Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Mickeys

There are plenty of pumpkins that come out at Walt Disney World at Halloweentime, but for this week's Where in WDW trivia, see if you can remember where to find this particular orange Mickey...

I think that one might be my favorite, but then there are so many cheerful Mickey's and Jack o Lantern faces around...

The autumnal decorations at Disney are so gorgeous.  They always make we want to head to Jo Ann's and recreate a lovely fall leaf wreath.  And I would love to have one of these in my front yard...

Ahhhhh...the Magic Kingdom is just so darn cool at Halloween...

...all in spooky purples and pinks and blues.  Can someone just transport me magically to Mickey's Not So Scary, like, right now please??

OK.  Sorry.  I'll be done.  SO - do you know where to find that first pumpkin?  Do you have a favorite Mickey Jack o Lantern?   Post in the comments!

And great work with last week's challenge - that giant globe can indeed be found in the Yacht Club lobby!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Lovely Day in St. Malo

 If you ever should find yourself in the old town of St. Malo, the Intra Muros, in France on a crisp blue sky day, this is what you should do:


Take a promenade in the sunshine with the locals along the old fortified walls.

Do a vlog about how gorgeously beautiful that blue sea is.


Stop by a patisserie.

Eat an adorable chocolate mouse.

Sit in a park and watch the kids playing and reflect on all the layers of history in Europe and the history of St. Malo.


Visit the museum in the Hotel de Ville, the giant castle-like building guarding the entrance to the Intra Muros, with the gorgeous palm trees out front.

Read every informational plaque you come across, because you never know what funny stories you'll find.  Like this one about the Duke who inscribed upon his tower: "He who grumbles about it shall give me pleasure."


Gaze on model ships and Breton lace and find a kindred soul in Anne of Brittany (clearly a fellow snob) who once visited St. Malo in the sixteenth century and wore an awesome princess hat.

Reference various Epcot movies every chance you get.

Find a sign inviting you to "climb up to the watch-towers."  Since basically every other sign you will find in any other museum in the world will be forbidding you to explore the cool rooftop spaces, you'd better go up and see the watch-towers.

Magic Band and Fastpass+ Tidbits

A friend of mine recently got back from a Walt Disney World trip and got to take part in the MyMagic+ / MagicBand / Fastpass+ test.  Just thought I'd share a few fun tidbits from their experience: 

--They had their MagicBand's shipped to the resort so they wouldn't have to worry about remembering them.  If you want the colored MagicBand's, you do have to go through the process and request them/have them shipped in advance.  Otherwise, you'll get plain grey ones at check-in.

--The colored part of the MagicBand can actually come off the darker grey border to make a smaller band that better fits smaller wrists for kids.

--Many rides that do NOT have a traditional fastpass option DO have a Fastpass+ option.

--During the trip, Toy Story Mania was down when my friend had scheduled a Toy Story Mania Fastpass+.  They ended up just coming back to the ride later in the day when it was back up; but later that evening, when she checked her email, she discovered a message from Disney saying that, since TSM was down, they could have use their Fastpass+ for another location.  Kinda nice, although you would have to remember to be check your email in the park to get the message on time!

--You do get to take the MagicBand home and can bring it back on your next trip to reload it and use it again.

--The biggest piece of news is that, even if you have signed up and scheduled your three Fastpass+ per day, you CAN still use your room key to get additional normal (legacy) fastpasses in the parks.  You do need to have your ticket in card form, not just on a MagicBand, so that you have something to put in the legacy fastpasses, but nothing in the system will stop you from doing. My friend seemed to feel like cast members didn't really want you to know you could still get legacy fastpasses along with your Fastpass+.

I am really glad to hear that normal fastpasses aren't denied to people with Fastpass+.  The Fastpass+ only lets you have three fastpasses for three different rides all in one park.  But on a typical Disney day pre-FastpassPlus, my family would almost certainly use more than three fastpasses, possibly more than one for the same ride, and very frequently for rides in different parks.  Now, presumably, you can just get your Fastpass+ for one park, and use your room key to get normal fastpasses if you end up park hopping.  The Disney Blog wrote an interesting piece on whether or not this is "Double Dipping," and how it could limit the fastpasses available for everyone else.


The old legacy fastpass machines have been closed at the Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom - and probably will be closed at the other two parks eventually - so it looks like double dipping won't be an issue.  Everyone will be forced to use Fastpass+ and there will be no more paper fastpasses.  More up-to-date MagicBand news can be found here.

Sorry for all the speculation - but there are so many interesting details in the new system!  Have you experienced the Magic Band or Fastpass+ yet??  Do you have any concerns about how it will affect your touring plans?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Disney World's Mickey Ear Cupcakes

Cupcakes taste better with Mouse Ears.

I'm pretty sure it's a scientifically proven fact.

And luckily for us, there are plenty of Mickey Mouse cupcakes AND Minnie Mouse cupcakes at Walt Disney World...

Aren't they adorable??  They're all included in my big guide to all the Disney World cupcakes, but I thought it'd be fun to focus today on just the two Main Mice!

1. If you're on a quest for Mickey cupcakes, my advice would be to make first for the Boardwalk Bakery for the first mouse on our list:

This is the Oreo Bon Bon Cupcake, but c'mon.  We all know those aren't oreos.  They're mouse ears.  This is such a lovely treat - chocolate cake, light light icing, oreo cream filling.  Yummmm...

2. Minnie Mouse fans, don't worry.  I've got you covered too:

The chocolate mousse cupcakes at Captain Cook's at the Polynesian Resort are topped with two cookie ears AND a darling little pink bow.  And Captain Cook's does offer a Mickey version as well...

3. You'll also find Mickey and Minnie cupcakes together at the Contempo Café at the Contemporary Resort:

These are called birthday cupcakes, and the cake inside is colorful, sprinkle-filled birthday cake!  These days they're topped with Mickey and Minnie face rings, but since they've still got the mice, I think they still count as mouse ear cupcakes!

Don't head away from the Contempo Café just yet, because Mickey is represented on another classic: a lovely red velvet cupcake!  The ears aren't oreos, but Mickey is made of chocolate, so I have no complaints.

4. In the dessert case at Art of Animation's food court, Landscape of Flavors, you'll find another Mickey smiling up at you.

I have to admit that taste-wise this isn't my favorite cupcakes.  It's a pretty ordinary vanilla, but then it's always popular with the kids, and it gets major points for cuteness!

5. When it's holiday time, the Mickey Ears come out in force!  These Santa Mickey ears were atop a Christmas cupcake at Starring Rolls last year...

So festive!  I think it was available elsewhere in the park as well...

And these green and red Mickey and Minnie's we spotted at the Main Street Bakery.  I can't wait to see what Christmas creation the new MSB Starbucks has this year!

I did spot another chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing and Mickey oreo ears over on the Disney Food Blog's review of the new Fountain View Café Starbucks at Epcot, but I haven't tried it yet.  Other than that, I think we've got all the Mickey's and Minnie's covered.  Can you guys think of any I missed?

So do you think you'll be trying a Mickey cupcake on your next trip?  Share your Mouse Ear favorites in the comments! :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Last Minute Wishes

It was one of those Magic Kingdom nights when you have no plan, and the only thing you need to do is just wander blissfully. :)

It was early September, back when I was a cast member, and I had hopped over to the MK after work, just because I felt like it.  Everyone else seemed to be leaving, and the lines were as low as they get.  This next picture may make you want to cry...

A completely deserted Peter Pan.  It says it's 15 minutes, but it wasn't.  It was ZERO.

WHY CAN'T IT BE THIS WAY ALL THE TIME.  Alas, if only... ;)

The reason it was so quiet was because Wishes was about to start, and I decided at the last minute that I wanted to see it.  I knew I could probably find some little pocket (especially since it was just me) around the Hub or on Main Street, but - quiet though the rest of the park was - there were still crowds there, and that night I wanted to find someplace new to watch...

I had just crossed the bridge from Frontierland and was approaching the hub, still looking for ideas, when I noticed a little group of people standing by the railing.  There was a perfect opening in the trees where you could see the castle!  I wasn't sure how well you'd be able to see the fireworks, but I figured it was worth a try...

As you can see, the view of the fireworks was somewhat blocked by the branches, but I still thought it was a charming place to watch!  I really love how the trees frame your view, and it's neat to see more of the side of the castle across the water.  You really notice the color changes - not just of the fireworks - but of the castle from this angle.  It starts out in orange above...

Then slowly the orange fades out and it goes pink...

...and in the end it's all pink and red and purple.  I'm pretty sure the princess segment of Wishes was about to start at this point!

Yep.  I see pixie dust fireworks.  They come right before the Cinderella music.  Also notice the lights of Fantasyland in the background - so pretty!

The framing fireworks are also a big blocked, but I love how it's green landscaping stretching out in front of you instead of crowds.  That was one of the best things about this spot - you weren't crushed in by crowds like a sardine, and it was easier to move once Wishes ended.

It was the perfect place to make some last minute wishes. :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fab Finds: 10/25/2013

Happy Friday everybody!  And Happy early-Halloween!  Anyone going trick or treating this weekend?  I've got five fab finds for you to peruse whilst your gorge yourself with candy:

1. We've been getting ready for Halloween at my house!  There's a new vlog up on my YouTube channel with lots of adorable little pumpkins, orange and black Little Miss Matched socks, and a story of the somewhat ridiculous adventure I had trying to find the box of decorations. ;)

2. Speaking of the spooky holiday coming up, have you seen the post on the Official Disney Parks Blog with all sorts of last-minute costume ideas?  I wish those little princess dresses came in adult sizes - especially the new ones from Frozen.  SO pretty!

3. Apparently the Jungle Cruise is going to get some holiday magic - not for Halloween but for Christmas!  Inside the Magic recently posted that it will be transformed into the "Jingle" Cruise.  I SO want to check that out!

4. You guys know how I love all things Polynesian, and the Disney Tourist Blog just posted a Polynesian Village Resort Review.  They even included a link to my post about the new vs. old room design!

5. I can't believe the new Grand Floridian Villas opened this week!  I'm not sure we'll be staying at them any time soon, but I definitely want to go and have a look around!  I love the construction time lapse video of the villas on the Disney Parks youtube channel.

In case you missed any of the recent posts on A Pinch of Pixie Dust:

------Meeting Merida------

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Giant Globe: Where in WDW

If you need to do any circumnavigating of the world, there's a perfect spot at Walt Disney World to plan your travels:

Somewhere you'll find this GIANT globe...although...on second thoughts, it might not be the best for planning any current globe trotting, because it looks a little old fashioned.  ;)  But then it suits its surroundings perfectly!  Have you ever passed this by or stopped to give it a spin?

And as for last week's trivia, Laurie was reeeally close.  Those painted vines and flowers aren't at 1900 Park Faire, but you WILL find them at the Grand Floridian - they're the paintings on the walls in the Grand Floridian elevators!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Meeting Merida!

I've been reminiscing today on my trip report about that time I got to chat about Jane Austen with Princess Belle at Epcot, and it made me think about just how fun a really good character interaction can be.  Unfortunately you may not get a great experience at every single meet and greet, but when you do get a good one, it makes up for all the duds!

So today's post is going to be full of some more fabulous character pixie dust - another princess this time, but not your typical princess.  This one is a bold princess...a BRAVE princess...

I'm talking about MERIDA o' course!

Not only is she a super fun character to meet, but she has a gorgeous meet and greet area at the Magic Kingdom!  The Enchanted Garden has been transformed into a Scottish hall, complete with tapestries and hangings depicting Merida and the clans everywhere...


This stylized artwork is so pretty, and the big oversized posters get you in a Merida frame of mind right away!  I think my favorite was Merida's family tree...

While you're waiting you can admire the artwork, create some of your own (they have some coloring pages out for the kids!), OR learn how to shoot like Merida...


There are all sorts of shields are bows and arrows around - and there's also a bow and arrow with a target you can try out for yourself!  OK, so technically it's for the kids, but this is Disney - so they let my older brother and I try it too! Let's just say I'll need a bit more practice before I have as good a shot as Merida. ;)

We paid Merida a visit during a summer trip in 2012, just a few weeks after Brave came out.  So the Merida from the movie was fresh in our minds...and the Merida we met was EXACTLY like her!

She was so good - she came bouncing over to meet every single family before they could even get to her and started chattering away, telling us stories about her horse Angus and her brothers...

...and then her brothers the bears popped right out of the wagon behind her!  They're audioanimatronic, so they actually respond to Merida and you - they grunted resentfully when Merida suggested they stole her apples!

But it was Merida herself who impressed us most.  Even her movements and mannerisms were identical to the animated character.  She told us the story of when Mordu bit her dad's leg clean off - CHOMP! - and it was like watching that scene from the movie come to life!  We all just stared at her, awe-struck.

I saw Merida before my big haircut, so we commiserated about our big frizzy curly hair!

She loved my shoes - she said they looked like wisps!!  Now I call them my wisp shoes.  So whenever I wear them, wherever I go, I must be following my fate, right? ;)  It's kinda a comforting thought!

Just this past summer, when we were passing by Merida's hall, I'm pretty sure we spotted the same Merida.  Unfortunately the line was really stretched all the way up the path towards the Wishing Well - the best time to meet Merida is when the line is inside the hall, then it's probably less than 10-15 minutes.  But just watching from the outside, we could see Merida skipping about, then collapsing in her chair as if she were exhausted.

Such a fabulous Merida!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Wilderness Lodge Brownie

Happy Monday everybody!  To sweeten up the start of your week, I have a super delicious Disney brownie to share today.  It is quite possibly my very favorite out of all the Disney brownies, and it comes from...

The Wilderness Lodge!!  Or, to be more specific...

...the Lodge's lovely food court, Roaring Fork!

From this pic it looks like there's a brownie with frosting and one without.  I have a suspicion the one without was sugar-free, but, in any case, ALWAYS GO WITH THE FROSTING.

YUUUUuuuuuummmm...just look at that wonderful slab of fudgy, chocolaty icing on top of each enormous brownie.  The brownie itself is the perfect consistency, with a few chocolate chips inside, and then that icing takes it to perfection.  And the fact that they are enormous somehow makes them more exciting to eat too - probably you'll have some to save for later!

Alas, my one close-up photo of the brownie was blurry, so I made tried to make it artsy.  Ah well - I guess I'll just have to head back to Roaring Fork sometime and have another brownie to get a better photo. ;)

Bonus Sweet Treat: As I was going through photos for this update, I remembered that Roaring Fork sometimes does free cookie decorating!  They give out round sugar cookies with white icing and sprinkles - not quite as fancy as the animals and neon colors at Boma - but still very fun!