Food and Fireworks

Monday, May 4th, 2015

foodCGDo you love fireworks? It’s the highlight of many visits. But big crowds might force you to either come early to find that perfect viewing spot, or come late and stand somewhere in the back. If unlucky you’ll be watching the many phone or even tablet screens that go up from all the people around you that are trying the film it.

Want it a little bit more relaxed? How about combining it with a good meal and a viewing spot many visitors don’t think about. Here are 4 personal tips of great meals that can be combined with a firework display afterwards.

Let’s start at the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort Hotel. Right up there on the top floor, this amazing restaurant offers you a fantastic selection on American cuisine, seafood and sushi. Get yourself a nice plate of sushi, share one of the great flatbreads and then how about bison. Of course you can’t enjoy the fireworks without one of their amazing desserts. The chocolate pudding cake, with Nutella filling, or the Plant City Strawberry Cheesecake are only two of the great choices on this menu.

Feeling full? Time to go and see the fireworks. The music is piped into the restaurant so you can see the fireworks from the comfort of your seat. Or you can go to the observation deck outside. Whatever your choice is, it is an amazing and relaxing experience.

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Relaxing Inside the WDW Parks

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

TTApeoplemover

It can be overwhelming visiting the Walt Disney World parks. Busy crowds, long queues, hot weather (or big wet showers).  You can avoid it by staying at the hotel pools, but if you are at Walt Disney World you just want to hit the parks. Even if they are busy.
So what to do if you really, REALLY want to relax and still be inside the parks. It is possible!

River1How about we start in the Magic Kingdom. What is more relaxing than the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. A nice 10 minute ride around Tomorrowland and it includes some great views of the beautiful Cinderella Castle. You can ride it early in the morning, or try to board it at night during the fireworks. That gives it an extra dimension. Who knows, if you’re lucky, like I was on my last visit, it might break down on the right spot and you can see the whole firework show from the best spot. Another relaxing ride, but a little more crowded, is the Walt Disney World Railroad. Ride around the park and relax. Or if the water is more relaxing your alternative for a relaxing ride will be the Liberty Square Riverboat. (more…)

A Little More MyMagic+

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

A little more information is leaking regarding the MyMagic+ wristbands. Walt Disney World Hotel bookers and Annual passes will get the bands at no extra costs but the future plan is to have all guests wear a wristbands with the RFID integrated.

The wristbands will be available in different colors or themes. Some of these Disney themes can be from a Pirates of the Caribbean, some of the Pixar characters, Disney princesses and many more. It is also rumored that there could be some special wristbands done by other companies like Dooney & Burke and Swarovski and for those that don’t like wearing anything around their wrist there might be alternatives coming in the form of keychains and other jewelry.

MyMagic+

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Disney has made it official, the Next-gen technology will be introduced soon under “MyMagic+” for the Walt Disney World resort. With this new tool Disney guests will be able to create their Disney vacation from the comfort of their own home. Guest will be able to use a new website “My Disney Experience” where they will be able to book dinner reservations and other Disney experiences. There will also be an option to book a selection of FastPass+ to avoid not only the lines at the attractions but also a visit to the FasPass booths.

The FastPass+ option will not only include attractions but will have Character meet and greet, preferred firework and parade viewing place and other options. The firework and Parade option could be your key to make sure to see your favorites from a dedicated space every time you want. (I know I’ll be booking Illuminations on many nights once available).

To be able to take advantage of all the early bookings guest will be provided a special RFID wristband named “MagicBand”. This wristband will serve as your hotel room key, park admission, the FastPass+ pre-booked options, your personal photopass and will even have an integrated payment option. The later one might come with a code once spending will reach a certain amount. This to protect the owners in case they would loose their wristband and to avoid those dishonest guests from plundering your account.

With the personal information saved on your wristband character will now also be able to know your name and use it when you visit them. Imagine the faces of the children when talking Mickey comes up to them and knows their names. This might not be for integrated in the early phase of the project, but one that is sure one of the many future options that will find it’s way into the system.

There is no specific date yet when the MyMagic+ will completely take over, but it is slowly finding it ways into the park as some guests already have been part of the testing phase.

Also read the WDWnewstoday article. They where the first to bring out this exciting news. Also visit the Disneyparks blog for some more pictures.

Picture copyrights Disney

All That New Walt Disney World Stuff

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Isn’t it amazing how much new stuff just has been added to Walt Disney World. The new Fantasyland looks amazing and brings us many big new wonderful things. The Under the Sea, Journey of the Little Mermaid looks like real fun. Not only the ride, but even the interactive queue area sounds like fun. The Be our Guest Restaurant is already an absolute winner with dining reservations being very hard to get. Enchanted Tales with Belle and Ariel’s Grotto brings you closer to even more the beloved characters and their stories. I can’t wait to see and experience it all. If I only knew when that day will be. Knowing that all the new attractions and experiences are there but you don’t have a date set yet to go and visit it is no fun. But I guess I am not the only one who would go and see all that wonderful stuff. And isn’t that why Disney does it? To lure us all back in? However I guess we fans don’t even need that much to be convinced to book a next trip. How many returning visitors will this update bring? Or even new visitors? It will be an overhaul that will bring many, many people to the park. With only a couple of days open and the big press event behind it, success can already be seen.

But there is even more to draw in all us fans and regulars to the park. How about Storybook Circus with the redecorated Barnstormer, The Dual Dumbo’s and Casey’s Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station. Another reason to visit the magic. And the end is not there yet as more expansions will be opening. Princess Fairytale Hall and the highly anticipated Seven Dwarf Mine Train. I guess those guest going to visit the new Fantasyland now will also be drawn back for those too, while others might wait till the whole area has been refurbished and ready.

But there is even more new stuff going on in the World. Epcot’s Test Track is open and people are speaking of STAND_BY lines all the way from Innoventions… That is a long queue! But looking at the early videos of the ride it looks like the wait is well worth it.

It is great to see all these new things happening in the world. I just wish I could be there to see them happening. But I will have to work a little on my patience. I miss Walt Disney World though, just like I miss being here on the Mousekingdom blog. Maybe this is the right time to get this project out of hibernation a little. It would be nice to talk more Disney again in anticipation towards my next trip. It is in the planning. Just no set date yet. So until we see each other in the park, I hope to see you again on this blog. But for those going to see all the new stuff; enjoy it! And then share it…

Different Angles at Walt Disney World

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Visiting a Walt Disney World park is all about fun. Fun at the attractions, at the eateries, at the hotel, and a lot more. For some guests one fun element about visiting the parks taking pictures. Me, I am one of these people.

Unfortunately not everybody in my family appreciates the constant stopping to take pictures, but I love it and can’t help myself taking pictures all the time. I did keep my promise to my son to leave the camera at the hotel on some days, but on other days I just clicked away.

A fun thing about taking pictures at Walt Disney World is trying to find some angles that are a little more uncommon. I am no fan of pictures with a lot of strangers on it and therefor I am always trying to find spots where I can leave the tourists out of my frame. By doing this I look at some spots that others might not use to take a picture from. It adds to the fun and gives a whole new look to the park.

It’s not always easy to get that shot without the other guests, but if I take my time I’ll find the right place for yet another unusual picture.

In this collection you can see how I try to get the castle from another view using some of the greenery that surrounds the castle. You can even get the castle into a green frame if you look around a little. Or you can use some of the rock works in the area to create some extra dept. It will not be your average holiday picture but could compliment them nicely when creating that photo book you want to show off. And don’t forget that you can never have enough pictures of the castle anyway, so why not try to find that different angle.

You can do the same thing with other iconic buildings in the park. Get that amazing Tower of Terror Hollywood Hotel popping up from behind some trees. Get a far shot of Expedition Everest without all the action around it or even get a close up from part of the iconic Spaceship Earth building. These are only a couple of ideas as there are unlimited options on taking that different pictures.

The picture I make are not that hard to take. You don’t need a big fancy camera (although those little point and shoots might be not the best option). These pictures are in no way professional and can be taken by anybody with some imagination. Of course you will be able to get even better shots with that big special camera, but for those that don’t want to spend to much on the equipment should just use the camera they own. At the end of the day it’s all about having some fun.

If you do like those amazing spectacular pictures have a look at this collection of Disneyland Paris gems in our side glance category!

Underneath some more pictures from another angle

WDW Planning Part 2: What to do…

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

… If you’ve seen it all before. OK! That is not really fair to say as Walt Disney World is so big, there is always new stuff to do. First of all there will be a whole new Fantasyland to explore. That is something to really look forwards too. The new area promises to look awesome once completely finished and that alone is reason enough to visit Walt Disney World again. It will take a couple of days to take it all in and to discover all the new Disney magic that will have been added in the updated land.

Planning a next trip includes looking at the special things you want to do and don’t want to miss. While planning your hotel, flights and other transport is important, it is more fun to add the things you want to see and do on your early planning list. Fantasyland is one of them. But of course there is more that will make it on the early planning list. Your regular 4 gates visit might speak for itself of course, but let’s have a look at all the other Disney Magic stuff that should make our next visits’ list.

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon; I didn’t go the last two times and once I return home I always am sad about it. I love this park so much it has to go on our list. First of all am I a big fan of the Castaway Creek Lazy River, but I also love the wave pool and would love to go on the Crush ‘n’ Gusher again.  That is one great attraction. Let’s also not forget about Shark Reef. That swim with the sharks is just way to much fun.

Dining; Sometimes you do things that you regret. On our last visit I canceled our reservations at Le Cellier Steakhouse. I am still kicking myself for that mistake. This one is already on our trip plan. Not easy to get in on a decent hour, but I’ll be calling very early for that reservation. Everybody is always raving on about their Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup and I now want to know what it is all about. It was the reason I put it on the list on my previous trip. Why did I cancel it?…

Traditionally a dinner at the Rose & Crown Pub Dining room is also on the early planning list. This one always makes it on the list. Last evening of the trip with a nice meal and a great view of Illuminations. Jiko is also on the early planning list. It is a favorite of ours. Great food and great location in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We might eat there a couple of times. But these are only the once we already know for sure. Others restaurants will make it to the list but as we still have over a year to go, it is nice to not know everything yet. (see part 1)

That’s already a nice list for a trip that is still over a year away. Still a lot of time to add and tweak. It’s all part of the planning fun. And you? Do you plan this early in advance?

WDW Planning Part 1: How Far Do You Plan in Advance?

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

When it comes to a Disney trip, planning is part of the fun. It not only give you that knowledge you’ll be going, but you will have some Disney magic going for you before the trip itself. Most trips might get planned a couple of months in advanced, but when it comes to a Walt Disney World trip, planning can start a lot earlier. Sometimes over a year in advance! At least that’s how I work when it comes to planning a WDW trip.

First question of course is when to go. In my family’s case options are limited because of school time. So our trip needs to be molded around that for most of the time. That gives us two options for our next trip.

Option one; A trip during Christmas and New year 2013/2014.

Option two; A trip starting from the middle of June 2014.

No, no! Those dates are correct. Our next family trip will be somewhere in 2013 and/or 2014. Is that planning it to far ahead? It looks far away and one might feel a little sad if you still have to wait that long but when you look at it from the bright side, with this early planning, I’ll be having a lot of fun.

So there are 2 possible dates as I mentioned before. This could be the last two weeks of December and a week in January or it could be the last two weeks on June and the first week in July. Both dates have their advantages and disadvantages. Heavy Christmas crowds can be a little daunting but you’ll be away from the summer heat while early summer period will still be low on crowds (US schools still in session, but the heat might already be a struggle. Of course there are other things to look at but these are just a couple of examples. Although we love the Christmas time (our last trip was during the holidays), the second option looks like the one we will go for this time.

So what do I plan so far in advance (once we set the date)? Although you can’t book a hotel yet looking at the locations where to stay is one of the first things I do for my family and me. As we are Disney Vacation Club Members it is also a bit of a given that this takes place so far in advance. We need to make sure to book at the 11 month window, otherwise we might not be able to get the room we want. So this is a good reason to start booking so early. Or maybe it is just another excuse to start planning over a year in advance. The hotels are a part of the Disney Magic, so it can happen that we do some Hotel hopping and stay at different resort. I would love to stay a couple of days at the new Disney’s Art of Animation resort. Just to see and experience it as it looks great. Another place I would love to stay at is either the Disney’s Beach Club Villas or the Disney’s Board Walk Villas. I love that erea and it would give me easy access to my favorite park with my favorite show; Epcot and Illuminations. But our main home resort is Old Key West, so it is no surprise that this one will be the one we will stay at the longest. Will I do have some Disney’s Animal Kingdom Vacation Club point too, we might use these for another location this time around.

More in Part two!

Trip Diaries Day 16: Harry Potter Time

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Today was Harry Potter day. No, I am not a fan and haven’t even seen all of the movies (only two so far), but we are planning a Potter marathon in the near future to catch up. We left to Universal very early in the morning to make sure we would be there before the big crowds. Well, even with another 30 minutes to go before opening there was already a big queue at the gates of islands of adventures. Got ourselves the 2 park tickets and the VIP passes to avoid queue-ing (Have I already mentioned that I don’t like queues?). We knew that Harry Potter  and the Forbidden Journey was going to be a queue, but at least we would be able to walk on to the rest of the attraction. And i can only say I was happy we got them as otherwise me might not have done as much as we did. But I am going to fast, let’s start at the beginning.

Harry Potter queue was a good hour and they used most of the outside queue area already to have to line moving. But it was worth it. This attraction is amazing! The ride system, the scenes, everything! And the experience already starts in the queue area. What a beautiful amazing area. It might have taken us an hour but it sure didn’t feel like it. The attraction itself is awesome. This is the future! The Kuka robot arms on a track, the 3D scenes with the amazing scenes build around it. I have no words!… Disney, wake up because they are taking some of the magic and starting to use it in their parks. I already was a IoA fan, but Potter will get me back there again and again. (I don’t want to even think what the expansion will bring and the new rides at Universal Studios (replacing Jaws) will do for the park. Next time i might have to miss two days of Disney to see it all.

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Don’t be late!

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

FastPass has been part of a Walt Disney World visit since years. You get your FastPass for the attraction you want to visit and then you enjoy the rest of the park until it’s time to return on the designated time printed on the ticket without the long queue. There are, however, some changes coming our way. The rumour has been out for a while but now it looks like the Disney company is preparing their cast Members to enforce a new rule. While it was normal to stop people to enter an attraction before their time frame started it was also custom to let anybody on with a FastPass that already expired. (As long as it was for that day). 

With the new rules in place however, this will no longer be possible. According to the rumours FastPasses will no longer be accepted after their time frame. There might be a 15 minute window after the printed time, but once that has past the ticket will no longer be valid.

The other change might be that they will also open a small early window for those arriving 5 minutes before their FastPass printed time. This might help to get rid of the blockage in front of a FastPass entry by those turning up a little early and where asked to wait. Will it works? Only time will tell.

(via screamscape)

Trip Diaries Day Fifteen part 2 Back to Old Key West

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Why did I put day 15 in two parts? Well, I wanted to have the morning sun pictures from Vero Beach stand out without anything else. Didn’t see them yet? Scroll down and have a look. After that come back to read the next part of our trip.

Today we drove back to Want Disney World, checking in at Disney’s Old Key West (another “welcome home”) and would start our last 5 days of the trip. No, not complaining, still five days to go, but I couldn’t help thinking about it while checking in. It was crazy busy at Old Key West. A big queue at the check in and we had to wait a little while. We did had some problems on our first days at old Key West with 4 times chancing keys and problems with the pay option on our card forcing us to get another key. We did tell them we weren’t happy when we left and where promised a couple of special FastPasses on our next check in. So, once we got checked in we got 3 FastPasses that we could use in any park at any time. That was a nice little extra!

With the room not yet ready we decided to go and wander around Downtown Disney for a while. I still needed the special Annual Pass Orange Bird Vinylmation and I thought it would be a good idea to get it now. We got a small bite to eat before heading back to check into our room.

This time we got a slightly bigger studio. The studios at old Key West are not always the same and depending on what studio you get, you might have some more space. We were happy with it couldn’t help comparing the small Studio we got at Vero Beach. One we got everything in the room we made our way to our favourite park, Epcot. Here we used our first special fastPass and went straight on Test Track. It remains a favourite of ours, and we can only hope the rehab will do it proud. With a busy park (and not liking to queue) we did some of the smaller rides. So we got to see Nemo and his friends, visit Figment and got ourselves a nice helping of free drinks. (No, not Beverly). After that we wandered around the different countries and ended up in Japan for a quick bite while listening to de drums.

Always love Japan and for some reason get stuck there for longer than we are in most other countries. Still, we did make it out of Japan and walk towards Norway to see some Trolls. Well, with a queue all the way outside the building (and like I said before, we don’t like queue’s and there is always another day) we walked on to see if Donald had some room in his boats at Mexico. Look at that, no queue, so we could do another ride before we went for some shopping. My son found himself an amazing Pirates skeleton jacket we just had to buy. A nice finisher for yet another fantastic Disney day.

But I couldn’t go back to the room yet. I needed to stop at Olivia’s in Old Key West because I was graving for their awesome cheesecake. Got myself a nice piece of cake and a hot chocolate before we walked back to our room near Turtle Pond to call it a night.

Disney Parks InsidEARS

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Are you a Disney fan and can’t stop talking about the parks? Always sharing everything you know to those that want to listen? Are you, day in and day out, sharing your love for the park to everyone? But it’s still not enough and you want to share even more. Well, then you should have a look at the new Disney program where Disney fans can share their knowledge with the rest of the world as a member of the Disney parks InsidEARS project.

Disney fans like you and me can become part of the program to help Disney park visitors from all over to create their perfect trip. What better place to get your tips from then from those enthusiasts that visit the parks again and again.

The program has just been launched and is still in testing phase, but with a new site up it will not be long before the first Disney Parks InsidEARS will start helping spreading the magic.  To be able to become part of this program you will have to visit their website regularly for updates to find out on how to become part of this. Sounds like fun, something most of us Disney fans would love (and already do a lot). We never get tired of talking about the parks, don’t you agree?

More info on the Disney Parks InsidEARS website.

Picture copyrights Disney

Trip Diaries Day Nine: Just the Two of Us

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Another day of fun, although unfortunately one family member was really sick today and stayed at the room to sleep it off. It’s always a shame to be sick, but it’s always worst when you are sick on a holiday. So it was up to me and my son to enjoy the park with the two of us.

Epcot was the choice for today and again we made sure we would be there at the moment the rope dropped. Once inside we took the route everybody takes, straight to Soarin! First of all get some FastPasses and then queue for it. This time the queue was no longer then 10 minutes, something that would change very early during the day. The Soarin flight was great. We got seated in the middle “glider” in the middle row. Perfect. It does make a difference where you sit and the middle of the middle is the best place as you will (almost) see no black sides and you can focus on the screen only. There are some cracks and black spots on the film visible. That’s a real shame of course and one can only hope Disney will not wait too long to get that fixed. It does take away from the overall experience.

Once we got out of the attraction there was already a big queue. At least 45 minutes, if you would want to wait for it in the stand by queue. Just enough time for a small breakfast before we go on it again. Shared some strange sandwich with eggs, potato and meat in it. Not the best as we didn’t even finish it between the both of us. Or maybe we where to excited to fly again.

Here is the fun part on our second trip on Soarin; we got the exact same seats on our second run! All we did was switch places with each other. We also did the Living with the lands attraction before our second Soarin ride, but let’s be honest, this one isn’t that much of fun. There weren’t even any Mickey shaped pumpkins.

Today we also went on the Kuka robotic arm at Epcot’s Sum of All Thrills attraction. These are great fun. We created a jet plane attraction and it was intense. However it was also very smooth. Great experience and one that already gave us some sort of indication what to expect when going to Islands of Adventure later in the holiday. We got some more time to kill and after trenching our thirst at the cool station (no, no Beverly) we walked over to Test Track. (We did get a fastPass before).

After lunch we took the boat to Hollywood Studios where we wanted to see the Comedy Warehouse again. But we came in a little late as the performance was already completely full. We got there 20 minutes before it started and they already had to turn down guest because of a full house. Hello Disney… bring it back (in some form). As most attractions had long queues already we opted to see some shows. (We don’t queue!) Indiana was first and we got an alternate show because of the bad weather (Heavy rain). The second part was split into two parts and we got some more funny elements. The plane part was completely cut. A shame, but the little extra funny stuff was nice to see too. (however if you haven’t seen the original it is a loss). After the show we got to see the Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special. We got there early enough this time, about 40 minutes early! But it was worth it. So funny, with laughs from beginning to end.

After that we went to see the stunt show. This being a Disneyland Paris original I expected to see the same but I was surprised how much differences there are in both shows. The US version seems a little faster (probably because they don’t have the language barrier as we have in France), but also because some of the rearrangement of the stunts. They did some good improvements and it was also nice to see the water jet in action again. Great fun. After the show we had a little time left and we went to see a cartoon in a movie theatre (sorry, lost the name of the location). First time I see this place open. We got to see the Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice short. Fun movie to see once, but that’s it. Would see it again.

Now it was time to go to one of my favourite eating places. Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Luckily we where back to three, although still not feeling 100%, my lovely wife didn’t want to miss it (or maybe she missed her boys way to much and wanted to see us). Jiko is an amazing place. The food is fantastic. If you go there make sure to order the Mack & Cheese as a side order. It’s the best one in the resort.

Test Track 2.0

Monday, January 9th, 2012

The rumour is confirmed, Test Track will undergo a big refurbishment. The speculations have been going for a while but now Disney has put it in the open. We will get to see a new and improved Test track. While the Track of today is already a classic and loved by many, it’s a perfect timing to update it as some of the rides effects are starting to show their age. Even if it is still a fun ride in its current condition, a re-vamp will bring new live and new fans to the attraction. Now all we have to do is sit back and wait to see what Disney has in store for it.

We’ve already seen some new paint job on some of the cars (and it looks good, if I say so myself), but we can expect a whole lot more. Unfortunately there will be no TRON update as some rumours had indicated as Chevrolet, the primary new sponsor, will want to have the attraction being kept as a “modern car” experience to fit into their own brand.

It looks like Disney will keep the interactive aspect of their new and renewed attraction by adding an interactive experience as riders will start the attraction by designing and creating their own ride vehicle before buckling up and ride it on the new improved track. Sounds like fun and something to look forwards too.

Source: Disneypark Blog

Trip Diaries Day Seven: Christmas Day!

Monday, January 9th, 2012

You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to be able to enjoy some attractions without queues. I don’t like long queues and as it are the holidays I will need to do something nobody really likes; getting up early. So up at 6am and at the park at 6:58am, just in time for 7am early extra magic opening hour on this Christmas day at the Magic Kingdom.

Honestly, I don’t know any better way to celebrate the holidays as an early entree into the park. Unfortunately I was the only one in the family that could get out of bed that early for a second time in a row, so the first part of today I was alone. But that didn’t stop me from having some fun at Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and my beloved TTA and all without the queues. What else to do? How about a picture taking bonanza. Not everybody loves it that I take my camera around, so this was a great opportunity to get some extra photo’s from the Kingdom. I also got a good look at the new Fantasyland and what I can see so far looks amazing. Can’t wait to see the finished land once ready and open.

But a Christmas day isn’t a Christmas day without a traditional Turkey dinner,… or lunch (as it was in our case). So back to Old Key West and meet up with my family at Olivia’s for just that. And guess what? It was great! A real nice lunch and one of my favourites on this trip. It wasn’t too busy either during the afternoon.

After lunch we got to go to Animal Kingdom. A guest leaving the park gave us 5 unused FastPasses for Expedition Everest. Nice! But we had enough time to see some apes first. We got there just in time to see them being fed a small snack by a Castmember. One of the big apes sat at the edge while he was thrown fruit to which he caught and ate. That was fun. We didn’t do much else in AK, but sometimes it’s just nice to enjoy the park without running from attraction to attraction.

A great Christmas day, but perfect when it ended with my all time favourite, Illuminations. Yes, that’s three parks on Christmas day, but it was well worth it.

Info: As I am back home from a great trip expect some more updates the next couple of days.