Monday, 24 June 2013

Boardwalk Empire - but without the gangsters .... and the bootlegging ....

..... or the guns.

At first I kinda liked HBO's TV drama, Boardwalk Empire.

I was "OH it's dramatised history and I can pretend I am learning"

and it was all done with marvelous tailoring
But mostly, I kept thinking how close it all looked to Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas. Admittedly, both Disney and HBO are copying the 1920's New Jersey shoreline and the famous Boardwalks.

However the Disney copy is done with a lot less violent shootings and concrete boots. And Crescent Lake has the ultimate problem that is it less than 6 feet deep. So any bodies thrown in there just bob up to the surface.

what? too crass?
Crescent Lake at WDW is located between the Epcot and Hollywood Studios parks, and is home to Disney's Beach and Yacht Club Resorts, Starwood's Swan and Dolphin Hotels and Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas.

(source: Robo on the disboards)
The Epcot resort area is a fabulous place to stay. 5 deluxe hotels to choose from, walking distance to two parks - AND a miniature golf course! Also this is the epicentre of "adult disney" supplied with bars, restaurants and walking access to the food and wine festival in Epcot.

Long term readers will know that I am planning to be at WDW before ZI Convention begins in late June 2014. And when I get to WDW, I'll be staying at the Boardwalk Villas. Right where I can act out my Mr Creasote tendancies without too much walking.

Carnival lights entrance. (source: tripadvisor)
Given its location in the epicentre of the action, staying at the Boardwalk is a pretty straightforward choice.

The resort comes in two parts: The Inn - with standard hotel rooms:

2 Queen beds + sofa turns into single bed + desk + TV unit + bathroom and closet.
 And the Villas - DVC timeshare apartments in 3 sizes: studio, 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom

Basically the same except sofa bed and a kitchenette
Kitchenette in Villa Studio
As there are 5 of us Zontians in our merry group, we are renting a 2 bedroom villa = one of these studios bolted onto a 1 bedroom villa. This gives us 4 beds in 3 separate sleeping spaces, and 2 bathrooms. Plus the 1 bedroom villa has a lounge room and full kitchen!

Lounge room by day, bedroom by night.
You know ..... for all that home cooking one does when at Disneyworld ..... and you think  "hmmm 479 eating places and ... well .... I'd rather buy the ingredients and cook?!"

Fully equipped - ready for 5 hungry Zontians who do not want to miss ANY dishwashing.
 3 TV's, 2 showers, 2 toilets and we will run a raffle every night for who gets to go in the spa!

It's not Zonta, without a raffle.

spot the hidden mickey
This short video gives you a glimpse of both the 2 bedroom villa and the whole resort

 We little band of Aussies will be at the Boardwalk Villas the week before Convention begins.  Enjoying our libations under the palm trees.

Boardwalk Lounge - G & T's all round.
We are hopefully taking advantage of renting DVC points to attain a substantial discount for the room.

I will probably be wearing t-shirt and shorts rather than a spiffy 3 piece tailored suit, but I can still wander around acting like I own the joint - at least for a week.

 And what about you? Will you be visiting, or even staying, at Walt Disney World?

Resort photos are WDW official company shots

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Ray of Light

Here in Canberra, I work directly across the road from the National Gallery of Australia. I get to keep up with all the latest blockbuster international art exhibitions that come to Australia. Right now we are enjoying a Turner exhibition from Britain's Tate Gallery.

Turner, Derwentwater, 1797 - 1801
Basically, Turner is famous for his interpretation of light, and his mastery of technique which reflects emotion through the use of light in the painting.

Throughout the centuries, artists have been playing with light using different media. And so it is time for us to return to Louis Comfort Tiffany and his use of light through glass.

Daffodils window 1916 at the Morse Museum
Every December the community of Winter Park hold a HUGE Christmas in the Park celebration. The street is closed to traffic, local stores and restaurants set up stalls. 

The chinky clinky pavers were all mine onto which I could scamper!
In the actual park at Winter Park, there is a Christmas concert. The students and artists from the Rollins College of Liberal Arts come with the Bach Festival Society, and the Brass Ensemble and play Bach Christmas music and other classics.

It was jammed packed with thousands of people - all with their folding chairs, their bubbly and little nibbly things
Scattered throughout the park, the Morse Museum displayed huge Tiffany window panels in free standing light boxes. These things were easily the size of a large door. These pieces only ever came out for this park celebration. They were kept in the archives and not on display in the museum.

Several were religious themes: such as this panel depicting the Genesis story of Hagar, as Hagar and Ishmael are banished into the desert and the angel of the Lord brings forth a fresh water spring.
Most though were simple beautiful floral based themes.

There are 11 of these panels, all of which are dedicated, one each, to the members of a select group of women. This group of wealthy New York ladies founded the Association for the Relief of Respectable, Aged Indigent Women in 1814.

The Association operated housing for genteel women, who had found themselves homeless, say through inheritances passing to male lines of the family or losing their husbands in the Revolution or the War of 1812.

Operating about 100 years before Zonta, these ladies were at least opening the door on 'women as philanthropists' and supporting fellow women in need. 

The ladies included Olivia Slocum Sage, who married to a robber baron and childless, inherited over $70 million in 1906 when Mr Sage died. Olivia donated $250,000 for the construction of a new wing and chapel at the residence. It was this chapel where these 11 panels were housed.

The clematis climbs the trellis, toward a white dove - the Christian symbol for the Holy Spirit.
Other members of the Association included Katherine Hinman Hamlin, who was wealthy enough to have had an obituary in The New York Times; and Ruth Seely Dunning, who was married to a prominent New York attorney. These ladies clearly had resources at their disposal. Though the background of most is unknown.

And the choir sang on

In 1974, the Chapel was threatened with demolition. The Association Board approached Hugh and Jeanette McKean, the founder of the Morse Museum in 1942 (it named after Jeanette's father, Charles Hosmer Morse) and offered the panels for safe keeping.

Julia Henop Memorial
Today, there is no Zonta in Winter Park. The closest thing is The Women's Club of Winter Park.  These ladies commenced in 1915, at the home of Jeannette McHugh's mother - Helen Morse. (It's a small world in Winter Park). Somewhat like a Zonta Club, they focus on local community service, student scholarships and a range of social activities, such as art, music, travel, and drama. Those ladies set up the Christmas tree for the concert.

The decorations were hand-drawn by local school kiddies.
This post reminds me of our Zonta emblem: the 'Z' like character in the emblem is the Sioux symbol for "ray of light", "sunshine", "flash of radiance" or "inspiration". The symbol alludes to each and all members of Zonta being radiant with Zonta's values and an inspiration to others.

You  might not be able to afford an honorary Tiffany glass window panel, but you can proudly display your own light through your actions.


At the end of evening, walking back to the car, I came across this:

Your USA Southern style kindie: mini southern mansion with mini portico and columns and all your little mini-me kiddies. of course ......

Remember: my offer still stands - I have arranged a free guided tour of the Morse Museum for Zontians who wish to join me in Orlando at Convention time. Details will come - eventually.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Disney dining discounts deliver delight when deliberating the dollar's deepening dive.

"All right, don't practice your alliteration on me"

Maybe I have managed to pique your interest, just slightly, in the wonders of WDW. 

Perhaps even gotten you interested in going over for a meal or two?

It may be that in doing your own WDW research, you have noticed there are rather a lot of dining options and rather a lot of food.

Given the Aussie Dollar is now starting to slide away from the USD, I'm looking for any discount I can get so I can still eat like a king - rather than stand in a car park sucking an ice cube. 

FREE FOOD?! I'm sooooo there.

We have already explored that WDW is HUGE

Look at it! The huge lump! Just like my arse. Which is kinda congruent really. Cause dining at WDW is how my arse got to its "huge lump" state.         OK.........ONE of the causes.
What Disney want, is for you to stay on property and never leave. And spend all your money there.

One way in which they lock you in is to sell you a dining plan attached to your Disney resort accommodation booking.  These dining plans come in different sizes for different budgets and different desires. The Disney Food Blog does a very good job of explaining how the plan works.

So if you are going to join Mrs. Banks and our other Zonta friends who are having a little WDW holiday in the week before International Convention, you may want to work out if the Dining Plan is a sensible option for you.

To work this out is very easy - or really really hard -you just need to, for every meal:
  • work out where you want to eat
  • what you want to eat,
  • the price of all that food compared to the chosen dining plan price.

Excel is my 2nd best friend
The WDW Dining and All are the go-to websites to check out the menus and prices.  At the DISboard Dining Reviews everyone is food critic! with photos!

Every single menu from every single dining option - AllEars - I luvs you
I have done the Deluxe Dining Plan a couple of times, and it was fabulous to eat amazing, top class, table service meals every night of the trip, at a decent discount and ...... well .... we're back to the size of my arse again, aren't we? But it is A LOT of food - maybe too much.

Another option is to get an Annual Pass or get a friend with an Annual Pass - like me. I have an Annual Pass! With an Annual Pass, for $100 I can purchase a 'Tables in Wonderland' membership and eat almost everywhere with a 20% discount on food and beverages. And I take 9 friends with me and the whole meal scores the discount.

My precious

Read those restaurant menus and decide where you would like to dine. Then whip out your excel spreadsheet and start doing your sums. The best option will be different depending on your family size and your hunger levels.

If you are an obsessive-compulsive planner, this is HEAVEN!

If you are not, then just tag along to my restaurant bookings.

So rabid, hungry readers, what is your favourite dining cuisine?