Dreaming of a VIP Soap Experience

If you listened to our latest episode of Theme Park Thursday, you know that I absolutely loved Super Soap Weekend held at MGM (yes MGM).

While working in Epcot, Disney decided to do a contest where they would pick a few Cast Members to switch jobs for a day. Luckily it was extended to Operating Participants, like myself. The one job I reeeeeeeeally wanted was to work in Guest Relations at MGM, specifically VIP Tours, during Super Soap Weekend! In this role, I would be assigned to a Soap actor/actresses and guide them from place to place throughout the event. Sounds awesome right? I was really excited to throw my name in the hat!

And then…..I didn’t get it <cue womp womp music>.

I know this post is a bit anticlimactic but hey, at least I went for it, right? I still loved being able to attend the event, get a few photo ops, listen to Q&A and immerse myself in Disney and Soaps.

Oh, and that larger than life Steve Burton (aka Jason Morgan) poster that hung in 3 of my homes? Here it is!

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-Sister Dillo

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Happy Birthday Epcot!

If you listen to Theme Park Thursdays, you know we often discuss just how old Frank is. I’m here to tell you, it’s completely true. BUT he’s not as old as Magic Kingdom (yet). I, on the other hand, share a birth year with Epcot.img_6161

October 1, 1982 Spaceship Earth welcomed us to Walt Disney World’s second park. I was 9 months old. Future World and the World Showcase brought Walt’s vision of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow to life.

In 2004, I was lucky enough to begin working in Epcot. Not only that, but my job was to share current and future technologies with guests. Was it a coincidence that I began working in the park that opened the same year I was born? A cosmic connection? Fate? Perhaps. Either way, I am thankful I had that opportunity. Today, I get to share Walt Disney World with my children. Growing up with Disney as our second home, it’s quite a surreal experience to share it with a new generation.

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*Photo credit: guide-to-disney.com

 

I leave you now with Walt’s vision for Epcot:

“But the most exciting and by far the most important part of our Florida project… in fact, the heart of everything we’ll be doing in Disney World… will be our Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow! We call it E.P.C.O.T. 

E.P.C.O.T will be an experimental prototype community of tomorrow that will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. 

And E.P.C.O.T will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise. I don’t believe there’s a challenge anywhere in the world that’s more important to people everywhere than finding solutions to the problems of our cities. But where do we begin… how do we start answering this great challenge? Well, we’re convinced we must start with the public need. And the need is for starting from scratch on virgin land and building a special kind of new community. 

So that’s what E.P.C.O.T is… an experimental prototype community that will always be in a state of becoming. It will never cease to be a living blueprint of the future, where people actually live a life they can’t find anywhere else in the world. Everything in E.P.C.O.T will be dedicated to the happiness of the people who will live, work, and play here… and to those who come here from all around the world to visit our living showcase. We don’t presume to know all the answers. In fact, we’re counting on the cooperation of American industry to provide their best thinking during the planning and creation of our Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow…. 

And most important of all, when E.P.C.O.T has become a reality and we find the need for technologies that don’t even exist today, it’s our hope that E.P.C.O.T will stimulate American industry to develop new solutions that will meet the needs of people expressed right here in this experimental community.”

Share your Epcot memories with us on Twitter! You can find us @dillosdiz!

 

-Jen aka Sister Dillo

Enjoying a Disney Vacation

It’s hard for people to understand how visiting Walt Disney World could be a vacation. There’s so much to do and see, it seems as if you would have to be on the go the whole time, leaving no room for relaxing. That’s why it’s so important to make time in that crazy itinerary to just chill.

When you have been planning a trip like this for years and you’re not sure when you’ll be back, it’s so hard to imagine not trying to see as much as possible. I totally get that. There’s also the fact that you’re spending a lot of money to be there and you want to make sure it counts.

For me, there are a few key factors when visiting Disney to make it feel like a vacation, especially now that I am traveling with kids. The first and most important thing:

Do Not Keep Them Out All Day Long!

This will definitely result in meltdowns, exhaustion and feeling as though your trip was a waste of money! Take some time in your day. Maybe have a nice breakfast and a leisurely morning at the hotel, head to the parks in the afternoon or vice versa. Or you could have the best of both worlds. Head to the parks in the morning, come back to the hotel for a nap and/or some swimming and head back to the parks at night.

The second thing I like to do to feel in vacation mode:

Indulge in some good food!

It’s hard to have a bad experience in Disney when it comes to food. However, there are definitely a few spots where you can step it up to the next level. If you have it in the budget, have at least one meal splurge (if not more). It’s not something we tend to do on a regular basis, so it makes it more fun doing it while on vacation!

The third, and for now, final thing I like to do to feel in vacation mode:

Talk to the Cast Members!

The Cast Members are fantastic. Their customer service is on point and they are there to make sure you have a magical experience. Ask questions, ask for help if you need it, or just learn about them. Cast Members are from all of the country and sometimes the world. They all have their own stories to tell and can teach you so much in a short conversation. It’s hard for most to get that experience in day to day life.

When I’m on vacation, feeling taken care of by the Cast Members helps me to relax. You should never feel stressed on vacation and they are there to make sure it doesn’t happen!

There are so many ways to enjoy a Disney vacation. Find what works best for you, take some deep breaths and experience the magic!

*If you’d like to hear more on what Dillo’s Diz thinks about Disney’s service, check out our latest podcast by clicking here.

 

Sister Dillo

 

 

Night and Day…You are the One

On yesterday’s Theme Park Thursday episode on the Improviser’s Guide Podcast, we played a little game: AM vs PM.

Wait, what’s that? You didn’t listen. Oh, here’s the link. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

http://theimprovisersguide.libsyn.com/episode-24-am-or-pm-play-along

Ok, great! Now that you’re up to speed, we can continue…

As I was playing, it was hard not to come up with resort experiences. This probably sounds weird to non-Disney lovers. Then again, non-Disney lovers don’t understand a lot about a Disney addict. They often ask:

Do you go on rides? Yes, and they’re awesome.

Isn’t it just for kids? No, it’s also for the kid at heart.

Is there anything to do at the hotels? Plenty and that is why it was so hard to come up with park experiences during our AM vs PM game!

It was also hard for me to answer AM. Why is that?

Disney mornings are great. The ground is wet, the sun is shining and you know how hot it’ll be for the rest of the day, as soon as you leave your hotel. That’s a great start to your day! But overall Theme Parks at night give that unexplainable feeling and vibe. The nostalgia becomes more prominent. You feel that magic in the air. When you stay up to go on rides, watch fireworks and pass out in a Disney bed while being an acceptable level of exhausted –  nothing can beat that.

Sister Dillo

And The Desserts Lived Happily Ever After…

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On the Thursday 2/22/18 episode of The Improviser’s Guide Podcast, we compared the Happily Ever After dessert party at WDW’s Magic Kingdom with the Hollywood (#AlwaysMGM) Studios’ Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party. This blog covers the Happily Ever After party. Click here to read Brother Dillo’s recap of the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular.

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The Happily Ever After dessert party is held in the Tomorrowland Terrace at the Magic Kingdom. There are two areas to enjoy the desserts. In the lower area of the terrace, you’re able to sit at a table and remain there during the fireworks. Instead of standing like most of the crowd, you can sit back, drink your sparkling cider and not worrying about anyone possibly pushing you out of the way. If you sit in the upper area of the Tomorrowland Terrace (which is a lower ticket price), you get to enjoy the same desserts but you are escorted to the Plaza Garden Viewing area. We chose the Plaza Garden Viewing area and it was an amazing view.

Let’s talk desserts, because they were delish. I mentioned on the podcast that there was an amazing ice cream creation that my hubby took advantage of. Unfortunately with the time that has passed, we can’t remember the exact name of this sundae (which included the Cast Member’s name) but it was the ultimate sundae! There was a cookie, ice cream, a brownie, more ice cream, whipped cream and every topping. Take a moment and try to overcome the jealousy.

Other desserts included chocolate covered strawberries, cookies, brownies, along with sparking cider, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. It’s dessert heaven!

I definitely feel that Magic Kingdom can step up the experience a bit, but it’s still a great time and I would highly recommend it! It was the perfect way to end our week-long Disney Extravaganza.

Click here to hear more about both dessert parties on Theme Park Thursdays of The Improviser’s Guide Podcast. 

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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

Our Podcast Announcement

It’s happening!

We are diving into the world of podcasting! After a tribute episode to The Great Movie Ride last August, we’ve decided to add a weekly chat to Brother Dillo’s podcast The Improviser’s Guide. We’ll center on a topic/subject each week on ‘Theme Park Thursday’ – A Salute to All Theme Parks but mostly Walt Disney World.

Listen to our sneak preview HERE!

Subscribe to The Improviser’s Guide Podcast HERE!

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Side (Main) Street Immersion

The Dillos did something at the start of 2018 that they had not done this entire decade. They experienced a WDW vacation together. Stay tuned for ALL the updates forthcoming.

 

One of the goals of my Diz trips, whether a quick two day excursion or a week long with an almost two year old who you give your focus to, is to take a little time to stop an take in my surroundings. EPCOT at night (the fountains!), standing on Hollywood Boulevard (the sounds of the traffic signal!), sitting back on the Peoplemover are all past examples where I try to take that opportunity.

On the final day of our trip, we marathoned morning to night at the Magic Kingdom. Said two year old surprised us all and took her longest nap of the week (was the ambient noise of the park a little too familiar for this NYC kid?). The final leg of the nap we found ourselves on the east side street of Main Street USA, and this is where I got to take a little bit of that time in an unexpected location.

When I was eleven, I spent a day doing one of the kid friendly behind the scenes tours of WDW. I received sketches from an artist, saw the utilidors for the first time, and received a history lesson in the second story windows throughout the “opening credits” of the Magic Kingdom.

Even on most recent trips where we sat curbside eating foot longs from Casey’s Corner, I didn’t spend the time I should have re-familiarizing myself with the imagineers, the legends, the pioneers behind the happiest place on earth.

If you get the opportunity, check out the (small but) fantastic book, ‘Windows on Main Street’ by Chuck Snyder, for a thorough guide to the names behind these very deserving acknowledgements.

And if you’re wondering if this location is an optimal nap location for your toddler… depends on the number and energy level of children discovering the scavenger hunt based Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom spot.

Brother Dillo

 

(No) Cash Money at the AK Lodge

The Dillos did something at the start of 2018 that they had not done this entire decade. They experienced a WDW vacation together. Stay tuned for ALL the updates forthcoming.

 

There was certifiable shock on my face this morning when I looked up when the Animal Kingdom Lodge… 2001?!?!!!!

17 years ago!

15 months removed from when I left Orlando.

And, until the first week of January 2018, I had never been.

Disney fanatical fail.

The word making the rounds on 1/17/18 is that the AK Lodge, and specifically the Jambo House, will test a cashless system. Magic bands, credit cards, debit cards… yes. Cash – no.

What about my Disney Dollars? I know that they are now defunct, but they’re not technically cash.

This will be a curious test run and perhaps another big change in the future to how guests vacation. I know, personally, that I use cash less than 20% of the time now and my credit card statement suffers for it. I want to go in the opposite direction. But, the temptation of convenience at the Diz is far too great, particularly in the Magic Band era.

Also, I know that there are many, many people who don’t want to be big brothered. Living in NY, I can tell you that there is a great amount of people who sat in the cash lane at toll plazas rather than using an EZ pass for this very reason. I know those people are none too happy to have their license plates photographed now.

Keep an eye out on this test run and get yourself a Disney Visa and Disney Rewards card now!

Brother Dillo

moNOrail: The Fate of the Highway in the Sky In 2018

The Dillos did something at the start of 2018 that they had not done this entire decade. They experienced a WDW vacation together. Stay tuned for ALL the updates forthcoming.

Boy, the Walt Disney World Monorail has one bad trip on its three and a half mile journey to EPCOT where its an absolute must to stand clear of the (open) door… and it’s bedlam!

The second weekend of January 2018 began with rumors that the Walt Disney World Monorail would be going away permanently. Of course, the instant reaction from this family steeped in nostalgia, tradition and the like to shake our fists at perhaps the greatest change of them all.

The end of the highway in the sky cannot be nigh… or can it?

After several deep breaths and existential meditation, the idea that the aforementioned TTC-EPCOT track could go away… is possible. We’re from Long Island, so changing at the TTC for EPCOT always felt like changing at Jamaica for the train to Penn Station on the LIRR. What I’m saying is that this change never felt convenient. And yet, when I stayed at the Polynesian Village for the first time in decade in February 2017, the walk to the TTC to catch the Monorail to WDW’s second theme park felt more convenient than I recalled. THAT being said, you could argue that frequent buses available from the Great Ceremonial House may have felt just as accommodating if available.

Now…

THERE IS NO WAY THAT THE MONORAIL CAN BE REMOVED FROM THE MAGIC KINGDOM RESORT LOOP.

Boats, or short walks, or ferries aside, the Monorail defines the Poly, the Grand Floridian, and especially the Contemporary Resort. It always seemed to me that the jump in price for those three resorts was mainly because of the accessibility via the train. I know a big fan of Disneyland who visited WDW for the first time over the holiday. He basked in the wonder that was how the monorail ride provided the ultimate reveal of the Magic Kingdom. Listening to him tell the story of his journey up World Drive, through the toll plaza, parking at the TTC, and finally onto the monorail… that was the very definition of Disney magic.

I understand that the extra magic hours and quick turnover have not been kind to the monorail over the years. This is no longer the 9am-6pm days. Perhaps the new gondola system coming is Diz dipping the toe in the monorail removal waters.

It shouldn’t be. Let’s just not have more occasions where the express monorail fails and pushes all the early morning traffic to the ferry, okay. My conspiracy theory brain goes into motion when that happens.

Brother Dillo

https://youtu.be/YCiDEfmJpRs