My name is TongaXtine. I like Disney. I like Polynesia. I like space. How do these all relate? However way I please! If you care to hear about my opinions on these subjects pop in for a look. Contact me with any questions!
October 1st was a great day on Disney Park Blog.
First, there was a post about the 13 Reasons Disney Park Fans Still Love Horizons Today. I think I could come up with another 50 more. It captured everything about the future that was exciting and hopeful wrapped up in a Disney dark ride.
In early 2013, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) shut down for two years of planned maintenance and repairs. Now the world’s most powerful accelerator is ready to start up again, this time at 13 teraelectronvolts (TeV) — almost double its previous energy.¹ How much energy is that?
Astronomers use electron volts to measure the energy of electromagnetic radiation, or photons, in the x-ray and gamma-ray wavebands of the electromagnetic spectrum.² A single electron volt is used as a unit of energy that is equal to the energy transferred by an electron in accelerating it through a potential difference of one volt.
To get an idea of scale – 0.3 eV is about the energy in a molecule of oxygen³, so then what is a teraelectronvolt (TeV)? It is 1,000,000,000,000 electron Volts or 1012 electron Volts – the energy of motion in a flying mosquito. Its in the range of TeV where high energy astrophysics looks at the x-ray and gamma ray energy ranges to research from galaxy clusters to neutrinos, from dark matter to black holes.
One of the mysteries hoped to be solved by the LHC is the source of dark matter or dark energy.
There was a great article last month on Fastcompany.com titled The Messy Business of Reinventing Happiness which talks about the implementation of the new My Disney Experience technical project from a perspective we haven’t seen much from yet – the change management within the Disney company. There were a few interesting lines from the article that I can’t help myself and must comment on:
There were the endless lines for rides, food, and bathrooms; parents juggling maps, hotel keys, baby carriages, and bottles of SPF 75; and kids pulling families on long treks to try to visit every attraction. The park was filled with complications, such as a tiered ticketing system with wonky rules.
We never had this problem. My Mom and Dad did research and prepared for our family trip in a way I will forever be grateful for. I think this sort of thing will happen no matter what because there will always be the families that don’t prepare to this extent – and that’s fine!
Disney World was on the verge of becoming “dangerously complex and transactional.”
WAS?! What I recently went through to book my ADRs was out of control (multiple calls to tech support with multiple answers) and now I have to actively manage these down to the 24 hour mark with a family of 8 to avoid an $80 late fee – as if I can predict the mood/temperament of a two year old in Disney for dinner.
To work as magically as planned, the team built an ideation lab inside an abandoned attraction called Body Wars within Epcot’s discontinued Wonders of Life pavilion.
Don’t get me started.
There certainly are reasons for caution. MyMagic+’s rocky rollout makes the Imagineers’ case for conservatism in the face of technological change seem sound. A slew of problems reared up after launch: The My Disney Experience app was buggy, digital access points would turn blue when they were supposed to turn green, hotel reservations were a mess, and guests griped that the new FastPass+ system was unintuitive and difficult to program. Many of these issues have since been fixed (the company tripled the size of its customer support department), but every time a guest has to raise her hand for help with MyMagic+, the Imagineers’ carefully crafted illusion is spoiled.
Change is never easy – how many implementations of a new program have you had to endure in your workplace? Certainly Disney isn’t any better however when we vacation – I like to think we are able to avoid “implementation issues” and dial back on the need for an online “user experience”. Based on these phone screenshots from my trip in March – my illusion has definitely been spoiled and I’m anxiously waiting for the bugs to work themselves out and not have this technology mar what would be an otherwise wonderful opportunity to escape!
Emslie, John, 1813-1875. Astronomical diagrams, [ca. 1850]
The Pacific Rim brings lots of news this week!
First, you get a new island in Tonga (Polynesia).
The island – which is 500m (1,640 feet) long – was formed after an eruption at the Hunga Tonga volcano that started in December.
And then, in tragic news, a cyclone devastates the islands of Vanuatu (Melanesia).
“The damage is quite extensive in Port Vila but there are so many more vulnerable islands. I can’t even imagine what it’s like in those vulnerable communities.”
Tonga is an archipelago (group of islands) with over 177 islands split between 4 major groups and lies two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand.
Vanuatu is an archipelago with over 80 islands to its claim – also thanks to the same process that brought us our new Tongan island and lies about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Australia.
The distance between Vanuatu and Tonga is 1,988 km (1,235 miles) – similar distance from Boston to Miami – and the flight likely involves a stop in Fiji on the way. Really not far from each other relatively speaking. Of course, this week illustrates an interesting snapshot in time as with these volcanic regions, new islands are added but don’t always stick around.
This trip was the fastest ride in the wilderness! Once again – conference time during the Flower and Garden – this time at the Dolphin. Last conference was in 2013 during the same time but at the Contemporary. I could get used to this!
We showed up 30 min before rope drop to catch the Magic Kingdom opening. As we speak I still have the Loading the Train/Casey Junior song in my head and it was worth it! Then we leisurely hit a whole bunch of rides with minimal lines!
- Peter Pan’s Flight – LOVE the new queue. Done really well with great Disney attention to detail.
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – this was our first ride! I definitely want to try it at night which is brave as hell for me if you know how this ride ends.
- Haunted Mansion
- Thunder Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Orange Swirl and Dole Whip break at Sunshine Tree Terrace
For lunch we were going to take the Monorail from Magic Kingdom into EPCOT but it was down for repairs so we had to take the resort bus to Boardwalk and walk to Germany where I tried the wine flight for the first time.
After some rather epic carbo loading we went back to the room for a nap. Then we headed to Hollywood Studios. I AM PSYCHED that damn hat is gone! I heard that the day after we left the spotlights were back too.
While there we experienced the Great Movie Ride in the front row – a totally different experience this way! Completely immersive. Since the front row is shorter than other rows to accommodate your Director/Actor Guide through the movies – it can really only sit 2-3 comfortably but I think its worth asking to sit up front if the size of your party allows.
Last, but certainly not least we finished off the park with One Man’s Dream then headed to the boat for “dinner” at Beaches and Cream. Helpful tip. If you ask yourself “Should I have the No Way Jose for dinner?” – just refer to the name of the dessert for your answer.
After hitting three parks the day before we kept it to EPCOT and the Flower and Garden Festival for the day.
After looking at all the flowers we went to breakfast at Sunshine Seasons in The Land. This is one of my favorite breakfast places because with the breakfast platter you get potatoes that have both peppers and onions and you get a biscuit. Then of course you are rewarded with a charming, and nostalgic boat ride.
- Living with the Land
- Spaceship Earth
- Test Track – even with a Fastpass this takes forever. I’m not sure i’m that into it.
- Ellen’s Energy Adventure – Woof. I haven’t done this in at least 15 years. Stupid Judy. Stupid Energy. I think that was my last time unless this sucker gets an overhaul. Its a shame too since its the only thing left that references space (Big Bang) that I can physically entertain without getting sick.
We had lunch at the Flower and Garden Kitchens before heading back for some conference time. For dinner we had late reservations at La Hacienda.
We were able to see Illuminations from inside the restaurant and made it back to the International Gateway in time for the last boat to the Dolphin. Its so awesome to walk through EPCOT with barely anyone else around – until you see them locking up gates and then you get terrified you will have to walk to the front of the park and take a cab.
WORST. BREAKFAST. BUFFET. EVER. Captain’s Grille. The cheesy potatoes casserole tasted like a foot. How can you not have good potatoes at a buffet? There wasn’t a ton of variety. Mom ordered a la carte and it was very good.
We walked around Hollywood Studios for a bit after a conference session but there really wasn’t a lot going on. It bums me out. Tatooine Traders used to have so much more variety.
We went to Downtown Disney which was a total shit show for parking while its under construction. When we were there we came across Wentzel’s Pretzels Snack Stand. I don’t fancy myself a pretzel eater but this was SO GOOD and so PERFECT for a warm, salty snack. I actually think of it as one of my favorite Disney meals this trip!
For dinner we went to the Polynesian – our first visit for the new lobby. I’ve been keeping an open mind till I saw it for myself. I don’t like it. Its just another hotel lobby now, a very nice one, but not a place I would go out of my way to visit like I used to the old place. Maybe once the rest of the construction is done it will have the full effect? Trader Sams will change all this.
We tried to get walk up table service at Kona Cafe but it turned out they were full. What they did do was let us order off the Kona Cafe Menu but sit against the wall at Kona Island. This worked out because we got to have our backs turned towards the lobby – like we were shunning it. Still, I couldn’t help feel like the Paper Boy from Spaceship Earth (see #5).
One last trip to MK!
- WEDWay People Mover x 2
- Carousel of Progress
- Electric Light Parade
- Wishes – it was 56 degrees!
The new landscaping in front of the castle hub is fantastic! Offers a serene place to view the castle. I wonder if it will be open for enjoying like a park in-between parades and fireworks.
We had lunch at Chefs de France and just enjoyed the flowers and comfortable air before heading home.
See ya real soon! (November…)
Edit March 9, 2015: Didn’t make it to most places as the lure of table service at Germany and France was far too strong. I included pictures from the places we did eat.
Making a quick trip to Disney and I’m once again excited about the food. My last visit to this was 2013 and grazing the kitchens is fun. My favorite was the one at Germany which I don’t see on the list yet – but if I get bummed – I’ll just go watch Captain Eo about it.
Items I am most looking forward to:
Botanas Botánico (between the France and Morocco)
Urban Farm Eats
- Quinoa Vegetable “Naanwich” with Arugula Pesto and Oven-Dried Tomatoes
- Pineapple Soft Serve with Sammy’s Beach Bar Red Head Macadamia Nut Flavored Rum
- Vegan Trio (couscous, tabouleh, and hummus with pita)
- Vegetable Spring Roll
- South Sea Storm (Guava with Light and Dark Rum) – also a repeat from 2013
- Mint Iced Tea (I wanted to try this in 2013 but never got to it) – Finally tried it – its basically cold Mint Medley. I was hoping for the old Snapple Mint Iced Tea. It was refreshing.
I can really get into this. There are certain restaurants in Disney where I know EXACTLY what I want to have and I can’t wait for it. Luckily Be Our Guest is one of them when it comes to lunch. I think the online ordering system is really neat.
I like that they aren’t super rigid with the offerings, and that you can still customize:
And pick your sides!
Ordering on the kiosks with all these options can definitely take some time – especially if you’ve ever been caught behind the family trying to customize their meal for 10 minutes, it can be frustrating – especially if you are hungry. At the very least it can give someone some time in advance to think about their options. I’m excited for this feature in this particular location! And my Potato Leek Soup!