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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Magic Kingdom Guide Book Now Available for E!

The first in my series of Disney guidebooks by SWM Press is now available!

This is the first in a series of guidebooks that will enable you to navigate the wilds of Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort with confidence. If you want cool information, an honest opinion and a dose of wicked humor, this guidebook is for you. If you cry when someone tells you they don't like The Lion King, put this down. This is not the book for you. Go buy an official Disney book. 

The paperback version will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble by May 1st.  Currently you can upload this book for the low price of $4.99 directly from Smashwords -  You can download a variety of formats for upload to your Kindle, Nook, iPad, Sony EReader, Kobo, PC, or handheld device.  The book will be available for direct purchase on your Kindle, Nook or iPad on April 11th, 2011.

My Disneyland guide should be ready for E by May 1st.  In addition I will have a humor book based on my trips to Disney coming out in the fall.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Proof That God Hates The New Tiki Room

January 12th, 2011, hot off the presses from Lake Buena Vista (aka Walt Disney World), a fire broke out in the attic area of the Enchanted Tiki Room attraction at 5:30pm.  The sprinklers sprayed, the guests were evacuated, no one was injured, the firefighters doused the flames, big win all the way around.

So why is this a "Whack-A-Doodle Wednesday" story and why does God hate the Tiki Room?  Because God loves me and understands, like I do, that the Tiki Room is an abomination that must be cleansed from the Earth.

Why the Tiki Room hate so early in the morning?  I should clarify, this is the NEW Tiki Room.  The original Enchanted Tiki Room in Disneyland is fine.  No problems there.  However in Florida, some whanker thought, "Hey!  We can stuff Iago the obnoxious parrot from Aladdin into this attraction along with the more sedate (but unpopular) Zazu from The Lion King and rework it!  It's SYNERGY!  They're birds, right?  This show is birds, right?  BAM!  We have synergy and product placement and it's right by the new Aladdin's Flying Carpet ride.  See?  We can sell a butt load of bird toys we wouldn't be able to move other wise.  See?  It's brilliant!  Give me a raise!"

So they re-did the ride.  The obnoxious Iago has taken over the Enchanted Tiki Room "Under New Management" with his wise cracking, Hollywood Agent manner with the staid Zazu to act as a foil.  He also has the good sense, in an audio animatronic way, to look embarrassed.

I dislike this attraction and it's not just because they raped a classic for potential stuffed animal profit.  It's because it was done so badly.  Don't take my word for it.  Cory Doctorow from the blog BoingBoing agrees with me.  In fact he says "I took my two-year-old daughter to the Tiki Room last week and within seconds, she was whimpering and saying, "These are the bad tikis. Don't like them. Where are the real birds?"

That pretty much says it all.  The show itself is not well done, the jokes aren't funny and Iago is annoying and a bit scary.  I know I'm not alone in wishing the place would dissolve on the spot.  Well, God evidently heard our prayers.  New rumors are surfacing that Iago was damaged beyond repair by the fire in addition to water damage on the perch that the birds are attached to.  It seems Zazu sustained bad water damage as well.  That seems to me, if the rumors are true, that the new birds were the target of this fire, Iago in particular.

No official determination on the fires origins have been made.  However, I say "make lemonade out of nasty, feathery lemons" and make this attraction into something special.  If you don't want to go back to the original show, you can add new, original characters with a clever script.  I call shenanigans on this whole "synergy" concept of plugging in minor characters just so you can sell plush toys and pencils that haven't moved before.  If you look at the Muppet 3D show at Disney Studios, you will see they invented a character named Bean the Bunny who is the catalyst of the whole show.  He is cute, engaging, sells stuffed toys (Hell, I bought one!) and doesn't take away from the whole classic Muppet experience.  Do that people!  Please let the idiot parrot remain fried and bring us a new character.  I would like to suggest a stunning, peacock-blue parrot named Apollo.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Vinylmation - Good or Evil?

What is Vinylmation?  I was thinking the same thing when I first saw these little critters.  This past March, I was spending a lovely sunny day browsing through a shop on Disney's Boardwalk, a deluxe resort next to EPCOT.  I was actually looking for a swim suit, which they don't seem to sell anymore for women.  Same with underwear.  No swim suits or underwear for us!  I guess Disney doesn't want to think about "lady parts" and wants to completely ignore the fact that when Disneyland first opened the "Wizard of Bras" lingerie shop was operating on Main Street.

Anyway, these ... things caught my eye.  I had no idea what they were.  Was it a doll, an action figure, a paperweight?  The Cast Member I asked had no idea.  I figured they were just the "new thing".  A clever marketing gimic designed to separate us from more of our cash.  Little did I know how insidious and genius this marketing gimic was!

There was one figure that caught my eye:
I admit, it was the pseudo writing theme.  I know it's suppose to depict sketch animation but it was close enough and I thought it would look good on my desk.  I went to find it and.....I was perplexed.  You see, each series has its own tray that holds about twelve or twenty four smaller boxes.  Each box is marked with the series it comes from and nothing else.  That's right, you have no way of knowing which figure is inside the box.

Well, that's easy, I'll just open the box and see!  Nope, now the evil becomes clear.  The boxes are all glued shut.  There is no way at all to determine which figure is inside which box.  Basically, it's a grab bag.  They guarantee that each figure is in the tray, somewhere, along with a "mystery figure" but you have no idea of knowing where it is.

Each figure is $10 retail.  NOW the plan of Marketing genius raises its head.  I must say that even though I hate this with a passion, Disney really needs to give a raise to the person who thought of this idea because from a business stand point, it's a money spinner.  Picture this:  Kid walks in to store with parents, sees cool figure and wants it.  Wants it bad.  Wants it now.  Parents buy one but.... yup, it's the wrong one!  Now the melt-down ensures.  So they go back to buy another one and another one.  Those $10 boxes can sure add up!  If you want, they will sell you the whole damn tray so you can have a complete set but that is $120!

Don't think you can deftly pry the lid off, take a quick peek and then move on to the other one.  Why?  Because the figures are sealed inside mylar packets!  Foiled again!  You just need to buy the box and hope for the best.  Did I try it?  Hell no!  My momma didn't raise no fool!  Besides with my luck, I would get the lamest figure in the whole set.  In my case, I would get the "stoned bear" from Park #3
I know, I know, it's the bear from the now defunct Country Bear Jamboree and before you start writing me e-mails, I realize that tired show is still going at other parks but it's dead at Disneyland and that's what counts.  They replaced it with Pooh.  Not so sure it was a good trade but at least the tubby little cubby of a bear didn't sit on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, smooshing it into extinction like at Walt Disney World and for that I'm thankful.

Update: I just returned from Disneyland a few weeks ago.  I went with my sister and her family and guess what they kids wanted?  Yup, Vinylmation figures!  Did they get the ones they initially wanted?  No.  Did my sister buy them more?  No.  The ones they did get they were happy with BUT it seems Disney has instituted a new system.  I am assuming it grew out of many a "I got the stoned bear!" tantrum.  It is a limited trade rule.  Basically there are three figures in a clear case.  If you don't like the figure you picked you can either (a) trade for another grab bag pick but if you don't like this one you are SOL and no you don't get to keep both unless you pay for both or (b) you can trade for one of the three figures on display.  These figures change each day but if the one you like is in the case, you are sure of getting it.  It's kind of like the lottery that way.  Also like the lottery, life rarely works that well.  Honestly, it seemed to me the Vinylmations chosen were rarely the "popular" figures.  Nine times out of ten, stoned bear is going to be one of the three choices.  The moral of this story?  Choose at your own risk.

To me, Vinylmation figures are the perfect example of shallow American consumerism.  Honestly, look at them.  Do they do anything?  Do they serve any purpose other than instilling in you a need to buy more so you can "collect them all"!  People, there are times when collecting something just because the masses are collecting it, doesn't translate into "collector dollars" down the road unless you operate on a fast turn around schedule.  Don't believe me?  Hey, I have a box full of Beanie Babies I can sell you!

My advice?  Say no to pointless marketing ploys designed to keep you coming back like a crack addict to buy more and more and more.  If you want a souvenir go by a plush Mickey or better yet, a shot glass!  That has many uses and I highly recommend it.  It's a brilliant idea Disney but I'm not falling for it.  I'm going to stuff wax in my ears so I can't hear your siren's song as I go about my day.  You can keep your tons of pins and trading cards and Vinylmation figures.  I'll just spend my money on something else unless of course you know for SURE which box has the sketch animation figure in it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Celebrate! A Street Party Parade

I love Disney.  I just want to reiterate that.  I have enjoyed all the parades I have seen at the parks but this was the worst thing I have ever seen at Disney.  I am so glad I didn't camp out on the sidewalk to see this.  My family and I were on our way out of the Park to grab some dinner at Downtown Disney when we saw the parade coming so figured we would wait and watch it.

I realize Disney has seized on this "Celebrate" theme for the year.  "What are you celebrating?" is their tag but I don't want a parade that evolves around a marketing concept.  Instead of impressive floats with characters going past you, you have average "traveling platforms" that stop in certain spots where costumed cast members dance in the street, encourage people around to wave their hands and the characters boogy down as well.

The music is a mish mash of pop, jazz, and rock ala elevator muzak style.  In the words of my nephew "This is dumb!  It's all Hannah Montana, Jones Brothers crap."  In the words of his little sister "This is booorrrrrrrring!  Can we go?  This is LAME!" and this is from the girl who loves Selena Gomez and watches Wizards of Waverly Place religiously.

I have to agree.  The parade was dumb, lame, idiotic and a total waste of my time.  We cut through the shops, beat the parade to the front and left for dinner.  I would advise you to spend your waiting time on World of Color and go on some rides while the chumps are camping out waiting for this snooze fest.  I just hope that Disney will go back to what they do best - huge glorious floats with glittering characters waving at us as the whole line sails by.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sleeping Beauty Castle - The Walk Though

When I was a little girl, I wanted to live in Sleeping Beauty's Castle.  It seemed so pretty and magical.  I thought it would be lovely to see inside, then I found out that I could.  Over to the side there was a small out of the way door.  You could climb up inside the castle and look at diaramas from the film that mainly featured dolls dressed up like the movie characters.  It was cool.

Then after 9/11, the castle diaramas closed.  They said it was security and renovation.  Perhaps they thought they were out-dated (they were) or not very popular (they weren't) but I still loved them.  Year after year I would look with longing at the closed door until I just forgot about it altogether.  Then like Aurora waking from her enscrolled sleep, the door opened and the diaramas were back but with an updated twist.

It seems to be there are more of movie scenes to look at.  It may be because of the time that has passed but instead of the cheesy dolls, they have more lifelife scenes, LED light effects (twinkles, head of Maleficents staff, etc) and cool little things that could be missed if you weren't paying attention.  Example:  When you enter the dungeon area (it is more dungeon themed than just a corridor) you pass a barred window where you see the shadow of one of Maleficents pig guards with a spear, walking down some stairs and talking to himself.  It almost puts you into the fortress, trying to find Prince Phillip.

I am sooo glad they rescued this wee but mighty attraction.  Just because something isn't a fast thrill ride or you get to shoot at something, doesn't mean it is without value.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Adventures of Bun in WDW

Allow me to introduce you good gentles to Bun (The Softest Bunny in the World):
I found Bun at the gift shop upstairs at the Dolphin hotel. They had 3 sizes available and I thought the "Momma Bear" size was just right. My companions started coming up with names including "Bun", "Bun Bun" and when in France or when feeling saucy "Mlle. Le Boon". So Bun is here to share snacks from around the World with you. First is from the Magic Kingdom:
The Infamous Dole Whip: ala Bun, you can see the white swirl of vanilla like Buns fur. In my opinion the vanilla cuts the tart pineapple, to make the taste perfect.

Now over to the Polynesian for a Lapu Lapu:
Had to get Bun out of this picture because the pineapple was having a bottom malfunction. The lovely booze was leaking out of the bottom. The bartender said that sometimes they core them a little too deep. He made me a full drink in a glass and set it by the pineapple. This is a "grown up drink". No frozen fruit flavors just booze and juice in toxic amounts but they make you happy!

A quick trip to Animal Kingdom gives Bun one of the yummiest frosty drinks of the trip, the Yak Attack over at the Yak and Yeti.
It is a mango daquiri with myers rum float and a berry swirl. Just yummy goodness! The ones in the actual bar were better than the ones at the outside "to go" counter. I think the ones at the bar had more berry swirl in them.

Now on to Epcot World Showcase. Canada didn't have anything worth drinking so we went straight to England for Guinness and Fish & Chips (or in my case, fish and veg)
The nice chewy breakfast beer was lovely as always and Bun approves of the malt vinegar for the fish and chips!

France brought lovely White Star champagne:
Bun loves White Star and mentions that it is lovely with chocolate croissant! The Parisians were not too happy with Bun for posing with the bubbly. Honestly, you have room to talk, eating cheese that smells like feet. Bun was too much of a lady to say anything. She does recommend the croissant, really!

Japan has wonderful yummies such as sake (hot or cold), Pocky (thin cookies covered in Strawberry or Chocolate with crushed almonds or chocolate cookies), Botan Rice Candy (you eat the thin rice paper the chewy, slightly sweet candy is wrapped in and Kari Gori (snowcones with yummy flavors such as strawberry, tangerine, honeydew melon or a stripe of all three).

Morocco did not yield any drinks other than tea but Bun found a lovely rug to recline on so I could bring her pistachio baklava. Not too sticky, very nice taste.

Norway has two yummy items. First in the Krigla Bakery there is the Gravlox sandwich (lox, cheese, hard boiled egg) with a cloudberry horn and viking coffee:
The sandwich was hearty, the fish was lovely though the whole grain toast may be a little to dense for some American tastes. I thought it was great. The Cloudberry horn was wonderful and better than similar items in France because the cream is not as sweet. The Viking coffee was good on a cold day but not really strong and certainly improved the taste of the coffee. Aquavit, on the other hand is plenty strong as Bun can attest to!

Mexico rounded our day with a trip to "The Ditch" - where all the best tequila lives. While there were some yummy marguritas we tried including Blood Orange, Cucumber and Prickly Pear (yes they have tasting flights) but I went straight for the really good sipping tequila, no training wheels (lime & salt) for me! By the 3rd round I could see that the Ditch was starting to do Bun in.

By the time we got back to Animal Kingdom Lodge, Bun was ready for a little rest:
Yes Bun is a light weight but she is a bunny after all even if she is the Softest Bunny in the World!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

I must admit, I was scared of this place.  I will say here and now I am vehemently opposed to "Glitz Pageants" for little girls, think that sexualizing them and making them look like 19 year old street walkers is not only twisted but just more legal spank material for pedophiles.  I had seen a similar type of shops at DTD "Libby Lu's" (now mercifully closed) that had little girls walking out with heavy make-up, sprayed and teased glitter hair, looking like they were ready to work the red light district in Bangkok.  Also the BBBoutique in Florida is more over the top in my opinion so I walked into this one with trepidation.

Where is it?  Oh yeah, it's in Fantasyland.  Once you go through the castle, turn to your left.  There is a gift shop there and the boutique is in the back.  So I walked in and... I was surprised as in pleasantly surprised.  The little girls were actually leaving looking like... LITTLE GIRLS!

I talked to the cast members there.  They obviously LOVE their job, love giving the girls makeovers but stress that they don't like the ho look either.  The nail polishes are pink, not red.  The color pallets for the make up are natural shades and light shades.  If they see make up going on too thick they blend it, tone it down or take it off and start over.

See?  The girls can get some pretty make-up, nails and have their hair done without the trash.  Some packages go have little hair pieces.  They told me that most girls choose on that matches their own color hair though some do pick a funky pink, purple or rainbow color.  These are NOT paired with ultra teased, sprayed and glitter gunked real hair.

This is a beauty experience I can get behind.  They have 3 packages:

Girls 3 years old and above can choose from three hair styles — Fairytale Princess, Disney Diva and Pop Princess — available in three packages:

  • The Coach Package includes hairstyle, shimmering make-up, princess sash, princess cinch sac and body jewels — $44.95, plus tax.
  • The Crown Package includes hairstyle, shimmering makeup, princess sash, princess cinch sac, body jewels and nail polish — $49.95, plus tax.
  • The Castle Package includes hairstyle, shimmering makeup, princess sash, princess cinch sac, body jewels, nail polish, princess gown of choice, wand, shoes and portrait package courtesy of Disney's PhotoPass® Service (assorted prints in themed folder). Determined by the choice of princess gown and shoes, price ranges from $195.85 to $205.85.
Adult ladies can do this as well but if you go for the Castle package, you don't get a big girl dress, you get a little girl dress.  I thought it would be fun to do this, get the make-up/nails done, then gift the dress and shoes to another little girl.  Think of the Disney Magic!