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!


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.


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! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Checking In and Looking Forward!

Hey, guys!

Things have been a little quiet here on Princess and Pixie Dust for the past couple of weeks, to which I say a) I'm sorry, and b) I'm really sorry.

I can't make up for my slackery just yet (still in the throes of finals week here!), I thought I'd pop in to chat about the exciting new things coming up at Walt Disney World. Summer of 2014 is proving to be quite the bustling time down in Florida, and the announcements just keep pouring in! From Animal Kingdom's new nighttime entertainment to Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios, there's so much to look forward to-- this is what I can't wait to see!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Magic Kingdom

Just today, Disney announced that the opening day for the long-awaited Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction will be May 28th! This opening marks the final phase of the Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland- something that has been a long time coming. Disney has been slowly releasing sneak previews to the public (check them out on their YouTube channel), but it'll be just incredible to finally experience it in the flesh!

Anna & Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall, Magic Kingdom

Just a few weeks ago, Anna and Elsa from the smash hit Frozen began meeting guests at Princess Fairytale Hall in the Magic Kingdom. This excites me for two reasons: 1)  the Norway Pavilion can now return to its formerly peaceful existence, and 2) the fantastic Frozen princesses are officially FastPass-able (FastPass+-able?)! As much as I've wanted to meet the newest Disney royals, I was not about to wait in a 3+ hour queue to do so (my patience, though generally quite sturdy, has its limits), so this move was awesome news. I'm pumped beyond belief to head over to the Magic Kingdom later this month and finally say hello to these lovely ladies!

 Harambe Nights, Animal Kingdom

In just the past couple of days, fans have received a barrage of information regarding this summer's nighttime entertainment at the Animal Kingdom. On select Saturday evenings from June to August, the park will be hosting "Harambe Nights" (brilliant name, by the way), an after-dark celebration featuring food, music, and the all-new The Lion King: Concert in the Wild show, hosted by a bevy of celebrity narrators over the course of its run. This event sounds absolutely incredible- especially for Animal Kingdom fanatics-, but, like most things at Disney, it comes at a price. Harambe Nights will be a hard-ticket event (akin to Mickey's Not-So-Scary and Very Merry Christmas parties), with admission priced at $119 for adults ($79 for the littler ones), this very special opportunity is a bit beyond my means. Still, even though I likely won't be able to attend myself, I'm looking forward to reading reviews and seeing pictures from this exciting event!

Learn more about Harambe Nights here!

... and Hollywood Studios.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may be familiar with my long and tumultuous journey in actually going to Disney's Hollywood Studios. If you haven't, here's the gist: I've never been. I've made great plans to go, I've psyched myself up, and every time, something has come between me and that elusive park. (I must confess that until recently, I wasn't too broken up about it- HS just never excited me like the other parks.) That all changes in a matter of weeks, though, and that is why Hollywood Studios makes this list (despite its lack of exciting new attractions/experiences). I will finally get to see what the Midway Mania fuss is about (thanks, FastPass+!), and I'll be able to cross one more thing off my bucket list when I view the fabulous Fantasmic!.

What are you most excited to see at Walt Disney World this summer? Sound off in the comments below! :)
Love and Pixie Dust,
Becca :)