MALEFICENT TAKES THE BIG SCREEN AGAIN.. PERHAPS FOR THE FINAL TIME?

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Although Maleficent is labelled the mistress of evil there is really only one Evil Queen in this movie: Michelle Pfeiffer. While she is definitely evil, an actress such as Pfeiffer could certainly have expanded her mean girl role a bit.  At 61, she still looks amazing but I would have liked her to have done more as the evil queen.  She and Angelina are definitely powerful enemies and a fitting match! But they should have had more time on the screen together. 

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I still can’t figure out what kingdom it’s supposed to be, as there was no mention of this kingdom in the first movie. It was never made clear. At the beginning of the movie, we have fast forwarded five years after the first Maleficent story. A new actor plays Prince Phillip,  Although they meet very formally as friends, it becomes clear that he has been dating Queen Aurora, Queen of the Moors. A wedding is set into play.  It turns out that Aurora left her original castle to the people and never looked back. Kind of strange way of tying it all together. 

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Thinking they will be waltzing once upon a dream? Think again. 

Although it starts off as a fairytale, this isn’t your average fairytale. It quickly becomes action packed, with both Maleficent’s and fairy lives at risk. One of the best parts? Maleficent learns more about her ancestry, which is really really eye catching. 

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And of course, there are hints of the original Sleeping Beauty Tale, more so in this version than the first. 

Kid factor: nothing permanently scarring. One scary scene. No foul language. If your kids saw the first movie they are probably okay to see the second. It is not your average kids Disney movie. 

Getting Cooky with the Addams Family

The first horror family of the big screen re-VAMPed their look this weekend in a new 3-D animated feature film. 

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While originally concerned that this might not be the best movie for young kids, I quickly realized as the movie went on that this movie was ONLY a movie for young kids. Kids love the mysterious and spooky Addams family and can relate to Wednesday’s adventure into unknown Junior High. 

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Adults, however, can sit and try and close their eyes, until snapping inevitably wakes them up. 

 

Luckily for the adults, even though the Addams family original sitcom ran for 64 episodes in 1964, this movie is only an hour and a half long. Adults might be more interested in recognizing the detailed animation, which is very close to the original Charles Addams cartoons. 

 

Definitely good for the kids, though!

Wondering what lies OUTSIDE of Disney? Wondering if anything exists besides Disney? Florida does have more than theme parks. But for today we will discuss the OTHER theme park, the one that is just a few miles away from Disney, and can often be reached in just fifteen minutes. 

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Of course, staying at Universal is quite easy. If you were to stay at Universal (just as if you were staying at Disney), a free shuttle would take you to one of the three Universal theme parks: Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay. That would mean you would be investing in a Universal vacation and abandoning Disney altogether (and here, we don’t recommend that – there is just too much fun to be had!). 

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If staying at Disney, you can rent a car and drive it to Universal (not my recommendation) or take an Uber, Lyft, or shuttle. The average uber/lyft cost from Disney World to Universal’s drop off point is about $18. Mears Transportation will shuttle you from your hotel to Universal and back for $21. Pickup and return times are at your convenience. To schedule a shuttle, call 855-463-2776. Just remember that the shuttle appears to possibly be more expensive as it is Per Person. 

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Another factor? The age of kids/adults who are planning the trip. Not all the rides at Universal are appropriate for young kids. In fact, most people say it’s best to be 8+ to enjoy everything that Universal has to offer. Disney seems to be most appropriate for ALL ages, including the very young and the very old. 

That being said, the Universal Studios child switch program goes well beyond a shorter wait time with wonderful child switch rooms. Located near the ride entrances of several ‘big kid’ attractions with height requirements of at least 40 inches (think: Spider Man, Fast and Furious, Harry Potter Escape from Gringotts, Reign of Kong and several others), these rooms have TVs and cozy seating. One parent can comfortably wait here with the little kids while the other enjoys the ride.

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That being said, Universal is much easier to get around for families. You can easily walk around all three theme parks without having to take shuttles, trains, boats or skylines.  The choice is yours!

 

Why does Disney Like ‘Em Apples So Much?

Has anyone else noticed the bag of Disney apples at Costco? The organic Galas with the Mickey designs? What is it with Disney and Apples? 

Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? Or will it possibly put you in a sleep-like death? 

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The Poison Apple is blood red and magic,  which, when bitten, will send its victim into the Sleeping Death. One who eats the Poison Apple A victim will only be revived by love’s first kiss. It is used by the Witch in an attempt to get rid of Snow White, in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It is also well-known as her trademark object.

The Poison Apple is also used in House of Mouse, and labelled “Sleeping Apples”. It has been used in Enchanted, Once Upon a Time, Descendants and Ralph Breaks the Internet. 

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Now, wherever we go, when we see an apple, we think “be careful, it could be poison”. … and it very well might be, so be careful. 

 

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL

“Evil” and “Fairy” don’t usually go hand in hand, unless you are Maleficent, Lana Del Rey’s version of Once Upon a Dream is very Evil Fairy – and completely suits the very first Disney Villain to ever have her first live action film series. 

Before she turned evil, Maleficent was protector of the Moors, guarding her land from human invaders. Her heart turned to stone and she proclaimed herself Mistress of All Evil when she was not invited to Princess Aurora’s christening. She then cursed the princess to “”prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die” before the sun sets on Aurora’s sixteenth birthday

She was  originally made to resemble a vampire bat with a long, narrow chin, arched eyebrows and a smile that’s more sinister than her scowl. She carries a staff and can disappear into a puff of green smoke. She has minions and a pet raven and lives in a a scary, gothic castle.

In the movie, Maleficent’s horns are made with Leather, Python and Stingray Horn Wraps. Her outfit was meant to be as frightening as possible and that is why her collar represents the wings of a bat and her horns are meant to remind people of the devil. 

Looking for Maleficent’s weakness? It’s iron. 

In the second film, watch out for Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays Aurora’s evil stepmother Queen Ingrith- and a worthy adversary for Maleficent. Angelina vs Michelle. Who will win?

You have approximately two weeks to watch the first movie if you haven’t seen it yet. The new movie is released in theaters on October 18, 2019. 

Looking for Maleficent at Disney?  Walt Disney World Resort, guests can spot a steampunk-inspired Maleficent Dragon in the Festival of Fantasy parade. Maleficent stretches 53 feet from snout to tail and reaches 26 feet in the air! She can also be found on Halloween alongside the Evil Queen and sometimes Aurora.  At the Magic Kingdom (both California and Florida), she can be found in Fantasyland.  She appears in several shows, including Fantastic. 

 

 

THE GALAXY IS FINALLY AT DISNEY WORLD

We didn’t make our usual August trip his year.. so opening day we created our own galaxy at home. Here’s what others are saying about the new Star Wars World at Disney World. 

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photo credit: Orlando Sentinel

The Orlando Sentinel reports 5 hour plus lines and huge crowds. While I was thinking we would have to arrive at the gates by 5 to get in, crowds began forming outside of Hollywood Studios as early as 3:30am on August 29, 2019. 

At 4:45am, Disney opened the Hollywood Studio gates to allow the building crowd to move forward. 

There are no advance reservations. Some lucky people (probably the 3:30am crowd) were able to get right on the Millennium Falcon. Others waited 5 hours to try the ride. By the end of the day, the wait time for the ride was only 75 minutes. Rise of the Resistance, the second Star Wars World Ride, opens on December 5, 2019. My understanding is that there will be no fast passes allowed for Star Wars rides in the near future. 

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There are cool snacks and delicacies to sample, including blue milk (milk with coconut, pineapple, and a little watermelon). And if you want to stock up on souvenirs, feel free to buy a bunch of Coca Cola. TSA recently released a statement saying that the thermal detonator-style Coca Cola products sold at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge were not allowed on carry-on or checked luggage due to their resemblance to actual explosives. 

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The policy has now changed. 

Per the Orlando Sentinel:

It’s OK to fly home with the Coca-Cola cans shaped like thermal detonators sold at Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge, TSA said Friday. People who want to take them home as souvenirs should put them in checked baggage or empty the cans and stick them in a carry-on item, the TSA said.

The Transportation Security Administration, which handles security at airports, had been reviewing its policy after online posts saying the cans were banned went viral. On Friday, TSA issued a new statement, saying, “We have completed our review, and instructed our officers to treat these as an oversized liquid.”

Good news for some!

 

And if you aren’t able to make the grand opening and don’t feel like dealing with crowds, all you need to do is make a cake (black/white)(dark side/jedi), decorate, put on some costumes. And you will almost feel like you are at Disney World. 

A Peek at Captain Hook’s Pirate Crew

Who needs a babysitter when you can leave your kids (ages 4 to 12) with a pirate with a hook for a hand? 

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He comes with excellent references and will watch your kids from 5:00 to 8:30pm at just $55 per child (price includes dinner). Parents are welcome to drop their kids off as early as 4:30pm at the Seaside Retreat at Disney’s Beach Club.  Dinner is served between 715 and 745. 

Upon entering Pirate Hideaway, seasoned members of Captain Hook’s crew will assist you in the first, most crucial step towards becoming a pirate—receiving your pirate name. Next, they’ll teach you the many skills crucial to life on the high seas such as talking like a pirate, swabbing the deck and singing sea chanties!

Captain Hook himself will be checking in to examine progress and get kids started on their first treasure hunt. Kids will solve puzzles and gather clues on land before setting sail along Crescent Lake. Yes. They do set sail. Apparently there are enough Disney Cast Members to ensure kid safety. All kids are required to wear life vests. Captain Hook isn’t the only one who should be scared of the crocodiles.

While subject to change, the menu features several entrees, including Cannon Meatballs with Marinara and Macaroni and Gold Sauce—as well as the Treasure Chest Treat or fruit for dessert.

If you’re worried about leaving your kids with a pirate, teach them what to do in case they are forced to walk the plank and they will be fine. My plan, I’ll be teaching my kids what to do in the events things turn for the worse for them while I make a reservation for a nice restaurant to go to while they are on their pirate adventure. 

Disney World has gone to the dogs

Planning on bringing your dog to Walt Disney World? Be sure to book a stay at one of the parks’ pet-friendly resorts. While there’s an additional fee for pets — between $50-$75 per night — the pet accommodations may make yours and your dog’s life much easier! (There’s a maximum of two dogs per guest room). 

Here are Disney’s dog-friendly resorts:

  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
  • Cabins at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort

No word yet on whether Disney’s magical express will accommodate canines. 

Disney has pet walkways and green spaces at all of their pet-friendly hotels. In the event that your dog “really has to go”, don’t worry. All pet-friendly rooms are located near the walkways and green spaces.

Service dogs are allowed at any park or resort as long as there is a leash and a harness. They can wait in line with owners and can even go on some rides – they don’t even need a ticket!

For those that do not wish to bring your dog to the Disney hotel, or for those who don’t want to leave your pet alone for too long, there is a Best Friend’s Pet Care just outside Disney – Go to their website directly to learn more. Rates range from $44/night for basic indoor stay with two walks to $109/night for the VIP treatment. 

We have used the Best Friend’s chain in Westchester. It is the only place I have ever felt comfortable leaving my dog for an extended stay. There were opportunities to view him online through a webcam, daily pictures sent to me, and lots of treats and even tv for our pet. I’ve heard Disney’s Best Friend’s location is just as great. Are you an annual pass holder? If so, take advantage of the discount that Best Friend’s pet hotel offers pass holders. 

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these Dalmatians would need at least 5 rooms, since there is a limit of two dogs per room.

The reason we haven’t brought our furry friend is because we do not want to put him through the stress of plane travel, and then staying in an unfamiliar place, when we have a great pet sitter at home. It is just not worth the stress and extra costs.

Most domestic pets are allowed on a plane if they are 20 pounds or less. Be sure to check with your plane carrier for their specific rules. 

Still wish to bring your furry friend? Be sure to either mail his usual food to the resort ahead of time (via Amazon, the resort will hold packages), or bring his food with you to avoid extra sickness and accidents. Bring bags for waste and plenty of treats!

 

Disney World Annual Pass and Star Wars Land: Figuring out the “Perks”

For months Disney has been advertising exclusive “perks” for those fans interested in seeing Star Wars Land IMMEDIATELY!

They have been pushing Annual Passes as the only way to view those perks. 

Platinum, Platinum Plus and Premier Passholders were told they would have the opportunity for an out-of-this-world adventure at the all-new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! This was to happen during an Annual Passholder preview—select times from August 17 to August 21, 2019. Notice that Silver and Gold Passholders are NOT mentioned here. Forget about the fact that theses passes are only about 100 dollars less and still cost a pretty penny. 

Passes raised in prices – they jumped more than $200 and now ring in at over $1,000 per year. The Disney Platinum Plus Pass now costs $1,219.00+ tax and the Disney Platinum Pass now costs $1,119.00+ tax. Although Florida residents and Disney Vacation Club members have options to other less expensive annual pass options, most of those increased in price as well.  Again, is it worth it? 

I would love to see the data on how many people signed up for Annual Passes after this announcement. Not every Annual Passholder gets this opportunity, it is limited and was only no a first come, first served basis. The booking window is now booked solid. 

What does that mean for the rest of us? Passholders and Non-Passholders alike? Supposedly, No special reservations will be needed to enter Walt Disney World’s Star Wars land on August 29. You can imagine what the lines will be like… I can even see people sleeping outside the gates of Hollywood Studios, can’t you? 

Disney World is offering Special Extra Magic Hours and opening Disney Hollywood Studios at 6am each morning through November 2 for its on-site hotel guests, giving them a three-hour head start each day on visiting the Black Spire Outpost before the park opens to all ticket-holders at 9am. But Disney World will open the early access to the land to all guests at 6am for its first three days of operation: August 29-31, 2019.

So, it seems as if that from August 29-August 31 there will be no easy way to see Star Wars Land. You just need to be at the opening gate to Hollywood Studios, ready to go, at 6am. 

Still haven’t seen Star Wars? Check out this 7 minute video to recap the series: 

Will you feel the love tonight?Yes, you still will if you see the new Lion King!

During this past heat wave, we escaped to the movie theater to see THE LION KING! The theater was packed, and full of laughter and singing as all the new jokes and familiar songs began.

Should you see it? Yes. Should you plan on being surprised? Don’t hold your breath. The story is exactly the same, there are no surprise endings. The movie is, in fact, only different a few times with a few extra jokes. There is one extra song. Quite frankly, I expected a bit more heart from Beyonce’s role. 

Compared to the new Aladdin remake, in which Will Smith amazed as the Genie, even as a cartoon, Beyonce did not do anything “extra” with her role as Nala.  I wasn’t thrilled there. The new songs can’t compare to the original Lion King soundtrack. This video, before is much better than the way it sounds and appears in the movie. Perhaps the song should have been played differently. 

But, the graphics, compared to the original movie, are astounding. They bring a lot to the movie. Pride Rock (which really exists as a real and massive rock in the Pride Lands) and all of the lands around it are beautifully depicted. The film as an astonishing CGI style, that itself was thrilling. 

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Definitely see the movie, especially during a heat wave. And make sure you see the previews, which includes a few Disney films: Maleficent 2 being one that I will definitely see!