Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wizarding Week Goes to Disney

How's this for bringing Picturing Disney's Wizarding Week full circle...
Guess what I went to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party as last year?
Hermione Jean Granger (complete with replica wand from Olivander's Wand Shoppe in Hogsmeade)!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Wizarding World hits NYC

With so many features from Wizarding World of Harry Potter in my salute to J.K. Rowling's fabulous and imaginative world, I thought I would take a day out to talk about other Harry Potter goodness.

First, although I have no pictures since photography is not allowed, if you are in the New York area you should plan on hitting the Harry Potter Exhibit in Times Square.  I saw it when it was first in New York a couple years ago and it is INCREDIBLE.  Amazing props and costumes, petrified Colin Crevey, and you can SIT IN HAGRID'S CHAIR!!! I can not say enough about how much I love Discovery Times Square (I have seen about a half dozen different exhibits here with friends, family, and even taken my students here on field trips.)

Also, I just wanted to pay homage to the amazing world and how the Harry Potter stories tell such a strong tale of heroism and good versus evil.  I quote HP all the time and love finding adorable new fan art.  Join me and keep the magic alive everyday.

Mischief managed. ;)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hogwart's Express

Wizarding Week continues with a stop for a photo op!
When you stop for a visit at the Wizarding World and you enter Hogsmeade Village there parked right out front is the Hogwart's Express.  And guess who you can find out front for meet and greets? The conductor himself!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hogsmeade Village

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then these pictures of Hogsmeade can replace what would have been 4,000 rambling words of my love of this place!  How many times in life can you say that you just walked into the pages of your favorite book?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hogwarts Castle

We have all fallen in love with Cinderella's Castle... Sleeping Beauty's Castle... and most recently Beast's Castle... but what about a Hogwart's Castle?  The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry deserves equal credit it for the monumental attention to detail! Let your imagination soar as you approach the fun and excited flagship ride and you will be transported to a place where some of the most magical heroes in the history of literature grew up!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Chocolate Frogs for EVERYONE!

One of the most well-put together shops, or maybe just my favorite because I have such a sweet tooth, was Honeydukes! The legendary wizard candy shoppe is right at home in Universal Orlando's very own Hogsmeade!

I left with an arm filled with Wizard candy and hung around outside for a while when I was drinking my Butterbeer.

At Honeydukes you can get all the favorites featured in the Harry Potter books and movies such as:
-Cauldron Cakes
-Fizzing Whizzbees
-Exploding Bonbons
-Treacle Tarts
-Bert Bott's Every Flavor Beans
-& classic treats like fudge and other chocolates!

My favorite were the Sherbet Lemons which came in a cute Honeydukes jar as well as the "sugar quills" lollipops! The candy here was a super cute souvenir from my trip and such an original gift to bring back to people.

If you can't make a stop to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (and Honeydukes) part of your next Orlando vacation, try and stop at the Universal Studiost store at the Orlando International Airport and check out the small selection of Wizarding World products they carry there! I picked up a Chocolate Frog last Fall and the Wizarding World souvenirs may be the best that Universal has to offer!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bubble & Geek Wizarding Week Giveaway!!

The really fun and awesome Etsy shop, Bubble & Geek, graciously donated a Harry Potter themed Pumpkin Pasties candle and Butterbeer lip balm to give away while we feature some of the most fun and awesome pictures from around the Wizarding World this week! As we lead up to Halloween we will be featuring posts daily about Universal's Islands of Adventure's most magical area!

In the mean time, use the rafflecopter widget below to enter for your chance to win!

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Wizarding Week: Why You SHOULD Cheat on Disney (just for a day)!

I decided that the week before Halloween would be a great time to feature some pictures from Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  While this is a Disney Photoblog with so much going on in Orlando and with the number of trips I have taken there I wanted to share some of what I have explored outside Disney too.

I was blown away by Universal, not because I thought Disney paled in comparison at all, but because I could see this experience changing from what I had previously read and seen (and expected).  Disney has pushed the Universal theme parks to up their game.  Guess who benefits from that? Us! I have cheated on Disney and you should to, here’s why:
  • Now that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is MGM no more, some of the signature old Hollywood feel has been stripped from the park.  I desperately miss Stars & Motor Cars and can never understand why there is never a wait for the Great Movie Ride or Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream.  There is something to be said for the walk through Lucy Museum and Walk of Fame at Universal that brought back the nostalgia of some of my old MGM favorites- you can even eat at a replica Mel’s Drive In for lunch!  The fact that the park is owned by Universal gives it a more diverse movie catalog then you would expect- everything from The Mummy, E.T., Back to the Future, The Simpsons, Jaws, and more are represented here.  And a lot of these classics in my mind have not been reinvented as Disney does so often.
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is, in my opinion, the most amazing non-Disney theme park feat ever.  It gives Disney a real run for its money.  I am almost happy that Universal got the rights to this over Disney because it is so incredible! From a Butterbeer at Three Broomsticks, to a Chocolate Frog at Honeyduke’s, or buying a replica wand at Olivander’s there is no greater representation of the classic young adult novels of our generation.
  • It’s nice to see a non-princess castle every once in a while.  Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey is like Soarin’ on steroids and the cue walking through Hogwart’s is artful, thoughtful, and true to the world J.K. Rowling created.
  • The two park pass does not require a bus, boat, or monorail to park hop.  While you can really commit a full day to each park in Universal, if you opt for their version of a park hopper you can easily walk through the shopping area called CityWalk and make your way between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios theme parks.
While the Disney bubble is hard to push yourself out of, I am convinced that Universal is a great choice for some non-Disney time.  I rave to every Harry Potter fan I know that they must visit the Wizarding World.  With so many families come back to Disney year after year, its no wonder that places like Discovery Cove and Legoland have made their way to Orlando.

What do you think about Universal? Do you stay in the Disney bubble your entire trip or trek out to other Orlando attractions?  If so, what’s your family’s favorite non-Disney park?  Look for pictures from now through the 31st of my favorite parts of the Wizarding World and decide for yourself. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Boo to You!

Without giving any spoilers I highly recommend the parade and fireworks that are featured only at the hard-ticket event: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party! I loved the music and the magic! I don't want to reveal anything and spoil it for people who have not been there yet but do not miss this party if you are in Disney World during the fall and do not miss the shows!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Etsy Shop Review & Giveaway!

When I first started the Parks Style section I featured a post on what to bring in your Disney Park Bag.  The lip balm I featured was Butterbeer & Paopu Fruit flavored from an awesome Etsy shop, Bubble & Geek.  I have since teamed up for an awesome giveaway!

I love the idea of geekery (or what is perceived as such) being paired up with pampering products and as their logo puts it Bubble & Geek is filled with "random geekery goodness for your life"! In the shop you can find lip balms, lotions, fragrances, soaps, and candles inspired by your favorite games, movies and shows.  Some of my favorites are the Harry Potter inspired, Nintendo inspired, and the new Game of Thrones inspired lines! There is literally something for everyone in this shop and they are affordable and make amazingly awesome and unique gifts!

Additionally, as with the best Etsy has to offer, Bubble & Geek features awesome costumer service from an owner who was super kind, and got back to me right away! My items were shipped out fast and arrived quickly as well! What makes Bubble & Geek super duper awesome?? Oh yeah they sent me the awesome (and amazingly scented) Pumpkin Pasties candle and a Butterbeer lip balm to GIVE AWAY here on Picturing Disney during Wizarding Week!

Just stay tuned to Picturing Disney in the next couple days for your chance to win!! :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Have you been to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party? What's your favorite little attention to detail in Magic Kingdom after the transformation? I loved how even the statues had changed!! Let me know your favorite part of the party in the comments below!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Things that make my Disney heart happy (Part 2)

What makes your Disney heart happy?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hallowishes Do Come True!

Quite possibly, the most amazing fireworks spectacle I have ever seen has been at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party! I can not say much more about the amazing and artistic fireworks and the wonderous finale to Hallowishes!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NYCC: Epic Mickey 2, DisneyXD, Marvel, and more!!

This weekend was New York Comic Con (October 11-14) at the Javits Center in New York City.  It is the 2nd largest convention in the country (2nd to the San Diego Comic Con).  I have read some comics in my day and know a lot of the lore but the real pull for me and my husband was how Comic Con has expanded into a place that showcases the best in geekery, video gaming, and entertainment.  There were even a handful of Disney panels and exhibits as well as lots from Disney affiliated companies.  Stormtroopers walked the halls proudly and Star Wars toys and memoribilia were everywhere.
The recent connection that Disney has made with Marvel revealed even more to come at a panel where it was said that Disney and Marvel were working on a project together for a Disney property.  All that was alluded to however was that a big announcement would be made in the next few months.  

I do love Marvel stories but I hope this is not a new ride/attraction/meet and greet.  I feel like that has been done long ago at Six Flags and Islands of Adventure.  Additionally, while I think Disney would do it right I really want to see Hollywood Studios revive their Old Hollywood charm (please Disney bring Buena Vista Street to Orlando!!!) which I have seen slowly leaving the park.

I will say it was fun to see all the fun and hilarious merchandise available thanks to the wildly successful Avengers franchise. I especially loved the colognes and the free "Smell like an Avenger" swag that was being given out! haha! I also loved seeing the Lego and Tokidoki franchises rocking Marvel favorites!

Besides the obvious Disney connections with the Marvel company and LucasArts there were also some Disney specific panels, screenings, and demos.

I got my hands on Epic Mickey 2- which thankfully has improved greatly since the original.  I felt like the first Epic Mickey was an Epic Letdown! So many possibly awesome ideas and it looked like a Gamecube game ported for HD systems.  I was so disappointed in the gameplay mechanics also... some parts just didn't make sense.  And it took 2 or 3 bosses to actually get to a point where I understood the good vs evil, pain vs thinner would change my story.  I got to the point with that game that I felt like I was playing it just to finish it and luckily from the demo I played EP2 looks, sounds, and plays better!

Additionally, we saw a screening of Randy Cunningham 9th Grade Ninja which looked great! I didn't catch the premiere date but its coming soon to Disney XD with a couple other new series!

I really had a great time at New York Comic Con! It was my first time heading down for it and I enjoyed all the geekery, got tons of free stuff, and my husband and I got to see and play some games we had been looking forward to (besides Epic mickey 2 we checked out Assassin's Creed III, Tomb Raider, Lego LOTR, and the new God of War).  We also got to check out some publishing booths and watch others playing Little Big Planet Karting, PS Battle Royale, and Just Dance 4.  It was a great experience and even though it was super duper packed we had a great day in New York!

Did I mention we stopped for some Christmas decoration shopping in Times Square Disney Store on the way home? ;)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Disney Letter Print Giveaway with It's All About the Mouse Travel!

Everyone has heard about Hidden Mickeys, now what about Hidden LETTERs throughout Walt Disney World? That is just what Magical Expressions features in their Disney prints on Etsy! And in the tradition of sharing Disney love and spreading Disney joy Picturing Disney and It's All About the Mouse Travel have a great opportunity where you can win your own 10x20 Disney art print!!

It'a All About the Mouse Travel offers signature concierge level travel planning for all Disney destinations.  Their mission is to combine their experience and expert advise to help YOU get the most of your vacation time and money! I can personally atest to the hard work, dedication, and integrity of the travel planners that work with Judi, at It's All About the Mouse! Judi has helped me plan Disney trips coast to coast, and Amanda has been featured on Picturing Disney multiple times and has helped me plan my last two adventures!

Here are two great offers featured on It's All About the Mouse:

  • With great rates at Disney Resort hotels in late 2012, it's easy to make magical holiday memories with family! Save up to 30% at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights November 1 through November 16, 2012 and November 24 through December 22, 2012Book by October 31, 2012. 
  • Play, Stay, Dine and Save up to $600 when you purchase a 5-night/6-day Magic Your Way package for a family of 4 that includes room, tickets, and a dining plan at select Disney Resort hotels for arrivals most nights January 2 through March 7, 2013. Book by December 31, 2012. 

My goal at Picturing Disney is to bring you some Disney magic every day with photos, memories, and features.  Sharing the amazing services that are yours free of charge when you book your trip through It's All About the Mouse are just another way I want to share my own Disney experience with you!

Still thinking about that awesome art print I mentioned earlier? Use the rafflecopter widget below to enter for your chance to win the Magical Expression print as well as some Picturing Disney and It's All About the Mouse goodies! (And FYI, your print comes with a Disney Letter Location card so you know where you can find the D-I-S-N-E-Y! ;)

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Best Photo Spots: Disney Hooneymooners & Couples

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While Disney is the #1 family vacation destination in the world it also attracts millions of young and young-at-heart couples every year.  If you are like me and feel like every vacation with your beau is like another honeymoon try some of my favorite photo spots!

Consider starting your day with a breakfast at an in-park restaurant before a park opens to grab some solo pictures with your love! You will be allowed to get into your first park before the crowds AND take some pictures while its empty! That alone will make your pictures unique!

I think Epcot’s World Showcase is also often overlooked. There are tons of getaways within pavilions such as: inside the Mexico pavilion in the marketplace atmosphere, the bridge in Italy, the gardens in UK or Japan, near the St. George fountain in Germany or even in some of the shops! Just spending an hour walking through World Showcase will prove to be a great choice.

Since you will be right near international gateway the Boardwalk would be a fabulous spot for pictures! Not just outside but in the hotel as well! They retro theme inside is fabulous and there is a great porch near the lobby where you could nab pictures looking out onto the Boardwalk.  The bar has some great vintage radios too! If you prefer the theming of Beach & Yacht Club they are another great option!

Also the Magic Kingdom would be most romantic in the last afternoon/evening.  Getting some shots around the castle at dusk would be really beautiful and even getting shots at night are fabulous.  Also, don’t forget to get some candid pics on the teacups and the carousel!! One of my favorite pictures my husband and I have ever taken in Disney World is a castle shot of us at night on the Tomorrowland bridge that a Photopass photog took! Don't underestimate the beauty of ALL the parks at night!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Coast to Coast it really is a SMALL WORLD after all!

Disneyland IASW
"It's a World of Laughter, a World of Tears..."
Originally, this classic Fantasyland attraction was created by Walt Disney and fellow imagineers for the 1964 World’s Fair.  The ride, which originated as a UNICEF project, was added to Disneyland Resort on May 28, 1966.  The park attraction was an even larger than life version of the World’s Fair attraction.  Using the artwork inspiration (and help along the way) of Mary Blair, Walt and company created an attraction that celebrated the cultural differences all around our small world.

"It's a World of Hope, and a World of Fears..."

It’s a Small World can be found in not only Disneyland Park but Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, as well as at Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris.

There are over 300 “children” in the attraction and the imagineers purposely made sure there was both a sun in a moon integrated into each “country” to reflect the lyrics of the ride’s theme song, “there is just one moon and one golden sun”.

"There's so much that we share that its time we're aware..."

While the ride has become corny to some and the song can really irritate those who find it stuck in their head all day long, I have to count myself among the fans of the happiest cruise that ever set sail! This is a must ride for me! And while my first happy cruise was in Walt Disney World, the addition of Disney characters to the original Disneyland attraction as well as the outdoor que makes this one of my first recommendations to those heading to the original Disney Park!

IASW Pinnochio
With the 45th anniversary of the ride last year Disney Parks released some really awesome merchandise with Mary Blair's original artwork throughout the parks!  I have noticed that some of it can still be found in the parks and stores AND the partnership with LeSportSac is still in full swing with two more ride-inspried patterns to be released in the next 6 months!

"It's a Small World After all!"

For more fun facts and information about the Small World check out this article from Disney Insider!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Things that make my Disney heart happy (Part 1)

Do you follow Picturing Disney on Instagram? I have been posting a little on the Facebook page also but wanted to share a nice selection of my Instagram posts "Things that make my Disney heart happy"! :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

When the Sun Goes Down

Is there anything better than watching the sun set in Disney World? So many adventures were part of your day and so many more to come.  This shot is from the walkway to Caribbean Cay at the Caribbean Beach Resort juuust as the sun disappeared over the horizon. Le sigh.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Social Experiment

Recently, I got to thinking (since my fast-approaching-30-year-old self has been around the block quite a few times when it comes to friendship) how true the old adage is about how if you have one true friend its worth a million Facebook friends (or something like that). lol.

I have always consider myself "true friend" material.  I think I am kind and thankful and reflective (I know when to apologize and try to be a better friend in the future).  I also can admit when a friendship has run its course and live happily knowing that someone touched my life for whatever amount of time it was... even though having someone not "like" me drives me nuts I am (kinda) an adult. lol. In any case, I wondered (read this the way that Sarah Jessica Parker used to read her Carrie Bradshaw column questions on SATC) "If a friend is only a friend because I keep the spark of friendship alive, are we friends at all?"

And thus my social experiment had begun... born out of the thought that there are some people whom I am always the initiator with.  I deleted all the messages from my phone and did not initiate any text messages unless it was a question I needed answered.  Plus I made a rule- no texts about things so if someone text me to say they got a new outfit or computer or whatnot that did not count as true friend-contact unless they discussed further than "guess what I got?".
After a week some interesting notes could be made:
(1) My husband is now and will always be my numero uno.
(2) I am so lucky to have incredible family!!
(3) Forever friends are called that because even though we don't talk every day we text each other when something or someone makes us think of one another and if we are in town for even just a day.  That means everything, period.
(4) It's okay to be a placeholder. I found that there was a few people who I didn't hear from at all.  People who I had felt incredibly close to but not enough for them to want to talk to me at any point within a given week+.  I was hurt at first but decided life is too short and I am happy they have true friends somewhere in this big crazy world.  It makes me a little down just thinking about it but I love the people in my life and am happy with the true friends I connected with this week.
Annnnd (5) which is the entire reason I thought to post here....
Disney friends are the best friends!!! I got texts on the first day from one of my great friends who I met through Disney and the day after from another Disney kindred spirit.  If it weren't for my love of Disney I wouldn't have stumbled upon either of these two awesome ladies (or the 2 other Disney girls who text me later on).  Millions of people meet their soulmates through online dating so I don't know why it never dawned on me that meeting amazing Disney people online or through the Parks would not result in friendship chemistry!

Yes, this made me wiser (and made me revise my "close friends" list on Facebook).  It made me cherish the really important people who are true friends (thank you all so much because its YOU that are reading! But more than that this made me realize how lucky I am to have great followers who follow my rambles, my articles, and my pictures here and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Thanks for listening! :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

There is still time to enter the $100 Disney Gift Card Giveaway!

There is STILL time to enter the gift card giveaway but time is running out so enter below quick!
Whether you are heading down for Food & Wine Festival or the holidays, just saving cash for a future trip, or just want to go on a Disney Store shopping spree a $100 Disney gift card is sure to bring lots of magic to you and yours!

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Make your own Disney Tshirt Scarf!

Since you guys were so amazing at helping me get votes for the Jack Johnson Upcycled Tshirt Contest I wanted to return the favor and give you my rundown on how I made the scarf in the first place! First let me share an email I got this weekend:

Hello Melissa,

Congratulations!  You are a runner up in the Jack Johnson Upcycled T-Shirt Contest!
We will be sending you a selection of Jack Johnson t-shirts or sweatshirts to create your design and will pick the t-shirts or sweatshirts that we think will work best for the design you submitted. 

As a runner up, there is a chance that your creation could be featured in the online auction of the Top 10 Winning Ideas if one of the winning designs is not completed in time or up to our standards. 
Thank you for such a creative design, and we are looking forward to seeing your best works! 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
Jack Johnson Music - Brushfire Records

YAYYY!!! In any case, I came across this fabulous How-To for creating your own “T-shirt Scarf” through pinterest and immediately thought of all the tees I find myself lining my drawers with.  I can’t seem to part with some of my Disney tees because they have sentimental value to me (even the ones which I only wore for the plane trip and especially those that were never immoratlized in a pictures)! I decided to hand-sew and while watching a movie sat and stitched away following the directions precisely.  They were easy to follow and I am sure instead of taking 2 hours you could throw this together in under 40 minutes with the aid of a sewing machine. The only subtle change I made was a clean end instead of the strips.  To do this you simply need to finish off one short end as you did the long sides and then inside out, fold in the remaining end and carefully stitch it closed inside.  The step by step is so well done I don't think you need any more advice from me! :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Most Comfy Park Shoes Ever!

This post is a love letter to my favorite flip flops of all time: Crocs Captiva.
I bought my black pair in 2008 and since then they have not worn out despite having been my first footwear choice all year (weather permiting) and they have gone on many an adventure with me.

My black Crocs Captiva have been to:
  • Disney World (4 times)
  • Universal Studios/ Islands of Adventure
  • Disneyland (twice)
  • Los Angeles & Redondo Beach 
  • The Bahamas (New Providence & Paradise Island)
  • New York City (over a dozen times)
  • Lake George
  • Philadelphia
  • the Jersey Shore
 and these are just the adventures I can think of off the top of my head!

It has been 4+ years of constant use and they are still rocking and rolling.  I tried to get a second pair but they don't seem to fit as good as my good ole flip flops because I haven't been able to put the time into breaking them in. lol.

The Captiva got it right because they have plenty of support but they don't overly conform to your foot (which is the problem with most flip flops I consider for Disney trips since all feet are not created alike).  Furthermore the straps are simple and not ornate or too wide to the point they would cause blisters.  And they were even in the picture of mine that will be featured in the Passporter Walt Disney World 2013.

So many people I know must wear sneakers in the parks but now that I have found these I let my feet breathe free every trip! I just wish that Crocs would bring them back and ASAP so I can order a pair in every color and break them in before my next trip! ;)

Enter to win: $100 Disney Gift Card!!

I could make a lot of magic with an extra $100 on a Disney Gift Card, couldn't you?
Complete the tasks in the widget below for your chance to win (and your chance to hook up with some really great Disney pages)! 
And if you entered previously make sure you got the maximum number of entries!!

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Bear Necessities

I love It's a Small World and I didn't realize all that was missing in Disney World without the outside element that the original west coast ride features until I had ridden it about six times.  lol.  There is something so magical about being immersed in the Mary Blair architecture and the animal topiaries.  Night or day this ride doesn't disappoint with the outside loading/unloading... afterall there is just one moon and one golden sun. ;)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2 Line Review: Desserts and Champagne Booth at Epcot Food & Wine Fest

Vanilla Ice Cream and Grand Marnier.... why didn't I think of that idea sooner??