Disney Springs

Dani’s Best Week Ever March 23, 2017: Disney’s Hollywood Studios (again!) and Disney Springs

by on March 23, 2017

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, and there are no signs of slowing down. I am very fortunate to have the ability to visit Orlando’s theme parks at least once during most weekends, even with a hectic schedule. This past weekend brought new adventures in a part of Florida I hardly ever venture to.

It also brought commitments, including my commitment to spend time in the theme parks. The conundrum: which park to visit. The further conundrum: visit the parks I want to visit just for fun, or head to where needed research could be completed. The latter won out and we ventured to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And just to add to the craziness of an already jam packed weekend we decided to throw in an trip to Disney Springs too! Won’t you join the madness?

 

Spring Break has arrived

The thing about Spring Break is, it’s not just a week anymore. It is spread out over a couple weeks before the Easter holidays. It has certainly arrived and Orlando is showing all the signs. Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and all of Orlando’s theme parks are showing elevated wait times, and definitely matching up to what is indicated in the Touring Plans Crowd Calendars.

Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate Cars 3 at Disney Springs This Weekend

by on March 21, 2017

©Disney

This summer, Cars 3 will hit theaters and Disney is starting the marketing for the film early. (Hey, it worked for Beauty and the Beast, right?) This weekend, from March 23-26, Guests who visit Disney Springs will be able to take part in the kick off event for the “Road to the Races” nationwide promotional tour.

Guests who visit the shopping and dining district will be able to take part in Cars-themed activities for the whole family that include:

  • Get an extended sneak peek of the upcoming film
  • Take part in photo opportunities with three life-size character cars
  • A giant color mural will be available and is sponsored by Alamo Rent A Car
  • A racer pit crew tire-changing activity and photo opp sponsored by Coppertone
  • Prizes from the Piston Cup prize wheel and a digital postcard with Lightning McQueen courtesy of Crest and Oral-B
  • High-octane smoothies located at the Dole Refueling Station
  • Mattel’s interactive play area
  • The history and science behind NASCAR
  • Cars merchandise
  • special menu offerings at select food and beverage locations
  • DJ dance party

Guests will find the “Road to the Races” Tour in the Marketplace section located in the former Marketplace Bus Loop located near Disney Days of Christmas. It will be open on March 23 from 12:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.; March 24 and 25 from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.; and March 26 from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Cars 3 will be in theaters on June 16.

SATURDAY SIX: Planet Hollywood Observatory – 6 Crazy Road Stops on the Highway to Flavortown

by on March 18, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at PLANET HOLLYWOOD OBSERVATORY!    After every trip to Walt Disney World, TouringPlans sends its members a survey to see how satisfied they were with each part of their vacation. In 2016, we received more than 122,000 responses on WDW restaurants. To put that number in perspective, TouringPlans has more surveys on WDW restaurants than Yelp and TripAdvisor combined.

In total, there were 909 options that readers could give a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” to and these included everything from table service restaurants such as the Grand Floridian’s Victoria & Albert’s to the turkey leg cart in Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland and everything in between. In the list of over 900 WDW venues where a person could get food, Planet Hollywood in Disney Springs came in dead last.

But that was the old Planet Hollywood. In January of this year, the newly reimagined Planet Hollywood Observatory opened with a menu partly inspired by celebrity chef Guy Fieri. That’s right, Flavortown was coming to Disney.

Just as Finding Nemo taught us all drains lead to the ocean, in Orlando all roads lead to Flavortown. (photo by Kinny Brown)

With Downtown Disney’s recent transformation into Disney Springs, the area now boasts not just the greatest collection of restaurants at Walt Disney World, but possibly in all of Orlando. Restaurants such as Homecomin’, Morimoto Asia, and The BOATHOUSE have joined longtime favorites Raglan Road, the House of Blues, and Wolfgang Puck Express to deliver a murderer’s row of fantastic dining experiences. 

Would the reimagined Planet Hollywood Observatory completely change the restaurant and put it up there with the best of the best?

In a word: no. But, in a lot more words the Planet Hollywood Observatory is completely next level bonkers in a way that you need to experience. At Disney we’ve eaten ice cream out of 10 gallon cowboy hats, seen poop snacks at Animal Kingdom, and have even order the infamous Pop Tart sandwich at Pop Century and we still weren’t prepared for what we saw at the Observatory. Today we’re going to take a look at the most unique options at the Observatory, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – High Roller Platter Served in a Ferris Wheel

Talk about a “wow factor” right away, the High Roller Platter appetizer comes out a giant ferris wheel that will draw attention from anyone sitting near you. It is visually spectacular and includes chicken crunch, Texas tostados, Buffalo wings, five cheese dip, and peri-peri shrimp. The ferris wheel itself does not move, but it is an incredible visual. ($34.99)

(photo by Brian Carey)

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dress Shop To Open at Disney Springs

by on March 14, 2017

The Dress Shop

©Disney

Disney….you just love to find ways to part me from my money, don’t you? (Of course you do…that was absolutely a rhetorical question.) This time, I really think you’ve done it though. The Dress Shop, an all new shopping experience, is coming to the Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs.  This area will sell gorgeous dresses and apparel that are whimsical and full of great Disney fun.

Dresses emulate costumes that Disney Cast Members wear (hello easy way to Disney Bound!), as well as include fun Disney touches. (Oh, look! Orange Bird!) My favorite dress, hands down, is the one themed after Tower of Terror. Other designs feature Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, “it’s a small world,” and The Haunted Mansion, Minnie Mouse, Snow White from Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” and Alice from Walt Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

Looking to accessorize? Handbags resembling an apple, the White Rabbit, or a Hollywood Tower Hotel suitcase will also be released.

There is no word on how much these dresses will cost. (I absolutely fear for my wallet.) Dresses will run all the way from XS to XL, with select dresses running up to 3-XL. Also, currently these dresses will only be available at select merchandise locations at the Disney parks. It is unknown if or when they will be added to the Shop Disney Parks app.

Oh and if you’re in Disneyland, you can pick up some of these items soon from this collection at Vault 28 in the Downtown Disney District.

For those who don’t know, Marketplace Co-Op is home to different specialty boutiques all located under one roof. The store’s purpose is to be a testing ground for new Disney retail concepts, shops, and products.

The Dress Shop is expected to open in the Marketplace Co-Op on March 31 and there will be special activities that day and throughout the weekend to celebrate.

Cirque du Soleil La Nouba to Close this Winter

by on March 3, 2017

©Disney

Do you love the Cirque du Soleil La Nouba show at Disney Springs? I bring some sad news today as the creative and entertaining show, which has been on the West Side for almost 20 years will be coming to a close this December. The show’s final performance will take place on December 31, 2017.

La Nouba included theatrics, dazzling costumes and magical lighting, unique sets and music. The show is filled with action, humor, color and light, blending the ancient traditions of circus with dance, acrobatics and street entertainment.

There is no word yet on what will be replacing La Nouba, but The Disney Parks Blog did hint that it could very well still be a Cirque du Soleil show that will occur in the theater.

To purchase tickets to this extremely popular show, make sure to visit the Walt Disney World website.

Save

DISNEY DINING: Chef Art Smith’s HOMECOMIN’ in Disney Springs

by on March 1, 2017

When Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming opened in Disney Springs last July, it’s safe to say we were big fans. In fact, we were really big fans. In fact, with a restaurant row now loaded with incredible eateries such as Raglan Road, Morimoto Asia, and BOATHOUSE, Homecoming just may be our favorite of all.

This past week the restaurant officially changed its named to Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’. It also has added a few new items to menu over the past few months, so it was high time to go back and check it out.

We’ll start with appetizers, and first up is the THIGH HIGH CHICKEN BISCUITS. These have replaced the bbq chicken wings on the menu and we can confirm that they are one of the top six food items on Disney property.

Three biscuits topped with Chef Art’s famous fried chicken thighs and bread and butter pickles. Drizzled with hot honey.

The “hot” honey isn’t a hot sauce honey, but more of a warm, tangy honey and it is absolutely incredible.  The sweet taste will pair well with a Sweet Tea Shine or one of the many cocktails on the menu.

Thigh High Chicken Biscuits.

Speaking of hot sauce, Homecomin’ now sells its house made hot sauce in bottles you can take home. This slightly sweet sauce gets a lot of rave reviews from hot sauce fans.

Deep South Hot Sauce.

Another appetizer we tried was the BUNCH OF PUPPIES and they were very good, but all we could think about was ordering some more Thigh High Chicken Biscuits. Enjoyed that the hushpuppies had a nice crunchy outside, but soft in the middle. The jalapeño jelly dip added a nice sweet and spicy kick.

House-made hushpuppies served with pimento cheese and jalapeño jelly.

Bunch of Puppies.

The BRAISED SHORT RIBS are one of the newer entree items. As the menu promised, the meat was was boneless and pulled apart easily. Very flavorful and because of the tenderness there was no need for a knife. While we enjoy the regular mashed potatoes at Homecomin’, the whipped sweet potatoes was a nice touch. You don’t see that any many restaurants.

Boneless beef short ribs are slow cooked until fork tender served over whipped sweet potatoes with seasonal vegetable.

Braised Short Ribs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Planet Hollywood Misses the Bus to Flavortown

by on February 14, 2017

Planet Hollywood Observatory Review

There aren’t a lot of restaurants that scare me. Even with a newly revamped menu, though, Planet Hollywood Observatory kind of scared me. I had been to the old restaurant a few times prior to the recent transition, and never had a remarkable meal, on par with reader surveys that rank Planet Hollywood as the least-liked restaurant in Walt Disney World. I knew, though, that for a recent lunch visit, I’d have to approach the new Planet Hollywood with an open mind, with hopes that things had improved.

First Impressions

The view from Planet Hollywood Observatory's outdoor deck is beautiful.
First impressions of the new interior: it’s a bit boring now, far less tacky and kitschy than before. Much of the Hollywood memorabilia has been relegated to the stairwells and corners, with lots of brick and projections now taking center stage on the walls. It’s also very, very loud now, especially once the restaurant is jam-packed with guests. To take advantage of the nice day outside, and steer away from the noise, my party requested an outdoor deck table, overlooking Disney Springs. We were still treated to a mid-meal blast of “Afternoon Delight” from the neighboring speakers (an experience, I assure you), but it was much tamer, noise-wise, outside.

Read the rest of this entry »

DisneyQuest to Close for The NBA Experience

by on January 30, 2017

©Rikki Niblett

Almost a year and a half ago, Disney announced that the NBA Experience would be making its way to Disney Springs and that DisneyQuest would be closing to make way for this new one-of-a-kind destination. Then…we heard nothing. Not a peep. I honestly thought the idea was dead.

That is until today when Disney announced that they would indeed still be going forward with The NBA Experience and that DisneyQuest had a date when it would officially close for good. DisneyQuest, located on The West Side, will officially close on July 3. Leading up to its closure, the indoor theme park will still operate as usual, offering classic arcade games and unique interactive experiences, such as Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlasters and CyberSpace Mountain.

As far as The NBA Experience is concerned, not much is known about what the basketball-themed complex will offer. We do know that it will feature hands-on activities that put guests right in the middle of the NBA action, and will create an immersive experience of both the game and its players. Guests will enjoy unique NBA video productions, a restaurant, and a store.

Stay tuned to the blog for more information about further announcements about The NBA Experience, as well as any further announcements regarding DisneyQuest.

Planet Hollywood Observatory Now Open at Disney Springs

by on January 27, 2017

Planet Hollywood Observatory

©Rikki Niblett

After a very lengthy refurbishment, according to their Facebook page, Planet Hollywood Observatory located in the Town Center section of Disney Springs has now officially opened.

The restaurant features an eclectic menu, including sandwiches and burgers from celebrity chef, Guy Fieri. Sandwiches will include the Prime Time American Kobe-Inspired Burger, Turkey Pic-a-nic Sandwich, and a lobster roll. It also features some returning classics from the previous version of Planet Hollywood, like the World Famous Chicken Crunch. (Which are chicken fingers with a Cap’n Crunch cereal coating.) The rest of the menu will range from salads to  steaks and ribs. Oh and dessert will be out of this world, with incredible milkshakes, as well as an ice cream and gelato challenge. Take a look at the Planet Hollywood Observatory’s full menu here.

Inspired with a turn-of-the-century theme, Planet Hollywood Observatory will continue to feature rare Hollywood memorabilia. Inside, the restaurant will continue with the observatory theme with a high-tech planetarium with stars and constellations on the ceiling.There is also a massive 4,500-square-foot video wall that features state-of-the-art sound and media. In addition, Guests who visit the newly updated restaurant will be able to enjoy a drink while an interactive DJ spins today’s Top 40 and classic favorites on the main floor.

Speaking of enjoying a drink, there will be two bars for Guests to enjoy. First, at the Upper Bar, Guests can enjoy artisanal cocktails and a curated collection of libations. At Stargazers Bar, live entertainment will take place nightly on this outdoor patio that overlooks the Town Center section of Disney Springs.  At Stargazers, there will be 20 Florida craft beers on tap and 10 signature cocktails.

Of course, new merchandise has also been created and Guests who enjoyed their experience will want to stop by the gift shop to pick up a movie-themed souvenir.

Planet Hollywood Observatory is open for both lunch and dinner.

Paddlefish at Disney Springs Gets Official Opening Date

by on January 25, 2017

©Paddlefish

After months and months of refurbishment work, I can officially tell you that Paddlefish is reopening on February 4!

The Disney Springs restaurant, which is formerly known as Fulton’s Crab House, has been seeing a massive bow to stern transformation. When the seafood-centric restaurant reopens, it will be themed more now after a modern, luxurious yacht and will be an inviting and opulent atmosphere for guests. Paddlefish will offer Guests multiple dining experiences and private event spaces.

While Paddlefish’s main focus will be on seafood, there will also be beef, chicken, vegetarian, and vegan options for Guests to enjoy. Specialties will include oyster shucking bar, Florida stone crab and Alaskan king crab, steaks and chops, as well as classic and curated cocktails. Paddlefish will feature separate lunch and dinner menus.

Here’s a look at some of the dishes you’ll be able to enjoy at Paddlefish:

Read the rest of this entry »