Walt

Many say it all started with a mouse! And, that may be true! But, for me, it all started with a man! A very imaginative, creative, and caring man. His name was WALT! Walt Disney to be specific!

Walt 2

Walt grew up in very meager conditions! His family struggled to make ends meet and moved several times to follow the jobs that paid the bills. At age 16, Walt became an ambulance driver during World War I. He was always drawing and doodling to help pass the time. After a couple of failures, he was finally created Mickey Mouse and thus the birth of Walt Disney Productions. That is a very brief history of Walt Disney, and I suggest everyone find a book to read to find out more about who this man was and what made him tick.

I share this because I believe it is important to remember that without Walt Disney there would be NO Disneyland, NO Walt Disney World, NO Walt Disney Movies, and a host of other parks and productions. How did this all come to be? Simple! The most important thing in Walt’s life was family! His wife and his daughters were very important to him and he always spent time with them, no matter what pressing issues may lie before him. One day, Walt was watching his daughters playing on a carousel and he thought to himself, “there must be a way for families to enjoy being together in one place”. And, a few years later, Disneyland was born!

But, Walt’s vision was much bigger than the area around Anaheim at the time. So, he went hunting for some new ground to build upon. Enough to hold all of the dreams and creations that could be conceived by Disney Imagineers. And, now we who are in love with Walt Disney World get to benefit from his foresight! Sure, there were struggles getting it done! But, in the end, it came into being and has become the top vacation destination in the world. I find it to be refreshing as I approach the Walt Disney World Resort, that the archways still bear his name, and I hope they continue to do so for the rest of time. And, it’s not done, yet!

So, next time you visit Walt Disney World, take a moment to remember a man named Walt. Walter Elias Disney!

Salute!!

Kids

Today, we look at the fun you can have at Walt Disney World as a KID! Sure, I mean the kids we bring to the parks. But, I am also talking about the kids WE become when we get there! So, follow along, kiddies!

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We all know what inspired Walt Disney to put together these fabulous parks, the love of his children. Walt said that there ought to be someplace that Parents and Kids can go to have fun together! That is what inspired him to build Disneyland, and ultimately choose Florida for the location of his greatest achievement!

I love looking at Disney World through the eyes of my kids. They each have a little different perspective and impression of their experience. One will see the princesses and feel like she’s among real royalty! (Which she is!) Another will really take to the thrill rides, over and over and over! And, the third chooses to enjoy what he wants to enjoy and not do what he doesn’t want to do. But, they all enjoy something about Disney World that is unique to each of them, and that is what I believe is meant to happen on vacation.

I, however, look at the parks through the eyes of a little boy grown tall! I get such a feel of amazement every time I walk up to The Magic Kingdom for the first time every trip. I can literally feel the weight of the world leave my body and the joy of that place taking it’s place! To see the reveal of Cinderella’s Castle as I walk in from the train station and around the bend to Main St. USA, I hear myself sigh with glee! I am home!

So, I urge you, friends, to take time to see the wonder of the Walt Disney World Resort through the eyes of your kids. And, don’t forget to allow yourself to refocus your eyes and be a bit of a kid yourself. You ARE on vacation, right? You just might make some long lasting memories!

Until next time, may you have a Blessed and Magical Day!

Magical Day One 2013

This day couldn’t have been any better! I am blessed, and privileged, to share my birthday with two special people. My father, who passed this past February. And, Walter Elias Disney, who also happens to be one of my largest idols! I have loved everything Mr. Disney put his hands to ever since I was aware of the Disney name! And, today lent itself to remembering what a special man can do in the middle of swamp land.

Handmade by my daughter!
Handmade by my daughter!

My oldest Daughter and I ventured ahead of the rest of the family, as I had planned to drive to the Magic Kingdom and park as close as possible at the Transportation and Ticket Center. It was Extra Magic Hours, and we wanted to get a jump on the day, so off we went! The rest took the bus from the resort and arrived nearly an hour later. I got a great spot and requested help from my online Disney family to “remember where we parked”. It was a great beginning to what I knew would be a great day! Add to that the shirt, this same daughter, made for me by hand and I was feeling pretty good!

Everyone remember where we parked!
Everyone remember where we parked!

As we walked into The Magic Kingdom, I was blown away by the Christmas decorations that lined Main Street USA! The crews were busy setting up at the Town Square to begin taping the Very Merry Christmas Special. Note: I’m glad I didn’t plan on being at MK on December 6 and 7! The first attraction of this visit was Stitch’s Great Escape. Why? You may ask? Because I had never done it, that’s why! And, if the main attraction had some of the flair and comedic content as the preshow, it would be a pretty good attraction. As it is, I have no need to see that one again!

At that point, the rest of the family had caught up, so the Wife and Kids headed to Space Mountain, while me and my mother-in-law hit Tomorrowland Transit Authority (PeopleMover). I don’t do many thrill rides, but I am planning to do Space Mountain on our next MK day. The rest of the morning saw: Peter Pan’s Flight, Haunted Mansion, Under the Sea with Ariel, and Mickey’s Philharmagic. All very fun and classic Disney entertainment attractions.

It was time for lunch and my wife surprised me by suggestion Columbia Harbour House. The prices aren’t bad, for Disney food, and the quality of what they offer was really impressive! And, while most of the chicken and fish offerings are batter fried, I found them not to be too greasy. The atmosphere of the sit-down area is also impressive. Take some time to look around at the decor!

The rest of the day was a bit leisurely, a ride on the Mark Twain Riverboat was very nice, indeed. It was a good follow-up to that filling meal. I really like the gentle movement around Tom Sawyer’s Island. At that point, we all kind of split up into three groups. The wife and girls headed to Big Thunder and road at least three times in he afternoon. Once on Fastpass+, and twice in stand-by. I’m told the longest wait was about 30 minutes. My mother-in-law and son went to the Hall of Presidents. And, I took another trip up Main Street USA to the Harmony Barber Shop. I got my haircut, which was enjoyable and a nice birthday present to myself!

Splash Mountain was down for nearly an hour when I got back to Frontierland, via the Walt Disney World Railroad. I love the train ride!! I walked over the Adventureland and took my first ride on Pirates of the Caribbean for this trip. To my surprise, all of the special effects were working (they were not on our last visit in 2012). I really enjoyed this ride! My family caught up with me after, and we all did it together. The wait times were only 10 minutes. Save your Fastpass+ selections unless you are travelling during a busy season. A ride on The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, a stop at Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room finished this part of Adventure for this family.

Shortly after this, Splash Mountain was back up and running, so we got up and ran for it! We had a Fastpass, and were able to extend the time. Again, all of the effects were operating as they should be, and the ride was more enjoyable than I remember. This is a Must Do, in my opinion!

It was now time for our Fastpass+ on The Jingle Cruise. This is Disney World’s Christmas overlay for the Jungle Cruise. We had Skipper Xander, and he was very good! You could tell he loves what he is doing and is an a career path that is in forward motion! The decorations around the boat dock are fitting to the theme of the ride, and the jokes are actually pretty funny. I’ve seen many people talk about how “little” was done, but I think it’s worth a visit!

The best part of our night was dinner at ‘Ohana in the Polynesian Resort! The service, and food arrival, was a little slow at first, but then once things started showing up at the table, it was like a feasting marathon. If you don’t like to eat, don’t like meat, and don’t like feeling part of the family, this may not be the place for you! But, trust me, you HAVE to try ‘Ohana just once to have it become an instant favorite. We were able to see the high flying fireworks from Holiday Wishes! but, that was all since there was a big forty year old tree in the way. It’s being moved to make room for the DVC expansion soon.

Name that Dessert!
Name that Dessert!

That ended our night, and that ends this report. I will be breaking things down more, once I go back to that place I call home, but really isn’t!

For now, have a blessed and magical day!

Next stop: Disney’s Hollywood Studios

As Departure Approaches!

We are about 10 days away from making our next trip to Walt Disney World! Preparations are going slow, but progress is being made a little at a time. Our MagicBands are here! All our Fastpass+ selections have been made! And, half of us are packed!

Disney World Arch

This is the tough time of all waiting for the final day to get here before we can get to my happy place! I am excited to try out the MyMagic+ system, but a little apprehensive at the same time! There have been a lot of changes and bug fixes, but since it was just recently announced that the total roll-out is being delayed, I really wonder how ready is this system for a full out assault?

We will be driving to WDW and will need about 17 hours to make the drive. We are building 20 hours in to allow for pit stops. I am excited to see The Art Of Animation Resort! And, yes there will be pictures, and maybe a video of our arrival. Keep an eye on this blog to follow along.

I am hoping that my birthday, Dec 5, will be special as we enjoy the Magic Kingdom and dinner at ‘Ohana! It was also my dad’s birthday, so I will be carrying a picture of him with me. And, of course, most of you should know that Walt Disney was also born on December 5!

I hope you’ll all join us through this virtual porthole! Have a blessed and magical day, my friends!

If I Were a Disney Heir

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an heir to the Walt Disney legacy?  I sure have!  If I were an heir to Walt, I believe I’d have to have my hands into everything that is going on around the company.  Walt was known for animated movies using mostly innovations he designed. The creation of Mickey Mouse was his opening act into this genre that really gained traction when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered to thunderous applause and the accolades of industry critics when it took an Oscar.  He was also known for family friendly entertainment!  I think of movies like Old Yeller, Toby Tyler, and Pollyanna brought challenges of families of the early years to the big screen.  They showed us the importance of family and being together.  I love these Disney Classics.

When it comes to the theme parks, Walt Disney knew that there needed to be a place for the entire family to come together and spend some quality time connecting with each other.  Thus, Disneyland was born!  And, out of that we have seen the parks grow!  First, Walt Disney World with eventual growth to four different theme parks, resorts of all levels for guests to choose from, and many activities outside of the parks to keep you occupied for weeks and never have to leave the property.  And, let’s not forget, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, and soon Beijing!

If I were a part of the Disney family, I would truly want to have someone keeping and eye on how things are done.  Making sure that the movies are high quality to entertain families and give them a reason to spend some time together.  Checking up on the theme parks to be sure that the Guest Experience measures up to the level that Walt expected every time he walked into Disneyland.  And, even applying the values of the Disney name to any other venture that falls under the family umbrella.

Sure, Walt Disney had tough times and made some rough decisions as he grew his company.  And, it should be expected, that as the company continues to grow, there may be some small setbacks along the way.  But, if I were an heir, I’d have a sense of pride and commitment to secure a future NOT just for the stockholders and employees of the company, but also for the guests of our films and theme parks.

But, alas, I will just have to accept that I am not an heir.  Not a family member.  The only things that connect me to Walt Disney is my love for the Disney product, and my birthday, which is December 5.

Thank you Walt for leaving your legacy for all of those who have inherited your dreams!

Why I Cry at Walt Disney World

Anyone else know the feeling? You get to your resort, get settled into your room, grab a bite to eat like it’s no big deal being there. You board the Disney Transport bus and head to the park, no big deal either, right? You arrive at the bus depot and you start to feel the anticipation of what lies ahead. FINALLY, you walk through security to the turnstiles and get admitted. Now it hits you! YOU’RE AT THE MAGIC KINGDOM! As you approach the train station you see the beautiful flowers. As you clear the tunnel, tears begin to roll down your face as you realize that you are so happy to be here! That’s what happens to me every time I walk into the Magic Kingdom. It is typically the first park I visit when I take my vacation at Walt Disney World.

Our first family visit in Feb. 2012
Our first family visit in Feb. 2012

I love the feeling of being a kid in awe of the creation that began with Walt Disney. I grew up watching “The Wonderful World of Color” on Sunday evenings and remember the opening of Disneyland on our old Black and White television. In my mind, Mr. Disney was the greatest man on earth. I have loved all of the classic movies and even the original Mickey Mouse Club in syndication. And, being in a place that Walt designed, but was unable to see to completion! And, that thought causes me to be a bit emotional, also!

And then there’s the other end of the deal! Leaving! If you use Disney’s provided transportation for all of your needs, then the ride back to the airport is aboard the Tragical Express. I’m not sure what to call it when you have a 17 hour drive home ahead of you, but I’m sure I’ll be wailing a good bit of the way. In my heart, I never want to leave. This is the only place in the world where I feel I can be myself! It is my hope to relocate, someday, and be a part of the magic.

So, yes I cry going into the Happiest Place on Earth, and I cry harder on the way out! And, I am so looking forward to it on my upcoming trip!

One Man’s Dream

Years ago, when I first visited Walt Disney World with only two parks, I went to the Magic Kingdom. I remember on the right as I walked in the gate that there was a theater marquee that read “The Walt Disney Story”. Inside were a few small exhibits with pictures and replicas of the Oscars given to Walt for “Snow White”, and a movie called “The Walt Disney Story”. That movie was the telling of the history of who Walt Disney was, and what he accomplished despite the setbacks and struggles.

One Man's Dream

Now, when you head to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you go to the Animation Courtyard area and find “Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream”. There you will find some of the same things, and more!! A multi-plane camera like the one used by Disney Animators in the making of “Snow White” and other classics, a scale model of Walt’s Burbank Studio office, many biographical and historical pictures with details, and at the end of that little museum walk, a theater that presents “Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream”.

Many people walk past this theater because maybe they don’t feel it’s all that important as compared to getting to Toy Story Midway Mania or Tower of Terror, but it is an opportunity to show those who never knew him, to meet Walt Disney through history! I never miss it! So, I urge you, next time you visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios, make it a point to see this movie and keep Walt’s memory alive! Maybe it will inspire one of our kids to be the Walt of a new generation!

Thanks for reading and have a Blessed Day!!