Archive for January, 2010

WDW Today Episode 675 – Eating Healthy At The World

by on January 28, 2010

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Episode 675 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

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La Cava del Tequila

by on January 28, 2010

Disney opened one of its newest additions to Epcot’s World Showcase at the end of August with La Cava del Tequila inside the Mexico Pavilion.  This cozy and inviting bar offers a great place to hang out with friends, enjoy some drinks, and relax during your trip to WDW.  The menu boasts over 70 different kinds of tequila as well as margaritas, Mexican beers, and tapas for snacking.  The decor embraces its setting with examples of Mexican culture and art while it also displays photographs of the tequila making process.

tequilabar

So let’s not beat around the bush;  I love this place!  I visited twice on my December trip and have plans to enjoy it again in March when I head to Disney World again.  This watering hole instantly made it onto my list of favorite places to chill for a while.  I wanted to try La Cava del Tequila during my December trip, but I wasn’t expecting to hit it only hours after arrival.  A group of us headed into the Mexico pavilion after a wdwtoday reunion event wrapped up.  I met a lot of fun folks over shots of tequila and wound up hanging out with them for the rest of the day and plan to tour with them again.  Nothing bonds people together than tequila and margaritas I guess!  We may have stayed there a little too long and enjoyed the libations a little too much, but it was a great time.

Later in the trip my friends and I headed back on a rainy afternoon.  It was a great place to sit and sip while foulmargaritas weather passed by.  This time we grabbed at table and lingered a while.  Two of us opted for the flights of margaritas which provided a sampling of five different specialty margaritas from the menu.  Another one of my friends decided on a flight of tequila and another just had some beer.  You see there are options for varying tastes so don’t be turned off if you don’t think you could handle straight tequila.  I enjoyed my flight of margaritas quite a bit.  As to be expected, I liked some better than others just based on personal preferences, but overall I’m glad I got to try a variety of drinks.  Next time we’ll have to try some of the tasty looking tapas to go along with our yummy liquid treats.

tequilaAlthough it may be off the beaten path, on busier days in the parks I’m sure this place is going to be packed just because it’s so tiny.  The venue only seats about 30 people and has standing room at the bar.  If you can snag a table, order up some tapas and some drinks and enjoy a hidden gem.  It would also make for a great place to have a drink while waiting for a table at the Mexico pavilions table service restaurant the San Angel Inn.

Have any of you tried out La Cava del Tequila yet?  Did you love it as much as I did?  If you haven’t sampled their offerings yet I highly suggest you give it a shot on your next trip.  There will be a meet at La Cava del Tequila on March 7, 210 at 4 p.m. as part of the wdwtoday Tentfest events.  I will be there and would love to have a margarita with any of the readers!

And a special thanks to my friend Julie Saunders for some of this week’s photos!

Next week I’ll discuss my recent stay at the Boardwalk Inn…

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Lines Now Supporting… The iPad!

by on January 27, 2010

This tweet says it all. Who’s going to be the first TouringPlanner in the parks with one of those new snazzy iPads?

(ok, we haven’t actually _tried_ Lines on the iPad… but we’re pretty darn sure it’ll look good. heck, you can even try it on Safari right now!). Haven’t tried Lines yet? Go Subscribe and navigate to http://m.touringplans.com” on your iPhone, Blackberry, Android, or Palm Pre!

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Disney’s Princess Half Marathon – The Journey Begins

by on January 27, 2010

I am running in Disney’s Princess Half Marathon March 7, 2010. I am not a runner. I am a dancer with a goal.  If there was ever a location that would motivate me to run — it’s Disney World.  I’ve only told a few people that I am running in this.  Once they process this odd sentence coming from my lips, they smile at me and say, “Ahh. This is just an excuse to go to Disney World again.”  I smile coyly and say nothing.  You know the truth.

My husband and I were going to do this together. However, a few days after I registered, he realized he has a business trip he can not miss. Now I am trying to talk one of my sons into running it. I, however, will persevere. 

As I write, the Princess Half Marathon is 93% full. So if you are thinking about running — register now.  A few things to note — your $120 registration fee is non refundable.  You must be at least 14 years old and be able to maintain a 16-minute per mile pace.  If unable to keep that pace you will be picked up and transported to the finish line and will not receive a finisher’s medal.   If you can finish the Half Marathon in less than 2 hours and 45 minutes, proof of time is required.  God Bless you.

I am clear on what is required and confident that I meet the guidelines. Now it’s time to think about the important things like where will I stay. As you can see from the map, the Half Marathon begins in Epcot.

Disney's Princess Half Marathon map 2010

 I am thinking the Polynesian might be my best option?  Then I thought about the Boardwalk?  That is a long walk to the front of Epcot.  Today when I spoke to someone at Disney, I was informed that we would start on a highway.  Now wait a minute, I had visions of the Magic Kingdom and Epcot distracting me while I run to the finish line. Distraction is what I need most.  I am hoping the costumes from the participants will be enough of a distraction on the “highway portion” of the trail.

I have been training, but I have a long way to go.  I will continue to research and keep you abreast of any new info I discover.  I have found WDWToday podcast to be extremely helpful.  I would love to hear your insider tips and suggestions that you have.  I need to put some Zipadee-doo-dah in my step.  I am off to the races.

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WDW Today Episode 674 – Listener Questions

by on January 27, 2010

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Episode 674 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

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Fantastic Lines Review By Early Beta Tester

by on January 25, 2010

Todd Perlmutter, one of the early beta testers for Lines, wrote a fantastic review and history of the product entitled: TouringPlans.com Lines: Consumption, Contribution, & Gaming. I swear we didn’t put him up to this!

Have any questions, comments, feedback on Lines? Leave it here below in the comments, and I’ll get to it ASAP!

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Samland Visits the Studios – Streets of America & More

by on January 25, 2010

Samland continues to visit Walt Disney World land by land.  Today he takes a walk through the Studios Streets of America area and a look at Commissary Lane.  Last week was video week with a Disneyland video week with the best place to eat a Dole Whip and the Main Street party line phones.

STREETS OF AMERICA

The idea for this park was launched in 1985 and for the first time a Disney theme park was opened merely to fit a business need and be a model of controlled growth in reaction to anticipated demand. At the time, this half-day park was designed to compliment a visit to Typhoon Lagoon and Pleasure Island. Just as important was dual function of being a real production studio with three sound stages, production offices, a postproduction audio and video facility; it’s own wardrobe, property, camera, and lighting departments. The facilities featured glass walls so that visitors could peek inside a working movie-making facility. Projects shot on the back lot include Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, Passenger 57 and TV shows like The Mickey Mouse Club and Wheel of Fortune.

The building facades use a cinematic trick known as forced perspective. This technique is used throughout Walt Disney world. Legendary Imagineer John Hench defines forced perspective as “a form of one-point linear perspective in which receding space is compressed by exaggerating the proximity of the implied vanishing point to the viewer”. Forced perspective is the design pattern that gives buildings the appearance of greater height and scale. It is why the castle looks so grand and Everest looks so tall. In the back lot area, it allows the designers to fit in the New York or San Francisco skylines in such a small space.

Playing with scale is also a feature of the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set. Realizing there wasn’t enough to do for small children, the Imagineers worked in record time to design and fabricate the attraction. This type of stage area is an example of another cinematic trick used in Disney films.

COMMISSARY LANE

Within the walls of the ABC Commissary is a 50-foot Art Deco mural of the Studios most iconic buildings. They include the front gate, the Animation Courtyard gate, and the entrance to the Chinese Theater, the American Idol Experience theater, and others.

One of the Imagineering tools is what they call “Atmospheric” architecture. The Imagineers define Atmospheric architecture as “creating the illusion that visitors are outdoors, although they are actually indoors.” The first application in a Disney theme park was the Blue Bayou within Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean. EPCOT has the San Angel Inn within the Mexican Pavilion. The Imagineers took this concept to the extreme with the Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater Restaurant.

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WDW Today Episode 673- The Grand Review

by on January 24, 2010

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Episode 673 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

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WDW Today Episode 672 – 2010 Marathon Recap

by on January 21, 2010

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Episode 672 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

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Opa! Dinner at Kouzzina

by on January 21, 2010

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On my December trip I got the opportunity to try Disney’s newest culinary offering: Kouzzina.  Disney has partnered with celebrity chef Cat Kora to serve guests Greek and Mediterranean dishes inspired by the Kora’s family recipes.  Located at the Boardwalk, this restaurant is easy to visit when touring Epcot or staying in the Epcot resort area.  If you’d like to escape the parks for a little while simply exit Epcot at the International Gateway and take the boat or walk over to the Boardwalk Inn.  Kouzzina has joined the lineup of fun spots to sample at the Boardwalk.

My friends and I originally made an advanced dining reservation (ADR) for four people, but wound up with six.  The cast members were happy to accommodate a larger group without any problem.  It may have been because it was about 9 p.m., but it was nice to easily make the switch nonetheless.  We were quickly seated and our server recommended a Greek beer called Mythos and most of us were happy to take him up on it.  The beer was light and quite tasty so I highly recommend giving it a try.  There were also several wine selections including flights for guests who prefer grapes to hops.

Greek isn’t generally my favorite cuisine (I don’t like feta or cucumbers) so I was a little weary of eating here, but I was pleasantly surprised to really enjoy my meal.   Our group decided to split an appetizer since we were all pretty hungry.  We decided to get two servings of Kouzzina spreads for the table which came with grilled pita bread and three spreads to sample including harissa yogurt, Kalamata fig, and chickpea hummus.  Our server explained that harissa is a traditional Greek spice with a bit of zip.  He was right!  The harissa yogurt spread was a bit spicy, but not overwhelming,  the fig offering was a bit sweet and lovely, and the hummus was typical (but yummy) hummus.

Our group was split down the middle when it came to entrees.  Two of my buddies and I decided on the lamb burger and the rest of us went with the fisherman’s stew.  We all agreed it was awesome!  It consisted of a selection of shell fish as well as a seasonal white fish in a tomato based broth.  The broth had a bit of kick to it, but it was delicious.  My dining companions who tried the lamb burger also raved about it.  There was quite a bit of the spicy harissa blended with the meat along with feta cheese and olives making it pretty hot.  Folks who like to turn up the heat will surely want to give this dish a chance.  By that point we were too full to try dessert so I’ll have to save room next time.

Not only was the food tasty, but the atmosphere was a lot of fun.  We had a great time sharing pita, drinking Greek beer, and hanging out.  The Cast Members never rushed us, even though it was getting late and they yelled “opa!” every time someone accidentally broke a dish.  The kitchen is open so guests can get a glimpse of the action.  We were seated relatively far from the kitchen so we did not pay much attention to this feature, but I’m sure some guests love the chance to watch the chefs at work.  If you aren’t sure about some of the ingredients on the menu, your server will be happy to explain and there is also a glossary on the menu to help you out.

Overall, I had a great time and a great meal at Kouzzina and I look forward to returning.  I’ve heard good things about their breakfast menu so maybe we’ll give that a try soon.  Have any of you dined here yet?  Let me know what you thought about it!

Next week I’ll be taking a look at another recent addition to WDW…

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