Monthly Archives: May 2013

Daily GIF 5/31/13: Spider-Man

Poor Spider-Man is always getting the short end of the stick from his friends, his family, the press – not to mention the bad guys. But at least this little boy realizes everything ol’ Web Head has done for us.

Sometimes, a hug is as good a sorry as any.

Star Trek Into Darkness movie review

star-trek-into-darkness-official-cupThe reboot of the original Star Trek series serves two masters and has done it well so far – in fact, I would argue that Star Trek Into Darkness is a better showing than the first time.

As a concept, the Star Trek reboot gives old school fans like myself the opportunity to see something new and old at the same time while the general tone presented by J.J. Abrams makes the film accessible to a new audience. Sure, he might have over done it from an action standpoint, but I think his Star Trek flicks do, for the most part, please all of the people all of the time.

I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone, but I will say that I’m not sure that the new audience for this movie will have as much fun as the old audience. If you’re familiar with the TV show and movies from the original cast, there is a lot of fun to be had here, but the new audience will still be greeted with a bunch of spectacular visuals, effects and an entertaining story, even if some of it seems silly… although some moments of the movie that seem ridiculous to the new audience are probably favorite moments of old audience… again, this movie walks the line and I think it does a great job of pleasing both masters, but I could see how some people at the bottoms of the curve might be frustrated.
I really only have two questions about the flick: why, exactly, is this movie called Star Trek Into Darkness? I guess it’s metaphorical darkness… I guess. I suppose a few characters we meet in the movie go into darkness… or perhaps it’s referring to what’s coming as a consequence of these events… Ultimately, I think this title was chosen by Abrams just because it sounds mysterious – it’s that’s how that guy rolls. My other question: since when can a big ship like The Enterprise enter a planet’s atmosphere? I guess it’s just my inner dork coming out, but that’s always been a Star Trek no-no.

Overall, I liked the movie very much. I’m neither a fan or hater of Abrams directing style: it has its bad points (not enough wide shots, too much hand-held, too much lens flare, too many crash zooms), but the guy clearly has a talent as a story-teller, so that really evens out anything that bothers me about his visual style. The special effects are fantastic, and I was able to see this in IMAX 3D, so I got to see everything up close and personal. (A quick note on the IMAX 3D: the image was nice and clean and didn’t suffer from any blur or 3D darkness, but the 3D itself wasn’t especially compelling.)

If you like Star Trek or just a fun time at the movies, I recommend you give Star Trek Into Darkness a chance. If you’re an old school Star Trek purist, then you were probably disgusted by the first one and won’t even consider seeing this movie, so I won’t waste your time… except to say that Darkness is better than the first one. I give Star Trek Into Darkness an 8 out of 10.

Fremont Bridge Troll (Seattle)


“You gotta pay the troll toll…”

How cool is this guy?  That is one big troll, and he does live under a bridge, so you can’t go wrong.  I was surprised by all the sand down there…

Anyway, if you’re in the area, check it out.

Vegan at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Hotel

Our latest Walt Disney World vacation brought us to stay at the Contemporary Resort Hotel, which is my dream hotel from childhood – after all, a friggin monorail goes through the atrium! You can’t beat that, and, it turns out, this is my current favorite hotel on Walt Disney World’s property.

We didn’t have a lot of time to check out the hotel’s food, but the Contempo Café did have a flat bread offering with hummus, chickpeas and cherries that was very tasty. They also have some fruit available, so you can certainly make due here – and I am fairly certain I saw soy milk in their fridge and they also had some dry cereal lying around, so there are certainly solid vegan options here that don’t require any fuss. My understanding is that some of the other eateries at the hotel do offer vegan options or they will modify the food for you, but I haven’t experienced them first hand…

Read the rest of this entry

Disney World Versus: Wishes vs Illuminations

As we’re still plowing through Disney Week here at the site, today we thought we’d do something different and introduce a series of posts that pits one thing at Walt Disney World against another.  Our first Disney World Versus battle will feature the Wishes firework show at the Magic Kingdom against Illuminations:  Reflections of Earth at EPCOT Center.

Read the rest of this entry

Disney's Hollywood Studios and EPCOT Center: Two Parks, One Problem

We’ve been going to Walt Disney World on a nearly annual basis since 2008 and while some things get better, some things stay the same. One thing that desperately needs to change is the problem shared by Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT Center.

Both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT Center just don’t have enough attractions to support the parks. This is slightly elevated at EPCOT by 1) The Presence of Alcohol and 2) The sheer size of the park, but at DHS, the problem is out there for everyone to see. Essentially, each of the parks have three premium attractions that everyone wants to experience.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Toy Story Midway Mania!

EPCOT Center
Mission Space
Test Track

It’s not entirely true that everyone wants to experience all three of the attractions at each park I’ve mentioned…

Aside: for the following reasons
Mission Space has two missions – an ‘more intense’ and a ‘less intense’ version, so that keeps the lines down there a bit, but either way, it’s a tightly enclosed space, and some folks just aren’t up for that.
The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith goes upside down and is a roller coaster, and some people don’t like one or both of those things.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror just looks scary from the outside – I’ve seen people look at it and shake their head while simultaneously saying "No Way."

…but there is one on the list for each park that seems to be a must see for all ages: Toy Story Midway Mania! and Soarin’. I, for one, am not wild about either attractions, but I am in the smallest of minorities on this issue. And, because of the mania (if you’ll forgive the pun), these two attractions can easily by missed by casual park goers. You literally need to plan your trip to these parks around these two attractions. As soon as you walk into DHS, you’ll need to get a fastpass for Toy Story Midway Mania! or you’re not going to get to visit that attraction without enduring a horrendous wait. The same goes for Soarin’ (although the refit on Test Track is taking some of the heat off Soarin’… for now, at least.), where they post a uniformed security guard at some point later in the day – probably after the fastpasses are gone.

Yeah, that’s another problem: there are only so many fastpasses they can give out in a day.

Aside: a fastpass is a ticket you pick up at the gate to the ride that instructs you at what time you can return and visit the attraction and therefore bypass nearly all of the standby line.

And because there are only so many fastpasses available per day, once they run out, you’re stuck with the standby line and a wait that can be anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, and we’re not doing that. If you don’t arrive at the park early, you’re not going to get a fastpass. For example, walking into DHS at 1 PM and trying to get a fastpass for Toy Story Midway Mania! has never been possible for us – and we’ve gone to the park in January. One thing you can do is wait until just before the park closes and hop on the standby line. It’s usually a bit shorter by then and once they let you online, they will not kick you off, even if the park is technically closed. If you’re staying at a Disney Resort, take advantage of those extra magic hours, but don’t depend on them for these two attractions – unless they’re in the morning and you’re there when they open, that is. Then it’s not so bad.

This bottle neck of popular attractions is beneath Disney – they can do better. So what can they do? Well, for one, they can start by investing in their parks. They’ve already neck deep in the new version of Fantasy Land at the Magic Kingdom, but EPCOT and DHS both need new attractions. At some point, I imagine DHS will be ripe with Marvel characters and attractions, but that hasn’t happened yet – perhaps because Universal Studios still have a license agreement with Marvel? I don’t know why, but one would think that Disney didn’t buy Marvel just to let that potential sit on the shelf – surely, at some point, they’ll want to incorporate those films into the parks (and hence increase their credibility with boys and stop suggesting they all dress up like murderous pirates), but maybe they’ll get there eventually. I know one of the pavilions at EPCOT is going to become Stark Industries and will presumably feature some sort of Iron Man attraction, but we’ll have to wait and see exactly how that shakes out. And speaking of EPCOT, I think they need to dedicate an entire pavilion to their roller coast simulator, The Sum of all Thrills because it is AWESOME. Planning and then riding a roller coaster was even more fun than it sounds. I barely knew it existed and had no idea where it was until a week ago. They need to rename that pavilion the after SOAT. No one knows what Inovations or Inoventions means… or whatever the hell it’s called now. (Oh and there are two pavilions with that name – that always disorients me as to where I am physically located in the park.)

When you go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT Center, be ready with a plan, and make sure it starts out with you arriving at the entry gate 5 minutes before the park opens and then going directly to get those fastpasses I mentioned.

Good luck!

The Simpsons Monorail Song meets the Walt Disney World’s Monorail System [video]

If you like the Facebook page, then you already know it’s Disney Week here at the site and you might have even already seen the video above, but it’s short, so… maybe give it another gander?

As soon as Dr. Girlfriend revealed that we were staying at the Contemporary Resort, I began hatching plans for this video.  “Marge vs the Monorail” is one of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to bring two things I love together.

And seriously, how awesome is the Walt Disney World monorail?  40 MPH and no traffic lights – it’s a highway in the sky!  It’s one of the best things ever.

This was filmed using a Samsung Infuse 4G and edited in Adobe Premiere CS 5.5.  Initially, I let YouTube do their anti shake/stabilize tool thing to the video, but it looked terrible, so I have hopefully disabled that now.

EPCOT’s attraction wait time sign is hilarious


That’s right, kids – the journey into the imagination is OVER!  Move along!  Nothing to see here!

EPCOT-the-circle-of-life-closedSorry, everybody:  The Circle of Life is closed.  This is the Apocalypse!  It’s all over!  Flee for your lives!

Vegan at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

We recently visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios (aka The Artist Formerly Known as MGM) and perused the vegan dining options. Here’s what we found:

The Brown Derby
Though pricey, TheBrown Derby had an excellent vegan option in a noodle bowl that was topped with a piece of coconut incrusted tofu. I could have used a bigger piece of tofu (the tofu was really excellent, and I wouldn’t call myself a guy who loves tofu), but the noodles and the sauce that accompanied them were great, so I had no trouble eating that. Our waiter was knowledgeable and understood what we meant by ‘vegan’ to the point that he even brought us oil and balsamic vinegar rather than butter when the bread showed up. Again, two entrees and two beers cost us a small fortune, but the food was great. Read the rest of this entry

Beach Storm


This storm just kinda rolled in on us as we were walking on the beach.  We got back to the hotel in time, but only just.  Lots of lighting!


Hotel Room Doors

Never thought I’d be writing about hotel room doors, but here we are.

I guess it’s worth mentioning that hotel room doors have gone through an evolution over the years.  From regular keys to slide cards to tap cards, hotel room doors have kept up with technology in a way I couldn’t of foreseen.


This, however, I didn’t see coming.
What the hell is this?  Who is it for?  The extreme visual learner, I guess…  The person who can remember the picture on their door, but not the number.  Crazy.  You win again, hotel room doors.  Keep evolving.

United Airlines class system


Since United Airlines and Continental Airlines merged, they really nickel and dime you about everything:  food, blankets, pillows, tv, seats and so on.  But they’re also very classist, too.
We’ve all heard of flying first class or coach, but United has so many levels of class that it will make your head spin.  This last time we flew, they called it Economy Plus, which just means they gave us a humane amount of leg room.  They’re even nuts about the way they board the plane!
Any time you fly United, they’ll find about five ways to separate you from your fellow travelers – and it’ll feel dirty.

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