Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kill Refurb Marry: Songs from Animated Classics

Gather 'round, princes and princesses, because it's time for another game of…


On the agenda this month? Songs from animated Disney films, a.k.a. the most difficult decisions I've had to make in my young life.

Kill: "The Journey," The Rescuers



Recently, I've been really intrigued by The Rescuers. The animation, its history- it's just fascinating to me. What isn't so intriguing? Its soundtrack. The 70's style just doesn't work for me, and I usually find myself skipping them whenever possible. "The Journey" is a strange choice to me for opening credits, where it might have been more effective to start with something upbeat that would grab the audience's attention. And, y'know, something that begins a little less terrifyingly. 

(Incidentally, I omit the "Rescue Aid Society" from the lackluster majority of Rescuers songs. Mostly because of adorable international mice.)

Refurb: "You Mother and Mine," Peter Pan





It's weird- I love this song… but at the same time, I don't  love this song. As much as I adore Kathryn Beaumont's performance as Wendy, her singing here is pretty lackluster. Of course, that's understandable, as she was only fifteen when the film was released! Still, the sentiment of the song is sweet as can be, and I think it could gain popularity if used in something like a Mother's Day campaign. 

Basically, I'm not sure how I'd like to refurb this one, but I know that it could use it!

Marry: "When You Wish Upon a Star," Pinocchio





The Disney songbook is full of pieces that make us laugh, smile, and cry, but for all of us there is one song that captures entirely the essence of Disney magic. For me, that is Jiminy Cricket's dreamy, hopeful ballad "When You Wish Upon a Star." The sweeping orchestration and mellifluous tenor of Cliff Edwards are enough for this song's superiority, but for me, it is the message of hope and perseverance that sets it apart. When things are fantastic and my spirits are high, it soars alongside me. When the chips are down and I'm searching for a little hope, this song reminds me that believing in and pursuing my dreams will pay off in the end. And isn't that what Disney magic is all about?

Which songs would you kill, refurb, or marry? Post your choices in the comments below, then check out this month's other fabulous Kill, Refurb, Marry posts!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Remembering Robin Williams...

Yesterday, many of us received an unexpected jolt with the news of Robin Williams very sad and untimely passing. With Williams' prolific repertoire, it's hard to find someone who hasn't been touched by the comedian's work. His humor and heart reached across generations to bring a little more laughter and a lot more light to the lives of every person who watched him perform.

My first encounter with the work of Robin Williams, like so many of my generation, came with 1992's Aladdin. As a little one, I delighted in the silliness of the Genie's antics, only to find even more enjoyment as I grew up and understood why those antics made me laugh. After Aladdin, I went on to love numerous more works of the incomparable Williams, but that first experience will always hold a very special place in my heart.

In a statement to the press, Williams' wife expressed a wish that all of us might, instead of focusing on the sadness of his passing, celebrate "the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions." In the spirit of her request, I wanted to share my favorite moments from the movie that introduced me to Robin Williams (and a world of laughter).

I so distinctly remember quoting, "It will not break! … it broke." to my family in annoying excess.


"The hair! The eyes! Pick a feature!"


And, last but not least, who could forget…


In short: Rest in peace, Robin Williams. And thanks for everything.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Food… Saturday? 'Ohana Bread Pudding!

What's better than a Disney recipe?

A Disney recipe made from another Disney recipe!

Recipe-ception.

Almost as soon as I took my 'Ohana-Inspired Pineapple Bread out of the oven, I knew I had to set some  aside to make this divine bread pudding. Decadently dense and topped with warm bananas foster sauce, this dessert is unbelievable tasty… and, surprisingly, quite easy to make!

The pudding itself comes together in a snap. All you have to do is cube up some of your yummy pineapple bread (or regular French bread… whatever strikes your fancy), toast it up in the oven, and bake it with the lightly spiced custard. The result is a rich bread pudding that can be enjoyed with or without any topping… but I think you'll be wanting that bananas foster sauce!

Quick Tip: The custard recipe calls for whole milk. If you don't happen to have any lying around (like I didn't) a mixture of equal parts skim milk and half and half works just as well!

Bread pudding, right out of the oven!

The pudding is wonderful by itself, but the caramel-y bananas foster sauce takes it totally over-the-top. Though the recipe sauce is a little more involved than the pudding's, it's definitely worth giving a shot. I made mine without the rum, partially because I didn't have any around, but also because I imagine any attempt at flambéing would result in me starting a house fire. Anyway, I just had to cook it a little longer and still ended up with a sauce that, while less traditional, added depth and interest to the flavors of the dessert!

Get in my belly.
If you want to try the recipe for yourself, head on over to AllEars.Net and check it out! And if you decide to take on the task, share your results in the comments or send them my way on Twitter at @PixieDustBecca!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

In Which Becca Tests Her Disney Song Smarts...

Hey there, princes and princesses!

I don't have a proper post for you guys today, but I do have something fun to share!

A few weeks ago in my adventures on the Interwebs, I stumbled across a challenge/tag video circulating on YouTube called the "Disney Karaoke Challenge". Now, I don't know if you guys have realized it, but I'm just a little bit enamored with the music of Disney films (though, in my defense, the fact that I maintain an off-and-on series called "Music Mondays" probably should've been your first clue). Basically, the challenge consists of a medley of instrumental renditions of classic Disney tunes. The challenger's task is, without having heard the track prior, record themselves in one take, correctly  singing as many of the lyrics as possible.

I definitely missed some no-brainers (much face-palming commenced after playing it back) but it was a blast to do… even if it did show me that I have some brushing up to do! If you want to do the challenge before watching the video, you can find the track here. And if you decide to take on the task, send it my way on Twitter or in the comments.


Would you guys like to see more videos like this one? Please let me know! I had so much fun making this one, and I'd love to keep it up! :)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Food Friday: 'Ohana-Inspired Pineapple Bread

I've got a Disney Bucket List.

It is extensive, it is extravagant, and it will probably take 30 years and a chuck of change to complete (if at all). I touched on it about a year ago in this post, but since being around the parks more the list has only served to grow to truly astounding length. However, not all of my check-offs are up in the stratosphere of possibility. One of the biggest is simply to dine at some of Walt Disney World's numerous award-winning table-service establishments.

That's right: I have never eaten at a Disney restaurant that wasn't quick-service*. I mean, when you look at it, it makes perfect sense. Growing up, most of my visits to Disney were with school groups, and really, what teenager is going to waste lunchtime sitting down and eating fancy food when she could be riding Splash Mountain and noshing on a corn dog?

Even though I've grown up and developed a more…. shall we say… refined palate, I'm still a college student of fairly meager means and any food over ten bucks is expensive. Incidentally, this is what often leads me to grab a School Bread around one o'clock and call it "lunch".

Balanced meals, kids. Do as I say, not as I do. 

*Okay, I've just realized that I've had multiple meals at Rainforest Café… but does that one really count?

All of this rambling exposition goes to say that I haven't actually ever tasted today's recipe in its original form. Someday I'll make it to the Polynesian Resort's 'Ohana restaurant (and Kona Café… but that's a different brand of pining for a different time!) 

As with last month's School Bread recipe, I made a few tweaks based on ingredient availability and personal preference. For starters, the recipes calls for unsweetened coconut flakes in the filling. I happened to have a lingering 1/3 of a bag of sweetened flakes that begged using up in the fridge, so I used those and simply cut the sugar by half.  I switched butter for the shortening because shortening weirds me out. The original recipe also calls for high-gluten flour… unless you're really committed to an identical product, just use bread flour. I mean, if you use the fancy high-gluten stuff on a regular basis, knock yourself out. Bread flour was what I had on hand and it worked out beautifully.

One last thing: I substituted an envelope of active dry yeast proofed in a few tablespoons warm water for the instant yeast that the original recipe called for. It was a matter of what I had on hand, and the active dry yeast worked very well. Of course, I'm sure the instant yeast yields the same result, so just use what's convenient for you!


Now, since I haven't had the real thing, I can't vouch for authenticity.

What I can say, though, is holy wow I want to eat this every day for the rest of my life.


'Ohana-Inspired Pineapple Bread
Adapted from allears.net

Ingredients

Bread: 

- 1 3/4 c water           - 1 egg yolk
- 2 T butter, cubed    - 4 1/2 c bread flour
- 1/2 tsp salt               - 1/3 c sugar
- 1 envelope active dry yeast, or 1 T instant yeast

Pineapple-Coconut Filling
- 1 c crushed pineapple
- 1 c sweetened coconut flakes
- 1/2 c sugar
- 2 T cornstarch

Directions:

For Filling: 
  1. In a medium-small bowl, combine 1 cup pineapple and 1 cup coconut. 
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
  3. Add sugar mixture to pineapple mixture, mix well, and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

For Bread: 
  1. In a cup or small bowl, sprinkle packet of yeast over several tablespoons warm water. Allow to proof while mixing other ingredients. If using instant yeast, skip this step. 
  2. Combine all other ingredients (in order listed) in a large mixing bowl. Add proofed yeast (if using  instant yeast, add now). Mix until dough comes together and leaves sides of the bowl clean. 
  3. Allow to rise until doubled in size. (For me, this took about an hour!)
  4. Once dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out until it's about 2 inches thick.
  5. Remove pineapple mixture from fridge and spread evenly on top of dough.
  6. Fold dough over and transfer it to a greased 9x13 pan.
  7. Cut dough into 12 squares and arrange evenly in the pan.
  8. Allow dough to rise in a warm oven (110 degrees) until halfway up the side of the pan.
  9. Bake bread at 325 degrees for 20-25, or until golden brown on top. 
  10. Allow to cool, and enjoy!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Into the Woods… To Watch the Trailer!

Rejoice! Rejoice! The day has arrived!

What day, you ask? 

The day we finally get to see a trailer for Disney's upcoming adaptation of Into the Woods


I could make a bunch of clever references and pummel you with lyric-related puns, but I'll just say that I am so excited for this movie! (Besides, Disney's official blogs are already slaying with their titles alone.) I do wish that we had gotten to hear just a little bit of singing in the trailer, but I'm sure there will be plenty more to come in the coming months. Into the Woods is one of my all-time favorite shows and I cannot wait to see more as we get closer to the film's December 25 release date!

Bonus: Since it's Throwback Thursday and all, I can't help but sneak in this photo of me when I played the Baker's Wife back in high school! I'm the one on the right (with the slightly silly hat)!

Undoubtedly about to go have a moment in the woods...

Will you be going "Into the Woods" on Christnas Day? Sound off in the comments!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It's a Festival of Fantasy!

Okay… so I may be a tad obsessed with the Magic Kingdom's new(ish) Festival of Fantasy parade. 

Since its premiere in mid-March, it has been a non-negotiable part of my MK game plan, and one that I don't see changing any time in the foreseeable future. The bright colors and upbeat music exude total joy, while intricate costumes and choreography create an aesthetic that simply cannot be beat. Every time I see it I find something new to fall in love with, and every time I walk away with my heart just a little more full of hope, happiness, and magic. 

With so much going on in the parade, I never want to miss a moment, but I was able to catch a few of my favorites during my most recent trip! 









 Have you had a chance to catch Festival of Fantasy? I think my favorite float has to be Ariel's… but it's just too tough to choose! I'd love to hear yours in the comments below!

Shameless plug: The Festival of Fantasy parade actually inspired my very first article in the most recent issue of Celebrations Magazine! It's a fantastic publication and I highly recommend it to anyone with a love for Disney parks and films. Check it out at celebrationspress.com!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Music Monday: Summer Magic

Growing up, I was destined to be a Hayley Mills fan.

It began with The Parent Trap. When, my mother (who is, not coincidentally, an identical twin) had the  1961 classic playing in our VCR on a regular basis. Seriously, I was so in love with the original Parent Trap that I was utterly bewildered when the kids at school started raving about the Lindsay Lohan remake. The obsession gained momentum with Blockbuster rentals of Pollyanna and That Darn Cat!, but the pièce de resistance came to me by way of a box of old VHS tapes uncovered during spring cleaning at my grandmother's house.

Summer Magic, released in 1963, is a charming film about a Boston family seeking a new life in  rural Beulah, Maine. Over the course of the film, they encounter a colorful cast of characters and silly situations, culminating in what turns out to be a lesson in family, friendship, and hope that is a delight for audiences of all ages. As a little girl, I adored the pretty dresses, and the toe-tapping Sherman Brothers tunes. Now that I'm a bit older, I still love the turn-of-the-century fashion and the themes resonate even more than before, but the aspect that reigns supreme continues to be the fabulous and highly underrated songs written by Richard and Robert Sherman. Today, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites and give them the credit they deserve!

1) "Flitterin'"

If this ditty isn't just classic Sherman Brothers, I don't know what is! "Flitterin'" is one of those songs that you know you'll be humming for at least a week after hearing, but you really don't mind. This one definitely gets more than a few plays every August as I  head back to school, so I'll be hearing it quite a bit in the next few weeks!

2) "Pink of Perfection"


While I didn't appreciate this song so much as a young'un, the cleverness of the lyrics along with the irony of it all (the victim of the song's jabs could hardly be described as "a witch's confection") have made it one of my favorites!

3) "On the Front Porch"



Burl Ives, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Aside from my adoration of Mr. Ives, this piece is just the best. Perfectly fitting the tone of the film, and inspiring the nostalgia of lazy summer evenings of years gone by, there couldn't be a better song for sitting around and spending time with the ones you love. And if that weren't enough to convince you, Robert Sherman considered "On the Front Porch" his favorite piece from the Sherman Brothers repertoire. 

Have you seen Summer Magic? If so, which piece is your favorite? Be sure to share your answer in the comments!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Celebrating Enchanted's Edward

Oh, Disney princes.

Handsome.

Charming.

Possessing widely varied degrees of personality depth.

I began to ruminate on the pantheon of princes the other day, and realized that one of my favorites doesn't seem to get much love- Prince Edward of Andalasia from 2007's Enchanted. Now, I know he isn't technically an official prince, but he nevertheless deserves recognition for being his wonderful self. And with rumblings of a sequel, we can only hope to see even more of him!

So without further ado, here are just a few reasons why we should all give Prince Edward a little more credit and a lot more love:


Well, for starters, he's brave...

… gracious…


…and not too rough to look at (if you know what I'm sayin').



He finds delight in the little things…



Not to mention that he's revolutionized the solo-duet…


He doesn't waste any time…



And while he may not be the brightest, he does his best!




Loyal to the end…


But ultimately putting the needs of others before his own…


Really, his handsome highness says it best himself…


Do you have a favorite underrated Disney character? Share yours in the comments below!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quick Snaps from Storybook Circus

Hey there, princes and princesses!

So, a little while ago I did the unheard of and got three whole posts out in one week. Apparently that was exhausting because two weeks have gone by without a single shred of new content put up. Seriously, I think I saw a tumbleweed go across the page.

Okay, the real story is that some things came up and made me rather busy (I won't bore you with details) and I'll get back to blogging just as soon as I can. In the meantime, though, I thought I'd share some snapshots from my latest trip out to the Magic Kingdom!

This most recent trip was spent largely in the Storybook Circus area. It has honestly become my favorite little corner of the park, and there's just so much to explore! I adore the whimsy and bright colors of it all, especially on Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

Disclaimer: These were taken on my phone so the quality of the images isn't superb, but I just had to share!




Again, thanks for hanging in while things are slow here. I promise to start regular posting as soon as I possibly can!

What's your favorite part of Storybook Circus? As much as I love Dumbo, I think my top marks go to Big Top Souvenirs- I can (and do) spend hours wandering around in there! 

Love and Pixie Dust, 
Becca :)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Food Friday: Norwegian Delight (School Bread Recipe!)

Sweet, satisfying, creamy goodness…



… it is the Epcot delicacy that needs no introduction….


… one snack to rule them all:  Norway's School Bread.


If you've spent a little bit of time around the blog, you will have seen copious evidence of my obsession with intense love for School Bread. Since tasting it last August, hardly a day goes by that I don't dream of relaxing in Epcot's Kringla Bakeri with a knife, a fork, and this champion of all World Showcase snacks. Seriously- I would eat this stuff every day if I could.

Unfortunately, I do not live at Walt Disney World (though my friends and family might say otherwise!), and thus School Bread and I see each other far too little. So, in an attempt to remedy the lack of School Bread in my life, I tried my hand at a homemade rendition!

Around the internet, a Disney-loving baker will find no shortage of recipes for the beloved Norwegian treat. Walt Disney World's recipe can be found on allears.net as well as the Disney Food Blog, but I opted to go with this more traditional recipe that I found on allrecipes.com. (Side note: I have actually tried the Epcot recipe in the past, but my results were less than stellar.) I did make a few tweaks to the original recipe to more closely resemble Disney's version, like using half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose. I also substituted a cinnamon/nutmeg mixture for the traditional cardamom, not for any culinary reason, but because this lazy princess did not feel like tracking it down at a grocery store!

This "skolebrod"recipe isn't a carbon copy of what you'll find it Epcot's Norway pavilion; they're a good bit smaller, the custard filling is a tad thicker, and the spiced roll provides a heartier bite than the softer one found at Kringla. It does, however, produce one amazing, mouthwateringly delicious pastry that's perfect as a dessert, an afternoon snack, or even as a sweet breakfast treat!

(One note: I completely spaced on the egg wash for the rolls when I made them, but I definitely think it would make a difference in creating a more traditional appearance. Because of that, I've kept it in the recipe below!)



School Bread
(Adapted from Allrecipes user MARBALET)

Ingredients

For the Roll:- 1 (.25 oz) packet active dry yeast                               - 1 1/2 cups warm milk- 1/3 cup butter, melted                                                   - 2 cups whole wheat flour- 2 cups all-purpose flour                                               - 1/2 cup sugar- 1 tsp cinnamon                                                               - 1 tsp nutmeg- 1 egg, lightly beaten

For the Glaze and Topping: 
- milk                                                                                  - confectioner's sugar- sweetened shredded coconut

For the Filling:
- 3 egg yolks                                                                    - 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 T cornstarch                                                      - 1 cup milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract                                                   - 3 T butter

Instructions:
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in milk and allow to proof for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  2. Add melted butter, whole wheat flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir until incorporated. 
  3. Stir in all-purpose flour one 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. After the dough has come together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and pliable.  Lightly spray a medium-large bowl with cooking spray and transfer dough to bowl. Roll dough around to lightly coat with oil and cover the bowl with a damp towel. Place bowl in a warm place and allow dough to rise until doubled in volume (about 1 hour).
  4. After dough has risen, roll out into a log and divide into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover rolls with a damp cloth and allow to rise until doubled in size (about 20 to 30 minutes). Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  5. Brush risen rolls with beaten egg and bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes (rolls will be lightly browned with pale sides). Place rolls on a wire rack and let cool completely. 
  6. For Glaze and Topping: Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Spread several handfuls of coconut onto a foiled baking sheet and toast in oven until golden brown. For the glaze, whisk together confectioner's sugar and milk to desired consistency. Transfer coconut and glaze into separate bowls. 
  7. For Filling: In a mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until combined. Whisk in two tablespoons of milk. Place remaining milk and vanilla into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and slowly add to egg mixture while whisking continuously. 
  8. Filling (cont.): Once combined, return mixture to saucepan and bring to boil on medium heat, whisking constantly. After mixture has boiled, remove it from the heat and whisk in the butter. Spread the mixture in a shallow baking pan and cover in plastic wrap, pressing wrap down on top of filling to prevent a skin forming. Place mixture in fridge to cool down.
  9. To assemble: Once rolls have cooled completely, burrow a hole in the top of each using your (clean!) finger. Dip the top of each roll first into the glaze, then into the toasted coconut, rolling around to coat. Fill a pastry bag (or ziploc bag with a snipped corner) with the cooled filling and pipe it into the rolls. 
  10. Close your eyes, take a bite, and pretend you're in Norway!
Have you ever tried to replicate a favorite Disney recipe? It's one of my favorite ways to bring a little Disney magic to my diet! :P
Love and Pixie Dust, 
Becca :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Road to runDisney: Back on the Horse

After my half marathon in May, I took a couple of weeks off from running. Between final exams, term papers, and plain old recovery, the break was more than necessary.

Two weeks turned into three, three turned into four… long story short, it's been nearly a month and a half since I laced up my sneakers. This happened for a couple of reasons:

1) Florida, as it turns out, is kind of hot in the summertime.
My planned return to a running regime was set to begin once I got back home for the summer. This plan was flawed for several reasons, the first being the fact that I don't have ready access to a treadmill and would be due for a face-off with my great enemy: outdoor running. Florida's climate tends to be on the toasty side regardless, but in these sunny summer months it just gets ridiculous. As I enjoy sleep too much to wake up before the sun and am inevitably exhausted by dark, the great outdoors were not the most ideal option.
2) Running alone.
This doesn't require much explanation. I am slightly paranoid, and the prospect of running outside by my lonesome is enough to keep me on the couch, safely indoors.

However, as of last night, my active running status has shifted. That's right, boys and girls- I am back in the game! 

Okay, so maybe it isn't quite that exciting. Last night, while on a walk with my wonderful mother, I made the impromptu decision to break into a trot. And it felt seriously awesome.

I ended up only running about a mile, but it's a mile more than I've gone in a month. I already can't wait to get back on the roads! What excited me even more than finally getting to run after so long, was that my mom actually joined me. Don't get me wrong- my mother is a pretty physically fit lady (in her younger days, she swam competitively and completed multiple triathlons), but a decades-old injury has prevented her from doing any sort of running or jogging. Seeing her running along with me (and having a grand old time doing it) was better than any "runner's high" I've ever had.

Do any of you have tips for dealing with the heat or running solo? I'd love some advice from this awesome community! 
Love and Pixie Dust, 
Becca :)


 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Take 5 Trip Report: Hooray for Hollywood? (5/30/14)

It finally happened.

After nine months of pass-holding and three failed attempts, I finally managed to get myself to Disney's Hollywood Studios. And man, oh man, it was…

kind of underwhelming?

I have never held a burning desire to visit the park, which-- let's face it-- has a bit of a reputation for needing a serious facelift. Honestly, the only attractions that ever grabbed my attention were Star Tours and Fantasmic!, and there have always seemed to be numerous more interesting things to do at Walt Disney World. Still, when my sister (who had also never been) suggested that we give it a shot, I couldn't refuse!

Unfortunately, we found out the hard way that the park's "half day" status is sort of deserved. After running through our three Fastpasses (The Great Movie Ride, Star Tours, and Toy Story Midway Mania… thanks, tier system), we grabbed a bite at the ABC Commissary, then took advantage of the park hopping option my sister thankfully added to her ticket. After arriving at Epcot, the two of us knew we had made the right decision. Bonus: Somebody got herself some delicious school bread! (Spoiler Alert: "Someone" was me.)

The Great Movie Ride was a fun Fastpass pick. We got the Western scene!

I think my main beef with Hollywood Studios was its (in my opinion) senseless layout. For someone who is so accustomed to the "hub-and-spoke" system, I was utterly baffled by the park's cluster-y setup.  My sister and I found ourselves constantly wandering in circles and never ending up where we wanted to be. For instance,we were considering making our way over to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, but we quickly abandoned the thought when we discovered that it was as far from us as anything could possibly be. Yes, the difficult navigation definitely occurred in part to it being my first visit, but there was little to differentiate one section from the other and nondescript buildings do not lend themselves to successful navigation. Of course, I'm not ruined for visiting Hollywood Studios ever again-- I mean, there's literally an entire side of the park I've yet to see! I may not be in love, but we can still be friends, right?

Lest we forget that this is a "Take 5" report, here are my top picks from the day!

1) Toy Story Midway Mania

I am the sharp-shooting loser on the red side!

Everyone knows of the hype that surrounds this arcade-style attraction, and I have always wondered if the cult-like devotion it commands is truly warranted. Now that I've actually experienced the ride, I can say that it totally is

For someone who is across-the-board awful at shooting games (seriously, no aim whatsoever), I had a blast competing in the toy-box carnival in spite of my less-than-impressive score.

2) Park Hopping
Judging by the crowd on the tram, our sentiments weren't necessarily shared!

Like I said, the general consensus re: Hollywood Studios could be summed up in one word: "meh." Luckily, we prepared for this situation by opening the option to switch parks midday. 

To say that park hopping saved the day would be a massive understatement. While the two of us had fun at the Studios, the day really took off when we crossed the Epcot entry gate. What ensued was a lovely, leisurely afternoon of strolling through the World Showcase and enjoying its many spoils. Which brings me to...

3) Tasty Treats on the Promenade

I think I speak for most everyone when I say that the World Showcase is the most amazing spot for snacks. Naturally, I couldn't pass by my beloved Norway for a date with this deliciousness...

One does not simply "stop to take a picture" when this kind of scrumptiousness is involved.

We also stopped by Les Artisans des Glaces in the France pavilion, where my sister picked up a couple scoops of mint chocolate chip. Oh my goodness, this stuff was by far the best ice cream to ever pass my lips. I was too full to grab a cone for myself, but I was more than happy to polish off the last of my companion's!


I am still kicking myself for not snapping a photo of the glorious nachos we feasted upon at dinnertime, but a visual aid is still necessary to convey this monstrous mountain of tastiness. Get these. They are massive and probably awful for you, but they are so yummy.

4) Sister Time

Sissy selfies all around!

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it (or really had occasion to), but I have two sisters! Yippee! Since the three of us have grown up and begun to go our separate ways, the times that we're able to spend together are all the more precious. I so treasured the hours I spent with my big sissy on our Disney day, especially since we were able to share experiences at my favorite place in the world. As much as I love touring the parks by myself, it was awesome to have someone to chat with, ride with, and (most importantly) share the aforementioned snacks with!


5) This guy:

Didn't you hear? Dumbo pillow pets make the best blogging assistants!

Best belated birthday gift? I think so.

How do you guys feel about Hollywood Studios? I feel like I should give it another shot… but there are so many other things to do!

Love and Pixie Dust,
Becca :)

P.S.- If you'd like to come along on my in-park adventures, hop on over to Twitter and check out @PixieDustBecca!



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It's to the Train We Go!

It's official!

As of yesterday, May 28, the Magic Kingdom's Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is open for business. This momentous occasion marks the completion of New Fantasyland and the culmination of years of Disney fans' anxious anticipation. Since the project was first announced, Disney has been keeping fans up to date on all things Mine Train, from presentations at the D23 Expo to ample sneak peeks on the Disney Parks Blog and its YouTube channel. Yesterday, they held through to the end, posting the ribbon-cutting ceremony with Snow White and her dwarf-y pals!



It'll be a few days before I can go to work in Magic Kingdom's newest mine, but in the meantime, I'll be brushing up on my Mine Train know-how with my favorite sneak-peek videos.



I'm totally fascinated with the unique format of this attraction: half-roller coaster, half-traditional dark ride. As I'm sure I've mentioned (and probably to excess), thrill rides aren't so much "my thing", but show me an audio-animatronic and I'll go positively gaga. That's why I love this clip from the Imagineers showing us just what goes into creating the state-of-the-art technology used in the new attraction. 




One of the coolest things about all of these preview videos is seeing everything that goes into the creative process. Disney is renowned for their attention to detail, but videos like this one pull back the curtain to inspire even further appreciation for all the Imagineers do. Just hearing about all that goes into painting the mine cars is enough to make my head spin!

source

Interactives queues are all the rage in Disney parks these days, and I am one hundred percent on board! Looking at this video, I wouldn't mind waiting in the standby line… in fact, I might even prefer it! 

What are you most looking forward to on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? I know I can't wait to ride! 


Love and Pixie Dust, 
Becca :)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Introducing: A Pixie Dusted Vlog!

It's finally happened. For nearly a year, I've promised Disney trip vlogs without fruition. That is, of course, because they were all so terrible that they will never see the light of day (I promise- it's for your own good!). But today, I finally deliver on that promise.

In lieu of a full-on trip report (which, let's face it, I was kind of terrible at in the first place), I present to you (drumroll, please)… the very first Princesses and Pixie Dust VLOG! I truly had such an amazing time; between meeting Anna and Elsa, reuniting with beloved attractions, and staking a prime spot for the incomparable Festival of Fantasy, I couldn't have asked for more magical start to a summer full of Walt Disney World shenanigans!


Please let me know if you guys would like to see more videos like this one! It was a blast to make, and such a fun memento for a fantastic day.

What is your favorite part of a day at the Magic Kingdom? Let me know in the comments below!


Love and Pixie Dust, 
Becca :)


Friday, May 23, 2014

The Road to runDisney: My First Half!

Well, guys... I did it. I ran my first half marathon.

This is clearly a "before" picture, evidenced by the fact that I do not look like a tomato after a rainstorm.

Where to begin? I guess I ought to give a little background on the event itself. This rac was part of the YMCA's national "Healthy Kids Day", and our particular event (in Spartanburg, SC, for anyone with aburning curiosity) stretched from one Y location to another, culminating in a giant community fair.  The half marathon was an inaugural event, and ended up being a lot smaller than I anticipated; there were just shy of 100 participants, and even fewer actually ran the course (not that there's anything wrong with walking a half marathon... I don't know that I could do it!). In retrospect, the size of the event was totally ideal for a first race. Experience levels ran the gamut from newbies like me to hardcore pros, but I never once felt out of place.

No, officer, I wasn't taking a selfie...
The Course

As I mentioned before, the race ran from a YMCA just outside of Spartanburg to the finish line in front of a Y in the heart of the city. While a loop-ier course may have been more practical, I really loved the scenery along the way. Since I don't spend much time in Spartanburg (my university is about an hour away), I'm not too familiar with the geography. Because of that, I was treated to a constant stream of new views, whether crossing a river on an overpass or checking out the trees on a secluded residential road. My favorite portion of the race was definitely the part that wound through a the town's more suburban neighborhoods. Seriously, those pretty little houses were such a welcome sight, even if only for momentary distraction from my aching calves. That stretch was also brilliant because it was almost entirely downhill. Which brings me to my one complaint...

The course was so hilly. Like, was slanted upward for a good 60 percent of the race hilly. I don't know why it caught me so much by surprise, but I was definitely expecting at least a marginally flatter terrain. Luckily, the area where I trained prepared me enough and I was careful to include inclines in my treadmill workouts, but I will certainly not be taking even ground for granted when training for future races!
The course was full of pretty backroads like this one... springtime was
 perfect for green trees and pretty blooms along the way!

One of the homes along the route- so pretty!

The Race

Even in the days leading up to the race, I wasn't sure if I would actually make the full thirteen miles. I wasn't particularly militant about my training plan and even when I had followed it, the longest run I had done was just twelve miles. Of course, I realize after the fact that it was a totally normal mileage, but it was enough to make me nervous! In order not to collapse around mile 10 or so, my game plan focused on pacing myself and not starting too eagerly out of the gate (as I am a little notorious for doing). I guess it paid off, because once I got into my groove, I was able to make it with more stamina and fewer walking breaks than I ever anticipated!

If I had to pinpoint the two things that got me through it, they would undoubtedly be pretzels and power jams. Pretzels are my ultimate mid-run fuel, as I discovered after much trial and error. Gatorade gave me tummyaches and gels scared me, but those salty twists prevailed as the perfect carb boost when I needed it most. As for the power jams, they were delivered via a special race playlist made the night prior. Every three miles, a selection of songs would play to get me through the next stretch. Nothing lifted my flagging spirits like a blast of "Zero to Hero" or "Let it Go" in my earbuds, reminding me of my progress while bringing a smile to my face.

Hooray!

The goal I set for the race was to finish under two and a half hours. And I'll tell you, nothing felt better than running past the cheering spectators to the finish line, getting my very own medal, and seeing my official chip time of 2:16:21.

The "after" shot.


Final Thoughts


Other runners raved about the half marathon distance, citing it as their absolute favorite. I thought those people were absolutely, two-hundred percent, off their rockers. "Of the many shorter options for racing, you pick thirteen miles? You know that people are still impressed when you only run three, right?" Of course, now having actually run the distance, I know just what they mean.

Practically the moment I crossed the finish line, I was hooked on the half marathon distance... and scheming to find the next one! Unfortunately, it won't be a runDisney event just yet- my plans for the 2015 Princess Half are no longer (sad face)- but I can't wait to keep working toward that ultimate goal.

Before I sign off, I just wanted to thank all of you (especially you Twitter pals!) for cheering me on and supporting me throughout the training process. Running is wonderful on its own, but it's even better with a community like this one!

Love and Pixie Dust,
Becca :) 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Are You Ready to "Rock Your Disney Side"?

Well guys, it's almost here! In just a few days, Disneyland Park and Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom will open their gates for a full 24 hours. This "heroes versus villains" extravaganza promises to be totally epic… but are you totally prepared?

You're not?!

Luckily, the internet is abuzz with tips for making the most of your extra hours, starting with the Disney Parks Blog's PSA about pre-event lineups:


Disney parks' official blog can also clue you in on event-exclusive merchandise, entertainment, and more! (Be sure to poke around on the site for even more ways to show your Disney side, like outfit and nail tutorials with a magical twist!)

If special snacks are what you're after, the Disney Food Blog has the scoop (no pun intended) on all the delectable goodies you'll find at the event in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland!

Will you be attending the "Rock Your Disney Side" event? Please share in the comments below!

Love and Pixie Dust,
Becca :)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Kill, Refurb, Marry: Disney Princesses

It's that time again, folks! The time has come again for everyone's favorite blog hop- it's time for:

(If your mind shouted that game show-style, my work here is done.)

This month's game of Kill, Refurb, Marry is all about the Disney royalty- princess, to be specific! It was tough to pick favorites in the lineup of ladies I grew up loving (and I'm still a bit resentful about killing one off), but I've made my choices and am ready to share them with you! Here we go! 


Kill: Rapunzel


Here's the thing: I'm not a huge fan of Tangled.


I know, I know- to express any distaste for the long-haired heroine is akin to blasphemy in the Disney fandom these days. But put down your frying pans for a moment and allow me to explain. I will admit that the film has grown on me since we first encountered each other in 2010. Flynn Rider is undeniably dreamy, the psychology of Mother Gothel is deliciously complex, and the script's sparkling wit has come through as multiple viewings brought out unseen nuances. Why is it, then, that the movie's protagonist manages to rub me so much the wrong way? In fact, there's nothing that I inherently dislike about Rapunzel. She's kind of "meh" for me, and in the game of Kill, Refurb, Marry, lukewarm ambivalence is a quick path to the axe.


Please don't get me wrong- I would never, ever wish to kill a Disney princess. And if I'm honest, Rapunzel is a total blast to meet in the parks. So rather than a kill, lets just consider this a gentle brush aside.

Refurb: Aurora


(Note: It was entirely too difficult to find an image of Aurora that was actually from her movie. For shame.)

Oh, Aurora. I feel like Disney often forgets about the heroine of the 1959 classic, not due to a lack of presence, but through a serious misunderstanding of her character. Aurora falls prey, more than any other of her royal peers, to the trap of the Disney Princess franchise. You know what I'm talking about- you can't walk into a single merchandise location that isn't generously stocked with mugs and t-shirts plastered with her face, almost always accompanied by some "sassy" catchphrase like, "High Maintenance" or "My Castle, My Rules." My issue isn't with the goods themselves, but rather how far they deviate from Aurora as an actual character.

Seriously- this is a thing!

Sleeping Beauty  ranks as one of my all-time favorite films, and it wouldn't take to much reclaim the grace and charm that set Aurora apart from the rest of the princess pantheon. Come on, Disney- you can do it!

Marry: Tiana



Princess and the Frog, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Okay, I won't count all the ways, but I will say that my love lies largely in the movie's heroine. Tiana is a special kind of Disney princess. Hardworking and determined, she shows girls that dreams are meant to be achieved, and that your heart's wishes can come true as long as you're willing to take them there. Tiana is a magnificent role model for young girls… and can cook up a mean gumbo to boot!

I kid you not, this moment was a highlight of my young life.

Honorable "Marry" Mention: Giselle


A princess in my heart!

What would your "Kill, Refurb, Marry" picks be? Leave them in the comments below, then check out all of the other great posts in this month's hop!