April Blogger Challenge: An Event I’d Like to Blog About

Dole Whip MeetJust a few months ago, the answer to this blogger challenge question was easy. The event I’d wanted to write about since the first post of this blog was some kind of large DISDads meeting. I wanted to write about how great it was to get together with a group of like-minded dad and how much fun we would have. But then, the DISDads Convention happened in January, and I DID get to write all of that. So what’s left?

The next event I’d like to write about is that next great DISDads event. It’s been difficult trying to figure out round two. We all have times of the year that work best for our families – some prefer to travel during school breaks. Others prefer to plan travel around lower crowd levels and cheaper travel rates. And even within those broad seasons, each of us has that one week that is the “golden week” for his family – that one week when it all comes together. We can get work turned down to a low simmer on the same week that there’s a break in the sports schedule and the music schedule and there are no extended family conflicts . . . and that’s just MY family! Multiply that by a couple of dozen DISDads, and how do we get settled on a week??

For this year, I think the answer is going to end up being that we will have a somewhat smaller event during Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World again in 2014. Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream at Castaway Cay
But for 2015? I’m really leaning toward a cruise. After great group meals at Whispering Canyon CafĂ© and ‘Ohana at Walt Disney World, I just can’t stop thinking about how great it would be to get DISDad families together for dinner each night in those amazing Disney cruise ship dining rooms. I imagine our children spending the day playing together in the Kids’ Clubs. Enjoying the latest Disney movies together in the theaters. Snorkeling and playing on the beach together at Castaway Cay. Late nights in the sports bar, having the relaxed conversations we often have on line face-to-face.

So the event I’d like to blog about is a DISDads Convention at Sea – date TBA, sometime in 2015. And once again, I’ll be writing about how great it is to spend a week or so hanging out with my brothers from another mother.

Disneyland – Main Street & Adventureland: Episode 81

DISDadsCircle1400x1400Host: Aaron Rittmaster
Panel: Kevin Crossman; Brad Coates; David Platt

In Episode 81, we begin an irregular series that will be looking at the Disneyland Resort in more detail. This week, the panel members share their favorite things about Main Street U.S.A. and Adventureland at Disneyland theme park.

Thanks to Joshua Haas for our intro music and sponsor announcement.

We’d love to hear about your favorite things about Main Street U.S.A. and Adventureland in Disneyland.

Email us at podcast@DisDads.com; tweet us at DisDadsPodcast on Twitter; and join in the online discussion of the podcasts on our DISDads Discussion Boards. If you enjoyed the podcast, we’d really appreciate it if you took a moment to leave us a review on iTunes.

DISDads Podcast is now also available on Stitcher Smart Radio.

April Blogger Challenge: The one where I blow off the assignment

So, here’s the thing. I’ve stalled and stalled and stalled writing the post that our Blogger Challenge host offered us, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I just can’t do it. The assignment was to write about my favorite blogger. But the problem is, I want to write everything and nothing at the same time. The assignment might as well have been to write about my favorite scotch. I can tell you that I’m not much a fan of blended scotch. And I can write about the virtues of 21-year-old Macallan or 16-year-old Lagavlin – the truth is that I love them both, for totally different reasons. Which one is my favorite? I’m fairly sure that whichever one I decide is NOT my favorite today, I will feel a very strong urge to drink tomorrow.

So instead, I’m going to talk about the things that make for blogs I enjoy. I enjoy blogs that have a consistent perspective. This is particularly challenging for group blogs, but there are some who still do a good job at it. That doesn’t mean that every blog post has to be consistent with every other post. But I like a blog to have a focus. I love that I can go to Disney Film Project and I will always find in-depth articles and reviews about Disney Films. At Disney Hipster Blog, I can get reliably snarky commentary on Walt Disney World (and especially WDW design and aesthetics). Even a group blog, like this one, can maintain a consistent perspective. Even though I don’t necessarily agree with every opinion expressed by other DISDads who write for this site, I know our readers are always going to get a “Dad’s Eye View” on the topic. I also like my blogs easy to read (I can’t stand busy background images, and have given up on reading blogs whose writing I like if the design makes it too difficult to read). I like blogs that are well-written, with proper spelling and good grammar. And I like blogs to offer unique insight and commentary – I don’t visit blogs to read press releases.

Finally, I like blogs with an evenhanded approach. Tom Bricker over at Disney Tourist Blog wrote an excellent blog post about this topic over a year ago, that I happened to stumble over when I was getting ready to write this post. Disney bloggers seem particularly prone to polarization. Either every restaurant, attraction, hotel, experience, promotion, etc. is the best thing ever; or everything the company has done in the last 25 years is garbage, it all used to be better, no one at the company knows what they’re doing – and on and on and on. Here at DISDads.com we strive to occupy a middle ground, offering reasonable criticism when merited and praising that which we enjoy. And that’s what I prefer to read as well. If every blog post is about how wonderful everything is, I start to question the reliability of the reviews. It’s just reality. Some things are better than others. They can’t all be superlative. By the same token, I have no tolerance of the incessant braying coming from some corners about the falling sky. Shout out to the WestcotCenter Twitter feed for working hard to call out some of the most absurd of such criticisms.

So there you have it. Quite possibly the most long-winded blowing off of an assignment you’ve ever read. (If, indeed, you bothered to read this). Maybe I should just ask, now that you know the criteria I’m interested in, who are YOUR favorite bloggers?

The DAD Show Episode 4 – Southern California Surprises

Welcome back to the DISDads Podcast Midweek Destinations And Diversions Show. The DAD Show is your humpday vacation fix. Our intro and outro music was created and performed by Mitch Furman.

In Episode 4, Brad Coates shares the story of his family’s Thanksgiving 2012 Souther California Surprises trip. It included Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood, and SeaWorld San Diego.

The DAD Show is sponsored by Kingdom Strollers, Orlando’s Premium Stroller and Crib Rental source.

Do yo have any questions or comments about Brad’s vacation? Want to volunteer to share your vacation story with us? Email us at podcast@DisDads.com; tweet us at DisDadsPodcast on Twitter; and join in the online discussion of the podcasts on our DISDads Discussion Boards. If you enjoyed the podcast, we’d really appreciate it if you took a moment to leave us a review on iTunes.
(If you didn’t enjoy the podcast, you can just ignore that last link).

Our Podcasts are also now also available on Stitcher Smart Radio.

15 Reasons to Celebrate Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 15th Birthday

Expedition EverestDisney’s Animal Kingdom turned fifteen years old today. I think it often gets a bad rap – the lush foliage and dense biomass of DAK leads to the phenomenon often referred to as “Animal Kingdom Hot.” There’s no nighttime spectacular and the carnival game theming in the heart of Dinoland is much reviled. But there are plenty of great reasons to love DAK, and here are my 15 favorites:

1. Expedition Everest – the best-themed and most exciting roller coaster in all of Walt Disney World.

2. Kilimanjaro Safaris – an incredible, unique way to see animals you normally only get to see from a great distance, and an attraction the whole family can enjoy.

3. DINOSAUR! – yes, we can complain about the scaled-down effects at the beginning of the ride. And Phylicia Rashad’s wardrobe is terribly dated. But the storyline remains compelling and immersive, the animatronics are huge and incredible and make for a fantastic ride.

4. Flame Tree BBQ – One of the best, if not THE best, counter-service restaurants at Walt Disney World.

DSC_98905. DiVine – Simply captivating encounters.

6. The Animal Kingdom Welcome Show – They make being up early for rope drop a celebration. The show is “small” and short, but at the same time it is more intimate and imminent than the grander opening at the Magic Kingdom.

7. Dawa Bar – home of beers unique African beers

8. The Boneyard – Sure, it’s “just” a playground. But good luck getting a young child out of there in under half an hour.

9. Finding Nemo The Musical – a unique show, written just for Animal Kingdom, and featuring amazing puppetry work.

10. Outstanding, unique, character meet and greets. (My family is particularly partial to Flik).

11. Royal Anandapur Tea Company – A great way to start your morning, with real Indian and Asian teas.

DSC_550412. The most thorough, complete, immersive theming of any Disney theme park, such that an entire day can be enjoyed in Animal Kingdom without riding a single ride. (But why would you do that)?

13. Festival of the Lion King – Two words: tumble. monkeys.

14. Tusker House character meals – classic characters in unique outfits and food with just a bit of a twist on the standard Disney World character buffet fare. (And POG juice)!

15. Kali River Rapids – Yes, the ride is too short. No, it doesn’t do a very good job of telling its story. But it does the job of soaking riders much better than Splash Mountain does. Animal Kingdom hot makes it a welcome soaking.

April Blogger Challenge: Review of a 2003 Infiniti I35

Infiniti I35My next Blogger Challenge topic was to review something that I use everyday. I found this topic much more difficult than I expected it to be. I considered a number of possibilities: The Blue Yeti microphone I use to record the podcast, rejected because I really only use it a few days a week; a Glenfiddich scotch sampler that I really enjoyed, but it was gone after everyday use for just three days. And then it hit me, I should review my car – the Infiniti I35 that I’ve driven just about daily for the last eight years. That’s not my actual car, though mine is that same silver color. Mine could use some body work – nothing major, but it’s not as “pretty” as the one pictured.

Somehow, in those eight years of mostly reliable service, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to give her a proper name. Even after eight years, I’m still a bit resentful that I’m stuck driving her. You see, she’s a replacement for my law school graduation present to myself – my beloved Saab 900 SE Turbo Convertible – that I lost to a flood. And that’s not really fair to her. My Infiniti has served me well. She’s roomy without being unwieldy. My son came home from the hospital in that car. And I could complain about a few rather expensive repairs. But on the other hand, I’ve put about 155,000 miles on her over those eight years, so I think I’m still getting pretty good value for my repair dollar.

Her CD Player has been broken for about the last five years, and it’s way more expensive to fix than it’s worth. Bu the stereo system still sounds good. And even without an AUX input, it serves me well for listening to music or Disney podcasts with a cassette adapter. The heating and cooling system does a solid job of keeping me warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I don’t open up the sunroof as open as I used to drop the top on the convertible, but it helps feed the occasional craving for the wind in my hair.

I’ve been thinking about my ol’ I35 quite a bit lately. We’re planning on taking her on her inaugural run from Kansas City to Orlando in September. That will be the longest single trip she’s ever taken. And it dawns on me that she still doesn’t even have a name. So help me out – I’d love some suggestions for an appropriate name for my old silver warhorse. She deserves that, before we hit the road here in a few months.