Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

Gobble, gobble! Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Who wouldn't love this to be their Thanksgiving table?
(Image by Charles Boyer, via A Cartoon Christmas)

As we all prepare to sit down to our smorgasbords of turkey, stuffing, and all the fixin's, I just wanted to write a quick post to tell all of you how deeply grateful I am for your readership. Beginning this blogging journey was sort of a scary step; I've never shared much of my writing and was a bit nervous to jump into the "big pond" of the Disney blogosphere. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect the warm and welcoming response that would greet me. In good times and bad, through regular posting and slow spells, you all have been nothing short of gracious, encouraging, and perfectly lovely. This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for you, my blog readers, my Twitter followers, and, most of all, my pals. Thanks for supporting me and making the past few months so very magical!

What are you thankful for today? 

Hope you and yours have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
Love and pixie dust, 
Becca :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Road to RunDisney: The Starting Line

At one time or another, even the very best of us get stuck in a rut. You know what I mean: falling into the same old routine, day in and day out, with nothing to ruffle your feathers a little bit. And when that hits, sometimes the best thing to do is find a brand new hobby that'll lift you out of that funk. Heck, that's what made me decide to start Princesses and Pixie Dust (well, that and the fact that one who is pursuing a career in blogging should probably, you know, blog)!

However, starting this blog was not my only weapon against the drudgery of daily life; the fight against that old ennui, paired with a positively shameful level of personal fitness, enticed me to take up another pastime: running. Now, I have never been, shall we say, "athletically inclined" (nor would my history with sports-related activities suggest so; the swim meets of my youth were attended solely to enjoy the spoils of the illustrious "goodie bag"), but I needed a new "project" and, by my way of thinking, getting myself up and moving was the perfect place to start (also, telling people you're a runner makes you sound super impressive).  And that, my friends, is where Disney comes into the picture (it always does!).

I've been intrigued by runDisney from the first time my high school musical director whined about the crowds caused by the Princess Half Marathon, which happened to fall on the same weekend as our cabaret's annual trip to Walt Disney World. His gripes weren't enough to keep a gaggle of wide-eyed high school students from the Magic Kingdom, but their target piqued my interest: "A whole 13.1 miles dedicated to Disney princesses?", I thought, "how fun!". The thought promptly left my mind until one fateful day a year and a half later when I stumbled across some vlogs and blog posts about some runners' experiences at the 2012 Princess Half-Marathon. At that point, I had been testing the waters at my university's gym, toying with the idea of maybe starting to run. After a good few months of hemming and hawing, I took the plunge (and boy am I glad I did!).

I've been running for about five months now, and I'm set to run my first 5k at the end of the month (actually, in ten days- it's a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot!). I chose to begin running at an incredibly opportune time (feel the sarcasm) for runDisney- read: after every conceivable race had filled up-, so I'm not currently training for a Disney race, but I thought it might be fun to take you guys along on my running journey! Every Friday (which was, incidentally, when this puppy was meant to go up), I'll be writing about runDisney news, my favorite Disney running blogs, and my experiences as I work toward fitness... and (eventually) running through the castle! So, lace up those sneakers- it's gonna be fun!

Have a magical Monday!
- Becca :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It's a Small World After All!

It feels a little strange to be saying this (I am, after all, a nineteen-year-old college student), but Disney Junior has been killing it recently.

I grew up absolutely loving Playhouse Disney (the predecessor to what is now Disney Junior); when my family's acquired satellite television, I nearly threw a party because it meant that I had unlimited access to Out of the Box, Rolie Polie Olie, and Stanley... well, until my parents told me to go play outside! Naturally, as I got older, I grew apart from the beloved programming of my childhood, looking fondly upon PB & J Otter while I moved on to more sophisticated entertainment (read: Lizzie McGuire and That's So Raven). In recent years, my attention has been called back to Disney's television for tots, largely due to the momentum the Disney Junior channel has gained with shows like Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Sophia the First. Both series have proven popular with preschoolers and grown-up kids alike, and the transcendent popularity of these two shows has gotten me all the more excited to see what lies ahead for the Disney Junior brand.

Well, princes and princesses, I've seen it, and it looks really good.

 via YouTube

I'll let you just take that in for a moment. You alright? Okay, good (I worry, y'know?)

Yesterday, Disney released this teaser for It's a Small World: the Animated Series. To some, the simple fact that such a show is being made is enough to break out a cold sweat, and rightfully so; It's a Small World is a classic attraction with a rich history that could easily be cheapened by poor execution. Timelessness is a fragile thing, easily broken when trends and marketing overshadow the true spirit of the original entity. Heck, it wouldn't be the first time Disney's "upgrading" wouldn't have gone off as the hardcore fans hoped it would.

Still, despite all of that, I think that It's a Small World is going to be a really, honest-to-goodness good show. Why? I'm glad you asked (You did ask, right?)! For starters, I just adore all things Small World and couldn't be more thrilled with all the attention it's been getting recently. Between the lovely picture books and the new Animator's Collection dolls, love for the attraction (as well as Mary Blair's signature style) is the highest it's been in years! Speaking of Mary Blair, quite a bit of her artwork is evoked in this little clip! That, in itself, is even more encouraging; in a world that is becoming increasingly more dominated by CGI and three-dimensional characters, it is so refreshing to see homage paid to the styles of years gone by (especially when those styles are as brilliant as Ms. Blair's).

However, the one piece of the puzzle that puts my anxious mind at ease is the fact that the catchy ditty which scores the trailer was written by none other than the legendary Richard Sherman. Somehow, just knowing that quells any doubt and gives me belief in how special this project is going to be. The same bright, bouncing spirit that drives the original theme song of the park attraction is present in "On Our Merry Way"... and, yes, you'll probably have this one stuck in your head for a few hours days as well!

Currently, Disney is offering up the very vague premiere date of "later this month", but I'll be sure to let you all know as soon as more news is delivered! If you'd like to read more about the teaser and its signature tune, check out this post on Disney's official Insider blog!

Are you as excited as I am for this show? I don't get into Disney Junior as much as some others my age, but you can bet your buttons that I'll be plopped down in front of my T.V. for the first episode!

- Becca :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Once Upon A Christmastime: Celebrating the Season with Mickey Mouse!

Guys, I have said it before and I'll say it again:

I love Christmas. Like, caroling 24/7, elf-level crafting, and can-recite-every-Rankin-Bass-television-special-from-memory love Christmas. The aromas of pine and peppermint, the warm fuzzies of family togetherness, and the magic of one sentimental season when people are able to put aside their differences to celebrate the spirit of giving- everything about it warms the cockles of my heart. And naturally, being that person who begins her annual cycle of yuletide cheer in mid-September, I absolutely adore any situation that lets me bask in unadulterated, unbridled expressions of Christmas cheer... like Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom!

For those of you who aren't familiar with the event (which I don't suspect is many of you), Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a hard-ticket event in the Magic Kingdom of a similar structure to the Not-So-Scary celebration that runs in the months of September and October. During the party, guests are treated to special meet-and-greets with beloved (and often rare) characters, a festive fireworks display, and a parade that's filled to the brim with holiday cheer. As the spirit of the season kicked off this past weekend at the Magic Kingdom, I thought I'd share my five favorite things about Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!

1) The Atmosphere

Okay, this clearly isn't from the Party... but I didn't have a blog to think about then!

If you've never experienced Main Street, U.S.A. at Christmastime... man, you are missing out! Disney never (okay, rarely) does anything halfway, and that fact is unblinkingly apparent in the tinseled, trimmed, and totally decked halls (er- streets) of the quaint, little, turn-of-the-century spot. Wreaths and twinkling lights adorn shop windows, but nothing is so stop-in-your-tracks breathtaking as the tremendous Christmas tree smack dab in the middle of Town Square. Seriously, guys- if a tree can be "dressed to the nines", this one is it. From the first glimpse from the monorail (really, I wasn't joking about it being huge) to when it's an inch from your face, the only syllable able to escape your lips will be: "Whoa".

As you make your way past the magnificence of that enormous evergreen, the experience becomes even richer with the strains of classic Christmas tunes drifting above the crowd... and it doesn't stop at Cinderella Castle! Each area of the park possesses its own festive loop, from a steel-drum-and-marimba rendition of "Mele Kalikimaka" in  Adventureland to low-key arrangements of beloved carols in Liberty Square. No matter where you are in the Magic Kingdom, you're sure to be surrounded by nothing but Christmas cheer!

2) Did somebody say "free food"?!

Okay, so the complimentary cookies and hot chocolate served at the Party may not be "free" in the technical sense (you are buying a separate ticket for all this, after all), but any time I don't have to shell out extra dough for Disney yummies is a fine day in my book! (That, of course, is not to say that I wouldn't invest in some sweet snackage in the parks... School Bread, why can't I quit you?) The cookies (of which you have the choice of either Chocolate Chip or Snickerdoodle) are the perfect complement to a steaming cup of cocoa that will warm your belly right up- not to mention that the dunk-ability factor is off the charts! I should probably mention that the hot chocolate cups are rather petite (and that their contents come from a packet... hey, I'm not picky!), but both the cookies and cocoa are bottomless, so you can fill up to your tummy's content (read: go nuts, you crazy kid!).

Multiple counter-service locations throughout the park hand out these goodies, and are indicated on the Party's guide maps... or by the droves of guests anxiously awaiting their sweet treats!

3) Character Meet-and-Greets

Just a few highlights of my evening (with a special guest appearance from my cousin, Skye)!

I'll come right out and say it: character experiences make Disney for me; if I see a princess, you had better bet that I will turn into an ecstatic four-year-old faster than you can say "Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!". Luckily for me, Walt Disney World's hard-ticket parties offer character greeting experiences that are totally unique to any others that you'll find in the parks. From good ol' standby characters spruced up (usually in scarves- y'know, to endure those chilly Florida nights?) for the season to less frequently seen friends, opportunities abound for memorable and exciting experiences! Simply getting to meet characters like Scrooge McDuck and Flynn Rider (check out that smolder!) are enough to make the purchase of a separate ticket worth the while, but it really is the quality of character interactions that put Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (and its Halloween counterpart) head-and-shoulders above the ones that take place on a day-to-day basis. With crowds lighter than they would be during regular park hours, characters are able to spend a little more one-on-one time with guests... and I'm sure you can imagine the kind of shenanigans that ensue!

4) Holiday Wishes!
Also known as the show that needs no introduction. It's Disney, it's a fireworks show- how could it not be absolutely wonderful? On my visit, I watched the show from smack dab in the middle of Fantasyland, where I felt completely immersed in the magic. The program perfectly marries the magic of Disney to the incomparable spirit of Christmas that lives inside all of our hearts... not to mention the breathtaking view of Cinderella Castle draped with thousands of twinkling lights!

5) Once Upon A Christmastime...

via Disney Parks Blog

We all know that Disney knows how to throw a parade... but this is a parade. Packed with more characters than you could ever ask for, a catchy soundtrack, and a special holiday guest (whose belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly... hint hint), the Once Upon a Christmastime parade is a totally immersive experience that surrounds you with the sights, sounds, and, yes, even smells of the holiday season! I don't know about you, but not much else compares to the sweet aroma of gingerbread wafting through the air as the spectacle of toy soldiers and larger-than-life reindeer marching down the avenues of Frontierland, Liberty Square, and Main Street, U.S.A. as they herald the arrival of jolly Saint Nick.

If you aren't able to make it to the party, don't fret! Several sites have reported that, beginning December 21st, the parade will run during regular park hours. I certainly know I'll be making a trip out to see my very favorite Walt Disney World parade!

Have you ever been to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party? Last year's party remains- hands down- one of my most treasured Walt Disney World memories!