Hercules

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Hercules, Disney’s 35th animated film, centers on the Greek myth of Hercules and his trials. Released in 1997, this film showcases Hercules developing his strengths while attempting to defeat Hades, god of the Underworld.

Guests to Disney Parks can meet both Hercules and his co-star Megara, but sightings of these characters are extremely rare.

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Restaurant Ideas: 

  • Phoenicia: Not only does this Mediterranean deli sell fresh ready-made meals, but they are also a grocery store!

Local Attractions/Experiences:

  • Austin Mediterranean Festival: Dancing, shopping and amazing Mediterranean food! Located at St. Elias Orthodox Church 408 E. 11th, Austin TX. September 29th and 30th. Friday 6 – 11 and Saturday Noon – 11 pm. Free Admission Saturday, Noon to 4:00 p.m!
  • Greek pottery at the Blanton Museum of Art: 200 E. MLK Jr. Blvd.Austin, 78712

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  • Umlauf Sculpture Garden: This lovely sculpture garden has incredible modern art as well as a classical garden. 605 Robert E. Lee Rd., Austin 7870

Activities/Crafts:

  • Hercules Lightning Bolt Pillow
  • Hercules-inspired Friendship Bracelets
  • Make your own Olympic medals (wide width ribbon, cardboard circles, tin foil)
  • Backyard Mount Olympus Course: an obstacle course that coordinates with the personalities of the Gods; hammer a cardboard lightning bolt for Zeus, Discus throw with a frisbee for Hercules, primping in front of a mirror for Aphrodite, running through hula hoops with a messenger bag for Hermes, etc.

 

Images: By Wiseworm at zh.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

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The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid, released in 1989, began the new “Disney Renaissance” of animated features. Based loosely on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the film tells the story of a mermaid princess who falls in love with a human prince and signs away her voice for a chance to see him again.

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Ariel can be seen in her grotto located in the Magic Kingdom. She is happy to take pictures with guests and give autographs.

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If guests want to be immersed in the film, they can stay in one of the many Little Mermaid rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid ride is located in Fantasyland, in the Magic Kingdom. In Disneyland, guests can ride The Little Mermaid-Ariel’s Under the Sea Adventure. Visitors can ride King Triton’s Carousel located in Disney California Adventure, followed by a princess character meal at Ariel’s Grotto restaurant.

Finally, both Ariel and Prince Eric can be seen daily in parades down Main Street in both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.

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Local Attractions/Experiences: 

  • Mermaid Aqua Faire and Parade: Located in nearby San Marcos, the downtown Mermaid Promenade cuts right through San Marcos and is immediately followed by the Mermaid Aqua Faire in San Marcos Plaza Park! Takes place on Saturday, September 16th 10am-7pm.
  • Take a dip in a local swimming site:

– Krause Springs

– Hamilton Pool

– Deep Eddy

– Barton Springs Pool

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The Aristocats

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The Aristocats, the 20th Disney animated film, is a story revolving around a family of aristocratic cats. The film follows their adventures while an alley cat helps them after their butler kidnapped the cats in order to gain his mistress’s fortune, which was intended to go to them.

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Guests to Disney Parks can meet Marie, the only daughter in the Aristocat family, so pictures and autographs.

Meal Ideas:

Restaurant Ideas:

  • Blue Cat Cafe: A vegan cafe and with rescue cats available for adoption! They have a delicious menu and the cats wandering around the cafe are lovely to watch and will engage with customers. Blue Cat Cafe also sells merchandise and cat accessories with proceeds going toward their adoptable pets. 95 Navasota St., Austin 78702

Local Attractions/Experiences:

  • The Amazing Acrocats: Check their website frequently to see when these amazing circus cats will be  coming back to town!
  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter to give lonely animals some love and attention

Activities:

  • Painting night: Explore different styles of painting (French impressionism a la Monet, put on jazz music and let the music guide your modern art!)
  • Create a clay Eiffel tower
  • Plant a pot of catnip for your favorite feline, in an Aristocat Flower Pot
  • Marie Felt Ears
  • Printable Marie Cat Mask
  • Marie Inspired No Sew Tutu

 

Image: HumMelissa_Glee in Flickr Creative Commons

Wreck-It Ralph

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Wreck-It-Ralph, released in 2012, tells the story of the “villain” Ralph trying to become a hero and in the process, jumping between arcade games causing chaos! A sequel has been announced, Ralph Breaks the Internet, to be released sometime in 2018.

Ralph and Vanellope are not major fixtures in the Disney parks, but guests can see them in the Disney World Halloween parade and occasional meet and greets.

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Image: By The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Muppets

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The Muppets had an extensive presence in movies and television before their relationship with Disney. After some small appearances in Sesame Street they were given their own show. Their films include The Muppet Movie (1979), The Great Muppet Caper (1981), and The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Muppet Treasure Island (1996),  Muppets from Space (1999), The Muppets (2011) and Muppets Most Wanted (2014).

There are many opportunities to interact with the Muppets at Disney World. In Hollywood Studios, guests can visit Muppet Vision 3D, a combination live action and theater attraction, located in Muppet Courtyard. Guests can then grab a bite to eat at the new restaurant run by Rizzo the rat, PizzeRizzo.

A new Muppet experience is available in the Magic Kingdom in Liberty Square. Great Moments in American History is the Muppet take on the Revolutionary War.

Meal Ideas: 

Local Attractions/Experiences: 

  • Muppet Art Show: An exhibition of Muppet themed art by 10 Disney Fine artists. Saturday June 24-Sunday July 23. Art on 5th 3005 South Lamar Suite C 110 B Austin, 78704

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Image: Loren Javier in Flickr Creative Commons

 

Pirates of the Caribbean

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The Pirates of the Caribbean series now contains 5 films: The Curse of the Black PearlDead Man’s Chest, At World’s End, On Stranger Tides, and Dead Men Tell No Tales. The films follow the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow with appearances by Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann, and Captain Barbossa.

The films are based on the Pirates of the Caribbean rides in both Disney World and Disneyland, in Adventureland and New Orleans Square respectively. Due to the popularity of the films and the classic rides, many pirate themed experiences are available to Disney guests.

Tortuga Tavern is a pirate themed restaurant also located in Adventureland.

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During certain special party events, guests at the Magic Kingdom have the chance to meet Captain Jack Sparrow himself. He will give you his autograph and take photos with you! He also makes an appearance several times a day at Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial, located across from the ride.

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Visitors can make reservations to be transformed at The Pirates League. Many makeover packages are available, including empress and mermaid.

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Disney has only recently added The Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas, an interactive treasure hunt through Adventureland. Guests receive a map, and using the clues provided, hunt through Adventureland occasionally triggering traps and secret messages.

 

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Local Attractions/Experiences: 

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  • Texas Pirate Festival: Although located outside of Austin, the Pirate Festival is worth the drive! There will be live music, great food and crafts for sale. July 8-9 at the Middlefaire Village in Hillsboro, TX

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Ratatouille

 

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Ratatouille, released in 2007, is the 8th film collaboration between Disney and Pixar. This is the story of Remy the rat, who loves to cook, and his work with human busboy Linguini in Gusteau’s Restaurant. Guests visiting Epcot can eat at Les Chefs de France and may see Remy himself as he visits from table to table.

Visitors to Disneyland Paris can experience Ratatouille: The Adventure, a dark ride based on the film.

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Local Attractions/Experiences:

  • French Legation Museum: Austin’s Oldest Home and former residence of French diplomat Alphonse Dubois. Open for tours and special events and currently maintained by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. 802 San Marcos Street Austin, TX 78702

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  • Blue Baker Tour: Get a behind the scenes look at what it takes to be a baker! Includes a factory tour and hands on instruction. 10000 Research Blvd., Austin 78759
  • Wine and Cheese Art Festival: Features local artists, live music, food and drinks. *FREE* Saturday, June 17th 6-8:30 pm. 302 Bagdad, Bldg 2, Round Rock, Texas

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Image: Cedric in Flickr Creative Commons