Brenda & Roger

Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Planning MORE Fun at Disney World (Day 2)

In Dreams Come True on February 21, 2011 at 11:44 am

Sunday, March 6: Epcot!

PassPorter's Map of Epcot

Epcot is our Focus of Fun for this trip: specifically, the International Flower and Garden Festival.

Brenda–My Internet Bride–is a spectacular gardener, and so we try to get to this event every year.

Epcot’s Icon is “Spaceship Earth,” a geosphere symbolizing the planet earth.

Epcot's "Wienie": Spaceship Earth

The “sphere” is actually a “dome”: the geodesic dome designed by legendary American inventor Buckminster Fuller. For more on Fuller’s many amazing achievements, check out the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

For those of us lucky enough (and old enough) to remember Expo 67 in Montreal, Canada, the US pavilion there illustrates the true shape of the exterior of  Epcot’s “Spaceship Earth” (oh, “Spaceship Earth” was a phrase coined by–wait for it!–Buckminster Fuller).

US Pavilion at Expo 67

As you can see, it’s a dome sitting on the ground.

Disney Imagineer John Hench created the illusion of a full sphere by resting the dome on legs, and building the bottom part of the structure to complete the spherical shape.

In his book, Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show, Hench says:

The geoesphere we built was 164 feet in diameter, standing eighteen feet off the ground on three sets of double legs, with more than two million cubic feet of interior space. It has so far withstood winds of up to 200 miles an hour.

After planning it out, Hench asked engineers if it would work; they told him it would, but that it would be expensive. This gives you an idea of what you get for your money at the Disney Parks.

Once we get to Epcot, our first stop will be Soarin’. We use the same strategy as we do for Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney Hollywood, though Midway Mania is the most popular attraction at WDW, so it’s not quite as stressfull! (It will be interesting to learn if the newly designed 3-D Star Tours takes over as numero uno; we thought we would be able to check it out this trip, but our first opportunity will be when we return in December for the Osborne Family Lights, Holiday Decorations, 10th Wedding Anniversary, and Brenda’s mystery-th birthday celebration.)

We’ll check out Living with the Land (especially the ride through the gardens–one of Brenda’s favorites!), Seas with Nemo (just fun), and Spaceship Earth.

Originally imagined as two separate parks, Future World and World Showcase were, literally, pushed together to form one large park. World Showcase opens by 11:00 AM, and so after the above list, we will stroll into the World Showcase to “Oooooh” and “Aaaaahhhhh” at the spectacular topiaries, floral sculptures, and attend a few lectures by renowned gardeners.

Enjoying the Festival on a previous visit

Dolphins swim through the greenery

Lady & the Tramp, behind the scenes

Pretty Pansies

Any spare time we have will be spent enjoying singing sensations: The British Invasion and, our constant favorites, The Voices of Liberty.

Oh, don’t worry, we’ll also eat lunch: 1:20 PM at the newly recreated Mexican Restaurant. Can you say Caisa dia? And–please, please, please–Carnitas burrito with black beans.

We’ll wind down the day either strolling about Epcot, or dashing to Downtown Disney to drop more cash on much needed Disney essentials.

"I hope we never lose sight of one thing – it was all started by a mouse." WD

Next stop: Animal Kingdom!


Planning to have FUN at DisneyWorld!

In Dreams Come True on February 14, 2011 at 11:58 am

It was a cold and snowy day.

Both Brenda and I had a “bonus day off” due to inclement weather, and Brenda suggested we use the time to plan our upcoming March Walt Disney World Trip.

Apparently, she got more than she bargained for.

A couple of years ago, I settled down at my local Border’s Book Store with every available guide book to Walt Disney World. They were all useful, but my overwhelming favorite was called  PassPorter.


The best part are the maps!

The reason I fell in love with the PassPorter was the maps–I’ll show you what I mean in a moment.

But I do want to mention a few other elements of the PassPorter which make it a fantastic planning tool:

  • There is a list of every attraction in each park (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kindom, Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios)
  • With each attraction, PassPorter provides “reviews” from various child perspectives: Toddler, Kid, Tween, & Teen
  • For the rides, PassPorter describes the experience, so certain old fogies (like Roger!) can avoid rides with “drops”
  • PassPorter has envelopes to organize your paperwork: with titles like: “Our Room(s),” “Our First Day,” through “Our Tenth Day,” and one blank; these include (this list is not complete!) slots for receipts, small tickets, etc.; blanks for scheduling each day; “Things to Do, Places to Go, Attractions to Visit”; “Memories of Our Ninth Day”; “Budget and Expenses”; and, my personal favorite, “Notes for Next Time”
  • PassPorter has advice on how to get around the Parks and Resorts, incuding a “Disney Property Transportation Chart”
  • PassPorter provides information about all the resorts and hotels

Additionally, there’s an entire on-line community to share your adventures and passion for Disney with; a ready-made friends group, where you don’t need to explain why you keep going back, over and over and over and over and over again.

I’ve only scratched the surface on all the benefits of the PassPorter–I bought the spiral-bound Deluxe Edition, so I can upgrade the pages for just a few dollars, plus I can remove the important pages and bring them with me to the parks (though there are many folks who would never dream of attending the parks without their PassPorter in their backpack).

The reason I chose the PassPorter from all other contenders was:

The Maps!

Yes, you can get free maps of each park at each park. But the PassPorter map is, in my opinion, superior.

Here’s the Disney MGM (now Disney Hollywood) Studios map  you get at Disney:

The map you get from Disney

Disney map: note "Key"


Each area has a number, you look up the number in the “Key,” and you see what it is.

Here’s the PassPorter version of Disney Hollywood Studios:

PassPorter Map of Disney Hollywood Studios

The PassPorter Maps are great!

Here’s a closer look:

Toy Story Mania: Our First Objective!

A closer look at the PassPorter Map of Disney Hollywood Studios

You can get a better look at the map, as well as get a feel for the rest of the PassPorter, by clicking PassPorter Preview and flipping through the pages. When you decide to join the PassPorter community, tell ’em Brenda and Roger sent you!

Brenda and I went through the list of attractions at each park–for example, Disney Hollywood Studios–picked out our “must sees,” and then, using the map, determined when to do what, so that we are constantly moving from one favorite spot to the next.

So, here’s our plan of attack:

Buzz & Woody Show Us The Way

Buzz & Woody blast through obstacles

Day One: Saturday March 5, 2011 (First day at the parks)

Disney’s Hollywood Studios (One of our favorite parks)

Disney Hollywood Sorcerer's Hat

We're back!

8 A.M. Magic Hour (early entry to park for on-site guests)


Toy Story Midway Mania!

Troops prepare to engage

We begin our assault at Toy Story Midway Mania

Always our first stop in Disney Hollywood–we love the ride, we even love the line to the ride!

We love to play dominos with our friends Deb & Dick Brown!

There are so many great games and toys to enjoy while you wait in line for Toy Story Midway Mania

Here’s how we do it. One of us gets into the line for Toy Story Midway Mania, while the other one takes our Annual Passes to the Fast Pass machine to get Fast Passes. That way, we can go twice! It’s critical to get Fast Passes fast because they are often completely out for the entire day by 2:00 PM! Armed with our Fast Passes, we enjoy the decor of the line until finally, we’re in our car shooting our cannons to earn big scores (Brenda always beats Roger in this game)!

Midway Mania Score

Roger loses to Brenda


Yes, I know I've used this before, but it's just so rare!

Star Tours (now in 3D!)

Now, if you look at the map, you’ll see that our next stop, Star Tours, is not exactly next door to Toy Story Midway Mania. But, Star Tours has just been redone, and is now 3-D, so we figure we want to see if we can get in fairly early, or if you need to get a Fast Pass later to do the ride. Since we have multiple days, we can always come back another time if necessary to enjoy this new ride.

After Star Tours, We are close to:

Muppet Vision (still in 3D!)

The fountain is 3-D

Miss Piggy's Fountain Welcomes you to Muppet Vision 3-D


Studios Backlot Tour

We can do them in both in whatever order we choose.

Then we cross the park to enjoy:

Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream

We'll let you know what's new!

What has changed at Walt Disney: One Man's Dream?

The history of Walt Disney and Associates and their many achievements, this exhibit has been refurbished, and we hope refurbishment included fixing the soundtrack to the film–it was getting pretty scratchy! Beyond that, we have no idea what they might have done to change the exhibit, except maybe clean things up? Not that they appeared dirty, but we’re just not sure what to expect. If it’s anything major, we’ll be sure and let you know.

Not recorded on the map–and one of the many hidden secrets of Walt Disney World–is the:

Disney Drawing Academy

You can learn to draw!

Roger's favorite Disney character: The Goof!

Roger really loves this event–in twenty minutes an artists guides you through how to draw a Disney character. We often do this a couple of times a day, one right after the other. So how many times will we go this trip? What characters will we draw? We’ll find out! And Brenda invented a great tool for carrying the drawings around all day, as well as on the airlines, so they don’t get damaged. She takes an empty paper towel roll, rolls the drawings up and inserts them into the tube–they travel safe and sound.

Disney’s Drawing Academy is near the character meeting area adjacent to “The Magic of Disney Animation.” You can enjoy that demonstration, or go in “the back way.”

Then we head for the exit, but along the way check out:

Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage

The costumes and music are fantastic; Roger’s favorite is “Be Our Guest.” As a recovering puppeteer, Roger is fascinated with WDW’s ability to bring characters like Lumiere to life to really appear like the animated character brought into reality. (Lumiere serves double duty as the character’s name: it is the French for “light,” appropriate for a candlestick; plus, it refers back to the Lumiere brothers, who were early pioneers in developing motion pictures.)

At some point during the day, we will enjoy:

LUNCH: 2 PM: SciFi Dine-In (our first time there!)

We've never eaten here!

Our 2 PM Lunch Stop: SciFi Dine-In

Brenda (unbelieving), Roger & Rebecca

How we'll look at the SciFi Dine-In

The lunch will, of course, occur at the time of our reservations–2:00 PM, which means Roger may have died from starvation. Can’t bring nuts as a snack–thanks to his brand new braces–but we’ll have something to prevent him from becoming a hypoglycemaniac.

We will end the evening not at Fantasmic, which we love but have seen every year, but at:

Evening Show: EPCOT Illuminations

We’ll use our annual passes to scoot over to Epcot, catch a glimpse of the Epcot International Garden and Flower Festival, and watch the end of the night pyrotechnics.

Then back to our hotel, rest, and prepare for

Day 2.

Until then, we’re still in New Hampshire, waiting to leave for Walt Disney World!

Originally, Goofy had a Santa hat

Hand drawn characters on Roger's office wall

Snow & Walt DisneyWorld

In Dreams Come True on February 4, 2011 at 10:21 am

What does snow have to do with WDW?

Snow & WDW (Click to see video)

The most recent snow storm provided Brenda–My Internet Bride–and me an opportunity to plan our upcoming Walt Disney World trip.

We’ll be arriving in Orlando on March 4, in the evening. We’re staying at one of the Disney hotels, on-site–the same complex Brenda and Jennifer stayed in during their December visit. This will be Roger’s first time in the hotel–no car or Garmin needed!

It will also be the debut trip with our new Kodak Mini!

Our new Kodak Mini!

Do you see a Hidden Mickey?

(Remember to click on the photo above for a closer look! Click again, and it gets really huge! Use your “back” button to return to the blog.)

So, we’ll be able to share videos of our adventures!

Believe us, we’re planning to have fun! And just to prove it, look out for our next post:

“Planning to have fun at WDW!”

Until then,

Brenda & Roger

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