Thursday, June 28, 2012

Brave: Heather M.'s Movie Review

When I asked my five year old daughter what to share with people about the movie Brave, she said, “Brave is so fun.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.”  I guess that she was able to sum up the movie faster than I was. 

Brave is a wonderful story about a strong willed girl named Merida who lived in long ago Scotland.  It tells the story of tradition and protocol and the sharp contrast to passion and desire.  Merida is the first female protagonist for the Pixar group.  She carries the movie with grace and humor, never taking herself too seriously. 

The focus of the story is on the process of Merida and the conflicts she faces with duty and tradition.  Like Mulan, there are certain expectations on Merida about the expectations that her family has on her.  Merida has no interest in her mother’s lessons or in becoming betrothed. 

Merida’s father is the bear king.  The story details his encounters with bears at different points in Merida’s upbringing.  Movie goers are also introduced to Merida’s three younger brothers who are triplets.  Much of the story focuses on the interactions between Merida and her mother Elinor. 

The sights and the sounds of ancient Scotland were incredible.  The scenery looked real and the sounds of the celtic music and bagpipes helped the story along. 

Both my seven year old son and five year old daughter loved the movie.  They found that it had the right amount of intensity and a strong dose of humor.  Many of the available storybooks shadow the story and may be a good idea to preview with a child who may react to some of the scarier scenes.  I would definitely recommend seeing this movie.  I thought that the quality of the story and the details in the animation were well worth the price of the admission.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Foodie Friday: Recipe: Scotch Eggs from Rose & Crown Pub


Failte!!!Are you ready to get your Medieval on in time to see the new Disney movie Brave? Let's get our tummies ready, too. For your palate pleasure, we have the recipe for what is called Scotch eggs. Though it isn't really Scottish, throw on that red curly wig, and get to cooking:O)


INGREDIENTS

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely crushed corn flakes
  • 3/4 cup fresh breakfast sausage,or ground pork
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Mustard
  • PREp:

    • Place 4 eggs in a small saucepan; add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil; remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 3 minutes. Carefully drain, then fill pan with ice water to cool eggs. Gently crack shells and carefully peel under cold running water. Place eggs in a bowl of cold water; cover and chill until cold. 
    • Place flour in a wide shallow bowl and crushed corn flakes in another wide shallow bowl. Divide sausage into 4 equal portions. Pat 1 portion of sausage into a thin patty over the length of your palm. Lay 1 soft-boiled egg on top of sausage and wrap sausage around egg, sealing to completely enclose. Repeat with remaining sausage and eggs.
    • Whisk remaining 2 eggs in a medium bowl to blend. Working gently with 1 sausage-wrapped egg at a time, dip eggs into flour, shaking off excess, then coat in egg wash. Roll in corn flakes to coat. 
    • Attach a deep-fry thermometer to side of a large heavy pot. Pour in oil to a depth of 2” and heat over medium heat to 375°. Fry eggs, turning occasionally and maintaining oil temperature of 350°, until sausage is cooked through and breading is golden brown and crisp, 5–6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer eggs to paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Serve warm with mustard.
      You may need to add some sausage and adjust the cooking time if you decided to do that. This mix is sticky, so keep your hands wet, let the kiddies help too!
      For even more fun, let them make a crown like the one Queen Elinor wears!!

      Now, of course, at the Rose and Crown Pub this is paired with a small green salad and fried bread.
      Enjoy!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Disney Feet?


Anyone who knows me would definitely wonder why I would have a post covering feet.   Anyone who doesn’t know me might wonder why I would talk about feet on a blog dedicated to all things Disney.  I think that thinking about feet prior to entering the gates of any of the Disney Parks, is worthwhile.  As someone who is known to leave a hotel room at 8:00AM and not return to the room until after might at times, the comfort of my feet is critical to my enjoyment of the entire experience. 

After walking the parks numerous times, I have to say that I am amazed at what people find appropriate for a day in the park.  Some of the shoes that I have seen wouldn’t work well for me to get from my front door to the front seat of my car.  Between the time spent walking from attraction to attraction and the time spent on my feet waiting in line, I am looking for something that is lightweight and supportive which also allows for circulation and protection from both the sun and other guests. 

I have been to the parks during all four seasons.  I have to say that traditional sneakers or tennis shoes work the best.  The other acceptable option while at Disney is the classic Croc.  Disney has even partnered with the company that makes Crocs and sells pairs that have Mickey Mouse silhouette cutouts all over them. 

When packing, I recommend bringing socks for each day of the trip.  They help absorb sweat  and prevent the friction that leads to terrible blisters.  The one time that I followed my fashion sense rather than common sense, I had sore feet for several months after the trip.  Never again. 

If travelling with kids, I recommend bringing a pair of crocs, water shoes or flip flops for their use at the numerous fountains and water spots throughout the parks.  This allows the kids the opportunity to play without the worry of wet shoes.  Clothes dry quickly in the sun but a wet pair of shoes can feel as if it will last forever. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Who's Who Wednesday: Merida: NOT Your Mother's Princess!

Meet Merida, Disney's newest addition to their exclusive Disney Princess Line.

Brave Merida

Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, is the lead character in the soon to be released Disney/Pixar film: Brave.

Merida is very special, for many reasons.
  • Merida is the first female protagonist in a Pixar film.
  • Pixar rewrote its animation system for the 1st time in 25 years to make the complex visuals in Merida's film possible.
  • Merida had Pixar's first ever female director--Brenda Chapman--who also developed Merida's character and story. Chapman was replaced (due to creative differences) by male director Mark Andrews, and co-director Steve Purcell, making Merida the first Pixar character to have two directors.
  • Merida's Brave is Pixar's first fairy-tale and first period piece (set in ancient Scotland).
  • Merida is the first Pixar character to be included in Disney's Princess Line.


Watch for Merida in the Disney Princess Lineup!
http://www.fanpop.com/spots/disney-princess/images/24660357/title/disney-princess-line-up-with-cinderella-pink-dress-photo


Brave is set in medieval Scotland.

Merida on her home turf

Merida is a headstrong princess more interested in archery, adventure, and independence than finding her Prince Charming. Her mother, Queen Elinor, tries to make Merida conform to royal tradition, which ultimately leads to trouble.

Merida's Mom, Queen Elinor, pays the price of trying to change her daughter.

Brave is the story of Merida's struggle to overcome the harm her non-conformity has created.

Some feel Merida--due to her lack of interest in finding her prince--is not a true Disney Princess. But maybe it's time for a new definition of what makes a princess? 

That's what Brenda Chapman believed, and that's for you to decide after watching Princess Merida in Brave.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Foodie Friday: Recipe: AKL Boma's Hummus

One of my favorite pre-meal treats from the buffet at Boma is the pita chips and hummus! Thought I'd share the recipe: HUMMUS Boma - Animal Kingdom Lodge Yield: 20 servings Ingredients: 32 oz Chickpeas, canned, drained, and rinsed 5 T Tahini, mix well 2 T Garlic, roasted 10 each Lemons, juiced 1 t Garlic, fresh Salt and Pepper Method: Place chickpeas in food processor. Puree. Add tahini, both garlics, and half the lemon juice. Mix. Adjust lemon juice and finish with salt and pepper.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Baby Care Centers


The first trip that both of my children took to Disneyland in California was when they were under one year old.  My son was almost four months old and my daughter was eight months old.  My son was nursing and my daughter was nursing and eating some baby foods. 

Most people would ask why on earth I was travelling across the country to take my young children to a place like Disneyland.  One secret that I learned early on when I first took my son was about the Baby Care Center.  I felt as if I was walking through the wardrobe and into another world just like Lucy in the Chronicles of Narnia.  On one side of the door stood the traditional craziness of being in Disneyland and the other side featured a calming, clean and peaceful spot where parents could meet their children’s needs.

When a guest first walks into the room they are greeted by cast members who can assist with the parents needs.  The area is a comfortable temperature and features several different areas.  There is a changing area that has large tables with clean paper available.  Nearby there is also a toddler size toilet available. 

There is a section that has a work area with a sink and microwave among other things.  I was able to clean out bottles here and I am sure that bottles could be heated as well.  Another area focused on feedings.  There was a private section where mothers could nurse their babies in comfortable chairs.  There were also several high chairs available.

For parents with very young children the Baby Care Center provided an escape for a few minutes from the hustle and bustle of the park.  The stimulation was minimal and the needs of the infants and toddlers came first.  It is worth finding the comparable spot in any of the parks. 
Here is a list of the locations at WDW, Florida:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Being Part of the Show!

  When you're at Disney World their are lots of ways to interact with your surroundings. You have character meet and greets, interactive queues, like at the Haunted Mansion, or my favorite being a part of the show. "The Show" is everything you see, from attractions and cast members to restaurants, that help make your trip magical.
  Lots of the shows will ask for volunteers, for example Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, the American Idol Experience and more. Interacting with Streetmosphere performers is a quick, easy and fun way to be part of the show. Hollywood Studios is one of my favorite places to do this, I've done it there a few times myself. All you have to do is, when you see them just walk up and start talking to them, then follow there lead and let the fun begin.
  On the Jungle Cruise, sometimes they will ask for a volunteer to be a guest skipper. The times I've seen them do this, they have tried to get kids. I was picked one time, granted it was during "One More Disney Day" and it was about 3 or 4 in the morning and there were no kids. I think most of the people on the boat were off duty Cast Members. It was cool to do this, *ATTENTION SPOILER ALERT*, I know your really not steering the boat, it's on a track, but it was still fun. I got to wear the skipper hat, unfortunately I didn't have my camera so no picture, and I got an Official Guest Skipper card. Hopefully someday, when my son is older, he will get a chance to do it too.
Best Day of My Life!! Ok not quite but still cool.
  Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor is quickly becoming one of my families favorite attractions. Part of the reason is because it's funny.There are jokes the whole family gets and you can even text in jokes before hand for them to use in the show. But my favorite part is how they randomly put the camera's on people in the audience and make them part of the show. I've been part of it 2 separate times, both times they were telling the Monsters, Inc. story and finding people who represented characters from the movie. Since I have a big beard, I've been chosen as Sully. Like I said it's at random so most people are caught off guard, which is fun to watch, but usually get into pretty quickly.
  So have you ever been part of the show? Where was it? What did you have to do? Is there any way you know how you can be part of the show that you haven't done that you'd like to? Let us know and have a magical day.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ride Review: Soarin'

One of my families "Must Do" rides is Soarin'. I will admit it is not MY favorite ride, but I go along with everyone else, or as the say, I do it for the kids! Soarin' takes you on a 4 minute hang gliding ride over the great state of California, whizzing over sites such as The Golden Gate Bridge, Napa Valley, Yosemite National Park and a surprise visit over Disneyland during the Holiday Nighttime Fireworks Spectacular! You will also get an up close look at the PGA golf tournament, when a ball appears to be hit right at you, be sure to keep your eyes open to spot the Hidden Mickey. Soarin' is considered to be a multi-sensory ride. You will feel the wind, see the sites up close on a panoramic 180^ screen and smell the fresh pines and orange groves. There are height restrictions of 40' or taller, as you feet dangle freely when your seat rises 40 feet into the air. Soarin' is located in the Land Pavilion at Epcot theme park, next to the Living with the Land ride. The queue and attraction are both indoors. Arriving early or choosing the FastPass option are highly recommended. Sometimes you even have to arrive early to get the FastPass option!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Flame tree BBQ: Flame Tree BBQ

Every time we visit Animal Kingdom, my family loves to stop for lunch at Flame Tree!! This place has the best ribs, pulled pork and chicken ever!! It's a cute little spot. You get in line, order your food and then you take your trays and go sit down. The place they have for you to sit is pretty large, wherever you choose to sit, its very calm and peaceful. We always choose a place under a roof where we can see part of Everest. It's so quiet all the way in the back. We have tried Yak and Yeti and Tusker House, which are nice places, but nothing tops this BBQ! I have had all of them and my favorite is the pulled pork. Hubby loves the ribs. They also have turkey breast, chicken salad and fruit. All menu items run in the $9-10 range. They have side orders of fries or onion rings, coleslaw or/and baked beans. The combos come with the coleslaw or beans. You can substitute with the fries or onion rings, but you have to ask them.  They also have there own BBQ sauce in 3 different flavors. The pulled pork comes dry, without sauce, so you can get your own and use as much as you like. The ribs have a rub on them,  not really any BBQ sauce, so if you like them dry or smothered, it's up to you.

Also, if you are on a budget, this is a great place to get a meal to share! The food is plentiful!!

For the kiddies, they have meals as well. They can choose from a baked chicken drumstick, hot dog or peanut butter and jelly sandwich. All of the kid's meals come with 2 sides. Choices for that are apple sauce, jello, grapes, carrot sticks or yogurt or substitute fries. Drink options here are apple juice, milk or water. You can also substitute soda, but, once again, you have to ask.

 They also have dessert too, but I have never been able to finish my meal,let alone dessert.They have key lime and chocolate mousse.
 The food is really good, the atmosphere is happy and friendly. If you are in the mood for an awesome tasting BBQ meal, then this is the one to grab!! Here are a few pictures of  the yummiest food you will encounter at Animal Kingdom...

                                          The ribs...
                                          Pulled pork...
                                         Kids chicken drumsticks..

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fun for Little Ones at Mission: SPACE



  Ok, so little ones, and some adults for that matter, and Mission: SPACE really aren't two things that go together, but the Advanced Training Lab is, it's the post show area of Mission Space. It's in the area after you exit the ride and before the gift shop, you can also go through the exit, which is to the left of the entrance to Mission Space.
  The four activities in the Advanced Training Lab are:
 Space Base: Which is an interactive play area, think McDonald's Playplace, with tunnels, slides, places to climb, and more. With a little one this is probably where most of your time will be spent. We've been in there many times with my 2 year old and he loves it, we've had to pull him out a few times.
 Postcards from Space: This is where you can create a space themed video postcard and email you family and friends, and yourself if you want, so they can see how much fun your having in Disney World. This is another thing my son loves, especially when we get home and he sees it cause he loves pictures and videos of himself.
 Expedition Mars: This is a one player video game where you explore the surface of Mars. Now most little ones may be to small to understand how to play, but the controls are a joystick and a button, so it can be fun to let them play around with, or do together with them.
 Mission: SPACE Race: Here 2 teams complete to see who can get their rocket from Mars to earth first. This is for older kids and adults, but it can be fun to watch.
  All and all the Advanced Training Lab is a fun place that some people may over look with little ones. I for one think it's worth a stop, not only is it fun, but it's inside and on the hot days at in Florida, which can be many, it's a nice break. So next time you're in Epcot, even if you skip Mission: SPACE, head over to the Advanced Training Lab, and have a magical trip.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Who's Who Wednesday: Marty Sklar: Retired, And Still Working

What do you call a Disney Cast Member (aka "employee") who has participated in the opening of all 11 Disney Theme Parks around the world?

Marty Sklar.

Sklar began his association with Walt Disney in 1955. He was recruited while still a student at UCLA to create an 1890s-themed newspaper, The Disneyland News, as part of the promotion for the upcoming opening of Disney's first park, Disneyland.

A young Marty Sklar, seated center, poses for a "team photo" with other members of the Disneyland opening team in 1955. SiLive


Here's an abbreviated Sklar resume:

  • 1956: After graduating from UCLA, Sklar worked full time for Disneyland doing park publicity and marketing.
  • 1961: Sklar joined WED Enterprises, renamed Walt Disney Imagineering in 1986, where he helped develop the shows and pavilions for the 1964-1965 New York World's fair. These included:
    • Ford's Magic Skyway
    • Carousel Theater of Progress (now updated as "Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress" in WDW)
    • Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (now in Disneyland), and
    • it's a small world (sing the song!)
it's a small world at the New York World's Fair
  • 1974: Appointed VP, Concepts/Planning, which included creative guidance and development of EPCOT (now Epcot center, WDW), Walt's original dream site to overcome problems facing urban development.
    Two Disney Legends: Marty Sklar & John Hench
    Planning EPCOT

  • 1979: Sklar became Vice President of Creative Development, then Executive VP in 1982.
  • 1987: Sklar served as President and Vice Chairman until 1996
  • 1997: Vice Chairman and Principal Creative Executive of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI)

Sklar retired on July 17, 2009, but continues to work as International Ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering.


In honor of his achievements, on the date of his retirement (which coincided with the 1955 opening date of Disneyland), Sklar was awarded his own window in Disneyland.

 Marty Sklar's Main Street Disneyland window.

And here's a recent photo of Marty:

Marty Sklar, Imagineer, "retired"

I guess when you are doing what you love, continuing to work after retiring is just too much fun!

For all you've done to help create Disney Magic around the world,

Thank You, Marty Sklar!


Monday, June 4, 2012

DVC: Hilton Head


About ten years ago I had the opportunity to stay in the Disney Vacation Club property on Hilton Head, South Carolina.  This was a region of the country that I had never had the chance to explore.   When we arrived on the property, we were able to settle into a very comfortable property that had many of the comforts that one would find at Walt Disney World.  There were four adults on this trip and we stayed in a two bedroom unit.  Just like the Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World, there were two comfortably sized bedrooms and a living room/ kitchen area between the two rooms.  There are also two full size bathrooms.   On the property of the resort there are a number of different activities, pools and access to the ocean. 

Off the property of the resort, there are many areas worth exploring.  We had rented a car and spent time in the cities of Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia.  If you are a movie buff, the movies Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Forest Gump both have scenes featuring various spots within the city of Savannah.  The city of Charlotte has a lot of history and charm.   If you have never gone, they are definitely worth checking out.  Both are charming southern cities with a lot to offer both residents and visitors alike.  Some other things we were able to visit included the Middleton Plantation and Beaufort where we explored the town and rode on a horse drawn carriage.   

I certainly had a lot of apprehension about going on a vacation to a new part of the country.  I would definitely say that the trip was well worth it.  It would be a perfect spot of you wanted to simply relax and enjoy the beach or if you are looking to explore the local area.