Thursday, May 26, 2011

Confessions of a Reluctant Star Wars Fan

On May 27th, 1977 I saw the first Star Wars film in my local movie theater.  (Of course, now that film is known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.)  I freely admit to feeling quite discombobulated with each prequel, sequel and "special edition" that followed.  What once was the first movie is now the fourth...?  You get the idea.  Maybe my dilemma is generational; I think I tuned out after it was revealed that Darth Vader was Luke's father.   CONVERSELY, I love, love Star Tours, and have been a fan since seeing the original at Disneyland in 1987, and then the Disney World version in 1991.  How could anyone resist hapless Rex and his (and therefore our) misadventures??  His wrong turns, overshoots, comet maneuvers, and final Death Star assault made sense to me; I got it.  It was because of our attachment to Rex and Star Tours that we visited Disney's Hollywood Studios on August 14th, 2010, and took our own "Last Tour to Endor".


Of course, the official decommissioning party was a ticketed event.  We did not have admittance to the actual bash, and my son displayed his displeasure for the camera:



But we made our own fun and memories as we rode Star Tours five times that day.  I warned them to remember every nuance- just in case there is a Star Tours VI by the time they have their own teens!!

While you're visiting, please check out the Star Tours 2 Wait Time widget (under my Followers) thanks to touringplans.com .

Another thanks to Babes in Disneyland and Days in the Park for this week's Disney Blog Hop!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- Pirates Abound


My DS and his "crew" audition...
(As seen in Disney Go To Girl's
"Parade of Pirates" !!)

The La Hacienda de San Angel Experiencia


Time to DISsert!  What makes a successful restaurant?  Perhaps the 90% failure rate so often cited by various media is a bit of an urban legend, but the "magic formula" for creating an enduring eatery absolutely remains elusive.  After a year at the New York Restaurant School, my husband and I set upon our quest to construct a restaurant that would survive the test of time.  We've owned four restaurants in the past 25 years, but we're still compiling our list of intangibles that all great fine dining establishments possess:
  • a cohesive identity
  • imaginative service that goes well beyond the expected
  • a thoughtful menu and specialty cocktails/ wine list
Perhaps it is because we have been celebrating Cinco de Mayo for the past 2 weeks, but I simply can't get La Hacienda de San Angel off my mind.  I paid my first visit to this Epcot establishment in January, and its list of successful intangibles is long.  I know you've read your share of reviews of La Hacienda's southern Mexican food and drink; homemade corn tortillas, my amazing grilled tilapia with mango chutney (Pescado a la Talla) and their now famous, ingenious Tequila Flights have been thoroughly critiqued on-line and in the blogosphere.  What truly set this restaurant apart for me was my full dining event- my total experience.





Pescado a la Talla

I spent my first-ever solo dining adventure at La Hacienda de Angel  and had some MAJOR trepidation in doing so.  Although I know so many others enjoy it, I am always uncomfortable when I see a solo diner, and even more so in the land of happy, engaged families.  As I checked in, I fully expected a rushed, avoid-all-eye-contact, slightly lonely meal.  Instead, I had one of the lo mejor dining experiences of my life. 

The famous Margarita Flight may have been an outside factor.

Disney fans know that every on-property restaurant tells a story, and La Hacienda's plays beautifully.  The Palmas Services LLC corporation that operates all three Mexican restaurants in the World Showcase opened their first establishment in Mexico City in 1963; by converting an established 17th century hacienda into the original Restaurante San Angel Inn, an international success was born.  Disney parlayed this concept into the narrative of La Hacienda de Angel, and from the minute you pass through the scrolled wrought-iron gates you feel as though you are entering the grand, warm, lakeside home of a decidedly artistic south-of-the-border family.  I was given a most gracious welcome by a member of La Hacienda's management team, addressed by name, and escorted through the "residence".


La Hacienda de San Angel artwork sample

Each room has its own personality and role in the former manor; the pantry, living room, grand salon, artist's studio, and finally, the main dining room, each completes the theme.  In Disney's characteristic attention to detail, the chairs and tables were crafted in Mexico, and the distinctive lighting fixtures were commissioned by Mexican artist Ernesto Cruz.  As you pass the cleverly placed artist's kiln, you are led to imagine that every piece of blown glass, sculpture, vase or painting was created by the resident to decorate their dwelling.  Of course, all of this perfectly frames the floor to ceiling windows that offer the perfect view of the World Showcase Lagoon and my table!  I don't know if it was my solitary status, or business as usual, but I received the most exemplary service for the next hour.  My server and buser each had broad smiles, which is never over-rated.  The manager returned to my table 3 more times that evening, each time calling me by name, and answering my menu inquiries and offering suggestions.

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

Of course, the gran final was my view of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth (it felt as though it were showing just for me).  Gracias La Hacienda de San Angel- your hospitality is second to none.  My magical experiencia puts you on our list of GREAT restaurants, and I'll be back- with oodles of company!



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Times Square 360 and the Revlon Run For Women


videoThe countdown to the Revlon Run For Women on Saturday, April 30th.  My starting point is (conveniently) smack in front of the Times Square Disney Store!

2011 Revlon Run/Walk For Women; The Top Ten Take Aways

On Saturday, April 30th, nearly 40,000 participants joined in the 14th Annual Revlon Run/Walk for Women.   Each year, this 5K begins in the heart of Times Square, and ends in Central Park with a Health Expo for all.  Survivors, friends, family and children gathered together on the Great White Way in NYC to raise the dollar that will finally find a cure for women’s cancers. The day was full of hope, camaraderie and some strong messages that I’d love to share with you.
·         The EIF Revlon Run/Walk event is one of the nation’s largest single-day fundraisers to support women’s cancer research, counseling and outreach programs in New York City and beyond.  (9 recipients in NY include Gilda’s Club, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and Memorial Sloan-Kettering.)

·         Did you know?  In this year alone, an estimated 275,000 women’s cancers will be diagnosed in the US? 

·         With one in three women predicted to develop a cancer in her lifetime, we've all felt the real impact of women's cancers in our own lives.  This is personal.
·         “Womentum” is the theme for the day.  By participating, volunteering or donating to an event such as this one, you are “putting your foot down and saying "No!" to that prediction”.  We all know, there is nothing a woman can’t do if she puts her mind to something...
·         America’s doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz (Emmy Award Winning Host of “The Dr. Oz Show”), once again hosted the day.  His message was powerful, and one that only he could deliver:   When it comes to cancer,      GENETICS LOADS THE GUN, AND ENVIRONMENT PULLS THE TRIGGER.  We are not prisoners to our DNA…

·         We’ve all heard that early detection saves lives, but managing your environment does as well.  Take a look at your lifestyle, what you put in your body, and how active you are while you are making that next doctor’s appointment!

·         Folks of all shapes and sizes, ages and physical abilities took part in this 5K.  It was truly inspirational.   Next to me at the finish line was a woman in her late 50’s.  She completed the entire race on lofstrand crutches, and had just completed her second round of chemotherapy.  Our own strifes seem so much smaller when witnessing the will and grit of others who are defying all odds every day; Womentum indeed.

·         The Revlon sponsors truly made the day memorable.  At the finish line, runners had the opportunity to have their hair and makeup “retouched” (or just plain touched, in my case), with a mini photo shoot thereafter.  That alone might be a reason for some to get out there and walk! Thank you Revlon.

·         I did see a fair amount of walkers looking for blister treatment at the end of the day.  As a physical therapist, I can’t help but use this as a teachable moment.  For walkers more so than runners, your sock wear choices are probably more important than your selection of shoes. The typical cotton sock holds sweat against the skin and can create the friction that forms a blister.  Choosing a sock made from a synthetic, such as CoolMax or polypropylene will wick away the sweat to evaporate and help prevent those blisters from forming. 
·         Help stamp out women’s cancers from your desktop!
Text WALK to 50555 to safely donate $10 to the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women, or visit their website at 2011 Revlon Run/Walk for Women.
You can follow other Top Ten Tuesday entries at http://ohamanda.com/