Fun little things

"Fun Stuff" Cedar Park, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/35 sec, ISO3200
“Fun Stuff” Cedar Park, 2017

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Tonight’s photo is of the two Disney pins that I own, and keep on my daily bag. At the Disney parks there are so many cool pins to choose from that it’s hard to decide which one to buy. But it’s fun to take a break from the rides to do a little pin shopping. 😄

I have to say, though, that the selection at the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland seemed to be a lot larger than at EPCOT or Hollywood Studios, and of course featured more of the classic attractions from those parks, which I like the most. For instance, one of the pins in the photo is of the Matterhorn, in a classic style. I love the old Disneyland logo!

My other pin is of a newer ride, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which I would have never thought I wanted, but I was so impressed with how fun the ride was that I just had to get the pin. It’s cool because the elevator doors slide open to reveal Stitch.

I didn’t find a perfect pin on our last trip to Disney, but one day I’d like to pick up a nice Pirates of the Caribbean pin, Haunted Mansion pin, and then a Wall-E character pin. Something to look forward to!

I hope you had a nice Tuesday.



Day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

"Disney Hollywood Studios" Orlando, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO400
“Disney Hollywood Studios” Orlando, 2017

For our second (and final) Disney park visit of this trip, we chose Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As mentioned in the previous post, the park is accessible via Friendship Boat shuttle, which makes a stop at The Boardwalk – a waterfront of shops and restaurants. We decided to walk to the Boardwalk from our hotel and get some breakfast before catching the boat to the park. It’s a nice area, and we had beautiful weather and enjoyed our coffee and breakfast next to the water.

"From the Boardwalk" Orlando, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/6.4, 1/800 sec, ISO200
“From the Boardwalk” Orlando, 2017

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is currently dominated by Star Wars. If you are a fan of the franchise (and we are!), it’s a great time to visit! Not only does the park have Star Tours, but there is a short film “Path of the Jedi”, live-action character shows in the main courtyard featuring Star Wars villains, and also C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8, and the really cool Star Wars Launch Bay building. The Launch Bay has a theater with short making-of film, detailed models of the spaceships, pod racer, Rey’s speeder, cantina bar, costumes and uniforms, photo ops with Chewie and other characters, and awesome artwork. It’s really a Star Wars fan’s dream! Highly recommended.

"Star Wars Show" Orlando, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.5, 1/80 sec, ISO12800
“Star Wars Show” Orlando, 2017

Other highlights of our trip include:

  • Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular – Amazing combination of images/video projected on the Chinese theater and fireworks/lasers/lights. Make sure to get a good spot where you can view the Chinese theater and adjacent buildings.
  • Toy Story Mania – It’s one of the only things that I am better at than my family. I need to hold onto this one as long as possible!!! 😜
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – Bay didn’t want to go on this ride last time because he doesn’t like “dropping” rides, but we convinced him to ride it this time. He says he didn’t enjoy it, but I think he’s glad he conquered it. And now we can’t make fun of him anymore!
  • Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano – We celebrated Mariko’s birthday with a nice pasta dinner here. The food was yummy and it was a nice restful break before heading to more rides!

Please enjoy more photos from our day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

The Swan Hotel and our Day at EPCOT

"Pretzels" Orlando, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec, ISO2500
“Pretzels” Orlando, 2017

Hello from Orlando, Florida!

Today we visited EPCOT and enjoyed the off-season at the parks, which meant wait times for the attractions were minimal and we got to ride/see everything we wanted to. In fact, the only ride we didn’t go on was the boat ride in the Mexican pyramid. (I wanted to do it just to “complete” the park, but we were tired by the end of the day) 😫

For this Disney trip (our third to Disney World in Florida) we stayed at the Swan Hotel, which is kind of a pseudo-Disney resort. It’s owned by Starwood/Marriot, so it’s more like a regular hotel, but with Disney touches. Since it isn’t a 100% Disney resort, there were a few differences. For instance, we couldn’t link our Magic Bands to our credit card, the gift shop didn’t have a lot of Disney merchandise, and the hotel is not serviced by Disney’s Magical Express buses to/from the airport (you’ll need to book your own shuttle; we went with Mears). It was funny that the clientele was a mix of theme park goers and people attending conventions. In fact, the hotel hosted a couple company events when we were there. It was amusing to see exhausted Disney families arriving back to the hotel (including us) and having to walk past groups of tipsy businesspeople enjoying their evening events. 😆

One the plus side, the rooms were much nicer than the budget Disney resorts like Pop Century, and provide free water and coffee in the rooms. The beds were comfy and the bathroom was super-modern. I’d say the room was similar to the one when we stayed at the high-end Jambo House. Also, the Swan and Dolphin hotels are conveniently located right between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, so you can take the Friendship boats to either park, or even walk to the parks if you have 20 minutes or so. ⛵

In the morning we took the boat to EPCOT, which was super because it drops you off at the International Gateway entrance to the World Showcase, near Canada. I’d guess the line/security check would be much shorter at this entrance, and of course, there was no line since we were there during the off-season. The first thing we did was head on over to the Norway area to ride the Frozen Ever After boat attraction. It was pretty good, and the wait was only about 20 minutes! We were lucky to get to ride it because it seemed to have broken down constantly the rest of the day. 😵

Besides Frozen, some of the highlights of our day at EPCOT were:

  • Soarin’ Around the World – Or first time to experience the updated ride, which now visits international destinations instead of just California. Rode it twice!
  • Dinner at Tangierine Café in Morocco – Delicious lamb and chicken shawarma, hummus, olives, kefta, etc. And Moroccan wine! (see menu)
  • Designing wacky cars at Test Track (photos below)
  • Surviving as part of the Orange Team in Mission: SPACE – They aren’t kidding when they say it’s an intense ride!

After a long day, it was time to head back to the hotel. But on our way to the boat dock, we watched the Illuminations fireworks show, which was nice because with the minimal crowds, you could have a great front-row view from almost anywhere in the World Showcase. It was a great day at EPCOT!

Please enjoy some photos I took during the day, won’t you?