Friday, May 27, 2011

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Arusha Rock

Central to the overall concept of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is the ability to simulate the experience guests encounter at Disney's Animal Kingdom. From hotel theming to savanna expeditions, the Animal Kingdom Lodge faithfully tells the same story.

Unique to this property is the Arusha Rock feature. This elevated rock feature is centrally located outside of the north end of the lobby and provides guests with a truly wonderful view of animals within the property's wildlife preserve. Arusha Rock utilizes the same concept of CM guides, signs, and wildlife identification sheets as found in Disney's Animal Kingdom and is seamless transition between the two.

Two main wings of the hotel, the Zebra and Kudo Trail sections, open in a semicircle from this point which allows for many guest rooms to have a view of the preserve. The savanna extends outside of this main area and permits additional viewing points all throughout the resort including the pool/recreation areas and the connected Kidani Villas.

A wide range of flora and fauna are on display; guests can speak with Cast Members throughout the Arusha Rock area or refer the placards and signs throughout. Both are exceptionally helpful and entertain guests of any age. A fire pit is located at the intersection of the hotel lobby and Arusha Rock; as part of the hotel's robust activity list guests can participate in nightly storytelling events.

Guests of the hotel can also embark on an Arusha Rock safari. This is limited to guests of the hotel and is combined with dinner and is known as the Wanyama Safari. Each afternoon safari is limited to 12 guests ages 8 and older and finishes with dinner at Jiko - The Cooking Place.

During our brief visit to Arusha Rock we counted more than a dozen different animals. Disney lists the following as the wildlife you may encounter:
Ankole Cattle, Bontebok, Eland, Zebra, Greater Kudu, Impala, Okapi, Red River Hog, Nyala, Reticulated Giraffe, Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, Thompson's Gazelle, Waterbuck, White-Bearded Wildebeest, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Blue Crane, East African Crowned Crane, Greater Flamingo, Marabou Stork, Ostrich, Pink-Backed Pelican, Spur Winged Geese, Guinea Fowl and Ruppel's Griffon Vulture
Regardless of which you encounter, this is a wonderful spot to either call your home base during a WDW trip or a great excursion within the resort areas.

These photographs were taken by the author in May, 2011.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Disney's Boardwalk Conference Center

Situated alongside Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas is one of many Walt Disney World convention areas, the Disney Boardwalk Conference Center. In addition to the tens of thousands of guests entertained daily, Walt Disney World hosts thousands others through conventions, corporate meetings, expositions, and tradeshows.

In keeping with a Disney tradition to match theme and budget with venue, Disney offers robust conference and business meeting space within five of its resorts: Boardwalk; Contemporary; Grand Floridian; Yacht & Beach Club; and, Coronado Springs. (Technically, it's six but the Yacht & Beach Club share facilities. You may also ask about the Swan and Dolphin but they're not Disney properties.)

The Boardwalk Conference Center is one of the smaller venues with 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and one, 10,000 sq. ft. ballroom. There are 14 smaller meeting rooms and an elegant pre-function meeting area that continues the theme of Atlantic City and New Jersey seaside resorts. Additionally, the conference center has two outdoor meeting areas flanked by the eastern edge of the Boardwalk itself, in back of the ESPN Club, Boardwalk Bakery, Kouzzina by Cat Cora, and the Flying Fish.

The entrance to the conference center is located close to the Walt Disney World bus transportation stop and has a dedicated guest drop-of area. If you depart from the Boardwalk bus, head down the covered porch and then make a right at the T you'll find the conference center. Walk inside and you'll find the what Disney terms the 'pre-function' area and one of the main salons. Disney's attention to detail abounds; although you may encounter signs for events you still know you're in a Disney resort as evidenced by the paintings, drawings, and storytelling.

The Boardwalk is one of the hidden gems of the Disney Resorts as it offers guests a wealth of eating, shopping, and entertainment options all within a 5-minute walk. It's also just a 10-minute walk to Epcot and a 15-minute walk to Disney's Hollywood Studios. Combined with its conference space, this is a great location for guests and meeting attendees, alike.

These photographs were taken by the author in May, 2011.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kim Possible Villians

The very popular Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure interactive quest has check-in locations located in Innoventions West and East and another on the bridge between Future World and and Showcase Plaza.

This outdoor location features several quick overviews of the villains guests will need to overcome in their adventure including their name, description, crime, and location within World Showcase. For most of us, who are not familiar with Kim Possible's enemies, this is an easy way to ease into the story and learn more about the ne'er do wells who threaten the ultimate safety of the south side of Epcot.

PFTP's favorite is the lethal combination of Señor Senior, Sr. and his heir, Señor Senior, Jr. and their 'Procrastinator Ray'; while we didn't track down the Seniors one of our junior members did and had a ball. (Actually, that's Duff Killigan's storyline .)

These photographs were taken by the author in October, 2010.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

United Kingdom Pavilion at Night

Epcot's World Showcase offers guests ample opportunities to take night time photographs; one of PFTP's favorite locations to do so is the United Kingdom pavilion. The pavilion has abundant light during the evening hours and that makes it easy to use a Gorillapod in lieu of a heavier, tripod.

The street that connects the park with the central World Showcase thoroughfare is a prime spot to attach your pod to a lamppost and shoot away. Many of the shops keep their doors open during the evening hours and that light assists with taking shots.

That said, the light isn't constant and it may take a few errant shots and exposure adjustments to figure out what works best. Many of the must have shots are tricky due to others walking in and out of your composition; patience is a virtue when taking night time photographs.

Many people are drawn to picture window shots here but it's the buildings that really stand out at night. Give yourself the luxury of a half-hour aimlessly walking through the pavilion and take note of the angles and shadows that come out at night; you might just find Mary Poppins behind you.

These photographs were taken by the author in October, 2010.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Crystal Arts

Featured in many of the Disney properties, the Arribas Brothers' Crystal Arts store, located on Main Street USA at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom park, occupies a beautiful corner location next to the Main Street Bakery.

This store occupied what's now the seating area for the Main Street Bakery and moved to its current location, formerly the Market House, in 2007. (For comparison purposes, look here.) Inside, guests will find a range of glass gifts and collectibles with prices to fit a wide range of budgets, including those who are eager to part with thousands of dollars for hand-blown castles. The Arribas Brothers have enjoyed a long partnership with the Disney Company, first working with Walt himself whom the brothers, Tomas and Alfonso, met at the 1964 World's Fair.

The first Arribas Brothers location opened in Disneyland in 1967 as part of the New Orleans Square expansion; known as Cristal d'Orleans in this location, there is also a Crystal Arts shop located on Main Street USA in Disneyland Park. Each of the locations is a unique mixture of glass, lead crystal, and Swarovski crystal items and are even more unusual in that each is a leased space; the Arribas Brothers operate much in the same manner as their original Disneyland location where this was commonplace in New Orleans Square.

While not the best match for guests with small children (strollers and glass rarely mix) it is a wonderful place to spend a half-hour looking for that perfect gift for grandma. The Arribas Brothers are in the midst of their fourth-generation of glass blowers who practice their craft at the Disney locations and let's hope there are many, many more.

These photographs were taken by the author in November 2007 and October 2010.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

PFTP Welcomes a New Team Member

Photos from the Parks welcomed a new staff member to the team in February and while it's still too early to ask a 3-month old editor to contribute to the blog, he did mention a preference for The Carousel of Progress (a fine choice) and to celebrate his addition to the staff we have a picture just for him.

We're also proud to say we've got time again to dedicate to the site. Please look for new content starting tomorrow and continuing on a regular schedule. Join us in welcoming Jack to the staff and let's see if he develops the 'Disney Eye'.

This photograph was taken by the author in 2011.