This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. With 26 on-site resorts at Walt Disney World, there is a wide variety of choices for families coming down. We’ve covered many here on the SATURDAY SIX including Value Resorts (Art of Animation and Pop Century), Moderates (Port Orleans French Quarter and Caribbean Beach), and Deluxe (Contemporary andAnimal Kingdom Lodge). We also can’t forget the Disney Vacation Club resorts such as Old Key West. Today we are going to take a look at one of WDW’s most underrated resorts, Disney’s Coronado Springs.
Disney’s Coronado Springs, a member of the Moderate Resorts.
There are several reasons Coronado Springs doesn’t get the love and attention the other Disney resorts do. The biggest factor is that caters heavily towards the business convention crowd as opposed to primarily vacationing families. Ironically, this feature actually provides some of the biggest benefits for families, but we’ll get to that later. Because Coronado Springs is relatively off the beaten path at WDW (it sits close to Blizzard Beach, Winter Summerland mini-golf, but little else,) it’s not a place you generally run into while enjoying something else at The World. We’re here to let you know that you should go out of your way to check out Coronado Springs, and we have our six best reasons at the ready. So sit back, remember to practice your piñata swings, and let’s begin our list with…
# 6 – The Dig Site: Home of The Lost City of Cibola
For many families, including ours, a resort’s pool area plays a major factor when it comes to deciding where to stay. When thinking of Disney’s best pools, places like Yacht & Beach Club’s Stormalong Bay and Caribbean Beach’s Fuentes del Morro pool come immediately to mind. The Dig Site at Coronado Springs is right up there with the best pool areas on property as it is jam packed with great things to do for every family member, big or small.
The headliner is The Lost City of Cibola pool. With a jaw dropping 50 foot tall pyramid and 123 foot long Jaguar waterslide, this is a main pool that has both the “wow factor” and is incredibly fun. Surrounding the main pool is the largest hot tub at WDW, an incredible children’s play area themed to Mayan ruins, the awesome Siestas pool bar, and the best themed volleyball court we’ve ever seen. Siestas has a To-Go food window that is actually open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while the actual bar features several signature cocktails including the Coronado Crush. This is the absolute perfect pool area for those who want to take a midday break away from the parks, or just spend an “off day” totally on-site at the resort. As a bonus, because the resort is often filled with conventioneers and couples without kids, those with children have much less congestion while enjoying the amenities.
The Dig Site.
The Lost City of Cibola pool. The Jaguar Slide is on the right, while the elaborate children’s play area is on the left.
Now that’s a pool!
The #story of the waterslide is that it features a “spitting Jaguar spirit animal.”
One of the major downfalls of staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village is that there is no counter service location for Guests. The becomes a problem in the mornings for Guests looking to grab a quick bite before heading to the parks. Guests were either expected to prepare breakfast in their rooms, or trek over to Jambo House and pick up something from The Mara.
Well now, Disney is now offering a great new breakfast option at Kidani Village for Guests to enjoy. Sanaa will feature a kuamsha (which is Swahili for “to awaken with”) breakfast with both casual dining options, as well as quick grab n’ go items.
Last week, we took a look at every new item at the 2016 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, but it’s always hard to resist trying our longtime festival favorites again first thing. This week, we’ll take a look at 15 family-friendly festival favorites (yes, even kids will like many of these options!) to see if they’re just as good as we remember. I took a stroll at dinnertime one evening just after festival opening to try a few dishes I recommended in my preview post, plus a few more that always seem to be the most popular dishes of the festival. I’ve included a quick summary at the bottom of this post, with my take on whether each of these dishes is a skip/maybe try/must-do, as well.
Hawai’i: Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise ($4.25)
The pulled pork here can sometimes be a little dry, but on my visit, it was perfectly succulent, very savory, with a little punch of sweet from the pineapple chutney. The spicy mayo isn’t really very spicy, but it does help keep the whole slider together. You’ll only get about five bites out of the sandwich this year, with a lot of bread in there, but it’s just as solid a pick as in previous years.
Patagonia: Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree ($5.75)
I’ve always found this to be a solid pick, as most everyone loves food on a stick, and while it sounds kind of scary with the boniato puree and the chimichurri, these are flavors that many are familiar with and happy to sample. The beef on this year’s skewer was tender and nicely grilled without being dried out, with the starchy puree (think: mashed potatoes) helping round out the bite and give a bit more richness to the whole plate. The chimichurri is packed with garlic, cilantro, parsley, and a little bit of a peppery kick – you’ll want it slathered over every bite, it’s that good. Chefs at the Patagonia booth were even offering a side of the chimichurri for guests ordering the beef empanada, as well!
Canada: Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup Served with a Pretzel Roll ($4.75)
This dish is so famous at the Food and Wine Festival that no modifiers are necessary – it’s just “The Soup”. This year’s portion has, once again, shrunk slightly, but it now comes with a pretzel roll (which will look familiar if you’ve ordered the bratwurst from the Germany booth in the past). The soup was a tad too salty for me, though still deliciously creamy and packed with a slight smokiness from the bacon inside. The pretzel roll was a little stale, but a better delivery system for the soup than a spoon, so I went with it. With the smaller portion, this was overall a bit disappointing – it’s probably still going to be a super-popular option for most festival-goers, but I’d skip unless you are seriously craving it.
At $7.75, this is one of the most expensive food buys of the festival, and to be honest, my portion was not worth that price this year. Even during a fairly busy dinnertime visit, with fresh steaks being cooked and served every few minutes, I got a slightly tough and unevenly cooked steak (very well done on one end, medium on the other). The mushrooms and truffle sauce were as decadent as ever, earthy and savory without being too salty. This is another “skip” for me (an unpopular opinion, to be sure), but even for kids and picky eaters, there are better options for a better value out there.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Pieces of Disney Merchandise That Don’t Exist (But Totally Should!) Regular readers of this fine blog know very well that we are huge fans of theme park merchandise. Whether it’s the best souvenirs at Walt Disney World or Universal, theme park related comic books, or even our favorite souvenir cups, if the theme parks make it, there’s a good chance we’re going to buy it. But sometimes we see theme park merch that just needs a little extra magic to be truly great. Today we’ve worked hand in hand with the SATURDAY SIX Research and Development team based out of Pearland, Texas and came up with six pieces of Disney merchandise that we’d REALLY like to see. So sit back, hug your Duffy the Disney Bear as tight as you can, and let’s begin our list with…
# 6 – Lego Cinderella Castle Set with Vacation Ruining Accessory
When Disney released the official Lego Cinderella Castle set, it sent many a theme park fan’s heart aflutter. Finally, we all got a chance to recreate one of the world’s most iconic buildings in our very own home. However, one thing was missing. At first it was hard to put our finger on it, but something just wasn’t right. After a while we realized what was wrong; this Lego set was missing an obnoxiously large crane in the background that can ruin all the pictures your Lego figures try to take! So what about a set that includes the well known crane that is affectionately nicknamed “Ichabod?”
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo! Now your Lego mini-figures can have the same frustrating time taking a castle photo as you! (photo by Matt Cleary)
# 5 – Toy Food for the EPCOT Food & Wine Garbage Can Salt and Pepper Shakers
Not since the Turkey Leg phenomenon have we been so confounded by Disney merchandise than the recent slew of WDW garbage can themed salt and pepper shakers. Readers of our sister blog series: the Magic, the Memories, and Merch! know that salt and pepper shakers themed to garbage cans of the Magic Kingdom appeared in the Disney Outlet Stores this summer. With the 2016 edition of the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival starting this very week, one of the pieces of new merchandise is miniature EPCOT Food & Wine garbage cans. But anyone who has been to the overcrowded Food & Wine in recent years knows that these garbage cans act more as defacto tables for people trying to eat than actual receptacles for trash. So let’s complete this ensemble by also offering miniature food items to place on the top of these garbage cans to give them a sense of authenticity.
EPCOT Food & Wine garbage can salt and pepper shakers. Now with actual “food & wine” to scale! (photo by Michael Sheehy and Matt Cleary)
Many guests know of the Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert’s, but true insiders know what the “Blogger’s Table” in EPCOT is. (photo by Michael Sheehy)
The 2016 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is finally here! I was lucky enough to spend festival kick-off day sampling every (yes, I tried them all!) new and modified dish at the festival this year, to see which dishes were must-dos or must-skips for all of you. Here you’ll find photos and my thoughts on all of these new items, organized as you travel around the world (in the same order they are listed in the festival passport). Below my reviews, you’ll see a few hot takes – I’ve ranked all of these new items based on whether I’d try them again this festival season. As always, click on any photo to see the larger version of each dish. Don’t forget, you can check out full menus and prices from every booth here to start your planning now.
Craft Beers: Piggy Wings – Fried Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds ($4.25)
Sticky, sweet, and sour, these are definitely good BBQ wings, but you’ll only get to taste two of them per order. Perfect with a beer (or three in a flight), these are worth the purchase if you need a snack to munch on while enjoying a little free air conditioning, but I wouldn’t make a special stop here just to try them.
The Chew Collective: Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots, and Feta Cheese ($5.00)
At the end of the day, this dish is exactly as billed: it’s a few pieces of grilled steak on a salad. The apricots and feta bring some necessary freshness and texture, but ultimately, this dish needed a sauce to make it all come together. Kids who like plain steak may want to steal a bite from mom and dad on this dish.
The Chew Collective: Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle ($5.00)
This dish tastes exactly like someone crushed up a package of Nutter Butters (which is definitely a good thing, to me). Rich and slightly salty from the peanut butter, the white chocolate and caramel provide a bit of offsetting sweetness. Everyone (who can eat this) will love this dessert, and though it’s a small portion for the price, it’s worth a shot.
Hello, lovebugs! I hope you’ve had an amazing last few weeks! This week we’re visiting Disney on Ice, taking a quick trip to Epcot, and finishing up with some nighttime fun at Animal Kingdom.
Now, I’m not sure if you guys will appreciate Disney on Ice. I know it wasn’t very popular when I posted it on Instagram. (Did you know TouringPlans has an Instagram?? Come play with us there!) But I absolutely loved the show. We were fortunate enough to have seats right on the ice and I was ready with my camera. While I agree Frozen has been overplayed, I was just enchanted with the characters in this format. Just take a look at how pretty Elsa was in her element!
There’s lots more to see this week. Click to read more.
It’s almost Christmas… well, *my* Christmas. Epcot International Food and Wine Festival opening day is quickly approaching, and it’s time to start strategizing how to tackle all of the great eats during your trip around the World (Showcase). To do that, I’ve made “quick pick” lists full of my favorites from past years in a few categories: classics (great for festival first-timers), dishes that are great for families with kids or picky eaters, dishes for adventurous eaters, vegetarian picks (that even carnivores will love), and of course, a few drinks. I’ve included new picks in some of the categories that I’m looking forward to, and also some tips and tricks for making the most of your time (and finding the shortest lines!) at the festival booths.
Classics for first-time Food & Wine Festival visitors
Kalua pork slider (Photo by Julia Mascardo)
Hawai’i: Kalua pork slider with sweet and sour pineapple chutney and spicy mayo
This booth’s menu rarely changes because it’s always consistently good. Definitely stop here early in the day, as it is one of the first booths in World Showcase and lines grow quickly.
Australia: grilled lamb chop with mint pesto and potato crunchies
Great walk-around finger food to enjoy while strolling Epcot. Only a few bites, but the potato chip crunchies make this a fun take on a classic dish.
Hops & Barley: New England lobster roll
A consistent favorite, usually heavy on the lobster and served on a heavenly butter-grilled bun
Farm Fresh: Loaded Mac & Cheese with pepper bacon, cheddar cheese, and peppers
Who doesn’t like mac & cheese, especially when it has bacon and other toppings? This can be a lighter portion, but one that nearly everyone will enjoy
Belgium: beer-braised beef with smoked gouda mashed potatoes
The beer-braised beef returns this year with a new presentation (no more potato leek waffle). This booth can be a little slow, depending on how many are ordering sweet waffles (made to order), but it’s worth the wait for this dish.
Liquid Nitrogen Chocolate Almond Truffle (Photo by Julia Mascardo)
Mexico: Mexican chocolate flan
Mexico is always a must-stop for desserts for me – every year they make something slightly different, but always tasty, and this flan is sure to fit that pattern. A great stop for the very end of the night, when this always-busy booth’s line tends to be shorter.
This dish debuted last year and became an instant classic for pretty much everyone. It’s usually rich enough to share, and it’s always a blast to watch them freeze the truffles to order.
Perfect bites for families with kids or “picky eaters”
Germany: Schinkennudeln (baked mac and cheese with ham)
Again, who doesn’t like mac & cheese? This rich dish is a variation of the baked mac and cheese found inside Biergarten, and it is just ridiculously heavenly. A good stop if you are worried Farm Fresh’s version is too veggie-heavy, and usually a pretty quick line.
Brazil: Crispy pork belly with black beans and tomato
Most kids love bacon, and this is exactly that, just with the addition of a nice stew of black bean and tomato. Full of savory flavor, this dish will be a winner for many, and bonus – there’s a really cool seating area at this booth, too!
Some say that bad things happen in threes, but I’m a mojito-glass-half-full kind of person. When it comes to booths at Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, a review in three parts is far better than one. So it is with great irony that I start off with the booth that has the one food I will absolutely positively not be eating at Food and Wine. (Oh, and if you missed part 1 or part 2, feel free to catch up before diving into this one.)
*Indicates item returning from last year.
Grilled Spicy Edamame tossed with Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, and Chili Powder
Spicy Sushi Roll: Tuna and Salmon with Kazan Volcano Sauce
Marinated Shrimp sautéed with Garlic and Butter, Served Over Rice
I’m very fortunate that I have outgrown many of the food allergies I had as a child, but one still causes me an anaphylaxis reaction–concentrated amounts of soy, like those found in tofu or in edamame. As a result, because I value my life, I’ll be skipping the Grilled Spicy Edamame. I know my husband will be more than willing to take one for the team and try it, as this sounds like a great snack option. I’ll likely skip the sushi roll–if I want sushi, there’s so many good options at Walt Disney World to have a seat for a full sushi meal. On the other hand, I’m excited about the shrimp dish. My only hope is that the shrimp will have the tails already removed, so I can chow down without having to juggle a knife and fork.
Barbacoa Enchilada: Corn Tortilla filled with Beef Barbacoa, covered with Oaxaca Mole
Taco de Camaron: Battered Shrimp served over a Flour Tortilla with Crispy Purple Cabbage and Chipotle Mayonnaise (Pictured, but slightly changed this year)