Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo: March 26th, 2013

When Spring Break unleashes madness on Central Florida, my wife and I take refuge at some of the hidden gems of the area.  Well, hidden gems compared to massive, internationally famous theme parks at least. One of these places is Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.  On Monday, we made our second visit of the year to see some old favorite animals and new additions.

Like the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Lowry Park Zoo is about the perfect park size to explore completely without reaching total exhaustion.  It also features one of the best manatee emergency care centers in Florida, which makes it an amazing place to see manatees outside of winter.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Food Finds: 2013 Flower and Garden Festival

As I mentioned in my first impressions of the 2013 Flower and Garden Festival,  Disney has added the "Garden Marketplace" this year.  Simply stated, it's a series of food booths featuring recipes that focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs.  Although there are less locations than the Food and Wine Festival, the quality and variety of choices is still strong.  Although I've only tried a couple of the booths so far, I can report that everything is delightful so far.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

46 Pounds to Disneyland: The Disney World Crawl

The continuing tales of one chunky Disney fan's personal quest to lose 80 pounds and visit Disneyland, in that order.  
See my first 80 Pounds to Disneyland post for all the details.

One of the problems with working from home is that it's hard to stay active.  Trapped inside all day with little reason to leave the house, it's extremely easy to get into a pattern of sloth.  I've been using Wii Fit to get a daily dose of exercise, but even that grows tedious after a while.  There comes a day where you just have to leave the house before you go mad or sink into a listless, coma-like state. Those are the days where I do the Disney World crawl.

This is not visiting the parks in any kind of sane sense.  When I performed this ritual yesterday, I rode zero attractions, watched no shows, and barely stopped moving for more than a minute at a time.  While I usually do have some reason for these bouts of madness, such as taking photos to go with my writing, the greater purpose is to keep moving and keep up the heart rate.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Magic Kingdom Update: March 14th, 2013

On Thursday, my lovely wife and I ventured to the Magic Kingdom for a nice afternoon away from work and worries.  We were both relatively stressed out, so we were looking forward to casually strolling the park, trading pins and Vinylmations, and getting a ride or two on Pirates of the Caribbean.  It was a sunny day, with naught a cloud in the sky.  Other than being a little chillier than expected, it didn't seem like anything could go wrong.  Yet, we felt we had forgotten something...

Ah, yes, Spring Break has arrived.  Although I usually hear fear of Summer crowds, Spring Break seems to be a concentrated explosion of disgruntled vacationers, giving their children the experience of a lifetime whether they want it or not!  My wife and I saw treatment of children that would result in Child Protective Services being called in any other setting.  Crowds flooded pathways and made walking impossible without running into someone every few feet.  Unless you have no other choice or are possibly insane, now is probably not the best time to be visiting.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

2013 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: First Photos

Wednesday kicked off the 20th Annual Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot, one of my favorite times of the year at the parks.  I spent my first day at the event Friday, and was impressed as always at the beautiful flowers and creative topiaries.  Since this was only my second year attending the festival, it was my first experience with the re-use of some of the garden designs.  I love seeing some of the best return, but it does mean that many of my pictures and views from last year are still relevant.

What is different this year is the addition of food and beverage booths located around World Showcase.  Slightly re-theming food locations from the Food & Wine Festival, these booths feature foods that feature fruits, vegetables, and herbs.  While I'll write more about my food experiences later, I will say that the offerings are delicious and feature a nice variety.  My wife was not a fan of most food offered for Food & Wine, but found more than enough cuisine to love at Flower & Garden this year.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Food Finds: Earl of Sandwich

Finding healthier, or at least fresher, food options at Disney World is not always easy.  While most full service restaurants have decent variety and quality of food, their prices are high and reservations are near impossible to obtain without advanced planning.  Quick service restaurants often have limited selection with only one or two options that aren't fried, greasy, or fat filled.  During the mealtime rush, food is also prepared in huge batches with speed taking precedence over quality, sometimes even thorough cooking.

It's no surprise, then, that Earl of Sandwich in Dowtown Disney's Marketplace is packed full every lunch and dinner.  The photo above was taken at dinner on a Tuesday during the slow season.  Many of the full service restaurants still had seating available, yet the Earl had a line nearly out the door.  Why is this place so popular?  Because it has fresh, hot, amazing sandwiches for $6 each.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Inside Spaceship Earth: March 1st, 2013

I've been fascinated with Disney's dark rides since the first time I rode Pirates of the Caribbean.  They're giant, mixed media showcases, featuring little bits of about every art form.  Unfortunately, they are especially finicky to catalogue, as the low lights and constant movement make it nearly impossible to get a clear picture.  Even those inconsiderate individuals who use flash on these rides still only manage washed out photos that destroy the composition of the scenes.