My Top 10 Random Spots In Disney World

So, I spent this weekend pricing and doing some Disney research. I’m not planning a full on trip in the next year, but I have decided that I’m going to do a weekend, (taking either Friday or Monday off from work) to see Toy Story Land and see Illuminations one last time since it’s likely going away soon.

But I’ve been trying to avoid reading and researching much to try to off set that urge I get to just book a trip and head off. (For one, I can’t afford it, for another I have other travel plans for 2019…)

But during this research I started thinking about the trips I’ve taken in the past few years. (8 in the last five.) (Again, I totally don’t have a problem…) and the park exploration and the random spots that I’ve found and loved in the resort in that time. Some of these are weird out of the way spots, others are really really obvious, and others only make sense if you’re me.

10. The Waiting Areas At The Jungle Cruise: Skipper Canteen

I love the Skipper Canteen, I think it’s a wonderful restaurant with an even more wonderful menu, and fun service filled with puns. But my favorite part of eating here has very little to do with the meal and is actually while you’re waiting for your table. There are two spots that you wind up waiting, the first is the porch, where large rocking chairs sit beneath giant fans. The second is actually inside, where a few tufted chairs and a water cooler, filled with cold h2o and various fruits await you, plus a letter from Henrietta Falls and a portrait of Doctor Albert Falls hang on the wall. Both are quiet and relaxing and phase you into the great themeing of your dinner perfectly.

9. Outside Patio At Backlot Express

I actually love everything about Backlot Express, it’s a big ass quick service restaurant with a basic but well executed menu and  lots of air conditioned seating (as a quick reminder this is where I ate Star Wars themed Chicken and Waffles, and got my BB-8 souvenir cup.)  But I especially love taking some time to eat your lunch on the patio here, in view of the At-At at Star Tours and watching the Jedi Training show. It’s a nice little moment of Star Wars themed joy, which is always appreciated, when you’re me.

8. Any of The Side Gardens In Pandora

Like half this list is going to be spots in Animal Kingdom, just FYI. But wandering around Pandora, at any time of the day, but especially at night, it’s worth wandering into weird corners and seeing the plant life. But be sure to follow the trails, because if you don’t do that, you never find this particular spot.

7. Top of The Stairs In The Canada Pavillion

I think that Canada might be the most underrated of the World Showcase Pavillions, but there’s a spot right up at the top of the stairs, that looks over a waterfall and has some benches and it feels like you’re far away from the chaos of the park below you. It’s also the spot of my favorite picture of Mary, maybe ever?

6. The Rose Gallery At Be Our Guest

To be honest, there are not going to be many Magic Kingdom spots here, because I very very rarely stop to smell the roses in that park. (This is also proof that I rarely spend ENOUGH time in Magic Kingdom), but I love The Rose Gallery, if all of Be Our Guest were just this room, it would still be spectacular. (The West Wing and The Ballroom are also spectular and it makes the whole place magical) I love the music box, and the “paintings” and banquette tables. It’s the only room that really feels like a French bistro. And fun fact, I wrote the scene where Lefty and Marina dance for the first time while eating my Croque Monsieur here.

5. The Patio At Spice Road Table

Spice Road Table is my favorite restaurant at Disney World, and sitting on the patio, drinking Sangria and eating hummus fries while watching Illuminations is probably my favorite thing to do while at Disney World. (Besides ride The Haunted Mansion) It’s a thing I gently manipulate everyone who joins me at Disney into sharing at least one part of this experience. (no one has been disappointed..btw…)

4. The Porch At The Nomad Lounge

Nomad Lounge might be my favorite bar in the parks. (Not on property, we’ll get there) and sitting on the porch, with a beer, (while Mom and Kristi pussied out and drank tea…) is easily one of my favorite moments I’ve ever had. It’s just a solid and beautiful space, with a great view and excellent drinks and a pretty good menu. Although it changes a lot and the fish tacos that I adored are now gone…but still, grab a Night Monkey (this is a rum drink that also has espresso in it!) or a Safari Amber and watch the water good past.

3. The Terrace At California Grill

Watching Wishes at California Grill was one of my top ten favorite moments of my big Disney year, but it’s also a beautiful spot, with an incredible view no matter what, and to quote Gonzo, I’m going to go back there someday.

2. The Aviary On The Mahrajah Jungle Trek

To explain the incredible moment of magic that was walking into this room right after feeding time when Juli, Dom and I were there is impossible. It was so incredible. And the other times I’ve walked the Trek, this is still a beautiful space full of gorgeous creatures.

1. The Fireplace Chairs At River Roost

I’ve now stayed at Port Orleans Riverside twice, which makes it my most stayed at Disney Resort, and I will likely stay there again. I like the rooms, and the food court and the proximity to Disney Springs, but I really really love River Roost lounge and those big leather arm chairs by the fireplace where Tommy and I sat, laughing about our adventures while drinking wine remain my favorite place in the whole resort.

If You See The Wonder Of A Fairy Tale

Mamma Mia

The thing about Mamma Mia is that if you go in knowing what you’re getting, you’re going to come out completely satisfied. This is a bizarre fantasy world, situated somewhere between musical theater and karaoke where famous beautiful people hang out on a Greek island singing Abba songs.

It’s neither complicated, nor is it particularly great, but it’s deeply entertaining and delightful.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! absolutely delivers on those expectations and then some, thanks to some deeply earnest and lovely performances by Amanda Seyfried and Lilly James.

Then of course that all goes absolutely out the window because Cher shows up, playing basically herself, and she and Andy Garcia sing “Fernando” and it’s wonderful and perfect.

Look, this is an impossible movie to review, I just know that I’m really glad I saw it. First of all, I have more Abba songs to learn, and I have such a crush on Lilly James. Although the whole enterprise could have been improved by Mamie or Grace Gummer playing young Donna and either Bill or Aleksander Skaarsgard playing young Bill. (Or not, because Bill and Aleks are kind of terrifying.) (RIP ALAN PANGBORN!)

The movie is so great and fun, and splashy and lovingly performed and the end credits performance of “Super Trooper” might be the greatest rendition of the song ever. (Because CHER! And giving the dad’s BEERS! And Dominic Cooper’s costume! And everything.)

Mostly, I was happy to see this movie with my mom, and we both wished that Mary could be there too.

And I’m definitely watching Mamma Mia! as I write this review. And it’s as stupid and wonderful as I remembered.


  1. The Incredibles 2
  2. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  3. Deadpool 2
  4. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
  5. Ocean’s 8
  6. Infinity War
  7. Ant-Man And The Wasp


The Wife: I’ve heard this is amazing. I might read the book before I watch it.

First Man: It’s been a minute since we had a NASA movie, so cool.

Boy Erased: Is conversion therapy the new AIDS of gay cinema? I’m ok with it, it’s fertile drama ground…but yeah. This looks like it might win Russell Crowe another Oscar…


45 Books in 2018 #33: Different Seasons By Stephen King

Last week when I talked about how I was coming to love Stephen King’s formula, I meant it, I really am.

But this week, as I read through the four novellas that make up Different Seasons (Two, stone cold classic stories that I basically knew by heart, another other also very very good and a fourth that’s…well…) I realized the aspect of his writing that I fell so deeply in love with last year.

I love when this man tells stories that are about stories. God, I love it a lot. All of the stories in Different Seasons are about stories.

Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption is held up as possible the best thing King’s ever written and for good reason. It’s incredible, like a warm hug of words, all hope and lights shining in the darkness, artful and straightforward and strong. And it’s a folk tale for a modern age. Andy Dufresne (A name I can’t even think in my own voice, only Morgan Freeman’s soothing baritone.) isn’t a man he’s a myth, some outsized figure who made day to day life in Shawshank interesting for the other prisoners.

Apt Pupil is a shudderingly intense portrait of the way stories and history linger as ghosts, an intimate and horrifying story of evil, the true human kind of evil, not the boogey men and demons King is normally talking about, and the cancer that it is, the legacy of it, and how it can twist and infect, even through the slightest crack in a window. I really enjoyed reading that story and will likely never touch it again, because, it’s uncomfortable.

Then there’s The Body, the first King story I ever fell in love with before I even knew it was Stephen King and it was called Stand By Me, like Shawshank this one has voices attached to it, Richard Dreyfuss, and Wil Wheaton and River Phoenix. (And Jerry O’Connell and Corey Feldman too…) and the way The Body deals with memory, and puberty and growing up and tragedy is so wonderful. “I never had any friends again like the ones I had when I was twelve, Jesus, does anyone?”

The Breathing Method is literally about a magical storytelling club. It’s also not particularly good, but still, 3/4 of the stories in this collection being amazing makes up for that and it fits in well with this being a collection of stories about stories.

Anyway, I liked this and it was a good way to sustain my new Stephen King project. (Which will likely wax and wane…unlike the Vonnegut Project, I don’t really have an outside force pushing me to get on with it, so I’ll be checking in.)

Up next…ummm…well…I know I said I wasn’t doing any repeats this year…but…well…

Look, I’m reading The Dark Tower again, OK? I’m already halfway through The Drawing Of Three, and it’s perfect and amazing and even better the second time around. I’ve decided I’m only counting it as one book though, since it’s a reread and counting it as 7 would be kind of a cheat.

See you around…but not if I see you first.

A Gift And A Goodbye

Lisette is starting to say Goodbye to Pantona, and it is very emotional. (Like going off to college or whatever)

The Marina Chronicle

I rose early the next morning to go training, but couldn’t find Athena. I wondered if she was out already, but made my way out to the stables, Tristan had mentioned wanting to go riding and I decided to join him, when I saw Caleb standing waiting.

“Good Morning,” he said. I smiled softly at him. “Are you alright?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said, “is that alright?”

“Perfectly,” he shrugged, “I have something for you,” I smiled, “come.” I walked in with him and saw standing in the middle a horse I’d never seen before. “It’s a bit early, but I thought a birthday present would be alright.” I giggled softly and walked over. “You’ve never had your own, but it wouldn’t do for The Lost Princess to return on a borrowed stable horse from someone else’s stable.”

“Caleb,” I whispered, petting her neck. “What’s her…

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Time To Get Personal: Body stuff (AGAIN)

I’ve written in the past about my body image issues and how they’re kind of difficult for me to navigate and my since puberty and kind of before even weight and fitness yo-yo-ing has been tough for me.

I had a major keeping control of my body victory last year when I ran my half marathon. I was so proud of myself. The problem was I didn’t sustain it. This was for very good reasons. (They were only OK reasons) but I quickly found, that with my depression and comfort eating, the [redacted] (numbers aren’t the point for anyone who isn’t me and my doctor) pounds I lost came rushing back, along with [redacted] more.

I was officially the heaviest I’d been in my life, wearing a clothing size I swore I never would, and generally unhappy about the food habits I’d developed. This was for both health and financial reasons. I’d become a “takeout every night” person, which is both BAD FOR YOU and EXPENSIVE.

I was frustrated, and as the cloud of depression lifted, I realized that I needed to get back on the horse. I didn’t want to go back to the “training for a big race and on Weight Watchers” days, but changes needed to happen.

I put my fit bit back on, I began paying close attention to what food I was putting in my body. (And cooking! So much cooking!) And suddenly I found something had changed in me.

I didn’t like sitting around and not moving, it made me anxious. I was craving fresh raw veggies as I walked in the door rather than starch and fat. I was saying “oh no thank you,” when servers asked if I wanted to see a desert menu. And it wasn’t even a struggle, I just really for the most part wasn’t interested in whatever brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream was up for grabs.

When something was too sweet I bristled at it, starting to prefer salty and savory flavors, that mixed well with veggies and chicken.

What was happening to me?

Well, I guess I’m getting more healthy. This is good, for the most part but also kind of odd. Even just this past Monday, when after a weekend at the shore, I knew it would be a takeout night, mostly because my apartment was actually 100 degrees due to four days of shut up with no AC, I decided to order some fresh healthy sushi rather than pizza. (I did wind up with pizza last night, again, because too hot to cook…)

I have a clear goal in mind. Mary and Joe are engaged (YAY!) and I’ve decided that I’m not going to have to pay the extra $50 for a plus size bridesmaid dress, as I’ve had to each other time I was a bridesmaid. Granted, these dresses run small and consider double digits a plus size, but it’s a completely achievable goal, based on how I’ve been doing lately.

But mostly I’m just really psyched that I’ve turned a corner in my habits. It’s been a long road to get here, and I still treat myself occasionally, but this is a big deal.

I’ve got a year to go and a good amount of road to travel but it doesn’t feel impossible. YAY!

36 45 Books In 2018: #32 Needful Things By Stephen King

I hate that it took me 30 years (or really, 15, since I had the correct reading level) to get into Stephen King’s work. Now, for the past year, each time I’ve read one of his books, I’ve wanted to kick my own ass for not reading it earlier, and Needful Things was not an exception. (I don’t love it the way I love Wolves Of The Calla or The Stand, but it’s really good fun.)

The beleagured town of Castle Rock, Maine, (HEY! I KNOW THAT PLACE NOW!) has had it’s peaceful October interrupted by the opening of a new novelty shop which is run by the mysterious and charming Leland Guant. As more and more people find their way into Needful Things, the odd and violent small town grudges and battles of Castle Rock explode into terrifying violence.

The only townsperson not brought under Guant’s sway is Sheriff Alan Pangborn (HEY I KNOW HIM!) and I made a deliberate choice to read this one first, even though chronologically, it’s technically the “last Castle Rock Story,” I figure it will make reading all of the others more fun for me, as I draw connection back through it’s prism.

But I do love King’s formula, and his characters, but mostly that formula. The slow escalation of uneasiness into violence into chaos. Needful Things executes the formula beautifully, and gives us some really great characters to boot. Gaunt’s a fun villain, all calculated malice and greasy cajoling. Pangborn is a cool choice for a hero, a skeptic who’s seen to much to really be a skeptic anymore, but also you know, skeptical. (So, you know, a Scully…)

And there’s some really scary shit in this one, which just had me grinning, we’ll see how I sleep after reading it, but you know, it is what it is.

I’ve never been happier to let go of a project than when I decided to do some more King reading than continue with the epics. This should be a lot of fun for us all, it also means that I’m going be increasing my goal by another nine books. YAY!

Up next is Different Seasons, so also Stephen King,  but different because short stories and no monsters just people being shitty. (I actually already finished “Rita Hayworth And The Shawkshank Redemption.”)

The Next Step

Caleb’s homecoming stirs up some things, and Lisette has a cryptic vision.

The Marina Chronicle

Supper was one of the better ones we’ve had in a while, William even came, as Caleb had stopped by the inn to invite him.

I hadn’t seen him since that very odd market day, and I wondered now, knowing how he felt about me, if it would change anything between us. I found myself less talkative than usual but William was still himself.

“All things considered how do you find Lord Brayton these days?” William asked curiously. Athena took a long sip of wine.

“He’s changed very little,” Caleb said, “though he talks of marrying soon.” I exhaled, and thought of my dream. Tristan looked curiously at me.

“An honor for any woman, I’m sure,” Olivia grinned wryly. Aaron coughed on the water he was drinking trying not to laugh. “You must have more news than we do William! After all the Dumanis camp only just moved on. It…

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Bad Things Happen Because Bad People Know They’re Safe

I have a tendency to fall down rabbit holes. Something sparks my interest and holds it for weeks, months, sometimes even years. I start reading, watching, googling everything adjacent to it.

This has happened to me more times than I can count.

And it’s happened again, for the second time in two years, for the same author, because of Hulu’s Castle Rock.

This is all my way of saying that I’m suspending The Epics Project, partially because I can’t get into Infinite Jest and partly because all I want to do right now is read more Stephen King.

So I’m doing that. I’ve started Needful Things, and I’ll do The Dead Zone and The Darker Half and Different Seasons soon. (Though I’ve read The Body a few times) I’m sticking to the Castle Rock stories for now, (so also Cujo I guess…) and I figure soon enough that will lead me back to the Tower, which means I’ll go for IT and Hearts In Atlantis and Insomnia. 

Anyway, on to Castle Rock, which has been feeding me at the moment. Taking the King atmosphere and combining it with the Bad Robot puzzle box is a great idea, and one that’s irrestible to me, especially my research obsessed, head down the rabbit hole brain. References pop up, some that I know (less from the books, more from movies) others that sound familiar (likely referenced in The Dark Tower) and a quiet solid hope.

Deep in the bowels of Shawshank Prison, a young man is found locked up. He looks an awful lot like Pennywise, but it turns out that he’s not. He might be someone else though. (Randal Flagg, PLEASE BE RANDAL FLAGG! Or at least have Flagg show up to get him out.)

The show’s great, and I think we’re all going to have a few fun weeks while I gobble up some Stephen King stories. I’ll still report as I finish them, I still want to make my reading goal, and I might jump back into the epics, but for now, I need a pulpy, scary break.

I’m thinking I might even start a notebook where I just write down all the connections I catch.

Seriously, I haven’t gotten this nerded out about something in a long time.

Watch Castle Rock, y’all, then we can talk about it.