Friday 20 January 2012

Animal Kingdom in the Holiday season.

So for my last trip to Disney I went during "Holiday Season" to see the parks with their Christmas decorations. Animal Kingdom's decorations were probably a bit more subtle (if you can say that) than the other parks but they were still present.
First thing one notices when heading for the entrance to Animal Kingdom at this time of year is a GIANT (I'm sure I read 45ft) Christmas Tree complete with Animal themed decorations:
The entrance is decorated for Christmas as well:
Then as you walk around you do find the odd Christmas tree here and there in the corner of a shop but
certain areas have more decorations than others. Dinoland USA was one of the areas I noticed with more decorations. With Tinsel Christmas trees:

Tinsel Snowmen:

Even their character greeting area had a tree or two of it's own:

The funniest thing I noticed in Dinoland USA was in the shop where I saw a Dinosaur wearing a Santa hat. Never seen something like that before:

Camp Minnie Mickey is probably the area most decorated in Animal Kingdom that I saw from their sign onwards:

There are a selection of Christmas trees for many of the main Disney characters eg:



Chip and Dale:

Finding Nemo:

That's just a small selection of the trees there was many more. As well as all that the characters themselves are done up in Christmas outfits. Donald added a bit of holly to his safari hat. Goofy is dressed as Santa. Stitch and Lilo are in matching Christmas outfits:

While Minnie and Mickey have their Christmas jumpers and hats on:

Lastly the parade is renamed the Jingle Jungle Parade and while essentially it's the same floats and characters. There's different music and all the floats have a Christmassy theme going on:

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Animal Kingdom

I like taking photos of everything. I also love Disney and Disney World and I love to take lots of photographs of Disney World and thought I'd share some park by park.

Animal Kingdom is my relax day Disney park. I don't like rollercoasters so I don't tend to do many rides in Animal Kingdom. I stick to the shows mostly.
I suppose the first thing you have to mention with Animal Kingdom though is that park icon the Tree of Life
That tree is amazing. There is so much work gone into it. The trunk of the tree for those of you that don't know has loads of animals carved into it and they are so detailed it really is just fantastic looking at it.

Regarding some of the shows in Animal Kingdom they have a musical version of Finding Nemo.

Being Animal Kingdom it wouldn't really be complete without a typical theme park bird show as well:

But my favourite show for Animal Kingdom has to be Festival of the Lion King. It includes all the major Lion King songs and has many acrobat displays and dancing which creates an exciting celebration of the Lion King.

One ride that I do always do in Animal Kingdom is the Kilimanjaro Safari which leads you through a savanna complete with every Africa animal they can fit in and sometimes if you're lucky (or unlucky whichever your view) you may get close up to these Animals. Some block the road way and some come right up beside the trucks:
and if you're very very lucky you might catch a glimpse of the King of the Jungle out sunning himself!

As well as the Safari to see the animals you can see alot of animals on both the Maharajah Jungle trek

and the Pangani Forest trail:

It has actually taken me three visits to see each section of the park and two years ago was the first time I made it out to Rafiki's Planet watch:
You have to take a train from the main park out to rafiki's planet watch. It's basically a conservation centre. You can meet some Disney characters like Rafiki himself and you can watch the vets checking out some of the animals from the part. There's even a petting zoo type area for children and adults alike to brush some goats and sheep.
Another section of the park is called Dinoland USA:
As the name would suggest this area includes rides, restaurants and shops with a Dinosaur theme.
My favourite area of the park is Camp Minnie Mickey because here you can meet and greet with some of your favourite Disney characters in their Safari outfits:

Lastly another one of my favourite things about the Disney parks is the parades. They're colourful and full of great music and of course some of our favourite Disney characters:

Sunday 15 January 2012

Westlife years!

To start off this blogging stuff, I'll start with the news that came in October 2011 that Westlife are to "break-up" this year. I have followed them from 1999 until now and well lets just say I don't believe this whole "break-up" thing but how and ever. In October last year Westlife released the following statement on their website.

After 14 years, 26 top ten hits including 14 number one singles, 11 top 5 albums, 7 of which hit the top spot and have collectively sold over 44 million copies around the world, 10 sell out tours and countless memories that we will forever cherish, we today announce our plan to go our separate ways after a greatest hits collection this Christmas and a farewell tour next year.  The decision is entirely amicable and after spending all of our adult life together so far, we want to have a well-earned break and look at new ventures.  We see the greatest hits collection and the farewell tour as the perfect way to celebrate our incredible career along with our fans. We are really looking forward to getting out on the tour and seeing our fans one last time.

Over the years Westlife has become so much more to us than just a band.  Westlife are a family.  We would like to thank our fans who have been with us on this amazing journey and are part of our family too. 
We never imagined when we started out in 1998 that 14 years later we would still be recording, touring and having hits together.  It has been a dream come true for all of us. 

Kian, Mark, Nicky and Shane 

I have been a huge Westlife fan since the very first time I saw them back in 1999 at the childline concert.

There and then when they told the audience about the first single, Swear it again which was to be released the following March, I knew I would be buying it. They seemed so happy together on stage, like such good friends and I loved the songs they sang that night. I did buy that single and many more. I bought the albums, books, dvd's, folders, perfume, t-shirts, key-rings and much more.

They won many awards over the years including the best Irish Pop act at the meteor awards 7 years in a row.

In 2004 news came that Brian McFadden was leaving the band. At the time I was gutted. I didn't know if the band could continue without him and still be good. To me at the time he was the funny in the band. He was always joking and never seemed to give an answer that didn't have some smart joke attached to it in interviews. However, Shane, Nicky, Kian and Mark continued on and while the next tour to me seemed to be lacking something the following year they had their spark back and got better and better from there. 

I went to their concerts at least once a year and even travelled to Sligo twice to see them there. I loved with Sligo how the whole town seemed so proud of Westlife. They would have banners across the street and shop windows would have displays dedicated to Westlife.

In recent years I went to their concerts more than once a year and found every concert to be different. This year for example the first night Nicky took someones phone out of the audience and rang a random number leaving a voice message that they would be performing in Cork and the person could catch them there. The next night Shane Filan was Irish dancing on stage. The last night I went they were slagging Irish DJ Ray Foley who had been dissing them on the radio and had then been challenged by Louis Walsh to go to the concert and see if his opinion changed any.

It always made me laugh with the media how some of them were so negative about Westlife and dubbed them the "stool band." Even as I was looking up the statement I found again an article on the Irish Independants website which I've taken the following quote from

The stool manufacturing industry is said to be inconsolable after news that Westlife are to split next year.
The lads are famed for being as animated on stage as those stools they love sitting on, while crooning You Raise Me Up. About the only time they did raise themselves up from those stools was when an infamous key change was needed.

Now while for most of their television appearances they would be standing or sitting in the one position for the performance their concerts were completely different. They had a fantastic energy at the concerts and they were always full of dancing, yes I said WESTLIFE DANCING! There was lots of jumping around the stage and excitement and they were just brilliant. The medley they did every year of different songs was always the best.
I was very lucky to meet Westlife in 2003 at the launch for their Turnaround album and then at signings over the years and they were always lovely. But what I loved most about these is the little group of westies (westlife fans) that came out of those events. There are many forums online discussing Westlife and whatever else and many fans that go solo to these events because their other friends think Westlife aren't cool or whatever! So what ended up happening was fans that kept seeing each other at these events started going together. I made a very good friend from Dublin and another one from London in this way and we would go to concerts and signings together ever since we met.

Westlife became like a little family and the true fans didn't just support Westlife but they supported the entire extended Westlife family as well. When Westlife laughed fans laughed when Westlife cried fans cried. if Westlife were proud fans were proud and one of the proudest and sweetest moments I have seen for the lads in Westlife was in 2010 when Shane and Nicky could bring their own kids (the next generation Westlife) on stage in front of 80,000 fans for the song I'm already there. 
This sense of huge support came became even more evident when tragedy struck for Kian and Nicky in 2009 as they both lost their fathers that year. They played their Where we are tour that year and at the end of every night there was a tribute to Kevin Egan and Nikki Byrne Snr. during the songs I'll see you again and You Raise me up.
That year in Croke Park Nicky and Kian made speeches in memory of their fathers. Nicky cried and I think when Nicky cried fans all around me cried with him.

Westlife have gotten stronger and stronger over the years. They continue to have huge success all over Europe and Asia and despite fans recently complaining about the tracklist on the new album being to similar to that on Greatest Hits Volume 1 I believe Westlife will have another number one album with this next one. The "Farewell Tour" will sell out as quick as it goes on sale. However despite what the statement says and despite the rumours of what's next for the individual Westlife boys I do not believe that Westlife will stay "split up." Shane, Kian and Mark were singing and performing nearly before they could walk, couple that with how successful Westlife still is after 14 years and it'd be utterly stupid to throw that away completely. I believe with Westlife we'll see what the likes of Boyzone and Take That have done. They'll go their separate ways for a few years and then make a come back!

For now though Westlife Thank you for the memories and I can't wait for the "Farewell (for now) Tour"