December 10, 2013

My Disney Wish List

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Black. Enjoy the ride as we share our Disney wish lists.

It's that time of year again - the malls are crowded like Main Street during a parade, the radio stations are filled with holiday tunes, and people young and old start making their Christmas wish lists. And if you're a Disney person, then you've probably been beseeched with an email a day from the Disney Store (and other retailers), pushing the latest sales and offerings. I've read them all, and here's what's on my list this year:

Minnie Mouse Bow Tote by Dooney & Bourke - I have another Disney Dooney bag and I love it. This one is understated enough to take to the office or on a trip without looking like a "Disney bag."

Where's Mickey? Vera Bradley Duffel Bag - Speaking of trips, I'd love to take this bag along as well!

Anything from the Disney H20 Collection - I am obsessed with H20 products; it's my favorite face and skin care brand. Add the Disney partnership, and I'm extra-sold.

Disney Pins - As many as possible and every kind imaginable. I'm not kidding.

Vintage Disney mugs, souvenirs, or other collectibles - I've found some really amazing things on Etsy over the years. If you're looking for a unique gift for someone (Disneyphile or not), Etsy is a great place to start.

Cinderella Castle Frame by Arribas - Picture frames always make great gifts, especially if you can put in a special photo prior to gifting. I like this one a lot, and you can personalize it.

Santa Mickey Glazed Holiday Tray - This would look amazing at any dinner party.

An all expense paid trip to WDW - Hey, a girl can dream.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Manda's Disney Blog.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~
The Disney Chick
2nd Stop ~
Manda’s Disney Blog
3rd Stop ~
The Magical Mouse Pad
Final Stop ~
The Disney Point 

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Related Links:
* Review: Visiting Disney at Christmas
* The WDW Holiday Newbie
* Review: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

November 12, 2013

Holiday Spectacles

Welcome to those of you joining me from The Disney Point and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the final stop on our Magical Blogorail.


Last year, my family experienced WDW during the holiday season for the first time. You can read about that experience here, but to summarize - it wasn't our favorite time to visit the parks, thanks to the insane crowds, which make it difficult to appreciate the decorations, go on attractions, or basically move in any particular direction. But one of the brightest spots in that trip, and the thing I will most miss not seeing this year, is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights


Shimmering, glimmering, Spectacle Magic
You know how, every year, there's some viral video about a house with a crazy synchronized Christmas light display? This is that, but WAY better, as millions of lights illuminate the Streets of America timed to a medley of holiday tunes. Not only is it the best of the WDW holiday shows (in my humble opinion), but it is also the best thing about Hollywood Studios. And the show is included with park admission and runs on a loop, so not only do you not have to pay extra for it (like all the other holiday shows), but you can watch it as many times as you like!

When we went to WDW last year, the Osborne Spectacle was the thing I was most looking forward to experiencing, and it didn't disappoint. My family and I spent well over an hour wandering through the section of Hollywood Studios we generally ignore, sipping drinks and gazing all around us. At a time when the parks are jam packed with people pushing and tripping over each other, it was lovely to be able to stroll around at our leisure and really take in the sights. 

Although we won't be at WDW this holiday season, I'll definitely be thinking of the Osborne Spectacle every time I see a large neighborhood light display. Because as is true in many cases, no one does it like Disney. 


Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Black this month. We will be back on December 10th with an all new theme. Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney news, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to
The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~
Manda’s Disney Blog
2nd Stop ~
The Magical Mouse Pad
3rd Stop ~
The Disney Point 
4th Stop ~
The Disney Chick


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Related Links: 
* Review: Visiting Disney at Christmas
* The WDW Holiday Newbie
* Review: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

October 8, 2013

In Defense of the TTA

Welcome to those of you joining me from The Disney Point and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the third stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Hey there! Long time no blog, you say. I'm afraid my blogging had to take a backseat to a busy work schedule and a family trip to Italy (I know what you're thinking, and yes - it was EXACTLY like The Lizzie McGuire Movie). But I'm back, and I'm excited that this loop topic is about under-appreciated Disney attractions, because it gives me another opportunity to write about my favorite attraction ever ...

Car for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority
Image via 
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover!

For those of you thinking, um, WDW has all these amazing, thrilling, crazy attractions and you like the glorified shuttle service that just runs in a loop? YES. YES I DO. 

Of course there are flashier, E-ticketier rides out there. In fact, the TTA (or is it officially TTAP now that the word "PeopleMover" has been added?) goes through or past at least six of them - Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, the Astro Orbiter, Monster's Inc Laugh Floor, Stitch's Great Escape, and the Tomorrowland Speedway (I'm not including the Carousel of Progress in this list because zzzzzzz).

But that's what so great about the TTA. It's like a trusty old friend - always there for you because there's never a line, ready to offer you a respite from walking around in the heat, some shade from the sun, an opportunity for a quick power nap if you need one, and enough things to feast your eyes on if you don't. And it's perfectly positioned between the more popular attractions so that if you need to kill some time before your FastPasses are ripe, there's a (moving) seat with your name on it. The TTA is probably  one of the biggest unsung heroes in the park - it'll never be big enough to have merchandise dedicated to it (or even a pin, for that matter), but there it is, front and center in Tomorrowland, cruising along in a never ending loop, taking any guests who stop to appreciate it on a sweet little ride through the future.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Manda's Disney Blog.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad
2nd Stop ~ The Disney Point
3rd Stop ~ The Disney Chick
4th Stop ~ Manda’s Disney Blog

August 13, 2013

My Favorite WDW Restaurant

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Black. Enjoy the ride as we share our favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World.

I'll be honest - my favorite restaurant in WDW has changed over time. If you asked me 10 years ago, I probably would have said Le Cellier. But then we started eating at resort hotels. So if you asked me a few years later, I may have said Jiko. And then after experiencing Wishes from the Contemporary Resort rooftop, I definitely would have voted for The California Grill. But today, my vote goes to a restaurant that flies a little bit under the radar, but is serving up the best food on WDW property:*

Citricos, at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Dining room at Citricos
Citricos doesn't have some of the amenities of the other Disney resort restaurants. Unlike Narcoossee's or The California Grill, you don't get a view of the fireworks. No African animals or Polynesian dancing either. Because of this, Citricos has a decidedly grown-up feel to it. While kids are still welcome, you're much more likely to encounter a room full of couples having a romantic night out, which organically creates a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. And after hours and hours of crowds and excitement at the parks, relaxing with a glass of wine and a great meal is the perfect way to cap off the day.

And make no mistake about it, the food is GREAT. The first time we dined at Citricos, there was a special salad on the menu with fresh mozzarella. And by "fresh," I mean "was made every 30 minutes throughout the evening." I can't even begin to articulate how delicious that salad was.

The cuisine is Mediterranean-inspired, and the ingredients are the finest and freshest around. The wine list is also extensive, and the servers are knowledgable, friendly, and professional. Citricos is the only restaurant we now eat at every. single. time. we go to WDW. And you don't need the fireworks and the animals and the other Disney touches, because at Citricos, the food is the star. A bright, shining star.

Have you dined at Citricos before? Leave your review in the comments!

*I've never eaten at Victoria & Albert's. But if someone wants to lend me some extra money and get me a reservation, I'd be more than happy to review it :)

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Manda's Disney Blog.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ The Disney Chick
2nd Stop ~ Manda’s Disney Blog
3rd Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad
4th Stop ~ The Disney Point 


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Related Links:
* What I Would Do with One More Disney Day
* The Most Memorable Meal I Ever Had in WDW
* Wordless Wednesday: Sunset Dinner at the California Grill

July 9, 2013

My Disney Dream Job

Welcome to those of you joining me from The Disney Point and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the final stop on our Magical Blogorail.

When I found out this month's Magical Blogorail topic was about our Disney dream jobs, countless possibilities went through my mind: Imagineer. Film executive. Animator. Pin designer. Archivist. Chef de cuisine. Margarita-tester (that has to be a thing, right?). But ultimately, there's one that rises above the rest.

WDW Tour Guide.

Some of my favorite Disney moments have occurred on the various tours I've done, and the Cast Members serving as guides play a big part in that. Every single one on every single tour has been exceptional. Funny, engaging, passionate, and full of fun facts. And I love me some fun facts. I'd be proud to join their ranks.

And truly, those guys have some pretty great jobs. They get to meet lots of new people (guests) and share their knowledge/love of Disney, all while working in the happiest place on Earth. And if you're lucky enough to be the guide on one of the Segway tours, then you REALLY have the best job ever, because you get to do all this from a SEGWAY. And that is truly awesome.

For me, tour guides get the best of both worlds. They get the daily interaction with the guests, but in smaller doses, and without a lot of the unpleasantness other cast members must cope with - like standing outside in the heat, being forced to don some less than spectacular costumes (Primeval Whirl ride operators, my heart goes out to you), or having to deal with other people's unruly kids. There's an age limit on most of the tours, and you know the people really want to be there because they paid for the experience. And obviously, it's up to the tour guide to provide a great experience, but being able to create those personalized magical memories for people would be a truly rewarding job.

So if anyone at Casting is reading this, let me know if you have any openings. And if it helps, I already know my way around a Segway.

Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Black this month. We will be back on August 13th with an all new theme. Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney news, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Manda’s Disney Blog
2nd Stop ~ The Magical Mouse Pad
3rd Stop ~ The Disney Point 
4th Stop ~ The Disney Chick


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Related Links:
* This is How I Roll: Segway Tours in WDW
* Quiet on the Set
* My Favorite Nighttime Show

June 25, 2013

Review: Visiting Disney at Christmas

The Magic Kingdom tree.
My family and I visited WDW during the Christmas season last year for the first time ever. Now that Christmas is six months away (yup, I went there), I thought I'd share my experiences in case any of you are starting to plan a trip, or are thinking about a holiday trip, because if you are, I would tell you to stop.

I understand that lots of people love WDW at Christmastime, as evidenced by the park attendance numbers, but I found it to be my least favorite WDW experience. Some background: we flew to Orlando on Christmas Day, stayed at an off-property hotel (the time share points were gifted to us), and purchased two days of ParkHopper passes. We normally go to WDW in May or September, but the free hotel stay was enough of an incentive, even if it meant visiting the park during its busiest days of the year. Plus, we really wanted to see New Fantasyland.

I'll start with the lowlights (there were highlights too, we'll get to those):

The Crowds: You know that scene in The Lion King where Simba is nearly trampled by wildebeests? WDW at Christmastime is like that, all day, except some of the wildebeests have strollers.

That's me, trying to get a FastPass. Or a beverage. Or into a store. 

Here is what Disney does not tell you about high-volume days: you will not be able to walk normally, instead doing what I call the "robot shuffle" - where your feet scrape slowly along the pavement like a robot, versus the natural heel-toe stride. At times, you will not be able to move at all because the crowds are so dense it causes a complete standstill, causing extreme feelings of claustrophobia - this happened to us in the Animal Kingdom, and now I have a new sympathy for cattle. You will not be able to see or appreciate any of the holiday decorations, since your gaze needs to be focused directly in front of you all times, lest you trip (or are pushed) into someone. You will get on maybe one or two rides all day, since FastPasses are gobbled up quickly, queue times are pushed into ridiculous territory (a 90 minute wait for It's a Small World, for example), and it takes forever to cross from one section of the park to the next, since you have to robot walk everywhere. The stores will be packed, the restaurants will be full, and your ankles will be bruised from stroller collisions. If you use the resort bus system, you will wait in an incredibly long line before you get to board. If you drive, it will take you at least 30 minutes to get onto a monorail (2 hours at park closing), and you will sit in a traffic jam when you leave the park.

Phoning It In: We made reservations to have Christmas dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse, something we were all really excited about because we'd never been there before and had heard wonderful things.  When we arrived, we were surprised to find out that night's dinner was prix fixe (something we weren't told about when we made the reservation). Had we been told when we made the reservation and seen the menu in advance, we probably would have eaten somewhere else - the starter and soup/salad options were things that presented problems for my companions (not for dietary reasons, just picky eater reasons) and there were no alternatives since we couldn't order off the regular menu. And we each ordered the same steak, cooked the same way (medium), and received three different results. One was fine, one was on the rare side, and one was still alive. All around us, we saw other patrons sending their steaks back and/or complaining, so it wasn't just our table. Given all the rave reviews I've seen about the Yachtsman, I can only guess that since it was Christmas, they had the B Team (or D team) running the kitchen, instead of their usual chefs. Either way, when you're paying that much money for dinner, it's unacceptable.

Extortion: Disney is great at this one. We were jazzed about seeing Holiday Wishes, especially after experiencing the amazingness that is Happy Hallowishes. Given the crowd situation detailed above, we staked out our fireworks spot (the smoking area by the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station - not ideal, but at least it was a seat) hours in advance. But it was unseasonably cold that day, and all our layers weren't cutting it. So my mother left to go to Mickey's Star Traders and get a WDW throw blanket we had been seeing around that Disney was selling for $15. A half hour later (remember, it takes forever to navigate the parks with all the crowds) she returned empty-handed. After waiting in a giant check-out line, she was told the blanket is $15 if you spend $45 on other merchandise; otherwise it costs $35 (don't quote me on that $35, but it was something like that). She explained that we had been in the parks all day and had already spent well over $45 on things. The salesperson told her if she could produce receipts she could purchase the blanket for $15, so my mother was forced to robot shuffle back to our table, get the receipts (which were still in the bags she left behind while we saved her seat), and return to Mickey's Star Traders, wait in another long check-out line, just for the privilege of purchasing a Mickey throw blanket that probably cost $2.50 for Disney to make.

Now for the good stuff:

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights: Of all the holiday things available in the parks during Christmas, this was the one I was looking forward to the most. And unlike most of our holiday experience, it didn't disappoint. Offered at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Streets of America come to life thanks to millions of glittering lights that dance and sparkle timed to a medley of holiday music. It's festive, enchanting, and breathtaking - everything we had hoped for in our Disney holiday visit. It was also our most relaxing evening - it's included with admission, and you can stay as long as you like, so we wandered through multiple times.

New Fantasyland: While we saw a preview version of Enchanted Tales with Belle during our trip last September, this was our first time visiting New Fantasyland (when do we stop calling it that?). It was much smaller than I thought it would be, and I wished I could have looked around more to savor all the artistry (the Crowd Monster made this difficult), but it was wonderful to finally see this addition to the park in person, especially after all the years of rumors, announcements, and updates. It looks great, and the LeFou's Brew at Gaston's Tavern is pretty much my favorite thing ever. We only made it on one FastPass ride that day (the Crowd Monster strikes again), and we chose Ariel's Undersea Adventure. The ride is fun, especially for kids, but I forgot how much fun it was to ride a new attraction for the first time ever. Disney has since added some new things (and there will be more to come) to New Fantasyland, and I can't wait to have more first-timer experiences like that one.

Yuletide Fantasy Tour: One of the best WDW tours we've ever done, and we've done some great ones. A blurb doesn't really do this one justice, so I'll save the full review for a future post.

And now, over to you - have you been to WDW around the holidays? Did you love it? Hate it? Would you do it again?

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Related Links:
* The WDW Holiday Newbie
* Review: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
* Bay Lake Tower of Terror

June 19, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: The Best Medicine



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Related Links:
* Wordless Wednesday: Time for Action
* Wordless Wednesday: Geodesic Sky
* Wordless Wednesday: Main Street USA