Thursday, December 27, 2007

Florida Ruined The Game

As I was driving from Michigan to North Carolina during the holidays -- and back -- it struck me that Florida ruined it for us all.

It used to be so easy. Pennsylvania was blue with yellow letters. Michigan was blue with white letters. Some northern state was burgundy with white letters. Or it might have been Maryland.

Then Florida added an orange or a palm tree, I can't remember which.

The result -- every other state in the union had to get cute with their license plates! They added water, birds, trees, airplanes, statues, tourist attractions or landscapes.

But that wasn't enough. Then every state opened it up to schools and organizations, and now there's about a gazillion versions of each state's license plates.

AND, they all are squeezing so much onto a plate, that the state's name is in really TINY letters, so we now need to travel with binoculars to actually figure out what state a tag is from.

Yes, Florida ruined the license plate game for all generations to come.

But it is a really cute license plate ....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Rain At Disney - It's A Good Thing

Today it's raining in NC, which is a good thing, since it's been a very, very dry year. Rain is also a good thing at Disney World, in my opinion.

Only a few rides shut down for rain - Test Track is a big one. And several shut down for lightning - Thunder and the water parks.

But most attractions are still open! Buy yourself a $5 Disney poncho - unless you remembered to pack one of the gazillion that are home in your closet - and keep on going! The crowds will be down; many guests head back to their hotels.

Enjoy the short lines, find a long show during a downpour, check your favorite restaurant to see if some reservations have opened up. Tromp through puddles, ride Splash or Kali River!

An evening rain is especially beautiful - the rain drops and puddles add an extra layer of glitter and sparkle as the lights from buildings and street lights shine in the night. Choose a long ride or show at the very back of the park for your last pick of the night. Then when you come out, you'll feel like you have the park all to yourself as you stroll towards the front to head home.

Rain, it's a good thing!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thank You Gym Buddy!

For the last year and a half, I've worked out at my gym mostly by myself, generally five days a week, for about an hour. It was a good experience. By myself, I went through that initial phase in the first six months where it was hard to go, easy to skip. But I stuck with it and eventually got to the "I will miss it if I don't go" phase. Then came 6-9 more months of gradually increasing weights, inclines, time.

Then came boredom.

Luckily about the time I realized I was getting bored and not challenging myself enough, I found a gym buddy! I'm not a very social person, but Tina and I shared the same trainer, and it was easy to share war stories when we crossed paths.

So when I would see her on the treadmill, I'd go over and get on one beside her. We'd chat, and we really hit it off. I was further along in the food/exercise journey than her, so we had a lot of talks about food, and how NOT to get down when you have bad food days, and how you CAN, over time, make good food choices ... and that it DOES get easier with practice.

Anyway, eventually we started scheduling and doing our workouts together. I would work out LONGER with her, and I would encourage her to work out harder (more incline, more speed).

There have been SOOOO many times when I'd want to stop at 30 minutes on treadmill or elliptical, and she'd talk me into five more minutes -- or vice versa! Or we'd do arm weights, instead of heading home.

Having a workout buddy can really energize your workouts! The encouragement, the focus, the distraction, the support -- all of it will add up to more calories burned!

Find yourself a workout buddy today! Reach out to someone at the gym, or in the neighborhood, or at work -- both of you will benefit!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow Day!

Hey Jeff W from Iowa, we got our snow blast here today in Michigan -- a beautiful, fluffy, white 10-12 inches have filled up our deck!

Hard to believe last Sunday (?!!) we were all in warm, sunny LBV! I have to admit though, when I got back and it was cold and crisp and gray and wintery here at home, I kinda liked it! I actually was happy to get back to real weather!

Normally I like to listen to Disney podcasts at the grocery, mall, mowing the grass, walking from office tower to office tower, or when I'm cleaning or packing for a trip. But no iPod out there today while I was snowblowing and shoveling -- I was so bundled up that if the earphones had slipped out of my ears, I could not have managed to find them in all my layers!

Ahhh ... the great white North ... or, uhhh ... Midwest!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Miss The Credits!

I just listened to the December 9th episode of the Magical Definition podcast, and host Nathan Rose's interview of Chris Sonneberg, who is the Animation Director for Disney's new movie "Enchanted." It was a great interview, and Chris shared a lot of in-depth information about his animation career and details about the animation in Enchanted.

As he and Nathan were talking about my "classics" -- Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast and Lion King -- I realized how much I've missed reading the animation credits at the end of animated movies! Remember how you'd see a character, and then a gob of people who brought him/her/it to life? And from movie to movie, you'd see some familiar names? I miss that!

I'm going to see Enchanted this weekend, and I absolutely will look for the animation credits -- just like in the "old days"!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What I Learned For The Next Mouse Fest

Part 1 (because I'll think of some more stuff later)

(1) If you are traveling alone, make some ADRs for 2, and then invite a new friend along for a meal, dutch of course. (Breakfast ADRs are easy to get, even while you're there.) Or invite someone to have a counter service meal with you.

(2) Make some notes ahead of time about your favorite podcasts and hosts, so you can match faces with podcasts. The podcasters like to hear what you like about the shows, and if you have the nerve to say it, what you don't like.

(3) Talk to people!! And then talk to some more people. Have some questions ready -- like where are you from, how'd you get hooked on Disney, who's your favorite podcaster/website. That's all it takes to get the ball rolling.

(4) Try to talk to people you see on your forums a little longer, and really get to know them. It will make the next year on the forums a little more fun!

(5) Mostly go to things that interest you, but try one or two meets with a different group of people, or go to a meet that is something/somewhere out of the box for you. You never know what might be fun!

(6) After a few meets, start talking to some of the people that you've now seen a few times. Odds are if you are picking the same meets, you probably have a few things in common and will hit it off!

(7) Use an autograph book to keep a journal, and to jot down email addresses, IMs, websites, cell phones, etc. for the new people you meet and are going to want to stay in touch with.

I'll bet I'll think of something else five minutes from now ...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Where's Happy When I Need Him?

So, hi ho, hi ho, it's back to work I go. Where's Happy (of the Seven Dwarfs) when I need him?

I did get some magic in my day by listening to the "Inside the Magic" podcast with Ricky Brigante. Lots of Disney music and news! It's a great Disney podcast, and I got to meet Ricky at Mouse Fest a few days ago, so now I can picture him while listening to him -- very cool. I did not get to meet Skipper Ben, whose segments I really love! Maybe he'll be there next year?

[Hey Kate, email me at! And anyone else I met at Mouse Fest!]

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mouse Fest Mania

Wow. It was a whirlwind. Five days of new faces, familiar names and VERY familiar voices. That thing we call Mouse Fest! It was very cool getting to meet podcasters I only knew thru my ears! And of course, like you'd expect, almost none of them looked like I had imagined! Most of them were more normal, more round, more young, more gray -- or just more -- than I'd expected.

It was a great celebration of our Disney fandom. Lots of meets, not much riding or shopping, and some great WDW history thrown in. I met more people than I thought I would -- Jonathan, Bryan, my new best friend Big Brian from NC, Lisa from Those Darn Cats, Jackie O and April, LOU, Jeff Pepper!, Ricky, Paul Barrie, my new best friend Kate, Rae, Jeff from Iowa, Marissa, Adam Roth & John C., Steve Barrett, the two Debs, and the extraordinary Mr. Charles Ridgway.

A good time was had by all!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Almost There!

I am at Panera on International Drive, sooooooooo close to WDW! If I wrap up my online work soon, I might can make it to MouseFest 101 at MK! Wonder how many newbies will be there? And wonder how the heck I'll recognize the podcasters that I listen to all the time online?

uh... are you Lou?
uh... Jonathan?
uh... is there a Mike Scopa in the park?

Should be fun!

Monday, December 3, 2007


So you've survived the planes, trains and automobiles ... the "are we there yet" questions ... the check-in gauntlet ... and now you walk away, luggage dumped, park tickets in hand ...

And now the magic begins, and your day turns yummy!

Background music every where you go ... the visual icons appear ... Disney buses and boats ... WDW signage ... the park entrances ... and then the Castle or the Hat or the Tree or Spaceship Earth ...

Two hours or 14 hours later, it's been a really yummy day!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

MouseFest Bound!

I am a last-minute MouseFester! I am so proud!

Thanks to a business trip in the vicinity of WDW, I can sneak over for a few days for MouseFest 2007. This year, I've gotten hooked on many Disney podcasts, and am looking forward to meeting a few people that I've "connected with" electronically! I hope that we hit it off as well in real life!

Will they like me? Or will I be seen as a stalker? It will be interesting!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday -- Only One Place for Me

So it's Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when all the diehard shoppers hit the stores at the crack of dawn. Not me, no thanks, not in this lifetime. UNLESS I could be shopping at WDW today ...
You can't beat Mouse Gears at Epcot for both variety and uniqueness. Great place for interesting books, tote bags and knapsacks, super watch collection, kitchen items and figurines/knick-knacks. Another favorite, but much smaller, is the shop at the back entrance of Epcot between Y&B and the UK. It's a mini version of Mouse Gears. And at the front entrance, the Art of Disney is fabulous and amazing. And I can't wait to see how the new Art of Disney at MK turns out!
The shops at the hotels are also interesting, each carrying their own specialty items based on the hotel themes. Book an ADR at a hotel and enjoy the shopping too!
At MK, the Emporium is like Mouse Gears, but is usually way too crowded to enjoy browsing. We love the firehouse shop, a wonderful place for collectibles.
At the Studios, I love Keystone Clothiers -- there's always something there that I want!
(Clearly I need to have park maps handy when I blog, so I can use the proper names of shops and attractions and streets!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Disney Podcasts

How did I ignore Disney podcasts for years?! What planet was I on?
Once I found the first one, the fat lady sang! Well, the podcasters espoused, rambled, laughed, cried, dreamed, complained, questioned and fed my appetite for All Things Disney.
So what are my favorites?
(1) All About The Mouse, with Jonathan and Bryan. I found them early on, was one of their first listeners and first emailers, so feel very connected to them and their success. They are always upbeat, fun and just sappy enough.
(2) The WDW Radio Show, with Lou and Jeff. "Oh, Lou..." One of the first Disney podcasters, a true original, an amazing guy. My favorite segment is DSI - Disney Scene Investigations. Who knew you could talk for an hour about the Jungle Cruise queue!
(3) Netcot, with Van. Short and sassy podcast, great radio voice, and insights and opinions that are unique and different.
It's a whole new world -- take a listen today!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Funny how you can get to know an airport. When I land in Orlando, I feel like I'm almost home. Then I get to the hotel (usually Boardwalk) and even though they say "Welcome home," I'm not really quite there yet. And driving or riding the bus on property feels like I'm getting close. I'm really home after I walk through the turnstiles at either MK or Epcot ... then it's really "Ahhhh, I'm home!"