Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Trick or treat!

With it being Halloween and all, I'll be brief (because really, shouldn't you be in full-on trick-or-treat prep mode by now?), but I wanted to wish all of you a safe and spooky holiday! Tonight, I'll be in full Rapunzel regalia at my university's fall festival, but afterward, I'll be curling up with my favorite spooky Disney flick... The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (it is, admittedly, a very short flick)! Classic and actually quite creepy, it just wouldn't feel like Halloween without the Headless Horseman and Ichabod Crane!

(Unfortunately, I can't embed the actual video, but you can watch it on YouTube here!)

How are you planning to celebrate? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy haunting!
- Becca :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Snapshot Sunday: Halloween in August!

Happy Sunday, princes and princesses! Can you believe Halloween is only four days away?! I'm can't wait for all of the frightful fun to come!

Even though this week's Snapshot Sunday looks awfully October-ish, it was actually taken way back in mid-August just before I headed back up to North Carolina. Now, some people might've said that it was a tad early to be breaking out the cobwebs and cauldrons, but (putting aside my penchant for celebrating holidays months before it is culturally acceptable to do so) I was thrilled to catch a glimpse of the Magic Kingdom's fall decor before I hit the road. While Walt Disney World's decor is remarkable in its day-to-day existence, the Halloween and Christmas seasons breathe fresh life and even more magic into the place where dreams come true!

I'm a sucker for that cute spook on the bottom left!

Have a most magical week!
- Becca :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Guest Post: A "Not-So-Scary" Adventure in the Magic Kingdom


Today's installment in this spectacularly spooky week on Princesses and Pixie Dust comes to us from my dear cousin, friend, and (most importantly) fellow Disnerd Skye, who recently attended Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom! Since I couldn't make it down to MNSSHP this year, Skye graciously recounted her experience that I might live vicariously through her to share with all of you! Enjoy! :)


My best friend Sarah and I took a trip to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom for the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in early September. We decided in July we were going at Fix-it Felix and Wreck-it Ralph. The cost of the party and hotel was cheaper, due to the early planning on our part and the fact we went to one of the earliest parties.  We left West Palm Beach at around 11am on a Friday and arrived to Orlando at around 2pm.  We ate at a McDonald’s on Disney property located near the value resorts.  We then checked into our room at All-Star Music.  We were in the Broadway section. 
                We relaxed about an hour and got ready in our room.  After we donned our costumes, we headed past the piano and guitar shaped pools and towards the bus stop!  We probably stood there outside in the heat for 20 minutes waiting for the thing, all the while people staring at us in our costumes as if they had never seen young adults in costume before.  

               
        We got into the park by 4, since if you buy a party ticket you can enter the park anytime after 4.  We met a friend who graduated from our college and now works at Disney, and off the three of us went to ride The Voyage of the Little Mermaid. 
                Just being there in costume with my best friend and seeing the fall decorations was magical, indeed.  Our other friend had not been on a lot of the rides at Magic Kingdom, so we took her on Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Haunted Mansion.  Surprisingly, she was not a fan of Pirates… WHO ISN’T A FAN OF PIRATES?!  I was dumbfounded.
                We got Dole whip, and then 7pm rolled around and we had to say goodbye to our friend, who did not buy a party ticket.  Sarah had been to many MNSSHPs in the past, including just last year in 2012, so I let her decide what we should do in order.
                We attended the first Villain Mix and Mingle, and that was definitely a show worth seeing.  There was so much chaos when the villains came out to mingle, however, that we couldn’t get in line to see Maleficent (a priority character to meet for us).  Therefore, we settled for The Evil Queen and Dr. Facillier, and decided to come back for the second party to see her.  We made a note that she came down from the far left side of the castle, so we stood there during the second showing and were first in line to see her.
                The second showing of the Villains Mix and Mingle was going to be right after the Boo To You parade, so we got standing spots for that after the first showing. We were right near the end of the parade.  I recorded some of the start of the parade on my phone.
                Then we got a spot for part of the castle light show (can’t remember what it’s called) and then we watched HalloWishes. After the fireworks we ate hot dogs at Casey’s.  (Editor's note: Skye is referring to Celebrate the Magic, which received a special villainous makeover this Halloween season. Check it out here!)
                Seeing characters was our top priority for the night, so we scouted out the characters I have not seen before (she’s taken pictures with literally every character ever, except maybe Hades).  We got in line to see Jane, Tarzan, and Turk.  Unfortunately, Tarzan left as we were about fourth in line.  Apparently, some people like to take up to over 5 minutes talking to characters, even though they know the line is long and we all want to see them just as much! At least we still got pictures with Jane and Turk. 
We headed over to where Captain Jack Sparrow was and waited in line for him for about 20 minutes. We wanted to ride a Big Thunder at night, and the line was only 5 minutes, so we did that.  After that, we went to some candy trails in Adventureland and Fantasyland. 
We wanted to ride The Haunted Mansion again, so we headed over to do that.  Eventually, midnight was sneaking up on us and so we ducked into Mickey’s PhilharMagic at 11:50 or so.  We waited for about 15 minutes to enter the theater, and when we got out it was almost 12:30.  That was one of the best parts of the night, missing the crowds exit and being some of the only ones left in the park.  We took a few more pictures in front of the castle and on Main Street on our way out.  It was so cool seeing Main Street empty at night, with music still playing. 
                The bus we took back to All-Star Music was empty, as well.  I hate large crowds, so that was a relief for me. We both got back to the hotel room at around 1am. 
                The next morning we got up around 8:45 and went to the Piano pool to swim a bit.  After about 30 minutes, we left and got dressed and ready to check out of our room.  Then we meandered in the arcade and played a few games.  



Our next stop was going to be the Art of Animation Resort to look around and eat there.  For some reason, my contacts were really bothering me when we were walking around the resort, and my eyes were watering a lot.  I had Sarah guide me around the gift shop.  They felt a bit better when we were outside (surprisingly). 
Then we drove to Downtown Disney to shop, but Sarah’s knee and my eyes were bothering us so much we didn’t stay very long (sad face). We bought some stuff in the Disney Store (antenna toppers, pins, and mugs), and then headed home.  All in all, the weekend was magical and amazing I cannot wait for next year’s MNSSHP!

-Skye D.

 Have you gotten to experience Walt Disney World's frightfully fun celebration (you lucky duck, you!)? What are your tips for an unforgettable evening? 

-Becca :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Boo to You! Terrifying Tunes from the Disney-verse

BOO!

... did I scare you?

It's almost Halloween, princes and princesses! The time has come for ghosts and ghouls to come out to play, and for humans to join the fun! Everyone is getting into the spooky spirit, and Princesses and Pixie Dust is no exception! In the days leading up to everyone's favorite haunted holiday, the blog will be chock full of Halloween-y fun in preparation for the scariest season of all!

If you've been reading for a while, you'll know that music (especially that of the Disney variety) is my favorite way to celebrate any occasion is with a situationally-appropriate playlist. Nothing gets me more ready to trick-or-treat and face fearful frights than a collection of creepy songs to set the mood, and I've picked out a handful of my favorites to share with you!

1) "Heffalumps and Woozles", Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day


This song scared the pants off my munchkin self. While a few years have gone by since these mischievous, honey-guzzling monsters have haunted my nightmares, I'd be lying if I said the opening strains of this ditty didn't send a chill up my spine.(Guys: they're quick and slick and insincere! Why wouldn't you stay away?!) Anywho, the 'lumps* and I are on much better terms, and they remain perfect fodder for a fun, but frightful Halloween jam session to boot!

*That's what the cool kids are calling heffalumps now. Spread the word. 

2) "The Headless Horseman", The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

via YouTube

Bing Crosby? 1940's harmonies? Clever, catchy lyrics? Sign me up! This song, from the somewhat lesser-known "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad", is the epitome of spooky Disney fun: eerie and a little bit creepy, but not so scary that your sleeping patterns will suffer! Also, it contains the line "You can't reason with a headless man"... c'mon, that's brilliant!

3) Boo to You Parade, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party


via YouTube

I love Disney's themed holiday parties, and it's no secret that the respective parades of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party are part of what makes the events so special! While I've had the pleasure of witnessing the spectacle of the latter, the former is still (sadly) sitting on my Bucket List. Though it might be a while before I get to see Mickey and his pals in their All Hallow's Eve best, I can still enjoy their not-so-scary spirit all season long! 

4) "This is Halloween", The Nightmare Before Christmas


via YouTube

Confession time: I'm not terribly crazy about The Nightmare Before Christmas. Perhaps my distaste stems from a lack of delight in the macabre (and, subsequently, the bulk of Tim Burton's repertoire), or my alarm in the egregious abuse of my beloved Santa Claus (Torturing the father of Yuletide happiness and cheer? Someone go get the "Naughty" list!)- mostly, I think it's because I'm the biggest scaredy-cat on the planet (see: aforementioned irrational fear of Heffalumps and Woozles). However, Danny Elfman's incredible score is enough to keep me coming back... at least for the first forty minutes! This particular piece, aside from serving as truly exemplary exposition-through-song, perfectly captures the ghoulish glee adored by Halloween-devotees eveywhere!

5) "Grim Grinning Ghosts", The Haunted Mansion


via YouTube

Because, honestly, is there any better way to celebrate Halloween than to attend a "swingin' wake" with the happy haunts of Disney's Haunted Mansion? (No. The correct answer is "no".)   


Which Disney tunes get you into the Halloween spirit? Let me know in the comments below! :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On "Avatar-land"...

It was Walt Disney's wish that Disneyland (and transitively, Walt Disney World) would never be completed. The world sees this desire carried out nearly every year, as Disney churns out new and exciting projects for each of its properties. In recent years, avid park-goers have been introduced to the likes of Cars Land at Disney's California Adventure, Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland, and (my personal favorite) New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom Park, and the changes haven't stopped there. New parades, entertainment, and entirely new lands are constantly in the works, promising to entice tourists from near and far to visit Disney parks and experience all of the ever-growing and constantly evolving magic they have to offer.

This weekend, at Japan's inaugural D23 Expo, Disney fans were given a glimpse into one of the most anticipated (and, for some, dreaded) projects in Disney's Imagineering arsenal: Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World. The expansion (known informally as "Avatar-land") was, until recently, only a rumor; it has existed inside a shroud of mystery since the project was initially announced in 2011, causing supporters and cynics alike to question whether or not James Cameron's world of Pandora would ever come to exist in the Animal Kingdom park. The past few months showed the project creeping along, with the slow-but-steady relocation of attractions (namely, Festival of the Lion King) from Camp Minnie-Mickey to other areas of the park, but concrete evidence was delivered at the D23 Expo that was held in Anaheim this August.  There, imagineers provided a glimpse into the intoxicating new world they are setting forth to create. Unfortunately, a number of fans were less than thrilled with the exhibition, and the vague nature of the display did little to quell the uncertainty that has arisen among DAK devotees in regard to the expansion.

The Avatar spread at D23 Anaheim.
Photo via Inside the Magic

This past Saturday- October 12th, 2013- the floodgates of this secretive venture burst open when Imagineers gave audiences at Japan's aforementioned D23 Expo the first ever glimpses of concept art for the area, which was quickly relayed to the American public on the Disney Parks Blog. In the post, Walt Disney Company chairman Tom Staggs briefly described a few of the features park-goers will find in the "epic" expanse (which will include "floating mountains" and an immersive bioluminescent forest) and teased its forthcoming attractions with artistic renderings that cannot be described as anything but absolutely stunning. Seriously, just look at them!




I'll be perfectly honest, guys- I was totally prepared to hate this expansion (and when I say "hate", I mean "loathe with every fiber of my being"). To me, it was nothing more than another financially-driven gimmick that would drive out Disney's classic ideals and cheapen its timeless charm. Even when I first laid eyes on the lush, vivid, and utterly gorgeous artwork pictured above, I was hesitant to accept the fact that, like it or not, Avatar was officially on its way to the Animal Kingdom. However, the picture below is what led me to pause and consider exactly what this new venture could be; I remembered the humanity and innovation that characterizes everything imagineers (especially imagineers as prolific as the legendary Joe Rohde) do. In the hands of Disney's amazing team, I have every confidence that "Avatar-land" will be a truly special experience that will delight visitors for years to come. 


What are your feelings on the Avatar expansion? I really am excited to watch it grow over the next few years, and to see how it ultimately fits into the Animal Kingdom!

Have a magical day!
- Becca :)

P.S. If you'd like to read a more in-depth post from one who has a far more extensive knowledge and understanding of Disney's Animal Kingdom than I, I implore you to check out this post by David McBride on JamboEveryone.com's Bwana Blog. He gives great insight from the perspective of a true Animal Kingdom enthusiast while sharing tidbits and speculation about what the project's future may hold. Really- check it out!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Snapshot Sunday: Vikings, I Hardly Knew Ye

Another week, another Snapshot Sunday!

We've known for a while that the heroines of Disney's upcoming animated feature Frozen would inevitably make their way into Walt Disney World; the only questions surrounding the matter were "Where?" and "When?". This past Monday, some of that mystery was lifted as the Disney Parks Blog announced that come November, Epcot's Norway Pavilion would become the new home of Princesses Anna and Elsa, as well as the location for an exhibit "exploring how the culture and beauty of Norway" contributed to the film's production. This bit of news, while not inherently upsetting or offensive, has sent more than a few Epcot purists into a rage. Why, you may ask? That new exhibit is being plopped smack dab in the middle of the Stave Church Gallery... and giving the proverbial boot to the Vikings that have been there from the Pavilion's opening day in 1988.

The controversy surrounding the announcement stems chiefly from the "princess culture" that seems to be dominating Disney parks and properties as of late, as well as concern over retaining the cultural richness that the World Showcase was designed to celebrate. I'll save my opinions (and believe me, I've got 'em) for another post, but I wanted to pay my respects with this week's Snapshot Sunday. One of my biggest regrets is that I never took the opportunity to experience this exhibit for myself; I'm kicking myself for passing it by mere months ago, assuming that I'd hit it on my next visit. Consider my lesson learned!

Rest in peace, "Conquerors of the Sea"

Are you sad to see the current exhibit go? The Stave Church Gallery has already been closed to make way for its Frozen makeover, and is slated to reopen in November.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Let's Celebrate" with Disney on Ice!


I have two great joys in this life: holidays, and Disney. This weekend, the two met serendipitously in a delicious(ly nostalgic) fondue pot of magic, memories, and impressive artistic expression... though, in all fairness, it's better known as Disney on Ice: Let's Celebrate, and last Saturday, my roommate and I joined the party with Mickey and Pals! I've been fascinated by figure skating and ice dancing since I was a young'un (many thanks to my family's intense devotion to all things Olympic), so my devotion to Disney's frozen displays was only a natural transition! Disney's ice shows are a great way to get your Mickey-fix when you're miles away from the happiest (or most magical) place on earth!

Disney's current cavalcade of shows runs the gamut of the company's casts of characters; audiences can traverse the Scottish highlands with the arrow-loosing Merida in Rockin' Ever After, fly to Neverland with Peter and Wendy in Passport to Adventure, or save the day with the Incredibles in the very special  100 Years of Magic. However, this weekend's show at Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Area (location compromised! Abort! Abort!) was (as the name would indicate) all about the celebrations! From an Unbirthday party to a Brazilian carnivale, beloved characters twirled their way through a party for the record books!

Primed and prepped for a magical party!

The show began with bombast, bright lights, and everyone's favorite candelabra inviting the audience to "Be Our Guest". Lumière was quickly joined by a parade of his best pals... and then some! The exquisite amount of work that goes into every Disney on Ice production was in full force- the artistry, the precision, and- best of all- the magic out on the stage was undeniable. Every celebration imaginable was represented in the show (Guys, there was a luau), but two segments really shone through.

 
A little snippet of the villains' Halloween bash!

The first standout paid a homage to the spooky,  marvelously macabre holiday that's on everyone's mind- Halloween, of course! Hosted by none other than Jack Skellington, this party was filled to the brim with frightful fun, set against a breathtaking backdrop of giant spider webs and ornate iron gates that could have been lifted from any creepy, abandoned mansion in the country (there are a lot of those, right?). Mr. Skellington welcomed the audience with a medley of Nightmare Before Christmas tunes before beginning a full-on scare-fest with notorious villains in droves, culminating in a ghoulish get-together of epic proportions!

While I had hoped that this segment might pay homage to the lesser known spooky stories in the Disney canon, like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow- how cool would it be to see the Headless Horseman out on the ice?-, or contain a nod to everyone's favorite "swingin' wake" from the Disney parks, I was pleasantly surprised by how well-executed and impeccably put-together it was. The Nightmare Before Christmas connection was done in a way that both honored the original film, but allowed the incorporation of other notorious ne'er-do-wells in the Disney-verse. However, the elements of this haunting holiday that I found to be perfectly adapted for the show may have proven a bit too much for younger audience members (parents covering their little ones' eyes became a standard sight as the section gained intensity), but- in true Disney fashion- Mickey and his pals swooped in to banish all of the baddies and save the day!
If you squint reeeeally hard, there are some princesses in there!

On the completely opposite end of the Celebration Spectrum (patent pending), the next section traded tricks for tiaras in a Valentine's Day celebration fit for royalty! With a premise not unlike that of the Princess portion of Dream Along With Mickey at the Magic Kingdom, Cinderella's Fairy Godmother led the audience through a fantastical parade of royal pairs, all of them teaching Minnie Mouse what it means to be a true princess, find her prince, and- most importantly- find herself. I found myself gasping with every twist, twirl, and lift as nearly every princess imaginable skated a graceful pas de deux with her prince. It was especially fun to see some heroines that don't get as much merchandising love as, say, Cinderella (read: I about died when Tiana and Naveen showed up in their Mardi Gras best). By the end of this romantic revelry, I had all but melted into a pile of sentimental goo... and that is just  how I like it!

I truly could not pay a sufficient number of compliments to this show, or to the Disney on Ice franchise as a whole. Let's Celebrate delivered the kind of magic and unadulterated joy that audiences expect from a Disney production, with a little extra "oomph" to top it all off!

Have you ever been to a Disney on Ice show? What did you think of it? I think Disney's ice shows are one of the best ways to pick up a pinch of pixie dust when you can't get to the Parks!

Have a magical day!
-Becca :)


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Snapshot Sunday: The Calm Before the Storm

Wanna know a secret?

In the past week, I've been missing Epcot somethin' awful.

Okay, so maybe it's not that big of a secret... or, y'know, a secret at all, but it certainly has encouraged a good bit of reminiscing- taking a nostalgia-trip down the lane of Epcot Days gone by. Unfortunately, my arsenal o' memories runs a little low; my tally of visits to that park of exploration and imagination comes to the grand total of exactly... two.

Impressive, no?

Regardless of my less-than-ideal ammunition for Epcot posts, I'm hoping to get some out in the next few weeks. (I may have gone only once before returning to school, but it was certainly a humdinger!) In the meantime, this week's Snapshot Sunday is one of my favorite shots from the monorail line. While taking the monorail from the Transportation and Ticket Center may not be the most efficient route for rope-dropping purposes (learn from my mistakes, boys and girls), some truly stunning views can be had of the tranquil park minutes before hundreds of tourists flood through the main gates.

So peaceful!

I can't thank you readers enough for hanging in with me in this time of spotty (at best) posting... you really are the best!

Love and pixie dust!
- Becca :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Treasures Untold: Fun Facts with The Little Mermaid!

The day is here!

Yes, the long-awaited release of The Little Mermaid: Diamond Edition has arrived, and the entire Disney fandom is rejoicing! With this new edition of the 1989 classic hitting shelves, an entire generation is being introduced to its headstrong heroine, sweeping score, and the epic tail tale about dreams coming true. Ariel's story is very special to me for a number of reasons, but the standout among them is the fact that The Little Mermaid brought me to a deeper appreciation and love for the films of my childhood (without which, this blog wouldn't exist). I can still vividly picture my thirteen-year-old self huddled under the covers at 3 AM, poring over behind-the-scenes featurettes and commentaries on the family's portable DVD player (hah!), agog with the newfound understanding of how monumental this movie truly was. It held a place in something greater than my own history, or even the histories of the other millions of children who clamored over this now-nostalgic gem; The Little Mermaid began an era and breathed fresh life into a company struggling to bounce back from a tragic loss. Of course, I soon came to realize that Ariel sat atop the tip of an iceberg (hey, it is a Danish story!), with decades of animated masterpieces just waiting to be explored!

Arguably the best thing to come out of those nights (other than, y'know, an enduring love for the Walt Disney Company) is the treasure trove of trivia imparted by the smorgasbord of bonus features and behind-the-scenes goodies on my Platinum Edition DVD... so what better way to celebrate the newest release than to recount my favorite fishy fun facts?!

1) "Part of Your World" was nearly cut from the film.


At a test-screening during the film's production, Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg noticed a child becoming restless during the now-beloved ballad, declared it "boring", and pushed to have it removed from the film. Luckily, Glen Keane (Ariel's lead animator and- let's be real- living legend) convinced the big guy to give the song one last shot... and the rest is history!

2. There are over a million bubbles in the movie... and they're all hand-drawn!


I know, Sebastian. I know.

3. Songwriters Howard Ashman and Alan Menken collaborated previously on the off-Broadway hit Little Shop of Horrors.


In fact, "Part of Your World" was fondly nicknamed "Somewhere That's Wet"- a reference to the "I Want" song of Little Shop's heroine, Audrey.

4) Walt Disney attempted to tackle the Hans Christian Andersen classic decades before it was a twinkling in the animators' eyes. 

The film's directors, Ron Clements and Jon Musker, found the concept art for an adaptation dating back to the 1930's while researching the story idea (which I can't seem to find at the moment!).

5) Ursula has only six tentacles...

via fanpop

... in the words of voice actress Pat Carroll: "Because it is less expensive to draw!" 

Do you have any trivial tidbits stored away in your arsenal? And, more importantly, will you be picking up the fancy-schmancy new Diamond Edition? Let me know in the comments below!