Jul 11

EPCOT Holiday Storytellers

During the holiday season one of the special events is that each country pavillion has a storyteller who tells the story of their holiday.  Most are Christmas centered stories, but a few are not related to Christmas.  Terye and I went to the shows in Mexico, United Kingdom, China, Morocco, and Italy.

In China we saw the story of the Monkey King, as I write this months later, I don’t remember much aside from it was the story of new years.  But, I do remember it was hot sitting in the sun and the actor was sweating a lot.  But you wouldn’t have known it from his performance, it was excellent.  Very lively and passionate.

 

Next up was the Three Kings in Mexico, this performance had 3 performers – the 3 kings and the story of Epiphany.  This was another great performance. 

 

In the United Kingdom there was Father Christmas.  He was very sweet and even brought a child up to help him ring his bells. 

In Italy we learned the story of La Befana, a witch and about Epiphany.  This was probably my favorite of the performances, La Befana was very animated and her story was fun. 

 

The show I enjoyed the least was in Morocco.  I’m not sure if the actor was maybe a little less intense then the others, if i was just tired and seated too far away or if it’s because I already knew about Ramadan.  It wasn’t a bad show, but so many of the other story tellers were so good thatt this paled in comparison. 

To find out about show times check the times guide for Epcot.  If would not be possible to see all the shows in one day, but they are often spaced that you could see 2 or 3 in a row.  There was not much seating at the spots where the shows are done, so be prepared to stand or sit on the ground for the show. 

I do think these are a nice way to learn about holiday traditions, the shows are typically only about 10 minutes, well performed and even the ones revolving around Christmas talk about traditions that may not be celebrated by all Christians. My suggestion would be to see at least one or two that are non-Christmas related, so as to branch out and learn about a whole different culture.

This year I hope to see a few more of these shows.

Jun 27

The Ghost of Christmas Present

One of the many things I enjoy at Disney World are the Streetmospheres, the “actors” who go around parks and do impromptu (though I’m sure they’re planned, they are impromptu for most guests) shows.

Guest Scrooge

Last December while shopping in the United Kingdom the Streetmospheres started a show called, A Christmas Carol.  It was hysterical.

Instead of featuring Bob Cratchit, they featured Bob Skratchit, I think he was allergic to something too.  And typical of streetmospheres, they did not have enough people in their crew and borrowed some from the crowd.

The Skratchit Family

The story was pretty much the same, though the ghosts may have been switched out to help with the pop culture aspect of the show.

Ghost of Christmas Past 
Ghost of Christmas Future

 I can’t give away the humor, in part because that’s mean and in part because I know it can change a bit from show to show.  But I do highly recommend watching this one if you see it.

Jun 13

Candlelight Processional

My favorite Christmas activity at Disney World is the Candlelight Processional at Epcot.  For 2012 it starts on November 23 and goes through December 30.

The event is held at the American Garden’s Theatre at the American Pavilion.  It is the telling of the Christmas Story accompanied by a choir and orchestra.  They have celebrity narrators to do the story telling, the night I went it was Edward James Olmos here is a youtube link for one of his performances in 2009, he was really wonderful and brought the story to life. The choir was fabuous too!  In high school I sang Hallelujah Chorus a gazillion times, but I never appreciated it until that night.

I did the event as part of the dinner package, an expensive way to guarantee a seat without waiting on line for a long time.  Terye and I ate at Via Napoli, which was delicious and then headed onto the line about 45 minutes to an hour before.  The line was already pretty long, but the seating wasn’t bad.  I wouldn’t recommend getting there any later then that if you can help it.

For those who do not participate in the dining package you must get there very early, particularly if there is a big name doing the narration, like Neil Patrick Harris.  Although the pavilion is large,  you may have to wait through full performances to get in.

For 2011 (and it appears that for 2012 too), in addition to the guaranteed seating for the Candlelight Processional you also got access to a special area to view Illuminations.  This was a nice perk, but not great.  Terye and I got there about an hour early and all the “front row” standing was taken and then we still had to wait an hour.  But it was better then fighting for a spot too.  Plus the area is closer to the front of the park so you can beat the rush out of the park.

If this is a must do activity, I recommend doing the dinner package.  And I do think this is a must do event if you are at Disney during the Holidays.

You can find me on Twitter at: @Travelingiraffe

Feb 15

Disney World Tours

On my last trip to Disney World in October of 2008 Terye and I did two tours. The first was the Keys to the Kingdom tour, the second was a Segway Tour of World Showcase at EPCOT.

The Keys to the Kingdom tour is a 4 and a half hour tour where you learn some of the secrets of Walt Disney World (primarily the Magic Kingdom) and get to see some backstage stuff at the park. The tour starts on Main Street and our guide, Johnnie, showed us some of the names in the windows and told us the origins of those names. We learned about the 4 “keys” – Safety, Show, Courtesy, and Efficiency. Here are some examples of these: Safety – when they do bag checks at the park entrance they are looking for glass (among other things) – glass cuts people when it breaks. Courtesy – You’ll notice that cast members use a 2 fingered point, it’s apparently friendlier then the one fingered point. Show – cast members use the Utiladoors to move from land to land at the Magic Kingdom, you’ll never see a cast member from Fronteir Land in Tomorrow Land. Efficiency – you’ll notice that menues have limited choices at the parks and resorts, it makes it easier and faster for you to choose your meal. We went backstage in the area between Adventure Land and Fronteir Land. This is the area where they keep and service parade floats – we got to see many of the parade floats being tested. We got to ride Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, and had a nice lunch at Harbor House. At the end of the tour we finally got to see the Utilador, which was very exciting. There is a whole network of underground tunnels under the Magic Kingdom which allows cast members and stuff to move around the park without being seen. They’re similar to something you would go through if you worked at a major sporting arena (that’s the best example I have since I worked in one,) but with just a little bit of a Disney flare to it. An interesting fact for all you recyclers out there. Although Disney does not have recycling bins in the parks, they do sort all garbage by hand, so rest assured that your cans will be recycled.

It was a great tour, Terye and I really did enjoy it. It was a little over 4 and a half hours. It does involve a fair amount of walking, but we did have many breaks from the walking, sometimes with the chance to sit down. If anyone is interested in the tour though I suggest doing it after you have spent a day or two in the Magic Kingdom so that you can better enjoy the tour.

The following day we did the Around the World on a Segway tour at EPCOT’S World Showcase. This is a 2 hour tour. The first hour is spent learning to ride a Segway, which is a lot of fun. The next hour you get a guided tour of World Showcase with one break in the middle. We rode through most of the “countries” and got some tidbits of infomation about them. It was nice to get to see World Showcase without people in it, you could appreciate things a little more, too bad we weren’t able to take pictures while riding the Segways. The Segways were sooooo much fun to ride. I wanted one after the tour, though I don’t think one would be very useful in my regular life. I will warn that they really do kill the feet and legs. You can’t really move your feet around when you’re on the segway since you use your legs and feet to control it. Although I wanted to go longer on it, I don’t think my feet could do much more. Next time I’ll have to try the Segway tour at Fort Wilderness.