About Me

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I'm a 30 something who loves to travel.  I have a full time job and enjoy writing (or blogging) about my travels.  I've traveled through several countries in Europe as well as Russia and Egypt.  I also enjoy domestic travel in the United States, including Disney.  My long term travel goal is to do a round the world trip.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Travel Tip for Disney World

Walt Disney World has added free wifi to their parks and resorts, which is a great benefit, I can remember complaining about overpriced wired internet a year ago.  But, I want to recommend that you turn off the wifi on your devices when not using it.

I found I was often getting bumped off, or was out of range or simply needed to reagree to the terms and conditions that Disney sets for the use of the internet.  I believe this made my battery die a LOT quicker then if I was just using my 3G connection.  So if you're, sleeping or busy on rides and stuff and don't need the wifi, I suggest turning wireless off until you need it.

Happy Travels!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Swim To The Left

On my September trip to Walt Disney World I stayed at the new Art of Animation Resort.  This is the last post in a series on the resort. The first post was a general overview of the resort and the common areas. The second post is about the layout and function of the family suites, it is loaded with photos of the Lion King suites.  In this post I want to discuss the theming of the resort with an emphasis on the Cars and Little Mermaid sections.  I wont be covering the rooms at the Little Mermaid section, they are the same as at Pop Century and I didn't get to see them to see the enhanced theming there.

After checking in to the resort the directions to my room were to swim to the left, it seems the Finding Nemo section is outside the lobby.  Disney really embraces the theming of the resort, even down to telling you to swim through the Nemo section and calling the buildings in the Cars section Garages.

Wheel Well Garage
Tow Mater Garage
Luigi's Garage
 As a Value resort Disney did stick with the larger then life icons that are used at the other value resorts, but they've stepped it up a notch here.  At each area the icons are to scale of one of the main characters in that theme and include more decorative items then at other value resorts.
King Triton
The exerior of the buildings are unique in this resort too, this is contingent on the fact that it is the only value resort with interior hallways.  On the sides facing out of the resort there are larger then life black and white animations.  On the sides facing in there are colored images representing the films, my room was placed right where a giraffe was drawn, it's like someone called ahead and told them who I am.  The public places in each section of the resort are themed, in Cars the walkways are roads, in Lion King they are trails, similar to what they did in the Animal Kingdom. 
Little Mermaid Exterior
Mermaid building end
Lion King Building end
Cars building end
Cars drawings
Exterior of a Finding Nemo building
Inside the buildings the carpets were special to the theme, in the Lion King it was a dirt trail with different animal prints.  There is also art work representing the films in the main entrance areas of the building and on each floor. The cars rooms have traffic cones and the hallway carpet has hubcaps and checkered flags.  The hubcaps are from the cars in Cars.

Lion King Hallway Carpet
Cars Room Carpet
Cars Hallway Carpet
Inside the rooms the layouts are exactly the same, but the furniture and fixtures are different for each theme.  Typically in a value resort there would be a picture, the comforter and maybe a few other little touches designed around the theme of the resort area.  However, at the Art of Animation, every piece is themed to the resort.  Lamps, mirrors, carpet, even the furniture and shower tile is specific to the theme. 
Cars room number signs
Cars Living Room, notice the couch, Lamp and Coffee Table
Cars Shower Curtan
Cars bed, notice the headboard and lamp
Cars Bathroom
Cars Bathroom
Cars Kitchenette
Sleepy Mater
Cars Kitchen Table
Cars Hallway Lights
Lion King Living Room Lamp
There are some other nice touches at the resort.  One example is the license plate of Mater, it'a  reference to the Animation 101 course all Pixar animators must take.

This might be my new favorite resort.  Depending on my group size and prices, I would always put this resort on my list for my travel agent to look into.  I hope this resort sets a new standard for Disney for improved functionality and theming.  

And for those of you who are wondering at the orignal plan for this resort as the second half of Pop Century, the Lion King would have been the 70's and Mermaid the 40's.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Photo of the Week: Grand Canyon

This is one of my favorite wildlife photos, a squire over looking the Grand Canyon at the North Rim. Even living there he seems to have not gotten sick of the view.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Old Days of Cruise Ships

The other day I was listening to a Podcast where they were talking about how it used to be on cruise ships 20 and 30 years ago, and what has changed.  It got me thinking about my memories of cruise ships as a kid in the 80's.

I took my first cruise in 1987, it was a 6 day cruise to Bermuda on the SS Amerikanis and I didn't have to look that up, even though I was 11 I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was a budget line and there were 4 of us in an inside cabin and the TV was probably 5 inches and didn't work.  What a different time, there were no room cards that you paid your bills with, no electronic bills to look at on your TV and no freestyle dining.  But I do remember the waitstaff being awesome and taking care of all my 11 year old needs.

But, I also remembered my parents had friends who cruised regularly and I remember going to see them off once, we were able to board the ship and visit in their stateroom and see a bit of the ship.  I remember it being small but luxurious.  Of course I was probably under the age of 10 and my frame of reference wasn't of a high standard.  After we left the ship my family waited at the dock and waved as our friends set sail.  What happened to the days of having your friends board the ship with you and seeing your cruise ship.  I'll admit I want that to come back just so I can see other ships.  But it also seems like it would be a great way to interest people in taking a cruise on that ship.  Visit your friend on their cruise and see how cool the ship is and then when the guests are walking off the ship you offer some "fabulous" discount if they book then.  It's an awesome plan.  I have no doubt it's because of security that this option no longer exists and never will again.  But it's a fun idea.

What do you remember about your past cruise experiences?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Walt Disney World for the Holidays

I thought I would provide a complete listing of all my posts about Christmas at Walt Disney World.  I wrote these last summer as a planning tool and thought I would provide a quick reference guide as you get ready to leave for your Christmas trips.

Epcot's Holiday Storytellers

A Christmas Carol at Epcot's UK Pavilion

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at the Hollywood Studios

Candlelight Processional at Epcot

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Art of Animation Resort Family Suites

This is the second post in a series of posts about the Art of Animation Resort, there really is that much to say. The first post was an introduction to the resort and covered public areas.  The last post will cover the theming of the resort.

Here are some of the basics of this resort: it's a value resort on the opposite side of Hourglass Lake from the Pop Century Resort.  The resort has traditional value resort guest rooms and family suite guest rooms.  There are 4 themed areas of the resort: Cars, Lion King, Finding Nemo and the Little Mermaid (traditional value resort rooms).

On my trip I stayed in a Lion King suite, it was about 640 square feet and had 2 bathrooms, a bedroom, kitchen, living room and can sleep up to 6 people.  The buildings that house the suites all have interior hallways and you require a room card to the building to gain entry via RFID, a very nice security feature.

When you walk in to the room (my room at least) on the left is a full bathroom and the living room with the kitchenette.  On the right side is the kitchen table, and bedroom with full bathroom. 

The first bathroom has a pocket door leading to the sink area, then there is another door separating the toilet and tub with shower head.  I love this set up as it allows multiple people to use the bathroom at the same time. 
Sink Area
Shower Curtain
I LOVE the tile work
The living room has a kitchenette, it has a small refrigerator, small sink coffee maker, microwave, and some plastic and paper goods.  It's nothing fancy, but enough to warm up bottles or make a quick breakfast.  Next to that is the couch, which folds out into a bed and will sleep 2 people.  There is an additional chair, coffee table, TV on a TV stand/dresser and a rack for hanging clothes.  Under the rack is a box you could use the top of the box for storage, or sitting on.  The box opens from the front (not the top) and is storage for the pull out coach bedding. 
Coffee Table
Living Room fixtures
The reason I picked Lion King
Opposite the bathroom is the kitchen table, it seats 4 and has night tables on either side.  The table folds down creating another bed, a full size bed for sleeping 2 people.  This bed has a regular mattress, the same as they use at Pop Century Resort.  I was going to sleep on it, but couldn't be bothered with moving all my stuff from the bedroom. 
It's a table
and a bed!
In the bedroom there is a queen sized bed with night stands on each side as well as a dresser/TV stand.  There is a full bathroom off of the bedroom, it has a sink, toilet and shower, but no bathtub.  It's large and spacious with ample hooks for your towels.  But the sink is not separated from the toilet and shower. 
Master Bath
Overall the rooms were well laid out and spacious.  I'm not sure I would put 6 adults in here, but 2 adults and 4 children would work, assuming you don't require too much counter space.  I will talk about theming in a future post and about the tour of the resort in yet a third post. 

Hallway Artwork
But who do I recommend the resort to other then everyone?  Obviously families, but I would also suggest it to young woman or woman traveling alone.  With the number of families at the resort the potential for a creepy person seems like it could be lower, but more importantly the card access to the buildings and the interior hallways adds a layer of security you'll only get at deluxe resorts and for the price, this is a better deal.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mount Rushmore And All The Presidents Heads

After Badlands, Wall Drug and the Corn Palace we finally moved on to one to one of the more anticipated stops of our trip, Mount Rushmore and 2 whole nights in the same hotel.

We headed out early in the morning for Mount Rushmore, only a 10 minute drive from our hotel in Keystone.  The setting is absolutely gorgeous, and we had a great day.  Sadly, we only had about an hour and a half at Mt. Rushmore, which wasn't quite enough time.

We started out in the visitors center, which gives nice views of the mountain from the inside (handy if you're visiting in bad weather).  Inside the visitors center they show a short film about the making of Mount Rushmore, it's a great little movie and will make you appreciate the lengths they went to in creating this. it was all done with dynamite!  There is also a series of displays about the making of Rushmore and a small shop.  There is a much larger shop at the entrance to the park. 

There is a lovely trail at the site that goes around the amphitheatre and gives some different views of the Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt.  It also has some museum like stops where you can see some of the models used in the design of Mount Rushmore.  The trail takes about a half an hour and if you start on the left the end of the trail involves walking up a lot of stairs.  Not fun when you have to meet the bus!  But the walk is worth it on a nice day to get a little closer and see the presidents heads from a different angle. 
Mount Rushmore was a great stop, one I was quite excited about on this trip.  It has a beautiful setting, and was where my tour did our group photo.  I also got the opportunity to kill someone in our assasins game on the tour.  Of course I was assasinated shortly after, but it was fun while it lasted.