Prayers for the Week – Independence Day

4th-of-july-flags-2

Yesterday was Independence Day in the United States.  The 4th of July is a remembering of the day that our country fought to be independent from the tyranny of the English rule under King George III.  Yesterday was the 239th birthday of the United States.  I hope that you had a great day, that you were safe, that you were able to celebrate with family and friends, and that you were able to enjoy the freedoms that you enjoy today because of the blood of those that serve today and served in the past to keep America free.  I hope you took time to remember them on this day.

As great as this day is, in many ways I’m saddened by the direction our country is taking.  I don’t have a whole lot to share with you, except perhaps this: as independent as our country is, we would do well to remember that it isn’t our independence that matters, but rather, our dependence on God that will save this country going forward.  The battleground for our souls starts in the grey matter, our minds, where the Devil is busy telling us that we are doing great, that we are free to choose our own path, and that all we need to rely on is ourselves!  While this is true, we are free to choose, we should think about all of the paths available to us before we actually make that choice.  I’m going to close with a Bible verse of what I see happening in this day and age, and what I believe is going to happen even more moving forward.  Read with me, please the words from the second book of Timothy:

1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. ~ 2 Timothy 3:1-7 (ESV)

My friends, I urge you — as good as it is to have an independence about you, to be able to think on your own, to not rely on others, there is a point where too much independence can be a bad thing.  I hope that you will think this through, and remember that it is okay to be dependent on God, that He is here for you, and He will see you through the trials of life if you just ask Him to.  Now, please pray with me the prayer that Jesus taught his Disciples to pray:

Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done,
On earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

Teppan Edo

67 Days: Teppan Edo

Teppan Edo

Teppan Edo is part of the Japan Pavilion, and is our choice for #Day67 in our #DisneyWorldCountdown

Hello everyone, and thank you for stopping by My Dreams of Disney today!  This is #Day67 in our #DisneyWorldCountdown, and for this day, we are taking a look at one of our dining reservations for our trip — Teppan Edo, located in the Japan Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase.

Cindy, Sophie and I have never eaten at Teppan Edo before — in our minds, we thought, why eat here when we can get a similar experience at home?  However, our friends Sheila, Randy, and Miss J wanted to eat here, and we thought, if Hibachi style Japanese cuisine is good at home, at Disney it’s probably even better!  So, we made a reservation.

The Japan Pavilion is a very picturesque pavilion, with the buildings being a small scale of what an Emperor’s palace looks like.  Over the years, we have taken some pictures of some of the various things you’ll find in this pavilion, starting with this picture of Sophie and myself that Cindy took of us:

Teppan Edo

The building for Teppan Edo in the background, our choice for #Day67 in our #DisneyWorldCountdown

As you can see, the paths and walkways are reminiscent of walking through a secret garden.

Teppan Edo

Part of the Japan Pavilion

The tower is a favorite of mine for photographing, I really enjoy how it stands tall for all to witness the glory and splendor of the Japan Pavilion.

Even though we haven’t eaten at Teppan Edo before, I am thinking about what I might eat when we get there.  Have you ever eaten there before?  If so, what did you like (or not like, hopefully not!)?  Please let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Walt Disney World All to Myself

Mickey_Mouse_Main_Street_RR_Station_106_290

By Mike West.

{Editor’s Note: What if you could have Walt Disney World all to yourself?  What would you do?  Would you gawk at all the great features that we seem to miss as we hurry by avoiding the crowds, or would you be so overwhelmed that you wouldn’t be able to do anything but stop and stare?  Well, today we are joined by Mike West, a good friend of mine and a noted Disney expert.  He is sharing some of his memories of Walt Disney World.  Enjoy, and please give Mike a warm welcome!}

You know you’ve done it.  You’ve been standing in line for an attraction like Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom for 45 minutes and you’ve thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be great if I had the entire ride all to myself?  I could walk right through this line, hop onto the first ride vehicle and be the only person on the ride.”  We’ve all done it!

Would you believe it if I told you I’ve experienced that actual rare Disney moment?  I’m surely not the only one, but I was fortunate to have numerous occasions in which I had the theme parks all to myself.  Well, it seemed like it.  Here’s my story…

Years ago, I had the good fortune to work with the folks at Walt Disney World Merchandise doing photography for the screen savers they sold in the parks and on the Disney Cruise Line.  In fact, if you bought any of these Disney screen savers, I was the person who took the photos found in each one.

Disney Screen Savers - 8

As part of the photography process, Walt Disney World Merchandise would arrange for me to have access to the parks first thing in the morning, well before the parks opened to guests.  While there were no guests about, a small number of maintenance personnel were busy finishing a night of cleaning the parks and making sure everything was in working order and ready to create another day of magical memories.  As a result, I spent much of my time moving about the parks taking photos while music was playing, train whistles sounded and the smell of baked goods filled the air…but nobody was around.  To be able to experience them all to myself while I was “working” was a truly unique and enjoyable experience.

I thought I’d share some a few of my favorite memories…

The feeling of walking through the Magic Kingdom and having it all to yourself in the cool air and morning light is simply magical.  Everything is sparkling clean and each path before you is unobstructed to any destination.  I always enjoyed how most everyplace I went was open, yet vacant, as Cast Members were busy behind the scenes getting things ready.  Imagine every store you walk into is welcoming, yet nobody is there, restaurants are perfectly still and you can see all the way across Frontierland and not see a single person.  I always wanted to sit down and take it all in, but I had to keep moving and taking photos, as I had only a couple of hours with which to work.

One of my favorite memories was walking through the entire queue at Splash Mountain with not a soul around.  I stepped into the queue and continued without slowing my pace and approached the loading area where I found a couple of Cast Members preparing the log vehicles for the day.  I explained that I was “working” and asked if I could sit in the front seat of one of the logs and ride the attraction to take some photos.  They replied in true Disney fashion with a genuine “Sure!”, and with that I boarded the first log of the day and had the entire attraction to myself!

Walking into the Magic Kingdom mid-day is always a special experience, but before-hours is something else.  By early morning, the hard working maintenance staff has all of the Magic Kingdom sparkling clean and ready for guests.  As a result, I found myself on more than one occasion walking down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A. towards Cinderella Castle all by myself with not a soul in sight while all the lights on the building facades were still aglow from the evening before and one of my favorite Disney songs, “Flitterin’”, filled the air.  The task before me?  Make sure I photograph the Partners statue with Cinderella Castle in the background in the early morning light before moving on to other areas in the park.  It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

Epcot at 6:00 a.m. is an altogether different experience from that of 11:00 a.m. when it opens to guests.  The air is cool, the shadows are soft in the early morning light and the lifting fog slowly reveals the pavilions on distant shores.  However, with a circumference of 1.25 miles, it can be a lot of ground to cover when photographing all 11 pavilions before they open to guests.  To photograph as much as I could, I had to move very quickly from shot to shot and pavilion to pavilion, but two pavilions tempted me to stay longer than I should; China and Japan.

One of my favorite moments photographing Epcot was stepping from the clearly defined technology, music and hard edges of Future World East into the calm and serene landscape of China.  Unlike Japan, which uses moving water in its landscaping, China uses still water, and in the early morning light, China presents radiant colors, ancient architecture and serene pools filled with blooming white water lilies.  Since I had it to myself, I always made sure to linger a moment at the China pavilion to enjoy the beauty and art of this ancient culture.

Later, while photographing Japan on a foggy morning, I was struck by how the morning fog brings an entirely different experience to the pavilion.  With the torri gate in the lagoon at your back and all the other pavilions obscured by the fog, it really feels as if you’re in Japan.  With nobody else around, there aren’t any elements which break that sense.  Even seeing a single Cast Member with a name tag can make it clear you’re at Epcot, so having the pavilion all to myself allowed me to transport to Japan in the way Disney Imagineers intended.

These are but a few of my favorite Walt Disney World before-hour memories…which I can share.  There are certainly others.  Backstage was always interesting, and being questioned by Disney Security on a regular basis always made me feel like I was some kid in trouble.  (That incident on the Disneyland Skyway when I was 12 didn’t help.)  I was also in the right place at the right time to shoot an image on the fly of a comical scene in Disneyland unlike any I’ve ever seen.  I’d include it with this article, but Walt Disney wouldn’t have wanted it published, so it will remain right where it is.

Lastly, thank you to Mickey Mouse for allowing me to take your first photo of the day…before the gates opened.

Disney World Mobile Guide iPhone 4 - 172 x 310 Mike West is the author of numerous trip-planning and in-park apps for Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort, including the popular Disney World Mobile Guide.  In addition, he’s regarded as an expert on the secrets of both Walt Disney World and Disneyland having published two best-selling apps, titled “Walt Disney World Secrets Gold!” and “Disneyland Secrets Gold!”, both available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play and Amazon AppStore.  Learn more at www.TimeStream-Software.com – Contact:  Media@TimeStream-Software.com

Walt Disney World All to Myself

Mickey_Mouse_Main_Street_RR_Station_106_290

By Mike West.

{Editor’s Note: Today we are joined by Mike West, a good friend of mine and a noted Disney expert.  Today, Mike is sharing some of his memories of Walt Disney World.  Enjoy, and please give Mike a warm welcome!}

You know you’ve done it.  You’ve been standing in line for an attraction like Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom for 45 minutes and you’ve thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be great if I had the entire ride all to myself?  I could walk right through this line, hop onto the first ride vehicle and be the only person on the ride.”  We’ve all done it!

Would you believe it if I told you I’ve experienced that actual rare Disney moment?  I’m surely not the only one, but I was fortunate to have numerous occasions in which I had the theme parks all to myself.  Well, it seemed like it.  Here’s my story…

Years ago, I had the good fortune to work with the folks at Walt Disney World Merchandise doing photography for the screen savers they sold in the parks and on the Disney Cruise Line.  In fact, if you bought any of these Disney screen savers, I was the person who took the photos found in each one.

Disney Screen Savers - 8

As part of the photography process, Walt Disney World Merchandise would arrange for me to have access to the parks first thing in the morning, well before the parks opened to guests.  While there were no guests about, a small number of maintenance personnel were busy finishing a night of cleaning the parks and making sure everything was in working order and ready to create another day of magical memories.  As a result, I spent much of my time moving about the parks taking photos while music was playing, train whistles sounded and the smell of baked goods filled the air…but nobody was around.  To be able to experience them all to myself while I was “working” was a truly unique and enjoyable experience.

I thought I’d share some a few of my favorite memories…

The feeling of walking through the Magic Kingdom and having it all to yourself in the cool air and morning light is simply magical.  Everything is sparkling clean and each path before you is unobstructed to any destination.  I always enjoyed how most everyplace I went was open, yet vacant, as Cast Members were busy behind the scenes getting things ready.  Imagine every store you walk into is welcoming, yet nobody is there, restaurants are perfectly still and you can see all the way across Frontierland and not see a single person.  I always wanted to sit down and take it all in, but I had to keep moving and taking photos, as I had only a couple of hours with which to work.

One of my favorite memories was walking through the entire queue at Splash Mountain with not a soul around.  I stepped into the queue and continued without slowing my pace and approached the loading area where I found a couple of Cast Members preparing the log vehicles for the day.  I explained that I was “working” and asked if I could sit in the front seat of one of the logs and ride the attraction to take some photos.  They replied in true Disney fashion with a genuine “Sure!”, and with that I boarded the first log of the day and had the entire attraction to myself!

Walking into the Magic Kingdom mid-day is always a special experience, but before-hours is something else.  By early morning, the hard working maintenance staff has all of the Magic Kingdom sparkling clean and ready for guests.  As a result, I found myself on more than one occasion walking down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A. towards Cinderella Castle all by myself with not a soul in sight while all the lights on the building facades were still aglow from the evening before and one of my favorite Disney songs, “Flitterin’”, filled the air.  The task before me?  Make sure I photograph the Partners statue with Cinderella Castle in the background in the early morning light before moving on to other areas in the park.  It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

Epcot at 6:00 a.m. is an altogether different experience from that of 11:00 a.m. when it opens to guests.  The air is cool, the shadows are soft in the early morning light and the lifting fog slowly reveals the pavilions on distant shores.  However, with a circumference of 1.25 miles, it can be a lot of ground to cover when photographing all 11 pavilions before they open to guests.  To photograph as much as I could, I had to move very quickly from shot to shot and pavilion to pavilion, but two pavilions tempted me to stay longer than I should; China and Japan.

One of my favorite moments photographing Epcot was stepping from the clearly defined technology, music and hard edges of Future World East into the calm and serene landscape of China.  Unlike Japan, which uses moving water in its landscaping, China uses still water, and in the early morning light, China presents radiant colors, ancient architecture and serene pools filled with blooming white water lilies.  Since I had it to myself, I always made sure to linger a moment at the China pavilion to enjoy the beauty and art of this ancient culture.

Later, while photographing Japan on a foggy morning, I was struck by how the morning fog brings an entirely different experience to the pavilion.  With the torri gate in the lagoon at your back and all the other pavilions obscured by the fog, it really feels as if you’re in Japan.  With nobody else around, there aren’t any elements which break that sense.  Even seeing a single Cast Member with a name tag can make it clear you’re at Epcot, so having the pavilion all to myself allowed me to transport to Japan in the way Disney Imagineers intended.

These are but a few of my favorite Walt Disney World before-hour memories…which I can share.  There are certainly others.  Backstage was always interesting, and being questioned by Disney Security on a regular basis always made me feel like I was some kid in trouble.  (That incident on the Disneyland Skyway when I was 12 didn’t help.)  I was also in the right place at the right time to shoot an image on the fly of a comical scene in Disneyland unlike any I’ve ever seen.  I’d include it with this article, but Walt Disney wouldn’t have wanted it published, so it will remain right where it is.

Lastly, thank you to Mickey Mouse for allowing me to take your first photo of the day…before the gates opened.

Disney World Mobile Guide iPhone 4 - 172 x 310 Mike West is the author of numerous trip-planning and in-park apps for Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort, including the popular Disney World Mobile Guide.  In addition, he’s regarded as an expert on the secrets of both Walt Disney World and Disneyland having published two best-selling apps, titled “Walt Disney World Secrets Gold!” and “Disneyland Secrets Gold!”, both available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play and Amazon AppStore.  Learn more at www.TimeStream-Software.com – Contact:  Media@TimeStream-Software.com