Moonlight Magic

If you listened to today’s podcast, you heard our friends David and Steven talk about attending the Moonlight Magic Event at Magic Kingdom. You also heard the plug for this very blog! Thank you again David and Steven and we hope you have you back on our Theme Park Thursday Podcast real soon!

And now for our guest blogger, Steven:

Hi, I’m Steven and I’m not a Disney addict.

I thought it was important to get that little tidbit out upfront. Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney, I’ve had magical moments and I married my husband who is a huge Disney addict, so I get it. That being said, I can live with a once a year Disney fix, whereas my husband and other Disney addicts I know need to go multiple times a year to satisfy their need. I had a Disney theme to my wedding, designing Fastpass save the dates and table themes, putting hidden Mickeys in our invitation, and entering the reception with wedding Mickey ears. I love Disney mostly because the people I love, love it.

Sister Dillo chiming in for a second – I attended that amazing Disney themed wedding and it was magical! Now back to our regularly scheduled blog…

My main qualms with Disney tend to be lines, crowds and heat. Price is a whole different monster that I won’t awaken here. So when my best friend’s wife, Kimmy, mentioned the opportunity to enter the park for the private Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Moonlight Magic event, I was immediately intrigued. An event at Disney, in the Magic Kingdom, with limited entry (no lines/crowds) and at night in January (no heat) sounded like my dream really did come true. I had no idea just how right I was.

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When Kimmy extended the invite, my first move (obviously) was to inform my Disney-addict husband, David. David immediately scoured the internet for some info on this almost “too good to be true” event. Needless to say, if you’re not a DVC member, Disney doesn’t exactly make the information easy to find. Once we were filled in on the details, we were sold. A free, up to 6 hour event, in Disney…what’s not to love?

Around 8pm on a very rainy January 28th, we met Kimmy and 2 of her friends at the main gate of the Magic Kingdom. After she checked in, we were all given wristbands and welcomed into the park. The first sign that this was going to be something special was the mass exodus of “normal” guests streaming past us as we walked under the Railroad tracks. The park officially closed at 8pm, the fireworks were over and the park was clearing out fast. Our first stop was Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which still had a line of non-event guests waiting for their turn. In response, we were routed down the FastPass entrance, until the crowds fully dispersed. We were on and off the Mine Train in a matter of 10, maybe 15 minutes. What we didn’t realize at that moment was that this would be the longest line we waited on that night.

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By about 10pm, the park was desolate. I mean, look at the picture above of Cinderella’s Castle. When could you ever get a photo like that without hundreds of people in front of you? Never, that’s when! We made a game plan of hitting all the big ticket items as many times as possible and skipping the rides we would normally be able to walk onto. In the end, we did almost every attraction that was available and did the big ones (Mine train, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain) at least twice.

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Check out this picture of the line queue for Peter Pan! One of the (inexplicably) longest lines in the park on a normal day and now completely deserted. No one in front of or behind us. It was an experience I’d never had in Disney before. It was magical.

In addition to the basic details being hard to find online, we also had no idea what would be included except for “complimentary light refreshments and unique entertainment.” After a few rides, we wanted a snack; namely, popcorn. We noticed a swarm of people entering a restaurant (I’m told it was Columbia Harbor House…who IMG_20180128_231604knew?) and we decided to ask a cast member where the popcorn was. After admitting she didn’t know, and checking with another cast member, she told us there was no popcorn! Then, my curiosity got the best of me and I asked what people were doing in the restaurant here. It seemed odd to me that you would come to an event like this just to spend money on food. Her answer to my question rocked our world: All the food, all over the park, is free. Free.99, Free-50-free, Free.30. Completely free food, drink, and desserts all over the park?! Now I was in heaven. I love food to begin with, but slap a “free” sticker on it, especially in a place like Disney which is known for their high prices for food, and you have a very happy Steven. We found out restaurants all over the park were offering abbreviated menus including chicken nuggets, hot dogs, burgers, soda, cookies, MICKEY ICE CREAM and more! It was just another special touch to an already magical evening. I am however sad to report…there was no popcorn. 😦

Walking around the Magic Kingdom when it’s empty and all lit up at night was a magical experience. The final magical perk of the night was an exclusive fireworks show for the DVC members and their guests. We had no plans to watch the show, as that’s valuable ride time, but we ended up being in Fantasyland when the show started. This location gave us a unique perspective of the show, with fireworks going off all around us. I took a look around during the show and noticed that almost everyone had just stopped in place and were watching and enjoying the show. No one pushing you or putting a camera/phone in your field of vision, just a bunch of Disney addicts enjoying a special moment in the Magic Kingdom.

Although short and exclusive, Moonlight Magic was the most magical moment I had ever experienced in Disney. Bravo to Disney for really pulling out all the stops and showing their true appreciation to those who are DVC members. Also, our never-ending love and thanks to Kimmy and her family for allowing us this experience. I hope we can all do it again next time!

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12 Months Later: Live Action Beauty & the Beast

In January 2017 (approximately), Disney ran an ad for the live action Beauty & the Beast. Emma Watson as Belle was singing the ‘Belle, Reprise’. It was slow. It was rich with melancholia.

It was soul crushing.

To my nostalgic soul.

The animated version of the reprise is the first thing I think of when I consider a ‘favorite moment in an animated movie’. To me, it is the epitome of The ‘I Want’ song (for you musical theatre lovers)… she sings the words ‘I want…’ for Pete’s sake!

And with that ad, I swore to never watch this movie.

And then I struggled with that for two months as the film soared at the box office.

I still didn’t see it.

Last September, the musical came to Netflix, and my 8 month long icy stare when thinking about this movie began to thaw.

It still took me 5 months to commit to watching it.

About 45 seconds into the Prologue, I left the room. Yes, I should get over the notion that David Ogden Stiers should be the only one speaking the prologue, much like James Earl Jones should be the only voice of Mufasa. I am very attached to the prologue. The prologue was the prologue to my adult life essentially. Watching the animated version in the September of 1991… felt like some kind of cloud being lifted. Before too long, I was reciting the prologue as a party trick.

That’s not a rib.

There are three movies that I still feel the experience of watching them in the theater in my bones.

1) Star Wars

2) Glory

3) Beauty & the Beast

So, my quick exit during the prologue was a quicker reaction than, say, seeing the Star Wars prequels three or more times each in the theater.

Once, ‘little town, it’s a quiet village…’ started, I sat back down with my scrutinizing posture on. And, when the credits rolled, I was okay with what I just watched. Acceptance is a big step knowing you may have to watch this several times in your life with your daughter.

Quick Hits;

– ‘Gaston’ & ‘Beauty & The Beast’ were the numbers I enjoyed the most.

– ‘Be Our Guest’ was a CGI disappointment.

– appreciated the use of the Enchantress, but felt the execution floundered (maybe because of some editing). I’m always a fan of an omnipresent figure, so I get it.

– Olaf is an omnipresent figure in this household, so I’m just a big fan of all of Josh Gad’s timing and delivery at this point.

– It’s a bone of contention with a lot of people, but I didn’t mind the ‘trip’ to Paris.

– the outrage about Lefou last year? Give me a break!

Brother Dillo

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Hocus Pocus-Alakazam-AbracadaBAR!

The following is taken directly from the Walt Disney World website:

Formerly the stomping grounds for famous magicians, local illusionists and the loveliest of magician’s assistants, AbracadaBar gives interested onlookers and aficionados of alcoholic beverages alike a glimpse—and perhaps a taste—of another time and place.

According to boardwalk lore, prestidigitators would gather here after nearly every show, often staying up all night as they attempted to out-charm each other with extraordinary tricks before gathering at the bar to conjure up new cocktails.

But then, just as soon as it had appeared, the secret lounge vanished into thin air, never to be seen again… until today!

Back in the spotlight now at Disney’s BoardWalk, AbracadaBar has re-opened its doors, giving Guests like you a peek at an era long since passed—from its enchanted show posters and mystifying mirrors to vintage props and tricks—all while savoring some of the bar’s signature specialties.

Another favorite new thing I did during last month’s trip was visit AbracadaBar!

The Boardwalk Resort is a favorite of mine. A favorite place to stay. A favorite place to eat breakfast. A favorite place for some nighttime entertainment (I’m looking at you JellyRolls).

After dining at La Hacienda de San Angel, we went to check out this cool new spot. MAGIC has taken over the previously occupied ice cream shop which has now moved to the previously occupied ESPN store.

AbracadaBar is a cute, comfortable and a fun little spot whether you’re there to get a drink before heading over to Flying Fish or as a stop for a night cap.

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I felt like my drink had to have “Magic” in the title so I went with The Magician White Blend. My hubby ordered the Hoptical Illusion IPA. Both were great and we were lucky enough to secure a couch right by the window.

I like the drinks. I like the location. I like the vibe. However, I do feel that during the holidays or special events, this location may feel a little too cramped and crowded. We were there the night before the marathon. Much of the crowd that we had seen in the parks that morning was resting up for the big race. But, much like anything in Disney, we’ll just have to find that sweet spot of timing!

Click here to listen to more of our first time favs!

Sister Dillo

Crystal (Palace) Clear

You may be dying to say to me, “Frank, I mean Brother Dillo, I listened to your totally awesome and fun Theme Park Thursday edition on The Improviser’s Guide, available on Apple Podcasts, today and I totally loved it and can’t wait for next week – BUUUUUUUT….

The Crystal Palace?

Really?

That’s right, Breakfast with Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore was on my favorites list of new Walt Disney World experiences during our most recent sojourn.

Really.

I didn’t elaborate too too much about the time spent there but here’s the short list of why The Crystal Palace ruled a mighty appetite.

1) The Crystal Palace is Timeless… or is it not updated? Hard to say. This much I know, I walked inside and it could have been 1985, 1993, 2006 – doesn’t matter. The Crystal Palace feels like it has never changed, is in no need of change, and I LOVE it.

2) The Hundred Acre Win… you can’t go wrong with the foursome of Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet. That’s a win for any child. Bonus points for Piglet who, when I was younger, was a rarity to see out and about or at all.

3) The Quality of Food… is high. Much like the Happily Ever After Dessert Party (more soon), it’s pretty clear that this character dining experience benefits by the personnel and availability of clearly superior kitchen appliances. Besides Ohana, the only breakfast where seconds were a must. And I could have kept going.

4) It Was the First Day… now we’ll talk about the nostalgic variable. This was the initial morning of our trip and, if you can’t do Ohana, I think this was the strongest place to start. Classic Magic Kingdom. A cold, quiet walk up Main Street to get there. Could have been December 1988 for all I knew.

There will be a return Crystal Palace trip for us again someday, to be certain. Tweet us your favorite elements of The Crystal Palace Dining Experience @DillosDiz.

Brother Dillo

La Hacienda de San Angel

On today’s podcast, I discussed La Hacienda de San Angel as one of my 3 favorite first time experiences from our Dillo Extravaganza last month. I promised you more details and pictures soooooooooooo

Drum roll please…

La Hacienda de San Angel

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Boom. This is the view throughout the entire restaurant. World Showcase as your dining experience backdrop. You can see why this is an Illuminations Viewing location hot spot! Very few views within Walt Disney World compare in my opinion, except probably the California Grill.

Even better? The food is great!

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Chips and Guac to start? Yes please!

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Costillas en salsa de Chile

This was my hubby’s dinner pick and it was so good I wish I had gotten it.  Translation: Braised shorts ribs topped with Chimichurri (parsley, oregano, garlic, olive oil, vinegar) served with potato puree and chile de árbol sauce.

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Luckily I chose a good pick as well!

Tacos de Camarones: Fried shrimp, Chipotle-lime aioli, cabbage, lime and salsa verde, all served over flour tortillas.

Yummy Yummy Yummy!

Click here to check out more about La Hacienda de San Angel and their menu! Oh and bonus: you can also take a Margarita to go for your nighttime stroll around World Showcase!

 

Sister Dillo

 

Off With Their Heads: 5 Favorite Animatronics

The week of 1/29/18 saw Ursula on Voyage of The Little Mermaid in WDW and a Pirate in Disneyland Paris lose their animatronic pates in a rare bit of Diz coincidence. This made me pontificate my 5 favorite animatronics. A quick list:

Honorable Mention: Statler & Waldorf in MuppetVision. Recalling how cool it was to be in the same theater that had the heckling duo in the Balcony.

5. Hairy Leg at Pirates of the Caribbean – a classic and trailblazing all at the same time.

4. Manhole Man in EPCOT’s World of Motion. Speaking of heads, the button of the most memorable scene of this pre Test Track Dark Ride.

3. The British Guard on the left just as you enter It’s a Small World… I always make sure to say hello.

2. Cousin Orville in the Carousel of Progress… I actually love all the characters on this ride. Even if I prefer ‘Now is the Best Time’ to ‘Grey Big Beautiful Tomorrow’.

1. The Wicked Witch of the West on The Great Movie Ride… hit her mark every time.

Who are some of your favorites? Comment or Tweet @DillosDiz!

Brother Dillo

Podcast Previews and Disney Security

We recently released a preview of our upcoming podcast! Beginning on Thursday, February 1st, DillosDiz will be taking over The Improviser’s Guide Podcast for Theme Park Thursdays!

If you missed it, listen to our sneak preview HERE! And don’t forget to subscribe to The Improviser’s Guide Podcast HERE!

During our sneak preview we discussed the rumors regarding discontinuing Monorail Service. If you listened, you would know that I am adamantly against this idea. Hopefully it is in fact, just a rumor!

Since this podcast is literally just the Dillos having a conversation, I tend not to do too much research beforehand. We like to stay true to the name of the podcast and….IMPROVISE!

I questioned that if they discontinued the monorail, what would that mean for security? Disney recently set up security checkpoints at the Transportation and Ticket Center and Monorail Resorts for those guests traveling via Boat or Monorail. While thinking things through out loud, I asked how it was set up for buses, since I had not taken a Disney bus in a few years. Thanks to some recent googling, I see that those traveling by bus still go through security upon arrival at the Magic Kingdom.

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All that to say, IF they did discontinue the monorail, they would probably need to put security back at the entrance of Magic Kingdom and go back to the same congestion issues they were moving away from.

I just wanted to answer any questions I ask out loud on the podcast for myself and anyone else wondering the same things. And to once again say: Do Not Get Rid of the Monorail DISNEY!

Thank you for your time regarding this very important matter.

-Sister Dillo