Archive for the ‘Major (Full Day) Attractions’ Category

Stuck at Disney’s Magic Kingdom

August 16, 2014
Heidi and Daughter Join LanceAround Family (and # 1 Ember's Adolfo) at MK

Heidi & Daughter Join LanceAround Family (& # 1 Ember’s Adolfo) at MK

[Editor’s Note: Today Heidi Strawser continues her series of posts where she joins the LanceAround family at Disney’s Magic Kingdom for a preview of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride. Enjoy!–LanceAround.]

Last month, I shared about our Dream Breakfast at Disney’s Contemporary Resort with the LanceAround family.  This time, I’d like to share about our fun day at the Magic Kingdom . . .

I mentioned that we were each issued some goodies upon leaving the breakfast.  One of those goodies was a ticket to the Magic Kingdom!  So, our group set off for a day of fun (and heat!) in the park.

Over the years, I’ve come to love visiting Walt Disney World with my family.  But, there’s something really special about being able to spend time with friends at the parks.  It’s like a whole new experience!  You get to see the park through your companions’ eyes, which often gives you a whole new perspective on things.

moveItShakeItWe entered the park just in time to experience the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party.  Seeing Minnie & Mickey, along with other friends from Disney and Pixar, all dressed up in their party attire, is a great way to kick off any day! It’s hard to stand still.

From there, we strolled the park, taking in some of our favorite attractions.

In addition to our park ticket, we had also been given a free lunch voucher.  So, after some fun in Tomorrowland, we all decided it was time for some down time and lunch at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. LanceAround and Mrs. LanceAround are vegetarians; two of their sons are vegan.  I decided that, in honor of my non-meat-eating friends, I would try the Vegetable Sandwich.  I have to admit, it was actually quite good.

Chillin at Cosmic Ray's

Chillin’ at Cosmic Ray’s

One somewhat interesting aspect of our day was that we got stuck on SEVERAL rides!  I can see getting stuck on one – it’s happened to us many times over the years (usually on the Haunted Mansion).  But, we got stuck on at least THREE rides that day – Haunted Mansion (of course!), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Pirates of the Caribbean.  Our trip through Pirates was definitely the most interesting, as we were stuck for quite some time!  Eventually, a Cast Member came out and announced that the best way for us to “get free” would be for all of us in the boat to rock together from side to side.  Needless to say, that caused quite a bit of laughter.  Eventually, after LOTS of rocking, we did set off again, only to get stuck once more!  I caught a bit of the event on video and, while the quality is too horrible to even show it to you, it makes me laugh every time I see and hear it!

All in all, we had a fabulous day and made some great memories.  Later, I’ll share more specifically about the Festival of Fantasy Parade and our experience with the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  I hope you’ll stop back.  In the meantime, feel free to visit my personal blog for more Disney fun!

See You Real Soon!

See You Real Soon!

A Dream Breakfast at Disney World

July 10, 2014
An Unexpected Day at Disney World

An Unexpected Day at Disney World

[Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post, including photos and video, comes from our friend Heidi of Heidi’s Head. –LanceAround]

Ever since our visit to Disney in 2009 – when we stayed at a Florida Dream Homes – I’ve had a dream . . .

I’ve dreamed of moving to Florida and working for Walt Disney World or for LanceAround & Mrs. LanceAround at Florida Dream Homes. FDH provides vacation rental homes for guests traveling to the Disney World area of Central Florida.

Last week, I got a small taste of what that dream might look like, if it were to become a reality.  And, I have LanceAround & Mrs. LanceAround to thank for that!  (I’m going to be writing a series of posts for the LanceAround blog, sharing our experiences from that day, so I hope you’ll stop back and check out more posts in the weeks to come!)

A few weeks ago, my daughter Ashley and I were in the Central Florida area, working for a homeschool curriculum vendor at the FPEA (homeschool) convention, held at the Gaylord Palms.  I got in touch with LanceAround to see if he might be able to show us some Florida Dream Homes, since we’re planning a big family trip for January.  We were planning to stay an extra day or two in the area anyway.  LanceAround said, “sure,” and told us we’d make definite plans closer to time.

A few days before we were to meet up with LanceAround, he called and asked if we’d be ok with a little change of plans — he’d still show us a few homes, but he wondered if we’d mind if he treated us to a Disney breakfast and maybe some other fun surprises.  Who could say no to that?

LanceAround and Mrs. LanceAround picked us up at the Gaylord Palms and we set out on our day’s adventure.

Sharp Ride!

Sweet Ride!

First stop was to see a few Florida Dream Homes.  Then, we stopped at their personal home to pick up the rest of the LanceAround family.  We were excited to see the “Florida Dream Homes mobile” – hopefully we’ll get a ride in it someday!

Our next stop was at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.  We were to be the LanceAround’s guests for our very first Industry Meeting at Disney World.  (Man, I hope it’s not my last!)

Yummy Disney Breakfast

Yummy Disney Breakfast

Breakfast was waiting for us – a huge buffet complete with Mickey waffles and the wonderful fruit that we’ve come to expect at Disney! (I could seriously eat their pineapple and strawberries ’til they are coming out my eyeballs!  So sweet and delicious.)

After breakfast, was a Disney presentation all about the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride, which was set to officially open that Wednesday.  We were also told about some other new surprises in the works at Disney.

The event concluded with them passing out Magic Kingdom park tickets to each of us in attendance, along with free lunch vouchers and Fast Passes for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  I’ll be sharing about our experience on the train, our lunch, and the new Festival of Fantasy Parade in future posts.

Oh, and did I mention they gave us Seven Dwarfs Mine Train backpacks too?  Now, if only we could get our hands on those awesome shirts that the Cast Members were wearing at the event!

Our morning was definitely the stuff that dreams are made of, and the rest of the day was pretty awesome too!  Please stop back for the rest of the story, or feel free to visit me over at my personal blog to find out what’s going on in Heidi’s Head.

Dining Fine at Disney’s Food and Wine Festival

November 10, 2011

What an Entrance - Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

What do you get when you cross a mouse, world travel, and deliciousness?  If you said a scene from Ratatouille, you’d be right, but today I’m talking about the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival.   This annual event takes place for three months every autumn at The Walt Disney World Resort’s EPCOT Theme Park. It’s a major draw for all ages; featuring appetizer sized portions of some of the world’s most delectable offerings.  As if that weren’t enough to convince you to book your tickets now, there are also hundreds of beer and wine varieties, which means, there’s something for even those with the most discerning of palates.  I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy this event many times; however, my experience this year was perhaps my favorite thus far.

I came to Florida to participate in the Walt Disney World College Program, a competitive internship where college students are given the opportunity to work for a number of months at the Most Magical Place on Earth.  I had the good fortune, during my program, to live with some truly great people. We decided that we’d all get back together for Food and Wine.  So, last weekend we drove to EPCOT and immersed ourselves in the beauty and culture of the festival. 

EPCOT is divided into two unique sections, Future World and World Showcase.  Future World is an attempt to honor what Walt Disney’s EPCOT was originally intended to be – hence the name Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow.  World Showcase is a sprawling horseshoe of culture.  Eleven country pavilions encircle World Showcase Lagoon and walking through them gives you the sense that you really are globe trotting.  World Showcase is the site of Food and Wine, but along with the regular eleven country line up (Mexico, Norway,China, Germany, Italy, USA, Japan, Morocco, France, The United Kingdom, and Canada) there are twenty eight participating cuisine choices.  When we arrived, we were certainly overwhelmed.  Not really having any game plan, we figured we might as well try a little bit of everything. 

Following World Showcase’s curve to the right, we passed a pavilion new to this year’s festival, Craft Beers.  It lived up to its name, offering eight inventive selections from which to choose.  You have the option, when it comes to drinks, to purchase a 6oz, 12oz, or 22oz serving.  I strongly recommend going with the 6oz option if you planning on doing a fair deal of sampling, trust me here I speak from experience.  We continued around and ran into a Food and Wine staple, Greece.  Please do yourself a favor and try the Spanakopita ($2.25.) You’ll love it.   Spanakopita, or spinach pie, is a classic Greek dish consisting of a pastry shell filled with spinach, feta cheese, onions, egg, and seasonings.  While it’s still not as good as my grandmother’s (who is not Greek), it remains a close second. 

Our next stop was Ireland (if you know me at all you know there I’ll never pass up a chance to carouse with my fell Irishmen).  Four Thousand pounds of lobster were used at the festival this year. I think I ate most of them personally.  Ireland, which is finally beginning to embrace seafood as a legitimate dining option, featured an exquisitely presented and absolutely delicious Lobster and Scallop Fisherman’s Pie ($3.25).  During my afternoon excursion, this was also the only place I opted for a 22oz beer ($11.75, I know, right!) It’s just that it’s a requirement when there’s Guinness  behind the bar.

We continued around the world passing the International Gateway, which is the back entrance to EPOCT that leads to the Disney Boardwalk Hotel and Entertainment district. Walking into France, there was only one thing on all of our minds, pastries. We were distracted, however, when we saw a small group of people ahead all dressed in kilts and shirts that bore the phrase “3rd Annual Eat, Drink, and Repeat Tour.” Intrigued I ventured over to inquire about how the third year was going. Turned out, they were a family from Scotland who use the Food and Wine Festival as a family reunion each year. Naturally, I figured that since we had already concluded the Irish merrymaking we should simply continue it with the Scots.

Our group, considerably larger now, made our way though France in search of something light, fluffy, and containing far too many calories. However, seeing the word’s “Crème Brûlée” made me quickly change course. For those of you unfortunate enough to have never tried it, Crème Brûlée is simply the best dessert ever, period. Meaning “Burnt Cream” in french, it is indescribably good. The base is a rich custard, which is contrasted by a level of caramel. EPOCT’s Crème Brûlée was flavored with chocolate and topped with carmalized sugar. Honestly, I would have paid $1000 for it, but it was only $3.25, so I ate two.

We continued around and were headed toward the American Pavillion when Singapore caught my eye. Well, it was actually the menu outside Singapore that grabbed my attention, but nevertheless, I simply had to stop. Written under the drink section were the words “Tiger Beer………$5.50.” I was puzzled, a little scared, and extremely curious. Eventually curiosity (or rather peer pressure from the Scots) won out and I bought one. Somewhat reluctantly, and with a vague fear I’d somehow transform into Charlie Sheen, I drank it. Frankly, it wasn’t bad. It was actually quite good, but for the life of me I don’t know why. There were no discernible flavors and I haven’t been able to come up with anything to which it is. Which means it gets the same treatment that art does from me. I liked it, but don’t try and tell me why its good just let me enjoy it.

Returning to normalcy, we entered the American Pavillion. There was a Sugar Ray concert going on when we arrived (yes that Sugar Ray, from the 90’s. Yes, I thought it was too awesome to be true too.) It was part of the Eat to the Beat Concert Series that accompanies Food and Wine. Some of this years headliners were Boyz II Men, Hanson, and Air Supply. Deciding to switch back to something more my taste we got a sampling of Sam Adam’s Cherry Wheat ($3.50) and a Turkey Leg ($9.19) and watched the concert, feeling distinctly American, despite being surrounded by men in kilts.

Next up was Poland and the Golabki – Pork Stuffed Cabbage – which was neither as gross or euphemistic as it sounds. I mean really, if it’s only $2.75, I’ll try anything once. Making the final turn around the horse shoe, we spotted a pavilion that was new for 2011, Scandinavia. I didn’t drink anything from here, mostly because everything they had started with an “X” and if that’s not ominous foreshadowing, I don’t know what is. However, I was daring enough to try the Taste of Scandinavia (Cured Salmon, Herring, and Shrimp Salad, $4.00). Try the Herring at Your Own Risk – Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You!

I figured I like shrimp; I like salmon, so I’ll probably like herring.  Long story short, I don’t like herring, but don’t let that stop you from trying it.    Rounding out the day was Mexico.  It is important to stipulate that Mexico is always the last place to go to in EPCOT.  Why?  Well it’s quite simple really, Mexico has tequila.  We all enjoyed a couple of Margaritas (at $10 a glass they weren’t too overpriced) and decided to call it a day.  Actually, that’s a lie. We didn’t call it a day; we went back around in the opposite direction and then we went around again.  When I think of how much money I spent that day, well, let’s just say I don’t like to think about, so please don’t bring it up. 

Our evening was capped off with Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, EPCOT’s nightly fireworks show over the World Showcase Lagoon.  During the show, in the middle of the lake, sits a giant spinning globe covered with LED video screens.  Videos of different natural events, animals, and environments are played on the globe throughout the show and it is truly beautiful to watch.  Perhaps, it was the tequila, but I found myself thinking of how extraordinary the world we live in really is, then the globe exploded and fireworks shot out of it. (Don’t worry it’s supposed to do this.)  After that all I could think of was how awesome fireworks are, but I had that one moment, so give me some credit. 

See, I Told You It Was Supposed to Do That

Food and Wine will continue this year until November 13th, so if you have the chance definitely give it a look.  If not the 17th annual festival will come around next fall and I can guarantee that I’ll be there, as I’m sure will my new be-kilted Scottish friends.  It probably won’t be that hard to spot us, so make sure you stop by and say hello.

One Million Bottles of (Butter) Beer on the Books…

January 26, 2011

Have a Swig and Don't Forget to Wipe Off the Mustache!

In less than six months, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has sold over one million Butterbeers!

This unique, non alcoholic drink is reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch. It has a creamy, sweet and frothy layer on top that gives it the appearance of an authentic medieval ale. It is served both chilled and frozen.

You can only find Butterbeer in the Harry Potter Land inside the Islands of Adventure theme park at the Universal Orlando Resort.

When I was served a Butterbeer earlier this month, the server told me that some guests consider the frothy topping the best part of the drink. He was right! I enjoyed having a Butterbeer for the experience. But it’s not nearly as good as the birch beer you can find in my native Pennsylvania Dutch land of southeastern Pennsylvania.

Just one of the many fun but totally useless facts made available to the lucky readers of my blog.

Here’s to your health…

Fantasyland in Disney World is Closing (Temporarily) Then Doubling in Size

January 21, 2011

Fantasyland at Disney World is Doubling in Size by 2013

On February 11, 2011 Mickey’s Toon Town Fair in Fantasyland will close as Disney begins the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history–designed to DOUBLE the size of Fantasyland.

The new Fantasyland is scheduled to open in phases beginning in late 2012. Here are some of the highlights:

–Under the Sea~Journey of the Little Mermaid will be a major new attraction on which guests will travel with Ariel and her friends through their exciting adventures above and below the wave–all against a musical backdrop of songs from the classic film.

–The castle of the Beast will stand majestically upon a hill just across an old stone bridge from Ariel’s new home. The Be Our Guest restaurant will feature a lavish dining experience in the elegant ballroom, gallery, and mysterious “West Wing” of the castle.  According to Disney, the 550 seat restaurant will offer “great food fast” by day and full table service in the evening. In nearby Belle’s Village, guests will find the rousing Gaston’s Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts.

–Just outside the village will be Belle’s cottage and Enchanted Tales with Belle. The adventure begins in Maurice’s workshop, where a magical mirror will become the doorway to a new kind of storytelling experience with Belle and Lumiere.

By 2013 Disney hopes to open most of the remaining enhancements

Ride with the 7 Dwarfs

–The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will be a rollicking, musical roller coaster featuring a ride system with a train of vehicles that swing back and forth, responding to every twist and turn of the track.

–The Princess Fairytale Hall will be a place where guests can greet guests in their new home, an elegant royal court on the site where Snow White’s Scary Adventures stands today.

Popular Dumbo Will be Twice as Big

–The Storybook Circus will have two circling carousels of airborne pachyderms on Dumbo the Flying Elephant. The queue for this attraction has an array of fun-filled family games and interactive wonders for kids of all ages inside the big top

–Next door will be Goofy as The Great Goofini, a reworking of the Goofy Barnstormer coaster currently in use at Toon Town Fair.

It sounds like Disney is expanding their magic. We’ll keep you updated as more details are unveiled.

some portions of this post ©Disney

Mardi Gras Concerts at Universal Studios

January 18, 2011

Fabulous Mardi Gras Floats

If you can’t be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras the next best place to be is at Universal Studios in Orlando on Saturday nights (and a few select Fridays) from February 12 to April 23.

Featuring top name national music talent, authentic Mardi Gras parades and cuisine straight from The Big Easy, this is one party you’re sure to enjoy. It all takes place inside Universal Studios theme park and it’s included with your admission to the park.

Top Notch Entertainment

“We bring all of what makes Mardi Gras great together with national level musical artists to create a family friendly celebration that fills the entire theme park,” brags Jim Timon, senior vice president of entertainment for Universal Orlando Resort.

In addition to musicians who have a combined 100+ songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and more than 20 Grammy nominations, there’s a dozen elaborate, hand crafted floats designed and built by Blaine Kern Artists (with PLENTY of beads!) The parade has a fire, air, water and earth theme and features a nightly King and Queen of Mardi Gras.

All this and authentic New Orleans inspired food creations including jambalaya, Po Boy sandwiches and more.

Here’s the nightly schedule of musical entertainment. For more information: click here.


Mardi Gras Event Dates  Headliners (performing in the Music Plaza)  New Orleans Bands (performing in the French Quarter) 
Saturday, February 12  Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons  Big Al & The Heavyweights 
Saturday, February 19  The B-52s  Lil Malcolm & the House Rockers 
Sunday, February 20  KC & The Sunshine Band  Lil Malcolm & the House Rockers 
Saturday, February 26  Pitbull  John Lisi & Delta Funk 
Saturday, March 5  Lynyrd Skynyrd  Grady Champion 
Saturday, March 12  Foreigner  Honey Island Swamp Band 
Friday, March 18  Neon Trees  J.J. Caillier & The Zydeco Knockouts 
Saturday, March 19  Thirty Seconds To Mars  J.J. Caillier & The Zydeco Knockouts 
Friday, March 25  OneRepublic  Soul Project 
Saturday, March 26  Blake Shelton  Soul Project 
Friday, April 1  Sean Kingston  Lil Brian & The Zydeco Travelers 
Saturday, April 2  Ne-Yo  Lil Brian & The Zydeco Travelers 
Saturday, April 9  Lifehouse  Rockin’ Jake 
Saturday, April 16  The Beach Boys  Beth McKee & the Sliders 
Saturday, April 23  To Be Announced  Daddy Mack Blues Band 

Universal is Awesome! (unless you look closely)

January 15, 2011

(Editor’s Note:  When our vacation rental home business was struggling, we turned to LizTheFair [aka Maureen Carruthers of Low Hanging Fruit] for help. She developed a marketing & social media plan and wrote some copy for our website which helped to save our business. She, and her friend JediBFA, started this blog for us. It was great to see her last week. She wrote today’s guest blog post–LanceAround)
Islands of Adventure at Night

Islands of Adventure at Night

Last weekend JediBFA and I escaped the great white north, also known as Ohio, to soak up some Florida sunshine, visit our good friends, the LanceAround family, and check out the new Harry Potter attraction at Islands of Adventure

Little did I know we would also get an object lesson in the impact of mediocre customer service. Notice I didn’t say bad customer service.  Nothing super terrible happened to us.  And yet, the impression I came away with was “Well, it’s certainly not Disney.*”

Here’s what I mean:

Following LanceAround’s advice from the previous post, we arrived at the park 30 minutes before it opened.  One might imagine that would mean we’d get some rockstar parking.  One would be wrong. Park employees filled in  the parking lot row by row which meant that even though there were tons of close spots, we were forced to park at the far end of the garage.  Not a huge deal in and of itself, but certainly an example of how Universal’s policies are more concerned with their own convenience than with the customer’s experience.

JediBFA and I ended up riding several rides on our own, not because LanceAround didn’t want to join us, but because the seats on many of Universal’s most popular rides have a very limited capacity.  While unlike LanceAround I was not bared from riding, the seats were tight enough that as a woman with generously sized hips I was pretty uncomfortable most of the time.  As LanceAround is fond of pointing out, it doesn’t have to be this way–Disney finds a way to make all of their rides accessible to people of all sizes.  It may seem like a small thing but feeling judged by inanimate objects does not lead to a fun-filled day at the park.

This was the worst part of our experience.  In fact, if this piece had been better, I might not have consciously noticed the problems with the parking and the rides.  With the exception of the Butter Beer in the Harry Potter section of the park, the food and drink options were extremely average–for an omnivore.  For vegetarians and vegans it was worse.  As vegetarians and frequent visitors to the park, the LanceAround family knew the options for eating a full meal at the park were limited, so we headed off to Jurassic Park where veggie burgers were on the menu.  JediBFA ordered without incident.  After finding the single cheeseburger on the menu (it was cleverly hidden under the very prominent double cheeseburger option), I also placed my order.  I wanted onion rings but ordered fries since no affordable way to sub one for the other was offered.  We went to the table to eat our very underwhelming, dried out, lunch.

Ordering took quite a bit longer for the rest of our party as the kitchen staff (at the only restaurant with vegetarian options on that side of the park) were not able to confirm if the veggie burgers were also vegan.  Not only did they not know–they were reluctant to find out. When pressed, their response was “I don’t know–I’m not a vegetarian.” When pressed harder, they did find an ingredient list (and subbed the original non-vegan bun, which had egg wash, for a different one without egg wash) so everyone got to eat–after returning one of the delivered chicken sandwiches for the veggie burger that was actually ordered. In the end, everyone ate so no actual harm was done–and yet, by making everything just a little harder than it needed to be, what should have been an amazing day in the park, ended up involving just a little more work than one wants to do on vacation.

Lessons Learned
Am I suggesting you skip Universal?  Not at all.  We had a pretty good time, and the Harry Potter section of the park was amazing.   In fact, if you have no dietary restrictions, weigh under 200 pounds and and have no experience with Disney theme parks, you may not even consciously notice the corner cutting. If, however you visit only one park while in Orlando–Disney is certainly a better bet. 

For those of you who own businesses or work in marketing, there is another lesson.  Thanks to the Internet and social media, truly amazing customer service is more important than ever before.  You don’t have to destroy property or have ridiculous refund policies to be called to task.  Dismissing customer concerns because your cashier “is not a vegetarian” or even being in an industry where someone else is doing it much better is enough to cost you business.

When she’s not deriving marketing lessons from theme park visits, Maureen Carruthers (known here as LizTheFair) uses her obsession with marketing to help nonprofit organizations be heard through social media.

*When I mentioned this out loud over lunch LanceAround commented that even Disney isn’t always up to Disney’s standards anymore, but that’s another post. . .

How Long Are the Lines at Harry Potter in Universal?

January 12, 2011

#1 Boyfriend Enjoys Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans From Honeydukes

The LanceAround Family was delighted to have a visit from LizTheFair and JediBFA this weekend. We took them to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park so we could check out the new Harry Potter attraction.

We had heard that it gets crowded at Harry Potter. So we awakened the three LanceAround children very early, picked up Number One Boyfriend and arrived at the gate for Islands of Adventure exactly one minute before the scheduled 9am opening. We discovered they actually let guests into the park 15 minutes before opening.

We immediately rushed to the Harry Potter land with nary a glance at the whimsically designed Seuss Landing nor the mythically inspired Lost Continent lands.

Entering Hogsmeade

Arriving at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we paused momentarily.  This was inspired. The crooked chimneys on the snow lined rooftops of Hogsmeade Village combined with the dusty atmosphere of ancient shoppes created the perfect Harry Potter moment. Mrs. LanceAround sighed with content. It felt like we walked right into a Harry Potter novel.

We made our way to the main attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I wish I could report on this ride. But, alas, like most of Universal’s big attractions, a person of my girth could not fit onto the ride. (Editorial Comment: I NEVER have an issue fitting onto ANY ride at Disney–Universal executives, please take note!)

The Hogwarts Express

As for the lines, despite the fact that we arrived at the park BEFORE the opening hour and IMMEDIATELY walked DIRECTLY to Harry Potter, there were still many people ahead of us in line. The queue moved quickly with a wait time of only 15 minutes or so. However, as we walked to the ride we noticed that the line outside Ollivanders Wand Shoppe was already significantly long. By the time we had exited the Harry Potter ride, Ollivanders’ line had doubled in size.

We wanted to go into The Owlery, but were stopped by an employee who told us the entrance was on the other side. We walked to the other side only to discover another line all the way down a long wall and around the corner! We skipped The Owlery.

Here are two videos which give a perfect indication of just how popular Harry Potter is. The first shows the crowd inside the Harry Potter land; the second shows how many people were at the Seuss Landing land just a few moments later:

After leaving Harry Potter, we went to Jurassic Park, Toon Landing, Seuss Landing then over to Universal Studios where we rode the Rip Ride Rocket, Twister, Revenge of the Mummy, Disaster, Jaws and Men in Black.  Except for Harry Potter, everywhere else was relatively sparse and the wait times were minimal as evidenced by the above videos.

If you are going to Harry Potter–and I highly recommend that you do–be sure to get to the park a minimum of one half hour before it opens and run right to Harry Potter with blinders on your eyes. Experience The Forbidden Journey, Ollivanders and The Owlery as much as possible, then stop for a butter beer or pumpkin juice at The Three Broomsticks. Relax for a moment, and then enjoy the rest of your day in Islands of Adventure.

One last tip: As you walk over the bridge from Harry Potter towards Jurassic Park there’s the perfect photo opportunity with Hogwarts Castle in the background!

#1 Boyfriend in Front of Hogwarts Castle

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

October 29, 2010



Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is Perfect for the Youngsters

[Guest Blog Post–Number One Daughter is only 15 years old. Mrs. LanceAround and I are navigating through the treacherous waters of watching our “baby” as she experiences her first serious relationship. Using two free tickets provided to us by Disney, she invited her new beau to Mickey’s Halloween Party. While there are many Halloween venues in Orlando that attempt to outdo each other in fright, Mickey’s is a playful romp geared towards a younger, less thrill-seeking audience. It’s also one of the few that allow you to wear a costume. Here is Number One Daughter’s review–LanceAround]

By Number One Daughter

Number One Daughter and Number One Boyfriend went to Magic Kingdom on Friday from 7 pm to 12 am for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This event is held every September through early November for children of all ages to come in costume and enjoy everything from trick-or-treating to character encounters. Most rides are also open and some have added features specifically for this party.

#1 Daughter & #1 Boyfriend

As the young couple walked into the park, they noticed the lighting and fog machines turning Disney’s Magic Kingdom into a mysterious and spooky place. The added effects were a wonderful change from the repetitious way Disney stays during the normal months of the year. As Number One Daughter got closer to the park, she heard beautifully haunting music interchanged between silly Halloween songs in a surprisingly cheerful mix of childishly-dark entertainment.

During this affair many people – of all ages – dress to impress for Halloween; from little princesses and Power Rangers to movie characters such as Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, The Joker and many more. It is a choice to come in costume. Number One Daughter was delighted to see that many of the guests had dressed up for the occasion as she had also come to the party dressed as a Japanese School Girl with a Vampire Escort.

Luckily for all teenagers in the world, the rides were still available to the public. Though Number One Daughter and Number One Boyfriend only rode the Haunted Mansion, it was obvious that this was the most popular ride judging by the wait lines on other rides. However, the rides were obviously not used to being ridden after regular Disney hours because of the constant rate they broke down. Though that kept the lines waiting for a bit, there was some extra help in passing the time. Disney had hired help to keep the lines entertained. For example, there was a woman dressed as a ghost telling witty jokes and interacting with the visitors waiting. She helped make the time pass much more quickly.

The costumes and rides were not the only great things about Mickey’s little Halloween party. The kids can go through mazes, play games and enjoy other tasks to receive candy. Number One Daughter and Number One Boyfriend did not ask to see if adults are excluded as the treating tasks were definitely geared towards the little ones. There are many places where youngsters may trick-or-treat, throughout the park. There was also a parade filled with all of Disney’s favorite characters from Winnie the Pooh to Captain Jack Sparrow.

Every few hours during this spectacular event fireworks would spontaneously go off, filling the dark sky with brilliant explosions of color and sound and leaving the night magical and wondrous.

Number One Daughter and Number One Boyfriend can honestly say that Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party deserves 6 stars out of 5.

New Baby Killer Whale at Sea World

October 13, 2010

Sea World Welcomes a New Member to the Family

This weekend Katina at Sea World welcomed a new baby. 

At seven feet long and 350 pounds, this is no ordinary baby. It is the 16th killer whale calf born at Sea World, Orlando and the 27th one at all of Sea World’s parks.

Katina’s trainer says Katina is an experienced mom and appears to be bonding quickly with her baby.  She calls the baby “a miniature replica of Shamu.”

The baby’s name has not been announced.

Here’s a video: