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Disney’s New Mine Train Ride in Fantasyland

May 28, 2014 by · Comments Off on Disney’s New Mine Train Ride in Fantasyland 

The largest expansion in the history of Disney World is now complete. The Seven Dwarfs have been busy. They dug out the old 20,000 Leagues under the Sea space and discovered a mine. A roller coaster was built on top of the mine as the final addition to the make-over of Fantasyland. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride will open to the public on May 28th.

The Beast's Castle in Fantasyland

The Beast’s Castle in Fantasyland

A few of the Seven Dwarfs.
A few of the Seven Dwarfs.

I had the opportunity to meet those dwarfs, visit their facility, and take a test run recently. I assure you, it’s not Dopey or Sleepy. The ride strikes it rich.

The mine train is a very high tech, a silent roller coast that gives a rousing but not too scary adventure. I’d say the ride ranks more thrilling than the Barnstormer, but doesn’t go as high or drop as much as Big Thunder Mountain. Perfect for young children tall enough to qualify for the attraction.

Disney's Seven Dwarfs
Disney’s Seven Dwarfs

 

 

The best part, in my opinion, was the time spent underground. You see the dwarfs dig, dig, digging and Hi- Ho-ing while they work and sing. I’m sure children’s eyes will light up as the mine sparkles with beautiful gems. When your car exits that area, you once again soar over Fantasyland catching a gorgeous view of the Beast’s Castle. The ride finishes with a peek into the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs. Don’t miss Snow White dancing with the gang.

 

Cottage of the 7 Dwarfs

Cottage of the 7 Dwarfs

Last year Disney added The Enchanted Forest, inspired by The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Here, you can venture through lush landscapes, discovering roaring waterfalls and royal castles along the way. The Enchanted Forest attractions and experiences include:

• Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid : Enter Prince Eric’s castle, board a giant clamshell and rock out on this new musical attraction.

Ariel in the Under the Sea  attraction.

Ariel in the “Under the Sea” attraction.

• Be Our Guest Restaurant: Feast in one of 3 incredible dining rooms in the middle of Beast’s Castle.

• Enchanted Tales with Belle: Become part of a lively retelling of the “tale as old as time,” hosted by Belle and Lumière.

• Ariel’s Grotto: Take photos and get autographs with everyone’s favorite undersea princess.

• Gaston’s Tavern:The manliest of manly places, this eatery serves up tasty tavern fare.

Last June, I was in the Magic Kingdom with my three granddaughter’s and this charming area was by far their favorite. Well, how could I have gone wrong taking three little princesses there? They met Belle and, of course, had photos snapped.

I personally adore Sebastian, the crab, and loved the Under the Sea ride so much that I chose to return by myself. I also hopped into a honeypot for Winnie the Pooh’s Adventure in the 100-acre Wood. Then I walked over to Tomorrowland. Couldn’t leave without taking a spin with Buzz Lightyear- truly a great kid’s ride for adults.

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

The fireworks spectacular is always a favorite, but in recent years Disney added nighttime projection onto Cinderella’s Castle. I found this adds an awesome new dimension. This year’s show is “Wishes,” the largest fireworks display ever presented at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

The night time spectacular is narrated by Jiminy Cricket and the Blue Fairy. Guests of the Magic Kingdom are told a thrilling “story in the sky” featuring hundreds of brilliant pyrotechnic effects exploding above and around Cinderella Castle.

You’ve just got to love the Magic Kingdom!

Debi enjoys Disney and MagicBand

Debi enjoys Disney and MagicBand

By the way, I also visited Epcot and saw “Illuminations,” their fireworks display the night before. Amazing lighting effects around the spinning globe of nations.
Below are two video’s you can click on to experience the new Mine Train Ride. Enjoy.

First Half of the Mine Train Ride

Disney’s Mine Train Ride- from the middle section.

 

Adventures in Southern India IV: The Swami Temple

May 24, 2014 by · Comments Off on Adventures in Southern India IV: The Swami Temple 

Day 3 : Way Down Upon the Swami Temple

Names in India are tongue twisting words. I have declared the Arulmigu Swaminatha Swami Temple, in Swamimalai simply the Swami Temple. My group visited this ancient site the day after we left Pondicherry.

Swami is a Hindu temple near the city of Kumbakonam and the Cauvery river. The temple is one of the six holy shrines of Murugan. The temple has three gopuram, those huge gateway towers covered with hundreds of figures, three courtyards and sixty steps. There is also a large pool or water tank, formerly used in temple rituals.

When we entered we found a large group of people on the floor organizing mounds of paper money that I assume had been dumped from the collection containers. Another group was sorting coins.  Seemed odd that this was done in such a public space, but as I said over and over on my trip, “Things happen differently in India.”  Just observe.

Young Girl

Young Girl

We ran into a young girl who was celebrating a special day with her entire family. My apologies, but I really didn’t understand the meaning of her celebration. Anyway, the multi-generational family meandered through the formidable stone structure lined with hundreds of intricately carved pillars. The pinnacles were painted in bright almost neon colors as were sections of the ceiling. The family group stopped for short prayers at some of the statues. I just lingered behind.

Attached to the temple was a market area where vendors sold statuary, trinkets, flowers, fruit and treats. The ceiling of the collanade between the buildings was also brightly painted.

This temple, like Chidambaram seen in the morning, is ancient.  The website claims in is from the Sangam period during 2nd century BC and is thought to have been modified by Parantaka Chola I, during the 900’s AD. Also like  Chidambaram Nataraja Temple, this one was damaged during the Anglo-French war between Hyder Ali and British in 1740. Today the temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

We didn’t stay that long, just meandered around taking photos. Therefore, I believe the best way for me to present it, is simply to show my pictures.

Swami Temple Walkway

Swami Temple Walkway

Stone Pillar

Stone Pillar

Entering the Swami Temple

Entering the Swami Temple

Pillar Details

Pillar Details

The Temple Interior

The Temple Interior

Money Counters

Money Counters

Extended Family

Extended Family

The Temple Grounds

The Temple Grounds

Marketplace

Marketplace

Temple Ruins

Temple Ruins

 

 

 

Southern India Adventures III: Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram

May 19, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Day 3 in South India:  Temples

Chidambaram, in Southern India’s state of Tamil Nadu, is also known as Thillai, since the place was originally a forest of the thillai shrubs. It is an important pilgrim center, a major shrine of Lord Shiva and as the famous Nataraja Temple. In fact, Chidambaram offers a combination of the three aspects of Shiva worship – the form Lord Nataraja (dance), the form and the formlessness (linga) and the formless omnipresence.The temple has influenced worship, architecture, sculpture and performance art for over two millennium. Now, that is an old temple.

Approaching the temple gateway.

Approaching the temple gateway.

The ancient temple is located in the center of the town and covers 40 acres with four seven-story gopurams ( those huge gateways facing North, South East and West) each with around fifty stone sculptures. There are also five sabhas or courts. The presiding deity of the temple is formless, represented by air, one of the five elements of the universe.

The temple is dedicated to Lord Nataraja, and is unique as it one of the rare temples where Shiva is represented by an idol rather than the customary lingam. (I’d been introduced to lingams earlier, they are black phallic looking statues.) This temple also has exquisite carvings of Bharathanatya dance postures, the Classical Dance of Tamil Nadu. At Chidambaram, the dancer dominates, not the linga.

Close-up of dance poses on the tower.

Temple dancer

The eastern tower of the temple rises to a height of 134 feet with 108 Bharathanatyam dance poses as well as on Western tower. The Northern tower rises to a height of 140 feet and is the tallest. This temple is also noted for its Gold Plated roof that adorns the sanctum sanctorum, or called the kanakasabha. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum, so I did not see it.

Although I did not know this when I visited, research indicates that the temple is located at the center point of world’s magnetic equator. * I did not feel any strong pull, but I did not sit and meditate.
The temple as it stands is mainly from the 12th and 13th centuries, with later additions in similar style. It was believed to have been originally constructed during the early Chola period (900’s AD).

Ruins

Close-up of Stairway ruins.

The temple was severely vandalized during  invasions of South India between 1311 and 1325. A garrison was set up within the temple and the walls were fortified during the Carnatic Wars and during the Anglo-French war between Hyder Ali and British in 1740. I think the ruins give it a mysterious aura and I rather liked the crumbling effect. The large water tank formerly used for rituals, is closed off.

******

 

Please click on the individual photos to enlarge.

Footnote on magnetic location:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thillai_Nataraja_Temple,_Chidambaram#cite_note-18

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