Tag Archives: disney

Catching up… Oz, Epcot and the Rape of Nanking

I haven’t written much lately so here’s a quick catch-up.

I got a promotion a few weeks ago, and then I was very honored to receive a special award at work, too. The job is keeping me busy, but it’s going well.

Last weekend, my son and I were invited to tag along for a special screening of Oz The Great and Powerful. We both liked it a lot. It was a little long for my taste, but well made. And I like director Sam Raimi’s little nods to other work he’s done (Evil Dead hand, possible deadite, and I think a line from ED too). I’ll be curious to see if this launches more Oz tales on film.

That movie screening was brought to us by the official Disney Parks Blog. We even made the recap video they posted. 

The screening took place at Epcot and we spent the day there prior to the event. I made my son a photo scavenger hunt for Epcot and we spent most of the day doing that. This was his first time getting all 100 objectives in the scavenger hunt. I’ll post another blog eventually with the full list.

That morning was also the day of the Disney Princess Half Marathon. We knew some people running in the race and got there early to offer some encouragement. We saw my friend Alison, and then Alexander spent about an hour giving high fives and encouragement to all the other racers who went by. It was very nice of him, though he didn’t even understand why it was nice when he was doing it.



I’ve still managed time for reading. I read The Silver Linings Playbook and liked it much better than the movie, even though I liked Jennifer Lawrence in the film. I think the book probably handles things a little more realistically. And the denouement of the film is really the middle of the book.

I read a book called Dear Coca-Cola…. This is one of those books where a guy who thinks he’s funny writes letters to corporations and then prints their responses. The first book I read like this was Idiot Letters by Paul Rosa (http://www.amazon.com/Idiot-Letters-Paul-Rosa/dp/038547508X). It was published in 1995, and while pretty funny, I think there was subtext in the commentary on corporations and the people who work for them. There were a couple of other similar books by a guy named Ted L. Nancy, which was a pseudonym. These were much more focused on the humor, and not in a good way. But still, these books were better than Dear Coca Cola.

But after that “humor” reading, I was ready for something more serious, so I started reading The Rape of Nanking. I don’t have a lot of words at this point… I haven’t finished the book yet. I’m reading it in little pieces. It’s a tragedy and a real life horror… and that doesn’t even begin to describe it. I think it’s an important book, giving the history of a nightmare in war, as well as digging into the depths of the depravity of man. I don’t think I’ll do a real review on it, but I recommend the book.

After this, I’ll need to pick up something a little more light-hearted. I bought Jimmy Buffett’s Swine Not? at the Dollar Tree, so maybe that… But if you have any book recommendations, let me know!

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Photo Safari Scavenger Hunt

Some of you may have seen previous blogs of photo scavenger hunts I put together for my son at the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Both of those were based off this one that I put together for coworkers for a team builder at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

I removed 4 items that were specific to our team. Feel free to substitute your own to get it up to 100. This same list was used at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure, pretty successfully as well.

Welcome to the DAK Photo Safari. In this safari, you will be documenting your experience with photographs of possibly difficult things to find around the park. It will require a great attention to detail. If possible, try to capture at least one member of your safari group in each picture. None of these photos will require you to ride a ride. To be successful, some subjects may require a little creativity, but don’t bring anything from the list into the park with you.


  1. Dragon
  2. Henson characters
  3. An animal in a habitat where it doesn’t belong
  4. Someone in mid-jump in front of the entry to a new land
  5. Lions
  6. Tigers
  7. Bears
  8. Three boats
  9. A car built before 1970.
  10. A Coca Cola sign in another language.
  11. A brass drinking fountain
  12. A celebration button
  13. A Mickey Mouse balloon
  14. A Cast Member performing a magic moment, take 5 or going above and beyond.
  15. An Airstream trailer
  16. A castle
  17. A crate
  18. A barrel
  19. A hero
  20. A bell larger than your head
  21. A footprint larger than your head
  22. A golden trowel
  23. A waterfall
  24. A Christmas greeting from a previous decade
  25. A payphone
  26. An attraction queue with two stories
  27. A frying pan
  28. Lost and Found
  29. A child too large to be in a stroller, in a stroller
  30. A moose
  31. A squirrel
  32. Huey/Duey/Louie
  33. A basketball hoop
  34. A jukebox
  35. Lychee
  36. Cupcakes
  37. Something healthy
  38. An airplane
  39. A hotel
  40. Something Hawaiian
  41. A quarter in a fountain
  42. Food that can’t be bought in the park
  43. Something from Florida in California / Something from California in Florida
  44. Non-American currency
  45. Mosaic tiles
  46. Turnstiles
  47. Ropes holding something up
  48. Ropes holding something down
  49. A stroller parking sign
  50. A sign that prohibits something
  51. Two trashcans that look different in the same photo
  52. Something in a merchandise shop that costs less than a dollar
  53. Something in a merchandise shop that costs more than $500
  54. Something labeled “Limited Edition.”
  55. Guests studying a map
  56. A typographical error
  57. An upside-down tree
  58. A flag from another country
  59. A fireplace
  60. A wait time posting more than 30 minutes
  61. A clock mounted to a wall
  62. A member of the team using a drum
  63. Flowers in bloom
  64. An island
  65. Something Olympic
  66. Ants
  67. A fish
  68. Bats
  69. Snow, not on a mountain
  70. A pirate
  71. A princess
  72. A pineapple
  73. A sponge
  74. A starfish
  75. A Guest wearing socks with sandals
  76. A hidden Mickey
  77. A Guest wearing neon colors
  78. A Guest doing something they should not be doing
  79. A Guest who looks like a celebrity
  80. A Cast Member doing something they should not be doing
  81. Spilled popcorn
  82. A Mickey Mouse sticker
  83. Someone wearing a rain poncho
  84. A working fountain
  85. A bird bath
  86. A bird eating people food
  87. One of the seven dwarfs
  88. A family photo
  89. Something hiding
  90. Something camouflaged
  91. Something with 8 legs
  92. The king
  93. A net holding something
  94. “Thank you” in another language.
  95. Something from Australia
  96. A character that cannot sign his/her name with a pen

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Photo Scavenger Hunt

A few weeks ago, I posted a Magic Kingdom Photo Scavenger Hunt that I did with my son. This weekend, we wanted to go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, so I put together another scavenger hunt for him for the rest of the day.

The rules remained pretty much the same as last time:

Welcome to Alexander’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios Photo Scavenger Hunt. In this scavenger hunt, you will be documenting your experience with photographs of possibly difficult things to find around the park. If possible, try to capture at least one member of your group in each picture. None of these photos will require you to ride a ride, though you may find some of the objectives in a ride. To be successful, some subjects may require a little creativity, but don’t bring anything from the list into the park with you.

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Gravity Falls Costumes

My son and I had the opportunity to go to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom a few weeks ago. I got the tickets last minute, so I had four hours to throw together costumes for the party. My son and I had previously talked about Gravity Falls characters, and knowing that the Wreck It Ralph costumes would be outside our reach in the limited time I had, I was able to make my son into a pretty good Dipper Pines, and myself into a passable Grunkle Stan.

While we were at Not So Scary, we saw a few other people dressed as Dipper and his sister Mabel, but I didn’t see another Grunkle Stan that night.

Overall, I think they turned out pretty good for the time/resources I had.

For my son’s Dipper costume, I found the vest jacket at Ross in the kid’s section for about $10. The hat is a plain white hat I found at Michael’s for $2.99. (One of the Mabels we saw made her brother’s Dipper costume and said she found a plain white trucker hat at Walmart.) The red t-shirt was $4 at Target, and the grey shorts were $12 at Target (but those can be worn all the time, so it was a good buy). The book is a faux leather journal that I glued the 3 hand to.

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New Fantasyland: Dress Rehearsal

My son and I got to see parts of the New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom as they are doing their dress rehearsal. This is their soft opening while they test and adjust the attractions, food and merchandise. Almost everything was up and running except the Be Our Guest restaurant, though they let us walk in to see how it looks. This new area of the Magic Kingdom opens officially December 6th.

We had Le Fou’s Brew at Gaston’s Tavern, which is apple juice slush with Monin Toasted Marshmallow syrup and topped with a passion fruit foam,  and a pork shank, which will probably be as popular as the ubiquitous turkey leg. It’s a pretty hearty meal, and well fit for Gaston’s.

The Enchanting Tales with Belle experience is what every character meet and greet should be. Ariel’s Grotto was done well so that there is plenty of individual time with everyone’s favorite mermaid. The Under the Sea ride is solid, with good audio animatronics, but the queue is awesome.

The attention to detail in the whole land is wonderful, with surprises to see everywhere you look. Along with the already-open Storybook Circus, the new additions to the Magic Kingdom really make you wish every part of the parks were as detailed and lush. The adjacent Tomorrowland could use a tender loving makeover with a fine bristled brush.

Here’s a slideshow of our New Fantasyland experience. The pictures are on Facebook, too, with captions. And, a few were posted on the very awesome Disney Food Blog.

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Sorcerer’s Of The Magic Kingdom

Today, Alexander and I got to participate in the soft opening of the Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom (SMK). This is a new interactive scavenger hunt at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. If you’ve done the Kim Possible adventure at Epcot, it’s very similar, but also very different.

You check in at the Fire Station at Town Square adjacent to City Hall. For the soft opening, when hours are not guaranteed, they opened approximately at 10:30, and closed before 2:30. At the fire station, they give you a map and a set of cards. One card is a key that activates the “portals” throughout the park. The other five cards are “spells” that you use to fight villains. The spell cards are like pokemon or other card games with stats, but they feature characters from Disney films.

After you get your cards, you go to a training station where Merlin from the Sword and the Stone sets up the story line and shows you how to play the game. You’re then set loose in the park.

The portals are spread throughout Main Street, Adventureland, Liberty Square and Fantasyland. Today, the Main Street portals were not working, but that didn’t seem to impact the gameplay. When you get to your first portal as directed by Merlin, you activate it with the key card and a hidden screen activates with a storyline about Hades recruiting villains to get the Crystal of the Magic Kingdom, that he needs to take over.

Each adventure features one villain with five portals. To defeat them, you hold up a spell card, which causes some on screen magic. For example, if you have the Headless Horseman’s Exploding Jack-o-lantern  spell card, you’ll see jack-o-lanterns explode on screen to defeat the enemy.

When you’re done playing, you get to keep the cards. The next time you play, you’ll get new spell cards. Already there was some card trading going on. There were two girls who had duplicate cards and we traded one of our cards for one of theirs duplicates. There are 70 cards in all, so it will take a lot of replaying to collect them all. I think there’s opportunity to expand this online, maybe using your computer’s webcam to use the spell cards. While the key card seems to use a passive RFID chip, the spell cards are read by cameras around the portals.

At the end of the episode, you’ll have the chance to go to another set of portals to continue playing and defeat more villains. The storyline does have a definitive end, though. After you defeat all the villains, you face Hades and Chernabog and Merlin congratulates you. You don’t get the opportunity to continue, and The End is displayed on the screen.

Getting to all of the portals took a lot of walking and a lot of backtracking. It took us about 3 hours to complete all the adventures. There was a ton of interest in the game by passersby in Fantasyland, but we were mostly ignored as we played in Adventureland and Frontierland.

I can’t help but think this game started out as a game based on the Kingdom Keepers book series by Ridley Pearson, which takes place in Disney parks, and features kids fighting Disney villains. It probably works better with its own standalone theme and story, though, so Guests don’t need to know anything about Kingdom Keeprs.

The game was fun. I enjoyed the ones in Fantasyland the best. The theming fit better than some of the others, and the portals weren’t too spread out, so it limited the back and forthing. I like the variability with the spell cards, but the effects are kind of limited since it’s all on screen. With Kim Possible at Epcot, they have more mechanical actions with their clues, utilizing buildings and props, which makes it more kinetic and immersive. But since Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is all on screens, they should be able to easily add more adventures as time goes on with new villains and storylines which may increase the playability.

Next time you’re in the Magic Kingdom, stop by the Fire Station and give it a try!

DIY Cardboardasaurus! RAWR!

Many of you know me from Twitter and/or Facebook and you have seen my profile image:

Original Cardboardasaurus

Documentation of the creation of this cardboardasaurus can be found here: http://familysizedfun.com/2010/05/non-bloggers-a-series-2/

Since Halloween is coming up, and this one is getting a little ratty, I thought I’d make a new cardboardasaurus and show you how! It’s pretty simple to do, and uses things that you probably have lying around your house… boxes, tape, scissors, paint… And the results turn out pretty well. Continue reading