Friday, September 26, 2014

Disney Quest: Flying on a Magic Carpet

Usually on Walt Disney World (WDW) family vacations, we (my husband, Gus, and I) look forward to visiting Downtown Disney to load up on a last bit of Disney magic before we go back home. On our last trip to WDW, we decided to do a little something different. We went to Disney Quest.
Disney Quest was opened June 19, 1998 when virtual reality was the latest and greatest of video gaming. It is an "indoor interactive theme park" that is housed in a five-story (yes 5), windowless building. Originally, Disney Quest was a project designed to bring the Disney brand to major cities that weren't close to either Disneyland or WDW. The second location was built and opened in Chicago, but was permanently closed in September of 2001 after low attendance and other issues arose. 

As a kid, I remember being really excited when the news first broke out of the "attractions" Disney Quest contained. Being able to float "just around the riverbend" with Pocahontas, ride a magic carpet with Aladdin, and play as a part of a human pinball machine that featured The Mighty Ducks did it for me. It was until this year, that I was finally able to experience some of these attractions I had so much wanted to enjoy. 

We arrived at Disney Quest on Sunday morning, maybe half an hour after opening. As we were escorted into the building, I demanded that the first attraction we would experience was the Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride. Besides being my favorite Disney movie of ALL TIME, I read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and I remember the chapter in which he talked about how exciting it was as a Disney fan to create this attraction for Disney Quest. So in some respect after reading the book, experiencing this video game was added to my ever growing "Disney Bucket List". 
If you have not ready this book,
I highly recommend you do.

Although extremely dated, it was fun to finally check this experience off the list. The gist of the game is to help Aladdin find the Genie in the Cave of Wonders while Jafar has Princess Jasmine captive. I had to remember that since 1998, a lot of  advances in the look of video games has improved immensely. Hence, when you first see the world of Agrabah, you may feel as though the graphics are basic, at best. A Cast Member will seat you at a station and explain how the game works. They will also adjust the head gear to fit your head as comfortably as possible. It takes a little getting used to at first, but after a few minutes, you are maneuvering your carpet like a pro. Although I didn't make it to the end (Gus found Genie before I did), there was a celebratory show of fireworks on my screen.

I'll be writing some more posts about our favorite moments at Disney Quest, but until then have you visited Disney Quest? What was your favorite part? 

It actually fit his head!!
Interesting choice of headgear

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge

 I thought I would start out by reviewing our favorite place to eat, Boma in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We make sure we eat here every time we go to Disney. As a matter of fact, the year we took my daughter for her high school graduation trip, we ate at Boma twice. We also stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, so it was very convenient. At least that was our excuse. It is a treat in every since of the word.
     The experience starts as soon as you arrive at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It is on of my favorite resorts on Disney property. The lobby will take your breath away. It is darker than some but I would call it cozy and warm. Take a moment to walk around and enjoy the wonderful decor. You will be amazed! Arrive early so you can walk out and see the animals on the savannah. There is nothing like seeing some giraffes, zebras and other wildlife before you go in for dinner. When we went in December last year, they were making s'mores over a fire pit. But don't be tempted by those, save your appetite for dinner.
    Boma is downstairs to the right off the main lobby. Again, take time to enjoy the beautiful decor of this restaurant. It has warm colors and wood accents. We have enjoyed several different table locations on our many visits. They are all convenient and comfortable. I would recommend Advance Dining Reservations (ADR) as soon as you can make them. We did get in during the graduation trip at the last minute. It never hurts to check on a restaurant once you arrive for your trip, they have cancellations all the time. We also managed to get into Le Cellier at the last minute on the graduation trip. Disney magic at work!
     Now, about the food. I love this place because they have things I might not ever get to try otherwise. I am an adventurous eater who loves to try things at least once.  My husband is a pretty picky eater and my daughter is not usually a huge eater but both of them love Boma. When a restaurant can draw all three of us back every time it gets a five star rating. Boma is a buffet style restaurant which is not usually my choice, unless it is in Disney. They do buffet  like no one else. Each section is separate so you can go back without breaking in line. From the soups to the carving station to the desserts everything is fresh, plentiful and clean. They have labels on everything and the staff are happy to tell you what is in a certain dish.
     Start with some bread and soups. I love the butternut squash and carrot ginger soups. Move on to main dishes and salads. I tried the avocado, grapefruit and papaya salad last time and loved it. And don't miss the watermelon rind salad, yummy.  Be crazy and try new things, it might end up as your new favorite. The carving station features several different sauces to try. If you have children or adults who aren't ready for some of these things, they have mac and cheese and several other things to  please anyone. Our favorite thing is the dessert section! It never disappoints and yes, we are the people taking pictures of our desserts. Zebra domes have a following and it is well deserved. They are bite size, creamy chocolate delights. They are so popular they now sell them in the Mara, the quick service restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
    I guess you can tell that the food at Disney is a highlight for me and my family. We love the whole experience, the food, rides, shows, resorts and the people. It is exciting to get to share my little bit of experience with everyone. I hope to do more research soon. The worst thing is not having a Disney trip planned. Maybe next fall my husband and I can sneak away for an adults only trip. Sounds like a potential post to me.
     I would like to end each post with a tip that we have found to be helpful or fun. Maybe someone else does it also or maybe it is something only we do. My first tip is to take a picture at the same place each trip. It is so much fun to see your children grow or just how people change. I did not start this until our third trip so I encourage you to do this from the beginning, especially if you plan on going multiple times. This our daughter on the prop outside of Star Tours. In order from the top, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2013. Look how her hairstyle changed!

Forever Disney,


Monday, September 22, 2014

Roll Call: Carol!

Hey everyone!

  I'm Carol and I am obsessed with Disney. It started a long time ago but I did not make my first trip until I was an adult. After that first trip, I did not make it back until I had a child. And that is when I got hooked for good! We try to go every other year. I wish it could be more since we only live 10 hours away. Last year was amazing because I was able to go three times in a year due to work conferences for myself and my husband. I hope to add some fun and interesting info to Picturing Disney. Since my husband is a professional photographer, I also hope to add some of his awesome pictures.

Look for me on Tuesday,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Roll Call: Vanessa!

Hey there! Hi there! Ho there!
I'm Nesa, just your friendly neighborhood Disney enthusiast (something we have in common I’m sure). Now, I’m also sure we’re eventually going to get to know each other very well, but I figured to break the ice, I'll tell the story of my very first Disney memory.

I was about 5 and it was our last day at Magic Kingdom so the goal was to get as many autographs as possible. My grandma and I had just made our way back from a Chip and Dale meet-n-greet, and she was insistent that we take a break. I impatiently obliged but immediately started looking for my mamma because -Who was going to take me to hug Pinocchio?!

 Making the executive decision to find her instead of waiting,  I wandered off and got lost. . . I'm not sure how long it was before I found refuge by crying in a squish-free corner. After what felt like an eternity, I felt a tap on my shoulder, so I look up and a Fantasyland Cast Member was there to wipe away my tears. He grabbed my hand and told me he was taking me to the place where all “lost parents” go to be found.
(For those who don’t know: MK Baby Care Center between Casey’s and Crystal Palace.) Along the way we made pit stops at Sleepy Hollow (for ice cream) and the Christmas Tree Shoppe (for a Little Mermaid back pack and tea set to keep me entertained). It delights me to know how unbeknownst to me at the time, my first proper interaction with a Disney Cast Member, was a prime example of  one “Making Magic”. Fantasyland guy didn't have to console me much, get me ice cream, or toys or anything, all he had to do was walk me over. He was just one sincere cast member making sure a lost little girl still had magical time. 

15 years later. . . I find myself at Magic Kingdom again, this time as a college program Cast Member. As my first shift was coming to an end it dawned on me, that I would have 6 months to make tons of magical moments for so many people!  I can’t wait to share some of these moments with you, and hear about yours! 

Until next time, see you all real soon!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tsum Tsum - A New Cute Obsession

 If you haven't heard about the latest free Disney themed app, I'm here to introduce you to the adorably, addictive TSUM TSUM. 

TSUM TSUM is a matching game almost like Bejeweled. The only difference is you have 60 seconds to match and "pop" as many cuddly Tsums as possible. The more tsums you pop in one shot, the more points and coins you receive.

Each Tsum has a special power up play. At the very beginning, you are given a Mickey Mouse tsum. As you increase your level and complete daily missions, you can purchase from either a Happiness Box or a Premium Box.

Here are some of the Tsums I've collected:

So far, Perry has become a great asset to have. Zero, not so much. Also, I included a list of characters each box will give you. The Happiness Box will cost 10,000 coins while a Premium Box will cost 30,000 coins.

In order to interact with others and play against them, you need to have a LINE account. LINE is a Japanese messaging system, almost like Whatsapp, that is directly tied to the creation of this app. If you do not want to create an account with LINE, you can still play, but it may not track your progress. The both apps (LINE & TSUM TSUM) are available for both IOS and Android devices.

If this wasn't enough information to get you playing, watch this:

Don't they look cuddly?! Well, I can tell you firsthand that they are. It turns out (as end of the video mentioned) that Tsums are a new product sold by the Disney Store. You can get your very own Tsum(s)!! They recently came out with an Alice in Wonderland themed bunch that are just too cute not to share. I personally cannot help but want to get one myself.

How about you? Have you or anyone else you know been bit by the TSUM TSUM bug?