Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last Visit to the Animal Kingdom

The Animal Kingdom was great with the girls along. They enjoyed everything they saw. On their last day at this park we took it a little slower. As usual, it was hot and humid. There is a lot of shade at this park, but it also seems to be more humid than the others. In the center of the park is Discovery Island and this giant Tree of Life is the focal point. It is a man made Disney tree with a beautiful carved trunk. You can take a path down under the tree to see the 3-D show "It's Tough To Be A Bug". That is a cute show but it scared the pants off of Zoey. She wasn't enjoying the bugs that seemed to jump off the screen and into your face. Gee, can't imagine why?
Here is a section of the trunk from the Tree of Life. The carvings are amazing and they cover the entire surface of the trunk and large limbs, with no 2 carvings alike.

Zoey got her face painted today. She really thought that was more fun than the Bug show!

Mackenzie went all out for the full face treatment.

Later, we took the girls on the Tricera Top Spin ride in the DinoLand U.S.A. area. The ride is modeled after the popular Dumbo ride at the Magic Kingdom. Everyone loves Dumbo, so this copy-cat is a hit also.

I don't have any photos of it, but everyone except me and Zoey went on the Expedition Everest ride. This is a high-speed train that zips through the misty unknown. This ride goes backward and upside down in the dark. It is the newest attraction here at the Animal Kingdom. No thanks....not for me! It is very popular and the lines are usually long. I enjoy the quiet kiddie rides.
When everyone had enough of the heat for the day, we dropped them at the hotel and we came back to the RV for a break. This schedule is killing me! :)
More later.....

Fun In Germany! Epcot style.....

A visit to Germany in the World Showcase of Epcot is like a visit to Bavaria. Well, not really but it can still be a lot of fun. There are many shops here and the prices are in a more moderate range than those found in France or Italy. There is also a great toy store for the kids with many things to see or buy. The scene below is looking right at the main plaza area and the clock tower. In the far back is the entrance to the Biergarten Restaurant and to the right of that is the Sommerfest walk-up counter.This is one of the large gift shops. You can also get German Christmas ornaments here and they have a large variety of Hummel figurines as well. Need a beer stein? They have many to choose from.
We had made a dinner reservation at the Biergarten Restaurant for the 6 of us. We planned the time so that we could be seated before the show began. The restaurant is like a huge Octoberfest and you sit at long tables that hold 8 guests. You will most certainly have other people joining your table. The menu here is a large buffet of German cuisine. Sausages, roast chicken, pork loin, red cabbage, potato dumplings and many more great items. After we had all gone through the buffet, we sat down to eat and watch the show. The show features a band playing dance music, plus some entertainment with performers playing traditional German instruments like this giant horn below. We had a ring side table so the girls really got a great, unobstructed view.

When the band began playing, they invited people to come on stage and dance. Of course, we in our family are all too shy to do that.....except Zoey. Holy Smokers, the kid wanted to go out and dance with everybody else and nobody would take her. So good old Grandma went out there with her and we danced for about 15 minutes (if you could call it dancing). She had a great time and that is all that matters. Here is a photo of the 2 of us dancing. Double click on any photo for a closer view

Germany is like Italy in that it only has the restaurant and some gift shops. We really wish all the countries represented here had more to offer the guest to learn more about that country. Bruce and I had a second reservation for Germany later on, but we cancelled it. Too many buffets already!
Until next time.....see ya.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Oh, What A Character!

I think we have seen every Disney character ever "born" because our granddaughters wanted to get autographs and have photos taken with them. Disney provides ample opportunity for parents and grandparents to get those photos taken. There are many areas called "Character Spots" where they wait for you. Of course, you will almost always have to wait in a long line for your turn.

Here is just a sampling of a few that we saw these past 2 weeks. Oops! I got 2 photos in here twice. Bear with me, I'm so tired by this time I can hardly stand up! I didn't see it in time to bother getting rid of the duplicates. In fact...I'm going to bed now since we have to get up by 5:45 am tomorrow. It is the kid's last day here at WDW and we all want one more trip to the Magic Kingdom together. Mackenzie wants to ride on Splash Mountain again and Zoey wants Dumbo. They will be leaving their hotel by 3 pm.

We Interrupt This Vacation For A Funeral......

Well, this was certainly unexpected! Last week we got a phone call from Cousin Helen over in Hudson, Florida (by Gulf). She was calling with the shocking news that another cousin, Ruth, had passed away suddenly.

This was sad news, indeed. However, we had gone over to Hudson in May to see my cousins, and now I am so glad that we took the time to do that. We enjoyed a nice picnic by the beach with Ruth and other family. Then the next day we had been invited to Helen's for a family dinner. Ruth was there and we celebrated her 71st birthday that night. She was so happy. Although Ruth had a multitude of health problems, still there was no indication that her end was so near.

So last Friday, Bruce and I left the kids here at Disney World and we drove over to Hudson for the funeral. There were other family members from New Jersey and South Carolina also attending. So, it was like a family reunion without the joy and happiness involved. We were gone for several hours before coming back to our "home" at Disney World.

Nobody can live forever, but we will sure miss her. God Bless You, Ruthie!

Bibbity-Bobbity Boutique

My granddaughters love to dress up, so when I found out about the Bibbity-Bobbity Boutique I couldn't resist making an appointment. There are 2 boutiques -- one inside the Cinderella castle at the Magic Kingdom and one in the World of Disney store at the Downtown Disney shopping center. We couldn't get a morning appointment in the castle, so we went over to the shopping center. There are 3 packages available for your little "Princess". The first one is basic hair-do stuff, the second one is hair-do, make-up, nail and the Princess Sash. The third one is all of the previous, plus a selection of any princess gown from the store. That third option has a price tag of between $150.00 and $250.00 depending on the price of the gown you choose. I selected the middle option (Crown package). Grandma is a spoiler.....but I'm not crazy! Personally, I think those little girls we see running around the Magic Kingdom and other parks in their special gowns look hot and uncomfortable.

When we got to the boutique, a Fairy Godmother (hair stylist) came and got each girl. Here is Zoey with her personal Fairy Godmother getting her nails done.
Mackenzie had a Fairy Godmother and Godmother in training to do her nails and begin the hair styling.
Zoey begins the make-up process. So important for a princess!

Mackenzie is holding real still while the 2 Godmothers work on her make-up and hairpiece.

Mackenzie is getting the finishing touch with her princess sash being attached to her dress.
All finished and ready to show off the "do".

Each girl got to select their own hairpiece and Zoey decided to go all wild on us with this rainbow creation.

Zoey had only the one Fairy Godmother so it took a little longer for her beauty treatment. She is almost ready to get her sash attached.

Well, she is ready to go now. She really thinks she is hot stuff!

The girls are ready now. Papa paid the bill and the girls were given their own bag of beauty aids to take home with them.

Even though Grandma didn't pop for the whole shebang, the girls had a great time and they loved to show off their special hair dos when we went over to Epcot after lunch.
It was their best day!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's Italy in Walt Disney World's Epcot

In the World Showcase at Epcot, Italy has our new favorite restaurant. Other than the restaurant, this pavilion is rather dull. The architecture is wonderful and it is a beautiful place, but there is no attraction here and nothing really to interest the visitor. There are the usual expensive gift shops with imports from Italy, but nothing to really see that will enlighten you on the country itself. That is too bad because I think Italy is a fantastic, interesting country and I would love to go to the real thing. This photo below is looking at the main plaza area in the center of the pavilion. From time to time during the day some performers come out with some short program supposed to entertain you, but it hasn't been good enough to stand in the sun and watch in my opinion. Unless we plan a meal here, we usually move right along.

This photo is once again taken from the main plaza, but it is looking toward the very back of the pavilion at the entrance of the Tutto Italia Ristorante. This restaurant is WONDERFUL and we are going back for a second time on Monday evening.

This large building is at the front of the pavilion and it houses the largest gift shop. The design here is absolutely beautiful.

Disney even included a beautiful sculpture in it's "Italy" since Italy is well known for the wonderful artistic treasures one can find there.

If there were a suggestion box here, I'd suggest that they do more with what they have here. I think some changes are in order. It's been pretty much the same thing since it opened in 1971 and I think a revamp of the area is sorely needed. Beautiful place....but nothing to do.
Until next time......see ya!

Viva la France in Epcot

Viva la France! This representation of France at WDW's Epcot is as close to the real France as we'll get. It is a beautiful depiction of the "city of lights" which is Paris, France. There is even a small version of the famous Eiffel Tower that stands high above the buildings. As you leave the United Kingdom at the World Showcase, you cross over this bridge and you are looking right at the pavilion for France. It is so beautiful.Here in France you can browse through a few gift shops with lovely, imported items. There is a large selection of perfumes in one of the shops. There is also a shop that sells fine French wine. As you walk toward the main attraction, you pass by this fountain. On a sweltering day you just want to jump right in that water. The main attraction here is a film showcasing the beautiful country of France and it's people. It is a 20 minute film titled Impressions de France". It is a wonderful place to enjoy seeing this country....but it is in a nice air conditioned theater with actual seating. In China and Canada you stand for the films. On a hot day, a seat in a cool theater is heaven!
This is one of the 2 restaurants here. This one is Chefs de France. Bruce and I ate here for dinner one night before our family arrived and the food and service were wonderful. Chefs de France is on the Disney Dining Plan and the other restaurant, Bistro de Paris, is not.

Behind the building for the restaurant is this quaint looking courtyard. Here you will find a couple of shops and the Boulangerie Patisserie with outdoor, sidewalk seating just like in Paris. You can pick up pastries, quiches, sandwiches and beverages as a quick meal or just a snack.

Oh, look. Here I am pigging out on a Napoleon from the Boulangerie Patisserie. It was really, really good I have to admit.

OK, enough of the pastry. We better move on down through the World Showcase and see what else we can find.
Until later.....bye for now.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Playing Miniature Golf at WDW

A few nights ago, we decided to once again brave the horrendous humidity to go play miniature golf. Our family has always loved to play miniature golf. We come from southern California originally and they have some of the best miniature golf courses anywhere. Now that we live in Washington in a rainy climate, there aren't as many miniature golf courses to be found...well, almost none to be exact.

Our granddaughter's are beginning to learn to play the game now also. We've taken them a couple of times when we've been out camping with them, but those are the crummy putt-putt type courses where nothing is smooth or level. This course here at Walt Disney World is fantastic and very well kept. We played the Fantasia course over near the Boardwalk Resort.

Hear are Zoey and Mackenzie. In spite of sweltering humidity, they are looking pretty good.

Our son-in-law, Darin, plays real golf but he enjoys the miniature version as well. Mackenzie had lined up her putt but wasn't totally happy with the result. She is only 7 and still pouts when things don't go perfectly.
Papa is back behind her now and giving her some pointers. He allowed Mackenzie a "do over" which he does often. Zoey is just looking on waiting for her turn.

Here on another hole Mackenzie (with her Minnie Mouse ears), has better luck with the tee off. Zoey is still waiting for her turn. When she gets her turn, she usually goes all over the place. She is only 4 years old. She is just happy to be out playing with everyone else. Lots of "sixes" for her score card!

Here are the girls again. We've finished the game. On the last hole the ball gets hit into a special hole that goes down into a catch basin and you cannot get it back. Zoey just didn't want to let her ball go into that hole! She was really loving that bright pink golf ball and didn't want to part with it. We finally convinced her that it belonged to the golf course and it went into the hole. She cried about it anyway. Oh well! Life can be tough when you are learning all the rules. The tears didn't last too long when she realized we weren't paying any attention to them.

OK, bye for now........

"The Land" at Epcot....check out Living With The Land

Epcot is probably our favorite of the 4 theme parks at WDW. As I've mentioned previously, it is divided into 2 sections. One is Future World and the other is the World Showcase. Each is unique unto itself and very interesting. A friend from California once told me after a trip to Walt Disney World's Epcot, "our family didn't like it at all, it was too much like a field trip". Even though Bruce and I are way past school age, we still enjoy learning things. Soooo...we enjoy the Future World of Epcot so much because there are a lot of interactive things to do plus things to watch that help you learn those new things. One of the greatest places to learn about our world is in the pavilion called "The Land".

The Land has been a fixture at Epcot since we first came in the early 80's and it may have been here when the park opened in 1971. It has see a few changes over the years and we have found a couple of favorite attractions missing from time to time and replaced with something new. We really miss a cute show called "Food Rocks". It was here in 2003 but is now gone. The ride Soarin' has taken it's place and it is a great replacement, even if I hate to admit it.

There is a nice ride called "Living With The Land" that we always go on just because it is very interesting. It is a boat voyage through an amazing greenhouse and fish farm. There is a preview section you sail through with scenes from American farming life through the years which explains how we've been learning to treat our farmlands better. It explains how we've begun to experiment and develop new ways of growing foods all over the world. "Sustainable gardening and farming" is what they call it and it is really amazing.

This is the boat the guests sit in as they ride through the greenhouse and fish farm. The tour guide explains the different methods of food production as you ride along.
These are cacao trees that are growing in sand here in the greenhouse area.
These are Eggplants growing from a trellis-like contraption. Part of the lesson here is showing you how using different growing methods can save space and also provide an environment free of harmful insects and pests. No chemical pest control methods are used in this greenhouse.

This is a Fluted Pumpkin and it is grown from above rather than lying on the ground...once again this helps control the pest problem.

The regular pumpkins, called "Cinderella Pumpkins" here, are also grown from a hanging garden situation.

This is a cucumber tree. Who knew you could grow vegetables like this?

Scientists at Epcot also experiment with Hydroponic gardening (I think I spelled that correctly). With this method, soil is not used. The plants hang from cylinder type things with water and natural fertilizer circulating within the cylinder to provide nourishment for the plants.

These are Brussels Sprout plants hanging in this part of the greenhouse. Some of the different crops planted are fixed on a rotating mechanism that moves them about during the day to provide the necessary light and sun exposure.

Anyway, call it a Field Trip or call it a fun learning experience, it is still one of the most unusual parts of the Future World area of Epcot. There is also a film in another area of The Land called The Circle of Life. This animated film is based upon some of the characters from the Disney movie The Lion King and it enlightens the guest on the dangers of too much land development and how humans have been causing much destruction to our environment. It is a more light hearted message but one that even children can understand and learn from.
I hope you readers have enjoyed "Living With The Land".