Friday, August 29, 2014

Goodbye Spirit of America and Off Kilter

Yesterday, I saw some really tragic news.  Ok, so not actually tragic in the sense that no one died, no nation collapsed, and nothing blew up…well, maybe just Twitter exploded.  But to a girl who loves Epcot and its live entertainment, it was quite heartbreaking news.  Some of Epcot's long-time performers will sing/play/dance/act their last in the park in late September.  According to the Orlando Sentinel, Off Kilter, Mo’Rockin’, Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps and World Showcase Players will soon be replaced.

Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, Epcot

Off Kilter began rocking the Canadian pavilion with their Celtic melodies in 1997, and I happened to be in College Program during that year.  You can read more (and catch a few videos) about these masters of bagpipes and kilts here.  Disney is bringing in a lumberjack act to Canada.  I'll grab a Stella and give it a chance but it will never replace Off Kilter in my Disney nerd heart.  

Today I want to share a special memory about another group who will soon say goodbye.   The Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps is just what it sounds like.  This group of musicians plays traditional American tunes while wearing costumes inspired by colonial times.  I think the live performances are what really makes Epcot special and I always encourage people to slow down and take in the acts.  In November 2013, we did just that and caught a very special ceremony.  The leader of the group called the children up to the front of the pavilion and after a bit of marching, the children were all given copies of the Declaration of Independence and announced as Sons and Daughters of Liberty.  My girls were 2 and 4 at the time so they just liked their 'scrolls' but it was a really nice moment.

This is just one of the small things that keeps us going back to Walt Disney World.   I don't think the big ticket items are really the draw.  Yes, the roller coasters are great fun but the true Disney magic is when guests and Cast Members slow down and interact.  And you have to love it when you actually learn something while being entertained!

Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, Epcot

I wish a fond farewell to the groups who are soon ending their time at Epcot and look forward to checking out the new acts on my next visit.  To those who will be replacing Off Kilter and Spirit of America, you have some mighty big Doc Martens and buckled shoes to fill.  Best wishes!

Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, Epcot, Hidden Mickey

Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, Epcot

If you are lucky enough to be at Epcot in the next month, please catch a performance or two from Off Kilter and Spirit of America for me!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Get Yourself in the Photo! Ideas to Improve Your Walt Disney World Photography

Walt Disney World is an especially easy place to get in the picture so even if you have hair made crazy by the Florida humidity, say cheese!  Oh boy, I was about to melt in the photo below but I'm so glad we captured that memory.  Baby Minnie LOVED Pluto.  I don't know what it is about Pluto but my girls both adored him at that age.  

Pluto, Goofy, Walt Disney World, Growing Up Disney
Minnie's first character greeting, May 2012
Taken by DisneyDad with my camera

Since you're reading this blog, you're likely the Disney fan and trip planner in your family. That frequently also makes you the family memory keeper and photographer. This certainly describes me. I can look back at my family's photos and I have thousands and thousands of images of my children and quite a few of the girls with my husband. However, unless my dad or brother was around, I'm probably not in the picture. iPhone selfies have helped with this problem, but over the last couple of years, I have made an effort to be included in more of the pictures with my girls. While I now love the portraits of them doing something cute or sitting in front of some landmark, I know that someday I'll share these photos and memories with my children. DisneyDad likes to post images from the early days of Walt Disney World and my favorites are the ones of my parents. I especially love the shot of them on their honeymoon in front of Cinderella Castle and the one of DisneyDad and me on Main Street.

Disney honeymoon, vintage disney photos, growing up disney
A Disney Honeymoon, 1973
Photo likely taken by another guest with DisneyDad's camera
vintage disney photos, growing up disney
DisneyDad and Amy, Main Street USA, 1979
Photo likely taken by Mom
So on your next Walt Disney World vacation, please take cheesy selfies with your kids while waiting for Dumbo to take off. Or ask another guest to take a photo for you on the bridge. The parks are full of off-duty or former Cast Members, long-time guests who aren't in a hurry and other kind folks who would be happy to snap a picture.

The most obvious way to include your whole group in the memories is to take advantage of the PhotoPass system. Remember to let the Cast Member take shots with both your camera and theirs.  Don't pass up the chance to greet Mickey along with your children and be included in the shot.  He's a magical mouse regardless of your age.  At many of the character meals, a group photo will be taken before you are seated.  Some of these are included in the cost of the meal and others are extra.  These images can be a really nice way to get a group shot without the sun in your eyes.

I hope you'll find your way into more photos on your next vacation and capture memories you will cherish for years to come.

growing up disney
Remake of our 1979 shot
Taken by me with my camera 
growing up disney
Remake of our 1979 shot
Taken by a PhotoPass Cast Member with my camera
Cinderella Castle, Walt Disney World, growing up disney
DisneyDad set up his camera and handed it off to Mom for this one. 
pocahontas, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, growing up disney
My husband doesn't always get to visit WDW with us but he was happy to pose with Tink and Pocahontas
Walt Disney World, Garden View Tea Room, Grand Floridian, Growing Up Disney
The manager at Garden View Tea Room took this one for us after Tink's first tea in May 2014
Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom, Growing Up Disney
A quick selfie of me and Minnie 
Growing Up Disney
Being silly during the Annual Passholder preview in November 2012.  Tink wouldn't cooperate but then asked to do this pose about a year later.
Growing Up Disney, MInnie Mouse, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World
One of the great times to get out of the way and let the kids shine.  Minnie's first visit with Minnie! 
Belle, Akershus, Growing Up Disney
The girls and I took a special trip with my bestie in January 2013.   Not my best look but I wouldn't trade this photo.   
Pluto, Epcot, Growing Up Disney
Ridge isn't in all that many shots either.  His friend, Shelley, took this one for him.  Seriously, Pluto rocks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Photo Flashback! I Love a Parade!

Walt Disney World May 2014
I love the Floats, Characters, and Music of the Parades in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.  They have changed a little over the years.  From the mechanical dragons, swings, pirate ships, and hot air balloons of the current parades to the simplicity of the original ones, I love them all.

Main Street Parade  - May 1979

Pooh has changed some since May 1979

The "ears" at the bottom of this May 1979 picture belong to Amy.

Hope you enjoy looking at some old photos from my Wayback Machine
(my old photo albums) as much as I do.

Retro Disney
Focused on the Magic

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Photo Flashback! Thank You DisneyDad!

Hiya Pals!  We've been away for a few weeks due to some technical difficulties but now we are back to continue sharing our family's love of all things Disney.  And DisneyDad deserves all the thanks for getting us back up and running.  Trust me, he's due a B-I-G thank you for this one, so please leave him a quick note below!

It's also because of DisneyDad that we are Growing Up Disney in the first place.  Some of these you've seen before, but I wanted to share a few photos of our history as I express my gratitude.  I've enjoyed working on this project with family and friends and I'm so glad we are able to continue.

DisneyDad with his parents and nieces in Adventureland in December 1971

DisneyDad and Mom on their honeymoon in December 1973

DisneyDad and Amy, May 1979

DisneyDad and Mom at Amy's wedding, our famous guests were a surprise from DisneyDad

Tink's first trip to Walt Disney World for her first birthday, April 2010

Storytime at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, February 2012

Minnie's first Walt Disney World trip, May 2012, 11 months old

Posing for a remake of our shot above in May 2013

DisneyDad and Mini-Me

A quick selfie as we exited the park in May 2014

Focused on the Magic

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Growing Up Disney is back on line!

We are BACK!

Amy 1979 at Magic Kingdom
Due to some technical difficulties GrowingUpDisney
was replaced by another site in mid July.  
We are BACK!  
I hope you will join with us each week
as we share our experiences Growing Up Disney.