Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Victoria Gardens

Friday, June 17, 2011

Studios Thrill Rides... For Wimps?

Photo from James
As I'm sure you all know, I'm a ride wimp.  I'm afraid of many of the rides that people adore at Walt Disney World.  The Studios (it's International Hollywood Studios Awareness week, remember?) has two of the scariest thrill rides of all, but my fellow ride wimps may not know that they can get a thrill ride experience while always being safely attached to the ground.  Have you ever heard of a chicken exit?

The lovely Cheryl loves the Studios, and back in January, she was very displeased with the fact that I had never seen the Tower of Terror queue.  We decided that we needed to change that, so we headed right over to the Hollywood Tower Hotel.  We took the Fastpass entrance, so I can't say anything about the standby queue.  Before we knew it, we were in the hotel, and we were watching the pre-show.  You see, at Tower of Terror, the chicken elevator separates from the ride elevators right when they're loading people into the ride.  That means that the chickens and the riders can see all the other parts of the queue and pre-show together before splitting up.  So after the queue and pre-show, we were in the final part of the queue.  I kept second guessing Cheryl, asking her if she's SURE we didn't pass the chicken exit yet.  Obviously I was terrified, but Cheryl wasn't tricking me.  When the cast member at the loading platform asked how many in our party, we said one rider (James) and two chickens (Cheryl and I).  Cheryl and I were directed to stand to the side while they loaded the ride elevator, and soon we were directed to a normal, safe, slow elevator.  I knew it was a real one because there were no seatbelts.  After a perfectly average ride down on an elevator, we found ourselves at the ride exit to wait for James.  A few minutes later, he arrived, and we walked through the gift shop on our way out.  It was like James, Cheryl, and I all had the same experience, except only James had the terror part.

A few days later, James' brother and his boyfriend came to hang out with us at Disney, and they decided they wanted to hit the Studios first.  We all headed over to Rock 'n Roller Coaster, even though I knew I wouldn't be riding.  When we asked how long the single rider line was, the CM told us he couldn't be sure.  Just a few minutes later, thanks to my birthday and James' brother's flirting skills, we had achieved four Fastpasses that were good immediately.  All I had to do was tell the CM I would ride.  And I did tell him that, knowing that I could chicken exit later if I wanted to.  At first, I felt brave.  I felt like I could do it.  Then as we waited, I started to chicken out, and I realized that I really did not want to ride this coaster.  Luckily for me, I could experience the queue without riding.  And so I did the same as Cheryl had taught us a few days earlier.  We walked through the queue, we saw the pre-show, and we entered the loading area.  When the cast member asked how many, I told him I would be exiting on foot, not via a scary death coaster (although not in so many words).  He directed me to a door on the side of the platform that took me directly to the unloading platform.  They're right next to each other, you see.  So I got to wait for the others in the gift shop, watching all the ride photos of the people who came off.  A few minutes later, we were reunited, and James told me it was a good thing I hadn't ridden.  I'm glad I know now that I didn't have to in order to get the full experience. 

Did you know that you could experience these queues without riding?  Have you ever taken a chicken exit?  Did you do it so you could experience the queue or pre-show?  On which attraction?  Let me know your ride wimp tips in a comment, on Twitter (@amandaenchanted), or on Facebook!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: #DHSAwareness Week

Monday, June 13, 2011

Underappreciated Studios Attractions

For those of you who are unaware, yet another International Hollywood Studios Awareness Week has arrived.  You may remember last year, when I wrote about The Great Movie Debate.  Well I'm here today to write about two less appreciated Studios attractions, at least by the general public.  (Disclaimer: There are not necessarily underappreciated by the Disney community, but they are by the average Disney guest.)

My rendition of Sheriff Woody!
First is the Magic of Disney Animation (all attraction links go to StudiosCentral.com because they have way more Studios information than I do).  The "bulk" of this attraction is a short movie, hosted by Mushu, about Disney animation.  Though in my opinion, that's my least favorite part of the attraction.  After the movie, you are essentially dumped into a big Disney animation advertisement.  But in a good way!  There's a ton of concept art for Disney's next movie, and you can see all kinds of cool stuff related to the movie.  After this, there is an area where you can meet various characters if you choose.  Find which characters will be there in your Times Guide.  And finally, after meeting (or skipping) the characters, you can choose to exit the attraction via a gift shop or go to the Animation Academy.  The Animation Academy is my favorite part of this attraction.  As you can see above, I drew Woody!  We were the only people in the Academy at the time that had never been, so we got to draw a character that was less common.  Even if you're not a good artist, this is a lot of fun.  Hands on entertainment in a Disney theme park.  Love it!  (PS, you have to exit through the gift shop after this too... sorry.  It's a cool one though!)

Me at One Man's Dream
Second, but certainly not second in my heart (or the hearts of many other Disney fans), is Walt Disney: One Man's Dream.  For those of you who haven't been here in a while, it has recently been refurbished, and it is definitely worth another visit.  For those who have never been, this is essentially a chronicle of Walt Disney's life, from birth to after his death.  It gives information about everything Walt achieved both for himself and his company, and there are quite a few "artifacts" that he actually used.  Ever wanted to see a real desk that Walt sat at?  Now you know where to find one!  The whole attraction can be skimmed very quickly, but I recommend taking at least 20 minutes to really look at everything.  For any diehard Disney fan, this is a must-see if you haven't.  At the end, you can choose to see a short film about Walt's life, which I recommend.  At the very least, it's a nice place to sit for a bit.  Overall, this attraction honors Walt in the best way.  It is fantastic.

Do you agree that these attractions should be more appreciated?  Have you seen both of them?  Which are your favorites?  Let me know your thoughts on these attractions in a comment,  on Twitter (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook.  And if you're on Twitter, don't forget to hashtag #DHSAwareness!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Spaceship Japan

Monday, June 6, 2011

What's a Fish Extender?

If you've ever gone on the Disney Cruise Line forums of the DISboards, you may have seen people discussing fish extenders (FEs).  But what is a fish extender exactly?  To understand this, you have to know what the fish are.  You see, on Disney cruise ships, there is a mail holder outside of each door in the shape of a fish, starfish, or seahorse.  Somehow the Disney community came up with a thing called fish extenders, which is essentially fabric with pockets on it that you hang from your fish mail holder.

The fish extender I made for our upcoming cruise. It doesn't have the dowel or string on top yet.
You can either make a fish extender (either sew it, or, if you're not a sewer, there are no-sew directions on the DIS that I used) or buy one off eBay or Etsy.  Of course first you need to find a FE exchange.  Most are found on the DIS, but I know the BOGP forums is having one for their cruise (though signups are over, since their cruise is so soon!), and there are others on other message boards.  Since I'm participating in one through the DIS, I know their system best.  On there, simply find your cruise's thread and sign up.  Someone in the group will have to organize the exchange, and on our cruise, there are so many participants that we're split into two groups of over 25 families each!

Next you buy your gifts.  Some people do one gift for each cabin, others for each person in the cabins.  Some people hand make special gifts, some buy things from places like Oriental Trading or their local dollar store, some buy things that are specific to where they live, and others give candy.  Of course, these are just a few of the options for FE exchanges... the possibilities are as limitless as your budget and your imagination. 

Once you're on the cruise, you will be equipped with a list of everyone in your group's staterooms, provided to you by whomever is organizing your exchange.  In some cases, everyone's staterooms are listed on a specific page of a message board thread.  In others, someone puts together a spreadsheet with everyone's room.  Now the gift giving begins!  Hang your fish extender on your fish, and you'll be surprised with new gifts every time you return to your room!  And you also get to give other people gifts!  It's a lot of fun, and it can really make a Disney Cruise extra special.  So if you've ever wondered what fish extenders are, now you know!

What do you think of the fish extender idea?  Have you ever participated in a fish extender exchange?  What did you give, and what did you get?  Let me know in a comment, on Twitter (@amandaenchanted), or on Facebook!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Review: Earl of Sandwich

I have finally reached the last dining review of my August 2010 trip!  It only took me 10 months!  Well I know for most of you, I've saved the best for last because Earl of Sandwich is a big favorite in the Disney community.  Knowing how much people rave about it, it was a must-eat on our August trip.  We even walked through a terrible rain storm from D-Street just to eat there.

When we arrived, the line was long, but I didn't mind.  I needed time to survey my options on the menu.  For those of you who aren't aware, Earl of Sandwich is a counter service restaurant in Downtown Disney that sells, well, sandwiches!  James decided to order The Original 1762 (roast beef, cheddar cheese, and horseradish sauce), and I went with the Italian (salami, capicola, roasted ham, mortadella, mozzarella cheese, Roma tomato, and Italian dressing).  I looked for the brownie frosting sandwich that I had previously seen on the Disney Food Blog, but they didn't seem to have it.  Before we knew it, our sandwiches were ready, and we found a seat in the packed dining room. 

Have you ever had a pepperoni pinwheel?  It's basically dough, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni formed in the shape of a cinnamon roll.  That's exactly what my Italian sandwich tasted like.  I was thrown for a loop a little bit because I was in the mood for a sandwich, not a pepperoni pinwheel.  Overall the sandwich was good, but I was less than enthused since it wasn't what I was looking for.  James, on the other hand, really liked his sandwich.  I would definitely return to Earl of Sandwich, but probably not for the Italian sandwich.  I've come to the realization that I'm not very into hot sandwiches in general, so I'd probably stick to an old classic: the BLT.  If you're not into sandwiches either, they also have soups ($2.99) and salads ($5.99).  The sandwiches are $5.99 also, though all of these prices are as of the time of this writing. 

What is your favorite thing at Earl of Sandwich?  Did you think the Italian tasted like a pepperoni pinwheel?  Do you make Earl of Sandwich a regular destination on your trips to Walt Disney World?  Let me know your thoughts on the restaurant in a comment, on Twitter (@amandaenchanted), or on Facebook!