Thursday, June 30, 2011

Second Star To The Right

Today is my turn to head just a little north of Disney World and make the sojourn to see my sister and her family. There are two little girls that need my attention for a few days. When I visit, I'm bringing gifts. Ashley gets her ears, Audrey gets a new shirt and a Winnie the Pooh book, and the big girl gets her D&B purse. All children must grow up, but not this weekend.

- Posted by Ridge using BlogPress from my iPhone

Who are You in Winnie the Pooh?

I took a personality test today and according to it, I am Winnie the Pooh. My first time through, the test determined that I was Owl. Pooh is my favorite character, so I was glad that my honest answers to the second set of questions came back as the silly old bear.

This got me surfing around and I landed on the official page for the upcoming movie, "Winnie the Pooh," in theaters July 15th. If you or your child are fans of the Pooh characters, this site is a treasure trove of fun. There is a bunch of information on the movie itself, including the story synopsis, image gallery, cast, and more. The site also features online games, activity and craft ideas as well as coloring sheets for the littlest fans. The video vault is wonderful. It's not just kid stuff; there some Disney-nerd treats, such as a piece featuring the Sherman brothers. Of course, they take the opportunity to try to sell you the movie soundtrack, an iPhone/iPad app (which I bought), assorted merchandise, and even theme park tie-ins offering planning DVDs.

I hope you enjoy playing with this site as we anxiously await the release of the film. Wait, or is that just me? I am really hoping to take Tink to see Winnie the Pooh as her first film at the theater.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Photo Flashback - Lights, Motors, Action!

One of my "new" favorite shows at Disney's Hollywood Studios is the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. It is 33 minutes of non-stop action with cars, motorcycles, high stunt falls, burning tires, and a burning man!

It took watching the show more than once to catch this photo on my "old" digital camera that only took one shot at a time. I had to time it just right to catch the stunt car in the air.

This was taken on a trip in November, 2009.


Monday, June 27, 2011

How Are The Girls and Mama?

Baby E2 is 3.5 weeks old and we are all doing very well.

Ashley is a cuddly baby and a good sleeper. She's eating well and gaining weight. I think she's about 9.5 pounds now.

My parents were here until this past Saturday to help out. We really appreciated two extra sets of hands. Audrey loved the time with her grandparents and all the activities Granny and Granddaddy planned for her...sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a wading pool, new coloring books, lunches out, and an adventure to see the ocean. She is a good big sister and is becoming a better helper.

Andy's parents are on their way here from Kansas now and will get to meet their newest grandchild tonight.

We will be moving into our new house in a few weeks. I'm not looking forward to all the work that is ahead of us but I think we will really enjoy this house. We picked out paint for all the bedrooms over the weekend.

With all the vacation time (and money!) the move and birth will have cost us, Ashley won't be making her first trip to WDW until next fall. However, at about 16 months old, I think we'll all have a really good time. I have no idea when we'll get Ashley to Alabama or Kansas to meet her family but we'll work something out.

A big thanks to everyone who has been checking on us!


Guest Post: What a Lifesaver! Rider Swap

Corby and family at 50's Prime Time Cafe

Having recently returned from our family’s June vacation to Disney World, I wanted to be sure to fill everyone in on one more detail. A little gem I came to love known as Rider Swap. I have known about the option for a while but will admit to never using it before, I was a little unsure of how exactly it worked. My family is used to going in the fall/winter when lines aren‘t all that long. Going in June was still wonderful but it took some time to get used to the crowds and heat that we’ve become so spoiled by avoiding while going during off season. Our son has been tall enough to ride most rides for a while now, something I have taken for granted. This was our first trip going to Disney World with a very mobile one year old. For those that don’t know, I have two children who are 6 years apart. So what does one do when one child can ride on nearly everything and one is still a baby? Does one parent get to ride all the rides while the other watches the youngest? How do you take turns especially when the older child prefers to ride with one parent?

I’m embarrassed to admit but it wasn’t until day 4 of our vacation when out of desperation I decided to test out this wonderful option. My son wanted ride an attraction that had a height requirement yet again, so that meant someone would have to sit out with our youngest…again, and that person would be me. I quite frankly was tired of chasing my little one around in the crowds for an hour while they rode rides. I told my husband to try and use the Rider Swap option. It was time I got to bottom of this and wanted to know what it was all about. All he did was go up to a Cast Member at the entrance and said he’d like to use the Rider Swap. The Cast Member handed him a small ticket and pointed he and my son to the Fast Pass line. I was shocked when they returned in very little time! They then handed me the ticket and then it was my turn to use the Fast Pass line. Best part is you can bring 2 others with you, so my son was able to ride twice, once with each parent which he greatly enjoyed. Not every attraction offers the Rider Swap option but there are many that do. Here is a link from Disney’s website that lists the attractions,

This option was truly a lifesaver for my family. If you have a child that doesn’t meet the height requirements and one that does, take advantage of this wonderful benefit! It doesn’t cost any extra and it will make your vacation all the more enjoyable for everyone in your family.

Contributed by Corby C. of Atlanta, Georgia. She is a proud wife and mom to Banks and Henley, a Disney Destination Planner with Travel with the Magic and one of our Minnie Moms.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

I hope all the fathers have a wonderful day. Thanks for all you do! My girls and I have been blessed with an extraordinary bunch of men in our family.


Friday, June 17, 2011

So Proud!

Tink was playing with some bracelets at a restaurant recently. I was a proud Disney mom when she put them together and said, "it's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse." Her other attempts looked better :)


Magical Blogorail: I Always Run First To...

Welcome to those of you joining me from A World View and those of you who have just hopped aboard. I am the final stop on our Magical Blogorail.

This month's topic is “What attraction do you always run to first at Disney and why?” Ridge has just returned from two weekends in a row at Star Wars Weekends. As you might imagine, he makes a beeline for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Now that Star Tours is back open and better than ever, it is definitely my "I gotta do this now and probably several more times today" attraction at WDW. If you haven’t seen it, ridden it, read about it, watched a YouTube video of it or have just been living under a rock for the last couple of months, I will be glad to fill you in on the awesomeness and immersive experience that is Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. Star Tours has always been one of my favorite attractions since the first time I rode it. After that I was hooked for life, even when it became apparent that it wasn’t exactly being kept up as well as it should have been. Now the new Star Tours is open and being there for opening weekend was worth the wait.

If you don’t want to hear some spoilers then give up now because I will tell you about a few of my new favorite things. First I am happy that the Ewok Village is still intact. Inside the queue is still the same basic set up with the Star Speeder being repainted and the Calamarians offering some new screens to look at. C3PO is nice and shiny and has a fancy new screen behind him too. Walking into the old droid room, it is no longer the conveyer system and is now more of a real spaceport with the old goose droids now repurposed as TSA agents. One is on the lower level scanning luggage and having a grand time. He has no idea what he is looking at in the bags and making comments on the passersby. The other droid is located just before you enter the loading area and is checking each guest with a thermal imaging camera. To me he sounds like the droid version of Patrick Warburton and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he recorded the track. In the corner when you first walk into the room with the TSA agents, on your left is REX marked as defective and if you get to stand near him long enough he says some of his script from the previous incarnation. There are lots and lots of things to be distracted by in this room and the lines might just accommodate you being able to check it all out.

Now to the bread and butter and why I’m making this attraction a top priority: variety and most excellent CGI and 3D graphics. Your Star Speeder hasn’t changed, although if I understand right there were some modifications to the ride structure to add a new axis of motion for the side to side wiggle. Seats, seatbelts, and the preflight spiel are all still about the same; they just look far better on the new preflight video. Once inside the magic happens by donning your 3D glasses and the front blast shield is lowered to revel your pilot: C3PO? As you guessed it, the safe and efficient travel promised by Star Tours is anything but. Someone is going to be coming to your transport and asking if a rebel spy is on board then the mayhem ensues. I rode five times and once I was the rebel spy! It actually was a good picture of me, wish they sold that at the gift shop. The GCI by Lucas Film Limited is nothing but the best and I really think it is 3D the way 3D should be everywhere. There were no cheap 3D tricks (waka waka) unless you get to see Naboo but that is soooo worth it. Best way I can say it; Visually Stunning. The planets I have seen were all beautifully rendered. The hologram effect is totally boss and having a CGI Princess Leia telling me I was the only hope was magic and my nerd levels went off the charts. There is just so much that can be said about the attraction and so far I have nothing negative other than after being open to the public for two days, the paint was already peeling from the walls. I mean, really people, that’s why we can’t have nice things and if you can’t act right, I’m turning you over to Vader because I find your lack of respect disturbing.

The planets that I made the jump into hyperspace for were Tatooine for the pod races, which the first time I saw this it was amazing, I rode the first two times with my mouth agape because I had NO idea it was going to live up to the hype I had seen on twitter all the way down to Disney. After I saw the pod races again I was tired because they are not my favorite part of Episode I and were tiring to watch no less cool though. Then I saw Hoth where the rebel base was being attacked and we were hit in classic style and almost crashed before R2 was able to restart the engines and jump us away. The next time I rode I saw Kashyyyk the Wookie planet, here two storm troopers are chasing a Wookie on speeder bikes and R2 blasts them after the Wookie has a little mishap. The planets we saw at the end were Geonosis with the Death Star over head and Boba Fett gunning us down. Naboo with a trip under water to see the Gungan City before making to the destination in a grand style. Let us not forget about Coruscant with its busy skyways and wrong way traffic. Oh, the combinations are awesome and seem to have been well written to cross over ok, there is continuity problems but I don't care. The ride is fantastic.

To see all of Ridge's pictures from Star Tours click here for the Flickr stream.

Below is a video Ridge took of one of the "TSA" droids.

Thank you for joining us this month. We will be back July 15th with an all new theme, though keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney info, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, head over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our blogorail members’ blogs and our previous loops.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ WDW Backstage
2nd Stop ~ Makin’ Memories
3rd Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney
4th Stop ~ A World View
Final Stop ~ Growing Up Disney

Thursday, June 16, 2011

DVC has a new logo

The Disney Vacation Club has announced they have a new logo. It was announced yesterday on the Disney Parks Blog. You may read the announcement here. The Park Blog describes it as a "bold new look" to better represent the global reach of the Vacation Club.

It was rather surprising to me to read about the new logo on the Disney Parks Blog. I immediately went to the DVC Members web site, and sitting in the corner was the new logo. I searched, but there was not any "news" about the new logo. Guess for some reason it wasn't important to let members know. It would have been nice to know.

The Disney Vacation Club has changed it's logo before, but not as drastically. The original logo had 3 mountains, and was changed to the long standing 2 mount logo when the Vacation Club added a second resort at Vero Beach.
The Disney Vacation club logo did away with one mountain to create the second logo. This logo has remained for most of the Vacation Club's existance.
So I guess it is "So Long!" to an old Friend, and "Hello!" to a new one as the Disney Vacation Club logo changes once again.

--Disney Dad

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New Ticket Prices

Effective today, admittance to Walt Disney World theme parks will cost you a bit more.

Here are a couple of links to check out for the latest information.  It looks like there are more options than ever to allow you to pay for just what you want/need.  Not that any of it is cheap...

Disney Parks Blog

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Walk Around The World With Ridge-- I'm Home...sort of

What an adventure I had this May. I went to my first Star Wars Weekends and was there for the reopening of Star Tours. To make it even more crazy, my trip consisted of two trips in one. I was part of the fun from May 19-25, went home to Birmingham, worked for two days and then went right back for Memorial Day weekend. Why didn’t I just stay the extra two days instead of drive all the way home to work? Well at the time this made perfect sense because vacation time is finite and I needed as much of it as possible to make the rest of the trips I already have planned for the rest of the year.  The most important being July so I can go and see the new baby in our family, Little Miss Ashley. So like I said it made perfect sense when I planned it.  Knowing all the trouble I have had now, I wish I had either stayed or just not taken the second weekend.

Arrival for my first part of the trip was to Pop Century Resort. Now yes my family and I are DVC members but in an effort not to single handedly drain all the points for the year, I stayed on my own dime.  I did what everyone should do and called Travel with the Magic and got a room booked.  Thanks Kelly!

My trip was far from smooth sailing.  If you have followed the blog you already know I had a bit of car trouble about 2 hours south of Birmingham in my old haunt of Auburn. After having the car repaired I had a relatively uneventful drive into Orlando, getting to check in at the Pop around midnight. Lucky for me I always do online check-in but until this trip never knew how handy it would really be. When I got to Pop, the computer system for check-in wasn’t working. So I let the CM know that I had completed online check-in and he took my driver’s license and walked over to a counter and came back with a check-in packet. Because they had a little warning that the computers were going to be down all the people that had pre-checked-in had their packets already made. So that was a painless moment.

I wandered over to my room and like the crazy person that I am, before I could bring anything into the room, I had to take pictures of it.

The room was a good size and was very clean. I was in the 50s building and there is a fun framed poster on the wall with lots of little bits of memoriblia featured.

I very much liked that the T.V. had been updated to a flatscreen model on swivel base that almost pivoted 180 degrees.

After taking pictures and unpacking, it was time to hit the hay because Friday was the grand opening of Star Tours: the Adventures Continue and George Lucas himself was going to be there. I was looking very forward to the day and got up early, having only what I would call a nap.  I got over to the park, picked up my annual pass from guest services while also getting my Tables in Wonderland card and headed into the Studios. Having never attended the Star Wars Weekends before I was unprepared for the people in costume, lightsabers as far as the eye could see and the socially awkward adults buying everything they could get their hands on. I went straight to Star Tours to get a Fastpass because I knew from the tweets and other chatter that FPs were going to go fast and the lines will be long.

Now a mistake I made early on was NOT fully reading the schedule and didn’t realize that the opening ceremonies were at 11.  During that time I was trapped in the merchandise line in Jabba’s Hutt. On the bright side I got several exclusive pins, a coin and a writing pen. So while I missed being in the sun and George Lucas telling Darth Vader he was “about to meet his maker,” I bought some cool stuff that not everyone got to have.

Come back for more next time when I tackle my new favorite attraction and the rest of the crazy trip.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Our Newest Disney Baby is One Week Old

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Photo Flashback - First Trip 1971

This is my Father and Mother with my nieces Lisa & Lori and me at Walt Disney World in December 1971. These are the original Tiki statues in Adventureland. This photo is from my sister's photo album and if you look closely at the right border you can see the date from when the pictures were developed.

Ridge put this through Photoshop and it looks much better than the 40 year old original.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Magical Blogorail: Sorcerer Radio's Natalie

Welcome to those of you joining me from Your Highway in the Sky and those of you who have just hopped aboard.  I am the 6th stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Natalie Henley is one of the hosts of Sorcerer Radio's Castaway Midday.  I had the pleasure of hanging out with Natalie and her son at Walt Disney World several times on our trip in October/November of 2010.  She's got a quick wit and a huge love of all things Disney.  It's my honor to help you get to know her better.  

~Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a Disney fan.

I have long been a theme park fan. When I was a child, I would go nearly every weekend in the summer to our local park, Opryland USA. My family did go to Disney World when I was 2, 6 and 17. We always knew that going to Disney was a savored treat.

When Opryland USA closed in 1997, I quickly realized how much I was used to having fun in a theme park. To fill the void, I began a search for one locally. When I found the local parks to be unsatisfying, I began my travels to Orlando. At first, I went only once a year. However with a background of weekly travels to a theme park, I soon began to "need" more and more Disney.

I love Disney because the parks are ever-changing, with new festivals and rides always on the horizon. They offer plenty for everyone. I have traveled to the parks with my Grandmother (89), my son (5) and my sisters. All of us found attractions that made us excited and highly entertained.

~How did the blogging come about and how does it fit into your busy schedule?

After each vacation to Disney, I am always planning my next vacation. With vacation after vacation to plan, I began to make friends and family a bit nuts with do much Disney talk. To help all of us, I began writing a blog ( At first I created it to discuss past visits to the parks. Then, I was asked over and over how it was that I afford so many vacations to Disney. To help these people to reach their Disney goals, I began discussing strategies I use to help me pay for the trips. Being a Certified Public Accountant, money is often a topic I think about in detail. Now every Tuesday, I feature the articles "Strategies for Paying for Disney".

As for when I am able to fit blogging in my schedule, I will say that I have more energy than sense. I work all day, do tweets all day on the website to announce the new articles, and blog late at night. I blog to keep me connected to friends and Disney. It is like a mini-vacation!

The Castaway Midday Team
~Please tell us about Castaway Midday and why we should listen to your show.

Castaway Midday is a fun show that airs weekly on Thursdays at 1pm ET and encores on Saturdays at 5pm ET. The show features the music from the Disney Cruise Line and Disney water parks.

In addition to great music, my co-host Kristen from and I discuss travel news giving all of the latest details on great deals and vacation packages. We also discuss the Disney Dish. In this feature we discuss a food related topic. Past Disney Dish topics have been a discussion of our favorite dessert items in the Magic Kingdom and a game of who can out cheap the other for the best Disney World meal. Of course, we always discuss other Disney topics and laugh a lot! We love to hear from fans for music requests and suggestions.

~What is your favorite part about being on the SR team? Your favorite aspect of your own show?

Working with Sorcerer Radio is great! It allows me to make more friends in the Disney community in a whole new way. I am new, so I am still learning how to relax. I am not good at hearing myself and thinking about others hearing me sound southern or a bit nutty! But, I know that will change too as time goes by and I will (hopefully) not be as judgmental of myself!

I had been friends with Kristen for quite some time before beginning on Castaway Midday. We had frequently spoke about Disney and spent a great deal more time laughing and having a fun conversation. The show really is an extension of our friendship. We talk and cut up together as we had previously done on the phone in our weekly show. Who could ask for a better situation!

~So you have this really funny kiddo. What's your favorite WDW story featuring him? What's the biggest lesson you've learned since the two of you travel alone from time to time?

Natalie and her very funny son
Kiddo. Yes. He is, as you know, a very present being. Loud and in charge in his own mind.  :) He knows the parks very well and even knows where particular attractions are located. He often enjoys giving others facts about the attractions while in line.

One of my very favorite experiences with my son was during dinner at the Hoop De Doo Revue. He had been waving at the dancers on stage during the first portion of the show. Being only the table below the stage, he got several waves back from the performers. If you have been to this dinner show, you know that they choose people to go onstage for the last song. My son was chosen by Dolly, one of the performers. He excitedly headed onstage with no fear. He was great onstage and was a big hit with the audience. I have the photo of him onstage at home on a table in the den. The experience made me so proud that he did not panic once onstage!

As mentioned, my son and I travel quite a bit without my husband. My husband does like Disney and traveling but not at the same need-to-go level as my son and I. What I quickly found was that when traveling alone with my son, there were many attractions I would need to forgo. At first this was hard on me as the thrill rides are my favorite. But now that he is getting older, he is starting to ride more and more rides. I have more fun riding and experiencing the rides with him.

~You are fortunate to be able to travel to WDW pretty frequently. When's the next trip? What's your favorite time of year at WDW?

Funny you ask when I am to be in Disney World again. This afternoon I will be in the Magic Kingdom. Then I will return again this weekend after having a few days at the beach! I plan to return in August during another Disney/beach vacation and again in October with the Sorcerer Radio trip. This trip will be a great time including many meets and a scavenger hunt with other Disney fans! I also will be traveling to the D23 Expo this year held out in California. Kristen and I will surely record the details we experience together during the October trip as well as the D23 Expo.

As far as my favorite time of year to visit WDW, I would definitely say October. That is my birthday month, the parks are decorated for Halloween and the temperatures are manageable. My next favorite is every other month! With so many festivals, events and parties, I can easily find something exciting to do year-round!

~What's something new you've learned about the World since you began radio/blogging?

When I began blogging, I was unsure if other Disney fans existed like myself. I actually had a bit of trouble finding other fans. As I did find a website, I would add it to a listing I created at Meet the Magic so I could help myself and others find Disney sites and friends.

Now, I have quite a few Disney friends and love it! I have many I can meet up with at the parks. This became one of my favorite things to do when traveling only with my son. He liked meeting new people and I enjoyed having some time with other adults!

I learned that it is all about getting out there. Write an article. Meet people. Talk with them online. Talk on the radio The most important thing is to move forward. Find a goal and go for it!

~Thanks, Natalie!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is A Disney Mom's Thoughts.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Disney Go To Girl
2nd Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog
3rd Stop ~ Return to Disney
4th Stop ~ Reviews & Reflections
5th Stop ~ Your Highway in the Sky
6th Stop ~ Growing Up Disney
Final Stop ~ A Disney Mom’s Thoughts

Monday, June 6, 2011

What does Tink think?

I keep getting asked how "Tink" is adjusting and what she thinks of her baby sister. Well, she's two and is full of energy so she doesn't slow down much for a sleepy newborn. Tink does like to touch Ashley and says, "I love baby sister." She doesn't always like it when I have to leave her to go take care of Ashley but most of time she's easily distracted. Her grandparents are a huge help. Andy and I are trying to spend time with Tink and do things together that we've always done, like bedtime. Everyone told me to include Tink and let her help. She's held a diaper for me but she's usually busy with something else.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Welcome Baby Eastman

Ashley Mae Eastman joined us today at 4:36 PM. She weighs 8 lbs 12 oz and is 21 inches long. She has a good head of dark hair. Her delivery was a little dramatic but baby and mama are doing well. Big sister Audrey came to meet Ashley this evening and loves her baby. She was very excited when the nurse let her help with baby sister's first bath.


Photo Flashback! This shirt always attracts attention

One of my husband's favorite t-shirts is from Dreamland BBQ in Birmingham, Alabama.  We laugh every time he wears it to Walt Disney World because people comment on it all day.  Dreamland now has 7 locations in Alabama and Georgia and everyone else much love it as much as we do because the shirt never fails to attract attention.

Do you have a similar story?  What do you wear that other guests just have to comment about?