Vlogging Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts

When I’m wearing one of my many other social media hats (actually, there’s not that many chapeaus in my closet; I Facebook and Insta and that’s pretty well it) I’m a Disney vlogger.  I wouldn’t say this is a tremendously serious effort on my part.  If it were, I’d be running around Disney World with a monster vlogging rig, filming the newest and the best and the shiniest.  But I actually like to enjoy my vacations, and the thought of being chained to my camera when I should just be carpe diem-ing is nothing I wish to do.  I also have a really terrible habit of singing along – badly, loudly, and probably off-key – to whatever music is playing.  This actually becomes a very big problem when you can hear me singing the Fall Out Boy version of What is This? from The Nightmare Before Christmas – complete with a lot of bluesy, Patrick Stump-esque vocal runs – right over top of the fireworks soundtrack (seriously, I had to bin just about the entirety of my footage from last year’s Jingle Bam show because I could NOT shut up.  Somebody tell the broad down front to can it!  And maybe not drink five cocktails immediately preceding the show.  As a for instance.) 😉

But one thing I do enjoy filming when I’m on vacation is footage of whatever incredibly themed Disney resort we’re staying at on that particular trip (small, incredibly lame confession in these bizarre, social media-driven times: despite having favourite resorts, we stay at a different one every time because a) there’s a lot of gorgeous resorts, and we like explorin’ ’em, but mostly because b) we like to vlog it.  There, I said it!  I feel so dirty now.  I’ll just go and stand over here in shame by this Instagram wall.)

Ahem.  As I was saying, I like filming footage of our resorts – the landscaping, the architecture, the pools, the food, the rooms.  I recently put together a video that incorporates multiple stays at two of our favourite Disney resorts, the Port Orleans French Quarter and, just on down the river bend, the Port Orleans Riverside, and I thought it turned out really well – a solid vlogging effort!

And so I’m sharing it with you!  Hopefully you’ll find some useful information here to help you if you’re in the midst of planning your next Disney vacation.  And even if you’re not, it’s just fun to scheme and dream, isn’t it?  Happy Disney-ing, friends!

How to Be a Canadian at Disney

Can Mickey Collage

Happy (nearly completed) Canada Day, peeps!  Can’t stand the day myself – that’s what you get for a young lifetime of stupid Can Day celebrations that soured you on the entirety of the holiday (loved starting to drink terrible beer in my best red-and-white duds at eight in the morning with my friends, hated the inevitable skirmish I’d get into with my boyfriends or friends as we desperately tried to find each other 10 minutes before the fireworks in a sea of drunk(er) revelers on Parliament Hill.  Did anybody check the giant lemon?!)

Although I’ve really no reason to continue hating the holiday, since in the intervening years, I’ve had moderately alright to even not-so-terrible Canada Days and…*tails off remembering somewhat recent year grandmother tricked her into visiting relative at very remote Cabin in the Woods (actually, it’s quite a lovely cabin in the woods, totally free of elaborate death mechanisms designed to appease the pagan gods.)*

It’s basically just a day ending in Y for me, albeit one where I’m infinitely more inclined to sport a fly red-and-white mani in honour of July the 1st.  And this year I gave it a Disney twist to go along with the Canada Day video I made for our YouTube channel, Park or Perish!, which is all about being Canadian at Disney.  Which pretty much amounts to having good manners, having good manners whilst drinking, using words like “whilst” and screwing around at the Canada Pavilion at Epcot.  See for yourself below, eh?, and happiest of Canada Days to you all, my Canuck friends, all two remaining hours of it. 😉

Small last minute edit: Just as I was about to click the Publish button on this post, I heard a smattering of fireworks going off, looked out my livingroom window and was treated to a lovely, impromptu, 10 minute-long fireworks display just across the river.  So maybe not ALL of my Canada Days have been horrid. 🙂

Monday Bloody Monday

Toilet Collage

Ah yes, but a better Monday than LAST Monday, because on this particular Monday Bloody Monday WE HAVE A TOILET!!!  I so jinxed myself last week talking about it, too, as I knew I would – sure enough, the plumbers went to install the thing, only to discover that the piece that connects the toilet to the pipe in the wall would not fit.  And this on a model whose specs were mandated, recommended AND approved by the condo board, individuals who presumably (?) have functioning eyes and brains, although you’d never know it.  Too busy giving me crap because the contractors left a bit of dust in the elevator to pay attention to critical matters of shared infrastructure, I guess (made all the more galling by the fact that they had the printed schematics from the manufacturer right in front of them, something we didn’t actually need to provide, but did so out of an act of woefully misguided kindness.)

Anyhow, we ran about the city sourcing a new toilet on our dime and time, returned the old guy and paid the supplier restocking fee, paid the plumbers for the first aborted install, wrote a furious e-mail to our property management company, Reid Property Management, which has gone completely ignored (edit: received a response today, one of those classic “Sorry you feel this way” non-apologies), wrote another furious letter to our condo board, put the wheels in motion to move out of this horribly mismanaged hole if this reno ever nears completion, and finally – finally! – had our new toilet installed on Friday afternoon.  The rest of our bathroom is within striking distance of being finished, but I’ve learned not to talk about this stuff too much, lest I absolutely jinx it.  So I’ll just be over here smooching my new toilet, as you do, because I’m just so happy that it’s here and it fits.

I also have a new Disney foodie video I published to our YouTube channel, Park or Perish!, all about yummy grub to grab at the Animal Kingdom, a mostly reno-friendly activity I’ve been pinning my sanity to in the absence of nail art or reading or just having two seconds to myself where I’m not besieged by filth, grumpy contractors or my own dumbass neighbours.  I love putting together these little videos.  Love how righteously ravenous they make me ever so slightly less, particularly when our kitchen is also out of commission, but the memories are nearly enough!  Enjoy!

Down, But Not Out

Snacks Collage

Goodest of mornings, friends, from the Reno Zone, population: still my husband and I!  But against all odds, we had a lovely long weekend – thanks in large part to the great, Fishbowl-enhanced time we had at the wedding of a couple of old friends (I’ve known the bride since grade 6!) – so despite the fact that everything is still quite torn up (you try navigating a floor full of ceramic tile clips at 3 am, especially if you’ve been drinking something called a Fishbowl!) we’re feeling slightly more optimistic about the renovations.  There’s even been appreciable progress made on the bathroom, and at the risk of jinxing things further (but really, could we get more jinxed?) we may have a semi-functioning bathroom by the end of the day.  Yup, totally jinxed it!

Cheryl's Wedding

But I haven’t been so out of it that I haven’t had a bit of time to work on another Fave Food of Disney video for our YouTube channel, Park or Perish! – need something to occupy my time whilst tiled into my livingroom for the next five to seven hours of adhesive-setting time (I now know far too much about ceramic tile adhesive and underlay materials – wasn’t exactly an area I felt I needed a lot of edu-ma-cating in, but I suppose it’s always nice to learn something new.)

And so here’s the five-minute result of all that time-wiling!  As always, I hope you enjoy this video and don’t become too fixated on some Disney nibble that’s only available at the Magic Kingdom for Five Days in May – that’s a Blue Rodeo joke, and one of my favourite songs – because that’s totally Disney’s jam.  But these snacks are available all the time, so, you know, just a hop, skip and a jump down to central Florida, no big. 😉  Thank you – always – for watching!

On a Not-So Lazy Sunday Morning

I’ve been a very busy bee this morning – no day of rest for this little worker, who is already feeling anxious about tomorrow’s BIG START to our renovations.  I may have mentioned a time or 20 that I’m not the best at dealing with stress; I can turn myself into anxiety-ridden knots over things that should really be NBD (although I suppose completely gutting and renovating your bathroom – your only bathroom – and replacing all of your flooring qualifies as an actual big deal.)  So I’ve been up for many hours removing framed photos and other artwork from the walls, stashing boxes of our belongings on the balconies, and making two raspberry cream cheese pies for a celebratory, kick-off to the renos dinner we’re having this evening with my mother, who has been acting as our in-the-know general contractor (we have a contractor, actually, but my mom has a lot of experience in the area of construction and home renovations, and we couldn’t have arranged ANY of this without her invaluable assistance and oversight.)  So it’s been a bit of a busy day, and it only just turned noon!

I accidentally tore off three of my four “good hand” nails the other day pulling up the last of our flooring, so I’ve been looking for other blogging and vlogging ways to occupy my online creative energies.  Enter a couple of short videos I made for our YouTube channel, Park or Perish!, all about some of the delicious food we’ve enjoyed at Disney World over our last number of trips – just try not to fall ravenously hungry looking at all this yumminess.  Happy watching, and bon appetit!

Literary Inspiration: The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World

Hidden Magic Collage

“Wait,” you may be saying to yourself, “you never shut up about Disney World, and I suspect from your last seven, long, incredibly detailed posts that you already know all of the out-in-the-open magic of Walt Disney World.  So what gives with the book?”  (As an aside, it’s amazing how much you sound like me when you’re calling me out!  You’re also a little rude, but I’m willing to overlook that.)

What gives with the book, The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World by Susan Veness, is that in the lead-up to our last trip to Disney, I was looking for a fun trivia book that would point me in the direction of some heretofore undiscovered Disney delights.  Turns out I really do know, like, 90 percent of the magic of Disney World, and this spare little book didn’t illuminate too many things I was not already aware of (at the Magic Kingdom, a kid’s eye view of the Sleeping Beauty fountain in Fantasyland reveals a crown atop Aurora’s head; over in the Animal Kingdom, the red, yellow and white pipes that run along the ceiling in Dinosaur bear the chemical compositions for ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise in a nod to the ride’s original sponsor, McDonald’s; Hollywood Studios’ Tower of Terror bears an exterior Mediterranean aesthetic in order to blend in with Epcot’s Morocco pavilion next door, over which it – pun intended – towers.)

Things I should have noticed before I purchased the book?  That its information only went up to the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland expansion in 2012, which means it was missing details on both 2017’s Pandora – the World of Avatar expansion at the Animal Kingdom and the opening of 2018’s Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios.  So it was really telling me nothing I didn’t already know.  It did not take me very long to blip through this wee book.

The most complete, detailed information came in the section on the Animal Kingdom, the park I am probably the least familiar with.  And I suspect that its completeness is owing to Veness securing a direct interview with Joe Rohde, Disney Imagineering legend and lead designer of the Animal Kingdom.  Ultra engaged, ultra gregarious and ultra creative (you’ve seen him; he’s the very enthused, exceptionally earnest gentleman with giant, stretched out earlobes weighted down with intricate metal rings) Rohde strikes me as the kind of man who would grant a delightful interview to anyone, from a major news outlet, to an elementary school newspaper, to an author seeking information directly from the source.

041

There is just a ton of detail here about the Animal Kingdom, in particular Dinoland USA, a day-one part of the park (an incongruous mix of the serious – paleontology – with the not-so-serious – a trashy side-of-the-highway amusement park) that has never quite felt like it fit with the rest of the park’s lush, natural aesthetic.  I love the crap out of the Dinosaur ride (it might be my third favourite ride behind the Haunted Mansion and the Tower of Terror) but I’ve just never understood the Dino-Rama midway part of Dinoland USA; why the too-bright, too-loud dino carnival in the midst of the Animal Kingdom’s otherwise peaceful oasis?

Dino-Rama Collage

Rohde, who oversaw the design and implementation of Dinoland USA, has always said there’s a method to his madness, and Dino-Rama isn’t just a weird jumble of carnival shys, body-punishing wild mouse coasters and hokey dinosaur puns (“This exstincts!” proclaims one sign bearing a dino staring up in dismay at a meteorite hurtling towards his head.)  But I’ve warmed to the place considerably since reading The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World, because it finally explained that madness, and turns out, it’s really not so weird after all.

The story behind Dinoland USA is that the Dino Institute, a scientific operation where you can take tours into the past (AKA ride the Dinosaur ride, in which you travel back to the Cretaceous period to nab a dino for a morally conflicted researcher, Dr. Grant Seeker, heh), has funded a paleontology expedition in the area and sent a number of students and professors there to carry out the painstaking work of digging up old dino bones (AKA The Boneyard, a massive, incredibly fun-looking playground area for kids.)  The grad students and their professors live in the various trailers and RVs dotted throughout the area, with a number of these 1960s-style trailers converted into makeshift dining halls bearing names like Trilo Bites, the Dino Diner, Dino-Bite Snacks and Restaurantosaurus (actual dining spots you can visit and grab a – sigh – dino bite.)

Animal Kingdom Dino Diner

So the story goes, married couple Chester and Hester, carny opportunists to the core, came to the area and immediately noted the financial possibilities inherent in a place with a totally captive audience of stressed out, entertainment-starved academics.  So they moved in right next door and, cribbing off the Dino Institute’s goodwill and legitimacy, opened up Dino-Rama, a ramshackle midway competitor for the students’ attention, time and money.  This is a dig at the many, many fly-by-night attractions that sprang up directly outside Disneyland’s gates when that park opened in 1955, a “how did we not see this coming?” move that irked Walt to no end and prompted him to essentially buy up nearly all of central Florida in a move to head off a repeat performance when he opened his World of Disney in 1971.

Dino Collage

The big draw in Dino-Rama, aside from numerous looming dinosaurs and Chip and Dale strutting about in their finest dino costumes, is Primeval Whirl, a densely knitted wild mouse coaster in which your cart wildly spins, sending you plummeting downhill somehow both sideways and backwards.  It’s an incredibly rough ride – really never fails to break our old arses – and you swing about so much, you never really get a chance to appreciate the silly cartoon dinosaur artwork and sad trombone jokes that pepper the attraction in a budget imitation of the legit Dinosaur ride next door at the Dino Institute.  Here, behold!  Now with additional Triceratops Spin action!

It’s all so very petty and passive aggressive, and I really kind of love it now that I know the backstory.  The whole of Dinoland USA is actually blanketed with little bits of trivia about the two disparate groups – letters and photos and other mementos dotted about as reminders of this odd, competitive pairing.  I think it’s all quite charming!  And information I’m glad to have learned – it really made my experience that much richer this last visit to have the scoop on the funny little inside jokes and local colour of Dinoland USA.  Which is why I chose its colourful sign – at least the Dino part! – as the subject matter of this manicure, inspired by Hidden Secrets of the Magic Kingdom, which I read in service of my friends’ reading challenge for the eighteenth prompt, “a guide.”

Hidden Magic 3

The Director

That’s me, the Scorcese of hotel room tour videos!  You know, just with fewer brutal gangland murders, epically long tracking shots and Rolling Stones cues.

But I don’t know what to tell you – I really like putting together these room tour videos, everything from the filming to the editing to the nitpicky little adjustments that have to be made before it can see the light of streaming day.

And I positively LOVE getting the opportunity to stay in these fabulously themed Disney resorts.  I’ve always been a little enchanted by the Disney hotels.  We all know the biggies across from the Magic Kingdom, the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian and the A-frame Contemporary.  These resorts have been there since I was a kid (and in the case of the Polynesian and the Contemporary, there since my parents were just kids themselves, vacationing at the brand new World of Disney in Orlando, Florida in 1971.)  I can’t have been more than three years old, but I remember my parents taking me over to the Polynesian during the blazing heat of a July afternoon for a fortifying nap.  Before conking out with my head on my dad’s lap, I remember thinking of the palm tree-shrouded pool, “That pool is awesome and I want in there with all those kids!”

Polynesian prices being what they are (A LOT) we’ve never stayed there, even though it remains a pretty major item on my Disney accommodations bucket list.  One day, gigantic passholder discount willing.

But for now we’re quite content to work our way through the moderate resorts that also occupy space on our bucket list, like the Port Orleans French Quarter, where we recently stayed.  This is one that I’ve wanted to stay at since it was built over 20 years ago, and I’m delighted that it lived up to my admittedly pretty high expectations (that’s what happens when you dream about something for two decades!)

And our room was lovely, so I filmed a video of that for our YouTube channel, Park or Perish!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed filming it, and also getting the opportunity to stay at the French Quarter. 🙂