Disney World: Where It All Started With A Mouse

Photo by Scott Smith on Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Smith on Flickr Creative Commons

When Walt Disney created the animated short Steamboat Willie in 1928, I bet he never could have dreamed that it would be the start of a magical monopoly and the creation of theme parks around the globe. The boat driving rodent who would later become Mickey Mouse catapulted the animated movie into the limelight, and it has been there ever since.

The first of many Disney theme parks (all of which Walt Disney never saw completed due to his death by lung cancer in 1966) was the Magic Kingdom which opened up 5 years later. Viewed by most as the best park in forms of rides, characters and straight up, well Magic, this kingdom hosts the iconic Cinderella’s castle (along with newly added Belle’s castle), classic rides such as the 3 mountains (Splash, Space, & Big Thunder), Dumbo, and It’s A Small World, along with daily street parades and character driven shows. The park is centered around Cinderella’s castle and the various lands that surround it offer a taste of any young kid’s dream. Main Street USA takes you back in time to the 1950s where both sides are lined with antique shops and eateries reminiscent of a simpler time in U.S. history. Fantasyland guides you through the worlds of your favorite animated characters and is where a majority of the most famous rides reside. Tomorrowland steps into the future as any kid who wanted to be an astronaut can live out their dream alongside Buzz Lightyear and Stitch the Alien. Frontierland brings out the western cowboy in all of us, and Adventureland lets you set sail with the likes of pirates or go exploring on Tom Sawyer’s famous island. Magic Kingdom is the ultimate symbol of what Disney Magic is all about.

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Want to travel without the hassle of leaving the comfort of your own country? Look no further than Epcot. Thrill seekers looking for roller coasters will be severely disappointed, but what it lacks in big rides, it more than makes up for with the World Showcase which takes the best features (and food) from countries such as Morocco, Japan, Norway, and even Canada, and displays them all in their glory in a way that only Disney can create. If you have young kids that are not into trying new foods, no need to worry as an American Adventure with all it’s patriotic and homegrown traditions sits right in the heart of the showcase.

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While Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are included in the collection, they are both suited for an extremely specific audience. If nature or movies are not something you enjoy thoroughly, I would not recommend wasting your time at these two parks since they have little else to offer, mainly Hollywood Studios.

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Disney World is one-of-a-kind place that appeals to all ages, races and interests. Even if you are having a difficult time back home for whatever reason, the amazing cast members, staff and environment that the parks has to offer, erases it all as long as you stay.

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Orlando, FL: More than just Disney World

Photo by karl.simpson on Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by karl.simpson on Flickr Creative Commons

While Orlando is known mainly for a famous mouse and dreams coming true, there’s more to it than that. Yes, the Disney parks are magical and everyone should go at least once in their lifetime, but most people already know about that. Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and roses in regards to Disney as a worker was just killed during a Lamborghini driving ride, but these are extremely rare occasions. Orlando is home to a wider range of attractions such as sports, wildlife, beaches and more.

As far as the sporting world goes, Orlando’s teams can vary from a rising American conference power in the University of Central Florida, an expansion MLS team, and for die-hard football fans there is a powerhouse arena football team that shares the Amway Center with the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Whatever the season, you can guarantee that Orlando will provide the entertainment.

Bright House Networks Stadium. Home of the UCF Knights

Bright House Networks Stadium. Home of the UCF Knights

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Amway Center. Home of the Predators (AFL) and Magic (NBA)

For a big metropolitan city, it comes as somewhat of a surprise to people that the city and surrounding areas are a hotbed for some exotic creatures. Take an airboat ride through the swamps to find alligators, bottle-nosed dolphins, manatees or a sea turtle or two. If you want to stay on the comfort of dry land, black bears, coyotes, armadillos and bobcats are what you could encounter. However, if you decide you’re feeling too lazy to search for the animals, the Central Florida Zoo has you covered.

Photo by: Maurice Raymond on Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by: Maurice Raymond on Flickr Creative Commons

Since this is Florida, there’s always a beach within a short driving distance away. The closest to the city is Cocoa Beach, only an hour and five minutes away. Cocoa Beach is a popular place to go among Floridians as on lucky occasions, the beach dwellers get to witness a space launch from nearby Cape Canaveral. Daytona Beach is well-known for the famous Daytona International Speedway that resides there which hosts NASCAR’s Daytona 500. Lastly, Melbourne Beach is geared towards a more family-friendly outing. On calm, clear days, one can look out into the water and spot the coral reefs that sank Spanish ships almost 300 years ago.

Cocoa Beach. Photo by: Garth Beatty from Flickr Creative Commons

Cocoa Beach. Photo by: Garth Beatty from Flickr Creative Commons

So next time someone tells you that all Orlando has to offer are  a bunch of theme parks, send them to this post so they can see the error of their words.

How to Survive Freshman Year

Video

Adjusting to college life and finding your way around without the help of your parents is what Freshman year normally consists of. Despite what the media portrays college to be, it is not all partying, studying and taking advantage of free time is crucial as well. Listen to Freshman Khamar Hopkins recap how he spent his first year at Towson

New Look Health Center Provides Students With Updated Services

The Health Center's got a new look and location next to Residence Tower (Photo by: Brian Baublitz Jr. / TU Student)

The Health Center’s got a new look and location next to Residence Tower (Photo by: Brian Baublitz Jr. / TU Student)

If you are a junior or senior here at Towson, odds are you knew what used to reside on the grounds that the current Health and Counseling Centers at Ward & West now call home. Before 2013, the building was used for student housing and was the first residence halls on campus for men when it opened in 1951. The closing of Ward & West Halls signified the end of a historical building’s days of housing students, but opened the door to bigger and better things for the rapidly growing needs of the Health Center on campus.

While the little building that was the Dowell Health Center was well known across campus, many agreed that it was time to make a change. One of those in favor of the change was Associate Director of the Health Center Kelli Remo. “It had been in the plans for years to bring Health and Counseling together into a state-of-the art facility,” Remo said, “This space allows us to deliver our services more efficiently, with more patient privacy and comfort than were previously possible.” Before the renovations the health and counseling centers were separate, but now they share a home, with the counseling center upstairs and the health center on the ground floor. Despite the upgrades, some students like sophomore Justin Fisher did not care where it was located. “I’ll always go there (Health Center) for help no matter the renovations,” Fisher said.

So what makes the new facility such a significant upgrade?

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West coast girl in an east coast world

Los Angeles born and raised, Ambar Hickman. Photo by Brian Baublitz Jr. / Towson University Student

Los Angeles born and raised, Ambar Hickman; Photo by Brian Baublitz Jr. / Towson University Student

When leaving for college, some people only go down the street or two hours away from their home. Well how would you feel if you lived four time zones away in California? That is what Ambar Hickman, a sophomore softball star, has to deal with. She got a scholarship to join the Tigers and is now their ace on the staff. This is her story on what it’s like being a college student from across the country.