NC Beaches

The Blogorail: Exploring the NC Beaches

NC Beaches

The Atlantic Ocean rolls in at Atlantic Beach, NC

Welcome everyone!  Today the Blogorail is looking at beach vacation ideas — and for this resident of North Carolina, I’m here to tell you why exploring the NC beaches is where it’s at!

From the Outer Banks in the northern part of the state, all the way down to Wrightsville Beach and beyond in the south, the state of North Carolina has an incredible selection of beaches for you to choose from.  Whether it is to explore the Outer Banks and see Kitty Hawk where the Wright Brothers made their historic flight from, or to head down to Fort Fisher in the south, there are countless ways to explore the NC beaches year after year.

Today I’m going to focus on a small town that we visited with our family a few years back — Atlantic Beach, North Carolina.  This sleepy little town is big enough to have things that you’ll want while you visit — grocery stores, great restaurants, and a lot of awesome places to stay — but it’s also small enough that you can relax, enjoy yourself, and not find yourself packed together like a bunch of sardines in a can.  The picture at the top was our spot of beach — the vegetation was navigated by a small pathway, and while it looks like there isn’t much beach there, there really is, with plenty of spots to setup your chairs and umbrellas for the day.  On that day the winds were up, and we had rain, but even with some rain, it didn’t matter because we were able to just sit on our back porch and take it all in — the sounds of the surf, the ocean breezes, the warm temperatures — and just let life’s stresses melt away.  That’s just some of the reasons why the NC beaches are worth exploring!

NC beaches

The 4th of July Parade navigates down our stretch of Beach Heaven!

When we visited, it was the weekend of July 4th, and the community had a local parade — grab your jeep, truck, trailer, golf cart, bike, or RV — you name it, go grab it — and drive along and join in. Or, if you don’t want to, just enjoy the parade from the sidelines, like we did.

NC beaches

A patriotic row of beach houses lines the shore!

As you can see, there is civilization further south, but we liked it just here — and even with all of the houses, there was space to move, and we didn’t feel crowded at all!

NC beaches

And don’t forget, what 4th of July celebration would be complete without fireworks?  These were fired off from the pier at the main public beach, and we watched them from our location.

So, when you are thinking about the beaches and where you should spend some of your time this summer, think about all of the wonderful beaches to be found in North Carolina, and give Atlantic Beach some thought — if you come, you will be glad you did!  Have you been to any of the NC beaches?  Which is your favorite and why?  Let me know in the comments, and thanks!


For more on this really awesome topic,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Magical Blogograil: What to do on Non-Park Days – Waterways

What’s more relaxing than enjoying the waterways of Walt Disney World? Many take a resort day to escape the crowds, but we like to board one of the many water craft, available at no cost, and chart a course!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Green Loop. Today we are sharing fun things to do at Disney on non-Park days.


Hi Ho and it’s a pirate’s life for me! Well, not actually a pirate’s life, more like a passenger’s life!

Come aboard this post and enjoy the views of Walt Disney World from a different perspective:

Here we are aboard one of the many Water Taxis that take passengers from one resort to the next on the Seven Seas Lagoon. You can visit Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa (pictured above), Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. And of course, ending up at The Magic Kingdom.

While on route, you can enjoy beautiful vistas and view your favorite attractions from unique angles, such as Space Mountain, above. Also above you can see one of the smaller water craft that you can rent for personal tours of the lake.

Seeing structures like the Contemporary from the water side is a rare treat, complete with a monorail sighting if you time things just right!

Above is a view of one of the Water Taxis arriving at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground.

Sometimes you can see older attractions, or what’s left of them, such as this landing from the old River Country water park. The above picture was taken in 2008 so I wonder how much of this scene is left now.

Ferryboats run from the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) across the Seven Seas Lagoon to the entrance of The Magic Kingdom. You could take the monorail, but that wouldn’t be as wet!

Empty Ferryboat on Training Run

Other vessels also ply the waterways:

No matter which option you choose, the fun is the same! As hinted at earlier, you can also rent jet skis, paddle boats, canoes, and other water craft for solo or group adventures.

Sailboats Too!

And when the day is done, you will be treated to some of the most breathtaking images you can imagine!

So who’s with me? Will you take to the waters on your next non-Park day?

For more ways to spend non-park days at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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Magical Blogorail: Best Live Entertainment – Epcot

Disney has always plussed the guest experience with a wonderful variety of live entertainment around the parks. Epcot is perhaps unique in that it offers colorful selections from around the real world around the World Showcase!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Orange Loop. Today we are sharing some of the best live entertainment at the Disney Parks.


I’d like to share some of the live entertainment acts that I have seen around Epcot over the years. Just like the other attractions in the parks, these acts have come and gone in an ever-changing line-up of talent.

MO’ROCKIN

This was a 6-person Moroccan musical act that played in the Morocco Pavilion. The group was often accompanied by a belly dancer. Unfortunately, Disney decided to discontinue this act and it played for the last time on September 27th, 2014.

Sometimes this version of Mo’Rockin would be playing in the Morocco Pavilion.

Off Kilter

Off Kilter is a high-energy Celtic rock band founded by Jamie Holton, bagpiper, in 1996. The band is a unique blend of traditional Celtic tunes and songs with a rock twist, popular covers arranged with a Celtic rock feel, and original songs. Instruments consist of bagpipes, Irish whistles, electric guitar, bass, fiddle, drums and vocals. The band played for 18 years as one of the most popular bands at Walt Disney World in Florida (Canadian Pavilion, Epcot), and currently tours the country performing at many different venues.

Quartet

I wish I could remember which country these four entertainers represented! They were quite good.

So, I’ve shared acts that aren’t in Epcot anymore. I include them to show the variety of acts that have been offered over the years.

The official lineup now is as follows:

  • British Revolution (English groups cover band)
  • JAMMitors (Percussion group)
  • Jeweled Dragon Acrobats (Chinese acrobatics)

  • Mariachi Cobre (Mexican band)
  • Matsuriza (Japanese drumming)
  • Rose & Crown Pub Musician (Piano)
  • Voices of Liberty (American vocal group)
  • Wies N Buam (German Oomph band)

This is by no means an exhaustive list. You can check out this official Disney site for show times and other entertainment offered.

I hope this whets your appetite for live entertainment at Epcot!

For more must see live entertainment at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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Magical Blogorail: Disney Ride Secrets – Big Thunder Mountain

Every ride has a ‘sweet spot’ where everyone wants to sit. Especially roller coasters! Where should you sit on Big Thunder Mountain? And what other secrets does this attraction hold?

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing some of the secrets you’ll find while enjoying Disney attractions.


So what isn’t a secret about this iconic Walt Disney World attraction? The official site says: “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a speedy rollercoaster-type attraction designed with your entire family in mind. However, some parts of this attraction are bumpy and, in some instances, take place in the dark.”

Obviously, this isn’t the fastest or wildest ride in the Magic Kingdom. But what it lacks in thrills it more than makes up for in fun and theming. However, if you want the biggest possible thrill on the Big Thunder Mountain railway, here is how to get it:

TIP: Don’t Sit Up Front

When I rode this attraction for the first time, I assumed that the best place to ride would be directly behind the ‘engine’. But when I asked the loading Cast Member if we could ride up front, he told me that if I wanted to really feel the drops, I needed to ride in the back. He directed us there and… he was right!

Why? On the main drop, the coaster train slows, and the front starts down the drop before the cars are released. So the first two cars don’t experience the full length of the drop. But the last car, still slightly behind the crest of the hill when the drop begins, gets the full effect!

So whereby with other coasters the front cars are the best, with Big Thunder Mountain, it’s the rear that gives the best ride!

But there is one more tip I can share to help you get the most out of this attraction. As mentioned earlier, Big Thunder Mountain is heavily themed, so you will want to see everything. But how can you do that whilst whizzing around the track? You can’t. Therefore…

TIP: Ride Other Attractions

The picture above was taken from the Liberty Belle Riverboat while plying the Rivers of America. This allows you a leisurely look at the majestic spires of the mountain.

You can also watch the ride vehicles go by and listen to the screams of the riders.

You can also see the mountain from the other side if you take a ride on the Walt Disney World Railroad:

You will have less time to see things from this perspective as the train moves a little faster than its lake-going counterpart. But most of the small details are on this side, so be sure to sit of the right side of the train cars for the best views and photo opportunities.

I’ll let you discover the rest of the secrets on your own when you ride Big Thunder Mountain for yourself!

For more Disney ride secrets,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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Magical Blogorail: Is It Worth It? Park Hopper Option

Now we all know that the more days you purchase for fun in the parks, the less each day costs you. But does Disney get that money back by upselling you on options you don’t need? Like the Park Hopper option? Let’s find out!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Orange Loop. Today we are sharing aspects of a Disney vacation that make people ask: Is it worth it?


So many Park choices!

Again, we all realize that buying admission days in bulk is the best option. The more days you buy, the cheaper each day becomes. But as with everything in life, it’s the extras that’ll kill you!

Let’s assume you are going to take your family of four to Walt Disney World for four days. Basic admission tickets for everyone would basically cost you $1,400 US (ouch!)

Now add the Park Hopper option to all four tickets for all four days and now you will spend $1,700 US (OUCH!)

So basically you will spend an additional $300.00 US just for the privilege of jumping around from park to park in the same day. Is that an extra that really adds value? Here are some reasons why I believe it does not:

  • You could probably spend that $300.00 on something else (dining, souvenirs)
  • There is more than enough to do in each park for a day without jumping
  • Precious vacation time will be lost travelling between parks
  • Got grumpy kids? Park hop. Nuff said!

This option makes more sense for a single visitor or for couples who visit often and know what they want to see and can thus plan to make the most of the Park Hopper option. For families, and those on a budget, this option is one best left off your basic ticket!

For more opinions on what is and isn’t worth the splurge at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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