Disney blog postings

Disney Postings

Earliest: May 30, 2003Latest: April 24, 2017Total: 83

February 13, 2017

Tracking Rides in the Park


On a recent trip to Disney World, I found a really simple way to track what rides we go on. Using a combination of Slack and IFTTT, was able to create a Google Sheet of rides on our trip.

This information will come in handy when we want to scrapbook the vacation. We like to track what rides we went on, and which one was our favorite. (It's nice to see how children change their view as they get older.)


IFTTT stands for If This then That. The application acts as service between different Apps. You can use it to do all sorts of fancy things with internet enabled services. For example, if you have a Philip Hue light system, you can have it flash every time your baseball team hits a Home Run.

About Swarm

Swarm is a check in service by Foursquare. You can use it to check into most popular places. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, you can keep your check-in private. This way you personally track where you visited without letting everyone know where you are.

Swarm does integrate nicely with all the social networks, so you can post photos and comments with your check in. You can post to Facebook and Twitter at the same time. They will appear as check-ins in the respectable social networks.

Foursquare users can post tips/tricks on the check-in, so when you check in you may learn something about the ride. For example, what to look for in the Small World ride.

Setting it up

If you never used Swarm and IFTTT then download it on your phone and get it set up:

Download Swarm and configure it. Test it out by checking into a place where you live. Get familiar with it, and put it on your home screen so you can access it.

Download 'IFTTT' from the App Store or Google Play. Look for a recipe for 'Add your Foursquare check-ins (w/maps) to a spreadsheet)' You will then need to approve the apps to IFTTT. (This is all done via the IFTTT app, very simple to do.)

In the Parks

Before you get on the ride, simply open up your phone and check in! You can leave a note for later - it will show up in the Google Sheet. You may reference how long the wait is or something else notable that you can reference later.

While waiting in line, I found the Swarm App to be 90% accurate on my location when I opened it. There were a couple of times where I had to switch to a different location. (Dumbo ride was one such place.)

This is better than writing it down since you can jot a note and you get a time stamp of the ride. Now you'll know how many rides you did in the morning and in the evening.

Final Results

This is what your Google Sheet will look like. You'll get times and locations:

Disney Ride Tracker

February 6, 2017

Transporting the Hans Lightsaber Home


Last week we visited at Disney Studios and we arrived early enough to sign up my daughter up for the Jedi training. She had a lot of fun learning to be a Jedi and interacting with Darth Vader

Immediately after her performance she saw a cart that had the same Lightsaber that she used against Darth Vader. We let her buy it since she did a good job on stage.

Slight Problem

We didn't think about it at the time, but a while later it dawned on us. How are we going to get the Lightsaber home? It's a big plastic piece that seemed vulnerable to breakage.

Unfortunately, there is no way to take it apart.

We weren't sure we could carry it on the plane. Where would we put it? What if security wouldn't allow it? There's some post I read about how TSA agents in Orlando were very strict.

Lightsaber Suitcase

Packing it Up

The life saver is pretty big and fortunately, it was able to fit diagonally in the suitcase.

I was worried that any slight pressure on the two corners and the Lightsaber would be crushed. We packed clothes all around the Lightsaber trying to minimize the stress on it.

Note: My suitcase is bigger than a typical suitcase.

Arrived Home

When we got home, I couldn't wait to see the condition of the Lightsaber. I was very surprised to find it together all in one piece. (I thought a simple suitcase drop would have been enough stress to break it.)

Lesson Learned

If your son/daughter is tempted to get the Hans Solo Lightsaber, don't get it! It's a cool device and my daughter loves it - but there's an even cooler Lightsaber available.

In the Star Tours store, at the end of the Star Tours ride, there is a station where you can build your own Life Saver. What's nice about this option is that it comes completely apart.

My daughter was disappointed that she couldn't make her own but is happy to get the one she used in training.

January 30, 2017

Mississippi River in the Magic Kingdom

As you walk from Liberty Square, into Frontierland, just before the Diamond Horseshoe, there is a metal plate that goes across the entire width of the walkway. Under that plate, water runs to the lake.

Mississippi River Map
Google Map view of the Mississippi Bridge.

This stream represents the Mississippi River. To the east is Liberty Square symbolizing the eastern part of the United States with its colonial architecture and early American theme.

To the west is the early American frontier of Frontierland. If you look at the pavement, it changes on either side of the "Mississippi" following the Magic Kingdom's design of changing the walkways as you move from one land to another.

January 23, 2017

Cinderella's Horse at the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

There are two special horses on the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel ride at the Magic Kingdom. These two horses are:

  • Cinderella?s Horse
  • Prince Charming Horse

Finding Cinderella?s Horse

When you get on the Regal Carousel you want to look for the horse with a golden ribbon on the tail. That?s the easiest way to find the horse. You?ll find it just in front of one of the seating areas.

There are a couple of other distinctions about the horse. Such as the horse face and flowers, but the easiest way to find the horse is to look for the golden ribbon on the tail, as it?s the only horse that has one. Tip: It?s not any of the horses on the outside of the carousel. The horse is in the second row.

Since most people want to sit on the horses on the outside, you may have a shot at sitting on Cinderella?s horse.

I couldn?t find the special horse from any of the videos from the last time we went to Disney World. I was able to get a front view:

Cinderella Horse Disney
Notice how the flowers goes down the horse neck.

Prince Charming Horse

Once you find Cinderella?s, Prince Charming's horse is right next to it!

January 16, 2017

The Walt Disney World Photo Challenge

A few years ago the "This Disney Life" posted a list of photo opportunities to take a Disney World. The list contained the must-have photos for any trip.

Kyra include a point system as to indicate the difficulty of taking some of the shots.

I transcribed the list to an easy to use PDF document. In addition, I added a new "Expert Only" category where taking certain shots may involve some additional photographic expertise.

Disney Photo Challenge
Click on image to download PDF document.

Some of the "Expert Only" shots include:

  • Panoramic view of the 21 Century Room
  • Fireworks from the Main Street Train Station
  • Night Photo of the Partners Statue with the Castle out of Focus
  • Chip and Dale Statue with the Castle blurred in the Background (Central Plaza)
  • Mickey Mouse opening up the park

Let me know what shots you think are the most challenging to take at Disney World.

January 9, 2017

Disney Park Folder icons

We are getting things ready for our next big Disney adventure to the Disney World. I was backing up some of the photos that I have in my collection and started sorting things out by date.

I noticed that it was a bit hard to figure out what park we visited per day. I could have just named the folders by the park, but on this trip, we actually visited a couple of parks more than once.

So I decided to make some custom icons to make it easy to figure out which park we went to:

Click on image to download the Icons.

Macintosh users, please feel free to download and use these for your own folder collection.

Folder Icons Makes all the Difference

Having a good fold icon can make a huge difference, see the before and after:

New  Disney Icons2

The folders that didn't have icons are the off days when we didn't go in the park. On this particular trip my daughter was sick for a couple of days and we didn't go to the park.

January 2, 2017

Popular Disney Ride Height Requirements

My daughter just turned 6 and is now 44" tall. Looks like there are only a few rides that she can't go on:

Magic Number 44

Magic Kingdom(R) Park

  • The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm - 35"
  • Splash Mountain(R) - 40"
  • Big Thunder Mountain - 40"
  • Stitch's Great Escape - 40"
  • Space Mountain(R) - 44"
  • Tomorrowland Indy Speedway - 52" to ride alone


  • Test Track - 40"
  • Soarin' - 40"
  • Mission: SPACE(R) - 44"

Disney's Hollywood Studios(TM)

  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror(TM) - 40"
  • Star Tours - 40"
  • Rock-n-Roller Coaster(R) Starring Aerosmith - 48"

Animal Kingdom(R) Theme Park

  • Kali River Rapids(R) - 38"
  • DINOSAUR - 40"
  • Expedition Everest(TM) - 44"
  • Primeval Whirl(R) - 48"

Interesting trivia from Livestrong.com:

Average Heights of Girls by Age. Like weight, heights vary by age. The average -- or 50th percentile -- height for a 3-year-old girl is 37 inches, while the average for a 4-year-old is 40 inches, and a 5-year-old is 42 inches. The average for a 6-year-old girl just 45 inches.

December 26, 2016

George Washington Beer Mug

Inside the Walt Disney's Hall of Presidents are several artifacts that are loaned to the Walt Disney Company. Many of these are from Presidents libraries.

Once such items are the Original Beer Mug that was once own by President George Washington. The sign reads:

Beer Mug

circa 1790-1802
French porcelain, enumel, gift

In George Washington's time, mugs like this on were used to drink large quantities of fermented alcoholic beverages, including gin, beer, and cider. According to family lore, Washington use this mug every day to drink cider with his midday meal.

Coursidy of the Mount Vernan Ladies Association
Gift of John Morgan, 1979

Geroge Washington Mug

George Washington was President from April 30, 1789 - March 4, 1797. Which means that this mug was most likely used while he was the first President of the United States. You can find the mug by white bookcase to the right as you walk in.

Ride Closure Notice

The Hall of Presidents will be closed will be closed for refurbishment from January 17 through June 29, 2017. During this period they will add a new Donald Trump animatronic to the hall.

December 19, 2016

Longest Ride in the Kingdom

I was wondering what are the longest rides at the three major parks in Disney World. (I intentionally excluded the Animal Kingdom as we won't be going there on our next trip.)

These are actual rides and not shows or entertainment areas such as Tom Sawyer Island. Most shows last roughly 25 minutes. Entertainment area times may vary depend on the interest in the area.

The Great Movie Ride 19 minutes Disney Studios
Splash Mountain 18 minutes Magic Kingdom
Spaceship Earth 16 minutes Epcot
Mission: SPACE Green 15 minutes Epcot
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 15 minutes Disney Studios
it's a small world 14 minutes Magic Kingdom

Interesting Discovery

The Astros Orbiter and Dumbo the Flying Elephant have the same ride duration. (1.5 Minutes) Which is kind of interesting because they are basically the same type of ride, they have a different outer shell.

December 12, 2016

Pirates Caribbean

Pirates Caribbean

The Pirate of the Caribbean is a fun ride where users get on a boat and enjoy a voyage back in time when pirates would rule the seas.

The "surprise" part of the ride is the two waterfalls in the beginning of the ride. The drop is done in complete darkness. You may get wet depending on how many people are in the boat.

Warning: Do not place bags on the floor in the boar, the bag will most likely get wet.

Popular sites you will encounter include:

  • Pirates Grotto
  • The Fort
  • Town Square
  • Burning City
  • The Dungeon

Pirates of the Caribbean Ride Fun Facts

  • Open in Disney World on December 15, 1973. (806 Days after the park opened)
  • The boat cruise last 9-minutes long.
  • The waterfalls on Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland and Disney World are slight. There are waterfalls on both rides. However, the waterfall at Disneyland is longer and therefore broken into two consecutive drops.
  • The drop at Disneyland is necessary as most of the ride is located on the other side of the railroad tracks that surround the park.
  • The fog that drifts out from behind the boat in the "Battle" area. It is the Mee Fog effect. Water is shot through a pin size hole at 1000PSI. The force of the water is so fast that the water condenses - just like real fog.
  • The effect of the cannon ball splashing the water is done with the air cannon. Basically, it's compressed air under the water.
  • Pirates was the first ride in the world to end with an exit directly into a gift shop. Many rides now end this way.
  • The Pirate Ship that you see after the drop is called the "Wicked Wench."
  • The Pirate that you see selling things at the auction, was at one time Abe Lincoln.
  • The Mellowmen is the group that sings the "Yo Ho (Pirates Life for Me)." You can download the song on iTunes.
  • Mellowmen also sang Haunted Mansion's Grim Grinning Ghost, The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room
  • The fire on Pirates is made by shining lights onto a special, moving cloth.
  • Near the end of the ride the white hair prisoner in a replica of a long time janitor that worked at Walt Disney Productions.
  • The Cocker Spaniel dog that is holding the key by the jail is Walt Disney's Dog. You'll see the same dog as the Caretaker dog in the Haunted Mansion, Small World and on one of the Murals in the Cinderella's Castle

George the Pirates of the Caribbean Ghost

At the Pirates of the Caribbean in Disney World, there is "resident ghost" named George. He was an Imagineer that built many of the tracks for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World. He died on the ride when a beam collapsed on him.

Cast Members at Disney World have confirmed the story of George the Ghost. Over the years Cast Member have blamed him for various ride failures.

George is allegedly a friendly ghost. When you are on the ride, make sure to say Hi to George.

Hidden Mickeys

From As you pass the ship where the captain is brandishing his sword and firing cannonballs over your head, his shadow is thrown up on the mainsail. As the captain turns, his shadow turns into you-know-who. Especially blatant at Disneyland it's also effective at Walt Disney World. Although it's not a really clear Mickey when seen from the front. The "ears" are more like tall skinny humps on top of a roughly round shadow. At one point in the sequence, the humps get a little wider and the whole thing looks reasonably like a Mickey. The Mickey is much clearer when you look at the other side of the sail. As you go past the sail continue watching and the elongated shapes that are somewhat suspect in the original shadow become a well formed Mickey head on the reverse side of the sail. Timing is key. The pirate is a moving figure, so his shadow only makes a hidden Mickey when he turns the right way.

In the Treasure room right as you are exiting the room there are a lot of pearl necklaces on the ground on the left. If you are riding the ride, it may just seem like a clump of pearls. If you raise your head a little, some of the Pearls are in a Mickey. It is right as you are about to go into the exit area for the ride.

In the Pirate ship scene right before the drop. If you look at the background behind the ship you'll see a set of clouds that resemble the famous Mickey Mouse symbol