Adults

Using an Electric Scooter (ECV) at Walt Disney World

by on January 22, 2015

Renting a scooter can help your senior keep up.

Your chariot awaits!

My mom, Terri, has two autoimmune diseases: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Rhematoid Arthritis (RA). Because of this, walking for long periods of time (especially in the hot sun) causes her pain, dizziness and exhaustion. We have visited Walt Disney World many times and each time, she did her best to explore the parks on foot. However, as her diseases progressed, walking became more and more difficult for her. She tried to walk slower and take more breaks, but we could still see the pain in her eyes. My mom is a selfless and caring person, so she felt guilty. She felt she was holding us back and letting us down. She saw us changing plans to accommodate her and so she started making excuses to stay behind in the room to prevent any inconveniences.

Time for a Change

I noticed her attitude change, and explained that she was neither an inconvenience nor letting us down. I don’t see her as a woman with two diseases. I see her as my loving mother. My family and I love spending time with her and were so sad to see her missing out on the fun. I spoke with my Dad and we approached the subject of an electric scooter, or electric conveyance vehicle (ECV). At first, she declined. She was embarrassed because she thought she would be the only one using one. She thought getting around would be difficult and using Disney transportation would be a hassle.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter

by on January 17, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. Regular readers of the Saturday Six know how much we enjoy staying onsite at the Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World, and while Disney is challenged to compete with some the amenities that Universal can offer its guests, where it does shine is the overall amount and unique hotels on property. Universal has a total of four onsite hotels (soon to be five with the opening of Sapphire Falls in 2016) while Disney has five value resorts alone, not to mention all the moderate, deluxe, and DVC resorts on property. Today we are going to look at our absolute favorite moderate: Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

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Port Orleans French Quarter.

 

Disney’s Port Orleans is broken up into two sections: French Quarter, and Riverside, the latter of which is the much larger of the two resorts. While Riverside certainly has its fans (in fact we’d probably consider it our extremely close second favorite moderate,) we prefer Port Orleans (POFQ) and here are six reason why, starting with…

# 6 - Sassagoula Float Works and Food Factory

French Quarter doesn’t have a table service restaurant (although Riverside’s Boatwright’s Dining Hall is a short walk away,) but it does have a fantastic counter service with the Sassagoula Float Works. Set up like a mall food court, there are several different stations offering Louisiana-inspired dishes such as Po’Boys, Jambalaya, Gumbo, and Beignets. For lunch you can not go wrong with one of the various Po’Boys (our favorites were the pork and beef versions) along with a side of bean salad or house-made chips. As we wrote about in our review of the Fantasy Fare food truck, Disney makes surprisingly good chips. For dinner you gotta go with the Jambalaya or Pot Roast, and any time of the day is good for an order of beignets. Made fresh-to-order and covered in powdered sugar, these beignets are one of the best treats at WDW.

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Pork Po’Boy with bean salad from Sassagoula Float Works and Food Factory.

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Universal Dining: The Cowfish in Universal CityWalk

by on January 5, 2015

The Cowfish was the final piece of Universal CityWalk‘s year long renovation that brought eight new dining venues to the resort. Cowfish joins Red Oven Pizza Bakery, Antojitos, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, Bread Box, Vivo Italian Kitchen, Cold Stone Creamery, and Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt as the new kids on the block, joining longtime CityWalk restaurants such as Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and the Hard Rock Cafe. Cowfish is located in the former home of Starbucks, who moved downstairs to the main strip of CityWalk, next to Cold Stone Creamery.

While Cowfish arrived last, it was possibly the most anticipated of CityWalk’s new locations from the minute they were all announced back in 2013. A one-of-kind dining concept that melds pan-Asian cuisine with the good ol’ American burger, Cowfish was bringing something completely unique to the table. While many were expecting a mouth watering and innovative menu, what no one saw coming was the amount of humor and interactivity that debuted with Cowfish, including its photo-op outside the restaurant that allows guests to saddle up and ride a cowfish.

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The Cowfish. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Run-down of runDisney Events at Walt Disney World in 2015

by on January 4, 2015

January 7-11 runners from all over will gather for the largest and longest of the runDisney events at Walt Disney World for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. 2015 marks the 21st anniversary of the first running of the race, which was held on January 16, 1994. Marathon Weekend is a jam packed five days of running, eating, shopping, and celebrating fitness and Disney. Runners walk (or run) away with some serious bragging rights and some awesome medals to go along with it – not to mention, some really cool swag from the Health and Fitness Expo.

2015 Marathon Swag ©Disney

2015 Marathon Swag ©Disney

In 2015 there are three more runDisney events at Walt Disney World to look forward to. Below is a briefing of all 2015 events and their costs, along with whether or not registration is still open (as of the time this article was written. It is best to check the event’s webpage and with runDisney directly for up to date availability).

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

January 7-11, 2015 (see race results here after the races)

All races sold out.

  • Marathon – 26.2 miles through all four parks and the Wide World of Sports complex; $170-200
  • Half Marathon – 13.1 miles through Magic Kingdom and Epcot; $170-200
  • Goofy Challenge – 39.3 miles by completing both the Marathon and Half Marathon; $360-400
  • 10k – 6.2 miles around Epcot and the Epcot Resort area; $105-135
  • Family Fun Run 5k – 3.1 miles through Epcot; $60-70
  • Dopey Challenge – 48.6 miles by completing ALL four events above (5k, 10k, ½ marathon, marathon); $530-590
  • Castaway Cay Challenge – 3.1 miles around Castaway Cay plus completion of one of the above races; $65 (plus a booking on the Disney Cruise 4-night Bahamian cruise)
  • Runner’s World Challenge – completion of the Dopey Challenge; $999 (along with the normal runDisney bling you received quite a few bonuses that included preferred coral placement, help with training, access to a private website, entry into the Pasta in the Park and Race Retreat events)
  • Kids Races – 1 mile Mickey run, 400m dash, 200m dash, 100m dash, Diaper Dash (all dependent upon age); $15-30
  • Non-racing events – Health and Fitness Expo, Pasta in the Park Party, Breakfast, Race Retreat, Cool Down Party, and the ChEAR Squad; prices vary per event

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An Evening out with Yehaa Bob at Disney World’s Riverside Resort

by on January 4, 2015

Copyright - Bob Jackson

Copyright –  Yehaa Bob Jackson

Have you ever had interaction with one of the blue nametag elite at one of the Disney parks? Do you know that the blue nametag has special meaning? Those who wear it have received the highest honor of being bestowed with the Legacy Award, which is the highest honor cast members, crew members, and Imagineers can achieve at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Recipients are nominated and selected by their leaders and peers for consistently inspiring others, going out of their way to create happiness for guests and other team members, and finding new ways to deliver Disney magic.

One of the recipients of the Legacy Award in 2013 was the lively entertainer Yehaa Bob Jackson, who has been with the company for more than 17 years. To be honest, Bob was not even on my Disney radar until rather recently, but has quickly risen to one of my favorite reasons to love Disney. His shows are family friendly, loud, and just a righteous good time.

Flashback: Three years ago during our first stay at Walt Disney World’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. One evening, on our way back to our room we walked by the bar area and witnessed a raucous crowd who we assumed were just loud inebriated guests.

Fast Forward: One year later a fellow Disney friend was excitedly telling me about an upcoming show he was going to Ohio featuring Yehaa Bob. I concealed my ignorance and rejoiced for him. But immediately took to the internet to see who this Disney personality was. What I found were scenes of our “inebriated guests” from the year before. Only, they weren’t inebriated. And some of them were kids! I knew I had to see him in person.

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Review: Animal Kingdom Lodge DVC Deluxe Studio Villa at Kidani Village

by on December 31, 2014

While Disney World offers a vast variety of different resorts to choose from for guests staying on property, the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Villas offer even more options and experiences, particularly when it comes to room sizes! During my last few trips to Disney World, I had the opportunity to enjoy stays at several different DVC Villas; but today, I’m zeroing in on Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in this review of an Animal Kingdom Lodge DVC Deluxe Studio Villa at Kidani Village.

Kidani Village Lobby

Kidani Village Lobby

First of all, the Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s own timeshare program where members purchase and use points for their vacation experiences. It can be difficult to understand, but Disney Vacation Club (DVC) 101: What is DVC? can help fill in the gaps. If you are not a Disney Vacation Club Member, the good news is that you can still stay at a DVC Resort! You can do so by booking through Disney, just as you would any other resort; however, other guests like to rent points from a 3rd party or directly from other members. If you chose the latter, we recommend that you go through a reputable third party or from a member you know personally (as opposed to a random person on the internet).

My family and I had never stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge before. We had dropped by the resort in years past for a dinner at Boma and to do some exploring, but that was the extent of our experience. However, for many years, we had been hearing from others that Animal Kingdom Lodge was one of the best resorts at Disney World and a big favorite; and so when we got the opportunity to stay a week in a DVC Deluxe Studio Villa at the resort’s Kidani Village, we couldn’t turn down the chance to check it out for ourselves.

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 24: Lapu Lapu at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

by on December 24, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY FOUR: Lapu Lapu at the Tambu Lounge (Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort)

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Lapu Lapu at the Tambu Lounge.

 

We are in the middle of huge changes going on at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The Pineapple Lanai quick service station opened earlier this year, offering guests an easy way to grab a Dole Whip outside of the Magic Kingdom. The recently renovated lobby area opened, the DVC bungalows on the Poly beach should open in the spring, and 2015 will also bring the long awaited Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. While all this change is exciting, two things at this Deluxe resort are staying exactly the same: ‘Ohana and the Tambu Lounge. Located on the second floor of the Grand Ceremonial House, the Tambu Lounge is effectively the waiting area for ‘Ohana, but guests can go any time and order off the menu. Here is where you can find the iconic Lapu Lapu. Served out of an hollowed out pineapple, this legendary drink is a combination of Myers’ Original dark rum and tropical fruit juices while topped with Bacardi 151 rum.

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 23: Duff Beer at Duff Brewery

by on December 23, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY THREE: Duff Beer at Duff Brewery (Universal Studios Florida)

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“Here’s to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” – Homer Simpson (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

Just as Universal Studios Florida itself will celebrate its 25 year anniversary in 2015, The Simpsons television show celebrated its silver anniversary this year. Since 1989, Homer and the gang in Springfield, USA have been making us laugh with hilarious observations on American culture. One of the longest running  gags of the series is Duff Beer, Homer’s favorite drink of choice. Universal made Duff Beer a reality in 2013 when it expanded its own Springfield area of the park with Fast Food Blvd, Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck, Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl, and Duff Brewery.

Duff Brewery has seating around the bar along with many tables nearby facing the Universal lagoon and the London Waterfront facade of Diagon Alley. In trademark Simpsons fashion, Duff Brewery has hilarious mock beer ads, along with nods to the iconic show itself, such as full size topiaries of the “Seven Duffs” (a takeoff on Disney’s Seven Dwarfs.) Duff Brewery offers Duff, Duff Lite, and Duff dry in bottles, along with Duff and Duff Lite on draught. For people of a certain age, Duff Beer is synonymous with growing up as Aunt Beru’s Blue Milk on Tatooine or Butterbeer in Hogsmeade village.

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 22: “Carl’s Combo” at Rose & Crown

by on December 22, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY TWO: “Carl’s Combo” at Rose & Crown (Epcot)

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A “Carl’s Combo” (half Bass Ale followed by half Bass Ale) at Rose & Crown. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

One of our absolute favorite places to get a drink at Walt Disney World is at the Rose & Crown pub in Epcot’s World Showcase. With a terrific atmosphere and several of our favorite brews on tap, Rose & Crown is the perfect spot for a quick pint and an order of fish and chips. One of the things that separates World Showcase from any other environment in the Orlando theme parks is that the Cast Members are from the specific countries, giving guests authentic interactions with different cultures. While service at Rose & Crown is terrific across the board, bartender Carl is a standout and one of the most memorable CMs on property. With a warm smile, great conversation, and how-did-he-do-that bar tricks, Carl gives just about every guest a magical moment so we are nominating today’s drink in honor of him with Carl’s Combo. On the menu, you’ll find it listed as the Grand Imperial Pint, but longtime Rose & Crown guests know this half Bass Ale/half Stella Artois by its rightful name, Carl’s Combo.

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 21: Maelstrom Margarita at La Cava del Tequila

by on December 21, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY ONE: Maelstrom Margarita at La Cava del Tequila (Epcot)

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You are the not the first to drink this, nor will you be the last. Maelstrom Margarita at La Cava del Tequila. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

One of the biggest stories of the theme park year was Maelstrom being shut down to make room for a ride based on the movie Frozen. News of the change became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter with guests from across the globe posting their own #SaveMaelstrom pics. Opening in July of 1988, many WDW guests have never known an Epcot without Maelstrom. Norway’s neighbor in World Showcase is Mexico, home of La Cava del Tequila. Paying tribute to the beloved attraction, La Cava unveiled the Maelstrom Margarita. This new drink is one of the few bright spots of this entire ordeal, so let’s raise a toast to one of the most unique rides in Disney history. Here’s to the Vikings, trolls, polar bears, oil rigs, and even the six minute Spirit of Norway film most of us walked by without watching. You are all in our hearts forever, and shall not be forgotten.

Ingredients: Premium Ambhar Tequila blanco, mango puree, orange liquor, and agave nectar. Served with blueberries, habanero peppers, basil and Tajin chili powder on the rim. (The rumored secret ingredient of a dash of tears from a Disney fanboy has not been confirmed.)

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