Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Disney: Behind the Magic

I am sitting writing this post right now in my room at Disney's Saratoga Resort and Spa in Orlando. I am here shooting a new Disney special with Sam called Samantha Brown's Disney Favorites for Travel Channel... and I have to say... I have a few cool insider secrets that I had to share!

First, I heard from a friend last week that Disney has a Tinkerbel character who flies on rip line from the top of Cinderella Castle all the way to Tomorrowland. My friend told me that as a kid she always loved waiting for the fireworks show at night over the Magic Kingdom because she wanted to see Tink. I have to say that I thought it was an urban legend... I could not imagine that something so cool existed at Disney and I had never heard of it! So, I went right to the source for the inside scoop!

I spoke to a Joe, a real Disney insider who works with all of the production crews that come into Disney to shoot. Joe told me that the flying Tink was real and that the coolest part was that the girl who plays the role of Tink has to "weigh in" every night before her flight and that information is fed into a computer that looks at her weight and the wind speed and adjusts the slack on the rip line automatically so that she always "flies" at the right speed from the castle to Tomorrowland! The best part... Joe and I stood with the crew in the middle of the Rose Garden last night in front of the Magic Kingdom to watch the Wishes Fireworks display and there she was!! Tink flew right over our head and landed in Tomorrowland!

After the show, we all went through the backstage area and Joe pointed out exactly where she landed! It was a huge platform that had a mattress to cushion her fall! Incredible! I begged Joe to sneak me into the park for one ride... we'll see if he caves. COOL, right??

Another secret of Disney, the best photo opportunity of Cinderella's Castle is actually right at the Rose Garden. The coolest part is that Disney has real photographers walking around the park who will take your pictures and load them all onto one "photo pass." Then, at the end of the day... you go to one of the photo pass locations and you can see your photos and choose the ones you want to purchase! Forget to stop in?? Line was too long? No problem! Log onto the website on your pass and you can access and order your photos online. This is especially cool for all of you who go to Disney with the hopes of capturing a cool family photo for the Christmas card! No need to worry about chopping somebody's head off!!

Here's one of my coolest Disney tips.... all of the major attractions now have a special line for single riders!! What's so cool about that? Well, what if you are a parent of a toddler who is not old enough to ride Everest or Tower of Terror? Who gets to go? Mom or Dad? Well, now you do not have to worry...you can switch out! The single lines are super fast so that you can both ride the ride without each of you having to wait in a long line as the other cares for your child. This is also great for ANYONE who does not mind riding alone! Your whole family can wait in the single line and just take a ride one at a time. Sure, you may not be able to experience it together... but, you also just did not waste an hour or more of your time in one of the pricey parks!

Ok, I have to get to bed... we have an early call tomorrow. We are shooting Sam right in the middle of Main Street USA! So, if you are at the Magic Kingdom tomorrow... be sure to stop by and say Hi!

More tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The most DISGUSTING Travel Story of all Time!

I had to share this story with you. I am stealing this story from some friends who went down to Florida for the Holidays. I am changing their names to protect them from other travelers that may have witnessed this first hand.

The following is a true story...

So, our friends Fred and Ethel were taking their son Little Ricky to Florida to spend the holidays with their family. They also planned to bring their Italian Greyhound on the trip so they could avoid the hassle of putting her in a kennel while they were away.

They were scheduled to fly out on Christmas Eve and they had to get up early that morning so that they could get to the airport by 8:30am for their flight. Unfortunately, Fred came down with a stomach flu the night before and just felt awful that morning. They even called the airline to see if they could get on a later flight to allow him a bit more time in his own bathroom. Unfortunately, all of the flights were booked and he did not want to risk missing Christmas morning with the rest of the family. So, Fred picked himself up and they all made their way to the airport.

They went through security and boarded the plane without a problem. The dog was safely in her carrier and they tucked her under the seat in front of Ethel. All was fine... Fred was comfortable and was looking forward to a restful few hours after his long night. He closed his eyes and the nightmare began...

About 20 minutes into the flight they started to smell what could only be described as "acidic doggie poo" and it was radiating from their little doggie carrier. Their little Greyhound was so nervous from the flight that it started to have uncontrollable diahrreah right there in the carrier. The smell was awful and Fred, Ethel and Ricky could not believe that it was coming from their adorable little dog.

Already nausiated from his flu, Fred immediately got up and he made his way down the aircraft to the small bathroom. Once inside the stall, Fred and Ethel pulled the pooping pup out of the carrier and started to clean up the mess. Fred held the dog right over the sink and just let him poop in the sink while Ethel started to clean the carrier and the mess they were creating in the bathroom.

The dog continued to poop and they had to stuff her back in her carrier because the captain turned on the seatbelt sign... they were about to come in for a landing and they all had to get back into their seats. So, they went back... stinky carrier in hand up that long row of other passengers all in agony from the disgusting smell that had taken over the entire cabin.

Once they landed, they quickly got off of the plane and Ethel took the dog into the bathroom to once again try to clean her pooch. She went into one of the companion bathrooms and took the dog out of the carrier. The dog immediately started pooping all over the bathroom. As Ethel started to clean up the mess, she was overcome with the abnoxious smell and started to vomit.

When she was finally able to control herself and get the dog back into the carrier, she walked out of the bathroom and found a security guard to let him know about the mess. She was sweaty, smelly and she was still holding a pooping dog.

They all went and retreived their luggage from baggage claim and met Ethel's dad. Unfortunately, her Dad decided that he would take his pickup truck to pick all of them up from the airport. Can you imagine the stench in that small cab?

OK... if that is not a hell story.. I do not know what is!!!

Do you travel with your pets? Do you have any suggestions for taking them on airplanes?

We never thought to bring our dogs with us on trips!! I always thought that the cabin pressure and the stress would be too much on them. Now, I know people have to put them on planes when they move long distances... but, in my opinion... they are dogs and were never meant to fly. Just my opinion....

Fred, Ethel and Little Ricky had a great time in Florida with their family. They made sure that the dog was drugged for their flight home.

Please send me your pet travel tips!!


Monday, January 14, 2008

If you are sick... stay home.

Why do people insist on traveling when they are sick? Now, you know from my past blogs that I have been sick on the road and had to fly home... but this is different. I am talking about the guy next to you that looks like he is on his death bed and here he is sitting in the exit row of the Delta shuttle heading up to New York. I mean... if you are that sick (and believe me... I can see that you have been blowing your nose for a week) stay home! I don't want your crud and I think I can speak for the rest of the passengers and crew that they do not want it either!

You know, the month before I went over to Beijing, I had to get like 8 shots and then I also had to take a series of live Typhoid pills to build up my immunity. Yes... LIVE typhoid pills. You basically take a pill every other day for 4 days and then you are protected from Typhoid for like 5 years. So, I took the pill and on my third pill I realized that I had to fly to LA for work. I would have to bring the last pill of the series with me on the trip to California. A huge question mark came over my head... LIVE TYPHOID on an airplane? I called my doctor and immediately scheduled the typhoid shot instead. The shot only protects me for 2 years... but, I could not imagine bringing that pill on an aircraft. I would hope that everyone would think the same way before boarding an airplane.

Now, a lot of you asked what kind of remedies I bring with me on the road.. so, here are a few items that I NEVER leave home without...

(1) Ibuprofen - works for headaches and its great for that occasional hangover

(2) Afrin - Keep this in your carry-on at all times! Ear pain due to congestion when you are flying is one word... PAINFUL. Two sprays in each nostril before you board will keep you clear and pain-free for the whole flight. I promise this works!

(3) The pink stuff - you remember that day in Mexico when you indulged in street market food and then spent the rest of the night back in your bathroom. Just bring it.

(4) Allergy medication - I have allergies at home in DC...so, I always carry some extra allergy meds with me just in case. I was sure glad I packed it when I was in China!! The smog is so bad in that country that you cannot see your hand in front of your face in some places! They say that breathing in the air of Beijing for one day is the equivalent of smoking 20 cigarettes. Yuk.

(5) Tylenol PM - I always have a few packed. I tend take a Tylenol PM after a long flight... especially when I am in another time zone.... even puts the aches and pains of a long trip straight to sleep.

(6) Aloe - When I was in Costa Rica, I picked up pure aloe at one of the small markets in San Jose. It was handy the day that we all trekked Poaz Volcano in the Costa Rican heat! My skin was pink... even with SPF 30! The aloe is the perfect remedy for a burn and it feels great on your skin. Just be careful to keep it fresh.. I believe Aloe loses its healing properties 6 months after you open the bottle.

(7) SPF 30 - I am a white girl and I burn. (Here's a secret... if I look tan.. I had a fake and bake session at my local spa ... aka Mystic Tan! Its the only tan that is safe for your skin) I always have SPF 15 on my face, but when I am out on a shoot I slather on the SPF 30! You only get one shot at healthy skin... so protect it.

Now, I will ask you... HOW DO PEOPLE TRAVEL WITH ONE CARRY-ON and NO SUITCASE? Where the hell are they putting their daily essentials? I know... I know... lost baggage is an issue. I get that... but, even when I go away for the weekend I have a bag to check! I am not dumping my $55 bottle of Chanel age defying moisturizer into one of those cheap little bottles for security! I like the packaging.. it is part of the reason for buying the damn thing in the first place! So, I say... check it and pray to god that it is on the carousel.

What is in your suitcase? Do you have any tips and tricks? Please share... leave me a comment!