Top 10 posts of 2013

Seeing as KP and I are known for our Top 10 lists, it seems appropriate to have a look back at our Top 10 posts of 2013.

1 – Disney Store’s Magical Opening part 2
I was asked to open the Disney Store at Metropolis at Metrotown shopping centre.

2 – The world of Disneybounding
KP looks into the art of Disneybounding, a popular fashion trend at Disney parks.

3 – Podcast: Top 10 Audio-AnimatronicsKP and I weigh in on our favourite Disney theme park audio-animatronics, and sprinkle in some trivia!

4 – Podcast: Top 10 Walt Disney World table service restaurants
With over 100 table service restaurants on property, KP and I add our two cents to the best restaurant debate.

5 – Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure
My friend John and I tackle this fun treasure hunt around the World Showcase.

6 – Les Chefs de France
My review of this popular Epcot eatery.

7 – The first and last ride at Walt Disney World
I share what’s always my first and last ride on a trip to WDW. It may not be what you think…

8 – Gaston’s pork shank
Move over turkey leg.. this treat is tastier!

9 – Big Thunder Mountain ridethrough
A video ridethrough of the wildest ride in the wilderness.

10 – FanExpo Vancouver 2013
I hunt for all things Disney at Vancouver’s biggest fan convention.

THANK YOU to all of our readers for sticking with us throughout the year. We appreciate all of your support, feedback, and general awesomeness. KP and I started this blog because we wanted to share our love of all things Disney theme parks – so thank you for sharing that love with us!

Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season.

Disney Store holiday Wishes

Whether it’s a special activity for the kids, a light show, or the daily opening ceremonies, the Disney Store always has a little extra magic planned for guests.

While I was shopping in our Surrey, BC, store for Christmas, I received an extra little surprise: the show was a Christmas wish, and featured music from the Wishes fireworks show! I know Wishes is KP’s favourite fireworks display, so I recorded the entire show for her.

As a special holiday Media Monday, I present the Disney Store’s holiday wishes.

Merry Christmas from Andy and KP!

2013 Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet

I had the chance to visit the 2013 Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet this past weekend, and wow it was a blast!

After last year’s adventure at the PNWMM, both KP and I were looking forward to returning. Unfortunately KP wasn’t able to make it this year, but our friend Cee came along in her place!

Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet

Cee and Andy at the 2013 Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet!

This year celebrated the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet’s fifth anniversary!

The event began with check in at 10 am. Since we were staying right next door, we walked over to pick up our lanyards and name badges. I felt spoiled again this year with all the goodies in the welcome package.

Waiting for rope drop.

Waiting for rope drop.

Rope drop took place at 11, complete with background music and a welcome speech from the PNWMM event host Don Morin. We were then showered in confetti!

Confetti!

Confetti!

We were welcomed to the event by a lovely it’s a small world display. Hand crafted by event volunteers, the display even had moving parts. The friendly clock face moved back and forth, while the well-known tune played in the background.

Andy in front of the it's a small world display.

Andy in front of the it’s a small world display.

There were lots of other lovely displays including…

Beauty and the Beast

The rose from Beauty and the Beast…..

A papercrafted Tower of Terror, complete with a ride car filled with event volunteers….

A papercrafted Tower of Terror, complete with a ride car filled with event volunteers….

A giant tissue paper Mickey face…

A giant tissue paper Mickey face…

Awesome themed signs, like this service elevator…

Awesome themed signs, like this service elevator… 

But my favourite was an actual ride car from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Mr Toad ridecar!

Mr Toad ridecar!

The event floor included vendors selling various Disneyana: pins, vinylmation, old signs, vintage toys, self published books, and more neat things. I was able to snag a few pins for my collection! The event also features an incredible silent auction, with items such as tours of the theme parks and LA with Disney Legends and imagineers, signed items, and rare prints. The auction raised $6,000 for the Ryman Arts Foundation and the Annette Funicello Research Fund.

Vendor's room.

Vendor’s room.

There were also volunteers dressed up as cast members, from sweeps, to Tower of Terror bellhops, Buena Vista police officers, and a cat lady.

I think Cee’s favourite thing was being able to get a Dole Whip! So much so that she had two!

Dole Whips!

Dole Whips!

First Dole Whip of the day.

First Dole Whip of the day.

The presentations and guest speakers this year were fabulous. They were kicked off with the Soarin’ intro, where the audience got to cheer for their state or province when it came on the screen as a destination.  There was also a very cool retrospective of the previous Mouse Meets, in celebration of the fifth anniversary.

Don welcomes everyone to the event.

Don welcomes everyone to the event.

The first guest speaker was Disney Legend Dave Smith. The Chief Archivist Emeritus gave us a look into the Disney Archives with his presentation, with images and stories of some of the treasures there contained. Some of the items he shared were a book of photos owned by Walt’s sister that included a drawing of Walt’s done when he was a teenager. Dave also shared stories about Walt joining the Red Cross, and about finding the original Steamboat Willie script in Walt’s desk.

Disney Legend Dave Smith.

Disney Legend Dave Smith.

Dave's presentation of the Walt Disney Archives.

Dave’s presentation of the Walt Disney Archives.

During the break Cee and I snuck away from some lunch at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant. We came back for the next presentation by Disney Imagineer Kevin Rafferty. Kevin has worked on various attractions at the parks, including Muppet Vision 3D, Test Track, Tower of Terror, Rock and Rollercoaster, among others.

Disney Imagineer Kevin Rafferty.

Disney Imagineer Kevin Rafferty.

He spoke to the creation of Carsland, which began as “Carland”, a tribute to California’s car culture. He explained how the idea evolved when the imagineers discovered Pixar was working on the film Cars, and how eventually the two ideas were combined. Kevin’s passion for what he does was definitely evident from doing the show pitch using the character’s voices through to the great side stories he shared.

The next break we used to complete the Hidden Mickey scavenger hunt. Throughout the convention centre there were Mickey icons on the walls, with trivia questions hidden underneath. You had to find all twelve of them, input the correct answer, and then turn in your answer sheet to the PNWMM booth. The prize was a choice of posters, so of course I snagged the Tangled one.

The last presentation of the day featured Tony Anselmo and Bill Farmer, the voices of Donald Duck and Goofy, interviewed by author Jeff Kurtti. Both voice actors shared the history of how they came into the field. Tony had always wanted to be an animator, and used to write to Disney Animation asking for tips on what it takes to be an animator. He actually attended CalArts on a Disney Family Fellowship and was hired by the studio out of school. While at work he would joke with original Donald voice actor Clarence “Ducky” Nash, asking him how he did the voice. Clarence would give him tips, seeing potential in Tony. When Clarence became ill, he recommended Tony as his replacement.  Bill Farmer said he got his start doing silly voices as a kid. The closest he could get to voice acting was broadcasting, so he went to school for that. When he moved out west his agent called one day and asked if he could do any Disney character voices. Bill mentioned Goofy, and went to audition. The rest is history. Tony and Bill also shared stories of recording sessions, doing press junkets and having to keep sharp for reporters left field questions, and some of the projects they’re the most proud of. It was also neat to hear both of them do their character’s voices.

Tony Anselmo, Jeff Kurtti, and Bill Farmer.

Tony Anselmo, Jeff Kurtti, and Bill Farmer.

After that everyone gathered in the main room to hear the winners of the silent auction and the grand prize trip to Disneyland.

The 2013 Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet was a great event, we got to meet some great Disney stars and fans, and both Cee and I left with happy smiles. A BIG thank you to Don Morin, the PNWMM planning teams, and all the volunteers for another awesome day. I can’t wait for next year!

A special name tag.

A special name tag.

Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet

I’ll be at the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet in Lynnwood, Washington this weekend! Keep an eye out for my friend Cee and I, as we’ll be handing out some free Make the Magic swag!

Are you a Dole Whip or Citrus Swirl fan?

Are you a Dole Whip or Citrus Swirl fan?

You can also follow me on twitter @makethemagicca for some live tweets (if I can get a wifi connection….).

Harbor Attack

On my last trip to Walt Disney World I was very sad to see that one of my favourite shows had been retooled. The Harbor Attack portion of the Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios no longer asks for volunteers.

Below is a very short video of me playing the role of the PT boat captain. I hope Disney brings back more engaging shows like this, because it was awesome to be a part of the show!

Check back for part two next week!

Gaston’s Pork Shank

I have never been, nor will I ever be, a Turkey Leg fan. Don’t get me wrong, the turkey leg from our Thanksgiving bird is tasty, but the jumbo legs from dinosaur turkeys they sell in the parks make my stomach turn just looking at them.

Gaston's Tavern

Gaston’s Tavern in New Fantasyland.

So when, at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Hallowe’en party last year with my Dad, we were starving and nothing appeared to be serving food, I took a chance on a pork shank.

New Fantasyland

Decor at Gaston’s.

After searching the park for an open sit down / quick serve / food cart / ANYTHING that served food, we stumbled into New Fantasyland, where we were surprised to see Gaston’s Tavern open, let alone serving meals.

Magic Kingdom

Gaston’s menu. Not a lot of options.

Though Gaston’s has limited options, it was better than nothing. We decided to share the pork shank and a mixed veggie and dip plate.

Gaston's pork shank.

The pork shank.

And the pork shank? It was delicious! Well seasoned and surprisingly not that greasy, it was something I wouldn’t mind eating again.

 

Top 10 Walt Disney World Table Service Restaurants

Disney theme parks podcastWith over 100 table service restaurants at the Walt Disney World resort, it can be pretty difficult to choose a favourite. But we’ve narrowed down the list to our top 10 – based on the ones we’ve actually been to! It’s a delicious show.

Please listen and enjoy! You can also subscribe to our feed with RSS or subscribe using iTunes.

Fan Expo Vancouver 2013

This year Fan Expo returned to Vancouver for their second year, and I had a chance to attend! Held at the convention centre in downtown Vancouver, I have to give this con props for having the prettiest locale.

Like last year, my mission was to hunt for all things Disney!

Wreck it Ralph

“I’m gonna wreck it!”

The con took place over two days, April 20 and 21. Tickets were available on site, but you can also pre-buy tickets. Doing it that way lets you bypass general admission, and if you buy the premier pass you get to use a separate entrance all together. Remembering the insanity of last year’s lineup, I bought a two-day pass.

Indiana Jones

Indy!

Doors opened at 10am on the Saturday, but knowing the line from last year I aimed to be there a little later so that I wouldn’t have to wait so long. Unfortunately, the line wrapped around the building. I lucked out, a friend spotted me, and the folks behind them were kind enough to let me in the line. I only had a 30-minute wait to get inside. My friend who spotted me had already waited an hour. I heard later from another friend who waited over three hours to get in – yikes!

Star Trek

Expendable redshirt and Deanna Troi.

The con took place in Convention Centre east, which had much more space than last year’s which happened in the west building.

This year’s con featured Stan Lee, Nichelle Nichols, the full cast of Continuum, Amanda Tapping, James Marsters, Tia Carrere, Sean Astin, and many other big names from scifi, fantasy, comics, anime, and horror.

Tinkerbell and Peter Pan

Tink and Peter!

I spent much of the con in the vendor’s hall, which was twice the size of the previous year. There wasn’t much relating to Disney specifically, other than some of the animation art books. Given that Stan Lee was going to be there, there was a lot of Marvel merchandise. The Trekkie in me was really happy to see lots of Star Trek items – even a booth solely dedicated to Trek – at this year’s con. I was able to snag a Star Trek Enterprise Trek Tek set, which includes a phaser pistol and communicator to go with my costume.

Doctor Who Men In Black

Female 11th Doctor and an MIB agent.

The 501st Legion was there again this year, raising funds for Variety. A friend of mine had her picture taken with the storm troopers. There was also a Delorean there, and for a donation to the Michael J Fox Foundatin you could have your picture taken in the driver’s seat.

Back to the Future

Great Scott!

This year I saw a lot more costumes than we did last year! I need to learn to be quicker at taking pictures, because unfortunately I missed a lot of great ones. There were also a tonne of Marvel related costumes, which is no surprise given the guest of honour.

After grabbing a bite to eat, I made it my mission to see Stan Lee’s Q & A panel. I waited an hour in line, and I’m glad I did – it was pack! The legendary Marvel creator was amazing on stage. He’s got a great sense of humour.

Stan Lee.

The legendary Stan Lee.

I headed home after that, planning to come back the next day to catch Nichelle Nichols on stage. But when Sunday came I was feeling a little run down, and given that I was set to fly to Philadelphia the next day, I decided to skip it and stay home.

Can’t wait until next year! Hopefully KP will be able to join me again next year, since she wasn’t able to this year.

 

X-Men Rogue

Rogue

MCO People Mover

Following up Friday’s post about my first and last ride at Walt Disney World, I stumbled across this video of a ride on the Orlando International Airport’s people mover.

Enjoy… and welcome to central Florida!

The first and last ride at Walt Disney World

I’ve got lots of memories associated with Walt Disney World, some stretching back to my first trip. But one that stands out frequently doesn’t actually involve anything on WDW property, even though I consider it the first and last ride of every Disney trip.

It’s Orlando International Airport’s (MCO) people mover.

Orlando Airport people mover

Orlando International Airport’s people mover!

The terminals at MCO are not actually attached to the airport proper, as the airport is designed using a hub and spoke system. The four airside terminals are connected to the main landside terminal by a raised Westinghouse People Mover System.

MCO

Riding the people mover.

I hold many vivid memories riding that people mover. I remember waiting next to the pink neon lighting, watching for the next people mover tram to arrive. I loved these people movers so much, that I’m sure we’ve got some photos tucked away somewhere of me watching them arrive.

The trams are painted white with a sleek coloured stripe on the side, that always reminds me of the Walt Disney World monorail. Between riding the people mover and hearing the voice welcome you to central Florida, this was the moment when I felt as though I’d truly arrived at Disney (even though we weren’t on property yet).

Airside Terminal

Heading to the airside terminal.

You can imagine one of my disappointments when, on my first trip to MCO that took me through a US connection hub, the lights for the people move station were white!

Disney ride

My first ride at Disney!

If you haven’t had the chance to fly into Orlando International, I recommend it – not only for the memory, but because it’s a lovely airport to travel through!

Are you an airport nerd like me? Check out these posts by others about Orlando International Airport!
History of Orlando International Airport
B-52 Memorial Park at Orlando International Airport
McCoy Air Force Base on Wikipedia