Friday, June 15, 2018

Strange Memory Collision

This morning, I came out of the shower thinking of Disney. That isn't so odd, but it was triggered by a combination of smells. At Disney World, they use H2O products in all of the hotels. Bubbly Orange is my favorite. I need to pick up some shampoo to match the soap I have.

My wife's perfume from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab called Cheshire Cat and my Bubbly Orange soap reminds me of August in Disney. The soap also pairs well with my BPAL scent, Perversion.

Smells are powerful triggers. Today, a combination of them turned a boring Friday into this:


Back in 2014, I had the chance to sail on The Oasis of the Seas. It was amazing. 

Our destination was the Bahamas, Nassau in particular. What a beautiful island. I can't wait to go back.

The Oasis of the Seas is a new ship, first sailing in 2009. It has 16 passenger decks, a casino, 5 pools, a carousel, chapel, a library, and dozens of other features. Our trip was only 3 nights, so obviously I couldn't see everything they had to offer. I never set foot in a bar and was only able to breeze through the shopping areas. On the deck was a massive amphitheater which also served as a rally point. As big as it was, I only saw it once.

The views from the ship were incredible. Even in port, the sights were amazing.

My wife and I were traveling with three small children and we were new to the ins and outs of cruising. My mother-in-law guided us through the process. Thank god for that, we would have been lost.

Even still, the Oasis was big enough to swallow us up even with help. One evening, my daughter and I got lost on the ship and found ourselves in the chapel, then a library and finally, a wonderful viewing point at the top of the ship. It was overwhelming.

The Oasis of the Seas is a massive ship. We could sail on that three more times and likely not see it all. Next time, we may take a longer cruise on a smaller ship. Or not. Depends on where we want to go. I would love to sail on the Oasis again.

Having said that, my mother-in-law is a great planner but not a professional planner. We keep telling her she should be. Maybe someday she'll retire to that life. In any event, my wife and I have a friend, Jaime Nowicki who is a travel planner. She loves Disney but also handles trips to other locales, too. Of course, Disney Cruise Line is one but she also plans for Sandals, Beaches, Royal Caribbean, AMA Waterways, Azamara, Celebrity, Carnival, MSC Cruiseline, Norwegian, American Cruise Line, Princess!

My dream trip would be to Cuba. My wife, Kitty's dream is to go to England and Ireland. We need someone like Jaime to manage these dreams and give a plan that is both incredible and budget friendly.

You can find Jaime on Facebook or Twitter, or contact her by email or phone at:

j dot nowiki at magicalvacationplanner dot com

Of course, there is a website, too at

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Guest Post from Jaime Nowicki @

This is my first guest post from Jaime @ at

June 19th!

Disney Vacation Dates for 2019 will be available to book.

Book soon to get your preferred Disney destination, resort, room, package...they will fill up fast! You can book a Disney Vacation Package with only a $200 deposit. I am a certified Disney travel agent, my concierge services are complimentary, and I am looking forward to helping you plan your 2019 Disney Vacation.

Contact me at:

Don't forget to like my Facebook page.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Tantrum Preview

     This evening, I saw them testing the Tantrum at Darien Lake. When the action stopped, I remember to take out my phone and snap some pictures. Oops.

     This coaster holds 8 riders in two row of four, is about 100 feet tall and features 90 degree climb to a more than 90 degree drop. It looks amazing.

    A little research on this model revealed that it was made by Gerstlauer and has the moniker "Euro-Fighter". It reminds me of the Motocoaster because the small footprint. This one seems more solid as it has it's own foundation rather than a frame base.

     I like these small footprint coasters, as the gee forces and excitement are crammed in a small space. They are a blast from end to end. The downside of such a system is the powerful mag brakes at the end to bring the cars in safely. As quick as they are, the ending is always rough. Don't get me wrong, I've ridden the Motocoaster at least six times this year because I love it. I can't wait to ride this one.

     It is opening Memorial Day Weekend but I not exactly sure on which day.  As you can see from the images, they have tripods and such around for construction and will likely add some nice landscaping as the season goes on.

Panorama of Darien Lake Water Park

It's few days from opening but the Water Park at Darien Lake is looking good.

Darien Lake Meal Plan and Dining Tips

Two taco meal.
     It seems they updated the meal plans again. The bacon burger is off the menu and there is choice of basic hamburgers and cheeseburgers. I tried the cheeseburger the other day and it was good. Unfortunately for the counter people, the signage is now wrong, which probably annoys them to no end.

Bacon Cheeseburger and Chicken Sandwich.
     In the picture to the right, you can see a cheeseburger with bacon next to the chicken sandwich. While the BBQ sauce in the dispenser is ok, I bet it would be better with hot sauce. They have removed the bacon burger from the menu and replaced it with a choice of hamburger or cheeseburger. Both are ample and come with great fries. Don't forget to try them with ketchup and vinegar*.

     While there is always an inclination to suspect that a company is downsizing servings by removing bacon, it seemed to me that the option of a burger with bacon but no cheese was simply a silly option. My son managed to order it with cheese with no problem. Twice. The issue with that is, he did the classic "I'd like burger with bacon. Could I have a side of cheese on that?" to which the cashier said, "Yes" instead of "The bacon cheeseburger is not a valid choice". That sort of stuff causes headaches with customers, cost and service. It is better that they don't offer it at all. 

     There are two other options which aren't obvious. The BBQ sauce is great, but sometimes hot sauce is better. If you ask they will give you a cup of it. That's good to know, because it isn't offered and doesn't appear on any signage. The other thing is you can also ask for blue cheese, which is always better with hot sauce than the Ranch dressing that is the standard option. I can see the blue cheese going away because on one occasion they sold it to me for $1.50 up charge and then the very next day they gave me 3 at no charge. Weird. Again, they need to update which way they want to do this and stick to it. I am sure it was a training issue that will bite one of the friendly counter people.

     In the images above, you'll notice my Tim Horton's coffee. It isn't just a Canadian thing, it is also a Buffalo thing. You can get that at Sweet Tooth or the Tim Horton's booth near the front gate. While the booth is full service, the Sweet Tooth requires you to assemble your own coffee. About 4 sugar packets in a large is equal to a single-single. If you are counting calories and carbs, that is 64 calories and 16.8 grams of carbs not counting the cream. Add another 120 cals and 2 grams of carbs for cream. It's heavy cream and yummy in moderation.

     When stopping at Sweet Tooth, they have great (but expensive) popcorn. It's $5.99 a bag and so far I like the cinnamon over the coco flavored. The complete list of flavors are:

Cinnamon, Maple, Cocoa, Sweet Chili, White Cheddar, Herbal Bliss, Sea Salt and Vinegar, Jalapeno Cheddar. 

    You can ask for a sample before you buy. They also have cookies, baked goods and fudge. Typically, there is a deal on the fudge, buy a pound get an extra quarter pound free. If you are sharing a sugary snack, Sweet Tooth is fine. If you want some to take home, get it in the shop near the main gate.

     In the back of the store, they have displays of candy and giant bags of popcorn. As tempting as it was to buy a giant bag of cinnamon popcorn, I suspect it is only a display, the bags are not priced or otherwise marked for sale and has no nutritional information. Oh, well. I can dream.

     One bonus item about Sweet Tooth is the tables with park maps set under glass. This is not an obvious place to sit down and eat, but you can do it. The area is only set up for 8 people at two tables, but in the ran or heat it will do nicely. They also service iced coffee and iced tea, which seems to have replaced the hot cocoa. Once the season is in swing, this shop is often the only place out of the information office with maps available for the taking.

     Everything about this shop screams "overpriced junk food" but it is actually kind of helpful for getting out extreme weather. Be kind and buy a drink. 

*Although the vinegar is meant for fries, in a pinch it will immediately remove anything sticky or greasy from skin better than the less than hot water in the bathrooms. Remember, it is a mild acid so don't get it in your clothes, eyes or hair. Wash up with plan soap and water. It's good at removing sun screen so be careful of that, too. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Allure of Theme Parks

There is something alluring about theme parks. I never miss a chance to go to one. I spend most of my summer at Darien Lake. There is something captivating about massive machines in a a natural setting, metal and electricity, the blue skies and voltaic lamps.

The Viper at Dusk

Fountain at dawn

Loops around the sun

Artificial Palms

Arc against the sky

Jade and Steel

Swing in green

Swing in red

empty abandon 

Anyone can snap a photo

Black and white wheel


This image series was taken a Darien Lake Amusement Park.