Dino-rific Fun at Animal Kingdom Park

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Last Summer I had many posts on my family’s trip to Walt Disney World in late 2014, but got caught up in Summer school classes and didn’t complete posting them all (yes, Summer school in college to get it done!). I still have a couple hotel and restaurant posts to add here, but I noticed I didn’t write about Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. To be honest, I have very mixed feelings about parks that involve animals, and we spent the least amount of time in this park, which I think is why I put this off. But, there are many things to do and see at Animal Kingdom. My personal favorite was the kitschy “dino-rific” Dinosaur themed area called “Chester & Hester’s Dino-rama” inside Dinoland U.S.A.

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The dino area has lots of carnival type games, shops, and some spots to eat. If you are a vintage style fan like me (aren’t you? isn’t that how you found me?), you will absolutely adore this cute and kooky area.

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This little walk up counter is so cute and I love the teardrop camper style with dino decor.

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They have a perfectly themed out shop that resembles classic roadside attractions.

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I was there in December so there were nice holiday touches everywhere!

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Continuing on the dino theme, they also have a Dinosaur ride. It’s a quick moving car ride, similar to the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. I didn’t know that during the ride a picture is taken and when I got back home we got sent the photos from our magic bands. My ride photo is easily the most ridiculous picture I’ve seen of myself. Maybe I’ll post it here someday… or not!

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We enjoyed lunch inside the dino-rama area– this restaurant was really cool because it was made to look like the campsite for the archaeologists working in the dino land.

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There was also an airstream attached that you could sit in and eat inside. It’s clearly a popular spot, as many people where inside so I didn’t take any photos.

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From my posts you can tell that I love vintage signage, so I was loving how much vintage styling is found inside the Disney parks. They really go full out in the design process and it’s fun to see. This walk up eatery mixes the dinosaur and vintage theming perfectly!

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As we walked through the park there were impromptu shows and we came across a trainer with this beautiful bird. The colors were even more vibrant in person.

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Like I mentioned before I visited in December and I really enjoyed all the holiday decor.

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Just as each park and each hotel has their own “vibe” the decorations also followed those themes. It was all very beautiful.

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While not specific for the holidays, I loved the looks of the decorated trees. The park has sections for different parts of the world and this was in the Asian region. Each area you go through really feels like you’ve transported around the world.

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The big event of the park is the safari ride. I absolutely recommend getting a fast pass if possible as we waited in standby and it was quite a long wait.

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In the center of the park is the tree of life. You can see it pretty much after you enter the park; it’s size is incredible.

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You can walk closer to the tree by entering the “It’s tough to be a bug” show. We’ve seen it at California Adventure so we skipped the show, but the workers will help direct you if you want to look at the tree details.

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Take some time to walk around it and see all the detailed “carvings” of the different animals.

So while I didn’t spend a lot of time at this park, I enjoyed walking around. It has great design, and I especially love the kitschy goodness of the dino-rama area. If planning a trip, I highly recommend:
– getting fast passes ahead of time for popular attractions like Kilimanjaro Safari // Kali River Rapids // Expedition Everest
– Watch the Festival of the Lion King live show. I didn’t take any pictures as there are acrobatic performers, but it was the best live show in any of the parks.
– Wear comfy closed toe shoes. There are many walking trails throughout the park and you could easily put in 10+ miles if you were to spend the whole day visiting all the attractions.

I hope this gives you a little information if you’re planning on visiting Animal Kingdom park. I know that they are currently constructing an Avatar-theme land which I’m sure will be quite popular! When I travel I’m always on the hunt for some vintage goodness, and even Disney delivers with so wonderful vintage-inspired attractions.
Have you visited Animal Kingdom park? What was your favorite part?

HWS Area Hotels

Hi friends, I’m back with more Disney posts! I got away from blogging after a trip through the PNW in August. I then started back at school so I’m still working out time management between school and posts. This post is a continuation of the WDW posts I had in July. There are a couple more and then I will have posts from my most recent travels. Thanks for sticking with me and please comment if you have any questions.

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One of the most visually impressive hotels on the WDW property is Art of Animation. It has four sections with each section devoted to a specific film- The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars.

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The check-in area is absolutely beautiful with bright colors and illustrations.

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They had a pinboard out while we were there!

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Like the other resorts, they had a gorgeous Christmas tree– I think this was my favorite! The colors were so bright and fun.

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They even added animation touches in the tree.

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Passed the check-in and the drawings was this great wall display with cells from the featured movies. It was interesting to walk through the “sketchbook” area of check-in and then see art from the films.

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If you have the time to walk around, I highly recommend checking out the great decoration outside of the lobby. Each building of the hotel had movie-specific features that were great.

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One of my favorite features in the Cars area were these postcards in the window. Unfortunately, they’re display only and not for sale. The cars were to “car” scale so they’re a great feature for photos.

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The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite films, so that building was my favorite. Ariel here is overlooking a pool (check the beach chairs).

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Ursula was the coolest character out there– she’s over three floors high!

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I very much enjoyed wandering around AoA; it’s a vibrant, fun resort that I recommend visiting even if you’re not staying. If you are a guest at another Disney property, it is free to park and check out other hotels, so do it!

Pop Century was another fun theme hotel– it’s not too far from the All-Star resorts, but I thought it was a little nicer.

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Pop Century celebrates pop culture varied by decade, from the 1950s to 1990s. My vintage heart loved the groovy true vintage decor– like this awesome golf cart! Disney does create a lot of cute photo-op areas.

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They did not have full on vintage Christmas decor, but I loved their classic look on the wreaths and tree.

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The check-in area had this large shadowboxes with items from each decade. They were really fun and all true vintage! I wish I could’ve been on the team searching for these treasures. Some were fashion, or music theme, or sports, etc. It’s fun stuff to look at while your group is checking in.

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The polka dot purses! The glitter platforms!

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Pop Century has a quick-serve food area, but no “sit-down” restaurant.

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We didn’t have any ice cream, but a guard recommended we have the tie dye cheesecake. It was pretty and tasty, and if you’re a pin collector there is a Hidden Mickey pin with Chip and Dale snacking on it.
I liked Pop Century for it’s fun theme and its budget friendly. Of course prices vary per reservation date, but this resort seems to be only slightly more expensive than the All-Stars.

We also visited Caribbean Beach, but it’s easy to get lost! This resort has a relaxing island vibe and it is very spread out over a lot of property. This may be a problem if you have someone in your party with mobility issues are a lot of small children: the walk back to your room after a long day at the parks may have you wishing for a room closer to the lobby. It’s something to consider when planning your trip!

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All Disney resorts have access to “Magical Express,” which is a pickup and drop off service to and from the hotels to Orlando International Airport. The time can vary, as the bus makes stops at each hotel, but it was convenient.

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I loved the island flair in the Christmas decorations– the flowers were such a great touch!

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Caribbean Beach did have a casual restaurant and some quick serve options (pictured below). I loved the bright colors of the resort.

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I hope these photos give you an idea of what the theme of the resorts are and what “feeling” you can expect. These properties are more on the budget-friendly side if you want to stay at a Disney property (which I recommend if you can!).
If I were visiting with friends I’d probably pick one of these resorts to spit a room to help keep prices down (so you can get more souvenirs, of course!).
Have you stayed at any of these hotels? How did you like them? Let me know in the comments, thanks!

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

July is Amerikitsch’s WDW month– I visited the parks in December 2014 and I thought it’s time to post about my trip. Check back all month for Disney related posts!

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This is a post about one of my favorite parks, Hollywood Studios. Yes, I said it’s a favorite! I’ve read some other opinions online that differ, but from a visual standpoint I really enjoyed walking around the park. It has an old Hollywood theme and after visiting it I wished that this designed had carried on to the California Adventure park.
I took a TON of photos of the vintage-inspired signage (my favorite!) and will post those separately.

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During Christmas-time, each park had gorgeous mega-trees out front that were designed in theme of the park they represent.

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I visited in December 2014, and the sorcerer hat & ears were still up. I saw online a couple weeks after we visited they were torn down. I know there were mixed feelings on these as well, but I like them. There was a open-air pin shop under the hat that was a great spot to pick up a souvenir.

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As I mentioned, there is an old Hollywood vibe to the park that is a lot of fun for vintage fans. I don’t know if Dapper Day is as big in Florida as it is in California, but this park is the perfect spot for it! The buildings have beautiful deco facades.

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They have the cutest dino, Gertie, that also serves as a ice cream spot. HWS definitely has some epic themed restaurants, too!

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The Prime Time Cafe is a delight and it will get its own post later! Dreamy 50s realness! & by realness, I mean it! They have tons of true vintage decorations that will make you feel like you stepped back in time.

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The Sci-Fi Diner is another great vintage-inspired eatery. It feels like you’ve been transported to a drive-in theatre back in the 50s/60s. I will also make a separate post for this spot.
**TIP: If you’re interested in eating at any restaurant in any of the parks, it is highly recommended that you make a reservation before your trip. You may not be able to get in at all without one!

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Hollywood Studios has attractions that are available in California, like Star Tours and Midway Mania, but I was excited they also still have Muppet Vision! It has been gone from DCA for awhile now with no signs of it returning. It was fun to see it again.

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There were great Christmas decorations, including this giant Santa figure on a street facade.

Another feature that we were lucky enough to visit before its closure was the Osborne Spectacular of Dancing Lights. 2015 was their last year, to many fan’s disappointment. There was a faux street near the Muppet Vision that was reminiscent of something at Universal Studios. You could walk through during the day, but the real excitement was a night to see the light display. I’m guessing they have big plans for that space in the future.

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My favorite part of the display– the baby from Dinosaurs! I remember watching that as a kid and loved seeing the blast from the past.

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In the back of the park is Midway Mania, one of the most entertaining rides. As you can see from the wait time (95 minutes in this photo), it is very popular! We were there off-season and midweek and I did not see the wait time under 1 hour. It is the same ride in California if you’ve been to DCA. To save time you might want to skip it, but the queue is wonderfully designed.

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The queue is designed as if you’ve shrunk down to toy-size. Mr. Potato is telling jokes like the line in DCA, but this one has much more style.

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There are also great Toy Story-inspired decorations outside the ride.

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For the mermaid fans, there is this beautiful fountain from the movie, “Splash.” It adds to the Hollywood vibe.

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Speaking of mermaids, there is a Little Mermaid show. Unfortunately, it leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn’t really follow the story, but it is a show that does musical numbers from the movie. If you have small children that love the music, maybe it would be a good spot to take a break from the walking, but otherwise it’s passable. I will say that the singer who played Ariel when we saw it was spot-on! She sounded just like the film, which was impressive.

The Disney Parks in Florida seem to have many stage shows– there’s an Indiana Jones stunt show, a car racing stunt show, a Beauty and the Beast live show, etc. & these are only just the shows at Hollywood Studios. I personally am not a huge fan of stage shows, so I’d pass on them. I saw a couple on this trip and don’t need to see any of them again. If you’re pressed for time you may want to skip them as well, but if you need a break they can be a welcome stop.

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Maybe I’m a little on the nerdy-side, but I really enjoyed “One Man’s Dream,” and exhibition inside Hollywood Studios with Walt’s history and artifacts. You can walk around the mini-museum and they also play a movie. I loved learning about the history and process Walt cultivated for us all to enjoy these many years later.

**NOTE TO ANY DISNEY EMPLOYEES THAT MIGHT COME ACROSS THIS: I was at HWS and visited the One Man’s Dream building on Walt Disney’s birthday. There was ZERO mention of it anywhere in the park other than it was mentioned at the beginning of the film. Really? Nothing for Walt’s birthday? Why not a button or sticker for guests at the gate? Or a special cupcake or other dessert commemorating the day? It doesn’t have to be anything big, but it seems that Walt’s birthday should be acknowledged in Disney parks.**

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Another great spot for the old Hollywood vibe is the Brown Derby. It is a re-creation of the iconic hot spot from the Golden Age of Cinema.

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We visited the park a second day to enjoy a meal at the Brown Derby. It felt very “grown up” and might not be the best spot for the little ones. The meals were delicious, but also a little on the pricier side. It was a nice treat!

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One of the best details were the copper derby hat lights!

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Hollywood Studios has a beautiful “Main Street,” but they also have a great shopping area on the walk towards the Tower of Terror ride. This shop was villain-themed and was great.

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Along the walls were these epic scary old-Hollywood vignettes. Set decorating for Disney sounds like a dream job to me (Disney do you need help in CA? I’m here!), and this shop really stood out for its design. I took many, many photos of the vintage-style signage and they will get their own post soon!

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This is a shot of the walking/shopping area on the way to Tower of Terror. There are plenty of cool things to stop and check out along the way, including great shops and quick serve meal spots.

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When the sun went down, we went back to see the light display. It was the street I mentioned before with the baby from “Dinosaurs” in the window. It was an incredible display with many fans checking it out.

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The Mickey stocking was one of my favorite touches, along with the Halloween cat. We were told that when the Osborne’s mailed all the lights to Disney, they accidentally included a halloween decoration of a cat. The decorators used it in the design every year and moved it around for people to search for while they enjoyed the lights!

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When we were leaving I snapped a photo of this shop window– the Minnie’s were kicking their legs like they were Rockettes. It was too cute and festive.

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A great touch in the window was this poster for the “Jingle Belles.” I’ve also seen these Minnie’s as ornaments in the park. I hope they bring them back this year because I want to pick one up!

So, I’m definitely a fan of Hollywood Studios. The style, the props, and design really grabbed my attention and made me wish they had made similar choices for the DCA park. If you’re all about rides, this park will probably not keep you all day. You can get there early and hit your fave attractions, and then head out. But if you want a more leisurely time, to walk and enjoy your surroundings, I recommend it.

Disney has also announced that there will be a Star Wars land in this park in the future, so I bet it will only get more popular when that opens!

Have you visited Hollywood Studios? What was your favorite part of the park? Let me know in the comments, thanks!

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Epcot/HWS Area Hotels

July is Amerikitsch’s WDW month– I visited the parks in December 2014 and I thought it’s time to post about my trip. Check back all month for Disney related posts!

This post will cover the Yacht and Beach Club, as well as the Boardwalk hotel.
These hotels are great if you plan on visiting Epcot or Hollywood Studios because they have ferry access.

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The Yacht and Beach Club resorts are ‘sister’ hotels and share the same property and some amenities. I visited by car and had trouble telling the hotels apart. However, inside the Yacht Club felt a little more formal.

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We parked in the backlot and walked through the Vacation Club area. It was fun to see that some of the vacationers decorated their balcony!

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This pretty statue was in the back of the property.

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Since we came in the back way, I think we had come through the VC space. They had this nice library nook. I’m not sure if it was open to all guests or VC members– since we were there off season, there weren’t many people around.

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One of the reason I highly recommend visiting the hotels, especially the deluxe hotels, during the holidays is that they have these incredible gingerbread displays! This carousel was functional and spinning around. The hotels that have these gingerbread displays also have commemorative pins with the yearly design.

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Beaches and Cream is a cute ice cream shop/diner on the Beach Club side. It serves food, but it is a very small space with only a handful of tables. When we were there, it was a hour wait to eat. Instead, we just got a scoop of ice cream, which has a separate counter. There are a couple tables outside if you wish to eat it there.

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This is one of my favorite views from the trip– looking outside the Beach Club and across the water to the Boardwalk Resort.

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Here is the ferry that accesses stops at Epcot World Showcase, Hollywood Studios, the Swan and Dolphin, Beach and Yacht Club, and the Boardwalk. This is not a quick trip, more of a leisurely pace. It’s quite enjoyable if you’re not in a big rush.

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The Boardwalk literally gives the look and feel of an old-timey boardwalk with lots of buildings. They have shops and restaurants along the walk way.

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The Boardwalk hotel has vintage Americana and nautical inspirations. It was my favorite resort of all that I visited!

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I loved this chandelier with the Neptune design.

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The Boardwalk also had a gingerbread project in the lobby– they had an ice cream stand! It was so cute and my favorite gingerbread display. The seals with Mickey and Minnie holding ice creams were also very similar to pins sold at the Soda Fountain in Los Angeles.

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They also had pressed penny machines that were decorated in style of the hotel.

I hope this post gives you an idea as to the style of these hotels. These are all deluxe properties, meaning they are on the higher end of pricing. If you are there during the holidays, go visit and check out the decorations and gingerbread displays!
My dream is to stay at the Boardwalk some day! Where would you like to stay? Let me know in the comments, thanks!

A Trip to Epcot (Part One)

July is Amerikitsch’s WDW month– I visited the parks in December 2014 and I thought it’s time to post about my trip. Check back all month for Disney related posts!

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Disney’s Epcot is easily divided into two sides: Future World (the “science” side) and World Showcase (the countries side). This first post will be about the science side. The main entrance brings guests through the science side with the iconic orb.

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Inside the orb is Spaceship Earth, a ride through the history of communications and technology. It was a little goofy, but fun. After the ride there was a big space with computer games. It wasn’t really my interest, but there were lots of people checking it all out.

The Innoventions buildings were… not as full of Disney magic as I had expected. I went into a few because I was collecting the pressed pennies but they felt like the booths at the county fair. I would really love to see Disney executives offer up space to more major companies and see what they could come up for the travelers. Imagine visiting the Apple section or Tesla section, teaching kids about technology in a fun, interesting way!

There were two popular buildings– The Land and The Sea. We visited The Land which includes the Soarin’ ride, a Lion King film about ecology, and Living with the Land, a boat tour through an area where they grow food for the park.

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They had cute holiday touches to the Land ride. We got to see fruits, veggies, and fish.

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There is a beautiful food court inside the Land building; I loved this hot air balloon decoration on the ceiling.

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We did not have a meal here, but many of the foods had ingredients from the space visited on the Land ride. I did get this red velvet treat!
I cannot speak about The Sea building as we didn’t have time to visit. There are a few other rides, including the Test Track, Mission to Mars, and a Figment ride (“Journey to Imagination”). One of the strangest shows is Ellen’s Energy Adventure. It’s a show hosted by Ellen DeGeneres that was filmed about 20 years ago and also stars Bill Nye and Jamie Lee Curtis. It’s a mix of screen show and then becomes a bit of a ride, and then back to a show. I thought it was interesting in a strange way, but it is quite long (about 45 minutes) so I don’t think it will hold children’s attention.

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The Coca-Cola shop is a fun place to visit and you should definitely try the flavors from other countries. It’s true about the Beverly. I tried it and it wasn’t as bad as I thought at first, but the after-taste was bad!
Visiting during December, there were lovely holiday topiaries in the many planted seating areas.

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My favorite topiaries were these Mickey’s with Santa hats. They were in front of Mousegears, one of the best shops in any of the parks. I definitely recommend visiting it; I purchased a backpack there I never saw in any other parks.

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The orb is absolutely beautiful at night. Look at the colors! **TIP: if you are a pin collector, there is an outdoor pin shop with some tables near by. This is a spot to trade with others and pick up new pins.**

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This is a day-night collage I posted on IG I had made on the ride home from Epcot.

Overall, there were a few fun spots in Future World, but if I go again I’d spend more time on the World Showcase side. If you’re a shopper you should visit Mousegears, and teens would probably love Test Track and Mission to Mars. Future World opens before World Showcase, so you might want to get to the park right when it opens, check out the science side for a couple hours, and then head over to World Showcase.
Have you visited Epcot? What was your favorite attraction?

Vintage Ephemera Friday #005

Ephemera is defined as something that is not meant to last long– often paper goods. I find myself picking up matchbook covers, postcards, and old magazines at estate sales, flea markets, etc. I know that there are plenty others who dig this stuff too so I’ve decided to post a new piece every Friday as a series, “Vintage Ephemera Friday,” or #VEF on IG.

I encourage anyone else who reads this to also post cool old ephemeral goods (old papers, pins, magnets, pretty much all advertisement goods, whatever you like!) and post it with both “#VintageEphemeraFriday” and “#VEF” tags so in the future others can search through the collective finds.

For my fifth post, I’m posting a bit of trash. Well, the sellers at the estate sale thought it was trash. But I (and the previous owner) saw it differently. Mixed in with vintage sewing patterns was this rumpled bag from the shop, Ruggles.

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From what I have seen online, Ruggles was a shop inside the park. Since this bag is marked ‘Disneyland Hotel’ I’m guessing it came later. It was a china and fine goods shop. Searching “Ruggles Disneyland” will bring up some cute knick-knacks in an internet search.
I love the floral print, but I just really love that some crafty lady made an effort to keep the bag. I hope it brought her good memories of a Disney trip when she came across it in her craft supplies.

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Please feel free to join in and post your vintage ephemera finds here or on IG on Fridays! #vintageephemerafriday #vef

Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom

July is Amerikitsch’s WDW month– I visited the parks in December 2014 and I thought it’s time to post about my trip. Check back all month for Disney related posts!

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In my second Magic Kingdom post I talked about ‘Be Our Guest,’ the Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant. It was such a fun time I thought it deserved its own post!

As you can see, the entrance used forced perspective to create the view of the Beast’s castle off in the distance. It looks like it’s far away, but the entrance is underneath.

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There are great touches even outside the restaurant with theming recognizable from the film.

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As I mentioned in the other post, I had tried to get a reservation and they were full. Luckily, they had a test market for lunch and we got in. You place your order on a touch screen and then find your own table in the main room. Using the magic bands, they’d bring out your food when ready.

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The main room looked straight out of the movie! It was very large with many tables. Two other themed rooms were full, too, and I believe those sections were for people who had reservations.

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One of my favorite touches was the soda fountain. It was a walk-up self serve and also looked like it was from the movie.

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It was December when we visited and they had some lovely decorations! There was this beautiful tree up against a faux door. Behind the windows was a screen that made it appear that it was snowing outside! So pretty and festive!

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They had many wreaths and garlands throughout the restaurant, but my favorite detail– they had ornaments shaped like characters in the movie with a stain glass design. Too cute! I was surprised they did not sell these ornaments in the park. Too bad, I bet they would be popular.

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Before leaving, we checked out the other reserved rooms: The first, lighter room had artwork from the movie and a large rotating figure of the Beast and Belle dancing.

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Many people were taking photos of the rooms, so expect a little bit of a wait.

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The darker room was Beast themed. It was very dark, too dark I think if you have older people in your party or those who have vision problems. But it was very popular because this is where the rose is!

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There was a line to see the rose, but not too much space around the tables. Just be mindful of the people eating before shooting flash photography.

Overall this was one of my best meals on the trip, both in food and experience. I loved seeing all the design and decorations and the meals was tasty! I recommend it (try and get a reservation!) for anyone visiting the Magic Kingdom and hope to visit again myself.

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