Posts Tagged by This Happy Place Blog

Kill, Refurb, Marry: Air-Conditioned Attractions

Kill-Marry-RefurbThis is the perfect topic in the heat of the summer!  But where to begin?!  There are so many Air-Conditioned Attractions in Walt Disney World….and thankfully so!  Could you imagine surviving the Florida heat and humidity without it?!? Since there are so many options to choose from, I decided to stick with one park for this one and show Disney’s Hollywood Studios some love.  Lights, Camera, Action!

Kill – The American Idol Experience

This is the 2nd time that I’ve chosen The American Idol Experience to kill, the first was for live musicals in the parks.  Can you tell I’m not a fan??  Again, this goes back to wasting prime space on an outdated show.  I know that the contestants go through an audition process to get into the show, but it seems like you might run the risk of watching bad karaoke in there.  Now maybe if they had a bad karaoke show that also included some cocktails…that could be entertaining 😉

Refurb – The Great Movie Ride

This is by far one of my favorite attractions, but at this point it is purely for nostalgic reasons.  I remember being in awe of this when it first opened 25 years ago…ugh I feel old!  But that’s the problem, nothing has changed in 25 years!  Yes they updated the final movie a while back, but that is still incredibly dated.  This attraction needs a complete redo.

Everything from the beginning through the western should stay…that’s historic.  And Indy, leave that in there because those films are a classic.  Alien, I think we can probably some up with some more current options for the Sci-Fi/Horror genre.  Tarzan, Casablanca, Fantasia…none of that resonates with people today.  Let’s update that.  Wizard of Oz is not only a classic, but the set is gorgeous so that should stay as well.  Last but not least…the film…probably the easiest thing to change…get on it!

No Hat!!! Photo Source

No Hat!!!
Photo Source

Marry – Star Tours

I have always loved Star Tours and it has just gotten better since the refurb back in 2011.  You never know what to expect and each ride is very exciting!  The queue is fun and the gift shop makes for some great photo ops.  It is definitely one of my favorite ways to cool off on a warm day at the Studios!


So those are my choices…what about you?  What air-conditioned attractions at the Studios would you Kill, Refurb & Marry??  Make sure to visit This Happy Place BlogMouse on the Mind and all of the other great blogs participating in Kill, Refurb, Marry today!

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Kill, Refurb, Marry: Live Musicals in the Parks

Kill-Marry-RefurbThis month’s theme for Kill, Refurb, Marry is Live Musicals in the Parks.  I’m really not a fan of live shows.  I’m not quite sure what I don’t like exactly, but I think I just enjoy “moving” attractions more and would rather spend my time there.  But even though they aren’t my favorite, I do appreciate them and try to see each show at least once.  You have to try everything at least once, right?? Ok so here are my picks…

Kill – The American Idol Experience

Ok, this one I haven’t actually seen.  I do NOT enjoy American Idol, so I can’t imagine spending my precious park time watching a live version.  The location is prime real estate for something awesome to lived up the Studios…so come on Disney, AI is totally past it’s prime!


Refurb – Beauty and the Beast – Live On Stage

This might not be a fair assessment since I haven’t actually seen this show, but the reasons why I haven’t seen it are why I feel it needs a refurb.  Basically it’s the uncomfortable looking bleacher seats and the outdoor venue that keep me away.  Sitting on hot metal doesn’t seem like a comfortable way to spend an afternoon.  Also, I think since I’ve seen the full Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast, I don’t really feel the need to see this abbreviated version.  However if they moved it to an indoor venue (say the AI theater!) then maybe I would be more inclined to see it.


Marry – Finding Nemo – The Musical

Even though I feel this show is a bit long, it is gorgeous.  The puppetry, the music, the sets…it all works so perfectly together.  I love the story of Finding Nemo…the theme is sweet and the humor is wonderful.  To see it live on stage with those larger than life puppets is just amazing.  I have to say that crush is probably my favorite 🙂


So those are my choices…what about you?  What live musicals in the parks would you Kill, Refurb & Marry??  Make sure to visit This Happy Place Blog, Mouse on the Mind and all of the other great blogs participating in Kill, Refurb, Marry today!

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runDisney Welcomes NYC Marathoners

My good friend Estelle from This Happy Place Blog happened to be walking past the Disney Store in Times Square today and noticed a few new signs in the window…check it out!


How fun!  I think it is pretty amazing that the NYC Marathon is still on after everything that happened this week with Hurricane Sandy.  It just shows the true resiliency of New Yorkers 🙂

Good luck to everyone running this weekend and thanks Estelle for the pics!

How It All Began: 2011 Disney Halloween 5K Recap

My good friend Estelle has has been holding Animal Kingdom Appreciation month over on This Happy Place Blog and I thought I would support her cause (a noble one in my opinion!) by recapping the Disney Halloween 5K through Animal Kingdom on October 1, 2011.  This was the race that started it all…my journey to get healthier and run a half marathon!  Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

In 2010, my husband Barry and I ran the Disney Halloween 5K, which was our first race ever.  This was the first year the race was held during the inaugural Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend.  The course went through the Magic Kingdom and it was a blast!  We had done very minimal training leading up to this and it was more of a fun experience to have with our friends.

First 5K Medals!

The following year we were returning to the World for the same weekend to cheer on friends in the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and attend all of the “Epic October” festivities.  We had both decided that we were not going to run the 5K in 2011 because it was so exhausting the prior year with everything else going on that weekend.  Well this was until about 3 weeks prior to our trip when I succumbed to some serious peer pressure from my “friends” and registered for the 5K.  Barry was not as week as I was, so I was doing this one solo.  Not really, but sans husband.

I was up, dressed and out of the hotel by about 5:45 am the morning of the race.  It was still dark and eerily quiet at Saratoga Springs.  We had a rental car so I was able to get over to Animal Kingdom fairly quickly.  There was a small amount of traffic when I arrived, but it looked like I got there just in time because the line of cars started building around the parking lot behind me.  I got a great parking spot right across from the starting/finish line.

When I entered the pre-race area, I had my eye out for my Be Our Guest Podcast family and all of my other peer pressure filled friends 🙂  They were pretty easy to spot because of the awesome signs the Chear Squad had made for us runners!

BOGP Chear Squad

We had at least 30 minutes to hang out and catch up before we headed into the starting corral.  For Disney 5Ks, they have signs posted with different pace times throughout the corral.  You simply line up behind your anticipated pace and wait.  I know I’m probably not supposed to do this, but I tend to go a little farther up than where I should be because I’m always scared I’ll finish last!  You probably shouldn’t follow my lead here…

Starting Corral

Starting Fireworks

So the starting fireworks went off and we stood…and stood…  It took a while to get moving.  There was a large group participating in this race.  As you can see from the photo above, we were pretty far back from the starting area, which actually curved through the parking lot.  Since we were moving at a snails pace, I grabbed a pic of my festive black cat ears I wore for the race.  The closest thing I would get to a costume when running 3.1 miles.

On the Move

We finally made it over the starting line which is when I realized the beginning of the race was mainly going to take place in the parking lot.  Booooooring!  I wanted to see some animals!  I guess this makes sense that even though Animal Kingdom is a large park, there aren’t a lot of areas to actually run the race on.  Most of the space is reserved for the animals.

Animal Kingdom Parking Lot Roundabout

As we neared the entrance of the park, I could see a serious bottle neck ahead.  The course had runners filing into a very narrow walkway to the left of the tram drop off area instead of taking us on the road the tram uses.  Try getting 5,000 people into a single file line…not so good.  We stood around and inched our way onto the walkway then headed through the gates of the park, which was equally congested.  I hope this is something Disney remedies for this year’s race.

Congestion at the Park Entrance

The course went through the left side of the Oasis and into Discovery Island.  This was absolutely beautiful right at dawn. Everything seemed to be coming to life right before my eyes.  As I’m sure you know, the Oasis is uphill into Discovery Island which was a bit daunting, but we were rewarded with this gorgeous view of the Tree of Life in front of us.  Sigh.

Tree of Life

When in Discovery Island, the course went left into Africa.  From what I recall, this was the first character area I saw.  Come to think of it, I don’t recall many character photos areas at all on this race.  Here in Africa we came across the Hyenas from The Lion King.  They were pretty funny as they would dance around everyone who came up to them.

Entering Africa

Hyenas Causing Trouble

Now here’s where the race got boring.  I thought the parking lot was boring, but at least there was the anticipation of entering the park.  After leaving Africa, we entered a backstage area for a loooooong down and back.  I’m pretty sure this road went all the way back to Conservation Station, you know the area you usually take a train to.  It felt like it went on forever.  The only bonus was that right after the turnaround, cast members had some animals out cheering on the runners!  I was just glad I was moving faster than this tortoise! 🙂

Tortoise on the Course

I was happy to leave the backstage area knowing now that there was only 1 mile left to go.  We finally entered Asia, my favorite part of Animal Kingdom.  There are so many wonderful details in Asia to look at, which was a welcome change.  I have to admit I was a bit sad to be running past Expedition Everest instead of riding it, but I kept on moving.


We went past Finding Nemo: The Musical and into Dinoland USA.  From here we exited the park and into another backstage area.  Here is where my favorite photo stop of the race was…the Gravediggers!  They always put on a great show.  I just wish there was a better backdrop than a Ryder truck and Porta Potties…

Jack & Sally with the Gravediggers

As we came upon mile 3, the sun was just beginning to appear over the horizon.  What an amazing sight…truly breathtaking.  Disney couldn’t have planned that any better 😉  This area also gave a great view of the backstage area of Expedition Everest.  I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a real mountain!!

Gorgeous Sunrise!

Backstage of Expedition Everest

Finally, we were back in the parking lot and back at the finish line.  I made it!!  I was thrilled to finish this race, as it was much more difficult than the year before because of my lack of training and the lackluster course.  I LOVE Animal Kingdom as a theme park, but it’s not ideal for a race.

Finally...the FInish Line!

So yes, I huffed and I puffed my way through the race.  I finished with a not so stellar time of 48:10, but I didn’t care.  I felt a sense of accomplishment and a new found desire to keep going and do better.  That evening I saw my friends cross the finish line at the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and I knew I had to do it….I had to run a half marathon.  And that’s when the training began.

Super Red Faced!!

Now look at me, only 6 months later.  I have completed my first half marathon and I’ve shaved 10 minutes off of my 5K time.  Don’t get me wrong, I still huff and puff and my face gets just as red, but it’s slowly getting easier.  While this wasn’t my favorite race course, I appreciate Animal Kingdom for igniting my passion.  Every time I’ve been back to the park since then and I know every time going forward, I can smile and think about that day…the day it all began.