Please vote in the new poll about Podcast content. We’ll be covering a number of topics, but I thought those listed might be a good jump start. You can vote for up to three options. If you have other Podcast topic suggestions, please comment to this post.
Comments to the Call for Volunteers post and the current DISDads thread at DISBoards.com suggest strong support for a DISDads Podcast, so I’m forging ahead to try and make it happen sooner rather than later. Mark (prattpak) has been especially helpful, enlisting his brother’s help designing a podcast logo and volunteering to assist with the recording/production end of the podcast. The goal of this post is to get us working on two primary issues, the first being that logo. The picture with this post is the logo that Mark’s brother has designed for us, and he has indicated that he’s willing to continue working on it, based on our suggestions/requests. Please comment below and let us know what you think.
The second issue is to get an idea of who would be willing to participate in our first podcast. My inclination is to record in the late evening, either on a Saturday night or during the week on a Monday or Wednesday. So far, the following people have volunteered, at least in the abstract:
and maybe afwdwfan, when his equipment is up to it.
I’d like to record a sort of “proof of concept” episode in the next couple of weeks, and I’d like to discuss topics in a less public setting (so as not to spoil it for the other dads). I’m looking for three other people, with availability and the ability to participate in a Skype call in the next two weeks. Who’s in?
I mentioned this in our thread over on the Disboards, but thought it would be easier to keep track of here. If you are interested and willing to become a regular DISDads.com contributor, please comment below. What I’m looking for, primarily, are people willing to do a couple of things:
1. Post regularly to this blog (frequency would depend on the number of volunteers we get to do this, but my goal is that we get 8 volunteers who are each willing to post once/month, which would give us two fresh blog posts/week).
2. Participate in a podcast – at this point, I’m thinking that once/month is a good starting point. If we develop a following and we all get into it, we can consider doing it more frequently. I’d like to get three Dads who’d be willing to join me. We’d probably record in the late evening (after the younguns are off to bed). My plan is to do a recorded Skype teleconference. It doesn’t have to be the same three Dads every month. A rotation would be great too – fresh perspectives and all. Once we get a group of participants, we can start brainstorming topics. In true DISDads form, I’d like to keep the podcast fairly short – no more than 30 minutes. If we end up with more than 30 minutes worth of content, maybe we can cut it up into multiple episodes.
Once we get those two things up and running, we can talk more about using other social media to promote our blog and podcast (like our existing DisDads group on Facebook).
So, our last (and first-ever) Walt Disney World trip was, in many ways, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip. A majority of the cost of the trip was covered by a small inheritance from my grandmother (I think I’ve mentioned that here before), so we were able to do it up in ways that we could never afford to out of our own pockets (like staying at the Polynesian Concierge Level). We had a wonderful time and all I’ve been able to think about since we left is when and how we’d get back to visit WDW again.
Squeaker (who is now four-years-old) has been talking about going back to Disney World a LOT lately as well (he talks about going to Disneyland too, but that’s another story that I’m going to save for another entry). He was pretty shy during our trip, and wasn’t quite ready to try a lot of the attractions. He’s already talking like he’s ready for more. And the Bug is always ready for more Disney. Mrs. AJRitz has taken a bit more convincing. There are plenty of long-delayed projects around the house that she wants to get going on. And she wonders about other travel destinations (I’m pretty convinced at this point that I don’t much care about other destinations). And she has some perfectly legitimate budget concerns.
But I’ve finally prevailed – we have a trip on the calendar. It won’t be until Winter 2013, but I’ve been given the go ahead to start getting organized and doing the budgeting for it. I’m looking very seriously at going ahead and buying our tickets before the next round of expected price increases in August. That would allow us to buy child tickets for The Bug (even though she’ll be 10-years-old by the time we use them) and avoid a couple of rounds of price increases. I tried to covince Mrs. AJRitz that we should go ahead and buy tickets now for a 2015 trip as well, but she wasn’t sold on that one. :p
It’s a long way away, but at least I have a trip to look forward to. And by the January/February 2013 timeframe we’re looking at, the Fantasyland Expansion project should either be complete or at least mostly complete. With two full years to plan, and one trip already under my belt, this trip should run perfectly! 🙂 So the only question remaining is, do we make it another surprise trip, or do we let the kids help with the planning (and deal with the inevitable “how many more days until Walt Disney World” for two years)?
After a pretty good night’s sleep Friday night, we woke up Saturday morning and the kids were ready to head to what Squeaker had been referring to for weeks as the “amazement park” – Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America. I’d scored four unlimited rides wristbands on EBay for $71 – they’re usually $39/each. Rather than try and find an inexpensive breakfast downtown, we headed toward the Mall of America (even though we were a couple of hours early for opening). I pulled into a parking lot near the Mall, whipped out my new iPad, and looked to Yelp! again for breakfast suggestions. The most interesting thing that came up was a place that it said served breakfast and brunch called Patrick’s.
We had some difficulty finding Patrick’s at first, even with the help of GPS. Then, we saw the Patrick’s catering van in the parking lot of a huge lawn and garden store. It turns out that Patrick’s Bakery & Cafe dining room is essentially in a greenhouse. The food was outstanding. We got a huge almond croissant, a huge chocolate croissant, an immense cinnamon roll, and a small (about 6″ round) but VERY rich and tasty four cheese quiche. We shared all of the goodies, Mrs. AJRitz and I got wonderful, fresh, french roast coffee and the kids had orange juice. It was like eating breakfast in the garden of a French hotel.
After breakfast, we loaded back up the car and headed back to Mall of America, arriving shortly after the Mall and Nick Universe had opened. With a wink to Mrs. AJRitz, I dropped a subtle hint to the kids about our still-secret trip to Disney World (scheduled for October), by parking the car on the 4th parking level of the Mall of America. As you can see from the picture I took of the parking location sign nearest our car, the levels are identified by states.
Our trip to Nick Universe essentially confirmed what we already thought we knew about each of our children’s reactions to amusement parks. The Bug is an adrenaline junkie. The first things she and I rode when we entered the park were The Fairly OddParents coaster (featuring free-spinning ride vehicles) and the Pineapple Plunge (starring a straight vertical climb, followed by a straight vertical drop and several upside down loops). I’m all for the coasters, but she rode things even I won’t get on. In this picture, The Bug is the girl in pink. The apparatus she’s strapped into is part of the Avatar Airbender ride. And this is the one ride on which she started to get nervous while waiting for the ride to begin. I asked her three times before she got into the ride line whether she was sure that she wanted to ride it. She insisted she was, and once she was strapped in it was too late to get off the ride. But her trepidation turned to joy as soon as the ride got underway, I watched as the ride vehicle whipped by and her frown had been replaced by a huge grin. It’s difficult to pinpoint The Bug in this short cellphone video, but it gives you an idea of what the ride does.
If The Bug is the amusement park superfan, Squeaker is the opposite. He rode a few rides. The bumper cars were the only one he didn’t hate, and he didn’t really like that one much. He didn’t like rides that took him up in the air and didn’t like rides that moved “too fast.” Despite Nick Universe featuring three of his favorite TV characters as costumed characters – Dora the Explorer, Diego, and Blue from Blue’s Clues – Squeaker refused to have his picture taken with any of them. He didn’t want to be that close to them. He would nervously watch them from afar, Even after watching other children hug and have their pictures taken with the characters, he stood his ground and refused to get any closer than about six feet. He explained that, though they looked like the characters he liked, they were “TOO BIG!” Finding things for Squeaker to enjoy at Disney may be a bit of a challenge.
We took a lunch break in the Mall foodcourt, opting to sit down at Noodles and Company, rather than fight the huge crowd around the food court McDonald’s. While eating lunch, we noticed that a showing of Toy Story 3 in 3D was starting soon at the movie theater upstairs, so we extended the break a bit to catch Toy Story on opening weekend. The Bug was enthralled. It was Squeaker’s first movie in a theater, and he did pretty well for the first 2/3 of the movie or so, but then got bored. He ran laps in the hallway just outside the theater, while Mrs. AJRitz kept track of him from the doorway (so that she could still watch most of the movie).
After the movie, we did a quick circuit of The Bug’s five favorite attractions and then headed back to the hotel to wash up and relax a bit before meeting my college buddy and his family for dinner (he’d finally managed to get back in town from Chicago).