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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

by on September 24, 2016 26 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. With 26 on-site resorts at Walt Disney World, there is a wide variety of choices for families coming down. We’ve covered many here on the SATURDAY SIX including Value Resorts (Art of Animation and Pop Century), Moderates (Port Orleans French Quarter and Caribbean Beach), and Deluxe (Contemporary and Animal Kingdom Lodge). We also can’t forget the Disney Vacation Club resorts such as Old Key West. Today we are going to take a look at one of WDW’s most underrated resorts, Disney’s Coronado Springs.

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Disney’s Coronado Springs, a member of the Moderate Resorts.

There are several reasons Coronado Springs doesn’t get the love and attention the other Disney resorts do. The biggest factor is that caters heavily towards the business convention crowd as opposed to primarily vacationing families. Ironically, this feature actually provides some of the biggest benefits for families, but we’ll get to that later. Because Coronado Springs is relatively off the beaten path at WDW (it sits close to Blizzard Beach, Winter Summerland mini-golf, but little else,) it’s not a place you generally run into while enjoying something else at The World. We’re here to let you know that you should go out of your way to check out Coronado Springs, and we have our six best reasons at the ready. So sit back, remember to practice your piñata swings, and let’s begin our list with…

# 6 – The Dig Site: Home of The Lost City of Cibola

For many families, including ours, a resort’s pool area plays a major factor when it comes to deciding where to stay. When thinking of Disney’s best pools, places like Yacht & Beach Club’s Stormalong Bay and Caribbean Beach’s Fuentes del Morro pool come immediately to mind. The Dig Site at Coronado Springs is right up there with the best pool areas on property as it is jam packed with great things to do for every family member, big or small.

The headliner is The Lost City of Cibola pool. With a jaw dropping 50 foot tall pyramid and 123 foot long Jaguar waterslide, this is a main pool that has both the “wow factor” and is incredibly fun. Surrounding the main pool is the largest hot tub at WDW, an incredible children’s play area themed to Mayan ruins, the awesome Siestas pool bar, and the best themed volleyball court we’ve ever seen. Siestas has a To-Go food window that is actually open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while the actual bar features several signature cocktails including the Coronado Crush. This is the absolute perfect pool area for those who want to take a midday break away from the parks, or just spend an “off day” totally on-site at the resort. As a bonus, because the resort is often filled with conventioneers and couples without kids, those with children have much less congestion while enjoying the amenities.

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The Dig Site.

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The Lost City of Cibola pool. The Jaguar Slide is on the right, while the elaborate children’s play area is on the left.

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Now that’s a pool!

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The #story of the waterslide is that it features a “spitting Jaguar spirit animal.”

Read the rest of this entry »

In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of September 23, 2016

by on September 23, 2016 2 Comments

ICYMII just got back from Walt Disney World so I could experience the Epcot Food and Wine Festival and I have to say that this year, it’s just as good! I loved almost all the dishes I sampled and didn’t think that most lines were awful. (Though I was strategic and ate at most of the booths in the afternoon, vs in the evening when most crowd around World Showcase.) If you are going to the Festival this year, let me know what you can’t wait to try or what you think is totally delicious! I am going back for the last weekend and am wanting to try a few more great dishes.

This week, we watched as DCA removed the Tower of Terror sign, saw Angela Lansbury make hearts swell, and more. Come along and read the fun!

In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and Rumors

 

Is Disney considering making further changes to its Annual Pass program? It seems as though they may be and why it seems like an odd choice.

In another odd choice…The Tower of Terror in Disney California Adventure had its signage removed. Granted the attraction doesn’t go down for refurbishment until January for its change over to Guardians of the Galaxy, but it was decided that now was the time to strip it of its sign. Read the rest of this entry »

The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History Will Open in October

by on September 23, 2016 5 Comments

©Disney

©Disney

The Muppets are coming! The Muppets are coming!

Are you ready for stories retelling famous historical moments courtesy of The Muppets? (I mean how could you not be ready?) Beginning October 2 at the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square, Guests will be able to catch some of your favorite characters, such as Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, and Gonzo, and yes Sam Eagle in “The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History.”

The eccentric new show that was announced back in July will be hosted by James “J.J” Jefferson who is the Liberty Square town crier, as well as the patriotic, Sam Eagle. Throughout the day, J.J. and the Muppets will share their own unique spin on the founding fathers. They will recount the tale of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the midnight ride of Paul Revere, and more. There will be a unique song and one thing is for sure–this show will include plenty of humor.

“The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History” will take place several times a day outside the Hall of Presidents.

 

Magic Kingdom to Celebrate 45 Anniversary

by on September 23, 2016 2 Comments

©Rikki Niblett

Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom  ©Rikki Niblett

October 1 is an important day in Disney history. It is the anniversary of the Magic Kingdom’s opening day,and this year, the park is celebrating 45 years of delivering magic to Guests. To celebrate, Disney will be featuring a few special offerings honoring the momentous day.

First, a special presentation will occur on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage at 9:30 a.m. The day will also include musical performances, appearances by Disney characters, and guest speakers.

Guests will also be able to pick up a limited release “I Was There” trading pin or t-shirt at the Emporium on Main Street USA. Also, Disney is releasing additional 45th anniversary commemorative products to celebrate the occasion.

Of course, it isn’t an anniversary at Walt Disney World without themed treats. (One would expect a special cupcake!) You can pick up these treats at both the Main Street Bakery and Gaston’s Tavern.

I’ve been at the Magic Kingdom on several of these anniversaries and they are a fun day. The Magic Kingdom’s atmosphere is incredibly fun and I like to spend the day visiting opening day attractions to celebrate. If you are able to visit this year for the celebration, I hope you have a great time too.

 

Top 6 Overlooked Restaurants

by on September 23, 2016 11 Comments

One of the toughest choices to make regarding a Walt Disney World vacation is deciding where to eat. With all the options available at this amazing resort, it’s overwhelming for anyone planning their trip, whether they’re first-time visitors, or seasoned annual passholders. If you’ve done your research, you’ll see the pattern of some of the same names coming up over and over again in reviews and recommendations (Be Our Guest, Chef Mickey’s, Le Cellier, etc).

Disney Dining DonaldBut hopefully, after reading this article, I can introduce to some of Walt Disney World’s unsung restaurant heroes. I have selected my own top six overlooked restaurants at Walt Disney World. Each of these offers great food, value, and even atmosphere but somehow seem to get left out of the top popular recommendations. The plus side, is that because these are often overlooked, that means they are often less crowded and have open reservation availability. These aren’t ranked in any particular order, and range between table service and quick service, but you’ll find one selection from each park, a resort, and Disney Springs.

 

 

Animal Kingdom

First up, the overlooked restaurant in Animal Kingdom, Yak and Yeti. With all of the publicity of the newly opened Tiffin’s and the standing popularity of Rainforest Café, Yak and Yeti often gets forgotten as a wonderful table service option. As far as atmosphere, there are two levels to the restaurant with multiple rooms on each level, and each room is adorned with unique, ornate decorations. Every detail leaving the guest of an experience of actually eating in a quaint restaurant in Asia.

As for the menu, it definitely offers some unique Asian fusion options that you find everywhere. Some guests may pass by Yak and Yeti because the menu seems too ethnic or daunting for their taste buds. Any guest who does venture in will be richly rewarded.  I can honestly account that the Kobe Beef Burger I had here was the best burger I’ve had anywhere. So, if you’re in Animal Kingdom, or looking for a fun and rewarding dining experience, be sure to not to overlook Yak and Yeti. Read the rest of this entry »

Dani’s Best Week Ever September 22, 2016: Surviving Halloween Horror Nights

by on September 22, 2016 2 Comments

This past year I’ve learned a lot about fear. Facing your fear doesn’t necessarily mean that your fear goes away. Instead, it means you acknowledge it, accept it, and do the thing that scares you despite the fear. Last year I went to Halloween Horror Nights for the first time. It is nearly impossible to believe that I would do so once, let alone a second time. And yet, I did. And it turned out to be one of my best evenings ever.

Attending Halloween Horror Nights last year for the first time was eyeopening. Here are my tips on enjoying the event even when you’re scared of pretty much everything. This time around I attended the event almost from beginning to end, and experienced a lot more than my first visit. Here’s how I not only faced my fear, but quite possibly became a fan of this frightfully fun event.

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Go early and take advantage of daylight

I attended Halloween Horror Nights with two complete opposite ends of the spectrum: a friend who has been to HHN more times than I can count and a friend who had never been before and feared it more than me. Wait wait wait… I can’t believe this, I, the person who never believed she’d ever go to Halloween Horror Nights is now showing a first timer the ropes!

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Read the rest of this entry »

Breakfast Options Now Being Served at Sanaa

by on September 21, 2016 4 Comments

©Disney

©Disney

One of the major downfalls of staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village is that there is no counter service location for Guests. The becomes a problem in the mornings for Guests looking to grab a quick bite before heading to the parks. Guests were either expected to prepare breakfast in their rooms, or trek over to Jambo House and pick up something from The Mara.

Well now, Disney is now offering a great new breakfast option at Kidani Village for Guests to enjoy. Sanaa will feature a kuamsha (which is Swahili for “to awaken with”) breakfast with both casual dining options, as well as quick grab n’ go items.

The Quick Service options include: Read the rest of this entry »

Stitch’s Great Escape to Go Seasonal at Magic Kingdom

by on September 21, 2016 11 Comments

Stitch's Great Escape

©Seth Kubersky

Seasonal…it’s a word you don’t hear very often lately at Disney, but according to the Orlando Sentinel Stitch’s Great Escape will be going seasonal beginning October 2.

The much maligned attraction found in Tomorrowland opened back in 2004 with Stitch toilet papering Cinderella Castle to announce his arrival. Starting October 2, it will be only be open as Magic Kingdom attendance demands.

The attraction is scheduled to open during the busy Thanksgiving holiday season, beginning on November 19, but will close again on November 27. It will then open again during the holidays from December 17 through January 2.

Part of the disdain for Stitch’s Great Escape is the fact that it replaced the beloved (yet terrifying) Alien Encounter. Another part of it is that even though Disney attempted to scale down the scariness of the attraction, due to the harnesses that come down over Guests to properly showcase the effects of the attraction, it still scares Guests. Part of it is due to the fact that the story is not great. And well, part of it is that chili dog burp smell.

It has been years since an attraction has gone seasonal at Walt Disney World. Some attractions come back from seasonal status, such as Carousel of Progress, and some have not, such as Timekeeper (which turned into Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor). Giving more credence to the fact that Stitch’s Great Escape may be on its way out is that it has been rumored that the attraction will be closing soon to make way for an attraction based on Wreck-It Ralph according to The Disney Dish Podcast and our friend Jim Hill.

Only time will tell on this one. Make sure to stay tuned, as you know I’ll have all the info for you if/when more news gets released.

Family-Friendly Favorites at Epcot’s 2016 Food and Wine Festival

by on September 21, 2016 3 Comments

Last week, we took a look at every new item at the 2016 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, but it’s always hard to resist trying our longtime festival favorites again first thing. This week, we’ll take a look at 15 family-friendly festival favorites (yes, even kids will like many of these options!) to see if they’re just as good as we remember. I took a stroll at dinnertime one evening just after festival opening to try a few dishes I recommended in my preview post, plus a few more that always seem to be the most popular dishes of the festival. I’ve included a quick summary at the bottom of this post, with my take on whether each of these dishes is a skip/maybe try/must-do, as well.

The Dishes

  • Hawai’i's Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy MayonnaiseHawai’i: Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise ($4.25)

The pulled pork here can sometimes be a little dry, but on my visit, it was perfectly succulent, very savory, with a little punch of sweet from the pineapple chutney. The spicy mayo isn’t really very spicy, but it does help keep the whole slider together. You’ll only get about five bites out of the sandwich this year, with a lot of bread in there, but it’s just as solid a pick as in previous years.

  • Patagonia: Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree ($5.75)

Patagonia's Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato PureeI’ve always found this to be a solid pick, as most everyone loves food on a stick, and while it sounds kind of scary with the boniato puree and the chimichurri, these are flavors that many are familiar with and happy to sample. The beef on this year’s skewer was tender and nicely grilled without being dried out, with the starchy puree (think: mashed potatoes) helping round out the bite and give a bit more richness to the whole plate. The chimichurri is packed with garlic, cilantro, parsley, and a little bit of a peppery kick – you’ll want it slathered over every bite, it’s that good. Chefs at the Patagonia booth were even offering a side of the chimichurri for guests ordering the beef empanada, as well!

  • Canada: Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup Served with a Pretzel Roll ($4.75)

This dish is so famous at the Food and Wine Festival that no modifiers are necessary – it’s just “The Soup”. This year’s portion has, once again, shrunk slightly, but it now comes with a pretzel roll (which will look familiar if you’ve ordered the bratwurst from the Germany booth in the past). The soup was a tad too salty for me, though still deliciously creamy and packed with a slight smokiness from the bacon inside. Canada's Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup and "Le Cellier" Wild Mushroom FiletThe pretzel roll was a little stale, but a better delivery system for the soup than a spoon, so I went with it. With the smaller portion, this was overall a bit disappointing – it’s probably still going to be a super-popular option for most festival-goers, but I’d skip unless you are seriously craving it.

  • Canada: “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce ($7.75)

At $7.75, this is one of the most expensive food buys of the festival, and to be honest, my portion was not worth that price this year. Even during a fairly busy dinnertime visit, with fresh steaks being cooked and served every few minutes, I got a slightly tough and unevenly cooked steak (very well done on one end, medium on the other). The mushrooms and truffle sauce were as decadent as ever, earthy and savory without being too salty. This is another “skip” for me (an unpopular opinion, to be sure), but even for kids and picky eaters, there are better options for a better value out there. Read the rest of this entry »

Crowd Calendar Reports Returning Soon

by on September 20, 2016

Our crowd blog reports have been on hiatus recently while we investigated a bug with how we report the crowd levels that we observe. The issue affected days dating back to August 3, 2016. We have a fix in place and we are doing a final review before we publish the new observed crowd levels. Once we do that we can return to weekly reports.

In the meantime we can report that wait times have been lower than historical averages throughout most of August and September. Compared to wait times in September 2015, this September has been much less busy. The crowd reports will likely show a lot of crowd level ‘1’s and ‘2’s these past few weeks when we saw mostly ‘3’s, ‘4’s and higher for much of Fall 2015.

Also look for retroactive reports on what we saw through August.