Top 10: Top Posts for the 2009

Top 10Criteria Used: All post had to be written in the 2009 calendar year.

#10: ProvidenceJimmy at Keeping it Simple wrote a post recently inspired by the actions of Chesley B. Sullenberger, pilot of U.S. Airways Flight 1549. Sullenberger was able to safely land in the Hudson River. Surprisingly, everyone on the flight survived. As I read Jimmy’s post and listened to news reports, one word came to mind: Providence! — More

#9: Top 10: My Dream Music Festival - Regular readers have probably figured out that I love music. Over the years I have been able to attend several concerts. I  have often thought of bands/artists that would be included in my ideal music festival. The best word to describe my line up is eclectic. - More

#8:  What Makes a Good PastorOur church is in a period of transition. As a part of the process we were asked to complete a survey. Most of the survey focused on the type of pastor desired for the church. While pondering my responses I began thinking about the survey, vision for our church, and qualities I want in a pastor. — More

#7: Top 10: Best Burger Joints - A compilation of my favorite burger places.  More

#6: Daves Highway - Last week I someone posted a Daves Highway a video on Facebook. Sorry, I don’t remember who posted it. If you haven’t heard of these guys you need to check them out. Siblings  Delaney, Zachary and Erika Daves  make up the trio.  The group is from Brandon, MS.  The tight harmonies and vocals are amazing for a group still in their teens. The group’s repertory includes Christian, country and rock tunes.  Their cover of Jesus Messiah by Chris Tomlin.  May be my favorite. — Read More

#5: Michael Tait Joins the Newsboys – Yes, that is right Michael Tait has replaced Peter Furler as lead singer of the Newsboys. I had been hearing rumors of this for a while but it is offical. After 22 years with the group Furler will no longer be touring with the group. He will continue to write and produce plus make some appearances with the group. – Read More

#4: The Bucket List (Another Facebook Meme)Due to technical difficulties I’m not able to participate in ABC Wednesday this week. Hopefully, my computer will be back up soon. I have decided to respond to another Facebook Meme. I’ve been tagged several times for the Bucket List. — Read More

#3: Top 10: Tips for Walt Disney WorldA few years ago we had seasonal passes to Walt Disney World. That is one of the perks of living in Florida. Over the course of two years we learned quite a bit about the parks and some tips that might be helpful for visitors, especially from out of state. — Read More

#2: Top 10: Worst Movies Ever – So, this one is really a worst 10 list.  The Big Guy collaborated with me on this list. Read More

#1: Heroes: What Makes a Her0 - The theme for National Blog Posting Month is heroes. Posting on the theme is optional but I am going to try to post something each week about heroes. Some would consider athletes, rock stars or other celebrities heroes. Or maybe heroes are those who show extraordinary bravery and selflessness. I have been thinking what qualities define a hero. — Read More

Top 10: Disney World Rides

top10Ok, this actually a guest post by The Big Guy. He has hi-jacked my blog and is sitting next to me until it is typed. I guess he was inspired by our recent trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney’s Hollywood Studio, formerly MGM Studios, is located in the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Note: To be included in my lists all rides had to be at Walt Disney World in Florida. I have not considered rides at any other Disney park.

#10: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (Magic Kingdom) is a combination of a ride and a video game/shooting arcade. It is probably a kids ride but it is a lot of fun.

#9: Dinosaur (Animal Kingdom) more of a thrill ride than a roller coaster. Dinosaur is rather fun but a good ride.

#8: Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom) was the first roller coaster I ever rode. Of course, that was Disneyland in California.

#7: Test Track (EPCOT) lets you be a test dummy. On my must list every time I visit EPCOT. Definitely worth a fast pass. If you are willing to ride single rider you can get in faster but the downside is you won’t be riding with other from your party.

#6: Tower of Terror (Disney’s Hollywood Studio) lets you enter the world of a Twilight Zone episode. It is a simulated free fall ride. The falls are randomized so you don’t get the same ride each time.

#5: Splash Mountain (Magic Kingdom) is one of three “mountain” rides at Magic Kingdom. Be prepared to get wet on this one.

#4: Toy Story Mania (Disney’s Hollywood Studio) is the newest Disney attraction. It opened in the Spring of 2009. I wasn’t very happy when the Millionaire Play It! was taken out to make room for it. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I rode it.  It is similar to the Buzz Lightyear ride.

#3: Big Thunder Railroad (Magic Kingdom)  is a runaway mine type roller coaster. I think the best time to ride it is at night.

#2: Located in The Land Soarin(EPCOT) was originally from Disney’s California Adventure.  It is an interactive I-Max type film that will have you soaring over California.  It is really hard to describe.

#1: Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom) is my absolute favorite ride. It is one of the smoothest coasters I have ever ridden.

Top 10: Favorite Restaurants

top10It has been a while since I did one of my list. I just wasn’t inspired. This idea hit me when I was eating at one of my favorite places.

#10: Stagecoach Inn (Salado, TX) — Established in 1860, The Stagecoach Inn actually began as a stagecoach stop. The chicken fried steak is still made with the original recipe. One of the most unusual features is that  they do not use a printed menu. The menu is still recited orally as it has been done since the beginning. I love their hush puppies and desserts.

#9: Pulido’s Mexican Restaurant (Ft. Worth, TX and surrounding areas) — Pulido’s has been one of my favorite’s since I was young. It is the first place I remember having chicken enchiladas.  Their chicken enchiladas are still one of my favorites. They also have some very good tamales.

#8:  Beachcomber Restaurant (St. Augustine, FL) — Located right on the beach  Beachcombers has burgers, seafood and other things at a great price. I like how it is a causal and fun place at a good price.

#7: Antonio’s Mexican Restaurant (Burleson, TX) — Antonio’s may be the best Mexican restaurant and certainly one of my favorites.

#6: On The Border (Texas based chain) —  Great place to get good Tex-Mex outside of Texas. Unfortunately, the one near us closed.

#5: Steak and Pasta Works (Gainesville, FL) — Steak and Pasta has a great steak in a causal dining environment.  The company that owns Steak and Pasta Works used to have a high end steak place but I prefer the fun environment. — Upated 7/3/2011 No longer in business.

#4:  Texas Land and Cattle Steak House(Texas based chain) — One of my favorite steak houses is Texas Land and Cattle Company.  I love their smoked sirloin.  Unlike another chain that has Texas in its name Texas Land & Cattle Company is actually from Texas. Their menu and decor is reminiscent of a Texas cattle ranch.

#3: Dutchman’s Hidden Valley (Hamilton, TX) —  Dutchman’s Hidden Valley is a country store and German deli owned by a friend of mine and her husband.  It has been one of my favorites for several years.  They have the best peanut butter cookies and cheesecake.

#2: Goode Company Barbecue (Houston, TX) — Whenever we are driving through Houston schedule a stop at  Goode Company. They may have the best barbecue in the country.  Goode Co serves real barbecue done right. None of that sissy pork stuff.  I really like their brisket and sausage.

#1: Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studio (Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL) — Dining at Disney is not the normal theme park food. In fact, it is actually quite good.  Two of my favorites are the salmon and the mac and cheese.  In my opinion Hollywood & Vine is one of the best if not the best Disney has to offer.  It features an all you can eat buffet which includes drinks. We have found it is actually more cost effective to eat one meal at a buffet. It cuts down on the need for snacks. Hollywood & Vine is an Art Decco themed tribute to Hollywood’s golden era. One warning,  at  breakfast and lunch it is character dining  featuring Playhouse Disney. So, if your party doesn’t include any munchkins stick with the evening meal.

Steak and Pasta Works (Gainesville, FL)

Dual Citizenship

I am proud to announce that this weekend I was bestowed with a very special honor.  The Big Guy and I became honorary citizens of Walt Disney World. Yes, that’s right I am now have Walt Disney World Citizenship. You may be wondering how this rare award was bestowed. Well, the Big Guy and I were given the pins below when we entered Disney’s Hollywood Studio this past weekend.

Pin we recieved at Walt Disney World.

Pin we recieved at Walt Disney World.

Now, I’m not quite sure what priveleges are connected with Disney Citizenship. I do think that I should be able to move to WDW because after all it is the Happiest place in the world.  Serisouly, there were some problems when we tried to purchase a ticket for the Big Guy. The cast member who was helping us gave us the pins because of our patince. Yes, I was patinent. Actually, I was trying to figure out if there was a way I could exchange tech support for free tickets.  We did get several comments abou the pins throughout the day. It didn’t seem to get us any special privileges though. It is another pin to add to my collection tough.

Top 10: Tips for Walt Disney World

top10A few years ago we had seasonal passes to Walt Disney World. That is one of the perks of living in Florida. Over the course of two years we learned quite a bit about the parks and some tips that might be helpful for visitors, especially from out of state.

#10: Plan your trip well in advance. One of the things I have observed is a lot of people come to Orlando with the goal of seeing everything but really have no plan. Yes, it is possible to get cheap theme park tickets if you are willing and qualify for a time share presentation. Most presentations will last at least 90 minutes but they have a way of taking a great chunk of time. Also, some are more reputable than others.  For example Westgate Resorts are very high pressure while  others like BlueGreen have a classier presentation.

Cinderella's Castle

Cinderella's Castle

#9: Consider booking a package through Disney including meals. Package deals that include hotel, tickets and meals can be quite affordable. If you book a package deal the meal plan is better option than buying food in the park al acart.

#8: Stay on property. Staying on property has many advantages. Disney has a wide variety of lodging options ranging from campgrounds to luxury accommodations. One of the perks of staying on the property is transportation. Disney provides transportation to and from the airport as well as from on-property lodging to the parks. This eliminates the need for a rental car and paying for parking. Also, Disney offers Extra Magic hours to those staying on property. This gives you extra time in the park. Be sure to check on the nights and parks being offered during you stay. We were only able to use this feature once or twice most of the time it didn’t fit with our plans.

#7: Make dinning reservations for sit down meals. Reservations make it easier to get in at sit down restaurants. If  wish to dine at one of the premier locations like Cinderella’s Castle or other character dining you must make reservations early. Reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance by calling 1-(407) WDW-DINE.

No day at Disney is complete without the closing fireworks. Taken at the Christmas Illumnation.
Illumnation at EPCOT

#6: Plan for breaks during the day. If you stay on property it is possible to return to your hotel and take a break during the afternoon and return to the park later.  Shows like the Muppet 3-D at Disney’s Holleywood Studios is a great place to cool off and even catch a short nap.

#5: Lunch prices at the buffets and higher end places are usually cheaper than dinner. One expection is if it is character dinning. We like to eat at the German restruant in EPCOT for lunch and then eat a light dinner.  Hollywood & Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is another favorite but it is character dinning at lunch so unless you have preschoolers stick with dinner.

#4: Give yourself time to enjoy the trip. Don’t try to pack too much into one short trip. Many people come to Orlando planning to visit all of the Disney Parks, Sea World and Universial. That can be quite a bit to pack into even a one week trip.

#3: Drink lots of water. I know this one is common sense. Avoid drinking too many sodas. I try to drink water exept at meal times.

Human tree in Animal Kingdom.

Human tree in Animal Kingdom.

#2: The food at Disney is not the standard theme park faire. Disney has some amazing food options. Where else can you get smoked salmon in the food court. Oh, and they have the best mac and cheese. Disney has everything from sit down restaurants to food stands. QSLs or quick service locations offer restaurant quality food served fast.  Some of our favorites include:

  • Magic Kingdom: Pecos Bills Tall Tale Inn and Cafe has very good burgers complete with a topping bars.  Liberty Tree Tavern is a great lunch location for sit down dining. Make reservations for this one. At night it offers character dininng.  The market in front of Liberty Tree is a great place to pick up fruit or other snacks.
  • EPCOT: The food may be one of the best parts about EPCOT.  Biergarten (the German Restaurant) is the Big Guy’s favorite. Go at lunch time and be sure to get reservations. This is a buffet so we usually just eat a light dinner. My favorite is the fish and chips stand behind the British Pub. It is a lot cheaper there than in the restaurant.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studio: Hollywood & Vine is one of our favorites and it has a buffet. There is one catch: For breakfast and dinner Hollywood & Vine is character dining with Playhouse Disney. So unless you have preschoolers stick with dinner and be sure to make reservations. Oh, and check out the kids buffet it has some good offerings including Mac and Cheese. The ABC Commissary is a nice food court with many options.
  • Animal Kingdom: Animal Kingdom has the least food offerings of all the parks. Tusker House was our favorite. It now offers a buffet for lunch and dinner. The chicken is cooked over an open flame and is very good.

#1: Avoid the summer. The best time to visit Disney is in October and Novemeber and late January to February. The weather is not to hot and for those from colder states  may be a welcome change.

Now it is your turn. What are some of your favorite travel tips?

M is for Magic Kingdom

Note: Walt Disney World is in Florida. Disney Land is in California.

The Magic Kingdom is the oldest of the 4 major parks at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida and is similar to Disney Land in California.

Cinderella's Castle

Cinderella

Each of the major parks at WDW has one iconic structure at the Magic Kingdom it is Cinderella’s Castle.  Inside the castle is a gift shop and character dining with Cinderella. If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World and want to take your little princess to Cinderella’s feast be sure to make your reservations early. Reservations for any restaurant can be made a year in advance by calling (407) WDW-DINE. No, I didn’t have to look that one up, it is one of those numbers that just sticks in your head. One the other side of the castle is Fantasyland and one of my favorite rides.

The Big Guy & I on the carosuel.

The Big Guy & I on the carousel.

Carousels have always been one of my favorite rides since I was a little child.  Looks like the uniform of the day was school attire. We are both wearing shirts from one of our alma maters. The Big Guy is even wearing a hat from another of his alma maters.

Jungle Cruise

Jungle Cruise

The Jungle Cruise is located in Adventureland. I featured the Jungle Cruise for ABC Wednesday J. Got a pingback from one of those fake blog sites that steals content from other blogs. The poser site was about cruise information and made it look like my post was about an actual cruise. It even had a link to book the cruise.

There is actually a ride on the top of that tower.

There is actually a ride on the top of that tower.

The rails for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority are visible in the foreground. The tower looking thing in the background is the Astro Orbiter.  It is one of those ride things where you have individual cars that go around in circles. Each “space ship” is equipped with controls that allow the rider to control the how high it goes. Be careful not to ascend to quickly.  Yes, I went all the way to the top and the view was great.

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