Observations

Disney Haiku — Follow-Up

by on April 22, 2016

"Disney Haiku"

“Disney Haiku”

Hi everyone!  You may recall that a few weeks ago, we invited you to come up with Disney haiku.  A few of you posted some great little poems in the comments (thank you!), but there were many, many more posted to Twitter that you might have missed.  With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few of the better ones that I saw that day.  Read on after the jump!

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Disney Haiku Challenge

by on March 11, 2016

"Disney Haiku"

“Disney Haiku” (yes, that’s really what it says)

I’m not sure why exactly, but I’ve always found haiku to be a fun little creative outlet. My law school roommate and I would often sit in the back of our Estates & Trusts lectures and compose absurd haiku as a way to pass the time. This might explain why neither of us do estates and trusts as a part of our practice, by the way, but that’s a discussion for another day.  

Anyway, as a reminder for those of you that have not encountered it since elementary school, haiku is a form of short Japanese poetry that follows a particular format: a traditional haiku is 17 syllables in three phrases that follow a 5-7-5 pattern.*  In other words, the first phrase is 5 syllables, the second is 7, and the final phrase is 5 syllables.  To the extent that it requires you to wedge your thoughts into a small number of words and still convey something worth reading, you can almost think of it as an ancient version of Twitter (minus the abbreviations, emoticons and vitriol).  Alas, I digress.

Haiku have traditionally been used to convey very Zen-like observations regarding the serenity of the natural world.  Accordingly, the juxtaposition of this simple, beautiful form of poetry and its traditional use, and different subject matter — like the decidedly un-serene and not-particularly-natural Disney Parks — can lead to some wonderfully absurd results.  Soooo, here’s a challenge for all of you — come up with some Disney park haiku and share them in the comments below.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever January 21, 2016: Magic Kingdom Martin Luther King Weekend Crowd Observations

by on January 21, 2016

Here at Walt Disney World, it sometimes seems like we just barely survive one holiday peak season before another wave of tourists arrive. After the overwhelming crowds of Christmas and New Year, Orlando’s parks saw a brief respite before Martin Luther King weekend came around and packed the parks again. For this edition of Best Week Ever, we’re going to brave the happy hordes and enjoy a Magic Kingdom Martin Luther King weekend visit.

The Sunday before Martin Luther King Day dawned overcast and blustery in the low 50s (what we locals call “Florida Cold”). But by the time I arrived at the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot, the weather was beginning to clear up into a gorgeous day.

 

Magic Kingdom Martin Luther King weekend

Grey skies, sweatshirts, and shorts: yup, it’s winter in Orlando!

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever December 31, 2015: Surviving Magic Kingdom Holiday Week Crowds

by on December 31, 2015

Do you love ginormous crowds of people, endless seas of strollers, and triple-digit wait times? If so, you’ve picked the Best Week Ever to visit Walt Disney World. But even if you are allergic to all of the above, it is actually possible survive the madness of Magic Kingdom holiday week crowds, and even enjoy a visit to America’s most popular theme park during the busiest week of the year, with the proper preparation.

In contrast to my relatively calm Christmas Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, my December 29 visit to the Magic Kingdom came smack in the center of 2015’s winter peak season psychosis. I braved the Magic Kingdom holiday week crowds in order to share with you a first-person perspective on navigating Disney when attendance is at its most extreme.

Without that professional motivation, I’d normally avoid Walt Disney World on days when our Crowd Calendar hits 10 out of 10, but many visitors don’t have another option due to work and school schedules. If the busy holiday week is the only time your family can visit WDW, I hope my experiences will help educate you about the perks and pitfalls of a peak season vacation.

 

Magic Kingdom Holiday Week Parking

As any Magic Kingdom veteran knows, simply arriving at the park is an adventure in itself; that’s doubly true during peak holiday weeks. My day of queuing began around 9 a.m., many yards before the Magic Kingdom parking toll booths.

Magic kingdom holiday week crowds parking

 

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Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom

by on December 30, 2015

Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom

Enjoy Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom without getting out of your pink bunny pajamas. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

No matter which park you pick, the Christmas holiday is one of the busiest times to visit Orlando. But if you must attend a Walt Disney World theme park during the peak travel system, I discovered that you could do worse than spending Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom may seem like a strange Christmas Day selection, since the park is positively Scrooge-like in the seasonal cheer department when compared to the other WDW parks. There’s nothing at Animal Kingdom on the scale of Magic Kingdom’s Holiday Wishes, DHS’s Osborne Family Spectacle, or Epcot’s Holidays Around the World; there isn’t even an Animal Kingdom Christmas parade anymore.

But that lack of seasonal draws made Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom a great idea, if your plans included enjoying attractions without asphyxiating in capacity crowds. This may change after Avatar arrives, but as the least-attended Walt Disney World park Animal Kingdom was a relative oasis for those seeking a smidgen of elbow room.

On my way into Walt Disney World property on Christmas morning, road signs advised that the Magic Kingdom was closed. Over at Animal Kingdom, however, there were acres of empty parking spot. Since this lot is the easiest of the four parks to get in and out of, consider using it when heading to one of the other parks on peak days.

 

For Christmas 2015, the entrance to Animal Kingdom was decked out with the usual giant tree, and new security scanning stations. Unless you are one of the few folks randomly selected for scanning, the new procedures appear have little to no effect on your entry speed.

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Review – Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

by on November 23, 2015

Illuminations (1)Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, the long-running nighttime spectacular at Epcot, is beloved by many. But is it really that good? Let’s break it down.

Backstory: The first incarnation of an Epcot nighttime show premiered in the fall of 1982 and was called Carnival de Lumiere (no relation to the candelabra from the not yet conceived Beauty and the Beast film.) This small scale fountain show was replaced a year later by A New World Fantasy and that show was replaced yet another year later by Laserphonic Fantasy. Both of these shows used fireworks, lasers, lights, and projection screens on barges all set to classical music. The first version of the show actually titled IllumiNations began in 1988 and continued with some variations until 1999 when it was replaced by the current show Reflections of Earth. This version of the show was originally conceived as a signature attraction of the Walt Disney World Millennium Celebration but has been showed continuously ever since with the only variation being a special ending for the Christmas holiday season.

Touring Strategy: The show takes place at the center of World Showcase lagoon so it can be seen in full from anywhere around the lagoon, with the fireworks visible from many parts of Future World as well. The really good spots for IllumiNations do go early, however, especially in busier times of year. Without a reservation at a restaurant on the lagoon, your best walk-up locations to see IllumiNations are the raised area in front of the Italy pavilion and the area in front of the Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the United Kingdom pavilion. If these areas are being used for special events, consider the bridge between France and the United Kingdom and the area between Mexico and Norway. Just keep in mind that these locations can fill up by 45-minutes before showtime. If you don’t mind being partially blocked by a tree, a fence, or a guy taking selfies in front of you, then you can grab a location at pretty much any point before the show begins. (FastPass+ is not recommended but if you choose to use it, you will be positioned between the gift shops at the front of World Showcase and should arrive at least 20 minutes before showtime.)

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You Need A Disneyland Corn Dog Right Now

by on November 13, 2015

Little Red Wagon

The unassuming Little Red Wagon sits just to your right as you get to the end of Main Street

OK, so let me tell you all a little story. I happened to be in Los Angeles recently for work. I live in St. Louis, and one thing I’ve come to learn is that unless you wrap up your business on the west coast really early in the day, you’re basically spending the evening out west because the flights home get in unacceptably late. On the up side, one thing you can do when you’re in the Los Angeles area with nothing to do is go visit Disneyland, and that, my friends, is exactly what I decided to do on this last trip.

Unfortunately, the park was set to close at 9:00 p.m., so I was going to have to pack the entirety of my visit into 5 hours. So, with this limited time schedule, what do you think I did the very first thing upon entering the park? Splash Mountain? Big Thunder? Haunted Mansion? Nope, I made a beeline to the Little Red Wagon to get a corn dog. Do you know what I did right before leaving Disneyland for the day? I went by the Little Red Wagon and had another corn dog. Do you know why? It is because the Little Red Wagon corn dog at Disneyland is the single best food item on planet Earth, period, full stop. Allow me to elaborate after the jump.

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Vacation photography that doesn’t scream ‘Disney’

by on November 11, 2015

Anyone who has been Walt Disney World has the instantly recognizable photographs of their family in front of Cinderella Castle or Spaceship Earth or the Sorcerer’s Hat (at least until last year).

There’s nothing wrong with those photos; I have a ton of them myself. But I’ve found that some of my favorite photos from my favorite vacation spot were often in unconventional locations — places where you can escape the crowds and still find a striking background. Here’s one case in point.

Photography at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

An unconventional spot for a photo.

Can you guess where this was taken? Most people looking at it probably wouldn’t think it was at a theme park. No characters or crowds to be seen, just an exotic looking setting providing the background for a magical moment.

We happened upon this location in the Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, an area that’s full of interesting details. Here, you have the weathered, ancient walls of temple ruins, enhanced with various props. In subsequent visits, the bicycle pictured here had been moved to another location in the park. So this ended up being a one-of-a-kind snapshot for us.

But this is what I love about the Disney theme parks. The effort the Imagineers put into theming even out-of-the-way corners creates photography opportunities far beyond the Nikon branded picture spots.

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Extend the Magic: Using Photo Books to Tell Your Story

by on November 6, 2015

extend the magic

Photo books are a great way to extend the magic of your trip!

I’m sure you’ve all been there – your Disney vacation is over and the dreaded Disney blues set in and all you want to do is extend the magic from your trip. The end of a Disney trip can be depressing, but I’ve developed methods for extending the magic past the vacation so I can bask in the Disney happiness just a little bit longer. One of my main methods of doing this is through the creation of photo books.

Now I know what you might be thinking, “Photo books? Anyone can create photos books to document a vacation! What makes your method so special?” Well I’m glad you asked. I approach photo book creation for Disney trips from a unique angle. Rather than just documenting step-by-step the different events that take place on a trip, I attempt to find a new and different storytelling theme for every photo book I create. My desire is that the photo books not only transport us back to the wonderful memories from the trip, but also make us laugh at the way I chose to tell the story. Essentially, I’ve embraced the idea of being goofy. Let me break down my process step by step.

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Universal Orlando Resort Photo Update, September 2

by on September 6, 2015

Welcome back to another photo update around the Universal Orlando Resort. This week’s update will start with a look at Universal’s next onsite resort, Sapphire Falls, as well as Volcano Bay water theme park, expected in 2017. Inside CityWalk, we’ll take a look at the next location to open: NBC Sports Grille Brew. Over at Universal Studios, Halloween Horror Nights construction is in full swing. Last but certainly not least, we will be taking a look at Islands of Adventure, Skull Island: Reign of Kong as it continues to climb to the sky. Without further ado, lets get going!

DSC00102-2

Work continues on Universal’s newest resort, Sapphire Falls.

DSC00104

The new parking garage for Sapphire Falls guests continues to have finishing touches added.

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