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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of August 1, 2014

by on August 1, 2014 2 Comments

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In Case You Missed It - Disney News and Rumors

In Case You Missed It!

Um…somebody please tell me how it’s now AUGUST?! I don’t understand how that happened already! Where did summer go?

This week we have lots of great articles, including some fun stuff about Guardians of the Galaxy, an 80s television tribute video for “Let it Go,” and more. Read on for more!

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

 

If you are in Orlando this weekend, and you love yo-yos, make sure to check out Duncan Toys’ International Yo-Yo Competition being held at the House of Blues at Downtown Disney.

The Four Seasons Orlando opens this weekend officially to guests and since the resort is on Disney property, it has a few Disney-related influences. Find out what they are in this Orlando Sentinel article.  Read the rest of this entry »

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Adds Eat to the Beat Dining Packages

by on August 1, 2014

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©Disney

©Disney

Do you have a favorite band performing at this year’s Eat to the Beat Concert Series that you just cannot miss? Well you are in luck, because at this year’s Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, for the first time, guests can choose to purchase an Eat to the Beat Dining Package.

These packages, which work in a similar fashion as the Candlelight Processional Dining Packages, not only guarantee a spot for one Eat to the Beat Concert performance, but guests will also be able to enjoy a delicious meal at select Epcot restaurants for either lunch or dinner.

The dining package includes an appetizer, entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage or 1 full buffet. Guests on the Disney Dining Plan may utilize it here, but it will cost two table service entitlements.

Pricing is as follows:  Read the rest of this entry »

Ranking Epcot Beer

by on August 1, 2014 13 Comments

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The slow but steady transformation caused by the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival’s popularity is positively affecting beer selection in the park. But all pavilions are not equal. Considering selection, ambiance, and variety, what follows is my attempt at ranking Epcot beer options. Please note this list excludes full service restaurants from consideration and is not meant to be exhaustive.

12. China

The nation of China is not well known for beer, and the pavilion reflects this with its position at the bottom of the list. Thirsty guests will find two beers on draft: Tsingtao and Tsingtao Pure Draft. Both options are standard American style lagers and are unlikely to offend anyone but probably will not impress either. Ambiance and practicality take a hit too: the pavilion doesn’t have many shaded areas to drink and the few that do exist are mostly in the quick service restaurant. Both beers can be found at the Joy of Tea kiosk and Lotus Blossom Cafe.

11. Norway

Norway just barely edges out China. Its single draft offering, Carlsberg, is a little tastier with just a slight hint of hops. I do give them an extra point because it’s a beer rarely seen in the US even if the flavor is not outstanding, where Tsingtao is available at most Chinese restaurants in the States. Finding a good place to enjoy the beer nearby is a challenge. Only the dining area next to the Stave Church is shaded and it’s crowded and noisy. Find Carlsberg in the Bakery and at the drink cart.

Read the rest of this entry »

Observations from Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Week of July 28

by on August 1, 2014 2 Comments

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observations from Disney's Hollywood Studios

Does Disney’s Hollywood Studios hold up in a post-Diagon Alley world? (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

“It was the best of rides, it was the worst of rides…”

With deepest apologies to Charles Dickens, today I present a Tale of Two Parks. As regular readers may have noticed, I’ve been spending a lot of time these past few months at Universal Studios Florida, documenting the debut of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley. But USF isn’t the only movie-centric theme park in Orlando. So on Monday, July 28, I stopped by the other Studios for the first time in forever — or at least since Star Wars Weekends — for some observations from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. How does DHS stack up in the age of Harry Potter’s newest expansion?

First, a bit of background. The origins of DHS and USF will forever be entwined, as Michael Eisner accelerated the opening of Walt Disney World’s third gate to upstage Universal’s first Floridian attraction. Though it was announced first, Universal Studios Florida opened a year after Disney/MGM Studios (as the park will forever be known in the hearts of long-time fans) and was initially hobbled by famously malfunctioning E-Tickets like Jaws and Kong. MGM sported only a half-day slate of entertainment upon its debut, but added major rides like Star Tours and Tower of Terror during its first decade, while Universal used that time to tame its balky headliners and add effects-driven shows like Twister and Terminator 2.

Read the rest of this entry »

Park Vue Inn: One of Disneyland’s Best

by on August 1, 2014 7 Comments

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I should start by saying I didn’t set out to write a love letter to the Park Vue Inn. I didn’t expect to even like the place that much. I mean, it’s an exterior corridor motel. What could be so special about that? Well, it ends up that a lot is special! Before we jump into things, I want to make sure everyone knows that I paid for my stay, and the hotel staff didn’t know that I’d be blogging about my stay. Sometimes I read reviews from other bloggers and wonder what things would really be like if they didn’t get treated like royalty. Rest assured, I was totally under the radar on my trip!

Location

CaptureYou’d be hard pressed to find a hotel with a shorter walk to Disneyland. Stepping outside the lobby of the Park Vue Inn you can see the pedestrian entrance to Disneyland just across the road. The photo to the left I took while standing under the Disneyland sign, waiting to cross the street. Of course, your room location could make your walk a bit longer than we experienced. (We were in room 123 if you’d like to request it.) But even at the back of the hotel you’d be closer than at some of the Disney owned properties. One thing to note is that we didn’t see an elevator, so you’ll be lugging your bags up the stairs if you’re on the second floor. Of course, we didn’t take our bags to our room at all. We arrived early in the morning and left our bags with the desk while we visited the parks. When we picked up our keys later in the day, they informed us that our bags were already in the room. It was a nice touch and a service I haven’t received at “nicer” hotels in the area. Read the rest of this entry »

Update on Disney’s Polynesian Resort Pool Refurbishment

by on July 31, 2014 3 Comments

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Disney's Polynesian Resort Pool

©Disney

For those of you who are unaware and will be staying at Disney’s Polynesian Resort over the next few months, the Nanea Volcano Pool and Slide are now closed for an extremely lengthy refurbishment. As I previously mentioned, Disney is offering guests staying the resort access to Blizzard Beach Water Park, while work is being done on the pool area.

When the announcement was first made, guests would only be given a one day pass to Blizzard Beach; however, it now appears that has been amended. Now Polynesian guests can choose to visit the water park on any day and will receive complimentary admission throughout their entire stays.  In addition, guests will receive a complimentary beach towel, and if a Polynesian guests have purchased resort Rapid Fill refillable mugs, those mugs will have access to the beverage stations at the water park. (So make sure you bring your refillable mugs with you!)

Bus transportation will be provided to guests directly between Blizzard Beach and the Polynesian, and when guests arrive at the front gate of the water park, Polynesian guests must check-in using their MagicBands or RFID room keys.

When Blizzard Beach closes for its refurbishment in the winter (which right now is slated for January 4 through March 14, 2015), guests will instead have access to Typhoon Lagoon. Keep in mind that Polynesian guests will not have access to any other resort pool during this refurbishment work.

During the Volcano Pool refurb, work will be done to create a new aquatic playground with slides for children, a new hot tub, and a larger deck with more seating for guests. The pool is expected to reopen sometime in early 2015.

Preparing For the Magic: A Timeline Leading to a Stress-Free Disney World Vacation

by on July 31, 2014 14 Comments

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Hi, I’m Trista. I live far from Disney World, and I’m an Uber Planner when it comes to my Disney vacation. [Hi, Trista.]

Whether you are a planner or not, there are two reasons to use this Disney World vacation planning timeline. The first reason is to make hard-to-get reservations for attractions and dining. While it’s great to be spontaneous, spontaneity is not your friend if you hope to score the Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert’s, or if you want a short wait time for Toy Story Midway Mania!. These things are difficult to come by at the last minute, even when the parks are at their lowest crowd levels. The second reason to plan ahead is to avoid decision fatigue while you are on vacation. During one day at a theme park, you will be faced with many decisions: which attraction should you head to next? Where should you eat lunch, and when? Is it worth it to stand in line right now for 90 minutes for a meet-n-greet with a favorite character, or is it likely to be better later? For which attractions should you select FastPass+? And many more. I don’t know about you, but I am a person who reaches decision fatigue rather quickly. Once my brain is overloaded, I’ll begin the “blank stare” until I have some down time to recharge (and down time is a commodity that’s difficult to come by on a go-go-go Disney World vacation).

Before you ever step foot on Disney property, you can influence how long you will wait in line for popular attractions and which amazing  dining experiences you can have. Follow this simple timeline to make your magical vacation stress-free.

Step 0 – Pick your dates

Erin Foster has a great article on a step by step method for picking the best dates for your Disney vacation. If you want some help deciding which park to visit on which day, the Crowd Calendar feature of TouringPlans.com is a valuable tool (especially if you are as crowd-averse as I am). I’ve found that even 180 days out, the relative crowd predictions for each park are pretty accurate.

Reserve your Disney resort lodging, reserve your park  tickets (optional)

6 Months+ to 60 days Prior to Your Vacation (DISNEY RESORT GUESTS)

Disney Important Date Magnet

Shortly after I made my Disney resort reservation for my upcoming trip, Disney sent me this handy magnet in the mail.

If you are certain of your vacation dates at least 6 months in advance, I would recommend making your Disney resort reservation this early. The biggest advantage to early booking is the ability to make Advanced Dining Reservations up to 10 days before the general public (especially helpful for those very popular restaurants with hard-to-get reservations). See the Advanced Dining Reservations section below for details.

If you make make a Disney resort reservations six months prior, it is likely that you will be booking without one of Disney’s Special Offers (such as room-rate savings, a free dining plan offer, etc.) because most offers are not announced that far in advance. If your stay becomes eligible for a Special Offer after you have made your initial reservation, it is easy to have your balance adjusted by simply calling the Disney reservation line with your confirmation number and ask for the Special Offer to be applied. Be sure to act quickly – some deals have limited numbers available, such as limited rooms per resort. (I have had to change resorts once because I called just 3 days after the deal became available and all eligible offers at my first choice resort were taken.) Of course, there is no guarantee that a special offer will become available for your stay, so it is important to familiarize yourself with the cancellation/change policy ahead of booking. A historical record of when Special Offers have been released is a good reference for when offers have traditionally become available. Read the rest of this entry »

Hidden Details of Epcot

by on July 31, 2014

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There are many reasons why the Disney Parks stand apart from other theme parks around the world, but one of the biggest has to be Disney’s incredible attention to detail. You can see the extra mile in the form of details just about everywhere on Disney property, from attractions to parade costumes to resorts to transportation to even the bathrooms! Personally, I love the details. They are not only appealing to the eye and fun to find, but almost always meaningful to the history of an attraction or to the story the Imagineers are trying to tell. For today’s post, we are focusing on some of the hidden details of Epcot!

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Epcot’s Drawbridge

Did you know that a section of World Showcase is actually a drawbridge? If you have been to Epcot, you have surely walked over it but probably didn’t even know it! The purpose for the drawbridge is so that the barges carrying fireworks and the huge globe for Illuminations can pass from the backstage area onto the lagoon. This usually takes place in the afternoon near the Refreshment Outpost. Warning: If you happen to be in this part of World Showcase when the bridge lifts, you may be stranded for a short time!

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Epcot’s France Pavilion

Epcot’s France Pavilion is absolutely lovely and picturesque, especially at night. However, the hidden detail we uncovered at this pavilion is near the water, next to the silhouette stand just over the bridge. In addition to an old fashioned camera and a case of postcards and photos is a a box of paintings. If you flip through the canvases, you may discover that a few changes have been made to these masterpieces, like this little reference to Mickey!

Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion is one of our favorites in that there are so many corners and streets to explore. Many guests don’t know that a little museum can be found in this pavilion. It’s not clearly marked and the doors are usually closed, but go ahead and pull it open. You’re allowed!

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O’Canada Theater

Inside, you will find exhibits and artifacts native to the Moroccan culture and it’s very interesting! I often use it as a go-to when it rains, as few know about it and it gives me something to do until the weather clears.

101_5057

The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Several World Showcase pavilions, such as the Canada Pavilion, show entertaining films to inform guests about their respective country’s landscape and culture. However, few guests know that the O’Canada Theater is tucked at the very back of the pavilion among the rock work and waterfalls. The theater is meant to resemble a mine; and the waiting area inside truly looks like you’re in a shaft. It also offers another view of the waterfalls and streams! This little hideaway is packed full of details and shouldn’t be missed.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Epcot’s Future World is one of our favorite pavilions in the whole park and is home to a massive aquarium that can easily entertain young and old alike for hours. When you pass through the queue for the Finding Nemo dark ride at the pavilion entrance, look up to see the boat which Nemo was dared to touch in the film! Also, in the pavilion’s massive aquarium, look for a Disney character shaped out of rocks at the bottom of the tank. I’ve seen a Mickey in the past; but during my last trip, I discovered a Goofy.

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Epcot’s United Kingdom Pavilion

Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion is packed full of history and details, but for one you may not have noticed, look up! The chimneys atop the shops in the United Kingdom pavilion are dark with soot.  This is a clever hidden detail used for historical accuracy and to create the illusion that these chimneys are still working.

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Le Cellier Steakhouse

Have you ever been to Epcot in the rain? If you have, think about walking under Spaceship Earth. You didn’t get wet, did you? It would make sense though that rainwater would flow down the grooves and onto the people below, but it doesn’t! This is due to a special system in Spaceship Earth which collects the water so that guests don’t get soaked entering and exiting the park, a truly hidden detail!

One of the most popular restaurants in all of Epcot, and one of my personal favorites, is Canada’s Le Cellier Steakhouse. This delicious restaurant is known for its filet mignon and Cheddar Cheese Soup. What guests probably don’t know is that each section of this restaurant is themed after a Canadian province. Be sure to ask your waiter or waitress about the history of the province in which you are dining, as well as what province they are from. It’s very interesting!

So these are just a few of the many details to be discovered at Epcot. Which of these have you found? Do you have a favorite?

 

Two New Events Added to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

by on July 31, 2014 1 Comment

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©Disney

©Disney

Today is the day you can begin to book events for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival! With that, Disney has released information on two brand new special events that have been added to the roster– the Epcot Food and Wine Festival – Late Nights LIVE! street party and the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Premium Package.

The Epcot Food and Wine Festival Premium Package is available for guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort (or at the Swan or Dolphin) from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday from September 22 through November 6. The package will cost $199, plus tax (plus Epcot admission will be required). It will include an in-room gift with wine (for those who are 21 and older); a festival wine glass; truffles; and a special Epcot International Food & Wine Festival MagicBand plus a $50 Disney Gift Card! Read the rest of this entry »

Disney Dining: Disney World’s Best Pricey Meals

by on July 31, 2014 18 Comments

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Copyright - Disney

Copyright – Disney

Sure, Chef Gusteau had it right… anyone can cook. But sometimes, isn’t it nice to let someone else do all the mise en place-ery and take care of the dishes? As much as my husband and I love Disney World for the atmosphere, the attractions, the getting unnecessarily teared up because you met Ariel and she was literally the first movie you remember going to oh noes am I crying DON’T LOOK AT ME, we also love it for the food in a big, big way. Living less than an hour away, we always make a point to plan our trip around where we’re going to eat, and over the years Disney World has provided us with some truly amazing meals. Don’t get me wrong… I love a good burger and fries, and few things are finer than a big plate of buffalo chicken wings. Sometimes, though, you want to try something different. You don’t have to visit during Epcot’s annual Food and Wine festival for some primo nosh, and if you’re willing to spend a little more, Disney dining can be decadent and delicious in ways you might not expect. Read the rest of this entry »