Monday, October 31, 2011

Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland

GuideIt's been such a long week and I was laid low with a terrible flu.  My apologies if your tweets and emails have gone unanswered, I'm working as fast as I can to catch up and get back on track so that I can continue to bring you the posts and Disney coverage that you're used to from me.  I'm honored (and oh so thankful) to have @Disneybigsis, Heather Nichols, back with us today to continue celebrating Halloween at Disneyland! 


It may be fall time at Disneyland to me, but to Mickey and friends it’s Halloween Time. One of our favorite things to do is attend Mickey’s Halloween Party. As a family we have been fortunate to party with Mickey at Walt Disney World and in Disneyland. In my opinion this year’s party at Disneyland has been their best yet. My husband and I had a fantastic time and actually closed the park down! We didn’t want to leave- even more than usual.

When we entered the party I was looking through the special party map because I wanted to be sure to get some Halloween specific PhotoPass pictures. There were several character locations with many different characters and some landmark areas set up for pictures too. This year we decided to get our picture taken with Jack Skellington and Sally, and also with the catrinas for Dia de los Muertos. The line for Jack and Sally was quite long but it was so much fun chatting with everyone in line and checking out all of the amazing costumes. I am always inspired by how creative people are when it comes to their costumes. The wait for Jack was worth it, as when we approached him he bowed and greeted me by name! That was truly spooktacular!


During the party there is Mickey’s Costume Party Cavalcade. It’s a “cavalcade,” not a full parade like at the Magic Kingdom. There is no Headless Horseman or dancing gravediggers at Disneyland, but Mickey and friends are dressed to impress. It’s fun to see dressed up pumpkins glide by with some of our favorite friends dancing and singing as they go by. It may be short, but it’s a whole lot of colorful fun.

Parade Costume Shop
Dau of the Dead

This may be hard to believe, but I’m not a fireworks person. There, I said it. I know. How could I not be with my love of Disney? I don’t know. However, for these Halloween Party fireworks I would even stake out a patch of sidewalk! To me Halloween Screams are the “can’t miss” fireworks of the year. They are hosted by Jack Skellington and are only on party nights. On this night guests are treated to Jack’s pal Zero taking flight over the castle and a special inflated ball where Jack Skellington and other images are appear. I enjoy these fireworks so much I bought the Magic Kingdom Event Party Music soundtrack. So next year if you are standing next to someone who is heartily singing along it may just be me.

Dark Sleeping Beauty Castle
Jack Skellington

What kind of a Halloween party would it be if there wasn’t any trick or treating? There were several treat areas through out with three to four treat stands in them. There was lots of yummy candy to be passed out. My husband refers to it as the “good kind” -meaning chocolate. If you aren’t into chocolate there were fruit snacks, raisins and such. We trick or treated for about twenty minutes, and my bag was overflowing with all sorts of candy.

At the end of the party my husband and I, hand in hand, reluctantly made our way down Main Street. I enjoyed shopping for special merchandise that can only be purchased during the party. I chose to buy a Mickey’s Halloween Party 2011 t-shirt and a pin for my mom. I started dreaming of next year’s party and sneaking tootsie rolls out of my husbands candy bag (let’s just keep that last part between us, ok). We had an amazing time and hope to create many more memories at Mickey’s Halloween parties.

Giant Pumpkin

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Long Awaited Lunch at Via Napoli

I’m so excited to finally be able to bring you this review!  I have been to Walt Disney World three times since Via Napoli opened last year, yet this is the first opportunity I’ve had to visit and enjoy this newest of Epcot’s Italian eateries for lunch.   Envisioned as a culinary tour of southern Italy, Via Napoli is the renowned Patina Groups’s homage to the art of the classic Neapolitan Pizza.

Situated at he back of Epcot’s Italy Pavilion Via Napoli the building doesn’t seem to quiet fit in with the rest of the pavilion to me.  The depth that most of the pavilions have seems to stop at this building’s façade.  Inside however the walls are pained in fresco and the archways and wood beamed ceilings soar high above.  This restaurant is rather notorious in the #DisneySMMoms community on twitter for being staffed with cute Italian boys, and I soon understood the obsession. 

Via Napoli Pizzeria Via Napoli Chandelier Geordon at Via Napoli

Down the center of the main room there sits an especially long center table used to seat large parties.  There is an open prep area and three massive stone pizza ovens dedicated to the volcanoes Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna that have the most unique and fearsome faces to them.  The menu highlights authentic pastas, salads, gelato and of course the famed Neapolitan, wood-fired pizza.

Main Table Via Napoli Via Napoli Ovens

I was really excited to try the Cocktails here.  Though it was very tempting to order the extraordinary cult favorite wine Rosa Regale, instead I decided to go with the Italian Margarita which is a blend of frozen limoncello and grappa.  Oh Italian Margarita, how I love your sweet and sour lemony goodness.  You have quickly become one of my Disney drink favorites.  Geordon decided to try the Blood Orange Aqua Fresca, which is not a cocktail but a delicious freshly made orange Italian soda which he found very light with an almost creamy texture.

Italian Margarita 2 Blood Orange Aqua Fresca

During this trip I was very excited to try the Italian dish called "Arancini."  Arancini are balls of rice stuffed with cheese or ragu, coated with breadcrumbs, then deep fried. They are said to have originated in Sicily in the 10th century and I've been wanting to try some since the first moment I heard of them. I ordered arancini at Citricos the night before and was very disappointed, but the arancini at Via Napoli were everything that I hoped they would be. Fluffy rice mixed with creamy cheeses, deep fried and sitting in a plate of tomato sauce covered in Parmesan. I could eat these all week!  They were positively heavenly!  Geordon ordered the Salami e Provolone and declared it the best salami ever.

Salami & Cheese at Via Napoli Arancini Goodness

For his main course Geordon tried the Lasagna Verde, a very rich and creamy lasagna with spinach, parmesan and besciamella in a white sauce. It was very rich with a fantastic flavor and hint of spice. I ordered the Pizza Margherita, which had a wonderful crust and delicious sauce. I'm a sucker for fresh basil though and I thought that it could have used a little bit more. Neither of us was able to finish our plates due to the large portions of rich flavorful foods presented.

Geordon's Lasagna Verde
Pizza Margharita

Orange Cream Dessert!Dessert
I really wanted to order the Zeppole Di Catarina (Ricotta Cheese Fritters with whipped cream & chocolate sauce) but I just didn't have any more room in my tummy. Instead we went with the Gelatoand Italian Soda Floats.  Mine was Orange Creme and Geordon's was Cherry Vanilla, they were both heavenly!  And that's coming from a girl who doesn't usually like ice cream sodas.

Overall we had a very good experience at 
Via Napoli, 
the food was rich and flavorful, the staff was very attentive, the atmosphere was fun and inviting. 
I can't wait to go back again!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Saint George and the Dragon - Wordless Wednesday

Slaying the Dragon

Focused on the Magic

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lessons from 2011 #DisneySMMoms

Social Media Moms!Back in March I was honored to attend the second Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.  It was a fabulous business conference that helped in huge ways to kick this blog into gear.  For four days I was surrounded not only by all the fantastic magic that Disney was sharing, but some of the most respected moms in the blogging community as well as some of the most incredible Disney Bloggers on the web.  The experience was a dream come true and I hope so much that I'm able to attend again next year.

Attending the conference was a fabulous opportunity, and a lot of fun, but what's truly important about attending a business conference, is that you take something away with you.  No, I'm not talking about the bags of swag.  I'm talking about knowledge.  So what did I learn from attending Social Media Moms Celebration?  Something that we all need to be reminded of now and again.

As "Mom Bloggers" our reputations are somewhat tenuous.  But why is that?  One of our speakers was the phenomenal Chris Brogan, and he suggested that "The mom blog sphere is unique in its cattiness." That we often act as if we're crabs in a barrel.  The crab in a barrel spends more time concerned with the other crabs trying to get out and pulling them back down, than he  does trying to climb out of the barrel himself.  The crab will envy your success and goes out of his way to try to hold you back.  In doing so, no crab ever makes it to the top and out of the barrel.

Chris reminded us that if one succeeds, that many succeed, and as our reputations as professionals grow it reflects well on the entire community.  It doesn't take much for one careless post to bring an entire section of the community's reputation crashing down.   We must post with care and consideration, and not let envy or careless slights run off with our better judgement.  As a community that strives to interact with the business community and greater public, we are responsible to each other for our reputations.

Traci & JL Ashley, Traci & Kristen
We're all mad! @MamaofallTrades & @DisneyGoToGirl
AJ, Geordon, Mark, Sid & Libby Zanna, Sid, Andrew & Nicole
Faith, Kathy & Kristen Jackie, Ivana Dream & Kriste

Chris told us that instead we should "Raise Others Up" and I took it to heart.  Above are just a few of the other bloggers that I like to celebrate, they are by no means the only ones.  They are my community, my friends and my family.   I try not to envy their successes, but call attention to them, and let the greater community know when someone is doing something great.  I am incredibly proud of what some of my friends and collegues have accomplished recently.  The Disney blogging community continues to grow in size and spirit, and it is full of some of the most amazing people who I want only the best for.  As a community we need to raise up the people working hard to make their dreams come true, and as we share in their accomplishments we can still strive for our own.

When you raise others up, 
you are raised up yourself.

Disclaimer:  I paid to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. I was not asked to write about the events, all opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Would You Recognize This Fun Find?

I was standing in line for a glass of Champagne at Epcot's Food & Wine Festival when I noticed a fun find growing in a decorative pot being used to make a barrier.  Now I'm not a great gardener, and I don't know a whole lot about plants, but I knew what this one was right away!  I squeeled and shoved my camera at Geordon telling him to go take some pictures.  This plant makes for a HUGE part of my life, but I had never seen one before in person, let alone growing in a decorative pot with some flowers at Epcot.  Do you know what this is?

Not sure yet?   I'll give you a hint, most people think that even in it's common form, it's pretty hard to find the good stuff in Disney.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Werthers Karamell-Küche in Epcot's Germany

Wether's Store

Karamell-Küche Sign Karamell-Küche Building
Wethers Display at Karamell-KücheKaramell-Küche Window Apples

Karamell-Küche Window


This post is part of the Disney Blog Carnival #33!
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Lunch at Sanaa

Sanaa Sign

Sanaa is the newest Disney location serving African cuisine with Indian flavors. Located at Disney Vacation Club's Animal Kingdom Kidani Village Sanaa focuses on African Flavors with an Indian flair. The word Sanaa means "artwork" in Swahili, and as its name suggests, Sanaa offers its Guests beautifully prepared food, served in an artistic atmosphere with a stunning view of the savanna.

The dining room at Sanaa is creatively appointed with columns of giant beads and tree trunks that hold up a unique canopy of artistic trees leaves. Outside the windows a pair of cheeky Crowned Cranes (named Ruben and Wilbur) who jumped the savanna fence like to entertain the guests sitting next to the windows by stomping on tall grass and scaring out the bugs for their own lunch.  We were told that Ruben was the first to jump the fence when he saw his reflection in the window and decided it would be a good mate.  Ruben has even made a nest at the end of the enclosure so that he can stay close.  The Sanaa staff frequently chats with the birds, and I caught other guests making clicking noises at them from their tables.  

Cranes looking in the windows at SanaaWilbur & Rueben

For a foodie, I'm not always a very adventurous when it comes to eating, so looking at this African and Indian inspired menu was a little daunting.  None the less we ended up eating at Sanaa three times during our trip, and it is very worthy of the accolades that it has received.  The Chef has already been honored for this two year old restaurant that doesn't dumb down the flavors of these spicy foodcultures.  We found the staff to be very friendly and knowledgeable about all that was offered.

For Appetizers I had the bread service with dips. The bread that I choose were two Naan and a Onion Kulcha.  The Naan is simple the best that I've ever had, baked the traditional way in a Tandoor it's was fresh and steamy with a crisp bottom.  The onion Kulcha was delicious too, stuffed with wonderful bits of onion and spices.  For the accompaniments I was a big fan of the Cucumber Raita, but tried the Mint and Coconut Chutneys as well.  Geordon picked a salad trio that included fresh Roasted Beets, Behl Puri and Kachumbar.  The Behl Puri is a puffed rice dish with vegetables tossed in a tamarind sauce, Geordon seemed to enjoy it, but I didn't try, the look of the puffed rice was disturbing to me.  LoL... like I said, not too adventurous.  The Kachumbar was a tasty cucumber salad tossed in a vinegar dressing and I enjoyed it very much.

Three Salad Sampler, Beets, Bhel Puri, CucumberSanaa Bread Service

Entrees for lunch are similar to those available at dinner with some additional sandwiches. I took the easy road and ordered the Turkey Club with a side of fresh fruit. It was your run of the mill club but it was very good and stuffed full of turkey and I wasn't able to finish it after having the bread service as a starter. Geordon ordered the Grilled Lamb Kefta on Naan and it was just amazing.I wished that I ate lamb because the smells coming from his plate were in intoxicating. The portion was huge, and as he folded over the Naan he struggled to get the bite of the goodness in his mouth. He said that it tasted just as good as it smelled and is reason all on it's own to make a trip to Sanaa.

Turkey Club SandwichGrilled Lamb Kefta

For dessert Geordon ordered the Mango Berry Tapioca and I had the Chai Cream. I think I could eat the Chai Cream every day, so delicious! The chai is light and silky, the chocolate covered spoon adds the perfect amount of decadence as it slowly melts off from the heat of your mouth.

Mango-Berry Tapioca PuddingChai Creme

Sanaa is a must do for those who love a food adventure, 
it is well worth the out of the way trip to Kidani Village. 

Recently Disney has also added a treat to the menu.  If you would like to make your meal at Sanaa a little more special, how about booking the “Dine with an Animal Specialist” meal. This 4-course lunch, seats you with one of Disney’s own animal specialists, who will share with you the secrets of the savanna. This experience can be booked by calling the Disney Dining number, or DVC Member services.

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