Dining

TouringPlansTV: BoardWalk Inn – Dining and Amenities + Video

by on December 6, 2016

I’m finally here with part 2 of my BoardWalk Inn review!

Here, I delve into the dining options, pools, recreation and amenities.

You’ve all been so patient, so I won’t keep you waiting any longer.

Check it out below!

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Highway In The Sky Dine-Around: A Memorable Monorail Meal

by on December 6, 2016

Private fireworks viewing overlooking Magic Kingdom ends the Highway In The Sky dinner.

Private fireworks viewing overlooking Magic Kingdom ends the Highway In The Sky dinner.

Last week, Disney announced a new upscale special dining event modeled after the popular “monorail crawl” many Disney fans love, called the Highway In The Sky Dine-Around progressive dinner. Offered Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (with a short break for the holiday season), this event highlights dining offerings at Disney’s Contemporary, Polynesian Village, and Grand Floridian Resorts in a four hour experience priced at $150 plus tax per person (gratuity included, no discounts of any kind offered).

I was lucky enough to book a spot for the first night of this event last Friday on a whim. As it turns out, there really was a bit of luck involved here, as the event is already nearly sold out through the initial booking period currently running through March 2017 (sporadic parties of 1 and 2 are available on select dates as of the date of this article)! Here, I’ll walk you through the logistics and food/beverage I enjoyed during the event, which I’m sure will change over time as this event settles into permanent status, but it will give you a good idea of how it all works and whether it would fit your dining preferences.

Booking and Arrival

First, a few notes about booking: Many guests attending Friday’s dinner noted that some Cast Members assisting in booking by phone had no clue what the event was (which can sometimes happen with new events). I was able to book online directly through the Disney site without hassle (by searching for the Highway in the Sky event page). On Thursday, I received a call from a Cast Member confirming my attendance and checking if I had any food allergies or accessibility concerns, as the event includes a set menu and several sets of stairs and standing throughout. I was also reminded that valet parking was included at the Contemporary Resort. All of these items were touches I’d expect of any upscale dining experience, so I was happy to see they hadn’t been lost in the shuffle of it being a new event.

I was told to check in to the podium at The Wave… restaurant around 6:30 PM (event start times will vary based on the time of Magic Kingdom’s fireworks on any given night). Several Cast Members were around to welcome me, and once all the business was settled, I was led into the lounge area in The Wave’s lobby, where one of the blue alien-spaceshippy trippy rooms had been reserved for our group. If you’re acquainted with these lounge areas, you’ll know they aren’t particularly huge, so I was curious to see how big our dining party would actually be. As everyone filtered in, the group grew to about 25 guests – a reasonable size that seemed intimate but not so small that you couldn’t socialize with lots of different people.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Disneyland Snacks You Gotta Try

by on December 3, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Disneyland Snacks You Gotta Try! Longtime readers of the SATURDAY SIX know that we have a big case of the munchies going on 24/7. In fact, because of the articles on The 10 Gallon Challenge at Whispering Canyon and the E-Ticket milkshakes at Universal’s Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, this fine blog series is now the third leading cause of adult onset diabetes in America (and look out soda, we’re coming for you!) This week however we are gonna head across the country over to Guy Selga’s neck of the woods and check out the tasty treats at the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland. Despite having only two parks compared to our four here in Florida, the Disneyland resort is chock full of incredibly unique and delicious items that you can only get out in California. This week we are going to look at six of our absolute favorite snacks, so sit back, loosen your belt a couple notches, and let’s begin our list with…

# 6 Matterhorn Macaroon

mattherhornmacaroon_glover

The Matterhorn Macaroon in front of the fabled Matterhorn itself. (photo by Brandon Glover)

If you go to Disneyland and don’t stop by the Jolly Holiday Bakery to get a Matterhorn Macaroon, you’re doing it wrong. A coconut macaroon shaped like the iconic Disney mountain, topped with white chocolate, and sprinkled with powdered sugar on top for an awesome snow-like appearance, the Matterhorn Macaroon is ultimate in synergy between theme park attractions and snacks. Oh, and it just so happens to taste GREAT.

# 5 – Mickey Beignets

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Mickey Beignet. (photo by Megan Stump)

Eventually we’ll be doing a blog on our favorite Mickey shaped food items, but one of our favorites is the sugary concoction found at the Mint Julep Bar or Cafe Orleans in New Orleans Square (the latter of which serves them with dipping sauces.) We often find ourselves stopping by Port Orleans French Quarter just to grab some beignets here in Florida, so seeing them in the classic Mickey shape in Anaheim brings two of our favorite things together in one. Now that’s synergy we can get behind. Even better, Disneyland also offers flavored beignets such as pumpkin spice during Halloween and peppermint for the Christmas season.

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PizzeRizzo: Classic Disney Pizza Under New Management

by on November 30, 2016

Neon and classic pizzeria signs welcome you to PizzeRizzo.I have a secret. It’s kind of shameful in the eyes of many Disney fans. It’s definitely shameful in the eyes of those who enjoy good food.

Are you ready?

I was really sad when Pizza Planet closed earlier this year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, because I actually liked the pizza there.

I’m sure many are now completely questioning any dining reviews I’ve ever written, but it’s true! It’s not the best pizza at Walt Disney World (which I’ll rank in an upcoming post), but it served its purpose – fast, relatively cheap, and meets the cheese-sauce-bread ratio that qualifies it as “pizza”. I wondered, therefore, whether changes made in the transformation of the Toy Story-themed Pizza Planet to the newly opened Muppets-themed PizzeRizzo would also affect the pizza.

In short: no, it’s still the same pizza (and side salads, and meatball subs). For many of you, that’s probably enough of a review to know what you’re getting into (same food, new themed area surrounding The new ordering area at PizzeRizzo is much bigger than before.your dining table). I will say, though, that a few things about PizzeRizzo pleasantly surprised me, which I’ll share below.

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TBT: Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks in 2015

by on November 23, 2016

Greetings! TouringPlans.com Blog Manager Brian here to welcome you to the continuation of TBT: Throwback Thanksgiving week here on the blog. All this week we will be revisiting a few wonderful Thanksgiving-related posts from the past. This wonderful entry from 2015 highlighting the six things that Derek Burgan gave thanks for during that year.

Make sure you come back Thursday at 9:00am for this years items to give thanks for!

 

This week’s SATURDAY SIX  is our annual Thanksgiving Special and takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2015 was another great year to be a theme park fan, and for this Thanksgiving we are going to take a quick break from all the turkey, football games, and Black Friday planning to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts we love so much. So, for one day only, we ask that all Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with…

# 6 – Selfie Stick Ban at Walt Disney World

SelfieStick_Partners

no_more_selfie_sticks_pamphlet_sethIf you noticed any #Millenials or narcissists wearing black armbands this summer, it was because after banning selfie sticks on Disney attractions earlier in the spring, Walt Disney World completely banned the use of selfie sticks at the parks. Seemingly out of nowhere, the edict came down right after another high profile news story of Disney California Adventure’s California Screamin’ roller coaster being stopped mid ride because of a guest using a selfie stick. On June 26th, WDW guests were given a pamphlet at the parking plaza explaining the selfie stick ban, signage was displayed on the walkways to the parks along with bag check explaining the new policy.

The selfie stick ban was definitely a controversial move to be sure. Universal had earlier become more strict on preventing selfie sticks on rides, but Disney outright stopped people from even entering the park with them. Now we joked earlier about only kids and narcissists using them, the truth is that selfie sticks have become increasingly popular across almost all demographics. While people using selfie sticks inside the parks can be a nuisance, they were starting to become a serious safety factor on attractions. You may have seen what is called an Envelope of Protection as Imagineers test out the attractions. This device makes sure that all the attractions are safe for every rider, basically simulating the possible reach of every guest in the ride vehicle. This is why while it may seem like your may lose your arms in Space Mountain if you hold them up during the ride, but in actuality you are nowhere close to hitting anything. What the Envelope of Protection doesn’t take into account though, is guests holding on to anything that extends their reach.

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TBT: Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks in 2014

by on November 21, 2016

Greetings! TouringPlans.com Blog Manager Brian here to welcome you to TBT: Throwback Thanksgiving week here on the blog. All this week we will be revisiting a few wonderful Thanksgiving-related posts from the past. Starting us off is this gem from 2014 highlighting the six things that Derek Burgan gave thanks for during that year.

Make sure you come back Thursday at 9:00am for this years items to give thanks for!

 

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2014 was a great year to be a theme park fan, and for this Thanksgiving we are going to take a quick break from all the turkey, football games, and Black Friday planning, to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts we love so much. So, for one day only, I ask that Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with…

# 6 – Disney and Universal Merchandise is Better than Ever

It wasn’t long ago, that the only merchandise people were buying at Universal were Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts. Over at Disney, almost every single store, whether in the parks, hotels, or Downtown Disney, was selling the same generic”Disney Parks”stuff. A seismic shift started to occur in 2010, when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, and blew the doors off everyone’s projections in the area of merchandise and Butterbeer. Guests were now walking out of Universal with house robes, wands and chocolate frogs in hand. This success was then repeated throughout both of their theme parks, with unique and exclusive items found everywhere you looked, from the EVAC action figure at Transformers gift shop, to the faux girl scout cookies in Despicable Me’s Super Silly Store, to my personal favorite – The Film Vault –  a whole new store focusing on retro merchandise.

MarketplaceCoop_Glover

Jungle Cruise merchandise found at the Marketplace Co-op in Downtown Disney. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory Will Reopen Soon

by on November 16, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

The Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter will be returning from its refurbishment on November 19! While the interior has been completely redesigned, the resort’s food court will continue to offer New Orleans inspired dishes. This includes things like sweet potato Belgian waffles, crawfish mac and cheese burgers, and yes, the made-to-order beignets are back!

There are four different areas for Guests to grab a meal or a snack from. They include: the bakery, which is open from 6:00 a.m. until midnight; the grill and burgers, which is open from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.; the pizza and pasta area, which is open from 7:00 a.m. until midnight; and the soup, salad and sandwich area, which is open from 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.

It will be nice to have this food court open once again for Guests, especially this holiday season.

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An Animal Kingdom Convert: Winning a Skeptical Spouse Over to the DAK Side

by on November 9, 2016

I have got to admit that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the park we typically skip on our trips to Disney World. It’s a bit hard to pinpoint exactly why this happens. Maybe because our plan quickly fills in with at least two days or partial days at Magic Kingdom and Epcot, our must-do parks. Maybe because we also like to spend a day at one of the water parks and time visiting the deluxe resorts. Maybe because we love the thrill rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and have been enjoying the increasing number of Star Wars related offerings. Maybe because on the days we have visited Animal Kingdom, it has felt like one giant sauna by mid-morning.

© Sarah Graffam

Expedition Everest at dusk

In early 2016, however, there were hints that something was starting to happen at Animal Kingdom. There was talk of an incredible projection show coming to the Tree of Life, nighttime hours to experience Kilimanjaro Safaris plus Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids, a new lounge and signature level restaurant, new dancers and musicians, and a brand new nighttime water show with amazing effects.

© Sarah Graffam

Tree of Life Awakenings

In late spring 2016, many of these new experiences became available. Okay, so there were some overall delays, and the much-hyped Rivers of Light show was replaced with a decidedly less impressive show during the spring and summer. (Rivers of Light has yet to come on line, though there are some indications—and lots of hope on the part of park visitors—that it could do so soon.) Even so, I was certain that the new experiences that had already come to the park were worth giving Animal Kingdom another shot.

My husband, though—not so much. So, on our most recent trip, I was determined to get him over to Animal Kingdom. If you also have a reluctant tourist on your hands when it comes to Animal Kingdom (or are even one yourself), read on to see how one convert was convinced.

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Daisy’s Best Week Ever November 3, 2016: Everything But Animal Kingdom!

by on November 3, 2016

Hello, Lovebugs! You know when I say everything, I mean EVERYHING! To start this week we even drove out to Port Canaveral to watch the cruise ships sail away. Of course, I mean one cruise ship in particular! The Disney Fantasy looked amazing and I loved hearing the horn even if I wasn’t sailing. This front row spot was in Jetty Park. To visit is a $15 fee, but very worth it to watch the ships sail away. I’d do this again in a heartbeat! Of course, I’m hoping to actually sail sooner rather than later. More on that in a future post! 😉 (I wouldn’t go without sharing with you!)

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All right, getting back to beautiful Orlando I tried a “new to me” restaurant that I wanted to tell you about. If you can believe it, I’d never been to The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort before! After trying it I’m kicking myself for waiting so long! I booked a very early reservation as an excuse to get to the Magic Kingdom. As you can see from the photo below, it wasn’t a very popular idea. We had the place to ourselves and the service was impeccable.

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The buffet at The Wave was massive! I couldn’t justify the $24 price tag, but if you’re on the dining plan this would be an excellent value for you. They had a huge spread of hot and cold items. After my breakfast came to the table I wished I had just gone for the buffet instead.

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So here’s my plate. I ordered the Florida Rock Shrimp Omelet for $15. It wasn’t something I would order again, but maybe I’m just saying that because I had buffet envy! The potatoes were very good and the biscuit came with three different butter options. Overall, it was a pricey breakfast but that is to be expected at Disney. I’d hit the buffet or plan to skip this one.

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What makes I-Drive 360 and Tin Roof worth a visit?

by on November 2, 2016

I-Drive 360 will soon enter its second year in operation, but what makes it worth a visit? There are some hits and misses here, that’s true. The misses, like a gift shop selling the same mugs and t-shirts you can find along less desirable strips of highway, make it difficult to be on the level of Universal Orlando’s CityWalk or Disney Springs. The hits, however, make it a worthwhile destination.

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Photo by Brandon Glover

The hits

Though Madame Tussaud’s Wax Figures don’t appeal to me all, not a day goes by that I don’t see someone in my social media feed posting selfies with their favorite wax celebrities. It looks to be a fun, inexpensive attraction. Secondly, SeaLife Aquarium appears to have some beautiful settings and lots of great photo opportunities.

Combine these two attractions with a breathtaking ride aboard the Orlando Eye and now you’ve got a great afternoon mapped out. I’ve been aboard the Orlando Eye twice. I felt a swell of pride as we rose above and gazed out over the attractions area. On a clear day, Fall is a great season to hop on board and enjoy the views from the Orlando Eye.

Photo by Brandon Glover

Photo by Brandon Glover

I-Drive 360’s best feature is actually their dining offerings. I appreciate that there is a range of options to fit practically any budget. Most of the restaurants are popular chains, but there is one in particular that is my favorite reason for visiting I-Drive 360. Tin Roof is the place! Every night live music can be heard pouring out of this place. It is vibrant and friendly. Best of all, the food is fantastic and a new menu has elevated Tin Roof to an even higher level, making it a must-visit for anyone who likes good music and great food.

Tin Roof’s new menu

Let me first say, I enjoyed Tin Roof’s previous menu so when they announced that a new menu was coming I got a little worried. Thankfully the revamp has taken a good thing and made it great! A group of local social media and blogging enthusiasts were invited to try out the new menu, but many of us were already regulars at Tin Roof, so this was a real treat!

Appetizers

On a night out, especially with friends, I tend to gravitate towards ordering 2-3 appetizers and sharing them as a group. So it’s important to me that this part of the menu have some stand outs. In fact, one of the items has now become something I crave on occasion.

Photo by Brandon Glover

Photo by Brandon Glover

Dixie Biscuits ($9.00)

These little bad boys became the hit of the table. Love at first bite! Three sliders are presented on the plate and I would have a hard time sharing them. A new star of the menu is the house smoked beef brisket. It is served in a few ways, but in this case it is sandwiched in between a deep fried biscuit – yes, that’s right a deep fried biscuit, then topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, and peach jam. Everyone at the table loved these!

Photo by Brandon Glover

Photo by Brandon Glover

Bacon Mason ($5.00)

For those that enjoy the simple things in life, this one’s for you. A nice stack of crispy bacon is served alongside peach preserves. The end. For $5.00 this is a quick and easy snack to share.

Photo by Brandon Glover

Photo by Brandon Glover

Poppers ($7.00)

Confession: I love pimento cheese. It is a slightly spicy creamy, cheese spread that nearly every Southerner knows from their childhood. These little croquettes are filled with peppadew and pimento cheese, then wrapped in bacon. My one qualm with these poppers is they can be difficult to eat without being messy.

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