  The information contained in this podcast is always fascinating, and Nathan seems to dig down and bring out the knowledge of Jim Hill in a great mix of opinion and info.  It's not just Theme Park & Resort news, but they also hit on the movies as well as the business side of the disney empire.

#5 - WEDWAY RADIO:  These are the "Nice Guys" of the disney podcast universe.  Brothers Nate & Matt Parrish are the main hosts of this down home podcast.  It's what I would call "easy listening" disney podcast style.  Lots of colorful recollections from trips that these guys have made to Walt Disney World.  They often bring on co-hosts Jeff, Lynn, & Reilly who all add lots of Disney World and Disneyland information and stories.  It's a casual and soothing trip down disney lane.  These are the guys that wouldn't make fun of you if you said something dumb on their show.

#4 - INTERCOT INSIDER LIVE: The Levelbest network brings you one of the most professional sounding podcasts around.  John Yaglenski is the lead voice of this group along with panelists Ian, Gary & Melanie.  This is another mellow sounding round table style show which features lots of great opinion and information from all things disney.  Informative, challenging and entertaining are the three components that keep me coming back and have helped this podcast move to the top of my list.

#3 - BE OUR GUEST WDW TRIP PLANNING PODCAST:  Of all of the podcasts I listen to, this one comes the closest to making me feel like I'm on an actual visit to Walt Disney World.  You can feel the excitement and enthusiasm in the voice of host Mike Rahlmann.  His co-hosts Deb, Pam, and Rikki join in and the fun level goes sky high!  Trip Planning, Theme Park info, tips, lots of laughs and more.  This podcast never fails to get me anxious for the next WDW trip.

#2 - THE WDW RADIO SHOW:  Starring "The Lou" Mr. Lou Mongello.  This guy is a one man show.  He's an author, producer of the Disney audio guide series, publisher of Celebrations Magazine, hosts a great youtube channel, and more.  A literal walking encyclopedia of disney knowledge.  This is the most informative show around.  He has lots of great guests and topics, but the best of the best when it comes to special guests is the one and only Jim Korkis - disney historian and author of The Vault of Walt.  When Lou and Jim get together I can't get enough.  There's a new fact or piece of information around every corner of their conversations.  When it comes to disney news, trivia and information, no one person is in the know like "Mr. Lou"!

#1 - WDW TODAY:  These guys are "The A-Team" (I don't know which one of them would be Mr. T) of the disney podcast experience!  I could listen to these guys all day long (and sometimes do).  The perfect balance of wit, sarcasm, playful ribbing, information, opinions, disney news, tips and everything else.  I don't know how it happened, but the perfect team was assembled here.  The leader of the pack is "Mr. Disney Hollywood Studios" Matt Hochberg often playing the role of straight man, and the apparent task master of the bunch.  Len Testa is the technical wizard, and is the co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World touring books.  He's the aparent "go to" guy when questions get tough, and he usually comes through with an answer.  Mike Newell is the man behind Mouseworld Radio, and is the music master (among other things) of the bunch.  "Ol' Man" Scopa (Mike Scopa) is a feature writer for and is always good for a laugh or two in every episode.  He's great because he KNOWS what he's talking about... and adds an "R" to the end of everything!  You gotta' love him!  Also featured is "The Fabulous" Annette Owens, who, I don't know why, but is on almost every episode, but isn't listed on the website.  Kinda' like "Shemp" of the Three Stooges... He WAS a "Stooge" but never got the recognition he deserved.   Yeah, kinda' like that!  The 5 of them mix well and make for the most entertaining disney podcast around.  They have a knack for coming up with some very creative and fun topics, and the listener questions episodes can't be beat! I still have trouble telling Mike Scopa and Mike Newell apart by their voices (although I have learned to listen for the "R" at the end of everything from Scopa!) but does it really matter?  These 5 people bring a smile to my face EVERY episode, even if there are only 2 of them on any particular show, it's still quality.  If I could spend a day at WDW with anyone in the disney podcast universe... these would be them!

If you know of any other great WDWor Disneyland podcasts that I may be missing, please let me know.  I need to make it an even 10 on my podcast library list!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Life on Hold (Between WDW Trips)

  I Remember when I was a little kid, and it took FOREVER for Christmas (or my Birthday, or Halloween, etc.) to get here.  It seemed like my life was on "hold" between holidays.  But as a kid, I was easily distracted, so I didn't sit around and think about it so much.  Now, fast forward about 45 years or so...

   We come back from a trip to Walt Disney World, and it's kind of that same feeling.  The memories are fresh and colorful.  Vivid.  Then, as they start to fade, and I go back to the real world, it's like my life is put back on hold for a time.

   As I sail past the days of our last trip and those memories seem to get farther and farther away in the rear view mirror, it starts to hurt just a bit more.  I start to miss the feeling of wonderment and relaxation which takes over my being when we are anywhere at WDW.

   Longing for the time when I'm at a resort, or in one of the parks, on an attraction, or enjoying a snack... heck, even standing in line for a ride.  It doesn't matter, just as long as I'm SOMEWHERE in Walt Disney World.

   It's life on hold.  The days are just obstacles in the way of our next trip to WDW.  I try to fight it off.  I summon enough energy to get on the PC and visit our favorite Disney websites.  I listen to my favorite podcasts each morning at work, read my books and magazines, plan and dream.  I remember, recall, and re-live.  Looking at our pictures helps, and visiting WDW parks and resorts on youtube helps too.  I read blogs.  There is quite an arsenal of weapons at our disposal to fight off the blues of  "Life on Hold".

   I visit my WDW group on yahoo, I read the postings on and as well as other forums.  It doesn't last though, and I feel the magical power of my Fountain of Youth starting to wear off.  The rocks of the real world start to crack my shell of Disney invincibility.  But so far, it hasn't broken all the way through.  Because, it seems that just as the good feelings from the last trip are vanishing, I realize that another visit isn't THAT far off in the distance!  I mean, in just a matter of Days (or weeks or months) I'll be checking into one of the many great resorts and planning for another round of visits to the parks, and entertainment!

   I guess it's not really a case of my life being on "Hold" because it's so bad.  It's just that there aren't too many things in the physical world that bring me to life like a good dose of vitamin WDW.

   Hold Please!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Being the "Disney obsessed weirdo" (at work)

   I've taken on a new identity.  I think I'm the only person at work who knows the year that Walt Disney World opened.  I'm probably the only person in the building who knows that Walt Disney's middle name was Elias.  The only person who knows about rope drops and ADR's.  It's a strange feeling to be part of such an exclusive sub-culture.  When we made our return trip to WDW back in 2009, I didn't mind telling everyone where we were going for vacation, and how excited we were.  I was telling everyone that would listen.  It seemed like everyone was curious and wanted to know all about it.  I was studying.  Planning. That trip came and went. 

   When we returned, people at work wanted to hear about it.  That was in Sept. of '09.  Our next trip was April of 2010.  I was asked about where we were going for vacation, and that was the first time I realized how alone I was.  To "regular" people, going to Walt Disney World is great... ONCE, and then you think of something else to do for your vacations.  At least that's how most of the real world sees it.  I really started to feel strange when we planned our Jan. 2011 trip.  I noticed the difference in responses from fellow employees when they heard that we were making our 3rd trip to WDW in just under 2 years.

    I listen to my Disney pod casts at work.  I'm sure that people assume that I'm listening to music, but luckily, no one has ever asked me what I was listening to on my iPod.  And if they looked into my duffel bag what would they say if they were to find a sandwich, iPod, bottle of water, radio, and books titled "The Vault of Walt" or "The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World"?  I have become aware of my reputation, so I put those books in my bag  face down. 

    I guess I could just tell everyone that I do it for my Grand Daughter, you know, so that I'll know what I need to do to get the most out of Walt Disney World and Disneyland when she gets older, and wants to go more often.  I guess I could, but I'd feel guilty hiding behind my nearly one and a half year old Grandy.  No, I think it's time to "man up" and stand my ground.  Just come out with it.  Just rip my shirt open and expose the big WDW on my chest! 

   It's funny how people look at you funny when they aren't planning a trip to WDW themselves, but I've already had a few folks come to me with questions about WDW trip planning.  It's a proud moment when one of the regular people come to you for help with a Disney trip.   I stand ready to help anyone who will ask about it.  I'm ready to avalanche them with a landslide of trip planning books and videos.  I can give them url's for Disney websites.

    Maybe it's true that The Best Defense, is a good Offense!  Do I dare tell anyone at work about this blog?  I know that my family still loves me, and will put up with my Disney obsession.  Anyone of my friends and loved ones can always hide behind me when it comes to Disney obsession syndrome.  I'm a tough old bird.  I can take it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It was a great night of BOXING at Walt Disney World!

   Boxing fans were treated to two good bouts last night and WDW fans had to feel proud as glimpses of the World were shown between bouts and between rounds.  The Wide World of Sports Complex hosted ESPN2's Friday Night Fights telecast and it was a great production.  It's the annual "ESPN: The Weekend" event at WDW, and this year Professional Boxing was part of the festivities.  What a treat to see Boxing Trainer (and analyst)- Teddy Atlas and his assistant Saul wearing Walt Disney World T-Shirts with Epcot's Spaceship Earth in the background while they demonstrated the "keys to victory" before the main event.  The Semi-Main event wasn't a barn burner as far as action goes, but it did feature a former World Champion (who is now 41 years old)- Freddie "Lil' Hagler" Norwood moving up in weight to face a top 20 contender in Ghana's Ray Nahr. It was Nahr's night all the way as he won a 10 round unanimous decision by scores of 99-89, and 100-89 twice.  The Main Event was a good action packed bout as two hot prospects put their undefeated records on the line in a very fan pleasing bout.  It was Ukraine's Ismayl Syllakh improving his record to 25-1 with an impressive victory over Cuba's Yordanis Despaigne who dropped to 8-1, 4 ko's.  Syllakh scored a knockdown on Despaigne at the end of round 2, and even though Despaigne came back strong the next few rounds, it was Syllakh who got back into rhythm to cruise to a big win while defending his North American Boxing Federation Light-Heavyweight title belt by unanimous decision on scores of 99-90 and 98-91 twice.  In my opinion Yordanis Despaigne looked good enough to still be considered a prospect, but Syllakh took a big step up into the world rankings, possibly even a top 10 ranking coming soon off of this skillful effort.  It was a great showcase for Nahr and Syllakh.  It was also a great showcase for Walt Disney World with some beautiful shots of the Giant Sorcerer's Hat at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot's Spaceship Earth with the Monorail cruising by, and of course the Castle at The Magic Kingdom just to name a few.  It was also a special pleasure to see my old friend - "Boxin' Bob Alexander" working as the Ring Announcer for this special event.  Many years ago (before I became a Judge, and he became a ring announcer) we used to trade boxing matches and talk boxing.  Now it's so great to see him in his Tux introducing the boxers, and giving the official decisions.  Oh, and yes... I was wrong in my pick of Despaigne to win the decision.  But I was right to expect a great sporting event, a wonderful collision of my two favorite worlds.  And another lift in my spirits from my Disney Fountain of Youth!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My two worlds COLLIDE on Friday Night!

   I'll bet you don't know too many people who have a passion for both Disney and Pro Boxing!  Neither do I.  But "I am that Man!".  And this Friday March 4th is a special night for me.  ESPN's Friday Night Fights will be broadcast from Walt Disney World's Wide World of Sports Complex.  I'm sure they have held boxing events there before, but I guess I just never noticed.  These days though, my inner radar always catches the phrase "Walt Disney World".  The Main Event will feature former Cuban amateur standout - Yordanis Despaigne (8-0, 4 ko's) taking on another unbeaten prospect- Ismael Syllakh (14-0, 12 ko's) for the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) Light-Heavyweight Title.  It's a great matchup made even better by the fact IT WILL BE HELD AT WALT DISNEY WORLD!  Oh, how I wish I could be there in person.  The undercard will feature former World Champion- Freddie "Little Hagler" Norwood (43-3-1, 23 ko's) going against Accra, Ghana's Ray "The Emperor" Narh (24-1, 21 ko's).  You can bet I'll be tuned in, and how much sweeter will it be when they show a glimpse of the entrance to the Wide World Complex on Disney Property?  The event will be promoted by none other than former World Champion and future Hall-Of-Famer Roy Jones Jr.

   I can only imagine a day filled with screams on Expedition Everest, Singing along with It's a Small World, Whirling through Rock n' Rollercoaster with Aerosmith blasting in my ears, The wind blowing through my hair on Test Track, Mickey Bars, Popcorn and then topping it all off with a night of Championship Boxing!  I won't be able to do it this time around, I was caught off guard.  But you can bet that I'll be keeping my ear to the ground and my eyes open for the next boxing event held at WDW!  (Oh, and in case you're wondering... I'll take Despaigne to win the title by decision.)

(Pictured: myself with Freddie "Little Hagler" Norwood who will be in action on March 4, 2011 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I forgot a HUGE "First time experience" from our last trip...

I knew I'd forget something, and how could I forget my first ride(s) on... Rock 'n Roller coaster starring Aerosmith!  Our plan for the Disney Hollywood Studios day was to have Mrs. Disney Dan and Daughter/Son-In-Law ride the Hollywood Tower of Terror, while "Grandpa Dan" went with Miss Ava in the stroller and got fast passes for Toy Story Midway Mania.  When we returned with our fast pass sets, the brave trio went on the Rock n' Roller coaster while I waited with Grandy.  We enjoyed waiting, because they blast Aerosmith tunes in the area around the attraction, and Miss Ava was moving to the music... so was I.  When they got off, my Daughter talked her "Chicken Dad" into riding it!  I told her... "I don't like roller coasters that go upside down!", she said "Dad, it's DARK, You CAN'T TELL THAT YOU'RE GOING UPSIDE DOWN!!!!".  Well, I thought about it, and figured 'life is short'... so I went with Daughter & Son-In-Law.  The lines were so short that we practically walked on.  Did I survive it? obviously... since I'm writing this blog entry.  Did I like it?  Wow... I said... "Let's do it again!", so I grabbed Mrs. Disney Dan by the hand and hopped in line again.  Screaming all the way through the ride.  What a great ride.  That first acceleration is exhilarating, and the sights and sounds of this marvel of an indoor coaster are just too much fun!  Now there is only one obstacle left in my Disney arsenal... The Hollywood Tower of Terror.  I'm not ready for that drop, but never say never.  And another first that I nearly forgot, was my first taste of Sake at the Japan Pavilion in Epcot.  I love to visit the store in the pavilion, and pick up some oriental snack crackers, I couldn't resist tasting a little Sake at the Sake tasting bar in the store.  It's good, it's like a champagne.  Another of those Disney fun firsts.  Great memories from my Disney fountain of youth.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

New experiences on this last trip

On our last trip which is less than a week old, I got to do some things that I had not yet done at WDW.  Some of the rides that I might not have done by myself or with Mrs. Disney Dan.  I rode Triceratops Spin at The Animal Kingdom's Dinoland... twice!

This looked like one that our Grand Daughter would enjoy, and I was honored to be in the group to take her for a "Dino-spin".  I have to say that I really enjoy this simple carnival style ride.  It's a great view from up there, and everyone seems so happy and in a great mood while riding.  The line was so short, that we hopped right back on and did a 2nd spin.  I also took my first spin on The Magic Carpets of Aladdin at The Magic Kingdom.  Again, the wait wasn't too long, and the views were pretty awesome!  We played one of the midway games at Dinoland, I think it was a Wooly Mammoth racing game where you try to put the ball into holes on the board to move your Mammoth faster.  I didn't win, but my Son-In-Law pulled out the victory to win our Grandy a nice little stuffed turtle!  We had our first meal at 'Ohana, not for any other reason except that we were finally able to get in!  It was everything that I have heard.  The skewers of meats kept comin' and were good, but the "sides" were even better (in my opinion).  The Salad and Bread, the chicken wings & pot stickers were fantastic, and that dessert was soooo good!  It's a busy place, but it's so much fun and such a good meal, I look forward to a return visit.  We also had our first lunch at the madhouse that is Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe.  My Angus Chuck Bacon Burger was great.  The place is really busy and I generally gravitate towards a quieter atmosphere, but I'm glad that we stopped in and caught a performance by Sonny Eclipse.  We also made our first visit to an often overlooked little gem at Disney's Hollywood Studios - The Writer's Stop for some goodies including the World Famous Carrot Cake Cookie.  Disney Pod caster Lou Mongello recently named it as his "Best of the Best" Snacks in WDW, and I have to agree.  It's a chewy slice of heaven and it's plenty big enough to share!  We also paid our first visit to Le Patisserie in Epcot's France Pavilion and picked out an assortment of sweets, it was a busy place but we were rewarded for our patience with some delicious snacks, found a table and just took a nice break in a beautiful place.

Now Disney Dan loves a good cigar, and so does my Son-In-Law, so we made our way over to the Sosa Family Cigar Shop at Downtown Disney's West Side.  We picked up a few of the Sosa house cigars after watching the master roll a few cigars in the front part of the shop.  We then took them over to the Sosa Cigar Bar - Fuego, right across from the Harley Davidson Shop between Ragland Road & Pardiso 37.  We stepped in ordered a couple of Yeunglings and just enjoyed a few hours of relaxation.... in Walt Disney World!  Of course another first for us was our resort - The Animal Kingdom Lodge's Kidani Village.  It was our first official stay at a DVC resort, and I must say that the place was amazing.  The room decor and layout was beautiful and comfortable. Once we learned our way around the place, that LONG walk down the hallways to our room didn't seem so bad at all.  Of course while we were there, we had to have dinner at Sanaa, and again, it was everything that I imagined and more.  The flavors are really something that an adventurous eater (like me) would enjoy!  The Indian Style Bread service is a must!  And the animals were roaming around everywhere out our window.  We also had our first meal at La Cantina de San Angel, which is the counter service eatery across from the Mexico Pavilion pyramid.  We all got the same thing Tacos de Pollo (Chicken Tacos).  It was nice to sit out on the deck off of World Showcase Lagoon and just kick back at a slow pace and enjoy our lunch.  Our Grand Daughter was fascinated by the Sea Gulls who were lurking around for a hand out.  On this trip I had my first Dole Whip in adventureland.  Since it was my first, I went with the "original" - the pineapple dole whip, and it was great!  We even took our first bus ride to Downtown Disney  and even though we'd been to Downtown Disney before, we had always arrived via the water taxi from Port Orleans Riverside, or French Quarter.

I'm such a disney fanatic, that even arriving in a new way is memorable to me!  Almost forgot my first visit to La Cava de Tequila in the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot.  We tasted some Tequila and it was unusual for me to have a "salsa chaser".  But, it was really good!  I'm probably forgetting some other firsts from this trip, but each and every one of these were magical moments that are now stored in my computer of great disney memories.  Fresh water from my Fountain of Youth.

Monday, January 31, 2011

We did the "Baby Trip"!

We are back, and our first trip to WDW with a baby was a big success.  Some things went as planned, some did not.  We usually hit rope drops, and then head back to the room for a re-set at about noon.  This time we did not.  Our Grand Daughter usually fell asleep in the stroller for her mid-day nap, and that worked out great!  I kept the touring plans simple and easily changeable, and this was a great way to go.  We never made an actual "rope drop" at any of the parks, but we did get there at opening a few times, and it worked out well.  The lower Jan. crowds made it no problem to still get in lots of touring without hitting the rides hard.  At 15 months of age, she was able to eat pretty much whatever we ate, so feeding was a breeze!  The Fillet Mignon at Le Cellier was so tender, even SHE could enjoy some.  Her first official ride at WDW was The Gran Fiesta Tour at the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot, and she LOVED IT!  Grandma and I enjoyed watching her little head move from side to side looking at all of the colorful characters and things to see as she sat between Mommy and Daddy in the row in front of us.  It was so much fun to introduce all 3 of them to new attractions and great eateries.  The Baby Stations at all of the parks are great places to do a diaper change and a quick re-set when needed.  I had never been in one, and was quite impressed.  What rides & attractions did baby get to experience on her maiden trip?  well...  Gan Fiesta Tour, Journey into Imagination, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, Spaceship Earth, Lunch at Le Cellier, The Monorail, Honey I Shrunk The Kids Playground, Walt Disney: One Man's Dream, A performance of Disney Channel Rocks, Lunch at Sci-Fi Dine-In, The Pixar Parade, Downtown Disney, Kilimanjaro Safari, Dinner at O'Hana, Lunch at Flame Tree BBQ, Triceratops Spin (twice), Wildlife Express Train, Rafiki's Planet Watch, and the petting Zoo at Conservation Station, she met Pluto, Goofy, Flick, and Pinocchio, Dinner at Sanaa, The Carousel, Peter Pan's Flight, The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, It's a Small World, visited Minnie Mouse's House, The Country Bear Jamboree, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, The Jungle Cruise, tasted her first Dole Whip, Lunch at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, The TTA Peoplemover, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Wishes Fireworks from the bus stop, And lots of fun seeing the animals at Kidani Village!  That's a lot of fun packed into a few days.  The memories now exist, and I look forward to showing her the pictures of her first ever visit to Walt Disney World.  The group even talked Grandpa into riding Rock n' Roller coaster with Aerosmith!  And I LOVED it!  We enjoyed one evening taking care of our little Grandy, feeding her, playing with her, and mostly watching her! - while Mommy and Daddy enjoyed a nice night out exploring the Jambo House and a dinner at Jiko.  We made Spaghetti and meatballs in our room and had a great time with our little cutie.  She did great, and I learned a lot about touring with a baby.  We are looking forward to many more trips with her in the future.  And if little Brother or Sister come along some day, we'll be so much more confident about how to do it.  My fountain of youth has nourished me once again. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Disney touring plan "X-Factor".... a Baby!

  In 1994, I made my first visit to WDW.  Our family of 4 included two kids, ages 10 & 12.  The planning was exciting and everyone could watch the planning videos (VHS!).  We all had input into the touring plans for each day.  Everyone could express how they felt about certain plans.  Where to eat?  What to ride?  When to get up?  It all made sense.  We had a great time.

  In Sept. 2009, we went as a couple.  Our "return" to this magical place.  A whole new world of planning tools.  New attractions. New places to eat.  New touring plans.  Everything made sense.  Again, we had a great time.

  In April. 2010, we returned for a 3rd time.  This time we brought my parents (81 & 79 years old).  They left the planning to us, and we drew up a 5 night vacation that was filled with memorable fun.  We felt confident that we could put together a trip that would be fun for all of us, without too much wear and tear on my folks.  And other than getting "roughed up" on Dinosaur, and getting "soaked" on Splash Mountain, it went off great.  It all made sense, and we had another great time!

  Now, it's time to plan a new trip.  My Wife and I, our Daughter & Son-In-Law, and... "the X-Factor"... our Grand-Daughter (15 Months old)!

  In putting together touring plans, I'm not sure what rides she (Grand Daughter) will enjoy.  What attractions will be appropriate?  How will the 2 hour time change affect her?  What will send her into "baby melt-down" mode?  What will scare her?  How will she handle the flight?  What will she eat & when?  What do we do with the stroller?  What if it rains?  How long can she go in a theme park?  The more I plan, the more questions that arise.  I'm sure her parents know the answers to most of these questions.  It's the worrying Grandpa in me that makes things worse than they really are sometimes.  I take comfort in knowing that there are lots of other babies every day at WDW.  How do THEY do it?  I mean, after all, they have actual Baby Stations in the parks, so I guess babies are welcome there! I also take comfort in the confident way that her parents seem to say... "She'll be FINE!". 

  I've just continued to plug away with the planning.  Keeping in contact with our Daughter about the plans as they are made.  When it comes to the planning she tells me "You're the expert!", but when it comes to the "baby factor", it's right back at her... "You're the expert!".  I've got the plans made up.  They are, in no way, "Commando Touring Plans".  I've left lots of wiggle room, and space to change plans on the fly.  I've read in many places, how there is a great debate on taking babies to WDW.  It's true that she will not remember the trip.  But it's also true that WE WILL remember this trip!  I look forward to showing her pictures and video from her first trip to Walt Disney World.  And, there will also be 4 other people tagging along for the fun too!

  This is going to be an interesting trip.  I'm sure we will all learn a lot from this one.  She could end up being the "Guinea Pig" for her little Brothers and/or Sisters that could be making future journeys to The World.  It all sounds so scientific, but in the end, just like most things in life, I expect that it will mostly fall into place.  And before we know it, we'll be back home saying... "Remember when...." from this trip.

  I look forward to this trip.  I think we will all learn a lot from that week.  I'm also confident that we will create another book of memories just as we did in '94, '09, and '10. The first trip, the return trip, the parents trip, and now the baby trip will all hold special memories that we will be looking back at fondly for many years to come.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Welcome to Disney's Fountain of Youth!

This is the first posting, and I thank you for taking time to stop in.  This blog is simple.  It's just one man's place to express his love of all things Disney.  As the world takes it's toll on this old guy, there is a place that I have found, where I become well again.  I forget my aches and pains, I don't tremble and sweat from job stress.  Rather, I get sleepless and excited at the planning and possibilities of a trip to Walt DisneyWorld in Orlando, or Disneyland Resort in Anaheim!  While planning for our first return visit to WDW in Sept. of 2009, I discovered a whole Sub-Culture that existed, and I didn't have any idea about it!  Books, Podcasts, Websites, Blogs, DVD's, Television shows, and so much more, all there for the taking.  As I hang on for a few more years, before I become eligible for retirement, I will fill my canteen with water from my Fountain of Youth - Disney World and sip often!  I hope you will enjoy the ramblings of a tired old guy who (along with his Wife) LOVES ALL THINGS DISNEY.  Stay Tuned.