Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hidden Mickey #3 and #4

Wow, two posts. Guess I have to make up for being so behind on my blogging here. Because I've missed a few weeks of my own hidden mickeys, we're doubling up today!

Click for larger version

Can you spot it?

Un-Hiding Mickey

Honestly, I'm a hidden mickey junkie. Ever since I heard about the whole thing, I've been completely obsessed with finding them. So, in honor of my obsession and the title of this blog, we go ahead with a Hidden Mickey article about hidden mickeys.

A hidden mickey is the simplest thing in the world: just three circles put together to form the outline of Mickey Mouse's head. There are other variations including his profile, full body, or hand print but the most classic remains the three circle outline. These little things have been hidden all around Walt Disney World by Imagineers in places you'd never imagine. Check out this Mickey head in a tuba at Mickey's Philharmagic:

Now, you may ask, what's the best way to find them? Well then... on we go!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Making More of the Mouse

A trip to the World is always tons of fun. Racking up a bill that will take you months to pay off? Not so much fun. It’s surprisingly easy to lose track of how much you’re spending. There are six tricks I use to save some money on my trips to the World, and they’ve saved me a bundle. Before we left for Disney last time, I added up two bills – what we would actually be spending, and what it could have been if we hadn’t kept a careful watch on our wallets. The difference ended up hitting the $2000 mark for a two person trip.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Birthday Fun

This is really just a little something to bridge the gap until tomorrow when I post something (hopefully) more useful to anyone planning a Disney trip. So in the spirit of keeping it short and sweet, I thought I'd share a Disney memory of mine.

 When V and I took the trip in February 2010, both of our birthdays ended up passing while we were in Orlando. Like any mature adult, I spent my 20th birthday in the Magic Kingdom with a Snow White bow on my head, a big birthday pin on my chest, and ate dinner surrounded by Winnie the Pooh characters at the Crystal Palace. Now, I had heard birthdays could be fun at Disney World, but I really wasn't prepared for what ended up happening. (Tip: if you're celebrating something, make sure to get a pin from guest services and wear it proudly)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hidden Mickey #2

Alrighty. After a few weeks off, here we go with my second at-work Hidden Mickey!

Can you spot it?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Day in the Life

So two posts in one day is a bit excessive, I know, but I wanted to share this before it became old news.

DisneyPixar just added a new video to its youtube page that any Disney fan should check out. Click here for a 25 minute presentation on a day in the life of John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Pixar, principle creative advisor for Disney Imagineering, and my homeboy ever since I saw Toy Story forever and a half ago, but especially since Day & Night came out. Definitely check it out and subscribe to DisneyPixar's channel (some fabulous stuff happening over there.)

♥ Rhys

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

If you only have time to check out one evening show during your Disney World trip, I would highly recommend IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. I'm a huge fireworks fan and I can safely say that this has been my favourite fireworks display ever since I first saw it years ago. Using fireworks, water jets, lasers, a giant LED-lit globe, a variety of fire displays, and the single most fabulous musical score I have ever heard used in such a show, IllumiNations officially opened at EPCOT in 1999 to celebrate the new millennium and was kept around because of its popularity.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Top Tens for Thrill Seekers

I guess there's an idea floating around out there that Disney World is for kids and anyone looking for some thrilling rides and attractions should head over to Universal Studios. I think I'd like to take a crack at that one with this week's top tens!

Source: doggyvolunteer (flickr)
10. Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach is an imposing water slide at 120 feet high. It's a no-turns, straight drop down a 360 foot long flume. Standing at the top and waiting to slide down is definitely heart-pounding.

9. A classic, Space Mountain has recently been refurbished and is once again open to scare the pants off those of us who would brave a coaster in the dark. Adding to the thrill? The "stars" you go zooming past can look a little too close to the top of your car for comfort.

8. EPCOT's Test Track has been whipping guests around at 65 mph for twelve years. Climb into a model crash-test car and ride through a series of tests before shooting out of the building and around a banked track at top speed.

Source: katieharbath (flickr)
7. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios may give you a fear of elevators, but it will definitely getting your heart pounding and your adrenaline going. The Disney secret? When the elevator goes into free fall, it doesn't actually "fall". Instead, a series of mechanically things that I'll never understand pull the car towards the ground, making you feel as if you're falling even faster and that the car has gone out of control.

6. If you don't want to trek into the park, try the marina at the Contemporary Resort. There, you can go parasailing, tubing, wakeboarding, and waterskiing. It's a great way to cool off in the Florida heat and still get some thrills into your day.

5. Mission: Space is a relatively new addition to EPCOT. Choose the Orange Team when you line up and then climb into a motion simulator for your flight to Mars where you'll experience some serious g-forces and a harrowing space flight. (Warning: If you're claustrophobic, this really isn't the ride for you)

4. As the first coaster on this list, Rock n' Roller Coaster definitely delivers the thrills. A fully indoor ride, it will take you through loops and corkscrews after blasting you out of the station at 60 mph in 3 seconds all while blasting Aerosmith music in through the back of your seat.

Source: intamin10 (flickr)
3. Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom isn't an inverted coaster, but it's just as fun. After you climb up the side of a mountain in your train car, you'll ride through a series of drops both forwards and backwards, all while trying to evade the Yeti (probably the best animatronic I've ever seen. I swear that thing was real).

2. Sum of All Thrills can be tricky to find and the wait can be a bit long, but it's so very worth it. Before you climb into the ride, you get to design your own track. Pick between bobsled, roller coaster, and jet then add inversions, turns, and twists. Save it then hop into a robotic arm which will ride you through your custom track, upside down and all! To track this one down, head into Innoventions East and look for the tall black arms with white carts on the end swinging around wildly.

Source: chadscott (flickr)
1. Dinosaur!, tucked away in Animal Kingdom's Dinoland USA looks tame from the outside but it's certainly not for little kids. On this dark ride, you climb into a time travelling car to bring an inguanodon back to the future. The glitch? You get sent in just before a giant meteor is set to hit Earth and a giant dinosaur has tracked you down and is intent on eating you. This ride is fast paced, jarring, and full of things to jump out and scare the pants off you.

You can also check me out here (writing as rhyspuff) along with some other great blog contributors writing about Disney planning.

♥ Rhys

Monday, July 4, 2011

Munching on a Meal Plan

There's been some big buzz over the last few years about the Disney dining plans. They've been around for a long time but it's really only been recently that I've heard such a huge emphasis being put on them. Seeing as V and I used the plan when we went, I thought I'd take the time and do the math on it to see if the hype really does match the product.

Let's go with the standard Disney Dining Plan ($46 per day for adults as of 2011). That means one quick service meal, one table service meal, and one snack per person per day. With each service meal, you'll get a non-alcoholic drink, an entree, and a dessert. In the majority of cases, no menu item is out of bounds for your entree (some places, like Teppan Edo, will have sections of their menu that are a la carte so you can't use your plan but I've found these cases are rare) and many restaurants will let you substitute an appetizer for your entree if you ask (I had the calamari basket at Raglan Road instead of an entree).

A Model Day of Food and WDW:
Breakfast - $6.70
The foodcourt in your resort will offer a variety of breakfast foods that are pretty much standard across the Disney property.
Let's say you go with the traditional favourite and order a Mickey Waffle with bacon.

Lunch - $6.60 + $2.40
You start your day at Magic Kingdom and tackle the famous Casey's Corner for lunch. You grab a hot dog meal (with the toppings of your choice) and french fries. For dessert you pick a brownie.

Snack - $3.50
We're going to go for another classic with this one and get a premium Mickey ice cream bar for a mid-afternoon snack.

Dinner - $28 + $8.00
You've headed over to EPCOT for dinner at Restaurant Marrakesh and it looks like you have your eye on the roast lamb meshoui and a bastilla for dessert. Yum!

Just taking in your three basic meals and a little something sweet to get you through the afternoon, you're looking at spending around $55 per person per day. This is not including drinks (the average bottle of water in the parks will cost you $2.50). You'll just about break even if we substitute drinks throughout the day and at meals for the second quick service meal) by saving $10.

(Tip: While $10 doesn't seem like all that much difference, keep in mind this is for your whole vacation. Assuming you stay for a week, that's at least $70 you'll be saving.)

So, do I think the dining plan is worth it? Heck yes. When V and I used it, our receipts for food added up to much more than this (lived a little high on the hog for the week) and there's no way we could have afforded it if we hadn't had the meal plan. Not having to look at prices or saying byebye dessert because I wanted the more expensive entree was absolute bliss. With a plan, you can get the $15 meal or the $40 meal without having to pay out-of-pocket. It makes meal time far less stressful when you're trying to stay within a budget.

Of course, if you don't think you'll eat three meals per day, or even a huge breakfast/lunch and then a full dinner, it may not be for you. But if you plan to eat and eat well, I'd really suggest looking into it.

To find a meal plan that's right for you and for a full list of restaurants participating in the Dining Plan, check out the Disney website pdf.

If there's anything else you'd like to know about the Disney Dining Plan, feel free to ask in the comments. I'd love to answer any questions!

♥ Rhys

Friday, July 1, 2011

Nerves and Memories

Just fired off my application to the Disney Cultural Representatives Program for the 2012 year. I swear my heart is in my throat.I'm pretty sure I've never been this nervous about something before... but I guess when something you've been dreaming of for ten years can come down to one email, things can get a little tense. So wish me luck! Hopefully the news will be good.

Rather than get all serious and plan-y tonight, I thought I'd just share a memory. Last February when V and I ventured down to Orlando, we stayed one night for the Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom. Basically walked onto the Haunted Mansion. When we got into the stretching room I think there were only two or three other groups of people in there so the cast member guiding us through could really examine each of us. Being me, I started mouthing along with the script because, let's face it, I've probably been on Haunted Mansion more times than is healthy.

Then the lights went out. Standard HM hijinks. What I wasn't expecting was our cast member standing two centimeters away from me when they came back on with a stone cold expression on his face. I let out a shriek that sounded like a six year old who had swallowed a chipmunk and jumped back about two feet. He barely reacted. Just grinned and whispered "You're welcome" before turning around and escorting us out to our Doom Buggies. Let's just say, he made the Haunted Mansion spooky again. I really got to see that ride like I did when I was 8. I knew nothing would hurt me, but something still got to me... made me a little uncomfortable in a good way.

I guess that's my favourite thing about Disney World. You can go as many times as possible but there's always something new to find or an experience that will really stay in your head. So thank you to that cast member (I really wish I had gotten your name!) and definitely check out the Haunted Mansion when the park is fairly empty. Lots of fun to be had.

Source: Angela Rutherford (flickr)

♥ Rhys