Beyond the Parks

Why This Disney World Regular Wants to Go on a Disney Cruise

by on March 25, 2015

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The Disney Dream

Disney World is my favorite place on earth and I love to visit as much as I can. There’s plenty to do with four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping district, and a number of incredibly themed resorts; but this Disney World Regular has her eye set on another Disney vacation for her next trip: a Disney Cruise! I have wanted to experience the Disney Cruise Line for years; but I must admit, I’m not much of a beach person and when having to choose between Disney World and a Disney Cruise, Disney World has always won out. But lately, I’ve learned a lot more about the Disney Cruise Line and have actually booked my first Disney Cruise on the Disney Dream for this summer! So keep reading to find out why this Disney World Regular wants to go on a Disney Cruise.

Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay (Photo Courtesy of www.disneyworldenthusiast.com)

To Visit Castaway Cay: For anyone who knows about Castaway Cay, this should be an easy one. I mean, it’s Disney’s own private island! Who wouldn’t want to go there? The Disney Cruise Line ships are able to pull right up to the island and enjoy designated beaches: the Family Beach, Serenity Bay Beach for adults, and even a beach area reserved just for teens. There are characters, places to eat, shops, water play areas, and the chance to experience Port Adventures, otherwise known as excursions. Just a few things to do on Castaway Cay include biking, glass bottom boats, snorkeling, parasailing, and even the chance to run the Castaway Cay 5-K. Basically, Castaway Cay sounds like a real life Neverland where there’s something for everyone and every preference, but all with the Disney touch. Want to know more? Check out how to have the perfect day at Castaway Cay.

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The Cove: Best Port Canaveral Dining

by on March 20, 2015

Waterfront dining at The Cove in Port Canaveral, with something for everyone.

Waterfront dining at The Cove in Port Canaveral, with something for everyone.

Port Canaveral has always been unique — a commercial fishing port sharing space with recreation and dining. Today, it’s becoming one of the busiest cruise ports in the United States, as a home port for Disney, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Cruise Lines, as well as numerous deep-sea fishing, casino, and sight-seeing boats. Despite all the tourism, Port Canaveral remains a thriving port for fishermen, and that makes its restaurant and bar corridor, The Cove, an awesome place to check out local, fresh-caught seafood.

What restaurant should you visit while you’re at the Cove? Well, they’re so close together, a bar crawl isn’t out of the question. But if you’re looking for the perfect Port Canaveral dining for you and your family, we’re here to help! My family and I have sampled the dining, drinks, and atmosphere at several Cove restaurants, and we’ve ranked them for you based on the best for vacation atmosphere, fresh seafood, family dining, and hanging with the locals. Take a look!

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Disney Savvy Tips for Typhoon Lagoon

by on March 17, 2015

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Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon

 

In addition to four theme parks, the Walt Disney World Resort also offers two water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Both of these water parks boast unique themes and, in true Disney fashion, a great story! Typhoon Lagoon, the older of the two parks, is meant to be a little tropical resort that was drenched and tossed by a typhoon which created pools, tossed items onto rooftops and into trees, and left the Miss Tilly boat perched atop Mount Mayday! This park is a windblown paradise with little gags wherever you turn; and it’s also home to some popular ways to get wet, such as the thrilling Humunga Kowabunga slides, the relaxing Castaway Creek, the iconic Surf Pool, and the Crush n’ Gusher water coaster. If you’re considering a visit to this popular water park, check out these Disney Savvy Tips for Typhoon Lagoon to make your day as magical as possible.

But wait! There are a few things you should know first before planning a trip to Typhoon Lagoon. First of all, Disney is now offering a 1-Day Water Park Pass which provides one-day admission to either Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach for $61.77 with tax for ages 10 and up or $53.25 for ages 3-9 with tax. This now means you can water park hop for a day! You can also purchase a Water Parks Annual Pass with unlimited admission to both water parks for $117.15 with tax for adults, or $105.44 with tax for kids ages 3-9. But if you have a Premium Annual Passport, you already have the privilege of unlimited admission to both parks.

So are you ready for some Disney Savvy tips?

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Best Space Coast Beaches for Disney Day-Trips

by on March 13, 2015

Adding a beach day to your Disney vacation? Cocoa Beach bills itself as Orlando’s closest beach, but in reality, it’s just one municipality in two dazzling stretches of coast-line. There are plenty of other beaches within a 60-90 minute drive-time of Disney World. How to choose, besides just getting in the car and pointing it east or west?

My family and I took on the arduous task of exploring the best Space Coast beaches, all so that you can choose the right beach for your family! For each one, we’ll look at a few factors that might play into your choice: like convenience, facilities, and quality of the beach. For the purposes of this article, we’re keeping the drive from the Disney area to under 90 minutes. We’re going to start in the south, at Satellite Beach, and work our way north towards Port Canaveral, in Cape Canaveral.

A quiet shoreline in Satellite Beach.

A quiet shoreline in Satellite Beach. You won’t find this in Cocoa Beach.

Peace and Quiet in Satellite Beach: For true peace and quiet, drive south to Satellite Beach. You’ll find a 50s-era beach town along A1A, just south of the Pineda Causeway and Patrick Air Force Base, home to charming houses, inoffensive low-rise condos, and some basic shopping and dining. The quiet beaches and tropical dunes are the draw to Satellite Beach. Public access beaches with free parking, a basic shower, and a boardwalk over the dune are pretty easy to find. There are also a few public parks, some with restroom facilities. Interestingly, even the bare-bones public parks fill up, while public access lots just a few hundred feet away sit empty. Try public access unless you’re staying all day and want restrooms close at hand.

Recommended Public Access:

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Foodie Awards: Where Locals Eat (Part 3)

by on March 9, 2015

And here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for — the final installment where we review dining near Walt Disney World deemed great by the Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards, by readers and the Sentinel’s food critic. If you missed part one or part two, you can read them here and here. Now, on with the list!

TooJays (Runner-Up, Readers’ Choice: Best Sandwich), 7600 Dr. Phillips Boulevard, Orlando.

matzoh ball soup

Matzoh ball soup, like that served at TooJays, is good for what ails you. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Truth told, if I was in that area, I’d go across the shopping center to Which Wich? for a sandwich, which is my choice for best sandwich. If I’m at TooJays, I’m ordering one of their meals, or matzoh ball soup, or desserts. Their sandwiches are good, though, if that’s what you’re in the mood for, and they have their own deli counter as well.

Big Fin Seafood Kitchen (Runner-Up, Readers’ Choice: Best Seafood), 8046 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Ways to Repurpose Your Extra MagicBands

by on March 7, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Ways to Repurpose Your Extra MagicBands. MagicBands. We all have ‘em. They multiply faster than Tribbles on the USS Enterprise or selfie sticks at a theme park. But what do you do with all the extra MagicBands you have lying around your house? Throw them away? Seems wasteful in this era of going “green,” and besides, we have more important things at WDW to take to the dump.  Sell them on eBay? Good luck, the only thing with less value is a share of SeaWorld stock. But, there has to be something we can do with all these bands… right?

Have no fear, the crack team at the SATURDAY SIX offices got together and came up with six ways you can use MagicBands in your everyday life. This is life hacking meets theme parks and we’ll start it all off with…

# 6 – Pet Collars

Pet owners around the world have been forced to buy expensive pet collars from the Big Chains for years, but did you know that you can reuse your MagicBands as the perfect* collar for the Aristocats or 101 Dalmations in your household?

MagicBand_petcollar_Laurel

“I’ve got 8 lives, do you? May want to sleep with one eye open for a little while pal.”

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Space Coast Restaurants: Dixie Crossroads

by on March 6, 2015

Cape Canaveral Platter - Natalie Reinert

The Cape Canaveral Special – local seafood from Dixie Crossroads in Titusville.

Looking for the freshest seafood in Florida? If you’re visiting Port Canaveral or Cocoa Beach on your Florida vacation, you’re in for a treat — the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean have been keeping fishermen, chefs, and the diners who love them busy for generations. It’s a haven for seafood lovers, but not every restaurant is really serving up the local catch. There are plenty of worthy Space Coast restaurants, but if you’re looking for a seafood restaurant with a unique local history, Dixie Crossroads is a must-visit.

Dixie Crossroads has been serving up a variety of fresh Florida seafood for decades. When in-season, the menu offers up local mullet from the Indian River, oysters, wild-caught shrimp, scallops, even Maine Lobster — but its real claim to fame is the delicacy that Dixie Crossroads invented all on their own: broiled rock shrimp. You’ve never had rock shrimp, you say? Well then my dears, you haven’t lived.

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Disney It Yourself: Habit Heroes App and Sum of All Thrills Game Reviews

by on March 3, 2015

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Here I am again with more game reviews based off of different attractions found at Innoventions. If you missed my review of the Great Piggy Bank Adventure App, read that here.

These reviews are part of my new series, DIY (Disney It Yourself), where I explore different ways to enjoy Disney Parks at home.

As you’ll soon see, I experienced hits along with a few misses. First on the list: the Habit Heroes App!

Habit Heroes

The Habit Heroes app was introduced in the Apple App Store December 12th, 2012. It can also be downloaded via Google Play. It is based off the attraction of the same name, found at Innoventions East in Epcot. The app states:

The Habit Heroes mobile app is a comic book that chronicles the adventures of the healthy Habit Heroes as they clean up health hazards around the globe. Each comic book issue unlocks an interactive tool that helps foster healthy habits in your every day life.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! February 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on February 28, 2015

MMM positiveIs February already over?! What a month. We got the inevitable yearly ticket price hikes, got the first details on both Star Wars Weekends and the holiday hard ticket parties, saw Big Hero 6 shock the world and take home the Oscar for Best Animated Film, found out Spider-Man would be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe (YES! YES! YES!) and – most importantly – found out Duck Tales will be returning to TV! It’s a good thing this month is only 28 days because we don’t think we could handle any more (especially since we wasted an entire day on Llamas on the loose and that ridiculous white/gold blue/black dress meme.) We know a lot of you have had a rough month in the area of weather, and we can certainly sympathize. In fact it almost got down to 50 degrees one night this month and we had to pull a blanket out of the closet to stay warm.

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).

First up is an item I have wanted for a long time and almost cried seeing it at the Outlets. A Polynesian Luau Bowl! Originally marked $49.95, this was reduced to $24.99.

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I think by now most people know how much I love the Marketplace Co-op at Downtown Disney and a big reason for that is the many Adventureland/Polynesian inspired pieces they have. I’ve also seen these Luau bowls at the actual Poly whenever I go to ‘Ohana, and behind glass cases at the Art of Disney store. This bowl is something I’ve always wanted but never thought I would actually own.

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Central Florida Excursion: Bok Tower Gardens and Spook Hill

by on February 27, 2015

Bok Tower - Natalie Reinert

Bok Tower Gardens is a sanctuary of peace and quiet – the perfect addition to any Disney vacation (especially during high season).

Looking for a unique half-day destination near Disney World, LEGOLAND, and the other central Florida theme parks? Head south on Highway 27 for Lake Wales. This historic community, located in the rolling hills (yes, central Florida has rolling hills!) of the Lake Wales Ridge, is home to two attractions you won’t find anywhere else: Bok Tower Gardens and Spook Hill. They’re just a few miles apart, making this an easy two-part visit, less than an hour from Walt Disney World.

Bok Tower Gardens might not sound like a family destination at first. The serene gardens, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr. (the son of famed Central Park architect Frederick Law Olmstead), surround a neo-Gothic tower on a hilltop, known as the Singing Tower for its carillon of sixty brass bells. Anyone would be excused for thinking that this sounds more like an outing with the grandparents than a fun day out with kids, especially kids freshly hyped-up from a Disney vacation.

But this National Historic Landmark is worth a second look. The secluded winding pathways and broad grassy lawns? Great for kids who want to run and burn off some unregulated steam. The massive growths of tropical foliage and rare flowers? They make for a really convincing backdrop to your own personal dinosaur movie. (Note to self: bring plastic dinosaurs for a photoshoot next time). The park benches placed to give you the best views of citrus groves and rolling hills from the one of the highest points in peninsular Florida? An awesome place to relax and take in the scenery while the kids do their running-around thing on the grassy slope.

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