What a Character!

On our Christmas trip to Disney we met an absolute ton of characters.  This was partly a function of the crowd levels – the lineups for the meet-and-greets were usually half that of the rides – but also because we just wanted to meet a bunch of our favourite Disney characters; nothing more complicated than that!  Pretty radical departure from when I was a kid, when I had absolutely no patience for the plushies.  Mind you, I was never one of those kids running in terror from Tigger, but I also never felt the need to meet any of the characters either – might have cut into precious Haunted Mansion time, that.

We enjoyed some amazing character interactions, and I’m so glad we decided to take the time to try something a little less ride-oriented and a little more fun-oriented this trip.  I’ve already shared a number of these meet-and-greets, if not all the photos, but what I haven’t already driven you crazy with can’t make you any crazier, can it? 😉 I mean, maybe you were ready two weeks ago for me to shut my yap about Disney already, but that doesn’t seem likely, now does it?!

Blog Buzz

Meeting Buzz Lightyear at the Magic Kingdom was a total trip.  We had just stepped off his popular namesake ride, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, each of us bearing Galactic Hero certificates on account of our maxed-out scores, and there he was!  Just waiting to pose with a couple of overgrown dorks.  To infinity and beyond!

Blog Stitch

Stitch!  Of Lilo & Stitch.  Or as I like to call him, Mr. Luvah Luvah. 😉

Blog Chewie

Us and Chews.  He was our first Star Wars meet-and-greet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and I thought my husband’s head was going to explode from childlike delirium.  He’s also got mad envy that I received a hug from Chewbacca and he did not.  Apparently righting this transgression warrants an immediate repeat visit (man’s got worse Disney stoke than I do, if that’s even possible.)  But you know, he’s kind of got a point – he’s the lifelong Star Wars fan, not me.  He really should have been the one on the receiving end of a Wookie embrace.

Blog Kylo Ren

Bahahahaha!  I love this picture – we look like we’re being reprimanded.  Which we kind of were?  Emo Kylo Ren here had no effs to give about either of us, stalking around for a bit before declaring us Resistance sympathizers.  Then we took some pictures and then he kicked us off Star Killer Base!  It was the weirdest meet-and-greet, truly.  I just found him wicked intimidating, and the second we walked into his area and he strode over to us, all black cape and inexplicably hot respirator helmet, I forgot all about my plans to pinch his burlap dress-covered butt and just stood there like a goof (just kidding; always keep your hearts and your parts to yourself, kids, unless someone explicitly says, “Lay ’em on me.”  Bloggers and fictional space fascists would do well to heed this advice, too.)

Blog Cruz

Alright, now this is more my speed of meet-and-greet (wah-waaaaaahhhhh)!  Although this was less a meet-and-greet than a meet-and-pose, on account of the fact that Cruz Ramirez up there, badass girl racer star of Cars 3, was really more of a prop than an interactive character.  All the same, I love Cruz’s gym trainer-on-uppers routine, and anything to get into a shot with THE one and only Piston Cup (he done what in his cup?)

Blog Star Lord and Groot

Over in the Guardians of the Galaxy meet-and-greet, we met and greeted Star-Lord and wee little Baby Groot.  I know Baby Groot, who messes about adorably with that pile of spaceship parts laid out in front of him there, is the main draw of this meet-and-greet, but I loved the guy playing Star-Lord – he was such a delightfully amiable dude bro, all affable exasperation and cocky banter.  The actor playing him, while looking less like Chris Pratt than some of the others, had his voice and mannerisms down PAT.  Totally delightful!  And yes, yes, you. are. Groot.  We know, buddy, we know.  You literally speak of nothing else.  Just like me and Disney!

Blog Lightsabers

Not a meet-and-greet, but this entire photo op was such a hoot – just us, another totally game family with some thoroughly mortified/delighted teenagers and a PhotoPass cast member having a whole lot of fun messing around with a bunch of Star Wars props.

Lightsaber Battle

Speaking of, huge props to the PhotoPass photographers who took all of these awesome shots.  We have so very few photos that feature the two of us in one shot, and so we tacked the Memory Maker add-on onto our vacation package.  That allowed us unlimited access to any on-ride photos (always so attractive, those) as well as any photos taken by Disney photographers, including these cool meet-and-greets.  It should be noted that Memory Maker is not the most inexpensive of add-ons.  However, knowing we had a bit of money on the line really encouraged us to utilize the crap out of Disney’s photography services, leading to all sorts of fun, once-in-a-lifetime moments like this one.

BB8

BB-8!  Quite the chirpy little devil.  Mr. Finger Candy looks pleased as punch to be standing beside such an adorable little droid.  He was rather cute, and according to the attendant who was working his meet-and-greet and speaks Droid far better than I, he liked my Sally mouse ears. 🙂

Warm Hugs from Olaf

Olaf the snowman, straight chillin’ in the Floridian sum-MMMMMERRRRRRRR!  Or actually, no, the Floridian winter, but to a Canadian, it might as well be summer.  And just for the record, Olaf gave, and received, some very nice warm hugs.

Blog Beast

And the Beast, of course, was an unbelievably gracious host, receiving us in his study following our Christmas evening dinner at Be Our Guest.  I’ve outed us before on this one, but it’s worth being not-at-all embarrassed anew – I curtsied and my husband bowed, and we are gigantic goobers.  Wouldn’t want it any other way. 🙂

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Dining at Disney, Part I

I think the general belief when it comes to Disney cuisine is that it comes in two – heh – flavours: Expensive, or churros (or Premium Mickey Bars, or turkey legs, or Dole Whip, or Mickey pretzels, or popcorn – lots of snacks ’round the parks.)  Sometimes it can be both; this dinky little cup of Dole Whip (an iconic Disney dish, and I do not know why, because it’s nothing more than pineapple-flavoured soft serve) was $7!

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But it doesn’t always have to be uninspired park fare.  Although it will always be expensive, because there is no other way at Disney.  However, even after making your peace with the fact that theme park pricing does not in any way resemble our Earth pricing, a $7 cup of ice cream is still a tough nut to crack (I was going to go with the slightly more food-friendly idiom of “bitter pill to swallow,” but this sweet, tropical soft serve was actually quite easy to swallow.) 😉

From a cost perspective, there are a number of dining plans available through Disney; I saw a lot of families with young children taking advantage of the counter service options (I suppose when your little one will only eat chicken fingers or mac and cheese, there’s not much point in going with a more fulsome and varied table service plan.)  Mr. Finger Candy and I have never availed ourselves of one of these plans before.  We looked into it briefly as we were planning this Christmas trip, but ultimately concluded that owing to our eating habits, as well as the rather lengthy list of new-to-us restaurants we wanted to try, we’d be better off going our own way.

And as we were marveling the other day, we actually did better than better, enjoying one of those ultra rare vacations where every dining experience was a winner.  There isn’t a single thing we ate, save perhaps that $7 Dole Whip, that I thought afterwards, “Aargh, I really wish I hadn’t wasted money and/or calories on that.”  Winner winner, excellent dinners!  And so in a sea of memorable meals, here are some of the highlights from our trip.

Breakfast and Dinner at Be Our Guest

Lumiere

Fun fact about Mr. Finger Candy?  He loves Beauty and the Beast, and he loves eating at Be Our Guest, a Beauty and the Beast-themed restaurant at the Magic Kingdom, even more.  We kicked off the first park day of our trip with an early morning breakfast reservation (you don’t always need reservations to get a table at this very popular restaurant, but I wouldn’t chance it during the holidays.)  When we visited Be Our Guest at Halloween, we dined in the West Wing.  This time we nabbed a cozy table over by the grand ballroom’s floor-to-ceiling windows, outside of which gently falling snow drifted down onto a craggy, snow-peaked mountain scape.

Be Our Guest Collage Again

Be Our Guest 2

As at Halloween, I enjoyed the Feast a La Gaston, your standard (but quite yummy) bacon, egg and roasted potatoes platter.  Also going with the same delicious order he had last time (Croque Madame Without the Ham, as we call it) was my husband, who…who just is.  Man, I don’t even know with this guy sometimes!  Also, this is absolutely not the last photo you will see of him shoving a plate of food directly into his face, usually to the total amusement of everyone around us.

Be Our Guest 4

Then late on Christmas Day (10 pm!) we returned to Be Our Guest for an intimate, French-inspired meal hosted by the Beast himself.  Quite hospitable for a reclusive shut-in, really.

Be Our Guest Evening

Dinner at Be Our Guest is a bit of a different experience than breakfast, which falls under the quick service banner.  Dinner is a proper table service meal overseen by a fussily attentive waiter.  Everything feels quite lovely and luxurious, even if you’re sitting there in dorky mouse ears, half-comatose from having spent the past 15 hours running around a theme park, holding a rose-shaped napkin.

Be Our Guest Dinner

After dinner (herb butter-topped steak frites for me, a lovely little cheese plate and a salad for my far-more-responsible-than-I husband) we tried the Grey Stuff!  And it was…all right, I guess?!  Wait, I don’t think that’s the right answer.  I believe the dishes would say it’s delicious, but I thought this cookies and cream-flavoured flan was just sort of okay.  I am, of course, the completely wrong person to assess the merits of a dessert; not much of a sweet tooth, me.  Sorry, dishes. 😦

The Grey Stuff

Then after dessert the lord of the castle himself received us in his study!  My husband bowed and I curtsied.  Not the least bit ashamed to out ourselves as massive wieners here. 🙂

Dinner with the Beast

Dinner and Drinks at La Hacienda de San Angel

With a bit of an emphasis on the “drinks” part of that title. 😉  Not that dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel, housed in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot, was not stupendous on its own merits.  I absolutely loved the taco sampler I ordered, particularly the crispy fish and barbacoa tacos, and Mr. Finger Candy is never not pleased with any place that considers a skillet of melted cheese and peppers to be an acceptable thing to eat as an entree.  Queso Fundido, it’s what’s for dinner!

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Oh, but the drinks…so despite all evidence to the contrary, I’m not much of a drinker.  I’ve never been great at holding my liquor (my intoxication trajectory, if you will, is pretty much a straight up and down line) and as I’ve gotten older, I find it’s a buzz I just don’t care to seek out that often.  But I do love the taste of alcohol (wood barreled things in particular) and when we dine out (which in our non-Disney life we do very, very infrequently) there’s nearly always a delicious-sounding cocktail that catches my eye.

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And so it went at La Hacienda de San Angel, where I ordered an absolutely fan-freakin-tastic Orange Mango Fire margarita to accompany my meal, only to find myself, some hours and two additional margaritas later, attempting to parkour off the bridge leading to “Old Montreal” in the Canada pavilion.  It did not go well!

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I blame the Orange Mango Fire margaritas, which were far, far, far too delicious and absolutely lethal.  Somehow not as bonkers as the Habanero Lime margarita I enjoyed from Boatwright’s the first night we were at our resort (I took a sip and slapped myself across the face) but quite close!  Disney cocktails don’t screw around, particularly the ones laced with ginger liqueur, Tabasco sauce and Tajin chili-lime seasoning.

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Seriously, this juicy, fruity, sweet-and-heat cocktail was so absorbing (more like being absorbed into my bloodstream) I barely noticed the gorgeous sunset taking place right outside the lagoon-facing windows.  Next time we visit we’re going to see if we can time our dinner reservations to Illuminations, Epcot’s evening fireworks show that takes place right over top of the lagoon.  Also not get so tispy that we fail to notice that day has turned to night.

San Angel Sunset

After dinner we salsa’d our way out of the restaurante and directly over to the Choza de Margarita, an outdoor margarita stand roughly 20 Latin dance-infused steps away from the San Angel.  There we grabbed another on-the-rocks marg, this time a Guava Pink Peppercorn margarita (I’ve really got a thing for the spicy and sweet, tequila-based cocktails, don’t I?) and set out on a leisurely stroll around the World Showcase (because you can do that now, just wander around Disney with open alcohol; my, how the times have changed in the era of Food and Wine.)

But all margaritas and then even more margaritas make Sandra something something, so we stopped for a wee sit-down and a giggle in front of the Epcot Christmas tree.  This is actually one of my favourite moments of our trip – squiffed at Disney, sitting on a bench with my husband in front of a 30-foot Christmas tree in a short sleeved tee on Boxing Day, giggling our butts off.  Okay, so he has abysmal table manners.  But we do have fun. 🙂

Drunk at Disney Collage

I think I’m going to leave things off right here for this first installment of Drunk Dining at Disney. 😉  Join me next time, won’t you please, as I talk about the amazing Christmas Eve dinner we enjoyed at the 50s Prime Time Cafe and more drinks, drinks, dranks at our favourite Florida hangout, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’.  Until then, bon appetit!  Oh, and cheers!

Very Versailles

Versailles 2

I suppose it’s not too surprising this manicure turned out as Baroque-n as it did – I have been watching an awful lot of the new live action Beauty and the Beast lately, and its wall-to-wall pastels and gold filigreed adornments speak to that part of me that sometimes likes her surroundings to be flouncy, ultra feminine and possibly way, way, WAY too much.  Not, like, enchanted talking furniture too much, but just a lot of pink and excessively gilded molding. 😉

Before the Last Petal Falls

Rose Collage

Australian indie lacquer maker, Picture Polish, creates THE best scattered holos – rich, vibrant, one-coater cremes sprinkled with holographic pixie dust.  They’re beautiful polishes for use in nail art, and fantastic for everyday wear; I never get as many compliments as I do when I’m wearing one of Picture Polish’s gorgeous hues.

And do you know what makes a Picture Polish polish even better?  When it’s laying down a little free(bie) lacquer love, baby – purchased with points I amassed through Nail Polish Canada’s reward program, a nifty little thank you for, well, buying so much stuff!  NPC’s constantly updating rewards catalog always has a nice assortment of premium polishes on offer, but I jumped at the chance to grab Rose, which has been on my lacquer wish list now for quite some time.  And it’s just as beautiful as I had hoped it would be – a slightly darker version of one of my all time favourite polishes, Electric Dream.  And it may just be subliminal suggestion based on this polish’s name, but I think Rose is the exact colour of the Enchanted Rose in Beauty and the Beast – rich, plush, a beautiful floral countdown of impending doom.  You know, the usual. 😉

Rose Fingers

Les Belles Fleurs

Les Fleurs HandOr might that be “Belle fleurs,” as in Belle from Beauty and the Beast, whose entrance-making golden yellow gown I always think of when I use this cheery yellow shade, Pure Ice’s Show Stopper, along with any vibrant pink and green (with just a tiny touch of gold for that little sparkly something.)

Holo Floral

Holo Flowers HandI’m feeling a bit under the weather today, so I thought I’d keep it uplifting and Springy with this all-holographic mani inspired by the print on the Beast’s fireside chair in Beauty and the Beast. Random, I know, but I was watching it recently and couldn’t help admiring its lovely, embroidered floral fabric. Quite the bold choice for the cursed, castle-bound gentleman. It actually makes me wonder if the Beast was in touch with his lovey dovey side right from the very beginning, because it’s just not possible to be a loveless monster with taste in textiles like that. It’s just not.

For these floral nails I used a whole bouquet of holo polishes from Cirque, Lilypad Lacquer and KB Shimmer, but the real standout is Enchanted Polish’s lavender Time to Pretend, the label of which looks very much like the Beast’s woods-and-fog-shrouded castle. Tale as old as time…Holo Flowers CollageHolo Flowers Fingers

My, What a Guy! (31DC2014)

Gaston!I’m still neck-deep in Disney manicures as the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge enters its fourth and final week. Yesterday’s theme was “inspired by a song,” which posed a bit of a conundrum for yours truly, as there’s a long list of songs in the Disney canon, from classic musical numbers to movie scores to the steel drum-tinged tunes that play in and around the parks, that set my feet a tappin’.

But I do have a favourite Disney ditty, and I suspect it’s one a lot of people like, because no matter the form – stage, screen, blasting through your headphones – it’s a real showstopper and a true Disney classic. So what song am I speaking of? Why, the Gaston song, of course (simply and creatively titled “Gaston”), that drunken, rollicking ode to the Beauty and the Beast villain and some of his more Neanderthal-esque qualities. Gaston’s a real nasty piece of work, the town bully and an abusive, misogynistic ass whose behaviour is only just barely tolerated because he’s got purty, purty blue eyes and a swell cleft in his chin. He’s doted on by his toadie, a snivelling little jerk named LeFou, and lusted after by three of the local tavern wenches, star-eyed girls with heaving bosoms who collapse at his feet when he deigns to throw them a glance, yet positively reviled by Belle, the adventurous bookworm who turns his grotesque proposal down FLAT (good girl.) That, of course, irks him to no end, so when Belle ventures off and falls in love with the Beast, as one is wont to do, he does the thing any heartbroken guy would and has her father committed to an insane asylum before declaring war on the Beast’s castle and its occupants. That plan actually doesn’t work out so well for Gaston, a man who freely admits to difficulties with thinking, and – SPOILER ALERT! – after a rain-soaked battle with the Beast, during which he plays cheap and stabs the Beast in the back when he isn’t looking, he falls into a gorge and presumably dies. I mean, we can hope. Because nobody needs a direct-to-video “Beauty and the Beast 2: Gaston’s Revenge: The Body Hair and Antlers Edition.” They just don’t.

So Gaston might be an epic jerk, but his song is a delight. In the film and stage versions of Beauty and the Beast, Gaston’s ditty is performed by a tavern-full of drunken villagers who quite literally sing his praises, either because they really like him (LeFou) or because they’re too afraid not to like him (pretty well everybody else.) In between chugging sudsy steins of brew and leaping around the tavern, Gaston’s mates enumerate all of the ways they admire and are in awe of him, from his tree trunk-sized neck, to the dozens of eggs he consumes every morning to maintain his barge-like stature, to the antlers he uses in all of his DE-CO-RATING! It’s such a fun song befitting a much nicer, kinder, less douchey character, but we take what we can get, right?

For these nails I tried to capture some of the “qualities” that make Gaston the primeval jerk we all know and hate, from his red and yellow tunic, to the dandy little bow he wears while wooing Belle, to – my favourite – his ultra plentiful, super crispy chest hair. Gotta love a dude with hairy man-cleave, right? My, what a guy, Gaston.