Category: Facts

#TripReportTuesday – Taking on the Springs on the High Seas – Flowers, Cheddar Cheese Soup and the NBA Playoffs?

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Day 1 continued: Flowers, Cheddar Cheese Soup and the NBA Playoffs?


The first park we visit always seems to vary when we vacation at the Walt Disney World Resort. It doesn’t matter at all to me which one we visit first because I am just so happy to be there! If you read the last post, you will know we were headed to Epcot this evening. Our main goals this afternoon were to:

  1. Hit up our favorite rides
  2. Check out some of the Flower & Garden Festival
  3. Stuff ourselves silly with dinner at Le Cellier
  4. Score an awesome viewing location for Illuminations
  5. Somehow keep up with the NBA Playoffs
  6. Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (EMH) until 11:00 PM

As you can see, we hoped to accomplish a lot and it was almost already 3:00 PM. Our first order of business was Test Track because we had a FastPass+ reservation between 3:05-4:05. Of course, we stopped to take some pictures first because the topiaries at the park’s entrance and throughout the park are amazing! If you ever have a chance to check out the Flower & Garden Festival, definitely make it a point to see all the creative topiaries, it amazes me how detailed each one is, not that I would expect anything less from Disney. After admiring the adorable displays at the entrance, we made a beeline for Test Track, which happens to be my favorite Epcot attraction!

2015-05-08-14h49m19EPCOT_ECENTR1_73018838152015-05-08-14h50m29 2015-05-08-14h50m39

2015-05-08-15h00m02Wasting no time at all, we scanned our MagicBands at the Fastpass+ entrance and headed in. Soon, we were designing our own vehicle seen below to be put to the test on the Sim track. This ride is necessary for anyone who is a car enthusiast! 2015-05-08-15h13m33And we’re off! I don’t remember our vehicle performed compared to the others in our car, probably because of the adrenaline rush. EPCOT_DPIRIDESYSGMTT_7301943749People with long hair, beware–this is what happens to you!EPCOT_DPIRIDESYSGMTT_7323127995Such a beautiful couple. 2015-05-08-15h28m09

We had some time before our next FastPass+ which was for Spaceship Earth, so we decided to check out the Flower & Garden Festival building which was near the Universe of Energy in the old Wonders of Life Pavilion. Being a Disney nerd, I could not believe I had never been in this building before.

2015-05-08-15h40m182015-05-08-15h40m37 2015-05-08-15h39m21 2015-05-08-15h39m55The building is used for festivals such as Flower & Garden for demonstrations, exhibits and festival merchandise. I wondered if the fact that the building’s skylights are shaped like a flower have anything to do with why they keep this building around for festivals and not convert it to another attraction.

2015-05-08-15h41m06We walked around the entire pavilion, they had some kind of horticulture presentation going on, but we didn’t stop to watch. We did like seeing all the cute merchandise though!2015-05-08-15h43m02 2015-05-08-15h43m51A very neat exhibit was toward the back of the pavilion and showed how Cast Members go about making the amazing topiaries. It was very cool to see all that goes into these works of art!
2015-05-08-15h52m22Feeling informed, we decided to take a break from the flowers and paid a visit to the Seas with Nemo & Friends. EPCOT_LIVINSEAS_7302059992 2015-05-08-16h11m05We also stayed for Turtle Talk with Crush, which is such a fun little show because it is always different and depends on the participation from the kids in the audience. The show is HILARIOUS! I don’t want to ruin the magic, but definitely check it out if you have never stayed to watch it! It is located in the pavilion that houses the Seas with Nemo & Friends. In fact, the entire Seas pavilion is worth exploring. You can see dolphins, manatees and tons of other fish. There are also educational presentations throughout the day! It is such a great place to take a break from the Florida heat and sun!

It was now time for our Fastpass+ reservation to Spaceship Earth (The Ball as it is known in non-Disney circles).  We decided not to try and photograph anything this time around and just enjoyed our slow paced ride through time. As it was nearing our dinner reservation for Le Cellier, we headed to the World Showcase part of the park to explore a bit before dinner.

2015-05-08-17h32m27Here is a hint to the country we ended up in:

If you didn’t guess Mexico, I cannot help you. Definitely the best World Showcase pavilion in my opinion. Not only is it beautiful inside because it looks like you are outside, but you also get to ride on a Grand Fiesta Tour with the 3 Caballeros! Trust me, it is not as wild as it sounds! After our visit with the 3 Caballeros, I resisted the urge to get a churro because it was dinner time and we were off to Canada!

We checked in promptly at 5:40 which was our reservation time and were seated in no time. This is a pretty small restaurant and popular, so I recommend getting a dining reservation 180 days in advance if you have your heart set on eating here.

Le Cellier is a delicious steakhouse, but I honestly go for the ever popular Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup!! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, heaven in a bowl:2015-05-08-17h55m29
Dip the pretzel bread in that soup, and I swear your life will be changed forever.
For our main entree, we both got the Le Cellier Filet Mignon: here is the description from Disney’s website-

AAA Canadian Beef Tenderloin, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Heirloom Toy Box Tomatoes, Truffle-Butter Sauce

Is your mouth watering?

Dinner was wonderful and we were extremely full. We made the smart decision to skip on dessert because it was our first day of vacation and we had many more days ahead not to mention a cruise with unlimited desserts coming up.

After dinner, we leisurely made our way back into Future World taking some beautiful pictures along the way. Epcot always looks to peaceful from this angle.

2015-05-08-17h34m36 2015-05-08-17h34m48 2015-05-08-17h34m562015-05-08-18h54m07We had a FastPass+ reservation ready to be used at Journey into the Imagination with Figment and our full bellies were happy that the attraction is pretty close to the World Showcase so we didn’t have far to walk! After a journey into the imagination with our favorite purple dragon, we played in the Imagination fountains as any normal adults in their thirties would. I think this is why we love Disney so much – there is never any judgement to completely grown adults acting as children.

2015-05-08-19h13m31 2015-05-08-19h15m09Feeling like we did pretty good on the rides this afternoon, we were ready to stake out a spot for Illuminations and seeing that it was only 7:30, we would definitely get an awesome spot. We found a spot front and center right past the Mexico Pavilion.

You may remember, one of our goals for the day was to stay informed of the NBA Playoffs, now normally, when I am at Disney, I tune out the entire real world and do not want to any communication with it! But, in our house, we are big Chicago Bulls fans and they were in the second round playing their arch-nemesis LeBron James & the Cleveland Cavaliers and I had to know what was happening. We contemplated walking over to the Boardwalk to catch the game at the ESPN Club, but I really wanted to see Illuminations, so we did the next best thing…we streamed it on our phones using Disney’s free Wi-Fi. What a technologically advanced world we live in! This really made the time fly by though and we made some friends along the way as they would ask what we were watching or what the score currently was.We could just tell some dads were jealous of our little setup. In between our NBA watching, we took this beautiful picture of the World Showcase Lagoon. Dusk around the World Showcase is one my happy places!

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Soon, the sun was gone and an ominous voice came over the speakers wishing us a “Good Evening” alerting us that Illuminations was about to begin.

Illuminations-9ps 2015-05-08-21h04m16 2015-05-08-21h10m20 2015-05-08-21h11m21 2015-05-08-21h14m14 2015-05-08-21h14m34As usual, Illuminations did not disappoint one bit! The fact we had a front row seat with no heads blocking our view made it even better! This is why I don’t believe in wasting a FastPass+ on the nighttime entertainment. If you just plan to arrive 30 min – 1 hour early, you should have no issues finding a great viewing location for any of the shows.


While many people headed for the exit, we had two more goals to accomplish during Extra Magic Hours: Soarin’ and another ride on Test Track.

Remember that Extra Magic Hours is a perk for Disney resort guests which allows to stay in select parks two hours after regular closing or enter one hour before opening. Check Disney’s official park hours for the Extra Magic Hours schedule.

2015-05-08-21h29m20Soarin’ is my husband’s favorite ride and since we already rode Test Track, we decided to ride Soarin’ first. The Bulls game was still going on, so we watched the game while in line, making more friends with jealous dads along the way. The game actually ended up going into overtime, so once we were done soaring, we took a seat on one of the benches at the exit to watch the final minutes. The game went down to the wire with Derrick Rose hitting the game winner! We literally jumped up screaming and people thought we were insane!! With the game over we needed to calm our nerves, so naturally, we hightailed it to Test Track for a 65 mph ride in a car. EPCOT_DPIRIDESYSGMTT_7323142612With such a full & exciting afternoon/evening and an upcoming day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, we were ready for some shut eye. And with that, our evening came to an end & we said goodnight to Epcot!

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Goodbye to The Magic of Disney Animation Building


It seems like every few months, I am doing a post bidding farewell to something at Hollywood Studios. Recently, Disney fans have said goodbye to the Backlot Tour, the iconic Sorcerer’s Hat, the American Idol Experience, the Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow and now the Magic of Disney Animation building, which closes its doors today. I was honestly okay with the closure/removal of the all the rest, but the closing of the Animation building is stinging a little.

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The building was once a working animation studio where guests could witness animators working their craft. In fact, Mulan, Brother Bear and Lilo & Stitch are some of the most famous Disney animated features which were almost entirely produced in that building.


Eventually, Disney Animation’s Florida division was shut down, but the building remained and featured a short film with Mulan’s Mushu showing guests through the process of Disney Animation. After the film, guests were invited to play at some of the interactive animation activities in the building. The building had various meet & greets such as Sorcerer Mickey, The Incredibles, Wreck It Ralph & most recently Hiro & Baymax from Big Hero 6.

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But the best part of the Magic of Disney Animation was the Animation Academy which was a drawing class in which a Cast Member walked you through step by step how to draw a Disney character. Of all the times we went, I think we repeated drawing the same character once. It was always new and exciting because you never knew who the animator would choose as the lucky character to draw.

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^^Husband’s Flawless Mickey^^

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^^Mine…I like to call this Mickey’s Allergic Reaction^^

The Animation Academy was one of my absolute favorite lesser known attractions at Walt Disney World. Many times, we would bypass the Mushu movie and just enter through the back of the Animation Gallery store to just hop in line for the class which really never had too long of a wait. While my works of art were not always pretty, (as if you couldn’t tell) it was fun to feel like an animator and made you appreciate the hard work that goes into creating the animated Disney movies we all know and love. The class was a nice, quiet break away from the hustle and bustle of the park and I loved how they always enforced the fact that they do not provide erasers and there is no such thing as a ‘mess up’ or a ‘bad’ drawing. Speaking from experience, this really helped the non-artists/perfectionists/children with their self-esteem. :)

^^Vampire Minnie…although the Animator thought it was creative^^

Disney has confirmed that the Sorcerer Mickey meet & greet will be relocated to a new area near Studio Catering Company, however no mention was made of Hiro & Baymax or the Animation Academy nor what would become of the area, just that they are working on a new experience and details would be forthcoming. The Animation Gallery store will remain open until August.

With yet another closure at this park, it once again solidifies the fact that some big changes are coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and hopefully those details are finally revealed at the upcoming D23 Expo in August 2015. Whatever the changes may be, I surely hope they find a way to bring back the Animation Academy in some form or fashion somewhere in Walt Disney World.

Here are some of our other works of art thanks to the Animation Academy!

^^Buzz Lightyear. (Left – Mine / Right – Husband)^^
^^Grumpy (Left – Husband / Right – Mine)^^
^^Jiminy Cricket^^




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Do you know where the Magical Escape’s tagline of a A Glimmering, Shimmering Carousel-ing Kind of Blog came from?

The tagline stems from the lyrics of Disney’s SpectroMagic, Magic Kingdom Park’s nighttime parade that ran from October 1, 1991 to June 2010.

The parade filled the Magic Kingdom with the most memorable music starting with the lyrics:

On this magic night,
A million stars will play beside us,
Cast a spell of light,
Glimmering, shimmering, carousel-ling
‘Round the world tonight,
A symphony in SpectroMagic.
Pure enchantment lights our way!

I still get goosebumps when I listen to it!

Listen to the soundtrack and enjoy these pictures of SpectroMagic taken by our family in 2005. I miss it so much!!

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#Factoid Friday

 DSC_2798Did you know that there are no employees working at Disney Parks? None. Rather, those who work for the company are affectionately known as Cast Members. It doesn’t matter if one is part of the janitorial staff or the VP of Park Operations, he/she will always be referred to as a Cast Member. All aspects of the Disney Parks are part of the “show” and Cast Members are who put on/run that show.DSC_2423

In fact, if a Cast Member is working or can be seen by the “audience” (aka: guests), they are said to be “on-stage.” Once the Cast Member is no longer visible to the “audience,” then they are considered to be “off-stage” or “backstage”.

Cast Members can really make a Walt Disney World trip memorable, and we have had so many wonderful, magical experiences thanks to amazing and dedicated Cast Members.


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