Thursday, April 27, 2017

Episode 26: A Safari & a Wild Raft Ride - WDW Vlog September 2016

Fresh out of Festival of the Lion King, we decide to stop by to check out the line for Kilimanjaro Safaris. It was at a manageable level so we decided to cash in our FastPass and go for a ride… Jambo everyone! After a shorter than expected wait we board our expedition vehicle for our three day… I mean 18 minute safari. What I love about this ride is that it is never the same twice since you cannot guarantee what the animals will be doing or where they will be… like oh say standing in the middle of the road blocking traffic… yep this can happen. Some animals you may encounter during the tour include: antelopes, baboons, black rhinos, cheetahs, crocodiles, elephants, flamingos, gazelles, giraffes, hippopotamus, hyenas, lions, okapis, ostriches, warthogs, white rhinos, wildebeests, wild dogs & zebras. The giraffes and elephants are our favorites and those trees that look like they are upside down and their roots sticking up in the air… I like that if you see an animal and are not sure what it is you only have to look up at the picture guide above your seat. We had our cameras ready, many in fact as I had one on the left of the ride and Jason had one on the right of the ride and Ethan was snapping pictures with his iPhone. We made is safely over the ‘scary’ rickety bridge and avoided the poachers and took in some great sights along the way!

The meet and greets around the parks are great and we were so surprised to see Flik from A Bug’s Life! He was so much fun and was a bit ‘confused’ by the twins and we had a good time visiting with him while he signed the boys’ hats. But now we are hungry… hmmm where to eat? I know, Flame Tree Barbeque! This is our favorite quick service location in Animal Kingdom. It is very tasty and the portions are huge, definitely big enough to share. But hey where are the ribs??? Well after we found the ribs (they just forgot to put them on our plate) we dig in! There are large covered pavilions with picnic tables to eat which are right by the water and if you are really lucky you can score a table with a perfect view of Expedition Everest.

So what do you do after a hot ride through Africa on a safari expedition and now have full tummies? Well you get drenched of course to cool off! Next stop Kali River Rapids. This ride is so much fun we rode it twice… because we just didn’t get wet enough on the first go round! Depending on where you are on the raft you may get completely soaked or you may remain relatively dry… but here’s the thing, the raft spins around with the current of the river so on one ride that seat you are in may be dry but on the next it is the one where you get the wettest! It all depends on luck… And are you lucky and stay dry or on a really hot day are you lucky and get wet and cooled off??? Between two rides down the river we were all pretty soaked, but we didn’t mind at all because it was so much fun!

And what’s the best way to dry off? Well ride a roller coaster of course! It was time for our FastPass at Expedition Everest and… wait for it… we convinced Cameron & Colby to ride! Gasp! After begging this morning to no avail, bribery finally worked in the end… They were both almost out of money and had their little hearts set on a pair of Mickey slippers. So mom and dad agreed to pay the difference in the slippers if they would get their scaredy cat butts on the ride! Colby even enjoyed it enough to give it a second go! I think this brings us to a grand total of seven trips for today on our favorite coaster!

Episode 25: Animals, Animals, Animals... & Festival of the Lion King - WDW Vlog September 2016

Huge surprise here… Are you ready for it??? We visited with the animals… at Animal Kingdom!!! J But in all seriousness, we love exploring the shaded and overgrown lush trails of the Maharajah Jungle Trek with the multitude of animals. With exhibits for Komodo dragons, Malayan tapirs, giant fruit bats, Asian deer and lets not forget the mac daddy of animals in this area… the Bengal tigers! We actually had a really interesting Cast Member at the Komodo dragons who had a skull and showed us how they could unhinge their jaws to eat animals much larger than themselves… these things can take down a water buffalo for goodness sakes!!! Our boys always love the giant bats and their area is fascinating! They are right there with no glass between us and them and the boys are always afraid they are going to come through, but they are so big that the opening was not large enough for them. There is also some great artwork of what we like to dub ‘the bat cave’ where larger than life bats are painted around you. And our biggest surprise of the morning was the tigers! They were up and active! Every time I have seen a large cat like these they are usually just laying around or sleeping but these were moving around and even rolling on the ground, I am pretty sure they were trying to get a itch on their backs…

Today was the first time ever we had seen the Birds of Wonder show and we loved it! This is about a 25 minute interactive show which tells a story of a reluctant explorer who is a bit afraid of large birds but comes to like and respect them with some help from Guano Jane. This is a large covered (aka nice shaded cool area) pavilion which the birds have free reign and fly from front to back from one handler to another, even flying low enough that their tail feathers may brush your head… as they did mine!

The show includes such special species as:
  • Blue and Gold Macaws
  • Trumpeter Hornbill
  • African Grey Parrot
  • Rose-Breasted Cockatoo
  • Great Horned Owl
  • Red-Legged Seriema
  • Harris Hawk
  • East African Crowned Crane
We really enjoyed this show as it was entertaining and informational and we will definitely be back!

So at this point it was the beginning of our FastPass window to begin for Kilimanjaro Safaris, but… someone obviously made a mistake and allowed too many to be booked at the same time because the FastPass line was crazy long! So we decided to let it calm down a bit and while in Africa decided to catch the Festival of the Lion King show that was just starting. We made it in and sat at the very top of one of the sections. I thought these would be bad seats but they were actually pretty great! Being at the highest point in the theater provided a wonderful view of the entire show. This is my absolute favorite show at Walt Disney World! Festival of the Lion King is funny, beautiful, heart warming, lively and fun! The Tumble Monkeys at the beginning are so funny and so talented! Love their trapeze act! The fire show during ‘Be Prepared’ is dark and beautiful and I always wonder how he does not burn himself??? And my favorite part is during ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ when the two ‘birds’ are dancing and she is lifted up and takes flight… breathtaking! This always brings tears to my eyes! And the ending with the entire ensemble singing and dancing and merging the pieces of each song into one cohesive show is so much fun! Everyone is clapping and singing Hakuna Matata and genuinely having a good time. And this is why we NEVER miss this show when we visit Animal Kingdom!!! 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Beauty and the Beast LIVE - Performed by Pineville High Theatre

This past weekend, we attended a fantastic play!  It was a live version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  It was amazing, beautiful, brilliant!  So well done and these high school kids are beyond talented!  We have attended their plays in the past so knew it would be a great show!

Per the Theatre group:


As The Pineville High Performing Arts Theatre presents Disney's BEAUTY & THE BEAST!
This magical show will be playing at the Pineville High Auditorium April 6-9 2017.  Step into the enchanted world of Disney's BEAUTY & THE BEAST, an international sensation that has played to over 35 million people worldwide in 13 countries. Based on the Academy Award- winning animated feature film, the stage version includes all of the timeless songs such as "Be Our Guest", "Gaston", "Me", "Human Again", "Beauty & The Beast" and many more!

Please join the Pineville High Theatre Department in their family friendly production of Disney's BEAUTY & THE BEAST.  Get your tickets today and make your plans for an enchanted evening of dazzling special effects, costumes and the magic of a Broadway spectacular!

I recorded almost all of the show to share with those who are lovers of this story!  It is a long video, but well worth the watch!  Hope you enjoy!!!

YouTube EECC Travels - Beauty & the Beast LIVE

Monday, April 10, 2017

PACKING FOR A CRUISE - What we pack & how we pack

This is how we pack for a cruise! Each person has one carry on size suitcase... want to see how we fit a weeks worth of clothes in, watch and see! The first cruise we went on we over packed tremendously! I had a casual outfit and a dinner outfit per person for seven days plus swimwear, multiple pairs of shoes, etc, etc, etc… We didn’t wear half of the clothes that were packed! So from our next cruise and moving forward, I made a new rule… Each person gets one carry on size suitcase and that is it! If it doesn’t fit then you don’t need it. I have whittled down our packing to the following per person:
  • 5 pair of shorts - you really don’t get dirty or sweaty on the ship in clothes, so they can be worn more than once since they will only be worn for a few hours at a time – most time will be spent in swimwear, esp for the kids
  • 7-9 shirts (mostly t-shirts or tanks but a couple of nicer shirts for the casual dinners – these take up so little space I pack a couple of extras)
  • 1 full dress outfit including shoes (we only attend one formal night, but you can wear this outfit twice, again, you will only wear it for a few hours)
  • 1 pair of sneakers, 1 pair of slip on canvas shoes, 1 pair of flip-flops or sandals
  • 1 pair of PJs
  • Underwear & socks
A few other items I recommend packing for the cabin:
  • Plug strip – there are only TWO outlets in the entire cabin, you will need more plugs!
  • Pop-up hamper
  • Lanyards – this is great to keep your sail & sign card handy!
  • Toiletries including: shampoo/conditioner (there is shampoo but not conditioner in the showers), deodorant, razors, etc… You know what you need
  • Motion sickness medications or SeaBands
  • Medications such as Motrin, Tylenol, Tums, etc… There is a medic on board but they will charge you for these
  • And the most important thing you can pack is SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN!!! I cannot stress this enough!!! Nothing will ruin a vacation faster than a bad sunburn and the Caribbean sun can be brutal!
We hope this helps you prepare for your next trip! Happy Cruising!!!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Episode 24: Rope Dropping Expedition Everest - WDW Vlog September 2016

Oh it’s a beautiful morning… the birds are squawking, the tigers are growling, the monkeys are howling… you get the picture… We’re at Animal Kingdom!!! Well it really is a beautiful day! We arrive bright and early around 8:20 in the morning for rope drop. We have never rope dropped Animal Kingdom before so this is a new experience for us. At about twenty minutes until park opening they allow everyone to start scanning their magic bands and entering the park. You are allowed to go to Discovery Island and wait there for the park to officially open. But… we were a little distracted and did not make a beeline to the starting gate. Well first of all for all of you pin traders out there, there is a double sided trash can at the entrance just covered in pins to trade. It is literally impossible for our boys to walk past this without pulling out their pouch of pins to trade! Next distraction was incredible… Divine! Have you ever seen Divine??? She is amazing! For those who do not know, Divine is a lady on stilts who is covered in vines and plants and can blend in to the surroundings of the park. She moves slow and gracefully and is breathtaking. So of course we had to stop and watch her for a few minutes…

So finally we make it to Discovery Island and the giant Tree of Life comes into view! And to our utter surprise… there is an actual rope… at rope drop! We have never seen this before. Having opened every park before, I don’t recall ever seeing an actual rope! So there are really two ways to go from here… Africa for an early morning safari or Asia for Expedition Everest. We only have thrills and Yetis on our minds this morning and we line up on the right side to enter Asia. Let me say, I was really impressed with the opening of this park. They have a group of beautiful, brightly colored Macaws flying freely around right over our head who all converge on a stand in the middle. Right at 9:00, a statement is made over the loud speaker of the awesomeness of Animal Kingdom and we are told to ‘let our imagination take flight’ and the most wonderful thing happens… At the word flight, all of the Macaws take off to lead you into the park. Wow! Just, WOW! It was incredible!!! 

With our minds totally blown, we make the mad dash into Asia. Along the way, we see our favorite pals Mickey and Minnie all dolled up in their safari gear waiting to meet with the first guests of the day. And while I would love to stop for a family picture with these two, we have somewhere we have to go, and fast. Man I forgot how big Animal Kingdom is and how long it takes to get to the very back of Asia, whew! So we turn our final corner and the massive mountain comes into view. We are walking so fast through the queue we barely notice anything (yeah it looks like in the video we sped this up but we didn’t, we actually made it to the ride that fast!). We of course choose to ride in the back for the ultimate thrill and off we go!!! There is no better way to start your day than on a roller coaster!!! When we found ourselves at the ‘broken track’ I decided to add a hairband to the large collection of multicolored hairbands that adorn this area. I have absolutely no idea how this got started or why people throw hair bands here, but I thought ‘what the heck’ I will add one too! I planned for this and brought a bright florescent yellow band that will stand out so on future rides, I could find it. Anywho, back to the roller coaster! I just LOVE flying backwards into the dark and the cold and finding the Yeti looking down at you and ripping up the track. And I love even more the drop that leaves your tummy in your throat. Fantastic, all of it! 

And my friends, this is why you get your behind out of bed and head to the Disney parks for rope drop… We rode Expedition Everest not twice, not three time, but FIVE times in a row with NO WAIT!!! What a way to start your day!

Join us next time as we visit the animals on the Jungle Trek…

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Episode 23: Dinner & T-Rex & Night at Disney Springs - Walt Disney World Vlog September 2016

One of our absolute favorite places to eat at Disney World is T-Rex at Disney Springs!  This has been a go to spot for us since the kids were little… are all little boys obsessed with dinosaurs or just ours???  This restaurant is a place you go not just for good food, but for the all immersive experience.  There are huge animatronic dinosaurs everywhere that move and roar and make other sounds that dinosaurs make…  Not only dinosaurs, but other large extinct creatures like a Wooly Mammoth with huge tusks.  And the ‘water’ area as I will call it has a giant octopus across the ceiling and if you watch the tentacles move!  Also there are large jellyfish hanging in this area and the main feature is the fish bar or as it is also known the ‘shark bar’.  On a different trip of just us adults, Jason and I spent some time hanging out at this bar and it was a really cool experience.  The bar itself looks like ice and slowly shifts in color, but the enormous tropical fish tank is a sight to behold.  It is so big and there are so many different types of fish, they even have picture books along the bar to help you identify them.

Another really unique feature of T-Rex is that every @20 minutes, there is a ‘meteor shower’ where the restaurant goes dark, lights flash, the blue ice room turns red and if you look up at the ceiling you will see balls of light hurdling down towards you.  Well, nothing is actually coming out of the ceiling, but it is a really cool effect!  While this is happening, the animals are all in an uproar!  They are all making load, ‘fearful’ noises of their impending doom.  But it only lasts a few minutes and everything then becomes calm once again.  But I will tell you that it is something you are not soon to forget about this place!

On to the food…  First let me say these portions are ginormous!  We have been here enough that we have tried just about everything on the menu and have not found anything to disappoint!  My personal favorite is the Mastadon Stuffed Chicken which I have enjoyed on our last two visits.  It is so good!!!  It is a large, very moist and tender chicken breast stuffed with artichoke hearts, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and butter and served with delicious whipped mashed potatoes.  I am getting hungry just thinking about it!  Another favorite is the Boneyard Buffet which is half a rotisserie chicken and St. Louis pork ribs served with waffle fries.  We didn’t get on this trip because Cameron was just wanting ribs so chose instead the Mega Mes-O-Bones, which is similar but has double the portion of ribs.  A couple of our guys were in the mood for burgers which we had never tried here before this trip.  Colby got the Bronto Burger but Jason was feeling extra hungry and got the Doublesaurus burger!  That thing was huge!  I have no idea how he actually fit it into his mouth!!!  I tried a bite and it was great!  There are good burgers, ok burgers and bad burgers in this world and I will rank this one way at the top!  Ethan has been on a Fish & Chips kick on this trip and has vowed to try them at multiple locations.  When this order came out, I didn’t even think my 16 year old bottomless pit could finish it!  There were four huge pieces of fish and a pile of fries.  He tried his best, but he did not conquer eating it all…


Did someone say dessert???  T-Rex has our favorite restaurant dessert anywhere at Disney World…  The Chocolate Extinction!!!!  This is a family style dessert which is four pieces of chocolate cake and four scoops of vanilla ice cream which is all covered in fudge sauce and whipped cream.  To top it off it is served with a canister with dry ice in the center so it looks like a volcano exploding.  And let me tell you…  I don’t care how full you are, that chocolate cake will get eaten…  Every.  Single.  Bite.  It really is that good!

T-Rex also includes a unique gift shop including a Build-a-Bear station that is transformed into Build-a-Dino.  Our kids did one of these when they were younger and still have it to this day!  There are also really beautiful rocks similar to what you would find in museum gift shops and right outside the gift shop is a play area for kids with giant bones and sand and pails, buckets and paint brushes to work on an archeological dig while waiting for your table.

After T-Rex, we wandered around Disney Springs a little and explore Uniqlo, one of the new stores that we were really excited about.  I had seen clips of this place prior to our trip and they have regular clothes but also really cute Disney t-shirts for way less than you will find in the parks.  I think the average price was $14.90!  Unfortunately, no purchases were made and we carried our tired bodies back to the boat launch to catch the peaceful ride back down the river to Port Orleans Riverside.  But we got a great bonus while we were waiting!  There was a great view of the Star Wars fireworks from Hollywood Studios!  This ending another awesome day of our Walt Disney World adventure!

Join us next time as we wake up the animals over at Animal Kingdom!!!

YouTube EECC Travels - WDW Episode 23

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Episode 22: Our Last Time EVER at Disney Quest - WDW Vlog September 2016

We will truly miss Disney Quest!  Our boys are gamers so this place is a haven for them... I mean five floors of unlimited video games, what could any kid ask for???  When we visited on this trip we did not know that it would be our last experience.  There had been rumors for a long time that it was going to close but nothing had been announced for certain.  So we went and played for the LAST TIME...

For the past few years we have made a visit to Disney Quest on each of our trips.  We love the Disney Water Parks so have also gotten the Water Park Fun & More ticket which includes Disney Quest, so basically it was free for us to go here since we bought the ticket for entrance to the water parks.  Win, Win!

There are so many things to love about Disney Quest...  One floor is full of interactive family style games like Virtual Pirates of the Caribbean which is a 3D adventure where your family enters the pirate ship and each man a cannon to fight off other pirate ships and gather treasure (I personally loved this one).  There is Jungle Cruise in which your family boards an inflatable raft, yes it literally inflates around you, and you paddle your way through an adventure down the river.  There are these Jeeps that you jump in and grab a gun to shoot the huge mutant bugs that are coming at you from all directions.  This is a great floor!

There is another floor that is nothing but old school arcade games, think PacMan and Skeeball and Wheel of Fortune... and there is a whole corner full of Fix It Felix, Jr. games aka Wreck It Ralph, which of course is closely guarded by a larger than life Ralph.

Yet another floor is full of creative games like virtual coloring books, create a song in a music booth, create a toy which is like what Sid creates in Toy Story (ps this is crazy hard!) and the one we really enjoyed... CyberSpace Mountain!  This is a design your own roller coaster which you then get to ride in a simulator.  It is very similar to Sum of All Thrills at Epcot but more intense.  It was a lot of fun!

And finally there is a floor of modern arcade games.  These are the games you will find in all of the arcades across the Disney resorts and well really everywhere across the country.  There are simulated rides where the seats move and wind blows in your face, jet ski and boat games where you board mini versions of the real thing, war games where you sit in a bubble and the screen wraps around you so things are coming at you from all angles and our boys favorite, the Star Wars racing game where you are like little Anakin racing through the desert and mountain scapes.

This is really a great way to spend a few hours and it will be truly missed by our family!  It is being replaced by the NBA Experience which will do nothing for us as we are not basketball fans.  At least we will have some fun memories from our final visit!

Join us next time as we have a ROARING dinner at T-Rex!

YouTube EECC Travels - WDW Episode 22

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Episode 21: Hanging Out at Disney Springs - WDW Vlog September 2016

When you need a day at Disney that is a little more laid back than going to the parks, then the best place for you is Disney Springs!  This entertainment district has changed and grown over the years and has just gotten better!  It had been a year since we had been here and so much has changed!  For one is the name, when we were here in 2015 it was Downtown Disney and the transformation into Disney Springs is amazing!  While there is much of this area that is still familiar there are some areas that have seen a complete makeover.  The springs themselves for one are new to the central area and are a nice, peaceful area with beautiful crystal clear blue waters.  We really like this area!

While at Disney Springs there are a few stores that we will always visit.  The first being Pin Traders.  Over the last few years, pin trading has become a family favorite activity so this store is a must stop with the large collection of pins for sell and there are always Castmembers and other fellow pin lovers around for trading.  Second is World of Disney.  Being the largest Disney store in the USA there is something for everyone in this store.  We love how each room is individually decorated and themed and there are huge areas of just what you may be looking for...  you want toys, there's a room for that... you want little boys clothes, there's a room for that...  you want something for your kitchen, there's a room for that...  you want, well you get the picture!  And don't forget to look up when you are in the store.  The ceilings are also themed with characters.  My favorite is Peter Pan and the Darling family flying across the room.

Our third favorite store is the LEGO Store.  Cameron & Colby have been avid LEGO lovers for years and we probably own over a million bricks...  that is not an exaggeration but a conservative estimate :)  There are a few things that make this store so great 1) the wall of multi colored bricks.  Here you can grab a cup and fill it up with the bricks of your choice, there are so many shapes, sizes and colors that if you chose one brick at a time you could be there all day!  2) Build-your-own LEGO Minifigures - this is actually a really good deal at $9.99 for three custom made figures.  There are two stations in the store where you can create the minifigs of your dreams.  You choose a head with hair, body with all kinds of outfits and two accessories.  Do this three times and but them in a cute little display box and you are good to go!  3) The AWESOME HUGE CHARACTERS!!!!  Some of our favorites are Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Buzz & Woody, Hulk and of course the huge sea serpent out in the middle of the lake!  How cool is that???

But there are sooooo many new stores and restaurants and performers that you can easily spend a day at Disney Springs and never run out of things to do!

Join us next time as we visit Disney Quest for the last time EVER!

YouTube EECC Travels - WDW Episode 21

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Episode 20: Taking a Boat Ride to Disney Springs & Once Upon a Toy - Walt Disney World Vlog September 2016

One of the great attributes of Port Orleans Riverside is the ability to take a nice relaxing ride down the Sassagoula River to Disney Springs.  The ride takes about 20 minutes each way and is very enjoyable.  Along the way, the boat may make a stop at the lively Port Orleans French Quarter to pick up guests who are also heading to Disney Springs.  Note:  We were told that they only stop during the day and go straight to and from the resort in the evenings.  Also along the way you will see The Treehouses Villas and Saratoga Springs resorts.

The fleet consists of some 15 boats spread out over four routes, all decked out in a lively brightly-colored yellow and blue livery, with suitably fitting Southern names:

Memphis Miss
Louisiana Lady
Sassagoula Sunset
Bayou Princess
Crescent City Queen
Magnolia Blossom
Florida Queen
Buena Vista Queen
Saratoga Queen
Blossom Queen
Jazz Lady
Delta Lady
Azalea Bloom
Southern Breeze
Jazz Queen

A rainstorm landed on us while we were on board the boat but luckily was over quickly once we arrived at Disney Springs.  We pack the ponchos away and head over to Once Upon a Toy.  This is one of those stores that can hold your attention and imagination for hours.  There are several rooms to this store, each with a different theme.   And our favorite... well the Star Wars room of course!!!  We found Darth Vader hats, costumes, t-shirts, light sabers, oh the list goes on and on!  The boys really liked the build-your-own light saber station and Colby put together a really cool double sided saber. We also found a unique penny press machine here in which you could choose one Star Wars character penny for $1 or you could get all eight for $5.  So of course I fished out a crisp $5 bill and got them all!!!  Although we had a great time exploring this store, it was time to move on...  More of Disney Springs to see!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Episode 19: Pool Time at Port Orleans Riverside - Walt Disney World Vlog September 2016

Sometimes you need to just take a break from all the running around the parks and spend a few hours swimming and hanging out with your family at the resort pool. That is exactly what we decided to do! We went for a nice walk around Port Orleans Riverside before changing into our swim suits and heading over to Ol’ Man Island for some cool water in the pool, some shade trees, a beautiful view… oh and did I mention the 95 foot long water slide??? At the center of the resort, on a sprawling 3.5 acres, lies the main swimming and recreation area know as Ol’ Man Island which includes the main swimming pool for Port Orleans Riverside, a playground and even a fishing hole. Muddy Rivers is the local watering spot for drinks and snacks poolside and there is also a kiddy pool and hot tub in this area. Being the fun hub of the resort you can find daily pool parties in the afternoon and a campfire and movies in the evenings.

We seemed to have picked a really good time to visit the pool as there were very few people there! Note to self… Tuesday afternoon in the middle of September is a great time to visit the resort pool! We literally had the pick of spots around the pool and decided on a table on the far side from the entrance under large shade trees… we really needed a break from the sun at this point and the shade was very welcoming! And also lucky for us is this was near the entrance to the waterslide! Our family truly enjoyed this break together playing in the pool. Sometimes it is the simple things that can put a smile on your face. We played, we went down the slide, we dunked each other under the water dumps in the pool… it was great!

On the way out we found a sign that told the story of the area:

"The Legend of Ol’ Man Island"
Settled in 1835 by a young man, the island became his home in the solitude of the bayou country. Years later, as Riverside was settles and prospered, Ol’ Man Island was discovered by the children of the town. They would steal away to play on the island where a wondrous would had been created. The island is a tribute to the Ol’ Man and the happiness he gave the children and all of Riverside’s neighbors.

We enjoyed our time here and decided this is a new family tradition to spend a day at the resort relaxing and having good quality time together.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Episode 18: Exploring Port Orleans Riverside Resort - Disney World Vlog September 2016

Today is our day off from the parks and we are spending the day exploring Port Orleans Riverside and the evening over at Disney Springs.  First stop is the Riverside Mill Food Court for some breakfast.  Let me say that these bounty platters are HUGE!  And delicious!  After getting  full bellies, we began walking it off...  First stop is the Fulton General Store to decide what goodies we need to buy before our trip is over.  You could really get in trouble in here as the store has a little bit of everything!  I (Alisa) found a couple of coffee/tea mugs that we just HAD to add to our collection.  I also had to get some replacement sunglasses since my sweet little boys broke mine...  Speaking of said sweet boys, Cameron & Colby decided that they just must have a pair of giant yellow Mickey Mouse slippers (and yes they got them).

We took a walk through the arcade, which is huge and awesome!  But we decided to for go the games here since we plan on spending some time at Disney Quest later in the day.

After studying the layout of the resorts on the 'You Are Here' map, we head off towards Magnolia Bend.  But the surrey bikes catch our eye and we contemplate a nice relaxing ride.  However after determining it would cost $42 for a 30 minute rental (we needed two bikes), we decided not to.

The resort is divided into two distinctly different areas which both have Southern charm but separate character.  Magnolia Bend is four buildings that are designed like old plantation homes you would find in the Garden District of New Orleans.  From the front they look like one massive mansion house but if you look closely, they are broken into three floors of rooms - this is where the Royal Rooms are.  These four buildings are named Acadian House, Magnolia Terrace, Oak Manor and Parterre Place.  The landscaping is also different in this area with large oak trees and mature Crepe Myrtle trees.  It's really beautiful and feels like home.

The rest of the resort is called Alligator Bayou and the buildings are neutral and subdued in nature.  But that does not mean the area lacks beauty or character.  This area has 16 buildings broken into three sections, with a smaller 'quiet' pool, each building has two floors.  The feel of this area is the rural bayous all over the South.  The landscaping here is think and lush with large overgrown plants and lots of shade.  This area has rooms that sleep five with a fold down Murphy bed.  We were in building 16 which was in the first grouping a a quick walk to the main buildings and the bus stop.  It was our home for eight days and it really felt like a second home!

Come back next week as we spend the day at Ol' Man Island poolside!

YouTube EECC Travels - WDW Episode 18

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Episode 17: Dinner at Teppan Edo + Review - Walt Disney World Vlog September 2016

We finally make it to once of the culinary destinations we have been wanting to try in Epcot and that is Teppan Edo!  But first a little exploring a bit around the Japan Pavilion including the incredible drum show Matsuriza.

Now for the good stuff... food!  Here is our review of Teppan Edo: we loved it!  We had never done hibachi before as a family and I know you can get the show at other restaurants, but we were really impressed with not only the showmanship of our chef but the quality of the food.  And there is so much!  You start with a salad, now we had never eaten salad with chopsticks before, so that was interesting.  The dressing was different as well, I think there was a hint of ginger in it, but was good.  Next is the jasmine rice bowl which came with mixed reviews... two of us loved this and the other three did not. Now it is different than the rice we are used to and I think that is where some of the dislike came from.

For the main event, the chef brings vegetables including zucchini, onion and spinach along with noodles.  One thing we were really looking forward to was the onion volcano!  The chef takes rings of onion and stacks them from large to small making a volcano shape which is then filled with liquid and when it is moved over the really hot surface steam begins to erupt like a... you guessed it... a volcano, which is pretty impressive!

And then comes the meat... shrimp, chicken, steak and fillet.  The aromas that fill the room when the meat hits that extremely hot grill... yum! We desperately need that crazy sharp knife that cut through the steak like it was butter!  When the food is separated out for each of the 8 people at the table we dug right in.  The portions were huge and very filling.  Since we had the Disney Dining Plan we had dessert even though we were in no way still hungry.  The desserts came to fixed reviews as well but I thought mine was good.

Tummies full we leave the restaurant to continue exploring World Showcase only to discover a storm was rolling in.  With thunder and lightning around and rain looming near, we decided to call it a day and headed back to the resort.

Join us next time as we leisurely explore Port Orleans Riverside resort.

YouTube EECC Travels - WDW Episode 17

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Episode 16: Frozen Ever After & Melting Around World Showcase - Walt Disney World Vlog September 2016

On to Norway... and Frozen Ever After for the first time in forever... I mean the first time ever, sorry breaking into a Frozen song.  This was an awesome use of a FastPass when we saw the line!  No one could believe that with three teenage boys that we would choose Frozen over Soarin and Test Track, but it was a smart move.

So for our review... we really liked it!  We are one of those families who actually fell in love with the movie when it came out and so we were excited to try out this ride.  First of all let me say it was beautifully done.  We had never ridden Maelstrom so I cannot compare the new to the old ride, but the visual effects were stunning.  At one point you enter a large cavern surrounded by Queen Elsa (of course singing Let It Go) and the 'ice castle' is all around you and then you start flying backwards... obviously this was my favorite part.  But also the animatronics have come so far, with the facial projections they look like the characters come to life!  We were very happy to ride this ride, especially since the kinks had already been worked out and we were able to experience a seamless and well executed ride!

We received a wonderful surprise on exiting this ride when we jumped into a non-existent line with a Photopass Photographer in front of the waterfall.  This was by far the best photographer we ever had and he took some family photos that really show the personalities of our boys and some fun family whimsy as well. Fantastic experience.

After a run through the gift shop and a picture with the giant troll, we moved over to China.  Let me say that it was hot this day.  I am not one to complain, but it has to be said.  With the heat index, it was 109 degrees, so we decided to spend some time cooling off in the huge and extremely interesting shop in China.  On the way out I found the best bargain of the trip... a Chinese fan on which my name was inscribed (in Chinese of course, at least I hope it actually says my name) for a whopping $2.50!!!  Needless to say, this did not leave my hand the rest of the day.  As we made it over to the African Outpost, I realized I had forgotten my Strawberry Oolong Tea Smoothie, so I had to go back and get it!

Over in Germany, it's all about the beer... and the caramel!  Jason grabbed a beer and then we moved into the delicious smells of Karamell Kuche where the boys scored a couple of snacks consisting of a chocolate covered caramel square and some caramel corn, both were so good.  In Italy, we grabbed seats to watch Sbandieratori di Sansepolcro, the amazing flying flag show which was really impressive and just a few minutes later we saw Sergio.

Next up... dinner at Teppan Edo in Japan!

YouTube EECC Travels - WDW Episode 16

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Episode 15: First Time at Food & Wine Festival and MEXICO!!! - Walt Disney World Vlog September 2016

It’s not a trip to Epcot, without a ride in Spaceship Earth (or the big ball as the kids call it).  Luckily we had chosen this ride for a Fast Pass and we were so glad we did!  It had one of the longest lines I had ever seen for this ride and posted a 30 minute wait… but we were able to board in just about 5 minutes!  This is such a classic ride.  I love watching the progression of communication over time and of course hearing Dame Judy explain it all.  The backwards “This is your future” is always fun but the photos weren’t working so we had the generic cartoon characters on the screen… boo… it is way better when you can make funny faces to the camera and see your own ‘character’ in your story.  We usually run through Innoventions on our way to the next ride but we decided to hang out for a bit an play with the educational games.  I have pictures of the twins ‘moving energy’ when they were four and it was fun to have them to do this again at twelve… my how they have grown!!!

We decided to leave Future World behind and enter into Food & Wine Festival for the first time… EVER!  Jason and I had to take our picture with the Mickey topiary holding a shish kabob!  Since we had never been before, we really didn’t know what to expect.  As soon as you get near World Showcase Lagoon, you encounter the first food booth.  We had grabbed a couple of F&W passports on the way into the park that morning, so we whipped them out ready to apply stickers from our first snacks.  The one item we were most excited to try was the pork slider from Hawaii… and guess which was the first food booth we encountered???  Well Hawaii of course!  If you have the dining plan, it is very helpful in not spending a small fortune at the many booths.  Jason, Alisa & Ethan all wanted to try the pork slider so we ordered three and used one quick service meal credit!  At $4.25 each, this was  good deal.  Ethan didn’t like the sauce, but Jason and Alisa sure did.  Overall, the (official description here:) Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet-and-Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayo was a huge hit and we would definitely eat again. 

Next booth was right next door… Patagonia.  Jason tried the Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce & Boniato Puree ($5.50).  The meat was very flavorful and the ‘potatoes’ were also good.  Ethan had the Beef Empanada ($4.75) and deemed it to be good too.  Two more stickers in our passports!!! Well at this point neither Cameron nor Colby had had anything but a bite or two.  So we asked what they wanted and we moved on to the next food booth ‘Farm Fresh’ where Cameron decided on the Chicken & Dumplings ($4.75).  It was so good we all had to get a bite to try it. 

Colby decided he wanted to wait and eat in Mexico… so instead of hitting the food booth for another snack size option, we headed over to La Cantina de San Angel for an order of fish tacos for the adults and beef nachos for the kids.  Oh and did I mention the two orders of churros with caramel dipping sauce???  YUM!  This is our go-to lunch spot at Epcot and we normally grab a spot under the covered pavilion, but this year we sat inside… INSIDE! I had no idea that there was an inside until Ethan led the way.  Huh, what you can learn from teenagers in search of air conditioning! And the air conditioning was to die for!!! This has been an exceptionally hot September… we have made several September trips before, but this was one for the record books.  And the view inside is just as good as the view from the pavilion as it also sits right along side of the lagoon.

So now that we are full and slightly cooled off, we head into the main building for a relaxing boat ride... Grand Fiesta Tour with the Three Caballeros.  We discovered that if you get the front row in the boat you can prop your feet up which make for a very pleasant ride when your belly is very full!  Inside the Mexican pavilion has the best atmosphere.  We love that it feels like an outdoor market even in the middle of the day.  The boys found many items they would love to bring home with them (but there limited gift card budget stopped them) and of course we had to have our ‘Hats Around the World’ photo with all of the boys in a giant sombrero!  Good Times!  We emerged back into the sunlight… and the heat, just in time for the amazing mariachi band.

Next time…. On to Norway and… FROZEN…

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Episode 14: Visiting Birds, Fish, Hugs with Friends & BEVERLY!!! - Walt Disney World Vlog September 2016

We are still enjoying our day at Epcot… After Soarin’ we decided to stay in the Land Pavilion and ride Living with the Land. This is a very underrated ride that never disappoints and we always seem to learn something we didn’t know before. Next we hop on over to the Seas with Nemo and Friends and have to visit our favorite birds out front… Mine! Mine! Mine! I swear I can’t see a seagull without thinking of these birds! The Nemo ride is beautiful and I love how it ends with the characters being part of the real world aquariums. And of course Big Blue World was stuck in our heads for the next couple of hours. A visit to this building isn’t complete without fully exploring these aquariums. Did you know that when built they were the biggest aquariums in the world? And that Spaceship Earth could fit inside? Pretty interesting facts! We even found a new hidden Mickey that we had never seen before and there were scuba divers in the tanks interacting and feeding the fish. In the gift shop on the way out we got a Mine! Mine! Mine! pressed penny and found a ton of other merchandise with these fun feathered friends. The boys are so funny too, I think they like to say ‘mine’ as much as the birds do!!!

We had a Fast Pass to visit the Character Spot and this was a good choice as the line was pretty long. Meeting Mickey and Friends is always a highlight for us and these interactions is what makes trips to Disney so special. First up was Mickey, my personal favorite, who always gets a kick out of my backpack that is completely covered in Mickey pins. Next was Goofy, who is Jason’s favorite character to meet. He is so funny when he holds up his ear for the pictures. Last in this group was Minnie, who pulled the boys into a big group hug… awe! Every parent loves to see this, especially with three teenage boys who in the real world would not be seen acting this way. But at Disney, everyone can let their inner five year old shine and hug these characters to their hearts content J

What’s up next??? The dreaded BEVERLY… Club Cool is a must stop on any trip to Epcot! Not only is it a stop for free drinks, but it is fun to taste the different colas from around the world. My favorite is the melon!!! But the Beverly… who actually likes this stuff??? The first sip is not so bad you think, and then the after taste hits… ugh! So of course, Jason & I HAD to make the boys all try it. The looks on their faces were priceless, especially Ethan who was so dramatic on his utter displeasure with the taste of this clear unassuming drink. Once we had our fill, it was on to the next adventure…

Be sure to come back as we take a ride into the giant ball aka Spaceship Earth, try some of the games in Innoventions and making our way for the first time ever into Food & Wine Festival.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Episode 13: This is how to wake up at Epcot! - Disney World Vlog September 2016

What do you do when you hit rope drop at Epcot???  And you're still half asleep from being at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party the night before???  Well you ride Test Track first thing of course!  There is no better way to wake up than designing a car and driving at @65 mph!

Since you can only use FastPass+ for one of three tier 1 attraction, we had to choose the new Frozen Ever After.  So the best way to ride the other two is first thing in the morning.  I had watched wait times for a few weeks prior to our trip and saw the waits for Test Track grew faster so that is the one we hit first.  And we were glad we did because it woke us up!  From the five of us we designed three cars. We all did well scoring over 200 but Ethan & Cameron's car won out overall.

After tackling Test Track by 9:15 am, we headed over to see the new Soarin' Around the World.  And guess what?  Only a 10 minute wait!  I love rope drop!!!  We loved the original Soarin' Over California, and loved the new Soarin' Around the World equally as much.  And they kept Patrick (your chief flight attendant).  The best view is right in the center, but even there certain scenes tend to bend...  Overall it was a great first experience on this newly imagined ride!

Join us next time as we live with the land and visit our favorite birds (mine, mine, mine) and fish over at the Seas!

YouTube EECC Travels - WDW Episode 13

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Episode 12: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party: Hocus Pocus Show & Trick-or-Treating - Walt Disney World Vlog September 2016

After enjoying our first ever viewing of the Boo To You parade, we headed over to Adventureland to hit a trick-or-treat stop in the Enchanted Tiki Room.  We love the park at night and Adventureland is great!  Pirates of the Caribbean had a projection of the skull and crossbones on it that was really cool.  So with fresh candy in hand, we make our way to the castle to catch the show.

Let me say here that we did not arrive early enough!!!  We got to the castle about 7 minutes before the Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular began and there were so many people already there.  I really wish they would ask everyone to sit down here, because even though the stage is elevated with everyone standing those towards the back had trouble seeing and it is almost impossible for kids to see...  Anyway rant over! The show was amazing!!!  A group of dancers starts the show and then the three evil Sanderson Sisters take the stage and take control.  They need to make a potion and need assistance from the other side...  Dr. Facilier of course comes to help and brings his friends Oogie Boogie, Maleficent, Evil Queen, Cruella and Lady Tremain to add the ingredients to the potion.  What we could see of the show was wonderful and towards the end we just sat back and listened and watched the light show on the castle itself which was beautiful... and we were able to catch the ending fireworks on camera since we were looking up!

After the show we headed over to Tomorrowland for some more trick-or-treating inside of Stitch's Great Escape and a ride on the People Mover. Everyone was so tired at this point, a relaxing ride was exactly what we needed.  Then we decided to make our way to Main Street to grab a spot for Hallowishes.  The decorations on Main Street are our favorite!  While waiting we were discussing what everyone liked best about the party and we all agreed, for the most part, that the decorations around the park and the ambiance of Halloween were the best!  Unfortunately, a thunderstorm rolled in and the fireworks were delayed... and delayed... and delayed until we gave up and decided to call it a night.  We didn't get to see fireworks, but we saw one heck of a lightning show on our way out of the park!

Overall, we will call this a very successful first visit to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and we can't wait to do it again! Be sure to come back next time as we rope drop Epcot and ride Test Track to wake us up!

YouTube EECC Travels - WDW Episode 12

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Episode 11: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party: Haunted Mansion & Boo To You - Walt Disney World Vlog September 2016

We are having so much fun at our first ever Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!!!  After another candy stop, we head over to Haunted Mansion... it's like an unspoken rule that you have to ride Haunted Mansion during a Halloween Party!  The ambiance in the area is just amazing!  The lighting, the smoke, the makeup and costumes of the cast members... it just draws you in and makes you feel like you are in the right place to experience Halloween.  On a personal note, we were really exited to be able to record inside this ride!  We have never had a camera that would do well in low light and this ride is so dark, it takes a special camera.  Hats off to the Canon G7X Mark II, we are so happy we bought this camera.  I love how the Hitchhiking Ghosts at the end swapped our heads, that is so cool!!!

Outside the Haunted Mansion, there was a lady ghost entertaining guests and she was hilarious.  Also, there is a fantastic 'magic shot' with the horse-less carriage.  We took a family picture and then the PhotoPass photographer told us to look at a certain spot and look scared.  When we checked our Memory Maker, there was a smiling ghost driving the carriage... MAGIC!

We grabbed a spot about 40 minutes prior to the Boo To You Parade beginning and we are so glad we did!  Very quickly people started coming and filling up the parade route.  We chose a spot in Liberty Square very close to Frontierland in a turn, which was perfect for viewing more than one angle.  One thing we found in researching this event was that you can't do everything and that is so true.  We were told to pick what is important to you to see and make sure you do those things.  This parade was the most important to our family, so the wait was no problem at all.  And it did not disappoint!  The parade was amazing... fantastic... fun... and the song gets stuck in your head and never leaves!!!  We loved how the parade progressed in sections.  It starts with Mickey and the gang and all of the happy characters, then moves on to the pirates from Peter Pan and Pirates of the Caribbean, we really liked the pirates with the flags.  Next is the Haunted Mansion which is our favorite!  What we were really excited about seeing were the gravediggers and the dancing ghosts.  They are so much better in person than in videos!!!  Then you have more happy with the hoe-down characters and square dancers followed by Wreck-It-Ralph, Vanellope and the Sugar Rush gang.  The parade ends with villains, as any Halloween parade should!

The night has been so much fun and isn't over yet!  Come back next week for more MNSSHP with more trick or treating and the Hocus Pocus Villains Spectacular show!

YouTube EECC Travels - WDW Episode 11

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Episode 10: Our Pirate Adventures at MNSSHP - Disney World Vlog September 2016

After a fun in the sun at Blizzard Beach, we head back to Port Orleans Riverside to turn into pirates!  Well pirate costumes anyway...  Once dressed in full pirate garb, makeup included, we hopped the bus over to Magic Kingdom for our family's first ever Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

We arrived before the party actually began and took in the decorations and excitement of not only Halloween, but our first time in Magic Kingdom of the trip!  For the party, they send you down a pathway to the right of Main Street where you receive your goody bags and your first treat stop.  This was all very exciting since we had never experienced it before!!!

We had Fast Passes for Pirates of the Caribbean, because, of course we had to ride this dressed as pirates!  This ride was great as always!  So we decided to continue being pirates and headed over to 'A Pirate's Adventure'.  If you have never done this before we  highly recommend it!  There are several stories/adventures you can complete.  It is an interactive treasure map around Adventureland.  This time we had the Blackbeard adventure and this was the boys first experience, which they loved and wanted to do again!

Come back next time as we have a ball at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!

YouTube EECC Travels - WDW Episode 10

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Episode 9: Fun in the Sun at Blizzard Beach Water Park - Disney World Vlog September 2016

We always spend at least one day of our Disney World trip at a water park... this year we chose Blizzard Beach. The Disney water parks are the best we have ever been to! Details, Details, Details... is what makes them so great! Disney takes the theme and immerses it into every aspect. Blizzard Beach is a winter wonderland in the middle of central Florida. In our opinion, this is the better of the two water parks for kids because of the Tike's Peak area and especially the Ski Patrol Training Camp! This area is so much fun with giant ice blocks you have to balance on to cross to the zip line that drops you into the pool. Unfortunately, parents and teenagers are not allowed to join in on the fun, but the kids have a great time.

We started our day by staking out a spot for our stuff and heading over to Cross Country Creek, the huge lazy river that circles the park. We stayed on about halfway until we reached the very back of the park where the lines for the slides are the shortest. We had so much fun on Runoff Rapids that we went on it several times. While there was no line, the climb up the huge hill/stairs can wreak havoc on your tired legs... Next we found the next set of slopes and raced each other on the Toboggan Racers then needed some relaxation after all these slides and spent some time in Melt-Away Bay, the huge wave pool. After we were rested up and ready for some more thrill, we took the chair lift up to the top peak of the park. The line for the chair lift can be long, but it moves quickly and is worth the wait for the view! From this high point you can take one of the ultimate thrill slides down... Slush Gusher or the super thrilling Summit Plummet. But we were on a different mission... our absolute favorite slide in the world and arguably the best ride on Walt Disney World property which is Teamboat Springs. This is a family raft ride that starts way at the top of the park and is very long. It is full of twists and turns and drops that is the ultimate experience at this park!!!

After lunch and another float down the lazy river, we called it a day so we could go back and get ready for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.