Memories from Disney at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Akershus with Belle

Last Thanksgiving, our friends Sheila, Randy, and Jagan invited us to celebrate their daughter’s 15th birthday at Walt Disney World. We were so excited, we had never been to Disney over the Christmas Holiday season, and it was something that we were looking forward to very much. This post is much overdue, but regardless, today seemed like a great day to remember that long weekend with some photos that were taken.

On a personal level, this trip was quite difficult for me because I was suffering from some sciatica issues, and as you know if you have been to Disney, walking is probably job number one while you are there — so it became quite difficult to maneuver through the parks.

I didn’t know that I was going to have this issue, or I would have reserved an ECV beforehand. As a result, I had to request one at each of the parks each day, and hope that they had them. Fortunately, I was able to get one at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, but not at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — for that, I had to use a wheelchair. But enough about that, let’s talk about the trip itself!

On Thanksgiving Day, we made a reservation for Akershus, and everyone except me had the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. I had what I always have at Akershus — the Tradisjonell Kjøttkake. This incredible dish is comprised of Norwegian Meatballs served with Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, and Lingonberry Sauce, and it is something that I love to get when we eat there!

In addition to eating at Akershus, we also ate at The Boathouse for Jagan’s birthday dinner, and at Kona Cafe for breakfast, and Whispering Canyon Cafe for dinner. Some very yummy food was had that weekend!

Throughout it all, though, what stands out most is the memories, the friendships that continue, the friends that are like family, and the laughter we had. It was far too short, but despite my health challenges, it was still a trip that I will never forget.

Take a look, and thanks for stopping by today!

Under-Appreciated Attractions

Magical Blogorail: World Showcase at Night

World Showcase

Spaceship Earth at night is a majestic ball of incredible lights!

As far as I am concerned, Walt Disney World is so much more incredible to experience at night.  That’s why my family is always looking for the evening extra magic hours over the morning.  When it comes to specific areas of Walt Disney World that truly shine after dark, I look no further than the World Showcase area of Epcot.  Today, we are going to talk about some of the incredible things we’ve seen here, and you might too on your next visit!

For this hopeless romantic, few locations on Disney property hold the sway that World Showcase does for me after dark settles in.  For starters, I love the way the path just flows from country to country, pavilion to pavilion, all the way around World Showcase Lagoon.  There’s a tranquility there, a sense of calm, a timeless about it that just really strikes home in this writer’s heart.  It takes me back, back to that very first trip to Epcot, in the summer of 1983, when my grandparents took me, and we went with friends of theirs that had their grandson visiting also.  I remember, that was the very first time in a setting that big that I had been allowed to go (with Chris, of course) off without any adult supervision.  But it was Disney, and my Grandparents knew it would be all right.

The charm of the World Showcase at night is that it grabs you, clutches at you, drawing you this way and that, and all the while, the crowds start thinning out because they are heading towards the bus terminals, or their rooms on the Boardwalk, or maybe they’re driving back home; regardless, the night and the park soon feels like you and your special someone are the only ones there.  I remember one recent trip, we were walking around World Showcase, and we came to the drawbridge, and it went up!  We happened to be there when the giant Earth from Illuminations was passing through on it’s way back to where it is stored, and I was able to capture this photo with my phone…

World Showcase

The Illuminations Globe passes by on it’s way to bed for the night.

I had never seen it up close like that before, and haven’t seen it that close since.

Of course, the World Showcase at night also means fireworks!  Namely, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  This fireworks show to me is incredible, and now, with Wishes closed down over at the Magic Kingdom, is the longest running fireworks show at Walt Disney World.  IllumiNations strikes a great balance between fireworks, laser light affects, narration, and music, and is a great way to kick off the rest of the evening at Epcot.

World Showcase

In the end, the World Showcase at night is about more than a particular attraction; it’s about more than a special fireworks show; it’s about more than getting one last drink before heading out.  World Showcase at night, to me, is all about slowing down, reliving the day with your family and friends, and sharing a special, Magical moment with the one you love most.  That is why I like walking World Showcase at night.  What about you?  Do you like exploring the World Showcase at night? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!


For more ways to enjoy evenings at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Mexico Pavilion

Magical Blogorail: The Mexico Pavilion!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Green Loop. Today we are taking you on a virtual tour of Epcot’s World Showcase.


Mexico Pavilion

The Mexico Pavilion is housed in an Aztec style pyramid!

The Mexico Pavilion

Welcome, friends, to the Mexico Pavilion, one of the eleven incredible countries depicted in the World Showcase of Epcot!  I’m joining my friends at the Magical Blogorail in talking about each of the pavilions, and I’m going to tell you why I love the Mexico Pavilion, and describe in more detail what you can experience when you visit this country — one of the original countries at Epcot!

The Mexico Pavilion is one of my favorite World Showcase countries.  Featuring a nighttime outdoor market theme, wonderful shops, incredible smells from the San Angel Inn, and the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, this pavilion has it all!

For starters, the structure that is the focal point of the pavilion is the Aztec style pyramid that houses the pavilion.  Inside this structure is the open air market, pictured below, with it’s subdued lighting and aesthetics.  The Disney Imagineers are such incredible storytellers, when we enter the pavilion I am immediately immersed, perhaps even transported, from Florida to a spring evening in Mexico, with twinkling stars and the smell of delicious food wafting through the air.

Mexico Pavilion

The open air market depicted in the Mexico Pavilion is one of it’s biggest selling points!

Aside from shopping, there are many more things to do.  For starters, the San Angel Inn is located in the pavilion; while I have not eaten here, in my mind it is the perfect romantic setting for a wonderful date.  This is because the seating overlooks the launch site for the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros! This ride takes you on a relaxing journey through the heart of Mexico, and you find out that Donald Duck has gone missing — perhaps because of his love of the women?  In any event, your journey follows Panchito and Jose Carioca as they look high and low for Donald so that they can perform their concert!

Mexico Pavilion

Be on the look out for Donald Duck, help Panchito and Jose Carioca find him!

In addition to the San Angel Inn, La Cava del Tequila features appetizers and over 200 varieties of tequila for you to choose from; personally, it’s not my style of hangout, but that’s just me.

Outside of the pavilion is La Hacienda de San Angel.  This restaurant, pictured below, is strategically located on the lagoon for great viewing locations of the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks show.

Mexico Pavilion

La Hacienda de San Angel is located outside the Mexico Pavilion on the World Showcase Lagoon.

Additionally, Donald Duck makes his presence known both inside and outside the pavilion.  Perhaps the reason he couldn’t be found on the Gran Fiesta Tour was because he was getting his picture with my daughter?

Mexico Pavilion

Donald Duck signs autograph books and poses for pictures inside and outside the Mexico Pavilion!

Thank you for stopping by today, and taking a stroll into the Mexico Pavilion with us!  Do you like this pavilion?  Please let me know in the comments, and thanks!

For more info on Epcot’s World Showcase, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Green | Tour of Epcot’s World Showcase Loop:

My Top 5 Epcot Attractions

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Hello everyone, and welcome to the second in my series of favorite attractions!  Last week, we took a look at my top 5 Magic Kingdom Attractions; today we are looking at my top 5 Epcot attractions!  Does my list match up with yours?  Read through, and then let me know your list in the comments below!  Thanks for stopping by!

#5: Maelstrom

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Maelstrom, located over in the Norway pavilion, is a boat ride that takes you through Norway’s past, present, and future as you see all of the ways that the seas impact the lives of Norwegians!  It is fun, with trolls, polar bears, and oil rigs — as well as a drop near the end!  It used to have a movie that would be shown at the end, but that isn’t shown very often anymore.

#4: The American Adventure

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When it comes to history, especially the history of our great country, at Epcot, there is nothing that comes close to The American Adventure, a great show that features many of the great moments of our country’s history, but highlights on it’s most important aspect — the people!

#3: Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros!

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The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros is a boat ride in the Mexican Pavilion that takes you on a journey through Mexico to try and find Donald Duck!  Jose Carioca and Panchito are your navigators as you look — and ultimately find — Donald Duck!

#2: Soarin’

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Soarin’ used to be one of my least favorite attractions — but I’ve had a change of heart!  This incredible ride takes you through the California countryside as you see the sights from a unique perspective — a hang glider!  Sit back, relax, and enjoy the wonderful beauty, knowing that it’ll be okay, you won’t fall…

#1: Spaceship Earth

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At number one, though, is my favorite attraction at Epcot — Spaceship Earth.  This unique attraction, which takes you deep within the geodesic dome, shows you how far we have come in our communication methods — and leaves us wondering how far we can journey…at the end of the ride is a simulator to give you an idea of what your future might have in store for it, and don’t forget all the great things you can do in Project Tomorrow!

Honorable Mentions

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Illuminations: Reflections of Earth — while not an “attraction” in the sense that I’m thinking, is still a great draw, and something I look forward to seeing every time we visit!

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O Canada is one of my favorite shows, with it’s CircleVision 360 view of everything, and narration by Martin Short!  Stop by and see it in the Canada Pavilion!

I hope you have enjoyed my top 5 attractions at Epcot!  What are your top 5?  Let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!

Fife and Drum

Epcot to remove Fife and Drum Corps, others

Fife and Drum

Have you seen the Fife & Drum Corps perform?

I was surprised when I learned yesterday that Walt Disney World has announced plans to remove the popular shows Mo’Rockin’, Off Kilter, the World Showcase Players, and my favorite, Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps effective the end of September.  From a personal opinion, I can see the closing of some of these performance groups, but the ones that I truly feel like should not have been closed are Off Kilter and the Fife & Drum Corps.  Part of me worries that they are doing this not so much for a specific reason, but rather because they feel like they need to do so in order that those people that only visit Disney once or twice will see something shiny and new instead of something that has been around for a while.

For me, and others like me that really enjoy Disney and go multiple times, the biggest draw for me is the chance to take my wife and child to the Disney I know and love from my childhood.  It’s not so much about riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train — despite how incredibly cool that attraction is.  For me, it’s about walking with Cindy and Sophie, seeing a show or enjoy a ride, and remembering something from a prior visit that the attraction, show, parade, etc. triggered.  The best part of the Disney Magic for me is how we can be transported back in time to when we saw something for the first time.

Fife and Drum

The Fife & Drum Corps performing inside the Liberty Inn restaurant!

When I read the news about the Fife & Drum Corps, immediately I remembered this story from the time we took Stephanie to Walt Disney World with us:

I remember that we were at World Showcase, and all of a sudden it started raining.  Since it was nearly lunchtime, and we were near the American Adventure Pavilion, we decided to eat lunch at the Liberty Inn counter service restaurant.  This restaurant is great because it serves good food and has a lot of seating to get in out of the elements.  Anyway, we were inside, eating our lunch, when all of a sudden the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps marched in, took up their positions, and started playing for us.  It was a moment where we just happened to be there, nothing was listed on the Times Guide, and Walt Disney World turned the Disney Magic up for us because of the rain (or so it seemed)!

Hearing about the end of the Fife & Drum Corps immediately took me back to that memory, and made me a little sad that I won’t experience it again…

I’ve got other stories for the other World Showcase Entertainments that are closing, but to me, the one that bites deep is the closing of the Spirit of  America Fife & Drum Corps.

What do you think about this news?  Please let me know in the comments, or on our Google+ page, or our Facebook page, or shoot me a tweet — I’d love to know your thoughts!  Thanks for stopping by, and everyone, go out and make it a great Disney Day!