Now that Epcot’s 14th Annual International Food & Wine Festival is coming to an end (November 8, 2009 is the last day), you may fear that your chance to sample international spirits is gone for another year. This is not the case because a new little spot opened up during the festival – La Cava del Tequila inside San Angel Inn at Epcot’s Mexico pavilion. Here you can experience an endless array of tequilas from rare to common as well as beers and specialty margaritas. In addition you can enjoy tapas-style food items as well, to form the perfect pairing to the spirits available. The full menu is available at The Disney Food Blog, who’s updates on twitter first informed me of the margarita I wanted to try – the Aguacate.
“When hinges creak, in doorless chambers. And strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls. Whenever candlelights flicker, where the air is deathly still, that is the time when ghosts are present. Practicing their terror, with ghoulish delight!
…Your cadaverous parlour, betrays an aura of foreboding, almost as though you sense a disquieting metamorphosis.”
With these famous lines from one of Walt Disney’s greatest attractions, the Haunted Mansion, I thought I’d celebrate Halloween in ZannaLand by sharing some photos of our family during our visit to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom. Don’t forget to check out my other Halloween posts showcasing the Headless Horseman ride, part one of the Boo to You Parade, part two featuring the Villains, and the Halloween Castle!
Thirteen Fifteen years ago today, I was getting ready to walk down the aisle to greet my Prince Charming and begin our fairy tale life together. Of course, it hasn’t always been a fairy tale, I’d be a little scared if it was! Our story began a lot more than 13 15 years ago too…almost 19 21 years ago, this long-haired boy that played guitar before school in the auditorium, asked if I’d go out with him. I said yes, and have been saying yes ever since. He told me he loved me the first week we met. Never having had a boyfriend before, I was a little dumbfounded by what to reply and simply said, “okay…” Soon, however, I fell in love with his every breath. He asked me to marry him less than a year later, when I was still 17, giving me a tiny diamond he got at the mall. I said, “yes, but…not for a while!”.
Years passed and we were inseparable, despite many predictions we wouldn’t last 6 months. In 1995, I convinced him to pack up and move 1500 miles away to Orlando and work at Disney World with me. He had only ever moved once in his life, so this was a huge deal. Soon we decided that the time was right and he took that tiny diamond and added it to the diamond from my mom’s engagement ring and added a new diamond on the other side, creating a past, present and future ring that held so many memories, with the promise of many more.
While working at Disney World, we had seen the building and opening of Disney’s Wedding Pavilion. On our days off we’d head over to check it out, and dream of the ultimate Disney wedding. We were unable to afford a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding, and also could not get a priest to perform the ceremony outside of a church, so we decided to have our reception at the WDW Dolphin instead. It was much more affordable for us, and still gave us the special magic of a wedding at Disney. Planning the wedding was so much fun, and the staff at the Dolphin really took care of everything, we just had to decide what we wanted to eat and what kind of cake we preferred.
There were a few mix-ups along the way from the other vendors, but the Disney part was perfect. One issue was the florist who assured us he could find delicate tiny pale pink tulips to match perfectly with the Stargazer Lilies in my bouquet. When we arrived at the church, the tulips were HUGE and a deep dark pink. Nothing we could do at that point! The other issue was the balloons. Keep in mind this was the mid-90’s (as the pictures of my poofy veil will reveal!) and I guess balloon arches were pretty popular, at least in my mind. I had this vision of a cool twisted archway of pink and white balloons framing our head table. When we walked into the reception hall, there were *single* balloons arranged in a sort of arch shape against the wall behind the DJ. I can laugh about it now. The issues definitely did not ruin the day, though, we had amazing food at the Dolphin, the cake was heavenly and I think everyone had a great time at the party.
We loved being able to take our families around the parks before the wedding too. That year was only the 1st annual International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot so we were excited to share that new experience with our friends and family.
Our rehearsal dinner was held at Chef Mickey’s, and as you can imagine that was anything but quiet and reserved. We were so well taken care of and everyone had a blast. I can’t recommend Chef Mickey’s enough for a large group – you’re just bound to have fun-and get completely stuffed before the big day!
Just a few of my treasured moments from October 26, 1996…
After the ceremony, I remember making the driver pull over (the photographer was following behind us) as I wanted to get a picture in front of the waterfall on the road approaching the Swan and Dolphin hotels. The sun was in our eyes, we were hot and squinting, but it was perfect and that backdrop is one of my favorite photos from the wedding.
Our first dance was to “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra, inspired at the time by the recent remake of Father of the Bride. If I couldn’t have Franck plan my wedding, I could at least dance to the same song! I’m glad we went with it though, because it was a timeless choice and hearing it today instantly brings back memories of
13 15 years ago. Thirteen Fifteen years ago seems both like an eternity ago and just yesterday. An eternity because SO much has happened in our lives. We’ve bought and sold 3 4 houses, moved 10 11 times to 3 different states (26 times and 5 states for me alone), have 3 amazing children and a wonderful family as well. I couldn’t ask for anything more and feel like the luckiest girl in the world, today and every day. There are many more parts to this wedding story, but I will share those another year…and my dream is to renew our vows at Disney’s Wedding Pavilion, completing the circle of Disney magic started so many years ago! Happy Anniversary J, I love you!
On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue;
I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted way,
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.
—On Raglan Road, Patrick Kavanaugh
This popular Irish poem was in turn made into a song which many have covered, perhaps none so well as Luke Kelley‘s original. Such a beautiful song crafted from words that sweep you up and place you in another time…
One half of my mother’s side is from Ireland, County Leitrim and also the Isle of Man, so I’m told. Growing up where I did in Massachusetts, you were pretty much Irish or Italian for the most part (and I married an Italian). So Irish culture, customs and history have always been a part of my childhood and interests. I’d love to trace my ancestry and of course visit the beautiful countryside that Ireland is known for.
That said, the cooking going on at Raglan Road Pub in Downtown Disney, is nothing like my grandmother used to make. (Thank goodness!) Nan was known for boiling pretty much everything she prepared, and seasonings were never to be found. But we cleaned our plates every holiday in her house – we knew better than to complain! Raglan Road Pub, by comparison, takes some of the great dishes Ireland is known for and puts a gourmet twist to their preparation, leaving you satisfied and planning your next visit back.
This was our family’s second visit, the first time being a few years prior. We loved it then, but our children’s palates were going through a particularly picky phase, so we held off returning until now. Both of the older children had a wonderful time this visit and it’s now a favorite among all of us. I’d like to share some of our favorites from Raglan Road’s creations with you:
I first heard of the marriage of Disney designs with Dooney & Bourke purses from a good friend on twitter. He’d seen the posting on a popular Disney-related message board. I hopped over to check it out and, like hundreds of others, I instantly fell in love.
As with most things Disney, once word of mouth gets started, it spreads like wildfire. People reading the message boards and seeing the pictures posted needed one right away and didn’t want to chance waiting until their next visit to see if they were still in stock. If you’ve visited Disney a lot, one thing you learn is that merchandise changes frequently. There may be some tried and true items you can always find in the parks and resort shops, but other special or limited edition items may disappear within months. Of course there is always ebay, but you are then paying quite a markup and must deal with the possible risks associated with a third party seller.
For those familiar with Dooney & Bourke purses, the Disney designs are similar in style and design aesthetic to the Hearts or Fantasy designs D&B has made popular. The Disney D&B bags currently come in 3 different sizes: [links are for size/feature reference and do not show Disney design] Medium Cindy Tote, smaller Tassel Tote, and Wristlet. Best of all, if you have a Disney Visa, Disney Annual Pass or other discount you can use in certain stores, you are be able to get 10% off your purchase. The purses are exclusive to Disney Parks and not available where regular Dooney & Bourke bags are sold.
Pictures of the Disney Dooney & Bourke designs, courtesy of the DIS Boards and my own collection: (as always, click for full-size picture)
I’ve discussed here and there my memories working as a Cast Member in 1995 at the Magic Kingdom. Despite all those magical moments I experienced behind the name tag, some of my warmest memories are of those as a guest. Standing out among those is Art, the Greeter at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. After 16 years as a Walt Disney World Cast Member, Art is retiring from his position – a bittersweet moment for all of us.
For so many reasons, Disney’s Beach Club Resort has always felt like home to us, and Art has played a big part in that. If you were checking in with your luggage, Art would welcome you with a big smile, genuinely excited to see you walk through those doors. I always remember him acknowledging each member of our family, “And the gentleman and the lady, good to see you, welcome!” When we’d come back after lots of shopping with bags in hand, Art would make note of that, again, making us feel as if we just walked inside his house and he was excited for our return. I’ve never gotten in to pin trading, but I’d often see Art bending down to trade with a young guest, somehow I’m sure he had a story behind each pin he traded!
After we’d moved on from our roles as Cast Members, my husband got into the IT field, and happened to take on a contracting job working on the resort computer networks. He was in charge of several resorts at a time, but his office for a while was right on the second floor of the Beach Club. He got to see Art and talk with him daily and I know he loved those moments too. As our lives moved on we still visited Beach Club regularly, whether to stay or stop in for breakfast or dinner at Cape May’s delicious buffets, or dessert at Beaches and Cream. We were always happy to see Art on each of those visits.
Our wedding reception was held at the WDW Dolphin Resort, so we were able to bring our whole wedding party around Epcot and the places we loved the most, Beach Club included. Our first son was born in 1999 and we strolled him past Art many a time before his sister joined us in 2000. We came and went throughout the years that followed, whether we were living in Florida or New England, but Art was still there, making thousands of guests memories just a little fuller. Our last child was born almost a year ago, and has also seen Art’s wonderful smile as we pass through the doors. Without realizing it, Art has witnessed the birth and expansion of our one little family…just imagine the countless other families he has affected!
The other day we were enjoying another visit to Germany’s Biergarten, a favorite among our family. As we watched the show going on before us, the performers invited guests to come dance to the music. I saw grandmother’s dancing with grandchildren, sisters and brothers spinning each other about, laughing…and I thought to myself – THIS is where magic lives. This is why Disney is so powerful for so many. It’s in the memories Disney makes you a part of, not just witness to. You can ride a ride countless times, you can check into a hotel and the experience is pretty much the same everywhere else. At Disney, you are drawn in, welcomed to take part – the magic is waiting for you to walk through those doors – and Art was most definitely that magic.
We visited Art on his last day, October 17th, before heading over to Epcot. My mom had arrived before us and was able to sit and watch as so many came up to Art and took pictures with him, spoke to him and wished him well. We were no exception. I hugged him and congratulated him on his retirement, trying to briefly explain how much Art meant to our family and much we appreciated what he did. With his smile getting bigger, in his gentle, soft-spoken voice, Art said, “I want to thank you all…I am so blessed because of all of you. I can’t even tell you how much you all mean to me.” We took some pictures and I hugged him again, thanking him once more. He tried to put his feelings into words, but began to tear up, as did I. My mom came over and hugged him too, tears welling up in her eyes. So many memories. So much gratitude for the magic we were lucky enough to be a part of.
Thank you, Art. Thank you for being the person you are and for sharing that person with so, so many over the last 16 years. You made the magic a little bit brighter and will be terribly missed. We wish you the best in the coming years!
If you’d like to read and see more about Art, you can visit the official Disney Blog, watch Disney author and fan Lou Mongello’s video interview through iTunes, and become a fan on his fan-run Facebook page. Good bye and good luck, Art, from your many grateful fans.
Well, normally by now I would’ve written a much more in-depth, hopefully interesting blog entry…but I sit with tens of thousands of other hopefuls waiting this week for word about who advanced to the second round for the Disney Moms Panel 2010 edition. So forgive me but I’m just a tad distracted and unable to focus for some reason! 😉 I’m not even anticipating making the cut, but the anticipation is a killer!
However, I still had some pictures to share with you from our night at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, so I thought that’d help pass the time. This year we were totally in the wrong place at the wrong time when we heard the announcement that Wishes was starting. We’d just gone on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, and were about to head out trick-or-treating – I didn’t even realize what time it was! As a result, we were clamoring to get to Main Street to be able to view the fireworks and apparently so was everyone else in Tomorrowland.
There was a traffic jam on the bridge leading to the Hub in front of Cinderella Castle and we were trapped. Not only were we trapped, we were stuck right in front of the huge rock formations between the bridge and Stitch’s Great Escape. So we had virtually no view of the fireworks. Let this be a lesson to you – plan ahead! 😉 Rather than let our position spoil our fun, I just focused on the Castle instead, and snapped the photos you see below. Since that’s my favorite part of the Magic Kingdom, I figured I probably wasn’t alone and some other people would enjoy the montage.
When last we left, the first Disney Villains float had just turned the corner on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. Well continue if you dare, foolish mortals – to see the rest of Disney’s Boo to You Parade complete with Villains, ghosts and gravediggers! As always, click to enlarge the photos, and enjoy!
My family visited Magic Kingdom on September 25, 2009 for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and shared the night with some very special guests – Disney’s Moms Panel! Almost all of the moms (and dads) were able to reunite that weekend and had a great view from the Main Street Train Station for the Boo to You parade. I thought I’d share some photos from one of the best parades at Walt Disney World. Since there is so much action in this parade, I decided to split it up into two posts. This first entry features all the classic Disney characters, and the next post will feature the Disney Villains and the Haunted Mansion residents. Click the photos to enlarge – and enjoy!
Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away there was a planet where it was acceptable, nay encouraged to get bad perms, wear white overall short shorts (oh yes, I said white overall short shorts!), and of course, coordinate your ensemble with matching plastic beaded necklaces, twisted together, forming the perfect accessory. Ladies and gentleman, that planet was called The 80’s.
As most of you no doubt know, today is the anniversary of the official opening of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 1971, Epcot (or EPCOT Center as it was known at the time) in 1982 and later Epcot’s Morocco pavilion in the World Showcase, in 1984. I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate those special days in history with my own little stroll down memory lane – Embarrassing Photo Edition. I know there was a picture of me as a baby on my first visit to Magic Kingdom, but I could not find that particular one. Instead, I found one of my sister and brother, proudly representing the 70’s with their attire. The picture was taken in the Main Street Flower Market area, now of course long gone with the Emporium expansion. From the look of the banners, it must have been around the 4th of July, which would make sense because I would’ve been 6 months old, making my brother 9 and my sister 10. I wish we had more pictures from this trip since clearly they are full of Disney history.
Next up, to commemorate Epcot’s anniversary, I wanted to share a picture from one of our earlier visits there. However, I’ve already shared quite a few, including my first 3-Season Salute Annual Pass photo and one of Dreamfinder, Figment and me. So I thought I’d share one with much more to comment on – mid-80’s EPCOT!
In this photo you not only get the treat of the “Rainbow Bright” version of “Space Mickey” but see yet another bad perm on me, countless black rubber bracelets a la Madonna, really, really short shorts (in pink and white stripes no less), white sunglasses with twisted glasses lanyard and of course – a Swatch watch. I was about 13 here so you also get to enjoy my head tilt, which says, “I’m WAY too cool to be seen with Mickey – I mean, just LOOK at me”.
Then, in honor of Morocco’s opening day, I dug up some pictures from a 6th grade class trip to EPCOT. My best friend, Nalani Proctor and I some how managed to be the only two students my mom and dad had to chaperone that day, so we had our own itinerary for fun rather than staying with the class, since we knew EPCOT like the back of our hands already. There are quite a few posed photos like the ones below, including sombreros in Mexico and posing with a castle guard in the United Kingdom. Maybe I’ll scan some of those in later…
I’m not sure why we are posing like we are in this photo, but I know my dad is the one that told us to do it. Maybe some sort of twist on a yoga pose? No clue. Oh, as I was previewing this post it hit me: maybe he wanted us to pretend we were granting wishes like Jeanie in “I Dream of Jeanie”?? In any event, you can see the shame that is tight, white overall shorts. I’m not in anyway sure of how I thought that was a good idea. My t-shirt underneath was a classic EPCOT baseball shirt with the EPCOT symbol in rainbow colors, but you can’t see it under the overalls.
Here is a close-up of Nalani and I wearing a Fez. Highlighted here are my first of many bad perms, my super cool twisty plastic necklace (anyone remember those?) and my dire need for braces, which I would obtain a couple of years later. My friend is sporting the also-popular polo shirt-under-a-sweatshirt look, with short shorts. Ahh…Planet 80’s.
I hope you enjoyed this look back at what seems to be a different universe entirely. Of course the funny part now is that many of the styles popular back then (plaid, neon colors etc.) are now “in” again today. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, so they say… 😉
Most importantly, Happiest of Anniversaries to the Happiest Places on Earth…thanks for the memories, embarrassing or otherwise! Here’s to 100 more wonderful years of Magic!