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:, 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


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:


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:


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!


Happy New Year’s Resolutions!

Of all of my endeavors in social media, our stuff with Disney Parks is the one I am most satisfied with. This year has been great, and I have added a lot of new followers, many of which I have to say comes from those folks who do #FollowFriday on Twitter! I have been able to keep a new, reasonably fresh pic up every day, even during the month I was laid up healing from knee replacement.

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This year, I plan to do more of the same, posting one or more pictures every day of the year, keeping up new pictures from my upcoming 2-4 trips to Disney World (and possibly Disneyland, that is still up for discussion after our wonderful trip last year)!

Still, I don’t think everything is perfect, and there are a few areas where I feel I need to change/improve.

  • Blogging consistently – We have been terrible about putting out blogs. Some of that is that I don’t post them very quickly, like the fact that I have a post that my wife wrote a few weeks ago that I need to edit. This next year I want to make sure we post at least one blog a month, some with tips about the parks, and maybe a blog or two about my process and tools (like the latest iPhone camera).
  • Scheduling less – In the upcoming days, my goal is going to be posting tweets live, to interact more with followers (based on advice from @ivysaysrawr). I won’t abandon scheduling altogether, as posting daily pictures will not happen if I have to stop and do this daily. All this means is that I am going to schedule tweets later in the day, and try to come back and post live if possible.
  • Paying more attention to everything Disney! – I missed an opportunity to go to the Midnight Magic party at Animal Kingdom on our next trip because I didn’t see that it was open for registration. I had weeks I could have signed up, but I missed it, only realizing it because I read someone else’s tweet…two weeks later. I missed the one at California Adventure last year the same way.
  • Changing Friday tweets – Friday’s from now on will be just #FollowFriday tweets (unless we are doing a countdown, perhaps, or if we are not posting a #FollowFriday post as I have not done during the Christmas month). No matter if I am mentioned or not, there is so much glorious noise on Fridays that the normal tweet on that day rarely sees attention. It is already so hard to figure out what to post, having an easy day on Friday will actually be kind of nice, even though picking out fireworks/explosion pictures is enough work on its own!)
  • Expand my Follow Friday list I know there are many great people out there to follow and recommend, and I like to really believe in an account before I suggest to others. I have been so busy this year that I haven’t taken enough time to consciously look for accounts to follow.
  • Listen to more podcasts – One of the reasons I have stuck with Twitter for almost 12 years is because of the community and the reasonable time involvement. I can be sitting in a doctor’s appointment, or a boring meeting, etc and read and reply to tweets in just 5 minutes. I work at home, so without a commute podcasts were never something I had time for. When I was recovering, I had a lot of extra time on my hands and really started to like the Dillos, the Monorail family, and the Disney DNA podcasts. Now that I am back to working 12+ hours a day, I haven’t listened as much.

Stretch goal:

  • Start a podcast, or at least guest on one – Over the years, I have been on several podcasts for technical topics. That is fun, but not Disney fun. I have contemplated starting a podcast for years, and have ideas, but the time commitment has been a blocker. To be honest, I have other side work that pays me, which leads to more Disney trips which leads to more pictures that have to take precedence.

All in all, I don’t want to change much. I am totally looking forward to meeting a solid number of my #disTwitter colleagues (and dare I say, friends) in early January for Jocelyn @disneygratitud1‘s meetup in late January!

I have met only a few people from my theme park twitter accounts over the years, and I hope it becomes more like my @drsql account. Through that account, I interact with people that I actually get to see occasionaly around the country at conferences and meetups. Of course it will be a lot more fun to meetup with people at Disney World because, you know… you are at Disney World.


Disneyland vs. Disney World, Our Views

It is the age-old discussion that probably got started the day after Walt Disney World opened, which is better Disneyland or Disney World? Aren’t they the same thing? Is it worth going to one of them, if you know the other? The answer won’t surprise most people, but they are very different places. In this blog, I want to talk about our experiences, share a few extra pictures, and discuss the differences as we saw them.

Our Disneyland Experience was at the end of January 2019 – in some ways it feels like a lifetime ago – and in other ways it feels like yesterday. We have had so many life interruptions since then (and another trip to Disney World), that I have not had the time, or maybe more honestly, the energy, to write like I wanted to about Disneyland. I may still come up with some things I want to share later on – but I thought I would wrap this up with just some general thoughts and my take on the age old debate – should you go to Disneyland if you have been to Disney World?


We have already shared how much we loved the convenience of two parks – right outside our resort. The parks feel so quaint and at the same time have more than you could imagine seeing and doing. I feel like we didn’t get the full experience of the wonder that we should have had at the Disneyland Park. Sleeping Beauty Castle was closed for refurbishment while we were there. Because the center of the hub was closed off – it felt very awkward and there were a lot of construction walls. I am looking forward to going back and seeing it in all of its glory.

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I enjoyed experiencing Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride again, an attraction I had ridden when I was young and my husband had never seen before. Toon Town was really cute, and there were lots of interesting little differences in almost every attraction that mirrors WDW. Some of these differences made the attractions so much more exciting to me – and just made me love them more. Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean were so cool – they were my favorites at the Magic Kingdom. I could have ridden them all day. I was fascinated by how many of the loading areas for the rides were located outside. I was not as impressed with the differences in Space Mountain and Splash Mountain. (Space Mountain really bothered my vertigo at DL and apparently, I have become far too comfortable with the safety bar in the WDW version of Splash Mountain – it felt very out of control to me!)


California Adventure was the big hit for me – I cannot wait to go back. I loved the Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout! I was not expecting this at all. I really enjoy Tower of Terror and the theming – so I thought I would be disappointed in Guardians. The music, story, video, and immediate drop shaft without going through the Fifth-Dimension scene made the ride so exciting. I am so glad there are two different versions of the attraction to enjoy. The Frozen Show, Monsters Inc. attraction, and Soarin’ were great – but another reason I loved California Adventure so much was Radiator Springs. I am not going to lie; I think I cried a bit the first time I walked through that entrance. I have never felt so much like I had truly walked onto a movie set. The visuals are stunning, it just looks so much like the movie. Radiator Springs Racers was a spectacular attraction. The queue was perfect, I felt totally immersed and the race was so much fun. @drsql really liked Pixar Pier, even though my vertigo kept me from many of the attractions in that area, it was fun to see him enjoy it so much and I liked soaking up the atmosphere.


Another experience that I enjoyed at California Adventure was our anniversary dinner at Carthay Circle. The food was excellent and the service exceptional. They made our special night even more special. @drsql does not like to take too much time away from attractions for table service restaurants, but Hollywood Brown Derby is one of my favorites, so I really wanted to go to Carthay Circle for our one extraordinary meal. The atmosphere was beautiful, and you felt immersed in the time period. I wish that we had taken the time to really dress for the event – just for the fun of it. We were dressed nicer than our usual park attire, but still very casual and I did not feel out of place. It exceeded my expectations and I look forward to dining there again.

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We also enjoyed Downtown Disney since we had the opportunity to spend more time there than we do at Disney Springs. It is smaller, so much more manageable, and we walked through it often to get to our resort. Due to our schedule, we had an extra day to spend there and the opportunity to do The Void: Step Beyond Reality.


The Void was an incredible experience, one unique for me because I had never really played any type of virtual reality game before this one. I had been a little worried to try it because of my vertigo, but I always wanted to give it a shot. While we were there, The Void had two experiences that they were running, Star Wars and Wreak it Ralph. I definitely wanted to choose Star Wars and that was our intent when we first spoke to the cast member. We decided to go ahead to do some walking, eat lunch, and come back to The Void later in the afternoon. What the cast member failed to tell us is that at that time, they were only running Star Wars in the morning and that Wreak it Ralph was the only one available to play in the afternoon. We sadly decided to go ahead and try it since we would not have another time during our trip. It was so much fun. I didn’t have any issues with dizziness and the games were great! The only negative to the experience is that you do not have much time. There is really no practice before the first game starts, so you have to be ready to go. And the cost for 15 minutes of play is pretty high. I would have like to have had some practice before the scoring started and have it last at least 25-30 minutes for the cost.

Even though we knew some attractions and shows would be in refurbishment (that is always a possibility anytime you visit) – we really expected this to be our one and only trip to Disneyland. Due to the distance for us and lack of DVC options, it is just so much more expensive, and we can spend so many more days at Disney World. The only way I finally got @drsql to go…it was for our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Even though we didn’t expect it- we were not there very long before we realized we have to visit again.

I have often seen people discuss the need to visit Disneyland if you have been to Walt Disney World. As a matter of fact, over the years we have had many people tell us that due to the size we never really need to visit DL. I can honestly say, now I would advise any Walt Disney World fan to definitely go to Disneyland at least one time. It is absolutely a great experience, so similar but so different, we had a wonderful time.

There are so many things we didn’t get to do even though we spent two days at each park. I have my list already prepared for our next visit. Sleeping Beauty Castle, Fantasmic, World of Color, Grizzly River Run, and a Backstage Tour are high on that list. I wanted to visit Blue Sky Cellar and too many restaurants to count. Hopefully we will be making reservations for that visit soon – and now that we love Disneyland – maybe I can talk @drsql into Paris!!