Friday, June 21, 2013


Headed up to Walmart and as I approached so did this!

 "That isn't rain: that's Armegeddon!"

Went inside and found thee three gems just added to the DVD cut-out bin!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Click on any image for a larger view

I had a free park hopper that expired on May 31st, so I hit the road that Friday at wake up with the idea that I would at least check out the new Be Our Guest restaurant in the New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom.

After a sunny drive down, It started raining as soon as I stepped from my car in the parking lot; so I donned my full rain gear and headed through the turnstiles, straight on down Main Street, left around the castle, and back through the new castle walls to the entrance to Be Our Guest.

It was still raining lightly as I arrived at the line. I confirmed that this was a stand-by line, not for those with reservations. I had just learned that there was a stand-by line, having previously heard only that reservations were booked so far out as to make that out of the question for my spur of the moment visits, and I had assumed that there was no "walk-in", but I had seen photos of this big line of waiting people and asked if these were all people with reservations, because that seemed a bit extreme to me if that were the case: turned out it wasn't.

I got into the line, and it did in fact actually move, slowly, but steadily. At one point a BOG Cast Member came along passing out menus for we waiting guests to review, and as I passed mine to the lady next to me, I noticed she seemed solo, and I instinctively asked if she would like to join me for lunch and she replied, yes. Both sides of that quick Q&A surprised me. But it turned out to be quite fortuitous: not only was she a good conversationalist, but we also shared gluten intolerance and various other food sensitivities.

A bit later, the rain having stopped and the sun now blaring in all its Floridian glory, another CM came out with a trolley of water and cups that he passed out to the waiting guests.

Soon enough we came into view of the main entrance cut into the side of a stone mountain. Two pair of beasts supported the gateway on each side and a tile mosaic decorated the arch above the door. Sooner than I expected, we were directed to step free of the line barriers and proceed to enter.

As we entered, I note now that directly ahead is the main dining hall: you can actually see into it from outside; however, we were directed to take a 90-degree turn to the right and enter the Hall of Armor. Each side of this short room displays three glorious suits of armor, and in the middle are several kiosks with touch screens showing again the menu. This is in fact a step in the ordering process, for we were actually waiting to enter the next room, a 90 turn to the left, filled with order/pay stations. I had been taking photos and talking to one of the suits- and am not quite sure if it was replying live or "canned"- and so had not looked at the menus, but knowing the standard procedure at every restaurant on Disney property, I knew none of it mattered once I would say, "gluten" so I wasn't even thinking about food choices until I had moved through that stage, knowing I would have to wait to talk to the chef.

As we came to the front of the line of the Armour Room, we were each handed a red plastic puck with the engraving of a rose on one face, and a small green Mickey head shaped insert on the side that was in fact the RFD tag. We exited to the left into the next room.

Kathy, my table mate, and I came up to the pay station, the one if you are not using the Magic Your Way wrist band and were asked for our order. I said the magic word, but the only response here was that I could have the tuna thing and the pastry thing for dessert, thank you very much: it was a take it or leave it deal, and pretty much presented that way, no discussion, no alternatives, pay or leave. I found it very off-putting and it did bring reality slamming right back down into this fantasy land.

We both ordered the tuna thing, and Kathy said she would only eat half the dessert, so I said I would split it with her. We each paid, had our plastic rose coded, and were told to go find a table, any table, any room, and to place our rose and receipt on the table.

The glories of the room's architecture and decorations were lost in the physical challenge of simply working our way through the tables and people and trying to find a table, no different than any other crowded counter-service restaurant. I directed us to the back wall, leaving us with the "long view" of the great hall and we took a table for two on that wall. I parked my scooter beside and out of the way as much as possible, and set my rose and receipt on the table, and very quickly the chef and an assistant brought our two plates to the table. They were deposited with a smile and that was that.

Drinks were self serve, as were utensils, and I was happy that Kathy just went ahead and took care of that, including my 6 packets of sugar for my cup of hot tea.

We talked a lot as we ate our tuna and whatever, Kathy was very interesting... meanwhile, I figured out that those things that looked like chicken strips were actually three "French fry" sort of things, and Kathy told me the white stuff was poached egg or soft-boiled egg? In any case, it went well with the tuna and effectively made it palatable: not bad, but not thrilling either. Kathy expressed the same lack of enthusiasm.

Then Kathy cut her dessert in half, and with my first bite I was taken aback, and noticed a taste that I only much later figured out what it was, for this is not only "the" gluten free dessert choice, it is the choice for anything-free, including sugar-free... this particularly showed up in the topping... however, the pastry itself was rather good, especially for gluten free.

I have had a lot of good meals- and even some great ones- at WDW, but this was not one of them in any way. I can only hope that the dinner experience is a much better and tastier one.

After we finished, Kathy and I toured the three rooms of the restaurant and it is a beautiful place. All three rooms are dark. In fact, even in the most brightly lit main hall where we ate, it was a difficult to see my plate clearly: the photos have been greatly enhanced: and one of the rooms was all but blacked-out. I think that was the library- where the rose is.

After we finished looking about, we went back through the main hall and headed out the door, maneuvering to the right to the exit and a pose in front of the stained glass window.

 As we headed out past the line of those still waiting to get in, well... I already told that story...



Wednesday, June 05, 2013


For as long as I have been going to DisneyWorld, I have been talking about and trying to get *the* video of, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.

This is the best thing at WDW, and possibly in the whole world. It is my "religious service"; it is an experience that I would have every person in the world start each day with; it is simply and utterly magnificent.

I have never captured it in all its glory sufficient to even reflect a bit of what it is like to experience this presentation.

But now it has been done.

For those of you who wonder why I keep going back, why so many others do, what is it that makes Disney magic, this should give you a taste of it. 

This is miraculously filmed- anyone who has tried, knows what a challenge it is- and brilliantly edited.

This is how I end almost every day at Disney World, including a slow "walk" around World showcase while the "outro" music plays...

My sincere thanks for Clifflix for his incredible work on this presentation.

Sit back, go full screen, highest rez, and prepare to be amazed.

Now you know.



Sunday, June 02, 2013


May 31, 2013

So, I'm coming out of Be Our Guest restaurant, and making my way back over the entrance bridge, passing beside the still-packed line of people waiting to get in, and I decided to do a bit of entertaining. So I slowed in my scooter and announced in an announcing voice, "All the food is gone. We are now closed. Thanks for coming. Have a good day."

This brings on some laughs and banter and back and forth among the waiting guests, the attending CM's, and myself and my lunch companion, Kathy, but then I am suddenly brought to a complete halt by a strikingly familiar face.

I stop and stare, and wait for some greeting- and nothing. It is a beautiful woman, and she is enjoying all this, but keeping her face aimed straight ahead, as if waiting for me to recognize her. The problem was, I did, but I couldn't remember from where! I have done the parks with a lot- dozens, maybe scores of different people- added to hundreds I have talked to on-line, and I was wracking my brain trying to remember who this was and how I knew her. I had no doubt that I knew her, that I had spent time with her, but I just could not place it!

I long ago lost any shyness or embarrassment about my limited ability to remember people's names and such, so I flat out asked her, "Who are you?"

She just smiled.

I took off my hat, not the one I usually wear, thinking maybe that was keeping her from recognizing me, and said, "I'm Jud. How do I know you?"

She said "Hi Jud," -along with a many others around us- remember, this had all started with me teasing the line- and I realized they were all reading my rather prominent name tag. 

I asked again, "How do I know you? Did we do a park together?"


"Are you on the boards?"

Flat out denial.

"How??? How do I know you?"

She said, in an almost throw-away tone, "The Mickey Mouse Club."

Well, I watched the Mickey Mouse Club and this wasn't any of them- and way too young anyway, so I took this as a throw-away line to end the question; and I was getting the feeling that she was becoming a bit bothered-maybe even offended- by my efforts; and that I wasn't going to get anywhere, so I accepted defeat, bid her a puzzled adieu, and moved along.

As we exited the dedicated pathway that is the entrance to BOG, my lunch mate Kathy said, "I think that might be XXXX from that TV sitcom...???"

We went back and forth a bit and came to agreement on what show it was and that indeed that was who she was. (Even though we got the show wrong.)

I now felt an explanation was due, so I scooted back to the line, only now I couldn't spot her; however, several other people in the line remembered me, and pointed her out- this had become a "queue adventure" for some- and then I caught a glimpse of the back of her head, her blond pony tail between two men, as several people had formed a phalanx around her to hide her from view. I called out her name.

Immediately, I heard one of the men say, "He figured it out."

While in the same instant, a hitherto unseen Disney VIP Guide rushed to the rope and said "Shhhhh!"

I suddenly realized that this pretty lady was going incognito.

But, she had also come over to the rope, and I immediately dropped my voice to quiet tones and explained to her what had happened, that I had honestly thought she was someone I had a personal connection to, and that my friend had figured out who she was, and I just wanted to clear it up, and that I wasn't hassling her or trying to out her, just an honest mistake.

She was wonderful and understanding and quite friendly- and had been through the whole thing- and I now knew her apparent reserve I had seemed to sense earlier was her trying to maintain some anonymity!

Anyway, she had an incredible smile and kindness, we chatted briefly as I explained, and she shook my hand and thanked me, and given the circumstances, I made the conscious decision not to bother her further with asking for a photograph.

But, as the day went on, this was still sticking with me- and growing. I wondered why. I am by no means a person  who gets star struck, so it wasn't that. And simply naming her still didn't quite work for me, because my memory was quite distinct in spending some personal time with the person behind that name.

And then it hit me!

I had never watched that TV show she starred in... but I had watched her on another show- every Wednesday night- for 39 days!

Now I really bemoaned not getting that photo!

I carried on with my plans for this day's visit, and by 4 o'clock, had moved over to Epcot, for some time there, and to close off the day with my beloved Illuminations at 9pm.

The matter of the mystery lady and my reaction to the encounter continued to gnaw away at me- and the thrill of it all, grow, along with my wondering why.

As evening approached, I did figure out one big piece of it: I had actually bonded with her on those Wednesday nights. Personally.

Having thus resolved that much of the matter, and laughing at myself, I headed out for my viewing spot for the show, and as I was working my way carefully through the crowds in front of Mexico, I heard my name called. I wasn't quite certain, but thought about it and realized, yes it was quite distinct, so I stopped and looked around, and there across the walkway and through the crowds- there she was! 

I was thrilled!

I scooted over and I told her how thrilled I was and please excuse me but could we do a photo? She laughed and said certainly. We chatted a bit, and it was all good.

When I got home, I hit the net and found out- for one thing- that she was indeed in the Mickey Mouse Club! Just not the one I knew: the "new" one! This, and the still growing recollection of the time we spent "together" on those Wednesday nights just keep making this encounter more and more magical for me. This is a special woman, and this was certainly a very special day for me at Walt Disney World.

Jud with Lisa Whelchel
Lisa Whelchel is an American actress, singer, songwriter, author, and public speaker. She is known for her appearances as a Mouseketeer on The New Mickey Mouse Club and her nine-year role as the preppy and wealthy Blair Warner on The Facts of Life, (not Saved by the Bell). In 1984, she was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Inspirational Performance for her contemporary Christian album, All Because of You. Since 2009, she has been a regular speaker with Women of Faith Christian conferences. In 2012, Whelchel participated as a contestant in Survivor: Philippines, the 25th season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor, reaching the finale and tying with Michael Skupin for second place.

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