Monday, June 29, 2009

Reason #286 Why I Love My Daughter

We had a mini-Indiana Jones movie marathon. I say mini because we only watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Temple of Doom.

It was LOML's idea and one that I wholeheartedly got behind.

She loves Indiana Jones so much, that after we watched the Indy show at DHS, she bought an 8 x 10 and a 4 x 6 picture of Indy to frame and hang in her room.

But the real reason I love her love of Indy?

When we got to the part where Indy has found the entrance to the temple to get to the ark, he threw down his torch and right before he said those infamous words, my 9 year old girlie girl hollered out:

"Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?"

My heart burst in pride.

I love you, my Indiana Jones quoting girl.



Friday, June 26, 2009

My Heart Is Hurting...

I don't normally post about when celebrities die or even blog about current events, but I feel like a piece of my childhood died. Despite everything in the past few years, he was an incredible artist.

I wish I still had my red parachute pants, bandana, Thriller shirt and single white glove. I wore the hell out of those when I was 8.

R.I.P, Michael, R.I.P.


Mama Dawg

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Subways, Men on Fire and Games

On Thursday, June 4th, we met up with my best friend Mimi and her two boys. We headed out to Disney Hollywood Studios (formerly known as MGM Studios) or DHS for short.

I like some of this park, but most of it is just filler or non essential stuff for me. I have my favorite things to do in this park and then I'm done. I prefer Universal Studios for my movie based theme park, thankyouverymuch.

However, the attractions I DO like in DHS are amazing.

On the way to try to find something to do, we ran into a New York city street! Right in the middle of Florida! WTH?

LOML decided to take the subway to Toy Story Mania based on the theory that it would be faster than walking.

For the first time ever, we managed to catch Lights, Motors, Action.

Wow. I can not believe I've never seen this show before. I've caught glimpses of it when doing the Backlot Tour, but I've never actually seen the full show.

Here's a pic of one of the stunt men on fire.

I was so impressed with how long he stayed on fire before they put him out.

I was even more impressed when they showed us all the work that goes into this 30 second fire fest.

Here's two short vids of the stunts they do:


We had Fastpasses for Toy Story Mania which is a new show that they opened just this past year.

This is my new favorite ride at DHS. I love it! It's set up like a midway and you get to "shoot" balls and darts and other items at the screen and you rack up points based on how many targets you hit.

Here's a pic of the ceiling of the queue line.

The whole queue is decorated as board games and other childhood games. Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Scrabble, crayones, Monkeys in a Barrel, etc....

It's visually stunning.

Here's the score from the first time I played. I rode with my mom and totally kicked her ass.

I'm player 2.

After we went and drew several times at the Animation Academy, we decided to leave the park for a while to rest. On the way out, we ran across this very, very famous (only in her head) actress.

The Streetmosphere characters are brilliant. They really get you involved in their scenarios. Lots and lots of character interaction at this park.

Later, we headed back to DHS and took a chance to ride Toy Story Mania again. This time, without a Fastpass. The line really wasn't that long. We got on pretty quickly.

Here's the kids playing while in the queue.

LOML and Mimi's two boys got along so beautifully. She really took to her oldest son (who's 11 going on 12). After that first day, they pretty much declared that they're going to ride every ride together. They talked and giggled and played. It was so awesome to watch.

Here's a vide of them playing while in the queue.

And here's the Mr. Potato Head interactive "character". He can "see" people out in the queue and will call out specifically to people. He'll say "Hey, you in the pink shirt with the green stripes" and people are always astonished to hear him speak directly to them. It's cool.

This next time, I rode with Mimi's oldest and managed to beat him. How I beat an 11 year old at an interactive game, I'll never know. I'll chalk it up to luck.

Again, I'm player 2. See how much better I did? LOL!

We finished off the night looking for some hidden Mickey's. We found one, but I don't think it's an official hidden Mickey since it can be found on several manhole covers throughout the park.

It's still neat, though.


Mama Dawg

Monday, June 22, 2009

Who Would You Do?

As promised fellas, I got some ladies up today.

Which leading female action star would you most like to have kick your ass.....and then help you "recover" later?

Angelina Jolie from Tomb Raider, Milla Jovovich from Resident Evil, Uma Thurman from Kill Bill or Jennifer Garner from Elektra?

As usual:

*Editor's Note---You HAVE to pick one of the choices. Even if you're a guy and the only choices are guys...same for girls...believe me, there are lots where it's only girls to choose from.


Mama Dawg

Friday, June 19, 2009

Nemo, Bats and Hula Hooping Terks

On Wednesday, June 3rd, we headed on over to the Animal Kingdom.

Now, a lot of people think the Animal Kingdom is nothing but a glorified zoo.

But they're wrong.

It's, oh, so much more.

We arrived right at 8 a.m. Because we stayed on Disney property, we were allowed on this day to get into the Animal Kingdom an hour before regular opening. This is called Extra Magic Hours (or EMH for short).

This is the best time to start your day off at the Animal Kingdom. It's not too hot yet and the animals, for the most part, are still out and about.

As soon as we could, we made our way over to the Kilimanjaro Safari in Africa.

We LOVE this ride. With the exception of a few animals (elephants, rhinos, crocs, hippos and lions), the animals roam free.

As evidenced below:

Yeah, we actually had to stop to let that giraffe cross the street! If you look closely, you can see that another one is right in front of him.

So many jokes starting with "why did the giraffe cross the road?" started rolling through my head.

However, before I emabarrassed myself and my child (mom doesn't embarrass easily), I got distracted by the next photo around the curve:

That's a Thompson's gazelle at the base of the tree.

Next up was the white rhino. These beasts are simply incredible. Their sheer size is enough to make me swallow hard when thinking about being in the middle of a stampede.

Don't ask me what this is. It's just cool.

After we left the safari, we walked around just a minute until we could go get in line for the Nemo show.

This is a new show that started in the past couple of years and I've read rave reviews of it online. We ADORE the Festival of the Lion King show that's located in Camp Minnie Mickey, so we figured to try this one out.

While mom and LOML got in line, I ran over to Dinosaur to get some Fastpasses to use after the show.

I'll save you the time of a full fledged review and will instead tell you simply that it sucked. It was not a ride that we'll ever repeat.
It's rare when I dislike a ride at Disney but this one was just not any good. Sorry for any fans out there.

However, on one part of the ride, they take your pic for you to potentially purchase when you get off the ride. They always take it at a critical part of the ride so they get the best reactions.

When we got off the ride, we almost decided to walk past the picture stand but ducked in just in case.

So glad we did. As much as we disliked the ride, we got the best picture EVER! I think it's the best reaction picture that Disney's ever had.

Take a look and let me know what you think. Mom, LOML and I are on the back row. But make sure you look at the other faces as well.

We weren't allowed to take flash photography in the show at Nemo, but as long as there weren't any lights to disturb the actors, we could videotape.

The show is made up of live actors and giagantic puppets.

I know, I know. Puppets. was a great show. I had a hard time at first getting adjusted. I kept wanting to watch the actors move around instead of watching the puppets. I finally got in the hang of it around the middle and regret not going back to watch it again.

Here's two short vids of the show:


At that point, we headed to lunch and ate from the Flame Tree BBQ.

Oh my stars in heaven. Outside of Memphis and other places in the deep south, this has to be the most delicious BBQ I've ever had.

There were two kinds of sauces and onion rings and orange Fanta and just grease and salt and yumminess all around.

If you go, I highly recommend eating here. It's counter service, so it's quick.

We headed on over to Asia after LOML got run ragged at the Boneyard. I wanted to ride Expedition Everest since I've not ridden it before. Mom and LOML passed on the ride. I thought I had remembered that they had a single rider line that went quicker than the regular line and I was right. The wait time was only about 20 minutes in the single rider line so I baaaa'd like a sheep and fell in line.

Oh My God!

This is my new favorite thrill ride.

For real.

And the best part?

The people in the seat in front of me had an extra Fastpass that was about to expire and they just GAVE IT TO ME!

I got to ride twice in a row! Yay me!

Here's a pic of the temple that's on the path up to Everest. See how it matches the mountain perfectly? A good example of the genius that is Disney.

After Everest, we headed on over to Kali River Rapids but the line was way too long and there were no more Fastpasses so we headed on over to the Maharajah Jungle Trek and saw the creatures that lived there.

My second favorite part of the Trek is the bats.

I love bats. I didn't much like 'em before I saw them in this environment and read about them. I fell in love with this exhibit about 4 years ago.

Here's a vid of a bat. It looks like he's trying to cool himself off:

Here's my favorite part of the Trek.

The tigers.

There's no cage separating you from the tigers. You're just up really, really high and behind bars. Otherwise, they're RIGHT THERE!

I used my zoom and got this shot of him (her?) pacing the fountain.

Here's a vid of them pacing:

And here's a vid of them play pouncing. I've never seen them so playful!

Here's LOML standing in front of a tree while on the Trek. Doesn't she look cool?

Here's a mama and a baby tiger in the wading pool area.

LOML took this pic using the zoom on my camera. Pretty good shot, dontcha think?

We headed back to Africa to shop and ran into these guys performing.

Here's a vid to hear what they sound like:

We decided to head on out at that point to relax before heading on over to Disney Hollywood Studios for dinner at the Brown Derby.

As we were leaving, we ran into a hula hoop play area. While LOML was hula hooping, who should appear but Terk!

He decided to get in on the game.

LOML was running rings (no pun intended) around him.

Here they are in competition. You can see how bad LOML is kicking his ass!


Mama Dawg

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tea Cups, Flying Carpets and Race Cars

On Tuesday, June 2, we headed to the most magical lands of all......The Magic Kingdom.

Hands down, this is my favorite park EVER! Epcot is right behind, but nothing beats walking on Main Street and seeing the castle for the first, 25th or 300th time. Each time it takes my breath away.

When you arrive before the park opens, they have an opening ceremony where they invite one family to help open the parks. Characters come out, there's some singing and dancing and then some confetti and glitter.

What a way to open the park!

Here's all the characters lined up.

And here's a short vid of the ceremony.

Once we got on Main Street, we were going to head out straight towards Tomorrowland but got derailed by the sight of Mary Poppins.

She made some witty conversation with LOML. LOML had been eating some sort of blue candy and had some blue-ish teeth as a result. Mary asked if she had been eating blue cupcakes that morning.

We made a break for Tomorrowland but decided about half way there to just go straight to Fantasyland to ride the Mad Tea Cups. This has been declared our favorite family ride.

While in line, we noticed the White Rabbit himself riding in the tea cups. I've never seen this before and was thrilled to see it. I was disappointed that we weren't the ones to ride with him, but the sight of those little girls faces when they got off put a HUGE smile on my face.

I LOVE capturing LOML's face when she's riding this ride. Usually she's laughing so hard, but in this one, she's actually the one doing the "steering". She was working so hard to get it to go as fast as possible. Good thing mom and I don't easily get motion sick! She was working it!

After we got off the ride, we saw that the White Rabbit was granting autographs and pictures. Of course, we hurriedly got in line. Next to Alice and the Cheshire Cat, he's my favorite Alice character. I couldn't resist a pic.

Yeah, yeah. Make fun of my fanny pack all you like. It saved my back and wasn't a pain to mess with. I don't care if I did look like a dork with all that crap hanging off of it. I rarely had to take it off or search for stuff.

We rode a couple of more rides in Fantasyland before heading over to Adventureland. This is my favorite land in the whole park. It has Pirates of the Carribean, The Swiss Family Treehouse AND The Jungle Cruise.

Here's a short vid of our skipper on our boat.

The jokes never get old.

And here's a picture of the famous landmark......THE BACK SIDE OF WATER!!!!! (if you're a Jungle Cruise fan or have ever ridden it, you'll get this joke)

At some point, we found ourselves in Frontierland and had just sat down to take a break when these guys showed up and started singing. Not too many people stopped to listen to them, so when mom started doing her trill and clapping loudly, they took notice and had some fun with us. I love getting special attention in the parks.

After Frontierland, we decided to head back to the hotel to get some rest. When we arrived back later in the day, we decided to take the Walt Disney World Railroad over to Toontown.

When I got up on top of the train station, I took this shot of the castle.

And then I looked to my right and took a shot of my old stomping grounds, Tony's Town Square Restaurant. I miss working there.

Here's a shot of LOML waiting for the train. She purchased these Minnie ears herself. She decided on these instead of a Mickey ears hat.

When we arrived in Toontown, we toured Mickey's house and I discovered a Hidden Mickey I had never seen before.

Do you see it?

We left Mickey's and headed for Minnie's Country House. I could take or leave Toontown, but LOML loves going here, so we do.

Here's LOML on Minnie's back porch.

Who's this lady doing a puzzle in Disney World?'s my mom!

We left Toontown after riding the Barnstormer and headed to Fantasyland to ride Mickey's Philharmagic. On the way, LOML spotted the Winnie the Pooh ride and asked if we could ride it. Mom had never ridden it before so off we headed. We wanted to eat dinner first, so we grabbed some Fastpasses to come back later and lo and behold, we got an extra surprise! We got special Fastpasses for Mickey's Philharmagic! SCORE!!!

After we rode/saw those two, we headed back to Tomorrowland to grab a quick ride on the Speedway. The line surprisingly wasn't that long and we were able to get on after a 15 minute wait. While in line, I had LOML hold up a sign for my girl Jess!

Hi, Jess!

Here's LOML checking out the mechanics of the car. She decided against accelerating and just wanted to steer.

Big mistake. LOL!

We then backtracked back to Fantasyland to catch the carrousel. I love this ride. It's over way too quick though.

We headed back to Adventureland to end out the evening and grabbed a quick ride on Aladdin's Magic Carpets.

LOML sat in front and when I asked her to look back, this is the look she gave me.

I'm in trouble when she gets older, arent' I? LOL!

If she keeps those kinds of looks up, I'm gonna need to get me a pellet gun to ward off all the boys.

Mom took this pic when I wasn't looking. I think it sums up our day quite nicely, don't you?


Mama Dawg

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Princesses, Trolls and Sharks, Oh, My!

Our first day in the parks was on Monday, June 1. The day before was the last day of Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival. We usually go during this time, but we scheduled our vacation for the week after it ended. In some ways, I'm glad we did that. I think it was not quite as crowded but on the other hand, I sure do miss the topiaries and Minnie's Butterfly garden.

I love Spaceship Earth (or the giant golf ball as LOML calls it). Look at that blue, blue sky. So gorgeous. The sky is one of the many things I miss about Florida.

Well, lookee here. We got lucky and were able to still enjoy the topiaries that Epcot puts on display during the festival. I think they're a mad genius when it comes to their Festivals.

These are the dancing ostriches from Fantasia.

We had 8:05 a.m. ADR (advanced dining reservations) for the Princess Breakfast in Askershus in Norway. The countries are located in World Showcase or the back half of the park. This is our third year to do this breakfast and as much as I'd love to not do it anymore (the expense and the fact that I'm not a HUGE fan of the princesses), I will continue to do it as long as LOML does.

And no, I'm not saying that to be nice. I'm saying that because the food in Norway ROCKS. They serve you a traditional family style breakfast at your table (large plate consisting of eggs, sausage, cheesy hashbrowns and bacon) and it's fine and all, but the buffet? TO DIE FOR!

Raspberries and blackberries as large as your thumb, smoked salmon, capers, dill cream cheese spread, lingonberry jam, biscuits, authentic Norweigan fish dishes (lots of salmon). Yummy, yummy, yummy. I could eat there all day long. I ate my weight in smoked salmon.

While you're eating, the princesses come to your table and take a few minutes with each kid. They sign autograph books, make conversation and take pictures.

The past two years, Snow White was kind of bitchy. This year, she was so sweet.

But Ariel? She was nice, but all of us left convinced she was a dude. Even LOML commented on how her hands were HUGE!

Here's a view across the water over at Japan. I snapped this as we were leaving. Since we were done with breakfast after 9 and World Showcase doesn't open until 11, we headed back to Future World to ride Soarin' and do The Land and The Seas with Nemo and Friends.

On the way back to Future World, LOML and I about died with excitement. See what she's pointing at? Yeah, that's a chocolate dipped frozen banana. Heaven in your mouth. We could not WAIT to get one!

Here's LOML inside Bruce's mouth. As much as I love Disney movies and all that, I'm a little disappointed that they Disneyfied some of the attractions. I loved the Living Seas just as it was before Nemo and friends took over.

While at the Seas, they have these interactive sections and some living sections.

By living, I mean they're like mini aquariums.

I could literally spend hours and hours just watching all the sea creatures.

I loved watching this little guy get his food. He was such a social outcast with everyone! LOL!

And I've never really seen starfish move before. It was kind of neat to watch them navigate the bottom of the tank.

After we were done with a couple of the lands in Future World, we decided to head back to World Showcase. I love World Showcase. I love the food and the shopping.

I had heard about this new interactive "game" that guests could play that took you all over one of the countries using a cell phone to give you clues. It was hosted by Kim Possible and you had to go and obtain clues to help KP save the world.

It was so much fun. We got our cell phone in Norway and ended up having to save Norway. You don't always end up saving the country you got your phone in, however.

It's also a bit educational, but not overboard. You had to go into the Stave church at one point and learn about the length of a certain Viking ship. They also had it set up to where when you went to a certain spot, they took your picture and then sent it to you via the phone! There were all sorts of places in the countries where when you pressed ok on the phone, something "magical" would happen. They also have these drop off boxes disguised as relics where you could deposit your phone once you were done with the game.

LOML had a blast. So did I. If you're making a trip anytime soon, I highly recommend this. It takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Here's LOML with her phone.

Next, we headed back to Mexico and rode the ride and shopped for a bit.

After Mexico, we went back to Norway (in the layout, Mexico comes first, followed by Norway, but since we had only done breakfast and the Kim Possible thing in Norway, we still wanted to do the ride and shop and eat...again.).

We ate lunch at Norway and had the most delicious sandwich EVER. It was thin sliced ham piled on thick with sliced green apples and either havarti or grueyere cheese melted on top. It was all between two thick slices of some sort of multigrain bread. OMG! We're gonna try to reproduce it at home.

Here's mom shaking the trolls hand. Look how HUGE that hand is. The trolls hand is HUGE, too. LOL! Just kidding, mom. Mom's actually a tiny person. All 4'11" of her.

Next was China where LOML ate her lunch of pot stickers. She LOVES pot stickers and especially the ones at China.

We shopped for a bit and then as we were on our way out of China, we saw the set up for the Chinese gymnast and stopped to watch them.

They are so frickin' impressive.

Here's the guy tossing some bowls on top of his head.

And here he is tossing a SPOON in the top bowl!

I dare anyone to try that at home.

Wait, maybe not.

Next on our stop was Germany. We just ducked in and contemplated some brats and kraut, but decided against it this time.

On to Italy!

I love the World Showcase players. They are usually incredibly hilarious. They get people from the crowd to come assist and be part of the performance, so it literally changes from show to show depending on the cooperation of the guests.

This one was in Italy and the show was Romeo and Edna. Below is a clip.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Lady and the Tramp and was so thrilled to see their topiaries up! They are made up ENTIRELY of plants.

Next stop, the American Adventure.

Well, we actually didn't stop there. I'm not really into the American Pavilion. I don't care for the show that much and the time period in which the pavillin is set is not appealing to me. Call me unpatriotic, but I don't care. The info is stuff that was pounded in my head over and over and over again in school that it ruined me forever on getting any kind of enjoyment out of this Pavilion.

After that, Japan. I love shopping in Japan. LOML's feet were tired so we took about an hour break in Japan just watching the drummers and taking turns shopping.

Next is my favorite country (or one of them). Morocco!

I LOVE the shopping Morocco. It's so exotic and mysterious.

LOML discovered these hats. I told her that if we still had some money left over at the end of the trip, I'd get her one.

Here she is in the back part of Morocco. I love all the tile work.

I've always heard about Mo Rockin', but had never heard them play. They are an incredible group that blends traditional Moroccon music with more modern sounds.

Of course, it doesn't hurt to have a genuine belly dancer there to draw in the (mostly male) crowd!

We made our way to France where we wanted to end the night. We still had the UK and Canada left to do, but we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel for some much needed rest.

Before we left though, LOML wanted to take a pic of the treat we all shared from the French bakery.



Mama Dawg

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