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The Great Irish Hooley to Occur at Raglan Road This Labor Day

by on August 29, 2016

The Great Irish Hooley

©Raglan Road

Did you know that we are close to the halfway point of St. Patrick’s Day? How would I know something like that? Because once again, it is time for The Great Irish Hooley. The Great Irish Hooley is a celebration of that halfway mark and it will be taking place at Raglan Road this Labor Day weekend at Disney Springs.

This year is the fifth year for this fun-filled event that consists of traditional live music, dancing, and delicious Irish cuisine. Festivities begin at noon on Friday, September 2 and will run through the evening of Monday, September 5.

This year’s party will included performances by nine top Irish bands, authentic step dancing, and first-rate contemporary Irish cuisine.

The entertainment line up for this year’s event includes:

  • Screaming Orphans
  • The Raglan Roots Coalition
  • Flat Out
  • The Marianne Fraser Band
  • The High Road
  • Cooney & Ryan
  • Swingin’ On The Gate
  • The Flyin’ Marys
  • Jake Richardson

Guests will also be able to enjoy the Raglan Road Irish Dancers. The infamous dance group will be found performing throughout the weekend. They will also teach Guests some traditional Irish steps. The Hooley also will feature Celtic face-painting Saturday through Monday.

For more information visit raglanroad.com/great-irish-hooley

This event is certainly packed with the best of Irish music and entertainment. If you’re in Disney Springs this weekend, you don’t want to miss this unique experience!

Morimoto Asia Omakase: Fine Dining At Its Best

by on August 29, 2016 9 Comments

The menu for my meal, signed by Chef Morimoto.A few weeks ago, Morimoto Asia hosted their first omakase dinner led by Iron Chef Morimoto himself, and I was lucky enough to attend! An omakase meal is pretty simple – the chef makes all of the decisions for you, setting the menu as they desire (though sometimes customization is an option). California Grill offers an omakase dining option at their sushi bar, and it’s widely considered one of the best dining splurges at Walt Disney World. This particular opportunity, though, seemed even more special than that, as Chef Morimoto would be working alongside his team at Morimoto Asia – a rare chance to see one of the masters in action. I was excited for this meal, especially given the excellent meals I’d had here before (and Len’s great review of most of the menu).

Before The Meal

I arrived not knowing exactly what to expect, other than that every bit of chopstick and sushi etiquette I’d ever learned would be put to the test. The dinner was offered to only 12 diners, and we were seated in waves to make it easier on the chefs to time the meal. I was in the first wave of four to arrive, and we were immediately seated at the beautiful sushi bar on the upper level of the restaurant. Chef Morimoto and Morimoto Asia’s executive chef, Yuhi Fujinaga, were already engaged in a precise dance of preparation for our first few courses, working alongside four other chefs, ensuring every dice was to their exact specifications. After a few minutes of watching them all, I knew I was in for a special evening.

Every diner received a Chef Morimoto-signed menu for the evening listing all of the nine (!!!) courses to come as we sat down to the sushi bar, where we were also told that we could opt to include alcohol pairings with each course. Obviously, I had to take one for the team (in the name of research, of course!), and give the pairings a shot. Below, I’ll outline each course as presented and the pairings that came with them, with a few thoughts on each. As always, take a closer look of each dish with just a click on any photo.

The Main Event

 

First Course: Oyster Two Ways – caviar, foie gras

Paired with Jean Charles ‘JCB no21’ Cremant de Bourgogne, Burgundy, France

Oysters two waysThis starter was the perfect exercise in how hot & cold temperatures can work together to create a cohesive dish. One oyster was served cold topped with caviar, and the second, topped with freshly seared foie gras swimming in an umami-rich teriyaki sauce. My first bite, of the cold oyster, was as briny and of-the-sea as you’d expect, and refreshing to wake up the palate. The decadent foie gras was slightly sweet in my follow-up bite of the second oyster, helping soothe a bit of the first’s saltiness. The bubbly JCB Cremant, shown above with the menu, really offset both oysters perfectly with a bit of acidity.

 Second Course: Tartare Two Ways – toro, A-5 wagyu

Paired with Cerulli Spinozzi ‘Cortalto’ Pecorino, Abruzzo, Italy

Tartare two waysSimilar to the first dish, this second course played on the duo theme with a tuna tartare served in a dashi soy sauce alongside A-5 (the highest quality available) wagyu beef tartare. Chef Morimoto hand-chopped the beef in front of us, before mixing it with a bit of spicy aioli, and served the rich beef topped with slightly sweet julienned jicama. The dry and acidic Cortalto wine cut through the richness in both sides of the dish, though I probably could’ve had an entire glass of the dashi soy instead of wine for this course and been happy. Read the rest of this entry »

SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We LOVE Universal’s Toothsome Chocolate Emporium

by on August 27, 2016 7 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We LOVE the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. The newest entrant into Universal CityWalk’s murderer’s row of restaurants has just gone into previews, with a grand opening not far behind.  Located in the former home of NBA City, the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium sits directly next to the entrance to Islands of Adventure and its visually stunning facade fits in with other worlds that never existed (but you wish did) like Port of Entry or Seuss Landing.

Toothsome_main

Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. (photo by Brandon Glover)

When Toothsome was originally announced, it teased that it would debut with larger than life milkshakes. The idea of a milkshake with a full cupcake or chocolate covered banana on top seemed too good to be true. However, to quote Han Solo, “It’s true. All of it.” It turns out that the E-Ticket milkshakes were just the tip of the iceberg, as Toothsome is filled with both wonder and – believe it or not – an amazing menu. Today we’re going to look at some of our favorite features of this magical restaurant. So sit back, play the NXT song “Glorious” as appropriate background music, and let’s begin our list with…

# 6 – Walk Around Characters!

Talk about bucking the trend. In a theme park world where getting rid of the human element seems to be a priority, Universal has walk around characters in the Skull Island: Reign of Kong queue and inside Toothsome. The restaurant has a lengthy backstory (which can be found inside the menu), and it revolves around Professor Doctor Penelope Tibeaux-Tinker Toothsome. In Penelope’s exotic trips around the world, she discovered ways to infuse chocolate into extraordinary recipes. When Penelope returned home from her travels, she discovered that her parents had set out to join her (“Surely the world isn’t so big that we can’t find you.”) Penelope decided she would use her chocolate knowledge to create an emporium, and would share her dishes with the world until reunited with her family. 

Penelope  can be seen walking about Toothsome, occasionally with her robot companion Jacques. Just as with the best Disney meet and greets at the Magic Kingdom, Penelope stays completely in character, is filled with charm and as they would describe her in the 19th Century: is a bricky gal.

Toothsome1

Professor Doctor Penelope Tibeaux-Tinker Toothsome. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Toothsome_characters_ATTRACTIONSMAGAZINE

The Professor and her robot companion Jacques. (photo courtesy of Attractions Magazine. Attractions also has a great video of Toothsome which you WATCH HERE.)

Toothsome_tinker

Penelope’s milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. Literally. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Read the rest of this entry »

In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of August 26, 2016

by on August 26, 2016 5 Comments

ICYMIHave you seen the info about the new Toothsome Chocolate Emporium? Oh my goodness! My mouth is salivating from the idea of all that chocolate deliciousness. (I never wanted to eat chocolate bread so much in my life.)

I’ve got a lot of news for you this week that runs the gambit. We have law suits, we have an updated Wedding Pavilion, we have rumors, and more. Let’s not waste any more time. Let’s get down to it!

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

 

Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District is working toward plans to extend Western Way.

Could Disney be working on another Disney Vacation Club wing at Disney’s Contemporary Resort? What are your thoughts about this rumored development? Read the rest of this entry »

10 Frequently Asked Questions About Travel Insurance for Your Disney Cruise

by on August 26, 2016 7 Comments

If only I had a dollar for every question I get about travel insurance!  Well I might just be able to pay for another cruise.  A short 3-night cruise in the off season in an inside cabin, but still.  Insurance is a mysterious creature.  Coverage is hardly ever cut and dry, and there are reasons for that.  And it’s not cheap!  Trust me, I understand it’s painful to pay for something you may or may not ever use.  In fact, you are paying for something we hope you never have to use!  I can’t tell you what to do, but maybe I can help you approach the insurance choice for your Disney cruise from a more informed place.  Here are 10 frequently asked questions!

1C4A28351. Should I Get It? – My answer here is an unequivocal yes. Yes yes yes. I’ll be honest, the odds are overwhelming that you aren’t going to need it. But, oh if you do. I’ll spare you the full retelling of the story of my healthy mother coming down with pneumonia on a Greek Isles cruise a few years ago. But, needless to say, her insurance bills were over $5,000, and they almost made her stay in a hospital in Athens which could have multiplied that bill by 10. If not more. here are so many other stories of a child’s appendix unexpectedly rupturing in Mexico (and really does it ever expectedly rupture?), a teenager breaking an arm in port, stories of people missing the ship because their flight was delayed, etc. etc. etc..

I even used my trip insurance one time to get reimbursed for having to spend the night in Seattle when weather prevented us from getting to Vancouver from Colorado for an Alaskan cruise. That was in May. No snow, no storms, just a windy day! Just remember, a cruise isn’t like a normal vacation where you can just go a day late should travel delays or weather occur. If you miss the ship, you miss your vacation! Insurance is important for so many reasons on a cruise. Read the rest of this entry »

New Bus Service Available From Theme Parks to Disney Springs

by on August 25, 2016 1 Comment

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Can I say thank goodness?!

Beginning on August 28, Guests will be able to take a bus from any of the four Walt Disney World theme parks directly to Disney Springs. Bus service will be available to the shopping and dining complex from 4:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. (or two hours after park close, whichever comes first.)

Keep in mind that this is a one-way only service that goes from the theme parks to Disney Springs; you cannot take a bus directly to one of the four parks. For those needing to go to one of the parks from Disney Springs, the current process will continue where Guests will need to take a bus to a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel first.

This is a huge change that will make it much easier for you to get to Disney Springs and enjoy the new great offerings, as well as some of your favorites from the past.

 

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Daisy’s Best Week Ever August 25, 2016: Magic Kingdom, and Epcot, and DISNEYLAND. Oh my!

by on August 25, 2016 38 Comments

Hello, my lovebugs! I’m so excited to be able to share this week with you. Hopefully I’ll be getting back into rotation with the team moving forward, so we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other! This week I visited the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and had a surprise two night adventure at Disneyland. (I know, right??) So let’s get started with one of my favorite views in the Magic Kingdom.

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I know, it’s a bathroom, but doesn’t it look majestic? Of course, I was excited to see anything after 67 days away from the parks. We decided to downgrade to silver passes this year and while I had a couple of tough days missing my “home” over the summer, it was overall a positive experience. I think we’ll continue with passes at this level in future years. What would you do? Do you think we’re crazy skipping the summer and peak holidays? Let me know in the comments.

There’s so much more to see – click to read more. :)

Read the rest of this entry »

World of Color Dessert Party Review

by on August 24, 2016 4 Comments

WoC_Dessert_Party (8)On a recent visit to Disneyland my wife and I decided to splurge a little and try out the World of Color Dessert Party at Disney’s California Adventure. Much like the Wishes Dessert Party at the Magic Kingdom, it is an opportunity for reserved seating and snacks to a popular nighttime spectacular. Of course, this all comes at a price–and what a price–so let’s start there.

Cost and Reservations

I’m not going to dance around this: it costs $79 per person. That includes tax and gratuity, but $79 is the price for both adults and children. That means my family of 4 had to pay $316 for this opportunity. Later I’ll discuss whether I think it even remotely approaches a good value and after I finish writing this I’ll research tax exclusions and the warning signs of financial stress-related heart problems.

When you book the dessert party, full prepayment is required. It can still be cancelled without penalty up to 24 hours before the reservation, but it must be paid in full upon making the reservation. If there are two World of Color showings in one evening, the dessert party is only offered for the first one.

WoC_Dessert_Party (5)Location, Seating, and Arrival

Now that we’ve gotten through the worst of it (the cost), let’s discuss the best of it. The site for the dessert party is on the second tier, right in the center of the viewing area. It actually is behind the best, front-and-center viewing spot reserved for those with the dining package, but that’s not the whole of it.

If you get dining package reservations, you are in the best section, but it is a deep area and all standing room only. Therefore, if you’re not waiting to enter at least 60 minutes before the show you will be packed in behind many other people. The dessert party is raised slightly above the dining package area so the effects are fairly easily seen above their heads.

I’m slow-rolling the best part here, though: everyone at the dessert party is seated. Yes, you can sit at your table in relative comfort looking above the heads of other guests. It does inflate the ego a bit. Specifically, the party area is a long section with two rows of tables–some high tops and some low. Where you sit is based somewhat on when you arrive.

WoC_Dessert_Party (6)For instance, we arrived at the check-in area around 8pm–one hour before the World of Color scheduled show time. The reservation when we booked was for 8:15pm, but it also tells you to arrive an hour before the show, so we’re starting off a little confused. When we got there at 8, we were behind a handful of groups already waiting. Read the rest of this entry »

Adding Extra Disney Magic: Tinker Bell Gifts

by on August 24, 2016 9 Comments

Tinker Bell Gifts

Tinker Bell Gifts

Imagine with me, if you will, a parent’s paradise in Walt Disney World. No, not that one where you ditch the kids and head over to the Adventurers Club at Pleasure Island (RIP). The other one. The one where the kids wake up bright and early, brimming with excitement to start their day. No whining about getting up early for rope drop, no nagging for that $16 autograph pen from the gift shop, and absolutely no fighting between siblings. Sound too good to be true? Maybe. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to aim high! So let’s talk about how Tinker Bell gifts can not only encourage good behavior but also add an extra touch of Disney magic while simultaneously helping you save money on souvenirs.

Note from Tinker Bell

Note from Tinker Bell

What are they?

For those who haven’t heard of them, Tinker Bell gifts are small presents you leave in the room for the kids in your group. They can be left overnight for discovery in the morning (like a Disney version of Santa), or if you can find a way to sneak back into the room without the kids noticing, you can leave them as a surprise for when they return from the parks. Typically, the gifts are accompanied by a note explaining the gift and who gave it.

Though they are called Tinker Bell gifts by most people, if you think the child(ren) in your party would be more excited about a letter from Rey (Star Wars) thanking them for their help with the Resistance than a note from Tinker Bell, then this is the time to get creative. Personally, I like to leave a note that includes four things: a quick mention of the fun from the prior day, an itinerary for the current day, an explanation of the gift, and a reminder to be well behaved. On a recent trip with younger relatives of mine, each note was written by a different character and tied into whatever the kids would be doing at the parks that day. Read the rest of this entry »

Change in Wheelchair Rentals Now Offered at Disney’s Water Parks

by on August 23, 2016

Water Parks - Typhoon Lagoon

©Disney

It appears that Disney is making a change to their wheelchair rentals that are available at their water parks. These rentals, which are available at Singapore Sal’s at Typhoon Lagoon and at the Beach Haus at Blizzard Beach, will now cost $12 a day. It is also required that Guests leave a $100 refundable deposit which will be returned upon the return of the rental. This wheelchair rental is able to be transferable across the parks, with a receipt, as long as they are available.

This change is being done in an effort to align with the options available at Guest Services found at Disney’s theme parks, at Disney Springs, and at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

In addition to wheelchairs, a limited number of ECV rentals will continue to be available for $50 with a $100 refundable deposit.

Make sure to keep this change in mind should you need to rent a wheelchair at one of Disney’s water parks going forward.

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