Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Magic Kingdom Update: May 28th, 2013

Memorial day has come and gone, but it seems the crowds are sticking around longer than expected. Summer is essentially here in Florida, so tourist season might as well start early as well. In addition, summer weather is here, with 90 degree temperatures every day and random storms every afternoon. Watch those clouds behind the castle, you're going to see a lot more of them in this update.

Before we get to wiggy weather, first we must take the customary monorail ride to the park. Along the way, the Grand Floridian continues rapid construction on the new DVC wing. File this under another grand hotel that I won't be experiencing unless I win the lottery or get some very rich friends.

Something I'm more likely to utilize one day are the new bus loops to expand the Disney transportation system. While it looks like a giant dirt pit right now, I have a feeling a new paved area will take less time to complete than a hotel expansion or mine train.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Downtown Disney Update: May 10th, 2013

Recently, Disney announced the transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, a major expansion and of the existing shopping and dining district. Unlike some previous attempts to revitalize the area, progress is already visible. The entire project is supposed to take several years to complete.

A large section of Pleasure Island is already behind construction walls, blocking off one of the areas used for seating and outdoor performances. Pleasure Island has been mostly dormant since its clubs closed, so most of it is going to be demolished.

Unfortunately, the construction walls only feature outdated promotional materials for Downtown Disney, instead of concept art for Disney Srings. Hopefully that will change soon.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tourist Parenting 101: Ducks Shouldn't Eat Rice


Last year I posted a couple articles recounting terrible tales of bad parenting at Theme Parks. While I continue to find many negative examples to share, I also see parents giving their kids some magical moments the right way. This is one of those stories.

Lesson 3- Let Your Children Play with the Ducks (Not Kick Them)

I've mentioned before, and I'm sure I'll mention many more times, that Disney World is often an unexpected haven for nature. Many animals, especially birds, that are less frightened of humans find the theme parks a great place to rest, raise their young, and steal some french fries. You can spot a wide array of unsuspecting visitors if you walk the parks slowly. Spotting a group of rabbits or some ducklings can often be as magic a moment as meeting a favorite character or watching a show.

Unfortunately, most tourists visit the parks with an "all or nothing" mentality. Every attraction must be visited, every moment must be filled with manufactured wonder, or the entire trip is a waste. These are the same people, and specifically parents, who visit Animal Kingdom, rush their children away from the animals that fascinate them, then bemoan that the park has "nothing to do." When the children do get a brief moment to explore, they expel pent up energy in destructive ways, like kicking at the wildlife or trying to destroy theming.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Busch Gardens Tampa Update: May 6th 2013

Some weeks, my wife and I just need to get away. Life gets too stressful, and we can't deal with the crowds typically found in the Orlando theme parks. One of the cures for those days is Busch Gardens Tampa. The crowds are low during the week, the animal collection is stellar, and there's a great collection of rides.  Well, we've never ridden anything more intense than the train, but the rides are nice to watch at least. The top reason it's our therapeutic getaway, however, is that you can pet the kangaroos.

Before you get to the kangaroos, however, you have to past lots and lots of advertising for the new "Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation" show. The park's major addition for the year, it's featured at the parking tram shelter,

And throughout the park, including the entrance.

The new show has only about a week until opening, but work is still finishing up on the Stanleyville Theater.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Magic Kingdom Update: April 29th Sleep Deprived Edition

The Magic Kingdom is where "Dreams come true." Some days, I sleepwalk through it. With both my wife and I working non-traditional schedules, our sleep is not always consistent. Add in the fact that I have a near genetic inability to sleep past 8:00 am in the morning, and suddenly sleep deprivation can become a very real problem.

April 29th was one of those days where sleep deprivation was in full force. The Magic Kingdom has ongoing construction and changes across the park, and somehow I missed pretty much all of it. When I got home, looking through my collection of pictures was like piecing together a lost day. 

For example, the header picture is a random, possibly fledgling bird. I was easily distracted by birds.  Alright, I'm always easily distracted by birds, but apparently it was worse than usual.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Animal Kingdom Update: April 22nd 15th Anniversary

On April 22nd, Animal Kingdom celebrated its 15th Anniversary.  I had to attend, because I was actually there the year it opened.  Ever since, it has been one of my favorite Disney parks, if not my absolute favorite.  I don't care how many times pull out Disney's old lines about it being "not a zoo."  Animal Kingdom is the most beautiful zoo I've ever experienced, which just happens to include some of my favorite theme park attractions as well.

As we headed into the park before opening, we spotted one of the many "Party for the Planet" locations.  These stands were set up to either teach kids about nature, adults about gardening, or feature nature inspired artists.  While they were a nice addition to the park, they are also the same offerings from every Earth Day, which also happened to be April 22nd.

I had hoped to see the pre-park opening ceremony for the anniversary.  Unfortunately, it seems there wasn't planning for the amount of people that would attend, because I saw nothing of it.  I was literally stuck across a bridge in another "land" of the park, unable to hear the proceedings or see more than a sea of heads in front of me.