What a View: African Outpost
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Last fall, I found myself alone in the World Showcase. Totally alone (with thousands of  tourists). So I walked around, found something in each country that made me experience a moment of happiness … and snapped a photo.  I’ve been sharing them with you, one each week. This week … NOT A COUNTRY!

Africa Outpost (Mouse on the Mind)

These amazing drums are, as you probably know, at the Africa Outpost. I just love. love. love. them. Not only are they beautiful and intricate and amazing, they also add a bit of kinetic energy to the area: a fun way for kids and adults to let out some energy and excitement, to make themselves heard, to jam to the beat of their own Epcot.

I really love this whole non-Pavilion. From the recycled map beads to the awesome Coke details … it’s just an awesome super great space. And I’ve spent several afternoons huddled under the umbrellas in the seating-area during downpours. And even more sunny afternoons enjoying a drink. Because heaven.

Melissa with Brown Elephant - 2013 Food and Wine (At Disney Again)

See? It’s love.

What’s your favorite detail at the Outpost? Let us know in the comments!

 

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One Night in Old Key West
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You’d better believe that Old Key West is one of my favorite (if not my absolute favorite) Disney resorts. It’s so warm and cozy … I love the little town feeling. And I love it even more when I’ve got a room there for one night only with three of my favorite people.

Yea, you read that right: THREE. And because of the extra two friendlies, Dan and I got a one-bedroom DVC villa instead of our standard studio. And let me tell you: the one bedroom is amazing amazing amazing. I think I may never stay in a DVC studio AGAIN.

The room was BIG. And really awesome in a slightly old school way. The giant bathtub, full kitchen, separate bar area AND awesome private deck (well, private as long as you don’t mind a few golfers) were just what the doctor ordered for some grown up Disney fun. All that and we were walking distance from The Gurgling Suitcase!

Here are some of my favorite details from the room:

I love the beachy vibe combined with the slightly grandma-ish details, and how neatly it’s all tied together with a fresh, light color scheme. Love!

What’s your favorite resort room detail on Disney property? Share your memory or photo in the comments below! 

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Weekly Round Up: April 15
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ECV Placard (Mouse on the Mind)Well hello there! It’s Tuesday, which means I totally did this on time this week. Amazing, right?

I apologize for the very little attention Mouse on the Mind has been getting lately. There’s a lot going on in my life at the moment, not the least of which is a new engagement. Also? Eating ice cream for dinner has been keeping me very busy. (And, no, I am not joking.)

Time has just been getting away from me lately, and not necessarily in a bad way. But I do have lots and lots of things to share with you, so we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled program soon. Promises.

Have a hip-hip happy week!

One Little Spark of Inspiration
Emma, who always has A Pinch of Pixie Dust, shows off some photos from her Disney cruise. What I really love? HER THEMED OUTFITS! So cute.

Teevtee goes on a touching adventure through his memories on Parkeology.

The boys from Disney Hipster Blog give the Italy Pavilion some love.

Josh celebrates his recent WDW trip with an awesome comic strip on Mickey Mutineers.

Beth, the leading lady from Any Happy Little Thoughts, jams along with an awesome Flower and Garden-inspired playlist. Love it!

Suzannah and family join the Muppets on an adventure around the World Showcase on Zannaland. (SPOILER ALERT!)

Dan joined the This Happy Place Blog team, and he tells us all about Marty Sklar’s recent book.

Melissa visits Pete’s Silly Sideshow and captures all the details on Rolling With The Magic.

What are you reading this week?? Let us know in the comments!

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Weekly Round Up: April 10
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Muppets Topiary (Mouse on the Mind)The following was written by my fiance, Dan from At Disney Again, who wanted to help me get this post out on time for Tuesday … it didn’t happen, but I’m keeping his words here because he’s the best:

It’s already the second week of April and time sure is flying! Spring has sprung just about everywhere, and I’m still recovering from my first official trip to Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.

While I get back to some spring cleaning around here, I’ll spring some links on you.

Puns! That’s why I love this man.

Before we move on, I want to give a super special shout out to David from futureprobe. He wrote a really honest piece about what you do when, as a Disney “personality,” you stop feeling the magic. He’s got a solution that’s working for him … and seem a lot better than negative teeth gnashing, as far as I am concerned.

Thanks again to everyone who played Kill Refurb Marry with Estelle from This Happy Place Blog and myself! And now, for those links …

One Little Spark of Inspiration
Safari Mike, who writes for Jambo Everyone, wrote about Restaurantosaurus’ history. (One of my favorite subjects!)

Shane uncovered the creepiest doll outside of Gran Fiesta Tour on Parkeology.

Nicole of Sparkly Ever After shared some truly amazing Disney photography.

Estelle literally changed Katherine’s life!! She told the tale on This Happy Place Blog.

Melissa, the leading lady from Rolling with the Magic, sipped and snacked during the Illuminations Sparkling Dessert Party.

The guys posted photos of some vintage Tomorrowland attraction posters on Disney Hipster Blog.

Rosanne of The Disney Point lets us in on a Disneyland time-saving secret!

OMG! Beth from A Disney Mom’s Thoughts created a DIY Star Wars Weekend snack that I could actually replicate at home! No Pinterest fails here!

My fancy friend Emma took us with her on a trip to the Contemporary Resort’s Atrium Level on A Pinch of Pixie Dust.

Alan joined the This Happy Place Blog team, and his first order of business was a nice, relaxed and unplanned trip to Disney World.

Ryan offered some thoughts on the forthcoming Figment comic (I am so exciteeeeed!) on Main Street Gazette.

What are you reading this week?? Let us know in the comments!

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Kill Refurb Marry Blog Hop: DAK Drinks
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Kill Refurb Marry Blog HopYou are probably familiar with the popular parlor game, Kill Boff Marry, where given the choice between three people, you must decide which you’d murder, sleep with or spend the rest of your life with.

A few months ago, Estelle from This Happy Place Blog and I decided to transform the popular game into a WDW-themed game of Kill Refurb Marry. Our little game has been growing in popularity, and eventually we decided to add a little Blog Hop action to the game so we can all link up!

Below, you’ll find an ever-growing list of bloggers who’ve decided to lend their own take on this month’s topic (Animal Kingdom Drinks). Want to play along? There are simple instructions for adding your own link to the list as well as include the list on your own blog!

Thanks so much for being part of our EIGHTH Kill Marry Refurb Blog Hop! Our next Hop will take place on May 14, and the topic will be Disney Princesses.  

To add the Blog Hop participants to your own post, click here for instructions

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Kill Refurb Marry: Animal Kingdom Drinks
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Kill Refurb Marry Blog HopYou are probably familiar with the popular parlor game, Kill Boff Marry, where given the choice between three people, you must decide which you’d murder, sleep with and spend the rest of your life with.

Estelle from This Happy Place Blog and I decided to transform the  game into a WDW-themed version called Kill Refurb Marry. Our little game grew in popularity, and a few months ago, we decided to add a little Blog Hop action to the game so we can all link up!

This is the eighth Kill Refurb Marry Blog Hop! I hope lots of Disney bloggers will join in the fun. You can check out their links on the Kill Refurb Marry homepage.

This month, we’re ranking Animal Kingdom Drinks

Kill: Big Bamboo at Yak & Yeti

On a recent trip, Dan from At Disney Again and I stopped in to Yak and Yeti for a nice sit down lunch and a respite from the hot Florida sun. I was feeling adventurous, so while Dan snapped photos of the restaurant, I ordered one of the bar’s specialty drinks: A Big Bamboo.

It sounds good. It starts with two kinds of rum (coconut and light) and ends with Disney’s signature blend of tropical fruit juices. But I neglected to take note of the third ingredient: Banana Liqueur. Even that sounds okay, in theory. But in practice … yuck. The drink was already sweet from the juices, but the liqueur really took it way over the threshold of good taste and into “Very Much Too Sweet” territory.

 

Refurb: Frozen Chai at Royal Anandapur Tea Company

I’ve always been curious about this little tea cart between Africa and Asia. It’s so cute, and I am a super big tea drinker … but who wants a cup of hot tea in the Florida heat? So I was really excited, a couple of years ago, when I noticed a frozen chai on the drink menu here.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Not only did the sip clock in at more than $5, but it was a terrible consistency! My expectations weren’t exactly high: I was thinking, like, if 7-11 made a Chai Tea Slurpee. But what I got was more like a solid brick of ice crystals with some watery chai tea sunk to the bottom of the cup. I wish it had been more/better blended together so that I could enjoy the cool, icy treat I expected instead of the cold, watery mess I ended up with.

 

Marry: Iced Coffee with Amarula at Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery

This, though … yum! I’ll take two, please!

The coffee at Kusafiri is good–nice and strong but not too bitter–and the sweet, creamy Amarula adds the perfect balance. A lot of reviews compare Amarula, a South African liqueur, to Bailey’s, but I don’t think there’s any comparison. Amarula is much more velvety and much less astringent with buttery, warm caramel tones that blends into coffee in a way that Bailey’s can’t match.

Get on it, people! Or don’t … more for me!

 

Thanks so much for reading! Don’t forget to click here to check out Kill Refurb Marry posts by other Disney bloggers!  And make sure you come back on May 14 forKill Refurb Marry with Disney’s Princesses!! 

If you want to play along, write your own post and add it to the list! (If you don’t have a blog, zap me an e-mail (melissa@mouseonthemind.com). I’d be happy to host your guest post for the next round of KRM!)

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Review: Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge
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Kidani (At Disney Again)

Here’s a true confession for you: until this past January (when Dan from At Disney Again suggested it), I’d never stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I am a Monorail Resort Girl. (Well, really, I am a Contemporary Resort Girl.) Barring monorail availability, I demand Crescent Lake action. Or I will take the Value Resort.

Yea. My motto is sort of “Give Me Ease of Access or Give Me Food Courts!” It’s weird, but it works for me.

So. I’d never stayed at AKL, and although I’ve visited Jambo House often for sight seeing and food consuming, I’d never even stepped foot in Kidani Village. So I was in for a total treat!

The Room
When we checked in, it turned out that they’d ignored (lost?) our request for a handicap accessible room. (While Dan isn’t in a wheelchair full time, he can’t walk long distances easily due to his ankle injury.)  And, as a result, we had a long, long, looooong hike to our room. Really long.

By the time we got to the room, *I* was tired. Dan was near dead. HOWEVER, we both perked right up upon entering the space …

Because how could you not?

It’s such a fun, fantasy-filled space. It’s clearly NOT what you’d experience on a safari … but it’s what you’d imagine it might be like.

Even though the wood is dark and heavy, the fabrics make the overall impression light and airy. I especially love the way the mosquito net draping and khaki-colored curtains bring a bit of fun theme and lighten up the room.

The Deep Cuts

Speaking of that dark, heavy wood furniture, I totally loved it, which is kind of unusual for me. But I think, here, everything was artistically distressed and decorated with fanciful carvings … the details captured my attention and brought interest and brightness to what might otherwise have been overly cumbersome.

Think this stuff is cool? Head over to At Disney Again for even more shots!

The light fixtures were another source of interest, introducing more primitive design elements, like leather straps and stylized brass-twigs, alongside the aforementioned carvings. Someone thought about every inch of this space, and it shows in these tiny details.

If there was ONE thing that disappointed me about the room … it was that there wasn’t a Lion King scene in the bathtub tiles. (Tracy had one a couple of years ago, and I’ve been dying to have my own ever since.)

BUUUUUT … even though the bathroom wasn’t all I’d been dreaming of, I have to admit that the rain shower head was much appreciated, the space was extremely generous and I totally loved the crude animal-drawing tiles in the bathroom we ended up with. So adorable. I wish they sold them at the resort … I could totally see taking two or four of those and making them a focal point of an interesting kitchen backsplash or small-scale art piece.

My absolute favorite detail IN the room, though, was totally these intricate lace curtains. Sure, they seemed like lacy sheers for the floor-to-ceiling windows, but a closer look revealed characters from The Lion King woven into the design. Seriously. I loved these things.

The Great Outdoors
But, of course, the greatest feature of all was the full balcony, complete with a lovely, lovely view of the resort’s savanna.

Not only were the chairs wicked awesome (check out that zebra!), but we has some awesome animal sightings and felt really lucky. Visit At Disney Again for even more photos of DAK’s animals.

We had the room for two nights, and while we did spend our day in the Parks, the early mornings and evenings were absolutely spent curled up in our zebra chairs (sometimes with coffee, sometimes with cocktails) watching the animal kingdom stroll by our doors.

Even if I didn’t love the theme of the resort (I did), the view and experience are unparalleled. I don’t think I’m at Hipster levels of love quite yet, but I’d undoubtedly set up camp in this little village again.

 

Would you ever consider a stay at the Kidani Village? Let us know what you think in the comments below! 

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Diamond Editon Review: Saving Mr. Banks
Jonathan P. Hempfling, Esq.

Saving Mr. BanksSaving Mr. Banks
Blu-Ray / Digital Combo Pack
120 min, Rated PG-13

Saving Mr. Banks is a dramatic retelling of the collaboration between Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) that ultimately ended in the creation of the Mary Poppins film in 1964. But is it worth picking up?

THE FILM
The narrative of the film shifts back and forth between the early 60’s and periods of Travers’ youth, beginning in 1906. The scenes of Travers’ youth, featuring a wonderfully cast Colin Farrell, serve as not only a background for Travers herself, but to suggest portions of Mary Poppins are autobiographical. But I won’t get into the historical accuracy of the film, as I believe doing so would only dilute the pure joy this movie exudes.

We begin with an aging Travers in a financial situation that requires her to begrudgingly give in to Walt Disney’s twenty year courtship of her novel’s rights. Disney’s motivation is said to a promise he made to his daughters, that he would bring Mary Poppins to the screen.

The film take a very emotional, often funny look at the meetings between Disney, Travers, The Sherman Brothers (BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman), who were responsible for the film’s music, and Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), one of the screenwriters. The film shows a wonderfully energetic Walt Disney trying as hard as he can to please the no-nonsense, no fun and “NO ANIMATION” Travers. While ultimately their collaboration ended with an Oscar winning, timeless film, Travers never was pleased with what was put on screen.

While the story presents a perfect dramedy, the real strength of the film lies in the casting. Each part is effortlessly played by its actor, with Hanks’ Walt Disney being an absolute gem. It certainly helps to use the classic music from Marry Poppins, interwoven through the film both in work room scenes as well as influenced in the musical score, to give the audience a feeling of authenticity.

At just a hair over two hours, the movie never over stays its welcome, and I found myself wanting even more of the scenes that show the collaborative process in bringing Mary Poppins from page to screen. Overall, it is an extremely solid film from the Disney Studio, which I recommend highly.

THE VIDEO
The film was shot in ratio of 2:40:1, so black bars will be present on the top and bottom of the image. The image is incredibly sharp, colors appear to be wonderfully natural, and there is a perfect amount of slight grain on the image. I could not detect any negative image issues such as banding, crushing or aliasing. An extremely strong video transfer from Disney.

Saving Mr. Banks

Tom Hanks’ Walt Disney is a treat

THE AUDIO
The audio is presented in DTS 5.1 HD-MA and is more than proficient. The film isn’t special-effect heavy so sound focuses on dialogue and small sound effects will come through the rears to give ambience. The shots that take place in Disneyland are predictably more immersive, and the sound mix handles this with ease. Not much bass in the film, but the low end is excellent. Very good mix and presentation.

SPECIAL FEATURES
Here is really where my disappointment comes in this release. The special features are very scarce: made up of only three items, totaling less than 30 minutes.

The first is labeled “From Poppins to the Present” and features Director John Lee Hancock speaking about the studio, the look and design of the film, the making of Mary Poppins, etc. It does feature some interviews with former employees, and overall it is a nice feature. I only wish it was longer.

The second special feature is titled “Let’s Go Fly A Kite,” and stars the remaining living Sherman Brother, Richard, singing the song along with cast members.

BJ Novak as Robert B. Sherman

BJ Novak as Robert B. Sherman

The third feature consists of three scenes that were ultimately deleted from the film. There’s nothing really crucial here to the story, and nothing exciting within the scenes.

Overall, Saving Mr. Banks is a true Disney film from beginning to end. While the film makers took liberties in interpreting the history, what was done was purely for audience enjoyment. Featuring wonderful songs, superb acting and a witty script, the film succeeds on every level. I think it really is on par with many of Disney’s films, delivering great entertainment while refusing to get caught up in the details. I recommend this release highly. In fact, not picking up this disc would be “irresponstable.”

Have you bought your copy yet? Let us know what you thought! 

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Weekly Round Up: April 2
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Epcot in Spring (Mouse on the Mind)A day late and an April Fools short … but Happy Wednesday to you!

I had such an incredibly incredible time this past weekend. I was only at Disney World for about 30 hours, but it was such a wonderful, low key trip.

I can’t wait to share my adventures with you. But that’s a story for next week. Because this week is all about rest and recovery from my whirlwind of 2 trips in 10 days.

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing a review of Saving Mr. Banks from one of my favorite dudes, and Friday will bring a co-post with At Disney Again on Kidani Village.

And don’t forget! Next Wednesday, we’re playing Kill, Refurb, Marry with This Happy Place Blog. The topic: Animal Kingdom Drinks.

See ya real soon!

One Little Spark of Inspiration
Shane, who writes for Parkeology, muses on Magic Kingdom’s traffic problems.

Jen spotted Figgy and Dreamfinder at MegaCon (and took him home with her!). She shares photos on EPBOT.

Ryan of Main Street Gazette wondered about Cosmos and its potential impact on EPCOT.

Meredith shared some really incredible re-imaginings of Disney characters on iO9.

Len, the brains behind Touring Plans, suggested some changes for FastPass+.

Estelle imagined how the Muppets might upgrade Epcot on This Happy Place Blog.

Emma, the cutie who writes at A Pinch of Pixie Dust, offered a unique review of two rooms at Art of Animation.

Sarah shared a wonderfully positive review from her dinner at Shutters on Eating WDW.

What are you reading this week?? Let us know in the comments!

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Flower and Garden Friday
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Flower and Garden Festival (At Disney Again) I am sort of the most excited person in the room right now because I am finally going to experience Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival!!

I’ve been to WDW just before the Festival (as all of the topiaries are going up), and I’ve been just after … but never DURING the festival.

Of course, I’ll be breezing through the Fest during one of my many weekends with Dan from At Disney Again … so I really only have ONE DAY to experience everything that Epcot does to celebrate springtime.

And you know what that means … it means I only have one day to eat Flower and Garden FOOOOOD! So I’ve assembled a must-do list.

The list contains, of course, more food than the two of us could possibly eat in a day. But it’s a fun thought exercise. And it’s always good to have a list, even if you have no hope of doing anything but falling pitifully short of your outsized goals. Right? Right.

Caprese Push Pop (Intermissions Café)
A perfect bite of delish eaten in a childish manner? It may be gimmicky, but I am there!

Spiked Dole Whip (Pineapple Promenade)
In the past, I’ve worked to recreate my own spiked sweet, but I want to try the Disney-sanctioned version, for sure. The only thing left to do is decide if I want dark rum or coconut rum … and if I want to eat my sweet potato waffle before or after the creamy sip.

The Buttercup Cottage Menu (Buttercup Cottage)
I just want to try one of each, okay? Fresh baked potato and cheese biscuit? Yes. Salad with strawberries and blue cheese? Yup. Lemon scones. Abso-flippin-lutely. And thanks.

Bacon Cupcake (At Disney Again)

Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake

The Fleur De Lys Menu (Flur De Lys)
I promise I’m not going to make a habit of this. But, once again, there’s nothing here I can say no to: gnocchi (with goat cheese!), duck confit with potatoes and a macaroon? Yea, I can’t see a single thing wrong here.

Frushi (Hanami)
Okay, guys. I’ve been making fun of it long enough … it’s time to take the plunge and take a bite.

Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake (The Smokehouse)
Dan already informed me that this is going to change my life. So I am going to eat it and whatever else he recommends at this booth.

Watermelon Salad (Florida Fresh)
I’ve always been really fascinated by pairing feta with watermelon, and this looks like an interesting preparation. I’m psyched to try it!

So, actually … the list isn’t really too bad after all! Think we’ll manage to eat it all?? (Probably not … but we’ll have a great time trying!)

What’s on your must-eat list at this year’s floral fest? What do you recommend? Let us know in the comments! 

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