The Mouse Knows Best Podcast

Friday, February 23, 2018

Showcasing the World: Morocco

Morocco Pavilion
The Morocco Pavilion is designed to look like a Moroccan city and is the only country in which the government aided in the design of the pavilion.  The King of Morocco sent artists to the park to design the structures and the replications of the statues.  At the entrance of the pavilion is a detailed replication of the Katoubia Minaret, a prayer tower that stands in Marrakesh.  Since the buildings of the pavilion hold religious significance, the lights of the Morocco Pavilion remain dark during the nightly performance of Illuminations.  It is also the only pavilion to be sponsored by the country's government instead of a corporation.

Magical Mouse Schoolhouse

Attractions

The Gallery of Arts and History is a display of the science, music, and technology of Morocco.  The exhibit Moroccan Style: The Art of Personal Adornment currently features tradition Moroccan textiles, jewelry, and body art.

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Disney Parks Blog

Characters

Moroccan Princess Jasmine and Diamond in the Rough Aladdin meet and greet guests on occasion at the pavilion.

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Disney Tourist Blog

Dining

Restaurant Marrakesh serves Moroccan and Arabian dishes for both lunch and dinner.  Some of the dishes are seafood or chicken pastilla, harira, and semolina pasta.  Inside the restaurant, there is extensive tile work as well as brass chandeliers, thuja-inlaid paneling, and bukhara carpets that King Hassan II sent artists to create.  During dinner hours, the restaurant features folk music and belly dancing.

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Disney Parks Blog
For a Mediterranean inspired meal, head over to Spice Road Table on the edge of the World Showcase Lagoon.  Specialty items include garlic shrimp, fried calamari, beef or chicken skewers, and rack of lamb.

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Disney Parks Blog

Shopping

There are several places in the Morocco Pavilion where you can purchase authentic merchandise.  The Tangier Trades sells clothing and shoes that are tradition for Morocco.  The Brass Baazar sells silver plates, brass, mirrors, and mosaic fountains.  At Casablanca Carpets, guests can browse handmade Berber carets, prayer rugs, wall hangings, and floor cushions to brighten up their home.

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Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday Movie Review: Mulan

Hello again and welcome to the newest installment of Tuesday Movie Review, the blog where I review and talk about some of our favorite Disney movies! It's crazy to think how far we've come already since the first edition of Tuesday Movie Review! I'd like to take a minute and thank all of you for continuing to give these a read, I'm hoping you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them! Now that that's out of the way, let's get on with it! This week, I'm gonna be talking about one of my favorite Disney movies, and what I think is one of the more underrated Disney movies: Mulan! As always on this blog, I'll be talking about the storyline, soundtrack/score, acting, and the movie's presence in the Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts! So let's get on with it!!

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Mulan is Disney's 36th animated feature film and it tells the story of a girl that, secretly and illegally, takes her father's place in the military and ends up saving her country from destruction. The movie was released June 19th, 1998 and was the first Disney feature film that was based on a character of Asian descent, making it somewhat of an open door for princess movies based on characters that weren't Americans. Mulan was also the first of the three animated feature films primarily produced at the Disney Animation Studio in Disney's-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios.) The film, which was directed by Barry Cook and Tony Bancroft, doesn't feature a particularly star studded cast; however, the cast was good enough that the film logged a box office of over $300 million during it's theatrical run. Mulan was so loved by fans, that recently Disney announced they would be giving it a live action remake in 2019 similar to the likes of Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast. 
 
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As I stated earlier, Mulan didn't have a well-known cast like other films released in the Disney Renaissance, but it did feature one very well known name: Eddie Murphy. Disney knew that they would be casting the voice of a dragon and with the recent success of Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin, Cook and Bancroft wanted to bring in another Hollywood star. However, when they approached Eddie Murphy, he wasn't too keen on the idea of recording at MGM Studios, so he asked if he could record his parts in his basement in New Jersey; after a couple of weeks of negotiating, Murphy caved and recorded at the Animation Studios. The voice of Mulan was originally going to be another voice from Aladdin; Lea Salonga (Jasmine's singing voice) was Cook and Bancroft's first pick, but when they realized Salonga couldn't hit the deep voice like they wanted, they contacted Ming-Na-Wen (aka: Melinda May in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) While Wen did the voice over for Mulan, Salonga did return to do her singing voice throughout the movie. For the role of Captain Li Shang, Cook and Bancroft really had their eyes on one person and that was B.D Wong. While Wong did the voice over, he really couldn't sing the way the director's envisioned, so they brought Donny Osmond to do the singing for Captain Shang. 

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The process it was to get someone to do the music for the movie is easily one of the most dramatic I've ever heard. Stephen Schwartz was slated to do the score and soundtrack for the movie following the 1994 visit to China; however, Schwartz was approached by Dreamworks to do the music for the upcoming film, The Prince of Egypt. When Schwartz agreed, Disney CEO Michael Eisner called him to urge him to turn down Dreamworks' offer, but Schwartz said no and lost his spot on the Mulan film. Following the fiasco, Annie Rice and David Zippel were chosen to write the lyrics and compose the music for the film; while Jerry Goldsmith was chosen to compose the score and come up with the soundtrack for the movie. What the soundtrack is best known for is launching the career of Christina Aguilera, who's first song released in the United States was "Reflections." Mulan received an Academy Award nomination for Best Music, Original Music or Comedy Score; along with receiving the Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for "Reflections." The film also received a Grammy nomination for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television for "True To Your Heart" (which Stevie Wonder came on to do for the soundtrack.) 

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As great of a film that Mulan was, there is little to no representation of her in the Walt Disney World Parks. While many people think she inspired the China Pavilion at Epcot's World Showcase, the Pavilion was actually there before the movie even began developing. Now, the China Pavilion is the only place you can meet Mulan at Walt Disney World, but the Pavilion isn't about her. Over at Disneyland, they celebrate the Chinese New Year with a fun looking festival that features Mulan and Mushu; unfortunately, Walt Disney World doesn't. In the past, Mulan can also be found at the Princess Storybook Dinner at Akershus Dining Hall in Epcot, if you're lucky you may catch her on select nights there! With all of the talk about intellectual properties taking over World Showcase Pavilions, I think they should definitely give Mulan some due space in the China Pavilion, along with a Mushu meet and greet! Eventually, I think we'll see a Mulan dark ride and we could even get that illustrious Mushu meet as well!

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Mulan is such a good movie and is often times overlooked since the time when it came out Disney put so many instant classics. However, Mulan teaches people a very important lesson: it doesn't matter who you are, you can make a difference, you can be the change, and you can break down the stereotypes, you just have to believe in yourself...and have a trusty dragon to help you! All in all, I do love Mulan, I think it's easily one of Disney's top 15 films made, and oftentimes it crawls into my top 10! I think Mushu is really one of the best Disney sidekicks there is and he provides the perfect comedic relief for the movie. Overall, I give this movie a 4 of 5 stars because well, it's just not as good as the other Disney movies, especially during the Disney Renaissance. 

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Kevin Scott is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. He is self proclaimed Disney addict and oftentimes annoys his family with how much he talks Disney. He enjoys walking around all Disney Parks and taking as many pictures as he can in one day. When he isn't at Walt Disney World, he is working to get back or re-watching Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars movie. His spirit animal is a mix between Simba and Kylo Ren with a dash of Tony Stark. You can find him on Twitter @doubleoh_kevin and on Instagram @waltdisneyduo.

Marvel Mondays-The Incredible Hulk

Hello and welcome back to "Marvel Mondays!" As I said last week, this series will be dedicated to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and all of the films inside of it. I'll be looking at how each film intertwines with each other leading up to the culmination of the MCU as we know it in Avengers: Infinity War. Last week, I talked about the first MCU movie, Iron Man; and just like the movies, if you haven't read that, I'd highly suggest you stop now and take a look at that. However, this week I'm going to be talking about the next movie in the order of the MCU, The Incredible Hulk. As always, I'll include my movie current MCU rankings, which will be different than last week considering Black Panther came out and I was able to see it.



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Iron-Man (6)
The Incredible Hulk (17)
Iron-Man 2 (9)
Thor (10)
Captain America: The First Avenger (16)
The Avengers (2)
Iron-Man 3 (8)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (15)
Thor: The Dark World (11)
Guardians of the Galaxy (13)
The Avengers: Age of Ultron (5)
Ant-Man (14)
Captain America: Civil War (1)
Doctor Strange (18)
Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 (12)
Spider-Man: Homecoming (3)
Thor: Ragnarok (7)
Black Panther (4)
The Avengers: Infinity War

So let's get angry and talk about the big green guy!

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Now, we aren't going to be talking about the 2003 Hulk film staring Eric Bana, this is going to be the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk staring Sir Edward Norton. Of all the films in the MCU, the history behind this one is easily the most confusing. Everyone knows who the Hulk is, and because of that, there have been television shows, more comics, and other forms of media about the green guy. However, for the longest time there was no actual movie about him; until 2003 when Marvel and Universal Pictures gave us the Hulk, which flopped drastically. Marvel and Universal then hired Louis Leterrier to direct a new Hulk film that would star Sir Edward Norton. Leterrier actually wanted to direct Iron Man but Jon Favreau was already in charge of that film, so Marvel offered Leterrier the Hulk. The original intent for The Incredible Hulk was to be a sequel to the Hulk film from 2003 that would be more of a love story between Bruce Banner and Betty Ross. However in 2006, Kevin Feige got wind of the plans to make a sequel and quickly shut those ideas down. He said he wanted a new Hulk movie that would fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is something the 2003 film did not do. 

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Because this wasn't the first film in the MCU, it was a lot easier to incorporate Easter Eggs into the movie. While Iron Man couldn't have that many nods to other Marvel films, The Incredible Hulk had quite a few nods. At the very beginning of the movie, there's a flashback to the popular Hulk television series; in the flashback, Nick Fury's name appears, as well as blueprints for technology made by Tony Stark. When Sergeant Ross is talking to Blonsky about the super soldier program, a portrait of Captain America is seen in the background. Speaking of the super soldier program, all of that is a big giant nod to Captain America, being as he was the original super soldier; you can see this as evidence because the color of the super soldier serum is the same color of the serum Captain America took in Captain America: The First Avenger. While Bruce Banner is on the computer, the S.H.I.E.L.D logo appears. This is the second time in a Marvel Studios film that the logo appeared, the first being in the post credit scene of Iron Man. While Banner is searching on the computer, one of the articles that come up talks about animal webbing appearing on humans, this is an obvious nod to our friendly neighborhood hero: Spiderman. Another Spiderman reference occurs when Hulk is fighting Abomination (the other Hulk looking villain) in the city streets. While the fight is going on, you can see a figure swinging over Abomination's shoulder; many people, including myself, believe this is Spiderman and his cameo in the film since Marvel technically didn't own the rights to webbed hero at the time. The last Easter Egg happens during the storm scene; when Hulk is yelling there is a lot of lightning and you can see an object fall from the sky towards Earth. Personally, I think that was Thor's hammer falling from when it was thrown from Asgard and when Agent Coulson discovers it at the end of Iron Man 2

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Being as this was the 2nd film in the MCU, Feige and Leterrier had to come up with a way to make it flow with the MCU. The easiest way to do this would be to add a post credit scene similar to the one in Iron Man. The scene would obviously have to play into the film's script and make sense, but at the same time would have to deliver the idea of Hulk being part of the Avengers. The post credit scene takes place after Banner escapes to India, with Sergeant Ross at a bar, and none other than Tony Stark walks in. He reminds Ross about how Tony told him to stop with the supersoldiers and explains that "we" are putting together a team." Ross asks who the we is, in which Tony gives him a look as to say "you know exactly who the we is" and then it cuts. A great post credit scene doesn't have to give too much away, it just has to plant a thought into the viewers head, and this post credit scene is one of the best in my opinion.

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The Incredible Hulk is a great addition to the MCU and vastly underrated in my opinion. While it doesn't carry the celebrity firepower that Iron Man does, the cast is still pretty solid. However, I will say I like Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk more than Sir Edward Norton. Many people wonder why there hasn't been another Incredible Hulk film and there are a multitude of reasons, but the main one is that there really doesn't need to be another one. During the press tour of Thor: Ragnarok, both Kevin Feige and Mark Ruffalo said that the Hulk would be a main focus in Ragnarok, Infinity War, and the Infinity War sequel, and that he would have his own character arc throughout those films. I for one, think Ruffalo as the Hulk is one of the best moves Marvel made. I think Hulk is a vital part of the Avengers, and so is Bruce Banner with his smarts as we see in Avengers and Age of Ultron; and I'm sure both Hulk and Banner will be very important in Avengers: Infinity War. Now, let's talk about where I rank this movie in the MCU...

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Even with all of this praise, I have to talk about where I rank the film. Unfortunately, the film itself isn't great. The storyline is good, but that's about all of the good in the movie. Even though it'll never happen, I would love to see Ruffalo get his own movie as the Hulk because I think he was a much better Hulk than Norton. The action scenes are below average for a Marvel movie, and there's really no comedy in the movie, which is something that most other Marvel movies have an abundance of. All that considered, I actually don't have The Incredible Hulk at last like many other people do; for me, it comes in at number 17. 

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Kevin Scott is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. He is self proclaimed Disney addict and oftentimes annoys his family with how much he talks Disney. He enjoys walking around all Disney Parks and taking as many pictures as he can in one day. When he isn't at Walt Disney World, he is working to get back or re-watching Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars movie. His spirit animal is a mix between Simba and Kylo Ren with a dash of Tony Stark. You can find him on Twitter @doubleoh_kevin and on Instagram @waltdisneyduo.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Showcasing the World: Japan

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Disney Parks Blog
The Japan Pavilion had been in the plans for World Showcase since the late 1970s.  The building of the pavilion surrounds a serine courtyard with pools and gardens.  At the entrance of the courtyard stands a Japanese Pagoda and a torii gate that decorates the waterfront area of the pavilion.

Flickr

Attractions

Although many ideas had been tossed around for the Japan Pavilion (such as a Circle Vision bullet train ride and a Matterhorn Bobsleds-style roller coaster through Japan's Mount Fuji), none of them ever came to fruition.

Disney by Mark

Entertainment

The Matsuriza perform daily at the base of the pagoda.  The group is comprised of traditional Taiko drummers and Japaneses Storytellers.

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Pinterest

Dining

Teppan Edo is a teppanyaki-style restaurant where foods such as steaks, chicken, shrimps, and vegetables are cooked right at your table.  Sushi rolls and other various Japanese cuisine is available as well.

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Tokyo Dining is a contemporary restaurant that blends Japanese food and hospitality as sushi chefs prepare works of culinary art with a backdrop of the World Showcase Lagoon.

All Ears
The Katsura Grill is a quick service location located near the entrance of the pavilion that offers teriyaki, sushi, chicken curry, sake, and plum wine.

WDW News Today
Kabuki Cafe sells one of my favorite World Showcase items - kakigōri.  Kakigōri is Japanese shaved ice that is available in strawberry, melon, cherry, tangerine, or rainbow flavors.   This quick service location also offers sushi and Japanese sodas and beers as well as hot or cold sake.


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Keys to the Magic Travel

Shopping


The main shopping experience at the Japan Pavilion is the Mitsukoshi Merchandise Store.  This huge store is divided into four zones - Festivity, Silence, Harmony, and Interest.  Items for sale include clothing, jewelry, manga, anime items and toys.  There is also a huge section of the store that is dedicated to Japaneses candy, food, and drinks.


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Disney Parks Blog
Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tuesday Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean:The Curse of the Black Pearl

Yo-ho mateys! And welcome to the newest edition of the Tuesday Movie Review. As I was trying to think a movie to review, I realized I haven't reviewed any live action movies (other than Beauty and the Beast.) As I was thinking what my favorite live action films were, I stumbled upon a movie about scoundrels, pillagers, and pirates and discovered that Pirates of the Caribbean was what I was looking for all along! Pirates was a movie that I was head over heels in love with for the longest time, and really still am! It stands as the most successful movie to be based on a ride by far, and the first one was so good, Disney decided to make 4 more! Now, while some characters have come and gone from the series (and returned again), I'm going to only be talking about the original Pirates movie starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Kiera Knightley, and Geoffrey Rush. As always, I'm going to take a look at the storyline, soundtrack/score, acting, and the movie's presence in the Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts. So put on your pirate hat, grab your parrot, and hoist the anchor, it's time for the review on Pirates of the Caribbean!

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Pirates of the Caribbean is a film based on the Disneyland and Walt Disney World ride, Pirates of the Caribbean. It tells the tale of the pirate known as Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his quest to get back the ship that was stolen from him by the buccaneer Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush.) Along the way he runs into son a pirate, William Turner (Orlando Bloom) and enlists his help; however, all Turner wants to do is rescue his love interest, Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightley) from the ravenous pirates. The film was released July 9th, 2003 and instantly became a hit. People everywhere, including myself, suddenly wanted to be a pirate inspired by fun and real Johnny Depp made it seem. The major significance regarding the film was it was the first PG-13 film to be released under the Walt Disney Pictures banner. The first installment of the now 5 movie series is considered the best by many, including myself, and finished with an unexpectedly high box office number: $654 million.

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There really isn't a soundtrack to this film, as there's no songs involving voice singing; however, the score had some pretty prominent composers devote some work to it! Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt are credited for the score; however, they received some assistance from Geoff Zanelli and Ramin Djawadi. Of course, everyone knows the famous track "He's a Pirate" (look it up, you know it, you just didn't know that was the title), but there's much more to the soundtrack then that one famous song. Much of the soundtrack is based off of the attractions, like the movie, and if you ride the attraction enough, you'll hear songs from the film there. Unfortunately, the music wasn't nominated for any major awards for the 2003 award season, but that's not to say it's not a good score!


The cast of Pirates of the Caribbean is what really drew crowds to the theater. Captain Jack Sparrow was orignally created for Hugh Jackman, however Disney officials wanted someone more popular so they contacted Johnny Depp to bring the character to life. Along with Depp, Disney brought in Orlando Bloom, who was beloved as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings series, to play Will Turner. Kiera Knightley would be the major newcomer of the film as she would play the "damsel in distress" and Will Turner's love interest. At this point, Geoffrey Rush was a pretty well known actor, but playin Barbosa in Pirates skyrocketed his career. Out of this star studded cast, one man rose above to absolutely steal the show in what is, no doubt, the best work of his illustrious career: Johnny Depp. Depp would be nominated for numerous awards for his role as Captain Jack Sparrow including the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, as well as the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture. He would go on to win the BAFTA Award for Best Actor, the SAG award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor, the Empire Award for Best Actor, and the MTV Movie Award for Best Male Performance. The entire cast returned for the 2nd and 3rd installments of the film; however due to contract disputes, Bloom and Knightley refused to work the 4th film. Thankfully, in the newest installment, Dead Men Tell No Tales, Knightley and Bloom both return and look to back for the foreseeable future.

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Depp and Bloom at the premiere of Pirates
Obviously, Pirates has a HUGE role in the parks. At Walt Disney World, located in Adventureland is the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction which the film series is based off of. In that area is also the spot where you can see Captain Jack Sparrow teach youngsters how to be the best pirates they can be. Also, during the special parties you can typically find Captain Sparrow doing his special meet and greet. There is also Tortuga Tavern, a quick service eatery themed to Pirates of the Caribbean, but not selling the rum! In the nighttime spectacular, Happily Ever After, you'll see a whole segment dedicated to the film series, which I think is awesome! Also, at Disney's Hollywood Studios, during the Disney Movie Magic show, they too have a segment dedicated to Pirates. Finally, at select moderate resorts, you can be upgraded to a Pirate themed room! One special treat that recently came to Disneyland was during the ride, Johnny Depp himself was dressed up and replaced one of the audio animatronics in the ride, I guess that's one of the perks of being so close to Hollywood!
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Pirates of the Caribbean is Disney's best live action film to date, which is why I'm giving it 4 of 5 stars. I love the film so dearly because they incorporate great action, with hilarious comedy, and a thrilling storyline. There really isn't much to hate on this film; unfortunately, the same can't be said about the films to follow. While I like the series, part of me wishes they would've only made one film. However, I do understand the reasoning to continue making them, people love the films, people love Jack Sparrow, and if people keep buying them Disney will keep making them. Overall, Pirates is a great movie and a Disney classic!
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Kevin Scott is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. He is self proclaimed Disney addict and oftentimes annoys his family with how much he talks Disney. He enjoys walking around all Disney Parks and taking as many pictures as he can in one day. When he isn't at Walt Disney World, he is working to get back or re-watching Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars movie. His spirit animal is a mix between Simba and Kylo Ren with a dash of Tony Stark. You can find him on Twitter @doubleoh_kevin and on Instagram @waltdisneyduo.