Five Favorite Disney Things

1. Mickey’s Philharmagic

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When I was a kid, walking down Main Street USA in the middle of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom used to overwhelm me with such giddiness, to the point where I developed an unsightly waddle and wanted to laugh, cry, and vomit simultaneously. I’d like to say I’ve grown out of that, but for the generation who grew up with beloved Disney animation, I don’t think that feeling ever quite goes away. When the park unveiled their latest technologically-advanced attraction in October of 2003, it was the first of its kind (before Soarin’ came to Epcot in 2005) to boast an immersive 4D experience.

PhilharmagicMickey’s Philharmagic is a 12-minute theater show that starts with maestro Mickey intending to direct a grand orchestra (hence the wordplay). But Donald, ever the troublemaker, steals the magic hat and accidentally plunges himself into the vibrant and enchanting world of Walt’s classic films.

The first time I saw it, I cried. That’s not me trying to be hyperbolic and funny, a tear or two legitimately rolled down my cheeks because it was pure Disney brilliance and magic imagined and realized. How many of us Disney kids fell in love with those movies and wished we could dive right into them and join our childhood friends on their amazing adventures?

And they made it so real: 4D technology combines 3D images (projected onto a 150 foot-wide screen, in this case), plus effects that play with your other senses, momentarily helping you to forget that you’re simply sitting in a cushy chair somewhere in Orlando—a whiff of pie during the Beauty and the Beast sequence, a splash of water during The Little Mermaid, not to mention the songs we know every word to in booming surround sound. The creschendo of “Part of Your World” is probably when the chills started, but I was transfixed and grinning like an idiot all the way through The Lion King, Peter Pan, and Aladdin.

Suffice it to say, I highly recommend standing in line for this one the next time you find yourself strolling down Main Street USA. Just take the second star to the right and straight on ‘til Fantasyland. Continue reading

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From NJ to FL: Favorite Thrill Rides

Summer vacation season is fully upon us! One of my favorite ways to enjoy the summer months is by making sure my butt gets on some rides. I guess I would call myself a thrill-seeker. I’ve loved amusement rides since I was placed on the kiddie ones on the boardwalk as a toddler. I grew up riding boardwalk rides and eventually worked my way up to gargantuan coasters. I’ve never once looked at a ride and said ‘no’—well, only if it was out of my price range. I may scream along with everyone else, but it’s out of sheer joy. I’m on an adrenaline high every single time; I often get made fun of because I giggle uncontrollably when the coaster train comes to a stop and we’re rolling back into the station. Heights? Bring ’em on. Speed? The faster the better. Upside-down? Duh. Just thinking about it is giving me that craving. I’ve already talked about rides in film, now it’s time to discuss the real deal. These are hands-down some of my favorite rides ever.
What are yours? 

SPACE MOUNTAIN
Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom | Orlando, FL

Disney-Space Mountain

I’ve waxed rhapsodic about Disney World plenty already, so it’s probably not a surprise that one of their rides made my list. Favorite park: Magic Kingdom. Favorite ride: Space Mountain. Come on, it’s a classic! When my family and I find ourselves standing at the rope to enter Tomorrowland, we’re already gearing up to make a mad dash to the oldest operating roller coaster in the state of Florida. If you’ve ever Googled photos of what the ride looks like with the lights on, you’ll see there’s not much to it; just a small steel track in a compact space. It’s relatively tame, but with the lights out—where you can’t see when the sharp turns and steep drops are coming—it makes it one of the most fun experiences in the park. Continue reading