Friday Five: Random References & Reflections

1. March Madness is my favorite sports time of the year (especially in years like this one, when my Jayhawks are in the Final Four – Rock Chalk)! This year, a couple of my favorite Disney sites are getting into the March Madness spirit. Over at WDW Solo Meets, Turkey Leg Jeff has been conducting a Twitter-poll-based Disney Dining Madness tournament. California Grill knocked off ‘Ohana in the first semifinal match. Currently, Le Cellier is facing Sanaa in the second semifinal. Meanwhile, over at WDWToday, Matt, Mike, Len and Mike have been arranging Walt Disney World attractions into a bracket. As of yesterday’s episode, they’d worked down to their final four. Now is the time to catch up on those episodes – I expect that they’ll be announcing the winner on Monday’s podcast.

2. Another blog that I haven’t mentioned enough here is Tom Bricker’s Disney Tourist Blog. Not only does Tom take and share excellent photography from Disney theme parks, he also offers well-written reviews and shares many of his tips and tricks for taking great photos.

3. Thanks to all of our participating DISDads, especially recent podcast first-timers David Juart, Dave Compton; and Mark Pratt for his help keeping the new message boards moderated.

4. Speaking of the new message boards, come on over and join in the discussion! Our goal is to generate a different atmosphere than is present on the larger, more open boards. If the DIS is conversation that would be appropriate on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, the DISDads boards are a conversation among the guys hanging out at a sports bar. We have put most of the content boards behind a subscription pay wall, but we’ve left the barrier to entry low. You can purchase an annual subscription for just $1. The reason for doing this is that the pay wall has proven to be the only effective tool for keeping out spammers and trolls. You can purchase other subscription levels, and recieve premiums like a DISDads T-shirt or coffe mug, with the higher cost going to help over the operating costs of the site. If you haven’t registered for the new boards yet, come on over, we’d love to see you there!

5. I just returned this week from a Preview Cruise on the new Disney Fantasy. She’s a truly amazing ship! But if I had to choose the single most impressive thing about the ship itself (as opposed to the CMs, who were incredible the whole time) it would have to be the new show that’s part of the dining experience at The Animator’s Palate. The ability to take artwork created by hundreds of guests and turn it into animated characters who dance and march along with classic Disney characters in a show in just over an hour is incredible. And seeing the reactions on the faces of children as they recognize their drawing dancing along up on the screen is absolutely priceless.

Monday Poll: How early do you stake our your parade/fireworks viewing spot?

Imagine it’s a busy day at the Magic Kingdom – crowd level of 8 or above. How early do you stake out a spot to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade and/or Wishes? Do you go on rides during the shows to avoid the crowd, or stake out a spot hours in advance? Something in between? Vote, and tell us about it in the comments.

Busy night at the Magic Kingdom - how early do you stake out your parade/fireworks spot?

  • Blow them off to go on rides during the shows (29%, 8 Votes)
  • 30 minutes early (25%, 7 Votes)
  • 15 minutes early (14%, 4 Votes)
  • 1 hour early (14%, 4 Votes)
  • More than 1 hour early (11%, 3 Votes)
  • 45 minutes early (7%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 28

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Epcot Area Deluxe Resorts: Episode 26

Host – Aaron Rittmaster (AJRitz)
Panel – CJ Fragola (cj9200); Eric Anderson (DEA); Barry Sommer (Freezin’ Rafiki)

Episode 26 continues our Walt Disney World resort review series. The panel began by discussion the Yacht Club & Beach Club resorts, and their shared Stormalong Bay pool/mini-water park. Barry Sommer, appearing on his first podcast as a panelists, takes the 10 Questions hotseat. And then the panel returns to discuss the BoardWalk Inn and the Boardwalk entertainment district. Finally, the panel engages in a detailed discussion of the plethora of Epcot Area Deluxe resort restaurants.

Special thanks to our Producer/Engineer Josh Haas, who also created and recorded our intro music. The DIS Dads Podcast is edited and produced by Josh Haas/Wizard of Haas Production.

We’d love to hear your comments about the podcast – Email us at podcast@DisDads.com; tweet us at DisDadsPodcast on Twitter or leave us a review on iTunes. And now, you can join in online discussion of the podcasts on our new DISDads Discussion Boards.

Reunion 2011: Human Guinea Pig, DISDad meetup, Park Hopping, Osborne Lights

Saturday is when being on a solo trip really paid off. My day started bright and early, meeting at the Magic Kingdom at 7:30 a.m. before an 8:00 a.m. rope drop. I was among a group of about 50 die-hards who volunteered to experience just a piece of what TouringPlans.com employees do to test the efficacy of various touring plans before they’re published, and to collect raw data regarding wait times. (If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can probably find me standing in about the third row, just left of center). We were dividing into groups of 3 to 5 people each, and given a list of attractions to visit. We were to walk at our normal pace (it’s not a race, it’s data collection) to an attraction. Note the time we got in line on the chart provided and note the time we actually boarded the attraction. We enjoyed 7 attractions in the 2 hours allotted for the test, including headliners like Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain, and a couple of notoriously slow-loaders (Jungle Cruise and Peter Pan’s Flight). Ultimately, it was worth the early wake-up after a late night. I had fun with my group, and I gained some interesting insight into a product that I swear by when planning Walt Disney World vacations.

The touring plan testing wrapped up at 10:00 a.m. near Carousel of Progress – just as Reunion attendees were gathering for one of the most-anticipated Reunion events of the year – Carousel of Progress (The Rocky Horror Edit). Len and Laurel from TouringPlans.com wrote a complete script, with parts distributed as meet participants gathered for the shows (yes, showS – the group filled two Carousel of Progress theaters). We shouted out our lines, based on cues in the show’s dialogue. To get a better idea of how it went, check out the re-enactment done on the WDW Today Podcast. Suffice to say, it was hilarious, loads of fun, and best of all, I got to meet fellow DISDad and sometimes DISDads Podcast Panelist CJ Fragola at the meet. (Edited to add the picture that CJ had taken).
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