Blogs

ValPalMickey: How Disney has Broken My Heart (or at least ruined my Happily Ever After…)

Ok…so maybe that title is a little dramatic, but it is the way I am feeling at the moment. I have a lot of Walt Disney World attractions that are very important to me that I would never want to lose (I am looking at you Haunted Mansion!) but shows, especially fireworks shows, are not typically on this list. I understand stage productions can become stale or dated over time and they need to be refreshed. And honestly, some things can run for too long. So, I will typically try to visit one last time to bid a show a fond farewell and look back on pictures fondly.

I was not a huge fan of Wishes and I totally understand that I just lost many of you with that statement. It was a great show, but because of some silliness from my husband, I really struggled with the music, and I didn’t love waiting for it. We had just seen it so many times that we often just worked hard to be on Big Thunder Mountain or Splash Mountain for a special view of the fireworks. I didn’t like to wait in front of the castle, with a sea of people for Wishes – so I was excited to hear we would receive a new nighttime spectacular.

I thought I might enjoy Happily Ever After and watch it occasionally, but I was not prepared for what I experienced the first time I saw this show. There was something uniquely special about this production. It is not just that the projections are amazing, which they are incredibly so, or that the fireworks are timed well…they are, it is something else. The music…the music is incredibly emotional…unlike any other fireworks show I have seen. Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular has an incredible score with music that we are familiar with…that reaches the fans nostalgia. (And I do love that show.) However, Happily Ever After uses its music in a more unique way to tug at our heartstrings. They utilize songs that we are familiar with (some more than others) but in an incredible arrangement that utilizes versions of songs that I have never heard in another setting.

Bear with me, I am going to make another controversial statement – I am not a huge Tinkerbell fan. I know…now you really hate me. (When I was a kid, I thought she was too mean to Wendy, and it just stuck with me…but I digress.) When Tinkerbell took flight in Wishes I thought it was really cool, but it didn’t strike me that much in the feels – it was early in the show. I remember watching Happily Ever After the first time and thinking…oh something must be wrong tonight and Tink is not flying. But then…when she took off from the castle…I started crying. The timing is spectacular… when Tinkerbell makes her flight…it is just perfect. I have never cried so much in a show with fireworks – not in all of these years of visiting the parks. (Even seeing Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular was amazing, but I did not burst out into hysteric tears.) Happily Ever After became a must do for me. I would gladly wait in the heat, with a crowd, to get a great view.

I say all of this to say – Happily Ever After is going away too soon. We were not ready…we didn’t have enough time. I know the pandemic kept us from visiting as much over the last couple of years, but I don’t think more viewings would change my feelings of loss right now. I am not angry, and I do not hold it against Disney because I am sure they have their reasons…but I have a request. Walt Disney World…please at least give me an official soundtrack.

Blogs

DisneyPicADay: Why I am Glad Happily Ever After is Ending

This is my first attempt at writing a blog with a clickbait title. I expect on that aspect it will fail to take me to the viral levels of most clickbait (I suppose I could have said “Why I am Glad a Disney World Attraction is ending” so you wouldn’t know what I meant until you clicked, but I am new at this. Keeping with the clickbait tradition, I will reveal my reasoning at the end of the blog, but I won’t make you read two pages of text explaining to you what Happily Ever After is, WaltDisneyWorld.Com will do that for you just nicely.

I read a lot of people who Happily Ever After for various reasons. The music, the magic, the wonderful fireworks, or even a personal attachment. A good friend was proposed to during this show. That is a strong attachment. It was one of my grandaugther’s favorite memories from her first trip to Walt Disney World (okay, it was second next to the dessert party we went to first.) There are tons of amazing memories of this show out there. I personally love the show very much, and largely use pictures from the show in my sorta weekly #FollowFriday posts.

On #Distwitter and various YouTube channels, back room Discords, and probably around the water cooler in the Utilidors (has anyone actually worked at a place that had a water cooler that you stood around talking?), comparing “Happily Ever After” to “Wishes” to “Fantasy in the Sky” and other nighttime spectaculars. If you want to listen to one such debate, check out episode 160 of our Monorail loving friends at the Morning Monorail.

On that episode of the Morning Monorail podcast, my answer was read and I liked Wishes better, but that is not why I am glad to see Happily Ever After ending, I don’t even want Wishes to come back. I clearly love the visuals because for something that you have to wait an hour or more for that only happens once a day, I have a lot of pictures of it (and have spent a decent amount of money on dessert parties and camera equipment to get better views and pictures of it too!)

I did slightly prefer when the projection show was distinct from the fireworks, but that is a minor quibble. No, the one reason I am happy it is going away is for the simple reason that I want more memories. I love the familiarity of going to a theme park and seeing the same sights, hearing the same sounds, smelling the same smells, riding the same rides… But it is nice to get new sights, smells, rides too.

When I am scrolling through my pictures preparing for FollowFriday, I often hear the crescendo of the songs from “Wishes” and “Happily Ever After” in particular. I don’t remember the words of the songs, but I do remember “Star light, star bright… Wishes” and “Happily Ever After” (made all the easier since it is right there in the title). I selfishly want more memories to squirrel away in my brain.

As you can see here on Disney World’s website:

A crowd looks on as fireworks burst over Cinderella Castle and Main Street, U.S.A. is sprinkled with pixie dust
Credit Disney. Artist concept of new Enchanted show

I can’t wait to see this. And after the 18 months they tell us that the 50th celebration will go on, I look forward to the next spectacular “Enchanted”. After all… the title of the current show is more typically heard in the phrase “and they lived happily ever after” … at the end of the story… The memories of seeing this the first and last time will still be there without seeing it again.

And while watching fireworks on TV can’t compare to the real thing, if you need your memory refreshed… Disney already has that for you.

Happily Ever After on Youtube
Blogs

Teacups In A Tempest

Three months ago, we wrote a blog entited “Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?” discussing the pros and cons of planning to go to a theme park like Disney World during the pandemic we are current in the midst of. It wasn’t an easy topic then, nor is it exactly an easy topic now. But for me, I have decided it is time to give it go, so Saturday, Septempber 20th, I will be on my way to Orlando for a week at Disney World and I am cautiously excited. Obviously there are reasons to be excited, I mean, it’s Disney Freaking World, right? I have a new camera, and I am truly excited to expand my picture inventory, especially catching some pictures of things that I don’t have nearly enough of (like my extreme lack of pictures of the teacups!)

I expect crowds to be rather low, especially since school is back in, and frankly the parks are only open 8 (AK and EP) or 9 (MK and HS) hours a day. It is rare that I spend that few hours in the parks in a day, unless something interesting is going on (like a certain meetup in January reduced one of our days, another trip it was illness, but usually I go at least 12 hours a day).

Obviously the title alludes to the saying “a tempest in a teacup” which means a small event blown way out of proportion. But this is clearly not that. It is a true tempest, something my wife and I take seriously. We canceled multiple trips before this because we were uncomfortable with the situation on our planet, most importantly Tennessee and Florida (and also somewhat Georgia, since I will drive through it from top to bottom getting to Florida.) This week felt like the best time to go, so we made our plans, and were both planning to get in the family truckster and head south before colder weather arrives and situations possibly change.

Unfortunately, I use the word I instead of we because non-Covid  things have gotten in the way for one of us, in that Valerie’s brother had a cardiac event recently, and she doesn’t want to risk being away and out in the world so soon. He has progressed past the fragile state (or I would cancel my trip), but is still a long way from OK. So we are planning a trip together  in November for Christmas décor.

As such, I will be lone wolfing it for the week. This is sad for us, but will also be a little fun too (and perhaps for any of you that want to help determine my fate.) The last time I went to Disney World without Val (she was furiously writing her dissertation for her doctorate!) she prepared missions for me. This week will be the same.  The last time we did this (chronicled here: https://disneypicaday.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/my-husband-went-to-disney-world-alone-so-he-had-to-suffer-a-little/), the hardest missions for me were the meet and greets. It is a very dorky feeling as an lone adult standing in line waiting to meet Sofia! And the picture bears out that dorkiness as you can see:

Some of the ideas she has had so far include:

  • Standing in front of the fountain outside of Imagination and singing “One Little Spark”
  • Pictures of obscure things
  • Livestreaming walks around some areas
  • Asking our Twitter followers for ideas

Yeah, that last one is the most concerning of them all!

Of course, like last time I was there by myself, I won’t be going to the Halloween party. This time for much different reasons. My schedule for the week is as follows.

  • Sunday 20 – EPCOT
  • Monday 21 – Hollywood Studios
  • Tuesday 22 – Magic Kingdom
  • Wednesday 23 – Animal Kingdom
  • Thursday 24 – Hollywood Studios (Considering changing to Animal Kingdom, depending on how Monday and Wednesday go)
  • Friday 25 – Magic Kingdom
  • Saturday 26 – EPCOT

The whole thing has me a bit concerned about how it will go, but from my experiences at Dollywood over the past few months, plus knowing how strongly Disney has been enforcing their rules, I feel confident that if I keep mostly outdoors that things will be just fine. I also understand the people who say that it isn’t time for them to go, it is complicated. I know this won’t be a normal trip as I will be spending almost all of my time outdoors except when going on a ride. This can be an interesting proposition in mid September Orlando as if I recall correctly, it can be a bit warm, but keeping safe is still very important. According to weather.com:

Blogs

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

People often ask us why we go to Walt Disney World several times a year. (If you are reading this blog, you probably get asked the same thing on occasion!) I remember planning our first trip. I had been to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot several times before we were married, but Louis (@disneypicaday) and our daughter had never been. Frankly, we didn’t have the money to go on big family vacations in those early days. When we were finally ready to plan a big vacation in June of 2001, I knew it had to be WDW – even though Louis was not so sure. He found a package deal for a four-night stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort, I bought my first copy of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and he relented, but vowed this would be our one and only visit to the magic. Famous last words, right?

We were hooked. It had everything that two totally work obsessed adults could dream of – and more. We had tried beach and mountain vacations. It inevitably ended up with us sitting in chairs on a balcony with our laptops working. We went camping some, but there was this one night of 1000 frogs…that may be a blog for another time.

Disney provided an opportunity for a real vacation. We couldn’t work – it was all about the fun – no news, no contact with the outside world – just complete and utter focus on our family and obsessively experiencing as many attractions as possible in a day.

For us, visiting Disney provides that much needed disconnect that allows us to recharge, dream, be inspired, and return to work and our daily lives – ready to be our best. (After we get some sleep and recover from the muscle soreness acquired by walking 16 hours a day for a week!)

Fast forward to (hopefully) the strangest possible year – 2020. This year has presented everyone with unexpected challenges. We were able to visit Walt Disney World in January, before the virus began to close everything and it was one of the best visits ever. We were able to attend Jocelyn’s (@DisneyGratitud1) Meet Up and experienced Rise of the Resistance multiple times! 

Our next visit was scheduled for April, and although we were disappointed, we completely supported the quarantine and the need for keeping everyone safe. In the big scheme of things, missing a vacation is not a big deal at all! I was incredibly sick for the month of March with the flu (according to the diagnosis – this was before Covid tests) and we have been trying to follow all of the quarantine guidelines pretty carefully. Not only do we not want to become sick, but I am doing everything possible to keep my 89-year-old mother healthy as well.

We rescheduled our April vacation for the end of July, hoping that by then there would be more clarity on the virus. Unfortunately, there seems to be more confusion than ever. The Florida numbers are rising steadily, and we have worked so hard to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Although – we also know that there are a lot of people relying on the parks to open back up and we definitely want to show our support for them as well. We are not exactly sure what to do.

Hence the reason that song by the Clash has been playing in my head for the last few days. I have a feeling we are not the only ones that are struggling with this decision – should we stay home? For now, we are still planning on making the visit to Walt Disney World in July – we made our park reservations on Monday. But the concerns are there…and we are debating it…every day.

But if we can’t go see it in person, we still have the pictures:

Blogs

Great Movie Ride Goodbye

If you took the time to click on this blog, you know about the Great Movie Ride so I am not going to explain it to you. I was never a super fan of the ride, (Unlike my wife, @ValPalMickey, who thought of it as one of her very favorite rides!)

However, the Great Movie Ride holds one particular special spot in my heart as being one of the first dark rides I really tried taking decent pictures of. They made absolutely wonderful backgrounds for computer screens when they were clear enough. I was not terribly successful for many years (and not every picture in this blog is super perfect either!)

In this blog, I wanted to share a few of my favorite pictures from the ride that introduced me to more than a few great movies over the years.

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Of course, you have to start with the marquee as we rode right into the movies!

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Then past scenes of John Wayne, Aliens, Casablanca, Mary Poppins, to name a few (and not in any particular order).

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The action scenes were fun, a bit hokey at times. but who didn’t like a scene with cowboys and fire?

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And why did they always go for the goods? Did they not see what was coming next? Had these people never been to a movie?

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But one of my favorite scenes is from a movie that traumatized me as a child… The Wizard of Oz. The witch and flying monkeys creeped me out!

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The finale was awesome, in fact so awesome it would still make a great attraction without the ride. There are so many movies that people haven’t seen that are just spectacular and the ending of the ride reminded us of that.

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But at the very least… we still have the glorious Grauman’s Chinese Theater!

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Even if we no longer have these glorious signs:

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As much as I will miss everything that the Great Movie Ride had to offer, I am looking forward to seeing the next chapter when we are there in just over a month!