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Archive for the ‘Disney’ Category

I can’t believe I won this!

I entered a contest with Disney for my birthday and won!  Click on the picture to see the announcement…

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I uploaded some video from our 2006 Disney World trip to Vimeo.  It’s a little long, and I don’t know who would want to watch it, but I enjoyed seeing it again.

A Day at the Magic Kingdom 2006 from Josh Jones on Vimeo.

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One of my favorite new Disney web sites, Mouse Misers had this to say about free dining this year…

Travel Dates: August 24 – September 20, 2008

Walt Disney World has announced the “Free Dining” promotion for the fourth consecutive year. Currently, the discount is only available to Disney VISA cardholders, though it will be released to the general public starting on April 10. With the “Free Dining” promotion, Disney resort guests who book a Magic Your Way package that includes both your Disney resort room and your Magic Your Way park passes, will receive the Disney Dining plan add-on for free for all guest three and older in their party.

For the first time, Disney World guests will be able to book the “Free Dining”, and upgrade to the Disney Deluxe Dining for the normal price difference, which is $31 for adults and $10 for children three to nine. The Wine and Dine option is also available at full price to add onto either the Basic or Deluxe dining plans.

Availability is extremely limited, and must be booked by June 22, 2008. To receive the Disney VISA cardholder discount, you must pay your deposit at time of booking with your Disney VISA, and you must pay the balance with your Disney VISA card as well, when due. As a reminder, this exact discount will be released on April 10 to the general public without the Disney VISA requirements.

We have taken advantage of this offer the last two years, and we are doing it again this year. Fortunately, we booked it through a special promotion last year while we were still there, so we are already locked in. If you are interested, you should jump on it right away. You won’t find a better deal for Disney World anywhere. It’s awesome to be able to go and not worry about having to pay for your food. That’s one of the biggest expenses while you are there.

There is a difference this year than in previous years. Your table service meals no longer include an appetizer, and you have to pay your own gratuity (18%). In previous years, all of this was included in the plan. It’s still a great deal, though. If you want to book a trip, I highly recommend Joe at Dream Come True Vacations. He only books Disney vacations, and he is extremely knowledgeable about the complicated aspects of a Disney World vacations.

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Here’s a short review of our trip…
We left Athens at 4AM on Friday morning, the day before the race. We got to Disney World a little before 12PM. We went straight to Disney’s Wide World of Sports for the Expo. You have to go there before 8PM on Friday night to pick up your bib, shoe sensor and race packet. There were literally thousands of people there. It was unbelievable. They actually did a really good job managing that size of crowd. After wondering around a while, we finally found where we were supposed to go first. When we got up there, the lines were about 50 people long. Fortunately, they were divided up by number, and our number had three people in line. It was awesome. We walked right up and got our packet within 5 minutes.
From there, we went over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to eat at one of our favorite restaurants on property, Mama Melrose’s. We had a little bit of time before our 5PM reservation, so we rode the Tower of Terror, Rockin’ Roller Coaster and saw the Beauty and the Beast stage show. We showed up at 4:30PM for our reservation, and they sat us right away. As always, the food was great. We filled up on carbs with breads and pastas and and our way back to the condo we were renting off property. Since we got up at 4AM, we were tired and were actually in bed and asleep by 8PM (with a little help from some NyQuil).
The three alarms I set all went off at 3AM. Since we got to bed so early, we got a full night’s sleep and felt pretty good. We got up, and made it to the Epcot parking lot a little after 4AM. Again, we could not believe the amount of people running this thing. I’ve heard that 16,000 people where participating. Then the waiting began. They herded us from location to location until the 6AM start time. All in all it was about 2 miles worth of walking just to get to the start line. At 6 AM, the first set of fireworks went off and wave 1 started the race. We were in wave 3, so our fireworks went off at 6:30AM, and we crossed the start line a little after that.
Like I wrote in the previous post, it was very crowded. We definitely had to run slower than we wanted to because of the amount of people and all the walkers. I found out later that when you register for the race, the time you say you think you will finish in in the wave they put you in. When I registered, I wasn’t running at all, so I just put 3 hrs. This put us with all the walkers. I won’t do that again.
I felt really good after the race. We ran at a slow pace, and it was fun running around Disney World. Jackie felt OK, but her knees were really bothering her. We went back to the condo, and she rested the rest of the day. I went back to the parks and just took it all in that afternoon. For the rest of the trip, we just slept in and enjoyed walking around the parks, seeing attractions and eating together. It was a really nice trip without the boys. We concluded that Disney World is funner with kids, but it is much more relaxing without them.
There were 2 highlights of our time together after the marathon. On Sunday night, we ate dinner at the Kona Cafe at The Polynesian Resort. The dinner was very good, and aftewards, we walked out on their beach and watched the Wishes fireworks show over the castle at the Magic Kingdom. They even pipe in the audio there in the beach it was very cool. The second highlight of our trip was Tuesday night. We went to Epcot and ate dinner at Le Cellier Steakhouse. It is by far our favorite restaurant on property. They have an awesome cheddar cheese soup, the steaks are great, and they have a smores dessert that we both love. After the meal, we walked right out the door and watched Illuminations together over World Showcase. It was a great end to our trip.
On Wednesday, we headed home. I’m not sure if I’m going to run another race at Disney World, but I definitely want to run a full marathon soon. I’m going to do some research and see if there’s a good one close that I can run.

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We did it! It was a lot of fun, and it felt good to accomplish our goal. There were A LOT of people there, so it made it hard to keep a steady pace. We even had to wait in line to use the bathroom during the race. Overall, though, it was a good first race for us. I’ll write more details later, but for now, here are some pictures of us.
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It’s here

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Well, back in April of 2007 Jackie and I decided that we would run the Disney World Half Marathon in 2008. It’s hard to believe it is finally here. We will be leaving early Friday morning to run the race- it begins at 6AM on Saturday morning. We have worked very hard to train for it, and I think we are ready. It’s going to be a lot of fun to do this together.

The race begins in the Epcot parking lot, goes up World Drive, through the Magic Kingdom and back to Epcot. You can view the race map here.

They recently sent out the marathon guide which I didn’t get for some reason, so I have just been looking at the online version. It looks like a very well organized event.

I’m sure I will have some posts about our experiences when we get back.

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Cheap Airfare

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I’m always on the look out for good deals, and I came across one the other day that I was not aware of.  Allegiant Air was not an airline that I had heard of.  It’s apparently pretty small, but they fly out of Greenville, SC.  Living in Athens, GA, flying out of Greenville is actually quicker than flying out of Atlanta.  It takes about the same time to drive there, and Greenville is a much easier airport to use.  Greenville to Orlando, FL is a route that I am interested in for obvious reasons, and they have flights for $39 each way.  Flights are pretty limited, but if you timed a trip to Orlando right, you could save a lot of money in airfare.  They also offer travel packages, but that must be where they are making their money because they aren’t nearly as good a deal.  Make sure to choose “flight only” when you do a search.  There are other cities they fly to as well.

One word of caution, they fly into a smaller airport in Orlando, so you can’t use Disney’s Magical Express service (free transportation to and from the airport).  If you have a large family, though, it would still be cheaper to fly using Allegiant and getting a shuttle to your hotel.  If you plan to rent a car anyway, then there is no problem.

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See it Again

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So, you should know by now that I am a big Disney fan. I’m actually not usually a big fan of the live action stuff they do- it’s normally stuff targeted to tweens, but the Pirates of the Caribbean movies have been an exception. They are a lot of fun, and I have loved them.

So, on opening weekend of the newest movie “At World’s End” I went to see the Thursday evening early preview that they offered. I must say, that night I liked the movie, but I didn’t love it. It was fun and action packed, but it was a little hard to follow. The plot was very complicated and the movie was very long.

In the following weeks and read and heard a lot of people talk about some of the details of the movie. I found out that I actually missed a lot on the first viewing. So, I decided to give it another try. The guys in our Community Group all went out together to see it, so I got to see it a second time.

On the second viewing, my view of the movie completely changed. The complicated plot made sense, so I just got to sit back and enjoy the movie instead of worrying about putting all the pieces together. So, I really think that this is a movie that you have to see at least twice to really appreciate it. the special effects are amazing, the acting is really good, there is some beautiful cinematography and it’s just fun. I plan to go see it a third time when it come to our dollar theater.

Anyway, if you saw the movie and didn’t really love it, try watching it again. You might find that it’s a movie you really enjoy.

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Half Marathon

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Well, we have been talking about it for a while, and we have finally made it official. Jackie and I have registered to run a half marathon on January 12, 2008. And where else would I choose to run it? Disney World. That weekend is marathon weekend at the parks. Apparently it’s a pretty big deal. People come from all over the world to participate. There is a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday. They also do a thing called Goofy’s race and a half challenge where you run both. The race goes around Disney World property and you actually run through the parks, so that’s pretty cool. Here is the web page with all the details:

2008 Walt Disney World Half Marathon

I have been running lately, so I am on my way in my training for it. We have 8 months to train, so we should be in good shape to do it. I’ve lost some weight, but my goal is to lose 15 more pounds over the next couple of months. If I do that, I think it will be less difficult for me. Right now, I can run 3 miles in a half hour pretty easily. Trainers recommend that you just gradually increase your running, so I’ll take it slow since I have so long to prepare. This is a big step for me in trying to live more healthily. Since the beginning of this year, I have been doing pretty good about eating right and exercising regularly. Hopefully, this will be a further motivation to make it a lifelong lifestyle change for me.

As a reward for all of our hard work, we will be staying at the parks for a few days after the race. It will be just Jackie and me, so it should be a lot of fun. How could I be at Walt Disney World and not go to the parks? I’ll keep you updated in my training. I’d appreciate any encouragement you could throw my way!

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Meet the Robinson’s

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A couple of weeks ago, I went on a “Daddy Date” with my youngest son, Seth.  We went to see Disney’s newest animated feature “Meet the Robinsons.”  I was pleasantly surprised to see that our local theater was playing the movie in “Disney Digital 3-D.”  Movie theaters have to buy special equipment to show it in this format, so I was surprised the market here was big enough to support the investment.  So, Seth and I went to check it out.  Upon arriving to buy our tickets, i was surprised to find out that the move had a $2 up-charge because it was being shown with this technology.  That being the case, my ticket cost $9.75 and Seth’s was $7.75.  After buying Seth his kiddie pack (popcorn, Sprite and fruit snacks), we were invested well over $20.  A small price to pay for an evening with my son, though.

The movie itself was fun.  It’s definitely not the best Disney has produced, but it was fast paced, funny and actually had a really good story-line.  It is a pretty complicated story, so I know Seth didn’t understand the plot completely.  He still loved the movie.  His favorite part is in the trailer of the movie.  The t-rex chases the boy into a corner and can’t get to him because “his head is too big and his arms are too small.”  We have reenacted that part many times.  It’s definitely a movie parents and kids can enjoy together.

The thing that I was most impressed with was the 3-D technology.  When we bought our tickets, they gave us pretty nice plastic 3-D glasses.  They were not the old blue and red ones, the lenses were grey.  Unfortunately, they only had one size, so I think Seth’s were pretty uncomfortable for him.  They probably need to offer a kid’s size.  The picture is completely digital, so the picture was beautiful.  The colors were vibrant and the images were very crisp.  The 3-D part is not used for the old 3-D tricks of throwing stuff at you.  While there are things that appear to come out into the audience, the major use was to add depth to the movie.  It really added a “realistic” feel when watching the movie.  This new technology, too, does not give you a headache.  I watched the whole thing with no discomfort at all.  The rain scenes are really incredible.  It looks like it is raining in the theater.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie.  I would normally recommend waiting for the DVD on a movie like this, but with the 3-D technology, I would highly recommend a trip to the theater.  It really is an amazing way to watch the movie.

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