Archive for August, 2016

New Costume Guidelines for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

by on August 31, 2016

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

©Rikki Niblett

Wow! It’s already here! Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party kicks off on Friday event. It is a fun hard-ticketed event at the Magic Kingdom that invites Guests of all ages to experience the fun of Halloween with the fantastic Mickey’s Boo-To-You Parade (my favorite), an impressive fireworks spectacular in Hallowishes (also my favorite), trick or treating, dance parties, the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular stage show, and more. Of course, one of the most fun aspects of the party is the fact that you can dress up in costume.

A while back, Disney had claimed that Guests would not be able to dress up any longer for the parties, but that appears to have been rolled back, as Disney has now released there new costume guidelines that Guests will need to adhere to. Here are the guidelines that you now need to keep in mind:

 

General

  • Disney reserves the right to deny admission to or remove any person wearing attire that is considered inappropriate or attire that could detract from the experience of other Guests.
  • All Guests may dress as their favorite character, but may not pose for pictures or sign autographs for other Guests.
  • Costumes must be family-friendly and may not be obstructive, offensive, objectionable or violent.
  • Costumes may not contain any weapons that resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.
  • Costumes may not contain sharp objects, pointed objects or materials that may accidentally strike another Guest.

 

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! August 2016 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on August 31, 2016

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando.

The Disney Outlets: the true final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Testa, beginning year four of our five-year mission: to explore strange old stores, to seek out weird merchandise and ugly vinylmation, to boldly buy what no MagicBand has bought before.

We actually have a big surprise this month at the end of this fine blog, but we do have to start off with a little theme park news. Universal soft opened an E-Ticket restaurant – the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen (imagine a T-Rex Cafe for adults except the food is actually good) – and was promptly sued by someone claiming the restaurant was their idea. Some are claiming this is the most frivolous lawsuit against Universal since 2013, when the landmark case of Burgan vs. Comcast unjustly ruled that just because I said, “they should build more Harry Potter” after visiting Hogsmeade Village, I wasn’t responsible for the creation of Diagon Alley. I blame my lawyer.

Now while all of you were tweeting your thoughts on Disney changing the “obscene hand gesture” in Rock n Roller Coaster (warning, NSFW!) Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the quality Outlet coverage you expect deserve!

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

Prices were SLASHED this month on Tsum Tsums, marking them down to an unheard of $0.99. This of course brought out the merch jerks in droves, filling up their baskets with Tsums to flip.

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The infamous Mother Gothel Tsum Tsum (I think.)

I honestly thought we had seen every single piece of merchandise made for the Disneyland 60th Anniversary and yet more and more just keep coming to Outlets. Here is a Dapper Mickey photo clip Frame. Originally $14.95, now $7.99.

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Thank you Disneyland annual passholders, for not buying a single piece of merchandise and making me go through it all. Yes, I’m looking in your direction Tom Bricker, Guy Selga, and Matt Gottula.

Disneyland 60th iPhone 6 case on left. Originally $39.95, now $14.99. On the right is a Minnie Mouse one where the character is stuck on the case. Has a lot of thickness. Originally $39.95, now just $7.99.

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iPhone cases.

Some houses have “fine china” but we theme park fans know what our favorite dinnerware is. The smaller Disneyland 60th plate was originally $17.95, now $7.99. The larger one was originally $21.95, now $9.99.

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If author extraordinaire Seth Kubersky ever gets married, I volunteer for the Ashkenazi tradition to break these plates (and as many more as they’ll let me.)

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Personalizing Your MagicBands

by on August 31, 2016

When MagicBands first rolled out across Walt Disney World, design and accessorizing options were limited. Bored with the sparse selection, some guests (okay, I’m guilty) started to customize their MagicBands to feature their favorite Disney icons. As long as nothing interfered with the Mickey head, everything from painting, temporary tattooing, and fabric covering was fair game to personalize a MagicBand. Not one to miss an opportunity like this, Disney took note and started selling additional design options. Little by little, new designs began to appear. Now, there are tons of different ways to personalize your MagicBands, whether you purchase something special or do it yourself.

Standard MagicBands free to on-site guests

Standard MagicBands free to on-site guests

Standard MagicBands ($0 for on-site guests or $12.99 to purchase)

Available for free to Walt Disney World Resort Annual Passholders or guests staying on-site at Walt Disney World, these original MagicBands are just one solid color. Options include red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, and gray. Choosing the solid color is the only customization here, unless you count the fact that guests receiving these for free can have a name printed on the underside of the MagicBand. For guests purchasing these, they are now available on DisneyStore.com, the Shop Disney Parks app, or at many gift shops at Walt Disney World.

Open Edition MagicBands (start at $22.99)

Guests visiting Walt Disney World can purchase these via DisneyStore.com, the Shop Disney Parks app, or upon arrival in many of the resort and theme park gift shops. These MagicBands feature various Disney characters or icons from the parks. However, the color and design combinations are not customizable. For example, if you want Rapunzel from Tangled on your MagicBand, it only comes in purple. There is no option to print a name on the underside of these MagicBands either.

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New Fall Fun at the Magic Kingdom

by on August 30, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Fall is here! Ok…well it doesn’t feel like it is outside, but it certainly is the pumpkin season according to Walt Disney World. The decorations have gone up, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party begins on Friday, and the shows at the Magic Kingdom will be seeing some fun fall changes beginning this weekend.

First, beginning September 2, the brand new show, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire will include an all-new finale scene which will include new costumes, décor, choreography, and a new original song celebrating the season. The show is found on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage and includes Mickey and his troupe of Merry Makers. It is performed multiple times a day.

In addition, for those who love spending time soaking up all that Main Street USA has to offer, the Main Street Trolley Show will begin its annual fall show this weekend which includes great songs and dancing. If you haven’t ever caught the Trolley Show, you really should.

The fall really is my favorite time to visit Walt Disney World and part of it is because of these great experiences you can have at the Magic Kingdom. Who’s ready to celebrate. (Oh and who’s ready for pumpkin-flavored everything?)

Walt Disney World September 2016 Preview

by on August 30, 2016

Welcome to TouringPlans’ Walt Disney World September 2016 preview – we’ve sent our kids back to school, the weather is slightly less oppressive, and we’re ready to get our Food & Wine on. Who’s with us and ready for September?

Average Weather for Walt Disney World in September

 

September weather for Orlando - High 89, Low 74, 78% Humidity, 14 days with rain

September Weather for Orlando

 

 

 

 

 

High temperatures in Orlando finally drop back into the high 80s for September, but there’s still rain and the potential for hurricanes. In fact, Hurricane Gaston (he’s especially good at precipitating) is in the Caribbean right now getting ready to send rains to the Florida coast, and Tropical Depression 9 is in the Gulf. NOAA’s National Hurricane Center is an excellent resource for forecasts that may affect your September trip.

Pack extra shoes and an umbrella in case you get caught in the rain. And if you’re flying, don’t forget weather can impact your connections. Be prepared.

 

Upcoming Live Chats for September

School is starting again and so are Brian’s weekly Facebook Live shows. Beginning September 1 and continuing every Thursday after, Brian will go through that week’s news and take your questions. What time are the chats, you ask? We are leaving that up to you, so go vote right now over on Facebook. Check our Facebook and Twitter feeds on Wednesday for the winning time.

In addition to Brian’s weekly show, Guy will also be broadcasting on Facebook Live discussing Disneyland. Dates and times to be announced soon.

Times for all live chats are posted in advance on our Facebook page and on Twitter.

 

Walt Disney World September 2016 Park Crowds

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Ultimate Evening at the Magic Kingdom

by on August 30, 2016

If I learned anything during my six months as a Professional Intern at Walt Disney World, it was how to spend a night at the parks. It became a near-nightly ritual to run home from work at 5:00 PM, grab a quick sandwich, and be in Magic Kingdom’s bag check line by 5:45 PM. From then, the night was mine–from my favorite nighttime attractions to post-Wishes Mickey Bars and everything in between. So whether you’re a local passholder looking for a magical hiatus from your weekday routine or a park hopper trying to catch Wishes, here’s the guide to your ultimate evening at Magic Kingdom!

 

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Grab those FastPass+ Selections

Fire up your My Disney Experience app and grab those FastPass+ Selections at the beginning of the day, if not earlier! Try to make your selections for time slots before Wishes; That’s when the park is most crowded. My favorite nighttime trifecta: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion.

Pack Light

Magic Kingdom’s bag check can get pretty sticky during peak season, especially around 5:00-6:00 PM when many people are trying to get back into the parks after an afternoon break. If you can, ditch the bag and just bring the necessities (credit card, phone, wallet, MagicBand, etc.) so you can stick to the middle lane and cruise by bag check. You’ll only be in the parks for a few hours, so no need to go all out with a full park bag.

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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

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.

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

by on August 27, 2016

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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

by on August 26, 2016

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?

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