Wednesday, August 31, 2011

63. Stacey

For those of you who have stayed in a Walt Disney World resort hotel anytime in the last 7 years, you know exactly who I am referring to when I say the name "Stacey." She is who you first see when you turn on the TV in any guest room on Disney property. From 2005 to 2008 Stacey hosted "The Top 7 Must Sees" which was updated in 2009 and renamed "Must Do Disney." This 15 minute show gives guests an overview of the most popular attractions at each park, including the water parks and Downtown Disney. Stacey is an extremely energetic host who does a great job of showing resort guests the best that Disney World has to offer.

Although I had been enjoying the Disney World preview show for years, I didn't know anything about Stacey until doing a little research for this article. I learned that her full name is Stacey J. Aswad and she wasn't actually born and raised in Walt Disney World. She is originally from Binghamton, NY and until selected to host the show, she had never actually been to the vacation kingdom! For those of us who have turned on a TV at Disney World, this fact is hard to believe. You would swear that she was a veteran of the parks. As a young girl, Stacey was a competitive artistic roller skater. In fact, she was a five-time national champion in the sport. Stacey also studied dance and graduated with a fine arts degree from one of the most prestigious schools in the country, Juilliard.  In addition to dancing, she has also become an accomplished actress and can be seen in commercials for such companies as McDonalds, AT&T, and Toyota. No matter what Stacey J. Aswad does in the future, she will always be known to Walt Disney World fans as simply "Stacey."

You may be wondering why I would write an article about the host of a show that can only be seen while actually at Walt Disney World. I can answer that in two words: You Tube. You can find clips and even entire versions of Stacey's Disney World shows right on YouTube. Many of these are just from tourists pointing their video cameras at their resort TV, but some are of decent quality. I'm not going to include specific links to video clips as there are so many to choose from. However, just type in Disney World Stacey in the search box and you will find what you are looking for.

In previous articles I have written about how listening to the music of the parks can trigger great memories and audibly bring us back to one of our favorite attractions or park locations. There have been many studies done on how we associate sights, sounds and even smells to memories of things we have done in the past. Watching Stacey on YouTube certainly falls into this category and takes me right back to Walt Disney World. Since we often watch the show in our resort room while getting ready for a fun filled day, watching it on You Tube brings back those feelings of excitement and joy of being on a Disney vacation. Even our young son loves to watch. The first thing he always wants to do when we arrive at our resort is "turn on Stacey." I think he actually has a little crush on her! Whether you want to relive a little piece of Disney World magic or someone in your family has a crush on the host, I highly recommend heading over to YouTube to check out Stacey.

Have a Disneyriffic Day and remember to keep moving forward. See ya real soon!

DDW Pic 5. Test Track

Test Track
This is my favorite view on one of the best attractions at Epcot. This picture was snapped while riding on Test Track, just as the car heads outside for the high speed part of the ride. This was taken in April of 2004.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

DDW Pic 4. All Star Sports Resort

All Star Sports Resort - Tennis Section
This picture was was taken in the tennis section of the All Star Sports resort. Disney's resorts have incredible theming and this "value" resort is no exception. This shot was taken back in December of 2008 and features the 2 year old version of our son Chris. No matter how hard he tried, he could not pry the baseball from the duck's hand! Yes, Donald's nephews are playing baseball on the giant tennis court!

Monday, August 29, 2011

DDW Pic 3. Animal Kingdom Percussion


Animal Kingdom Percussion
All of the Disney parks are full of fantastic performing groups. Some of these are full blown Broadway style productions while others may just be small bands performing on the streets.  This photo was taken in June of 2002 in the Animal Kingdom.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

DDW Pic 2. Mickey's House

Mickey's House in Mickey's Toontown Fair
This is a picture taken back in April of 2004 of Mickey's house in the Magic Kingdom. This "vacation" home of Mickey's was removed earlier this year, along with the rest of Mickey's Toontown fair, as part of the Fantasyland expansion project. This new section of Fantasyland is going to be called "Storybook Circus" and will be opening in 2012. Although Mickey's (and Minnie's) house will surely be missed, we are looking forward to experiencing what is coming soon!

Friday, August 26, 2011

DDW Pic 1. - Magic Kingdom Entrance

Magic Kingdom Entrance
This is the first post in a new feature of the Digital Disney World website.  Each day I will be highlighting a digital picture that I took at Walt Disney World. I thought it would be appropriate to start out the new "DDW Pic" series with the iconic entrance to the world's most famous theme park. This picture was taken on our "Drumheller Family Trip" of 2009. There were 12 of us on this trip and a fun time was had by all!

62. New Feature - Daily Digital Photos

I have been writing this blog for almost eight months and I've really enjoyed sharing my views on how to stay connected to Walt Disney World through modern technology. I have been blessed to have befriended many great people and fellow enthusiasts in the online community. What started as "one little spark" back on New Years Day has really grown into a hobby that I look forward to indulging in a couple times each week. When I first started Digital Disney World, I would be lucky to get 10 "page views" per article and I am proud to say that the site is now averaging over 50 views per day. It is rapidly approaching 5,000 overall views since the beginning. This is in no small part to the many online friends who have been gracious enough to spread the word about my blog through mentioning it on their own sites. I am truly grateful for their support. I also want to say a huge thank you to all of you who have enjoyed reading my thoughts over the course of the last eight months.

I have decided that it is now time to take Digital Disney World up a notch. In addition to the articles I will continue to write on modern technology and Disney World history, I am now going to add another hobby of mine into the mix. As I mentioned in one of my earliest posts back in January, I am somewhat of a photography nut and tend to lose control with my digital camera and iPhone whenever I am on a Disney World vacation. Since 2002 I have taken over 3,500 pictures at our home away from home, and I would like to start sharing some of them on this website. It just makes sense to be featuring digital photos on a website entitled Digital Disney World.

I will be posting a Digital Disney World Picture (DDW Pic) each and every day. Some of these will be of obvious park icons while others may be a little more obscure. I may include family members at times, as well as random strangers.       I will also include a brief description or story to go along with the photo. My goal is to bring you a little Disney World magic on a daily basis. You are welcome to save any and all photos to use for your wallpaper or screensaver and I would love to see comments about any pics that peak your interest.      I again would like to thank everyone who has visited this site and hope you continue to enjoy Digital Disney World!

Have a Disneyriffic Day and remember to keep moving forward. See ya real soon!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

61. Main Street Gazette

When you become an active part of the Disney online fan community, you quickly learn that individuals from different areas often come together to be guest contributors, commentators, or writers on a colleague's podcast or website. This is how I have found much of the interesting content that I write about on my site. Today is no exception. In listening to Lou Mongello's weekly WDW Radio podcast, I have heard Ryan Wilson as a guest on the show on several occasions. He is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Walt Disney World and he is a welcome addition whenever he is on Lou's show. Ryan's primary focus, however, is being the host of his own website, the Main Street Gazette.

First and foremost, the Main Street Gazette can be found at http://www.mainstgazette.com/. Ryan started this blog, just as many of us enthusiasts have, simply to share his love of Walt Disney World with the rest of us.  What started back in 2007 has grown into a site that is respected throughout the online community. It is full of fascinating info and history related to Walt Disney World as well as other Disney theme parks. One of the things that makes Ryan stand out among bloggers is the shear volume of quality material that he puts out on a regular basis. Most of us write articles a couple of times a week, but you will find new material in the Main Street Gazette each and every day.

Scoop Sanderson
Ryan didn't come up with the name for his website out of the blue. It is the actual name of the newspaper that the character, Scoop Sanderson works for. Scoop is a "streetmosphere" performer on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom. Although there is no physical newspaper that can be purchased in the park, it is a part of the backstory that Disney theme parks are so well known for. Most guests that wander up and down Main St. will never know that there is a town newspaper, but those of us like Ryan certainly appreciate these little details that can be found throughout Walt Disney World.

The Main Street Gazette features a different theme for each day of the week. Starting on Sunday, the topic is "Disney This Week" where a list of other bloggers and websites are listed with their corresponding articles. Mondays feature all types of interesting writings under the heading of "Perspective." As a big fan of Disney World history, the Tuesday articles feature some of my favorites as they talk about the "World of Yesterday." Wednesday is another day that I don't miss when it comes to the Gazette as Ryan writes all about the food that can be found throughout Disney World under the title "Disney Delish." If you check out the website on Thursdays, you will find the "Photo Safari" where great Disney related photos are posted with their descriptions. On Friday you will find articles written about specific areas of the park in the  section entitled "The WDW Record." Finally, on the first day of each weekend, you will find "Silent Saturdays." On these days, Ryan posts a simple, yet very high quality photograph from somewhere on Disney property. These pictures are worth a thousand words so there is no accompanying article.

I could go on and on about the great content that you will find over at the Main Street Gazette, but you really have to go to the site and experience it. In addition to what I highlighted above, Ryan has guest contributors as well as special features. For those of us who need a Disney World fix on a daily basis, I have yet to find a better location on the internet. I highly recommend checking out the Main Street Gazette. I'm sure you will enjoy it!

Have a Disneyriffic day and remember to keep moving forward. See ya real soon!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

60. Subsonic Radio

I have written many times, in the articles on this website, about how Disney creates a good "feeling" throughout their theme parks. One of the most prominent ways this is done is through the music that can be heard in just about every corner of every park. Whether it is a background track you hear while strolling through a gift shop or one of the great live musical productions, the music is a huge part of the Disney entertainment experience.  Some of the more popular theme park music can be purchased on souvenir CDs, but much of it (especially the background music) can only be listened to via the internet. I have highlighted several such websites in the past and would like to add Subsonic Radio to the list.

SubsonicRadio.com is a great place to listen to your favorite Disney parks music. It contains five channels that offer continues streaming tracks for listeners to enjoy. You can listen to the music through Windows Media Player or WinAmp, which lets you open the channels in iTunes. Subsonic Radio has a few channels that you'd expect from a site that plays Disney parks soundtracks. These include the "scheduled" channel where the website host has a general, pre-programed menu of music that will play throughout the day. There is also the "background" channel that plays just that.....Disney parks background music.

In addition to the two expected channels, there are three other unique ones.  The "requests" channel allows registered users to suggest a specific song to be played. This is the modern day version of calling up a radio station to try and get your favorite tune played on the radio. These requested tracks are played continuously on this channel. The final two channels are really interesting. First is the "Soarin" channel, which plays the soundtrack, background, and queue music from this specific attraction. For fans of this ride, there can be no better place to audibly bring you back to Epcot, or California Adventure (if you are from the west coast).  Finally, there is the "Star Tunnel" channel which plays continuous music from the classic roller coaster, Space Mountain. This is another channel that plays a set of specific soundtracks from a very popular and iconic attraction.

As a complement to the SubsonicRadio.com website, there is also a corresponding iPhone app. It is a user friendly and well designed app that allows you to listen to all five of the Subsonic Radio channels. In addition to giving you access to a huge library of Disney parks music, it also includes a sleep timer that allows you to set a specific length of time that the music will play. This is definitely a nice touch. Finally, the app has a "gifts" tab that gives the user a handful of nice Disney World pictures to add to their iPhone photo library. They can be used as wallpaper backgrounds. One of the best parts about the Subsonic Radio app is that it is completely free!

I highly recommend adding SubsonicRadio.com to the bookmarks on your computer. Also, if you are an iPhone user, the app is a must have. For those of us who like to relive our fond Disney World memories through music, Subsonic Radio is a fantastic source!

Have a Disneyriffic day and remember to keep moving forward. See ya real soon!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

59. WDW Countdown App

There are many great Walt Disney World apps available that have extensive information that can help in planning your vacation. There are also some apps that have large databases filled with great trivia. There are still others that are made to help us enjoy the parks by giving us estimated wait times and show schedules. However, sometimes I come across apps that are very simple but are still a lot of fun. The WDW Countdown App for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad falls into this category.

The WDW Countdown App is exactly what the title implies. It basically lets you know how many months, weeks, and days are left to your next Walt Disney World vacation. It is very easy to use and you can set it up in just a few minutes. All you have to do is go to the settings screen and put in the starting date for your next vacation. It is pretty customizable and allows you to choose a background picture with a frame. There are ten frames (or "containers" as the the app calls them) to pick from. I immediately chose the Haunted Mansion for mine. There is a good size selection of stock photos to use as the background, including attractions, resorts, and holiday themes. You can also choose to upload your own photo or let the app pick random photos from its database. The final customization setting that can be selected is the format for displaying how much time is left until your trip. You can choose between "full" which shows months, weeks, and days remaining or you can select "days only."

One of the best things about WDW Countdown is that you don't even have to open the app to use it. It is one of the few iTunes apps that I have found where Apple allowed a developer to utilize an "icon badge." What this means is that there is a little red bubble attached to the icon that displays the number of days till your next Disney World vacation. This is a great way to get excited about your trip approaching on a daily basis! I know my son often asks how long it will be till we get to ride the Haunted Mansion again.  Now he can see the number of days just by grabbing dad's iPhone. If that weren't enough, you can set the app to send you an alert to remind you of this information each and every day. This definitely gives you something to look forward to when you see that your next trip to the vacation kingdom is just around the corner.
The final feature of the WDW Countdown App is the "share" button. It allows you to post your vacation countdown to Twitter or Facebook. It also enables you to quickly send the info in an email. However, unless you really want to gloat about the privilege of going to Disney World, I'd only send emails to those who are traveling with you! As you will see from the iTunes ratings, PLR Concepts hit a home run with this simple but effective little app. I highly recommend WDW Countdown, and at only 99 cents it is surely a steal!

Have a Disneyriffic day and remember to keep moving forward. See ya real soon!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

58. Doombuggies.com

While there are many websites that showcase Walt Disney World as a whole, there are few that are dedicated to a single attraction. Truthfully, there aren't many attractions that would warrant the creation of an entire website. However, there are some classics that have such a rich history and story that they deserve to have a place on the internet just for them. One such attraction is the Haunted Mansion, and one such website is Doombuggies.com.

Doombuggies.com was created over a decade ago by a Californian named Chef Mayhem. Chef is a very talented and dedicated Haunted Mansion enthusiast who started the website back on Halloween of 1997. In his words, "The site was designed partially as a means by which I could learn web design, but quickly turned into a fascinating hobby as my niche web site was discovered by both Disney and Haunted House fans around the world." Although Chef is from the west coast and the Disneyland version of the mansion would be considered home, he does a nice job of highlighting the Walt Disney World version as well. They are fairly similar attractions, but Doombuggies.com points out some of the notable differences. The Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris mansions are also discussed on the site.


My son Chris has been very lucky to have visited Walt Disney World many times and he hasn't yet reached his fifth birthday. Other than the thrill rides, he has had the privilege of experiencing most of what the vacation kingdom has to offer. However, ever since he could speak, Chris would tell you that his favorite ride is the Haunted Mansion. Although he still isn't a huge fan of the stretching room when it goes dark and the corpse is hanging above our heads, he absolutely loves the rest and would ride it all day if he could. Chris is not alone in his adoration of this attraction. It is certainly one of my favorites and is loved by millions of fans. There are people who have rooms in their house dedicated to the Haunted Mansion and they even made a movie based on the attraction. Doombuggies.com is for the casual fan as well as enthusiasts, like myself, who listen to "Grim Grinning Ghosts" on their car stereos while driving to work.


In my opinion, the best part of Doombuggies.com is the "Secrets" section. Here you will find a behind the scenes look at how Disney creates such amazing special effects that have been wowing visitors for 40 years. This is actually how I found Doombuggies.com a few years ago. Like most curious mansion fans, I just HAD to know how they pulled off the "grand hall" scene with dozens of amazingly realistic ghosts transparently floating around the room. I did an internet search and it brought me right to Doombuggies.com. I think that most new visitors to the mansion would think that these ghosts are some type of computer generated holograms, but this technology simply wasn't around when the attraction opened in Disneyland in 1969. Visitors to Doombuggies.com will probably be amazed, as I was, that the same technology from four decades ago is still being used today.  I won't give away the secret, but I highly recommend checking out the website to learn all about the ghosts of the Haunted Mansion.


Although I love reading about the history and secrets of the Haunted Mansion, Doombuggies.com offers so much more. There is a section containing video and audio clips. There is a whole area that showcases collectibles and even a section dedicated to the Haunted Mansion movie. Anyone who has ever experienced this classic attraction will find something interesting at Doombuggies.com. 
In addition to giving my whole hearted endorsement of Doombuggies.com, I have to also say happy birthday to the Haunted Mansion. The original attraction opened on August 9th, 1969 in Disneyland. An interesting fact is that the Walt Disney World version was developed at the same time, but couldn't be experienced by Florida guests until the park opened on October 1st, 1971. We will be saying happy 40th birthday to the Disney World Haunted Mansion along with the Magic Kingdom in just under two months. It has always been easy to keep track of Walt Disney World's age, because I was born shortly after it opened. Oh brother....... I'm almost 40!


Have a Disneyriffic Day and remember to keep moving forward. See ya real soon!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

57. O.T.D. - 8/4/09 - Bay Lake Tower Opens

Today we say happy 2nd birthday to Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort. It is the newest resort at Walt Disney World as well as the first to be added to the monorail line since Disney's Grand Floridian Resort in 1988. Bay Lake Tower is also the most recent addition to the Disney Vacation Club and is my family's "home resort." After many years of procrastinating, we decided it was time to become DVC members and we were very excited to purchase at this brand new resort only one month after it opened.

Although we have had the pleasure of staying at other DVC resorts since we became members, it was just a few weeks ago that we first stayed at Bay Lake Tower. We were there for four nights and had an amazing time. The first two nights we stayed in a studio, which is basically a deluxe hotel room with a kitchenette. It was up on the 12th floor and had some amazing views. From our balcony we could see attractions at Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, which are all more than three miles away. We also had a great view of Bay Lake and the Wilderness Lodge. If we stuck our heads over the railing and looked around the corner to the right, we could also see part of the Magic Kingdom. We enjoyed this room immensely and didn't think it could get any better.......but it did.


In planning this Disney World trip, we decided to book the second two nights in a one-bedroom villa at Bay Lake Tower. We had some DVC points that we needed to use and thought it would be fun to try out a different type of accommodation. While we were impressed by the studio (and its great views) we were absolutely blown away by the one-bedroom villa. First, we couldn't believe how big it was. There is a very modern and fully equipped kitchen, large living room area and huge picture windows. There are two bathrooms and the bedroom includes a jacuzzi and a large flat screen tv. Although this villa is considered a "lake view," we were able to choose one that also had an amazing view of the Magic Kingdom. The ability to watch the Wishes fireworks display right from our balcony was a real treat and the view of the sun setting over the Magic Kingdom was breathtaking.

Attached to Bay Lake Tower is a covered walkway that connects to the grand concourse of the Contemporary Resort. More specifically, to my wife and son's delight, it brings you right into the gift shop area of the hotel. From there it is a short escalator trip up to the monorail platform where you can board a very unique form of transportation that has been moving guests around Disney World for almost 40 years. The Contemporary is also the place that houses the restaurants and check-in desk that are used by guests of Bay Lake Tower.

In addition to the well appointed villas and fantastic views, Bay Lake Tower has several other unique features. First, there is the Top of the World Lounge which is only accessible to DVC members who are staying at the resort. As the name implies, it is on the roof of the building and includes an indoor seating area with a full bar that also serves appetizers. Bay Lake Tower also has a unique pool in the shape of Mickey ears that includes a nice water slide, hot tub, and pool bar. We spent several afternoons swimming here.

Of all the great things about Bay Lake Tower, the best feature has to be its proximity to the Magic Kingdom. It was so cool to be able to walk out of the front door and literally walk to the most popular theme park in the world in less than five minutes! It was also nice to be the first stop off the monorail at the end of the day. All in all, I would have to say that Bay Lake Tower has quickly become our favorite place to stay. As a family who had typically stayed at value resorts, becoming DVC members has opened up a whole new level of Disney vacationing possibilities for us. I can't recommend DVC enough to anyone who vacations at Disney World on a regular basis. When breaking down the numbers, we are staying at deluxe villas for less than the cost of the least expensive value resorts. The only mistake we made was not becoming members a long time ago. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about Disney's Vacation Club or anything else you read about on my site.

Have a Disneyriffic day and remember to keep moving forward. See ya real soon!