Friday, July 13, 2018

SLINKY DOG DASH


Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World Resort lets guests at its Hollywood Studios theme park have a wonderful playtime pretending they are toys.  The area themed after the popular PIXAR animated movies is decorated by Disney Imagineers so that people feel like they are toy-sized and walking through the backyard of the boy whose collection of playthings are the main characters in the Toy Story films.  A highlight of Toy Story Land is its roller coaster that features one of those toys from the movies as the star of the attraction … SLINKY DOG.

Slinky Dog Dash is a roller coaster playset that you as an honorary toy can ride when visiting Andy's backyard. It was assembled by Andy from his Dash & Dodge Mega Coaster Kit with one big alteration. He picked everyone’s favorite floppy-eared dachshund with a stretching coil body – Slinky Dog – and dropped it onto the coaster track to use as the roller coaster vehicle instead of the one that came with the kit. Remember, you are toy-sized and immersed among Andy's playthings while visiting Toy Story Land.

A Geek Daddy had the chance to ride Slinky Dog Dash during the Toy Story Land grand opening festivities and can say it is a very impressive ride.  Slinky Dog Dash is Disney World's first double launch roller coaster that incorporates a power booster so riders are shot off twice at different points on the track. When your Slinky Dog hits the midway point of the ride, the coaster stops, reverses a few yards, then shoots through multiple rings pulsing with sounds, spinners and flashing lights as it launches riders into the second act of the ride experience.



One of the really fun details about the ride is when approaching the boarding area you will notice Andy’s construction plans sketched out in Crayola crayon on notebook paper hung up to see. Glue bottles, empty toy boxes and stray coaster parts and pieces are also strewn all about the queue area. There are lots of great elements like these sprinkled all throughout Toy Story Land that are really exciting and entertaining to discover. Plus these touches help you feel as if you are a Toy Story toy yourself while exploring Andy's backyard.

Slinky Dog Dash


My 9 year old twins were so excited to be some of the first kids to be able to ride the Slinky Dog Dash during a special pre-opening event.  They LOVED it !!!!  In fact, both of them agreed that this roller coaster is now their favorite ride at Disney World. High praise indeed! Especially from kids who really aren't much of roller coaster enthusiasts.

While the speed and swoops of Slinky Dog Dash will absolutely get some butterflies fluttering in your stomach it isn't a scary ride at all.  The Slinky Dog theme provides a light hearted, unintimidating vibe to the roller coaster. Most people who meet the ride's 38 inch height requirement should have a good time on it.

Slinky Dog Dash Roller Coaster


With that in mind,  Slinky Dog Dash has earned A Geek Daddy nod of approval because it is an excellent ride for parents and children to enjoy together for some family fun.  My wife and I took a ride on Slinky Dog Dash with our kids and everyone was all smiles throughout it.  That may have been the most memorable family moment of this Walt Disney World Resort trip.



As you are soaring around the track, keep an eye out for Toy Story details surrounding the roller coaster.  For example, Andy built the Dash & Dodge Mega Coaster Kit around his Jenga game set. As the coaster swoops around, you'll notice Rex, the toy dinosaur, is precariously perched atop the unstable Jenga stack. He is trying to decorate a toy block city Andy also within the roller coaster's course by stringing up colored Christmas lights. A daunting task when you’re a dinosaur with short front arms but fortunately you will also see Jessie comes to his rescue helping to untangle and set up the lighting. By the way these lights actually illuminate Slinky Dog Dash at night and it is an impressive experience to ride the roller coaster when it is aglow in the dark.

Slinky Dog Roller Coaster

Slinky Dog Roller Coaster


Andy has also placed a special treat for his coaster’s finale. Wheezy, the squeaky toy penguin from the Toy Story films, serenades coaster riders with a rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” This Audio-Animatronics figure of Wheezy created especially for Slinky Dog Dash is unique among all the Disney Parks located around the world. Completing the scene is a backdrop that includes a remote control car box, a Pick-Up Snakes game cannister and toy wooden blocks spelling out F-U-N – along with a towering book, Mr. Pricklepants’ “Songs for Singing,” compiled by the huggable hedgehog from Toy Story 3.

Wheezer


To wrap up, the Slinky Dog Dash at Toy Story Land in my opinion is the ultimate family-friendly roller coaster because it will delight kids + kids-at-heart. It has the speed and twists to be exhilarating yet isn't frightening. One of the smoothest riding roller coasters you'll find anywhere!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

ALIEN SWIRLING SAUCERS

Have yourself some Pizza Planet themed fun on the ALIEN SWIRLING SAUCERS ride within the Toy Story Land area of Walt Disney World Resort's Hollywood Studios theme park. This swirl-and-whirl ride revolves around the quirky aliens that originally called the claw game machine in the arcade at Pizza Planet restaurant home before joining up with Buzz Lightyear, Woody and the rest of Andy's collection of toys in the Toy Story movies.  Jump in a toy rocket ship piloted by one of those three-eyed green aliens for a fun spin.



On your way over to ALIEN SWIRLING SAUCERS, take a moment to get a picture with the giant Buzz Lightyear action figure standing on a pile of building blocks that is watching over the ride's entrance.  It makes a great backdrop for photos! Then make your way into the ride queue by passing between two robot guards that look just like the ones portrayed flanking the restaurant entrance to Pizza Planet in the original Toy Story movie.



Take some time to enjoy the details of the scenery while going through the ride queue area.  Look around and you may see army men keeping guard to make sure no human interlopers discover that toys come alive when people aren't looking.  Remember … you are an honorary toy playing in Andy's backyard while visiting this area of Hollywood Studios. The layout is meant to make you feel like you are a toy's height surrounded by other playthings that are your size like army men, building blocks and popular characters from the Toy Story movies.  Be on guard because it looks like Andy just dropped his toy ray gun and could be stomping by again soon!



As you approach the ALIEN SWIRLING SAUCERS the queue area has the vibe of being inside Star Command.  You'll feel like you are in the Buzz Lightyear aisle at Al's Toy Barn.  Your surroundings aren't just decorative either.  Push buttons, turn dials, and toggle switches to activate audio and visual special effects while waiting your turn to ride a swirling saucer.



Eventually you will be directed to one of two ride spaces.  Each of the two spaces has 11 "flying saucers" though it is important to note this ride is more like the Magic Kingdom's Tea Cups ride then Dumbo … the rocket ships never actually lift off the ground.  Each saucer holds 1 to 3 riders along with your Toy Story Land alien pilot. There are a total of 22 saucers that can be swirling around at the same time between the two launch spaces.

If you plan on waiting for someone to get off the ride be aware there are a number of possible exit points depending on which ride space someone ends up in and where a saucer comes to rest after its flight.  So it is important to keep an eye out on multiple exit points.  Fortunately there is an accessible public viewing area between the two spots providing a nice vantage point to keep an eye on riders while they being swirled around as well as to see where they get off.



With “The Claw” dangling overhead, climb aboard a rocket ship and hover in Pizza Planet’s version of “deep-dish space” for an out-of-this-world saucer whirl to a techno beat version of the Toy Story  movies musical theme. People don't have any control of the speed or direction of their saucers, so just sit back and enjoy the ride.  In comparison to other Disney World attractions, ALIEN SWIRLING SAUCERS could be described as a mild version of the Tea Cups since riders can't increase the velocity of their spinning beyond preset limits.



 It is an enjoyable ride that will get your adrenalin raised but won't stir up your stomach too much. I rode ALIEN SWIRLING SAUCERS six times with my kids and three times by myself during the Toy Story Land grand opening festivities.  It was a blast and from my children's enjoyment of the experience as well as all the fun I had, ALIEN SWIRLING SAUCERS has earned A Geek Daddy nod of approval.


Taking a spin on ALIEN SWIRLING SAUCERS shouldn't be a big deal for most people as long as someone doesn't have severe back or heart problems, isn't pregnant, doesn't easily suffer from motion sickness, and is over the 32 inch height requirement.  It is not going to send you to infinity and beyond but WHOO-WEE you'll have a good time riding it! If you get the chance, take a whirl at night when the ride is lit up like the rave party bathtub scene from the Pixar Toy Story Toons short film "Partysaurus Rex."

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

TOY STORY LAND

Woody Statue

It was an amazing experience to be able to participate in the grand opening festivities for Toy Story Land at Walt Disney Word Resort's Hollywood Studios theme park.  A Geek Daddy received a behind-the-scenes tour, attended an on-site media gala, witnessed the official unveiling ceremony of Toy Story Land, and my children had a chance to be some of the first kids to ride the rides during a special preview event. From my impressions of Toy Story Land, I'm sure it is going to be delighting a lot of kids and kids-at-heart who stop by to play in Andy's backyard.



Disney Imagineers have designed the space so that people feel like they've stepped into the backyard of the boy whose collection of playthings are the main characters in the Toy Story movies.  You're not walking into Andy's backyard as an ordinary person though, but rather are taking on the role of an "honorary toy."  The surroundings have been shaped specifically to make visitors feel as if they are toy-size themselves.  Walk through a barrel of monkeys to have the best playtime ever!

Barrel of Monkeys


Inside Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World Resort's Hollywood Studios theme park see the world from a toy's perspective.  Walk among a balsa wood airplane, building blocks, board game pieces, and K'nex creations that are your size.  There are lamp posts shaped like Tinkertoys, benches built from Lincoln Logs, and signs that look they are written in crayon on pieces of paper and taped up. While walking around meet up with costumed characters from the Toy Story movies including Buzz Lightyear, Jessie and Woody to get an autograph, hug or photograph with them.

Restrooms


Green Army Men are everywhere in Toy Story Land.  While Andy's away the toys will play. Costumed toy soldiers interact with guests as they wander around on patrol.  Be prepared to be challenged to participate in some of Sarge's interactive bootcamp challenges. Ten-hut!

army men


You'll also notice army men situated on the lookout throughout Toy Story Land. They are keeping guard to make sure no human interlopers discover that toys come alive when people aren't looking.  Remember … you are an honorary toy playing in Andy's backyard after all.  Disney is striving to immerse their guests into the whimsical world of a child's imagination when visiting Toy Story Land.

Disney World

Three rides are incorporated into Toy Story Land that are sure to provide a rootin' tootin' good time! Alien Swirling Saucers, Slinky Dog Dash and Toy Story Mania provide a good mix of rides that is sure to be appealing to families for being entertaining but not too intense so everyone from young children to teens to grandma and grandpa can have fun enjoying them.

ALIEN SWIRLING SAUCERS
Disney World Rides

Who wants to take a spin on a flying saucer? The green three-eyed aliens from Toy Story have powered up their rocket ships and want to take you for a whirl! Based upon a playset Andy won at the Pizza Planet restaurant, an alien will swirl around piloting a spacecraft with you in tow while “The Claw” hangs overhead. There are two riding space areas with 11 saucer/rocket-ship pairings in each to spin riders through a multi-colored galaxy accompanied by a raucous, energetic musical beat.

Alien Swirling Saucers



SLINKY DOG DASH
roller coaster

From his Dash & Dodge Mega Coaster Kit, Andy has assembled this roller coaster. Its tracks and supports are bright colors of red, orange, yellow and blue snapped together according to Andy’s hand-drawn plans. Rex and Jessie helped by stringing lights above Andy’s stacked Jenga game pieces. To complete his creation, Andy picked everyone’s favorite floppy-eared dachshund with a stretching coil body – Slinky Dog – and dropped it onto the coaster track to use as the roller coaster vehicle instead of the one that came with the kit.

Slinky Dog Dash is inspired by the delightful pooch spinoff of Slinky, the classic 1940s American toy. While racing around the track, Slinky Dog bends and twists his coils around curves, over hills and down drops in the Slinkyest coaster ever.  In a first for a Disney coaster, there is a second launch at the midpoint of Slinky Dog Dash that has riders experience cool sound effects and spinning lights while darting through a series of rings on their way to the attraction’s finale featuring a serenade by Wheezy, the squeaky penguin from the Toy Story films.



TOY STORY MANIA!
Disney World

Already one of the most popular attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Toy Story Mania has received a colorful all-new entrance within the interior of Toy Story Land. The new entrance is actually the box Andy’s Toy Story Mania! game came in. A third track has been added to the attraction so even more guests can experience the carnival playset action, using virtual objects from baseballs to cream pies to hit targets in a variety of whimsical, fast-paced scenarios. To the highest scorer go the bragging rights!

Hollywood Studios

BACKYARD GUIDE


Here are a few things to look out for while exploring Toy Story Land:

ANDY'S FOOTPRINTS

toy story land

The little boy whose toys you are playing with may not be around at the moment, but he's left his mark on the backyard.  Keep an eye out and you may just come across one of his sneaker prints on the ground. What size shoe do you think this is?

TOY STORY MANIA EXIT PATH

While leaving the Toy Story Mania ride take a good look around the outdoor path that leads back to the main Toy Story Land concourse.  You'll find some of the best examples of Disney Imagineering within Toy Story Land here.  The balsa wood plane is incredible to see up close!

balsa wood plane


REST ROOMS

Sometimes rest rooms can be hard to come across at an amusement park.  Not the case in Toy Story Land which has its own dedicated spacious rest room area. Look for the Cootie on the roof to find your way to them and the building blocks which spell out boys and girls to know which way to go.

bathrooms


SOUVENIRS

Keep an eye out for a toy camper and toy dump truck that serve as gift stands within Toy Story Land. Some of the items they sell include Slinky Dog headbands and small scale replica toys of the Alien Swirling Saucer vehicles which were my kids favorite souvenirs from this trip to Walt Disney World.  There is also a Buzz Lightyear shaped bubble blower that lights up so that the bubbles glow in the dark.

hollywood studios


SNACKS

Get quick service take-out meals from a food counter built into a vintage Woody themed lunch box that is propped open with a giant thermos. I'll give A Geek Daddy nod of approval to the BBQ Brisket Melt which features Texas-style smoked brisket garnished with cheddar, Monterey Jack, pickles, BBQ sauce on a garlic butter-grilled sourdough. For picky eater kids Woody's Lunchbox has a menu with grilled cheese or turkey sandwiches, both come with potato barrels and mandarin oranges. When it comes to beverages you can get a classic Barq's root beer float or a Mystic Portal Punch (PowerAde Mountain Berry Blast with flavors of lemon-lime and tangerine) as well as standard soda fountain drinks or water. For those 21+, there’s a Grown Up’s Lemonade with cherry vodka, Odwalla Lemonade, and black cherry purée available there too. Disney Dining Plan is accepted here.

woodys lunchbox


AFTER DARK

During the evening, Toy Story Land is aglow with color and music that gives the place a PARTYSAURUS REX vibe.  This place is fun to play at day or night!

toy story land


You  will have a ball at Toy Story Land!!!

toy story land

Monday, July 9, 2018

ANT MAN EARLY READER BOOKS

ant man and the wasp movie
Did you go see ANT MAN & THE WASP at the movie theater this weekend? Of course we did! While these may be the smallest sized characters in the Marvel cinematic universe they are two of the biggest when it comes to being my family's favorite comic book movie heroes.  If you know a child who appreciates Ant Man and the Wasp as much as my kids do and is an early reader, here are two super books from Disney Book Group to look for.  These books are sure to get children interested in doing some summer reading!

ant man early reader book


World of Reading: Marvel Super Hero Adventures -- Meet Ant Man & Wasp


This Level 1 book is meant for children in pre-school through first grade focuses on reading sentences and learning sight words.  This 32 page book is full of interesting illustrations to capture a kid's attention and help her or him understand the story. Most of the pages have one simple sentence to read.  With simple text and word repetition this is a great book to help beginner readers navigate through a story at just the right pace for their skill level.

childrens books
A great book for children that are just starting to read or that may be having some learning difficulties. Ant Man and the Wasp is an exciting adventure story that provides a reward for finishing it with a sticker sheet on the last page of the book.  My kids are Middle Grade readers now but they loved flipping through the pages of Meet Ant Man and the Wasp looking at the artwork and thought the stickers were great.

spiderman

An Early Chapter Book: Marvel Super Hero Adventures -- Buggin' Out!


Children who have moved up to reading stories with a paragraph or two per page will enjoy this book meant for students from first through fourth grade.  This 11 chapter, 77 page book tells an amazing tale about how Spider Man teams up with Ant Man and the Wasp to save a school science fair from the evil Doctor Octopus.  The authors do a spectacular job of telling the story in a way that is relatable to young readers full of humorous scenarios and adventurous moments.  The book is also full of wonderful illustrations that compliment the story and encourage kids to keep reading through the text.

antman


My son and daughter were drawn in by the cover art to read this book and it put a big smile on both of their faces.  I love it when they want to do summer reading rather than my having to pester them to do it during their break from school.  Buggin Out! absolutely gets A Geek Daddy nod of approval.  In fact, both of these books do! Available at major book retailers ranging from Barnes & Noble to Walmart.

marvel superheroes

Friday, July 6, 2018

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 GIVEAWAY

Hotel Transylvania 1 and 2 are two of my kids favorite animated movies so of course we're looking forward to seeing the newest installment of this film franchise this summer. Hotel Transylvania 3 continues the adventure of Drac and his misfit family of monsters as they hit the high seas for a cruise. To share our enthusiasm for the July 13 theatrical release of HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3, I've teamed up with a group of bloggers for a fun prize pack giveaway worth over $75!

Hotel Transylvania 3 Prize Pack Includes:

  • Hotel Transylvania 1 & 2 DVD
  • Hotel Transylvania Playset, Ghostly Goodnight Mavis' Room
  • Hotel Transylvania Playset, Scream Cheese Café
  • Hotel Transylvania Figures with Backdrop, Boo Voyage!
Products subject to change based upon availability.


About Hotel Transylvania 3

In Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, join our favorite monster family as they embark on a vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else's vacation at the hotel. It’s smooth sailing for Drac’s Pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans. But the dream vacation turns into a nightmare when Mavis realizes Drac has fallen for the mysterious captain of the ship, Ericka, who hides a dangerous secret that could destroy all of monsterkind.

See Hotel Transylvania 3 in Theaters 7/13


Like Hotel Transylvania 3 on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HotelT 
Follow Hotel Transylvania 3 on Twitter: https://twitter.com/hotelt 
Follow Hotel Transylvania 3 on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marvelstudios/ 
#HotelT3

Enter to win this Hotel Transylvania 3 Prize Pack using the form below. GOOD LUCK!


Thursday, June 28, 2018

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA DVD GIVEAWAY

This summer people won't be thinking about Christmas in July but rather Halloween will be the holiday on their minds with the theatrical debut of HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3.  This animated movie series about a safe refuge run by the legendary Dracula where peaceful monsters can avoid predatory humans is a family favorite with A Geek Daddy's family. The comedic movies highlight the antics that ensue when Dracula's daughter falls in love with a .... HUMAN.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll have a good time watching the Hotel Transylvania movies!



To share my family's enjoyment of the movies and enthusiasm for the July 13, 2018 release of HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 at movie theaters across the USA, A Geek Daddy is hosting a great giveaway.  Enter to win a DVD combo pack of the first two movies, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 1 + 2! Just complete the rafflecopter entries below before July 12, 2018 at 11:59 pm ET for a chance to win.  Must be a United States resident over 18 years old to be eligible to win.  Sony Pictures will be responsible for the delivery of the prize to A Geek Daddy's randomly selected winner.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Looking for a family-friendly movie to enjoy this summer? In Sony Pictures Animation's Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, join your favorite monster family as they embark on a vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else's vacation at the hotel. It's smooth sailing for Drac's Pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans. But the dream vacation takes a dangerous turn when Mavis realizes Drac has fallen for the human captain of the ship, Ericka, who holds a mysterious secret that threatens them all.

Friday, June 22, 2018

FREEDOM RESERVE RED LAGER

Most of us take safe, clean drinking water for granted now, but that wasn't the case in colonial era America.  People often got sick from consuming unsanitary water which could be especially problematic when it came to provisioning an army marching through the wilderness.  So military leaders often supplied their forces with beer and hard cider as a way to keep their men hydrated without exposing them to illnesses caused by tainted water supplies.  In fact, George Washington while serving as a Major in the Virginia Militia during the French and Indian War came up with his own beer brew recipe to provide his troops.

Budweiser has released a limited batch recreation of this beer crafted by George Washington from a recipe discovered in this iconic American figure's personal journal which is archived with the Digital Public Library of America.  FREEDOM RESERVE RED LAGER will be available at liquor and grocery stores around the country now through September while supplies last. A portion of proceeds will benefit the nonprofit organization Folds of Honor, which provides educational scholarships to military families.


Here is the recipe from George Washington's journal that Budweiser brewed up to create FREEDOM RESERVE RED LAGER:

Take a large Sifter full of Bran Hops to your Taste — Boil these 3 hours. Then strain out 30 Gall. into a Cooler put in 3 Gallons Molasses while the Beer is scalding hot or rather drain the molasses into the Cooler. Strain the Beer on it while boiling hot let this stand til it is little more than Blood warm. Then put in a quart of Yeast if the weather is very cold cover it over with a Blanket. Let it work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask. leave the Bung open til it is almost done working — Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed.

Meant to serve the needs of soldiers on the move in the mid-1700's this modern take on the recipe isn't bad but also won't be the best beer you'll ever drink. FREEDOM RESERVE RED LAGER is actually a decent beer to enjoy on a summer day while barbequing in the backyard. That is how I tasted tested it and enjoyed the experience. It has a rich caramel malt taste with a hint of molasses yet has a light smooth texture to the beverage.  Probably more enjoyable to history buffs then beer connoisseurs, FREEDOM RESERVE RED LAGER is still worth picking up if you are looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary to try out. You can find out where it is being sold near you by using a zip code search tool at Budweiser.com.


This is actually a re-release of the beer. Long Island, New York-based Blue Point Brewing Company produced the beer two years ago. Anheuser-Busch, which acquired the brewery, decided to expand the beer's availability beyond Blue Point's local sales taking it nationwide through Budweiser's national distribution network.  Facing increased competition from local and regional craft beer breweries, Anheuser-Busch has been purchasing a number of these breweries to provide alternative revenue and is selecting some of the products from them, as well as partnering with other brands like Jim Bean, to be sold nationally branded as the Budweiser Reserve Beer Collection.  This will all be limited time, limited batch releases meant to bolster interest in the Budweiser brand and attract the attention of people who prefer craft beers to a traditional Bud or Bud Light.

Next up will be the release of a Kentucky bourbon barrel-aged brew in partnership with Jim Beam coming out this fall. Called Budweiser RESERVE COPPER LAGER, it is being touted for having a toasted oak aroma with a nutty taste with hints of caramel rye and vanilla. I'll have to keep an eye out for that!