My Favorite Disney Ride or Why You Don’t Want to Miss Pirates of the Caribbean

One of my many favorite Pirates, I snap a picture of him every time I float under him.

“Dead men tell no tales,” the words alone bring a smile to my face and longing in my heart. No Disney World trip is complete without a ride on “Pirates of the Caribbean.” This fun-filled dark ride sets the scene before you even board your boat. The ride is set inside a re-creation of a Caribbean fort. You will see cannons and other scenery that helps set the stage.

A canon in the queue line for Pirates of the Caribbean

After you wind your way through the waiting area (which can be a welcome relief as the waiting area is cool and dark, a nice break on a hot Florida day) you reach the boarding area and get on the boat. At the start of your adventure, you get to hear it (“Dead men tell no tales,” if you’ve ridden this ride, I bet you are hearing it with that very specific voice and the intonation of the ride.)

Here you are “trapped” between a pirate ship and the safety of the fort in town

Disney has incorporated characters from the movies into the ride (you will see Davy Jones  as well as Jack Sparrow. I have heard that they have also added mermaid references but I haven’t been since they were added so I don’t want to say that it’s true until I see it for myself. {Editor’s Note: I read about this on Chip & Company. Click the link if you haven’t seen that information yet.}) After a short drop and a small “splash” you find yourself in danger as you are trapped between a pirate ship and a port town in the Caribbean. The remainder of the ride is scenes of the pirates raiding and pillaging the town before the pirates are finally reigned in to end the ride.

Captain Jack is looking for new pirates

If you are lucky, you may see Captain Jack outside the ride as he recruits new pirates to join him.  Did I miss something you especially enjoy on the Pirates of the Caribbean? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this classic ride.

 

Friendship Friday: Grandma!

Grandma

Sophie with her Nana, 2006.

Friendship Friday: Grandma

Welcome to this week’s edition of Friendship Friday!  Last week we focused on my Grandpa, and this week we focus on his bride of nearly 68 years, my Grandma!

My Grandma was born Edna Atwood near Waterbury, Connecticut, and was one of the children of a local vet in the area.  Since the area she lived in was mostly farming, she learned to ride horses early on.

My Grandma would grow up to become an O.R. nurse — and a pretty good one at that from what I understand.  Back in those days, when a patient was in the hospital, they hired their own nurses to take care of them, and my Grandpa’s father, who needed to have gallbladder surgery, hired her to help take care of him after his surgery (my Grandma had also been in on the actual surgery.)

It was during this time that my Grandpa met my Grandma, and began a romance that would last for a lifetime.

I have heard a lot of stories about my childhood from my Grandma, perhaps my favorite one was the time — when they lived in Buffalo, NY — when my Grandma bought me a hotdog with ketchup, and told me to make sure I held onto that hot dog really tight.  Well, I held it so tight that the hot dog shot out of the bun onto the floor!

My Grandma and Grandpa are a blessing in my life, even now, despite the fact that they have both been called to Heaven.  My Grandpa used to make my Grandma so angry!  He told us the story once that her family was wealthy — so wealthy that they had servants!  The true story is that my Grandma’s mom passed away really young, and my Grandma — who was the oldest if I remember correctly — had to keep the house because of that.  In order to help them out, they did have a lady who came by to help with the housekeeping, but it wasn’t at all like they had servants!

My Grandpa was a little like me — or rather, I’m a little like him.  Both of us are guilty of not having a whole lot of smarts at times!  I remember the time my Grandma told us the story about Grandpa ticking her off about something.  Grandma could be devious at times, so she let it lie for a while, then later on she suggested that they go for a horseback ride.  By this time my Grandma was an old pro at riding a horse, but Grandpa wasn’t as good.  When Grandma and Grandpa got on their horses, Grandma took off on her horse, and Grandpa’s followed nearly as quickly!  My Grandpa learned a valuable lesson that day — but he also forgot it on more then one occasion over the years also! :)

Sophie was born when my Grandma was 87 years old, and it was extremely important to Cindy that we bring Sophie down to Florida to meet Grandma and Grandpa as early as we could.  As a result, little Sophie took her first trip to Florida at the tender age of 7 weeks old.  We had already planned on staying at a hotel, so we checked in first and settled in before coming over.  I remember as we were heading to my Grandma’s house that it started pouring rain!  Grandma knew we were on our way because we called first, and when we got there, Grandma was waiting in the garage with the door open, umbrella at hand, waiting to help Cindy and Sophie get into the house.

My Grandpa was also like me in that he was both an old softie, and a hopeless romantic at times!  I’ll never forget one time when we were visiting, Grandpa came in from the garden, red rose in hand, which he proceeded to give my Grandma.  She said, “Ah, Dad.” (They called each other Mom and Dad) and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  When she saw me watching them, she blushed and looked at me and said “Yes, we still do that!”

My Grandma was the rock of our family, especially after they retired.  Grandpa was stricken with pancreatic cancer — and survived it — but he also had macular degeneration and hearing loss, so he wasn’t able to drive anymore.  My Grandma did all the driving when it was just the two of them, she had the greater energy, and she did her crossword puzzles.  They watched their baseball games on TV together, and they did all of these things together.

In the end, though, it was my Grandma who would end up having the frailer body.  Grandma passed away in March 2007, just a few days before her 93rd birthday.  After she passed away, Grandpa moved to Virginia with Mom and Dad.  I’m going to close with two pictures from after Grandma passed away.  In the first you have my Grandpa and Mom, Father and Daughter, doing what they did best — taking care of one another.  In the second picture you have a family picture in front of Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Florida.

Grandma

Grandpa and Mom, holding hands, after Grandma’s Memorial Service.

 

Grandma

Dad, Uncle Roger, Stephanie, Aunt Sadie, Grandpa, Mom, Uncle Bob, Aunt Bette

At the end of this long post, I urge you all, if you still have your Grandparents in your life, to take a moment, pick up the phone, and give them a call and tell them you love them.  Or, if they are close enough, go over and visit with them.  All of my Grandparents are now in Heaven, and I miss them.  Looking at the pictures in this post, the memories return anew, and I found myself wiping tears from my eyes that I thought had all been shed.  I never realized in the picture of my Mom and Grandpa just how prophetic that picture was.  Grandpa looked after Mom and helped her to learn to walk and talk again, and now, in his later years, my Mom was there for him, taking him by the hand, helping him when needed, and yes, getting aggravated by him as much as my Grandma was at times.

Remember, take a moment, give them a call or stop by and see them.  You are blessed to have them, just as those of us that have lost our Grandparents were blessed to have them.  Never take them for granted, any of our family members.

This series is the brainchild of my friend Heidi from Heidi’s Head!  To take a look at who she is featuring this week in her post, just click on the image below!  Thanks for stopping by!

Friendship Friday: Meet my Mom!

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of Friendship Friday, the weekly series where I share with all of you information about a special person in my life.  My first Friendship Friday was about my Sister-in-Christ Brenda, the next one was about my best friend, my wife Cindy, and last week’s post was about my wonderful daughter Sophie.  Today I’ve got another woman in my life that I want to write about — my Mom.

My Mom Ellen is a great woman.  She is the oldest child of three that my Grandma and Grandpa had, and she has had to be strong many times over the course of her life.  She is a miracle — she survived a really scary childhood illness that forced her to have to learn how to talk and walk again; she survived a very scary condition after my Grandma passed away a few years back — in fact, she wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the heroic efforts of my Dad, but that’s a story for another day.  She has battled so many things over the course of her life (including me sometimes) — but the one thing that she has never done is backed down from what she believed was right.

My Mom has had to do a lot of things over the years, including care for her parents.  Grandma and Grandpa are both gone now, enjoying their time in Heaven with Jesus, but before they left, they had Mom there, looking after them as best she could, first in Florida, and then, when Grandma passed away, in Virginia with my Grandpa moving into Mom and Dad’s home.

When I look at my Mom, I see the best of both of my Grandparents in her.  I see the stubbornness that my Grandma had at times, along with a little dose of “If you want something, go get it yourself!”  The funny thing was that, when my Grandma was younger, if she came to our house to visit, then she took over the kitchen.  When they got older, and we would go to her house to visit, she would tell us we knew where it was, to help ourselves.  We picture her getting to Heaven and telling Jesus if he wanted anything He knew where it was, go help Himself!  My Mom, thankfully, has developed a little bit of that herself.

In addition to the qualities of my Grandma that I see in Mom, I also see some of my Grandpa in her.  Those qualities are more about her carefree attitude with things.  Mom can get upset about things, that much is certain, but her laughter, which is often evident, reminds me of Grandpa.

Now that my Grandparents have moved on to Heaven, I’ve seen a welcome change come over my Mom.  She is more carefree — she and Dad are taking more small trips then they used to, they are enjoying their lives as husband and wife together perhaps a bit more.  It’s not like they didn’t enjoy themselves before, and that they wished that Grandpa didn’t live there — that’s not it at all.  It’s just that they are able to do things that they just weren’t able to do before.  It’s hard to explain, and I’m doing a lousy job I’m sure, but I’m glad that they have been able to do these things, and I look forward to hearing about their journeys on this stage of their lives for many years to come.

Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for Mom.  I may not tell you every day, Mom, but I love you, and each day Sophie grows, I learn more about the kind of parents you and Dad were to Robin and I.  I love you, Mom, and I hope you have enjoyed being the center of attention today.

Special thanks goes out to my friend Heidi from Heidi’s Head — it was from Heidi that I first learned about this special series that she does every week.  If you want to read who she is writing about this week, just click on the image below!  Thanks for stopping by, and for learning more about my Mom.

Disney Dining Review: Mickey’s Backyard BBQ

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is one of the Walt Disney World Dinner Shows that you can see while on vacation.  Located at Fort Wilderness Campgrounds, the pavilion where the BBQ is held is not far from the location for the Hoop Dee Doo Review.

We took Sophie and my niece Stephanie to the Backyard BBQ for Sophie’s 9th birthday when we were at Disney World celebrating.  We were on the Disney Dining Plan for this visit, and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ counts as 2 Dining credits and also required us to guarantee it with a credit card.  This requirment isn’t as big a deal now, as Disney has started requiring a credit card guarantee on many of their table service restaurants.

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ has many great things going for it.  Here is my list of the things that we enjoyed the most:

  • The setting is rustic, and while this isn’t for everyone, it was great for me.
  • Sophie had some really great quality time with Mickey and Minnie, as well as Chip, Dale, and Goofy.
  • The stage show with all of it’s country influence was great.  There was a lot of energy involved with everything here, and we enjoyed it quite a bit.

In fact, I enjoyed our experience quite a bit.  There were only two things that I think should be changed, but I will understand if they aren’t.  The first is the 2 TS credits required.  I love the show, and all of that, but I just didn’t feel like it was worth 2 TS credits.  The other thing that I wasn’t crazy about was the food.  The big buffet was BBQ food, which wasn’t a problem; it’s what you expect.  On tap were burgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken, and all the fixings.  The problem I had with the food was the temperature.  I know that this is something that is hard to control in what is basically a covered outdoor pavilion, and is also something that can be totally different the next time we eat there.  I think if I were making the decision on how to conquer the temperature problem of the food, I would make smaller quantity, and replace it more often.  For example, instead of making 100 burgers and replacing them every 20 minutes, make 50 burgers and replace them every 10, or something along that nature.

However, all in all, I really enjoyed the BBQ, and would consider it again.  If you decide on eating at the Backyard BBQ, I highly recommend that you give yourself plenty of time to get to the pavilion.  We elected to drive to Fort Wilderness, then we parked, but then we had to wait on the bus to take us through the campground to where the pavilion was.  All in all, I think it took at least an hour to get from our hotel at Port Orleans French Quarter to dinner.

One last thing that I’ll mention was that all the people that were celebrating something, whether it be a birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion, you can write down the name of the person celebrating, and they will announce it as part of the show.  So if you are celebrating, this is one of the places you can go that you can get your celebration announced.  I hope you enjoyed the review, and that it helps you to decide whether or not to make a reservation at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ!  If it doesn’t, maybe these pictures will!

Sophie (with her self-created Minnie shirt) with Minnie and Mickey!

 

The Stage Show

 

Chip
Sophie loves corn on the cob!

 

Goofy leading a dance line

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Disney In Pictures: Happy Birthday Epcot!

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Hello everyone, and welcome back to another edition of Disney In Pictures, the series that invites you to send in your pictures to share on the site!  This series is a lot of fun for me because I get to see all of the incredible photos you have taken over the years, and I know a lot of you like to surprise your family with that special shot you took that is now featured online.  So, keep sending in your photos, and thanks for coming to visit us at My Dreams of Disney!

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