Toy Story Theory – Andy’s Mom

I’d like to take a second to tell everyone that is expanding a little bit as of today.  I am adding in a YouTube channel to talk about Disney movies, theories, plot holes, and other such fun tidbits.  A lot of my videos will be based on blog posts that I’ve already written (but, lets face it, people are more likely to listen to me talk in the background for ten minutes rather than read something I’ve typed out on here).

I just posted my first video, which is a further exploration of a Super Carlin Brothers video about where Andy’s father is in Toy Story.  Instead of typing all of my points out, I’ll just leave you with the video for now!  Please enjoy!


And if you aren’t already subsccribed to the Super Carlin Brothers, you can find the video that promoted me to make this video here:

The Force Awakens – But I Still Have Questions











So, I took some mental notes while watching The Force Awakens that I wanted to share while it is still relevant.  AGAIN, do not read if you have not seen the movie yet!  It is spoiler rich!


  1. The music seems 90% recycled or refurbished to fit the new film.  We played a lot of Star Wars music in my middle school band, so, it’s ingrained in my brain to notice that.
  2. About a week ago I posted on the Is Luke Evil Now theory, where it was suspected that he was Kylo Ren.  The theory was very, very good and well argued, but, alas, it did not happen.   It seems like we fell for the trap that the director wanted us to fall for with his classic misdirection!
  3. I like that the film shook up some gender/diversity roles by having Fin (the black dude) and Rey (the young white woman in all the previews).
  4. Rey is clearly the person the Force Awakens in, so I expect her to be the daughter of someone important (since her family’s identity was never revealed).
  5. Rey was totally great, but Fin felt like he was borderline retarded and overly loyal for no logical reason.  Now, Fin was a Storm Trooper who just decided to bail on his job, so maybe he was just clinging to whoever said a kind word to him, but he seemed ready to jump into danger over people he had known for only a few hours (at best).  So perhaps that accounts for why he seemed kind of slow too, but I couldn’t help but repeatedly think to myself “is he this dumb because he’s a Trooper or because he’s black?  WHAT are they trying to say?!”
  6. Jakku is clearly a discount Tatooine so why bother to make a new planet that feels exactly the same instead of just setting the beginning on the familiar planet to begin with?
  7. Is Rey a slave that works for food, or did she work off her slave debt and now she works for food to survive?  I mean, if this was going to be a Watto situation, and we have no timeline for the lifespan of most aliens in Star Wars, then, again, why not just use Tatooine and Watto and let all the prequel haters groan a little?
  8. Why does Rey care about BB-8?  She immediately befriends the machine for no good reason.
  9. Fin gaining his own identity and rebelling against his Storm Trooper training made no sense.  If they are trained and conditioned, why did he appear to regain his personal ability to think for himself after seeing one fallen comrade?
  10. The New Order lost the one Storm Trooper in history who can actually hit his target.
  11. Why does Fin assume Poe died when no body was present?
  12. When Poe reappears, why do we hear Fin’s side of what happened at the crash, which we already saw, but we hear nothing about how Poe escaped or got back to the Alliance?
  13. When Fin ejects from the Tie Fighter he wakes up sweaty. You actually can’t sweat in a desert like that, the moisture is so low that the sun evaporates it before you ever had a clue you were sweating.  The Storm Trooper helmets, though, should have caused very sweaty heads. Ever have a Halloween costume with a plastic face mask on a string?  You were ready to throw it away half way through the night because you were so sweaty, now imagine your whole face stuck like that.
  14. How in the heck did Han Solo get his ship stolen from him, and he could track it so quickly after it was in space, yet he couldn’t find it for anywhere from 1-30 years while it was parked in a pretty desolate desert?  Didn’t they have to turn the thing on to get it to the junker’s place?
  15. How is the Falcon still running?  The thing looks half ripped apart and rusted when Rey takes it.
  16. Why does Rey keep calling Luke and Han myths?  The Empire collapsed 30 years ago, not 500 – how is this old enough to be mythology already?  Kids these days… *sigh*
  17. So, anyone can use lightsabers?  Not just Jedis?  A close range weapon seems like a really poor choice in an age where blasters can hit people from across the room.  So, since Fin can wield a lightsaber does that mean that we should stop assuming that anyone with a lightsaber is a Jedi?  I guess so…
  18. I’d love more information on how this new Storm Trooper recruitment policy.  The hinted at thing was that kids are abducted and raised to be soldiers, but, wouldn’t that have hugely negative side effects and cause people everywhere to revolt more and more against the First Order?  They don’t say they take orphans or accept recruits like an Army, but they are no longer clones and are “taken from families.”  It’s confusing as to why anyone thought this was a good plan when they purchased/custom made the last batch of Troopers.
  19. Our big baddy, Kylo Ren, is quickly revealed to be Ben Solo, Han and Leia’s son who went Jedi training and went to the Sith side.  But the kid looks nothing like either parent – more like Anakin cloned himself through his daughter somehow.
  20. Kylo Ren removes his helmet way too much – is the point not to help hide his identity (which I’m sure would be tarnished if his lineage were well known in the First Order)?  Ren doesn’t need the helmet to breath, and it seems very heavy (symbolic for carrying on Vader’s legacy), so if he doesn’t want to keep it on, why the heck does he even have it?
  21. For that matter, why does the First Order want a moody kid as their frontman again?  He seems to not be fully converted, and is repeatedly chastised by Snoke, yet, Ren is the face of this new Empire.
  22. Is there no couple’s counseling in space?  It seems like Han and Leia should have really been working their crap out instead of doing their default jobs from Episode IV.
  23. Is Leia not a Jedi too at this stage?  I get she may not have done the training, but if she is Luke’s twin, it stands to reason that she should also have at least minimal force powers without going into full Jedi training.
  24. When Rey touches Luke’s old lightsaber, she gets a vision of his robot hand transmitting information to R2-D2, yet she doesn’t get the actual information, nor does she see where Luke went (that would be too useful, I guess?).
  25. Right before that scene – how does BB-8 get down those stairs?  I was ready to see him do some awesome twirl/climb with his wire-thingys, but alas, he goes from top-of-stairs to bottom-of-stairs with zero gratification…
  26. All of these planets get blown up, quickly, and yet the audience is left with no emotional feeling towards it.  That action doesn’t even really push the plot forward, it’s just a nice visual effect to show the Empire’s power levels needlessly.  We don’t even know what planets just exploded – anything we happen to be familiar with?  Fans would like to know!
  27. Rey has an obscene amount of Jedi powers that she learns to work very quickly and without training.  Luke couldn’t do anything until Obi Wan told him that he could, but Rey seems to break all the rules and master everything on her own – which means she’s either got all the midichlorians (sp?) left in the universe coursing through her veins, or every other Jedi who went through training courses completely wasted their time.
  28. Harrison Ford either agreed to return for only “one more Star Wars movie,” or else Han Solo is not dead.  I did not get enough visual or emotional closure to feel anything when that scene happened, so I am skeptical that it’s all that meets the eye.
  29. Was Kylo Ren really conflicted, or was that just a ruse to get Han Solo close?  If Ren is wavering, again, seems like a weird person to have in such a powerful position.
  30. Did Rey chop off Kylo Ren’s hand?  It wasn’t highlighted enough to tell for certain. I thought I saw his head come off too, but I was mistaken.
  31. Why are the baddies still using Tie Fighters and the goodies still flying X-Wings?  These are iconic vehicles, and I assume the marketing people thought that the kids don’t care what toys they buy, but adults will be very likely to purchase nostalgia – so, profits are my only reasonable assumption for why 30+ year old vehicle designs haven’t become improved or replaced for the new movie.
  32. Since Luke is not Kylo Ren or part of the Dark Side, why in the heck is he on this hidden journey?  They say it’s to find a Jedi temple over his guilt of Ben Solo turning evil, but that seems like a very poor judgement call to just vanish with such a convoluted way of finding him.  I have to assume that Luke was afraid of being converted to the Dark Side (which he heavily favors by the end of Return of the Jedi).
  33. The film mentions that Luke was training the next generation of Jedi’s, so where are they?  If Ben was his only student, that is more of a dying hope than a training camp.  If he had others he was working with, what, did he just up and abandon them too because one student turned Dark?
  34. Does Luke not realize that people need him?  Obi Wan talks about feeling Alderaan get blow up, but here we see multiple planets get decimated, his close friend gets murdered, and Luke just stays where he’s at?
  35. If Leia became a General specifically to find Luke again, why does Rey go to fetch him without Leia?
  36. I would also like to know the circumstances by which Leia remained a Princess after Alderaan was destroyed, but she no longer has a royal title now.
  37. What has Luke been doing all this time?  Just standing on this tiny island’s mountaintop?  There’s no sign of food, shelter, or a Jedi temple anywhere in sight.
  38. Clearly, Luke is being shown/referenced as the new Obi Wan Kenobi as they look as identical as two non-related people can.
  39. Now, if Jedi are basically monks who cannot marry/love/reproduce, where do baby Jedi’s come from?  This film has again confirmed that the Force is essentially in your DNA and is passed down from parent to child, so if Jedi’s aren’t supposed to have mates – where do Padawans come from?  I guess Force-using parents aren’t a prerequisite for being a Jedi/Sith, but with this film’s muddy clarification on what “the next generation of Jedi” means, number wise, it stands to reason that the best way to promote the Jedi order would be for said living Jedi to have children.
  40. There is no hint or reference to Jar Jar Binks as an evil Sith Lord, which, after seeing that fan theory, I am very disappointed over…
  41. There is no end-of-credits scene.  In this day and age, everyone expects that from a live-action Disney-associated movie.

Star Wars and Luke’s Role

It’s been awhile since my last post, but I have to admit, after never really being a hardcore Star Wars fan (I’ve seen the movies in full once each, dating as far back to 1998 when the re-releases of the first trilogy came out) I am getting very excited for The Force Awakens.

Mainly, my interest has all spawned from the Film Theorist video “Is Luke EVIL…” which you can view for yourself here:

I minored in Film Theory in college (which, yes, it’s less useful than a degree in basket weaving) and watching this video made me realize all the things that I looked over as a 13-year-old watching Star Wars for the first time.

For example, while I wasn’t obsessed over the movies, I did have an extensive collection of toys (mainly the action figures).  And I’ve always noticed that Luke’s clothing told a story that the films seemed to gloss over.  Luke enters the film being iconically dressed in white – film symbolism for goodness, purity, hope, etc – in A New Hope.  Really, try to remember his clothing – the first thing that you will recall is likely that white robe thing with the light colored pants.  And, throughout this film, Luke gets little exposure to the Force and what it means.  Quite literally, he’s a hick kid who’s never had an opportunity to be corrupted, so he is completely good.

I now, it seems so simple, but, really, film directors will use the color of clothing to tell you who is good and bad (ie Leia = white dress, Darth Vader = all in black, Han Solo = black and white mixed together because he’s our anti-hero who isn’t good or bad, just out for his own interests initially).

In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke ends up wearing a lot of grey, which is the color of change, choices, or a shift in morality.  When Luke is riding the Tauntaun at the start of the movie, his pants and cuffs are grey.  As the movie progresses, more of his outfits are grey or other neutral colors – and this is happening long before Luke has any idea of his paternity.  This is also a point in time where Luke is going from learning about the Force to really training to learn how to use the Force with Yoda, which is highly suggestive of whether Luke will be a Jedi or a Sith when all is said and done.  After all, he is a teenager who has been through great emotional turmoil since the start of this film (starting with the death of his aunt and uncle and NOT getting any better as his story progresses).

By the time we see Luke in Return of the Jedi, his clothing is completely black.  Lets see, Yoda dies, the girl he’s interested in turns out to be his sister, his father is the ultimate evil of the galaxy, and, oh yeah, he’s lost a hand – eeeyup, I’d say this young man has a lot to be emotional over these days that might push him towards the Dark Side.  As the Film Theorist points out, Luke makes several grabs for the Dark Side despite being constantly warned (oh, those petulant youths!), including an attempt to murder Emperor Palpatine and going into an extreme emotional frenzy when Vader threatens Leia.  So, the actual ending of Jedi is a real let down that never made a lot of sense to me.

Well, apparently, Georgia Lucas scrapped the original ending of Star Wars where Luke walked off ominously into the sunset, Han Solo dies in battle, and Princess Leia is adapting to her role as queen.  Which – wait a second – if her planet was blown up she would have either become queen on the spot (in which case, it seems a little silly that we refer to her as a princess for three movies), or, as her planet is gone, she would have no people to rule.  Any surviving Alderanians would now be refugees on other planets, under other governments, and Leia would have no ruling power or authority what-so-ever.  Since that ending didn’t happen, I supposed that is a moot point, but, I still demand consistency!

Also, a lot of people openly proclaim their hatred of Episodes I, II, and III.  I wholeheartedly disagree with the sentiment that they are terrible and/or useless to the franchise, because, truly, this is the only way we have to compare what Jedi’s were supposed to be versus who Luke was turning into.  The Jedi’s live by a high standard and moral code, in which they essentially deprive themselves of all human emotions and feelings to act as perfect diplomats.  Now, the original trilogy talks about this – but the words of two old men (or an old man and a muppet..?) don’t hold a candle to getting to see the order and what a thriving Jedi society looked like way back when.

Now, to finally touch on The Force Awakens.  Assuming you’ve watched the video I posted above, there is evidence to suggest that Luke Skywalker is now acting as Kylo Ren (the new Vader-esx villain).  The Film Theorist really makes a great case for this, especially since Mark Hamill has his name on the posters, but has been visually absentee throughout the advertising.

Personally, I would love to see Luke on the Dark Side, because I think the original films shorted us from that experience.  However, with a director like J.J. Abrams, I think Luke become Kylo Ren may be too obvious.  Abrams took a number of measures to keep secrets about Into the Darkness hidden, including making up fake things to leak, just to keep the internet at bay.  So, it seems to me that if Kylo Ren’s identity were to be a big, surprise reveal, and the one that’s been guessed at, then Abrams would have released trailers with fake footage of Luke Skywalker as a Jedi – or at least throw him on the posters with a green light saber – to throw the world off of the scent.


We have a bit longer than a week to find out, and, I have to say, if the absence of Luke’s image was just to get people stirred up and in line for the movie – it has worked for me at least!

Cinderella’s Royal Table – Lunch Review

Recommended:   NO!

Yes, you too can spend a criminal amount of money to eat inside of the castle at Magic Kingdom.  While your personal mileage may vary, expect to be extremely disappointed overall.


Disney spared no expense in terms of the details in Cinderella’s Royal Table. The entrance hall alone was spectacular.


Then the dining area was incredibly decorated as well.


I wanted to go through the areas slowly and get pictures for my daughter’s cosplay page (as she was perfectly dressed as Cinderella), but it was so busy there was nothing but a rush from cast members to keep moving along.

Alas, even though the details were magnificent, Disney skimped a LOT on everything else.  Considering that I had to pre-pay $204 (for our party of four) six months in advance, they shouldn’t have many excuses to not be a top experience in Disney World.  After all, if your guests have to pay in full upfront, it’s not like you’re hurting for revenue to keep the wheels greased at a place like this.  By the by, if you’re on the dining plan, this meal eats up two of your sit-down dining credits.

To try to go through the rest of the venue in order, first, you check in for your reservation (this restaurant is reservation only 99% of the time, and it’s booked up to six months in advance).

Then, you get to pose with Cinderella herself.


After that, you guide yourself upstairs and are seated at a pre-determined spot, and you get a menu.  Since you pre-pay for this meal, you can pick whatever you want as an entree and dessert, with a pre-selected appetizer.  You drink is also included in the meal.


Now, our server wasn’t mean, she wasn’t awful at her job, but she came off as very grumpy throughout our time at her table.  This was during Spring Break, so maybe she was overloaded and exhausted, but she definitely had an attitude that we needed to hurry up and get out so that they could flip the table for another party.  Considering that her tip was included in my pre-payment of the meal (and it was something to the tune of $30-40 without me being able to alter or have input on that amount!) I felt like she had a really, really unacceptable attitude.

Part of the children’s meal included a plastic Wishing Star and either a Wand (for girls) or a Sword (for boys).


Our server smacked them on the table while walking through to get elsewhere.  She gruffly said “these are gifts from Cinderella” and kept marching on without ever stopping.  Again, maybe she was overloaded, but it was an abrasive action that I didn’t appreciate.

The appetizer came out quicker than expected.  I don’t know how they managed to make cheese and crackers taste terrible, but they did it.  They also had an over-seasoned salad with some type of pear (?) in it.  The crackers, I believe, were the same gluten free crackers from the Perfectly Princess Tea Party, and they were still like eating plastic.  I know that gluten free is a growing diet trend, but maybe you should ask your guest if they want that trend forced upon them.  There is nothing about the appetizer that was appetizing in my opinion.


We had been sitting for maybe five minutes at this point, and the waitress had pressed us to order four times already.  I was having trouble deciding on an entree, and trying to help my kids decide on their own, but I felt like I wasn’t moving to the server’s pace, and that she was getting put out over it.  Maybe I’m wrong, but for $204 for a family of four to eat somewhere, I should get to relax, think about exactly what I want, and enjoy my time in the facility too!

Four additional princesses do come to the table at this restaurant, and, just due to our luck of timing, they showed up before our food.  Let me touch on them and then I’ll get back to the food.

We met Snow White:

Ariel (still inexplicably wearing green):

and Aurora:

Back to the food, I settled on the ribs, my husband went after the pork, and we decided we would split those two entrees so that we could try both.  I am not joking at all when I tell you that the entree was two bites. The photos below are not of super-sized plates.

The pork was two small coins of meat on a bed of rice, just a little larger than two hot dog slices,


and the ribs were two small cubes of meat on mashed potatoes.


I couldn’t believe these miniscule portion sizes!  I wish I had thought to put a quarter on the plate for an accurate comparison.  Disappointed didn’t even begin to cover it.  For half the price of this meal I could have gone to one of a half-dozen other character meals that included a full buffet!

I will admit, the ribs were absolutely delicious, though.  I don’t like mashed potatoes, but these were actually very scrumptious.  The pork, on the other hand, was bland and dry, and that flavor extended to the rice as well.  Overall, had the waitress not been so grumpy, I think we would have asked for a refill on our food (sort of as a joke, sort of hoping that a second helping was possible).  So, 0 for 2 on the meal courses.

On the children’s side of things they were given grapes and cheese cubes as an entree.


My daughter had the chicken leg with rice.  She wouldn’t touch her greens, but for the price of the meal, they became an “offering” to my husband.


My son had, I believe, a beef tip kids meal and said that he enjoyed it.


Then the desserts arrived seconds after our entrees were finished (adding all the more to the super-rushed atmosphere).

My husband and I both had The Clock Strikes Twelve.  It was beautifully crafted and delicious.  I believe it was vanilla ice cream in a chocolate shell with a white chocolate ring on the top and a graham cracker hand.  A chocolate sauce making roman numeral numbers was a gorgeous touch, and a small pool of custard was on the side.  My only complaint is that the dessert was bigger than the entire entree portion size.

My son had the smores dessert choice, which looked fantastic and had a chocolate Maleficent dragon “painted” on the plate.

My daughter, however, got the raw end of the deal.  She picked the yogurt with blueberries.  It sounded great, but nowhere did they disclose that it was GREEK yogurt.  If you don’t know the difference, it’s a harsh taste and not at all like the typical yogurt you’d find in the US (which is essentially flabby ice cream).  If you aren’t used to the stuff, it can take a while to get used to, and they should have warned her as it was a dessert option on the kids menu.
Side note, in front of the yogurt is the plastic Wishing Star that they give the kids.  I apparently didn’t get a better photo of them.

Most character meals have a get-up-and-do-stuff moment.  Some places have a parade for the little ones, others have a mini-dance party, it just depends on the venue.  At Cinderella’s Royal Table, the barely audible loud speaker starts saying something about making a wish with your star and wand.  As people quiet down you can hear better, but it’s still not very loud.  On the magic cue, some lights flicker towards the ceiling, then all the princesses walk away.


My kids always participate in these moments, but the fact that the staff didn’t even call attention to it, and that you could barely hear it happening, well, that was just another disappointment of this venue.  I was kind of irritated that, for so much more money, the little girls couldn’t even walk around with the princesses on parade or do a dance or song or SOMETHING!

Now, if you noticed earlier, I only described 3 princesses coming to the table.  That’s because we got skipped by Jasmine.  None of the characters had handlers, which was odd enough, but there were also no staff members coming around and checking that each character had visited us, something that has always happened at every other character meal we’ve had.  In fact, I think this was our first time at a Disney sit-down restaurant that a manager didn’t pop by the table to check in.

So, my husband flagged down our waitress as we saw all the princesses leaving.  He asked if they were coming back out and the server gets and attitude and says, “what, are you going to tell me that they didn’t stop by your table?”  Really?  This is why I NEVER tip in advance.  If you have a guaranteed $30 in your pocket, you can be a complete jerk and you still get a huge tip for a bad job!

My husband said that it was just Jasmine that missed us.  The waitress sighed and started walking away.  She also stopped by a neighboring table and said “you know, you already paid in advance, so you can leave any time.”  In a nice tone, that wouldn’t be anything off putting to say, but it was not a friendly tone.

Jasmine reappeared and chatted my daughter up for a few minutes before disappearing to the back again.  Then we were made to feel like we needed to rush out as fast as possible, because our desserts had been finished for a whole five minutes.

Also, when I booked the restaurant in October of 2014, I was required to pay for the entire meal upfront.  I already mentioned that, but part of the “package” I paid for as a diner included a free set of photos with Cinderella.  I felt so rushed and irritated while at Cinderella’s Royal Table that I didn’t realize until I returned home that the waitress never brought those photos to us, and there was no desk or location to get them from in the castle.

I emailed Disney’s customer service and they thanked for my interest in their complimentary photos, but said that they discontinued giving them out in January.  Wait wait wait – what?!  One of the main draws of choosing this restaurant over another character meal was the free photo set, because we didn’t buy Memory Maker, and the photos cost around $40 a piece after taxes.  That was basically the freebie that almost balanced out the insane amount of money they charged us to eat there.

I responded asking for a manger, because it wasn’t right to charge me six months in advance, then change what I signed up for without notifying me.  Disney World makes hundreds of announcements a month, it’s unrealistic for me to go through them all hoping that one applies to my vacation – especially for something I pre-paid to get!  Since all the money I paid didn’t go to food, couldn’t it have gone to at least a courtesy email about changes to my package and given me an opportunity to cancel my reservation?  Ultimately, this conversation went nowhere and, since this was our last Disney World visit, it certainly left me with a bad impression.

My overall thoughts on Cinderella’s Royal Table:

  • The portion sizes were pathetically small to where the kids’ meals had more food than the adults.
  • The prices were double every other sit down restaurant in the park.
  • The staff was not very nice and made us feel rushed every minute we were there.
  • It’s nice to have the princesses come to you, but they’ll only spend 1-2 minute per table, so any experience is minimal.
  • Considering the ungodly expense, the princess line up should be better.  I understand that Cinderella needs to be at Cinderella’s Royal Table, but I personally feel that the rest of the characters should be updated to the more difficult-to-meet princesses that have longer wait times (make skipping those big lines more worthwhile!).  Elsa, Anna, Merida (who is only available at limited times, weather permitting), and Rapunzel make the most sense to have in the restaurant, as their lines are always long, they are newer (and thus more relevant/recognizable for the children meeting them), and then it keeps the characters between here and Akershus completely different (meaning I can justify going to both places and spending more money!).
  • I felt very burnt over the “free” photo set getting ripped out of our hands without advance warning.

Truly, I was not over-the-moon for Akershus (the princess character meal in EPCOT’s Norway), but it was roughly half the price of Cinderella’s Royal Table, the entrees were twice the size, and it included a salad bar.  The princess line up is also very similar, except you get to meet Belle instead of Jasmine.  And, at least during our visit, the staff at Akershus was very good.  Overall, if you’re making a choice for a princess meal, Akershus is a much better deal, even though the adult entrees are a little strange (being Norwegian-themed food an all).  Alternatively, I would also recommend 1900 Park Fare for dinner as it has really good food, and features the Cinderella cast (Cinderella, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, Drizella, and Prince Charming).  We did their breakfast buffet and left very impressed and happy with everything food-wise, although the morning characters are English themed.

Meet Rare Characters at EPCOT!

My husband recently stumbled across a very cool thing in EPCOT’s World Showcase – he found a place where characters appear by surprise!

Between Canada and the UK, there is a small walkway that is usually blocked off with a huge, wooden gate.  That gate leads to the World Showcase Events Pavilion, which is closed off to guests when a specific event is not going on.  However, on lucky days, they open the gates and turn the path to the pavilion into a surprise meet and greet!

Apparently, EPCOT is the place to go if you want to meet some random characters (who are out to graciously train their new handlers ^_~).

We saw a number of rare characters too!

Gideon (Pinocchio)
sa8 copy

Rafiki (Lion King)
sa5 copy

and Captain Hook with Mr. Smee (Peter Pan/Jake and the Neverland Pirates)
sa6 copy

And they were all signing autographs too!

We also saw Mickey, Minnie, and Stitch – but we’ve met them so often that we decided to keep on moving for time’s sake.  I’ve also heard from other guests that Jack, Sally, Launchpad McQuack, and even Max Goof make appearances at these meet and greets as well.

In our case, we walked by around 2pm on a Saturday and saw this going on.  I’m not sure if that’s a time that you can bank on or not, but it certainly warrants a looksee to find out.

Because it is not formally scheduled or advertised, the lines are very, very short!  We actually saw four rare characters and got through three different lines in about 15-20 minutes!

Park Pack #2 Unboxing

I just received the latest Park Pack box set (the second in the set).  I was definitely Halloween themed this time, with the same line up as last month – 1 Limited Edition/Park Pack Exclusive pin, and 2 open edition, but not-yet-released park pins.


Remember, you can only order these Park Pack pin boxes from, on the 1st Thursday of each month.  I didn’t expect this to arrive until around the 4th of July, but it showed up on June 16th, just shortly after the first box was sent out.  I’m not sure how long I’ll continue with these, as they retail at roughly $44 per box with tax, but I am hoping to get an Inside Out pin before long.  *fingers crossed*

Akershus Lunch Review

Recommended:  No for the food.  Yes to see the Princesses in one swoop.

Located in Norway, but surprisingly void of Anna and Elsa, I’m torn on whether or not to recommend Akershus, which is the only character meal available in the EPCOT World Showcase.

cm7 copy

If you are looking to collect a lot of princess autographs quickly, this would be the way to go.  A number of princesses, like Snow White and Belle, are not available for very hospitable hours.  Usually, you have to already know where they’ll be and line up a half an hour before they arrive to get your photo and autograph.  Typically, once the princess arrives to her outdoor station, the line to meet her has already been cut off.  Then, if it rains, the character doesn’t come out at all.  So, when thinking of Arkerhus in those terms, it is an easy way to meet five princesses in one shot.

They say the line up can change any time, but these are the princesses that we saw:

Belle meets you as you enter the restaurant.
cm8 copy

Then you’ll see Cinderella,
cm13 copy

Followed closely by Aurora,
cm14 copy

next is Ariel (in a green dress that she NEVER wears in any of the films – my daughter thought she was Merida because of that),
cm15 copy

and last is Snow White.
cm16 copy

Snow White only hangs around in EPCOT these days, and she is one of those weather-permitting princesses.  We’ve had trouble getting to her in the past, which is what brought us to Akershus in the first place.

However, be warned that there are NO Photo Pass photographers once you get to your table, so you will be on your own there.  There are also a lot of tables crammed into a little bit of building (Akershus was clearly built before Disney World saw the volume of tourist that is does today), so getting great pictures that show off the princesses beautiful dresses will not be a likely possibility.

We also felt very rushed with the time the princesses gave our table.  Much like Chef Mickey’s, we got about 2 minutes per princess in.  It was, hello, hugs, autograph, pose for photos, and goodbye.  They keep these characters on too tight of a schedule, it would be nice if the kids could have a few more sentences with each one and create a stronger memory of the event (like my daughter training squirrels with Rapunzel or teaching yoga to Merida).

The princesses also do a gathering/parade for all the little ones who want to join in.  That seems to happen at every character meal, and it’s always a cute touch.
cm17 copy

The Akershus building is magnificently beautiful.  It feels like an Old World castle that has been refurbished by a modern owner.  As you can see in the photograph above, the walls are stone, and put together in an uneven, ancient architecture type of style (something like Merida’s castle, I suppose).

cm11 copy

The artwork on the walls ranged from tapestry and flags to very somber paintings.

cm9 copy

And even the roof was magnificent.  My daughter said it looked like Elsa’s snowflake.  While the waiter denied any resemblance, I’d be surprised if the designers of Frozen didn’t find some inspiration in this building.
cm10 copy

The food is where the experience gets iffy for me.  Norwegian food is weird, if not gross.  At Akershus, there is a set price, and that include the salad bar, an entree, and a plate of three Norwegian desserts for the table.  Here’s a not-too-great picture of the Oven Roasted Chicken Breast.

cm12 copy

It came with potato dumpling and Brussels sprouts, but they had been cooked (boiled?) until they tasted the same with the same bland texture.  Definitely not my favorite meal from Disney, although my father highly recommended the meatballs.

The dessert portion of the meal was interesting.  They brought out two sets of the desserts, which included a piece of Apple Cake (not my cup of tea, personally), Chocolate Mousse (amazing, actually), and Rice Cream (no, not Ice Cream, a tapioca kind of warm, solid, goop – not a fan!).  Having two sets of desserts for five people, and only one of those desserts being any good, essentially leads to a fight over the Chocolate Mousse.  That is worth the fight, fork your children if you have to so that you can try a piece!  haha.  But, really, it would have been nice if everyone has a smaller sized sampler plate than making everyone share.  I actually missed out on the photo opp here, but I found a picture from to share.


I also didn’t appreciate that we were a party of 5, we had made reservations months in advance, and we were crammed into a table for four.  There was not enough room for plates, the kids had to climb over people to get to the princesses, and the room we were in (the rounded room in the castle tower portion) was already a tight enough space without putting someone on the end like a baby in a high chair.  That was very poor dining management from whomever decided to seat us there…

So, if you’re looking for a good place to eat, skip Akerhus, there is much better places in the World Showcase.  If you’re looking for a guaranteed slew of princesses, this is your best bet in EPCOT.  It just depends on what you’re looking for.

Disney Park Pack Pins

My son has been into things like Loot Crate and Geek Fuel lately, so when I heard that Disney was doing a similar type of pin box, I knew I had to try and sign up.

Unfortunately, I’m not the best with dates.  BUT, I do have insomnia, so while browsing Facebook on my phone at 6 am, I saw someone post about this appearing on the Disney Store website.


It said Backorder, so I wasn’t sure if I’d actually get the item, since the main pin is limited edition, but I gave it a try.  I really didn’t see or hear anything again until I got the shipping notification yesterday.

The box arrived today, so, without further ado, lets take a peek!

dpins1 copy

dpins2 copy

dpins3 copy

The pins are a Minnie Bow with an American Flag Pattern (open edition, but not yet released), Frozen with an exclusive Park Pack cardboard (limited edition of 500), and Dopey holding gems to his eyes (open edition, but not yet released).

Here’s a close up of the Frozen pin:

dpins4 copy

dpins5 copy

Now, before anyone goes nuts – I’m sure Disney did a limited Frozen pin this time to encourage jealous among collectors (since everything Frozen still has a lot of popularity around it).  I’ve also heard rumor that there are four different colors of boarders for the Frozen pin, meaning there were 2,000 total made (just 500 of each color).  There is little to no chance that the next box, or really any other box for a year or more, will have a Frozen pin in it again.  If that is your only interest, and you are not a pin collector, I’d save the cash, personally.

The other two pins are open editions, as the online description foretold.  They are not yet released in the parks, though, so that is a fun bonus.  The back of the Dopey cardboard is labeled for the Silver level, the Minnie pin is not labeled at all, but I assume it’s in the same price bracket since there’s no elaborate or moving parts.

For those of you who haven’t gone pin shopping at a Disney park/resort – they list the pins by colors.  So, when you look at the price, it will say Blue, Red/Silver, Green, Yellow, or Pink on the back.  That way, when Disney raises prices, they only have to change out the price key instead of remarking all of the pins.  So, Silver would be the second-to-cheapest pins they offer, and, if memory serves, that would be the $9 color.  I’d also guesstimate that the Frozen pin, being limited, heavy, and having two layers (the pin image and the metal pin framing) that it would be about $16 for initial retail.  So, $9 + $9 + $16 = $34, but, I imagine the value of the Frozen pin is going to greatly increase soon.  So, even though, retail wise, the box comes up a bit short, the collectible value more than compensates for that.

But, side note – I’m not a scalper!  I do not buy things that I don’t want just to resell them for a profit.  It’s nice to have things appreciate in value in case you ever get in a pinch for money or are working on a fair trade for another item, but I personally detest the people who purposefully clear the shelves so that other people who actually want these items can’t get them for a fair price when they’re released.

My daughter also found where I put the box all back together and asked to do an unboxing video – so here’s that:

Chef Mickey’s Breakfast Review

Recommended:  No.

To cut to the chase, I didn’t think very highly of Chef Mickey’s at all.  A lot of people recommended it to me, so I worked it into our schedule, but I was not at all impressed with the venue, the service, or the food.  In fact, this is one of those times where I’d say McDonald’s is a better option for breakfast.  But, getting to go inside the Contemporary Resort (one of the monorail resorts) was nice, so at least there’s that benefit!

cm1 copy

Chef Mickey’s is a character meal and a buffet.  Please try to be mindful of where the characters are at all times, because if you get up at the wrong time, you will miss one of them and have to wait an hour for them to come back around to your section.

To go over the characters first, there were five total that you could meet:

cm2 copy

cm3 copy

cm6 copy

cm5 copy

and Chef Mickey himself.
cm4 copy

The costumes are really cute, but it’s not really a huge selling point to me.  If they signed the autograph books as Chef Mickey, Matradee Donald, etc, I would be more impressed, because then my kids would be collecting exclusive signatures, but, alas, they are identical to the signatures anywhere else in the park.  I also think they could have done a lot more with Minnie’s costume.  Give her at least a cutesy diner outfit if she’s going to play a waitress.

Not only are these characters very easy to find in basically any part of the Disney Parks, but when they come to your table, they made me feel very rushed.  Each character spent two minutes or less with us.  It was basically a wave, a huge for whoever wanted one, a photo, and a wave goodbye.  Then they hurried off to check the next table off their list.

I also would have liked to see at least one or two exclusive characters in there – something to give you an incentive to meet these characters as a meal.  As it stands now, they are all over Disney World, and usually the wait time is not that bad.  Would a Pete, Clarabelle, or Dr. Von Drake been too much to ask for? They aren’t so popular or recognized, I know, but one of the five could have been a unique character.

To the plus column, the characters were back-to-back, so we only had to stay at the table for about 10 minutes to check them all off our list.

On to the food, it was pretty terrible.  Other than the pancakes, which were being made in front of you at the buffet, all of the food was stone cold, whether it was supposed to be or not.  The bacon tasted like it had been wrapped in ice – and I saw people constantly changing out the trays, so I don’t believe it was sitting out for a long time.  Either the warmers were broken, or the cooks were really bad at getting their food out in a timely manner.  Either way, I believe that hot meals should be hot, not frozen.

Disney also has this belief that everyone wants to eat nasty, runny eggs that aren’t fully cooked.  I know some people love their eggs like that, but myself and many other people do not want to eat liquid chickens.  But it saves precious minutes of cooking time per batch of eggs, so that’s what we get…

There was a decent variety of items on the buffet, but breakfast food is all very, very cheap stuff in general, so, for the prices they charge, I expect it to at least be good.  I mean, have the cooks use some flavors and spices instead of serving bland, cold food.  The fruit was even tasteless, so there were no real redeeming qualities about this buffet.  Judging by the menu, lunch and dinner may be a much better meal, but I was not happy with breakfast by any stretch of the imagination.

The Crystal Palace – Lunch Review

Recommended:  Yes to meet Eeyore and Piglet.  Toss up to go for the food alone.

I’m not sure what The Crystal Palace was originally designed to be, but I think the Winnie the Pooh character meal was not their initial intent.  This is a beautiful building, very closely resembling the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.  But, somehow, throwing Pooh and his friends in the mix does not hurt the charm of the place at all.  In fact, while it doesn’t seem to fit together theme wise (I know Pooh is a British story), the old and new elements work well together and make the place very fun and lively!


I have to say that I really, really loved the entry presentation.  The main Pooh cast done in flowers!cp10



While you dine, your buddies from the Hundred Acre Wood will come to your table.

You’ll see Tigger,cp2

Pooh (my husband’s favorite),cp5


and Piglet.

Other than during the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, I have not seen Eeyore or Piglet available anywhere else in Disney World.

Now, the downside to a character meal/buffet is that you’re getting up and down, and you may not be able to see the characters coming before they hit – or miss – your table!  Tigger, especially, seems to carve out his own walking path, and we ended up missing him at first.  The waitress asked his handler to get him to stop by again before he left for the other side of the dining hall, but Tigger was Tigger and didn’t listen!  It was over an hour before we were finally able to catch him again, and this was after even a manager asked him to come back.  >.<  So, keep your eyes open, and be prepared to pounce if you see a character walking away from your table!

This was also the anniversary celebration meal for my husband and myself, so we got a little extra gift!  Apparently, it was supposed to be a photo of the Pooh gang, but those ran out.  I still like this one all the same, though!cp7

To get to the food, as I mentioned before, it is a buffet.  The options are pretty random, stretching from salads and traditional carved meats to samples of Indian and Mexican food.  A number of standard desserts were available.  Nothing was really bad, but nothing was really amazing either.  It reminded me of a smaller scale Golden Corral.

Honestly, though, if you have a party of two adults and two children under 10, you are looking at roughly $80 for any sit down meal that you have, before the tip.  At The Crystal Palace, we paid just around the $100 mark before the tip, and that included time with the characters and any beverage that we wanted, so it’s not an awful deal for Disney prices.  For the extra $20, I prefer to get the character experience and let the kids meet the hard-to-find guys.  So, even though the food wasn’t stellar, considering any other sit down lunch would have cost the same, I’m not dissatisfied with what we got.