Beyond the Parks

Meet Unofficial Guide Authors in Celebration March 9 and 11

by on January 29, 2015

Event flyer

Event flyer

Authors of the Unofficial Guide series, including TouringPlans’ own Seth Kubersky, Laurel Stewart, and Len Testa will be at the West Osceola Library in Celebration, Florida, March 9 for a Q&A with aspiring writers. Bob Sehlinger (UG to WDW, Disneyland, WDW for Kids, and Las Vegas) and Liliane Opsomer (UG to WDW with Kids) will attend as well. Seth and Laurel will also be at a meet and greet at the library March 11. Both events are at 7PM. The library is at 305 Campus St., Celebration, FL 34747.

We look forward to seeing you!

 

 

 

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Non-Disney Pizza delivered to your Resort

by on January 26, 2015

Early last year as we rested in our Disney resort room one evening, I became quite startled as something came flying under our door into the room. This told me two things: 1) I would spend the rest of the vacation wondering what else was going to come under the door. 2) There were unauthorized solicitors of some sort on the floor of my building.

Classic Chicago Style © Uno

Classic Chicago Style © Uno

We quickly rose and looked out the window to see who the culprit was, but they were long gone. I suspect they were moving fast so Disney security would not detect them on property. We then investigated what had been thrust into the room. It turned out to be a flyer for pizza delivery; somewhat crude and lackluster. We decided to hang onto it for future, longer trips when we needed a break from Disney food (don’t judge).

Later that year when we were planning for our return trip, we scheduled an evening for pizza delivery from our mystery solicitors. Then I stumbled upon a thread on one of the many Facebook groups I follow, about where to get “good” pizza when in Orlando. Many people warned about the scams of ordering from these door stuffers. It was even suggested that they are not real businesses, only people looking to get your credit card number. Well, we weren’t up for taking that chance! We threw the flyer away and did more research on where we could get reputable pizza offsite that delivered to the resorts.

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Relocating to Florida: Part Three: The Florida Difference and Disney as a local

by on January 23, 2015

TouringPlans logoWe’ve made it to the final installment in my relocation series! Below are links to Part One and Part Two.

Part One: Weather and Finances

Part Two: New Surroundings and the Disney Distance

We’re back with fellow Touringplans bloggers Julia Mascardo and Natalie Reinert as we discuss the Florida difference and traveling to Walt Disney World as a local.

How often did you think you’d be visiting the parks?

Julia: I thought that we’d probably be at the parks once or twice a week.

Natalie: As long as we are living nearby, we’ll be at the parks a few times a week.

How often do you actually visit the parks?

Julia: Like we thought, once or twice is what we do in a typical week. We often do end up at a resort once a week as well, just to grab breakfast or dinner.

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Menu Monday: A Tribute to the Dole Whip

by on January 19, 2015

101_3616

My Dole Whip Float

It’s fresh and creamy, it’s cold and sweet, it’s literally paradise in a cup. It’s a Dole Whip! If you haven’t heard, this treat is as popular as some characters and attractions at Disney World and has the long lines to prove it. For those of you who haven’t sampled this famous Disney treat; and for those of you, like myself, who are craving one right now, check out this Tribute to the Dole Whip!

So what is a Dole Whip? A Dole Whip is pineapple-flavored soft-serve and the perfect blend of sweet and tang; but I must warn you, it’s addictive! In fact, during one of my trips to the Magic Kingdom last year, I waited in a thirty minute line for a Dole Whip and even got a sunburn in the process. But hey, I have no regrets. It was totally worth it!

Unlike other popular sweet treats at Disney World, like Mickey Premium Bars or cupcakes, Dole Whips can’t be found just everywhere. For many years, Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Aloha Isle in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom were the only locations where this snack was offered.

Fortunately, it seems that Disney has taken pity on us Dole Whip-crazed guests, and I’m glad to report that there are now more places than ever to enjoy a Dole Whip while at the Walt Disney World Resort. Let’s take a look at a few of the old, as well as the new, shall we?

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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.

POFQ_logo

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.

POFQ_BBQpoboy

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

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Relocating to Florida: Part Two – New Surroundings, Schools and The Disney Distance

by on January 16, 2015

Photo - Michael DahlgrenWelcome to Part Two of my relocation series! If you missed the beginning of this series where I interview fellow TouringPlans bloggers, Julia Mascardo and Natalie Reinert about weather and finances, read Part One to hear more about relocating to Florida.

Today, we’re going to discuss housing and living within close proximity to Walt Disney World. Let’s begin!

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The Walt Disney World Road Trip: Tips, Tricks and What Not to Do

by on January 14, 2015

Photo - Michael Dahlgren

Recently, my family decided to make a last minute trip to Disney World the week of New Year’s. Before everyone faints at the heresy of going during the busiest week of the year, my brother’s school was playing in a bowl game in Tampa, so my family decided to kill two birds with one stone. Quickly putting aside the loud warnings in the back of my head about the massive crowds, I couldn’t turn down a pseudo surprise Disney trip. The resort reservation was all set (we would be staying at a Finding Nemo Suite in Disney’s Art of Animation Resort), and I already had my annual pass, but the flight fares were absolutely insane from Baltimore, which is the closest airport to me. Being a more intelligent person than I, my girlfriend suggested a simple alternative. Why don’t we just drive down? So we did. I hope everyone who is considering the possibility of driving instead of flying finds this useful.

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Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2015 Concert Line Up

by on January 12, 2015

Mardi Gras at Universal. ©Universal

Mardi Gras at Universal.
©Universal

Universal has released its 2015 Mardi Gras Concert line up. All 16 concerts are held at the Universal Music Plaza Stage and are included with admission to Universal Studios Florida park. The outdoor stage is located along between the Despicable Me and TWISTER attractions. Concerts are held rain or shine, and viewing spots (there are no seats) are secured on a first-come, first-served basis. There is an ADA viewing located at the far right side of the stage.

The schedule is:

Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2015

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Ways To Get Your Disney Fix Outside of the Theme Parks

by on January 10, 2015

This week’s  SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Ways To Get Your Disney Fix Outside of the Theme Parks. No one loves the Disney theme parks more than us, but sometimes you just can’t get to them no matter how much you want to be there. So today we are going to look at various ways you can get a taste of WDW, without paying the $90-$95 ticket cost to enter the turnstiles. Be forewarned, the more you quench your Disney thirst, the more you are going to want to book your next trip into the parks.

We are going to start off taking the 30,000 foot view (© Jim Hill) and look at things that anyone can enjoy anywhere in the world, while eventually making our way down to things available closer to the actual theme parks in Florida. With that out of the way, let’s being our countdown, starting with…

# 6 – Disney Related Books

DisneyBooks_Grassey

Selection of theme park books. (photo by Tim Grassey)

If you haven’t started already, now is the time to build your Disney library. Reading about Walt Disney World (as well as Disneyland and the Disney Cruise Line) is a great way to stay connected with the theme parks, no matter where you are. Anyone reading the SATURDAY SIX should be well versed on travel planning books, such as the Unofficial Guide to WDW 2015, but that theme park bible is just the tip of the iceberg. There are books on finding Hidden Mickeys, books on Disney Imagineers, and books on Disney attractions. I personally love the Imagineering Field Guides (such as the ones for Animal Kingdom and Epcot) because of their small size, allowing me to take them with me on the go without a hassle.

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Relocating To Florida: Part One – Weather and Finances

by on January 9, 2015

Photo - DonkeyHotey via FlickrWe’re gearing up for another frigid Winter here in Minnesota. My nose would be longer than Pinocchio’s if I didn’t admit there were some days I thought to myself, “Man, it would be nice to just move and live at Disney World!”

Now, the odds of me living at Disney are very slim, but hypothetically, if I DID decide to move to the sunshine state, how would I go about this?

I did the research, and enlisted the help of two amazing women, who have gone through the relocation process, in an effort to make this series as informative as possible. I played the part of investigative reporter to interview Julia Mascardo (who relocated from Maryland) and Natalie Reinert (moved in December from New York City). Let’s see what these ladies had to say about relocating to Florida!

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