Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Dates!

Epcot’s annual Flower and Garden Festival is starting this year on March 6, 2013, and running through May 19. The amount of work that goes into this festival is amazing and it’s always well worth a visit during this time! I was there for this festival in 2008 and they have such amazing topiaries and arrangements. They had one great Peter Pan section with a biiiiig Crocodile!

This was from the 2008 festival. Because I'm 5 years in the past like that.

This was from the 2008 festival. Because I’m 5 years in the past like that.

This year’s Festival is the 20th anniversary and in addition to the great topiaries they will have Garden Marketplace parties, a Land of Oz play area for kids, live music from “Flower Power” artists of the ’60s and ’70s, and butterfly gardens.

From Disney’s release:

Debuting this year:

  • Garden Marketplace culinary creations ranging from smokehouse barbecue and shrimp with grits and Zellwood corn to sweet “frushi” made with fresh fruits and coconut rice. Chefs are perfecting menus for marketplaces that will include Florida Fresh at World Showcase Promenade, Smokehouse Barbecue and Brew at American Adventure courtyard, Primavera Kitchen at Italy showcase, Hanami at Japan showcase and eight others around the World Showcase promenade.
  • Garden Marketplace refreshing libations with a kick like Hot Sun Tomato Wine from Florida Orange Groves Winery and Dole Whip with Spiced Rum, as well as non-alcoholic drinks like Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade and Wild Berry Slush.
  • A new, circus-like “Land of Oz” play area based on the Disney fantastical film adventure “Oz: The Great and Powerful” to be released March 8, 2013. The interactive children’s play zone will feature play systems adorned with giant flowers and designed to stretch kids’ imaginations and muscles. Midway-style games, red-and-white circus-themed tents and the “Oz Movie Garden” of intriguing plants will capture the spirit of the upcoming film.
  • Larger-than-life Fab Five Disney character topiary. Floral versions of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck (with Daisy Duck in a cameo) star in a celebratory cookout scene in living topiary color. The 14-foot-tall Goofy topiary will bobble an anniversary cake while Donald and Daisy play badminton, Mickey fires up the grill, Pluto swipes a link of hot dogs and Minnie chills out on a colorful blanket of blossoms.
  • Illuminated Gardens in the Park’s Future World and World Showcase will twinkle and glow over the festival’s world-famous Disney gardens and topiaries each festival evening.

Quick self-promotion: Want to visit during this time? It’s a great season to take a vacation at Disney World – the weather’s good, crowds aren’t too high, and you’ve got the flowers. Contact me in a comment or via Twitter and I can give you a quote, or help you book a trip! I’m working with Fairytale Journeys and we specialize in Disney vacations!


Please vote! How often should I update?

Hello everyone!  I’ve had this blog for a little over a week now, and I’ve been trying to update it every day.  But I’d like some feedback about that.  Is every day too much?  I want to have plenty of content for people and stay active.  What would you most like to see?
Please vote!  I want feedback from readers, potential readers, and everyone!  After all what good is a blog if no one wants to read it?


Spectromagic Vs. Main Street Electrical Parade

Way back, many years ago, I was pretty indifferent to parades. In fact I had a bad experience at one once, through no fault of the parade people, that left me more prone to avoid them than not. I’ll admit, I still am more likely to go off in search of rides rather than stake out a place for a daytime parade, though if I happen by while one is going on I’ll stay and watch it now.

In 2008, I had a trip just by myself and a good friend, and she got us amazing curbside seats for Spectromagic at Disney World. Up until then I had a big Meh to Spectromagic, but that parade was FUN. Being so close up (the last time I’d tried the parade close up I was pregnant and the crowds were so bad I got claustrophobia and a guy got mad at me; there, I said it, that’s my bad experience) and NOT crowded like sardines, due to waiting for the second parade, made a huge difference. I had princesses waving at me and there was dancing and I could see everyone and hear everything, and even though I was turning 30 in a few days, I felt about 8 years old. It was wonderful.

WDW2008 105

Fauna is pointing at her hat because she’s looking at me and I am wearing a Princess crown. She’s telling me I’M A PRINCESS. *bawls*

When I heard, in late 2010, that the Magic Kingdom was bringing back the Main Street Electrical Parade, I was *really* excited. I’d be taking my kids for their first visit in early 2011 and I remembered seeing the MSEP when I first went in 1995. I also love the theme to that parade.  So this was a big “COOL!” kind of moment… until I thought about how much I had come to love Spectromagic.


Well, I eventually told myself, they’re basically the same exact parade anyway.  A lot of lights and music and characters.  And when I got there, I’ll admit it, Main Street Electrical was a lot of fun.  I especially love the Pete’s Dragon float with Pete riding by on top of Elliott, talking to everyone.  It’s a great experience and really fun and the kids loved it – oh man did they ever – but…


But it doesn’t have the sweeping majesty of Spectromagic.  And weirdly, I kind of missed that.  I’ve been seeing more and more people lately asking MK to bring back Spectromagic and I think that’s funny, because for years it was “bring back MSEP”… so I guess it’s just that you will always love your “first” parade, even though technically Spectro was not my first.  It was my first that I really truly loved, though.

Please forgive my lousy night photography.

Please forgive my lousy night photography.

All my photos are of Spectro.  Deal with it.

All my photos are of Spectro. I think you’ll survive.

So what do you think?  Do you love Spectro or MSEP more – or do you think they’re basically the same parade and you like them both equally?  I was surprised to have a preference, myself!

Disney Time Sweepstakes

This is a promotional image (c) Disney, not my design

This is a promotional image (c) Disney, not my design

Disney Time Sweepstakes

I’m a little late in promoting this, but there are two days left to enter this great sweepstakes, meaning you still have two chances to win!  Disney has been giving away a vacation a day for all of January, and ALL entries that were received during the month will be entered in the final grand drawing on 1/31.  Pick from your preferred vacation out of five possibilities, and have fun!

Disney Dreams: Characters in Flight

I think every real Disney fan has things they’ve yet to do – and may never get to do – at Disney.  A behind-the-scenes tour, a restaurant, a resort, or what have you.

I, unfortunately, don’t get to Disney as often as I’d like (a piddling five times in my whole life!  Four of them in the past 9 years) and so my list… well, it’s pretty long by now.  I’ve done a lot IN the parks but there are things surrounding, or even far away from the parks that are pretty amazing and I either haven’t had a chance, haven’t had the cash, or some other reason just haven’t done ’em yet.

So every so often I thought I’d talk about one or two of these things I want to do, but haven’t.  Yet.  There is ALWAYS another chance!

Starting simple, today I’m looking at you, Characters in Flight!  Heard of this?  It’s a hot-air balloon ride in the Downtown Disney Area.

The original one was covered with silhouettes of Disney characters (hence the name) who can fly (also hence the name): Peter Pan, Wendy, Mary Poppins, Aladdin on the Magic Carpet.  In October this year they introduced a new balloon, all stripey and pretty!

Here is my best picture of the original balloon, which is blurry and at night and regardless still really cool

Here is my best picture of the original balloon, which is blurry and at night and regardless still pretty cool


When we reached the Walt Disney World Resort a couple of years ago on our last vacation there, my daughter could see the balloon from the car as we were driving to our hotel and she was transfixed.  The price is actually really reasonable too – current ticket prices are $18 for adults and $12 for kids.

So why didn’t we do it?  Is it because I’m afraid of heights?  Some deep dark secret? Nope, we just didn’t have time to fit it in.  We had one day we spent outside of the parks, and we did go to Downtown Disney, but we spent our time browsing the stores and having dinner, you know, as you do.  So we just didn’t get up in there.

I hope I can do this someday, and hopefully with my daughter.  She was just BEGGING us but it never materialized… too many other things planned already.  As they are. 😉

Limited Time Magic, January 25-31

I’m a bit late in posting this but this week’s Limited Time Magic at Disney World and Disneyland is an opportunity to vote on their promotional art designs for 2014.  View them here: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/let-the-memories-begin/limited-time-magic/disney-parks-dated-art-program-voting/


Personally, I have to say that I’m not in love with any of those designs, although the first one seems a no-brainer to win.  It’s reminiscent of ‘it’s a small world’, very cutely retro and I think has the most across-the-board appeal.


More interesting to me is the upcoming LTM for Valentine’s Day!  I’m looking for more details but it sounds adorable.  True Love Week!  I’ll add more details when I get them but the one thing that jumped out at me is that Cinderella Castle will be pink!  All together now: Awwwww. 😉

Limited Time Magic: Love It or Leave It?

Everything I hear about Limited Time Magic at the Disney Parks sounds awesome, but from reports I’ve heard it’s been “underwhelming” so far on the East Coast (better received on the West Coast evidently).  I don’t really quite get just what this means – are their events having a low turnout?  Is the feedback just not good?  Or is fan buzz kind of a “meh”?

Personally I think the two Limited Time Magic events they’ve done so far were pretty cool – things I’d love to have happened to be in the park for.  Not stuff I’d want to plan around, which I think is perfect.  I mean, yes, I *would* try to plan around a week when I knew I’d get to meet Darkwing Duck, but that’s just me. 🙂

I would also totally hit on Launchpad McQuack if he happened to be wandering around. Maybe for the best that he's not.

I would also totally hit on Launchpad McQuack if he happened to be wandering around. Maybe for the best that he’s not.

But the two events – snow in the Canada pavilion at Epcot, and the chance to meet some characters who aren’t seen much anymore – those are pretty cool things to just walk into.  I like those ideas a lot!  What’s not to like?  I got the impression the events weren’t intended to drive attendance at the parks, precisely, just as a way to give some special experiences to people who were already there.

So this week it’s apparently a chance to choose the 2014 artwork, which I’ll admit is less interesting to me, partly because I previewed the images and voted and now… it’s over. 😦  I think sticking mainly to Park experiences is the way to go.  I’ll have to pay more attention to the Disneyland LTMs, which I hear are pretty cool too.  My attention always gravitates toward WDW so it’s kind of monopolized over there. 😉

Opinions on Limited Time Magic?  It reminds me of the Year of a Million Dreams, which was *totally* to drive attendance at the parks, but it was just so lovely.  I didn’t get anything major, just a couple of free fastpasses and things, but it was wonderful.

A 5-year-old photographer

So a good question is, how do you entertain a young girl who is at Disney World for the first time and is disappointed to discover that she had to – horrors – wait in line before getting on rides??

I thought I was prepared for that but when we were there, just before my daughter’s 5th birthday, it turned out my plans at distraction didn’t work.  So my back-up plan, which I’ll confess was devised on the spot, was put into play: Want to take some pictures?  Here’s the camera!

And here’s what we got, on our first day at – once again – Hollywood Studios.

Great Movie Ride Ceiling Family Pictures 1272 Family Pictures 1273 Family Pictures 1276 Family Pictures 1279 Family Pictures 1289

Most of these are in the queue for the Great Movie Ride, since we did that early and she was stressed from having waited to get into the park, then to get into the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, then to wait some more… So when we got into the line she needed something to distract her.  I love these pictures, because I had never actually thought to look at the ceiling in that queue!  Learn new stuff every day!